Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve!

Sarabeth's West
423 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
(212) 496-6280

Good brunch, friendly staff members, and cute decor ♥ This is my third visit to Sarabeth's West and despite the usual wait (they don't take reservations), I was still as excited as a fat kid who is ready to dive into a 3 layered cake. Those who hate crowds however, should probably skip this place because I guarantee you, there will be a crowd with a wait of approximately 20 - 30 minutes. My favorite entrée, the Eggs Benedict w/ Salmon-- Irish smoked salmon and Hollandaise sauce, topped with peppers and chives--is the ultimate indulgence. I would also add that their waffles, buttermilk pancakes, and french toast spread with fresh strawberries and bananas are all equally delicious. I wouldn't recommend their omelettes though, as I did not recall anything special when I tried them on my first visit. My friend ordered "Sarabeth’s Famous Velvety Cream of Tomato Soup" - and trust me, it's equivalent to a whole entrée, their soup portions are huge and extremely hearty & filling. The soup tasted nothing like the common tomato soup was rich and creamy (yum!) and reminded me of lobster bisque w/ a hint of tomato after taste. Overall, I would say the service was adequate and the food was good and delightful, but not superb.

I still have yet to try "The Almond Encrusted French Toast"..which is only served on the weekends. Oh well, there's always next time!

Overall: 3/5

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ramen, anyone?

Ippudo NY
65 4th Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 388-0088

So my sis and I caught Ippudo's last opening day of the year (they will be closed starting tomorrow and until Jan. 3rd, 2010). The restaurant is creatively decorated -- with dried ramen underlain as tabletop decorations, fancy ramen bowls pinned on the wall, and an open kitchen that allows the cooking aroma to conveniently grab hold of hungry stomachs..this place feels more like a hip night bar than your usual Japanese restaurant.

I tried the Akamaru Modern and their "Special Ramen of the Day". Personally, I felt that both bowls tasted pretty similar, but I would prefer the Akamaru Modern due to the tenderness of the pork. Besides the meat, the egg yolk was the next best thing in the bowl: it wasn't too dry and the yolk really soaked up the strong flavor of the broth. The broth on the other hand, was great too, but a little too salty and oily. The greasy after taste was a little too much for me. However, the ramen itself (and probably the most important thing in the bowl) was chewy, and had a good thickness. The price is a bit expensive, though - $14 for a bowl of ramen.

The Hirata Buns looked great too, but we were too full to try more.

Ramen Rating: 3/5

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first!"

Mike's Pastry
300 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742-3050

My sis and I took a trip to Boston last weekend and instead of going to lunch first, we drove straight to Mike's Pastry (woohoo!!) Located in the North End, the Italian neighborhood of Boston, Mike's Pastry is one of the most popular dessert destinations my friends and I would go to during our college years. Most of my friends love their cannoli, but I'm not sure if I feel the same way..their cannoli tends to be pre-filled and thus, it can be soggy at times (ew). So far, my favorite is the whoopie pie (mind you, it's 2x the size of a normal whoopie pie) and the cream in the middle is just oh-so-fluffy and not sickly sweet. Their almond macaroons are also a plus.

The place isn't a wallet breaker either: 2 macaroons, 1 whoopie pie, 1 boston cream puff, 1 chocolate cupcake only cost me $7.00! Btw, Mike only accepts be sure to bring lots and lots of it when you visit! :D

Overall: 3.5/5

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"I want my oysters and pearls!!"

Per Se
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9335

My very first visit to a Thomas Keller restaurant and I must say..I was very, very impressed. Thanks to my generous bf, I was able to "taste a piece of heaven"...seriously. I don't know how else to word it. I'm not an eloquent writer so saying that my dinner meal was "sooooo good" would be an understatement.

I visited Per Se 3 months ago, and even still, I can remember each dish vividly. The service was excellent..which made me wonder if I was in another city; the staff were way too nice to be new yorkers! We sat in the bar area while we waited for our table to be ready, and I ordered the delicious and refreshing punch rum while Andy chose his usual red wine..(don't remember the kind). That same night was also the day Per Se re-earned their 3 Michelin they celebrated by offering everyone champaign!

The restaurant itself is small and cozy, and fits approximately ten tables in total (which probably explains why people have to make reservations 3 months in advance) I loved our table, which was big enough for five people and had a window view of Columbus Circle. I was taken by surprise when the waiter went overboard and gave my handbag a stool to "sit" cute! We decided to go with the Chef's tasting menu which included 11 dishes + 3 side dishes. Each dish was not only dangerously tasty, but artfully plated as well - it was just. so. perfect. My favorite two courses of the meal were the "Oysters and Pearls" (The caviar was generous, and one of the first dishes presented to us- a wonderful way to formally begin the meal) and the "Terrine of Hudson Valley Moulard Dock Foie Gras" (ahh, I get hungry just thinking about them) In addition, I enjoyed the first appetizer: salmon cone w/ cream cheese (?) unsure exactly what it was but it was heavenly!! I don't think Andy and I talked at all during the entire meal. We were like a broken record that just kept repeating the words, "so good, soooo goooodddd..."

I also loved the fact that the waiters seemed to read my mind (kind of like a twilight thing! haha!) The waiters were genies in a lamp: my glass was always filled, my bread was always warm, and they were always at my disposal whenever I needed a picture.

By the 13th dish, I was so full that I wanted to change into a XXL jumpsuit and just lay ontop of all the food. I tried to take a bite of every complimentary Per Se chocolate that the waiter offered us but my stomach was just too full to try every single one. Since I had classes the following day, we finished our entire meal in 2.5 hours (compared to the usual 4 hrs)...we really stuffed ourselves that night...but we left satisfied :) At the end of the night, we also received a bag of Per Se sweets which included a variety of chocolate covered cookies. I love goodie bags! Overall, Per Se definitely deserves its 3 Michelin stars. Although extremely pricey, I hope to go back again to try their donut and coffee (time to bribe the bf!)

Overall: 5/5 (the ultimate "FOODGASM"!!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Diamond in the Rough

Mahzu Sushi Bar and Restaurant
624 W Main St
Norwich, CT 06360
(860) 889-8288

All I can say is...this sushi restaurant saved my life. Initially, I thought this was going to be another one of those very cheesy "americanized" asian restaurants; but to my surprise, it was completely authentic! While the restaurant looks shabby and plain on the outside it is in fact, very cozy and welcoming when you step inside-- with waiters and waitresses greeting you left and right. The indoor decor of the restaurant is still very cheesy...but that's besides the point. Located in Norwich, CT (aka:the boonies/in the middle of nowhere) this place has saved my poor tastebuds (MANY times) from the lack-of good food that I missed so much during my short stay in Connecticut.

I've tried a variety of their sushi rolls and all of them were delicious - specifically, the dragon, unagi, and soft shell crab rolls. One of the best dishes they make is the Ten Don w/ rice..I haven't tried a Ten Don that is fried so close to perfection. This place is decently priced and the best deals are their lunch specials. Compared to some of the other fast-food sushi restaurants in NYC that are made too hard to chew, Mahzu sushi is fresh and made right on the premises. Go here on Sundays for all-you-can-eat sushi (only $18.99)-- for the ones with a bottomless appetite ;)

Overall: 3.5/5 (the extra .5 for making my year-long stay in Norwich somewhat more pleasant)

"I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert!" - Jason Love

Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 462-2572

If not for Sex and the City, I wouldn't have known about this place! In all honesty though, I think the bakery is overrated. There are so many other mom & pop stores around NYC that are 10x better than this commercialized bakery. The store on Bleecker street is always packed - so if you are looking for a place to start a heart to heart conversation, this is not the place to be. Besides, they don't even give you the option to's a grab-n-go kind of deal. I wasn't too impressed with the cupcakes either (perhaps the red velvet can pass), but the main reason I am blogging about Magnolia is not because of what they are known for (cupcakes) but because of the store's Banana Bread Pudding - which is probably the best dessert inventions, ever! Personally I love banana and bread cake...who knew that mixing the two would be so heavenly?

Warning: too much of the pudding can result in sugar overdose, so it is suggested to consume slowly, and preferrably with a glass of milk :)

Cupcakes: 2/5 (Sorry, Carrie Bradshaw, but I would have to disagree with you on this one)
Banana Pudding: 4/5

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