Tu Do Pho

By grace.g.yang · April 16, 2008
Under: Cheap Eats,Chinatown

Pho, a Vietnamese rice-noodle soup made with a special broth, is part of the reason why I survived New York’s awfully cold winter. (The other parts, in my opinion, include ordering take-out, wearing cashmere layers, and refusing to step outside for anything besides paying the delivery guy). One of my favorite little pho shops in Chinatown is Pho Tu Do, where I end up eating on nights I don’t feel like cooking but want something warm. Located on Bowery in the LES, Pho Tu Do is decorated for Christmas year-round, owned by a family that has lots of miniature dogs (the cash register is littered with their photographs), and has pho that keeps me coming back (especially in the winter time). Traditional pho broth is made with simmering all types of beef bones, mixed with oxtails, and several spices (including star anise, cloves, and ginger). The broth is what makes the pho special; the dish consists of broth, rice noodles, and sometimes beef, making it a seemingly plain dish. The broth at Pho Tu Do has a lot of flavor and tastes like the bones have been simmered overnight (probably the minimum for making pho broth). Whenever I go, I usually order the spring rolls:

The spring roll also has mint, noodles, green onions, and shrimp with a peanut dipping sauce.

The service is always super speedy and they bring out the pho as soon as you finish your appetizer:

The broth has a great flavor, especially after you add fresh basil and a squeeze of lime juice. The beef is also medium rare, making it tender and not too tough (especially since the broth is hot enough to continue cooking the meat).

Possibly the best part of the meal is the check – pho is under $6 and spring rolls are around $3.

Tu Do Pho on Urbanspoon

San Francisco and Napa Valley!

By grace.g.yang · April 11, 2008
Under: My Life

Hi readers,

I need your help!!! Chris and I are going to San Francisco and Napa Valley for our birthdays this year and I need recommendations for wineries to visit, places to eat, and places to stay! We’re eating at French Laundry for our special birthday dinner, but everything else is undecided. I’m planning to stay a night in San Francisco, a couple of nights with my friend Audrey, and the rest of the time I should be in Napa. Any cute bed and breakfasts or cottages you visited in Napa? Great wineries we shouldn’t miss? E-mail me and let me know – gracenotesnyc at gmail dot com. THANKS!

Pictures from our birthday trip to Martha’s Vineyard last year:

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La Focaccia

By grace.g.yang · April 10, 2008
Under: Brunch,West Village

La Focaccia, a small Italian restaurant on the corner of Bank and west 4th, is the perfect place to people watch in the west village. Sex and the City thought it was popular enough to put in their movie (I watched the trailer and noticed the blue La Focaccia awning in the scene where Jennifer Hudson meets Carrie/Sarah Jessica Parker). Their dinner is nothing to write about (I thought the noodles were overcooked and the sauce was bland), but their brunch menu has some wonderful options. Chris and I went for a quick bite to eat and ordered the French toast sandwich and the omelet.

I ordered the French toast sandwich:

The French toast sandwich combines all of the great breakfast foods in one compact sandwich. 2 French toast pieces (scrambled eggs * ham slices * cheese = pure deliciousness). I suppose it would be similar to a McDonald’s McGriddle cake (a combination of sweet and savory), but I’ve never had one so I can only assume.

Chris ordered the large omelet:

Lots of ham, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes plus two potato wedges. The omelet tasted a little rubbery, but it wasn’t terrible.

We gave La Focaccia a couple of tries and decided that we won’t go back because the food isn’t that good, but sometimes I get cravings for the French-toast sandwich that I ordered. I’ll probably try to re-create it soon (and then I’ll post my findings on here!).

La Focaccia on Urbanspoon

Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum

By grace.g.yang · April 7, 2008
Under: Brooklyn,Things to do in NYC

Over the weekend, Chris and I went to the Takashi Murakami show at the Brooklyn Museum:

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Murakami has been called Japan’s Andy Warhol, has worked with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, and his team illustrated Kanye West’s music video, “Good Morning.” He also owns a company called Kaikai Kiki, which is a collaboration of young artists that do similar work (Kaikai and Kiki are the names of two of his cartoon characters). We went to Murakami’s show at the Gagosian last year, but the Brooklyn Museum’s is much more comprehensive:

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There’s a video of Kaikai and Kiki that was so cute (it’s about watermelon seeds, poop, and spaceships). Here’s a youtube video of Kaikai and Kiki (although it’s not the Watermelon video).

There’s also a funny video about a kid robot named Inochi (the 57 second video sums up adolescence for boys.)

The exhibit runs through July and is definitely worth checking out!

Ronnybrook Farm’s Milk Bar

By grace.g.yang · April 2, 2008
Under: Brunch,Cheap Eats,Chelsea,Desserts,Grace's Picks

Ronnybrook Farm’s Milk Bar is quickly becoming one of my favorite brunch spots in the city. Their service is fast, the waiters are (sometimes) friendly, and the food is delicious. Chris and I initially went to Milk Bar for some vanilla ice cream (after spending a night watching those Chevy commercials of the guy making a vanilla sundae with hot fudge and whipped cream), but we were pleasantly surprised when we realized they served actual food as well. Earlier in the day we had some chicken noodle soup, but we decided to have another breakfast before enjoying our sundaes.

On the weekends, Milk Bar serves their eggs all day (which is what we were in the mood for – yay!). We decided to just order the egg in the hole and share it since we had soup a couple hours before and weren’t that hungry:

The egg in the hole is served on rye toast with Grafton cheddar cheese, two slices of applewood bacon, and a side of potatoes. The cheese, egg, meat, and bread combination was a treat and we were still hungry afterwards, so we decided to order macaroni and cheese as well:

I don’t think I’ve ever had a cheesier mac and cheese – it was just layers and layers of gooey cheese mixed with macaroni noodles. The rye bread also tasted really good when I dipped it into the mac and cheese (because mac and cheese alone doesn’t have enough carbs).

After our satisfying lunch, we ordered a hazelnut sundae (they ran out of vanilla!!!):

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Whole hazelnuts, ice cream that’s not too sweet, tons of fudge and whipped cream. We devoured the entire thing (and licked the cup afterwards!).

We are so obsessed with Milk Bar that we’ve been back a couple more times since (the other time we went on a weekday afternoon and they weren’t serving eggs). One of the servers has a scowl tattooed on her face, but the other servers are all friendly. Portions are large and everything is under $10, so you can try a bunch of items if you’re in the mood.

Seating is limited to a couple of stools, but the general feel of the restaurant is very warm and welcoming:

You can also pick up yogurt, ice cream, or milk to bring home with you. Try their creamline milk – it’s the closest thing you can get to milk straight from the cow:

The chocolate milk is also supposedly delicious, but I didn’t have any room left in my stomach to sample anything else.

Ronnybrook Farm Dairy on Urbanspoon

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