Tag Archives: East Village

Madame Vo for Bun Bo Hue and Pho


Madame Vo
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

Rai Rai Ken, the ramen battle continues.


Rai Rai Ken
214 E 10th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

 

GAHHH!  I just found out that my favorite East Village Japanese restaurants are all owned by one… person.  How is this possible?!  Soba-Ya, Robataya, Cha-An, Curry-Ya, Shabu-Tatsu are among my favorites that one person calls his own.  Mr. Bon Yagi came to the U.S. as a dishwasher and somehow worked his way up to owning 11 Asian restaurantsand at one point, owning a diner that often saw folks like Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Madonna.  To say the least, I am impressed.  Most of his restaurants are rated 4-4.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp and each of them is someone’s “favorite” Japanese restaurant.  Rai Rai Ken is Mr. Yagi’s ramen venture.

 

After my sister-ramen-restaurant battle post, many readers suggested I try Rai Rai Ken, another one of those renown ramen places in the city.  Everyone has their favorite (Totto Ramen) and though I am known to be a very loyal customer (Totto4Life), I am always willing to try other favorites – mainly because I like to try new places but also because I like to re-confirm that my favorite still rocks.

 

Pictured above is the Shoyu Ramen ($9.50), which is ramen in a soy sauce based noodle soup topped with bamboo shoot, boiled egg, roast pork, spinach, fish cake, dried seaweed, and scallion.  I have to admit, this was a solid bowl of ramen.  Rai Rai Ken also gets extra points for making the egg perfectly gooey in the center, like how Ippudo does it.  But the roast pork was just okay… slightly tough and bland.  Noodles were not particularly memorable, meaning they were good.  Not overcooked and slightly springy.  They didn’t fall apart when slurped (unlike Ippudo’s!!) but also weren’t as tasty nor chewy as Totto’s and Kambi’s.  Broth was… good.  Also not particularly memorable, but was definitely good.   Continue reading

Ich Liebe Weiner

Wechsler’s Currywurst & Bratwurst
120 1st Ave
(between 7th St & St Marks Pl)
New York, NY 10009

 

Have you had a currywurst before?  I hadn’t until very recently.  Currywurst is one of those things that is common and around enough that I always assumed I would definitely try at some point because it was just… always there… like that college friend who lives in the same city as you but you never see because you figure you can see her anytime.  Luckily, K.B. was in town and since she grew up in Germany, comfort food for her after a tiring weekend was currywurst.  We checked out Wechsler’s Currywurst & Bratwurst because it is supposedly one of the best currywurst places in the city.  The place is dark with brick walls and wooden tables and stools.  It’s what you would imagine a German beer bar to be like.  They boast an extensive German beer list with beers like Weihenstephaner Vitus and Pinkus Jubilate (I don’t actually know beers, I just thought those sounded funny).

First up, a large Currywurst with Fries ($12).  A pork and veal sausage is sliced up, pan-fried, and topped with their homemade tomato curry sauce.  The sausage was extremely moist and tender.  The natural saltiness of the sausage tasted so damn good with the tomato sauce and curry powder.  I wish we had more sauce because I ended up scraping the bottom of the paper container with the fries.

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Minca and Kambi, sister restaurants that look the same but taste different.

In the great You Es of Eh, we often think of Japanese food as merely sushi and and edamame and forget about a super duper important, tasty part of it: ramen.  Big bowls of chewy noodles in hearty pork or chicken bone broths topped with slices of tender and flavorful barbecue pork, ramen is definitely one of my favorite foods (along with pizza and cookies).  My most favorite ramen place is Totto Ramen in Midtown West but I have yet to write a legitimate blog post about it because I am waiting until I get a new camera (SOON!) so I can do the place some justice (my photos now are horrible so don’t judge by the link)!  For now… I present to you two other ramen places.  One not so good and one pretty good. Minca Ramen Factory*
536 E 5th St
(between Avenue A & Avenue B)*
New York, NY 10009
Kambi Ramen House*
351 E 14th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

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Motorino’s Pizza

Motorino
349 E 12th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

 

I’m always on the search for the best pizza in town because it is on my list of favorite foods and New York just has so many “best pizza in town” kinds of places.  Bread and tomatoes are some of my most favorite things in the world so you can imagine why pizza would be on that list.  Having tried to make pizza many times myself, I know how little they cost to make and how easy it is once you have the right pizza dough recipe (ingredients and timing, both very important!).  But between the thickness and consistency of the crust, the  the sauce, and the ingredients, the world of pizza is actually pretty damn large.  Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes and can vary greatly based on where they come from.

After a long day of volleyball and boardgames, we ordered in so we could… continue playing boardgames.  Motorino is the last East Village “best” that I had not tried so we ordered from there.  Pictured above is the Brussels Sprouts ($16) pizza with fior di latte (aka. mozzarella made from cow milk, and not buffalo), garlic, pecorino, and smoked pancetta.  Brussels sprouts tasted FRESH, not the frozen kind out of a bag.  Smoked pancetta was super tasty and crisp along the edges.  Cheese was very mediocre and lacked a little flavor.  Their crust is pretty thin and becomes very soggy pretty quickly (it might be better to order in at the restaurant for their pizza).  The edge of the crust was sort of puffy but lacked the chewiness of Luzzo’s crust.  BUT, this pizza was much, much better than L’asso EV’s brussels sprouts pizza.

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Brunch for Spies!


Northern Spy Food Co.
511 E 12th St
(between Avenue A & Avenue B)
New York, NY 10009

 

Another brunch post!  This time a little less “alternative” than Hummus Place and Maharlika, but still not quite the traditional brunch like Prune.  I was so intrigued about this place because of its name.  Northern Spy Food Company… a restaurant that serves food for Russian spies?

    

Not quite… quite the opposite actually.  Northern Spy Food Co. is a homey little restaurant that is named after a New York apple called the Northern Spy.  The wooden furniture and delicate flower patterned wallpaper work together to evoke a warm countryside setting.  We ordered the buttermilk biscuits ($5) with apple butter to fully immerse ourselves in the wholesomeness.  The apple butter was amazing actually seemed like it had more apple than butter – definitely homemade.  It certainly didn’t need any more butter because the biscuits came out warm and super buttery.  The slight tartness of the apple butter melded very well with the biscuit.  I was very pleased!

L.C. and I both ordered the Kale Salad ($12) with cheddar, sweet potato, almonds, pecorino, and two baked eggs (+ $3).  Kale seems to be the new “it” vegetable.  It is popping up in all the NYC restaurants as sides or salads.  Then again, is it only because I just started noticing the vegetable?  Or is it really showing up everywhere… Kale is in the cabbage family and apparently contains a lot of sulforaphane, a chemical with anti-cancer properties, and indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA cell repair and helps block the growth of cancer cells.  Woot!  With all the cancer research craze going on, it would make sense that this vegetable is gaining popularity.  It is also very fibrous (I was so full after this salad!!) and really gets your digestive system going, like… really really does.  If that isn’t enough, Kale also gives a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, and K (a cup with 180%, 200%, and 1020% of our daily intake respectively).  If you understand the Chinese concept of heat, or 上火, Kale also helps to cool your body down, or 清火.

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A Filipino Brunch at Maharlika


    
Maharlika
111 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003

 

Sauce.  Lots of it.  And very sweet.  This is what I ate most of at my weekend brunch at Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant in the East Village that boasts a menu of hearty comfort dishes that range from traditional to newly interpreted “modern” Filipino dishes.  I, again, wanted something non-traditional for brunch (no egg bennies allowed*) and found Maharlika.  Pictured at the top is Jufran Banana Sauce, aka. Filipino ketchup.  It is made from mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and various spices.  It seems like it is a common favorite, like Sriracha.  Our waiter even informed us that he loved putting Jufran on his Big Macs.  To the bottom left is the sawsawan sauce, essentially vinegar infused with chilli peppers, garlic, and whatever else you want to put in it.  This sauce was particularly great because it balanced a lot of the sweetness in the meats.  To the bottom right is homemade guava jelly and macapuno jam (a kind of coconut), apparently the peanut butter and jelly of Filipino cuisine.

I ordered the Pampangan-Style Sizzling Sisig with Egg ($16).  I’m not too sure what pampangan-style means but sisig refers to a method of preparing meat where the meat is marinated in a citrus sauce or vinegar, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices.  Sizzling Sisig is a traditional dish that is made with a variety of pig parts; in this case, pig ears, snout, cheek, and belly.  The belly is cooked three times (boiled, grilled, and sauteed) and then the dish is flavored with garlic and lemon.   Continue reading

“Gourmet” Japanese Curry at Curry-Ya


Curry-Ya
214 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Okay, ignore the little turd in the corner of the plate.  Ignore the little frozen green beans as well because they taste like the airplane kind (you know, the kind that has that funny aftertaste of frozen vegetables?).  Focus on the perfect mound of rice and the gleaming Japanese vegetable curry.

Zoom in.  So many veggies!  Curry-Ya is a tiny little restaurant in the East Village that serves up a variety of curries, ranging from the original plain curry ($7), to the homemade hamburger curry ($11), to the berkshire pork cutlet curry ($13).  You have the option to add toppings like corn, egg, mini hamburger (see turd-like thing in first photo), etc.  If you go at lunch, the curry even comes with a nice simple salad with a homemade dressing that tastes like ginger miso dressing.

Before Curry-Ya, I always just made my own curry.  With products like S&B Golden Curry being sold in almost every Asian supermarket, Japanese curry is very easy to make at home.  So easy that it has become a staple for potlucks and parties, anything requiring mass production.  However, Curry-Ya serves up “gourmet” curry (as they call it), curry that is made fresh and not from blocks of frozen paste.  According to their website, the curry is made from a base of chicken and oxtail soup with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and spices.  Does that make the curry better than the kind I make at home?  Not… really.  Curry-Ya’s curry tastes very similar to the curry packs that add apple, my favorite kind!  The curry was definitely very yummy, slightly sweet and very fragrant.  I just couldn’t taste a big difference between Curry-Ya and my homemade curry (I’m so good.  Just kidding, S&B is so good).   Continue reading

Healthy Brunch Alternative: Hummus Place

Hummus Place
109 St. Marks Pl
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009

 

I wanted something healthy, but not a salad nor sandwich nor sushi.  I didn’t want to wait in ridiculous lines for an eggs benedict but also didn’t want a bad brunch.  After much debate (per usual), LAW and I decided to try Hummus Place right in St. Marks.  I knew that hummus was healthy and I read some good things… my main qualms were that I couldn’t imagine having hummus as a meal…  and LAW really wanted to try this place and I was in a disagreeing mood… but he won this one. Continue reading

Shabu Tatsu: Healthy, Hearty, and Delicious!


Shabu Tatsu
216 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003

 

Shabu Tatsu serves up traditional shabu shabu, aka. Japanese hot pot.  Its name comes from the sound of swishing your meats in the hot water.  Unlike Chinese hot pot, shabu shabu is much lighter.  It uses a dashi broth made from just hot water and seaweed.  Chinese hot pot is heavier and often uses a hearty pork bone broth or an extremely spicy beef stock with various seasonings.  I prefer Japanese hot pot because the light broth cooks the meat and vegetables without masking their natural flavors.  Though, because the broth has no real seasoning effects, you need very fresh ingredients and deliciously fragrant dipping sauces.  Normally shabu shabu is served with ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce.  In addition to the sauces, Shabu Tatsu also brought freshly chopped scallions and daikon to mix in.

  

We ordered the Prime Rib-Eye Beef Shabu-Shabu Dinner Course, which was $26 per person.  $26 is a lot to pay for cooking yourself some veggies and meat in a boiling pot of hot water, but Shabu Tatsu really showed me how it is completely worth it.  The set included an amazing vegetable platter and of course, a big plate of prime rib-eye.  The vegetables were extremely fresh – no stringy veggies to be found.  The veggie platter also included tofu and Kishimen (wide and flat wheat noodles) and Malony (fat, rounded, and translucent noodles made of potato and corn starch).

  

The prime rib-eye was cut in the perfect thickness (not thin to the point of papery non-existence… something you find in some shabu places… but still thin enough to be cooked in just a few seconds… and thick enough to taste like meaty meat).  Because shabu meats are served raw, they have to be high enough quality to be eaten raw… this is definitely not enforced in certain places.  Shabu Tatsu’s meat is very high quality, smooth and did not contain any knots or stringy bits.

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