Tag Archives: soup

House of Small Wonder

House of Small Wonder
House of Small Wonder
77 N 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Attention fellow friends who love cute little non-traditional brunch places: I have found your next brunch spot. It’s just off the L train in Williamsburg. House of Small Wonder is a pseudo European cafe with Japanese influences. You all know my opinion of eggs bennies and scrambled eggs (rarely worth the trek out for brunch unless you’re Prune) and my deep love affair with Japanese brunches (see Sakamai and Shabu Tatsu). House of Small Wonder is another Japanese inspired brunch place to add to the list. Its menu consists of both “euro” items like sandwiches (e.g. fig+brie+apple sandwich, salumi arugula sandwich), croissant french toasts, and croque madames, as well as Japanese inspired dishes like Okinawan taco rice, tsukune don (meatball + rice), and sashimi zuke don (sashimi + rice).

House of Small Wonder
It’s decor is also the cutest! You basically enter a little greenhouse with a REAL LIVING TREE in the center of the restaurant. Every wooden surface, faded piece of art, pot of plant, and trendy diner (see B.J. in this one) is Instagram worthy. K.C., B.J., R.Y., and I got to the restaurant before it even opened (10am on weekends) to ensure we got in without a wait.

House of Small Wonder
We each started with the Lavender Latte ($5). This is one deliciously smooth, creamy, latte with a hint of lavender. It has just the right amount of sweetness to feel like a real latte and not a dessert. I give it 10 out of 10 points for warming me physically and emotionally (lots of feelings were expressed at this brunch <3). For those looking for more of a boozy brunch experience, they also offer a cocktail list with concoctions such as fizzy pear, lavender lemonade, and tipsy latte. K.C., B.Y., R.Y. – next time we do boozy?

House of Small Wonder
K.C. and I both ordered the Sashimi Zuke Don ($15), which consisted of soy sauce marinated sashimi of the day, avocado, sweet mushrooms, sesame, and egg served over sushi rice. The ratio of toppings to rice was perfect. Every bite was like a perfect bite of sushi really. The quality of fish was solid (not the highest grade but also zero fishiness). The rice was great. Highly recommend. Continue reading

Seoul Garden: great for raw crab and naengmyun (cold noodles)

Seoul GardenSeoul Garden
34 W 32nd St (between Broadway and 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

I have to admit, I had been to Seoul Garden a number of times before, each time because I was too impatient/hungry/hangry to wait in line at another place. Seoul Garden was always THAT restaurant for me: good enough to eat at but not great enough to ever be a real choice. It always struck me as a restaurant of mediocrity, one that didn’t have more ambitious goals than providing solid, comfort Korean food (nothing wrong with that). So you can imagine my surprise when I got invited to dine with them recently… are they rebranding? New chef? New management? Someone is clearly trying! I grabbed LAW and we headed over to Ktown to check it out.

Turns out, I had been ordering incorrectly this whole time. I asked to have all the best items on the menu and was served dishes I had never ordered at Seoul Garden before. There were a few things that I had that night that were incredible and absolutely worth going back for.

First: the banchan. Banchan are small dishes that all Korean restaurants serve (complimentary!) as appetizers. It’s like getting bread before your meal except you’re getting all kinds of things like different kinds of kimchi, other veggies, squid, steamed egg, etc. Seoul Garden provided the usual with one particular amazing dish…

Seoul GardenLittle fish with fried sweet potato chips. The salty, chewy fish paired with the sweet, crisp sweet potato made for a mouthwatering combo. This was truly a great banchan that got my appetite going. I had never seen this before either. Plus points for creativity. The rest of the banchan below were more of the usual suspects:  Continue reading

Ducks Eatery: Soul food meets Southeast Asian flavors

Ducks Eatery
Ducks Eatery
351 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

I haven’t been this psyched about a restaurant in a while (The Bao aside, of course). I didn’t know what I wanted to eat but wanted something new and great. I was looking for an unconventional place with unconventional food. Ducks Eatery happened to be exactly what I was looking for. The menu is like a blend of comfort soul food with Southeast Asian flavors. Very, very interesting. And surprisingly very, very good.

Ducks Eatery
T.W. and I both had the Watermelon Gimlet ($12) with watermelon, gin, lavender, and lime. Very light and refreshing.

Ducks Eatery
We all shared a couple appetizers. FIrst up is this Smoked Duck Salad ($13) with black rice, pomegranate, apple, and black garlic. The pomegranate and apple added a great tartness and crunch to the almost creamy, smokey duck. Black rice was a really interesting addition. It was a little sweet and chewy, which rounded out the dish quite nicely.

Ducks Eatery
These are the Smoked Mussels ($14) with chili oil, house cultured smoke butter, and toast with maple and chive. Also H.W.’s favorite appetizer of the night. The smoked mussels were pretty damn intense. Slightly fishy, very smokey, and bathed in a flavorful oily sauce. It was a serious flavor trip.  Continue reading

Beef Brisket and Tendon Noodle Soup from Lam Zhou

Lam Zhou Handmade NoodleLam Zhou Handmade Noodles
144 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

If you haven’t already, it’s about time you make the trek deep into Manhattan Chinatown away from the fake Coach bags and thousands of iPhone cases on Canal Street. Lam Zhou Handmade Noodles is a tiny noodle shop on the very South Eastern tip of Chinatown. It’s been around for ages and is consistently rated as one of the best Chinese noodle places in the city. I.K., D.C, F.L., and I skipped the usual eggs benny and came  here for brunch/lunch one weekend.

Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle
Prices have stayed cheap and options fairly minimal.

Lam Zhou Handmade NoodleThe restaurant is small and a little dirty. Expect to sit facing a wall or at a table with other noodle-slurping diners. Lam Zhou is a restaurant in its most basic and practical form: serves food and provides utensils to eat.

Lam Zhou Handmade NoodleNotice that the chopsticks are from another restaurant. Seeing this made me miss home tremendously, because it reminded of how practical Chinese people are. Chopsticks are chopsticks!

Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle
As the name of the restaurant suggests, Lam Zhou is a noodle shop. It specializes in beef noodle soup where you can choose the beef type (brisket, tendon, oxtail, some combination, etc.) and the noodles (handpulled or knife-cut). I chose a brisket-tendon combo with knife-cut noodles.  Continue reading

Cocoron – Where Hearty Meets Healthy

Cocoron
Cocoron
61 Delancey St
(between Eldridge St & Allen St)
New York, NY 10002

It’s been snowing for hours. It’s cold. I’ve had too much greasy food lately so ramen is out of the question. I could have hot pot… OR I could have soba. Hot soba. Soba is very difficult to make (unlike ramen or udon), which is why bad soba is SO bad. Bad soba is usually very grainy and brittle. Cocoron’s soba is smooth, stretchy, and has a slightly roasted buckwheat flavor.

Too bad I’m really just reliving my hot soba moment through writing this blog post, because there is no way in hell I’m trekking to LES for this right now. But if you’re in the area, you should check out Cocoron. I blogged about it a long time ago, and it still remains one of my favorite little noodle shops in the city.

Cocoron
The kitchen takes up a good half of the entire restaurant and is bordered with a bar. There are maybe four other tables and that’s it. Tiny, cozy little place.

Cocoron
I always ask to sit at the bar when there is one because I love watching the kitchen action. There’s always so much going on. Like, that saucepan that is about to slip off and fall to the ground, spilling all the precious broth in great dramatic fashion. Continue reading

Nagi Ramen: 12-hour sardine broth with wide noodles

November and December of 2013 was a ton of traveling. I went to Italy, North Carolina, Beijing, Dubai, and Japan. The next couple of posts will be mostly from these travels (in no particular order), especially since winter in New York is very sad (dirty, dark, and depressing). Once the weather warms up a bit, I’ll be back on the New York grind.

Nagi RamenNagi Niboshi
1-3-1 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

While in Japan, I was on the hunt for the best ramen as well as new kinds of ramen I have not had. I thought I hit a jackpot when I found Nagi as it is consistently very well rated and is unique. Nagi serves up flat, wide noodles (like pappardelle) with traditional wavy noodles and has a distinctive extra-umami broth. The niboshi broth is boiled for 12 hours with dried sardines. For those of you who hate sardines, I know you hate it for its fishiness but the 12 hours of boiling kills that fishiness. LAW, who hates all things fishy, didn’t even notice. The broth is just very fragrant and… umami.

Nagi Ramen
Like a lame tourist, (it’s hard for me to keep my cool, even though this is my third time in Japan), I was excited to use the ticket vending machine to purchase my ramen. I was about as excited as that cartoon in the background.

Nagi Ramen
The ramen dudes were super jolly as they made noodles for their customers. They would poke fun at each other and their customers (me) while serving. They didn’t speak English, but we managed because we didn’t care what they gave us. Everything looked great.

Nagi Ramen
Ugh. Yum. I got the one with everything in it: thick, soft slices of pork belly, seaweed, bamboo shoots, scallions, and a soft-boiled egg. Continue reading

Ganso, Brooklyn’s ramen attempt.

GansoGanso
25 Bond St
(between Livingston St & Fulton St)
Brooklyn, NY 11201

ANOTHER ramen place I needed to try. I needed to try it so badly I was willing to trek all the way into Brooklyn for it, and not Williamsburg I tell you, DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN. So far, I have tried Totto, Ippudo, Minca, Kambi, Hide Chan, Rai Rai Ken, and Yuji, all hyped up ramen places that battle every year to be the best (let me add that Totto doesn’t get as much love as I think it deserves). Ganso is now added to that list. It is rated 4 stars on Yelp with 84 reviews, most of which rave about the “perfectly al dente noodles” and “solid ramen” bowls. One even described the the ramen as “transcendent.” Go figure.

Ganso
I came with V.P. and J.W. for a Sunday lunch. We shared the Buta Kimchi Buns ($9), which came with two buns stuffed with 9 braised pork belly, jalapeño kimichi, and spicy mayo. It only cost $4 for an extra bun (I was expecting $5). I wasn’t expecting too much from this almost conventional “pan-asian” bun filled with korean kimchi, chinese pork belly, and mexican jalapeños. Given the whole mexican korean food truck craze and the general korean-chinese mix, the concept (A.W.) of the bun seemed ordinary. BUT, I was pleasantly surprised. The pork belly had a perfect 2:3 fat to non-fat ratio. It was thickly sliced and mouth-wateringly succulent. Flavors were just right; a little sweetness and saltiness from the pork with no extra sauce (aka. actually flavored meat) and a little acidity and spice from the jalapeño kimchi. The mayo wrapped everything up in a nice creamy explosion of flavors. I really enjoyed this.

Ganso
We also shared Rio’s Wings ($9), which included 6 Bonchon-esque wings. Legit tasted like Bonchon.  Continue reading

Sao Mai, perfect for a healthy winter meal.

Sao Mai
203 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 12th St)
New York, NY 10003

These nights have been cold. Normally on a cold winter night, I’ll crave something hot and hearty. But the heaviness of Thanksgiving dinner (with some leftovers still in the fridge, like J.W.’s shepherd’s pie which I had for lunch two days in a row…) has made me crave hot foods that are light. How many of those can you think of?


Vietnamese food is overall one of the healthier cuisines. It uses more natural herbs for flavoring and tends to use water or broth over oil. Pho is the perfect combination of hot and light. A bowl of pho consists of rice noodles in a beef broth made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, ginger, and other spices. Compared to other noodle soups, pho is definitely a much lighter option. The rice noodles are almost airy and compensate by being great soup sponges. The soup is flavorful but still clear, allowing you to drink up every last drop without feeling sick (this also depends on how much MSG the restaurant uses). Continue reading

Bo Ky Restaurant – $5 Pho

Bo Ky Restaurant (or New Bo Ky Restaurant)
80 Bayard St
(between Mulberry St & Mott St)
New York, NY 10013

Y.P. wanted pho. I don’t have Vietnamese food very often for some reason… not too sure why because I love pho and love this one whole roasted fish dish that you pick at and wrap in rice wrappe sheets – anyone know what it’s called? I was going to be in the Financial District area so looked up the best pho place in the area and found Bo Ky.


The restaurant reminded me of those typical Chinese fastfood places in Hong Kong where people slurp up their wonton noodle soups in suits, leave cash on the table, and head back to their busy lives. We came on a weekday for lunch and the place was surprisingly packed with mostly solo diners. You are expected to share tables and to leave as soon as possible.


I didn’t actually see pho on the menu, though everything they had was “pho-like”. They had a number of other noodle dishes, as well as some appetizers such as the Salted Water Duck, which I saw many order. People came in as regulars and ordered without even looking at the menu. I felt pretty n00by needing a menu and taking more than 3 minutes to decide. I ended up getting the Cambodian Noodle Soup ($5), which had a typical pho-like broth (supposedly made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, onion, ginger, and spices) but instead of the usual condiments, had pork slices, shrimp, and fish balls with half-cooked bean sprouts.

Continue reading

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