218 Lafayette St
(between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
We had a big dinner here to celebrate J.P.’s birthday. M.C. and J.H. organized everything and J.H. even crafted a set family-style menu ($80 each) so that we could try a bit of everything. If it weren’t for this family-style meal, I probably would have had only two things: free bread and pasta. After having tried half of their menu now, I can say that the free bread and pasta were the highlights of my meal anyway and will probably be the things I have the next time I’m there. I’m thinking of starting a “free bread” ranking… to rank the restaurants with the best free bread. If a restaurant takes the time and energy to serve you warm, delicious, buttery rosemary rolls, or in the case, airy light focaccia drenched in olive oil, you start the meal with a smiling face and happy belly. Only good things can ensue. Thoughts?
We started with the Five-Choice Crostini (normally priced at $28), which consisted of towers of crostini, also drenched in olive oil, and five different types of dip. From left to right: 1) fresh pea, fava bean, mint & crispy speck; 2) smoked trout, olives, and sour cream; 3) roasted beets, shallots, and ricotta (which the waiter made sure to pronounce as rhee-KOE-DA); 4) buffalo ricotta and nepitella pesto; 5) veal crudo and tonnato. It was nice to see that the kitchen paid such close attention to every dip. It was clear that every single one was crafted with care and meant to shine on its own. Not one was just thrown in as a filler. My favorite was the smoked trout, olives, and sour cream. It was like a tuna salad on crack. The smoked trout was so smokey in flavor and went very well with the slight tartness of the olives. Sour cream added an extra creaminess that mayo alone couldn’t provide.
We also had the Polpettine Prosciutto and Mortadella (a large Italian sausage) Meatballs baked in tomato sauce (normally priced at $10). I did not know that the meatballs were made with prosciutto and mortadella during dinner as I never saw a menu and definitely wasn’t able to distinguish the unique meats through taste. I do remember the meatballs being extremely robust. Each ball was hearty as hell and very tasty, though it could have been a bit more tender. Parisi Bakery’s meatballs still win in my book. We also had the Insalata Mista (normally priced at $12), which was a mixed green salad with spring vegetables, salumi, and parmigiano. The spring vegetables were pickled, which I happen to like a lot. However, the dressing itself was a strong vinaigrette; once combined with the pickles, seemed a bit too sour overall.
Continue reading Osteria Morini, Michael White’s casual Italian joint in Soho.
Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89104
After a long hot day in Vegas, the last thing I wanted to do was gamble or party. I just wanted some amazing food in my hotel room, a good book in hand (in this case, Kitchen Confidential), and some mindless TV program buzzing in the background (I don’t have cable in NYC so I tried to have the TV on constantly while soaking up all the other amenities of the Wynn). Multiple people had suggested Lotus of Siam to me and though I was skeptical of finding good Thai food in the desert, I reminded myself that I had found amazing fresh sushi in the desert so anything is possible.
I was excited to find a much more extensive menu than typical Thai places in NYC. They had Northern Thai dishes, which I had never had before, meaning I would definitely try. Both photos above are of the Khao Soi ($9.95), a coconut based red curry egg noodle dish with Burmese influences. The noodles are garnished with deep-fried noodles, sliced red onion, lime, and pickled vegetables. The curry was buuuuuuursting with flavor and very rich, unlike all the watered down curries I’ve had everywhere else in the US. Every ingredient added another layer of complexity… Continue reading Lotus of Siam, best Thai food I’ve had in the US.
Hua Ji Pork Chop
7 Allen St
New York, NY 10002
Woooooooooooo it’s Friday!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a ton of stuff to do before the weekend begins so I’m going to leave this quick and dirty gem with you. Hua Ji Pork Chop is quick, dirty, and absolutely delicious. It’s located pretty far down into Chinatown in a dingy little space that has bar seating enough for 6. With $5, you get three pieces of crispy pork chop, taiwanese 雪菜 (snow veggies… a kind of pickled vegetable that always goes with rice and beef noodle soup. Trust me it’s good.), and some meat gravy, all over a bowl of rice. Oh, and a bowl of soup. All of these items come in a plastic take-out container so you either wolf down your food and leave, or you take it with you outside and squat on the sidewalk and eat like a real baller. Continue reading Hua Ji Pork Chop – my kind of Chinese fast food
Nai Tapas Bar
174 First Ave
New York, NY 10009
Meh. I was looking for a good tapas place in East Village to take my family and some family friends because some of them had never had tapas before. I am really not well-versed in the tapas scene in NYC so relied heavily on Yelp and friends. Nai Tapas Bar is probably the highest rated in East Village with 4.5 stars on Yelp and Urban Spoon, and was also recommended to me multiple times by friends. They also took reservations which was a big plus for a big group. I ordered a variety of things and nothing stood out, especially not the watered-down sangria.
Chorizo A La Plancha ($5.50/$11.00)* – grilled Spanish sausage wrapped in a fried potato chip. It tastes like how it looks. Not bad, not great. Sausage was decent but didn’t have any particular flavors and wasn’t dry nor juicy… what else to say? Continue reading Nai Tapas – someone please explain.