Sprinkles

Cupcake time! I spend a lot of my time looking up sweets because it’s quite possibly my favorite food. My mom keeps telling me I’m going to get diabetes by the time I’m 25 because all I want to do is eat sweet things. I’m always on a perpetual search for the best cupcake in all of New York City. For me, so far, the best is Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Even after trying the California-favorite, Sprinkles, SSS is still my favorite.

Facebook was doing a Buy-One-Get-One-Free deal for Sprinkles so I decided to grab the deal and try these famous cupcakes out. Since I went on a Tuesday and not a Friday, they didn’t have their Chai Latte flavor. I was a little sad since it was the flavor I wanted but I heard good things about their other flavors as well. I went with their Banana Dark Chocolate (right) and Black and White (left). Each cupcake would’ve been $3.50 each but I only paid for one. Good deal.

The Banana Dark Chocolate was my favorite. It tasted like I was eating a real banana. The bittersweet chocolate frosting wasn’t too sugary. The best part was the fact that it didn’t fall apart despite the various trips on the MTA. However, I do have a complaint – the cupcake tasted kind of like a banana muffin. The texture wasn’t as soft as I’d like it to be.

The same goes for the Black and White cupcake. The frosting was just right but the cupcake itself was a bit muffin-like. There wasn’t the same soft consistency of a cupcake that I’m used to. These cupcakes aren’t as bad as Crumbs in my option but they’re definitely not as good as Sugar Sweet Sunshine by any chance. The pricing also decreases my desire to buy them again. I understand that this is a brand name cupcake but $3.50 for just one is a bit steep.

All in all, if there’s another deal, I’d make a stop at Sprinkles. If not, I’ll probably skip it and head to Bloomies for some froyo instead.

Hibino

For Valentine’s Day, the Boyfriend and I decided to try a new restaurant. Both of us have been very interested in Japanese tapas-style small plates so we decided on Hibino. Located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Hibino offers Kyoto-style Obanzai’s that change daily. They have chalkboards scattered around the restaurant listing the daily Obanzai’s and special dishes in addition to their set menu.

We arrived at 6pm and the restaurant was already more than half full. By the time we left at 7:30pm, there were three couples waiting for a table by the door. We were seated right away and given menus to look over. The first thing I ordered was a glass of their Muromachi Shuzo “Ume Shu” Plum Sake ($7.50), which was one of the best drinks I have ever had. The ume shu, which is aged with ripe plums for a year, was juicy, sweet and light. I thoroughly enjoyed my drink.

IMG_3138

Our first dish to arrive was an order of Edamame ($3.00), which came in a very large portion. The bowl was very deep – so deep that we felt like we were served a bottomless amount of edamame! The edamame was very fresh and the portion size was definitely a steal.

IMG_3158

Next came our order of Negi Toro Roll ($12.00), which was a daily special. The roll, which featured the belly of the Pacific BlueFin Tuna, was the highlight of the night. The moment I put a piece of the roll into my mouth, the tuna started to melt. The toro was so soft and fresh that I barely had to chew!

IMG_3157

As we finished our toro roll, our order of their Fresh House Made Tofu ($4.00) arrived. We decided to have the cold tofu, which is served with ginger, scallions and a soy-dashi sauce. The tofu was very soft and the presentation was very unique. However, we both agreed that the tofu wasn’t as good as Zenkichi’s homemade tofu. The texture was a bit looser and grainier than Zenkichi’s, which is smoother and more compact.

IMG_3159

We also ordered their Jumbo Shrimp Dumplings off their daily Obanzai menu ($5.00). The shrimp dumplings were delicious! The skin was very crunchy and the inside was packed to the brim with shrimp and crabmeat. I was surprised at how good these dumplings were – I was expecting more of a gyoza shape but these were definitely better!

IMG_3156

We opted to share the Hibino Sushi Plate ($19.00), which features 7 pieces of assorted sushi and one roll of Kyoto Style Futomaki. The assorted sushi was very fresh. The salmon sushi in particular was very fatty and soft. The Kyoto Style Futomaki, which has tuna, shrimp, eel, avocado, cucumber, tamago and tobiko with a side of Yuzu mayo, was quite delicious. At first I thought the amount of ingredients inside the roll would overpower each other but it didn’t at all. I could clearly taste the eel, tuna, avocado and tamago in each bite!

IMG_3143

We finished the night with two shared desserts – Soy Milk Pudding and Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich. The Soy Milk Pudding was spectacular! It tasted exactly like soy milk – you can just tell that it was freshly made! I thought the little mini-milk jar made a very cute presentation but it made scooping out all of the pudding a bit hard.

IMG_3155

The Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich featured two pancakes with green tea ice cream, red bean paste and sliced strawberries. I have eaten red bean paste pancakes and green tea ice cream separately before but I have never even thought about putting the two together! The end result was a dessert that is very distinctly Japanese, which we both really enjoyed. The eating process might not have been the cleanest, but it was definitely one of the best desserts I’ve eaten.

IMG_3152

IMG_3153

Overall I was extremely satisfied with my meal at Hibino. The ume shu plum sake was a very pleasant surprise and both desserts were very good. But I don’t think I will make them a regular on my restaurant rotation. It’s actually a bit far from the Court Street train station and I never like trekking for my food. I’ll definitely be back but it won’t be anytime soon.

HK Tea and Sushi

HK Tea and Sushi is one of those restaurants the boyfriend and I like to go to at least once a month. His parents love eating here because it reminds them of home and I love eating here because I can choose to eat sushi even if everyone else wants to eat chinese. Sometimes I like that I have the option – despite the fact that most of the time I still order Chinese. I can get sushi anywhere but I can’t get HK inspired food this good anywhere.

One of my very first meals at HK Tea and Sushi, I ordered a la carte from their sushi menu. Their sushi menu offers each piece at just $1 and that includes sashimi. Regular rolls are usually less than $5. I ordered 5 pieces of their salmon sushi, 5 pieces of their salmon sashimi and a Philadelphia roll all for less than $15. They also have very cheap combo deals for their sushi rolls so it’s definitely a steal.

Most of the time when we go now, we usually order to share for the entire table. Their dishes are so big that none of us can finish one on our own. One of our must-orders is their broad noodles with egg and shrimp. The dish is huge and tastes amazing even the next day. There is always an abundance of egg and shrimp – they do not skimp on their ingredients. The wetness of the noodles really gives the dish a lot of flavor. Quick tip: if you don’t like peas, make sure you let them know to not add them.

One of my favorites is their White Sauce Seafood Baked Rice. This dish alone is enough to feed two people and then some. They also don’t skimp on this dish – there is an abundance of squid, shrimp, fish and scallops. They also throw in onions and pepper to give the dish some added flavor. But remember to remind them not to put peas if its not your thing!

We usually get an order of their French Toast for dessert but we decided to try their Fried Cheesecake instead. It was very filling! The Cheesecake was huge! Add on the dough from the frying and it was more than we could finish. The boyfriend and I just finished half of the cheesecake (we spooned it out from the fried dough) and the ice cream. Next time, I think I’ll just settle for some mochi!

The food at HK Tea and Sushi really does hit the spot. It’s filling and cheap! You can be so full that you can’t eat anymore and still pay less than $15 – including drink and dessert.

Embers Steakhouse

On our way to dinner in Staten Island, the Boyfriend’s mother suddenly remembered that her friend had recommended a steakhouse in Bay Ridge. She mentioned that it was in the 90’s and on 3rd Avenue. It baffled both the Boyfriend and I because we didn’t know about Steakhouses in Bay Ridge. Having gone to high school on 99th and Shore Road, I was very familiar with Bay Ridge and its restaurants. The only steakhouse I knew about was Chadwick’s. Most of the time when I have to recommend a restaurant in Bay Ridge I usually tell people to go to Gino’s, which was to be our backup if we didn’t find this restaurant.

After some searching we found Embers on 95th and 3rd Ave. It’s unassuming storefront completely hid the restaurant that was inside. For four years, I walked by this restaurant on the way to school and didn’t even realize there was a steakhouse there – that how ordinary it looks! Since it was early we were seated immediately and given menus to peruse. They do have a prix fixe menu that’s available everyday for the low price of $27 but we decided to order our own individual entrees.

After a quick Yelp search, we read some reviews on what dishes were good and made our orders. We decided to start with their Jumbo Lump Maryland Crab Cake with a garlic mayo sauce ($14). Yelp did not lie! The Crab Cake was very moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The Garlic mayo was just a little spicy which gave the crab cake the extra kick. I would definitely order this dish again.

Our second appetizer was their Sautéed Prince Edward Island Mussels in the white wine and parsley sauce ($11). The mussels were very big and plump! I’m used to tiny mussels when we order them for appetizers so this was a very nice surprise. The Mussels were very plump and the white wine sauce was delicious. The portion size was very generous and we had more than enough to go around.

The Boyfriend and I decided to share the Porterhouse for two ($62). The beef was cooked to perfection. It was exactly how we like it – pink enough but not to the point where the meat is still bleeding. The portion size was insane. There was so much beef that we couldn’t finish it. I would definitely recommend ordering the porterhouse for two and sharing it between three people – unless you have a big eater.

Each entree order comes with your choice of a baked potato or a potato pie and your choice of their vegetables of the day. Their choice of the day was either corn or cauliflower so I decided to go with the corn. Yelp recommended their potato pie so I went with that one. Their potato pie is kind of like mashed potatoes baked again in the oven with mozzarella cheese mixed in. It was very good but also very filling.

I tried a bit of the Boyfriend’s mom’s dish – Sautéed Chicken Piccata with lemon and white wine sauce ($20). The Chicken was very tender and not dry at all.  My only gripe with the dish was that the chicken was a bit salty as a result of the lemon and white wine sauce. It would’ve been perfect with a little less salt.

We finished off the night with their Embers Peach Melba, which is syrupy peaches with vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce and whipped cream on top. The whipped cream, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream was delicious. I felt like I was eating an ice cream sundae. The peaches were good too but the dessert would’ve been good with or without it.

We spent around $140 without tip for four people – three of which had steaks. I would definitely return to Embers because there is no way I could ever get those prices in Manhattan for the quality of food that we received. Someone on Yelp mentioned that if you cannot get a table at Peter Lugers, head on over to Embers. I agree with him. The steaks are just as good, if not better. The only thing I can see Embers missing is the Peter Luger Sauce and the delicious, mouth-watering bacon.