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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Tag Archives: chinese

IMG_4250On our last night in Philly we were looking for some good old fashioned Chinese food. Jane G’s was right pretty close to the hotel. Jane Guo opened this restaurant in 2012, her second restaurant in Philly.

IMG_4251The restaurant was getting busier and busier as the night went on – there were a few large parties celebrating occasions tonight. We sat at a table close to the front door, which proved to be a bit chilly on this cool night.

IMG_4252Looking to warm up, we started with the wonton soup, served family style.

IMG_4255The pork, leek and shrimp dumplings did not disappoint ($6).

IMG_4257Crispy rice with chicken ($14) is sweet and sour red sauce with vegetables and exotic mushroom poured over crackling rice cakes. I really loved this dish – the rice cakes were delicious (a little chewy and a little crispy).

IMG_4261General Tso’s honey walnut chicken ($15) was chicken with sweet plum sauce, broccoli and candied walnuts – a nice classic dish.

IMG_4263The Sichuan string beans were tasty, but I think at that point, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs…we couldn’t finish all the food on the table!

Jane G’s

1930 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

http://www.janegsrestaurant.com/

Make a reservation with Open Table here.

Jane G's on Urbanspoon

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IMG_2084Bernard’s used to be tucked in a corner in the Chestnut Hill mall, but has since moved over to the new construction, “The Street”. We were going to head to the Shake Shack, but the line was out the door, so we decided to try out Bernard’s for the first time. We’ve heard only good things about this place. There was a good crowd here – lots of people a the bar watching the game, and a lot of large parties in the back. They found a table for us in back, next to the chain link curtain that separates a section off the larger room into a semi private area.

IMG_2085We started with the chicken spring rolls ($4.75) which were crispy and pretty par for the course as far as spring rolls go.

IMG_2086We liked the pan fried Peking raviolis ($6.95).

IMG_2087The beef teriyaki ($7.50) were well seasoned and perfectly cooked. They were the best appetizer of the three.

IMG_2088The chicken lo mein ($8.50) was tasty and well prepared, not greasy at all.

IMG_2089The pork fried rice, a staple of any Chinese food meal we have!

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The Mongolian beef was excellent, the best  dish of the night. The meat was well seasoned, and tender, while the rice crisps added a nice texture.

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The General Tso’s chicken ($15.95) was good – a little sweet and a little spicy. Service here was spotty at times, but good overall. We would certainly go back for another meal here.

Bernard’s

55 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA

http://Facebook.com/bernardsrestaurant

Bernard's on Urbanspoon

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IMG_0196Sichuan Gourmet has a location on Beacon Street in Brookline that is our go-to Chinese food take out spot. We happened to be running an errand in Framingham so we decided to try out that location.

IMG_0198The interior seems a little more updated than the Brookline location. When we arrived it was pretty empty, but as we were getting our appetizers, the place really filled up quickly.

IMG_0200These paper place mats with the Chinese Zodiac just make me smile, makes me nostalgic about a place I used to go to as a kid.

IMG_0202We aren’t adventurous with our Chinese food. The guy at the Brookline location always asks us is we would like to try something different. We order very “American” choices. The pan fried raviolis are good – they come 6 to an order. 5 of them were delicious but one was over fried and hard as a rock on the outside.

IMG_0201The scallion pancakes were light and tasty with just enough of a scallion taste.

IMG_0204The General Tso’s chicken was good but the chicken as cooked a bit too long in the fryer for my taste.

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My go to dish. The chicken lo mein has a light sauce and has ton’s of noodles – the are a few pieces of chicken here and there, but that’s just fine with me (I love the noodles). Overall the meal was good – the service was quick and efficient, polite but not overly friendly.

Sichuan Gourmet

271 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA

http://www.laosichuan.com/

Sichuan Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9404Met up with an old co worker one day after work. I joke with her that she is more Asian than I am, since she knows all the best places to go for Asian cuisine. While I was standing across the street waiting for her to show up, a family walks up to me and asks me where the good places are to eat around here. I tell him politely that (ironically) I don’t know. He backtracks by mumbling something about not asking me just because I am Asian and walks away (thanks goodness) explaining that he is a tourist (yes my friend, the pulled up white athletic socks, white walking shoes, and fanny pack certainly did not give it away!

IMG_9405We start with the eggplant.

IMG_9406And get the rice cake with veggies and pork – which is delicious, some of the best rice cakes I’ve had. We also had the roast beef with scallion pancake (not pictured) which was really really tasty. Think of a steak sub wrapped up in a scallion pancake. Amazing.

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The juicy buns are delicious, and there is no way to eat them in a ladylike fashion, so just dive in. The trick is to take a little bite out of the top and let the liquid fall out into the wonton spoon. Then just put the dumpling in your mouth in one bite (if you can). Service here is quick and efficient. You sit at communal tables since there is limited space. They don’t like to let you linger because space is such a premium, so prepare to digest on the run…if you can move from your seat.

Dumpling Cafe

695 Washington Street, Boston, MA

http://www.dumplingcafe.com/

Dumpling Cafe on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9247My parents came into town and took us out to dinner. They offered up PF Changs, and I countered with Red Lantern. Still Chinese, but a more grown up feel – PF Changs feels very chain-like to me, with mediocre service, and most of the time it’s pretty dirty there – those lettuce wraps can make a real mess.

IMG_9248Located in the Back Bay, Red Lantern has a decent after work crowd, nothing like seeing businessmen sharing a scorpion bowl. There are a lot of great design elements here – I really love the decor.

IMG_9249There is an open kitchen in the back so you can see everything. The service is good – somewhere between average and the next step up. We started with the lobster rangoon – crispy wonton, sweet soy and scallions ($12).

IMG_9250The shrimp tempura maki ($9) was delicious – and check out how beautifully plated this dish is!

IMG_9252Again, the beautiful plating.

IMG_9253The vegetable spring rolls with house chili garlic sauce ($10).

IMG_9254The bulgogi was cubed as opposed to shredded. Hand cut beef rib eye served with kimchi and some white rice. ($30) The price is a little steep, but the food is excellent – great taste and wonderfully plated.

IMG_9255The Tik Tok chicken ($24) is similar to General Gao/Tso’s chicken. The portion is generous, enough to bring home and enjoy as another meal. As I mentioned, the prices are a bit high here, but the food is delicious – and high quality.

Red Lantern

39 Stanhope Street, Boston, MA

http://www.redlanternboston.com

Red Lantern Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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Our office decided to move April 1, so I went down to NYC to coordinate the whole thing. I stayed at the Standard High Line, located in the Meatpacking District, 848 Washington Street at 13th, just steps away from Chelsea Market.

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I met Adam, our corporate sales manager, and got a tour of the hotel. I saw all the different room sizes as well as the bar on the top floor – reserved for members only, and looks like something straight out of a James Bond movie. Everything is gold, and old Hollywood glam, complete with beautiful, tall, model-like cocktail waitresses.  The plaza in front of the hotel just finished up being an ice skating rink. Now that the summer months are coming, there will be ice cream carts and pizza at the open air bar.

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I stayed in a standard queen room, which was quite spacious.

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The shower has a glass wall that you can see through while you’re sitting in the bed, which normally I would think was weird, if I hadn’t seen it before at the Hudson.

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The toilet was in this small claustrophobic little room, but that’s better than it being in the same room like the shower 🙂

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I laughed a bit when I read this note that says that when the curtains are open, people on the high line can see into your room.

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The view from my window.

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The hotel is pretty cool, very modern. The 5th floor was quiet for the most part, except for the people across the hall that were having a party in their room until 3am one night. Note that if you stay on the upper floors, you may get some noise from the nightclub.

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I was impressed by how well stocked the mini bar was.

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More mini bar.

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Champagne anyone?

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Just thought that this was cute. Cleaning service came in the morning, right at 9 as I was leaving.

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The elevators are almost pitch dark with scenes of heaven and hell playing on tv screens on either side.

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I met up with a friend from high school at Crema, 111 17th street, 212-691-4477. A cute little place, that wasn’t crowded when we arrived, but within a half of an hour, the place was packed. Tables were pretty close to one another. We had the Quesos Flameados as an appetizer, Chihuahua cheese baked casserole, served with fresh warm corn tortillas, and either guacamole or salsa. We had ours “A la Francesa” –  with Gruyere & mushrooms ($14).  Wonderfully delicious and flavorful, how could warm cheese be bad? I had the scallop entree ($24), Callo de Hacha con Chile Morita y Mango. Dry scallops pan seared in chile morita, sweet corn cake, avocado mousse, mango pico de gallo, chipotle aioli. The scallops were spicy and went well with the sweetness of the corn cakes. Lovely presentation. The noise level was at a good buzz, and yet we didn’t feel rushed to leave – even though the place was packed. Highly recommend this place for a night out, the food is delicious and the service was pretty attentive.

Crema Restaurante on Urbanspoon

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We moved out of our office space at WeWork in the Meatpacking district and moved down to Hudson Square.

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While walking around, I spotted this. Makes you think twice about getting street meat doesn’t it?

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Friday, the big day. I had breakfast at the Standard Grill downstairs in the hotel. The front room looks like a French Brasserie, the sun was shining brightly through the windows. There is white subway tile, and dark red leather half moon banquettes. Service was a little ditzy for 8am, but the food was pretty good. $7 for a glass of orange juice and $14 for a gruyere and mushroom omelet.

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Thought that the salt and pepper shakers were pretty adorable.

The Standard Grill on Urbanspoon

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Hudson Square, our new office. Here it is. Empty when I arrive first thing on Monday morning. The space feels so open, with high ceilings and lots of windows.

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While the single offices are a little bit on the small side, we kept the space from feeling small by putting in glass doors and walls.

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We had our furniture delivered the day before, now all that we needed was the guys to come and put it together. When moving into a new office in NY, make sure that you have certificates of insurance for all vendors delivering or assembling in your space well in advance. Our property manager didn’t tell us until the day before, so it was a scramble to get everything together.

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We had a contractor build the space out, they put in a great little kitchenette, I picked out the appliances from AJ Madison – they have great deals on appliances.

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The floors are pretty cool. Concrete. Because there is not carpet and there are high ceilings, we have to think about what to do about the noise level in the office. It’s still a work in progress.

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By mid day the boxes are piling up. I have about 10 cardboard box paper cuts and of course I forgot any kind of tools, so I have been opening boxes with my keys. Long day.

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The view from our office.

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Another view.

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Now that’s my kind of mid afternoon meeting – we should make friends with these guys across the street.

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After a long day of unpacking, my coworker and I head out to dinner. I haven’t eaten lunch so I am famished, and probably dehydrated. While we ordered lots of delicious food, it takes me a minute or two to get my bearings and rehydrate. We are at L’Apicio, located at 11 East 1st Steet, 212..533.7400. They say that they have no tables for us to eat at, so we sit in the front bar area on a couch with a little cocktail table in front of us. The place is bustling with people, and there is a great patio outside, too bad it’s too cold to eat out there.  We start with the l’apicio spritz ($13) something light and bubbly that goes down a little too easily. We also have the arancini, with sausage ($8) that are so rich that I almost don’t think I can handle it.

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We order the bruschetta ($9) that has pork belly and a fried egg on top – oh how amazing is that!! The flavors are SO rich, and the eggs just adds that creamy, salty deliciousness….that makes this an over the top appetizer. We also order the papardelle ($18) that comes with lamb shank ragu. The pasta is perfectly al dente and the sauce is light and yet bursting with flavor. We spent the night chatting away, the time just flew and before you know it, it’s late…and we have work to do in the morning! So we head home and agree to meet tomorrow at 11.

L'Apicio on Urbanspoon

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I head to Sarabeth’s for breakfast, the Tribeca location, 339 Greenwich Street, 212 966 0421. A cute exterior, that looks like an old train station. I would equate this to Stephanie’s in Boston, the same ambiance, but also the same level of tourist traffic as well.

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We are seated in front by the windows, and have a hard time deciding what we want for breakfast….everything looks so good. It is a carb lovers dream here.

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It’s a mixed crowd here, and pretty busy for 9:30. Out waiter couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive. He even let us pull over the two top next to us so we could have more room for all of our food.

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The space is open and bright, clean lines with a country kitchen feeling about it.

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Breakfast isn’t cheap, oj is $7 and the lemon ricotta pancakes $16.50. Add on a side of bacon for $7 and your breakfast is $30! The pancakes are too much to eat in one sitting. While they are light and fluffy with just a hint of lemon, there are just too many of them 🙂 Those 5 blackberries on my plate made me not feel so bad about the heart attack that was on my plate. After breakfast, I meet my coworker at the office and we head out to buy some last minute items around town.

Sarabeth's on Urbanspoon

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After hours of running around the city and hauling bags of goods around town, we head over to the  Blue Ribbon Bakery on 35 Downing Street, 212.337.0404. The might have the cutest brunch menu I have ever seen. I order the challah french toast deluxe ($18.50) while my coworker orders the  shrimp and bacon hash ($16.70)

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We also order some mimosas, we deserve them after the long day! Blue ribbon makes their own breads downstairs. The place is pretty packed around 2, but so worth the wait. The challah french toast it out of this world. Far too much food for me to eat, but each bite was decadent. They also serve Vermont Creamery Butter, which is my FAVORITE. Service was good, even though the place was busy-highly recommend this place if you’re in the neighborhood.

Blue Ribbon Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Dinner Saturday night with my aunt and my cousin at Cilantro, one of their favorite neighborhood eateries. They are located at 485 columbus ave, 212-712-9090. They have lots of margarita options, I have a raspberry one on the rocks ($10). The place is casual and Americanized. We order the guacamole ($10) that is made to order. They order the chopped salad with chicken ($13) while I order the mushroom quesadilla $9. Not bad, but not great either. We are sat next to a table of freshman college girls who are talking at the top of their lungs and screeching about who should follow who on twitter. The tables in back were supposedly all reserved….

Cilantro on Urbanspoon

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On the walk back to their apartment, I am delighted that we stumble upon Momfuku Milk Bar on 561 Columbus Ave. Having been a New Yorker her whole life, and at this apartment for the last 8 years, my cousin had never been. I love the corn cookies here and picked up some to bring home, but we had both never had the crack pie, so I immediately bought a piece for each of us. We brought it back to the apartment and dug in – DELICIOUS. You can certainly see why they call it crack pie, it’s addictive. I’m sure that it’s pure sugar, and I have to thank god that they don’t put the calorie count on the box….but it was so good it made my teeth hurt. We called it an early night since I had been racing around the city for the past two days and was exhausted.

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Easter Sunday I went to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast. They have locations all around the city. There is a communal table running down the middle of the restaurant and smaller tables around the perimeter of the space. We grab a small two top in the back, it isn’t very crowded, probably due to the holiday. The service was good, our waitress was friendly. I had a cheese and almond pastry and a large fruit bowl. The fruit was pretty good, although there weren’t a lot of berries in it – bummer.

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We got back to the hotel and outside they had a petting zoo set up. Super cute baby animals for Easter. Chicks of all sizes.

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How cute are they?

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An enormous turtle!

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I swear this guy was smiling for the camera.

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What does a kangaroo have to do with Easter? Yeah I don’t know either. But he was a cutie, 10 months old and they said that he would grow to be over 7 ft!

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After walking around for a few hours, just window browsing and relaxing, I headed over to Chinatown to meet a former co worker who saw an Instagram photo of mine and texted saying she was in the city too! I met her and her friend at Four Five Six, located at  69 Mott Street, 212 964 0003. When the cab dropped me off I could barely open my cab door, and when I got out, I was immediately approached by 4 different people asking me for directions, and pointing to a map, in an asian language I didn’t understand. The one man proceeded to touch my hair, so I was officially creeped out at this point. While I am asian, and love Chinese food, I have no idea what to order when it comes to authentic Chinese food. So I leave it to my former co-worker and she orders some pretty delicious things! We have all kinds of dumplings, pan friend noodles with chicken and beef, and some veggies in a delicious sauce…I can’t for the life of me remember what the dish was called. We had a bunch of laughs and swapped stories of where we had been to eat this past weekend, she was hanging out in Brooklyn, went to the roof deck at Eataly, and had delicious sweet and savory dumplings from a food truck they were tracking. How fun! Love to hear where other people like to dine, makes my wheels turn for my next trip.

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After lunch I head over to my favorite place, the Doughnut Plant. Their original location is at 379 Grand Street, between Essex and Norfolk,  and they have another location in the Chelsea Hotel uptown, 220 West 23rd between 7th and 8th. This place used to be a dive. Now they have renovated and it’s a trendy yuppie coffee bar.Who cares, doughnuts are still delicious.

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The carrot cake doughnut had raisins inside with nice spicy cake. The frosting was just the right amount of sweetness to make this doughnut so delicious. ($3)

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The toasted almond was delicious, loved the crunch and the flavor. ($2.75)

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Tres leches cake doughnut was so moist, even by day 2. One bite and it just melted in your mouth. ($3)

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Pistachio cake was probably my favorite, light cake with a great flavor and the outside packed a little crunch! ($2.75)

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The strawberry filled yeast doughnut was amazing, light and fluffy, and the sweet jam was like heaven. They even make their own jam!! ($3.25)

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And the meyer lemon yeast doughnut was delicious with just a hint of lemon flavor, and a sweetness from the glaze. ($3)

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This place has come a long way, and the line was still out the door! After having one of these, you can never go back to Dunks!

Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

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I met a friend on the Upper East Side for dinner. I haven’t seen her in ages, we went to college together. She has a 2 year old son that came with us – he is adorable. Sfoglia is on 1402 Lexington, 212.831.1402. They don’t like to make substitutions here, so basically what they have on the menu is what you get. The service was pretty good, although towards the end, our waiter was in the weeds with other tables. We were sat in the back room and a quiet little table. I had the pappardelle bolognese ($30). The pasta was home made, and impossibly thin. The sauce was thin, just the way I like it, and yet packed with meat. Add a mountain of parm cheese on top and I was in heaven.

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They ask that you order the bread pudding in advance, and it was certainly worth it.  ($16) The bread pudding was decadent, raisins and powdered sugar added a hint of sweetness that you just couldn’t stop eating. We had the lugana wine $14 and the pigato wine $16, both white and both excellent. Overall a great dinner, good to catch up with an old friend!

Sfoglia on Urbanspoon

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I had stopped at Empire Cake over the weekend to pick up some sweets for home. The place was crowded with people sitting and enjoying their cupcakes and treats, it took a while to order.

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I walked out with two cupcakes, carrot cake and hazelnut. The carrot cake was a bit dry but the cake had great flavor, warm and spicy. The hazelnut was excellent, the cake was light and airy and the hazelnut crunch reminded me of that nut ice cream topping.

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I also had one raspberry thumbprint cookie, which was delicious- it tasted a but like an oatmeal cookie with just the right amount of jam.

Empire Cake on Urbanspoon

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I finished up the move on Monday afternoon and headed back to Boston, great trip to New York and I have a ton of places I want to try on my next trip. Where are your favorite New York spots?

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We stopped in to pick up some take out from Mandarin Gourmet. I am always on the hunt for great Chinese food.

We peeked into the dining room, I really liked the traditional look of it.

The broth of the wonton soup was flavorful-not watered down like some can be. The wontons were tasty, minus the fatty piece of meat inside.

The scallion pancakes were the best part of the dinner. Really thick with a really strong scallion flavor. They could have been a meal all by themselves…and they were so good that you didn’t even need to dip them in sauce.

Old school egg rolls, but minus the grease. You know what I’m talking about, the kind with the red bits of meat inside. They were tasty, although a little heavy on the cabbage-it overpowered the egg rolls flavor.

In the take out container, the chicken lo mein looked dark. Dark sauce to me usually means thick, heavy, salty sauce. I was pleasantly surprised by just how light the sauce was. As simple a dish as this is, it was well done. Over all, the meal was ok. Nothing spectacular, but not disappointing either.

Mandarin Gourmet

Szechuan & Mandarin Cuisines
Tel: (617) 325-6661
(617) 325-6662
Fax: (617) 325-6686
1020 West Roxbury Parkway
ChestnutHill, MA 02467

http://mandaringourmet.net/

Mandarin Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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What does everyone do on Christmas day? Movies and Chinese food. We skipped the movies, but headed over to the Sichuan Gourmet restaurant on Beacon Street, where the old Chef Changs used to be. As predicted, it was mobbed.

Pretty casual and minimal decor. It feels as though they are hurrying you in and hurrying you out. There are 3 menu options, the regular menu, the specials menu and the picture menu.

We order the wonton soup for 2, a large bowl with plenty of wontons and dark leafy greens-at $4.95 this is a great buy! I really liked the filling inside the wontons-excellent taste and consistency. I’m super picky about my wonton soup-and it’s been hard to find a good one in the city-but this was pretty good. My favorite wonton soup is at Lavender in Sudbury, MA.

Peking raviolis are 8 for $7.50. Not too greasy and a nice consistency to the filling.

Boneless spare ribs  ($7.50) are a little on the fatty side but not bad.

The spare rib noodle soup ($7.95) is listed as spicy-it’s a slow burn in the back of your throat kind of spicy. The only thing that posed a problem was that the meat was bone in…

The chicken lo-mein ($7.50) was really good. Liked the noodles, and it wasn’t too greasy as some lo meins can be. This was my favorite dish of the night.

Tangerine chicken ($11.95) was excellent. Not too much breading and the sauce was slightly sweet.

Over all the food was good-it leaned towards the old school Chinese style food I remember from when I was a kid-with less grease. The prices were affordable and the service wasn’t bad. Great place for families or large parties.

Sichuan Gourmet

1006 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02446-4001
(617) 277-4226

http://www.laosichuan.com/

Sichuan Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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The iconic tree at Rockefeller Center. This year my present was a surprise trip to New York City…to see the Rockettes. I had never been to Radio City-nor had I ever seen the Rockettes. If I did see the Rockettes, there would be no road show for me, I wanted to see them at Radio City. So it was a quick trip to New York, but jam packed with fun. We stayed at the Double Tree in Midtown on Lexington between 51st and 52nd. (569 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, United States 10022. Phone: 1-212-752-7000) We rarely do things in midtown when we come to NYC but the Double Tree was a perfect location this time, being just blocks from Radio City. We arrive to find the hotel pretty full-people were mulling around the lobby-checking in and out. Somehow we were booked for a smoking room-do they really even still have those?? But luckily we switched to a non smoking room.

The lobby decor was modern and simple-it was decorated for Christmas tastefully. There is a bar in the lobby as well as an area for you to sit and plug in your laptop.

When you check in you receive a complimentary chocolate chip cookie-warm. A little crispy for my taste but not bad.

Room 313-third floor next to the service stairwell and close to the elevator. Queen sized bed and one of the bigger rooms we have stayed in.

Tiny bathroom. They feature Neutrogena shower products. They also provide you with a hair dryer with a little more kick than the ones that you find mounted to the wall at some hotels. The water pressure here was excellent (I know it’s a weird thing to be important). Don’t accidentally drop anything down the toilet because the force at which the water leaves the bowl is enough to shoot you to the moon (ok not really…but it seemed like it). You could definitely hear toilets from other rooms flushing when you were in your room.

The room was pretty clean, although the bathroom had paint peeling from the ceiling and the room had peeling wall paper. They had an alarm clock in the room that you could connect your mp3 player to via headphone jack. What I find so amusing about hotels in New York is that no matter how small the room etc. there is almost always a phone in the bathroom.

And here was the view outside our window. You know you are in trouble when they leave earplugs on the bedside table for you. Although, surprisingly the fans weren’t the thing that woke us up in the middle of the night. The door to the room is pretty thin and you could hear people outside in the hallway and at 8 in the morning you would hear the cleaning people using the service door.

How convenient is it that Neuhaus was located right next to the hotel (and a Cafe Metro that serves sandwiches and snacks cafe style)? Neuhaus was founded in 1857 and is the inventor of the praline and the luxury packaging, the ‘ballotin’.

The prestige-a caramel. The inside was liquid.

Tiramisu-butter cream with tiramisu taste, covered with ‘amaretti’ biscuits. Excellent crunch on the outside.

The pagode-coffee ganache and gianduja (a blend of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate). The coffee is subtle because you also get the gianduja flavor mixed in.

Mephisto-almond and hazelnut praline with caramelized hazelnuts (shown as milk, also available in dark and know as ‘satan’) Smooth ganache center, excellent.

Plaisir-Hand-made nougatine, filled with a rich, creamy ganache made from subtly roasted Turkish hazelnuts and covered in milk chocolate. This one was a little weird for me. The nougatine was super sweet, not unlike a praline, and the consistency was weird for me. Not my favorite.

Napoleonette-praline with coffee. Super smooth.

Astrid-Gianduja (hazelnuts sugar and chocolate) with cocoa butter coated with a sugar glaze. This is my favorite piece of their whole collection-love the sugar glaze on the outside.

Manon Lait-Praline butter cream with caramelized hazelnuts. Really light and mousse-like on the inside.

Cornet: “Let yourself be carried away by the original, luxurious form of this praline filled with gianduja swirled into a cornet to give the dreamiest, melt-in-the-mouth texture.”

Crumbs bakery is right around the corner (501 Madison Ave at 52nd). They have these huge cupcakes (the signature is 4.25″) decorated with all sorts of candy and cookies. You walk in and see a floor to eye level case filled with cupcakes. When you go in closer to see the flavors you will notice that they put the calorie count right next to the description. It’s like: Raspberry swirl…450 calories. No thanks. That is like finding out that Santa isn’t real-it ruins the magic of Christmas. I’m better off not knowing how many calories I am going to consume while eating one of your cupcakes (even though that small voice in the back of my head says a lot), because I just have to feel guilty about it later.

Vanilla cake filled with raspberry preserve and frosted with a swirl our classic vanilla cream cheese and raspberry preserve. ($4.50) The raspberry preserve tastes like a jelly doughnut. The cake was moist although the frosting wasn’t very cream cheese-y….

Carrot cake topped with our signature cream cheese frosting, edged in crushed walnuts and decorated with an iced carrot. ($4.50) Not bad-the cake wasn’t spicy enough for me, and it had raisins. It just didn’t feel like a real cupcake for me.

Vanilla cake with our rich vanilla cream cheese frosting. ($4.50) The frosting is good-not too sweet and the cake is quite moist, even after 2 days. As I said before, the frosting doesn’t taste like cream cheese.

Cupcake of the month: Chocolate cake filled with vanilla butter cream topped with peppermint cream cheese frosting mixed with crushed peppermint candies and edged with crushed peppermint candies. ($4.50) The cake was moist and the frosting was a subtle peppermint taste. On the way home the peppermint candies had a little bit of a meltdown, so I missed the crunchiness of the candy when I ate it, but it was still good. Over all the cupcakes were good. I don’t crave them like I do other cupcakes, but in a pinch, they’re not bad. They may look fancier than some other cupcakes but are average as far as taste goes (I would consider them novelty cupcakes).

My new favorite cupcake place is Butter Lane on 123 East Seventh Street. We had been there before (see previous review). This time we went earlier in the evening, so we had a better selection to choose from. We had the vanilla with vanilla frosting (above) that was good-the cake was a vanilla cake (not a yellow cake like most places) and you could see the vanilla bean flecks in the frosting.

They frosted this one while we were there-vanilla cake with chocolate hazelnut frosting. While I love chocolate, I don’t usually like chocolate cake or chocolate frosting. That being said, Butter Lane could convert me-the frosting was excellent:good consistency, light, just sweet enough, subtle taste…yum!

Butter Lane Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Highlight of the trip was breakfast at Norma’s in Le Parker Meredien Hotel (119 West 56th Street). I had seen The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Brunch the day before. Alex Guarnaschelli, the executive chef at Butter (another favorite restaurant in NYC of mine) was on talking about how wonderful the chocolate decadence french toast was at Norma’s. Sold.

The restaurant is right off the lobby-you walk up the stairs to a raised area that is the restaurant. The decor is modern cafe-it looks busy but the hostess tells us this is slow for them, it being Christmas Eve.

We are at a small two top towards the back of the room-the place has a nice low hum to it. It’s bustling but you can still have a conversation with the person across the table in a normal voice.

I already know I am getting the French toast, but there are so many good things on the menu here (you just want to try them all). The good news is that the table comes with a complimentary smoothie shooter-the bad news….a glass of orange juice is $10.

Norma’s is a special occasion place-not just because of the prices but I could never eat food that rich every day. So the infamous Chocolate decadence French Toast ($23). They make the French Toast with home made yogurt cake-it is rich but not overwhelming. It comes as cake topped with a layer of strawberries, then cake, then strawberries and then cake. The strawberries are cooked in a little bit of butter and brown sugar and some Grand Marnier. The dish is finished off with some pistachios and a dark chocolate sauce (dark chocolate, doesn’t that make this a healthy choice?). They add some home made whipped cream (that is TO DIE FOR) and an orange chip. I only manage to eat about half…sad I know.

My dining companion gets the light and lemony griddle cakes with Devonshire cream ($21). The description is right on-they are indeed both light and lemony. If you could put lemon yogurt into a pancake, this is what it would taste like. The lemon taste is subtle and delicious. It’s an excellent choice. If you are feeling saucy-try the “zillion dollar lobster frittata” for $100 served with 1oz of Sevruga caviar or for $1000 with 10oz of caviar. (Norma’s writes “Norma’s dares you to expense this”). While the food was excellent the service was just ok-for an 80 something dollars for breakfast, I believe it should come with top notch service. Our waiter had a ‘couldn’t be bothered’ attitude and was hard to find when we did need something. There were gingerbread houses on display in the lobby-made by different local restaurants/bakeries and Norma’s charged you $1 per person for raffle tickets to vote on which you thought was the best (unless you opt out-but we didn’t know about it until we got the check. It’s the holidays, what the heck right?)

Norma's at Le Parker Meridien on Urbanspoon

Based on the movie “Big”.

King Kong made by Norma’s.

Stuart Little.

We walked around the city to walk off some of the food we had consumed. The best part of being out in any city during the holidays are the shops all decorated with lights and Christmas decorations. Above is Cartier.

Fendi.

Stopping by to visit my friend Harry. Winston that is. (I wish).

The Swarovski star in Rockefeller Center.

The tree and all the people skating.

You can head over to Central Park and skate at the Trump rink too.

After taking a nice long walk-we head over to Eataly located at 200 Fifth Avenue. I heard mixed reviews, some people loved it and some people told me it was over-rated. It was crowded, and I’m sure it’s a tourist trap on most days-but it is quite the sight.

Being the pasta lover that I am, I’m pretty sure that I would be there every day! Rows of pasta.

A case full of fresh pasta (too bad we couldn’t bring any home).

Preserves, jams, sauces, olive oil, coffee, chocolate oh my!

They have a few different choices for eating in Eataly. MANZO is Eataly’s more formal dining experience that celebrates meat from the United States. “Manzo offers both modern Italian preparations as well as traditional Piemontese beef dishes.Chef Michael Toscano, formerly of Babbo Ristorante, works like a true Italian butcher to use every part of the animal, tongue and cheek. Like all of Mario, Joe & Lidia’s fine dining restaurants, Manzo also provides a complete dining experience that’s not all about meat: antipasti, pasta and main courses give a variety of delicious choices and desserts will satisfy every taste bud. Meet friends at LA PIAZZA, our standing table enoteca in the heart of Eataly. Its marble cornered facades will transport you to the grandeur of Rome. Indulge in the highest quality Salumi & Formaggi. Order from our crudo menu and choose from Dave Pasternack’s freshest fish. Dave Pasternack is an unadulterated fish guru. He is famous for it and now you can enjoy his seafood at not just Esca, but at IL PESCE too. Visit our Seating Point to get a counter or table spot to dine on Dave’s raw bar offerings, as well as his creative and traditional takes on Italian seafood. In view of our abundant local produce, LE VERDURE honors ingredients with preparations that focus on flavor, not fussiness. Try our version of bagna cauda and entrée dishes. Specials on the chalkboard describe today’s harvest. Eataly has teamed up with experts Rossopomodoro to bring you classic Neapolitan pizza at LA PIZZA & PASTA. Creamy mozzarella, charred and elastic crust and sweet San Marzano tomatoes make for a pie so delicious you will be singing along with our vibrant Neapolitan pizzaioli. Watch dough fly and order a plate of pasta for a meal that will make you want to come right back.”

We grab a bite at the Pizza and Pasta area. There is seating on the main shopping floor and seating upstairs. We are lucky and don’t have to wait for a table. We sit upstairs in this awful location, right at the top of the stairs where they have put two- two top tables…You can’t even more your chair out to get in it, you have to slide in sideways.

The only redeeming quality of this table is that you get a nice view of the market below.

After  having such a big breakfast, we opt to share a small lunch. We order the mozzarella as a starter-made fresh in house daily ($11).

We also order the bucatini all’ Amatriciana ($16) which is served very al dente with tomato, Guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks) and red onion. The pasta is excellent and the guanciale is rich in flavor.

La Pizza & Pasta @ Eataly on Urbanspoon

After lunch we do a little shopping and pick up a few things to bring home:

Egg pasta “maltagliati” ($5.80)….

Egg pasta Tagliolini ($5.80)….

Tortiglioni carta paglia ($5.80)….

Albesi egg pasta ($9.20)….

And caserecce pasta ($5.80). Ok, I swear that’s it for pasta.

We make a pit stop over at Dylan’s Candy Bar at 1011 Third Ave just to see what it’s all about. Owned by Dylan Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s daughter, the store is 3 stories, includes a cafe and is the biggest candy store in the world (it’s 15,000 square feet). The candy bar has over 5,000 types of candy. People flock to this store, it’s like any of the stores in Times Square-you can barely move inside it’s so packed.

We head over to Radio City for the show.

The inside is decorated beautifully for Christmas-note the Martha Stewart tree on the balcony.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got there for the show. They have a 3-D santa ride segment in the show which was great for kids. There was a little bit of a story line…I thought it was going to just be all precision dancing…

We had great seats in the 1st mezzanine-I was surprised that everyone was taking pictures while the show was going on. The signature line with the leg kicks was great and the toy soldier marching segment was pretty amazing to watch. A fun show and a perfect thing to do Christmas Eve.

We have dinner across the street from the hotel at Mr. K’s (570 Lexington).

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures but it was dim in the restaurant. They are going for an old school upscale Chinese food vibe. They have high walled booths for privacy, with the seats covered in pink velvety material.

Everything is gold in color-the soup is served in these gold orbs. We got the seafood wonton soup shown above ($7.50) which was shrimp and crab meat filled wontons in a seafood broth.

The chicken and corn chowder ($7.50) chicken and creamy golden corn in a velvety soup base. I wouldn’t call this a chowder in a traditional sense-it’s not thick and cream based, it’s more of a hot and sour sour consistency.

This is an awful picture. We ordered a lot of appetizers instead of two meals. We ordered the Shanghai spring roll (2/$7.95) which was freshly made with chicken, shrimp, vegetables and fried to crispy golden brown. They were ok-the filling consistency was a little weird for me. We also had the vegetable dumplings (4/$11.95) that were steamed dumplings filled with dried bean curd, bamboo shoots, Chinese vegetables and winter mushrooms. They looked like Peking dumplings, except the wonton wrapper was green-and a little tougher than I like. We also had the crispy beef ($14.95) which was the crispy shredded beef with a soy scallion glaze and a touch of vinegar. This dish was excellent

A little complimentary lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate.

Pork fried rice ($16.95) served on our lit lazy susan.

Our strawberry shortcake dessert. Wonderful in that first twinkie after not having one for 10 years kind of way-not freshly made or gourmet in any way, but good.

Mr. K's on Urbanspoon

And that was our trip. Now, to leave you with some fun images that are completely random. Above is the Salvation Army Crew in Rockefeller Center-belting out Feliz Navidad American Idol karaoke style.

A decked  out food cart.

And finally…a sign that was posted in Central Park.

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So when I think of the south end, I think hip, trendy, expensive. I think that what makes Myers and Chang ‘hip’ are the people who go there to eat, not the place itself. The outside is pretty darn modern, the whole front wall is glass with images of their logo and a big red dragon on the side of the building. Inside, something about it made me think Jewish deli (weird I know). Perhaps it was the small dark mosaic tiles on the floor, maybe it was the retro white chairs, or perhaps it was the mirrored walls. I found the inside to be homey and comfortable. We arrive at 6:30 for dinner, and it is pretty empty, but by 7:30pm on a Sunday night, the place it packed and there are people waiting outside for tables.

I like the vibe of this place. I liked it from the moment I saw the website with the karate dudes on the backdrop and the staff pictures as yearbook photos. I was even more amused when my limeade came with a fluorescent colored super bendable straw. Who doesn’t love a little bit of whimsy with dinner.

Even though they have starters, and meals etc. when you order there is no telling what order you will get things in, they come out of the kitchen as they are made so everything on your table is super fresh. We order mama Changs pork and chive dumplings ($11) (see above); the genmai fried rice ($13)that is brown rice, toasted garlic, greens, beans, sesame, nori, farm egg; the sweet potato fritter ($10) chinese sausage, red curry, sriracha aioli;the Cantonese lacquered bbq pork ($16) kimchee rice cake, ginger-scallion oil; the asian-braised soft tacos ($13) pear, radish, chili-sesame salsa; the crispy spring roll ($5) garlic chives, bamboo, shiitake mushroom; and the tea smoked spare ribs ($14).

While they state that the dishes are purely inspired by Asian street food, even loose interpretation, and may not be authentic in nature, you should know that this is not your typical “Chinese food restaurant”. You won’t find pu pu platters and wonton soup here. The dumplings are standard fare, like a peking dumpling-was feeling a little let down by them. The genmai fried rice was wonderfully spicy-and unexpected. You mix the egg in and the heat of the rice cooks the yolk. The heat starts of as a slow heat in the back of your throat, but the more you eat, the more your lips and tongue start to tingle. The sweet potato fritter was tasty-it came out looking like an arancini. The fritter itself is sweet while the sriracha aioli has a little bit of a kick to it. I loved the bbq pork, it has such a nice taste to it, the sauce was excellent-perhaps the best dish of the night. The kimchee rice cake was like a potato pancake, I love new ways to enjoy kimchee. The soft tacos were good-I would have liked to have seen them with mu shu wrappers rather than flour tortillas though. They were a bit drippy but the meat was excellent, and was put over this ‘salsa’ that was more like pickled vegetables. The spring rolls were good, a few too many greens inside for my taste. And finally, the tea smoked spare ribs. The meat was fall off the bone tender-yum!

And how can you leave without dessert? All are priced at $7. We order the “ancient chinese secret” chocolate mousse, with homemade 5 spice marshmallows (above), the coconut cream pie with lime whipped cream, and the frozen vanilla bean parfait with fresh orange granita.

The frozen parfait is HUGE. It’s like a huge wedge of ice cream, topped with shaved orange flavored ice and orange slices. Pretty refreshing and light. The coconut cream pie, light as air. It comes in a graham cracker shell that can be hard to cut at times, but worth the effort. The chocolate mousse is dense, we took it upon ourselves to add some of the vanilla parfait to it-what a great idea-it comes served in a coffee mug. I am addicted to the ‘marshmallows’ which are more like merengues-they are light and airy and have a wonderful flavor about them. And as the bill came, no fortune cookies, but more marshmallows. yum!

Myers and Chang

1145 Washington Street Boston MA (south end)

http://www.myersandchang.com/

Hours:

Sun – Wed Lunch 11:30 – 5:30 | Dinner 5:30 – 10:00

Thu – Sat Lunch 11:30 – 5:30 | Dinner 5:30 – 11:00

Dim Sum Brunch Every Saturday and Sunday!

We keep half of the dining room open for our walk-in customers!

Myers + Chang on Urbanspoon

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