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Friday, July 11, 2014

Cheap Eats - Otafuku

Otafuku
236 East 9 Street
New York, NY 10003
212.353.8503
http://otafukunyc.com/

This little gem is something that many people were devastated about when they found out the initial location closed. Best thing is, it just moved a few doors down. Located on East 9th in St Marks, Otafuku brings to you the popular Japanese eats, takoyaki and okonomiyaki, along with a handful of other small eats. Freshly prepared as you order, each and every bite size serving that has your taste buds knocking!
Otafuku's menu is affordable in all aspects with their most expensive dishes being the combos that are priced under $10! This is definitely not a sit down restaurant, but a quick bite with a bench on the outside and a few standing areas to consume these Japanese goodies. Otafuku opens at noon and into the later hours of the night. It is definitely the perfect snack to fill you up as you enjoy the rest of St Marks whether that be waiting in line for a seat or after a few drinks!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Restaurant Review - Umami Burger

Umami Burger
432 Ave of the Americas
(212)677-8626
http://www.umami.com/umami-burger/

The signature stamp of the Umami Burger is well known to all around the world. This trademark burger has made its way into the bellies of many, including myself. The tender burger meat is cooked to perfection, topped with the perfect bun. Their "secret" ingredient brings teh burgers to life with the right touch. Juices flow from the burger right down with every bite. Each and every burger has something to rave about, but the fries are also a must-have addition to your meal. Sweet potato fries provide your meal with the right finish paired with a handful of different dipping condiments, including the well-known Umami ketchup. 

For those of you who are unaware of, there is definitely a secret menu from Umami that many rave about, but it could be a hit or a miss. Some of the popular ones are the Truffle Fries, Cheesy Tator Tots, and Spicy Bird. You'll also find the White Beer, Kalbi Burger, Truffle Poutine Burger, Umami Supreme, Brunch Burger, Duck Burger, and so much more! This is definitely one place that will have a line, no matter the hour of the day so be prepared for that!


Friday, June 13, 2014

A New Twist on Tradition - Ngam

Ngam 
99 Third Avenue
New York NY 10003
212.777.8424
http://www.ngamnyc.com/

Ngam serves up a new touch on Thai goods with a slight infusion twist, labeling it as the "Modern Thai Comfort Food." Taking traditional Thai food to the next level, Ngam is a place that will have you on your feet as to what culinary twist to expect. The best sellers include the Old School Pad Thai, a more traditional style of Thai dishes, as well as the Dark Knight, a bed of black squid ink noodles topped with fried calamari to it's perfection. Every dish at Ngam is infused with an immense amount of flavor, giving the right balance for your palette. The one thing that did not work for me was the Thai Taco, a stir-fry bunch of meat and vegetables topped on a pan fried roti wrap; there definitely could have been more to this.

With the variety of Thai goods, expect nothing less than a packed madhouse when visiting Ngam. Be sure to make reservations well ahead of time to dodge the long lines. Although you may be waiting a while for your food, the customer service is at the top at Ngam, which may be hard to come across now-a-days. Staff is ready to tackle your every craving, minus the number of dishes that were ordered before you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Story of My Life - Traveler's Perception

As I narrow down my choices and figure out where I what I want to do in life and where I want to live, the pros and cons isn't as easy to balance out as I thought. If only I could live life traveling from country to country every few months. Not saying that airplane would be my main source of transportation, especially because I have been tired of seeing so many different airports this month alone. Finding the right place to settle down isn't as easy as it seems. 

New York has still been the same. A division between money and happiness is what we have here. Why is it that we associate money with happiness? Do we all need money to be happy? This is something many of us fail to acknowledge and just continue to become submissive to the New York culture. I have, again, done such a thing and forgot what happiness was for just a second. Now that I take a step back, I should rethink where I would like to spend the rest of my life. 

With the perks come disadvantages in life which include every country I've previously visited: 

  • Korea   The things that I have learned has definitely changed me as a person, especially the dinners that I cook now, with a big portion being Korean food. There are so many cultural differences that are contrary to my beliefs in life that it makes it difficult to live in Korea for the rest of my life. Nonetheless, there are a ton of perks and advantages of living in Korea. A handful of which makes me want to stay and live in Korea forever. Unfortunately, raising children and having them learn under the stressful and competitive Korean tradition may not be the easiest thing. The things my strict parents hand me undergo as a child nearly doesn't compare to what my students go through daily. 
  • Taiwan   It is by far still my favorite tourist location for the street food that they offer. For cheap price and great food, this is difficult to top. The people are extremely friendly in Taiwan and always willing to help. I have met a handful of wonderful people from Taiwan and it is one of the places on my list that I want to move to, but there is a price to pay with the compensation and amount of work one puts in. Because the low costs of life, there is no need for a high salary compensation, but you are expected to work hard.
  • Hong Kong   The people are blunt and straight forward. They may not be the nicest people in the world but they do have quite the pride in who they are. I am proud to know the Cantonese language and take pride in my family background but never expected to see or hear some of the things I have experienced in Hong Kong. The food though, is another story. This is like taking Chinatown to the next level!
  • Australia   The simple fact that there are a large number of killer species that live with you, Australia is definitely not the safest place. I'm definitely not fond of insects and that is mostly what I've been seeing here in addition to a few frightening reptiles along the way. Although the minimum wage is at the top of the mark worldwide, living in Australia can add up as well. If only a working holiday can be worked out where I won't spend too much money and just work hard to save through the year! That's pretty much impossible with the amazing food culture Melbourne has to offer, LOVEEEEE it there.
  • Maldives    It is the best honeymoon spot honestly. The locals are amazing, but there are not a ton of foreigners living in the Maldives. I just can't wait to go back, especially for the fresh seafood and great friends. I honestly hope and pray that it can last through the decade and overcome global warming. This is an issue that has affected us all, but when will we act on it to save our own kind?
  • China   For a country that has been growing at such an incline, with a goal to be the best at everything, China is definitely one that is great for anyone who is looking to get rich. It is a bit unfortunate that the health regulations and air just isn't the best in China. There has been a lot of sacrifices in terms of health concerns, which makes me take a step back, but I wish that just wasn't the problem.
  • Vietnam   This is probably one of the most relaxing countries that I have been to, but it is unfortunate that I do not speak the language. The lifestyle is something new to get used to. A New Yorker just isn't made out for the slow pace, but the food is amazing. Having to justify between living in the North where my parents lived and the South where the cuisine is amazing is another story!

Moral of this: find happiness in some way, some sort. For me, I think it's by my stomach.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sweet Tooth Satisfaction - Sweet Buttons Bakery

Sweet Buttons Bakery 
84 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
(212)253-8484

A wide selection of amazing mini desserts can be found at Sweet Buttons Bakery in the Lower East Side from their "Just-For-Me Cupcakes" to the tarts and dessert cups. These little desserts are the perfect bite size treats that doesn't make you feel that guilty for a simple enjoyment. Opened into late hours of the day, Sweet Buttons Bakery is a popular spot for guests of all ages. They are the perfect treats to fill a quick sweet tooth or even to indulge in. Although the desserts are mini in size, they are still full of flavor. Each cupcake is still moist to perfection with the right amount of icing and topping that makes your mouth just water. The popular dessert cups are made of layers of creme and cake, piping it to the top. Unfortunately for me, creme is not my thing so skipping out on that just seemed like best choice.

The popular desserts at Sweet Buttons Bakery include the Nutella cup cake, Tiramisu dessert cup, and their salted caramel cups. With so much to choose from, finding the right one just might be difficult to do. At the very minimum, you can grab a handful to sample. Cupcakes are just a measly $1.50 and the most expensive are the dessert cups, priced at a low cost of $3. Sweet Buttons Bakery also offers a handful of freshly brewed drinks. With a busy crowd though, be ready to wait a little for a cup of latte art.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fresh on the Market - Ramen and Co

Ramen and Co.
100 Maiden Lane
New York, NY 10038

With the hype of ramen burgers on the menu, Keizo Shimamoto just recently announced his newest store, Ramen and Co. located in the Financial District. With a soft opening that allowed the FiDi locals to consume his goods during lunch hours from 11 AM to 2 PM, it is official for the rest of the world to experience the ramen burger, hopefully with shorter lines. With a bun made of ramen and a patty made of extremely tender, juicy meat topped with a mouth-watering sauce, the ramen burger is something to try. Although I am personally not impressed with the ramen bun itself, it is definitely something that everyone should try for the simple ideology of FOMO.
Co-workers of mine rave about the ramen burger, but I personally preferred the juicy meat and freshly fried potato chips instead. The ramen could be a bit of a heavy touch for many, especially since it is composed of noodles. The unique presentation of the dumpling wrapping is something that makes you appreciate the little things that Ramen and Co. create, but going for a bowl of ramen here is definitely suggested. 

An average lunch will set you back about $10 which is honestly not bad at all. Going for a quick bowl of ramen on a cold winter day is probably recommended, but there's nothing wrong with a summer splurge. Although the address is written for 100 Maiden Lane, the actual restaurant is located at the cross section of Pearl Street, right around the corner of the Chipotle, next to Terri. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Traditional Korean Eats - Tuna Buffet

One of the common Korean traditions is their take on buffets. In Korea, you will find the Tuna sashimi buffet in almost all areas of Seoul. This is definitely something that all sashimi lovers should go for, especially those tuna fish fans. With different sections of the tuna fish that is shared between you and a group or your restaurant buddy, you are getting different textures all on one plate, from one fish. The concept is simple, simple pick a price range of tuna fish that you would like, the higher the price, the better quality of the tuna of course. Because you are sharing between a group, it is required that all orders the same set of tuna to help keep track of the type of fish that each table is getting.

The endless amount of tuna sashimi that is served to you will continue to come without any questions until you order it to stop. This bed of tuna consists of different parts of the tuna fish which depends on the price level you order for. It can be consumed alone with wasabi and soy sauce like the Japanese, or with a slice of dried seaweed and topped with a few vegetables of your choice. Being that I am a bit on the "special" side when it comes to raw fish, I am extra excited for the service of free food that comes along with the meal which usually is a soup, a la carte fish, or even a hand roll. The good thing about the side service is the fact that it takes away from the number of raw fish that one can consume through their course of their meal. A slab of protein can only go so far, it's always best to have a more balanced meal which is what the extra dishes on the side offer.

The slices and services offered all differs from restaurant to restaurant, but it is definitely suggested to those who are big on raw fish, especially tuna fish. It is worth a $30-50 splurge for dinner here and there, especially when you consider the amount of money that you spend when going on a date night out to a Japanese restaurant anyway. You should reward yourself and enjoy the sea!