As far as I’m concerned, NYC is pretty much my home away from home when it comes to woes of my stomach. This city always offers us so much and even after a hard hit to the locals here the past week and still in a tough spot for many.
Despite all the mounting reasons why it would be better for a postponement of a department training, we continued. To make the best I could for my time in the city, I still tried to give my business to the proprietors of the city. This evening, a group of 8 hungry, hungry hippos (yes, it’s a MEGA version of the game) made its way down to East Village for Ssam Bar.
The last time I was at this Momofuku establishment was back in March, but it left a specific memory for myself – we need more people to eat! Last time, it was only my friend KF and myself. We did our fair share of sampling David Chang’s signature dishes, plus staff favorites. This time, we had more than enough mouths to sample even more!
This was a cold, small dish of noodles that was dressed in what seemed like some sort of sesame sauce. The roe added the little salt and the hearts of palm seem to freshen up my bite. It was good, but not stellar.
Wow….the pig ear was fried super crispy and seasoned so well that I thought I was eating chips! If you weren’t told you were eating pig ears, you could easily pass this for fried jerky. Yums!
This pretty much explains itself: kimchi-ed apples with bacon and arugula. This is served with a maple yogurt that cuts the pickled apples. The reason I ordered this dish for the table was because I remember this dish being the big surprise from my first visit. It was unexpected in how much I liked it!
Yes…we had a LOT of the bun appetizers (actually we ordered all of them). Everyone was floored at how good the steamed and bbq buns were. Seems like the consensus at the table was that the bbq buns were the favorite of them all. I personally had a gripe this time about the steam buns – the bread itself was too dry and just made me sad! The buns used for the bbq version were nice and soft and fluffy. Why?!?! As for the lobster roll…it’s nothing special at all. I would suggest skipping this one and go else where if the craving is lobster roll.
I didn’t get to try the quail itself, but my colleagues seem to really like it. One even said, “I wasn’t expecting anything and it is better than I thought it would be.” I did try the spaghetti squash that was coated with what tasted like curry and it was good.
This was the dish that I would say, should be the signature entree of the restaurant. It was just as good as the first time – spicy, tangy, savory, cripsy, chewy, meaty, crunchy. There is no way I was going to split one order with 7 other people, so I insisted on ordering 2 of them! Everyone was loving this dish as well and diving into them.
O.M.G…this dish was MY highlight of the evening. During my first visit, KF and I saw people ordering the octopus and it looked soooo good. That’s why this time, I was determined to get it!! Gee willikers batman! That is a darn good plate of octopus!! I mean…it was cooked perfectly that this was one of two times I’ve ever had octopus in my life when it was NOT chewy (like rubber). One thing I did have an issue with this was that it was overly salted. Other than that, give. me. MOAR!!!!
After two visits during different times of the year, I found Ssam Bar to be addicting and consistent (more or less….fix that dry bun issue!). The staff is attentive but not overly bearing and even took the time to talk to one of our colleagues because she wanted to modify an overly strong drink. Would I be back? Heck. YES.
Ssam Bar | momofuku
207 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
While traveling for work the last two weeks in Park Ridge, New Jersey, wasn’t exactly the most thrilling and exciting trip ever, it wasn’t the worst. There were some real gems in the surrounding area (especially Ridgewood) and here were my best of Northern New Jersey!
Best List / Must Eats
Fire & Oak – come Monday night and you can get $1 oysters and I’m talking about BIG, good oysters. However, skip the sushi and the seafood entrees. The sushi was terrible and the entrees were so bland that my coworker were passing the salt between us throughout the meal. So after you down as many oysters as you can, order yourself a slab of their chocolate peanut butter pie. It comes ala mode (but you can’t see it due to the mountain of whipped cream) and it is ridiculous how rich this dessert was. I had to pull myself away because it was just that good, yet I knew I shouldn’t polish it off on my own.
Sushi Village – Do NOT be alarmed by the fact this restaurant is in a strip mall, nor it’s exterior outlooks. Once inside, you’ll be completely transported to a modern, fresh feeling restaurant. The reason this place made it on my list is not because it was the best sushi I’ve ever had. The sushi was good (far, far better than Fire & Oak’s), but there were two things that got me:
- All you can eat sushi dinner for $19.99! It is a freaking deal no matter how you swing it.
- The “Spicy Seaweed Salad” – this concoction is pure genius! Take the usual seaweed salad, but add spicy krab and mix it in with some tempura crunchies…it becomes a mouth of happiness. So simple, yet so addicting and delicious.
Brooklyn’s Pizzeria – straight up good, wood burning oven, pizza in the area. I personally enjoyed our pie and I know how strongly people feel about pizza in that state and it’s neighboring one too. However, I found it to be delicious and I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing. (Note: it’s cash only business)
Bricklane Curry House – my gawd…this place was the place that gave me one of those food-awe-haze moments. The Butter Masala was incredible to the point where I would say it comes close to my fave at Punjabi Tandoor’s Makhani. And their paneer pakora (which my friend has coined as “pan-pak”) was amazing too. I don’t know if I like Village Indian’s pan-pak or Bricklane’s more! AHHHHHH THE DILEMMA! (Oh! Don’t forget to order yourself a mango lassi – thick, creamy, and packed with mango goodness!)
Organic Tofu House – when I think of middle of nowhere cities in the woods…I don’t automatically think amazing Korean tofu stew. Who would?? However, this Korean tofu house was a real diamond in the rough. It’s in a strip mall and on the other side of the main street through Ridgewood. Complete unassuming and yet, for those who venture in, they are met with a quaint little restaurant that whips out a pot of bubbling, scathing hot, organic tofu stew! Man oh man…my coworker and I dove into our bubbly pots with little care for our tongues because we wanted the stew!!
Fire & Oak
2 locations in New Jersey
Westwood, NJ 07642
15 Oak St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Bricklane Curry House
Multiple Locations – NJ and NY
Organic Tofu House
88 Godwin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
The Del Mar Fairgrounds was the host of the first ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival. It was a gorgeous day out and perfect for gorging ourselves with amazing food. Now as I seat here after some “down” time, I am going through all my pictures and reminiscing about the eat-a-thon with my friend, LA.
We arrived at the fairgrounds with a tentative game plan: hit as many trucks as we could, and share everything we get. Oh look! This sign told us where our adventure would begin…
To kick off the eating, we started at Dogzilla:
To wet our appetites, we started with the Yakisoba Dog ($6) – a spicy hot link topped with stir-fried Yakisoba noodles with cabbage, bean sprouts, and green onions, Okonomi sauce, red ginger, finished off with Ao-Nori. I was excited to try this because it was everything I love, in a bun! And not just any bun, but a sweet Hawaiian bun.
The sausage gave the meal the spicy kick I prefer my meals to have. With the lack of Sriracha and only ketchup, the sausage provided that spiciness that made my tongue happy! The yakisoba was good, slightly sweet and salty, and the sweet bun helped wrapped everything for mobility. I think this was one of the best starter for this food adventure!
Next…Great Balls on Tires:
Specializing in well…great balls! Of meat :). While waiting in line, we talked with two fellow foodies and had a great conversation with them! As LA said, I make friends where ever I go and you know what? Food always tastes better with great company! 🙂 Also, during our conversation, LA came up with a perfect phrase that even our new friends found to be quite amusing, and reflected myself perfectly – “food stalker”. There needs some definition to go with this new phrase….here’s a shot: a food stalker is one who stares at others, known and unknown, solely to drool/obsess/investigate food that is not at one’s own plate. Who will ask many questions to inquire about the food item being consumed and occasionally proceed to request for some.
Maybe that’s what a food stalker is? If anyone has a better definition, send it to me! For now, under this definition, I am a bona fide food stalker extraordinaire!
This bona fide food stalker and her accomplice went for an order of the Ballywood and Buffalo Balls (respectively and $6 per item). The Ballywood was garam masala chicken balls, topped with coconut madras curry, crispy fired onions, and served with saffron basmati rice with tomato and cilantro chutneys. The Buffalo Balls were buffalo style chicken ball, mac & cheese, blue cheese dressing, and served with celery and carrot.
The meatballs were amazingly juicy and tender – both of them! The curry was not spicy (how I like mine), but rather on the sweet side. However, it was flavor packed and I couldn’t help but lap it all up (my half) along with the somehow decently cooked basmati rice! The buffalo sauce on the other hand was not spicy, and was sweet with a bit of vinegar tang. Again, not my usual go-to flavor combo, but the meatball itself was so good, plus when I took a bite with the mac & cheese (with panko bread crumbs at top!!!), it made for a great bite! Overall – this red, black, and white truck satisfied me and LA.
Next stop – the Tornado Potato:
We went for the “Tornado” with cajun seasoning. As you can see, it’s a towering spiral of a whole potato on a stick! LA and I had this at the County Fair this year, but we both wanted a fried potato item so we went with this place! We both agreed that the potato should be sliced thinner to get that crispiness of a chip on the exterior, while remaining fluffy inside like a fry. It was still tasty and we both love our potato treat!
Having had so many savory items, plus with the sun baring down on us for sometime now, we both needed a cool off and something sweet. The answer to our prayers?
Longboard’s Ice Cream:
The recipe of this truck is simple: pick your ice cream flavor on a stick, then your chocolate coating choice (milk or dark) and finally your topping to coat the whole thing.
My choice: coconut ice cream, dipped in dark chocolate and topped with half graham cracker crumbs, and half rainbow sprinkles. I loved the idea of how this worked and I loved the freshly dipped items, but my only issue was that ice cream bar on the stick was too icy. It must be from keeping the ice cream frozen in order to dip them, so I can understand yet it did bother me a little. However, it was still quite enjoyable! Oh! And since I forgot to take an individual pic of LA’s pop, she chose: pistachio ice cream, dipped in dark chocolate, and covered with rainbow sprinkles. According to LA, the pistachio ice cream was only ok and didn’t have enough pistachio flavor to it.
After our pops, we decided to sit and rest for a bit, to let all the food mix in our stomachs and begin to really process it. That was when the food coma started creeping in! Oh man…I knew from there, it was only going to go downhill. However, after sitting, then walking, and watching a race, we dove back into the crowds (which only grew even larger at that point). I met up with a couple of friends and a colleague, watched what they ate and decided I had to make one more last haul!
Hence, LA and I made our way to Tapa Boy:
I ordered the Pork Longanisa Bowl with garlic fried rice (sinangag), an egg, and a side of papaya relish (atsara) with tomato and cucumber. Man…when they say garlic rice…boy, oh, boy…did they really mean it! The rice was packed with garlic and I loved it! Their longanisa was sweet, which surprised me a little because I was expecting something spicy (are you noticing a trend here?…because I am). The meat was super tender and yield to a plastic fork with ease, so it was still quite good. Though it didn’t blow my mind away.
To end a long day, though I didn’t have any…a friend bought herself a decked out waffle from Waffles de Liege:
This here is a liege waffle with chocolate drizzle, almonds, and topped with a giant scope of Fosselman’s English toffee nut ice cream. I only had the ice cream and it was amazing! My friend “Channy” dove into this with a huge smile on her face. Judging from her expression, I think she liked it ;).
Well my friends, that was my first ever Gourmet Food Truck Festival! I can’t wait for the next one, but until then…I am going to start having to find these food trucks around town for lunch! Bon appetit my fellow food stalkers!For more information on the food trucks visited: Dogzilla
Great Balls on Tires
Long Boards Ice Cream
Waffles de Liege
This past week was my first full week back home, so I finally had the chance to take a look back on all the food that I had partake in during my tour of China, and visit back to Hong Kong. Although I am sure there was much more to try in China, unfortunately the food I ate was all geared towards “tourists.” We were in a tour group, but it still makes me sad that there could be amazing food out there that I never got my hands on. In my recap, I think I want to focus on the items that stood out above all the rest and mediocre.
When I browse through my album and relived all that I ate in the 16 days away, I must say that the one that caught me completely off guard was this:
This simple, hot, sticky, delicious, hot mess was something that I thought I should have thought of…SO WHY DIDN’T I?!?! The snack before you is a sliced, fresh roll that has been toasted and slathered with butter, natural, chunky peanut butter, and drizzled with sweet condensed milk. Yes my friends…this is totally NOT part of ANY diets out there, but it was part of my diet of orgasmic food experiences.
The bread was perfectly toasted on the sliced side, soft on the insides, and natural crust to the outside. It was a perfect vehicle for all the extra goodness to be piled on top!
Now that I know this is a GREAT combo, I plan on making this my special Sunday brunch at home :). I just need to find the right natural chunky PB to match it. Any suggestions?? (or if you know a place in San Diego that serves this, let me know too!)
Tsui Wah Restaurant
All over Hong Kong, Kowloon, and New Territories;
Shanghai, China; Macau
So where was my next stop after my time in New York?…
Thank goodness we also had a stop in Tahoe as well during our visit to the Northern Nevada casino properties. Being my first time in Northern Nevada, I was shocked at the decay of the city of Reno. As we drove through the main road of the city, I could see how this was once the hustle and bustle of Northern Nevada. Now, it is a sadder scene with areas of abandonment and memory of the old days.
However, granted I was traveling with others this time aka – there was no excuse to NOT eat with tons of people and way too much food.
I will just go down chronologically of the meals that we had shared and consumed:
235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501
This was a Basque restaurant, serving traditional Basque cuisine. I had never heard of Basque food before and the only time I had even heard of “Basque” was during my travel to Europe and was given a brief history during our drive into Spain from France. So I was excited to see what this food was all about.
First, the dining room reminded me of an old bar or saloon. There were rows of long tables that you would share with other parties when it was a full house. However, that night, the place was already winding down due to the fact it was a late Sunday night. The meals were served family style with a choice of entrée for yourself. The entrees differ each night and so…let the food precession begin!
As you can see, they pretty much covered the bases with a soup starter, meats, and starch. The food was good overall, but it did not exactly blow my me out of the water. Still…it was a good start to the trip.
247 California Avenue
Reno, Nevada 89509
The following day, after our morning of walking the floors, we met up with another team working on another property for lunch at The Cheese Board. This place would be considered a casual French/American Bistro. They had sandwiches, salads, specials and of course – wine (which we did not have because we were all on ‘work hours’ and we were being good to stick to it).
This was so good! I don’t know how you cannot like warm, melting, good quality cheese.
Because this was the namesake of the Bistro…and the selections were all quite yummy.
(It was one of the better quiches that I had ever tried)
Overall?…A wonderful lunch spot and reminds me that Reno is still alive!
17 S. Virginia St. #180
Reno, NV 89501
Since we had such a nice lunch that day, we hoped that this recommendation we received from a fellow colleague would not fail us. Plus, it sat right by the river so it was the closest “seaside dining” we could muster for Northern Nevada.
Taste was there, but there was no texture. It was just a pile of mush on mush…sad 😦
Possibly the best thing I ate there that night. Fresh greens dressed in a delicious vinaigrette (plus there was texture here at least!)
Now our entrees:
Good lamb…even better polenta that was served under it.
Desserts (I laugh and make a face as I write/think about this):
The way they described it on the menu sounds interesting, yet it came out exactly as I had imagined: a brownie with a Klondike bar sitting on top. =\
Disgusting. Let me describe to you why: imagine cubes of stall bread that was pressed together and re-baked with no liquids to make it remotely moist and then try to cover it with chocolate sauce. This was the bread pudding. UCK!!
Now for this one – it was scrambled eggs in a dish with caramelized sugar. Yea…
(Chuckling) Ok…on the menu it does not tell you what kinds of berries are used, just that this was a berry crumble. So we asked the waitress and she tells us, “It’s a deep berry the chef uses.”
….Did you all catch that? “Deep berries.” If you were like us, you’d be asking (like we actually did): “What (the hell) are ‘deep berries’?” Are they berries deep within a forest? Are they philosophical fruits? What?! Let’s just say the waitress could not talk herself out of this one. (By the way, it ended up being strawberries…because they were out of deep berries apparently.)
My recommendations to you?…Skip the appetizers and desserts, go for the house salad and entrees only.
205 West 5th Street
Reno, NV 89503
The place is pretty self explanatory of what we had for lunch. However, in addition to our bowls of pho, we had orders of the Fresh Spring rolls and Fried Eggrolls
Now…on to Tahoe!
111 Country Club Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451
For our first night in Tahoe, we joined with the group at their hotel for dinner. Let’s just say we ordered more than what we all really needed. Let the bingeing begin:
I think the end of the meal was the favorite part of the meal for me that night. Look at that spread of delicious, fatty, sugary goodness. We had (going from left to right): Apple Trio; Mud Pie; Cheesecake; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Pear Nougat; Walnut Tart w/ Dolce Dulce Ice Cream.
My gawd…it was an overboard of sugar and we were all already at our breaking point but we were all very dedicated foodies (and a newly initiated one who was brought on to help us and was floored by the amount of food that we ate). My favorite from the platter? It would have to be the Walnut Tart with the ice cream. By the way…this was the platter at the end:
168 Hwy 50
Stateline, NV 89449
For our last lunch, we headed for some Mexican/Spanish food. However…it was not that good sadly.
The meat tasted fine for the tacos, but not astounding. Worst part was that the tortillas were too thick. You needed thinner tortillas to just hold the meats and let the (good) meat do all the talking. This place’s tacos were just a mumble in the air.
1001 Heavenly Village Way #26
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Our last night in Tahoe, for dinner, we opted for something amazing to make up for lunch, but yet, staying away from the steakhouses (we both needed seafood to balance out all the red meat). Thus, it was Kalani’s that really saved the day.
They were kind enough to split an order into two little cups for us. Thick, flavorful, sweet, a tinge of spice…wonderful.
Sweet, salty, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone tender. Though we both had enough meat the past few days, this was a great addition to our meal.
O.M.G. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE sea bass and its buttery texture. This fish really does fall to the slightest force from your fork and melts in your mouth as if it was butter. Amazing piece of fish and cooked with a crispy side to add a little texture. Suberb!
The special of the night was an ahi tuna steak topped with sweet, fresh crab meat, served on top of kimchi and “veggie sticks” (aka julienne carrots, zucchini and squash). This was good, but it was not a sea bass.
To round off the night, we finished with this delicious and wonderfully made creme brulee. The coconut flavor was in your face, but pleasantly so. By far…it was our best meal to date during this trip!
953 W 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503
Last day in Northern Nevada…back at Reno to grab a quick bite before we headed to the airport. We wanted something simple and quick. This little café had a great spirit and a hard working woman who I can only assume was the owner. She worked the counter, cash register, and waiting/bussing the tables. Naturally, you see her just running around the little café at great speeds.
While sitting there, you could watch your food be made fresh and also watch them bake their own breads for the menu items.
This was toasted bread slice (freshly made in-house), roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, eggs overeasy, green salsa. With a little hot sauce, it is the cure for hangovers.
A mixed organic greens salad with tomato, kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers, feta cheese, avocado, procsiutto, house croutons.
We kept it simple and clean….well I did with my salad, can’t say the same for my colleague.
Well friends…that was my first time adventure in Reno and Tahoe. Will I be back? If it’s for work, I won’t have much of a choice, but if for pleasure, then I will definitely be back to Tahoe.
My first time in New York was a complete culture shock and I just didn’t have enough time to do everything a tourist does in the city, PLUS touring all the eateries. However, my second trip to the city was just one of two things to do: go to work and eat. Guess what I liked doing more?
I must say though, one down side for a foodie in such a huge city with so many options for meals and snacks, is the hard question: what should I eat?!
So again…I will let my pictures do all the talking :):
Momofuku: má pêche
15 west 56th street
new york, ny 10019
377 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
357 6th Ave
New York, NY 10079
Rice To Riches
37 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
88 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
International locations and limited locations within US
Wafels & Dinges Truck (and Mini too)
Various locations in Manhattan (dependent on day and time)
Tasty Dumpling Inc
54 Mulberry St # E
New York, NY 10013
It was a whirl wind of a week of training and food! My favorites this time?…
- Locanda Verde – this restaurant really surprised me by the quality of food and the simple, yet dazzling flavors. This restaurant will be a must visit here on out whenever I find myself in the City!
- Rice to Riches – I now understand all the rave about this place…it’s freaking delicious (and I used to make rice pudding by the quarts).
- Morimoto – the toro tartare of course…the congee that came with the braised pork was soaked with pork goodness, amazing.
- Tasty Dumplings – um…duh, dumpling filling were great, but needed more to the ratio of wrapper. Also, their dumpling wrapping was too thick in my opinion.
I will be back New York! I love you and the whole city’s talent for creating some of the best morsels!