Big Wing Wong
102 Mott St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10013
It was a sunny President’s Day and we decided to celebrate by biking into Chinatown and stocking up on some cheap groceries. We get our groceries roughly every two weeks from Hong Kong Supermarket, the biggest supermarket (I believe) in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Vegetables and meats are so, so much cheaper here than at your average American supermarket. Sometimes, you can get a whole bag of tomatoes for a dollar! You can also find much more variety of vegetables, such as bitter melon, pea shoots, and fresh prince mushrooms – makes cooking much more interesting. Since we were already in the area, we of course picked up some lunch. I decided I was in the mood for some juicy char siu. Char siu is a Chinese barbecue pork that is often eaten with rice, noodles, or even in a bun. Red food coloring is often added to give the meat its reddish exterior. It has a shiny glaze of honey on the outside that gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor.
Based on various reviews I read online, Big Wing Wong apparently has some of the best char siu in the area. The restaurant was extremely busy when we popped in. Tables were filled with various parties as you are expected to sit wherever there is an empty space. We ended up sitting at a table with three girls who worked at the restaurant. They were on their lunch break, which only ended up being not more than 15 minutes. The place is extremely fast paced. People come in and either order a whole duck to-go, or sit down and eat with their heads buried, without pausing to take a breath, down their tea, and peace out. We were clearly noobs as it took us more than 5 minutes to decide what we wanted to eat and I of course had my camera out. Continue reading Gimme some of that Chinese BBQ!!!
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.
Xe May Sandwich Shop
96 Saint Marks Pl
New York, NY 10009
Banh Mi is a gastronomic example of French colonialism in Vietnam. The sandwich uses French and Vietnamese ingredients, combined to produce a delectable East-meets-West concoction. The Hog is a speciality banh mi that Xe May serves up with grilled pork, scallion oil, and fried shallots, all sandwiched between either a white or whole wheat baguette. Like classic banh mis, this banh mi also includes fresh cilantro, pickled carrots, daikons, cucumbers, and chili mayo.
I was looking for a cheap place for lunch and found Xe May through Yelp as one of the highest rated places in the East Village area. And though my expectations were high (4.5 stars is pretty significant!), I was not disappointed! The bread had a nice crisp edge that I’m sure would sound beautiful if I had the chance to listen to it, like how Colette from Ratatouille tells us to listen for the sound of the crust.* Oh, and the bread comes in whole wheat too if you’d like. The fillings were tasty: grilled pork tasted a bit like char siu (Chinese bbq pork) and pickles were nice and sour to cut the sweetness of the pork. The fried shallots were not quite crispy enough as they wilted very quickly after being caught amidst the saucy meat and juicy pickles.
Continue reading Xe May Sandwich Shop: The Hog
Gusto Ristorante e Bar Americano
60 Greenwich Ave
(between Perry St & S 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
Bought a $50 for $25 card off of Living Social for this one. I always get these foodie deals in my inbox but the restaurants featured are always average expensive places. I have a huge pet peeve against paying high prices for mediocre food. It just does not make sense to me. If you need a bit of ambience too, there are plenty of places with good food, nice ambience, and good prices. It is pretty hard for a place to get high reviews if the food is more than $50 per person. The food better be DAMN good and the place better be REALLY cool or EXTREMELY beautiful. I still want to go experience the Phillip Johnson designed bar at the Four Seasons in NYC. Even if a drink is at least $20… I need to see the crazy beautiful light/sculpture at the bar…
Anyway, Gusto is rated very well and is an Italian place. I have not found many good Italian places in New York… Daily Catch and Giacomo’s in Boston still win. Decided to buy the card deal and give the place a try. The place is very modern chic… beautiful mirrors, spacious seating, elegant lighting fixtures, and foreign waiters… Ambience, yes? Yes. Food… This Oxtail Ragu is the Italian version I’d Xi’an Famous Noodles. Very very tasty tomato sauce with hints of oxtail, rosemary and garlic. The shredded Oxtail had a great balance of fatty and lean meat. The Pappardelle itself was a bit too thin (therefore not chewy or QQ enough). $19 for this pasta. A bit on the pricier side… Especially since portions were not huge. But with my card, we only had to pay tip. Ultimately spent $35 on an AMAZING grilled octopus appetizer (I don’t even like octopus) and two pretty great pastas. I may go back because the food was solid and the place was so pretty. Boston still wins though.