Archive | March, 2009

Asiate

24 Mar

Asiate

Rating: ★★★★☆
80 Columbus Circle, 35th Fl, New York, NY 10019
Website
(212) 805-8881
Price: $$$$
Nearest Transit:
59th Street (1, A, C, B, D)
57th St-7th Ave (N, Q, R, W)
Facebook // Foursquare

Asiate is located on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It has, without a doubt one of the most spectacular views of the city, it overlooks central park. With that said, it’s a very romantic restaurant with a soft and sensual ambiance that conveys privacy at every table. One recommendation is to skip the booths, which are pushed off in the corner and opt for a table by the window (if you grab one) or even the middle where you get the feeling your floating above the city. The service is on par with any other restaurant of this caliber and the food is a good blend of French and Asian cuisine.

I had lunch at Asiate during restaurant week and it’s definitely one of the better deals for restaurant week. For $25USD you get a three course meal that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert with a wider array of selection. Outside of restaurant week, they have a ongoing prix fixe lunch for $24.08USD that includes your choice of an appetizer and entrée from a very selected menu. Their dinner menu includes both a three course prix fixe ($85) and a tasting menu ($125) that includes suggested wine pairing ($75).

Off the restaurant week’s menu, I had the nori risotto, wagyu beef strip loin with smoked potato purée, and a saké bellini for dessert. None of these dishes were breathtaking, but for 25 bucks to eat a satisfying meal in an environment as amazing as Asiate, it was well worth it.

I plan to return to Asiate with my significant other for either their three course prix fixe or tasting menu, so I can try a wider selection of what Asiate has to offer.

Asiate
Wagyu Beef strip loin, smoked potato purée, braised short rib, oxtail-yuzu koshous

Asiate
Saké Bellini

Asiate

Asiate

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Aquagrill

24 Mar

Aquagrill

Rating: ★★★☆☆
210 Spring St (btwn Ave Of The Americas & Sullivan St), New York, NY 10012
Website
(212) 274-0505
Price: $$$
Hours:
Mon-Thu, Sun 12 pm – 10:30 pm
Fri-Sat 12 pm – 12 am
Nearest Transit:
Spring St (A, C, E)
Canal St (1, 2)
Houston St (1, 2)
Foursquare

Aquagrill has the distinction of being the number one brunch in Zagat NYC for the last six year running, so I had to try their brunch. I went with a rather large group (8) on a Sunday and it was extremely hard to get reservations, I had to book two weeks in advance but I’m glad I did. The restaurant is located on the quieter side of Spring street (Soho) and the atmosphere is very lively. The staff is very attentive and friendly. They serve various styles of fresh breads that are baked on premises and have a wide variety of quality seafood from around the world. Their creative use of quality seafood in their dishes are unique and simply delicious. For bunch they also serve non-seafood, traditional brunch dishes (french toast, sausages, etc.) as well as heavier dinner plates and sandwiches. I had the daily omelet special, fresh Maine peekytoe crab meat with a side of hash brown potatoes and ratatouille. It was best omelet I have ever had. Their dessert however, is only sub-par and if given the choice I would recommend skipping it. With that said I tried the chocolate tasting plate, coconut panna cotta, and caramelized mango tart because my guest insisted on ordering dessert. All three were only OK and nothing to talk about, especially with a $9 average price tag. Overall, brunch at Aquagrill was good. Next, I need to try their raw bar and dinner menu.

Aquagrill
Challah French Toast with Cinnamon Apples, Bacon or Sausage and Pecan Butter ($11.50)

Aquagrill
Roasted Casco Cod with Wilted Spinach, Baby Artichokes and Caper Beurre Noisette ($22.50)

Aquagrill
Grilled Salmon BLT with Bacon, Arugula and Tomato on Homemade Ciabatta Bread with French Fries($11.00)

Aquagrill
Caramelized Mango Tart with Mascarpone Cheese and Macadamia Nut Brittle Ice Cream with a Mango Sauce ($9.00)

Aquagrill
Chocolate Tasting Plate with Warm Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Mousse and Milk Chocolate Ice Cream ($9.50)

Aquagrill
Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango, Pineapple and Papaya and Passion Fruit Sauce ($8.50)

Aquagrill

Aquagrill

Aquagrill

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

15 Mar

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen or CPK as we all like to call it serves creative pizza with influences from around the world. Now, you can find all that goodness of the restaurant in your grocer’s freezer. CPK has introduce a grocery line that includes Crispy Thin Crust, Self-Rise Crust, and For One. Each style has a number of flavors from their restaurant menu and take no more than 20 minutes to prepare (remove packaging and pop it into the oven). The taste comes close to the restaurant. My favorite among CPK’s grocery line are the Self-Rising Crust BBQ Chicken, Thai Chicken, and Five Cheese & Tomato. They retail for $3.50-$5.95 depending on the style and can be found at popular grocers around the US. I get mines from Target here on the east coast.

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

California Pizza Kitchen Grocery

Pret A Manger

14 Mar

Pret A Manger

Rating: ★★★☆☆
135 W 50th St, New York, NY 10020
Website
(212) 480-6458
Price: $$
Nearest Transit:
47-50th Sts-Rockefeller Center (B, D, F, V)
Twitter // Facebook // Foursquare

Pret A Manger is a British sandwich cafe that serves fresh “grab and go” sandwiches and salads. They have 19 locations (as of 14 March 2009) strategically place around midtown as well as a handful of branches in Hong Kong and Singapore. Their sandwiches are exceptionally good, while their salads are the best quick grab salads you can find in midtown. They also serve fresh soups, hot wraps, and pastries. Seating is subject to individual locations, the branch on 135 W 50th St has a good amount of tables including a number of loveseats. Pret A Manger is one of the better and more healthy cafes to grab a quick breakfast, lunch, or afternoon snack.

Aroma Espresso Bar

11 Mar

Aroma Espresso Bar

Rating: ★★★☆☆
145 Greene St, New York, NY 10012
Website
(212) 533-1094
Price: $$
Nearest Transit:
Bleecker St-Lafayette St (6, B, D, F, V)
Twitter // Facebook // Foursquare

Aroma Espresso Bar is a European cafe that has a real chill atmosphere. They serve a very diverse line of beverages from lattes and cappuccinos to loose leaf teas and ice/frozen delights. All beverages come with a complementary piece of Aroma Chocolate. My favorite is their homemade lemonade ($3), with the exception of their latte of course. They have amazing sandwiches that can be purchased by portions [half ($4) or whole ($8)]. My usual is their health sandwich, which encompasses grilled portobello mushrooms, basil, alfalfa sprouts and a thick sun-dred tomato spread out on fresh baked whole wheat bread. I have yet to try them, but they also serve fresh soup and salads. They have two locations (upper west & SOHO) that have ample seating with free WiFi. Food and drinks can be purchase through their web portal for pickup or delivery ($12 minimum). This is a great place for students to study at or entrepreneur who need to get out of the home office.

Aroma Espresso Bar

Aroma Espresso Bar

New Totowa

10 Mar

New Totowa

Rating: ★★★★☆
421 Broad Ave, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
(201) 592-7020
Price: $$
Hours:
Mon-Thu 9 am – 10:30 pm
Sat-Sun 9 am – 11 pm
Foursquare

Totowa is one of the better Korean Restaurants in Palisades Park. Their management, however has recently been changed and they have been re-branded as the New Totowa. Under the new management, they still provide a fair amount of side dishes and their potions remain very large (for me at least). Their pork cutlet and spicy rice cake (duk bokki) are among the best in the area and their friendly service is what keeps me coming back. This is definitely a place worth try if you’re ever in the area.

New Totowa

New Totowa

New Totowa

New Totowa

New Totowa

New Totowa

Myung Ga Tofu & BBQ Restaurant aka Light House

9 Mar

Myung Ga Tofu & BBQ Restaurant

Rating: ★★★★☆
261 Broad Avenue, Fairview, NJ 07022
(201) 941-0104
Price: $$

Light House is a Korean BBQ house that specializes in tofu soup, but I found their BBQ and tofu not all that impressive. They are Ok, just not the place I would run to if I wanted some BBQ or tofu. Their octopus stone pot rice on the other hand is amazing. It’s well flavored with Korean spices and their portions of octopus is very generous. They also serve a good amount of ban chan (side dishes) and their food is MSG free.

Myung Ga Tofu & BBQ Restaurant

Myung Ga Tofu & BBQ Restaurant

UCC Cafessa

8 Mar

This venue is closed.

UCC Cafessa

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
595 River Road (in the Mitsuwa Marketplace), Edgewater, NJ 07020
Website
(201) 941-9113
Price: $$

UCC Cafessa is part of the of the UCC Coffee family of coffee shop concepts. They are renowned in Asia for their premium, siphoned coffees and delicious Euro-Japanese fusion food. They don’t have many locations in the States, but I happen to run across one while shopping at the Mitsuwa Marketplace in New Jersey. It’s located towards the main entrance on the far left. There are shuttle bus available from New York City at a fee.

Although they’re a renowned coffee shop, it’s the food that made we want to try this place. Like many Japanese cafes, UCC Cafessa has plastic replicas of their dishes for customers to preview prior to purchase. When I came across this place, I still haven’t had breakfast yet so the green pan cake seem like the ideal dish to try. From the plastic replica, the pancake looked soft and fluffy and not overly sweet. The actual pancake was nothing like the plastic replica (see pic below). It was hard and dense, the red bean topping was way too sweet, and size was nearly half the replica. Their coffee might be good, but don’t come here for the pancakes!

UCC Cafessa

Calbee Sapporo Potato Vegetable Cracker

7 Mar

Calbee Sapporo Potato Vegetable Cracker

This is a Japanese vegetable flavored potato chip that is no different from any other vegetable flavored potato chip on the market. It doesn’t taste like a real vegetable, but it does taste like a vegetable flavored chip. If you’ve had a veggie chip before, you know what I’m talking about. It has a strong oil flavor that’s not over powering and a unique tastes that’s difficult to describe. From the package alone it seems as though this is a health snack, but in fact it’s the opposite. It’s heavy on the carbs and fat, which is no different from any other Japanese chips on the market. It’s worth trying if you’ve never had a veggie chip before. You can find a pack at your local Japanese/Asian Market.

Dumpling House aka Vanessa’s Dumplings

7 Mar

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Rating: ★★★★☆
118 Eldridge St (btwn Broome & Grand St), New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-8008
Price: $
Hours:
Mon-Sun 11 am – 11 pm
Nearest Transit:
Grand St (B, D)
Bowery (J)
Delancey St (F)
Facebook // Google+ // Foursquare

The Dumpling House has one of the best deals in the city, for less than eight bucks you can feed yourself and a friend. They serve both fried and boiled dumplings that range from $1-4 depending on the type, quantity and if you add soup or not. Their Beijing style buns are exceptionally good and range from $1-1.50 depending on the stuffing. They are fried and have a crispy bottom layer. Their sesame Pancake is also a crowd favorite. These are sandwiches topped with sesame seeds that have various stuffing (egg, roasted beef, pork, peaking duck) and they range from as little as $0.75-2.25. The Dumpling House also offers tasty soups, noodles, cold dishes, as well as a host of beverages.

My usual is an order of chive & pork fried dumplings (4 for $1) + pork fried buns (3 for $1) + sesame pancake with roasted pork ($2). For $4 bucks this is an amazing deal that is sure to leave you stuffed. What’s better is the Dumpling House recently under went renovation, so it’s a lot cleaner now and they have 6-7 tables of proper seating in addition to your window counter-top. Be warned, this place does get busy, especially on the weekends, and you may have to wait a while if you want a seat.

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings

Vanessa’s Dumplings