Archive for the 'American Food' Category

22
Apr
11

Social Eatz

I was searching for a quick and casual place to eat around the Bloomingdale’s area.  I searched Yelp because I am not a huge fan of the girly places near there, such as Serendipity and Alice’s Teacup.  I came across Social Eatz which I have been seeing in the Tasting Table newsletters and has had publicity from Top Chef (which I never watched).  Since I was meeting an adventurous friend, she agreed to try this new place with me.  They don’t open for dinner until 5:30 and we were trying to make it to a Good Friday service by 6:30.  The menu is quite witty and charming.  The food was introduced to us by our server as classic American fare with an Asian twist.  Although the Yelp reviews led me to believe it was going to be hit or miss, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.  We started with Spring Roll appetizers and before the main course they gave us scented hot towels for our hands!  We had flavored unfiltered Ginger Ale- I only recommend this if you are a huge fan of ginger.  It was quite strong.  The Hanoi Burger was very tasty and my Tilapia Tacos were delicious as well.  Flavor, texture, taste, all good.  The fries, though, [insert dramatic pause here] the fries.  Seasoned and served with a spicy cheddar and sake sauce, these shoestring fries were out of this world.  At first what attracted me to the menu was the Korean Beef Tacos.  I’m glad I didn’t order it, though, because I would have been comparing them to the ones I had in L.A. off the Kogi Truck.  That is a post for another day.   If you are on the East Side, try Social Eatz.  The food was good, the service was friendly, and we were served quickly and made it to church on time.

Spring Rolls and Ginger Ale

17
Aug
10

Shackin’ Up at Rockaway Taco with the fishes

I was introduced to Edible Queens magazine by a friend.  Now that I know it is available for free at the information desk at the Queens Center Mall, I’ll be stopping by to pick one up.  My friends who let me tag along (after I got an unexpected Saturday off) with them to the beach showed me the article entitled, “Shackin’ Up.”  A restaurateur had a vision for Far Rockaway and made it happen.  My friends had already planned on stopping by Rockaway Taco for lunch and even though we thought we would miss the crowd because we went around 2pm, it was clearly not the case when we arrived.  Was there a long line?  Yes.  Was there a 30 minute wait?  Yes.  Was there seating available?  Not really.  Was it worth the wait?  Yes, it certainly was.  Molly even said she’d go out of her way to have their fish taco.  I’d have to agree.  Everything was fresh.  The chips came straight out of the fryer.  The fish tacos were absolutely perfect in texture, taste, dressing, and size.  The cucumber salad was crisp and refreshingly dressed.  The elotes looked really good.  I tried the tofu taco but it wasn’t my favorite fusion dish.  The tofu was marinated well but I would have preferred to eat it over rice.  Oh but that fish taco…was in my dream that night!

Rockaway Taco menu

Chips and Guac, Tofu Taco, and Fish Taco

17
Aug
10

La Pequeña Colombia in Jackson Heights

After a nice unexpected call from a friend, we decided to try something in Jackson Heights.  Although Kai hails from Chinatown, he was in the mood for some Latin food.  And, he wasn’t complaining about the presence of Latin women in the restaurant and neighborhood.  He got a recommendation for La Pequeña and after checking Urban Spoon, I agreed to try it.  I had been wanting to try a new Colombian restaurant since I live in the heart of Little Colombia but I don’t have many friends who are willing to trek out to Queens just to eat.  La Pequeña had a nice variety of entrees on their menu.  I wanted to try their soup of the day but they were out.  After consulting our server about her recommendations, I basically just asked Kai, “Which mound of meat would you like to order?”  We ordered a Platos Tipicos and another steak dish.  It came with bread, salad, beans, rice, eggs, chicharron, and arepas.  I couldn’t stop from stuffing myself, the food was so good.  I need to learn how to cook rice the Colombian way.  I’m used to cooking it with water only but I believe Colombians add onion, garlic, salt, and oil to the water.  Anyone have a recipe?  Please see pictures below.

Bread Basket and Sauces

Platters of juicy, tender, delicousness- not for vegetarians!

30
Jul
10

JP’s in City Island

To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t even heard of City Island in the Bronx.  We were actually trying to get to the Chart House in Weehawken for a combined birthday celebration (one of whom was turning 50!) but it just seemed like too much of a project to get there after work without a car.  Since Molly had her car in Queens, she took us to JP’s for seafood.  We drove past a restaurant with a giant neon lobster over it and Molly said, “We’re not going to that one, we’re going to another place.  You might think it is a little dive-y but I really like it.”  We walked in and Air Supply was playing over the loudspeaker.  As the evening progressed we went through love songs of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  I thought it a bit strange while I was there but afterwards I was really missing the love songs.  The service was friendly and courteous.  The food was overall pretty good.  My ribs were excellent, fall-off-the-bone tender.  The steamers were fresh and the fried seafood platter was gigantic.  The fried soft shell crab and the shrimp are worth returning for.

Since Molly had been there a few days before, she had chatted with the owner.  She found out that the music was actually coming from a satellite radio station called “The Love.”  The owner was very nice and gave us all souvenir T Shirts to take with us!

Although I could understand why Molly thought we would think the place was a dive with the booths and life size pirate and giant helm, I had a thoroughly good time at JP’s.

23
Jul
10

Frankie and Johnny’s

So Molly and I got all dolled up for speed dating and then the event got cancelled.  We did, however, get to spend time with Frankie and Johnny.  Frankie and Johnny’s Steakhouse is on 37th Street between 5th and 6th Ave.  There are two levels with the bar on the bottom level.  Molly and I each ordered a Caesar Salad and shared a dish call Steak Bits that was not on the menu.  They also brought us a beautiful bread basket.  The Caesar Salad was very fresh and the dressing was nice and light.  The steak bits were served on toasts and were perfectly done medium rare.  No steak sauce needed.  Seriously delicious.  We also stopped by The Strand rooftop for a great view of the Empire State Building.  It’s really ok that speed dating was cancelled.  Instead of meeting beefy hunks, we ate bits of steak.


10
Jun
10

Malcolm Gladwell was Right About Ketchup!

I was reading What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell.  All of the articles in it were fascinating but the one about ketchup was something I recently experienced when I bought the “No Salt Added” version of Heinz.  The article can be found here on Gladwell dot com.  He starts with the question, “Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties.  Why has ketchup stayed the same?”  In short, he begins by writing about the rise of Grey Poupon and makes his way into the history of ketchup and the market research that ketchup has managed to defy.  Gladwell writes, “The taste of Heinz’s ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo.  How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?”  All this to say that I tried to be a bit healthier by buying the “No Salt Added” version of Heinz but I was disappointed.  It’s just not the same.  You should read the research that helped get us 36 varieties of Ragú spaghetti sauce.  It’s very interesting.  At least now I know why I don’t like anything that’s not Heinz (the original formula)!  Click here to Splat a friend!

30
Apr
10

Speed Dating at Popburger

I managed to get a friend, Molly, to sign up for speed dating with me.  We signed up for Speed Dating for Christians since faith is a priority for us in our search for potential dates that hopefully lead us to our mates.  I’m debating which part was juicier- the hamburgers or the dates?  We signed up through NY Easy Dates and the event was held at upstairs lounge in Popburger on E. 58th Street, just below the Fifth Avenue Apple Store.  I think that the burgers gave me more satisfaction than the 12 men that I had 6 minutes each with.  If you’ve never participated in speed dating, the women are seated at individual tables and the men rotate around the room and have 6 minutes to talk with each girl.  The facilitator rang her gong at each interval, as she had left her bell at the previous speed dating event.  The fries were battered and addictive.  The sliders were delicious.  Cooked to perfection, they were juicy and tasty.  The buns were nice, hearty and flavorful as well.  We were served the hamburgers and the portobello sliders.  Both were excellent.

As for the dating part, here’s a snippet from the evening:

Molly: So what church do you go to?

Speed Dater: I go to St. Patrick’s.

Molly: Oh, how do you like Father Dolan?

Speed Dater: Who?

While Molly and I left the event feeling somewhat discouraged, I actually did my due diligence and went to the website to choose my matches.  NY Easy Dates only releases or email address if both parties mutually choose each other on the website.  I  ended up with one match!  Now if I can just bring myself to email the guy…

Hmmm, at any rate, I will definitely return to Popburger for a bite sometime.

10
Apr
10

Obscene cookies from Levain Bakery

“Those cookies are downright obscene!”  That’s what Tim said about the cookies from Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side (74th and Amsterdam).  I was in charge of the reception for a set of classical music analysis lectures this year.  I decided to get something special for the reception for the last lecture of the year.  Their cookies come in four varieties and I chose the chocolate chocolate chip.  I brought the leftovers to work the next day and the comment was, “That’s not a cookie, it’s a brownie!” while people’s eyes widened while biting into them.  Don’t get caught up in the technicalities.  The cookies are exceptional.  I tried one of their oatmeal raisin scones, as well.  Mild and delicious, extra scrumptious with jam on top.

Chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Levain Bakery

20
Feb
10

Mona Lisa at McDonald’s

My friends and I actually sought out McDonald’s after shelling out a nice chunk of change for dinner entrees that weren’t proportionate to the amount of food that came on the plate.  We did get to hear a really incredible jazz set by The John Raymond Project but left the joint hungry.  We found a McDonald’s near by and my friend Molly and I took a short detour to find an available ladies room at Le Cirque.  I think the security guards were amused by our desperation and let us use their facility.  After all that, my Happy Meal tasted awfully good.  I also couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the decor.  Did you know that the Mona Lisa ate Mc Donald’s?  Is that how she kept her figure?  Maybe that was her secret…

19
Nov
09

10¢ Wings at Croxley’s

I don’t normally hang out in Long Island but I decided to join my co-workers for a pre-Thanksgiving Buffalo Wing night at Croxley Ales.  I had been hearing about these famous wing nights and I finally got to experience one.  The evening was preceded by a discussion of the name Buffalo wings.  Without even having any beer the discussion we had was quite ridiculous and I will not recreate it for you here.  I suppose I could Google or Wiki it but perhaps an informed reader can educate me.  Also, I’ve never been to Buffalo so I’ve never had true Buffalo wings, just like I’ve never had a true Philly cheese steak or true Chicago pizza either.   I had a pear cider and then I lost track of the number of wings that I had.  I think I stopped counting on purpose in order to prevent myself from quantifying the guilt!  I loved the hot wings but people ordered mostly mild or medium.  I couldn’t taste the difference between the mild and medium but it didn’t really matter because the bleu cheese sauce prevailed, anyways.  The wings were great, the company was fantastic, and the beers were plentiful.  ‘Twas a great night.

18
Sep
09

A Classical McDonald’s

There’s no playground at the McDonald’s on 56th and 8th Ave but Molly and I walked into this one and were struck by the decor and the classical music playing over the loudspeakers.  There were prints of classical looking paintings (insert comment by Art History majors here) on the walls, across from the giant Angus Burger signs.  I would have taken some pictures but I had an ice cream cone in my hand.  They’re only 150 calories, by the way.  No Less guilt!   If you’re in need of a little zen, stop by Mikkee Dee’s.

09
Sep
09

Flushing- Sago

Sago Tea Cafe on Main Street in Flushing serves appetizers, rice, and noodle dishes along with bubble tea (aka pearl tea or boba).  They also have a Korean food menu.  Instead of having my usual almond milk tea or green tea smoothie, I tried the Fried Green Tea Ice Cream as I caught up with friends.  Joe’s Bestburger is right across the street they have a half price deal for their Rewards Card members a couple hours before closing.  My friend Sam was recommending the chicken sandwich, claiming that it is better than Chick-fil-a.  I tried holding out until 10pm to have dinner but I didn’t make it.  I had Burger King instead.  Hardly interesting at all.  My model/actor friend Jay gave me his rewards card to Joe’s Bestburger so I’ll make it there sometime soon.

24
Aug
09

Museum of Natural History sells Insect Amber Pops

I was assisting in a Fright at the Museum scavenger hunt at the American Museum of Natural History yesterday and I was looking at the staff favorite picks at the museum shop.  I did get quite a fright when I saw the chocolate covered insects.  They even had meal worms and insects in a lollipop and boxes of flavored crickets.  Sour Cream n’ Onion or Bacon Cheddar!  They are made by Hotlix.  I’d like to see you eat these on camera, Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, and Jeff Corwin!

24
Aug
09

The Met Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is quite large and impressive.  You will most likely become hungry at some point in your visit.  There are actually many dining options available at the Met.  If you are there on a Friday or Saturday when the Met is open late, they have live classical music playing at the Great Balcony Bar between 4 and 8pm.  I ended up at the Cafeteria eating a cupcake from Crumbs. The prices are a bit on par with the food stands at Central Park (read ummm…how much for that?) but considering that admission is pay what you will to see incredible art work, I guess you can’t really complain.  What do you think?  I happened to be there on the last day of the Francis Bacon exhibit.  I’m glad I got to see some of it because a lot of people are talking about it.   He was trying to paint the perfect mouth.  I must admit, though, that the whole time I was looking at the Francis Bacon exhibit, I kept hearing the Beggin’ Strips commercial.  You know, the one with the puppy dog begging, “Bacon…bacon-bacon-bacon!!!”

20
Aug
09

Chinese-American Menu in Spanish

Just as a point of interest I’ve scanned part of the menu from the Chinese place around the corner.  One side of it is in English and the other side has Spanish on it.  I’ve scanned the Spanish side for you to see.  Also notice that under the “American & Chinese Special” is platanos and cheese wontons.  I wonder if Andrew Coe considered this at all for his book Chop Suey.  The 2010 Census is coming up and the Hispanic population has already been shown to be the fastest growing population in America.  Spanish is also the second most spoken language in the world just behind Mandarin.  I need to learn how to say more than just, “Dónde esta el baño?”

red Chinese menu

17
Aug
09

Peanut Butter & Co and Elvis

Another Elvis reference I found recently is at the adorable and ultra-fun Peanut Butter & Co in The Village. Yes, some people may scoff at the idea of paying $6-8 for a peanut butter sandwich but the peanut butter that they make is pretty darn good. It is a peanut butter paradise. They serve The Elvis, which is a “grilled peanut butter sandwich stuffed with bananas and honey.  Try it with bacon for extra indulgence.  Long live the King!”  I ordered The Heat is On with chicken and pineapple. It was really good, actually. All sandwiches are served with chips and carrot sticks. PB & Co is also featured in the Scavenger Munch Hunt that Watson Adventures runs in the Village. An especially great hunt for any foodie at any level and you pick up great trivia bits along the way!

08
Aug
09

“No Reservations” U.S./Mexico Border

I checked out Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Collection 2 from the library and I’m on the US/Mexico Border episode.  He starts the episode by taking the viewer into the kitchen of his home base restaurant Les Halles and asking where the chefs are from.  They are all from Mexico.  I see the point he’s trying to make- that there is a large and talented pool of chefs coming from Mexico and has become a backbone for restaurants and their diners.  Being Chinese-American myself, however, it reminds me of the large number of Chinese that either started laundries or restaurants because it was all they were allowed to do back then in the States.  I know that this could be a potentially loaded conversation due to the complexities of immigration and minorities in America but I have noticed that many, many restaurants hire Mexican cooks, including Italian and Chinese restaurants.  So what I’m wondering is, who does the cooking at Mexican restaurants?

08
Aug
09

Burgers & Cupcakes

Burgers & Cupcakes on 9th Ave at 36th.  Not much explanation needed, though this location was also serving pizza.  I had a crispy chicken sandwich, my friend had a turkey burger and we ordered a basket of chili cheese fries.  Warning, the baskets of fries are large and quite salty.  It was otherwise all really well done using fresh ingredients.  There’s nothing I hate more than being served wilted lettuce.  I get served wilted lettuce fairly frequently in New York and that has become a pet peeve of the Californian in me.  So kudos to Burgers & Cupcakes!  They also gave us our cupcakes gratis after our meal.  I had a carrot cupcake and it was yummy!  The cake was nice and moist (and not too sweet) and the cream cheese icing was smooth.   The meal lifted my spirits and got me pumped up for my job interview the next day!

Crispy Chicken Burger

Crispy Chicken Burger

Carrot Cupcake

Carrot Cupcake

08
Aug
09

TGIF

OK, so I went to Friday’s on Wednesday.  Molly said that she felt like having a burger but we didn’t feel like going to Johnny Rockets.  We were out in Forest Hills where there are plenty of chain restaurants (but they are not overpriced like they are in Manhattan).  It brought me back to my high school years, probably also because they were playing Savage Garden when we walked in.  My friend Lea called TGIF Guy Fieri’s restaurant, haha.  He does make TGIF look really good.

What I really liked was that they had a “Perfect Portions” menu.  ABC reported that portions have increased in size by 23-52% over the past 20 years and that in their study, every person who was served a larger portion size ate more.  I have gotten into the habit of eating only half of my entree at restaurants nowadays.  My perfect portions meal was the perfect portion and although I managed to substitute broccoli for the fries, I finished my ribs and then managed to finish Molly’s 5 cheese macaroni.  Now that dish was so good with bleu cheese on it!  Mmm.  I would have been just perfectly full except that we had been talking about relationships all night and we just couldn’t leave without having dessert.  There is a law in New York City that all chain restaurants must include the calorie counts on their menus, which I find to be really helpful when deciding what to order but I was really wishing they hadn’t shown the calorie counts on the dessert menu that night!  Didn’t stop me from sharing it, though.

06
Aug
09

Rupert Sighting!!

I saw Rupert of the Hello Deli yesterday while I was walking down Broadway at 62nd St. He was walking with his business partner, Mei. I thought about saying hello but I was on my way to meet a friend for dinner. Plus, I wanted to avoid the potential awkwardness of, “Hey, remember me? My friends and I ate at your deli and my friend’s mom asked if you were single? Yeah, isn’t that great?” and getting a blank look from them. Then they’d feel obligated to do the, “Oh yes, how are you, nice to see you, etc.” just to be polite thing. Or who knows, maybe they would remember that time!




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