thegirlnextdoor's Profile

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Momofuku Ko or Tocqueville for anniversary dinner?

We're a couple who used to be really on top of the NY restaurant scene, but who hasn't been able to get out as much in the past couple years since we had a baby. Our anniversary is next week. The babysitter's booked, and we're looking forward to a romantic, really delicious, and if possible, mind-expanding meal. We have dinner reservations to both Momofuku Ko and Tocqueville, neither of which we've tried. I've been wanting to go to Ko for a while, but I'm worried that the communal seating will make romantic dinner conversation awkward. Still, I'm really tempted by the food. That said, I booked Tocqueville as a back-up based on some really stellar Chowhound reccs. If you were us, which would you pick?

Jul 25, 2013
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Who has the best JAR kimchee (not restaurant kimchee) in NYC?

This excludes kimchee served at restaurants as part of ban chan. I know about artisanal kimchees like Mother-in-law's Kimchee and Mama O's, but I'm trying to figure out what kimchee graces your fridges at home. What's it called? Who makes it? Where do you buy it? Why do you like it? Do you like it fresh or a little more fermented? Let's talk kimchee!

Jul 28, 2010
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

New Yorker in Seattle for 3 days - What can't I miss?

Wow - great suggestions. Thanks all. Lots to choose from, and I can't wait. I'll report back after my trip in a week or so.

New Yorker in Seattle for 3 days - What can't I miss?

I live in NYC - one of the foodiest cities in the world - so my standards are pretty high. Would love to hear recommendations for:

1> Seattle institutions I can't miss - places that live up to the hype and are uniquely Seattle. I'm not interested in just the run of the mill tourist joints. The food's got to be good. If it's a hole in the wall, mom and pop joint, even better.
2> Restaurant I can dress up and eat a nice prix fixe dinner with friends - I love Asian food, but I'm open to just about anything. What's the Seattle equivalent of Eleven Madison Park or Per Se? Who would get that Michelin nod?
3> Must eat desserts - must indulge my sweet tooth! Bakeries, chocolatiers, ice cream....whatever.
4> Seafood - isn't Seattle known for good seafood?

Thanks in advance for your help!!

Bia Garden Report - Pork Belly + Beer = Happiness

I'm typing this while in a food and beer coma, but I'm so pleased with my meal at Bia Garden on one of the nicest nights of the summer that I had to share.

When we arrived at 6:30, a piece of white paper on which someone had written "Bia Garden" was stuck to the window as identification, but you could have guessed by the line that this was the place.The place opens at 6:00, but according to the host, there was already a line at a quarter of. At 6:30, the line of people extended down the short stair case and into the small space that serves as the take out/delivery space of Bia Garden. From that vantage, it was impossible to see the beer garden itself, as the steel refrigerator door conceals the passageway to the garden, so it was hard to gauge what kind of a wait we could expect. But we decided to wait 15 minutes and see if the line moved.

Some people left, discouraged, but others left their names with the host, who was willing to call people when tables opened up. We stayed and took in the take out menu (which is different than the eat-in menu and includes Bun) and Asian snacks (shrimp chips and Vietnamese coffee!) being offered at the take out window.

It's a good thing we stayed b/c within 10 minutes, we were happily escorted through the steel refrigerator to the garden in the back, through the beer-bottle lined passageway. The journey to the patio passes the kitchen and is a bit treacherous - a lot of "watch your step's" by the host.

The patio, which reportedly seats around 50 people, was packed. The clinking of beer bottles and happy hour chatter filled the air. A large Vietnamese family seated at the large table in the center of the space seemed to be enjoying themselves--an auspicious sign for a Vietnamese beer garden.The garden has wooden painted tables, for both small and large groups, on which chopsticks and napkins are stuck in empty Cafe Du Monde coffee tins for easy self-service. Menus looks like they were printed just that morning on someone's office printer.

Our waiter, possibly one of the nicest waiters I've ever been served by in NYC, came by and took our drink orders. The way it works is you order a six pack (or more) of beer bottles off their Asian beer menu, which features beers from all over Asia, and they bring it to you on ice. You're only charged for what you drink. We ordered the "33," a Vietnamese beer, on our waiter's recommendation. A mild, nutty beer. Very nice.So far so good, but how would the food be?

Dishes are arranged on the menu by size - the small dish category had the most items, then the medium dishes, and finally, the large, which featured a lobster.

We ordered the green mango salad, shrimp summer rolls, and spare ribs off the small dish menu and the crispy berkshire pork belly off the medium dish menu. Let me tell you, I'd go back for the pork belly and the summer rolls alone - they were that good. Here's more about each dish, in order of my preference:

1. The pork belly was PERFECTLY cooked - moist and fatty on the inside and a little crisp on the outside. The dipping sauce, which had the sweetness of a fish sauce, was a perfect complement to the saltiness of the pork. This was by far the standout of the meal. This pork was so good I had to close my eyes and shut up in order to savor its flavor. It was so good I had to pace myself so I didn't eat it too quickly.
2. Shrimp summer rolls are a difficult thing to distinguish yourself by. They are pretty standard Vietnamese fare, but these summer rolls were the epitome of freshness. First of all, the peanut sauce they came with was so perfectly balanced - not too chalky or peanuty or salty or sweet - and then, when you bit into the roll, you got a hit of the fresh mint and the perfectly cooked shrimp. A great way to start the meal.
3. The green mango salad was full of flavor - tangy, salty pickled green mango, fish and shrimp flakes, tiny slices of hot pepper. This dish was saltier than I would have liked for a stand-alone salad, but it worked well as a condiment (kind of like a kimchee) to the other dishes.
4. Our least favorite dish was the pork spare ribs. You could tell there was a nice sweet marinade in the meat, but it was overpowered by the charring on the spare rib. Also, the meat could have been moister. We wanted the meat to fall off the bone, but I had to work to hard to get at it.

Three out of four is not bad, and pork belly....seriously good. The beer and the garden atmosphere just adds to the fun. And all for under $35 a head (mind you, we're girls and we only had one beer a piece). In the winter, Bia Garden will be covered and heat lamps will be used, so the fun has only just begun.

Review with photos on my blog.
http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/

Sep 03, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Five-borough dumpling tour

Yes. :)

Sep 03, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

all you can eat sushi in NYC

32nd St doesn't count as lower Manhattan, but there, btw 5th and Madison, you'll find Ichi Umi, an all you can eat sushi buffet.

Jul 27, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Five-borough dumpling tour

Good Dumpling House on Grand between Mott and Elizabeth. Some photos here:

http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/2008...

Jul 27, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Pain au chocolat

Have you tried Almondine in DUMBO - I really enjoyed theirs, and I'm a chocoholic. :)

Jul 27, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Decent cup of tea?!!!!!... anyone

They serve Mariage Freres tea at The Adore--I don't know if they're getting this stuff from Paris or Tokyo and how long they're taking between trips, but the last time I went, the tea I had had this moldy, musty flavor. I've had tea at the Mariage Freres in Paris, so I know it's not what's intended. I was also disappointed that the waitress seemed to have no idea what was in the tea blends the more obscurely labeled teas on the menus contained. I'd say, get some pastries, which were pretty good, but stay clear of their tea.

Jul 23, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Dinner for under $35 pp in soho or adjacent TONIGHT?

Having dinner with a friend from California tonight (which means no Mexican or sushi, as she's had far superior out west). She wants to eat in Soho or Soho adjacent. Any suggestions?

Jun 30, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

full leaf, loose leaf tea - where to buy?

My new favorite place for loose leaf teas (the only kind I'll drink) is Amanzi Tea in Tribeca. You can find a review on my blog. I second Ito-en for Japanese teas. Alice's Tea Cup and Teany have decent loose leaf selections as well. if you can't find what you're looking for in the city, Tea Guys is a great online resource: http://teaguys.com/

homesweetnyc.blogspot.com

May 03, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

full leaf, loose leaf tea - where to buy?

I read on Eater that Amai just closed. Sad. http://eater.com/archives/2009/04/the...

May 03, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

where to get sea salt caramel in the city?

I've seen sea salt caramels at Chelsea Market Baskets.

May 03, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

yum alert - mini cupcakes from Baked By Melissa in Soho

Weird. Maybe they're inconsistent or maybe they've gotten better since then, but they were great the day I had them, and I'm pretty picky with my sweets. But it sounds like you're a true cupcake connoisseur, so maybe your criteria is different than mine. Of the 8, which were your favorite? Just curious...

Apr 08, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

yum alert - mini cupcakes from Baked By Melissa in Soho

I was minding my own business, shopping in Soho today, when I pass a line of more than dozen people all leading up to a little window in a wall. I get closer and realized this closet-sized establishment is called Baked by Melissa (on Spring Street between Mercer and Broadway), and their sole fare is miniature cupcakes.

So although I've already bought macarons from Ceci-Cela, I stand in line. The line doesn't move very quickly, as it turns out, because the girl who works the window has to climb up on a stepladder and retrieve each mini-cupcake from racks stacked to the ceiling behind her. What a work out.

The question those of us in line had was how small are these things and how many should I buy? The minimum purchase is 3 for $3. Then it's 6 for $5.25 and 12 for $10. I decided on the dozen, so I could try all the flavors I wanted to, and have leftovers for City Guy.

Of the seven flavors (S'mores, Peanut Butter Cup, Cookies & Cream, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Red Velvet, Tye-Dye, and Cookie Dough) I tried five (skipped the Tie-dye and Peanut Butter & Jelly), and let me tell you, as I type, I am experiencing a truly great sugar high. I'd say four or five of these things make one regular size cupcake. As a snack for one person, the three is perfect. For two people, the six is good, but if you're hungry go for the 12.

The genius of the thing is the cake to frosting ratio, which is very high. All of the cupcakes except the Tye-dye and Red Velvet have injections of filling into the middle. The cake is very moist and blends well with the flavorful frosting, and someone has obviously put a lot of thought into how to evoke the quintessential flavors of each cupcake--the s'mores have the graham cracker bit stuck in the middle, the peanut butter cup has a strong peanut buttery frosting, sticky cookie dough is injected into the middle of and tops off the cookie dough cupcake, the red velvet has a white cream cheese frosting that evokes homemade, the cookies and cream has Oreo bits on the top and the white frosting tastes like Oreo filling.

My favorites were the S'mores (check out the graham cracker bit laced with marshmallows in the chocolate ganache frosting) and the Cookie Dough (the yellow cupcake to its right, both injected and topped with a dollop of cookie dough), but they were all really good.

Someone who works in the area says the window is only a few weeks old. Maybe one of you knows better. In case you're wondering where they fit the oven in the crawl space of a store, the girl at the window says the bakery is in a separate location downstairs. You can also order in bulk (100+), but you have to order in advance.

Cupcake and window photos are on my blog.

http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/

Mar 27, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Momofuku Milk Bar lives up to the hype

I wasn't sure if it would, but it did. Went last night with a friend. Here's my review. I have photos of the space up on my blog (see below).

First impressions--good vibe. The entrance is actually around the corner on 13th, not on 2nd, but you can see everything going on in the place b/c of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Last night, the crowd was downtown couples, hipsters, Asian foodies, and Momofuku Ssam reservation holders (the ones wearing the ties) standing around, eating out of cardboard containers. (Milk Bar is linked to Ssam by a hallway)

Between the two of us, we had:

* Pork Buns: slices of pork belly cradled in Chinese buns; very tasty, although the roast pork at Big Wong's still can't be beat (2 for $9)
* Cereal milk: let cornflakes sit in milk until soggy; strain and serve in soda cup, and you have a hit on your hands; I admire the creative effort, but this drink was just too weird for me; then again, I'm not crazy about cereal; also served as frozen yogurt - the people standing nearby seemed to be enjoying their froot loop flavored fro yo
* Composte cookie: this chocolate chip cookie supposedly contains potato chips, pretzels and other stuff in it; the cookie retains the crunch of the chips - I had thought they were cornflakes, but cornflakes were on the brain, b/c of the above; good texture, crispy on the edges with a chewy center peak, just how I liked my cookies, but very rich ($1.75 each)
* Candy Bar pie: this thing called to us from the display case - topped with chocolate covered pretzels, in the cut view, you can see the chocolate crust, peanut butter filling, caramel oozing out the sides and topped with a layer of hard chocolate; if you're into salty and sweet - this will hit the spot; what a Reeses would be if it grew up and moved to NYC
* Key Lime cake: the surprise winner of the night; took a slice home for City Guy, who likes fruity desserts. With competition from all the above, I have a feeling the key lime cake gets overlooked here. The girl who packed it up for me hadn't even tried it. But I tried a bite when City Guy was enjoying it later and wow - this is amazing cake - the cake layer is flavorful, but not too fluffy or dense; sour cream frosting that tastes homemade and a surprising layer of crispy graham crumbs and a base of graham crackers ($5/slice)

Really fun little spot and I definitely want to go back. Glad to say for once, the food has lived up to the hype. What looked good for next time: crack pie, dulce de leche cake, cinnamon bun pie and blueberry cream cookie.

http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/

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Momofuku Milk Bar
251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

Mar 25, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

The best Korean-Chinese food (ex. jajamyun) in NY/NJ?

Funny - I did live in LA for 7 years before moving to NY, so I think you've hit the nail on the head. The Korean food scene does pale in comparison to LA, but thanks for the recommendation. I'll make a trip out to Flushing - can't believe I haven't been yet.

Mar 25, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Whoopie Pies

Omg. The best. Worth the trip out to Brooklyn.

Mar 24, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Papayas on the cheap

Chinatown. Check out the produce stands on Mott St.

Mar 24, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

The best Korean-Chinese food (ex. jajamyun) in NY/NJ?

I'm jonesing for some Seoul style jajamyun (black bean noodle) and tang soo yook (sweet sour chicken) and Hyo Dong Gak didn't cut it. Haven't tried Shanghai Mong yet, but wondering if there are other options I should try. There's got to be better than this in the tri-state area. Am I right? I'm willing to drive or take a train.

Mar 24, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

TriBeCa Dinner Suggestions

A block or so away from the Tribeca Grand on Church St is Kori, a modern, intimate Korean restaurant with great food and decor...and cocktails. Thalassa (on Franklin) is another place that would fit the bill - great wine list and upscale Greek food, especially seafood. http://www.thalassanyc.com/

Mar 24, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Any new tea shops worth trying?

If you're looking to have a traditional afternoon tea, I'd recommend Teany in the Lower East Side or Alice's Tea Cup uptown --both have really extensive tea selections and good food. FYI - Arium in the Meatpacking District used to be good, but went back recently, and the afternoon tea is overpriced and forgettable.

If you want a place to buy tea or just stop in and grab a cookie and a tea latte, but aren't looking for the full tea experience, try Amanzi in Tribeca which just opened a few months ago. I've bought tea from them a few times now, and I like their selection. Or try T Salon in the Chelsea Markets--great little space where you can get tea and a nice snack.

BTW, I love Cha-an too. I dream about their green tea macarons!

Mar 24, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

park avenue winter tomorrow night - what to order?

Overall, we enjoyed our dinner. I've posted my full review at:
http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/2009...

The gidst of it is:
Order the miso-glazed lobster; skip the filet mignon with braised short ribs; latkes are done well and come with nice sauces; appetizers were very good--we ordered the caesar and the special bay scallops--didn't get to try the venison steak tartare, but it was a popular dish with other diners; the chocolate cube is not for the faint of chocolate heart

Mar 23, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

park avenue winter tomorrow night - what to order?

So, I asked the server when I was there on Saturday, and the official answer is, they will be closed on the 29th and 30th and will reopen for Spring at dinner on the 31st.

Mar 23, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

park avenue winter tomorrow night - what to order?

I've read Winter ends on the 29th, and Park Avenue Spring opens on the 30th.

Mar 20, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Affordable, decent Indian?

Go to Bombay Talkie in Chelsea - it's a beautifully modern space inspired by Bollywood movies, and the Indian food, mostly inspired by street food, is amazing. Also, it's not too expensive and because you have a big group, you can order a bunch of little dishes and share. Be sure to make a reservation though. http://www.bombaytalkie.com/

Mar 20, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

park avenue winter tomorrow night - what to order?

My husband and I are going for the first time tomorrow night. What do you Chowhounds recommend?

Mar 20, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Fun cooking activities for a foodie?

If he likes cheese, Murray's has some great cheese classes, including their popular Cheese 101. http://www.murrayscheese.com/edu_main.... I have pictures up on my blog from my class: http://homesweetnyc.blogspot.com/2008...

Mar 20, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan

Best Omakase for the money?

I have to join the Sasabune love fest. Was a big fan of their sushi (fishmarket-fresh sushi on a warm bed of rice!) when I lived in LA and was glad to see the same quality of fish and sushi in their NYC location. Have not had better in the city. BTW, the bill was closer to $90-100 pp, at least on the night I went.

Mar 20, 2009
thegirlnextdoor in Manhattan