Showing posts with label Favorites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Favorites. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Revisited: Rockaway Taco

On part two of our Labor Day food tour (part one was SriPraPhai), we went to Rockaway Taco. Thank god for some traffic/an hour long drive from SriPraPhai that gave us some time to digest.

I was really excited about Rockaway Taco because last time I visited was 3 years ago, and I loved the fish tacos. I was happy to find that they were even better and bigger than I remembered.

Note that there are benches but no tables for seating, so be prepared to only use one hand to eat your taco or to be very careful about dropping bits of food onto your legs/clothes.

Taco prepping behind the cashier

Surprising to see that prices barely changed since the last time I was here--  only $0.50 more for tacos 

Pineapple mint juice, $4
The perfect summer drink (and no sugar added!)

Fish taco, $3.50, guacamole $1
Fish tacos are sold individually, and these were much bigger than I remembered. One would've been plenty (especially after a Thai lunch), but they were just so good that I didn't mind stuffing myself. The radishes, fresh guacamole, and abundance of cabbage never overpowered the plump piece of tilapia. Crispy, moist, and so many good flavors. Looking back on this, I'm very glad I went with two.

95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd
Rockaway Beach, NY 11693
(347) 213-7466
*Cash only, but there is an ATM available right at the shop

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Rockaway Taco on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2014

SriPraPhai Lunch in Queens

Over last Sunday night's dinner at Gato (highly recommended), one friend suggested we spend Labor Day Monday driving around eating at different places throughout NYC. Such a fantastic idea. Our food tour started off with Thai in Queens, and ended with dessert in Boerum Hill.

We began with lunch at SriPraPhai, a restaurant that a previous co-worker of mine used to rave about all the time. He lives in Queens/the borough for a wide variety of ethnic eats, and I totally trust his taste. SriPraPhai is now my new favorite Thai restaurant in New York. Prices are incredibly reasonable, there are a ton of dishes to choose from (we kept saying to each other "what about the noodles on page 5? Or the meat on 6?"), and best of all, most dishes cost around $10.

The restaurant is known to have really long waits during prime meal times. Since we were there on a holiday and right when it opened for lunch, we got seated right away.

Drunken noodles with duck, $12.50
Duck may seem like a strange choice, but I know now to usually trust the bf when he orders food (he tends to choose the better items every single time we go out to eat). Anyway, soft, spicy noodles turned out to be the best complement to the tender and fatty duck pieces. Yum. 

Papaya pad thai with shrimp, $10
This pad thai was quite good-- especially the crunchy pieces of papaya and peanuts, but the dish was too sweet overall. 

Green curry with chicken, $10
Green curry is my absolute favorite dish to order at Thai restaurants. Sweet Basil in Hong Kong does it best, but this was a close second. Really tender chicken, a perfect tangy flavor, but unfortunately just a little too watery. Also, make sure to order the coconut rice to go with this curry. Delicious!

Sautéed watercress, $10
Chinese vegetables are so good, especially when prepared simply-- just some oil and a pan. Luckily for our group, this was a very generous portion and there was plenty to go around.

Also, we didn't go to the back of the restaurant, but I read that SriPraPhai does have a backyard/garden seating with a nice fountain. I would definitely want to check this out when it gets a bit cooler. 

64-13 39th Ave
Woodside, NY 11377
(718) 899-9599
*Cash only, closed Wednesdays

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Sripraphai on Urbanspoon

Next up-- Rockaway Taco!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy Hour at Ofrenda

The only thing better than having summer Fridays is having someone to enjoy them with. Last week I spent a balmy Friday afternoon off with an old friend at Ofrenda.

This Mexican restaurant offers daily happy hour deals from 4-7pm, which include regular margaritas for $6, flavored margaritas for $7, beer for $4, and wine for $6. Definitely pretty great prices, especially for the convenient West Village location.

When I visited the restaurant a few times last year for happy hour, the service wasn't great (as in we actually needed to get up and flag someone down to get menus, order, and close out), but this time I was pleasantly surprised with our server Guillermo, who checked in with us at all the right times, and the fact that the guacamole is now served in a bowl instead of a plate (makes for easier scraping at the end) made the experience even better.

My friend and I chose to sit inside, but we did enjoy the breeze coming in from all the open French doors. Seriously, this is the perfect spot to take advantage of the incredible weather we've been having in NYC.

Cucumber margarita and prickly pear magarita, $7 each
I thought I was given the wrong order when I saw this pink/purple-hued drink, but it turns out that prickly pears are in fact this shade. This was delicious and not overly syrupy. Margaritas are definitely the way to go on Friday afternoons.

Chips and guacamole, $7
A larger serving than I remembered it being before, and the subtle kick in this buttery guacamole was the best. The chips were served warm and freshly fried. Mmm...

113 7th Avenue South (at Christopher Street)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-2305

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Ofrenda on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Revisited: Oysters at Maison Premiere

For all the other oyster lovers out there, Maison Premiere is definitely one of the best places to visit. The bar offers $1 oysters on a wide selection from Monday to Friday 4-7pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 11am-1pm. When I last visited a few years ago, the $1 deal was only a weekday thing, so I've only ever been able to take advantage on summer Fridays when off work. In the future, I already plan to go back on weekends in the fall/near future!

There was a line of around 10 people by the time we arrived at 3:45pm on Friday. The doors open at 4pm, so be sure to get there early. Especially if you want to sit outside.

Love the suspenders and old school vibe.

The garden has around 8 tables (most seat 4). We were told that we'd need to return the table before 6pm since there was a dinner reservation for that outside table. We were fine with that since we only planned to eat oysters. There is a dinner menu, but the selection is very small.

The bf ordered a scotch drink, and I had the Maison Summer Pimm's No. 12-- Pimm's, perry's tot gin, tarragon, lime, watermelon. Although the bar is known for their wide range of absinthe drinks, I just do not enjoy the licorice taste. The server recommended the pimm's cocktail to me, and it was perfect-- summery, strong, and refreshing.

We both enjoy oysters of all kinds. We had 36 (yes, 36) oysters between the two of us, and most enjoyed the Sewansecott for its full flavor, and the Evening Cove for its briny taste paired with buttery and silky textures. 

298 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(212) 335-0446

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Celebratory Lunch at Babbo

To celebrate my boyfriend's birthday, we went to Babbo this past weekend. I didn't manage to get a dinner reservation, but coming here for lunch ended up working in our favor-- we had the rest of the day to walk off all the food!

Babbo is somewhat of an institution here in New York. This Italian restaurant was opened in 1998 by Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich. The duo have since opened many more eateries together, such as Del Posto, Casa Mono, and Eataly. For the bf's birthday, I thought it would be nice to dine somewhere with delicious food and a relaxed atmosphere. Babbo turned out to be a most satisfying experience.

For lunch that Saturday, only the main level dining room was open (there's a second floor too). Most of the tables were set up to accommodate two people sitting together on the banquette against the wall (instead of across from each other).

We both originally planned to order the pasta tasting (4 courses for $49 per person at lunch, 7 courses for $85 per person at dinner), but when we found out that the items we really wanted were not included, we decided to go with a la carte.

Staircase leading to the second floor of the restaurant. The skylight from upstairs brought some nice sunlight into the main floor dining area.

Chickpeas with vinegar, olive oil, garlic on toast (complimentary)
A very simple but tasty start to the meal. I liked that the vinegar was slightly sweet.

Grilled octopus, funghi misti, chianti vinegar, $23
This item falls in the secondi (second course/main dish) portion of the menu, but I don't think that anyone could actually eat this and be full. Nonetheless, it is an incredible way to start the meal (we split this), and I couldn't get over how tender and moist the octopus was. Our server explained that to keep the softness, the octopus is first poached and then grilled for a short time.

Lamb chop, sweetbreads and beef tongue with cipolline and aceto, $27
I never opt for lamb, but when my bf orders it, I always try a bite. This was tender but too gamey for my liking. The sweetbread though, was delicious. I didn't even know what sweetbread is, and upon asking, found out that it's glands. It has a heavy liver-like taste. The beef tongue was also excellent. Perfectly seasoned and probably the shining star of this dish.

Beef cheek ravioli with black truffles and castelmagno (a semi-hard cheese), $20
*(This is a half-portion, as the restaurant kindly split it for us)
This was unbelievable. Strong flavors, fresh al dente pasta texture, thin pieces of black truffle (not just truffle oil!), and a nice sprinkling of cheese. The lack of sauce wasn't an issue at all. Do not come to Babbo without ordering this.

Rosmarino: hanger one vodka, milagro blanco tequila, rosemary syrup, fresh lemon and amaro montenegro, $14
We originally shared a quartino of wine, but I then switched to a cocktail, because after seeing this cocktail menu, I felt like this rosmarino cocktail was just calling my name. It was amazing-- strong and tasty without being overly sweet.

Duck sausage with white beans, $10
A heavier and rather large side dish. Meaty and filling. The bf loved this.

Olive oil pound cake with gelato and extra virgin olive oil, $17
Olive oil totally bringing dessert to another level yet again (most recently the one at Contra)

Happy Birthday, Mike!! :)

110 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10011
(212) 777-0303

*Reservations highly recommended, and are accepted up to one month in advance.

Babbo on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tasting Menu at Contra

It's been a long time now that I've been wanting to try Contra, and our group of 5 finally made it over there on a Tuesday night. The American restaurant offers a five course tasting menu (3 savory and 2 sweet) for $55, and it changes on a daily basis.

Although my best friend is cousins with the chef Jeremiah Stone, I promise that this review is completely unbiased. The creativeness of each plate made this meal a truly spectacular experience. Every single dish was exciting and innovative. Oh, and the food quality? Superb. Two courses in, I decided this had become one of my new favorite spots, and by dessert, I was thinking about who I could bring here next. I plan to return again and again. For a date night, birthday, or to take out-of-town guests.

Prepare to have your mind blown here.

The restaurant is in the Lower East Side, and is easy to miss, as the neon sign 'Contra' hangs on the wall right inside.

The modern dining room is on the small side, but does stretch far into the back, where the kitchen is.

Toasted buckwheat bread, $3
Fabian von Hauske, previously a pastry chef at Jean-Georges, is responsible for the bread and desserts, and although the bread comes at a cost, it is a must. The bread is made with chicken fat, and although I'm not sure what that really means, it is delicious, especially after adding a generous smear of the butter (made with zatar spice). 

First course:
Tomato, eggplant, physalis
A very fresh salad, with watermelon, eggplant, and the sweetest tiny cherry tomatoes. Not much sauce, but that wasn't necessary, as everything was naturally flavorful.

Second course:
Scallop, cabbage, sorrel
Perfectly cooked pieces of scallop accompanied by a seaweed matcha (green tea powder) broth. It may sound strange, but I was very tempted to lift up my plate and finish off the broth like a soup after I was done with the scallop and cabbage. 

Third course:
Beef, beets, currants
This NY Strip angus was much more rare (and slightly chewier) than I usually prefer my steak, but I did enjoy the combination of the meat with the heat from the horseradish and sweetness from the beets. 

Cheese plate, $8
Similar to the bread, a cheese plate is offered at an additional cost, and you absolutely must order it. That day we were served a grated cheese from Hardwick, Massachusetts placed over sweet corn purée. This is definitely the most interesting take on a cheese plate I've ever experienced. There were kernels of corn scattered throughout the dish, and although the cheese was strong, the light and fluffy texture made for a good balance. We were told that this dish was a unique take on how people often prepare popcorn with sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. I'd take this fancy version over that any day.

Fourth course:
Chamomile, strawberry, olive oil
This ice cream had a ice-y, sorbet-like texture to it, and the dish was so unexpected and delightful. I love olive oil cake, but had never had olive oil in dessert any other way. This had my boyfriend talking about wanting to try replicating making desserts with olive oil at home. I doubt the outcome will be anything like this, though.

Fifth course:
Potato, blueberry
Another unusual spin on dessert. This dish was composed of potato mousse at the bottom, blueberry granita, blueberry compote, and potato chip crumbles. It was served very cold, and I thought the potato chips were actually mini ice chips because of the crunchiness and cold temperature. Absolutely incredible.

138 Orchard Street (between Rivington Street and Delancey Street)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 466-4633

*Only serves dinner. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Contra on Urbanspoon

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