Welcome to my Dynasty!
Happy Hour at Home!
I haven't met a carb I don't like
My favorite type of men are raMEN
Send me to the islands
A little rum in the tum
You put da drink in da coconut
Still Can't Call Myself a "New Yorker"
Sometimes it is painfully obvious that I am still relatively new to living in Manhattan. I was recently reminded of this fact when Melissa suggested grabbing a bite to eat at Republic (http://www.thinknoodles.com/findex.html). I had mentioned that I felt like something Asian - maybe Chinese or Thai, so I was confused when she suggested this place. I had (how embarrassing!) thought that it was a burger place. It is near Heartland Brewery...the signage looks very similar...so, you can see how I'd be confused! Clearly, I had said something sacrilegious. EVERYONE (except little ol' me until then) knows this place has yummy Asian food.
Melissa RAVED about the Spicy Beef noodle soup - similar to Pho. This bowl contains heavenly noms, like wheat noodles, rare beef, garlic, onion, lemongrass, chili peppers, bean sprouts, scallions and fried shallots. For $15, this bowl will FILL YOU UP!
This restaurant has a great reverse happy hour that starts at 10pm. Cocktails that are normally $11 are $7 and beer/wine is around $4. We each got a frozen Lychee-tini!
This is a lovely spot. I'm glad I'm no longer in the dark! If you haven't been here, please enlighten yourself as well!
Excellent Dumpling House Offers a Great Lunch
Ah, to be a part of the justice system! My civic duty was recently called upon through a jury summons! While I was waiting for hours, I spent some time researching where to have lunch - best use of my time for sure. Since I was in Chinatown, I started to crave soup dumplings. Based on the amount of time I had and my location, I chose Excellent Dumpling House (no website, http://www.yelp.com/biz/excellent-dumpling-house-new-york).
I didn't have breakfast, so I was hungry! I ordered the Chicken with Garlic Sauce lunch special - $6.95 (served with choice of soup, fried rice and a spring roll!). I ALSO wanted the pork soup dumplings, so I ordered those too - #yolo
The Hot and Sour soup was really tasty - large pieces of tofu that were delicious.
The soup dumplings were great! The dipping sauce served with them was sooooooo tasty!
By the time my entrée came, I was losing steam! I ate all the chicken and most of the peppers, but I couldn't really tackle the rice or spring roll. The chicken was very saucey. The chicken was tender and great quality - especially given the cheap pricing. Sometimes, I am a bit weary of chicken at cheap Chinese restaurants.
If you find yourself in Chinatown at lunch time, especially on jury duty (eek!), this is a good bet.
$27.50 Gets You a Fancy 3-Course Lunch
I read recently that Tao is offering a Dim Sum lunch on Sundays. I brought it up to Melissa and she suggested that we check out the $27.50 3-Course Lunch instead. It is from Monday - Saturday till 5pm.
After we spoke to the server, I knew what I had to order as my appetizer. I got the Crispy Vegetable Rolls with Duck Mustard Sauce. I figured it would be a small serving but it was actually three large rolls! I was impressed.
Melissa felt like venturing into the soup option. It looked delicious and had ample (4!) dumplings!
I haven't had good Kung Pao Chicken in awhile so when I saw it on the menu, I knew what I wanted. It was a large serving and I took a lot home for later!
Melissa got the Hanger Steak with Miso and Asian Spiced Fries. She ordered it rare and really enjoyed it. I tried one of her fries and it was much better than I expected from an Asian joint.
For my dessert, the most interesting option was the Chocolate Zen Parfait. It had layers of milk and white chocolate with nuts mixed in between. The scoop on the top was whipped cream and disappointingly not ice cream. Looks can be deceiving!
Melissa got the Mango Sorbet, Seasonal Fruit and Coconut Milk. It looked like a fruit chowder with an island in the middle.
I loved checking out the Koi fish under the "floating" Buddha. Adorable!
This lunch special is a great deal if you want to eat at this otherwise expensive Asian hotspot.
Shilla BBQ for Dinner with Mom!
My mom and I attended an awards ceremony at Stern to support one of my very good friends, Christine. I'm proud of all of her accomplishments and I was glad I could be there to support her!
After the ceremony ended, my mom and I went to Shilla (no website, http://www.yelp.com/biz/shilla-new-york). This is a Korean BBQ joint right by my apartment. I've gone here before with my family and enjoyed it. We walked down 32nd St and looked at several other spots to eat (in the spirit of trying something new!) - but each had ridiculous lines. We were hungry, so Shilla, with no wait, was the clear winner.
Each time we've come in the past, we've sat on the first floor. I was surprised when they said to walk up to the "third floor" - I didn't even know they had one! The restaurants in Koreatown are so large!
The small dishes of appetizers that came out before the meal (the "banchan") were super tasty! I'm still working on figuring out my camera, but tried it out at dinner - so bear with me!
My mom and I both love bulgogi. If we wanted to BBQ it ourselves, we would need to order two BBQ entrees. Instead, we ordered the bulgogi on rice in a hot pot. This was a way to have the meat style that we love without ordering a ton of meat!
We also orderer the Jap Chae, which is a clear noodle dish with (more!) bulgogi style meat and veggies. Some of the mushrooms in it freaked me out - they are large black mushrooms that are just aggressive. My mom and I both ate around them - it is a texture thing.
This is a solid Korean joint. I will note that it has a B Health Rating. I saw a place in Koreatown that has a C - how is that possible? Anyway, I've eaten in many Asian restaurants with B health ratings and haven't had an issue ever, just wanted to advise you!
Celebrating Our Last Assignment with Szechuan!
After we clicked "submit" on our last final, Christine and I celebrated at a favorite restaurant of the Class of 2014 (and smart people everywhere): Han Dynasty (http://www.handynasty.net/). On our walk to the restaurant, we had to take a commemorative photo of the NYU sign that was just put up for graduation festivities!
NYU Photo? Check! Now, onto a frosty beverage. I ordered a Stella and it arrived in its "chalice" - so corny, but great marketing.
I don't think you're allowed to come to Han Dynasty without ordering the Dan Dan Noodles.
These noodles are so simple: spicy chili oil, ground pork and noodles. Uncomplicated and delicious!
The last time I came to Han Dynasty, which was my first time, which also happened to be with Christine and Olivia, we ordered the Dry Pot Style Lamb. It is one of the spiciest dishes at the restaurant (10/10), so we ordered it at a 5/10. I think it still numbed my entire mouth, but in a good way!
I can't wait to come back here again and (maybe...) order something different!
Gyu-Kaku has Deals all Day!
Recently, I met up with Melissa during the week to take advantage of Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Times Square's Happy Hour (http://gyu-kaku.com/ny/timessquare.htm). This location has Happy Hour for lunch (11:30AM - 3:00PM) and dinner (3:00PM - 6:00PM & 9:30PM - 11:00PM). The drink deal during this time is 50% off select drinks. The meal deal is reduced pricing on most menu items.
We ordered the steamed chili dumplings ($6, normally $8), bistro hanger streak ($5, normally $8), sukiyaki bibimbap ($6, normally $10), and chocolate lava cake ($6, normally $8). With a Yelp! check-in, we each got a free edamame ($4 value). Social media has measurable value people!
I didn't snap photos of everything, but trust that it was yummy. The Bibimbap arrived in a hot stone pot. It is served with a raw egg and continues to cook. We didn't realize how hot it was and some of the rice started to get too crispy...nearly burnt. Next time, I'll need to make sure to monitor it more closely!
The dessert was super tasty. It didn't have any Asian twist to it (I love the Green Tea one at Spot Dessert Bar) but it was lovely.
I would recommend only visiting this spot if it is during Happy Hour, otherwise it is a bit pricey for what it is.
Bubble Tea Fix on St. Marks!
I was walking to pick up jewelry I got fixed at a great shop in the East Village (http://pilarjewelry.com/services) and passed one of my favorite bubble tea shops on my walk: TKettle (http://www.tkettle.com/). One of my favorite items to order is a Taro slushie with tapioca pearls.
The bubble tea is great here but sometimes I feel like it is too sweet. When I go, I request for only 50% sugar and it is much tastier! I encourage you try this place out - the Black Milk Tea is great too!
Dessert as Addictive as Crack
After our wonderful dinner at B4, the girls and I headed to Momofuku Milk Bar (http://www.yelp.com/biz/momofuku-milk-bar-new-york-4) is the East Village. I've had the pleasure of dining here before, so I was full of recommendations on what to order.
First, we started with a pint of the Cereal Milk soft serve. If you get an individual serving, it is $4. The pint (which is easily more than 2x the size of the individual) is $8. Make sure to get the pint layered with cereal crunchies! The salty-sweetness is what makes this dessert a stand out. If you're a fan of things like salted caramel or kettle corn, you will LOVE this! I was too busy eating to remember to take photos, so this is all I have. #sorryimnotsorry
We split up the pint into individual servings so we could taste a bunch of things. We also ordered a slice of crack pie (it reminds me of a pecan pie...minus the pecans). It has the sweetness of a condensed milk dessert. So yummy! We also got the birthday cake truffles. If you love that taste, this intense flavored ball of goodness will blow your socks off.
There are several other Milk bars in New York, including the Upper West Side, Midtown West, Williamsburg and Carroll Gardens. Make sure to check it out and you MUST try the cereal milk!
So Tasty, it Will Leave You Numb!
I heard so many RAVE reviews of Han Dynasty (http://www.handynasty.net/) that when Liv suggested going to dinner here with Christine, I was thrilled! This lovely Szechuan restaurant has locations in Philly and Cherry Hill, NJ as well. Now that it is in the East Village, there is simply no reason to not RUN here!
This restaurant is quite popular and does not take reservations. However, they have an iPad reservation system, so if you are nearby, stop in and give the hostess your phone number. You can grab a cocktail at any of the nearby bars in the East Village and get a text when you are ready to be seated!
We ordered a bottle of wine for the three of us. The pricing is incredible - we got a nice bottle (Dreaming Tree) of Cabernet for about $30.
To start, we obviously got the Dan Dan Noodles. THESE ARE SO YUMMY!
I could have easily eaten the whole bowl myself, but I remember that we ordered other food, so I held back. The spicy level was high (8 out of 10) but it is more of a numbing heat than a hot heat if that makes sense. I've found many times I've had Thai food that is significantly spicier even if it is only "medium" at the restaurant. It is the type of spice that matters as much, if not more, than the quantity!
Aside from the Dan Dan Noodles, we asked for the gentleman that took our order to give us some guidance on what to order. He suggested the Spicy Crispy Cucumber, Dumplings in Chili Oil, String Beans with Minced Pork, and the Dry Pot Style Lamb.
These were yummy! They had a great bite to them and were a nice contrast to some of the heavier/carby dishes. I highly recommend them.
SO TASTY! I could eat a bucket of these. You get at least 6 dumplings, so it is certainly enough to share with others, or be selfish and just get for yourself!
These string beans were ok but couldn't compare with the rest of the dishes. The amount of pork wasn't really anything to write home about. Next time, I would order a different veggie dish.
This is the style of preparation that Han Dynasty is famous for!! The entrée is served in a sizzling mini wok and cooked in a spicy hot pot sauce with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. We were advised to get it with a fattier protein than chicken so we got lamb. It was very tender and delicious! Normally this is the spiciest item on the menu (10 out of 10) and we asked for it at a level 5. I loved eating and could not feel my lips afterwards, so who knows how much the spice was actually adjusted.
This is somewhere I will take my parents when they visit. My dad LOVES spicy food and I know he will greatly enjoy eating here!
Check this spot out and try going during off-times to avoid the lines!
The L is a Direct Route to Incredible Shanghainese Noms
This past Friday, I met up with Lisa and Christine (two of my favorite Stern ladies) for dinner in Williamsburg at the ever popular M. Shanghai Bistro & Garden (http://www.newmshanghai.com/). It should be noted that Christine, Michelle, Ilya and I attempted to go here on Chinese New Year and were DENIED. Nothing was going to stop us this time - NOTHING!
When we arrived, we were prompted seated. Naturally, we checked out the cocktail menu first. Is there any other way to start a meal? I ordered a Caipirinha and Christine & Lisa both got a Mojito. The drink was lovely. Lisa and Christine said their cocktails tasted super strong but I didn't feel mine tasted that way. It didn't mean it wasn't strong though!
If you come to this Williamsburg treasure, you absolutely must order the Steamed Juicy Pork Buns (SOUP DUMPLINGS!) - you get 6 for $7.50. Each of us got 2 - I could have easily eaten the entire order but I would like to keep my friendships.
There is an art to eating a soup dumpling - you must bite the top off so the interior can cool off. If you are an amateur and go in for a bite, you will be burned - literally. The inside is piping hot, so be patient you hungry fool! Once the soup cools down, slurp it up and then eat the rest of the dumpling. You're welcome.
For our entrees, we split three items. We got the #55 Sliced Beef with Scallion and Onion in Brown Sauce (Awesome!) [note: that is how it is actually listed on the menu] , #37 Shanghai Style Lo-Mein with shrimp, shredded chicken, pork and spinach in a delicious brown sauce and Kung Pao Tofu with Chinese Broccoli (not on the menu, but Lisa knew of this secret amazing dish).
This was a great mix of dishes since each was different/unique. I hate when I get Asian food and everything ends up tasting the same - so boring! It is hard to pick a favorite because they were each so different. I'd recommend ordering the same exact thing!
If you have the courage to leave Manhattan, this is a lovely spot to explore in Williamsburg. It is near many cool bars and other places to visit. Embrace Brooklyn people! It is fun and a great value - also many of my favorite people live there!
Five Minutes Was All It Took for Some IPPUDO!
Tomorrow was a rollercoaster of emotions. There was a snowstorm (see below) BUT school was not cancelled. After trekking through the wasteland outside my apartment, I arrived on campus to check into my flight to Napa TO SEE IT WAS CANCELLED. I checked to see if there were other available flights to prevent a total disaster of my weekend. There were only flights going out on Friday but, naturally, these were all sold-out...UNTIL SUNDAY!
In order to combat this disappointment, Christine suggested we go to lunch at Ippudo (http://www.ippudony.com/) and take advantage of whatever perk terrible weather is; in this case, it is an incredibly short wait time!
We started with the Hirata Buns. They are steamed buns filled with pork or chicken (we picked pork) served with Ippudo's original spicy buns sauce.
These were incredibly delicious! I could have eaten several of them but I didn't want to be a complete animal, so Christine and I split an order and had one each.
While reading the menu and picking what to order next, we each ordered a Sapporo Light.
Out of the different Ramen styles available, I ordered the Akamaru Chashu. This is the original silky "Tonkotsu" (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions and fragrant garlic oil.
This was delicious! Ippudo is certainly worth the hype though I am not an expert on Ramen. I have been happy at many other spots, including Ramen Setagaya and Minca, so I'm not sure if I would bother coming back here if the wait was over 30 minutes. It is good but to my unrefined palate it may be a *tad* overhyped.
Nothing Warms You Up Like Hot Noodles
During a break last week during my intensive class, I stopped by Ramen Takumi (http://www.ramentakumi.com/Web/) with two of my classmates, Tavi and Jessica. We were both in the need of something to distract us from an unending day of back to back sessions.
Jessica suggested this spot and I trust her advice! It was pretty easy to decide what to order: MISO RAMEN! From 11:30am to 3:30PM there is a lunch special and most dishes are a $1 off. My huge bowl of ramen was $10.95 instead of $11.95. You can add extra pork for $2.
This is a great quick lunch that warms you up and fills you up!
An Awesome Setting for an Incredible Feast
After our fun day, Courtney and I met up with my brother for dinner at Tao Downtown (http://taorestaurant.com/downtown/). As I guessed, even though we had 8:15pm reservations, we were given a buzzer and told we would be notified when our table was ready. We walked through the main dining hall to the bar.
After looking at the cocktail menu, we all ordered a drink. I chose the Ruby Red Dragon, made with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, Yuzu Citrus and a Hint of Pomegranate.
The backdrop of the bar is beautiful. I think I will come back here just for drinks sometime - a new date location!
We ordered a bunch of plates to share among us. My favorite was one of the small plates, Satay of Chilean Sea Bass with a Miso Glaze. I loved it SO MUCH that I found a recipe online and recreated it (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/miso-and-soy-chilean-sea-bass/) - it is spot on! Anyway, back to Tao!
Our next course that came out was another small plate, Rock Shrimp Lettuce Cups with spicy mayo and jalapeno lime. I was SO DISAPPOINTED with this choice! Normally I love dishes like this but it really lacked flavor - which is shocking given the spicy mayo! Thumbs down. Boo.
Courtney ordered the small plate, Crispy Rice Tuna served with spicy mayo and kabayaki sauce (whatever that is) - SHE LOVED IT! I didn't try it since I was too busy with my Sea Bass.
She also got the Pork Potstickers served with gochujang and sesame. She enjoyed it and I tried one. They were good. It is sort of hard to mess up potstickers!
Since I figured many of the small plates would be SMALL, I ordered a Chicken Pad Thai for the table. It was really yummy and a big serving, even for a fancy spot like this! It was served with a pair of wooden tongs - cute touch!
My brother decided to order several pieces of sashimi. It is served in a beautiful bowl on a bed of ice. Great Presentation!
After I finished my first cocktail, I ordered the drink Courtney first ordered: The Thai Basil Smash, made with Stoli Citrus, Thai Basil and (fresh!) Mandarin Orange. It was fantastic! The fruit was fresh (not canned) and the cocktail was very refreshing.
This is definitely a happening spot. I would recommend visiting for the cocktails and the ambiance. The food is fairly expensive for what it is, you're paying to eat at a trendy spot not necessarily to have a food-gasm.