Food Trucking Hunting Part 1

One sunny afternoon, the boyfriend, a friend and I decided we wanted Korilla. After a quick check on Tweat.it, I saw that they were at 45th and 5th, which is a just 3 train stops on the D train away. We decided to make our way over but upon arrival, Tweat.it informed me that they had moved to Columbia because of construction. MAJOR bummer. So since Korilla was a bust, we decided to see what else was in the neighborhood since we were already there. Tweat.it told me that Domo Taco was two blocks away. I had never heard of Domo Taco before, but the name made me think it was probably Japanese. Japanese Tacos?! That was something we had never had before.

Upon arrival, we saw a lime green truck with a taco on it. Actually, I think it looked more like a shrimp tempura taco with a mustache. There was a line already so we perused the menu while we waited for the line to get smaller.

Their menu consisted of various Japanese inspired taco fillings. They had a seafood option, a pork option, a beef option, a chicken option and even a vegetarian option. Even though the shrimp tempura taco looked appealing, we decided to try the Japanese Nacho Tots instead ($4).

The tater tots came packaged in a small container filled up to the brim with onion flakes. The tater tots were crunchy and hot. The added nacho cheese on top made it just that much better. Forget regular tater tots, next time I just want these!!

Since we were going food truck hunting, we decided not to get tacos and instead went in search for another truck. Stay tuned for part two!

Birthday Dinner Part Three – Fish

I’ve been dying to go to Fish for a while now since I heard about their divine lobster rolls and fresh clams. I finally got to go when the boyfriend’s parents surprised me with dinner at Fish for my birthday. We arrived around 5:30 for an early dinner since we heard they fill up pretty quick later on in the night. We were seated right away and began to peruse the menu.

Since I was already 21, the boyfriend’s mom suggested that I get their Red, White and Blue deal ($8), which was your choice of 6 clams or 6 oysters and your choice of their house red wine, house white wine, and Blue Moon beer. It was a pretty good deal since one clam on the half shell costs $1.25 each. Since the majority of the table preferred clams, I went with the clams.

The house white wine was okay. For a house wine, it was pretty good but for my own personal tastes it wasn’t as sweet as I liked. Nonetheless, it was a nice accompaniment to my dinner.

The clams on the half shell were phenomenal! They were so fresh and so big. They were so good that we ended up ordering another half dozen for the table to share.

We each ordered the cup size of the Lobster Bisque ($7). The cup size is really more of a bowl size and the bowl size is more of a pot. The cup size was really big and I could barely finish it. It was, however, really damn good. There were tiny chunks of lobster on the bottom of the bowl and each spoonful was very flavorful. I did not need to add any condiments to it. Perfection!

My entrée was the Down East Lobster Feast, which features 1 ¼ pound lobster with steamers, corn on the cob and fries. The price of this dish depends on the market price for lobster that day. On the day that we went, the dish cost the grand total of $19. I think it’s a good deal for the large amount of food that you get. The lobster was cooked just right and the steamers slid off their clamshells. The corn on the cob was okay – it was a bit dry and didn’t have much flavor. The fries, however, was amazing. I couldn’t keep my hands off of them even though I was so full.

The boyfriend and I also shared a Lobster Mashed Potatoes side ($9), which was also quite good. The mashed potatoes were very creamy and buttery. The lobster sauce on top was well seasoned and had many lobster chunks. The two combined made a very creamy dish. Next time though, I might forgo this side because with all the food that we ordered, I was too full to finish it.

Everything was just so delicious at Fish. The clams and oysters were fresh and the lobsters were delicious. The boyfriend’s mother ordered an organic grilled salmon for her entrée, which was phenomenal as well. The salmon was very fresh and soft. It really was cooked to perfection. There was not a single rough piece in the entire dish. I can definitely seeing myself coming back to try the lobster rolls or the crab cakes.

Lunching by the East River at Smorgasburg

Cookiesandnoodles here, taking a nice break from blogging to introduce a guest blogger, my good friend, Nancy Chen! Check out her food adventure!

The winds were light, the sun was high, and where was I?  Soaking up the delightful spring weather at Smorgasburg, of course!

A popular food flea market nestled right by the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Smorgasburg returned for its second year on Saturday, April 7th with a slew of food vendors, hoping to impress the palettes of native Brooklynites and tourists alike with their creative menus.  This particular Brooklynite was certainly impressed.

As I walked around the market on opening day with a friend, I was determined to take one spin around to see all the vendors before buying anything so I could stay below my $20 cap on spending (read: broke college student). With more than 50+ vendors set up for business, this proved to be a difficult task. From elaborate cemitas (10-layer Mexican sandwiches) to cleverly named sweets (e.g. S’more Bakery’s S’morgasm), the options were incredibly alluring.

Before succumbing to my growling stomach, I did note that this year’s food market had a greater diversity in the cuisines represented by the vendors. You could see everything from Korean kimchi to Indian paranthas, but even better—Asian cuisine was exceptionally prevalent.  Asian fusion hot dogs, classic noodles dishes, and thai tea flavored soymilk were just a few of the specialties being served up.

I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of our city reflected in the choice of vendors this year and think it’s a great path to embark on for future food markets in Brooklyn or the surrounding boroughs. What tells the story of NYC better than the amazing variety of cuisines you can find here? Smorgasburg is a great visit for foodies as well as for those looking to try new things because it offers the variety in cuisines in addition to twists on American staples (e.g. s’mores, donuts, pizza, ribs, etc.).

Now, here’s a look at my meal choice for the afternoon.

I started off with a Thai Tea flavored soymilk from Soy Hound , which was delicious as a chilled drink. My friend bought the Matcha Green Tea, which was actually better than the Thai Tea but that’s just a matter of taste preference.  The owners hand squeeze the soymilk using soybeans, raw sugar, and honey in Queens and it looks like a promising alternative for the lactose intolerant out there.

Then, I bought an $8 Lamb burger from Landhaus, which looked and smelled amazing but after eating it, I wouldn’t say it was the best lamb I’d ever had. It was good, but I’d recommend being more daring with your choice and try some of the more interesting concoctions available.

Dessert was definitely the most satisfying end to my trip, as I opted for the ingeniously named S’morgasm from the S’more Bakery. Best overpriced s’more I’d ever bought at $3. The chocolate oozed out and mixed perfectly with the fluffy marshmallow as I took my first bite. As you can tell, I didn’t even bother to stop and take a clearer picture.

Been to Smorgasburg or other food flea markets before? I’d love to hear about some of the great food you’ve discovered. Feel free to leave a comment below and recommend some new food establishments to explore.

Birthday Dinner Part Two – Bozu

When the boyfriend told me that we were having my birthday dinner in Brooklyn, I wondered for days where it could be. We usually don’t venture out into Brooklyn because we’re kind of unfamiliar with many neighborhoods. I’m really only well versed in the Bay Ridge/Sunset area. Most of the time we stay in Manhattan because the transportation is also easier. But this time, we hopped on the M train and made our way to Williamsburg.

After a short walk, we made our way to Bozu, which serves up Japanese cuisine. We arrived around 6pm and they were still getting ready. We didn’t mind because as the night wore on, we found out that walking in and getting a seat was extremely hard. When we were leaving around 7:45, a couple walked in and asked for the wait time. The host told them that he was sorry and couldn’t seat them at all tonight. The funny thing was that the table-for-two behind us was completely empty the entire time we were there. But yet this wasn’t the first couple he had turned down. Gotta love a restaurant that will turn down customers instead of risking making a party with a reservation wait.

The entrance of the restaurant was covered with hanging Japanese figures – all of them have a note written behind them by previous customers. The décor itself was pretty intimate. The front of the restaurant is boarded up with wood planks, which also hang from the ceiling to cover the lights. Very dark!

Bozu uses a special type of purification for their water, which makes it taste pretty damn good for water that came from the tap. I can’t quite remember the name but I was more than happy to sip on their tap water throughout the night.

Our first dish was their Pork Belly ($9), which features pork belly cooked in sake and sweet soy sauce. The pork belly is thinly sliced and topped with a dollop of wasabi sauce. No words can describe how delicious this dish was. I haven’t had Japanese style pork belly in so long that I almost forgot the taste. Bozu’s pork belly melts on your mouth. You don’t even need to chew! Just let it melt. The meat to fat distribution was also quite even, which was amazing. A lot of pork belly dishes have too much fat, which isn’t entirely healthy.

Our second dish was the Stuffed Mushroom ($5), which featured mushrooms stuffed with parsley, garlic, breadcrumbs, and butter. Mmmm. I loved the garlic and butter flavors of this dish. The inside of the mushrooms were piping hot but the taste of the filling made it all okay. I actually wound up eating 3/5 of these cause they were so good. Sorry boyfriend!

Our next dish was the Party Bomb ($21). Bozu is special because they specialize in sushi bombs, which are rounded mounds of rice with a fish topping. It’s quite different from your standard sushi because you don’t have to bite it. You can just pop it into your mouth and enjoy some quality fish. Each Party Bomb order comes with 12 pieces. There is a standard 3 that comes with the set – Pink Bomb, Mc Low Bomb, and Spicy Mc Low Bomb. You then get your choice of a Una Bomb, Spicy Una Bomb or Ikura Bomb. We decided to go with the Una Bomb, which is eel.

All Sushi Bomb orders come with a side of sauces for dipping. The first would be the regular soy sauce. The second is mild wasabi soy sauce and the third is the hot wasabi soy sauce. They come with little spoons to scoop the sauce onto your sushi bombs. I normally don’t like wasabi but the boyfriend convinced me to try the mild sauce. I was really surprised because I ate the rest of my bombs with the wasabi soy sauce. I couldn’t get over how good it was! Unlike the other wasabi’s that I’ve tasted, this one didn’t burn in the same way. There was a slight burn when you first eat it but after that it just tastes good. The heat doesn’t linger in your mouth.

We tried the Pink Bomb first, which is Salmon and Scallion. The salmon was very smooth and soft. I can’t remember the last time I had salmon this good. I think it might have been before my go-to spot in St. Marks closed down. Nori, I will forever mourn you.

Our next piece was the Mc Low Bomb, which Tuna topped with avocado and a wasabi cream sauce. I’m going to be completely honest here and admit that this was the best bomb of the bunch. I don’t normally like Tuna because my favorite fish is salmon but this one was amazing. The tuna completely outshone the salmon here. The tuna was just so fatty and smooth. I actually fought the boyfriend for the last piece!

The Spicy Mc Low Bomb is basically the Mc Low Bomb but with cucumber instead of avocado. They also use spicy mayo instead of the wasabi cream sauce. The whole bomb is then topped with kataifi, which is a sort of crunchy noodle-like substance. This one packed a bit more heat than the Mc Low. This was probably my least favorite bomb because after I poured the wasabi soy sauce on top of it, the katafi made it kind of hard for me to taste the wasabi.

Our final bomb was the Una Bomb, which is eel with a dollop of wasabi cream sauce. My stomach always has room for eel and theirs was really good. Most times, when you eat eel, you can feel the tiny bones in it. That wasn’t the case here. It was really smooth and tasted amazing with the wasabi soy sauce.

Our last dish was their Japanese Fried Chicken ($8), which was marinated and deep fried chicken with wasabi cream sauce on a bed of watercress. First things first, this dish didn’t even taste like fried chicken. It wasn’t like Popeyes or KFC where you can feel the dough and flour as you eat it. This fried chicken was very light and juicy. The chicken was so juicy that there wasn’t a single piece of dry chicken. The boyfriend and I even gobbled up the watercress on the bottom. Yum!

After our meal, our waitress came by with their dessert menu. I was really tempted by the green tea pudding but our waitress recommended their dessert of the day – Key Lime Pie ($6). This pie was very unlike the other key lime pies I’ve had at other restaurants. The crust was hard and the filling was smooth. There was also a lot of lime zest inside the filling. You could really taste the real lime flavor in every bite. This is how you know they didn’t make it with bottle limejuice.

I was really really happy with my meal and the boyfriend was too. The service was quick and the food was amazing. I really loved the fact that they had so much integrity to not give away a reserved table, even if the table wasn’t being filled for another two hours. I can definitely see myself coming back very soon. Word of advice though: make reservations! It is very hard to get in as a walk in – unless you come early like the we did.

Birthday Dinner Part 1 – Basta Pasta

It was time for my birthday and my mom had asked where I wanted to have my birthday dinner. We’re spent quite a few birthdays at Ichi Umi, especially when it used to be called another name. This year, I wanted something a little different. Basta Pasta has been on my go-to list for a while now. The prices are a bit out of my normal “cheap eats” range so the boyfriend and I have never been able to find an occasion to go. But since my mom was paying for dinner, I thought, why not?

I made reservations for 6:30pm and we arrived around 6:20. We were a bit early but were seated right away. We were led to a table for four with settings for three. It’s nice to know they actually planned a table for us and wasn’t just sitting us anywhere there was a table. After sitting, our waiter quickly came over with menus. They were so cute! The menus were tiny little booklets – only about 3-4 pages. The front of the menu was decorated with a flower drawing. The inside was divided into three sections – appetizers, pastas, and meats. Despite the menu’s small size there was a big selection to choose from.

Our waiter left us to peruse our menus but returned later with a complimentary plate of blue cheese spread on pieces of their bread. Normal charge for these is $1.50 each so we were pretty happy about them. The spread was so delicious! I’ve never had blue cheese spread like this before so it was something new for me.

After ordering, our waiter brought over some bread and breadsticks. I only had a piece of the bread but I had about four of the breadsticks. The breadsticks were crunchy and tasted like Salad Pocky (for my fellow Asians). At several points during dinner I would just pick one out of the cup and nibble on it.

Within ten minutes of us placing our order, we received our first appetizer – Insalata D’anatra, which features cherrywood-smoked sliced duck breast with watercress & arugula ($12). The watercress and arugula was pretty standard but the duck breast really stood out. The meat was smoked to just the right amount. The duck breast was chewy and not rough at all. The serving size was more than generous – there was more than enough meat to go around between the three of us.

Our next shared appetizer was the Tortino Di Granchi, which features crab meat, avocado, green apples, yukon gold potatoes & basil aioli with grapefruit jelly, sliced radishes & chayote ($14). I had high expectations for this dish but was slightly let down. The mixture tasted almost like an avocado and potato salad. There wasn’t enough crab taste and the basil aioli also overpowered the mixture. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing either.

Our last shared appetizer was the Linguine Ai Ricci Di Mare, which features linguine with fresh sea urchin & basil in pink sauce ($14). This is one of their signature dishes but since I had already chosen an entrée ahead of time, I wanted to give it a try. We ordered the appetizer portion of this dish and it was just right for the three of us. We were able to get an abundant serving of sea urchin and linguine. I really liked this dish and it might have been my favorite of the night. The sea urchin was fresh and didn’t taste fishy at all. The combination was amazing and something I never would have imagined.

A few minutes after we finished up our linguine, my entrée was wheeled over. That’s right, I did it. I had chosen Basta Pasta’s signature dish, Spaghetti Con Prosciutto E Parmigiano ($16). This dish features spaghetti with parmigiano reggiano & parma prosciutto and is served in a half wheel of parmesan cheese at the table. Another waitress came over with the wheel of Parmesan cheese and started preparing it. First a steaming hot plate of al dente pasta is placed into the half wheel. The hot pasta causes the cheese to melt, which mixes with the pasta. The waitress then tosses the pasta in the cheese and chips away at the cheese. The entire mixture is then plated and topped with prosciutto. The serving size of this dish might be slightly small for most people but I liked that it wasn’t a heaping dish. I was able to finish my entrée with room for dessert.

After all our dishes were cleared, we were offered the dessert menu. Again, the menu was small but the choices were large. I was torn between their Vulcano Cake and the Tiramisu and decided to go with the Tiramisu since it was their original ($9). The presentation of the dessert was flawless. Coupled with sliced strawberries and grapes, this dish was so pretty. The Tiramisu was more fluff than cake, which I liked. However, the cake was a bit soggy, which is a sort of pet peeve for me. I like my Tiramisu’s soft and melting in your mouth, not soggy. I could actually see the moisture leaking out of the cake.

My mom ordered their Flan ($8), which was very good. The Flan had the perfect caramel taste and coupled with the sweetness of the whipped cream, it was perfection. I kept stealing bites of my mother’s dessert because it was so good!

My sister ordered the Composta Di Mela, which features an organic red delicious apple compote & vanilla gelato ($9).  Topped with a caramelized marsala wine zabaglione, this dessert was very pretty to look at. The crepe was thin and easy to cut but managed to hold all the ingredients together without falling apart. I had a bit of this crepe and it was very good. The apples were a pinkish color, which was odd looking since we’re all used to caramelized apples. Nonetheless, this dessert was very good. The vanilla gelato was amazing. Next time, I’m ordering just gelato!

Now that we’re done with the food, let’s talk about the décor. The décor is very simplistic. The walls are minimally decorated. When you first walk into the restaurant, you hit the bar. Then you hit the two sections of the open kitchen. Its all very open and airy in the restaurant. The tables are only decorated with a small vase of flowers. Despite the simplistic décor, I felt like that was what gave Basta Pasta it’s own style. It was all very fresh and carefree.

Although our service wasn’t super attentive, it wasn’t bad either. I do give our waiter points for bringing my mom water without ice after she ordered a cup of tea for dinner. He must’ve realized that my mom doesn’t like cold drinks. Major props for noticing the small ticks of customers.

Basta Pasta, I wasn’t all that impressed with some of your dishes but the dishes that were good, were great. Therefore, I am giving you a 4/5 stars.