Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

>Revel<

Continuing with this late-night posting trend I give you a blast-from-the-past.  While I was in Seattle, I finally got to eat at REVEL with my aunt.  It’s a family affair as Chef Rachel is my mom’s cousin!  I was slightly afraid she might not remember me that well when I rang her up: “Oh, hi Rachel.  It’s C one of your cousin’s daughters…  yeah, from the east coast… That bbq like 7 years ago??” you get the idea.  She and her husband are arguably the most famous members of the extended family (they were on Iron Chef!!) with also potentially the cutest babies in the family!  I have been waiting to eat at one of their restaurants since they opened!  I am using a lot of exclamation marks!

The place is casual and cool with a modern edge.  Large, bright pop culture-y portraits adorn the walls with sleek wood and metal structuring the space.   I love how they only set out chopsticks on the table setting.  It kind of says ‘get ready to eat some Asian food!’  Bonus points for not being the break apart ‘disposable’ kind.  Way classier (and sustainable) than that.  And oh yeah, the food:

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We also ordered the albacore tuna bi bim bap/rice bowl, but the picture was less than stellar and you only deserve the best photography.  They do it family style which means sharing = happiness.  I’ve always been a moocher so any place where mooching is officially allowed is cool with me.

The attention to detail and the modern take on Korean dishes really hits you.  The noodles had seaweed in them for crying out loud.  My favorite would have to be the cabli mandu since I’ve always had a soft spot for them.  They were a tad bit tricky to eat with chopsticks because of the shape, but once it was in your mouth there was no denying the tender, juicy flavor hitting your palate.  (I just had to look up how to spell the right palate/palette/pallet I was looking for…).  The dessert menu was themed ‘Candy’ for the month of October in honor of Halloween and the junior mint cake at least was right on the money.  Dessert always ends up being one of my favorites…

Being able to see how all her and her husband’s hard work paid off was so inspiring.  They make this wonderful culinary life seen attainable to everyone.  It makes me want to drop everything and go to culinary school!  haha jk dad… but not really?

My aunt said it wasn’t really Korean food and my response was it’s modern, Korean INSPIRED.  She asked me what revel meant and my explanation was something along the lines of, “You kinda revel in something, something good.”  I was at a loss on how to be more direct.  After the meal though, I knew what I was revelling in: good flavor, comfort food, and lovin family.

Double Whammy – Thai and Butternut

Okay, so it’s been over a month since my last post?!??  =(

A LOT has happened in a month and flying too and from Seattle is not the least of it even if it was after a hurricane…  This last flight from WA to NY has reconfirmed in my mind that red eye’s SUCK.  Hence, the reason I am posting at 3 4 am in the morning.  I failed to power through the day as I originally planned.  “Oh, I’ll just lie down on my bed for a little bit” turns into crashing all afternoon.  I find coming back east is harder to readjust to time than traveling west to east.

However, that didn’t stop me from eating and cooking, heavens no.   I actually ate out and cooked in the same day woot!  After coming back to the food desert that was my apartment, I decided to go grocery shopping AND treat myself to arguably the best lunch special in Ithaca: Taste of Thai Express!

They have lunch specials and a set 3 course lunch menu for $13!  I got Goong Salon for appetizer which is shrimp wrapped in noodles and then fried.  It’s like shrimp mummified in crunchy noodles.

Followed by Tofu Pad Thai:

And finished with Sweet Black Rice:

So much food for $13!  Okay, so more like $15 + tax and tip.  It’s enough for 2 meals pretty much.  I brought some containers and was literally packing it up as I ate.  Is that weird?  I’m pretty sure that’s what my server was thinking.  I did have a server at Maggiano’s tell me that bringing my own containers was ‘so cute’ and that she loved us (me + sister) because it saved her so much work.  She was a particularly honest server… haha.

Following that meal I completely crashed and woke up 4 hours later thinking about dinner.  I already had a plan of what to make.  Right before I left I picked up some awesome veggies at Dilmun Hill, the student farm.  Basically, in exchange for volunteering some time you get free, fresh, straight-from-the-ground, veggies!  I had that butternut squash in the back of my mind and I decided that some type of butternut squash pasta would be delish.  I had already google searched and shopped, for this How Sweet It Is recipe in the morning.  And how sweet it looks!

So that kinda looks like a glob with some cheese and seeds on it, but it tastes real good!  It was based off the How Sweet It Is recipe with a few changes.  1) Obviously used bowties (farafelle if you want to be Italiano) instead of penne, UWUH (Use What You Have) 2) Used soy milk because that’s what I bought 3) Increased the mozzarella cheese from 1/4 c to 4 oz ~1/2 cup because I was using a bigger pan 4) No sage or bacon.

   
All together it looked like this:

   

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This makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.  I will try and back post some of the other things that have gone on the past 5 weeks, but we’ll see how that goes.  Modified recipe below!

Roasted Butternut Squash Casserole  *from How Sweet It Is*

+ 1 sm-med butternut squash, peeled n chopped + seeds

+ 1/4 t salt

+ 1/4 t pepper

+ 1/4 t nutmeg, I used whole

+ 2 T unsalted butter

+ 1 sm shallot

+ 1 T flour

+ 1/4 c mascarpone cheese

+ 2/3 c milk

+ 1/2 lb whole wheat bow-ties/farafelle

+ 1/2 c freshly grated/chopped mozzarella

+ 1/4 c freshly grated parmesan

Roast chopped butternut squash and seeds (if desired) in olive oil, S+P, for 40 minutes flipping halfway through.  My seeds were a bit toasty after 40 so take out the seeds a bit earlier.  Mash roasted squash with a fork or potato masher and set aside.

Boil water for pasta and cook as directed.

Meanwhile, heat medium saucepan over medium heat and melt butter.  Add shallots and stir until butter and shallots are browned.  Add the 1 T of flour and stir til smooth for 1-2 minutes.  Add mascarpone, milk, squash, and spices.  Stir til combined.  You can save some pasta water to thin out the sauce if you’d like or add more milk.

Mix pasta with about half of the butternut sauce.  Pour into shallow baking dish (I used one a tad bit smaller than a 13×9 inch pan, maybe 8×11?) and spread remaining sauce over top.  Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the dish size.

Garnish with roasted seeds and eat til stomach’s content.

Gah, it is so late now I’m hungry again!  Night!

The HEIGHTS

I’ve graduated and still am in Ithaca and there are still restaurants I haven’t been too!  The family came to visit for the holiday weekend and my dad suggested The Heights Cafe & Grille after perusing the interweb.

I may have a new favorite restaurant in Ithaca… Let me show you.

a whopping calamari appetizer and beet salad!

There was also bread, pita, and garlic hummus and we figured two appetizers would be good for four people.  This is the biggest appetizer serving of calamari I have ever been served in my life!  We stupidly asked for more bread right before the apps came out and we couldn’t even touch it we were digging into the calamari so fast.  Couldn’t even finish all the calamari to save room for the rest of the meal.  Not only a giant serving but perfectly crispy calamari with a chunky thousand island-ish tartar sauce.

Oh yeah, and the entrees came with salads choice of arugala or cesear.  I knew there was something missing in my pictures…  The portions were pretty generous with those as well.  Lots of dressing though.

The mains were as follows:

braised short ribs

burger

branzino

scallops with gnocchi

The scallops and gnocchi were to die for!  My mom who ‘doesn’t like gnocchi’ was a fan of the delectably soft potato dumplings and the scallops were just like scallops should taste: sweet and buttery.

Branzino was also good.  Not like the most amazing fish I have ever tasted but nothing to complain about.  Is it sad that I now think of the new Spiderman movie where Gwen Stacie’s mom makes branzino for dinner with Peter comes over to her fancy NYC apartment for dinner?  She did say it about a thousand times “My mom’s making branzino for dinner, braaannzino.”

Burger delicious and also giant.  There seems to be a theme here for the portions.

Spare ribs were also good, but I feel like there could have been more flavor incorporated into the meat.  It just be that I’m used to calbi when it comes to spare ribs?  I was slightly underwhelmed nonetheless.

Last but not least, desssert!

chocolate souffle with a frozen berry terrine

On the menu with entrees there was a little blurb that mentioned that the chocolate souffle had to be ordered with the entrees for there to be enough time to bake.  So we foolishly thought that that was the only dessert and ordered two to split.  Well, there were other desserts on their dessert menu but the chocolate souffle was delicious and the frozen berry terrine was cool.  I liked the figs most in the terrine and I think it’s my first terrine ever!

I have to mention the coffee though.  Instead of just the cream and sugar that usually comes with coffee there was a whole plate of rock sugar on a stick, cinnamon sticks, mini chocolate chips, raw sugar, and whipped cream to add into your coffee…  It was the most amazing coffee service ever and they didn’t even charge it since only my mom ordered it.

The website says it’s casual and it’s the most casual fine dining type place I’ve been to.  There are back servers and servers and the decor is elegant and understated.  The portions though were waaaaaaay bigger than I was expecting at a fine dining type place.  Someone at the table next to us ordered the steak and it was a giant pile of meat.  It might have been the way they cut it up and piled it onto the plate but it looked huge.

The prices were also more on the fine dining end but not ridiculous.  The burger was the cheapest entree at $19 but my big teen brother didn’t even finish it.  It was so much food we had leftovers which are now sitting in my fridge :).

Note to self, maybe order one appetizer for four people since there’s the bread and salad before the entree and there is more dessert than just the souffle.  Oh, and also order coffee even though I don’t really drink coffee but they give you so much stuff to add it is amazing.  If there’s one thing I can assure you, it’s that I will definitely be coming back to the Heights!

Something new ~ Sea Pearl

This weekend was the dad’s birthday which calls for special dinner out. For special occasions our go-to restaurant is Peking Gourmet Inn for possibly the world’s best peking duck. We wanted to try something new and of course I was landed with the task to scope out a new restaurant. In about 30 seconds I found ‘100 best restaurants in DC’ lists but most of the ones on those type of lists are uber expensive like The Inn at Little Washington, L’Auberge Chez Francois, 2941 etc. For the record, I haven’t been to any of those fine establishments but I will before I die. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely wanted to go somewhere nice but also not spend $300 on dinner for 4. After we had already made reservations at Peking Duck, we decided to go for Sea Pearl in Merrifield.

from sea pearl website

It was a large space with bar, lounge, and dining areas. The walls were a oceany teal with mahogany tables and chairs and straight-backed booths. there were a few ‘center pieces’ of iridescent, creamy discs strung from the ceiling in a rectangle that flowed down to the backs of a benches used for seating. It was reminiscent of bubbles or strings of pearls. On the table were plastic, orange, meshy table runners or place settings that popped off the dark wood and had a seaweed kind of feel. I remember speedo used to make sandals with a similar material for the soles but it was much classier than that.

Now for the real good stuff. The food. My family is definitely a bread eating bunch. When the first basket of garlicy, oniony focaccia type bread was down it was gone in about 2 minutes. When we asked for more the server returned with about three times as much bread stuffed in the same basket. The other appetizer was classic calamari. I believe Sea Pearl’s version was corn meal crusted but it was like every other delicious calamari I’ve ever had.

For the mains, the table was laden with the Akaushi Beef Burger, Spicy Crab Pasta, Panko Crusted Crab Cake, and the Japanese Kabayaki Salmon Salad. The burger was pretty substantial with some perfect little skinny fries.

The crab pasta had plenty of crab and my dad said might have been a little too much on the spicy side. I had just a bite and I liked it a lot but I could see eating a whole plateful becoming overwhelming.

My crab cake was the size of a baseball and it was accompanied with a shaved asparagus, arugala salad, a grilled corn relish, and piquillo pepper aioli. The plate looked a little off balance with the crab cake in the middle and the salad off to the side. Asthetics aside, it was delicious and was pretty much all crab the whole way through. The salad was dressed perfectly and balanced it out with some nice acidity.



The salmon salad was big and well dressed and colorful.

No meal is complete without dessert so we ordered two. The Florentian Tower and the Pumpkin Brioche Bread Pudding.

The tower was a huge florentine cookie molded into a cylinder that had caramel cream, bananas, and whipped cream in the center. Initially, we thought it was a little over priced at $12 dollars but we concluded that the technical skill required for the dessert warranted the price. We always make these florentine chocolate sandwhich cookies at Christmas that are always a bit tempermental. The Florentine cookie tower really complemented the creamy interior very nicely plus a spring of fresh mint. I’ve found I really like fresh mint. It has such a different flavor than the peppermint candy vibe. It’s fresher tasting more smooth sort of mint taste. Whenever there is a mint garnish I find myself eating it! I’m not sure if you’re supposed to do that or not.

The pumpkin bread pudding was warm and rich with maple syrup, candied walnuts, dollop of vanilla creme anglaise, and a spring of mint. Bread pudding is one of the most warm, rich, fabulous desserts. I don’t think I’ve ever met a bread pudding I haven’t liked. This was was delicious but I’m not sure I tasted too much pumpkin in it.

It was a fabulous dinner that was satisfying start through finish. The portions were satisfying without being grossly stuffed or hungry by the end. As an expensive restaurant prices were reasonable from the salad at $17 to my more pricey jumbo crab cake at $27. The mood and ambiance was perfectly complimentary and I left really glad that we had tried a new restuarant.

Sea Pearl gets: 0 0 0 0 0     5 pearly pearls

Pretty bouquet to close. ;D

 

Four Seasons in Ctown

A cousin came to visit her sister who goes to the same school as me. For dinner, we decided to go out for Korean as my treat. There are a few Korean restaurants in ctown but I’ve heard that Four Seasons is the best. I had been there once before and it had been pretty good. Four Seasons conjures up themes of Vivaldi and instills thoughts of the four seasons of Ithaca: summer, winter, still winter, and road repair.

We got there a little early and after a few minutes were seated. The panchan was simple but good, steamed broccoli, blanched bean sprouts, spicy fishcake, and honeyed potatoes. When ever I go for Korean, I always have to ask for seconds of panchan because I seem to attack it as soon as they bring it to the table. I opted for Bibim Naeng Myun which is buckwheat noodles in a spicy sauce because it was so uncomfortably muggy and warm outside. Almost makes the cold, long winter seem like a favorable prospect. Naeng Myun is the perfect Korean dish for summer because it seems to be cooling.
spicy, cool, deliciousness
The noodles were nice and chewy and the gojujang or chili pepper paste was red and pretty sweet. There was some garnish of cucumbers, beef, and kimchi that I mixed into the noodles.

This must be the best Korean in ctown because almost as soon as we had sat down the tables were being arranged to seat a few large looking parties. Soon enough, a whole horde of Korean students marched in and sat down at the long tables seated for 20. They seemed to be international students and it might have been some dinner to start off the beginning of the semester. It just seemed to confirm that Four Seasons is the place to be for Korean food in ctown and possibly all of Ithaca.

Summary
Four Seasons: ~ ~ ~ ~ 4 spicy noodles
Fufilling Korean with pretty good panchan for a good price ($10.95 for Bibim Naeng Myun). The place is a little small but it seems to be flocked by the Korean internationals and everyone else as well.

Real Ramen!

My first bowl of real ramen! I didn’t think it would be in Hawai’i but life is full of surprises.

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Some co-workers took me here for lunch at McCully shopping center. The restaurant was not clearly labeled but I think it might have been called Kyoto Ramen? They had a pantan broth made of pork and chicken and had house made chashu which is marinated, tender pork slices garnishing the soup and noodles. A bowl was about $10 with and additional $1 if you wanted it spicy, which of course I had. The noodles were think and chewy but not too hard and they also were house made. It was definitely everything I had expected and more. A hearty bowl of rich soup with chashu and noodles… they were meant to be together. I’ve always been a broth drinker when it came to soups and never more so than this bowl of ramen. For most of my life ramen was that instant msg-ified meal that tasted awesome while eating it but makes you feel like crap afterward. Now with the real thing, ramen is satisfying before during and after.

Kyoto Ramen: ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 5 super yummy noodles!

Weekend Eats: Giovanni Shrimp, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, Kahala Nuts

This past weekend was a whirlwind. My weekends left in Honolulu are dwindling so I’ve felt a need to do as much as possible. Saturday morning I did an ocean swim from Chun’s Reef to Waimea Bay, Saturday afternoon I drove around with friends eating my way through the North Shore, Sunday morning I went diving, and Sunday afternoon I had my last sailing class.

The rest of Saturday was spent frolicking around North Shore eating lots. First stop was Giovanni’s shrimp truck. There were a lot of shrimp trucks to choose from on that road. I think the area was Kahana and Giovanni’s seemed to be a very established one.

I split a hot n spicy shrimp with a friend for $13 and they weren’t lying when they call it hot n spicy. I am a spicy food fan and I could eat it all but I wasn’t going to lick the sauce off the plate. The spiciness factor was a little too much for me and made eating the shrimp a little less enjoyable. I guess I should have taken it more seriously when they state on the menu that there are no refunds for hot n spicy shrimp.

Next stop was Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Hale’iwa. Shave ice is a Hawaiian speciality. They are basically snow cones on steroids. You can get it with ice cream, condensed milk drizzled on top, and choose from literally a gazillion flavors.

Not to mention they are huge.

I got a large mango, blueberry, and one more flavor I can’t remember with condensed milk on top. mmm There was a huge line out the door but they have streamlined operation so you don’t really have to wait that long. The store is full of different t-shirts and shave ice gear like key chains.

Shave ice is awesome because it’s cheap, fun, and Hawai’i has the best.

The night before I went to see hp7pt2 at the theater and they were selling Kahala candied nuts! There were macnuts, pecans, and almonds. I of course had to get the macnuts and it was either 1 for $5 or 2 for $8 (or was it 1 for $4 and 2 for $6??) so I opted for the better deal and more nuts and got macnuts and almonds. I finished the macnuts during the movie before I could even get a picture. I saved the almond ones for later.

Overall
Giovanni’s: + + + + 4 pluses
Matsumoto’s: <0 <0 <0 <0 <0 5 shaved ices
Kahala Nuts: co co co co co 5 diamond nuts

Diving pictures in case you’re interested. YO (yard oiler wreck and Nautilus Reef)