Monthly Archives: May 2014

Cafe Mogador: NYC’s pioneer Moroccan restaurant

Cafe Mogador Cafe Mogador
101 St. Marks Place (between Ave A and 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009

Cafe Mogador is the definition of the type of restaurant that I love. It has all the right components to keep me going back again and again. I’m almost sad that I just discovered it now because it is just that good. It satisfies my criteria of:

  1. Having really great food (duh)
  2. Having a speciality food (I hate places that do “all things” because it is impossible to do all things well) – Moroccan specifically (think tagines, cous cous, hummus, babaganoush…)
  3. Having really reasonable prices (~$20 an entree and ~$10 an appetizer)
  4. Having the right “mood” that  pauses time and allows you to get lost in your food and conversation

Cafe Mogador
The drinks are also strong. There’s really nothing not to like! It’s been around since 1983 so is pretty much an East Village landmark. A colleague of mine said his wife grew up going to Cafe Mogador as a little girl. I can’t imagine growing up in East Village but if it involved coming to Cafe Mogador every weekend, I’d be pretty happy about it.

Cafe Mogador
LAW, B.A., B.P., H.W., and I came on a Friday night and definitely waited a good hour before we got a table. It was warm out (YES warm nights!) so it wasn’t so bad. We started with the Hummus Falafel Platter with green sauce ($12). The hummus is the best I’ve had in the city, not quite at Jordanian hummus level, but very, very, good. Not as machine-made smooth as store-bought… FRESH is how I would describe it. Fresh, light, and creamy. The falafel was also the kind I like: small, crisp on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Hate it when falafels are over fried and have a thick crust and dense filling. Continue reading Cafe Mogador: NYC’s pioneer Moroccan restaurant

Apartment 13: Japanese, Caribbean, and American

Apartment 13 Apartment 13
113 Loisada Ave (Ave C and 7th Street)
New York, NY 10009

I was lucky enough to meet CutiePatroller last week over dinner at Apartment 13. CutiePatroller is a NYC food blogger recently started working for Tabelog. Tabelog is a review site curated by other food bloggers. The idea is that the reviews you read will be of higher quality and will contain better photos so you can make a more informed decision. You might remember, but I was a judge for Tabelog a while ago for one of their many restaurant awards. It was awesome to connect with CutiePatroller because a) I don’t really ever connect with other food bloggers and it’s great to learn about their processes and challenges; and b) she’s super cool and fun AND has had her own little boutique clothing store (Cutie Room) in NoHo. Needless to say, I had a great time! Now onto the food!

Apartment 13
Apartment 13 serves up fusion Japanese, Caribbean, and American cuisine. It’s well rated on Yelp and sounded like it has interesting flavor combinations so I was pretty excited to try it. We started with Mimi’s Maryland Crabcake with coconut crema, sour mango, and scotch bonnet (don’t know what that is) ($13). $13 for a single crabcake is definitely on the pricier side. Given the price and that it was pretty mediocre, I wouldn’t recommend it. It came not cold nor hot, symbolic of our meal to come. At least it was packed with crab and not just filled with breading.  Continue reading Apartment 13: Japanese, Caribbean, and American

Fushimi: French inspired Japanese food

Fushimi
Fushimi
475 Driggs Ave (right off of the L train in Williamsburg)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Doesn’t look like NYC right? Fushimi is a gigantic restaurant (in NYC terms) tucked a couple streets behind the Bedford Ave stop on the L train in Williamsburg. I wouldn’t have known about it had I not been invited to sample their menu recently. I brought LAW along with me who also played Mr. Photographer for me. And let me tell you, it was quite an experience. 

Fushimi
The place is decorated like a lounge. Red and blue lights everywhere. I was told to ask for Sunny when I got in. So I did, and the hostess said, “you must be Tiffany,” as she curtsied/bowed to me. Service is serious. We waited for a couple minutes before Sunny showed up in a tight-fitted suit. 

Fushimi
He brought us to our table, which was in a booth with red tassels that hung off the top rim of the ceiling. The decor was very stereotypically “Asian” – I almost felt like I was in Hong Kong at a mafia-run lounge. Sunny had the chef prepare us a special menu that included some specials they planned to debut over Mother’s Day weekend. The food is fusion, which is often way too sweet and drenched in sauces for me. Fushimi was different, and was less fusion than French-inspired Japanese food. Sunny also explained that a lot of people tend to think of Japanese food as just raw fish, which he tries to dispel through Fushimi’s menu. Fushimi’s menu is therefore mostly cooked food. Something Sunny hopes will appeal more to Westerners or older folks who are not used to eating raw foods.

FushimiAll the menu items are Japanese inspired but certainly don’t stay within the realm of Japanese food. LAW started with the West Meets East cocktail ($10), which is a whiskey based cocktail that is very, very strong. Definitely a good deal given the quality of the drink.

Fushimi
I started with the Yuzu Citrus Martini, which is a deeeelicious girly drink. Yuzu is a citrus fruit commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It kind of tastes like a grapefruit and mandarin orange hybrid… very great for a cocktail because the bitterness cuts out the alcohol flavor.

Fushimi
Our food adventure begins with the Prawn Frites ($15) with coconut and macadamia crusted jumbo prawns and homemade lemon tartar sauce. The side salad was dressed in a yuzu wasabi vinaigrette.

Fushimi
The prawns were ginormous. The photo doesn’t do it justice because you have nothing to compare it to. The prawn was sweet, tender, and very meaty on the inside. I couldn’t really taste the macadamia crust but the coconut added a nice flakey texture to the crust. Good stuff.

Continue reading Fushimi: French inspired Japanese food

Holey Donuts! New low fat “gourmet” donuts in West Village.

Holey Donuts!
Holey Donuts!
101 Seventh Avenue South
New York, NY 10014

Gourmet donuts are so popular these days. They’re taking over the cupcake craze, which makes perfect sense. Donuts are literally just prettier versions of fried dough (like cupcakes are to cake). I was recently invited to check out Holey Donuts! during its three-day grand opening. Frank, the owner, spent time talking to me about his donuts and how he got to where he is today. As always, I will state upfront if I was specifically invited to a tasting or had my meal comped for a review. Regardless of the situation, be confident that all my reviews reflect my objective opinions of the food. Rest assured!

Holey Donuts!
Holey Donuts! has been around for almost a decade as an online donut shop but opened its first brick and mortar store in the West Village this past weekend. It makes ultra low fat gourmet donuts in a variety of flavors, frosted and jelly-filled. The base of the donut is actually not even fried. It is baked through a proprietary process and then made to order in front of you at the store. Continue reading Holey Donuts! New low fat “gourmet” donuts in West Village.

THE ULTIMATE ICELAND FOOD (and tour) GUIDE

IcelandOkay, maybe not the ultimate, but I think pretty close to it. LAW, G.B., N.T., and I spontaneously decided to go to Iceland over Easter weekend. We left on a Wednesday night and came back Monday night. In our typical way of travel, we jam packed the days with as much as possible. Since most of you actually reading this post are probably also planning to go to Iceland, I’ll share with you our itinerary first and then go into the food. Since this isn’t a travel blog, I won’t go into details about the specific sites. But I think the schedule we did will help you plan. If food is all you’re here for, skip ahead!

IcelandFirst of all, Iceland was amazing. If you’re on the fence, I hope I push you over to the other side so that you go. The place is unlike any other that I’ve been to. Crazy weather, endless waterfalls, miles and miles of Mars-like terrain – do go. Here’s my itinerary, which I think was pretty efficient and allowed us to see most things available from Reykjavik.

IcelandDay 1
Rented a car from the airport and drove to Reykjavik (where our hotel was). On our way to Reykjavik, we stopped by: small town where former U.S. troops hung out, The Blue Lagoon (2-3 hours of hanging out in a geothermal pool, very cool), and The Bridge Between Two Continents (yes, that’s what it’s actually called), which is a bridge that connects the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This is probably the most efficient way to spend your time because all of this stuff is on the way to Reykjavik.

Day 2
The Golden Circle, which is a loop that takes you to multiple iconic sites. We saw the Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall (epic), Geysir, and Kerio (a volcanic crater lake – underrated).

Day 3
Drove along the southern coast and saw two beautiful waterfalls off of the highway, the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Both are awesome in their own way. One has a beautiful LOTR-esque path behind it that you can walk through. Another is hidden behind a narrow canyon. You literally hike through and immediately find yourself standing up against this epic waterfall. After these two waterfalls, head towards the town of Vik (which isn’t that cool) but is right by the awesome Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

Day 4

We did a day hike at Glymur, which leads you to the highest waterfall in Iceland. If you’re into more treacherous hikes, I would definitely do this one. We forded many rivers and hauled ourselves up the mountain using various ropes and chains drilled into the mountain. I would recommend taking a picture of the map at the start of the hike because the trail gets a bit confusing.

Day 5
Hung out in Reykjavik. Went to the best rated cafe (Reykjavik is supposed to have really good coffee) and ate our way through the day.

ONTO THE FOOD! Continue reading THE ULTIMATE ICELAND FOOD (and tour) GUIDE