Friday, August 10, 2012

new york, new york!

And a final roundup of the other stuff I ate (and loved) in New York:

the Chairman Bao @ BaoHaus - braised pork belly w/ cilantro, haus relish and taiwan red sugar

smoke salmon & lox bagel@ the Bagel Store

best eggs bene and home fries I've ever had @ Schiller's

earl grey tea & olive oil gelato @ il laboratorio del gelato

best meal in NYC (shack burger and vanilla milkshake) @ Shake Shack

ShackBurger - cheeseburger, lettuce, tomato, shack sauce = heaven.

pizza w/ mushrooms, oven roasted peppers & ham @ Grimaldi's Pizzeria

huge vanilla cupcake @ Crumb's bakery

ridiculously good lobster roll @Red Hook Lobster Pound, Smorgasburg
ridiculously meaty brisket roll @ Mighty Quinn's, Smorgasburg

coffee gelato @ l'arte del gelato

another great lobster roll @ the Original Soup Man

Looking at all these pictures again makes me really miss New York food... If any of you are in the city, do check out these places - I highly highly recommend!

238 E 14th St

The Bagel Store
349 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn

Schiller's Liquor Bar
131 Rivington St

Il Laboratorio del Gelato
188 Ludlow St

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park

1 Front Street, Brooklyn

Crumb's Bakery
1675 Broadway

Smorgasburg (every Saturday)
45 Main St, Brooklyn

L'arte del Gelato
75 9th Ave (15th & 16th St.)

The Original Soup Man
259A W 55th St.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

peter luger

There's nothing better than a huge hunk of meat so I was beyond excited when my friend said she got us reservations at Peter Luger steakhouse. I've heard mixed reviews about the place with many claiming it's well past its prime but I figured any New York steak is better than the average steak in Hong Kong so none of the bad reviews dampened my enthusiasm. Luckily, the meal was everything I could have wanted from a steak house.

The room is far from upscale, with long wooden tables and a whole lot of noise, but I loved the chaotic atmosphere and the smells that hit you the minute you walk into the seating area. There were five of us so we decided to order the the USDA Prime porterhouse steak for four, along with two side dishes.

Some complimentary bread to start which I tried really hard not to eat as I wanted to save all my stomach for as much meat as possible...unfortunately our dinner reservations were for 9:00pm and I was starving by the time I got there so I dug into some very stale, cold bread :(

Luckily, our steak was right around the corner! First came the "special house sauce" which was amazing. Usually I'm a bit of a steak purist but this sauce was too good to ignore. Slightly sweet, it tasted almost like a cocktail sauce but so much better. I wished I had bought a bottle to take home to slather over all my burgers, hotdogs, meat patties, salads...

Our waiter was delightful :) Super efficient, attentive, and always with a smile on his face (probably because he was having fun hitting on one of my friends :P)

Steak for four! I believe this was USD170. It was a huge plate that we failed to defeat despite having five very hungry diners. 

It was broiled to a perfect medium rare and just oozing with flavour. The steak was really well aged and marbelized. So tender, buttery, absolutely delicious! While it might not have been the best steak I've ever had, it definitely ranks among the top. Sure it's kinda greasy, kinda fatty, and very very big... but that's all I would want in a steak! 

Our two sides were the German fried potatoes and creamed spinach (both about USD9). The potatoes were pretty good, but I've had better home fries at NY brunches. Creamed spinach was better and you definitely need it to get through all that meat. 

Ended a deliciously heavy meal with something even heavier - ice cream sundaes :D The amount of whipped cream they top this with was extraordinary!! And I loved that they gave us Peter Luger chocolate coins as well :) The sundae was pretty much what it looks like in the picture - very fudgy, very thick, very yummy. 

All in all,  this was a fantastic meal. Sure, it might not be the best steakhouse in NY but for USD60 per person for the quality and quantity of the meal above, I thought it was well worth a trek out to Brooklyn. 

Peter Luger
178 Broadway,
Brooklyn, NYC

Monday, August 6, 2012

colicchio & sons

I was lucky enough to be in NYC during restaurant week and managed to book a table at Colicchio & Sons for a delicious Friday lunch. All the lunch sets at participating restaurants cost USD24.07 while dinners set you back USD35. Definitely good value considering the caliber of restaurants and quality of food we experienced - very unlike the subpar "restaurant weeks" we get in HK... 

We tried the salmon tartare and house-made mozzarella for starters:

salmon tartare

The salmon was delicious and I liked that it was prepared with a distinctly Asian twist. The daikon slaw was a nice accompaniment, making this dish a perfectly light appetizer for summer. I thought the miso vinaigrette had a tad too much vinegar, but that was my only complaint.


This one blew me away though. It may possibly have been the best "caprese" salad I've had outside of Italy. The house-made mozzarella was so fresh and soft and creamy, and the cherry tomatoes super flavourful. It came with panzanella, basically small pieces of bread soaked in olive oil and vinegar. No complaints :)

For mains we ordered the hanger steak and duck confit:

hanger steak

We ordered the steak medium rare and it was grilled perfectly. While hanger steak is notorious for being tough, this one was actually quite tender and not too chewy. I loved how flavourful it was, accompanied simply by a small dose of bone marrow butter. The potato puree and tuscan kale were both delicious as well. Definitely a winner :)

duck confit

Duck confit used to be my favourite dish but these days I find it way too salty. Still, I continue to order it in hopes that I find one as good as I remembered them to be - probably a tall order as I'm sure it's just my changing taste buds that have made me less of a fan in recent years. Colicchio & son's version veers on the salty side and parts of the meat were a little tough but once you get down to the bone (and away from the skin) the duck meat was super tender and not too overpowering on the salt. I really liked the wheat berries and roasted mushrooms that came with it though, and ended up eating more of that than the duck itself! Oops!

panna cotta

Whenever panna cotta is on the menu, it's my go to dessert. This one was topped with blackberries (slightly sour) and honey graham crackers ice cream (delicious). A great end to a fantastic meal though :)

I was pretty impressed by everything we tried and especially the huge portion sizes. The ambiance is great and the waitstaff very knowledgeable and attentive. The only minor gripe I had was that the jasmine tea I ordered after the meal (thinking it was included in the prix fixe) ended up costing us USD15... For something I get free at yum cha restaurants, it was a bit much...Still, even with the tea included the whole meal was very reasonably priced and I would definitely return the next time I'm in the city! Plus, it's right next to the High Line so you can take a nice stroll after lunch to work off all that food.

Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave
New York

Thursday, July 12, 2012

the balkans & russia

I spent the past two weeks traveling around the Balkans and Russia and was not expecting much in the food department - heavy meat dishes, rye bread and pickled vegetables just aren't my thing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of food we sampled. Here's a few snippets of my favourite dishes. 


fish broth

I think this was the best thing I had on the trip! It was so flavourful and fresh, with beautiful chunks of salmon and a nice variety of vegetables (potatoes, onions, carrots, sorrel...) After trying one spoonful, my sister decided to get a bowl of her own - it was that good. The perfect meal for a chilly day. 

haloumi cheese melt

I was surprised to discover that Latvian bread is among the softest, fluffiest I've ever had - the different breads I tried have all been on par with BO-LO'GNE's in terms of pillowy goodness. While the bread looks slightly burnt on top, it was actually grilled just right and was my favourite part of the melt. 


Not particularly Latvian but they sure do it well! Too bad I'm so clumsy with my fork and tongs that I lost most of the delicious garlic butter sauce before I managed to get the snails out... 

salt crusted baked sea bass 

Our waitress expertly de-crusting and filleting our fish tableside. It looked soo good I couldn't wait to dig in. 

sea bass

Probably the most important thing for a good salt crusted sea bass is the quality of the fish and this fish was extremely fresh. The salt crust sealed in all the yummy juices leaving us with a delightfully moist fish without being overly salty. 

baked cauliflower with creamed spinach
duck confit


duck breast with caramelised pear and mash

One night in Tallin we decided to eat at a medieval restaurant. While our choice of restaurant was more for the gimmicky sword fight our guide book promised, the food was actually quite delicious, especially this duck breast which was really tender and came with a beautiful black current sauce.

ratatouille with wild rice

The rice was very flavourful, tasting slightly like bismati. The ratatouille was loaded with fresh vegetables with the juicy carrots being my favourite. I've discovered that the Balkan countries actually do French pretty well! 

chicken souvlaki

The chicken was real tender but they went a bit overboard on the spices. Would've been perfect if it were a souvlaki-pita though. 

St. Petersburg / Moscow:

To celebrate my sister's birthday, we headed to miX by Alain Ducasse, his first restaurant in Russia. Part of the menu consists of Alain Ducasse's siganture dishes while the rest is a fusion of French / Russian cuisine. 

freshly baked bread, Scottish, French and Russian
amuse bouche
parisian style cold salmon
pigeon cooked in coquette
cookpot of seasonal vegetables and fruit
salmon and spinach pie with white butter sauce
pan-seared suckling-pig

The food was all quite decent. The salmon was slightly on the salty side (as I found true of all the salmon I had on the trip) and the cookpot was a bit monotonous after a few bites but the fish pie and suckling pig were both delicious!

Finally, some local food at the GUM department store by the Kremlin:


Some Russian dumplings. Tasted pretty similar to Beijing soup dumplings but with a thinner wrap and no chives. Okay la. 

some fish.. very salty
pork - very tender

Okay, so I didn't try very much "local" cuisine but I enjoyed most of my meals which is more than most can say about Russia! :) 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

main st. deli

The first time I visited Main St. Deli back in twenty ten, I really enjoyed my meal. I loved the diner ambiance, the deliciously thick milkshakes, and of course the American-sized portions. However, when I revisited last weekend I was sorely disappointed. Not sure if it's because my taste buds have changed or if the deli really has gone downhill, but I'm pretty sure I won't be back anytime soon.

strawberry milkshake (back) and peanut butter shake ($75 each)
The strawberry milkshake was one of the biggest disappointments, tasting more like strawberry milk. It wasn't creamy or thick at all - I would've much preferred slurping up McDonald's trusty shakes even with all its artificial flavourings and yummy chemicals :P The peanut butter shake fared better on its texture (I'm sure it's near impossible to make a peanut butter shake watery) but was just too heavy on the peanut butter flavours for me to enjoy.

thre french quarter ($138)
Trying to be slightly healthier, I opted for the French Quarter - ham, brie and honey mustard on a baguette should be hard to mess up. However, I found the slow baked ham lacked flavour, the baguette tasted stale, and the brie was added very sparingly. The sandwich actually tasted a bit like what I've had at Le Velo except Le Velo is yummier and a fraction of the price.

eggs bene ($138)
The eggs bene was okay flavour-wise (I wonder why they didn't use the same honey roasted ham for my sandwich??)  but the poached eggs wereabyssmal. If there's no runny yolk, it's definitely a fail. Also thought it a bit strange to receive french fries with the eggs!

grilled chicken club ($138)
I didn't try any of this but I thought it was a rather measly portion considering the price. Basically just grilled chicken (looked more deep fried to me?!), BLT and avocado on a sesame roll.

prawn club ($138)
This sounded pretty delicious - apple wood bacon, avocado and prawns on foccacia. Unfortunately, the bread tasted day-old here too...

curly fries (+$8)
You can add an additional $8 to change your regular fries/salad to curly fries! Hurrah! The first yummy thing I had! The curly fries came with delicious melted cheese and reminded me of the Hardees curly fries I used to love - why did they have to exit HK!?

beef lasagne ($168)
This lasagne was also pretty darn good, just because of the amounts of cheese they piled on top! Anything doused in cheese will be an automatic win in my books. The plate came out looking huge but it was actually quite manageable as the dish was really shallow. Still, a super heavy course for lunch!

I suppose not everything was a miss but for the prices you pay, I really didn't think the meal was worth it. I would much rather head to Oolaa / Sashay for eggs bene, Joel Robuchon's salon de the for baguette sandwiches (which are only $48!), McDonalds for milkshakes and Grappa's for lasagne - none of which would've charged quite so steeply.

Main St. Deli
Lower Lobby Level
The Langham Hong Kong
8 Peking Road, TST