· July 29, 2009
I always love getting dinner with my friends Joe, Ariel, and Kris; they always let me order, they usually don’t complain, and they eat a lot so we usually have the opportunity to order a variety of dishes. The last time we went out, we headed to Macao Trading Company, a restaurant in Tribeca that specializes in Chinese and Portuguese cuisine. The restaurant’s menu was created by the chefs at Chanterelle and the drinks were created by the mixologists behind Employees Only’s drinks – a pretty winning combination for a restaurant, don’t you think?
The gimmick at Macao is that everything can be prepared two different ways – a Chinese way and a Portuguese way. The reason they prepare every dish two ways is because Macao used to be ruled under the Portuguese, but the two islands were given back to the Chinese in 1999. I’ve never been to Macao, but I’d read that people love to gamble there and there are buses that will take you from casino to casino so you can gamble all of your money away.
Okay, back to dinner. I decided to order a bunch of different dishes and see what we ended up liking more. We started with the Portuguese-style shrimp with almonds and green sauce:
The green sauce might’ve been made from pureed parsley or cilantro – it was very mild in flavor and tasted pretty good with the baguette and shrimp.
We also ordered Portuguese style meatballs (lamb balls filled with cheese):
The meatballs also came with a healthy dose of tomato sauce and cheese (which I think clashed with the lamb):
Wasn’t a fan of the Portuguese preparation of the meatballs, but the Chinese preparation didn’t sound appetizing, either.
Our third dish was fried goat cheese with onions and peppers:
I’m not sure if you can ever go wrong with goat cheese (especially if it’s FRIED):
For our main courses, we ordered the grilled sirloin with blue cheese butter and spinach:
Another favorite dish (I figured it would be good because blue cheese butter just sounds amazing). Ariel and I disagreed on how much they should cook the steak (I am a staunch supporter of the medium rare and Ariel believes steak should be cooked WELL), but even Ariel didn’t mind eating the steak.
One of my favorite dishes from the meal was ants climbing the tree (glass noodles with minced pork and chilis):
My mom used to make the dish and I thought the name was extremely odd (it’s a literal translation) but the minced pork and chilis taste really good with the lightly flavored rice noodles.
For dessert, we ordered the fried milk with a honey citrus salad (I bet you’re thinking how did we fit anymore food in after all of those dishes, but we somehow managed):
The dish wasn’t what I expected, although I’m not sure what I was really expecting. There was a lot of cinnamon dusted on the fried milk and I thought the contrast with the citrus salad just did not taste good.
Macao Trading Company has a great selection of small dishes to share, lots of cocktails to choose from, and a pretty interesting decor. The only thing I didn’t like about Macao was the smell; it reeked like a really cheap Chinese restaurant. No one else really noticed (maybe I’m just more sensitive to smell because I used to live above Philippe Chow and walking up the stairs would make me gag from the smell). The restaurant was pretty packed (especially for a Sunday night) and a lot of people were just enjoying drinks and eating by the bar. Next time, I think I’ll eat at the bar because it definitely didn’t smell like the rest of the restaurant.
· July 28, 2009
I’m surprised I’ve never written about Joe Shanghai considering I go here so often. The first time I went to Joe Shanghai, I had just moved to New York (almost three years ago!) and my cousin, Andrew, happened to be visiting from Korea. He took me to Joe Shanghai with some of his friends because he wanted to get soup dumplings like the ones we grew up with in Taiwan (at Ding-Tai-Fung). I didn’t know anything about the city, so of course I tagged along for soup dumplings and other Chinese food. I wasn’t very impressed with their crab soup dumplings, but the pork soup dumplings were very similar to the ones I had eaten in Taiwan the summer before moving to New York. I’ve been back many times (David and I really like the place) and we usually end up going to dinner there on Sunday nights after my yoga class. The waiters and hostesses are not the friendliest, but they’re efficient and turn tables really quickly (partially due to the fact that most people have to share tables with strangers). When we go, we usually order the soup dumplings (right away) and then order various dishes from the menu. On this particular trip, we ordered turnip cakes:
The turnip cakes have a crispy and flaky outer shell while the inside is filled with shredded turnips and other vegetables:
My friend Sara is a huge fan of them, but I think I ate too many when I was a kid so I don’t like turnips that much anymore.
Our first order of soup dumplings (we usually get two orders so everyone can have more than 2 dumplings):
The dumplings are filled with pork and really fatty pork juice (yum-oh!). You have to be really careful when you pick them up because one wrong poke of the tongs and you have a soupy mess on your hands. I like to bite a little bite into my soup dumpling, pour in some soy sauce with ginger, drink the juice, and then eat the pork and the dumpling. Everyone has their own way of enjoying the soup dumplings and you’ll see everyone at the table trying to eat them a different way.
The soup dumplings are very inexpensive ($5 for 8, I think), but we always order a couple of other dishes because the dumplings definitely don’t fill us up. We usually order string beans with minced pork and pickled vegetables:
The string beans aren’t as good as the ones you order at Big Wong (on Mott) but they have a good flavor and are sauteed with little pieces of pork. There is definitely a ton of pork being consumed at Joe Shanghai.
My mom introduced us to a new dish, nian-gao with pork (sticky rice cakes with pork):
I grew up eating nian-gao in hot pots, soups, and during the winter. There’s something about the sticky and chewy consistency that I really love.
We also ordered some baby pea sprouts the last time we visited because I was still hungry and had gone through all of the other dishes (I blame it on the yoga, but in reality, it’s just because I eat a lot):
Sara and I were big fans of the pea sprouts and Sara even said she could eat them all the time – they were very crunchy and had just a little salt and garlic.
I go to Joe Shanghai all the time because they’re usually open pretty late and the food comes out quickly. Sara asked how many Grace Face’s I was going to give the place – I said four and she seemed a little shocked that I wasn’t giving it a Grace’s Pick. I would, but I really dislike their hostesses – one time, my cousin came to town and we were literally the first ones in the restaurant but the hostess made us sit right under the air conditioning vent and wouldn’t allow us to move (there was literally no one else in the restaurant and she couldn’t come up with a reason as to why we couldn’t move). If you don’t mind the rude hostesses, head over to Joe Shanghai with cash (and, they calculate an automatic 15% tip so you don’t even have to worry about figuring out a tip after you’ve filled up on soup dumplings!)
· July 27, 2009
Hey! Did you know that Pinkberry DELIVERS TO YOUR OFFICE/APARTMENT/HOTEL/HOUSE/WHATEVER! I’ve always been against the delivery of frozen yogurt because I HATE MELTED FROZEN YOGURT, but people in my office were trying it the other day so I figured I would get in on the action. I ordered passion fruit (the new AWESOME flavor they introduced recently) with three toppings (kiwi, mango, and raspberries):
I was seriously impressed with the non-melted frozen yogurt (especially since they had a lot of orders to fill for our office). The passion fruit is really tangy and delicious (I want to try the coconut/passion fruit swirl next) and it didn’t melt too badly while I was enjoying my little afternoon delight. The only downside is that they package all of the toppings individually, so it’s not every environmentally-friendly.
· July 21, 2009
The first time I went to Wu Liang Ye, my aunt from Taiwan took me there. Apparently my other aunt had spoken highly of the Chinese restaurant and since I don’t know that many Chinese restaurants in NYC, I figured it would be fun to try it out. The first Wu Liang Ye visit wasn’t bad (this was probably 2 years ago) but I remembered thinking it wasn’t anything special (and Grand Sichuan is a lot better). I ended up going to another Wu Liang Ye location (in midtown) with my mom and my aunt the other day and we were all REALLY disappointed with all of the food we ordered.
Originally, we were going to head to Pearl Oyster Bar, but I forgot my gift certificate so I decided I’d save a POB trip for another time. While we were heading to the subway, we came across Wu Liang Ye and since my mom and aunt both love Chinese food, we decided to stop in (the rain also helped us pick Wu Liang Ye). We sat down to the nearly empty restaurant and decided to order some dishes to share. We started out with thinly sliced pieces of pork with a spicy sauce:
The pork wasn’t spicy at all, in fact, it tasted like it was dipped in sugar. The majority of the dishes we had were sweet and not spicy (quite disappointing). My mom actually tried to tell the waiter that we weren’t happy with the dish, but the waiter insisted that we liked it (which is weird because we were the ones eating it, not him) and wouldn’t let us order anything else. We ended up leaving the dish uneaten.
My aunt is a fan of dan-dan noodles, so we got one order to share:
The noodles were a tad overcooked and the sauce had practically no flavor – not what my aunt was thinking of when she ordered the dish. The noodles were a let down, so we were kind of afraid of eating the other dishes we ordered.
We got an order of won-tons in hot sauce:
When I think of hot sauce, I don’t think of sugar. Do you? Apparently the people at Wu Liang Ye do because this dish was sweet and not tasty at all. My aunt asked for some hot sauce and once they came out with the hot oil with chili seeds, it tasted a little better. If you’d have the won tons with hot sauce at Grand Sichuan and you like them, you should just stick to those because you’d be seriously disappointed with the ones you order at Wu Liang Ye.
The last dish we ordered (the best out of the bunch) was sea cucumbers with hot sauce:
The only redeeming dish at Wu Liang Ye was the sea cucumbers, which were drenched in sauce and only tasted good because there was cilantro to mask the sauce.
I really dislike going to Chinese restaurants without my mom because my mom usually talks to the owners of the restaurant to find out what’s good on the menu and knows what to order, so I was initially kind of excited to eat at a Chinese restaurant with two experts. However, none of the dishes we ate were worth ordering again (or at all) and I think I could’ve gone to a Hot Wok, ordered chicken fried rice, and have been more satisfied than eating at Wu Liang Ye.
· July 20, 2009
A couple of weekends ago, I was walking around the LES and decided I wanted a little snack. I didn’t know what I was in the mood for, so I decided to just walk around until I figured it out. I was walking by the Whole Foods on Bowery and I remembered that they have a really good artichoke dip there, so I decided to go to Freeman’s to eat at the bar.
One cool thing about the location of Freeman’s is that they have their own little alley way (Freeman’s Alley) and the restaurant is at the end of the alley:
The last time I went to Freeman’s, I ordered a bunch of dishes from the menu and was disappointed with everything but the appetizers (the dates wrapped with bacon and stuffed with cheese were delicious and so was the artichoke dip…the macaroni and cheese, pork, and the other dish I ordered were all really blah). There weren’t that many people at the restaurant (we went around 4pm) so we were able to get a table instead of sitting at the bar.
The artichoke dip is probably the best thing on their menu (besides their drinks):
The dish comes with an ample amount of bread to spread the artichoke dip on and it’s cheesy and creamy, but not to the point that you can’t eat a lot of it (like Artichoke pizzeria). The dip also has a nice crust on top from baking it in the oven, which is really good with the bread.
I also ordered mussels:
The mussels came with a Hefeweizen broth with garlic aïoli and a piece of grilled bread. The Hefewizen broth was really delicious – very similar to a white wine and lemon broth.
Freeman’s is a really cute spot for dinner, but I really didn’t approve of their main dishes the last time I went – if I were to go again, I’d probably just end up at the bar with some devils on horseback and some artichoke dip.