Tag Archives: NYC

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: Barrel & Fare, Park Slope

Barrel and Fare – Park Slope, Brooklyn

December 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3.5

It’s a bit off the beaten path away from your usual Park Slope eateries but it’s definitely worth a visit. Nice place situated on the corner, bar seating and cozy decor.

We did however missed out on Happy Hour $1 oysters. It’s from 4 -7pm every weekday, enjoy!

Now, here’s what we stuffed our belly with: Mini Lobster rolls (it was ok – kind of disappointing as the lobster to roll ratio was not proportion, too much bread, not enough meat), over-priced oysters (the shells were very dirty, assuming someone didn’t wash them clean or just bad shucking), short rib empanada (lackluster… sort of bland, as I would expect a more flavorful to the short ribs), Lobster Risotto (tasty & rich – small portion but worth getting), Stuffed Pork Chops (delicious and savory, good portion for an entree), and Seared Salmon (kind of boring – it was forgettable and that’s never a good thing), Brussels Sprouts and Truffle Fries (underwhelmed in taste).  Service was good and attentive, then again… We were the only dining patrons for most of the night… surprisingly for the holiday rush, no one came to dinner.

The menu is simple, some of the entrees packed a powerful punch… However, there are a few miss and would be a welcome opportunity for improvement.

My Good Eats Review: Parlay, Brooklyn

Parlay – Sunset Park, Brooklyn

February 2016

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

Such a cute little gem – SHOUT OUT TO BROOKLYN FOOD SCENE!!!  Recently had brunch here and would definitely return for a 2nd round.

While Parlay is nestled in a very quiet street near Sunset Park, it stood out among its neighboring worn-down shops with a clean design – all glass window and dark wood trims.  Some say it’s a trend movement to overtake the used-to-be low income hood with newly hipster bound tenants; but pretty sure some of my fellow Brooklynites welcome the changing landscape.

Self Service: order your food (the limited menu is written on the chalk board), if it’s to-go, take a seat & your cashier/server/barista will call for you; if it’s coffee, she will make it on the spot.

There are about 5 tables for patrons. We were eating in, so we placed our order, paid and took our seats by the windows.  Our wonderful cashier/server/barista brought our coffee & food to us.  Sugar/milk are self-serve right by the counter.

We got a latte & cappuccino, both came with a little foamy heart, never get bored of seeing this cute stuff!

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As for food: spinach & cheese omelette, a side of bacon, banana pancakes w homefries (over fruits, I’m a carb lover!). I loved my banana pancakes – it was perfectly sweet, balanced and not overwhelmed by the bananas, plus it was cooked perfectly fluffy with crispy edges!  My eating buddy enjoyed his omelette, it was well seasoned and not over powered by the cheese.  My fav though was the deliciously AWESOME Home-Freaking Fries! It was perfectly cooked – crispy all around but soft inside with loaded tastes of the infused peppers & onions.

IMG_Parlay3

The only thing I would change is maybe pull down the shades a bit… The mighty sun practically burned a hole in my back…!  Sit away from the window but kind of odd to stare out onto the empty streets.

I also noticed other patrons didn’t tip the cashier/server/barista – NOT nice you cheapo!!  She was the only on working and performed all 3 functions amazingly! So be kind to your multi-tasking cashier/server/barista! GOOD KARMA!

My Good Eats Review: OCabanon, Chelsea

OCabanon – Chelsea, NYC

December 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3.5

What a great find in an unexpected Chelsea area!

I was looking up places to have an early holiday lunch with coworkers nearby and stumbled here via Yelp! So thank you Yelpers!  We came with no expectations whatsoever because every time it’s a “fusion” type place, it just never ends well… This place had tapas with both French and Spanish influence on the menu… So safe to say it’s a fusion restaurant.

The decor is simple, silver metal tables with bar stool high chairs, and simple plate setting. Solo dining at the bar available or smaller tables upfront by the entrance.

We grabbed a table near the back as it was kind of chilly that day.  I actually liked the holiday touches with the miniature nut crackers at each table.

Service: slow but very nice, & at times funny! You’ll have to experience that for yourself.

Food: Beet salads (coworkers loved it! I’m not a big fan of beets… bleh ) escargot (must have!) in olive oil, butter & parsley baked to perfection, serve with crostini!

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Entrees: Salmon burger w/ fries, Roast chicken w/ mash & green beans, pasta w/ shrimps, mussels, and scallops.  Coworker didn’t like the salmon burger, but the pasta dish was good. Get the roast chicken – it’s tender, moist and flavorful!  Everything about the chicken was good, including the veggie pairing of green beans, definitely mash and baby carrots.  I was so full but somehow still managed to have a shared dessert.

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We ended our gluttony with a chocolate “xmas log”.  I didn’t like it but others did.  It’s a toss up!  Overall, good food, good service so I would come back and try other items.

 

My Good Eats Review: Madison Square Tavern – Midtown West, NYC

Madison Square Tavern – Midtown West, NYC

October 2015

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

My coworker and I walk passed this place so many times and decided to have lunch here one day.   The decor looks good, like a mature ‘bar’ place with museum-like painting on display.  Decent looking bar set up, so maybe it’s good for happy hour?

We came here for lunch and let’s just say we will probably not come back for round 2…

Food: We had the braised bacon (a big slab of pork belly meat, braised & served over beans and broccoli rabe), steak sandwich and risotto…  sounds good right? NOPE… the braised bacon was over cooked, the meat was chewy and sweet does not go well with bitter (broccoli rabe), I kept rinsing the after taste with water.  The steak sandwich was poorly constructed, lackluster in taste and flavor of any kind and left me hungry for a Mickey D’s Big Mac… yes, that bad.  OMG… how do you mess up risotto?!?!!  We were expecting a “rich, creamy, full of flavor” sensation to be served… instead we got, “watery, luke warm and bland”.   It looked like the risotto wasn’t fully cooked or maybe they rushed it or added too much stock?  It’s not thick at all… the stock was watery.  Disappointed.  We always try to finish our food and not be wasteful… but this lunch was extremely underwhelming and we just could not suffer through it.  We couldn’t wait to get the bill and leave.

Service: It started out ok – not busy so we got our orders in right away and drinks; however once our food is on the table, didn’t see the waiter much and took over 20 mins to get our bill… we just wanted to leave.  By the time we had finished our food, we kept waiting for someone to come by our table… I have no idea why no one was working the front tables.   We were just glad to exit this place.

Overall, not a cheap lunch, save your Benjamins and go elsewhere for great food!

My Good Eats Review: Jun-Men Ramen Bar, NYC

Jun-Men Ramen Bar – Chelsea, NYC

October 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3

I would give it an extra star… for the appetizers… cuz they were much more savory than the main reason you’re there (umm… ramen… in case you didn’t realize).  Been here twice, close to work and if you get there before the lunch crowd, guarantee a seat.  Very small location, simple decor, solo dining – at the bar area – great option.

1st visit – Pork belly buns with pickle, not a good combo – pork belly were WAAAY too fatty! The beige coloring didn’t help the thick chunk of pure fat glaring at me.  I prefer the traditional pork belly bun – either torched (like TOTTO) or braised to perfection (like Ippudo).  The pickle added no value whatsoever.  I took mine out.

Kimchi Ramen – this was good, mildly spicy (that’s generous… it has no heat whatsoever), with braised pork shoulder meat pieces and minced -Kim Chi (which I did not like… I rather have big chunks of kimchi, added texture to the ramen).  The broth was good – nothing exceptional.

2nd visit – Chicken buns (a little over-fried but good when you’re craving a higher quality McChicken…), Sweet Potato Fries – these were awesome, it was slightly glazed with maple sugar syrup and served mighty hot with some Japanese sweet mayo.

Wanted to try the uni mazemen, but they were out of uni… yes.. they were out of uni… their most frequently ordered dry ramen… at 11:40am.. they were out of uni.  It is the reason why I’m here so early… Seriously?!?!  Let’s just call it poor ‘logistics ordering’ or planning…  so I opted for the Spicy Miso…  it was bland.. not spicy at all… no miso taste.. the pork belly were not edible.. again, mighty THICK chunk of PURE FAT floating on top of my ramen…  I ate around it.

Overall, a decent ramen joint…  I would not wait in line for this… but would eat a quick meal here during the colder weather.  Otherwise, I would rather track up to midtown-west for Ippudo!

My Good Eats Review: TOTTO RAMEN, NYC

TOTTO RAMEN, NYC

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

August 2013 (WESTSIDE), & December 2014 (EASTSIDE)

I’ve eaten at their UWS location and wanted to see if the UES measures up… first off, this location is only slightly bigger than the W 52nd St location HOWEVER it makes a freaking h*ll of a difference in your wait time to chow down!  So yes, THIS was a definite PRO!! OK same deal – long line, cash only (c’mon most small establishment does that cash only protocol – can’t ding them on this people, you’re an adult – have cash in your wallet! ONLY excusable for Cali peeps… apparently they like to charge everything including a $2 coffee!)… we went on a regular weekday during lunch hour no less.. since it opens at 12, you have 2 choices – if you don’t want to wait 20-40mins – (1) be there by 11:45 to get in the 1st group of seating, I think they can accommodate 40 peeps compared to the UWS location. They have these communal tables that can seat 6 or 3 pairs of 2 or whatever they can configure.  Bar seating and table seatings.  Or (2) come around 12:55.. the 2nd wave have just finished and plenty of seating for you. We were at the 1st seating… no wait – once open.

Service is quick, efficient and no complaints what-so-ever!

Food: TOTTO Spicy Ramen (pictured) and Miso Ramen, just added the seasoned egg & Nori (TRUST ME, It’s worth the extra green!). We came for the noodle and the chicken broth but I love a perfectly cook 8 min egg, w a soft center but NOT runny!!  It was just as good as I remembered from the other location – I love ramen with a bit of kick to it. My lunch buddy was very happy with his Miso ramen – it came with a yellow wavy noodle vs. my flat ivory noodle. We both enjoyed our ramen – perfectly al dente, not over cooked like so many places.

TOTTO SPICY RAMEN
TOTTO SPICY RAMEN

Fair warning: you & your clothes will smell like chicken soup!

We also had the pork buns – meh… skip this for sure. The “Char Siu” is too dry, because they ‘torch’ those suckers and not fatty enough to balance the burnt vs. meat ratio – trust me I know my pork belly from years of eating them at home (Chinese families have been making those pork belly aka ‘Five Flower Meat’ for ages). Ippudo does this much better – hands down.

Overall, I still prefer Ippudo – the pork bone broth is much richer and sorry, but not sorry – I love a rich broth over any “cleaner” broth as some reviews pointed out. It’s like “let me order chicken at a steak house”…  You’re eating ramen!?!! Throw that wt watcher out the window!

Enjoy & Happy feasting!