Monday, July 30, 2007


Last night was Mike's last night in the city for a while, so we met up with Nicole and Jason at Tsampa for dinner.

Tsampa is a Tibetan restaurant. It's health-ish and has good vegetarian choices but as Tibetan buddhists are not 100% vegetarian, so Tsampa is not 100% vegetarian either.

I was intrigued by the Tse Nezom which was described as "14 Different Vegetables." Why 14? Was that a magical Tibetan number that comes with the promise of long life and happiness? I had to try it.

To start we all split Lhasa Momo (Dumplings stuffed with Garden Vegetables and Shiitake Mushrooms) and Kathmandu Aloo (Chilled Spicy Potatoes served On Fresh Greens). The Momo was a bit bland even with the spicy dipping sauce. The Kathmandu Aloo was really great.

The Tse Nezom was tasty. I could only identify 5 or 6 vegetables in the ridiculously low light, but I'm sure all 14 were there.

Mike and I also ordered Bocha which is Tibetan tea with butter and salt. He said it was an acquired taste, but I immediately liked it. It tastes exactly how you would imagine butter, salt, and tea to taste when you think about it, and it is delicious. It seems a bit weird, but it has the same feeling as drinking chicken broth out of a mug.

212 E 9th St (Btn 2nd & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dae Dong

Mabel, Mike, and I went to Dae Dong for dinner tonight.

I like this place for a few reasons. They have very good Naeng Myun, and the restaurant is pretty laid back and comfortable. We come here pretty often. It's good for large groups.

Mabel got Bibim Naeng Myun which was pretty intense but good. They don't make the mistake of giving you too much sauce.

I got regular Naeng Myun with extra noodles. I was really hungry. But I shouldn't have gotten the extra noodles. They really give you a lot more. I thought I was going to explode as I was finishing my last few bites.

Mike got Bibim Bop which he said was good.

Mabel overheard the waiters discussing whether they should have given us so much Ban Chan, but they'd already brought it out so they gave it to us anyway.

They also have these LCD TVs that play Korean pop concerts on repeat. It's pretty awesome.

Dae Dong
17 W 32nd St (btn 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blossom restaurant

Just got back from dinner at Blossom to celebrate Mike's finishing the New York bar exam.

Blossom is an organic vegan restaurant. It's like an upscale Gobo with a quiet living room ambiance.

I got Savory Seitan with Herb Potatoes. The seitan was a little too meaty for me and had a bit of a processed taste to it. The potatoes were really good. They were covered in some kind of flavored mayonnaise. There was also a perfectly prepared haricot vert garnish that I wished was more than just a garnish.

I guess I was a little disappointed by my dish because I had in mind a seitan dish I got at Gobo once. Gobo's preparation made the seitan taste like duck. In my memory it was even better than your average Chinatown duck. I'd never had it before, so I just assumed that seitan was a duck substitute. I guess I was wrong.

I tried Mike's Butterfly Turnover which was really good, although it looked bland. It was simply stuffed with seitan, onions, and peppers and was very satisfying.

Getting inside can be tricky. The white door is the entrance.

187 9th Ave (btn 21st and 22nd St)
New York, NY 10011

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Caffe Reggio

James and I grabbed coffee at Cafe Reggio yesterday afternoon after seeing Manhattan at Film Forum.

Cafe Reggio has okay coffee and food. The main draw is that you can usually get a seat and the place has character.

Caffe Reggio
119 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

Pinkberry line, Chelsea

Last Sunday after seeing Manhattan at Film Forum, I passed by the Pinkberry in Chelsea. I was thinking of getting dessert to go, but the line was ridiculous.

I have to say that there was more of a block party atmosphere to this line compared to some of the lines I've seen outside of the Koreatown Pinkberry.

Pinkberry (Chelsea location)
170 8th Ave (btn 18th and 19th St)
New York, NY 10011

Friday, July 20, 2007

Artichokes in PA update 2

My parents just sent me these pictures of the artichokes growing in their garden.

It appears that another plant started budding, although the bud is somewhat horizontal. The already budding plant has sprouted several more buds. Exciting! I wasn't sure if it was going to be only one per plant, but fortunately it's more.

The biggest bud seems pretty mature. It's already starting to open up. I think we're going to let it flower just to see what it looks like. We'll eat the others though. Hopefully I can make it back home in time.

Previous artichoke post 1
Previous artichoke post 2

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cupcake Café

I picked up a couple cupcakes from Cupcake Café for dessert tonight.

We've passed by this place a few times since moving into the neighborhood. We even went inside at one point, but were quickly turned away by their hot and humid climate.

The air conditioner was on during the current visit. I got one small vanilla and one small chocolate cupcake.

I'm not sure why the lights in their display case are chronically broken. They were that way a few months ago as well. It's a shame because the cupcakes all look very nice when there's nice light.

Here's what they look like in nice light.

Mabel and I really like these cupcakes. Unlike most other cupcakes, the frosting is not too sweet. They are attractive and taste good.

Cupcake Cafe
545 9th Ave (b/n 40th and 41st St)
New York, NY 10018

First Anniversary wines from wine bar at Del Posto

I found a list of these wines on a piece of scrap paper. I'm not even sure if they're spelled correctly because I couldn't quite read the waiter's handwriting.

All I know is that these are what we were served on our first wedding anniversary when we went to the wine bar at Del Posto.

The Bastianich Tocai was paired with an asparagus dish, which is useful to know since pairing asparagus with a wine can be challenging.

Bastianich Tocai
Russiz Sauvignon
Bastianich Vespa Rosso
Perroue Buguro

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Mabel and I ate at 'ino tonight after seeing Manhattan at Film Forum.

'ino is one of my favorite places in the city. They make excellent panini and other sandwiches, and their wine is fantastic. Anything you order off of their all Italian wine list--which is organized by region--will be good.

We split a half bottle of Massone Cortese Gavi Ino Bianco 2006. I'd never heard of the Cortese grape before, but the wine reminded me of a Savignon Blanc. Mabel said that it was refreshing and minerally. It was a perfect remedy for the hot and humid weather.

The restaurant is on the small side and can get loud when crowded, so it's good to go during off hours like the afternoon or not on a Friday or Saturday. It is super relaxed and has a neighborhood cafe feel during off hours, the kind of place where you can bring something to read and hang out. But even when it gets crowded late at night, it still retains an intimate feeling.

Also, they have a really good breakfast dish of asparagus, truffle oil, and egg called Truffled Egg Toast, and you can get it any time during the day. This time we just opted for some Bruschetta and Panini.

21 Bedford St (b/n 6th Ave and Downing St)
New York, NY 10012

Joe's Pizza

Last night I got a slice at Joe's Pizza in the West Village. Josh says that it is probably the best ordinary slice of pizza in Manhattan. I'll agree with that. The crust was thin and flexible but also crisp on the outside.

Outside the pizza place there was this limo with an awesome door.

Joe's Pizza
7 Carmine Street (near Bleecker and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10014

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rita's Water Ice

Last weekend in Pennsylvania, Mabel and I went to Rita's Water Ice.

Rita's was a big sensation when I was in middle school, and it was fun having it again. They have locations all over my part of PA. They don't really care about being authentic Italian water ice or anything. But it's good and refreshing all the same.

I got a their Gelati which has no relation to what we know as gelato. Their Gelati is a base of vanilla custard under Italian water ice and topped with more custard. I'm not sure if this is Rita's invention or if this actually has some kind of history, but I like it either way. Actually, I'd like it a lot more if it was Rita's invention. The bastardization of gelato--or rather, gelati--in this instance is so extreme as to be admirable, although it is tolerable only because the actual product tastes good.

The custard is more dense and I think more fatty than traditional soft serve. It's pretty good. I got it with Mango ice. Mabel got plain Lemon ice. She really enjoyed it, and my Gelati. We'll be going back whenever we visit my parents.

This particular location had a nice isolated garden area to the side. I was really surprised by all the space they had, but that's only because I live in the city. I need to get out of the city more often.

The building they're located in was a gift shop called the Village Barn before I went away to school. It was a little weird seeing that it had been converted into a Rita's Water Ice.

Rita's Water Ice
790 Edison Furlong Road
Furlong, PA 18925

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Artichokes in PA update

This afternoon my mom pointed out that there is a bud on one of the artichoke plants! I don't know how I missed it yesterday, but I can't imagine that it just appeared overnight.

I also actually looked for the remaining artichoke that we raised from a seed, and I found it.

It's going to take a long time for it to catch up to the others.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Artichokes in PA

We're at my parents' place in Pennsylvania for the weekend. I checked out how the artichokes are doing.

A few months ago I convinced my mom to try planting artichokes in her garden. I bought the seeds and we planted them inside during the winter. We had more than 14 seedlings by early spring.

All but 4 of them died suddenly. My mom planted the survivors in the garden while I was away. When I came back to visit, they were pretty puny and not doing so well.

I think my mom felt bad for me, because she went to the local nursery, bought 6 artichoke plants, and transplanted them to her garden. The next time I came to visit, I saw 6 large, floppy, ugly artichoke plants. She was surprised by how big they were. So was I. The original 4 were still not doing so well and were still pretty puny.

On this visit I noticed that the nursery artichokes are no longer floppy. They are robust and alive. But they are still large and ugly. Of the original 4 that we raised from seedlings only one survives due to a weeding accident involving my dad. Honestly, when I looked I couldn't distinguish the remaining plant from a weed either.

The nursery artichokes take up a large fraction of the garden. I feel a little bad. Maybe I shouldn't have convinced her to plant them.

But they haven't budded yet. Maybe we'll feel differently once we eat them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Fried artichokes

Gristedes was selling long stem artichokes, so I picked up a couple.

I like preparing artichokes, even though this time around I cut myself on a thorn. You actually have to be careful around these things. Some people complain that it's a big pain to cut them up, and it's messy. I think it's fun to cut them up. And I find the mess interesting. You end up with more volume than you started with!

I've only boiled artichokes in the past. To try something different, I looked up how to fry them in The Silver Spoon, an Italian cookbook Jason gave me a few years ago. This is my slightly modified version.

2 artichokes
1 lemon
1 clove garlic
dried oregano
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Trim and quarter the artichokes. Peel and cut up the stem. Cook in a shallow pan of salted water with the juice of half a lemon for about 5 minutes.

Drain off water and put artichokes in a bowl. Add chopped garlic, dried oregano, and the juice from the rest of the lemon. Add salt and pepper. Cover and let marinade, mixing occasionally, for up to 2 hours. I just let it sit for 30 minutes this time around.

Put flour into a plate. Crack 2 eggs into another plate and whisk with salt and pepper. Coat artichoke pieces in flour first, then in egg. Fry in hot oil (350-400 degrees) until brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Salt and pepper immediately.

I like this recipe a lot. Usually when you deep fry something it tastes like anything else you deep fry. But the lemon, garlic, and oregano marinade adds a nice recognizable flavor, especially in the pieces of stem--which Mabel called artichoke tater-tots. Those seasonings enhance the flavor of the artichoke very well.

I'm still not quite sure what to do with the leaves. Sometimes they're edible, sometimes they're too fibrous and I have to spit them out. I'll try trimming further in the future.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Han Bat

Mabel and I had a hankering for Soon Doo Boo so we went to Han Bat before seeing the fireworks tonight.

Han Bat is our go-to place for Soon Doo Boo. They make an excellent Soon Doo Boo, and we haven't found another place in New York that is better.

Because it was a little humid, I opted, for the first time, to get mine mild. I didn't want to sweat too much. I could tell that if I got medium spicy or something like that then I would become disgustingly sweaty.

Mabel ordered hers medium. Then I ordered mild. Our disbelieving waiter said, "Mild is under medium spicy," and paused so that I could correct my unmanly error. I said that I knew, and he said, just so he would not be liable for my man foul, "Okay, one medium spicy ... and one mild."

We also ordered Man Doo, which was good. Theirs has a light, textured crispy skin.

After we ordered, they brought our Ban Chan. I had forgotten how much Ban Chan they give. That alone makes me give Han Bat high marks. All this variety for two people. This place is great.

The Soon Doo Boo was fantastic as usual, at least Mabel's was. Mine was too mild, although that's what I asked for, but I'm still glad I did (I was willing to trade flavor for a dry dinner, this time).

I like that the spicyness comes with flavor. It's not spicy for its own sake, it's for the sake of a much more tasty dish.

We were really surprised by the shrimp in our Soon Doo Boo. We've never gotten a shrimp that big before. And it tasted really good. Mabel mentioned that the meat had a sweetness to it.

Han Bat
53 W 35th St (b/n 5th & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Pinkberry line

After dinner tonight we decided to check out the line at Pinkberry. Boy, was it a long line. Seeing it was enough to satisfy our fro-yo craving.

Previous Pinkberry Post

Kum Gang San

My parents, James, Christine, and my three nephews were in town sightseeing today, and we decided to go to Kum Gang San for dinner.

This is the Korean restaurant to go to when you don't know where to go. They do groups very well and make a good variety of food. It's not really the best of anything, but it is good at most things.

I like the waterfall in the entrance. I know it's kind of a cheap trick (everyone loves a waterfall), but I do like waterfalls. Also, the white piano is awesome, although I've never seen someone actually play it.

We all had a great time despite my and Christine's Naeng Myun arriving after everyone else finished their meal. The food was good enough, and the kids had fun playing in the banquettes.

The paper placemats have an interesting ad for the house Kimchi. I thought it was worth transcribing the text:

Miraculous Taste of The Far East

New York Kimchi does not have an offensive order an offensive order. [sic]

Nutritional values increase when New York Kimchi is fully fermented.

1. New York Kimchi helps to remove toxic wastes from your digestive tract by drawing them out of your body.

2. Children love New York Kimchi for it has no offensive smell. New York Kimchi provides beneficial bacteria to everyone including the old and the weak.

3. New York Kimchi has been proven to eliminate and suppress harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.

4. By using soybean protein instead of salted fish for fermentation, New York Kimchi contains plenty of bean oligo peptide, amino acid, calcium from vegetables, iron and vitamins.

5. New York Kimchi uses alkali water and low sodium.

Kum Gang San
49 West 32nd St (b/n 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10001

HK restaurant

Mabel, Elliott, and I had brunch at HK earlier today.

We've been calling it Hell's Kitchen for a while and, I think, mistaking it for another restaurant called Hell's Kitchen that people have said is really great.

Anyway, as a result of our visit, Mabel has decided to boycott the place. I am told that if I want to go back I will have to go without her. I understand.

The problem centers around a $12.95 bellini. They charged $12.95 for a single brunch bellini. And we didn't realize this until we got the bill. That was the problem.

Mabel wants me to add that she wants to pelt the restaurant with rotten eggs. Not just any eggs. Rotten ones. I have never heard her say something like that before.

The rest of the meal was mixed.

I got Poached Eggs with Red Wine Sauce over a Wild Mushroom Asparagus Hash. It was interesting. There was a nice tang to the "Hash" which was just a mix of mushrooms and vegetables. They were almost pickeled. It also had little pieces of bacon rendered in red wine which was nice. The only problem with the dish was the asparagus. They used thick asparagus cut into pieces, and it was both tough and overcooked. It would have been more pleasant to eat if they had peeled it.

Mabel and Elliott both got Eggs Benedict. The Hollandaise sauce was thin and seemed like an afterthought. Mabel says, "It was kind of puny and there wasn't much sauce." I at least liked the sauce on the potatoes that came with the dish, but Mabel didn't like that sauce very much either.

Notice the absence of flatware. Oops!

Elliott got a pretty cool juice drink that he concocted on his own. Carrot, orange, and ginger juice. It's carrot juice with a kick.

523 9th Ave (at 39th St)
New York, NY 10018

Excess wine

Last night we had an unpleasant wine. It was a recommendation from a salesperson at the Manhattan Plaza Winery in response to a request for an inexpensive everyday wine in the sytle of Bordeaux.

He was very confident in his recommendation which is how I got over the fact that the wine had no appellation, no vintage, and the label looked sketchy.

Well, it was no good. Not what we were looking for at all. It was more in the style of wines like Yellow Tail. A lot of unbalanced flavor. The name of the wine characterized it well. Anyway, I'm not willing to trust that wine shop again anytime soon.

Excess de Penin NV, "Product of France" o

Manhattan Plaza Winery
589 9th Ave (b/n 42nd and 43rd)
New York, NY 10036

Soul Fixins'

Last night Mabel and I went to Soul Fixins' for take-out on our way back from seeing Ratatouille (which was a great movie).

The food was okay. Mabel got baked chicken with rice and collard greens.

The rice was very bean-y which is good or bad depending on how much you like unadulterated beans. I liked the collard greens and thought they were better than average, though Mabel thought they were a little too sweet. Mabel also got an order of sweet potato pie. Neither of us have had it before. It is pretty much like pumpkin pie.

I got fried chicken with potato salad and mac and cheese.

The chicken was good. The mac and cheese was unusually bland. But the potato salad was awesome. It was zesty and satisfying. It would be worth making a trip to Soul Fixins' just to pick up an order of potato salad.

Soul Fixins'
371 W 34th St (at 9th Ave)
New York 10001