Tag Archives: food

Cracker Pizzas from Posto, not QQ but a nice change.


Posto
310 2nd Ave
(between 18th St & 19th St)
New York, NY 10003

 

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I am a diehard Luzzo’s fan when it comes to pizza (and are probably annoyed with my constant referral to it).  Though, as a pizza-lover with an open mind, I’m always willing to give other people’s favorites a try.  That beautiful piece of work up there is what Posto calls the Shroomtown, a medley of portobello, shitake, button mushrooms, and white truffle oil over a light coat of marinara and cheese.  It could have used more truffle oil (always use more truffle oil) but otherwise was an amazing fungi experience.  I find that real Italian pies have very great but sparse ingredients.  It usually makes me appreciate that one cherry tomato or basil leaf much more.  Posto, on the other hand, really piles on their toppings … in a very American way – excess x 10!  When excess is in the same sentence of mushrooms, I’m all for it.

This is the Salsiccia Dolce, which includes sweet italian sausage, caramelized onions, fresh basil, marinara sauce and cheese.  As you can see from this photo, Posto’s pizza crust is very thin, so thin that this thickness at any other restaurant would probably cause the pizza to become soggy and … well, flaccid.  Posto’s crust is luckily very crisp at the bottom and so manages to keep the pizza in full form throughout your dining experience.  It is a little less cracker-like than Otto’s pizza but does not have the same chewiness as Luzzo’s pizza (understandably due to how thin it is).  I will say that Posto’s toppings are incredible.  They not only use the freshest and most robustly flavored toppings, but they also give you a ton of them on each pie.

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Blog Crush: Garance

I seriously have a blog-crush on Garance.  Her writing style is so honest, adorable, and hysterical.  I will actually giggle out loud in my seat from some of her posts.  Fashion also magically becomes more tangible and accessible for everyone because her writing is so not pretentious nor intimidating.  Her focus is fashion but she also writes about women in fashion and their amazing achievements.  In fact, most of her posts include a series of photos of a woman and then a post about how awesome that woman is.  I’m all about celebrating our achievements.  She sometimes goes on tangents and will include her thoughts on random things… such as food.  She just posted about an article she read in Vogue about the fight against obesity and other complex relationships we have with food.

 

“I ended up realizing that a lot of women are dieting most of the year, without really saying or even being conscious of it. And for a certain number of them, it starts to blur the lines with a perpetual anorexia, a somewhat not very healthy juggle between fasting, juicing and green tea. I wonder what the result will be after yeaaaaaars of that “good” malnutrition. It’s tragic, and seeing as so much of this goes unsaid, there’s no way to help.” – Garance

 

Well written as usual, Garance.  I think she hit it spot on.  There’s always someone at the dinner table who is dieting or indulging-and-dieting-tomorrow.  Though it is of course important to eat healthy and exercise, the constant guilt that comes along with any sort of indulgence is unhealthy.  Because so much of this really does go unsaid, learning to speak to yourself positively is so much more important – and not just in terms of food and health. Continue reading

Banh Mi Saigon, the best banh mi in Manhattan?

  

Banh Mi Saigon
198 Grand St
(between Mulberry St & Mott St)
New York, NY 10013

I posted about banh mi’s a bit ago in my Xe May Sandwich Shop post so you can read the earlier post for more details about the historic Viet-French sandwich.  I mentioned at the end of the post that though Xe May is great, Banh Mi Saigon is slightly better.  Well, after going back to Banh Mi Saigon recently, I decided that I was a fool and that Banh Mi Saigon trumps Xe May by far.

Banh Mi Saigon is a small Vietnamese restaurant bordering Chinatown and Little Italy.  It’s interestingly enough run by Cantonese (southern Chinese) people.  I couldn’t tell you if this has affected the sandwich’s authenticity because I have never been to Vietnam and tried a “real” one* nor do I have Vietnamese friends** who can vouch for it (always welcome to introductions!) but I do know that it is an amazing sandwich shop.  When you walk into the sandwich shop, there are two rows of long tables along each side of the wall and a jeweler who sells Asian jade bracelets and necklaces and such (see top left).  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone buy anything there so wonder if it is wasted real estate… perhaps if they converted it to a mini bubble tea seller…  As you continue to walk into this rectangular shaped shop, you approach the cashier and the open kitchen.  Stacks of freshly made baguettes are under the spotlight at a cutting station (see top right, center of photo).  Service is quick and friendly.

A classic banh mi includes fillings such as pork, spreadable pork liver pate, cilantro, pickled and shredded carrots and daikon, chili sauce and homemade mayonnaise.  The essential tastes of a good banh mi need to include a little bit of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and spiciness.  In the US, the chili sauce is often replaced with jalepeno peppers, a type of pepper they do not have in Vietnam.

Pictured above is what Banh Mi Saigon calls “BBQ Pork Banh Mi,” which includes a sweet and salty pork that is crispy on the edges, some kind of ham, pork liver pate, cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and jalepenos.  The bread at this shop is amazing.  It makes that nice bread sound when you squeeze it.  Because they make their bread at this shop and are always busy, the bread is always freshly baked.

Pictured above is my favorite sandwich to get at Banh Mi Saigon.  They replace the BBQ pork, ham, and pate with juicy, hyper-tender meatballs.  These meatballs are definitely some of the best I’ve had (better than The Meatball Shop though I have friends who don’t think the two can be compared since this one is “Asian”).

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Parm, comfort food that tastes homemade… in a bad way?


Parm
248 Mulberry St
(between Spring St & Prince St)
Manhattan, NY 10012

 

What do you do when Yelp gives 3.5/5 stars, Menupages gives 2/5 stars, NYTimes gives 2/3 stars, Chowhound boards have more-or-less raving reviews, and one of your best foodie friends claims it’s amazing?  Life is filled with interesting choices, my friends, and when presented with truly mixed reviews, you just have to go and try it for yourself.

 

Parm was opened by the same guys who own Torrisi Italian Specialties, an Italian (duh) restaurant that apparently is delicious and has amazing mozzarella.  Parm is right next door and is a much more casual Italian restaurant, known more for its parmesan sandwiches (I’m not being very insightful am I…).  As you can tell from the photo above, the red neon lights and bar seating evoke a diner-like feel.

  

Onto the food.  We started with a salad and a side of brussels sprouts.  Salad was an interesting combination of mozzarella and salami cubes, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, onions, and a vinaigrette.  The salad came before our sandwiches and the sourness of it all really made me salivate and excited for my meal.  Brussels sprouts were amazinggggg.  They were slightly burnt (YUM) and seasoned with lots of salty parmesan cheese.  The natural bitterness of the vegetable seemed to be balanced with a sweetness… did they add sugar?

  

Sandwiches.  Pictured left is the Chicken Parm on a roll and pictured right is the Eggplant Parm on a roll.  Both rolls were dry, airy, bland, and boring.  The least they could’ve done was grill the bun.  Actually, I think I remember finding very light grill marks … meaning they should do a BETTER JOB at grilling the bun.  If you’re making this at home, I understand buying the hamburger buns in bulk from Costco… but if you’re serving this at a restaurant known for its sandwiches, where bread is at least a third of the meal, shouldn’t you put more effort into it?   Continue reading

When you know what to get, Henan Flavor can be great.

Henan Flavor (now Spicy Village)
68B Forsyth St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10002

In the mood for some cheap somewhat-legit Chinese food?  Henan Flavor is a good place to check out… only if you order the best.  Their menu consists of a variety of hand-pulled wide noodle dishes, dumplings, and the renown Big Tray of Chicken (pictured above).  They have some other chicken dishes but I have never seen anyone… anyone order them. I’ve been here a couple of times and have now tried many of their dishes.  I would suggest not to order the noodles, even though Yelp reviewers say otherwise.  The noodles are decently chewy and clearly homemade but the soups and the sauces lack depth and flavor.  Yes, one big bowl of noodles can range from only $4-$6, but I can guarantee you a better meal if you order these things instead:

1. Pork Pancake or 肉夹馍 (meat between steamed buns).This “pancake” is $2 each (one pancake pictured) and beats Xi’an Famous Foods and Prosperity Dumplings pancakes by far.  The steamed bread (it really isn’t cakey; not too sure why people insist on calling it a pancake) is soft and chewy.  The exterior seems to have a very thin film of crispiness.  The pork inside is like an Asian carnitas: semi-fatty, lots of juice (as you can see from the semi-soaked bread), and bursting with flavor.  It also has the perfect 1:1 bread:meat ratio.  I happen to love cilantro so this was of course a welcomed addition.  But if you are like LAW and despise these fragrant little green things, the lovely woman who makes the pancakes is happy to exclude them from your order.

2. Big Tray o’ Chicken or 大盘鸡 + NOODLES

Remember how I told you NOT to get any noodles dishes?  This is because you have to order the Big Tray of Chicken and ask for noodles on the side.  The Big Tray of Chicken (first photo) is a fairly large tray of chicken and potatoes seeped in a spicy chili oil sauce… for only $12.  This is by FAR the most expensive item on the menu and for good reason.  This large tray fed 3 hungry eaters, two of whom are boys who normally eat for two, for TWO meals (they are great as leftovers).  The chicken is super tender and rich with flavor.  They also use Sichuan peppercorns, which gives the dish a slightly numbing taste … extremely addicting.  The potatoes are very soft and a nice carby addition to the chicken, especially since the chicken will have you hissing like a snake after a few bites due to the spice and numbing effects.  The NOODLES on the side are just plain hand-pulled noodles that come on a plate.  The reason I like ordering this over any other noodle dish is because you can pull off a single noodle and dip it in the chili oil sauce as you wish, keeping all the noodles al dente, rather than soaking in a soup or sauce that makes them soggy and blah. Continue reading

Brooklyn Flea – The Food Edition

  

Brooklyn Flea Market
Skylight One Hanson
1 Hanson Place (Forte Greene)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

 

As you can see from the photos above, the location of this flea market is absolutely stunning!  During the winter months, the Brooklyn Flea is held indoors every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm at the former Williamsburg Savings Bank.  As you navigate through the aisles of vendors, it takes you a second before you realize that their booths are set up against old teller windows – so cute!  People rarely look up in a place with so many goodies  below eye-level but if you do, you’ll see the beautiful vaulted ceiling and even an old “Life Insurance” sign that someone forgot to take off.  Over 100 vendors gather at this site to sell all sorts of random things.

  

In addition to the cool vintage jewelry, clothing, handbags, there are also paintings, old school toys, handmade crafts, and of course…. FOOD.  The food is located on the lower level, where the bank’s vault used to be.  You have to come just to even check out these amazing original vault doors.  Look at how thick they are!

There are two sets of these crazy doors, the last of which leads you into the “dining” space.  We tried almost every single booth, which unfortunately, was not as many as I hoped there would be.  Apparently there are more food vendors during the warmer months.  I must come back.  Anyway, let the food tour begin…

 

Red Hook Lobster Pound
  

BETTER THAN LUKE’S LOBSTER ROLL!  I don’t normally like to write in all-caps because my brain automatically reads it in a yelling voice when I see it but in this case… I WANT YOU TO READ IT THAT WAY BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I HAVE DISCOVERED A NEW LOBSTER ROLL THAT I LOVE.  If any restaurant boasts about its lobster roll, I will give it a try.  Since trying Pearl Oyster Bar for the first time almost two years ago, I have tried all of “Boston’s Best” and most of “New York’s Best.”  Pearl always wins.  Luke’s always comes in second as a cheaper alternative.  At $16, RHLP’s roll is one entire dollar more expensive than Luke’s, but I would say tastes maybe five dollars better.  The bread is very, very toasty and almost a little crisp on the outside.  The interior is warm and buttered.  The lobster is, like Luke’s and Pearl, sweet and plentiful.  However, RHLP uses a little more mayo than Luke’s, making it more similar to Pearl, aka. more delicious.  The thinly sliced scallions on top surprisingly add a great deal to the flavor, making it THAT much better.  I would definitely have this over Luke’s any day.  Unfortunately they are only located in Brooklyn.

 

Asia Dog
  

Meh.  Not.  Worth.  It.  $4.50 for a beef, chicken, or veggie dog or $5.00 for an organic one.  I got the MASH because it is apparently their bestseller.  It ended up being a low-grade and very skinny beef dog topped with slightly stale chips that are the leftovers at the bottom of the bag, “spicy ketchup” (tasted like normal ketchup) and “jalepeno mustard” (didn’t taste the pepper at all…) stuck between a very dry bun that was falling apart. Continue reading

Brussels Sprouts at a Meat Pie Shop?

Tuck Shop
75 9th Avenue
(between 15 and 16th St.)
New York, NY 10014

Known for Australian savory pies and sausage rolls, Tuck Shop is a little snack shop in Chelsea Market, next to Bar Suzette Creperie and One Lucky Duck.  They cook up traditional meat pies stuffed with ground pork, “chook” pies (chicken, ham, and leek in a white gravy), sausage rolls, and much more, all made with a buttery and flaky pastry.  Yum… but of course, I didn’t try any of those meaty pies.

Like any logical (not) foodie, I had the roasted brussels sprouts instead.  I couldn’t help it!  They had a display case featuring these fresh, bulbous little guys and I just had to have some.  $5 for roughly 7-8 sprouts – not exactly good bang for your buck… but again, the display case!!  Simply seasoned with salt, these sprouts were exactly the veggies I was looking for after a weekend of gluttony.  People who don’t like brussels sprouts claim that they are too bitter.  If cooked correctly, the bitterness subsides (though not completely) and a very fragrant taste emerges.  Some pieces were nicely burnt and crisp on the outer layer (I also love them because they have layers and are fun to eat), but most of them were soggy because they were pre-cooked and sitting in a covered container.  Luckily, they were soggy from sitting in a pool of delicious olive oil and salt.  Would I get them again?  Yes, because they are green and I love brussels sprouts.

A Tourist Trap Isn’t Always A Trap … Lombardi’s Pizza

Lombardi’s Pizza
32 Spring St
(between Mott St & Mulberry St)
New York, NY 10012

Lombardi’s Pizza was never on my list of MUST-TRY-ASAP restaurants, mainly because it’s kind of in the Soho-ish area and is known to be very touristy.  I’m not a tourist, I’m a New Yorker!  I’ve been living here for almost 8 months now!  Okay fine, maybe I’m not a New Yorker… but ever notice how people pretend they are after they’ve only been here a couple months?  So many people here are just in transition.  ANYWAY.  Tourist traps are no fun.  Therefore Lombardi’s Pizza is probably no fun.  Probably.

 

You walk into the restaurant and you see tons of old photos and memorabilia hung on the walls, almost like a Hard Rock Cafe.  You’re brought to the back room where all the other tourists are being served.  You see camera flashes everywhere as people take pictures of their food, of themselves, of themselves with the food, and of you! – because they’re just that friendly.  Clearly not from New York.  You finally sit down and order.  You pick their original tomato base at $20.50 (large) and toppings at $3 each.  You sit and mentally prepare yourself for mediocre pizza.  You can’t be disappointed if your expectations are low, right? Continue reading

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String …

These are a few of my favorite things!  Valentine’s surprise from my favorite person included some of my very favorite foods.  You’ll start to notice that I particularly love starch-wrapped things.  Dumplings, hot dogs, sandwichs, lobster rolls, all kinds of buns, burritos, tacos, burgers etc. – I love ‘em all!

 

‘Twas a hodgepodge dinner of…

 

Baohaus: Birdhaus Bun
238 E 14th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
  

Baohaus is a tiny restaurant that boasts a lot of swag.  There are usually 3 people working, the bao-man (man who makes the actual bun), the stuffer, and the cashier.  They play a lot of old school hip hop music and have swagalicious bao-art up on the walls.  Check out my older post about the place for more info.  Of all the baos, this one is my fav.  Fried chicken with spicy seasoning, salt, cilantro, crushed peanuts, and taiwanese red sugar.  Taro fries on the right are also deeeeelicious, if you truly love taro that is.  If you’ve only had taro bubble tea, you don’t know what taro actually tastes like.  I suggest you get your butt over to Baohaus and check out these fries.  They are starchier than the average potato, maybe more like a yucca, and have a distinctly sweeter flavor.  The fries are served up with a side of “Haus sauce,” which is a garlicy peanuty sauce.

 

Luke’s Lobster
93 E 7th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009

Luke’s Lobster is a tiny shack in the East Village (also in many other locations) that serves up some fresh Maine lobster rolls with trendy sodas like Ginger Root and Sarsaparilla.  The owner was a savvy investment banker who left the industry to pursue his true passion: lobster.  His father provides all the lobster, already cooked, from the family seafood processing company in Maine. Continue reading

BLT Prime: Valentine’s Cooking Class

BLT Prime
111 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10022

  

I went to a “Valentine’s” Cooking Class at BLT Prime where Chef Andrew Matthews sort-of taught us how to make a proper 3-course meal consisting of:

Appetizer: Fluke Carpaccio
Entree: Chateaubriand
Side Dishes: Creamy Spinach, Marble Heirloom Potatoes
Dessert: Red Velvet Cake

  

The class ended up being a demonstration with no hands-on interaction.  This was probably a good move on the restaurant’s part because I’m not sure any of us would be back if we had to eat what we cooked… every dish was more complicated than I thought it would be!  It was amazing to see the kitchen and to learn about how a real restaurant kitchen functions.  You have to be super organized and work as a team or else the kitchen will most likely turn into a nasty food fight!  Actually, apparently kitchens end up looking like the aftermath of a food fight even after a successful night in the kitchen.

 

FLUKE CARPACCIO - slightly chaotic but tasty nonetheless (2/5)

  

The fluke was filled and sprinkled with all kinds of yummy ingredients, such as pomelo, dill pickles, celery heart stalks, apple gelee, paprika, chives, olive oil, lime juice and zest, AND secret basil oil sauce… they also added some house-made rice paper to give the dish a little crunch.  There was all kinds of flavors and textures in this dish, some I think a little unnecessary… it was sweet and sour and salty and oily and crispy and stringy (fish :().

 

CHATEAUBRIAND - Liberal Salt (Ch 4/5)

The preparation for the Chateaubriand (a thick cut of tenderloin) seemed very simple though probably takes a lot of skill to do right.  Chef Matthews demonstrated the tying of the piece of tenderloin to allow the whole piece of steak to cook evenly.  The steak is then seasoned very liberally with salt and pepper and seared for 4-5 minutes.  Then the seared steak is placed in a FULL dish of salt and roasted for 8 minutes on each side.  The steak turned out very moist, tender, and flavorful.  For some reason, the steak wasn’t as “meaty” tasting as Peter Luger’s Porterhouse steak.  That may be due to the cut of meat…?

  

The steak is then served with a classic Bearnaise sauce, which is made with 20 egg yolks, 1 cup of bearnaise reduction (of shallots, white wine vinegar, white wine, black pepper, and tarragon leaves), 1 qt. warm clarified butter, 1 cup warm water, and salt.

 

SIDES – BEST part of meal (S 5/5, P 5/5)

  
These sides were crazily delicious.   Continue reading