Periodically I take a look at new restaurants on Yelp and try to figure out if any of them are worth visiting. During my latest Yelp search, I found Bait & Hook, a seafood shack located in the East Village. We had reservations for another restaurant, but the Boyfriend was craving seafood so we quickly canceled and made our way over. Bait & Hook currently have a 4.5 star rating on Yelp, but that’s only based on 8 reviews. But judging from my first experience there, I can tell that the rating will definitely last! We arrived around 6:15 and were seated immediately. Our waiter was occupied with another table at first so we made our drink orders with another waiter. During Happy Hour, they offer $1 oysters and $5 draft beers. You get to choose from their entire draft beers menu, which I appreciated. There’s nothing worse than when a restaurant only offers a few options for Happy Hour. The Boyfriend went with Magic Hat #9, which is light with a hint of apricot (the glass further back). It was nice and sweet, which was quite refreshing. I had actually wanted the Magic Hat #9 as well but since he made his order first, I chose something else. I went with the Fisherman Seasonal Oktoberfest, which has a light and smooth taste. Despite the bitter finish description, I didn’t think it was too bitter at all. We decided to share the White Clam Pizza ($13.00) for our appetizer. The moment our waiter put the plate on the table, I could smell the garlic and olive oil from the pizza. Despite the other dishes placed on our table, I went straight for the pizza first. The pizza was about 8 inches and covered in fresh clams and cheese. The dough was crispy and crunchy and didn’t feel too oily at all. I’m so glad we decided to go with the pizza instead of the calamari because this dish was so delicious! I went with the Lobster Mac & Cheese ($16.00) with three cheeses as my entrée. It was probably the best lobster mac & cheese that I have ever had! It was far better than Poco and Red Hook Lobster Pound. Poco’s lobster mac & cheese is a bit on the watery side – although it is still good, I like my mac & cheese more gooey. Red Hook’s lobster mac & cheese is gooey enough, but does not have enough chees flavor. Bait & Hook’s lobster mac & cheese was gooey, cheesy and they used my favorite part of a lobster – the claws! The mac & cheese was baked, which is my favorite kind. This was easily the best dish of the night. The Boyfriend went with the Fish & Chips ($13.00), which comes on a slider bun. Although the menu says French fries, his order came with a size of mixed greens. The mixed greens were so fresh and light that I kept reaching over to steal bites of it. The fish & chips were also very crispy and fresh. The tartar sauce was phenomenal – it really does make or break the dish. The Boyfriend cleared his entire plate – not even a crumb was left! The service wasn’t super attentive but the food more than kept us occupied throughout the night. The dining room was about 70% full by the time we left, which isn’t bad for a new restaurant. Actually, for a relatively new restaurant, Bait & Hook has a great draft beer list as well as amazing food. I know for sure that I’ll definitely be back to try out the rest of the menu.
After almost nine hours of shopping at Woodbury Commons, the Boyfriend, his parents and I arrived in Fort Lee for some good Korean chigae, or tofu soup. So Kong Dong is their go-to for chigae whenever they’re in the area. It’s funny because despite the fact that the wait is long and the service isn’t all that attentive, they still keep coming back. I think it’s the fact that their cucumber kimchi and tofu chigae is the best, or at least the best that I’ve had. There is something about their tofu that is so silky and smooth that I can just eat it straight from the pot.
Their way of doing the menu is to print it on placemats that you eat on top of. That way, the table is cleaner and they don’t need to come by and take your menu. Their menu is too simple to even really need a major, lamenated menu. There is 9 types of tofu soup and the only other dish they serve is Galbi, or Korean BBQ Ribs. All tofu soups are $9 each and it comes with the Banchan, or side dishes, and rice
Since the Boyfriend’s mother ordered before we sat down, once we were seated, the Banchan came. There’s kimchi and various other side sides but my favorite has always been the cucumber kimchi. Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of spicy foods, I can never say no to cucumber kimchi. We even got an extra container to take home for dinner the next day.
The Boyfriend and I shared a Mushroom Tofu Soup, in which we popped two raw eggs into since there were two of us. The waiter brought over a huge pot of rice, which he scooped out into smaller metal bowls for each of us. The Mushroom Tofu Soup is one of my favorites because I personally love mushrooms. It’s healthy and not too oily. I know Koreans eat their chigae by putting the rice into the soup but for me, putting tofu soup over rice is the best. I can easily eat more than a bowl of rice with it.
We also ordered a Beef Tofu Soup (Left) and a Seafood Tofu Soup (Right). The beef is a bit oiler and salter than the mushroom but it is still very good. The Seafood is jam-packed with ingredients. There are shrimp, clams, and oysters all inside this little pot of soup. My favorite is the clams because by the time I drink enough soup to reach the clams, they have already absorbed so much flavor from the soup. So delicious!
So Kong Dong’s menu is very simple but I like it that way. It allows me to purely focus on the Tofu Soup and nothing else. I don’t have to think about choosing to eat Bibimbap or BBQ or the many other Korean dishes. I can just enjoy the delicious tofu. The service isn’t very attentive and your hair and clothes will come out smelling like Galbi but I wouldn’t have this place any other way.
Since it was the Boyfriend’s mother’s birthday and she was thinking about going back to Fish for her birthday dinner, I was kind of in an oyster and seafood mood. I did some research on Yelp and came across Upstate, located in the East Village. With a 4 star review, I was intrigued. After reading some reviews, I knew I had to pay them a visit. So I sent the link to the Boyfriend and we were on our way. We arrived around 5:30 on a Friday and there were only one table for two and a couple of bar seats left. Upstate is pretty small but they had a full house. By the time we ordered around 5:45, the waitresses were already starting a waitlist that had an estimated wait time of 30 minutes to an hour. So make sure to get here early!
We were really interested in their Happy Hour Special, which runs every day from 5 to 7. The special involved 6 oysters of your choice with a draft beer of your choice. They have an interesting list of oysters that can change daily depending on the availability of fresh oysters. There are usually 3 East Coast and 3 West Coast oysters available for the special every day. They do offer a wide selection of other oysters so if you have the cash, feel free to splurge on the others!
We decided on two happy hour specials so we would get 6 oysters each. I went with the Southhampton Double White beer, which has a banana and orange flavor. The Boyfriend went with their Kelso Pils, which is a Czech style beer with a hint of sweetness. I liked my beer but I really enjoyed the Kelso. It went down very smoothly and I would definitely go with that next time.
We went with two of each East Coast and West Coast oyster that was offered. Going clockwise, we started with the East Coast oysters. You can just tell by the size. We went with the usual BluePoint, an East Coast that I cannot remember, and a Stony Book oyster from Long Island. Then we began with the West Coast oysters, which are much smaller. We had a Fanny Bay from British Columbia, Bahia Falsa from California and a Skookum from Washington. My favorite out of the bunch was definitely the Bahia Falsa from California – it had a very nice sweet taste to it. I prefer West Coast oysters over East Coast because it’s a lot sweeter. Despite West Coast oysters’ small size, they tend to pack a lot more flavor.
We decided on whim to try another West Coast oyster – Royal Miyagi from British Columbia ($2.75 each). These were probably my favorite of the night. Despite the small size, they were packed with flavor. The oysters were sweet and creamy. The Boyfriend says that Kumamotos are the best for West Coast oysters but since I’ve never had one, I’d say the Royal Miyagi is now my new favorite oyster.
Oysters can get pretty filling so we decided to share an entrée instead of ordering our own. We went with their Fettuccine with clams ($14). It was an excellent choice. Despite the small size of the bowl, we were very surprised with the amount of pasta inside. We polished off the clams before we dug into the pasta. The pasta was cooked with lots of garlic so you can bet it was very flavorful. I almost couldn’t finish my portion of the dish because there was so much!
We finished off the night with a complimentary piece of whiskey pound cake made by the owner’s wife. It was delicious! I loved it. It really made me think about the Bermudian rum cakes that I absolutely adore. I kind of wish there was more after we finished our slice!
The food was amazing. The oysters were beyond fresh and were very well shucked. But I really must comment on the service. Our waitress was attentive without being too overbearing. Despite the fact that they had over 8 parties on the waiting list while we were dining, we were never rushed. They didn’t slap all our food onto the table in an attempt to get us to eat faster. The timing of our dishes was actually perfect. We finished our oysters and had a couple of minutes to let it sink in before our entrée came. There is really nothing bad I can say about Upstate. I would definitely be back.