Sunday, May 26, 2013

Grocery ! I Mei's Pearl Milk Ice Cream Pops

I found these at the 99 Ranch Market in Plano yesterday.  I wonder if they have always been in Asian grocery stores, and I have just been SLEEPING AT THE GROCERY CART WHEEL, because it combines my two favorite loves in life in one very portable package.

I mean.  Pearl milk tea.  As a popsicle??

How would that work?  How is that even possible??!

I stared hard at the package through the frosted freezer door at the grocery store, until I could stand the wait no longer.

I rushed home and ravaged the package immediately.  As you can see, I could not even wait to take a picture until after I stuck my giant chompers through it.

It did indeed taste like a cold cup of pearl milk tea !  The right side has a subtle, slightly bitter tea flavor with bits of chewy pearls, and the left side is sweetened milk, and together, it is simply magic.

I love these.
I hope you try them and fall in love too !

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dallas ! Emporium Pies and KlydeWarren Park

More Dallas restaurant cuteness pops up everyday !  

A jaunt with the nieces to the Bishop Arts district found us at the cute Craftsman-style home of Emporium Pies.

As we drove up, I noted a couple getting some engagement photos on the porch. 
Me: "Look at those two getting their engagement photos here."
Skye: "Why are they doing that?"
I honestly had no clue.  My engagement photos would have slices of pies in my hands, and in my significant other's face.  (This is why I will never be engaged.)

If you get your pies to go, they will be packaged in a cute wooden container, bundled with colored twine and a wooden fork.  Packaging is everything.  I want to eat out of this everyday !

Slices run $5 here, with a rotating selection.  Today's included cherry, bourbon pecan,deep dish apple pie (super deep!) and lemon chiffon.

There was too many to choose from.  My nieces erred on the side of chocolate (they are indeed of my blood!).

Jasmine did not hesitate to order the Smooth Operator, french silk in a pretzel crust.  It was creamy, chocolatey and not as dense as you'd imagine, so you can easily finish off the whole slice (it's that smooth!).

Skye opted for the Ebony & Ivory, described as a buttermilk chess pie swirled with chocolate hazelnut spread.  Swirled is probably an understatement.  The pie tasted like an undercooked chocolate chip cookie bar where a mass of chocolate has sunk to the bottom.  In order words, it was absolutely glorious.  Crunchy. Creamy. Decadent. Swoonworthy.

The Snowball was a light and airy coconut custard confection topped with toasted coconut.  With a buttery crust, it was a perfect midafternoon treat.

After, I tried to make my nieces partake in some physical activity at the newly constructed KlydeWarren park in downtown Dallas to burn off some of the pie poundage.

The park is spacious, clean, and lined with food trucks.  When did this happen, I have no idea, but I am so excited at the prospect !  Food truck choices included banh mi, Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches, sushi, snowcones and more.

The kids play areas have neat little structures on which to scamper.

My favorite is the ropey molecule.  If I was not three times the size of everyone here, I would've totally gotten myself tangled in there, but I didn't want to accidentally smother any small child.

The humidity eventually got the best of us, but Dallas, you are looking pretty spiffy of late !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Emporium Pies is a resounding, definite YES for ladies who dessert, gents to take online girls to impress them with their tender side, and for anyone who is easily charmed by a perfect slice of pie.

314 North Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX
Emporium Pies on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 24, 2013

Putting the Amazing in Amazing 66: A Chinatown Feast !

I've been a bit lost since my favorite Cantonese restaurant (Cantoon Garden / South China Garden) closed down a couple years ago.  Yes.  That is a long time to go without another Cantonese favorite, but dare I say it?  Life might be great again !

(Note: My camera has been in the shop for the last couple weeks.  Let's pray for it.  But until then, here's just a smattering of photos I managed to nab with my phone before my tablemates could keep their claws off the plates.)

A group of us converged at Amazing 66 recently.  We ordered three types of house special chicken.  (The house is very special, so their chickens must also be very special !)

The first one, is the classic version available at most Cantonese eateries: house special chicken with garlic.  Crispy skin, succulent meat and plenty of garlicky bits.  Great!

House special chicken #2: the one with shrimp and almonds.  Served Hannibal Lecter style, the chicken is completely deskinned, the skin then draped on an inch-thick layer of shrimp paste, then the whole thang fried together for a fun chewy, crunchy combo.  Who knows what happened to the meat.  There's no meat.  Just skin (which is honestly all I really want anyway). This was fun to eat, but I wouldn't need to experience it again.

House special chicken #3: the one stuffed with sticky rice.  This one is a decadent motherclucker.  The sticky rice was unbelievably dense, flavorful and moist, the skin broiled to crispy perfection.  Again. No meat. Just awesome skin, Awesome sticky rice. It's hard to describe this with any other word than "Awesome."  It looks deceivingly small but comfortably feeds 4-6 easily.

The beef short rib in Japanese pumpkin is a darling thing, presented as a small pumpkin overflowing with meaty wonder, but it quickly got smashed, and we quickly got to business eating that delicious mix of tender meat and creamy, slightly sweet pumpkin flesh.

We also ordered the Peking pork chops (below) which were fairly standard, the string beans with minced pork (tasty little vegetable side!), Chinese broccoli (standard), and a heaping plate of the pastrami seafood fried rice which was abundant with yummy bits of salty pastrami.  (If you are a small party, I'd opt for the sticky rice chicken and forgo any additional rice dishes.)

The next day, my friends messaged me that they were STILL thinking about our meal, licking our lips in imaginary satisfaction of crunching on all the varieties and forms of chicken skin.  It truly was a splendid meal, highly recommended for a big, traditional round-table style Chinese dinner.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Chicken skin, count me in !  Possibly my new favorite Cantonese restaurant in the city !  Call in advance (at least half day) to order the chicken with shrimp paste or the chicken stuffed with sticky rice and love yourself afterward !  

Amazing 66
66 Mott St
New York, NY
Amazing 66 on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dinner at A Cafe on the UWS. (I'm not being vague, that's just its name.)

For those times when you want to eat something fun yet also satisfy your vegetarian friends who live on the UWS, let me introduce you to A Cafe.

This French Caribbean restaurant is tucked in a strange part of UWS where you think the world ig going to end as you keep walking, but it doesn't.  

The restaurant is small and simple.  Between 6-8p, they offer a 2 course deal - your choice of any appetizer and main course on the menu for $25.  Easy decision.  (Do it.)

We did !

Among the appetizer options is the Scottish pheasant pate, baked with a brie crust and a sprig of rosemary to add a bit of merriment.  This dish is remarkably addictive, the pate more chunky than smooth and completely decadent.  

The grilled Hass avocados were also merry with rosemary, each half transformed into a vegetable terrine swimming in a shitake-sesame dressing.  The result was surprisingly savory.

The Bourgogne escargot were fat and chewy, served in a tasty cilantro-chili butter sauce.  The escargot were fairly uninspiring, but the sauce, tinged with spice, was earthy and good, enabling me to single-handedly eat a basket of bread.

For the main event, sprigs of mint adorned our dishes.  Cute!  We dabbled in the wild mushroom ragout, with tofu, Caribbean beans (read: blackeyed peas), and loads of alfalfa sprouts.  So many sprouts that you cannot see anything else in the dish, which is fun, and a clear indicator this is vegetarian (what a relief!).

Rabbit sausage come three fat links to a plate circling a half dome of fluffy quinoa speckled with raisins.  Such a generous serving, the sausage tasted surprisingly light(er) in the carrot-ginger and cashew puree.  And not the least bit gamey, if that's any concern!

The jerk spiced-duck leg confit, in a citrus reduction, was delightfully spicy, the sauce so rich and delicious.

When we first seated at 7p on a Friday night, the restaurant was completely empty, however it filled up soon after 8, buzzing with lively conversation among friends.  This place is a true gem with warm, attentive service.  And oh - BYOB!  There's a wine store across the street - the clerk there recommended this $9 red wine that was supposedly going to make our escargot float to a beautiful melody.  The escargot didn't float, but the wine was fine !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: A Cafe wasn't heartstoppingly amazing, but it's quite good with its tasty, tasty sauces and reasonably priced.

A Cafe
973 Columbus Ave
New York, NY

A Cafe New York on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Harlem ! Maison Harlem & Dessert at Sylvia's

Don't go to Maison Premiere at 4p, because they close for an hour and a half, and only offer you alcohol at the bar to drink away your hungry sorrows.  (Also let's not worry about why I was trying to eat at 4p.)

Come at night where a small live jazz band plays in the corner of the dining room.  The waitress will try to seat you at the table right next to the drums, but you can politely decline by letting her know you see right through her ploy.

You can order the burger and have the waiter ask you the most important question of life:
"Did you want an egg on that?"

Yes. Always. Who knew that was an option, but thank God you did most of all, since you will be inputting the food order into the system.

Have you ever seen a more beautiful sunny-side up egg?
Is that cheese melted on both sides of the buttery toasted bun?  How do you know what my dreams are made of, Maison Harlem??  And that burger was spot on. Juice. Meat. Seasoned. Yeah. 

Order the mac and cheese for a beautiful broiled top of golden, crispy cheese.  

What is the seafood croustillant?  A fancy version of the taco salad bowl.

Inside the thin pastry shell (which isn't tasty by itself, despite its most attractive appearance) is a motley crew of seafood - mussels, shrimp and thick succulent scallops that soak up all of that heavenly saffron cream sauce at the bottom.  You know your man is perfect for you when he lets you eat the last scallop.  That's romance.

Also grab a little tray of that cauliflower gratin on the side.  It's basically mashed cauliflower - quite delicious!

After, walk off a bit of that burg by moseying over to Sylvia's.  Though I still haven't had her fried chicken, I was happy to meet her acquaintance by downing this thick slab of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.  It was moist.  It was dense.  It was delightful.

The boy ordered banana pudding which was unbelievably rich though buttery smooth and creamy.  I think the banana pudding cake would be a better menu choice - because it's pudding AND a cake, and I don't think I have to say much more than that.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Maison Harlem is a charming little French bistro in West Harlem, good for dinner, dates and egg-topped burgers. And just YES to the Sylvia's red velv. You want it. Just eat it.

Maison Harlem
341 St Nicholas
New York, NY
Maison Harlem on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brunch in Harlem: Londel's Supper Club

Londel's is one of those Harlem institutions known for dishing up a lovely Sunday buffet.

Not just any buffet.
A fried chicken buffet.

Silver-lidded buffet servers held southern and soul food delicacies like mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, baked apples, roasted chicken, sausage, BBQ ribs and collard greens.  Post 2p, they bring out potato salad and supposedly pasta (though that never arrived on the day we visited).

Dessert in the form of lemon poundcakes and Italian cookies sealed up the meal, though we feasted more on baskets of cornbread loaves that soaked in pats of butter oh so easily.

I liked how the place filled up after church let out (and I liked having first dibs while everyone was at church).
I liked the collard greens (perfectly tender! not too bitter!) and the cinnamony baked apples (not too mushy!).
And though the fried chicken was not spectacular (completely traditional and straight-forward), I liked the skin, and how a fried chicken buffet essentially means unlimited fried chicken skin.  Thank you, Lord.

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Go to have a old-school, traditional Harlem dining experience, but don't expect too much from the standard (not particularly delicious) food.

2620 Frederick Douglas
New York, NY
Londel's Supper Club on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dinner at Pure Thai Cookhouse

In the sea of mediocre Thai restaurants in Hells Kitchen, comes a new beacon of decent hope from Pure Thai Cookhouse.

Pure Thai, from the same owners as my other favorite uptown Thai eatery (Land Thai, on both the UWS and UES), is a funky little spot wedged on the sad 9th Ave strip.

The vibe is cool and eclectic, with just simple dark woods and funky Asian decor, and a smattering of small tables (no reservations though! It gets busy!).  We opted for a community table in the back, which means you eat alongside strangers, which is fine if you've ever eaten in New York's Chinatown by your lonesome (who needs friends though, when you can eat a whole crispy chicken with garlic sauce by yourself?).

Like Land, Pure Thai has the same amazing veggie dumplings - and I am never one to want to eat veggie anything except for these nutty, spinach wrapped little boogers.

The papaya salad was fresh, perfectly dressed in a spicy, tart and tangy fish sauce.

Veggie eggrolls had a crispy, greaseless wrapper, but would've tasted so much better with pork.  (Because pork belongs in eggrolls always.  Fact.)

The krabi seafood noodles comes with a fun menu disclaimer: "not recommended for novices - please no returns."  It's definitely a funky little soup with pink broth, a pungent fishy aroma, a distinct sour flavor, and if you get spicy, it's. Quite. Spicy.  

It comes with bean curd, fermented tofu, fish balls, calamari, and shrimp so you never quite get bored eating this strange noodle bowl.  It's most peculiar, so get it if you like a bit of fun and funk.  (Funk as in pungent fish.)

The ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles is a tasty number also, much more mild in flavor, with salty pork, lovely bits of lump crab and slightly sweetened egg noodles.  It was just about the opposite of my soup.  Like a light frolic in the meadow compared to my sour swampland.  Pick your dish based on the type of scenery you're into !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: I am so glad Pure Thai exists in Hells Kitchen, because now I have a place to go eat at in Hells Kitchen, making life slightly more bearable when you have to be in that part of town.

Pure Thai Cookhouse
766 9th Ave
New York, NY
Pure Thai Cookhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bashburger at Burger & Barrel

As a dutiful and trustworthy eater, I made sure to observe New York's Burger Week this past week.  There's a variety of must-eat burger lists from Eater NY, so we chose to visit one of the spots on their "Epic Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die" lists, because one should never leave the world with those kinds of regrets.

And that is how we found ourselves at Burger & Barrel.  

While they are known for their burgers (the tall beauts were gracing nearly every table), you should not overlook some of their starters.

Lump meat crab cakes were mighty fine with nearly no filler and lots of luscious, luscious crab meat.

The roasted red beets with avocado, red onion and orange segments were sweet and earthy.  They slipped effortlessly down our gullets.

And then it was time to look at that infamous Bashburger, the three-time Burger Bash winner.  If this burger was strutting down the hamburger runway, it would definitely turn hungry heads with its golden crown of onion rings and beautifully toasted brioche bun.

A heaping stack of salty fries typically come with the BashBurger, but you can also substitute polenta fries.  Polenta, why are you so good in every shape and form?

The Bashburger comes with bacon and onion jam, pickles, American cheese and special sauce - essentially a very fancy, dressed up version of your classic McDonalds burger.

I opted to forgo the pickles and substitute cheddar, but it was still pretty tasty.  Sufficiently juicy, good salty crust, and a lighter-than-air bun.  And those onion rings were top-notch: satisfyingly crunchy with a thick ring of sweet onion in the center.

Although this burger was good, it wasn't very amazing.  And hopefully your fries don't come out oversalted like ours, because they don't quite refill the water glasses as fast as you'd like!

We walked nearby to the West Village Big Gay Ice Cream Shop to cleanse our palates.  The Mermaid always does me good.  Their new soft-serve recipe, with Ronnybrook Cream, seems lighter, and thus, I determined it is now healthier !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Burger & Barrel, I like the beet of yo appetizer drums, but that burger is merely fine.  Although I don't think anyone would be disappointed satiating their hamburger cravings with the Bashburger, it's definitely not worth making the ol' Burger Bucketlist.

25 W Houston
New York, NY
Burger & Barrel on Urbanspoon