Monday, June 30, 2008

Restaurant Review - Brunch at Essex Restaurant

Essex Restaurant
120 Essex Street, NYC 10002

We had brunch over the weekend at Essex Restaurant. There is a $16 special menu that comes with 3 drinks - choice of bloody mary, mimosa or screwdriver. Luckily the drinks were plentiful and the waitress didn't keep track of the number of drinks we asked for. FYI, the mimosas were stronger than the screwdriver...and the bloody mary was on the salty side.

The restaurant is fairly crowded and very trendy. There are two balconies that looked perfect for small parties. The loft-like restaurant is very loud with music and chatter. However they seemed very accomodating to large groups of people so it's a perfect place to go with friends on a weekend! Here's a review of some food items on the brunch menu:

Manchego macaroni & cheese with chicken apple sausage - Very yummy! The chicken apple sausage was delicious!!

Omelette of spinach, tomatoes and sheep's milk cheese - It came with the potatoes and mixed greens. The omelette was fairly standard. I've never had sheep's milk cheese before but it was pretty good.

Lobster Benedict - I was told this was delicious...but only if you like to eat benedicts. The crabcake benedict was equally delicious tasting too.

Finally, for those that aren't into breakfast food, they do have some items on the menu that are more lunch-related. Here is what the 8 oz. sirloin burger with fries looks like.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

SYTYCD - Joshua and Katee dance to No Air

So since Peggy is talking about So You Think You Can Dance, I figured I'd add my own two cents and comment on something I've seen on the show. Since I'm not like Peggy, I don't really get into whether or not I feel a dance was emotional and touching. I guess I'm not all that in touch with my feminine side.

Check out Joshua and Katee as they bust out with their Hip Hop routine to No Air. Pay attention at 0:55.

That's some pretty amazing stuff. Jerry, can you do that?!?

For those who missed last week's performance, Joshua and Katee performed the Samba.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

SYTYCD - Mark and Chelsie Dance to Bleeding Love

I admit, I'm a secret 'So You Think You Can Dance' fan. I even entered a contest before Season 4, where I tried to win 2 tickets to fly to Los Angeles and attend a SYTYCD event. I even got Jander to sign up too! Anyway, for those haven't seen this're missing out!! This is a fun and energetic dance show for the summer season. It's on FOX channel every Wednesday at 8pm EST.

Anyway, this week featured a fantastic hip hop dance by Mark and Chelsie. They performed to one of my favorite songs, Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis. The emotional hip hop dance was so good that I think Simon Cowell (yes, the American Idol judge is also the one who discovered Leona) should remove Leona's music video and replace it with this dance! Seriously. Oh and of course, hire Mark and Chelsie to feature in the video. LOL

Their dance was touching, heart-breaking and utterly emotional. Props to the choreographers for coming up with the moves. Sadly, all the youtube videos' are poor in quality but I think you'll see how kick-ass fantastic they were regardless.

Skip to the start at 0.17 seconds. Prepare to get weepy at 1:42

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Square Watermelons

This is an old article but I thought it would be neat to mention since the summer is here. The most refreshing fruit to eat during the season is watermelons! I love eating watermelons especially when I'm at bbqs.

So the only shape of watermelons that I've seen in supermarkets or farms are the round or oval shaped ones but....have you ever seen a square one?! Japanese consumers have always struggled with fitting round watermelons into their small refrigerators. The fruit would also roll around and take up a lot of space. In a clever response, Japanese farmers on a south-western island of Shikoku started growing watermelons in glass square cubes. The fruit naturally assume the shape of the cubes. Each melon sells for 10,000 yen, equivalent to $83 (in 2001) and is about 2 or 3 times the price of a regular watermelon.

Opinions wanted: Would you pay more money for a square watermelon??

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Roy's Restaurant

Roy's Restaurant
130 Washington Street
New York, NY 10006

Directions: Take the 1/9 subway train to Rector Street

While we were in Hawaii, back in May, we went to a place called Roy's Restaurant. We liked it immensely, so when we came back to New York, imagine our surprise when we found out that there was a Roy's Restaurant near the Marriot downtown in the Financial District - so of course we had to go try it out and see how it compared to original restaurant in Hawaii. Here's a breakdown of what we ate!

Edamame (-FREE-)

Roy's Restaurant serves Edamame to all of their guests complimentary. They marinate in some kind of sesame oil mixture that makes them particularly tasty, but it makes for messy eating with your fingers.

Butternut Squash Soup ($8.00)

Our guest of the evening swears up and down that this was among the best soups she's ever had. If you look carefully in the upper-right corner, you can see her hands. She could barely wait for us to finish taking the picture before she dived in.

Aloha Roll ($15.00) and Uni Nigiri ($11.00)

Yeah, I know it's actually Unagi Nigiri, but the kitchen screwed up my order and sent me this instead. On the plus side, I got to eat the Unagi for -FREE- and the Uni when the kitchen sent the correction.

From the left, clockwise - a Mai Tai ($12.00), a glass of Pinot Grigio ($9.00), and a Hawaiian Martini ($12.00). Pictured separately is a Blood Orange Martini ($12.00).

The drinks were well mixed so it didn't taste like you were drinking alcohol. Speaking for myself, I had 2 blood orange martinis and a hawaiian martini in rather quick succession and it gave me pleasant buzz.

And now the main courses!

Dynamite Halibut ($32.00)

In Hawaii, they call the fish Ono. It was served with a scrumpcious crabmeat topping over a bed of asparagus. Delicious! The best thing about the dish is the sauce that you see drizzled over everything - after all, halibut can be a rather bland fish if not flavored correctly.

Surf and Turf ($44.00)

This consists of 3 medallions of filet mignon, each with a different topping (crabmeat, scallop, and grilled shrimp). You can tell from the color of the filet mignon that I like to eat my meat on the medium side. I WOULD NOT ORDER THIS AGAIN. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it tasted bad - on contrary, it tasted great. The drizzles that you see above each medallion is a different kind of puree that you can try with the steak (orange, celery, and some kind of cream). But at the price you pay, you'd hope for a bit more in the way of substance.

And the highlight of the evening was the Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish ($30.00)

It was served with a side of Chinese Forbidden Rice and Bok Choy vegetables. The black rice has an interesting texture to it - slightly chewy, as if the shell on the rice grain is still partially intact. Out of the three dishes we ordered, I would have to say that this was hands down the best! The butterfish was delightfully flakey, exactly the way it should be.

And lastly, but not least, are some of Roy's signature dessert dishes, the Upside Down Pineapple Cake ($8.00) and Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle ($12.00).

Due to the time it takes to prepare these particular dessert dishes, you need to order these at least 20-30 minutes ahead of when you actually want to eat them.

While I did like the food at Roy's New York, I have to admit that there is no comparison to Roy's Hawaii. The servings in Hawaii were bigger, the seafood was fresher, the drinks made me drunker, the prices were cheaper, and they have a prix fixe menu - Roy's is better in every way in Hawaii.

All in all, I would love to come here again. It was pretty easy for us to get seating since we went in the early evening hours; however, by the time we left, most of the tables had been filled. Keep in mind that it was a Friday evening and life in the Financial District gets kind of dead after work hours.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda

We were skeptical to watch this movie and pegged this movie as something to watch on a DVD. And our concerns were validated when we were sitting in an audience full of little kids! However, this cute movie was helluva lot more entertaining and funny than recent movies. I personally love Jack Black but I find his humor to be abrasive at times (hello?! School of Rock, anyone?). But his voice alone as the panda bear was perfect. I knew that Angelina Jolie was in this movie as well but I assumed that she was Tigress. For actors to be putting their voices on cartoons...I really don't see the stretch in the acting skills. And for the most part, it wasn't the case. But Jack Black was totally awesome in his intonations and playing the character of a timid and fearful yet aspiring dragon warrior!!! As he learned to perfect his kung fu moves, the witty writing and fast-paced storyline, made us cheer for him all the way! He was a lovable character. The supporting actors were also well played, especially SchiFu played by Dustin Hoffman. (I couldn't quite place my finger on his voice). Overall, if you're looking for a quick time to pass your afternoon this summer, this is a great movie to watch. It won't disappoint you! And when the DVD comes out for this movie, count me in because I can't wait to watch it again!

Summary: Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po is the biggest fan of Kung Fu around...which doesn't exactly come in handy while working every day in his family's noodle shop. Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po's dreams become reality when he joins the world of Kung Fu and studies alongside his idols, the legendary Furious Five -- Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey -- under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu. But before they know it, the vengeful and treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung is headed their way, and it's up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat. Can he turn his dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master into reality? Po puts his heart - and his girth - into the task, and the unlikely hero ultimately finds that his greatest weaknesses turn out to be his greatest strengths.

Here's a trailer of the movie:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Red Sox Game at Fenway Park

Here are some pictures, courtesy of my friend CC, taken recently at a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Check out how close she was to the field!!

Here is Nana saying "Play Ball!"

Here is David Ortiz at bat.

Here's Tim Wakefield, pitcher. He makes $4 million dollars a year! Jander says that's not really much for a pitcher but I think that's a lot of clams.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why don't you just vomit it up?

So some time back, one of my co-workers showed me this YouTube clip (yes, at work). It was kind of funny and I wanted to share it with our friends, but I couldn't remember how to find it. I came across it the other day during one of my random Internet crawls and I thought that I'd share it with everyone who reads this blog - but this is really just for you, Sorry-chan!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sport Jackets for Sale

I was inspired by my visit to Yankees Stadium to check out the sports jackets that are available to fans. Check out this eBay site that offers authentic sports jackets that are brand-new with factory tags! These are hard-to-find jackets at low discounted prices. Happy bidding!

Here are some samples of their inventory:

NY Yankees Pullover Style Jacket

26 World Series Champ Varsity Jacket

NY Yankees Pinstripes Button Jacket

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Restaurant Review: Dos Caminos

Dos Caminos (Mexican food)

As part of the B.R. Guest Restaurants in NYC, Dos Caminos has several restaurants in the city. We visited the one in the Upper East side, 51st Street and 3rd Ave. We've frequented the restaurant before and have always enjoyed their sangrias and food. But they are most known for their guacamole!! I prefer their spicy version which gives it an extra kick. You'll have to ask for it since the waiters don't often tell you about it.

Here are reviews of two items on their menu.

Lamb Shank Mixiote ($25) - steamed in avocado leaves, ancho chile abodo, citrus juices and gingered plaintain mash. This dish was absolutely tender and flavorful! If you're looking for a hearty dish, this is as delicious as it looks in the picture, if not better.

Ribeye Steak Alambre ($28) - skewered with applewood smoked bacon, cipollini onions, poblano chilies, arroz con crema and chimichurri sauce. This was a delicious dish except that the chilies and meat were a bit burned for my own liking. I didn't eat some of the bacon because of the blackened edges. However the steak was cooked perfectly. The rice was very creamy, it tasted like it was cooked with a sweet cheese. Yum!

And the best way to top off the meal was with a pitcher of sangrias! They packed a strong punch and definitely worth drinking again. Salut!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tour of Yankees Stadium

As part of my company's effort to recognize its employees who participate in community service, we were treated to a private tour of the Yankees Stadium!! I confess to being neither a Yankees (or Mets fan) but rather a New York fan. However, it was an absolute treat to be walking around the empty stadium and getting the inside access to all the private areas of the stadium. Here's a detailed recap of our adventures in Yankees Stadium.

We waited in the hot sun for about half a hour outside the stadium. It was the perfect opportunity to take pictures of the stadium before it was going to be torn down. The facade still looked pretty good to me - in fact, when I look over to the new stadium, it looks exactly the same! Same tan color and architectural style except for a few more elaborate columns on the top. It was a sight to behold considering the history of the stadium.

We were divided into three teams. My team's itinerary consisted of a tour of the stadium and Monument Park first, followed by an autographed session with Bucky Dent and lastly a buffet dinner and meeting with Roy White. But first, our tour of the stadium and Monument Park. We entered into the lower level sections and were greeted by empty blue chairs, green fields and a welcome sign on the scoreboard. Wow. It was a really calming but exciting feeling. Almost as nice as a thousand people cheering for me, but I wouldn't really know how that feels.

For those that have been to the stadium already, we walked to the Monuments section that honored the Hall of Famers. It was a beautiful tribute to the greats - Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson to name a few. I was also touched by their tribute to the 9/11 victims.

Afterwards, we walked on the fields and towards the dugout. The sprinklers were on (that's the secret to keeping the grass green!) so we had to be careful with our shoes when walking on the dirt. The bleachers were cushioned and soft. The three steps that framed the dugout where actually vented with either A/C or heat depending on the weather. I guess that's the secret for staying cool in the summer or warm in the fall! Some of us on the tour were very giddy and tried to soak up as much dirt as they could from the dugout! Next we headed towards the locker rooms, where unfortunately we could not take any pictures. Cameras and cellphones had to be tucked away in our bags.

The locker room was everything I imagined it to be - it was a large rectangular room with nooks on the walls for each of the players. Each player gets three home uniforms and three away uniforms. There's also a white Yankees chair in front of each locker which I thought was cute looking. All Yankees gear has to be returned at the end of the season. In the middle of the room, were two large black leather couches for the players to sit and relax in. Upstairs is the weight room and off to the left were the bathrooms. The senior players actually get two lockers - that's for someone like Jeter. I wasn't sure if some of the lockers were more special than the others but Riveria (the pitcher) had the coveted locker position which used to belong to the great players like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. That locker is in the right hand corner of the locker room, right off the entrance. There were two locker space which were empty and those belong to two players that passed away while in Yankees uniform.

When exiting the locker room, I noticed a sign hanging from the ceiling that the players can see right before entering the field. I thought it was quite funny. It read "I thank God everyday for making me a Yankees player." =) I felt very special walking through the clubhouse and stadium because there were pictures of the greatest moments in Yankees history. Of course, I didn't understand any of it but it was still a humbling feeling. Our next stop was towards the Acela Club Room, one of the luxury suites in the stadium where we were going to meet Bucky Dent. Of course I had NO idea who he is, but upon speaking to any baseball fan...he's obviously popular. So as we stood in line and waited for his autograph, we were treated to candy, drinks and face-painting. My friend Yani got her face painted and it was beautiful! It turned out great and perfect for all the pictures. I was impressed with the hospitality of the entire event - how often do I get to sit inside the lux suites?? We were able to relax in the chairs while waiting for our photos with Bucky Dent to get printed out from tiny printers. Oh and if you're wondering what I said to went something like this:

Me: Hi Bucky, nice to meet me.

Bucky: ........ (memory lapse here)

Me: How are you doing?

Bucky: Good, how are you girls doing?

And then we proceeded to hand him our baseballs for his signature. Next, the camera went clicking and that was it! What else can one say to a baseball legend....

Our third and final stop of the evening was at the dining hall where we were offered bbq chicken, hot dogs, corn on the cob, beans and potato salad. The chicken was a little dry. There was no way they could have messed up the other food. So it was alright. We also had an opportunity to take a picture with Roy White, another Yankees player. He autographed our photos and our baseballs as well! was a wonderful way to end our evening at Yankees Stadium.

For more information on the Yankees stadium, click here:

(More pictures of the event to be added).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Restaurant Review: Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas
170 W. 4th Street
New York, NY
Directions: 1 train to Christopher Street or A/C/E/B/D/F to West 4th St.

This is the place to go to if you are looking for tapas!! Be prepared to sit in close proximity to your friends and neighbors. The tables are small and the stools are tall. Luckily there are hooks under the table to hold your bag, ladies! Otherwise there wouldn't be any room on the floor for your feet. Before we start dishing on the dishes, let's start with the drinks. If you're going to a Spanish restaurant, you have to order bebidas (the drinks) and nothing else comes to mind except for the sangrias! We ordered the red pear which was delicious and off-the-menu tropical fruit flavor which tasted like fruit punch with sparkling soda. It was the perfect compliment to the spicy, tasy and flavorful dishes!

Here are the dishes that we tasted and our thoughts:

Gambas San Martin ($8) - shrimp in garlic, white wine & lemon. Tasty but there were only 5 shrimps to split among three of us. I definitely wouldn't have mind gobbling up all 5!

Albondigas ($6) - roasted meatballs w/garlic, manchego cheese & oregano dressing. Yum! This is nothing like an Italian meatball. I've never had a roasted meatball so it was on the drier side without the sauce but it was very tasty. Bring on the meat!

Sardinas en Escabeche ($7) - grilled sardines over marinated peppers and onions. I didn't know what I was eating because I didn't order the food...but I liked it!

Brocheta De Res ($8) - grilled skewers of beef in a tempranillo wine reduction. This was one of the first tapas to arrive but unfortunately I arrived even later. So I don't know how many of these came on the plate. But luckily they saved one for me and I thought it was good. I don't know if it came with a dipping sauce but it might have helped.

We ate a few other plates that are not on their website's menu - chicken empenandas (2 fried empenanadas which were yummy), a duck dish (sliced duck with a sauce which was okay but I am not a duck fan). We also had a sausage with beans dish but I don't remember the name. It was very good as well but by the end of the meal, we were stuffed so we couldn't eat anymore. Luckily the waiters were very generous with the bread plate so we ate a lot of that to keep ourselves satisfied.

I would definitely come again for the sangrias and to try some of the calientes (hot plates) again. There are so many restaurants in the area (Caliente Cab and Sushi Samba are only a block away) that I would definitely stop by again for a light snack!

Olympics Carving Garden

Imagine the effort it takes to create these life-like structures! Beautiful.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Movie Review: Take Out

As I posted last week, a new indie film by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou called 'Take Out' was released in NYC on June 6th. And since I know the main actor (Charles Jang) through 2 degrees of separation, I had to come support my fellow Asian friends and filmmakers. I didn't know what to expect - the 8:30pm show was sold out! We purchased our tickets but decided to grab a snack beforehand. So we ended up arriving at the theatre at 8:20pm. There were crowds of people ahead of us, but luckily some of my friends were standing in line already. They were able to reserve enough seats for all 10 of us! The theatre inside Quad Cinema was quite small - I didn't expect it to be so tiny. It barely fit about 150 people. The seats were in high demand so it was almost difficult to reserve a seat for our friend who arrived late.

Back to the movie. It was all filmed on one camera. The dialogue was all in Mandarin (mixed with a few Cantonese words). The main character Ming, (played by Charles) was top-notch. He was able to portray a sullen, confused, frustrated illegal Chinese immigrant. Nevermind that he is actually Korean and is a very outspoken guy! There were very humorous moments in the film. The filmmaker Sean noted at the end of the film that all the actors were professionals and that they put an ad on Craigslist for people in the film who 'ordered Chinese food.'

One of the funniest moments for me was when Ming's friend was teaching him how to get more tips from the customers. The technique to smile and say "thank you very much" was classic because it reminded me of how true it is! The film is an earnest attempt to reveal the true trials of a daily struggles of Chinese delivery men. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever eaten Chinese takeout - so that means everyone!!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hawaii Scenes

Aloha! Here are some random scenic shots in Oahu and Big Island - some of them were so beautiful that I had to upload duplicates! Maholo - Thanks for viewing!

Views of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI - our hotels were literally steps away from the beach so we were able to capture these pictures in the early morning. It was very peaceful and calming!

This is what the volcano at Hawaii's National Volcano Park looked like even after the volcano explosion. The air quality was really bad but luckily we didn't smell much of the sulfur from this location in the park. The first pit stop was really bad - our eyes were itching.

As a result of the VOG (volcano fog), the perfect sunset was almost ruined. These are views from our hotel in Kona, Big Island. As a result of the VOG, many people especially children have experienced asthma-like symptons. That is unfortunate. But since I'm used to the steam coming up from the ground beneath me, I thought nothing of this vog.

Here are some views from the top of Diamond Head Crater in Oahu. Since Diamond Head is on the southern most tip of the island, it afforded beautiful views of the beaches and water. The first picture is another view of Waikiki Beach. In the second picture, you can see the different colors in the water.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Take Out - The Movie

'Take Out' is a newly released Asian film screening this weekend in NYC at the Quad Cinema. Come check it out and support Asian filmakers!

Here is a synposis of the film from their website:

Take Out is a day-in-the-life of Ming Ding (Charles Jang), an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. After borrowing most of the money from friends and relatives, Ming realizes that the remainder must come from the day's delivery tips. In order to do so, he must make more than double his average daily income.

In a social-realist style, the camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, Take Out presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City.