Category Archives: Midtown West

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 Betony: creative and delicious offspring of Eleven Madison

A grandmother’s home by Times Square?! Welcome to Cappizi.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Capizzi
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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI 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.

Cappizi
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 A grandmother’s home by Times Square?! Welcome to Cappizi.

The Bar Room at The Modern: come for business and not pleasure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Bar Room at The Modern
9 W 53rd St
(between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

For you philistines out there, that would be the restaurant at the MOMA. I imagined all these artsy people dining there, discussing the latest David Zwirner gallery exhibit and Rembrandt’s recent appearance on Google for his birthday.

But… no. It was all businessmen gathered for a tasteful evening at the museum restaurant.

LAW and I came after work one day to celebrate a little occasion. Once I sat down I realized this isn’t the type of restaurant I would normally love to celebrate in. The tables are a little bit too large so that you are distanced from your dining partner – clearly not for a romantic or even cheery meal but more for a business lunch. Everyone spoke in contained voices and there was no laughter. Zero.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Nonetheless, I had a pretty good meal and was in good celebratory spirits anyway with the LAW. We started with the Tarte Flambee alsatian thin crust tart with Hen Of The Woods Mushrooms, Chive, And Comté Cheese Gratiné ($18).

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The crust was super thin, and slightly crispy at the bottom. Mushrooms needed a little more shroom flavor (I would add truffle oil) but otherwise tasted very nice. Pleasant. Cheese was salty and was balanced by mushrooms. Chives added a nice kick. Nothing spectacular but served its purpose. Continue reading The Bar Room at The Modern: come for business and not pleasure.

El Sabroso: Midtown lunch from a hidden Ecuadorian restaurant

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEl Sabroso
265 W 37th St
(between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10018

I am not one for heavy lunches because I tend to go all out for dinner. I know it’s healthier to eat more for lunch and less for dinner … but I get sleepy at work and I think my dinner cooking or East Village options are better than what Midtown West has to offer. I also use lunch as an opportunity to get aaaall the good veggies my body craves. I refuse to have salads for dinner.

Buuuuut there are exceptions. Someone at work mentioned a hidden Ecuadorian place by our office and V.V. convinced me to go by essentially guilt tripping me and accusing me of missing out on a blogging opportunity. So here we go.

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The place is legit hidden on 37th street. It looks tiny from the outside but when we walked in, we realized that small entrance leads to a very large storage-like space. Continue reading El Sabroso: Midtown lunch from a hidden Ecuadorian restaurant

Totto Ramen, I just keep coming back.

Totto Ramen
366 W 52nd St
(between 9th Ave & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

It’s getting cold again and naturally, I am beginning to crave ramen again.  No other ramen in the city satisfies my palate as much as Totto Ramen does.  If you follow my blog, you’ll have heard the name mentioned quite a few times. It’s a bit of a hike from downtown but is always incredibly worth the time traveling, and the time waiting in line. We went for a late 2:30pm lunch on a weekday and still needed to wait 30 minutes to be seated. Like seasoned veterans, we sat down and knew exactly what we wanted to order: 2 bowls of Spicy Ramen ($10.25), one Char Siu Mayo Don ($4.50), and one Pork Bun ($3.00).


Slurp slurp slurp.  This is my favorite ramen on the menu.  Other favorites include the Vegetable Ramen, and the Nikku Ramen, which is an extra large bowl with piles and piles of delicious, tender pork belly.  The Spicy Ramen is exceptional when you just want a solid bowl of no-fuss pork broth noodles.  The noodles are always perfectly al dente and they come with a mound of fresh spring onions that really help freshen up the porkiness of the broth.  The spicy sauce is that delicious kind my Sichuan grandmother has taught me to make: fried chili flakes and powder.  It comes with generous slices of pork belly that has been torched to produce a nice smokey finish.  Slurp slurp slurp.

Continue reading Totto Ramen, I just keep coming back.

Best Chicken and Rice?

    
Halal Guys
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019

 

If you’re visiting New York City and want to try something quintessentially NYC, forget the pretzel and hot dog stands, and try some chicken and rice from Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th*.  You’ll find Halal Carts on almost every street corner in the city, yet Halal Guys has somehow able to secure the “best” title in a majority of New Yorkers’ minds.  LAW works near there so I sometimes will go and have a weekday lunch with him there and even on weekdays, there is always a line (see top right).  I hear that on weekends, both for lunch, dinner, and post-partying munchies, the line can get pretty crazy… sometimes up to an hour wait.

True… the pile of chicken and bin full of lamb do not really look that appetizing.  But no one ever said this was a pretty meal.

Once it is all put it all in a tin plate with extra white sauce and drops of super spicy red sauce, you will for sure be salivating for the first bite.  The rice is a yellow rice that is quite firm and not sticky at all.  The white sauce is like a Greek-yogurt sauce and helps to bind all the ingredients together.  Looking at some recipes online, it appears that the white sauce is made with yogurt, spices, and lots of mayo… gluttony.  You can get the Chicken and Rice platter, Lamb and Rice platter, or the Mix Platter which contains both meats, each for $7.  The pita bread that it comes with is soft and chewy, much more doughy than supermarket pitas.  Thankfully, the platter also comes with some chopped lettuce on the side to freshen up the fattiness of the chicken and sauce.

Continue reading Best Chicken and Rice?

Yakitori Totto, a midtown gem.

Yakitori Totto
251 W 55th St, 2nd floor
(between Broadway & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

 

Midtown is a bore.  It’s where people work and where tourists comb through on their way to Times Square and a Broadway show.  The only time you’ll ever catch me willingly headed towards that direction is when I’m heading to Totto Ramen (which I still have yet to blog because I don’t have good enough photos to do this place justice!!) and its sister restaurant, Yakitori Totto.  I recently had lunch at Yakitori Totto and already can’t wait to go back.  The food is great and they have that cool lit up egg display (see above)!  Yakitori, technically means chicken skewer in Japanese, but also refers to all skewered foods in general.  I would definitely come for lunch over dinner because they have an amazing special that gets you three yakitori over a bowl of gleaming white rice, salad, and miso soup, all for $9-$12.  For dinner, you have to order individual yakitori for $3-$5 each (though you do get many more yakitori options).

I present to you the Yakitori Don with negima, a type of yakitori that is made with chicken (thigh in this case, I believe) and scallions.  A light layer of yakitori sauce is brushed onto the chicken, adding to the already flavorful, tender, and moist chicken.  I was googling yakitori sauce recipes and it seems that real yakitori sauce is made by boiling chicken bones, soy sauce, sake, sugar, pepper, scallions, garlic, and ginger.  No wonder it is so damn fragrant… Continue reading Yakitori Totto, a midtown gem.

Bouchon Bakery: Lemon Tart and more

Bouchon Bakery
10 Columbus Cir, 3rd Floor
(between W Central Park & Broadway)
New York, NY 10019

 

Bouchon apparently means “stopper” in French.  Not quite what I was expecting out of such a pretty word.  Bouchon?  Bouchon.  I could say it all day.  Boooo-shaaaungg.  Beautiful, just beautiful.

 

This lemon tart was equally beautiful.  The crust was not too sweet and was crumbly, which is only ever good when it is a crust (crumbly cookies?  No, thank you.).  The gooey lemon center was probably more tart than expected but only because I always tend to prepare myself for the worst: overly sweet pastries.  Why would you get a lemon tart if you wanted something super sweet?  Bouchon understands me.  The tart was very lemony, creamy, and had a nice sharp zest to it.  The top was covered with a  fluffy marshmallow meringue.   Continue reading Bouchon Bakery: Lemon Tart and more

53rd and 6th Halal Cart: Chicken and Rice

53rd and 6th Halal Cart (aka. “Halal Guys”)
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019

 

Street food holds a dear place in my heart because it reminds me of home. Food trucks barely count as street food now with the level of complexity and branding they come with. It is the street carts that make one or two things with or without sauce that really remind me of home. 53rd and 6th (or “Halal Guys” as they like to refer to themselves) is one of the best chicken/lamb and rice places in the city. Continue reading 53rd and 6th Halal Cart: Chicken and Rice

Totto Ramen: Char Siu Mayo Don

Totto Ramen
366 W 52nd St
(between 8th Ave & 9th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

 

This delicious little $4.50 bowl is something I know I will crave often. Totto’s classic torched char siu (BBQ pork) with thin slivers of scallions topped over a bed of semi-sticky rice that somehow maintains an aromatic sweet aftertaste… Add a bit of Japanese mayo goodness and you’ve got one of the best appetizers there is.