New York City Eats

Hungover from Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes  from Clinton Street Bakery – start to somewhat finished

February 19th, 2010

“February is Pancake Month!”  At Clinton Street Bakery that is.  Clinton Street Bakery is celebrating all month long this February in this official national Pancake week (February 14th -20th, 2010).  Whoever comes up with food holidays are a genius!  It encourages someone like me who doesn’t eat pancake often to be pressure to order pancakes.  I must admit I don’t really like pancakes that much to begin with.  Perhaps the reason is I have only had pancakes from franchise restaurants such as Denny’s, Ihop or McDonald (Hot Cakes) while growing up and have never really had authentic pancakes on American soil before …(?)  I think pancakes are fun to make at home and to eat it is rather bland but for me it is all about the topping.

“Voted for the best Pancakes in New York City Since 2008″ —  Clinton Street Bakery is a hot spot for brunch in New York City.  The wait for a table for 4 on a weekend brunch hours could last to one and a half hour or more, even on a snow day.  Anyone crazy for a pancake for a Friday night dinner? Apparently everyone.  The wait was a hour long for 5 : me,  Jesse, Hayley, Lauren, and Peter.  While we waited we watched the table before us indulge in their stacks of pancakes but what seem to be in utter pain towards half of the pancakes they have eaten which I had second thoughts about ordering pancakes and was debating whether to order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Jalapeno cornbread with coleslaw instead or to stick with our purpose ” pancakes.”  In honor of pancake week: blueberry pancakes it is.  Hayley, Lauren and Jesse all ordered the Chocolate Chunk pancake special (2/18, 2/19, 2/22).  On top of the Chocolate Chunk Pancakes, Jesse ordered a split pea soup and Peter apart from the pancakes ordered fish tacos.  Watching the last table struggle through their pancakes, we were determined even if it meant stuffing our face.  Our stack of fluffy pancakes came in three with a side of warm butter maple syrup which the syrup is the definite star.  I think I can chug a jar of this heaven.  The density of the the syrup is perfect, not too liquidity nor too thick and the sweetness is just right.  If anything the warm butter maple syrup is really what enhanced the pancakes.  Halfway into our pancakes we were all punch, drunk, love.  Feeling a bit nauseated,  I do not want to see or eat another pancake for a very long time.

Fried Turnip Cake – Courtesy of Jane’s Ma Ma

February 18, 2010

Jane and Cynthia made a visit to Chelsea for lunch at La Grainne Cafe on Thursday.  Jane delivered her mama’s homemade turnip cake they had remaining over the Chinese New Year but when Jane’s mama realized Jane was giving her turnip cakes to a friend, Jane’s mama made a fresh batch that morning, so sweet!  I had the royal treatment.  Turnip cake (Cantonese pronunciation: Law Bock Gow) is a common dish found on the push carts at dim sum and is commonly eaten during Chinese New Year at particular regions in China, Hong Kong.  The sound of turnip cake in Chinese is “growth” which is a positive connotation for children “growth in education or height,” and for adults “growth in career, etc”  Same for New Year’s Cake (Cantonese pronunciation: Neen Gow) though the taste differ with it’s sweetness.  The turnip cake is made of freshly shredded turnip radish with fillings of Chinese sausages, dried shrimps, and scallions / green onions.  You can have turnip cake both ways steamed or pan fried.  Which is exactly how I enjoyed mine.  Thank you Mrs. Tam!

That evening, I met with my friend Jervilyn for Bon Chon – A up and rising gourmet Korean fried chicken franchise opened nationwide and soon worldwide, Dubai…wow!  Jervilyn is obsessed with Bon Chon and the CEO of Bon Chon should endorse this girl as the official spokesperson or model.  After our first Bon Chon dinner at Boka’s in St.Mark’s Place, I was not blown away.  Though the stainless steal canister which I thought was hoping for to be used for a complimentary bottle of champagne was will you believe this, it is used to discard your chicken bones. Over the top fancy indeed.  Jervilyn suggested we have Bon Chon again, so I decided to give Bon Chon a second chance by trying their newest 38th street and 7th avenue location.  The new location in a corporate district had a sports bar essence.  With the first floor as a full bar and the second level as a dine in.  Bon Chon’s fried chicken is covered in sauce with  two flavors to select from is soy sauce garlic or spicy soy sauce garlic.  What was exciting was this location came with sides!  Unlike the Southern fried chicken complement with mac n cheese or mashed potates, sides at Bon Chon includes coleslaw, french fries, and it is a Korean franchise so going with the Asian flair there is rice and kim chi coleslaw.  I ordered the spicy route with spicy soy sauce garlic chicken wings and kim chi coleslaw and all platters comes with a side of cold radish salad with Asahi beer.  The kim chi coleslaw was pretty much ordinary coleslaw.  The radish complement with spicy soy sauce garlic fried chicken wings is really smart.  It lessens the heat level.  I think I got sucked into the Bon Chon paradigm.

Addresses:

Clinton Street Bakery /// 4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton), New York, NY 10002

La Grainne Cafe /// 183  9th Avenue, 21st street  New York, NY 10010

Bon Chon /// 207 38th Street, New York, NY 10018

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Events

Year of the Iron Tiger 2010

For Chinese New Year, Jesse made  Pork + Chives Steamed Dumplings (Pictured Left).  Woo who!

Dumplings are eaten year round and are fairly easy and fun to make or even conveniently purchase these days for only $1 for 5 in Chinatown.  Dumplings,  shaped as the golden ingot ancient China currency, traditionally eaten in Northern China during Chinese New Year to bring the New Year prosperity and good fortune.  Gong Hay Fat Choy!

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New York City Eats

As Sweet As Life Gets

NYC Restaurant Week (January 25th-February 7th, 2010) Rouge Tomate.

The last two weeks (January 25 – February 6th) has been quite a roller coaster ride.  So much has happened it is mind boggling.  Within the two weeks, we celebrated my brother Jimmy’s birthday at Rouge Tomate, a participating restaurant during NYC Restaurant week and three days later my 24th birthday at nowhere fancy but with pure home cooked meal.  The week followed with the welcome of the birth of my very first niece baby Audrey Yeung on February 2nd, 2010!  To add on the level of anxiety and excitement, my dad was head chef and rocked it with the help of dedicated volunteers and temple attendees at the annual Eastern Buddhist Association Lunar New Year  all vegetarian lunch gala!

January 25th, 2010:

It was an impulsive last minute plan to celebrate my brother Jimmy’s birthday at Rouge Tomate.  We were all worried my sister-in-law might go into labor any day or any minute now.  My brother had therefore selected a participating NYC Restaurant week Rouge Tomate located near the hospital where they plan on delivering the baby.  Few weeks earlier, I wrote I was not interested in NYC Restaurant Week participating restaurant selections.  After experiencing my first NYC Restaurant Week at Rouge Tomate,  I must admit the prix fixe ($24 Lunch, $35 dinner) deals are really worth the treat!  Rouge Tomate located on the Upper East Side has a modern European ambiance with the interior decorations and furniture.  To start off the prix fixe 3 course meal was a cutting board of sliced walnut wheat oat bread with a saucer of sweet and mild spicy mustard and courtesy from the kitchen a sample of an amuse- buoche (one-bite) chowder soup presented in a shot glass.  For the three course meal, I chose for appetizer, a curry cauliflower, daikon, watercress aioli soup.  The soup was puree to a very creamy rich texture with bold and balance flavors of cauliflower with a hint of curry but not over powering to be mistaken for curry sauce. The cauliflower and daikon was diced to  mini cubes. The watercress and aioli lightly floats above to top off the beautiful presentation.  The soup was the highlight of the 3 course. For the entree, I had strangely the same appetite as my sister-in-law / a pregnant woman since we both chose glazed crispy leg of duck with blood oranges and sauteed onions.  The duck was really tender and the skin was thin and crispy which I found impressive since ducks tend to be very tough.  The onions as a vegetable was nice but I like my greens.  To conclude the 3 course meal before having desserts, we had another nice surprise from the kitchen with  a sample of pear ice cream.  The pear ice cream had the texture of shaved pear skin into the ice cream.  As for dessert, my sister-in-law both chose the citrus  with chocolate pudding cake, hazelnut and orange scented frozen yogurt, which was a well rounded of dessert with a portion of blood oranges| fruit, cake, pudding and frozen yogurt.  My whole family and I enjoyed Rouge Tomate so much, I think we were spoiled and tempted in trying the next NYC Restaurant Week restaurants.  So we have all been sucked into the soul of NYC Restaurant Week and maybe it’s not such a sin instead as a support to the big and small restaurant owners and the city we live and love.  Definitely making advance reservations for Le Cirque next year!

January 30th, 2010,

A bowl of Pho is the best remedy after a day on the ski slopes and probably the coldest day so far of this Winter season.  In celebration of my 24th birthday, I had the urge to go skiing.  My sister, Jesse and my sister’s friend Betty had made that happen.  On our bus ride back to NYC, our minds were on nothing but to get our hands on a bowl of Vietnamese Pho Noodle soup.  Betty recommended, Thai Son and knew exactly the number off the menu of the dish she wanted, No. 1.  Thai Son No. 1 consist of Rice Noodles Beef Soup Six Differences Brisket, Navel, Frank, Omosa Tendon & Eye of Round…um, yum?  I grew up in a family where beef is not allowed because cows are a holy animal.  Recently, after five years of no beef at all in my diet, since my brother’s Korean friend wedding banquet beef stew in July 2009, I have become a little more flexible on that option but Thai Son No. 1 the description is probably a little too daring for me, a cow’s belly button?  No, thanks.  I am a carnivore and occasionally a vegetarian so I like to stick to parts of an animal that are more widely and commonly eaten.  I usually order a grilled chicken vermicelli noodle salad like dish but hot soup was more appetizing.  Very American of me I ordered the only chicken option on the Pho column, shredded chicken noodle soup, hey, it’s a classic!  Service was quick and minutes later we were all slurping our dishes.  The broth was amazing with an abundant amount of rice noodles and some onions and on the side condiment of fresh bean sprouts, basil and lemon to add into the bowl.  It was the second time for me at Thai Son, I think I was starving since what we had lunch at the ski resort was essentially air (triangle sponge cake, seaweed, hot chocolate, and sweets) but the second time around was so good that Jesse and I are still reminiscing about Thai Som on Tuesday at work.

February 4th – 6th 2010,

After a month and a half from our Basta Pasta date my sister and I had with Sin Yee and Samantha (sisters too) we made advanced booking for Ippudo because I have not had it before and wanted to try it eagerly and Chikalicious because Sin Yee and Samantha worships desserts and Chikalicious does it best, in celebration for my belated birthday and becoming a first time aunt!  Ippudo not surprising the wait for a table of 4 was a hour and a half so we head over to St. Mark’s to Village Yokocho instead.  I recalled how delicious my spicy squid with angel hair pasta so I ordered the same.  My sister ordered a tofu seafood stew, Samantha ordered a bimbim bop (mixed vegetables over rice on hot cast iron pot) like dish, and Sin Yee ordered a ramen along with appetizers of fish cake, octopus balls, and yakitori (meat on skewers).  Then I realized how Korean-Japanese flair in the dishes there is.  Nonetheless the decor of Village Yokocho is casual and street food vendor setting with hand drawn drawings and overhead lanterns.  Later, we walked over to Chikalicious for a 3 course dessert…ah!  We sat by the bar where we were in breathing distance from Chika, the pastry chef herself observing her creating all the dishes along with her sous pastry chef, David.  I love observing chefs cook.  It’s pure magic!  The 3 course dessert meal started with a sample portion of a grapefruit sorbet, working into the main course and ending with petite shaved coconut marshmallow cubes, biscuit, and truffle.  The menu of desserts changes daily but as a first time I decided to try Chikalicious signature dish, Cheese Cake or Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake.”  I observed Chika preparing my cheese cake and it is probably pre-made aged in cheese cloth.  The Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake” is what I think is the avant-garde of the New York Cheesecake.  There is no graham cracker crust here, simply a ball of white cheese bathed in yogurt milk and is centered on a plate over a mountain of shaved ice for the island effect.  We paired our desserts with a pot of hot chamomile tea and Samantha had a pot of lemon mint tea.  Aside from the desserts, the fine China ware is what makes Chikalicious distinctive.  The fine China ware are maybe a bit granny for some and with royalty but the textile pattern are very intricate and very delicate.  I noticed many diners at Chikalicious appealed to Asians or interracial couples which I found interesting. The concept of a 3 course dessert bar is pure genius!  Everyone has a sweet tooth!

Continuing with the sweets theme I have been having lately that’s a total of 3 cakes I had from my birthday (Billy’s Red Velvet Cupcake, Cafe Zaiya Strawberry Shortcake from my coworkers and Yeh’s Bakery Green Tea Cake from my brother and sister-in-law), Chikalicious Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake,” a slice of chocolate ganache cake from Whole Foods for my co-worker Hanae’s birthday and to semi- concluding this gluttonous two weeks of sweet indulgence I met up with the ladies Anita, Ashley, and Jane at Village Tart for more desserts…mmm and in celebration of Jane’s 24th, Yay!   Note to self: Must renew my swimming membership.  Jane stumbled upon and saw Nutella on the menu which is how we decided to try this 1 month new born dessert parlor.  It’s located conveniently by walking distance from my apartment that I went back and forth twice due to misreading text message and forgetting my cell phone the first time. On the corner of Mulberry Street and Kenmare Street.  It was decorated with various size and shapes of mirrors on the wall with nice cafe wicker chairs with marble tables and dimly lit table oil lamps with shades. Jane got her Nutella pie her mind had been fixating on, and Ashley had a savory pear, brie tart and I ordered a fatty mascarpone with seasonal fruits tart consist of pistachios, blood oranges (seeing and eating that a lot lately..hmm), mandarin oranges and a berry?  Anita nibbled a bit and jet set off to India on Lunes.  In a pretty bad economy it takes a lot of courage to take on a lease  in New York City and being so close distance to all the Little Italy cafes but there is definitely potential success for Village Tart.

:: More Photos on Flickr to come

Addresses:

Rouge Tomate /// 10 East 60th Street New York, NY 10022

Thai Son /// 89 Baxter Street New York, NY 10013

Village Yokocho /// 8 Stuyvensant Street New York, NY 10003

Chikalicious /// 203 East 10th Street New York, NY 10003

Village Tart /// 86 Kenmare Street New York, NY 10012

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