Monday, February 28, 2011

The Slanted Door- San Francisco

We paid a quick visit to The Slanted Door located in the Ferry Building for lunch one afternoon. This place is a breath of fresh air with ample space and large, gracious windows that allow for the beautiful sunlight to flood through. The mood is relaxed and carries with it a "lounge-y" vibe. 

BBQ Pork Spareribs with Honey Hoisin Sauce
Unfortunately, I wasn't terribly impressed with these spareribs. The meat was a little too charred and dried on the outside. The glaze was nice though, a little tangy but balanced by the sweetness from the honey. I'm still confused as to why they gave us a spoon for the ribs. I mean, there wasn't that much sauce.

Green Papaya Salad with Tofu and Roasted Peanuts
A while back, one of my girlfriends raved to me about the amazing green papaya salad that her mom throws together and ever since, I've been wanting to try it. I've had the orange-colored papaya many times before, but never the green. So when I saw this salad on the menu, I got excited (and for good reasons). Talk about a healthy and refreshing choice! Green papaya is worlds apart in both taste and texture from the mushy, sweet, ripened papaya. Because the texture of green papaya is crunchy and hard, it can be shredded or julienned. For a further spritz of acidity, the salad is dressed in a tangy lime sauce. This salad is definitely a big win and I felt 1000% guilt free after eating it.

After lunch, I walked around the Ferry Building and came upon Miette, where I bought a few sweets. Let me tell you, the salted caramels, though they may be a bit pricey, are worth every single penny. They are creamy, buttery, smooth and the sea salt on top heightens the sweetness of the caramel.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In-N-Out- San Francisco

I feel like I'm going to get shot for saying this but In-N-Out is seriously NOT that good. After all the rave and hype surrounding this burger joint, I finally got my chance to stuff my face with one of these long-awaited burgers and to my disappointment, I was extremely underwhelmed. Strangely, I was impressed with the hospitality of the staff which is absolutely unheard of when it comes to fast food places. The workers at this particular In-N-Out were extremely friendly and smiley (don't know if it's like this at all of the stores or just this one but either way, my compliments to them). The restaurant space is tidy and clean and the menu is extremely simple. As some of you may know, there are several "hidden" menu items, one of them being the animal-style fries pictured below. I guess half the fun and charm of eating here is discovering and trying out all these secret combinations.

Classic Cheeseburger with a side of Animal-Style Fries
My biggest complaint about the burger is that it wasn't juicy or greasy enough (sad to say, but I rarely eat burgers because they're so unhealthy so when I do eat one, it better be darn moist and greasy). I did enjoy the buns which were soft and toasty.

The heaping of toppings sitting atop the fries consists of cheese, sauteed onions, and some sort of relish-infused thousand island sauce. Although the toppings were delicious, the fries themselves, fell a little flat. They tasted baked rather than fried and in my book, that's not necessarily a good thing because we all know that fried tastes much better than baked.

Umami Burger
On a slightly different but relevant note, when I went to LA for the second half of my trip, I had a chance to dine at Umami Burger (unfortunately I didn't take a picture and therefore I'm not writing a post). But the umami burger there is money! It's savory, fresh, juicy, and plenty flavorful (as it should be, given that umami is the fifth taste of savoriness).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eileen's Cheesecake- NY

Boasting numerous accolades and holding a series of titles to its name, Eileen's Cheesecake supposedly houses the very best cheesecakes that New York City has to offer (the toss up is between Eileen's and Junior's). I recently saw this bakery featured on Food Network's Food Wars. Unfortunately, I never finished the episode so I don't know who came out on top. The day after a huge snowstorm, I trudged past all the dirty snow and slush on the ground to get my hands on one of these cakes.

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
This one right here was ordered by my friend and I had a nice bite of it.

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake
I'm a huge fan of nuts so by default, I liked this cheesecake more than the Dulce de Leche. Both cakes were delicious and rich. On the outer edge, the cakes have this light graham cracker crust which is perfect for adding a little texture as well as a bit of a crunch. What sets Eileen's cakes apart from the rest is the fluffier consistency as opposed to a more compact and denser cake. I really appreciated the smaller serving size (about 3 inches in diameter) because cheesecake is always so decadent and the gigantic slices from Cheesecake Factory are just too much, they kill me every time!

Overall, I enjoyed both variations but I'm not quite convinced that Eileen's is the best around town (Junior's is definitely the next must-try for me). Honestly, Cheesecake Factory could easily give this place a run for its money any day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

75 Chestnut- Boston

Tucked away in the sleepy, residential streets of Beacon Hill, you might just walk right past 75 Chestnut if you're not actively on the lookout. Their menu may not be extensive but you can find all the American classics here, from salads and steaks to burgers and BLTs. The space inside is a touch tight but creates for a cozy and warm atmosphere. 

Roasted Garlic Bread with Marinara
We started with the "75 Chestnut Tower" which is a sampler consisting of three appetizers for sharing. The garlic bread was crispy and cheesy while the marinara was warm and great for dipping.

Fried Calamari
The second appetizer in the sampler was this fried calamari which tasted pretty standard. Seeing that there's not much worth noting here, let's move on.

Sweet Potato Ravioli
This last appetizer was easily my favorite of the three. The next time I go back, I would definitely want to order the entree version rather than just a teaser. The raviolis were filled with a savory, creamy sweet potato mash. The creamy tomato-based sauce was also great for spooning on top of the bread.

Boston Bibb Salad
Ordering salads at restaurants is pretty much unheard of from a girl like myself but on this rare occasion, I went with this leafy bed of greens over a greasy, heavy, delicious burger. I figured I already had enough unhealthy options with the selection of the sampler. Anyways, I'm all for simple and clean but this salad was honestly so plain that I could have easily made it at home. The dressing used was just a simple lemon vinaigrette and the salad consisted of some basic ingredients including goat cheese, dried cranberries, slices of apple, pecans, and of course, bibb lettuce. I enjoyed this variety of lettuce which was super soft and almost "buttery"? But the lettuce being of a tasty kind is unfortunately not something that I could credit the restaurant for.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sorellina- Boston

I dined here this past week and I must say the restaurant itself is beautiful. It's got the dim lighting for a romantic atmosphere but at the same time, has this modern vibe to the place as evidenced by the bar and fixtures as well as the black and white photography that decorates the walls. The center of the dining area is populated with sleek, white sofas and appropriately, there's that nice, relaxed lounge music playing in the background. As for service, our waiter, although he was polite and entertaining, did not come around to check on us enough. We actually had to wait for quite a while to get our hands on the dessert menu. Then there's the rest of the waitstaff. Not only do they look glum and unhappy, but also were downright rude and unwelcoming. But hey, the food held up its end of the bargain so I can't complain about that.

Polpo- Grilled Octopus
it's a little difficult, if not impossible, to see from this photo but underlying the grilled octopus is a bed of cous cous cooked in squid ink. the octopus itself had a wonderful char on the outside but thankfully, it wasn't overcooked as overcooking can oftentimes turn the octopus into a chewy, rubbery mess. i enjoyed the bit of heat from the spicy peppers and the cous cous was a good, mild balance to the seasoned octopus on top.
Maine Crab Risotto
this risotto was a little al dente but perhaps it's due to the fact that carnaroli rice was used as opposed to the more common arborio rice (i definitely had to look up the menu again to find out the rice type haha). carnaroli rice is a medium grain and is a little firmer in texture, while arborio rice is a short grain. either way, the risotto was still delicious and the creamy cheese sauce that it simmered in was absolutely delightful. the crab meat is broken up and cooked right into the rich, cheesy goodness.

Pan Seared Scallops
six plump, meaty scallops cooked to perfection with a nice sear on the outside, while retaining that softness on the inside. even more impressive than the scallops though, would definitely be the cream sauce underneath. i don't know what sauce they used and the menu doesn't say, but it was similar to a bearnaise or hollandaise. believe me when i say this remarkable sauce puts these scallops over the top. the cauliflower and what i think is sauteed diced onions also add quite a nice dimension to the plate in terms of texture.

Panna Cotta with Almond Milk Espuma
unfortunately, the dessert was probably the least exciting part of this meal. not that the panna cotta tasted bad, but it's not a "must-try" or "must eat" by any means. the cranberries gave that tart contrast to the smooth, silky custard. as for the foam, i could've definitely done without it because almond milk, itself, is pretty mild so i didn't pick up much flavor from it in foam form.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


it's that time of year again! YES, GIRL SCOUT cookies!!!! i can hardly contain my excitement!! whatever diet i was foolishly trying to maintain has bolted out the door. a big fat thank you to my wonderful sister for sending these yummy treats :)))

i am one happy girl today :))))))))))

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Katz's Deli- NY

There's no way that over 1,600 yelpers could possibly be wrong in raving about the fantastic sandwiches offered at Katz's Deli in NYC.  I actually first heard of or noticed this deli when I was waiting to eat at Zaftigs Deli in Boston and I saw an article on the wall for top 10 delis in the US (of course Zaftigs and Katz's are both up there). So I knew that the next time I visited New York, I absolutely had to pay a visit to this iconic landmark and see for myself what all the fuss was about. Once inside, I felt like I was back in middle school again- lunch trays, paper plates and plastic utensils. Littered across the walls are countless black and white photos of the many, many famed personalities who've dined here in the past (I wish I would've snapped a photo). The staff can be a little irritating but they compensate for their rudeness by serving up one of the best pastrami sandwiches I've ever had.
Pastrami on Rye
there is a reason why this eatery gets away with charging over $16 for a sandwich in a land like NYC where countless delis and sandwich shops charge the average $5-8. but this pastrami was absolutely delectable!! it's super simple- beef, mustard, bread. when something tastes so good, you don't need to doctor it or add all that pizazz. the beef was so tender that it just breaks apart the moment it hits your mouth. and best of all, they pile on a huge heaping of that succulent, succulent meat. yummmm, i think i'm starting to drool just thinking about this pastrami.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Yakitori Taisho- NY

"Yakitori Taisho" is japanese for "hole in the wall", not really. but seriously, if the unfinished ceilings and graffitied bathrooms are any indication of what this place is like, then you would agree with me in saying that yakitori taisho is far from extravagant. HOWEVER, we all know that "hole in the wall" joints like this one are in fact some of the greatest places ever for fantastic food at low prices.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)
i'm deathly scared of consuming eggs so when i saw "pancake," i was hoping that "pancake" didn't actually mean omelette. after triple checking with the waiter to make sure that there wasn't any eggs in this pancake, i went ahead and ordered it...and a successful choice it was! the batter is made of flour and shredded cabbage. sprinkled throughout the cake are bits of shrimp, squid and pork. on top, there is a drizzle of some sort of mayo or cream dressing along with yakitori taisho's rendition of BBQ sauce. lastly, the light pink/ beige shavings you see on top is katsuobushi flakes (this i had to look up), which is dried, fermented skipjack tuna shaved film thin.

first things first, i will say the pancake smells really fishy (it reminded me of the flakes that you feed to little goldfishes) and initially i was wondering why but i now know it was probably from the katsuobushi. but once you get past the fishy smell, this pancake is delicious!! it came out super fresh, super hot. if i could describe the batter, i'd say it's a little wetter and more moist..almost like a mashed potato cake. one suggestion i'd make: reduce the amount of BBQ sauce because the pancake itself is plenty flavorful so the addition of sauces just makes it a little too salty for me.  

Yakitori Combo: Pork, Chicken Skin, Squid, Chicken Meatballs, Chicken Liver
if you are looking to gain about 500lbs and you care nothing about your health, you are in luck, my friend. yakitori taisho makes these absolutely delicious cholesterol-raising, heart attack- inducing, obesity- guaranteeing chicken skin skewers...otherwise known as "fat on a stick." rest assured, these yakitoris taste amazing and how could they not with all that crispy skin and that luscious fat which just melts away in your mouth.

another snapshot of the combo
aside from the chicken skin skewers, the remainder of these yakitoris tasted pretty standard. still, the combos are great for sampling and sharing.

Matcha Creme Brulee
who would've thought that Yakitori Taisho made creme brulee? and even more was actually really good!! the dessert is pretty small. if you can see from the photo, it's about the size of a small sauce cup and they gave us 4 big tablespoons to eat it with, don't ask me why. although it was tiny, the flavor was really concentrated so without a doubt, you can taste the tea.