Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food-away to NYC!

It's really nice having NYC be a bus ride away--there are so many amazing amazing eats and it feels like this city is eating at every hour.  Isn't it great when GOOD food doesn't close at 9! or 12 or 2! or 4 a.m?!  After work on Saturday 2 weeks ago, we hopped on the uber cheap Mega Bus to meet up with some friends in NYC for a food-away.  What happened 4 hours later can only be described as EPIC FOOD GLUTTONY allll nigght longgg!

(I apologize in advance for the photos--there were lots of snap and eat moments.  No artistic food porn here.)

Between the hours of 7pm and 4am, the following places happened, in my mouth. 

1. Porchetta: sammich place

The first and last time I had one of these was in Siena, Italy (2005) during a street festival.  The skin was thin, crispy and crunchy, the meat rolled up with herbs, tender, and juicy--all between a rustic baguette.  Sigh..it was wonderful..=)
Why that face you ask? The italian guy in the middle was grabbing my ass!  He's lucky both my hands were full with delicious meat and wine!

 To this day, I seriously still daydream about that very sandwich.  So imagine my utter excitement when Will (our old college friend aka food/bar guide who's been living in NYC for 6 yrs?) took us by this place!

Behold the porchetta sammich:

Verdict: meat--juicy! flavor--good!  But it's way too expensive ($10) for a dinky sandwhich AND most importantly, where's my crispy skin??! The skin didn't render out all the fat so it was chewy!  Still, it's better to have porchetta in your life than none at all =(.

2. Ippudo: ramen joint

The line here is always LONG.  Get there 2 hours early (seriously), put your name down, get the Ippudo App on your smart phone, and they'll notify you when your table is ready.

While waiting we headed around the corner for some octopus balls...(no, octopus does not have actual balls)

3. otafuku
 - combo B, takoyaki - "octopus ball" & Okonomiyaki (potato/cabbage shrimp pancake)

Hole in the wall, no seats except for the bench outside.  It happened to also be crazy stormy that night so we all huddled under our umbrellas trying to poke at these balls with plastic forks.
mmm....they were ok...The balls had a lot of batter with very little pieces of squid inside..and the pancake was never my favorite to begin with.  Dammit, a waste of space!

BACK at Ippudo with time to spare.  What to do...but order beers and pork belly buns at the bar!
These pork buns were tender, a tiny bit salty, and had the right amount of color and char-ness served with iceburg lettuce.  I didn't appreciate how good these were until I had another version at Momofuku later...


What we ate:
-Shishito flash-fried japanese peppers with yuzu salt.  I was really ready to hate them but Will insisted that they're his and the restaurants most favorited item.  They come out hot! Tastes slightly bitter, and really yummy dipped in yuzu salt.  Such an awesome little snack.  Finally a non spicy pepper I like!

-Akamaru modern ramen, Spicy miso ramen, and another order of Pork buns please!
There was so much more on the menu I wanted to try!  I also heard their chicken wings were good!

4.  Crif dogs: for deeeeeelicious weiners!

Go here!!

Reason 1, 2 and 3: Good Morning (deep fried bacon wrapped weiner with melted cheese + fried egg),  Chihuahua (deep fried bacon wrapped weiner with avocadoes and sour cream), deep fried CRISPY tater tots! YES YES YES! 

Even AFTER several meals, and self doubt that you have any inkling of stomach space left, I stillll recommend this place.  So I unbuttoned my pants, and we came in for at least a bite..or 2..or 3...

Reason # 4: an unassuming phone booth inside a little hot dog shop with a SECRET door to a SECRET swanky swank BAR through the phone booth!

Go in the booth, pick up the phone which activates a secret camera.  If you're cute, the bartender on the other side will let you in.  If you're ..not so cute...you're just a dork standing in a phone booth. 

Hehehehehe Albert tried and couldn't get in!  But the girl did!!!

If anything, the cheap deep fried weiners here (that surprisingly tastes clean and not greasy) tastes great and people watching to see who's rejected by the secret bar God behind the phone booth is fun!

/;5. Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

Ok, come on..how can I not get ice cream from a place called Big Gay ice cream shop!!!
Albert's head hurts from flavor overload !

I had to try the Salty Pimp (vanilla icecream, dipped in chocolate, injected with salted caramel and then sprinkled with freshly ground sea salt)!

OooooOo..not a fan...Well can't say we weren't warned...it was SALTY.

6. Kasadella -

-tebasaki wings (crispy lightly soy ginger garlic flavor wanggs are my weakness!!)
-beef salad with garlic chips (yuuummmm!): but too salty!
-OooOO! Chicken skin cracklins!!  I've never had chicken rinds before and dipped in yuzu sauce no less! GOOD!
-My plum wine with club soda: could have been sweeter but I love anything w/ fizzz!
-Grilled Squid Legs: I always get so excited when I see this on the menu but not a lot of places do it well.  This place was not an exception..it was rubbery and tasted really fishy...

7.  Summit bar - for dranksssss
I don't know much about alcohol and only drink occasionally but this bar was packed crowded with locals and had some amazing drinks on the menu.  Will recommended the:
-Guv'nor: Yamazaki 12 Year Whisky, toasted cardamom infused agave, Japanese yuzu, fresh orange juice
& I got the the Governess which is the same thing but made with Russian Standard Vodka. 
I ended up really liking the Guv'nor better.  Who knew I rather sip on whisky than Vodka!

They also cut their own giant squared ice cubes--cute!  My attempt to put the whole thing in my mouth failed..

8. Meatball shop -

At this point, we were beyond full--except for cow whale pig George NG who "could go for a couple of balls!!!". 
Will:  These meatballs are AWESOME when you're drunk.  But what's so awesome is that they taste good even when you're NOT drunk!  SOLD! Lets go!

Now, lets get real serious about THESE meatballs for a minute...Nobody's gonna re-invent the meatball (unless you count crusting it with bacon then deep frying it and injecting it with some cheese).  I'm talking about classic moist and flavorful meatballs.  Sounds easy enough but so many places overdo it, overdry it and mix all kinds of crap I don't want in my meatball.  I just want "NAKED BALLS!!"

MMmmMMmm! in a spicy classic tomato sauce (!!!) and pesto (!!!)
WHERE else can you get amazing meatballs at 2: 30 a.m??  God I love NYC!  This place was still buzzling and alive with hungry ball lovers!

9) Last stop--Halal cart somewhere in East Village to eat back at Will's place.  I had all of 3 bites left of stomach space in me.  I can't resist a good spicy halal cart!

Ready to chillax on Will's roof with a spicy (!) chicken and lamb plate.
(p.s. I love you NYC..but I can't imagine living with these apartment stairs with no elevator, the trash...on a hot east coast humid afternoon..? yikes!  Lets just be food friends)

I love summer nights with good friends and good food =)
Thanks Will for letting us stay with you and for showing us the good eats!!!

Why not brunch into lunch?

1. Clinton Street Baking Company:

A very crowded, very busy, and very small local brunch favorite!
Mmm...90-120 minute wait.  We'll get a text when our table is ready!  Time for boba!

Storm be-gone!  Hello beautiful sunny sunday morning!
I love NYC's chinatown--so crowded and alive! 
Kung Fu Boba to get the stomach rolling...

Oooh only 1.5 hours wait!  We were buzzed and summoned for brunch!
The prize, the must have: fluffy, airy pancakes topped with blue berries and maple butter.  Albert, Christine, George and I were debating ordering a second stack...They were so light!  Deeelicious!

The weird one colored yellow omelette with mushroom and monterey jack cheese was scary to look at...Real eggs don't look like that!  the accompanying hash brown though? On point!  Crispy on the outside and full of pillowy mash on the inside!

Potato pancakes: I feel like I should love potato pancakes..but I don't.  But these weren't served savory style but with a sourcream apple sauce and the crispy outside makes it irresistable!
mmm...I could go for some more of these soft pillow bites right now..

Since we all shared everything we had a teeny bit of space left for our last meal in NYC, RAMEN!!!  It is the only responsible thing to do (the things I have to do for this blog *smh*)--to compare the other hyped up ramen place, MOMOFUKU (home of my beloved pork bun recipe that I tried a few blogs ago) to Ippudo.
On the way there we saw this giant turtle on the sidewalk... just chillin' w/ his lettuce

2. Momofuku Noodle Bar - for pork buns, momofuku ramen, miso ramen

Eh..wasn't impressed.  We came in at lunch--the place was crowded but there wasn't a huge line--ding ding ding #1. 
Pork bun: No crispy char, no flavor..bordering BLAND!  Pickled cucumber..bland...Why you effing with my pork bun momo!?! Why!

Ramen: no fatty murky broth.  The broth felt really healthy.  Except one flavor stood out above the rest: salt!  It was very salty!

Ippudo wins!!!

And that, in a gut-shell was our food adventure in less than 24 hours!  Thank you for reading!!!

See you NYC for more delciousness in October!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

George and I went home Labor Day weekend to mainly visit my sister who recently had a seizure.  These scary moments jolt you out of your every day routine and comfort.  It reminds you to stop being so absorbed with your own life and not to take loved ones for granted.  Living so far away, it's easy to forget this.  So we flew back to spend some wonderful quality time with friends and family.  I wish we had a chance to meet up with everyone, but as usual, so little time.

It also happened to be Cal's first football game that weekend in the newly built stadium.  Timing worked out--from Oakland airport straight to campus for the game!  Sigh...nostalgia!  I've missed this place dearly.
My old apartment with a landlord who smoked weed all the time!  My old dorm room!!!!  Oh to be broke college nerds again...

AAAAHHHHH!!!!! I've waited YEARS for this!!! TOP DOG!!!!! Oh the sweet succulent spicy glory!  You were exactly how I remembered--grilled to perfection where the hot dog skin just pops as you bite into it.  Who does not love a place where on Halloween, the cooks cook NAKED. 

GO CAL!  We cheered, we sang...we still lost b/c our quarterback is stupid but who cares! I had a blast (and got super burnt!).  

We met up with my family afterwards and treated everyone to what else, CRAB!  Pham-ily grubbing time at PPQ.  Crab + Phams = very happy gluttons.
Another reason why I miss the west coat--DUNGENESS CRABBIES!

I get my love of food and buffets from these two crazies--thanks mom and dad!

These garlic noodles--so garlicky and buttery--I wanna rub them all over my face while stuffing them into my mouth!  
And this is why we're friends--Jacky took his noodles and mixed it with the crab guts RIGHT in the shell!  GENIUS!

Really good fruit mousse cake for mine and george's birthday!! =D Thanks Evelyn!!!!

Still a tiny bit of room for boba and crepes....oh so burnt...

Family dinner #2 in Concord.  It's not a family get together unless there's a whole roast pig.  Thanks Ma!!!
My uncle also made papaya salad--and manually grated the papaya himself!  They do know how to make a girl feel extra special for coming home! =)

Yes that's right, this is how we've done since Vietnam!! We throw down on the floor! 
I love being asian sometimes!

Oh hey, shirt twinsies =D

Waterballoon fight!!

Oh Boogs...Bwaahhha

Weapon refuel!!

Birthday dinner back in the city at our old favorite Japanese place!  Thanks guys =)!!!

And for dessert, WINGS and Purple Kow boba (thanks helen!!)!  They're so damn good!
If I'm in the city, if I have any breathing room left, I'm getting San Tung WINGS--hands down YUMS!

BRUNCH in the Castro!

We had to park in front of "Rock Hard" and we HAD to buy something to get change for the meter.  It isn't brunch w/out BJ poprocks first! 

Jamal + Violet Burton Class of 2001...tawww....=)

OoooOo colors...

After brunch was ..a small snack at Ike's Place--number 1 Yelp rated place to get a sammich!!!

Unfortunately, my last day in the city was quite a hoot!  After brunch some idiot 22 yr old chic was lost and on her cell phone. turned when she had a red light and totaled my cousin's car.  She at least repeatedly said "omg, it was totally my fault."  A-w-e-s-o-m-e!  Luckily we all got out ok with minor neck pain!  PLEASE, do not text and drive on the road!!!

Last meal before we catch our red eye back to D.C--at Pakwan Pakastani and Indian Restaurant (deeelicious!) in my old ghetto project neighborhood where I used to run through dark alleys on 16th and Valencia.  I had no idea it's now a swanky swank hipster up and coming neighborhood!  There goes my street cred...

I'm so grateful and happy everyone was in good health and spirits.
Eat well, live well, and please drive safely everyone!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Glasses!!

I'm stuck wearing glasses foreverrrrrrrrr so I might as well scream it on top of the world--I got TWO new pairs of glasses!!!  This is literally like Christmas morning to a four crossed eyed blind child!  Thank you to my cat who knocked my old glasses on the floor, unbeknownst to me running around in the morning, and stepped on them.

I went for SIX whole days without being able to see--good god.