Joe Shanghai

By grace.g.yang · July 28, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Chinatown,Dinner,My Life

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!)

Joe's Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Pinkberry Delivery!

By grace.g.yang · July 27, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Desserts,FRO-YOLYMPICS,Lunch,My Life,Soho

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.

Wu Liang Ye

By grace.g.yang · July 21, 2009
Under: Dinner,Midtown East,My Life

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.

Wu Liang Ye on Urbanspoon


By grace.g.yang · July 20, 2009
Under: Dinner,LES

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.

Freemans on Urbanspoon

Places to Eat in East Hampton: Fresno’s

By grace.g.yang · July 17, 2009
Under: Cheap Eats,Desserts,Dinner,Montauk,My Life,Prix-fixe,Travels

After our day long bike ride to Montauk Point, we headed to Fresno’s for a bite to eat. East Hampton has a ton of restaurants that have early bird specials (pre-fixe for less than $30 at most of the restaurants we researched). Fresno’s also has the deal, but we arrived a little late, so to get the deal, we had to eat at the bar (which was just fine with us!):


The calamari looked absolutely amazing (even though I usually don’t order calamari that often when I go to restaurants) so I ordered that as my appetizer):


The calamari sauce was absolutely AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING (AMAZING ^ 3) – it tasted EXACTLY like the calamari sauce I used to have at Mad Mex in Pittsburgh! The sauce was a tomato base with some sour cream and spices (I don’t know which ones) but seriously, it was creamy, fresh, and absolutely amazing.

Josh ordered the candied walnut and apple salad:


The salad was extremely sweet and we didn’t even really taste any apples (the candied walnuts kind of ruined the salad). We were both kind of disappointed.

For my main course, I ordered the pork chop with quinoa:


The pork had a cherry glaze that tasted very tart and delicious. The quinoa was a good choice to pair with the pork chop since it was a tad heavy and I really enjoyed my dish. Josh liked the pork chop as well.

Josh’s main course was the salmon with tapenade and couscous:


The salmon was done well (cooked medium rare) but the sauces that accompanied the salmon were pretty strange; the orange sauce tasted like orange juice that was warmed up, the tapenade did not go with the salmon at all, and when I ate them together, there was this weird taste in my mouth. The salmon on its own was delicious, but with the tapenade and orange juice, it was pretty disastrous.

The pre-fixe also comes with dessert, so I ordered the key lime tart:


The key lime was a little too mushy for both of us (and too tart) so we didn’t eat all of it. However, we did devour Josh’s dessert, the chocolate molten cake with gelato:


The cinnamon gelato and chocolate cake were really decadent, but somehow, Josh and I managed to eat all of it without exploding. I suppose we were both pretty hungry from our bike ride (seriously, who knew biking six miles was going to be so difficult?! I mean, David literally biked from Manhattan to Montauk a couple of weeks back and seemed fine afterwards…Josh and I couldn’t even bike up a hill without getting off our bikes and walking half the time!!)

I enjoyed my portion of the tasting menu, but Josh wasn’t that impressed with his choices (especially the strange salmon that had so many different tastes). I would return just for the calamari alone! I recommend you eat at the bar – that way, you can go whenever you’d like and still take advantage of the awesome pre-fixe menu deal.

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