104 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th streets)
New York, NY 10003
Before Hot Kitchen opened, the only Sichuan food I ate was from my own kitchen and the occasional trip to a random Gourmet Sichuan-esque restaurant. Most of these restaurants had the basic necessities: the double cooked pork, the mapo tofu, the GBSJD (we actually call it that – the 干煸四季豆, or dry sautéed string beans), the fish fragrant eggplant (check out my recipe here!). All these basics were too sweet, too greasy, and not spicy enough, and not nearly numbing enough. Hot Kitchen does all the basics a bit better, and has dishes beyond the basic Sichuan ones that I love. As a result, I go at least once or twice a month. The restaurant is always packed with sounds of home: loud chattering in Chinese and Qing Dao beers clinking.
I always get the 川北凉粉 or Mung Bean Noodle with Spicy and Peppery Sauce ($6.50). This is a Shi’s family favorite. The sauce is a classic Sichuan sauce. It’s spicy, sweet, numbing, and crunch from all the crushed peanuts. The noodles are served cold (goes great with the spice) and are thick but light. You know you’ve got some good noodles when they are elastic and don’t break on contact. Too many Sichuan restaurants in NYC use day(s) old noodles that are refrigerated, which causes the noodles to break. Hot Kitchen doesn’t!
麻婆豆腐 or Mapo Tofu ($13), always a must. Mapo Tofu sauce should NOT be brown. If you order this dish and get brown goopy sauce, you know your chef isn’t Sichuan. It should be bright red and way less viscous than goopiness. The tofu isn’t silken, but also isn’t that hard stuff you find at salad bars. It has enough density that it holds its own shape and doesn’t break. Hot Kitchen’s Mapo Tofu tastes pretty different from how my family makes it (we have more numbingness), but it’s still great. Super flavorful. Could just have this with a bowl of rice and be the happiest person ever. Continue reading
547 9th Ave (between 40th and 41st street)
New York, NY 10018
This charming, cozy little restaurant is just a stone’s throw away from Times Square. I’m going to be upfront and tell you that Capizzi invited me to come by and try their pizza, but I’m also going to guarantee you that I will always write unbiased reviews, regardless of who is fronting the bill. Having said that, believe me when I tell you that I was very happily surprised that this Midtown West restaurant ended up being a fantastic experience.
I started with a glass of Chianti as I waited for LAW to arrive. They have a bunch of different wines by the glass all for about $13 (can’t remember exactly).
I read the menu and really loved this little bit: “As I got older I realized it’s not just about good food. It was a passion, kind of like a sport, a love affair with food and Nature all rolled up into one.” Definitely resonates with me and the reason I even continue to have a blog in the first place.
When LAW arrived, we started with the special, which was a fresh housemade Burrata with prosciutto, artichokes, roasted peppers, and cherry tomatoes ($13.95). The platter did not look particularly fancy, more just like how you would serve something at home (everything tossed onto a very normal plate). This appetizer represented everything I love about Italian food: super simple and completely determined by the quality of ingredients. The burrata was SO creamy yet light. The tomatoes were perfect: firm, sweet, and juicy. The artichokes and roasted peppers were great as well. I could eat this appetizer all the time. Continue reading
Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue
103 2nd Ave (between 6th and 7th street)
New York, NY 10003
Mighty Quinn’s has been in my neighborhood for more than a year now yet I had not gone until just recently. It wasn’t until Chrissy Teigen (my major celebrity crush) posted that she came with John (because Chrissy is my crush, I am on a first name basis with John too) that I decided I needed to go asap. The line is always really long but it moves quickly. I would definitely consider this a fast food kind of place. Food is ready made and tables are first come first serve. (Btw, I didn’t have my camera with me so have these gritty iPhone pictures.)
Nice to see fresh vegetables in the kitchen.
LAW got the Brisket Sandwich ($8.75), which seems to be the crowd favorite as seen on Yelp and first hand at the restaurant. The brisket is sliced in front of you after you order and you see the fatty juices gush out onto the cutting board. Looked very promising but ended up tasting mediocre. It lacked flavor (which is made up for by the gallons of Mighty Quinn’s BBQ sauce on all the tables) but was very tender. The bun was cold and dry, which definitely didn’t help. Sad, sad disappointment. Continue reading
Peter Luger Steakhouse
(between 6th St & Driggs Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
I’ve been around the block now, nearly three years in NYC, and to this day, I only crave the steak of Peter Luger’s. 50% of the reason is that the steak is just so damn tasty. The steak has a crust that is so savory and charred that is also drizzled with extra steak oil before it is served. 30% of the reason is for the bacon. So damn delicious. The last 20% of my love for Peter Luger’s comes from the no BS attitude and air of the restaurant. Replace the usual white tablecloth stuffiness of a usual steakhouse with simple, rustic wooden tables.
Read more about my take on the service in my last Luger’s post before I had my awesome food camera. Pictures below are from my EPIC quarter century birthday. Continue reading
200 5th Ave
New York, NY 10010
You all know now that I love Eataly (especially after my trip to Italy). LAW and I were in the neighborhood and decided to grab a quick lunch. G.B. had told me numerous times that him and N.T. always split the Prime Rib sandwich from Eataly’s Rosticceria. This butcher counter sells a different meat per day of the week (for example, porchetta Thursdays and meatball Fridays). You can buy roasted meat and rotisserie chicken by the pound, or buy freshly made sandwiches and sides (they have roasted brussels sprouts!). Continue reading
103 1st Ave (between 6th and 7th streets)
New York, NY 10003
I love Filipino food. I didn’t really discover this until Jeepney (sister to Maharlika) popped up in my neighborhood and I got to try some excellent Bicol Express (slow roasted pork shoulder in coconut milk). I haven’t blogged Jeepney yet because I never have my camera when I go, but I definitely need to soon. It embodies everything I know about Filipino culture: fun, familial, loud, and delicious. Ugly Kitchen is another Filipino restaurant in the East Village that my friend L.B. is involved with (and even worked in the kitchen!). It embodies the same kind of vibe as Jeepney’s but is a bit more affordable (mains are $10-$15 whereas at Jeepney where they are $15-$20).
L.B. welcomed me and Y.N. with dangerous fruity cocktails that the bartender threw together as a special for the night. The most dangerous part of the cocktail was that it didn’t taste dangerous…
Y.N. asked for the most popular dish on the menu: The Ugly Grilled Chicken ($14), which consists of two pieces of fire grilled chicken with a Korean fusion marinade and a side salad and rice. As simple as this sounds, it tasted pretty damn delicious. The chicken was flavorful, had a strong charred flavor, and was fairly tender. As the chicken cooled down, it got less tender (so eat quickly!), but was still tasty. Great home cookin’ for when you don’t want to take out the grill (or don’t have one because you live in NYC).
L.B. got the Sizzling Sisig ($13), which consists of spicy minced pork belly, liver, pork cheek, all sautéed together in onions and soy sauce with an egg on top. The waiter cuts the pieces up on the sizzling stone plate when the dish is brought over. The bite size pieces are fatty, and super fragrant. It’s a classic Filipino dish that I haven’t quite learned to love just yet but can see why it is Filipino comfort food. Continue reading
Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles
144 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
If you haven’t already, it’s about time you make the trek deep into Manhattan Chinatown away from the fake Coach bags and thousands of iPhone cases on Canal Street. Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles is a tiny noodle shop on the very South Eastern tip of Chinatown. It’s been around for ages and is consistently rated as one of the best Chinese noodle places in the city. I.K., D.C, F.L., and I skipped the usual eggs benny and came here for brunch/lunch one weekend.
Prices have stayed cheap and options fairly minimal.
The restaurant is small and a little dirty. Expect to sit facing a wall or at a table with other noodle-slurping diners. Lam Zhou is a restaurant in its most basic and practical form: serves food and provides utensils to eat.
Notice that the chopsticks are from another restaurant. Seeing this made me miss home tremendously, because it reminded of how practical Chinese people are. Chopsticks are chopsticks!
As the name of the restaurant suggests, Lam Zhou is a noodle shop. It specializes in beef noodle soup where you can choose the beef type (brisket, tendon, oxtail, some combination, etc.) and the noodles (handpulled or knife-cut). I chose a brisket-tendon combo with knife-cut noodles. Continue reading
380 Lafayette St. (between 4th and Great Jones St.)
New York, NY 10003
Pardon my absence, but I’ve been super busy on the receiving end and giving end of what I have come to hate with a passion: the flu. I definitely remember a time when the flu was just a minor annoyance that actually came with tremendous benefits, such as missing school and being taken care of. The pains from the flu have gotten exponentially worse as I’ve aged. Yes, I would much rather go to work than feel like a train ran over my body and a thousand samurais lived in my throat.
Anyway, after more than 30 hours of sleep over three days and over 30 cups of water, I am now well enough to blog for you. You’re welcome!
M.B., Y.N., L.S and I recently got brunch at Lafayette, a very New York style French restaurant, reminding me of Balthazar. I’m going to say upfront that my experience at Lafayette was also very similar to Balthazar: mediocre food in a nice, bustling, classic New York feeling restaurant. M.B. and I got orange and grapefruit juices to vitamin C up our morning before our meal.
After at least 15 minutes perusing the menu, Y.N. and I both finally settled on the Smoked Salmon Benedict on Brioche with Sauce Choron ($21). I really actually wanted the breakfast sandwich but it was a $16 breakfast sandwich that I know wouldn’t have been as good as a Sausage Egg McMuffin. So I decided to at least get something worth a bit more, like smoked salmon. Continue reading
195 Ave A (between 12th and 13th)
New York, NY 10009
I was walking down Avenue A and the words “LOVE” and “PIGGIES” and “SPICY” jumped out at me (naturally). Those three words are some of my favorite things and someone was offering them for Valentine’s Day?!
Forget chocolates, pigs in a blanket are the way to a true woman’s heart. This tiny little restaurant just opened a little over a week ago on Ave A and specializes in pigs in blankets.
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
This will be short. All of you know that I LOVE Soba-Ya. If you follow me on Instagram (@whatshisees), you’ll see a photo of it nearly every weekend. The lunch menu is deeeelicious, filling, healthy, and sooo damn tasty. We’ve gone so many times we’ve figured out how to maximize our food with the least amount of money.
The restaurant offers a lunch menu where you pick a rice bowl of some kind and a soba or udon for about $15. BUUT with lots of trial and error, LAW and I have found that certain bowls are way more worth it as regular bowls (non-lunch-menu), and others more worth it as lunch-sized-bowls. So, we always get the Sake Oyako don (above) regular size and the Seared Tuna bowl lunch size. The salmon regular bowl is way bigger than the lunch one, whereas the tuna bowl is about the same size. For the lunch size, you can ask for extra soba for just $3.50. This way, LAW and I can share the lunch portion soba and feel like we have two portions. Continue reading