My Good Eats Review: Ginger and Lemongrass, Whitestone, NY

Ginger & Lemongrass – Whitestone, NY (Queens/Long Island border)

May 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 5

This place is a hidden gem… and when I say “hidden” I mean freaking far…! Well for brooklynites – yes! For anyone w/o a car, impossible! It took us a good 1.5hr w/ minor traffic to get to… Whitestone, Queens… (the only time I would be jelly of my Queens peeps!)  – SO WORTH THE DRIVE!  #willtravelforfood

Ginger & Lemongrass looks misplaced, on a residential block, next to a no-name gas station… (Delta?!? What?! Idk… never heard of it before) but what a quint find!  I can only venture a guess – this used to be a 1 family home, turned to a restaurant.  The outside is unassuming, with its namesake in yellow and a few bar seats facing outside patrons through its window.

Once inside the cozy restaurant, the decor will welcome you with brightly painted mellow yellow steel chairs… and thick block tables.  Cute light fixtures and tiny pottery on the walls with self-serving utensils/chopsticks/menu/napkins – a side (bottle!) of sriracha & hoisin sauce.  The staff is very welcoming, attentive at times (we never got small plates for the spring rolls… my niece had to use double napkins on the bare table… a little germ will make you stronger, right?!?).

While Ginger & Lemongrass call themselves Viet-Thai fusion, I think their best sellers are the Viet items… actually it’s the infamous “Beef Pho w/ Marrow”… YES!!! It comes with a giant half bone “melt in your mouth” marrow!!! (Plan your visit now!).  While glancing through the menu – we knew at first sight what we were getting.

-Spring rolls (Pork version… ) although, I still prefer the traditional Vietnamese spring roll skin & filling, this one is good – too meaty for my taste, and the crispy Chinese spring roll skins was more greasy than the traditional skin.  My niece loved it!  Well she is 5… what kid doesn’t like fried anything? 😉  – $9
-2 Large Beef Pho w/ Marrow; comes with all the fixing (bean sprouts, jalapeño, cilantro, lime, basil, thinly sliced beef) – what’s different is that this broth is very rich, more than the traditional Pho, which is usually on the lighter side, it’s also a little more milky… and there are chunks of beef briskets!  I know!!?! And of course this giant bone marrow… roasted to perfection topped with a creamy well seasoned pesto…  mmm…  I literally had foodgasm.  Seriously. – $34
-2 Viet Iced-coffee w/ condensed milk – it’s the ONLY way to drink this…  – $6

Total bill $65 (tax & 20% tip included) – it’s definitely more pricey than your local Viet joint… but there’s no happy ending… LOL

Take a drive! #happyfoodhunting

My Good Eats Review: Xin Dau Ji, Hong Kong

Xin Dau Ji Hong Kong, China

April 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 5

 

My fellow Meat Eaters – Please bookmark this place & get your A$$ a reservation for their epic Suckling Pig!!!!  Like seriously – amazingly good.

So grateful that I have local friends who knows about these yummy eateries because a visitor like me, relies on Yelp or Google to find restaurant recommendations… Yelp is unfortunately NOT big in HK! (They use something call Open Rice – so MAKE SURE YOU DOWNLOAD that app for your Asia travel).  It’s quite hard to navigate beyond the touristy eats to find those local “gems” & delicious “hole in the wall”!

We had what I called a “pie in the sky” dinner here – everything was beyond delicious, none were disappointing – down to a simple hot clay pot sautéed spinach! Apparently the hot “clay pot” is one of their specialty besides their infamous “Suckling Pig”!  Lots of goodies cooked in a burning hot clay pot.

-Suckling Pig – freaking amazing, meat/fat/crispy skin ratio – perfection!
-Duck innards sautéed in sweet & soy concoction – NOT for the squeamish BUT great for foodie! Comes out looking like stir-fry noodles! 😉
-Clay pot Oysters – excellent sauce!
-Clay pot eggplant w/ fermented salted fish & chicken – So good – you will finish your whole bowl of rice!
-Clay pot baby lettuce – this was refreshing bc the baby lettuce heart is kind of bitter but sweet at the same time.
-Salt & Pepper squid – small plate – great snack paired w beer drinking or just eating!
-Fried fish filet with sweet corn sauce (this was really for the kids!)
-Egg white, Kai-Lah, dried scallop fried rice – Great texture, taste and balance to all the clay pot (which is heavy in sauce).

I feel like I’m missing a dish or 2!!! We were beyond full, satisfied and was in total food coma… for a party of 8, total bill $232 USD – not bad at all! (Considering the suckling pigs usually runs about $150 here in NYC).

The service was good, attentive, always changing our plates and never empty pots of Chinese tea!

Make this your next stop in HK for dinner! #HAPPYFOODHUNTING

My Good Eats Review: Chiu Fook Steam Stone Pot, Mong Kong, Hong Kong

Chiu Fook Steam Stone Pot Hong Kong, China

April 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 4
My first time having Steamed Hot Pot and it was amazing!!!


You can pick the seafood yourself or pick from a set menu.

I heard this is a new trend… while savoring all the sweetness of the seafood, the steam causes the seafood to sweat & dripped to the bottom of the casserole to make one EPIC pot of “jook” aka congee!!  Each seafood is set to a 3-4 min timer so it won’t be over cooked – your server will attend to each dish and serves it to you.

The seafood were all fresh, delicious and very yummy!  My favorite has to be the abalone and scallop – once cooked, dip it in a ginger zest & garlic soy seasoning. I added my own spin with hot chili oil, cilantro and hot pepper!  IT IS ABSOLUTELY DELISH! Mmm…

– Big Flower Crab (2)
– Razor clams (a dozen)
– Flower clams (a dozen)
– Little neck clams (a dozen)
– Scallops on shell (8)
– Tiger Prawns (8)
– Abalone (8)
– Chinese broccoli
– Seasoned Free Range Chicken (comes last)
– Abalone & Chicken innards for the jook (at the end!)

As we all know – seafood is expensive no matter which country you’re in, however in Hong Kong – it is still cheaper than the states!  I can’t even afford having abalone for dinner in NYC – let alone having it 3 nights in a row!  Party of 8, total bill about $275 USD – not bad considering all the delicious seafood we had!

The only reason why I gave it 4 stars – the service was just OK – we had a really good waiter but he had to take care of like 4 tables… not manageable when he has to meet a timer & run to each table. We had a 2nd waiter mid-meal and he wasn’t very nice – spills & splashes… ugh.  Pretty much ignored us and let us to serve ourselves at the end.  No worries – there’s no tipping in HK (it’s already included in your meal) – so no anxiety about giving them an undeserving 20% gratuity!

My Good Eats Review: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Central, Hong Kong

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Le Jardin) Hong Kong, China

April 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 5

I am a huge fan of this man… had the luxury of gorging at his namesake restaurant at the MGM in Las Vegas, Joel Robuchon.  I am usually skeptical of tasting menus… because I feel like it’s not innovative, more like what their “hits” were at their high point and now just a norm on their menu.  However at MGM – it was definitely a MUST for the tasting menu.

Here at L’atelier de Robuchon  – we did the “a la carte”… because our friends highly recommended a few must haves and felt it was a much better choice to splurge on a 3 course meal than the tasting menu; total bill $7722 HKD, roughly about $950 USD? Not bad for a party of 4.

We had excellent starters, the amazing King Crab salad and the Lobster salad, the beautifully sashimi Langoustines with Uni and finally the Foie Gras terrains – it was gorgeously presented and the balance of each texture was stimulating to ones palate. We shared the starters and it was a good choice.

The entrees – we went for the Guinea Fowl that comes with a giant piece of Foie Gras & baby fingerling potatoes… it serves 2 (technically it really serves 3! You have the whole chicken and it was served 2 sets, Chicken breast (white meat) and then the Thighs/Legs (dark meat).  It was so rich, robust with flavors and amazingly good – I wish I had an extra stomach!  Good thing we shared with our dining partners!  We also have the Uni Spaghetti w/ egg white foam; which was too rich for one sitting (said friend) and the delicious fried sweetbreads & seasonal veggies.

Desserts – we chose the HK “Dai Pa Dong” Milk Tea – it’s said to take over 20 mins to brew! We also got the cappuccinos, which came with a lovely coffee art of their name (cheeky!) and the deconstructed banana cream pie which came in a dome! Fantastic!  And of course their delicious signature soufflés (chocolate & vanilla)!

It was an epic meal! Cannot wait to return, hopefully in a year.  Highly recommend to anyone traveling to HK and looking to enjoy some fine dining! #splurgeworthy

PS: the Guinea Fowl is like a free range chicken (less fatty) – takes a long time to cook so be prepared for the wait.  Also I would swap out the Foie Gras Terrains – not as good as other Michelin competitors like Eleven Madison Park.

Happy travels!  #HappyFoodHunting!

My Good Eats Review: Yat Lok Restaurant, Stanley Street, Hong Kong

Yat Lok Restaurant – Hong Kong, China

April 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 5

Hey Food Travelers – Put it on your “MUST Eats in HK” list!!!

The best Roast Goose ever! And I’m usually a roast duck fan… what’s the difference you ask?  Roast duck is usually slightly “leaner” than goose (WHAT?! How?! I know!).  Also, I find roast goose to have a much more fragrant flavor over duck.  Yat Lok does not disappoint, the fat to meat ratio is perfect, the goose has a sweet linger flavor and when combined with their homemade plum sauce, your palate will implode in a good way!  Let the yumminess linger and take a sip of their lemon/sugar water… it helps to refresh your taste buds.

2017 Michelin Star – well earned!

Climb those darn hills, tiny walkable “sidewalks”… and watch your steps!

Tiny shop, all tables are up for grabs, share, squish, and Do Not Attempt to “hog” any space w/ your purse or murse…!   Don’t be surprise by the shouting… it’s a norm in HK, Cantonese is loud AF (in general… lol); there’s usually a long line, so come before the lunch crowd (11:40am got us 2 tables of 4!)

Menu w/ English and other specialty on the walls or be like me – just order their must eats!! –  order Roast Goose (can be order by 1/4 or 1/2 or whole!), Roast Pork (ask for half lean/half fat) over rice, over lai-fun, and chow down!

My Good Eats Review: Tim Ho Wan, Olympian City, Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan Hong Kong, China

April 2017

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 5

It only took me 5 years to return and do a rewrite.  I was very unkind in my original review potentially because my expectations were set too high and wasn’t met plus the 1hr 45 min wait time made me a very unpleasant customer.

This time around – expectations were still high and thankfully it was met with lots of good stuff!  So good, we went twice during our visit in HK! And practically had the whole menu!

 

Everything about this newer location is better – service was slightly nicer, more forgiving if you can’t read Chinese or speak Cantonese (luckily I can still speak the basics!), cleaner, and more spacious.

Tip 1: Tim Ho Wan opens at 10am – queue up by 9:30-45am, guarantees a table for the first seating.

Tip 2: Do not line cut! Hangry folks will tell you to get the eff off!

Tip 3: Cash ONLY (Cheap eats for Michelin Dim Sum!)

Tip 4: Paper menu & pencil on the table, mark the boxes with your quantity of choice (1 or 2) but ALSO circle them because during peak hours – the kitch might miss a few items.

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to ask “we are still waiting for such & such – can you please check?!”  – or else you’ll be sitting & waiting for quite some time…

The Goods: the list is long! Ha Ha
-Pineapple roast pork buns, Custard Buns (Modern China is better!), Pig Liver Rice Roll (churn fun!) – it’s a specialty!, Har Gaw (shrimp dumping), Watercress dumpling, Chiu Jo Fun Gor, Shrimp & eggwhite spring roll (must get!!!), chicken feet, the big glutinous rice in lotus leaf!

The Not Bad list – everything else on the menu is pretty good but I’ve had better versions of it elsewhere.  Like the “kuai fai go” – the medicinal tonic jelly, or steamed spare ribs, the Malaysian sponge cake, Shui Mai, or even the congee… slightly better versions at One Dim Sum, Jasmine Garden…

Bottomline – everything is worth a shot at your first visit! Enjoy the gluttony feast!

Thank you for reading this very long rewrite!  #happyfoodhunting!

My Good Eats Review: TAG, Denver

TAG Restaurant – Denver, CO (Larimer Square)

April 2016

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 4

As part of my annual conference musing, I’d always pick a #worththecalories eatery for my otherwise health conscious team.  Unfortunately because of the weather 3 of my team members couldn’t make it out to Denver.  Ugh… Snow!! & Lots of it!!   Glad we chose this restaurant over some chain (originally was going to hit up a steakhouse), and it was absolutely the perfect choice.

TAG Restaurant is located in a ‘fairy-light’ lined street with multiple boutique shops and small restaurants (almost like a restaurant row…) right next to & across from each other, in an otherwise empty street.  It’s probably because it’s still winter in Denver…

TAG inside:
Decor: open brick wall, booths in the front & back, with high/low tables, and a special 2 seater for the chef’s table.

Service:
We opted for a regular table (half booth/half seats).  Our waiter was awesome, made some recommendations and wasn’t pushy, which we appreciate because who the heck wants a hard sell over dinner?!?!  He was attentive w/o being over-bearing.

Drink: Mocktail – coconut soda! Mmm… it was surprisingly refreshing and yummy!

Food:
Appz: started w/ 1) wild mushroom gnocchi w truffle – this was so rich in taste and well balanced w the roasted garlic, the gnocchi was perfectly soft & chewy. 2) seafood potstickers – this was ok, I wasn’t too taken, the skins could be crispier, the stuffing lacked imagination for your taste buds… however the sauce was perfect! Tangy, sweet, & mildly spicy… I would rather have 2 portions of the gnocchi.

Main: NY strip steak w roasted rustic veggie, it was cooked perfectly at med-well with Asian inspired seasoning (aka soy dressing), coworker loved it.  I had their signature Miso Soy Cod – over edamame and baby sprouts.  I love white flakey fish when it’s cooked right.  This one was delicious, soaked in miso soy marinade before cooking certainly made it more tender, flakey and the edamame complimented the fish.


Closing out the night: deconstructed banana cream pie, over graham chocolate tart crust, banana cream custard, fresh bananas and torched caramelized bananas.  This dessert was very rich, might have been an over kill!  My coworker had Amaretto ice cream… Probably the better choice to end the night (after such a heavy main).   Like I said #worththecalories when traveling!

Happy feasting!

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