Sunday, August 30, 2009


Spotted: Scott Conant (Executive Chef of Scarpetta) in his fancy jacket at Apiary one Thursday evening attending a birthday party. Someone hired a lady dressed as a bunny to sing to the unidentified birthday man. My guess is they are people from the culinary world.

Apiary is a relatively new restaurant, the kitchen is handled by Scott Bryan, ex-chef at Veritas. The restaurant decor is simple yet chic, somewhat cheerful with fun fixtures like the one below.

From Sundays to Thursdays, there is a three-course pre-fix dinner menu for $35. I started my pre-fix dinner with the Tuscan mushroom soup with sour dough croutons & parmesan. I loved it, it's not the typical creamy mushroom soup, instead it was a tomato-based soup with heaps of mushrooms, I called this the summer version of the classic mushroom soup. This was simple but done to perfection.

For entrée, I ordered the Atlantic skate with smoked bacon razor clam chowder, corn, tarragon. I found this too heavily salted, the portion was gigantic though (two large pieces of skate fillet). Everyone who ordered the skate agreed that it was too salty.

I ordered the blackberry financier for dessert, and I really liked it. I haven't had a financier dessert in ages, this one wasn't the fluffy version, it's cakey but in a good way. They added fresh blackberries & blackferry sauce & some creme fraiche, very yummy.

I was really really full from dinner, my friend who ordered the duck for entree liked it. If I do go to Apiary again, I'll swap the skate for duck.

Address: Apiary, 60 3rd Avenue (& 11th Street), New York NY

Oak Room at The Plaza

I took some friends from out of town a few weeks ago to Oak Room at The Plaza during lunch, they were still serving restaurant week lunch menu (which is turning into "restaurant month", not "restaurant week").

I started with the lobster & sweet corn bisque, it was very delicious, with chunks of lobsters.

For main course, I had a tuna salad club sandwich with avocado & bacon. The portion was very generous, I only managed about 2/3 of my plate and had to raise my white flag (in order to save some room for dessert).

Lastly, for dessert, I had the strawberry shortcake. I was expecting the shortcake to be fluffier, again, very generous portion.

mind-blowing, but was very delicious & the service was decent. I did feel somewhat out of place sitting next to a table filled with ladies in pearls & Chanel jackets, but it's the Plaza after all. The Oak Room, which used to be a gentlemen's bar was built in 1907, I felt transported back into time as soon as I walked into the restaurant.

Address: Oak Room at The Plaza, 10 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I sometimes wonder, how many more gimmicks can David Chang throw at us, and when will be stop biting the bait. Well, I don't know when but at least not this time. One of Chang's latest crazy adventure was the Fried Chicken Dinner at momofuku noodle bar. The description on the website reads: two whole fried chickens, one southern style and one korean style – mu shu pancakes, long spicy peppers, baby carrots, red ball radishes, shiso leaves, bibb lettuce, four sauces and an assortment of herbs.

Our resident chef Nick got us a reservation at 11:55pm on a Friday night (oh lord, fried chicken dinner at midnight, I really need to start working out). I was watching "Julie & Julia" prior to the fried chicken dinner and my stomach was growling all through the movie and by the time I got to Momofuku noodle bar, my friends were already there and they shoved the roasted oxtail infront me and said 'OMG you have to try this'. The 'omg' part was absolutely necessary because it really was tasty. Next up, the humongous platter of fried chicken showed up. I have to admit the chicken was really fresh, very moist & flavorful. I can't really say which one is better either, they were both good & different. They gave me a bunch of condiments that you can eat with your fried chicken, but I thought the fried chicken was good enough to hold its own. The only caveat is that it costs $100/platter, so bring friends!

We also ordered the roasted rice cakes with roasted onions, red chili pepper, sesame. I really liked this, it reminded of a hawker dish - "chee cheong funn" from Malaysia.

We packed up the rest of the chicken in the box for Gan who couldn't make it, and we finished off the night (by then 1:30a.m.) with the angel food cake & strawberry lemonade soft serve. The strawberry lemonade soft serve totally hit the spot, there were some kind of crumbly clusters in there that made it even better.

Address: Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 First Avenue (btwn 10th & 11th Street), New Yor, NY 10003.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Azuri Cafe falafel

So the last time I got sidetracked while trying to get falafel from Azuri Cafe, but this time I made it without any detours. My coworker P read rave reviews about Azuri Cafe online and as usual, we gathered a few more people and went on a food-hunt.

Azuri Cafe is a small place on 51st Street, I will categorize this as a "gourmet" falafel place. I ordered the falafel sandwich which was recommended in the reviews I read, and the guy behind the counter started to "assemble" my sandwich. He stuffed a piece of falafel inside the pita bread, added a bit of cucumbers, a bit of tomatoes, a bit of onions. Then he stuffed another piece of falafel, then he added some lettuce, some mixed vege, some green was quite fun to watch how meticulous he was.

The falafel was really tasty, all the condiments they put in there really gave it the extra flavors. The pita was fresh, the only thing I wish was for the falafel to be warm. All in all, I liked it, it was definitely a cheap & satifying lunch.

Address: 465 W 51st St (between 9th and 20th Ave), New York, NY 10019

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sacco Pizza

On my way to grab falafel one day for lunch, I got talked into getting pizza by my coworker J instead. He was so passionate about the pizza - he analyzed the crust, talked about the cheese. I wondered to myself "is it really that good?", well, the only way to find out is to try, so I happily agreed to ditch falafel and opted for Sacco Pizza.

Sacco Pizza is this little place in Hells Kitchen, the signage upfront is very generic, and the tables & benches look like it's been there for the last 20 years or so. I got two slices of regular pizza & a Boylan rootbeer. The regular pizza is the New York style pizza, thin-crust, cheese & tomato, I figured the best way to be introduced to Sacco is to start with the basic. The crust was extremely thin, slightly crusty but chewy at the same time, and they weren't stingy at all with their cheese. I have to insist that the pizza must be consumed as soon as it comes out of the oven, there's nothing like battling a perfect flimsy slice of pizza, and to top it off with root beer was perfection.

The verdict's in, it's better than my default New York pizza place - Lombardi's. Thinking of the Sacco Pizza makes me drool a little, I think I'm ready for it again tomorrow!

Address: Sacco Pizza, 819 9th Ave (& 54th Street), New York, NY 10019

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Craving Truck

Seems like all my recents posts are all related to food trucks. Today the buzz in the office was NYC Cravings Truck. Working in midtown, hunting down food trucks for lunch is as exciting as things get around here. In my last post about the Top 10 food truck in America, Cravings Truck was listed and I vouched to hunt it down and try the food, and I did, today (yay!).

The lunch box comes with two pieces of deep fried chicken, minced pork sauce (with 5 spice powder), and pickled vegetables. I added a tea egg, and the whole thing was $8. The food was pretty good, the portion was generous, the fried chicken was flavorful. All in all I was pretty satisfied, although I wish they've given me more sauce. They park their truck on different spots on different days, best to follow them on twitter to find out exactly where they are on a daily basis.

In terms of Taiwanese style fried chicken or fried pork rice, my favorite is Wah Mei (used to be Mei Wah) in Chinatown (190, Hester Street). When I worked in downtown, I used to order from them or walked there to pick up for lunch. I haven't been there in a good 3 years, perhaps one of these days, I need to re-visit to see if they've kept up the standard.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GQ Top 10 Food Trucks in America

GQ's Top Ten Food Trucks in America are listed here:

1. Spencer on the Go!, San Francisco. Definitely want to hunt this down the next time I go to San Francisco. HN, jom mari kita pergi.
2. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, New York City. I've written about it here, love it!
3. Kogi BBQ, Los Angeles. Been hearing news that they are opening one in NYC next year, please God, let it be true!
4. Mmmpanadas, Austin, Texas. I'm not that crazy about empanadas but my Columbian coworker said if it's ain't deep fried, it ain't empanadas.
5. Cravings, New York City. Taiwanese Fried Chicken with pork sauce, they park near my office on Mondays, MUST HUNT THEM DOWN & REPORT BACK by stalking their twitter.
6. Fojol Bros. of Merlindia, Washington, D.C. Direct Quote from GQ "Fojol’s food actually comes from a reliable D.C.-area Indian restaurant whose identity the “brothers”—four young white dudes manning the truck in sparkly turbans, neon coveralls, and paste-on mustaches—won’t disclose."
7. Marination, Seattle. Hawaiian-Korean-Mexican taco, anyone?
8. Fresh Local, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Somehow this one sounds the best to me.
9. Border Grill, Los Angeles. Gourmet taco truck, another taco truck?
10. Streetza, Milwaukee. Pizza recipes by popular demand.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kwik Meal & The Treat Truck

If you've paid attention to the New York street cart lunch business, you know it's uber competitive, it's serious business, so much so that every year they hand out Vendy Awards for the "best of". I've been hearing about Kwik Meal for as long as I've worked in midtown but I haven't had the chance to try it out until recently. Why is the Kwik Meal cart so famous? For one, the Bangladesh-born chef used to be a sous-chef at Russian Tea Room so he wears a chef uniform & hat while he tends the cart. Secondly, instead of the lamb gyro you see on other carts, he uses marinated chunks of lamb meat. So what do I think?

I don't know about you, but the picture looks a bit sad right? Unfortunately the pictures sums up the experience - I was disappointed. The portion was tiny, it was more expensive than the standard midtown $5 plate (they charge $7.50 for lamb over rice), the lamb meat wasn't particularly tender or juicy, and when my coworker wanted barbeque sauce, he was passed the bottle and had to squeeze his own sauce. I've been reading about the famous "green sauce", but they gave me so little of it that I could barely tell what it was.

I also tried the Treat Truck across the street, and I ordered the adorable looking mint-chocolate-cupcake-cone. I am a bit of a cupcake fanatic, and this one didn't quite do it for it. The cone was a bit stale, and the cupcake was way too sweet. But I will definitely visit the Treat Truck again, the cookies & brownies look divine. As for the Kwik Meal cart, nah, I am going back to my new favorite - Shendy's on 6th & 52nd street.

Speaking of the Treat Truck, my favorite "truck" is still the Dessert Truck, and I will like to take a moment to mourn the fact that the Dessert Truck lost their permit and will be on indefinite hiatus. Damn you New York Department of Permit or whatchumacallit (if you do exist), why must you forsaken me my little dose of happiness??!

Address: Kwik Meal, SW corner of 45th St & Sixth Avenue.
Address: Treat Truck, they move around, but you can find out their schedule here.
Address: Shendy's, NW corner of 52nd St. & Sixth Avenue.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hot hot hot!

How the heck is it August already?? I haven't had time to write and update my blog, it's summer and that means, plenty of fun summer activities.

One of the hot events I went to was All Point West Art & Music Festival, it was a three-day festival but I went on the last day. It had rained heavily on Friday and Sunday morning, the festival ground was a mud put. The mudfest was probably nothing compared to Woodstock 1969 but it made me wonder how I used to go camping and would stick my face in the mud and thought it was fun. That said, besides the smell, it was really fun. I tried to keep my nose up, the smell of the aromatic illegal substance is much better than mud.

We saw some great bands such as Echo & the Bunnymen, Silversun Pickups & We are Scientists, and the headliner of the night was Coldplay. I wasn't really a big fan but after seeing their performance, I was truly impressed. They were amazing live, I thought it was going to be a fairly short set, at most 1 hour, but they sang for almost 2 hours - with props, lighting, background graphics, it was a full on concert! The highlight of the night for me was when they walked down to the middle of the field onto a small temporary stage, I was 5 feet from them, totally squealed like a three-year-old, I was beyond excited even thought I stepped into a ankle-high pool of mud. I was so close I could see Chris Martin's black Banana Republic boxer briefs, and I also discovered the bassist, Guy Berryman is super hot!

I am on a roll now, planning to go to more concerts this year, this is my summer of PEACE, LOVE & MUSIC. Next year, I want to go to Coachella!