Monthly Archives: January 2014

I missed Italy so much, I went to Eataly.

Eataly
Eataly
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010

I’ve been to Eataly a countless number of times for fresh pasta, squares of focaccia, some balsamic vinegar, etc., but have never been to the restaurants. The lines are always too long and the reviews too average for me to bother.  But since getting back from Italy not too long ago, I’ve been CRAVING Italian food. I’ve been wanting meats, cheeses, wines, pizzas, pastas, ugh! LAW and I were doing some shopping in Flatiron area and decided to “just go to Eataly” since it is right there and we’ve never been.

Eataly
The wait for La Pizza & La Pasta was an hour so we parked at a corner of a standing table at La Piazza and decided to have some appetizers first.  La Piazza is at the center of the bustling supermarket. You find an empty spot and servers come to take your order of various meats, cheeses, and wine. It feels very casual and friendly.

Eataly
LAW and I shared the Grande Piatto Misto Di Salumi & Formaggi ($22), an assortment of the best meats and cheeses of Eataly. I also had a glass of the Pinot Nero 2011 ($12/glass), a medium bodied fruity red that the server suggested (great suggestion). The platter came with four types of cheeses that ranged in hardness and sharpness. It also came with a salumi, a ham, and three types of prosciuttos. Oh, and ENDLESS delicious sourdoughy bread! So worth the $22. Continue reading

Taverna Kyclades: love me some good seafood in EV

Taverna Kyclades
Taverna Kyclades
228 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 14th St)
New York, NY 10009

FISH! FISH! FISH! I’m so happy that a great, affordable seafood place has opened in the East Village. Taverna Kyclades is a casual seafood restaurant that just opened up where Tepito and David’s Bagels used to be. I used to think that spot was cursed (bad feng shui or something) because the restaurants there never stay long. Three restaurants have occupied that spot in less than two years. I’ve never been interested in trying those restaurants because their reviews have always been super mediocre. Taverna Kyclades opened up late last year, a sister restaurant to the eponymous restaurant in Astoria. The original one in Astoria is so popular that people line up for hours on the weekends to get a taste of the fresh seafood.

Taverna Kyclades
Lucky us, the East Village location has not gained that much popularity yet. LAW and I came on a Tuesday evening and only had a 15 minute wait (still wildly impressive for a weekday).

Taverna Kyclades
This is the free bread that they give out. AMAZING baguette – crusty, soft, chewy – toasted with olive oil and spices. Huge plus in my book for starting the meal right. I would come just for this bread and wine if I could get away with it.

Taverna Kyclades
When you come, you MUST get this. This is the Octopodi: charcoal grilled Mediterranean octopus ($15.95). Prior to this, the best grilled octopus I had had was at Pylos, also a really, really great Greek restaurant. Pylos is a bit fancier. It has prettier decor, nicer plates, prettier wine glasses, etc. Also has really great octopus. But this octopodi was phenomenal. It was even more tender than the one at Pylos and had an addicting smokey finish. It was a bit simpler than the one at Pylos, which had a caramelized balsamic glaze. This one was just drizzled with olive oil and some simple herbs. Continue reading

Burj Al Arab: Afternoon Tea (aka. a ticket to see the hotel)

Burj Al Arab: Afternoon Tea
This is the lobby of the Burj Al Arab. Take a good look at this because it is an (annoyingly but very Dubai) excluuuuuusive view.

We were in Dubai for Christmas and felt pressured to visit the Burj Al Arab. Every single day, there is a mob of people outside the gates of the Burj taking selfies with the sailboat hotel. It is the world’s only 7-star hotel. No one is allowed past the gates unless you live there or have reservations at one of the restaurants. The cheapest option to gain access is to book a seat at the Skyview Bar, which has a minimum of $75 per person. My brother is under 21 so that wasn’t an option for us. The second cheapest option is to have afternoon tea, which is $115 per person around the holidays. Dinner at one of the restaurants is about $300 to $500 per person. We were going to have dinner to fully experience the hotel but I found out that the food quality is sub par. One of my biggest pet peeves is paying for bad food so vetoed the option. Tea is what we ended up going for!

Burj Al Arab: Afternoon Tea
The first of six courses, not including the champagne, date juice, coffee, tea, or petit fours, was the Berry Tart. I came kind of expecting the food to suck, which may be why I was so pleasantly surprised. The tart came on a light, crisp base with a thin layer of whipped cream and fresh berries. It was delicious.

Burj Al Arab: Afternoon Tea
Those of us over 21 had champagne, while my brother had sparkling date juice. The date juice was disappointing because it just tasted like apple cider. I was hoping for something more Arabian. Continue reading

Nagi Ramen: 12-hour sardine broth with wide noodles

November and December of 2013 was a ton of traveling. I went to Italy, North Carolina, Beijing, Dubai, and Japan. The next couple of posts will be mostly from these travels (in no particular order), especially since winter in New York is very sad (dirty, dark, and depressing). Once the weather warms up a bit, I’ll be back on the New York grind.

Nagi RamenNagi Niboshi
1-3-1 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

While in Japan, I was on the hunt for the best ramen as well as new kinds of ramen I have not had. I thought I hit a jackpot when I found Nagi as it is consistently very well rated and is unique. Nagi serves up flat, wide noodles (like pappardelle) with traditional wavy noodles and has a distinctive extra-umami broth. The niboshi broth is boiled for 12 hours with dried sardines. For those of you who hate sardines, I know you hate it for its fishiness but the 12 hours of boiling kills that fishiness. LAW, who hates all things fishy, didn’t even notice. The broth is just very fragrant and… umami.

Nagi Ramen
Like a lame tourist, (it’s hard for me to keep my cool, even though this is my third time in Japan), I was excited to use the ticket vending machine to purchase my ramen. I was about as excited as that cartoon in the background.

Nagi Ramen
The ramen dudes were super jolly as they made noodles for their customers. They would poke fun at each other and their customers (me) while serving. They didn’t speak English, but we managed because we didn’t care what they gave us. Everything looked great.

Nagi Ramen
Ugh. Yum. I got the one with everything in it: thick, soft slices of pork belly, seaweed, bamboo shoots, scallions, and a soft-boiled egg. Continue reading

Godiva meets Lunar New Year

Godiva
J.J.  recently invited me to the debut of Godiva’s limited edition “Year of the Horse” collection at Godiva’s headquarters in New York. I had never been to a chocolate tasting before – so this was pretty damn exciting for me!

Godiva
Here are the gems:

  • a milk chocolate filled with crunchy almond praline, sour cherry, and a hint of honey
  • a dark chocolate filled with crunchy caramel pear ganache with a touch of vanilla
  • a white chocolate with macadamia cream and pineapple

I’m normally a medium dark chocolate person (like a 60-70% cocoa kind of girl) and completely anti white chocolate. White chocolate never felt like chocolate to me because it doesn’t have cocoa solids, only cocoa butter. Godiva’s new white chocolate melts so smoothly on your tongue and is not too sweet. The nutty and tart filling from the macadamia and pineapple melds into the creamy buttery white chocolate. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I’ve purchased Godiva chocolate, but after I finish my samples, I will probably go try to find some more of this white chocolate.

Continue reading

The Everyday Farmer’s Market in Beijing

Shuang Yu Market
When I first moved back to the US, I remember “farmer’s markets” being all the craze. I would hear things like, “Oh, I got these beautiful fingerling potatoes at the farmer’s market today!” or , “I like knowing that my tomatoes are from a farm just a couple hours away from me.” It sounded a bit pretentious to me at the time, but then I realized that my family shops at a so-called “farmer’s market” in Beijing for all our groceries. It isn’t a novel concept, nor is it a new-age health or sustainability craze, it’s just the way a lot of people buy groceries in China.

Welcome to Shuang Yu Market, the local market by my home in Beijing.

Shuang Yu Market
Bags of man tou, or steamed buns, in the back of a van.

Shuang Yu Market
Locksmith and key duplication.

Shuang Yu Market
The fresh meat hall where  we get all of our pork. Freshly ground pork, ribs, spine for stew, etc. Continue reading