Big Daddy’s Diner

Now that I intern and the Boyfriend does as well, we usually have lunch near my office once a week. I had decided that I wanted a burger so I told him to spend some time looking for someplace we can get a good burger. Shake Shack is actually just a few blocks away but I would never be able to get a burger and finish eating it within the one hour lunch period I have.

He found Big Daddy’s Diner, established in 2004. Despite the fact that it hasn’t been around for long, it has that old diner feel. All the seats inside are booth tables, which makes me think back to when my family and I used to eat at roadside diners during road trips to Virginia and Maryland. We were seated immediately upon arriving and started off with drinks and appetizers.

I knew I had to get a milk shake because what else do you eat burgers with? Their milkshake menu isn’t small but I managed to narrow it down to their Hoolie Coolie Banana Split Smoothie ($6). This is a chocolate shake blended together with bananas and chocolate sauce and then topped with whipped cream. It was so delicious. The milk shake was blended very well and did not take much effort to get through the straw.

Our waiter started us off with their Really, Really Good Mozz Styx ($8).  And the menu didn’t lie – they were really, really good. The mozzarella sticks were crunchy and crispy. The mozzarella inside was heated to just the right degree – the cheese wasn’t stringy. I love stringy mozzarella but not so much inside my cheesesticks because it makes it so awkward to eat them by bites. These did not have that problem whatsoever.

I decided on their The Original Big Mac Daddy Burger ($12), which comes with special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions and pickles. This burger was cooked just to my request and was very juicy – but not so much that it soaked through and made my burger bun fall apart. This burger was basically what I expected a real Big Mac would taste like – without the mystery burger meat at McDonalds. I could only finish half my burger though but they were very helpful when I wanted to take it with me to go.

The Boyfriend chose their Dude Burger ($14) with maytag bleu cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms. He chose to put chili and cheese on his fries, which was the best decision ever. Instead of eating my own fries, I kept stealing fries off his plate. He also didn’t finish his entire burger, which made me think that next time, we order one burger to share.

Their portions are extremely big for the price they charge so be careful  when you order or else you won’t finish!

Sea Thai

I first heard about Sea Thai when a friend mentioned to me that there was a Thai restaurant in Williamsburg that had a huge water pond in the middle of the restaurant. I dismissed it at the time because the location was a bit far from the train stations in Williamsburg so the travel put me off. However, when the Boyfriend’s parents decided to go because they read good reviews, I was all for it because we’d be traveling by car. We arrived around 5:50 so we took a walk around to see what other restaurants there were in the area. We walked by the Williamsburg branch of Chai Thai, which I have blogged about before. It’s actually right across the street from Sea Thai.

We were very surprised by the size of the restaurant – it was huge! The waiting area was quite cute. There was a bubble chair hanging from the ceiling as well as two swings. Past the waiting area and bar was the water pond. Around the pond are several tables for two. Since we were a larger party, with 7 people, we were seated past the pond. Larger tables for 8 people are in the center with bench chairs. Smaller tables for 4 people are by the walls in darker lighting.

The first thing we did when we sat down was order drinks. We knew the food would be spicy so we all ordered a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea ($4). Sea Thai offers many flavors of Thai Iced Tea – mango, lychee, guava and pineapple. I decided to go with the Guava Thai Iced Tea, which was very sweet. I actually liked the Boyfriend’s Pineapple Thai Iced Tea more so I wound up stealing the last couple of sips from his. I highly recommend their Thai Iced Teas!

We then ordered some appetizers while we looked over the large menu to decide on our entrees. One of their special appetizers of the day was Hoi Jor or Crispy Crab and Prawn rolls that are wrapped in silken tofu ($7). The dish comes with a side of Sriracha mayo and sweet honey sauce for dripping. This was easily my favorite appetizer of the day. The Sriracha mayo was just the right amount of spicy. Combined with the chewy roll bites, it was perfection.

We decided to go with their Appetizer Sampler, which is another special of the day ($12). The Appetizer Sampler features their Pad Thai Spring Roll, Esan Thai Sasage, Curry Triangle, Veggie Dumplings, and Pot Stickers. Out of all the appetizers in the sampler, I thought the Pot Stickers and Pad Thai Spring Roll were the best. The Spring Roll was very crispy and crunchy. The Pot Stickers, made out of chicken and wrapped in their house skin, was very moist and juicy. If you’ve never been to Sea Thai and want to try out their large variety of appetizers, this is the way to go.

We ordered a separate order of their Puffy Duck ($6). Their Puffy Duck uses grounded up roasted duck meat and potatoes and stuffs it into a pastry-like puff. The dish comes with a cucumber-onion salsa for dipping, which gave it the extra kick. There was a very distinct taste of curry in the Duck puffs. I would definitely recommend ordering this dish just to have a try of one of their most recommended appetizers.

Our last appetizer was their Sea Chicken Wings ($5). Despite the fact that the menu says chicken wings, this dish comes with drumsticks as well. The sauce is a tamarind chili sauce but I didn’t find it very spicy at all. If anything, it was more sweet and sour than spicy. These wings had me licking my fingers to get rid of the sticky sauce.

The first entrée to arrive was the Tamarind Whole Fish ($20). This dish features the same tamarind spicy sauce that was used in the chicken wings but it’s poured over a whole red snapper instead. The fish is fried so that it’s nice and crispy and you have to cut it open yourself at the table. The Boyfriend’s father had the job of doing that so we all just picked off the fish until only bone was left. Despite the fact that it used the same sauce as the chicken wings, the fish was a lot spicier. The sauce, especially, gave your taste buds a very hot burn.

Since we were at a Thai restaurant, we definitely had to order a curry dish. We went with the Bangkok Panang Curry with Shrimp ($13). This dish is meant to be a sweet and medium spicy curry. The curry order came with three triangles of jasmine rice, which was perfect since we didn’t want to fill up on rice. I really enjoyed this curry because it was sweet and spicy. There was the very distinct taste of coconut milk, which is always welcome. I think it was my favorite dish of the night because it was spicy but not too spicy.

Next up was the Isan Fried Rice ($12). This dish featured Thai sausage, egg, tomato, and scallion. This was possibly the spiciest dish of the night. Even the Boyfriend and his mother, who both can take their spicy foods, said it burned as they ate it. The spice didn’t go away either. It continued to burn as you ate other foods and drank down cups and cups of water.

Equally as spicy was the Drunk Man’s Noodles ($11). This dish features broad noodles with chicken, shrimp and squid. It is stir-fried with spicy basil chili and egg. The noodles came in a very tiny copper wok-like bowl. However, while the dish looks small, it is very filling. The more we ate, the more noodles seemed to appear. T was never-ending!

We were all so stuffed from dinner but I was in desperate need of some ice cream in order to cool down my tongue. I decided on their Fried Ice Cream. It features Vanilla Ice Cream that is fried and then lit on fire at your table. The waitress poured rum around the ice cream ball and lit it on fire. You have to blow out the fire on your own or else it’ll start to really burn the dough. The inside was cold and the perfect relief to a dinner full of spicy foods.

I will definitely be returning to Sea Thai to sit by the pond. The best part of the entire night was the fact that the waiters and waitresses were Thai. I’ve been to many Thai restaurants where the employees and owners were Chinese or Malaysian. It was a nice touch to have servers that really know about the food.

Sakagura

After the Boyfriend took me to Bozu for my birthday, I knew I had to find something to top that. If I’m considered a foodie, then the Boyfriend is even more so. He’s been to more restaurants than I have and knows about even more. After a lengthy Yelp search, I came up with Sakagura. There were a lot more choices – including Sushi Yasuda, Hatsuhana and Bohemian – but we decided on Sakagura because of their intensive sake collection.

We arrived around 5:56 and they were still closed. Sakagura opens at 6pm on the dot and starts taking diners at that time. We were seated right away in a table for two by the bar. A quick glance around the room told us that pretty much every table – including every seat at the bar – already had reserved signs on them. When I had called a week in advance to make reservations, they had told me they would need the table back by 8:30pm because someone had booked it for then. Quick tip: make reservations or else you’ll be waiting for quite some time!

We started off looking at their sake menu because we had already looked over their menu online before visiting. There were so many sake choices to choose from that we took quite a bit looking over the menu. Most sakes were offered by glass, by carafe, by matsu (little wooden box) or by bottle. We decided to go with a carafe because it would allow us to share better than the matsu. After a while, we decided on Sakagura’s recommended sake – Naraman Origarami Nigori ($14 per carafe). The sake was frosty and had faint yogurt and lychee flavors. The carafe was just enough for the both of us – we each had about 4 refills.

Our first dish to arrive was the Buta Kakuni ($5 per piece) or their special stewed pork belly. Don’t be tricked by the fact that they charge per piece because each piece isn’t tiny. Each piece of pork belly is a nice cube of about 3x3x3 inches. The dish was served steaming hot and melted in our mouths. The meat was substantial without being stringy or overcooked. I definitely recommend adding this to your dish lineup.

Our next dish was the Surumeika Yaki ($7.50), or grilled japanese squid brushed with a garlic soy sauce. The squid was served room temperature and tasted very different from other grilled squids that I’ve had before. The garlic soy glaze was a bit salty but the smooth texture of the squid more than made up for it.

Just as we finished up the squid, our order of Tori Karaage ($7.00), or deep fried chunks of chicken marinaded in sake and ginger infused soy sauce. The fried chicken came out super hot and steaming – they had just fried them up. We couldn’t even put the entire piece of chicken in our mouths because it was so hot. The thing that I liked most about this dish was the fact that the chicken was still very moist despite the frying. It was not dry at all.

While we were finishing up our steaming hot chicken, our order of Gyu Miso Mikomi ($6.00) or shredded beef back ribs stewed in miso and topped with grated daikon radish. The dish may look small but we were both very surprised by the amount of beef that was inside the bowl. The stewed broth that came with the beef was very good – it was thick and flavorful. Poured on top of the chewy and melty beef meat, it was delicious. The grated daikon radish also tasted very good with the stewed broth. This is definitely a dish I wasn’t expecting to taste so good.

Our next dish was one of the Boyfriend’s favorites of the night. He even declared it his favorite dish before our last one arrived. Gindara Yuan Yaki ($9.50), or grilled fillets of cod fish steeped in a sweet soy sauce, was very good. The fish was very tender and flavorful. The fish skin, however, was my favorite part of the dish. It didn’t taste like other fish skins I have had – it was moist but still had a nice texture.

Our final savory dish of the night was our mutual favorite – Sake Oyoko Don ($16.00), which features fresh salmon sashimi and salmon roe served on top of a bowl of rice. The Don is also served with a bowl of miso soup, which tasted very different than your usual miso soup. The soup had a meatier taste and a darker color as well. But the salmon don was the highlight for sure. The salmon roe was very fresh. Even the Boyfriend, who doesn’t normally like salmon roe, gobbled up every little bubble. The salmon sashimi was also very fresh. Put some rice on the spoon, top with salmon roe, a slice of salmon sashimi, and soy sauce – this dish was fantastic. Definitely a must have!

Our dessert, as per Yelpers’ recommendation, was their Black Sesame Crème Brûlée ($9.00). The Crème Brûlée was served with a scoop of black sesame ice cream and a black sesame cracker. As someone who doesn’t like sesame seeds in any way, shape or form, I really enjoyed this dessert. The Crème Brûlée wasn’t too sweet and the burnt sugar on top was not bitter at all. The crème wasn’t very pleasing to the eye since it was a grey color, but do not let the color fool you. It is very, very good.

Both the Boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Sakagura. The food came in perfect timing and the service was attentive and prompt. Despite the fact that it wasn’t our main waitress bringing us our dishes, she came by to check up on us and refill our sake glasses often. Sakagura offers a cup of hot green tea after meals, which was very nice. The tea was so good that we had to ask our waitress what tea it was (HojiCha). The dishes were also just right. Many on Yelp complain about the size of of the dishes but we both thought it was just enough to get a good taste of each dish. With six dishes and one dessert, we were both pleasantly full by the end of our meal. The prices weren’t too expensive either. For 6 dishes, 1 dessert and 1 carafe of sake, our bill came up to $86 before tip. Not bad for a restaurant with 4.5 stars on Yelp!

Tartine

Since it was the Boyfriend’s birthday we decided to start the day off with a nice Brunch. Between school and work, we rarely have time for brunch- especially not on the weekends since we like to sleep in. It was a bit of a search to find a place that is reputable, has good food and serves brunch on weekdays. A lot of the places I found on Yelp only serve brunch on weekends, which is a big bummer. Finally, we decided on Tartine – they serve brunch daily until 4pm. Their brunch menu was also pretty interesting. They offer a variety of options for $15.50, which includes your choice of entrée, orange juice, and tea or coffee.

Since we arrived around 10:30 on a weekday, the place was pretty empty. We were seated right away – our choice of seats. We both kind of already knew what we wanted to order but we took a look at the menu while our waiter brought us our teas and orange juices. Nothing is better than orange juice first thing in the morning!

I had my heart set on their Eggs Norwegian, which features a poached egg on top of lox and an English muffin. They didn’t have lox that day (major sad face) so I went with their Eggs Benedict. Each order comes with a side of potatoes, which tasted amazing with a bit of ketchup. The Eggs Benedict was good – although the English muffin was a bit over toasted. The only problem I had was with the eggs – they were more soft-boiled than poached. It wasn’t a deal breaker though so I’ll definitely be back to try the Eggs Norwegian.

The Boyfriend went with their Thyme Roasted Salmon Sandwich, which features salmon, fennel slaw, and tapenade aioli on top of chiabatta bread. At my first bite, this tasted like a salmon BLT. There is a similar texture but in general it tastes very different. The Boyfriend was in love with this sandwich – but then again, he loves everything salmon. He definitely wants to return for this – forget everything else on the menu.

The service was quick and we were in and out within an hour. We did go on a weekday, however, so I can’t say much about the service or the wait time during the weekend. I’ve heard that wait times can go up to 45 minutes for a table.

Quick tip: They include suggest gratuity on the bill so make sure you check. I almost paid double tip because I didn’t realize that it was included in the total.