42-35 Main Street
I. Love. Dumplings. So. Much.
Dumplings are my ultimate comfort food I think. Especially the handmade kind where the skin is not too thin nor too thick… where the skin has this amazing stretchy, chewy texture. Machine-made skin is so boring compared to handmade. It’s just thin. And just thin is never good. Handmade can be thin yet have so many other qualities. But poorly handmade skin where it is so thick it’s like bread is also no good. It’s hard to find a good dump. Ranking would probably be:
Handmade Thin Skin > Machine-made Thin Skin > Handmade Thick Skin
Okay now that you understand the skin, onto the fillings. The best fillings are ones that are not too fat or lean (GOTTA GET ‘EM JUST RIGHT), that have an ingredient combo that when cooked, excretes a juice worthy of having as a standalone soup. My mom makes the best dumplings. The skin is not too thin or thick, the fillings not too fat or lean, and sized just right so you pop one into your mouth all at once each time – maximizing the juice intake. Continue reading
212 East 10th St (2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Quick post for a place that deserves a quick bite. Madame Vo is one of two new vietnamese restaurants to open in East Village this year (the other is Hanoi House). I promise to try Hanoi House soon to do a comparison, but first up we have my review of Madame Vo. Full disclosure, I actually got the two mixed up because my instafeed was blowing up with photos from both places. I wanted to go to the one that had the pho with a massive bone marrow in the bone – turns out that one is Hanoi House…
Nonetheless, I went to Madame Vo twice within two weeks.
The vietnamese coffee ($4) tastes like chilled, melted coffee ice cream. It was good, very tasty, but definitely more of a dessert than a beverage.
The summer rolls ($9) with shrimp, vermicelli, lettuce, chive, and basil are high quality. The rice paper skin was not overly soft or hard – perfectly chewy. Shrimp was cooked just right – tasted just lightly poached. It’s a bit pricey for what you get, but definitely higher quality than the usual summer roll.
LAW hates soup noodles (it’s odd) so he got the grilled pork chops ($16) which came with a side of crab cakes and rice. Given all the buzz around the pho, I was pretty certain my dish would win. Looking back, LAW may have won this one. That pork chop was so damn delicious. It had this scallion oil all over it. It was perfectly marinated and charred. Paired with a side of daikon + carrot pickles, it was tres tasty. Crab cake was kinda random. A weird pairing in my opinion. I would rather them get rid of it and lower the price of the dish. Continue reading
53 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10016
SOOO EXCITED! Rarely do I go to a new restaurant and know immediately that I’ll be a regular from that moment on. MEW Izakaya is now my favorite late night dining spot. LAW and I tend to eat really late (my terrible work schedule doesn’t help) so I’m so so so happy to have found MEW.
Izakayas are Japanese late night drinking spots that also serve food. MEW is an amazing izakaya tucked underground in K-Town (you literally walk downstairs). Most of the crowd fits under the “hip asian” category (think shaved heads with pony tails, denim on denim, and beanies that sit straight up on your head). The menu is an awesome mash up of Japanese foods with Western flair. I literally am going to go back again and again until I’ve tried everything. Continue reading
637 2nd Ave (between 34th and 35th street)
New York, NY 10016
Murray Hill is completely over saturated with Thai places, most of which I qualify as TOTS (take-out Thai standard – as in decent pad thai, pad see ew, and basil rice). I rarely order anything else because TOTS places don’t have much else to offer that is good. I miss dishes like steamed lemongrass fish, phat kaphrao (this spicy stir fried ground pork with lots of basil), and LARB. Luckily, a place called Lan Larb opened up near my place. I generally think that if you name your restaurant the name of a food, you are damn good at making that food. Decided to check out the larb!
This (above) is larb. Larb is actually a Laotian dish of minced meat, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted ground rice, and lots of sweet raw onions. It was delicious here. The dish has a great combo of sweetness from the fish sauce and onions, acidity from the lime, and spice from the… spice. The roasted rice was delicious and added a great crunch. I could totally just have this with a bowl of rice and be very, very happy.
I’m supposed to blog about Central Europe but I’m kind of over it now so I want to tell you about the Linguine con le Vongole that I made. I’ve been ordering vongole anytime I see it on the menu recently and it’s because I’ve just discovered how amazing it is. I talked about this discovery from my Lil Frankies post but basically, I think my baby taste buds have just grown to love the more subtle flavors from this dish. As a kid, I would only ever order tomato based pastas because I craved the juicy, tart flavor of tomato. I would NEVER order an olive oil and garlic based pasta because it just tasted like nothing to me. But now I have matured (okay maybe only my taste buds have). Vongole is an olive oil and garlic based pasta INFUSED with the deliciousness of clams. It’s surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious. Check out my super simple recipe!
Ingredients (for one):
- a dozen littleneck clams (rinsed under water)
- bunch of parsley (just take the leaves and chopped up finely)
- about 6 cloves of garlic (also chopped up)
- about a quarter to a third cup of white wine
- one portion of linguine (form an “O” with your thumb and index finger, that’s about how much you need, maybe more if you are me)
349 East 13th St (between 1st and 2nd Aves)
New York, NY 10003
The Redhead is a restaurant I’ve passed many, many times before but had never thought to walk in. It looks like a dark dive bar from the outside and frankly, the name “The Redhead” never sounded like an appetizing name for a restaurant. Butttttt… don’t judge a book by its cover right?
Eager to try something new one Friday night, LAW, H.W., T.W. and I came to check it out. It’s rated surprisingly well on Yelp and is known for its fried chicken. Can’t say no to fried chicken! We started with a couple drinks. I got the Porch Swing ($11), which is pretty much a spiked Arnold Palmer with cognac, Redhead sweet tea, fresh lemon, and mint. VERY strong. VERY delicious. Definitely exceeded my expectations.
We started with the Grilled Octopus ($12) with marinated beets, chorizo, rye, and pickled mustard. Deeeeelicious. The marinated beets and pickled mustard added a nice acidity to the almost-creamy octopus. Octopus was soft, but not too soft. Had a nice bite to it. Chorizo added a little extra flavor. All round solid dish. Continue reading
Ever since a dinner party I went to recently where C.H. made fresh pesto, I have been non-stop thinking about pesto. I soon realized that the only way I could cure myself of this was for me to make my own pesto. I don’t own a blender (yet), but discovered that a blender is only optional in the world of pesto making. As a matter of fact, the first blog I’ve ever read (with the most beautiful food photos), blogs “Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother” – chunky monkey style (she doesn’t call it that, she’s a little more graceful of a writer than I am).
As I do with most recipes, I followed this one loosely. I bought the following ingredients:
- bunch of basil (leaves only, washed and dried)
- handful of raw pine nuts
- 3/4 cup of parmesan
- 3 small cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- some kind of pasta – I opted for fettuccine
St. Marks between 2nd and 3rd Ave
(no website yet!)
This might be the most excited I have been about a restaurant in a long time. The Bao is a new Chinese restaurant in East Village. It’s so new it doesn’t even have a website or Yelp review yet (someone please get on it!). I was lucky enough to be invited (okay, forced to go because I was already so full at this point) by N.T. because her aunt’s friend opened the place. And let me tell you guys, it has, HANDS DOWN, the BEST 小笼包 xiao long bao (aka. soup dumplings) I have had in the United States. Thanks, N.T. and Auntie Judy for bringing it into my life!
The restaurant sits in the middle of the craziness on St. Marks, yet offers a peaceful, spacious space with pretty great modern design. We literally just had a huge barbecue meal and ice cream before this, so only came to show support for the restaurant. We said we’d just try one soup dumpling each and would be on our way. One led to two, three, four, five…
The restaurant serves up a combination of Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan, and Guangdong dishes – all the owner Richard and his wife’s favorite foods. This here is a glass of sour plum juice, which tastes slightly medicinal but is super refreshing. I love that they have some of the lesser found things like this on the menu.
TURNIP PUFF PASTRY (萝卜丝饼). I friggin LOVE this and have only ever had it in Beijing where I get it at every restaurant I go to that has it. I’ve never seen it on the menu over here and was so excited when I saw it at The Bao. Unlike the traditional kind that are a bit bigger, about 2 inches in diameter, these little guys are bite size. The filling is typically freshly shredded turnip, scallions, some ginger (I believe), and a little bit of Chinese smoked ham (fattier the better). Not sure exactly what The Bao uses, but the filling tastes very similar to what I get in Beijing, maybe even less greasy. Continue reading
35 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001
I was recently invited to Madangsui for their Korean barbecue. I was pretty excited to try a new restaurant in ktown because I find that I’m always at the same places when I go (Kun Jip, Don’s Bogam, BCD Tofu House…). Madangsui is a couple streets up from the main 32nd street strip and nestled between a number of non-korean bars, which I thought was a red flag. But once you walk in, you’re transported back into that same Korean world. The place is actually pretty huge (note: good for parties) and was packed with koreans. Like all korean places, we were served an array of ban chan (small appetizers pictured below that are always refillable and FREE!).
The array of ban chan was not huge, but included a nice variety of things. Spicy, not spicy, crunchy, soft, etc. They were nice pairings with the barbecue to come.
A long time ago, a reader asked me for my pasta recipe that I frequently post on Instagram. I love pasta and pretty much need it weekly, if not more. I love all kinds of pasta too. From fancy ones that are extra al dente and served in small portions in a ginormous curved plate, to the home bolognese pictured above. The pasta I make is simple, very tasty, and completely unpretentious. You’ll see why: Continue reading