Sake

Sake, located in Brooklyn, is an all you can eat sushi buffet. They offer their lunch menu for $12.95 and their dinner menu for $17.95. However, Sake is unlike what most of us think of when we hear the word buffet. Instead of us walking up to the food to get it, the food is brought to us. Once you’re seated, a waitress will bring over several paper menus with some pencils. You then mark up what you want and how many of each you want. After you’re done, your waitress will bring over the food to you once they’re made.

From your seat, you can see the sushi bar and the sushi chefs working. I went with the boyfriend and his family for dinner because his mother had seen the Yelp pictures and was craving Japanese food. Despite it being a Wednesday night, they were actually almost full by the time our party left. When we started the night at around 6pm, there were 3 sushi chefs. By the time we left at around 7:30pm, there were 5 sushi chefs hard at work to fulfill requests.

We started off with some appetizers and cooked foods, which takes up the top part of the menu. Each order comes in a small portion, which is good because you get to sample many different types of dishes without being filled up by one big dish. We started with their Kani Salad, or imitation crabmeat salad. The dish comes with crunchy crumbs on top but we asked the waitress to hold ours. We actually ordered 4 orders of the Kani salad throughout the night because it was so good. The crabmeat and cucumber shreds were mixed with mayo and served chilled – just the way I like it!

We also ordered their crabmeat ravioli, which is sort of like a flat fried wonton. The crabmeat is stuffed into dough, which is then deep-fried. Spicy mayo is drizzled on top of the crunchy dough. This dish was pretty good because the dough was very crunchy and crisp. The spicy mayo was pretty spicy so be careful!

The fried calamari comes with 4 pieces per order. They are freshly fried the moment you order so they always come piping hot. We actually ordered a couple dishes of these throughout the night as well. They were crunchy and the squid was fresh. Since they come in such small quantities, you can order a couple for the table to share if you’re coming with a larger party.

Sake offers three types of teriyaki – shrimp, salmon, and beef. We tried all three but deemed the beef teriyaki the best. They come in a small order, with about 7-8 pieces each. This allowed us to snack on each order without getting too full.  We all came to a group decision that the beef teriyaki was the best one. The salmon came in close, but the beef was very tender and flavorful. Towards the end of our meal, we actually ordered another dish of beef teriyaki cause it was that good.

Now it’s time to get to the sushi! We ordered a few shrimp, crab stick and salmon sushi’s because everyone liked them. The crabstick sushi was very good but the rice started to fall apart after we dipped it into the soy sauce. The salmon sushi, though, was delicious. Salmon is my favorite fish for sushi and they did it right. Each piece did not skimp on the salmon and the rice wasn’t too large either. I actually ordered two more pieces later on just for myself!

We also ordered a couple of pieces of eel sushi and octopus sushi. The octopus sushi came out very pretty and I give them major points for being able to pop these dishes out to us. We ordered quite a bit of sushi and rolls and they were all very quick to come out. At some point, we actually ran out of space on our table for all of the places of sushi!

Besides offering the basic rolls, Sake also offers a variety of special rolls under the all you can eat menu. One of their best special rolls is the Kani Naruto roll, which features crab meat and avocado wrapped in a thin layer of cucumber. We actually ordered two of these rolls because they were very good. The use of cucumber made this roll very healthy as well as light. Without the heavy rice to weigh it down, you can actually eat several of these rolls without being full!

Each person is allowed to order one sashimi appetizer, which comes with 8 pieces of assorted fish. We requested for ours to be all salmon, so our order came with 6 pieces. We only ordered one of these cause we were a bit preoccupied with the sushi and rolls. Next time though, I know I will just order a sashimi appetizer, some rolls and a lot of cooked dishes because that way, I can eat a lot more! The rolls made us so full that we didn’t want to order anymore sushi. After we polished off all 7 rolls that we had ordered, we didn’t want to eat any more rice. So here’s a tip, don’t order too many rolls! One is more than enough. Save your tummy for the sushi, sashimi, and cooked dishes!

We finished dinner off with some green tea ice cream. Desserts aren’t included on the all you can eat menu and most are an extra $3. This is a huge bummer for me because I love desserts! The main reason why I love buffets like Ichi Umi is because they offer unlimited all you can eat desserts – ice cream, cheesecakes, cookies and fruits! $3 isn’t really expensive for green tea ice cream, but I’d love it if they had included it on the menu. How much ice cream can I eat anyways?

At the end of the night, I left Sake very very full. I was very satisfied with the quality of the food and the quickness all the dishes arrived. I was, however, not satisfied with the service. Whereas even the worst restaurants I’ve been to, their waitresses have kept my drink refilled, Sake completely failed in this. The waitresses showed no want to refill my tea. Even when we asked for our teacups to be refilled, one waitress had an attitude about it. If I’m eating, I obviously need to drink something to go with my meal.

I also need to complain about the bathroom situation. When we arrived, the boyfriend and I both needed to use the bathroom. Lo and behold, there was only one. And even worse, some guy was in there for about 15 minutes and we can all guess what he was doing in there. Sake could really do with another bathroom in the restaurant. If one person from every table needed to go, there would be a line stretching out to the door.

I’m really torn between how many stars to give Sake. The service was lacking, but the food was really good. For the amount I ate, it was definitely worth $17.95. Sake, your food rescued you. I give you 4 stars out of 5.

Cornerstone Cafe

Despite it being one of our favorite meals, the boyfriend and I barely have time for brunch most days. But since it was winter break from school, we decided to meet up early for some good old breakfast foods. Since we rarely ever have time for brunch, we don’t really have a go-to place for it so the boyfriend did some Googling. He found a couple of places – but one in particular caught my eye. Their first picture on Yelp was pancakes covered in an assortment of fruits. The decision was made for me – I decided that we would go to Cornerstone Café, located in LES.

When we arrived, we entered a completely packed restaurant. The party of three in front of us in line was told it would be a fifteen to twenty minute wait. We were seated immediately because we were only a party of two. After being seated, we were given menus to peruse while the waitress got our waters. During our decision period, I noticed another party of three come in and put their name down. Their wait time was thirty minutes! The funny thing though was that both parties waited outside for the entire wait time. The boyfriend made a comment about the deliciousness of the food – it must be really good if people were willing to wait more than thirty minutes for a table.

I decided to go with their Texas French Toast ($8). I saw a picture on Yelp and it looked positively delicious. And to be honest, it was just that. My French toast came with four triangular slices or two full slices. It was topped with fresh whipped cream, banana slices and blueberries. There was also orange blossom honey on top of the slices of toast, which made it just the right amount of sweet. The toast was very light and fluffy! It almost melted in my mouth before I even got the chance to chew. The boyfriend was speechless after having a bite of the toast. It was so good!

The boyfriend decided to go with their baked eggs ($12). Neither of us have had baked eggs before and was wondering how it tasted. We had read glowing reviews on Yelp about the baked eggs so we decided to give it a try. The baked eggs come with either salmon or Italian sausage in a tomato sauce. The boyfriend decided to go with the Italian sausage. The baked eggs came out on a skillet, which was extremely hot! The eggs were also extremely hot as well. We had to blow on each bite for a while before we could even eat it! The baked eggs were even more delicious than the French toast. It was flavorful and cooked just right – the yokes were semi-solid and not runny at all. Even after we finished the two eggs, we kept eating the Italian sausage bits and the sauce.

We also ordered a side of home fries ($4), which they put separately into two plates. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The boyfriend and I actually started dipping the slices into the tomato sauce of his baked eggs!

The service was quick and although we didn’t see much of our waitress after she brought our food over, they were very friendly and nice. I couldn’t really blame them for not being around much since there was a completely packed restaurant for them to take care of. It was only a Friday afternoon and there were so many people!

I know I will definitely be back to Cornerstone Café any chance I can get. I am dying to try their Belgian waffles and Eggs Benedict. Both dishes looked amazing on the Yelp pictures. Our meal came up to around $35 including tax and tip, which is very affordable when split between two people. It’s a little bit out of the way to get to, with only the F and M trains stopping in the area, but I would make the trip for the French toast any day. Cornerstone Café, I give you a 5/5.

Gyu-Kaku

I’ve blogged about Japanese teppanyaki before so it’s time to write about another type of Japanese cuisine – yakiniku. Japanese yakiniku is a meal that consists of grilled meat. Gyu-Kaku, located in the East Village, specializes in yakiniku. Visitors cook their own meats with a charcoal burner that is built into the tables. The menu offers a variety of foods to choose from – beef, pork, chicken, seafood and an assortment of vegetables.

Gyu-Kaku has a happy hour menu everyday from 3pm-6pm. This menu offers a variety of appetizers, meats and drinks at 50% off the original price. We arrived at 5:30pm just to catch a hold of this deal. Since we had a large party, we were given a reservation for 5:30 but we were told we would need to vacate the table by 7:15pm. But by the time 7:15pm arrived, they were very courteous and didn’t rush us to leave. We ended up finishing around 7:30pm.

We started off with a couple of appetizers. First was the seaweed salad. This appetizer came in a large plate, but the serving size was rather small. However, at the price of $3, I suppose I can’t complain. The seaweed was fresh and had just the right amount of sesame oil mixed throughout the salad.

Next came the fried shrimp dumplings. Each order of dumplings came with seven pieces, which is a bit of an odd number. The dumplings were drizzled with a salsa-like sauce, which made it spicy and tangy. The skin of the dumplings was lightly fried so there was a crunch but it wasn’t too deeply fried. We ordered a couple of orders of dumplings so I had two of these.

We also ordered a couple of orders of kalbi soup. This tasted more like a stew, or more specifically, it tasted like Korean chigae. The soup base was a bit spicy and was interspersed with egg, kalbi meat and other veggies. This was quite delicious and wasn’t heavy at all.

Next up in the appetizers selection was the Sukiyaki Beef Bibimbap. Happy Hour price placed each of these large bowls of mixed rice at only $5 each. We ordered around 4 bowls to be shared between a table of thirteen so we all each got a small bowl of rice. I requested that mine be less spicy and it was perfect. There was just a small hint of spice but not too much. There were chunks of beef and veggies throughout my rice and I had to stop myself from finishing the whole bowl!

After appetizers we were brought our meat! We started off with their Bistro Hanger Steak off their Happy Hour menu. At the Happy Hour price, it only cost $4 per order. We got about ten orders of these for the entire table to share. We put the meat onto the already fired grill and started barbequing! When we finished grilling, the meat was tender and juicy. I was done chewing each piece within seconds!

We also ordered some beef ribs to grill. After grilling these, they almost fell off the bone. They were so tender! We also ordered a ton of other meats – beef tongue, pork slices and pig neck. I was too busy eating to take pictures so you’re going to have to pay them a visit and try for yourselves!

We also ordered Kurobuta sausages, which were off the Happy Hour menu. These were so delicious that we knew we had to have it. These sausages grill super quick and were very juicy. Even though they came at the end of the meal and we were pretty full, I still had room for one of these sausages.

After everything was cleared and the table cleaned, we were offered the dessert menu. Despite being very full, the Green Tea Mille Crepe cake looked super good. I have always wanted to try a crepe cake because they’re supposed to be very delicious. The boyfriend’s friend and I shared a slice and I was blown away! The crepe cake, which came with around 20 layers of thin crepes (I lost count of how many layers there were), was soft and light. The matcha crème in between the crepe layers were full of green tea flavor. Paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this was the perfect finish to a delicious meal.

Gyu-Kaku is pretty expensive when you’re not going during Happy Hour but they do have set menus that are pretty affordable. It’s pretty fun to be able to cook your own meats. If you’ve never tried yakiniku, I suggest a visit to Gyu-Kaku. The service is quick and friendly. My water glass was always filled up when it reached half-full and I was super full after my meal. We actually had left overs!

Peter Luger

After what felt like years of hearing about the greatness that is Peter Luger from various people, I finally got the chance to go recently. The boyfriend’s family and family friends were holding a holiday gathering at Peter Lugers and when I found out, I was ecstatic.  I started counting down the days and even cut lunch that day in order to save my tummy for the deliciousness.

If you’re never been to Peter Lugers, don’t worry because I you will tell you all about NYC’s #1 steakhouse. By the end of this post, I guarantee you’ll be drooling and hoping on the first reservation you can get!

First, let me talk about Peter Luger’s signature steak sauce. It’s tangy and sweet but also salty at the same time. I have no idea what it’s made out of but I know that there’s a bottle sitting in the fridge for the next time my family decides to cook up some steaks. We pretty much poured the steak sauce over everything because it tasted so good.

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For our appetizer we ordered a couple of slices of bacon. Now, when I say bacon most of you are probably thinking of the kind we all eat for breakfast. But at Peter Luger, the bacon is about an inch thick and practically melts in your mouth. We ordered 8 to start but had to get more because our large party quickly polished it off. Before going, a couple of friends recommended that I try the bacon. Guys, you were right. It was heavenly. The bacon almost melted in my mouth. Drizzle some steak sauce on top and it was perfection.

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We also ordered their tomato and onion slices as an appetizer. This is a really simply dish. You get slices of tomato that you drizzle their signature sauce onto. Then you dig in! The tomatoes were huge! After these two appetizers I was halfway full already!

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After waiting around fifteen minutes or so after our appetizer, our steak and sides came. Since about six of us like our steak medium rare, they recommended that we order their porterhouse for six. We did exactly that and our side of the table got two large chunks of steak – all cut up and drizzled with steak juice. The steak was cooked just right. It was still pretty rare without any blood coming out of it. The meat was easy to chew and very flavorful. Add on some of their signature steak sauce and it was so good!

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We also got a variety of sides to share around the table. We ordered their onion rings, which were very lightly fried. They weren’t like your standard heavy battered and deep fried onion rings. The onions were very sweet and easy to eat. There was hardly any onion aftertaste either!

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We also ordered their creamed spinach as a side. When the boyfriend told me we were ordering creamed spinach I expected something creamy and cheesy. I was so wrong. Peter Luger’s creamed spinach is darker than most, but it definitely does not lack in creaminess. It was so smooth and light that I barely had to chew it before swallowing. I definitely recommend giving this side a try.

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When the steaks arrived, the waiters gave each of us two pieces and scooped sides for us. I ended up with a huge chunk of potato hash, creamed spinach and onion rings. I quickly slathered some of their special sauce on top of my steak and dug in.

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We were very full but when the waiters cleaned off our tables and offered us the dessert menu, we couldn’t resist. The boyfriend and I decided to share their “Holy Cow” ice cream sundae. This sundae features hot fudge, vanilla ice cream, and walnuts. We added their homemade whipped cream, or Schlag, on top. The whipped cream was phenomenal. It was soft and fluffy! I can definitely tell why they have their own special name for it because I have never tasted whipped cream like this before. The whipped cream combined with the hot fudge made the perfect end to a delicious meal. Because the ice cream was so cold, some of the hot fudge started to solidify so there were small chocolate chunks inside the vanilla ice cream. Perfection!

The boyfriend’s family friend ordered their key lime pie, which I had a sample of. It had the prevailing taste of limes but it wasn’t overpowering. The crust was just the right amount of solidity. Next time I’m at Peter Luger, I know I’ll be ordering their key lime pie because it was very delicious.

After our meal was over, the waiters cleaned our plates and threw some of their chocolate gold coins onto the table – one for each person at the table. On one side, is their crest and the other proudly boasts that they have been famous for over 100 years.

Our bill came out to be pretty impressive – even for a party of thirteen. Peter Luger is definitely not budget eating but you really do get the quality that you pay for.  If you have never went, I really do recommend paying them a visit. Pick a special occasion and go for a celebration. You won’t be disappointed!