Umami Burger ON MY COUCH thanks to OrderAhead!

Umami BurgerMy good friends A.H. and A.C. both work at OrderAhead, an exciting food startup that is coming head to head with Caviar. Those of you who don’t know, these are food delivery startups that, well, deliver food to you. Unlike Seamless, they deliver food from places that don’t typically offer delivery services, places like ABC Kitchen, BCD Tofu House, and Taverna Kyclades. I’ve been hesitant to try these services because of the added delivery fee but my friends gave me some delivery credit so I obliged. What I came to learn is that $6 isn’t so much, especially if you’re splitting it with a friend. Physically getting to a lot of these restaurants would take way more than that. As much as I like a great meal out, I am also a homebody who loves enjoying food on my couch. Prior to OrderAhead, if I wanted to order in I would have to settle on overly-sweet-Thai-food or fishy-sushi (not the good kind of fishy…) or mediocre pizza. The time for shitty takeout is over! Smell ya later Chinese takeout box.

Umami BurgerLAW and I ordered from Umami Burger because I’ve never had it before, don’t care to ever go out of my way for it (because Shake Shack is my one true love), and because it doesn’t typically deliver to us. I placed my order from the OrderAhead app, which is simple and pretty intuitive to use.

Service was also pretty impeccable for delivery. A couple minutes after I put in my order, I got a call from OrderAhead about a specific dish request I had. I also got a text from the team telling me the delivery man, Takwaun, had picked up my order and was on the way. I read that they are working on getting tracking available for your order so you know exactly where it is. Very helpful to know my order isn’t just sitting around! Especially when I’m hangry (which is almost always right after I put in an order). Continue reading

Celebrate Lunar New Year with Godiva!

Godiva Lunar New Year Collection
I’m the luckiest girl alive. Lunar New Year is possibly my favorite holiday of the year and GODIVA SENT ME CHOCOLATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Godiva has honored my favorite holiday with a limited edition Year of the Goat gift box. I was lucky enough to receive the Mid-Autumn Festival “mooncakes” from Godiva last year, which were deeeelicious. I was very much looking forward to another collection of Belgian chocolates with Asian flavors. This is one type of fusion I can stand by.

Godiva Lunar New Year Collection
Similar to the Mid-Autumn Festival box, this box showcased three special chocolates: one dark, one milk, and one white.

Godiva Lunar New Year Collection
There were also some other classic Godiva chocolates along with the mix. Only six lucky goats (choose who’d you like to share with wisely).

Godiva Lunar New Year Collection
For this blog post, I’m featuring the lucky goats.  Continue reading

Betony: creative and delicious offspring of Eleven Madison

BetonyBetony
41 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

I’m going to take you through my meal at Betony the way I wish I experienced it: aka. without the pretentious crowd and stuffy furnishing. More on this later. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I’m not typically one to chase Michelin stars. Food that excites me is food that is undiscovered like Lan Larb or The Bao (though both have gotten pretty damn popular as of late). That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy fancy food. I like fancy pants food the same way I like going to art museums. I have a deep appreciation for passion involved in cooking and the creative work chefs do. I also like to paint though, and that kind of enjoyment is totally different. ANYWAY. LAW and I went to Betony recently and I was pumped because I had only heard good things. Started by two ex-Eleven-Madison-Park chefs, Betony has been raved about on the interwebs as a creatively delicious restaurant. Oh, it also has a Michelin star.

Betony
I started with the Beach Tea (Rhum Blanc, Cranberry Kombucha, and Absinthe Verte – $15). Oh. Hot. Damn. This is my jam. It looks pretty elementary but the mixologist performed some serious alchemy with this one. It tasted deliciously fruity and was REALLY strong in the best way possible: I felt a warmness creep into my body throughout the beverage without ever feeling like I was tasting alcohol. Alchemy.

Betony
Per my friend R.P.’s recommendation, we shared the Betony take on the lobster roll ($18). I was disappointed when I saw the dish because it’s nearly 20 bucks (enough for like 7 “burgers” at Xi’an Famous Foods) yet looks like a few sticks of Chinese egg rolls. Lesson learned to never judge a book by its cover because these little rolls were bursting (BURSTING, I tell you) with essence of lobster roll. I don’t understand how so much lobster flavor was jammed into these tiny cylinders but man were they tasty. The shell of the roll was a crispy, slightly flakey pastry. The filling was magic. Continue reading

The most authentic Canto food at Cha Chan Tang

Cha Chan TangCha Chan Tang (aka Tea Restaurant)
45 Mott Street (between Pell St and Bayard St)
New York, NY 10013

Cha Chan Tang is a type of restaurant that is popular in Hong Kong and specializes in cheap Canto-Western style foods. It also happens to be the name of a restaurant in Chinatown that serves up this exact kind of food. Directly translated, “cha chan tang” means “tea restaurant.” They came to exist after the British colonized Hong Kong and brought the concept of having tea and cakes. Western food was very expensive so restauranteurs decided to make a “tea restaurant” just for locals which served up a fusion menu. This restaurant in Chinatown mimics these types of restaurants through their menu and decor (see above… they have these fake windows that play videos of Hong Kong streets/traffic on loop… pretty cool).

Cha Chan Tang
The reason I knew we had stepped into an authentic cha chan tang was because of the intense smell of Hong Kong style milk tea. Hong Kong style milk tea is made with black tea and condensed or evaporated milk. Sounds simple enough but the real deal is actually pretty hard to come by. To make this concoction, tea leaves are placed in a sackcloth (see above), which are then placed in a container with water that is brought to a boil. The sackcloth is said to make the tea smoother. The container is removed when the water is boiling, and then sometimes brought back to a boil. This repeated action intensifies the flavor and caffeine levels – hence, the milk tea is usually pretty caffeinated.

Cha Chan Tang
The milk tea looks just like this. You can then add sugar to your liking. It’s strong, milky, and very, very fragrant.

Cha Chan TangThis is a classic pineapple bun. Growing up, I had one of these at least once a week. It is a slightly sweet bread that is made to resemble a pineapple. Nothing about the taste is pineappley. The crust is flakey and sugary while the center is soft and fluffy. This version is a buttered pineapple bun that is very common in cha chan tangs. A warm pineapple bun is served with a fat slab of butter in the middle, melting as it reaches your table. The bun paired with the strong tea is enough reason to visit the restaurant over and over again. Continue reading

Shi’s Kitchen: Taiwanese Braised Pork Over Rice (卤肉饭)

Braised Pork Over Rice
Oh, home. I love home. Whenever I go home I find that I’m in this room most of the time, watching either my mom or grandma prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or some snack. During every waking hour of the day, someone is always in the kitchen prepping or cooking. This past Christmas, I learned how to make Braised Pork Over Rice (卤肉饭), a classic Taiwanese comfort food. I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t enjoy this.

Braised Pork Over Rice
Finished product! The pork belly that we used was a bit too fatty… hence all of the extra oils. Feel free to use less fatty meats or skim the fat (or eat it like me because it has so much flavorrrrrr). The recipe is very simple and very similar to my Red Cooked Pork Belly that has become quite popular.

Ingredients:

Braised Pork Over Rice
Couple pounds of pork belly (sorry, this recipe isn’t super precise but it’s also because it doesn’t need to be). Blanche the pork belly (aka. dump slabs of the meat into boiling water for about a minute and take out). This gets rid of some of the gamey flavors. Then chop them up into 1cm thick bits.

Braised Pork Over Rice
Diced onion, garlic, and ginger.

Braised Pork Over Rice
Star anise, cinnamon, ginger, a few bay leaves, and rock sugar (not pictured). Continue reading

The original Xi’an Famous Foods … in Xi’an.

Xi'an Food
子午路张记肉夹馍
located throughout Xi’an, China

I’m back from a two week trip home in Beijing where I ate five meals a day, mostly from my mother’s kitchen. I also did a short two day trip to my dad’s hometown in Xi’an. If you live in New York, you probably recognize Xi’an from the deeeelicious Xi’an Famous Foods chain. Well, I visited the original Xi’an Famous Foods and (no offense) it blew me away. Xi’an Famous Food is amazingly great. But compared to what it aspires to be, I think there is still room for improvement. 子午路张记肉夹馍 (Zai Wu Lu Zhang Ji Rou Jia Mo) is a chain that has apparently been around for ages and ages. It serves up just a handful of classic Xi’an foods.

Xi'an Food
Check out the menu board. Just a few items. All incredibly affordable (8元 is about $1.30, which in this case buys you one stewed pork burger and almost two Liang Pi noodles).

Xi'an Food
You order and pay at the front.

Xi'an Food
Then find a seat and wait. Fast food style.

Xi'an Food
This is where the dude chops up that juicy, flavorful stewed pork for the burger. Continue reading

Brushstroke: delicious and filling fancy pants lunch

Brushstroke
Brushstroke
30 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10013

What started out to be a painfully awkward lunch at Brushstroke became a surprisingly delicious one. LAW and I were invited by his parents’ friends for lunch at this fancy David Bouley restaurant. The restaurant is spacious and quiet (too quiet, though the bottle of wine fixed that). We each had the $55 lunch tasting menu, which came with an amuse bouche (above), an appetizer, entree, rice bowl, and dessert (lots of food!). The amuse bouche was very tasty and light. Each bite was extremely different: one with a yuzu gelee, another with a smokey salmon, and the third with a cauliflower puree and truffle. Delicious.

Brushstroke
There are  five different apps to choose from. I chose the Pacific Jumbo Oyster with uni, bay scallop, and meyer lemon foam (yes, that egg-looking thing is actually a light, airy lemony foam…). This is one of the most umami things I’ve ever had. One bite with fresh oyster, uni, AND scallop?! *faints* So good. Continue reading

Shi’s Kitchen: Easiest, Tastiest, Homiest Egg Tofu Recipe

Egg TofuEgg tofu is one of my favorite things in the world. And that’s only a slight exaggeration. For some reason, I haven’t seen it any any restaurants in Manhattan. Why isn’t anyone making this? Well, I took the matter into my own hands and have been making this version of egg tofu for years now. It’s delicious. Simple. And reminds me of home. Not much more you can ask for in life.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tubes of egg tofu (Yes, they come in tubes. No, it’s not gross. You can find at HK Supermarket)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 longhorn peppers
  • 1-2 stalks of scallions
  • 0.5 pounds of ground pork (about a fist size)
  • chili bean paste 豆瓣酱 (which I also use in my Braised Chili Fish and Yu Xiang Eggplant)

Egg Tofu
First slice the egg tofu into half inch slices and pan fry each side until golden. Takes about a minute per side. Continue reading

MEW Izakaya: my new favorite late night dining spot

MEW Izakaya
MEW Izakaya
53 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10016

SOOO EXCITED! Rarely do I go to a new restaurant and know immediately that I’ll be a regular from that moment on. MEW Izakaya is now my favorite late night dining spot. LAW and I tend to eat really late (my terrible work schedule doesn’t help) so I’m so so so happy to have found MEW.

MEW Izakaya
Izakayas are Japanese late night drinking spots that also serve food. MEW is an amazing izakaya tucked underground in K-Town (you literally walk downstairs). Most of the crowd fits under the “hip asian” category (think shaved heads with pony tails, denim on denim, and beanies that sit straight up on your head). The menu is an awesome mash up of Japanese foods with Western flair. I literally am going to go back again and again until I’ve tried everything. Continue reading

Lan Larb: pretty damn legit new Thai restaurant

Lan Larb
Lan Larb
637 2nd Ave (between 34th and 35th street)
New York, NY 10016

Murray Hill is completely over saturated with Thai places, most of which I qualify as TOTS (take-out Thai standard – as in decent pad thai, pad see ew, and basil rice). I rarely order anything else because TOTS places don’t have much else to offer that is good. I miss dishes like steamed lemongrass fish, phat kaphrao (this spicy stir fried ground pork with lots of basil), and LARB. Luckily, a place called Lan Larb opened up near my place. I generally think that if you name your restaurant the name of a food, you are damn good at making that food. Decided to check out the larb!

This (above) is larb. Larb is actually a Laotian dish of minced meat, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted ground rice, and lots of sweet raw onions. It was delicious here. The dish has a great combo of sweetness from the fish sauce and onions, acidity from the lime, and spice from the… spice. The roasted rice was delicious and added a great crunch. I could totally just have this with a bowl of rice and be very, very happy.

Continue reading