What Charmin Bears Love: Food|Dogs|Sephora

Our foodie instincts take over when we're out and about.

NYC: Clinton St Bakery

12.08.12
Clinton St. Bakery @ 4 Clinton St.

A Michelin recommended and award winning restaurant down in the lower east side. Known for their fluffy Maine blueberry pancakes, served morning and night. This place is usually packed with loyal customers, willing to wait an hour plus for these pancakes.

Clinton St. Bakery - Blueberry Pancakes

Clinton St. Bakery – Blueberry Pancakes

Luckily, my date decided that it was smarter to go when they reopened for dinner around six. We didn’t need to wait and sat immediately. Unfortunately, the first pancake I ate had a long hair in it. I pulled it out of my mouth and was immediately turned off. Appetite was gone at this point. Disappointment because it was suppose to be an award winning pancake. Boo.

Clinton St. Bakery - Sugar Cured Bacon

Clinton St. Bakery – Sugar Cured Bacon

Foursquare recommended sugar cured bacon. A fantastic choice! Salty and sweet, bacon at it’s best.

Clinton St. Bakery - Eggs Benedict

Clinton St. Bakery – Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is my go to order for a breakfast meal. It was simply, at most average in taste. Bland because I had to add salt and pepper. I’ve had better elsewhere. I did like the use of their homemade biscuits.

Clinton St. Bakery - Hot Apple Cider and Biscuits

Clinton St. Bakery – Hot Apple Cider and Biscuits

Hot apple cider and homemade biscuits. Cider was a disappointment. They didn’t even fill my cup all the way. The foam made it to the brim so I thought there was alot more in there, in actuality, not even half way. Hot was an understatement. It was warm with a huge dash of cinnamon. It tasted like it was poured right out of a store bought jug. The biscuits were good tho. Not too greasy or salty. But definitely soft, flaky, and fluffy. I ate two! Love the intimate size and atmosphere of the place. But it could be a little overrated now that I’ve been here. I will try the pancakes again, maybe if I’m in the area. Server didn’t asked me or the other tables if we needed anything else or how our food was. The water was refilled at proper times throughout the night.

– Charminbear J

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New York City: Latin Cuisine

Flor De Mayo @ 2651 Broadway

10.1
Known for their Chino Latino fusion food, Flor de Mayo has been a very popular restaurant in the Upper West Side for quite some time. They are almost on a wait, especially on a rainy day. After volleyball, I had the pleasure of dining with Anu and Charles. Since I was a newbie in the area and on the volleyball courts, they showed me a few favorites from this local spot.

Flor de Mayo - Beef with Watercress

Flor de Mayo - Beef with Watercress

Beef was tender and seasoned correctly. Watercress is a very common vegetable used in Chinese cooking. Portion size was pretty large. Delicious simple dish.

Flor de Mayo - Shrimp with Oyster Sauce

Flor de Mayo - Shrimp with Oyster Sauce

Yum. Shrimps stir fried with onions in oyster sauce. Another dish done well. I love how the shrimps weren’t small in size. Each was juicy, plump and cooked right. One can easily overcook shrimps if added too early.

Flor de Mayo - Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken

Flor de Mayo - Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken

One of the best rotisserie chicken I’ve had since moving to NY. Skin was seasoned, crispy. Chicken was tender, moist, juicy. No wonder why everyone raves about the Peruvian style chicken! Must try if you ever visit Flor de Mayo.

Marisco Centro @ 1490 Saint Nicholas Ave
10.5
B.Chu came to visit me at work. We went to a local seafood joint, on recommendation from my co-worker.

Marisco Centro - Fish Soup

Marisco Centro - Fish Soup

This bowl of soup was not specifically ordered by us. I think they gave it to their customers for free. I didn’t really like it. There was bits and pieces of fish, scraps and bones in there. Who knows what else was thrown in!

Marisco Centro - Calamari

Marisco Centro - Calamari

Disappointing. This dish of calamari was hard to stomach since it was tough to chew and lacked any type of seasoning in the batter. The red tomato/marinara sauce was bland and watery. Shakes my head!

Marisco Centro - Stuffed Fish with Shrimps

Marisco Centro - Stuffed Fish with Shrimps

I really thought this dish had potential. I was thinking, what a great concept! Again, it fell short with seasoning. Fish was cooked right and shrimps was deveined nicely. I just wished it had some kick to it.

Maybe it was us ordering the wrong things on the menu, but if you’re going to specialize in seafood, at least keep everything seasoned! Service was okay. They were helpful in recommending items, but I will not be heading back here. EVER.

Prohibition @ 503 Columbus Avenue
10.21

After a day of volleyball, the folks went over to eat at Prohibition, a very popular bar and lounge restaurant with free live music. They offer American style fare and since I ordered the quesadillas, I decided to include them in this Latin cuisine post. Prob one of the best seasoned quesadillas and steak I’ve ever had since I’ve moved to NY. I love the sour cream and hot sauce presentation on top. Servers were also attentive and friendly. I will definitely return to try their other dishes.

Prohibition - Steak Quesadilla

Prohibition - Steak Quesadilla

Q’Kachapa
1552 St Nicholas Ave (between 187th St & 188th St)
10.26

Cachapa is a traditional Venezuelan ground corn pancake filled with cheese and meats, similar to arepas and yo yos. The little restaurant just opened recently and have been doing well. Fresh, homemade, and seasoned well, the place offers many types of pancake sandwiches for your taste buds. My co-worker Will helped me out with the food descriptions. So many choices! So many questions! In the end, I ordered the yo yo with grilled chicken. It was delicious! Included was a sweet plantains fried dough batter sandwich with lettuce, chicken and a spicy mayo type of sauce. I’ve eaten arepas before, and this yo yo doesn’t even compare in terms of taste. Messy to eat, but is simply amazing. Definitely need to come back to try a different sandwich. The workers were nice, but the food took a little longer than usual to cook.

Q' Kachapa - Grilled Pollo YoYo

Q' Kachapa - Grilled Pollo YoYo

Washington Heights and the Upper West Side offers a sea of choices for anyone willing to explore their palates. Everywhere you turn, there is an eatery. Can’t wait to sample other types of new cuisines!

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: Hillstone Revisited

Hillstone @ 153 E 53rd St.

10.18

For Mund’s birthday dinner, a bunch of his friends had a tradition of going to Hillstone to eat, bringing a few bottles of select wine and just enjoying the night with close friends. I was just happy I got to tag along. The servers were attentive and complimented on the group’s selection of wine, saying how often she sees people bring cheap bottles of case wine =X. I know they’re ballers and that wine was expensive.

Hillstone - Caesar Salad

Hillstone - Caesar Salad

Started off the night with Caesar salads. It’s ribbons of romaine lettuce tossed with a creamy Caesar dressing, rustic seasoned croutons, and grated Reggiano cheese.

Hillstone - Flying Tuna Salad

Hillstone - Flying Tuna Salad

The flying tuna salad, pan seared tuna, field greens, mango, and a miso vinaigrette. I think presentation would of been better if the vinaigrette was left on the side. The plate looks a bit messy with it drizzled over. For the price of $26, you’re getting what you paid for – quality chunks of seared fresh tuna. I’m not even sure we finished the salad part.

Hillstone - Crab Cakes

Hillstone - Crab Cakes

Two saute├ęd crab cakes, at $34…I’m starting to think it’s too overpriced. However, when you get two large crab cakes full of meaty lumped crabs, very little binder, seasoned with a popular French Pommery mustard sauce, you won’t regret paying every penny. It even comes with a side of shoe string fries too.

Hillstone - French Dip

Hillstone - French Dip

Ahh, my Famous French Dip sandwich. Hands down the best shaved prime rib sandwich. Tender, juicy beef sandwiched in a buttery French roll. I want the secret recipe to this au jus!

Hillstone - Sole Fish

Hillstone - Sole Fish

Fish special tonight was a sole fish on top of mash potatoes made with olive oil and chives. The fish was coated with bread crumbs and pan fried, dusted with parsley on top. Firm and flaky on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Overall, it was a light, tasty fish.

Hillstone - Hawaiian Rib-Eye Steak

Hillstone - Hawaiian Rib-Eye Steak

The Hawaiian Rib-Eye Steak is marinated with soy ginger. It was a popular choice amongst the crowd. Tender, cooked on the medium rare side and served with your choice of side. We ordered a few of these just so we have enough to go around. It’s what they order every year!

Hillstone - BBQ Ribs

Hillstone - BBQ Ribs

Finger licking good! These BBQ Ribs was also one of the first dishes to be cleared. The meat was flavorful and fell off the bone. Served with shoe string fries and coleslaw. A definite recommendation if you’re ever here.

Hillstone, formerly known as Houstons has been one of my favorite NYC restaurants. There are two locations, the other one on 378 Park Ave South. I’ve been to the E 53rd location a few times. I love the French dip sandwich so much, I had ordered it to go. A delight to my taste buds. Definitely go back again!

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: Soup Dumplings Battle

9.4
Joe’s Shanghai @ 136-21 37th Avenue, Flushing
I were in the mood for soup dumplings. Since I was in Queens, the only place I knew was the popular Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing. I’ve been to the Chinatown location (9 Pell Street) a few times as well. This restaurant is always bustling. The minute you sit down, not even settled in yet, a server would ask you if you wanted to order any soup dumplings. They gotta crank them out asap! Some find it annoying, but to me, it’s just the way they do business.

Joe's Shanghai - Soup Dumplings

Joe's Shanghai - Soup Dumplings

Honestly, I don’t know why people love this place! It’s such a tourist trap. My take on their soup dumplings: overrated! Maybe they were better when they first opened, but quality has definitely gone down since they’ve expanded. Compared to Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown, they weren’t even plump. They looked like “saggy boobs” to quote my date. Also, skimping out on soup in soup dumplings and bad presentation makes me hesitant on going back! The only good thing about their buns was the flavor of the pork/crab filling.

Joe's Shanghai - Shanghai Fried Rice Cakes

Joe's Shanghai - Shanghai Fried Rice Cakes

The fried rice cakes were delicious, just a bit on the oily side. I always order a plate of these when I come here. The other item on the menu that I’ve also ordered before, but forgot to take a photo was their scallion pancakes. Crispy, oily goodness =X I really can’t expect much more from a Chinese restaurant.

10.8
Shanghai Asian Manor @ 21 Mott St

From a friend’s suggestion, I took my visiting sister and brother to try the soup dumplings here. Place looks decent. Clean and old school Chinese decor. Great attentive service. They would even change your dirty plates in between meals!

Shanghai Asian Manor - Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings

Shanghai Asian Manor - Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings

These crab and pork soup dumplings were scrumptious. Presentation was nice. Soup was tasty and meat was flavorful. Definitely must come back to try these plumpy soup filled buns again.

Shanghai Asian Manor - Shanghai Style Rice Cakes

Shanghai Asian Manor - Shanghai Style Rice Cakes

The rice cakes were also yummy. Good seasoning and I love how they threw in bok choy. Really can’t go wrong with rice cakes, unless you forget the salt/soy sauce. I like how this dish wasn’t too oily.

Shanghai Asian Manor - Sweetened Walnut Prawns

Shanghai Asian Manor - Sweetened Walnut Prawns

I wanted to try these since they visually looked appealing on the menu. However, they fell short. These sweetened walnut prawns had too much condensed milk, but lack the savory aspect. It was runny and the shrimps weren’t coated well. I’ve had better elsewhere.

Shanghai Asian Manor - Young Chow Fried Rice

Shanghai Asian Manor - Young Chow Fried Rice

A common recipe on young chow fried rice. Carrots, peas, scrambled eggs, ham, scallions, and baby shrimp. Nothing really spectacular, but at least they made it with day old rice, because you can taste and feel each grain on your tongue. That’s my favorite part.

All in all, soup dumplings really has been around for awhile. I’ve been addicted to them since I first tried them. There are lots of other soup dumplings out there to try. My favorite will always be Shanghai Cafe. They just do it right every time.

– Charmin Bear J

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Brooklyn: The Farm On Adderley

The Farm On Adderley @ 1108 Cortelyou Road

The Farm On Adderley - Breakfast

The Farm On Adderley - Breakfast

The Farm On Adderley had rave reviews from Yelp reviewers who have eaten there. Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn has many small quaint restaurants that are very popular. So, I figured I give it a shot. I went for a quiet Saturday brunch with Tommy. I ordered the Sausage & Eggs for a value of $10…kinda expensive for breakfast =X I guess they were boasting how delicious their housemade breakfast sausage, but honestly it wasn’t that good. There was a bitter aftertaste that even water couldn’t clear my palette. The decor was nice inside. It screamed comfort foods. Server was nice and attentive, but there wasn’t alot of people eating inside. I probably wouldn’t return since I can have brunch in the city that taste better, for similar prices. What I like about this restaurant is that they promote local farms and shops with their fresh produce and meats.

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City and Brooklyn: Vietnamese

V-Nam Cafe @ 20 1st Ave (btw 1st and 2nd)

10.2
I was coming off the subway, walking towards St Marks for brunch. I quickly walked by a small cafe that made me turn back around. The aroma of pho drew me in further to look at the menu. Traditional Vietnamese cuisine in the Village? A rarity!… but I checked it off as a place to try. I searched Yelp and it was 4 stars with great reviews.

V-Nam Cafe - Traditional Banh Mi

V-Nam Cafe - Traditional Banh Mi

After brunch I walked back to grab a banh mi to go. Hands down, one of the best banh mi sandwiches I’ve had in NYC. I’ve gone back to try the pho too! Tucked in the Vietnamese deli meat is a yummy portion of cha siu meat, very popular here in NYC. There is also julienned daikon and carrots. Jalapenos are optional :) My only gripes about this place: no toaster for that crispy bread texture and not even using the right roll for an authentic banh mi.

Thanh Da @ 6008 7th Ave (between 60th St & 61st St)
10.2

Located in Sunset Park of Brooklyn, Thanh Da is a small authentic Vietnamese eatery with stellar reviews, from Yelp to Times. There was a big fly buzzing around the tables while I was eating. Gross >.< Food is always delicious, but I always question the cleanliness of budget friendly Asian restaurants.

Thanh Da - Rare Beef and Meatballs Pho

Thanh Da - Rare Beef and Meatballs Pho

Pho is one of the most popular choices in Vietnamese cuisine. This bowl of pho had a great aromatic broth made from a combination of beef bones, star anise, coriander, and cinnamon. Noodles and condiments are good. I always get the rare beef and meatballs so I dip them in hoisin/Sriracha sauce.

Thanh Da - Bun Rieu

Thanh Da - Bun Rieu

Another bowl of noodles I almost always order is bun rieu, a tomato-crab based soup. I’ve only had really good bun rieu in Brooklyn. The broth was a little sweet from the tomatoes, savory from the crab and shrimp. Other ingredients include fried tofu. Delicious! Light in broth but packs alot of flavor! The chunks of crab and shrimp cake (sometimes made with ground pork) is my favorite part.

Thanh Da - Banh Beo

Thanh Da - Banh Beo

Banh Beo was introduced to me by Charmin Bear T. It literally means “water fern cake” in Vietnamese. It’s usually made of rice flour in a small dimpled pancake form. The center is filled with mung bean paste, scallions, dried shrimps, fish sauce. Sometimes you will find fresh shrimp, fried shallots, rice vinegar, and oil fillings too. Super yummy as a snack or as a meal. I need to learn how to make this dish too! The ones here at Thanh Da are soft and scrumptious. Of course I had to pack them up to go. I always order so much.

Finding great tasting Vietnamese cuisine is not an easy task. One day, these dishes will inspire me to create my own version and maybe for Charmin Bear T to try.

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: Momofuku Ramen

Momofuku Noodle Bar @ 171 First Ave. (between 10th and 11th Sts.)

10.1
Met up with Becca, Diane and their significant others this weekend for ramen in the East Village. We decided on Momofuku’s since we didn’t try David Chang’s infamous ramen yet.

Momofuku - Pork Buns

Momofuku - Pork Buns

I do apologize for taking a bite out of the pork buns before I took a pic. I was too hungry =X for these pork buns. Enveloped in fluffy steamed buns were the ingredients of pickled cucumbers, green onions, sweet hoisin sauce, and a slab of juicy roasted pork belly. Seasoned well, the pork bun was a hit among the group. It is priced at $9 for 2 buns.

Momofuku - Brisket Buns

Momofuku - Brisket Buns

We also tried the brisket buns, made with horseradish, pickled red onion, and cucumbers. I thought it needed some more sauce, but overall the brisket was delicious.

Momofuku - Rice Cakes

Momofuku - Rice Cakes

For our other appetizer, the roasted rice cakes was also a hit, at least for me. Made with juicy brisket, broccoli rabe, and fried egg, I enjoyed this dish since it was packed full with flavor. I was pretty full by the time ramen came to our table.

Momofuku - Miso Ramen

Momofuku - Miso Ramen

Becca ordered the miso ramen to try since everyone else got the original ramen. The miso broth had great seasoning. It has smoked chicken, seaweed, swiss chard, green onions, a soy egg and lots of sesame seeds. Definitely something different.

Momofuku - Original Ramen

Momofuku - Original Ramen

The original Momofuku Ramen contained pork belly, pork shoulder, fish cake, nori, green onions and a poached egg :) I thought the soup was mediocre at best. I didn’t have a craving like I did when I tried Ippudo’s broth. This one is less rich, less dense, less salty in general. Maybe Chef Chang was going for a simple, lightly seasoned broth.

 

Overall, I feel like Momofuku was hyped up by a celebrity chef and people wanting to try a “new” spin on old traditional Asian flavors. Price didn’t justify quality/taste in this case. Unfortunately, I won’t be returning for pork buns or ramen, since I can’t justify the prices here. Ippudo’s is so much better and I am willing to shell out money for their ramen.

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: OTTO

OTTO Pizzeria @ 1 5th Ave (between Washington Mews & 8th St)

9/28
Having met Ivan during speed dating, I found him super attractive, fun, and talkative. On my first date with him, he took me to OTTO! I’ve been here twice before, but when I didn’t start blogging yet. Great company + yummy food = awesome night!

OTTO - Cheese Dips

OTTO – Cheese Dips

Started off with a variety of cheeses and dips. Cherries, honey truffle oil, apricot were the three dips that came with the cheese plate. My favorite, was the honey truffle oil. I love honey in general. Honey combined with truffle infused oil elevated the flavor of honey. Apricot and then cherries, in that order after. I’m not a fan of the fruit types, but these definitely helped add a dimension of flavor to the cheeses.

OTTO - Cheese Varieties

OTTO – Cheese Varieties

Aged Peppercorn, Goat (middle right): Goat’s milk is much more similar to human milk than to cow milk. Goat cheese is one often preferred over cow cheese. As one of the earlier dairy products made, goat cheese is usually heavily brine and salted since refrigeration was limited. This version is lined with peppercorns, which is my favorite part. Goat cheese itself was creamy and delightful.

Pecorino di Fossa, Sheep (top left): One of the many favorite cheeses used in Italian cooking. This cheese is rich in flavor and golden in color. Even the aging process is unique and traditional! The cheese is wrapped in cloth and buried inside caves underground. From mid August up til late November, the cheese will have aged and been deformed in the process. It is dug up during the holiday of Santa Caterina.

Ricotta, Cow (bottom): The texture of ricotta reminds me of cottage cheese. This is because whey (a lowfat, liquid by-product of the cheese making process) is used to make ricotta. Ricotta curds is creamy and white in color. Highly perishable and slightly sweet, ricotta is a popular cheese to use in Italian cooking. Goat and buffalo milk are the other variations, but the American made ricotta cheese uses cow milk.

OTTO - Fusilli con Sausage and Escarole

OTTO – Fusilli con Sausage and Escarole

This is my favorite pasta dish at OTTO. It is perfect. Made with garlic, escarole and sweet Italian sausage. One taste of this corkscrew shaped Fusilli pasta will have you going back for more.

OTTO - Pepperoni Pizza

OTTO – Pepperoni Pizza

Another one of my favorite entrees here. The pepperoni pizza’s crust is thin and crispy. Made with tomatoes, spicy salami, cacio (Italian for cheese) and mozzarella. Amazing taste profile. Another perfect combo of quality ingredients.

I love the atmosphere here. It’s a pizzeria, but at the same time, it has touches of fine dining. From decor to superb service, Mario Batali’s OTTO is a definite recommendation for my friends who come to visit NYC.

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: Cha Chan Tang

Cha Chan Tang @ 45 Mott St (between Pell St & Bayard St)

9.29
After a Mary Poppins Broadway show with Tommy, we decided to head to Cha Chan Tang for a late night snack. Being that is was my first time in this restaurant, I didn’t know it was that close to Teariffic! I love the decor. It’s modern and clean, very different from the dirty old Chinese eateries. They even have monitors with a never ending clip of busy streets and people of HK. Charmin Bear T already came here before she moved to LA. Her post is mainly on the entrees, which I have yet to try =X

Cha Chan Tang - Green Milk Tea with Pearls

Cha Chan Tang – Green Milk Tea with Pearls

The green bubble milk tea here is not bad. They have a station stocked to make drinks in the front. The only thing I would change is the sweetness of the boba. It was a little bland.

Cha Chan Tang - Imitation Shark Fin Soup

Cha Chan Tang – Imitation Shark Fin Soup

Supposedly, this is the soup you can find in street vendor stands. Tommy has been to HK many times and said htat although it’s good, it’s not the real imitation shark fin soup found in the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Maybe it’s HK tap water vs NY tap water =P

Cha Chan Tang - Curry Balls

Cha Chan Tang – Curry Balls

Hmmmmm, I can eat 2 bowls of curry balls. This snack has a mix of different meaty balls and fish balls. Curry is smooth and light and it coats well on these balls.

Next time I come back, I’m going to try the rice dishes. Since it’s open til very late at night, I foresee myself eating more often. Service and snacks so far are good!

– Charmin Bear J

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New York City: BAK Korean Kitchen

BAK Korean Kitchen & Craft Beer Hall @ 11 E 13th St between University Pl & 5th Ave

9.20
I visited David at work in East Village one night and decided to grab some dinner across the street afterwards. It was a relatively new restaurant. There was not alot of people when we walked in, but the atmosphere was nice and spacious. Service was friendly and attentive.

BAK

BAK

Miso Soup, kimchi, potato salad, bean sprouts were the side dishes or banchann served before the actual meal. Miso soup was generic. Kimchi was good. I didn’t care for the bean sprouts, but the potato salad was the best side dish served. Seasoned well and addictive.

BAK - Kimchijeon

BAK – Kimchijeon

Kimchijeon is a relatively easy appetizer pancake to make and it is a very popular dish to order. Made with crispy rice flour, spicy kimchi and scallion. It is usually served with a side of soy sauce for dipping.

BAK - Bulgogi Bibimbap

BAK – Bulgogi Bibimbap

Bibimbap is another popular rice dish in a hot stone pot. An assortment of pre-cooked seasonal vegetables (spinach, cucumbers, carrots, nori, bean sprouts) sits on top with marinated beef bulgogi and an over easy egg. Sesame oil and soy sauce are drizzled on top as well. Gochuchang, a hot pepper paste is usually mixed in for an optional taste at the table. The rice is usually crispy on the bottom from the hot stone pot. The beef bulgogi is marinated well in this dish. David ate the whole pot of food. I don’t usually order bibimbap because it gets me full too fast!

BAK - Kalbi

BAK – Kalbi

I almost always order a meat dish with a side of rice. The marinated sliced Kalbi grilled with onions, carrots, peppers, scallions, and pine nuts was absolutely mouthwatering. Beef was juicy, tender and marinated well. The pine nuts was the special ingredient that helped pulled in the flavors and textures. It worked really well with the rest of the ingredients.

– Charmin Bear J

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