Friday, February 27, 2009

Mary had a little lamb? 小肥羊

Hot pot ("steamboat") restaurants are something I wish I can easily find in New York City. Besides Quickly Shabu Shabu on Grand Street, which is decent but very small, I can't recall a hot pot restaurant that I really like in New York until....*drum roll*.....Little Lamb hot pot restaurant in Flushing came into the picture.

Little Lamb hot pot restaurant is great in many ways - the fresh meat, the amazing sauces & the most important, the SOUP!

When I went there a few weeks ago with a bunch of friends, we ordered a pot of plain herbal soup, and a pot of half & half. The half & half was half herbal soup & half sichuan spicy soup. The Sichuan spicy soup was as usual, very spicy, filled with peppercorns. My favorite was the herbal soup, it reminded me of the herbal 六味汤 my grandmother used to make.

We ordered the lamb meat, pork & beef, and they were all fresh. The lamb meat in particuarly was very tasty. My evil friends also ordered the "drunken shrimp", but luckily we didn't eat it alive. Drunken shrimp is a dish originated from China, the shrimps are often eaten alive, but stunned in strong alcohol (according to Wiki). The waiter brought out the shrimps in a plate, he then put a lid over it and slowly poured the alcohol into the small hole on the lid. The shrimps were all jumping around, I didn't really want to look because for once, I actually felt a little guilty sending them to their deaths. Once they were heavily intoxicated (about 15 minutes of shrimp-struggling later), we poured them into the hot pot to cooked it briefly. I have to say, as soon as I tasted the shrimp, my guilt was out of the door! They were very sweet, very fresh & very drunk.

On a side note, I am currently developing an addiction to the lamb skewers from the Xinjiang (an autonomous region in the North West of China) Barbeque cart on 38th Avenue, near Main Street (by the Flushing public library). The lamb meat is fatty, tender and smoky. And for $1 per skewer, you really can't go wrong.

Little Lamb Photos
Address: Little Lamb Hot Pot, 36-45 Main St, New York, NY 11354

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lower East Side

Since I was writing about 'inoteca, I figured I should follow up with another post somewhat related to 'inoteca. Below are a series of photos taken from inside 'inoteca about 10 months ago. It was one of those New York City nights which I felt sentimental for no particular reason. I remember that night so clearly like it was yesterday - how the city smelled, how the air was a little crisp, how I thought the shadow from the street light made everything looked so perfect but imperfect...

All photos here


I've been to 'inoteca on numerous occasions for suppers. 'inoteca opens late, until 3 a.m. everyday, so on weekends, it's usually buzzing with hip looking Lower East Side crowd even at 2 in the morning. I always wonder how these folks can still look so fabulous at that hour in their tight skinny jeans, shoving cheese & cured meat down their throats.

'inoteca' serves mostly small plate style, which is how I like to eat - small on portion, big on variety. The price is pretty reasonable, and the food is of good quality, the variety of cured meat in particularly is superb.

Last weekend, I made 'inoteca my destination brunch restaurant because I had to go to the Lower East Side to run some errands. I tried the prosciutto with fruits, fried egg over suckling pig & my personal favorite, truffle egg toast with bottarga (Mediterranean cured fish roe).

The prosciutto came with slices of apple & pear drizzled with some honey. The prosciutto went well with the pear, not so much with the apple, and I am not a big fan of the honey over fruits.

The fried egg over suckling pig on the other hand was pretty intense. The suckling pig was sliced, and there were some herbs stuffed in between the meat, the taste was strong but the fried egg with runny yoke on top was a great compliment.

The truffle egg toast was rich and decadent. The bottarga was really tasty and this dish reminded me of eggs in a basket, but the rich man version.

Also, a few weeks back I saw the 'inoteca' sign somewhere along 3rd avenue. I looked it up and found out that they are opening another branch in Gramery Park, see below for the address of their new location on 3rd avenue.

Address: 'inoteca, 98 Rivington St (Rivingston Street), New York, NY 10002
Address: 'inoteca, 323 3rd Ave (24th Street), New York NY 10010

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rockmeisha Izakaya

Rockmeisha Izakaya (an izakaya is a Japanese drinking place that also serves food) is tucked in a quiet street in the West Village. Unlike most drinking establishments, Rockmeisha isn't loud or chaotic. On the contratry, it is quiet, intimate, and un-fussy. In other words, it's a real gem.

I went with my regular food-hunting "kakis" - Sar, G & AX. We ordered six small dishes to share.

First came the mentai (pollock roe) rubbed chicken wings. The marination was superb, and the wings were juicy. The skin was not crispy, so if you are looking for Popeye's fried chicken type of thing, it might disappoint.

Next up was the elephant garlic croquette. When we cut into it, a BIG garlic was revealed, and BIG in a "I've-never-seen-a-garlic-this-big" kind of way. The croquette was made with little pieces of chopped daikon, not the regular potato so it was less creamy but I actually preferred this version.

The Nanban (fried chicken with tartar sauce) was pretty mind-blowing. We analyzed the delicious tartar sauce, there were chopped egg whites in it, and we suspected that it was tartar sauce but perhaps mayo with vinegar.

The tofu steak with mushroom actually tasted more like a Chinese dish than a Japanese dish but it was very appetizing. The mentai dumplings were mediocre. I'm typically not into chicken feet, pig toe (although I'm unmistakenly Chinese), but I the tonsoku (grilled pig toe) stole the show. It was slightly sticky, a little crispy & very very flavorful.

The price tag for a small bowl of hakata ramen was a little steep at $14 but it was worth it, I think. It was less rich/heavy than the hakata ramen in Ippudo, but you could still taste the porky-ness of the soup (in a good way) and very hearty. Again, they used the thin noodle and they gave us about 4/5 slices of chasu per bowl.

Rockmeisha, rocked my world!

Rockmeisha Photos

Address: Rockmeisha, 11 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Curry Leaf Restaurant

If you are ever hungry at 4 a.m. and you happen to be in Flushing, Curry Leaf Restaurant will come to the rescue. It's a Malaysian restaurant and the menu is pretty extensive.

I tried the nasi lemak & wonton noodle when I went to Curry Leaf in the wee hours of a bitterly cold morning. The food was decent, not the best I've had but it was good enough to curb my cravings. I also bought some Nyonya kuih (Malaysian dessert) for breakfast the next morning, and a tub of kaya (coconut) jam, which was really good.

Address: Curry Leaf Restaurant, 13531 40th Rd, Flushing, NY 11354

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ed's Lobster Bar

I woke up last Saturday morning and thought to myself "oooo I can sooo eat a big lobster roll right now". I always count my blessings that I can get most kinds of food I want in New York, and double thank goodness that Ed's Lobster Bar is walking distance from my apartment.

There are a few places in New York that serve fantastic lobster rolls, I liked the lobster roll from Lure Fishbar, I've been to The Mermaid Inn & Mary's Fish Camp as well but that was years ago and I have no recollection of the food there (I have very bad long term memory, hence I take a lot of pictures & caption them as much as I can).

So back to Ed's Lobster Bar, I loved the lobster bisque, it was slightly creamy & very flavorful. It came with a couple of lobster raviolis in it so that was extra bonus!

The lobster roll was excellent, especially the sweet roll, which was buttery & soft. The lobster was fresh & perfectly cooked. I asked for tartar sauce for my fries and I got "real" tartar sauce, not the bottled kind.

The linguini with clams was very mediocore, it was way too garlicky & salty for me.

I saw the bartender making fresh muddled lemonade & limeade, and they looked really delicious. I made a mental note to myself to order that the next time. Imagine....a beautiful summer afternoon, a refreshing glass of fresh lemonade, a generous plate or lobster roll...perfection. The only reason I don't go there more often is because it's rather expensive, I mean, it's lobster after all. Anyhoo, Ed's Lobster Bar, two thumbs up!

Ed's Lobster Bar

Address: Ed's Lobster Bar, 222 Lafayette Street (& Spring), New York, NY 10012

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am always in denial about the fact that Flushing has better food than Chinatown in Manhattan. Flushing seems so far, I mean, I can get to New Jersey faster than I can get to Queens. Plus when I was an intern in New York years ago, I stayed in Flushing and I am permanently scarred by the 7 train experience. However, a couple of weeks ago, some friends booked a table at a Taiwanese restaurant (北港台菜館 Bei Gang) and pre-ordered some special Chinese New Year dishes. They loved the restaurant and were singing its praises so I just couldn't say no. :P

We ordered a total of 11 dishes for 7 people, and all the dishes were great. We started with the oyster omelette (蚵仔煎). This is popular in the Taiwanese night markets, it's omelette with starch filled with oysters.

Then we had 蒼蠅頭, which translates literally into fly's head (Noooo, we don't eat flies, just in case you are wondering). It was basically minced meat stir-fried with chives and fermented soybeans. It was very very tasty but I needed rice to go with it because it's rather salty.

One of the dishes we pre-ordered was this deep-fried fish with sauce (Lookie, scary teeth!). Not exactly sure what was in the sauce, but I tasted the usual ginger, scallion & soy sauce.

We also had 客家小菜, it was stir-fried pork with celery and some unknown spice. It was delicious, a little bit spicy and very very tasty.

Then came another pre-ordered dish, which was crab with glutinuous rice. The portion was very generous. I don't think I've ever eaten crab & glutinuous rice as a combo dish but it was great & very flavorful.

The clams with basil was outstanding. It's simple and no-nonsense, the clams were fresh and the basil & garlic sauce brought out the flavor of the clams.

We also ordered the tofu with minced meat in a sizzling pot. The tofu was deep fried, the skin was thin & crispy but the inside was soft...mmm....(temporarily levitated). This reminded me of the deep fried tofu my grandmother used to make, which I'd eat with sweet chilli sauce, so simple yet so good.

All in all the restaurant was GREAT. I hope when the weather is nicer, I'll get my lazy a$$ off the couch and go to Flushing more to hunt down all the good food.

As I am writing this, I am fantasizing about going to Taiwan again and eating all the delicious street food..*stomach growls*

Bei Gang Pictures

Address: 北港台菜館 (Bei Gang Restaurant) 59-14A, Main Street, Flushing NY 11355.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CNY Feast II

When our non-resident chef, Nick C. (from Boston) mentioned that he wanted to cook dinner for Chinese New Year, we were excited! When I first met Nick last year, he cooked up a storm of curry crab & pepper crab, and in my opinion, he put the famous "No Name Seafood" curry crab in Singapore to shame.

The menu created by Nick for the night was butter poached lobsters, scallops with XO sauce, steamed fish with ginger, garlic & light soy sauce & CNY vege delight (mushrooms, broccolis & black moss). In addition, there were CP's mysterious slow-roast pork dish (later found out it's called Puerco Pibil) & Sarah's onde-onde (Malaysian nyonya dessert).

I stationed myself at the dessert section once I got to CP's place. I had always thought Malaysian desserts were really hard to make, but onde-onde turned out to be quite easy. I guess the most difficult part is probably trying to find all the ingredients in the city. The main ingredients are glutinous rice flour, pandan leaves extract, grated coconut, gula melaka (palm sugar) & brown sugar.

The rest of the evening was a blur, especially after I was intoxicated by the delicious black pepper crab, or maybe it was the wine. But I did remember hearing the guys doing shots in the kitchen, watching cheesy/funny videos on youtube and subsequently eating again and singing karaoke in an asian karaoke bar in the middle of nowhere in Brooklyn (see below)...ahh fun times!

More pictures here

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CNY Feast I

Growing up, Chinese New Year was my favorite time of the year. Months leading up to Chinese New Year, my family would start cleaning the house, buying new clothes, planning food menus, pre-ordering groceries from the wet market and so on and so forth. Then, on Chinese New Year's eve, my family would go to my grandma's house for reunion dinner and I tell you, the Teh clan had no concept of volume control, we still don't. My grandmother & aunties used to spend days prior to Chinese New Year eve prepping the food for the reunion dinner - curry chicken, loh bak, jiu hoo char, hok-chiew fishball soup, ang chao chicken....the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, my grandma is too old to cook now. Over the last few years, we ate at restaurants during Chinese New Year's eve.

This year I didn't get to go home for Chinese New Year, and I was terribly homesick. Luckily I managed to celebrate with some friends this year at Nyonya, a Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown.

As you can see, there was plenty of good food to go around the table. From top left (clockwise) - mushroom & vegetables, satay chicken, sarang burung (yam with mixed vegetable), hainanese chicken, curry yong taufu & sizzling tofu. The highlight of the meal was probably lou yee sang. Yee sang is a dish only eaten during Chinese New Year, and as far as I know, mostly in Singapore & Malaysia. It is a salad made up of jellyfish, candied ginger, turnips, carrots, parsley, chopped peanuts, toasted sesame seeds, five spice powder and topped with some raw salmon. The tradition is to gather everyone around the table and toss the ingredients as high as possible while shouting auspicious greetings. Growing up, we didn't have this tradition in the family. I didn't really know much about the yee sang culture until my old roommate Po introduced it to me, which led me to believe that this is a Cantonese tradition, not Hokkien.

After dinner, we went to Loreley for drinks. Loreley is a German restaurant & beer garden, they have a great selection of draft beers & bottled beers . I am not a big fan of beers, so I ended up with the delicious apfelschorle (apple spritzer). Yes, you can laugh at me and call me a loser but damn, that apple juice was seriously great. :)

CNY Dinner @ Nyonya

Address: Nyonya, 194 Grand Street (btwn Mott & Mulberry), New York, NY 10013.
Address: Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten, 7 Rivington Street, New York NY 10002

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Girls' Day Out

Last weekend, we FINALLY had decent weather in New York. By decent, I mean 50 fahrenheit, sunny and I could actually walk out without looking like a frozen popsicle. So five girls, including me, went to check out the Brooklyn Flea Market (winter edition) in Dumbo, and of course we planned brunch to start the day. I mean, how can you shop without filling your tummy first?

We met at Superfine restaurant in Dumbo, this place was recommended by New York Magazine. The atmosphere in the restaurant was vibrant, they had a bluegrass band playing on the weekends. There was a pool table & some couches in the waiting area, which I thought was smart. The weekend brunch menu is Southwestern-inspired but the choices are somewhat limited. I ordered the Breakfast Burrito with sausage, eggs, beans, salsa & chilli. The food took f.o.r.e.v.e.r., and we found ourselves screaming to each other because the music was getting loud, my caffeine hadn't kicked in yet and my stomach was starting to growl. Thank goodness for the banana blueberry bread that we ordered, if not I would've turned into Lil' Miss Cranky.

Finally the food arrived. The portion was huge, I devoured half of my breakfast burrito, and I couldn't eat it anymore. Unfortunately, I don't think we were impressed with food. After brunch, we hit the Brooklyn Flea Market in hope that looking at pretty things would make us feel better, and it sure did. I was told that the cupcakes sold at the flea market by Kumquat Cupcakery are AMAZING! By the time we got there, it was sold out!!! BOOHOO....We were in need of some sugar so we decided to check out Jacques Torres Chocolate, which has an outpost in Dumbo. Before we got to Jacques Torres, we saw a little bakery across the street called Almondine, we got sidetracked, and ended up sipping coffee & tea and sharing a couple of croissants at Almondine. Almondine is opened by Hervé Poussot, the former pastry chef at Le Bernardin, and long time business partner of Jacques Torres. The almond croissant was amazing! It was flakey, cakey, crispy all the same time. His signature beignettes were sold out but I was happy with the almond croissant.

On a side note, there is an art installation in Dumbo by Malaysian artist Tattfoo Tan, it's really cool. Malaysia Boleh!
More on Tattfoo's Project

More Dumbo Photos

Address: Superfine Restaurant, 126 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Address: Brooklyn Flea Market (Jan-March), 76 & 81 Front St, Brooklyn NY 11201

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Del Posto

As a new blogger, I am certainly failing at it miserably because I keep asking my partner in crime to guest-blog for me. I am just feeling rather unmotivated the last couple of weeks. So here goes, another guest-blog from Ghostwriter-in-Chief - AX (Note: NFT = yours truly).

NFT and I visited Mario Batali's meatpacking outpost one chilly evening during the fall of 2008. It had just gotten really chilly - we stepped into Del Posto's warm antechamber and were whisked up a staircase to a table overlooking the main room... Think marble, think wood panelled, think white glove service, and you have an idea what to expect. Naturally NFT and I were a little taken - we were expecting something like Babbo, so we were surprised when it turned out to be so buttoned down... In a hood with avant garde restaus like Florent, Morimoto and Pop, Del Posto is more Park Avenue than Meatpacking... After the initial culture shock, it grew on me - felt like it was the 20s again - excess was in, long stemmed lillies, magnum bottles of wine, low lighting... and lots of uniformed wait staff....

I ordered a whisky, NFT got tap water, while I warmed myself with a Balvenie. They arrived with a huge platter of breads to choose from, and brought a Batali signature out - lardo. Normal restaurants serve your bread and butter, Del Posto serves you bread with butter (left) and house cured lardo (right). My cholesterol jumped into the "excessive" level after one heaped teaspoon on my crusty olive bread...

NFT started with the foie gras palla with black figs and insalata rucheta, I started with a poached farm egg with guanciale & mushrooms. She loved the fois gras... they made a terrine and had a vinegarette center in the terrine ball, and chopped almonds crusting the terrine. When she sliced it open, the jus exploded out. Fig's sweetness complimented the tart of the jus. It was tasty as hell - tart, and extremely flavorful. The farm egg was so so.... most definitely not memorable...

NFT had caramelle de robiola with black truffle butter for the secondi - whoo hoo - now this was pretty good - the plate was huge, but the portion was tiny - the caramelle kinda melts in your mouth, the black truffle had all the earthiness, all the flavor, that one comes to expect... Starchy, smooth, splendid flavor, rich aftertaste, bliss for about 5 mins. Portion sizing was mildly pathetic... I had Gnocchi with pork shoulder, spiced prunes and pine croccante. Gnocchi was firm, al dente, savory, each bite a warm reminder of all that's good... Pork shoulder was pulled, and in small quantities, more for taste than texture... Prunes were nice touch, again, delicate... Size control, also disappointing.

Sliced duck breast with scappi, pumpkin polenta, trevisano and campari. 1 word - forgettable. Seriously - I could write about dishes from Aburiya or Kyoya from 1 year ago, the Babbo bone marrow has gripped me since 2005. On the other hand this was forgotten the minute we walked out the restaus.

Grilled pork chop - I recall the texture was unusually moist, tender and succulent - think biting into a warm block of butter, but with the iron taste of pork - was awesome. The seared outer portion was smoky.. the rarer meat in the middle done just right... the sides were forgettable, the meat sublime.

NFT ordered the Chocolate Ricotta Tortino, with Sicilian Pistacchios, and olive oil - clearly another attempt to build a savory sweet desert, very 2008. Rich, a little heavy, very interesting, but not something I'd do twice.

I went for the Sfera di caprino with celery sorbet - again, strange, but thankfully not heavy, pretty fresh. The celery taste was strong and sharp - didn't really think it was worth the calories...

After the dinner, we wandered down and discovered a wine cellar which was truly impressive, and a whole bunch of cool spaces - fancy - but frankly the food was very inconsistent - some superb, some blah. Batali seems to be becoming more passe - in his pursuit of michelin stars he seems to have forgotten the crucial reason why patrons come - good, solid food, in predictable sizes, with consistency across courses...

All Del Posto Photos

Address: Del Posto, 85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011