Way back in April, I was invited to a dinner at Pok Pok NY, hosted by Pepcid and Ted Allen (the host of Chopped on The Food Network). I arrived a tad early and ended up going to the bar across the street, Whiskey Soda Lounge, owned by the Pok Pok NY fam, and ordered myself a cocktail before dinner:
The Hunny is a grapefruit concoction that is mixed with their signature drinking vinegar (the one mixed with this drink is honey-flavored). A little kombucha-like, but slightly sweeter. It’s mixed with tequila and is very refreshing. You don’t taste the tequila, which would have been very dangerous if I had more time there!
After finishing my drink at Whiskey Soda Lounge, I walked across the street to start the dinner at Pok Pok NY, where they were mixing signature cocktails:
One of the cocktails was a drinking vinegar mixed with gin, soda water and lemon. The other cocktail had a mint/fresh herb infusion. Both seamlessly incorporated the drinking vinegars and were dangerously tasty.
We started with some papaya salad with other various vegetables in a Thai fish sauce:
Which was served alongside a lot of coconut rice that was individually wrapped and could be eaten with your hands:
The sausages they served were very spicy and were also presented with some pickled veggies, kombocha squash, and fried pork skin:
The kombocha squash balanced the heat from the sausage (and the squash made another appearance at dessert later in the evening!)
The fried chicken wings are well known for good reason; they are spicy, garlicky, and have a great crunchy texture:
We were also served a chicken with different dipping sauces:
The chicken was tender and tasted similar to a Chinese chicken that is smoked with tea leaves.
A favorite dish of mine – water spinach – that was sauteed with lots of spicy peppers:
The star of the evening: a striped bass steamed with soy, ginger, mushrooms, and more hot peppers:
For dessert, we had kombocha squash that was cooked with a coconut-palm sugar custard that was served slightly warm:
Kombocha squash is already one of my favorite foods (especially in soups) because it’s slightly sweet, but I’ve only ever had it in savory dishes. Serving it with the coconut custard was the perfect combination that wasn’t too sweet but definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.
At the conclusion of dinner, Ted came by to talk to all of us about the meal (he had just done the same meal two hours earlier with different people but managed to eat it again during our dinner!) I enjoyed all of the dishes at Pok Pok NY and definitely want to return to the area; it’s right by the water in Brooklyn and it looks like a beautiful bike ride to the restaurant!
After my usual workout at AKT, I go home on the green line on Lexington. Sometimes, however, I go the other direction and walk down 2nd Avenue towards Cascabel Taqueria, which is dangerously close to AKT. They have great drink specials during happy hour, use fresh fruit in their margaritas, and have great guacamole and a full service bar if you’re dining by myself.
I’ve been there a few too many times after my workout and here are some of my favorites (and here are the things keeping me from shedding those last few pounds!)
The housemade guacamole can be catered to your tastes – mild, medium or spicy:
I’m obsessed (sadly) with their queso fundido:
They can make it with or without the sausage (this photo doesn’t have any sausage because I went to dinner with a vegetarian). It’s served with warm tortillas and I could eat the entire skillet by myself because it’s so delicious! Warm cheese on a tortilla with fresh cilantro makes such a great appetizer. It’s just as good as the one we had at Big Star in Chicago!
We also shared the street corn:
And shared the fish tacos, too:
The fish tacos had a little too much stuff on it (green olives, chunks of cheese, red onion, way too much stuff to pick up and put in your mouth!) They have other tacos that are really great – the al pastor is really delicious (the pineapple makes it sooo good!)
Having the restaurant so close to my workout is just like when Miranda had to go to a Weight Watchers next to a Krispy Kreme on Sex and the City. Hopefully I have a little more self control, but their menu is so delicious it’s hard to resist!
Ken and I did a double date with David and Laura over the wintertime and went to Wasan, a Japanese restaurant in the East Village that specializes in shabu shabu and uni and foie gras dishes. Laura found the restaurant and we met up there on a Saturday night to catch up on the week and to try their food, especially their homemade tofu, uni dishes and foie gras.
We wanted to try a little bit of everything and started with the uni on a crunchy chip:
And then the foie gras on a small piece of endive:
Both were delicious and the perfect amount for just a small bite to start the meal.
We also tried the homemade tofu:
The tofu was very silky and flavorful, much better than anything that you can buy in the grocery store.
After the appetizers, we opted for the shabu shabu:
Which you put into a boiling pot of broth:
The shabu shabu was a little bit on the plain side but you’re given a container of salt so you can add as much as you want (or just keep it very plain). After the shabu shabu, we ordered a few other dishes, including the salmon fried rice:
And the eel:
We also had dessert – three different Japanese desserts!
Their ice creams of the day:
The sake panna cotta was very tasty and had a great custard-like consistency:
And mochi with a green tea dip:
Everything at Wasan was prepared well and we sat in the back corner booth that looked like we were in an igloo (maybe because the walls were stark white compared to the rest of the restaurant, which had more wooden accents). If you’re interested in the shabu shabu, you should call the day before to make sure they have enough ingredients to make it. We didn’t call beforehand but it was the dead of winter so I guess they just had a lot of the materials available. Definitely worth another visit!
I love going out with the women I work out with and we planned a really fun night out over the winter – attending Queen of the Night at the Paramount Hotel. We purchased tickets after reading about the dinner/party/event in the NYTimes article because it sounded like something none of us have ever done before. Most of us had gone to Sleep No More (the same producers of this show) so we were up for the adventure.
The show starts with a cocktail hour where the bartenders create drinks that are all presented on a mirrored bar in the main room. None of them have labels and you’re just supposed to take them; some have herbs, some are fruity, and some have a more savory component to them. While you’re having cocktails, people walk around and take you to different areas of the hotel (similar to Sleep No More). We passed this preserved cheetah that was decked out in jewelry:
You eventually take your seats – you can either purchase general admission tickets or premium tickets that guarantee you a table together with the rest of your party (we had a mix up with our tickets and they graciously upgraded our tickets to the VIP experience). We sat down and the show started (and we sat next to Neil Patrick Harris and his husband!)
The show is very loosely based on Midsummer Night’s Dream and has lots of intricate costumes like the Queen’s Marchesa’s dress:
The back of the Queen’s opulent cape:
The show features lots of acrobatics:
And lots of muscular men dancing and jumping around:
Our table had wine glasses stacked very high and fruit, cheese and olives strewn about:
Everything is very chaotic (intentionally) – they make you clear your table very quickly and then an army of actors come out with different types of proteins. Some tables get served a cage of lobsters and corn, others get pork, and we got the beef ribs. The idea is that you’ll talk with your neighbors and barter with them to get what you want:
While you’re eating, the actors continue to perform:
When you are finished eating, they don’t clear your plates, you just throw them into a large box (it looked like a freezer) that gets wheeled around the room:
The night ends with dessert and dancing; you can dance with your friends or some of the actors will pull you up for a quick twirl. They don’t serve dessert at your table; instead, they serve opera cake by the spoonful and you have to request dessert by going up to the performer.
It was a really fun experience and definitely worth seeing. The crowd is different on the weekends (we went on a weekday, which I definitely recommend). It’s great for a girls night or even a really fun date night!
I have been neglecting my blog for a while, but only because my life has been so busy for the past couple of months! I have still been eating at great restaurants and drinking more than I should (some future reviews: Battersby, Eleven Madison Park, Mighty Quinn’s, and then a lot of posts from our Napa trip, including: The French Laundry, ad hoc, addendum, Redd, Redd Wood, and all of the wonderful wineries we visited on our anniversary trip). For now, some photos of what I’ve been up to since my last post!
I celebrated my 30th birthday in Chicago with a Hello Kitty themed birthday party:
Sammy, Charley, and I hit the Hello Kitty pinata until all of the candy fell out (Ken and Flo thought it would be a good idea to do a Hello Kitty-themed birthday party…which was awesome!) Before I celebrated my birthday with Ken’s family, I celebrated with David, Laura, and Ken at Eleven Madison Park:
David and I share the same birthday (he’s two years older, in case you were wondering) and Eleven Madison Park was a great experience – with lots of desserts just for our special day!
We were in Chicago for my birthday because the day after, Angie and Nat were getting married:
We had a great time at her wedding and thought the Thai water ceremony was really special (you give them blessings while you pour water on them – we blessed them with twins, which was a common blessing that day!)
We came back to New York after Angie’s wedding and hosted Sammy and Flo for a weekend; lots of good food (Joe Shanghai, cannoli’s in Little Italy, Wicked, Dylan’s Candy Bar, The Plaza, pizza, and Italian ice!):
The week after Sammy and Flo came to visit, we flew back to Chicago for a birthday party and ended up celebrating our one year anniversary a bit early at the hotel where we got married – champagne and Lou Malnati’s, the easiest way to say ‘I love you’:
I had the opportunity to meet my friend’s baby, Hayley, who is well versed in sign language and just the cutest baby ever:
And celebrated our anniversary a bit early with our wedding cake (the bakery that made our cake remakes it for your one-year anniversary so you don’t have to freeze it):
Almond cake with passion fruit curd, creme brulee, fresh raspberries and raspberry preserves:
And spent our actual first anniversary in Napa, enjoying wine, and attending a wedding:
More details on everything in the upcoming weeks, just be patient – I’ll be back with more posts soon!
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