Archive for the ‘eating out & going out’ Category

lychee, raspberry & rose ispahan, Bosie Tea Parlor, West Village

absolutely delightful little tea parlor in the West Village. food + pastry dainty & made with care.
Bonus points for cute waiter.

snapshots from girls’ weekend in DC

FroZen Yo, Washington DC

Self-serve froyo @ FroZen Yo

FroZen Yo, Washington DC

red velvet + cookies & cream froyo w/ kiwis, strawberries, & blueberries

Current Sushi, Washington DC

the Green Velvet roll @ Current Sushi

Bread & Chocolate, Washington DC

brunch @ Bread & Chocolate

Bread & Chocolate, Washington DC

portobello + sundried tomato pesto omelette + mini hash brown (latke?)

Sequoia, Washington DC

pretty molded butter @ Sequoia

Sequoia, Washington DC

tuna tartare

Sequoia, Washington DC

thai painted grilled salmon w/ wasabi mashed potatoes + glazed carrots

Sequoia, Washington DC

vanilla gelato + macaron

boats on the Potomac

the kennedy center

Kennedy Center

boats on the Potomac

what not to order: Nobu nyc edition

nobu nyc

On the flip side of last entry’s bargain find, here’s a tip for what not to do at the famed Nobu restaurant  chain if you’re a poor college student: order sushi.

Two rolls for $20 may not seem too steep, considering it is such a highly-appraised Japanese restaurant, but really, the portions were meager and the taste nothing special.

If you’re going aiming for $20 or under, there are several options on the cold and hot dishes menu (try the sashimi salad, if you’re craving raw fish, I sampled a friend’s, and it was delicious), although the portion sizes are really tailored for ordering more than one item.

Then again, if you’re aiming for $20 or under, why eat at Nobu?

Note: bad marks for the waiter who kept nagging us with a “Is that all you’re going to order?”…we’re college students, not investment bankers.

if you go (don’t order sushi!):

Nobu 57

40 West 57 Street

New York, NY 10019

phone 212.757.3000

Sura Thai Kitchen, nyc

sura thai kitchen, nyc

Three coffee drinks, 4 hours of sleep, 6 hours of testing and one giant sigh of relief later, finals week is finally over! (And on a more bittersweet note, so is freshman year of college. It’s hard to believe how life has changed since last May…so much has happened, and it’s definitely been tough at times, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences (or new friends!) for anything.)

Sleep, the beach, books, an internship in Soho (!), a nice clean kitchen, free time, old friends, new friends, family… yep, there’s a lot to look forward to. Here’s to summer!

Anyway, back to blogging…

sura thai kitchen, nyc

Thai food may well be one of my favorite cuisines. Savory, sweet, and spicy, fragrant with lemongrass, basil, and lime, it’s far from your boring meat-and-potatoes. Thankfully, New York City is full of Thai restaurants, and even better, many of them offer “lunch specials” for just $10 or less, great for college students on a budget.

Take, for example, Sura Thai Kitchen, a great little place with a modern flair between 100th and 101st street, just a few blocks down from Columbia. For just $8, you get to choose from one appetizer and one entrée from a generous list. Thai iced tea or Thai iced coffee will set you back only a dollar more (a great deal, considering it can cost around $3 a glass full price!).

For lunch today, I had the beautifully plated Virgin Summer Roll, filled with veggies and sprinkled with peanuts and a savory sauce, and the Thai Basil, Sunny Side up Egg entrée. It turned out to be a spicy stir-fry of peppers, onions, basil and tofu (you have a choice of meat or tofu, I went for the vegetarian) topped with a fried egg, and served with white rice. A great venture out from the usual Pad Thai (although C got that, and it was delicious too). The only complaint I had was that some pieces of tofu had a very slight soured taste, but only a true tofu-maniac would be able to detect it.

I may not be a Thai-food expert, just a fan, but the food was good and cheap, décor sleek, service prompt, and staff friendly. Worth a repeat in my book! (Plus, it got the approval from some friends from Bangkok.)

Sura Thai Urban Kitchen

www.surathaikitchen.com
2656 BROADWAY 100-101ST
NEW YORK, NY 10025
212.665.8888

Lulu Cake Boutique, Chelsea

Raspberry Rhapsody Cupcake, Lulu Cake Boutique

I’m a firm believer that the cupcake trend is not a trend. Sure, bacon cupcakes may be pushing it, but the good-old chocolate on vanilla has been a bake sale staple for decades and will likely continue to be, regardless of economic boom-and-bust, even when the craze for gourmet flavors dies down.

Anyway, a nice side effect of this recent cupcake revival is that NYC has literally become a cupcake Mecca, with bakeries in every borough claiming to make the best buttercream and tenderest vanilla. Unfortunately, as an avid cupcake baker (and a little bit of a snob) myself, I’ve found these claims mostly ungrounded; all too often, innocent little treats are replaced by gargantuan blobs of sugary frosting and coarse cake (i’m talking to you, Crumbs).

To me, cupcakes should be light yet satisfying; sweet, but not overly so, with just the right ratio of frosting-to-cake.
Fortunately, Lulu’s Cake Boutique fulfilled all my criteria, and then some.

Raspberry Rhapsody Cupcake, Lulu Cake Boutique

The Raspberry Rhapsody cupcake I ordered was absolutely delicious, perhaps the best cupcake I’ve had in Manhattan so far. The vanilla cake was moist and fine-textured, the raspberry buttercream smooth and light, and the lemon curd filling fresh and tangy. The frosting-filling-cake ratio was spot-on; and the cupcake itself the perfect size—a real cupcake size, like the kind you bake at home, no more, no less. At $2.75 the cupcakes may cost more than your homemade treats, but are on par with most prices in NYC, the same as a chocolate or vanilla Magnolia cupcake. But where Magnolia’s goes for that homemade feel, with the imperfections in the cake and rustic frosting adding to its appeal, these cupcakes are all class.

If you visit:

Lulu Cake Boutique, Chelsea

LULU CAKE BOUTIQUE • NEW YORK CITY
112 Eighth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)
New York, New York 10011
212-242-5858
nyc@everythinglulu.com

P.S. : Lulu’s also makes a variety of “retro” treats, snack cakes like Ding-Dongs and Twinkies in homemade form. Can’t wait to try the Red Velvet (or curiously named Passionately Kissed) Twinkies next time!

Restaurant Week Winter 2011: Le Cirque

Note: Sorry for the late post, schoolwork is neverending as always… RW Winter 2011 is now over, although some places offer extended prix fixe menus through the month!

Restaurant Week Winter 2011: Le Cirque

Always frugal minded, trying to get the most bang for my buck during Restaurant Week (link), I booked a table for two at Le Cirque for Friday evening, a highly acclaimed upscale French restaurant in Midtown East (you can read more about its history here).

For a jacket-and-tie required establishment, I was pleasantly surprised at the courteous (although friendly would be pushing it) service—I may have had my LBD and heels on, and the bf his black blazer, but we weren’t fooling anyone, and were by a good decade or two the youngest customers there (the crowd being composed mostly of middle aged well-to-do couples and groups of businessmen). Even when we used the wrong plates for buttering our rolls, not much fuss was made—plates simply whisked away and replaced.

Oftentimes, RW menus tend to be limited and lacking in creativity, but Le Cirque proved otherwise, offering the customer a wider variety of choices than most, even escargot.

Overall impression? The richest meal I’ve ever eaten; manageable portion sizes prevented it from erring on heavy.

Appetizer: Escargot and Bacon Skewers on a bed of lentils (I don’t recall the actual title, but that pretty much sums it up)

escargot and bacon skewers on a bed of lentils

•Unlike typical soft and garlicky escargot served on the shell, these were chewy, like clams, with a smoky flavor. Overall appetizer had a barbeque-sauce sweet and sour tang. Not the biggest fan of the chunks of bacon, a bit too fatty, but then again, not the biggest fan of bacon in most occasions.

Entrée: Duck Jambonette with sweet and sour pearl onions, creamy polenta

duck jambonette with sweet and sour pearl onions, creamy polenta

•A cute, fat duck thigh stuffed with some sort of meat filling (sausage? More duck?). Tender and well cooked, good flavor. Sweet and sour onions tangy and tender; the most buttery, richest polenta I’ve ever encountered.

Dessert: Chocolate Fondant with Rum ice cream, caramelized bananas

chocolate fondant with rum ice cream, caramelized bananas

•Molten chocolate cake seems to be a norm in most restaurants these days, and a RW menu standby. This one was more room temperature, but intensely chocolate-flavored, and not too sweet, in fact, barely so. Ice cream and bananas were a nice touch.

Le Cirque in one word? Rich. The food, atmosphere, and clientele… Maybe not for the everyday college student, but a great RW choice to make you feel pampered and well-fed.

If you go:

Le Cirque
151 E 58th St
(between 3rd Ave & Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10022
Neighborhood: Midtown East

Restaurant Week Winter 2011: Kitti Chai

Just one of the myriad advantages of living in New York is having access to some of the best restaurants in the nation, if not the world. Unfortunately, as a working college student on a budget, these restaurants are rarely, if ever, affordable.

Enter Restaurant Week: a bi-annual promotion where even the finest restaurants offer discount prixe-fix menus, allowing the average New Yorker to have a taste of haute cuisine. At a set $25 for lunch and $35 for dinner (tax and tip not included), these menus still err on the pricey side for students (although they are often less than half of the normal cost). However, as a foodie and a New Yorker, I figured it worthwhile to try at least one lunch and one dinner during RW, as it is often abbreviated.

kitti chai nyc

First up:
Kitti Chai
60 Thompson St
New York, NY 10079
(South Village)

Went with several floormates, sister (and her bf) to Kitti Chai, a high-end Thai restaurant in the Village for brunch (which turned out to be lunch) last Saturday. Here’s what I ordered:

roasted Japanese eggplant, bell pepper and pickled ginger salad

Appetizer: Roasted Japanese eggplant, bell pepper and pickled ginger salad
•This salad was a bit iffy. Although the taste was light and refreshing, the textures were off—eggplant mush rather than strips, interspersed with long pieces of red bell pepper, and alarmingly large strips of ginger (initial assumption was that it was bamboo shoots—slices were way too large for such a strongly flavored herb/root).

Pan seared Bronzini, Shanhai shoots in a spiced chili broth

Entrée: Pan seared Bronzini, Shanhai shoots in a spiced chili broth
•Fish was well prepared, with crispy skin and tender firm flesh. A delicious sauce, especially when eaten with the rice (served in communal bowls on the table—we found ourselves asking for more, a bit lacking in quantity).

Banana spring rolls with burnt honey ice cream

Dessert: Banana spring rolls with burnt honey ice cream
•The ice cream was spot-on, bursting with essence of burnt honey. Spring rolls tasty, though uncreative—simply bananas wrapped in phyllo dough, deep fried.

Overall impressions:
Initial chagrin at having to wake up at 10:30 am (the horror!) on a Saturday morning quickly disappeared once I entered Kitti Chai. Although the food was merely good, not fantastic, an overall artful presentation (of the dishes, the décor), made for a delightful experience. Perhaps not worth the full price, but a good RW venture.