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Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Ethnic category.

Did The Top Chef Master’s Restaurant Meet My Expectations?

courtesy of shangrestaurant.com

I’m addicted to Top Chef. Always have been, and I have a feeling always will be. I must say though, I love Top Chef Masters even more. All the dishes look amazing no matter what because the caliber of talent on this show is so high, and everyone is already so accomplished. I’m in complete awe of all the contestants. So can I just tell you how excited I was to be eating at Shang in downtown New York City? The chef of this Pan-Asian restaurant is Susur Lee. Not only was he a contestant on Top Chef Masters, but he even won one of the episodes. Susar has a ridiculous and celebrated background when it comes to cooking, just check out his Wikipedia bio. And judging from the episode, he looks like a really awesome guy to hang out with.

I walked up an elegant flight of stairs to get to his restaurant and found myself in a beautifully decorated restaurant. Spacious booths, simple art and modern furniture. The interior design was much more pleasing than my overall dinner was though.

For cocktails I sampled a Shang Caipirinha made with cachaca, fresh lime, lychee and tarragon. It was tasty and stayed true to the taste of a real caipirinha. My second drink of the evening was the Thai Lemonade that I asked to be served as a martini. Don’t think for a second that this was a sweet concoction. Made from gin, basil, lemon juice and black peppercorn that infuse the drink beautifully, it was a tart drink that I found very satisfying.

And then came our food for the night:

Singapore Slaw: a massive salad made from 19 ingredients, some of which were fried taro, peanuts, carrots and 3 types of microgreens. I’ve never tasted anything quite like this blend. While I’ve sampled similar dishes, the combination of all of these flavors was fantastic and very unique. I must mention that it was slightly overdressed and oily, but a must try.

Sashimi platter: a complete let down. It was simply average and I really wish that my date and I didn’t order it. We didn’t even want to finish it.

Beef satay with penang peanut sauce and chili mint chutney: As a whole it was good, but not amazing. Though I must mention that the beef was very tender, probably the most tender beef satay I have ever had.

Cantonese wok fried pearl noodles with shrimp: This could have been a good dish, but something definitely went haywire. Eat bite of the shrimp felt as if I were take a shot of rice wine. The alcohol flavor was way too strong. We couldn’t eat anymore of the shrimp after a couple of bites. The noodles were nice and homemade, a bit chewy, but decent.

Overall, I’m happy that I got to try Susur Lee’s restaurant, but I don’t plan on going back, let alone recommending it to anyone. For someone of his reputation I expected a lot more. We were so disappointed in our dinner that we didn’t even stay for dessert.

One other downfall of the restaurant was the menu. Nothing on the dinner or dessert menu excited me and made me feel that I had to try it. It was a bit on the boring side. But then I went home and made myself a Jameson Manhattan to end my night on a better note. Woohoo, John Jameson and Son!

5 out of 10

-Juice

Shang

187 Orchard St, New York NY10002

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Try An Izakaya For A Laidback Night Out

courtesy of Randy F. on yelp.com

Izakayas are great when you are looking to get filled up without spending too much money. What is an Izakaya? Think of it as a Japanese version of an Irish bar that serves food. The food menus here are huge so you can probably go everyday for a month and get to try something new.

One thing that I must make clear about this type of Japanese eating establishment. The food is never really amazing. If  you are expecting Le Bernardin, please just go to Le Bernardin. It’s bar food at affordable prices, and not a fancy bar. Probably great food if you’re intoxicated, which is kind of the point I guess. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, and I imagine that if I get to go, I will see this type of place littered on every block. They aren’t fancy restaurants. Remember this is just plain and simple bar food, just the Japanese version.

I usually go to the Izakayas on St. Marks, but a friend of mine suggested that we go to Hagi, one of her favorites. We ordered a large bottle of cold sake and so much food that even our waiter was in awe. Well he was either in awe or disgusted, I like to think it was the former. What I found the most amusing was that the tables around us saw all the food we got and kept pointing and ordering from our table, and they were Japanese!! I am honored.

Sake- We got a very large and cold bottle. Think wine bottle size. Remember what I said in my mini sake lesson? Check back here if you don’t. They have a very large selection here, so unless you know a lot about sake, get a recommendation from the staff.

Grilled smelt-Very snackable and came three to a skewer. Quite tasty.

Assorted pickles-I love Asian ones, but these didn’t tickle my pickle. Sorry, I just felt like rhyming, heehee.

Octopus balls-Typical Japanese street food and they made them very well. Think of a small round ball of cooked batter with a hidden piece of octopus in the middle.

Spaghetti with cod roe cream-The pasta was cooked well and the cream sauce had flavor. Did I love it? No, but it’s bar food, if I were drunk I probably would have hoovered it.

Large sardine filled with roe-This was one of my favorites of the night. I love roe and when it’s cooked it’s so flavorful and filling. When it comes to any seafood that has eggs in it like lobster, it kills me when people discard the eggs. They taste so good and are quite expensive if you think about it.

Pork belly with bean sprouts and garlic shoots-People rave about this dish, I thought that it was just OK. I’m a huge fan of garlic shoots so I quite enjoyed that part of the dish. I wish the pork belly were a little more flavorful. My one main connection with this dish is that it reminds me of what my grandmother would cook for me when I was growing up and still does upon request, just with beef. That might be why I didn’t love it, granny probably makes it better.

Will I be going back to Hagi? Yes, and it’s because they had one thing that completely blew my mind. It is one dish that I will be looking out for at other Japanese bars and if my friend hadn’t ordered it, I would have missed it on the extensive menu. So thank you friend! It was their fried pork belly. You must be a fan of fat in order to enjoy this dish, because otherwise you will hate it. And as you can see from my Minca post, I am a major proponent of it. The best way I can describe this plate is to think of each piece as a really thick potato chip, a few millimeters thick. The outside is so crispy and when you bite into the middle it is all fat. Pure fat. Heaven on a plate. Based on this one dish, I know that there must be other star dishes on their menu, I just have to find them. Maybe it’s their sashimi, maybe it’s the yellowtail collarbone or maybe the liver or chicken skin yakitori, but I can’t wait to try more to find out.

6 out of 10

152 W 49th St, New York NY10019

-Juice


Really, Really Cheap Sushi That Tasted Good And Didn’t Make Me Sick!

courtesy of sushiloungenyc.com

I am an idiot. Like a seriously major idiot. For over ten years, I’ve walked past the Sushi Lounge over and over again and never once have I ever walked in. As a matter of fact, when they put up signs saying that their sushi was 50% off all the time, I think it kind of even scared me off. But alas, at my ripe old age I decided that it was time for me to walk in. That, and I was broke.

We started off with a round of sake-tinis. They weren’t great, but they weren’t bad. I’m also not use to sugary sweet alcoholic drinks (those who know me know that I can’t resist a Jameson on the rock or a dry vodka or gin martini), but how can I say no to a $6.50 martini? I couldn’t, duh. My friends were pleased with the sake-tini selection, there was everything from lychee and passion fruit to green apple and peach.

I ordered a sushi special of 6 sushi pieces (salmon, tuna and yellow tail) that came with a spicy tuna roll. It was love at first bite. My fish was buttery, tender and quite flavorful. It was really good. And what made it taste even better? My entire entrée came out to only $9.98 and I didn’t get sick from it even though it was so cheap. I was in raw fish heaven.  I’m thinking about when I can go back. Maybe tomorrow?  One of my girlfriends got a California roll and it came out to $2.13. $2.13!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s less than a one-way trip on the subway.  I know that I should try their other items like their ramen or their bento boxes, but I’m a sucker for a good deal.

Oh Sushi Lounge, you’re the one upside to this recession. Please don’t close down…or raise your prices back to normal.

132 St Marks Pl, New York NY10009

7 out of 10

-Juice


Great For Those On A Budget: Otto Enoteca and Pizzeria

courtesy of ottopizzeria.com

Otto, Otto, Otto. Where do I begin…

At Otto, one of Mario Batali’s restaurants, you will have the most delightful and affordable dining experience providing that you know what to order. It’s not a straight across the board good restaurant sadly, but for the prices there are some wonderful things that come out of the kitchen.

Let me start with the gelatos first, simply because that’s what I look most forward to when I go there

Here we go!

Olive oil: Lots of people that I have dined with find this to be absolutely heavenly, to me it’s not bad, but I wouldn’t die over it. It’s creamy gelato that leaves a lingering olive oil taste over your tongue as it melts.

Salty Caramel: Just average, I wish it tasted more caramel-y versus burnt caramel-y

Crème Fraiche: Reminiscent of sour cream and very light

Pistachio: Wonderful in flavor (though it still can’t compare to the gelato I had in Italy, but for America it was very good)

Guinness: Exactly as it sounds, so only order if you love Guinness

Coconut sorbet: silky and beautiful in flavor, next time I’m getting this again

Tangerine sorbet: Absolutely delicious, it’s as if it were the freshest tangerine I have ever eaten

Meyer lemon sorbet: I wish it were more lemony and a touch sweeter, it’s as if it weren’t sure as to what direction to go in and kind of reminded me of dishwashing soap

Canteloupe sorbet: Ohmigosh, I had this one probably a year ago and still remember it

(On a side note: If you ever see bacon ice cream being listed on the menu at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, go that night. It is one of the most fantastic things one can taste if they never have before)

Their sundaes are delightful as well, but I must admit that I’ve never tasted any of their baked goods because I’ve been so focused on trying all of their gelatos. Beware if you want to get some to go though. It’s $12 a pint!

I guess we have to talk about the food right? First off, don’t get the pastas, after all, it’s not homemade so don’t expect anything to “wow” you. It reminds me of pastas that I make at home out of the box.  I was not impressed. Stick with the pizzas. They are nice, thin and crispy. The margherita is so basic, but my taste buds loved it. The clam was also very nice too, but I wish they took the clams out of the shells rather than just plop everything whole straight on to the pie. Stay away from the anchovy pizza. For someone who loves anchovies (Me!), this was bland and a disappointment. There’s a lot on their menu that really is just average, but when you go, make sure to try the brussel sprouts which are nice and savory, and if you are there on a Monday, give their eggplant bruschetta a whirl. Oh! One last thing, while I did enjoy the honey accompaniment with the cheese plate, the cheese plate was kind of pathetic size wise. Not worth it!

Otto also has a lovely wine selection, and although I’m not a  huge wine drinker when I am elsewhere I know I will be happy with their offerings. Frightened by the extensive wine menu? Simply ask your server who will suggest something very good and budget friendly.

During one excursion we ordered two sides, bruschetta, a pizza, three plates of pasta, two desserts and a bottle of extremely good wine and our bill was $113, without tip. And we had leftovers to take home! Suh-weet!

6.5 out of 10

-Juice

1 5th Ave, New York NY10003


Libertador, OK, The Name Sucks, But The Steak Is Great

Libertador had an extensive menu that looked great, but because the menu was extensive, I was wondering how good the food would be. I was pleasantly surprised because everything was quite tasty. Yay for Argentinian food!

Provoleta-I’m always a huge fan of cheese, and this is one dish that no one can mess up. I mean, it’s just melted cheese, yummy, yummy, yummy yum. Libertador mixes their’s up with beefsteak tomatoes, dried oregano and black pepper. I was trying to not fill up to much on it because I had a large steak coming my way, but then I thought that any sane person wouldn’t let provoleta go to waste.

Homemade ricotta ravioli-I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very good. Especially for homemade pasta, I was hoping that this would have been a more heavenly dish, but it fell flat. It also came to me kind of raggedy as if the skin wasn’t rolled out thick enough to hold all the filling together.

14 oz. Rib-eye, medium-rare-The rib-eye is my favorite cut of steak to eat. Marbled, tender, but lean, it is just so flavorful to me. Mine was cooked perfectly and didn’t need any sauces to accompany it. Though I did try their chimichurri sauce and some red concoction for the hell of it. Both were pretty good, I wish I got the name of what the red sauce was though. Guess I’ll have to go back and ask huh? The steak also came with  a side of French fries provencal (fries with various green herbs, seasonings and sometimes garlic like the ones at Libertador). They were delicious. I feel like heading to the kitchen to make some right now.

Panqueques de dulce de leche-Can you really go wrong with anything with dulce de leche? I mean, eating dulce de leche straight out of the can is a great dining experience in my eyes. While I didn’t find anything special about this dish, it was dulce de leche filled crepes with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, it was very good. Ugh, it’s making me remember my Bistro 61 crepe fiasco now.

My friends and I had taken over a bar area for our dinner and were able to watch them cook all of our steaks. The rest of the restaurant was quit spacious and it didn’t look like anyone had any problems with crowding. I’ll definitely be going back to Libertador, I won’t get the pasta this time though, I should have tried the empanadas and seen what they were all about.

And I must apologize, I’ve been cutting back a lot of my alcohol intake and didn’t have any of their appealing looking cocktails or wines so I can’t tell you how those were.

7 out of 10

-Juice

Libertador Parrilla Argentina

1725 2nd Ave, New York NY10128

(212) 348-6222


El Parador Cafe Was A Lovely Mexican Find

courtesy of elparadorcafe.com

It was lovely finding a Mexican restaurant that wasn’t just your typical tacos and burritos. El Parador Café is a hidden secret in New York City all the way on the east side. I don’t know why I say it’s hidden, it’s not, it was just hidden to me till I found it.

They claim the be the oldest existing Mexican restaurant in New York City and after reviewing their gorgeous menu of bouillabaisse (Mexican restaurants have bouillabaisse?), camarones, chorizo, lobster salad and baby back ribs I had to try it out.

My date and I walked it at noon and which was right when they opened it seemed, and were followed by two more couples. The space is a good size and we were seated in cozy booths. The art and décor was a mixture of classic Mexico and modern art, it was very nice. Our waiter approached us right away and was nice enough to let me try the pisco liquor since I had never had it before and was having trouble deciding what cocktail to get. Pisco wasn’t my cup of tea so I went with a caipirinha which was smooth and refreshing. You have to be careful with caipirinhas though, because although they don’t taste it, there is a large amount of alcohol in there.

The waiter brought us free chips and warm salsa to start with. I had never had warm salsa before and I must say, it was like a delicious stew. I could have thrown some ground meat it there and it would have made a fabulous chili.

Our appetizer came, a plate of raw oysters, which I quite enjoyed, but my date didn’t. However, I think there was something wrong with his tastebuds that day. They were fresh and tasted like the sea, yummy!

For my entrée I chose the roasted suckling pig. I was slight disappointed because I wanted more crunchy skin, but was delighted to see that a small cup of the roasting juices were served with the dish. I wish they would bottle and sell that stuff. Savory and immensely full of flavorful, I could do shots of it. My pork was beautifully cooked and tasted very good. It came with maduros, but I’ve never had maduros this way before. Usually at Mexican restaurants, they’re just soft, which I don’t mind, but at El Parador, the outside was slightly crusted and the inside was soft. It was a pleasant surprise. The dish also came with rice and scallions, which were cooked just right.

My date went for the paella, which I was very excited about because I LOVE paella. It was a slight disappointment though. I like paellas with a crusty bottom, I think because somewhere along the line it was ingrained in my head that this is what a proper paella is suppose to be. This one didn’t have a crusty bottom. The seafood was also slightly overcooked, but these discrepancies didn’t bother us too much only because the flavor was there. Eat bite was well seasoned so we were still happy campers.

I’ll be going back to El Parador. Actually I’ll be going back there this weekend. There were a few more things I’d love to taste.

7.5 out of 10

-Juice

325 E 34th St

New York, NY 10016

(347) 205-8170


Casimir, A Neighborhood Favorite

courtesy casimirrestaurant.com

I love French bistros, don’t you? There’s a large range of items to eat whether you cheese and meats or a fancy salad. Another reason why I’m a fan of French bistros is because as you all know, I like simple food done right and the majority of food at these establishments concentrate on bringing the real flavor out of the ingredients that are used.

Casimir was above average. I don’t like it as much as L’express, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t come back. Above average is better than average and better than bad, after all. Above average is pretty good among all of the vast restaurants and cafes in New York City too.

Rambuteau

Sauteed chicken liver and sweet shallots over green.

They don’t need the sweet shallots. Everyone always seems to pair chicken liver and camaralized onions or shallots together, but in this dish, the shallots came off way to sweet to mesh well with the chicken livers. Just the flavorful liver and greens would have been good enough.

French Onion Soup

A huge favorite of mine, but their version fell flat. The broth wasn’t flavorful enough. A disappointment.

Filet Mignon with black pepper and cognac sauce, medium rare

Put it this way. It was decent. But I guess that’s not a way you want to remember a filet mignon in the end huh? It was cooked properly and tasted okay, but I’ve had better. I’ve had some marinated skirt steaks from Fresh Direct that I would say are comparable in taste and the Fresh Direct version is much more affordable.

So, would I come back? Yes. Would I bring an out-of-towner here?  No. There are better French bistros to bring out of town guests too. However, living here, it seems like a nice place to go back to especially if you live in the area. The interior decorating is typical and cozy of a bistro and the waitstaff was pleasant to deal with. I suspect that those who highly rate this restaurant are regulars who are biased as this has probably become their neighborhood joint so they have an attachment to it and don’t just focus on the taste of the food.

6 out of 10

-Juice

103 Avenue B, New York NY10009

(212) 358-9683


I Can’t Wait To Go Back To Westville East

courtesy of westvillenyc.com

I’m a big meat eater. I was a vegetarian throughout my teenager years and appreciate vegetarian meals, but (unfortunately) the majority of my meals consist of meat. However, as I sat at the counter of Westville East the other night, I felt like having a meat free meal, and I am so glad that I did.

The restaurant was tiny and crowded, as are many of the new restaurants in New York City. And after glancing at the menu I wanted to clap my hands. They had one of my very favorite things to eat in this world, an arugula and parmigiana reggiano salad. It’s so basic, but incredibly flavorful. They only added lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. I was swooning. For my entrée I got the veggie burger with mixed mushrooms and spicy tartar sauce, which also came with a side of fries. It was, I swear, the best veggie burger that I have ever had. It had bite to it that made you feel like you were eating something substantial and the taste was beautiful. I was taken aback by my first bite and then munched happily away. And may I just say that their fries reminded me of Burger King fries, and I love Burger King fries so that’s a good thing.

Of course I had to get dessert, so I grabbed two of their cream filled cookie sandwiches. Keep in mind that these a decent sized dessert sandwich the diameter around 3-4 inches. One was called “Oreo Cookie” because it was made up of chocolate cookies and a vanilla butter cream filling. It was good, but I would have rather had a real Oreo. But the “Little Devin Cookie” ? I could not put that damn thing down. I kept saying, just one more bite and put it away, but I couldn’t. I’m a sucker for cream cheese frosting and this was sandwiched in between 2 tasty granola, cranberry and walnut cookies. I was in Heaven.

Westville East, was a wonderful restaurant, even if it was crowded. I can’t wait to go back. After that fantastic first meal, I know that I definitely want to taste their other baked goods, in particular their carrot cake and their cobblers. I also would love to try their smoky mac and cheese with bacon, arugula with smoked mozzarella and pears, their beef burger, hot dogs, sausage and peppers, chicken cutlet, beer battered codfish and chips and pretty much their entire brunch menu.

9 out of 10

173 Avenue A, New York NY10009

-Juice


Klong, My Favorite Thai In New York City

courtesy of klongnyc.com

I’ve been going to Klong for probably almost a decade. I was in college and when they had first opened, I wandered in and wanted to see what was going on in there. The interior design of this Thai restaurant is fantastic. Gorgeous abacus walls, metal sculptures and beautiful statues decorate the room. And when you see how lovely everything looks, you are taken aback when you see how affordable the prices of their dishes are.

Klong has extremely tasty food, for a really good price. Oh gosh, looking at their menu right now, I’ve probably tasted 60% of the items on it and have never been disappointed. Though I will warn you, their cocktail are only average, but they are still a lot of fun to sip on. Like their Frost in Night Market Bangkok. Made with pandan leaf juice, vodka, Malibu, midori, coconut milk and jackfruit, it is a very darling drink. And did you know that Red Bull originated in Thailand? I didn’t. I only found out when I saw that interesting tidbit next to their Red Bull and vodka cocktail. But, if you are in a non-alcoholic mood, you can never go wrong with their Thai ice tea. Those things are addicting!

Gosh, appetizer, entrée and dessert-wise, you will be happy with what you order. They also have a great vegetarian selection that tastes great. My favorite entrée on the menu overall though, has to be the Spicy Basil Noodles with beef, hands down. Every time I go with someone new to this restaurant, they are blown away by the spices and the overall taste of it. Broad noodles and tender beef are sautéed with tons of basil and spice. Layers of heat overcome my mouth with each bite that I take, and because I can’t handle that too well, I ask them to make it with very little chili and it is still just as amazing.

And for the price, their dessert is pretty good too. That reminds me, it’s been a while since my last visit, I think that I’ll have to pop in soon.

9 out of 10

7 St Marks Pl, New York NY10003

-Juice


Oh Me, Omai

courtesy omainyc.com

It had been a very long time since I have had a taste of Vietnamese, so when I entered Omai, one of my dinner companion’s favorite restaurants, I was delighted. Far off on 9th ave, it wasn’t crowded and we were seated immediately. The space was simply decorated, clean and crisp. The light reflecting off of the white walls made the room seem bigger than it really was and the seating was comfortable.

Our drinks came immediately, my Manhattan wasn’t bad at all. On the recommendation of my friend, we decided to get a bunch of appetizers and just split them. And you know me, I always over order, but in this case, I was very happy with her decision because their appetizers are very generous, portion-wise, compared to other New York City restaurants. It was a very pleasant surprise.

The wok seared monk fish with peanuts, chili, basil and served with a sesame rice cracker was very good. All the ingredients came together beautifully, and even though it was a very flavorful dish, it was light and not at all heavy.

The seared beef over tomato and watercress was amazing. The meat was beautifully seasoned and incredibly tasty. I loved the bitterness that the watercress added to it. Yummy!

And let me tell you, they really know how to make meat here. Our next dish were the baby back ribs with 5 spices and we polished them off right away. Tender meat and great flavor. What more could you want? Simple and to the point.

However, our last appetizer was a disappointment. The shrimp ravioli fell apart immediately the second we tried to transport it to our plates, and while it wasn’t a bad dish, it was definitely the worst savory dish we had that night. It is also something that I would recommend that people not order, the shrimp were chopped too small, and the skin very thin. They also should have served it with a sauce to give it more oomph. It was very bland.

And last, the dessert. Maybe I ordered wrong. We got the banana bread with warm Tahitian vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was decadent and so good, but the banana bread was a downer. It was some type of tapioca texture bread layer, covered with a banana and topped with ice cream. It didn’t have that come out of the oven banana bread that I was expecting. A bit sad, but at least the majority of my appetizers were good right?

7 out of 10

158 9th Ave, New York NY10011

-Juice