I noticed Tomiño while walking from Soho to Chinatown one day and made a small mental bookmark. I tried to come in on a Saturday night twice but they were unfortunately full – even the bar was full! But third time’s a charm because we finally managed to snag some empty seats at the bar.
Tomiño is a Galician tapas bar serving food from the Northwestern part of the Spain. I absolutely adore Spanish food – especially tapas style dishes – so I was especially excited. We started off with drinks – I had a whiskey sour and my mom had a glass of rose. After I had ordered, the waiter had come back to confirm with me that their way of making the drink would be acceptable. Basically, they do not use any sort of juice or mix-in that contains preservatives so they would be subbing in fresh lemon juice instead. I was A-OK with this! My drink was delicious and reasonably priced too!
We started off with an order of their Croquetas, which come with 4 pieces per serving – 2 pieces of ham + aioli and 2 pieces of seafood + aioli ($8). Both croquetas were delicious, but I definitely liked the ham better. It was certainly tastier.
We split a salad, which was the recommendation of our waiter – and coincidentally, it was also the first night they were offering it on the menu. It was basically a white bean salad with anchovies, roasted red pepper, and sherry wine vinaigrette. I absolutely loved this salad. The beans were crisp and the anchovies were not too fishy or overpowering. Great call from our waiter!
Next to arrive was the La Española, which is a large platter featuring tortilla española, pan con tomate, and jambon serrano ($17). The pan con tomate was flavorful and exactly the way I remembered having it in Spain last summer. I was not too wow-ed by the tortilla española, which I thought was a bit dry and tasteless.
Our last dish of the night was the Pulpo á feira, or octopus boiled and dusted with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and paprika ($12). Pulpo á feira is a traditional Spanish Galician dish and is perhaps one of my favorite Spanish tapas dishes. The octopus is super tender from the boiling that happens in the beginning of the cooking process. It practically melts in your mouth!
For dessert, we went with their special dessert for the holiday season. It featured Cañas, or a traditional Galician dessert that sort of resembles an Italian cannoli. It’s basically a roll of fried dough that’s filled with a custard filling. It was paired with ice cream made from Turrón, a nougat that is typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with some kind of toasted nuts. Our waiter told us that it is considered a traditional Christmas dessert in Spain. I thought the dessert was very good and I enjoyed getting to try a traditional Christmas dessert from Spain – even if it was in a slightly modified form!
I cannot rave enough about the service at Tomiño. Every single waiter we encountered was attentive, helpful, and absolutely amazing. They were so friendly and really made us feel like we were being taken care of. I highly recommend Tomiño!
When it came time to decide on a restaurant to have our annual pre-NYE dinner for my sister’s birthday (because who wants to have to deal with prix fixes on the day of!), she decided she wanted to try out Atoboy, a Korean-inspired small plates restaurant in the Flatiron area. Opened by the former chef de cuisine of Jungsik, the menu at Atoboy features your choice of 3 plates for $36. The tasting menu comes with a bowl of white rice or you can add on their seasonal rice for an extra $2.
I arrived earlier with my mom but they seated us while we waited for the rest of our party. Both the hostess and our waiter confirmed with us that we were celebrating a birthday, a note I had put in our Resy reservation. I love this small attention to detail – something that might be or has been overlooked at other restaurants. Our waiter waited until our entire party had arrived before reviewing the menu with us, as we were new visitors.
We all wanted to try something different from the menu, so we tried to diversify our tasting menu choices as much as possible. For our first course, we picked:
Tofu with Soybean, King oyster mushroom, and Mustard
Littleneck Clams with Avocado, Rice cracker, and Gochugaru
Fluke with Moo radish, Pomelo, and Sesame seed
Beef Tartare with Oyster and Potato
The tofu was the biggest dish of the bunch, but I think my favorite was the Littleneck Clams. The avocado puree-like sauce that it came with was really complimentary to the spicy sauce they used for the clams. The Beef Tartare was also really enjoyable – good quality beef with a great marinade. My least favorite was definitely the Fluke – I’m not a big grapefruit fan so the pomelo was a turnoff.
For our second course, we picked:
Asparagus with Spicy cod roe, Shallot, and Egg yolk
Egg with Sea urchin, Watercress, and Quinoa
Corn with Taleggio, Bacon, and Doenjang
Squid stuffed with Pork and Shrimp, topped with Salsa verde
My favorite dish is a toss up between the Egg and the Squid. I opted to pay an extra $10 for fresh Californian Sea Urchin instead of a puree and it was well worth it. The crispness of the cucumber in the egg really contrasted with the smooth texture of the egg and sea urchin. I really liked the taste contrast as well – the egg had a light and fresh taste while the sea urchin was salty and a little sweet. The squid stuffed with pork was very fragrant and flavorful. It was possibly the most flavorful dish of the night. In fact, all dishes in our second course was spectacular and I think it was my favorite section of the night.
For our last course, we picked:
Octopus with Kimchi, Chorizo, and Parsley
NY Strip Steak with Arugula, Poblano, and Wild sesame oil
Brisket with Foie gras, Ginger, and Garlic
We ended up with two orders of the Brisket because we were very attracted to the concept of foie gras brisket! Again, all the dishes in this course were spectacular and really delicious. I had a brisket dish to myself and boy, oh boy, was it good! The brisket came apart the moment you bit into it and was not stringy at all. The foie gras made it a very, very rich dish. I actually ended up dumping my entire bowl of rice into the leftover sauce (Side note: The seaweed rice was phenomenal and I highly recommend selling out the extra $2 for it!).
For dessert, they have three options (not included in the Tasting Menu). We opted to go with the:
Honey Panna Cotta with black rice vinegar and pomegranate
Pumpkin Cheesecake with yogurt and pumpkin seeds.
Our waiter brought out the Pumpkin Cheesecake with a candle in it for my sister and comp-ed us their third desert, Sujeonggwa Granita with burrata and walnuts. I honestly do not have a single bad thing to say about any of the desserts! However, if I had to pick a clear favorite it would probably be the Pumpkin Cheesecake, which was silky and smooth. The Sujeonggwa Granita was also a brand new experience and I’m so happy I got to try it. Sujeonggwa is a traditional Korean cinnamon punch, which they made into fine granita to top the burrata. The result was a sweet and cinnamon-y topping for the otherwise flavorless burrata. The inclusion of tiny fruit cubes and walnuts added texture to the gooey burrata.
Service was attentive, personable, and on point. We really felt like we were taken care of and as I mentioned earlier, I really appreciate that they made my sister’s birthday dinner special. I’m not one to expect comp-ed desserts or what not for birthday celebrations, but I really do appreciate it when I don’t have to pretend to use the bathroom in order to find my waiter/waitress to ask them if we can add a candle to a dessert.
Another HUGE selling point for me: the music was low and tasteful. We were able to talk and hear each other perfectly find without having to shout at each other. And finally, extra points for being so well-lit. Sometimes, candlelight is romantic. But there’s a difference between being romantic and having to use my iPhone flashlight to read the menu!
All in all, 5 out 5 for Atoboy. In fact, I’d say they’re a 10/5!
I first heard about Wasan through BlackBoard Eats, which offered a free deal for a complimentary Wagyu Beef Tartar and a glass of their house sake at Wasan. I got the deal and forgot about it until it was almost the expiration date! So I quickly made reservations to give them a try.
We were the first table to arrive so we were seated at a table-for-two. The restaurant itself is pretty small but the service is very friendly. Even though we were early, our waitress seated us and left us to look over the menu. When we handed over our deal code, she was super nice and service did not change at all throughout the night.
We started off with a carafe of their house sake, Wasan Junmai, which was pretty good. It was smooth and just a bit dry. Normally, a carafe costs $10.00, so we were already cashing in the freebies! After we finished our carafe, we opted to split a canned beer – Yona Yona Pale Ale ($8.00), which was really good. There was a hint of fruit and the ale was very light.
Our first appetizer was the Cold Cheese Tofu ($5.00), which features tofu, cheese, dashi, tomato jelly and asparagus. I was a bit apprehensive at first but after my first bite, I wanted more! There was definitely a cheese taste but it wasn’t overpowering. The cheese made the tofu a bit firmer than typical cold tofu dishes, but I still liked it. I just wish it was a bigger serving!
Next to arrive was the Uni Lover Roll ($13.00). Both the Boyfriend and I are avid uni lovers so this roll was practically calling our names! The roll features super fresh sea urchin, avocado and tempura flakes. The tempura flakes was a nice opposition to the otherwise smooth sea urchin. The uni was definitely fresh and I quickly gobbled the pieces up.
Finally, our complimentary Wagyu Beef Tartar arrives as our last appetizer. Normally, an order of Wagyu Beef Tartar costs $16.00, so our second freebie was a great one! The Wagyu Beef Tartar features Wagyu beef with shiso, red onion, spicy mayo, quail egg and soy sauce to mix. It also came with rice crackers as a base, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was crunchy and crispy and was a better compliment than the typical baguette. I liked that we got to mix our tartar by ourselves so we could taste and mix to our liking. The Wagyu Beef was very fresh and tasted amazing!
Our entrees came shortly after our appetizers. I ordered the Salmon Chirashi ($15.00), which features salmon sashimi with apple-chip smoked salmon skin and assorted root vegetables. The root vegetables gave the plain white rice a sweet flavor. The salmon, however, was the star of the plate. The salmon was very fresh and it practically melted in my mouth.
The Boyfriend went with the Tuna Rice Bowl ($14.50 for large), which came with a large serving of tuna. From the look of the tuna, it seemed kind of thick and hard. But once I put it in my mouth, I found that it was very tender and soft. The tuna almost melted with each bite!
After all our dishes were cleared away, our waitress brought over some hot barley tea for us to clear our palates. She also dropped off the dessert menu and we opted for the Extra Rich Brownie with Arare Mochi Ice Cream ($8.50). The Brownie is served with Himalayan Pink Salt and Banana Chips. The Himalayan Pink Salt was a very nice compliment to the sweetness of the brownie. My favorite, however, was the mochi. It was basically a regular mochi coated with rice pops. The rice pops was crunchy and the mochi was very fresh. The skin of the mochi had a nice bounce to it, which showed that it is definitely not frozen! So good!
Service throughout the entire night was very attentive and our waitress constantly refilled our barley tea throughout the rest of our meal – even as we were paying the bill! Our entire dinner felt very quiet and intimate, despite the other patrons in the restaurant. I will definitely be back for more raw goodies!
On our trip to Hawaii, my cousin, who lives on the island of Oahu, took us around to several local places for dinner. One of those places was Uncle Bo’s Pupu Bar. Uncle Bo’s is one of those places that get super popular during dinnertime so you’re better off making reservations ahead of time. If not, your wait can get up to an hour during prime eating hours. Our wait, when we walked in at around 6:30pm, was around 45minutes.
Once we were seated, we looked over the menu, which consists of appetizers/tapas called pupus and main entrees, which come with a variety of sides. We opted to order a combination of both to share. Our party of five ordered quite a few dishes, some very good and some mediocre.
First up was the Spicy Uncle Bo’s Dynamite Shrimp, which featured wok-fried in a garlic chili aioli and topped with a Parmesan panko crust. The despite the name, the shrimp wasn’t very spicy at all. I liked this dish because it was big enough to share but not too much at the same time. The panko crust was light and not too heavy at all.
Next up was my favorite of the night – the Boca-Rota, or garlic cheesy-bread with sliced prime-rib, sautéed mushrooms and mozzarella cheese in the middle. You take a piece of garlic bread, put some of the middle filling onto it and dig in! The combination was very delicious! The cheese did not make the bread oily at all and the mushrooms + prime-rib combo made a great topping for the bread.
We also ordered Thai-Style Steamer Clams, which is one pound of Manila clams simmered in a mild chili, garlic and oyster sauce. The bowl looks big but don’t be fooled – the serving size isn’t that large. It’s enough for everyone to have about 2-3 pieces and sample the dish but it’s definitely not enough to fill you up. The clams were only mildly spicy.
We wanted to try their pastas so we opted for Uncle Bo’s Seafood Catch, which features clams, scallops, shrimp and fish with a creamy tomato linguine. The linguine was cooked al dente and the seafood was very fresh. The portion is pretty big so it’s definitely enough to share!
Less notable additions to our meal was the Hawaiian Pizza, which I thought was pretty mediocre. I feel that I can get it anywhere – the cheese tasted like prepackaged shredded cheese. I also didn’t like the Pork Belly pupu, which was very dry and did not have the fatty pork belly taste that we all love. I would say skip these two and order something else!
The service was pretty attentive. Our waitress did give us some bad advice about how many dishes to order – perhaps she overestimated our stomach sizes? Either way, I enjoyed my meal at Uncle Bo’s – but next time we’ll definitely know to make reservations ahead of time!
After our first visit to Zenkichi, we were itching to go back. There were just so many amazing things about our first visit that we knew we had to go back. When I saw another Groupon deal for Zenkichi, I jumped on it and we were on our way to one of the most romantic restaurants in New York City.
This time we were given a booth on the 2nd floor instead of the 1st floor. Last time, our booth was in between three other booths with couples on either side of us. This time, we were given a booth that was by itself with only one couple behind us. There was a little bamboo curtain that our waiter opened each time he approached our table. He would also alert us whenever he was about the curtain so as to not surprise us.
Just like last time, our waiter alerted us that if we needed anything we could press the call button but we didn’t need to at all. He came back periodically to check up on us and pick up any used dishes. We didn’t even need to call him!
First up, was a lightly battered fried cod that was from our waiter for being return customers. It wasn’t a huge portion but it was very nice of them to recognize us. I’m always incredibly impressed by the service at Zenkichi.
Next up was the Cold Fresh Tofu ($7.95) that we have had on our earlier visit. Zenkichi’s homemade tofu is the best I have ever had. Despite the raving reviews others have given to institutions like Hibino, I still think Zenkichi cannot be beat. They have this refreshing dashi sauce that is so light that it doesn’t overpower the tofu. I can come to Zenkichi and order three of these and be completely happy!
Our second dish was the Kakuni, or pork belly ($10.95). The Pork belly is another repeat dish but it was so good last time that we had to have it again. Their pork belly is very savory and filling. The pork belly is always very tender and flavorful. The best part, however, is the fact that one order is more than enough for the two of us to share.
For our second visit, we wanted to try something new so we opted for the Tsukune Chicken ($10.95), which are chicken meatballs cooked on a bamboo stick and served with soft egg dipping sauce. They cook their meatballs in one stick instead of separate chucks. They have a bamboo scooper for you to cut the meat with. The presentation wasn’t what we’re used to but it was definitely flavorful. The meat was very soft and chewy. The dipping sauce, which is served cold, was a very nice contrast to the hot meatballs.
Our last hot dish was their Hot Udon ($14.95). The udon was incredibly soft and chewy. I could tell this wasn’t your typical dried-just-put-in-boiling-hot-water udon that you buy in supermarkets. This was very fresh and well-cooked udon. The broth was a simple bonito-dashi broth, which was nice and sweet. It wasn’t too salty or over-spiced. The portion-size was also great to share between the two of us. We each got a serving size of two bowls of udon each!
We also tried the Maguro Carpaccio ($14.95), which is tuna sashimi served with a green yuzu pepper sauce. The tuna sashimi was very fresh. The yuzu pepper sauce was a bit sour, which took some getting used to. The tuna sashimi was a nice break from all the savory dishes we were having.
After our main dishes, we opted for one dessert to share since we were pretty full. We’ve read great things about their Grapefruit Gelee dessert but we opted for their Frozen Black Sesame Mousse ($6.95) since we enjoyed it so much last time. The thing I like about this dessert is that it tastes like sesame ice cream but doesn’t have the same frozen texture. I hate it when ice cream gets freezer burn! The Sesame Mousse is sweet enough without being too sweet, which is exactly what I look for in desserts.
There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about Zenkichi. I love this place because I never feel rushed and I always feel like I have the utmost privacy. I can hear the conversations around me but it was never too loud. I never felt like I was sharing dinner with anyone else at the restaurant except my date. The best part? Kids under 14 aren’t allowed in the restaurant so you’ll never have any crying or tantrum-throwing children ruining your meal. You also don’t have to worry about children running all over the restaurant and knocking things down. When you’re trying to have a romantic date, Zenkichi is definitely the place to go.
For Birthday Dinner #3 on my actual date, the Boyfriend and I decided to take the ferry over to Staten Island and have dinner on the island. After some Googling and Yelping, I found Beso. Beso is located in St. George, just two short blocks away from the ferry. They specialize in Spanish tapas, or small plates. We arrived around 5:30 for an early dinner and were seated immediately. We were given a warm loaf of bread with some olive oil, which was very good. I love when restaurants offer warmed up bread!
Beso offers two menus – the a la carte menu and a prix fixe menu. I opted for the a la carte menu since I had already set my eyes on a few dishes beforehand. The Boyfriend decided to go with the prix fixe menu, which is $20.13 for three courses.
First, let’s begin with our a la carte orders. We decided to order the lamb chops, which were $12 for 4 lamb chops that night. The lamb chops were delicious! They were juicy and succulent. The meat itself was very tender and didn’t have that smelly lamb taste at all. This was easily the best dish of the night. Definitely order their lamb chops if you pay Beso a visit!
I started with the Sashimi de Atun ($9.95), or guajillo crusted seared tuna served with sundried tomato salsa. The serving size was huge! I was not expecting so many slices of tuna sashimi when I ordered. There were at least eleven pieces on the plate, which is almost unheard of for that price elsewhere in Manhattan. I was amazed when I first put a slice of tuna in my mouth. The tuna was seared to perfection and the salsa gave it a very nice flavor.
My “main” dish, if you will, was the Lobster Enchiladas ($10.50), which features lobster meat wrapped in a flour tortilla with arugula, onion, tomato and Manchego cheese. The order comes with two enchiladas, which is really more than enough. At this point I was already getting quite full. I could taste lobster with each bite and the cheese contrasted nicely with the lobster. I did think the dish was a bit salty, so next time I’m definitely telling them to lighten up on the salt.
The Boyfriend’s prix fixe menu comes with a choice of 4 tapas, 3 entrees and 3 desserts. He chose the Conchas de Cave, or Prince Edward Mussels sautéed in Spanish Cava and served with toasted tortillas. The mussels were a bit on the small side but the sauce was very good and tasted great when soaked up with tortilla. The serving size was quite generous as well.
For his entrée, he chose the Seafood Merengue, which features mussels, clams, calamari, and scallops sautéed in a Sofrito sauce and served over spaghetti. I thought this dish was pretty good for a simple pasta dish. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly al dente and was covered in seafood. The best part, however, was the sauce. The sauce was tangy with a hint of tomato. It was definitely not your usual spaghetti sauce. I kept stealing bites from the Boyfriend’s dish in between bites on my own food.
For his dessert, he chose the Tres Leches Cake, which features vanilla cake soaked in three kinds of milk. The cake was a bit harder than I’m used to in a Tres Leches cake, but I thought it was still good nonetheless. It was topped with fresh blueberries and diced mangos, which helped make the cake a little big lighter. We managed to polish off the piece of cake together and it was just the right end to a delicious meal.
Overall, I was very impressed with Beso. The food was delicious and the dining room was quiet despite the people slowly filling in as the night wore on. The waiters never rushed us – in fact, we were left to eat our meals in piece. Our waters were refilled periodically and the waiters reacted appropriately whenever our dishes were empty. They changed our small plates once during the meal, which I thought was a nice touch. All in all, I would definitely return to Beso. I need to have those lamb chops again!
The Boyfriend and I came across Zenkichi, located on N6th Street in Williamsburg, while we were waiting for our table at Sea Thai, diagonally across the street. We decided to do some wandering while we waited and noticed this completely boarded up restaurant – the door doesn’t even open from the outside. We were immediately intrigued but put it in the back of our minds as we ate delicious Thai food that night.
Zenkichi came back into our lives when I noticed that they were selling a Groupon for $25 towards $50 of food. I immediately purchased it since it helps in making Zenkichi a little friendlier to a college student’s budget. I made reservations a week in advance since I wasn’t sure how full they get on a regular basis. The Groupon also expires before Christmas so I knew a lot of people would be trying to make use of it.
They don’t open until 6pm every night so we were one of the first tables to arrive. We were seated on their 3rd floor, in a secluded table-for-two. Each table is separated by a bamboo curtain so you have the ultimate privacy. Each couple is very respectful of others and everyone spoke quietly to their dates. The total atmosphere felt very intimate and close. I definitely felt like I was having a nice dinner date without feeling claustrophobic.
Since each table is so secluded and Zenkichi prides themselves on privacy, there are buttons to call for the waitress on each table. You press the button if you want service and your waitress comes almost immediately. We only used the button once during the entire meal because our waitress popped in and out to take our finished plates periodically without being told to. She also greeted us every single time we returned, which was a nice touch.
We both ordered a bottle of Sapparo ($5.50), which our waitress brought over right away. After about five more minutes, our waitress brought over our first dish of the night – Cold Fresh Tofu ($7.95). This dish features their own homemade tofu served with a light dashi sauce. The dish comes in a very travel friendly bowl. The tofu is on the bottom, the condiments go on top of the tofu and the dashi broth (on the far left) fits perfectly on top of the two. It was so cute! The tofu itself was perhaps the best I have ever had. The tofu was fresh and silky and the broth was so tasty that I even drank the rest in my plate.
Our second dish was the Anago & Cream Cheese Tempura ($9.95), which features cream cheese wrapped around soft eel and then deep-fried. The cream cheese, surprisingly, stayed pretty solid even after being fried. The two complimented each other very nicely and melts in your mouth! We were given a dipping sauce and green tea salt to accompany it. I decided to use only the green tea salt because it was such an unusual condiment. I was so shocked that such a thing existed!
Our third dish was the Potato Mochi ($7.95), which features deep fried potato rice cakes served with spicy mayo. These mochi balls were so soft! Every time I bit into one, I felt like I was eating a cloud. The potato was very fluffy and light. The spicy mayo wasn’t too spicy, which is just the way I like it. If you’re a mashed potato lover, this is definitely the dish for you!
Our fourth dish was the Nayoya Teba Chicken Wings ($8.95), which features crispy fried chicken wings. Their menu says that they use a special blend of Japanese spices – whatever they’re using, it’s so delicious. The chicken skin was crunchy and the chicken meat was very juicy. Each bite came right off the bone.
Our fifth dish was the Rocksalt Jidori Chicken ($10.95), which features grilled free-range chicken that is served three ways – by itself, with lemon juice, and with a yuzu pepper paste, which is a little spicy. This dish was the Boyfriend’s favorite of the two chicken dishes because it was very simple but tasted fantastic. The chicken stayed very juicy, which is often a problem with chicken dishes.
Our last savory dish was the Kakuni , or shimmered pork belly in a traditional Japanese dashi broth ($12.95). This was a very large portion of pork belly for that price. In other Japanese restaurants, I’ve been charged more for a lot less. One bite into the pork belly, I knew that this is what true Japanese pork belly should taste like. The pork belly was buttery and melted the moment I put it in my mouth. No chewing required! The broth was also just as good. The Boyfriend and I were actually drinking just the broth when we finished the pork belly!
Since we finished our beers by now, the Boyfriend suggested we order some dessert sake to go along with our desserts. We decided on the Hime Zen ($7.50 per glass), which has a lot of fruity undertones. You can taste a hint of apples, peaches, and citrus in the sake. Both of us aren’t big sake fans but we loved this one.
We decided to order two desserts because we weren’t sure which one to pick. Normally we order one to share, but Zenkichi’s options were just too tempting! Our first dessert to arrive was the Frozen Black Sesame Mousse ($6.95). This is almost like black sesame ice cream but it was a lot less melty and milky. The mousse was nice and cold after a meal of hot and savory foods. This one is definitely a must try!
The best dessert, however, goes to the Mineoke Milk Tofu ($6.95), which is made with heavy cream, kudzu starch and strawberries. The result was something that didn’t taste like tofu – it tasted more like Chinese steamed milk, which is a favorite of mine. I was so impressed with this dish. The tofu was so silky and smooth that I wanted more than just that tiny cup. If you have to pick one dessert only, I would recommend that you go with this one.
We ordered about 6 savory dishes and 2 sweet dishes to share and we were completely satisfied by the end of our meal. They recommend that you pick 3-4 dishes per guest, which is almost what we did. Their recommendations were correct and we were pleasantly surprised that 6 savory dishes were enough to fill us up. We were in and out of the restaurant in about an hour and a half, which I thought was decent timing for a dinner for two. Our waitress was very attentive and nice. Overall, I was very satisfied with my meal. I will definitely be back to try out some of their other dishes.