Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweets Endeavor

Magnolia Bakery


'Magnolia Bakery', located at 401 Bleecker Street and W. 11th Street in New York's West Village, is cupcake heaven. Not only that but their Red Velvet mini Cheesecakes are to die for. I love Red Velvet so the first cupcake i went for was their red velvet with vanilla cream frosting... it was good but i think cream cheese frosting is way better. There are tons of flavors to choose from and each one has its own distinct charm.
Mini Cheesecakes
Georgetown Cupcake
There are people on the sidewalk lined up for cupcakes everyday... no surprise! a whole tray full of them disappeared before my eyes in a matter of minutes. Some of the crowd favorite flavors are German Chocolate, Devil’s Food, Hummingbird, Caramel, Banana and of course Red Velvet. Other than cupcakes you can find the most amazing Carrot Cake and their Banana Pudding is also worth trying. But if you are looking for quality cupakes then the place worth mentioning is 'Georgetown Cupcake' also known as 'DC Cupcakes', located in SoHo at 111 Mercer Street (between Spring and Prince street). DC stands for 'Designer Cupcakes' and its the name of the TV show about 'Georgetown Cupcake' and its owners, two sisters who quit their jobs to follow their passion to make cupcakes. The signature cupcake here is the Classic Red Velvet with vanilla cream cheese frosting topped with a red fondant heart. I also loved Toffee crunch which was delicious, but was disappointed by their Chocolate Ganache cupacke which was heavy and tasted more like a cake than a cupcake. The best thing about this place is that they use the best ingredients which is why their cupcakes are packed with flavor... love them. A good cupatea! and a cupcake to go with it, can really make my day yummylicious. The only other thing that comes close is Frozen Yogurt... hmmm maybe my next blog post should be about that!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Simple Pleasures of Life

The Italian Way... Few people know how to live a quality life... the Italian's definitely are an exception. Enjoying a cup of coffee without looking at the watch a hundred times, or taking time to finish a meal savoring every bite... all heighten our day to day experiences to a different level. I'm not a big fan of Italian food. I hardly ever opt for Pizza or Pasta... even though i do enjoy a good Risotto every once in a while. But I am a big fan of Italian desserts... from Tiramisu, Cannoli's to Gelato or Italian Chocolate, i love it all. Nobody does desserts better than the Italians. The place i have to mention is 'Eataly' which sounds similar to 'Italy'. Located in New York's Flatiron district at 200 Fifth Avenue, this place has everything Italian under one roof. It spans over 50,000 square feet with five different restaurants serving Pasta, Fish, Pizza and everything Italian you can think ofIt is also a marketplace where you can find everything from the best quality olive oil, tomato sauce, homemade pasta, meat, fish.. even sun dried tomatoes and fresh baked Italian bread. Those who love to cook can find great cookbooks from famed Italian chefs like Mario Batali and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, who also happen to be the owners of 'Eataly' along with Oscar Farinetti and Joe Bastianich. The original Tiramisu at 'Eataly' is just incredible... and if you have it with their rich Hot Chocolate the experience will have you coming back for more every time. The line for Gelato is always long so be prepared to wait, but trust me it will be worth your while. Better than 'Little Italy' in a way!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Seafood in Boston

Union Oyster House
Located on the Freedom Trail in the heart of Boston at 41 Union Street, its walking distance from the nostalgic Quincy Market, which happens to be a food court haven. The decor of this restaurant varies with one room dimly lit having mystery and drama, to another flooded with daylight, oil paintings and old fashioned light fixtures. I enjoyed this atmospheric diversity as one can choose the setting of their meal based on their state of mind. Since I was there for lunch and feeling airy i chose to sit in the sunlit room. With the reputation of being the oldest seafood restaurant in the country, est. in 1826, this place had a lot to live up to in terms of quality. I was disappointed by the corn bread and butter served before the meal. The bread was fresh but lacked flavor. However the main dish was to die for. The seafood was cooked to perfection, especially the scallops were just divine. The sauce was rich and creamy, one could easily tell the chef didn't hold back on butter and cream, because the feeling of being full comes after just a few bites. After such a heavy lunch green tea becomes almost a necessity. Overall i would give this place seven out of ten for food and six out of ten for atmosphere, which means i will definitely be coming back.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thai food to Junior's

Pad Thai, anyone?

Pad Thai epitomizes Thai Cuisine... but most people will argue that there is much more to Thai food than that. I agree! but with experience i can say (with a lot of conviction) that if a Thai restaurant fails to serve a decent Pad Thai, then the rest of their food ain't worth trying.. Period! With this in mind i put every Thai restaurant to the "Pad Thai Test". Only those that clear this test can earn my patronage. A recent casualty was Taan Thai, located at E. 31st street between Madison and Fifth Avenue. The words "no flavor... no soul" almost never come to mind when describing Thai food... but that is exactly what i thought about the Pad Thai at Taan. What a disappointment!

Cheesecake! saves the day...   

I never let the taste of a culinary mishap have the last word! Almost instantly my mind comes up with a sure shot winner. So after Taan i caught the train to Times Square and made my way to Junior's, located at 1515 Broadway. Junior's is one of my father's favorite restaurants, and i love their Cheesecake. Thai food and cheesecake don't go well together but i just had to please my palette with the best dessert. The original New York style Cheesecake at Juniors is simple, creamy and oh so delicious.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Asian Inspiration


Mandoo Bar
Handmade Mandoo
A recent episode of CNN's 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' was filmed in LA's Koreatown, and the fact that Korean food is not as well known as other Asian cuisines was discussed as the host tried a variety of delicious looking Korean dishes. I decided its time for me to dive into trying Korean food as well. So i took the train to Herald Square and walked down two blocks to New York's Koreatown, which stretches itself on W. 32nd Street between Broadway and Fifth Ave. My first stop was at 'Mandoo Bar', i think the ladies making handmade dumplings in the window is what made me try out this place. Mandoo are dumplings in Korean cuisine, and in Mandoo Bar they serve them with pickled radishes, which i think is an amazing combination. The dumplings are very dry so the radish chutney not only adds the much needed sauce element but tons of flavor as well. Not sure if I'll go back to this place, but it was definitely worth a try.
New York Kom Tang
Haemul Jjigae
Korean Side Dishes
Next i headed to 'NY Kom Tang'. Their Seafood Stew (Haemul Jjigae) was just what i needed. The texture of tofu in a well balanced broth was really pleasing to the palette. The seafood in the stew was catfish, octopus, shrimps, clam and squid. The octopus was a little overcooked and rubbery in texture, otherwise I had no complaints. In Korean Cuisine every dish is served with an overwhelming number of complimentary sides. With my stew i got seven accompanying side dishes each with a distinct flavor ranging from sweet to sour. These include Kimchi (vegetables fermented in vinegar) and Japchae (glass noodles stir-fried with chopped vegetables). These sides along with white rice add depth to the Stew and make a simple meal look like a feast... definitely two thumbs up!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gourmet Fast Food

  Shake Shack

Located in the heart of Madison Square Park, near the corner of 23rd Street and Madison Ave. Although this place serves "Fast Food" the waiting line is so long that it might take up to an hour or two before you can get your hands on it. One day I saw at least a hundred people already in line around six pm. Suzanne Vega was performing a free concert at the park that night so i guess it made sense. The best way to avoid the line is going at an odd hour, like around three or four pm. Keep your iPad handy or read a book while you wait. This place is famous for their crispy Burgers and crinkle Fries, and now that summer is in full swing their Shakes and Lemonade are perfect to quench the summer thirst. Overall a different fast food experience because the burgers taste very gourmet. I also recommend their Concretes, the best thing is that you can mix in flavors and design your own. Take a book along, find a quiet corner in the park to read, and enjoy your meal...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mood for Mediterranean


Ravagh Persian Grill

If you want quality Middle Eastern food in New York then Ravagh is place to go. This humble Grill is located at 11 E. 30th St (between 5th & Madison Ave)... which is walking distance from my place, so I eat there a lot. If you were not familiar with this restaurant you could walk past it without even noticing it. The sign is small and unattractive.
The building looks grim and ignored but once you step inside the staff is very professional and efficient... something i don't expect when the exterior is so bland.
What this place lacks in aesthetics it definitely makes up with the food it dishes out. From the usual Persian appetizers like Humus or Babaganoush to the more exotic Mirza Ghasemi & Burani Bademjan, and entree's like Lamb Shank or Kobideh with Cherry Basmati or Dill Rice... you will find the experience totally satisfying and heart warming.
The essence of good Middle Eastern food lies in the balance of spices, which never over powers the taste of the meat. Its simple yet not very easy to master. I've had food at many (yes many) middle eastern restaurants and have never gone back, needless to say the food has been terrible. This is why im always on the look out for a great Mediterranean place so that every time I have a craving for Persian food i don't have to face a culinary disappointment. I first discovered Ravagh in 2008, and every time I come to New York this is one of the first places I visit... it never disappoints.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


  Taste Trip Down Chinatown, NYC

Chinese food is one of my favorite cuisines. So going for a taste tour of Chinatown is a must every time I come to New York. Walking down Mott Street is a visual treat, you almost forget you're in Manhattan.. the smell of Asian food is in the air as you walk along the street full of small shops and restaurants and people sitting on the sidewalks reading Chinese newspapers. Among these little shops is the fascinating Aji Ichiban or "Munchies Paradise", located at 37 Mott St.

Aji Ichiban

This shop is a little candy treasure box, packed with all kinds of sweets and savories in clear bins. The store has a open tasting policy so you can try all kinds of strange flavors and treats like dried spicy squid and roasted eel and banana chips or pickled plum.

Aji Ichiban

Once you come out of this candy wonderland one cant help but get tempted to get a foot massage (a must for me) before lunch. In my opinion it can be the best appetizer. For lunch i strongly recommend 456 Shanghai Cuisine, located at 69 Mott St. Don't let the simplicity of the exterior fool you.

456 Shang Hai Cuisine

Great food, from dumplings to stir-fry, everything was delicious. It may look like just another restaurant, but trust me as far as taste is concerned it is miles ahead of the others. I shared the table with a retired UNDP officer from Hong Kong. The conversation we had made me change my views about Japan forever.

Fish, Szechuan Style

After lunch a walk down Canal Street can be refreshing.
On the weekends fresh fruit and sea food is abundant on the streets. Fresh lobster and crab
look at you with "buy me" eyes.

Sea Food Market

Along the streets you can find small stands selling all kinds of tasty delicacies. I find the smell of street food irresistible... fried shrimp, scallions or 5 dumplings for only a dollar. In the end I opted for something sweet.
Sweet Chinese Mini Cakes


Eating my mini cakes i made my way to catch the train back to Chelsea! As I was walking a strange fruit caught my eye. Hmmm wonder what it tastes like. Maybe I'll find out next I visit!

Dragon Fruit