Yunnan Kitchen – Finally Americanized Chinese Food Done Right (Part 2)

In my last post on Mission Chinese I discussed the evolving nature of “Americanized Chinese” food and how Mission Chinese is an example of Americanized Chinese evolving into something worth checking out (in my opinion).  However, I entitled it “Part 1” because there is a second example of this in New York and its Yunnan Kitchen.

Yunnan Kitchen serves food that is influenced by Yunnan food.  Yunnan is a province in China that borders Burma, Laos and Myanmar.  In China, it’s known for among other things its nice weather, large number of minorities and its variety of mushrooms.  The food is supposed to be quite different including very odd things like use of cheese which is completely unheard of in the rest of China and “Yunnan” food is somewhat of a misnomer because there are some many different minorities that I think “Yunnan” food can mean different things to different people there.  Anyhow, I’ve only had it maybe once or twice as it’s not that common in most of the cities I normally visit and I’m not even sure if I’ve even actually met anyone from Yunnan.

There is a decent amount of information about the restaurant in this NYT article, which you can see here.  Funny enough their “training” consisted of going to Shanghai and Beijing to two weeks (very far away from Yunnan) and training in some Yunnan restaurants there.  So, I think it’s fair to say that this is a very loose interpretation of Yunnan cuisine.

The restaurant is well done; it’s got a very cool and relaxed feel to it with minimalist decoration and nice exposed brick walls.  It’s a great place to have dinner with friends.  The service has always been pretty good and everyone is nice.  Also, be aware that there is usually a wait on Thursday-Saturday night.

Here’s what I’ve tried:

Pickled Green Papaya Salad:

This is shredded green papaya with warm shredded chicken, herbs and chilies.  I was hoping this would be similar to the Thai papaya salads or even the Vietnamese papaya salads.  However, I found this dish to be a bit too bland.  It didn’t have any of the spice or the tart and sweet flavors of a normal papaya salad.  This was a bit of a dud for me.  6.75/10

Mint Salad:

This was hen of the woods mushroom, frisee and mint salad.  This was the other dish that I wasn’t crazy about, it was better than the green papaya salad, but I didn’t think there was too much too it.  It was pretty similar to most other salads you get.  Mind you it wasn’t bad, but just nothing special.  7/10

Charred Eggplant:

This was charred eggplant that was served cold with sawtooth herb, crushed peanuts and chilies.  The eggplant was cooked nicely and was tender.  It had a bit of spice to it and was a little sweet and tangy as well.  I think I would’ve liked it better if it was served warm, but overall it was a decent dish.  7.5/10

Fried Potato Balls:

These were fried potato balls spiced with Yunnan spices and served with a soy-vinegar.  These were really nice; they were nicely crispy, but weren’t greasy at all.  The soy-vinegar sauce was the perfect complement to the fried potato balls.  Overall, I thought these were great.  8.25/10

Tea Smoked Duck:

This was sliced cold tea smoked duck breast served with house pickled cucumber and salted peanuts.  I actually don’t like tea smoked duck that much; it’s alright, but it’s not something I go out of my way for.   However, I enjoyed it here.  It’s much more delicate and lightly flavored than most tea smoked duck.  The duck breast meat was nicely tender and it almost tasted more like a French dish than a Chinese dish.  Overall, it was a solid dish.  8/10

Ham Rice Cakes:

This was Chinese rice cakes (nian gao) stir fried with chilies, tomato and pea shoots.  I’m generally not the biggest fan of nian gao, but I got them because a friend likes them.  These were pretty decent though.  The tomato went surprisingly well with them and the slight tart flavor from the tomato gave it a nice tangy flavor and tasted good with the ham.  It wasn’t really spicy at all and was generally a pretty simple dish, but not bad.  7.5/10

Stir Fried Mushrooms:

This was a variety of mushrooms stir fried with sawtooth herb, ham and peppers in a soy sauce.  I love mushrooms, so this was a good dish for me.  It tastes just like it sounds, but the flavor of the mushrooms pairs nicely with the saltiness from the soy sauce.  Overall, a solid dish and tastes great with some rice.  8/10

Lamb Meatballs Shao Kao:

They have a shao kao section which means BBQ in Chinese and in particular is referring to BBQ skewers.  In many places in China, particularly Northern China, skewers are a very popular dish.  I’m not sure how prevalent they are in Yunnan (or not), but given that these chefs went to Beijing and Shanghai to train, I’m not surprised they picked these to put on their menu.  These were lamb meatballs on skewers grilled and dusted with cumin and chili powder.  The meat is perfectly cooked and the cumin and chili powder give it really good flavor. These are definitely one of the “must order” type dishes here.  8.5/10

Spicy Pork Shao Kao:

This is the same as the previous except with really juicy and tender pieces of pork with the perfect amounts of tender fat.  These are really good as well and maybe the best dish here.  8.5/10

Crispy Whole Shrimp:

This is whole butterflied shrimp with salt, chili, lime and fried lime leaf.  The shrimp is really nicely cooked and is nicely tender.  The combination of salt, lime and chilli is a good one for this dish.  It’s a pretty simple dish, but it’s excellent.  Also, try eating the fried lime leaves, it sounds weird, but they’re tasty.  8.5/10

Steamed Market Fish:

I can’t remember what kind of fish it was, but it was a white fish filet served with seasonal mushrooms, Chinese chives in a Shaoxing wine sauce that I’m pretty sure had some soy sauce in it.  The sauce is similar to the sauce that the mushrooms were in.  The fish was light and clean tasting with no fishiness whatsoever.  The sauce was really nice and paired well with the fish.  Overall, this was a nice dish. 8/10

Chinese Sausage Fried Rice:

This was fried rice with Chinese sausage, seasonal mushrooms and Chinese greens.   This was pretty straight forward fried rice.  I love Chinese sausage so that was good; the rice had good flavor as well.  However, it didn’t have enough wok hay, which is the smoky flavor that you get from cooking food in a wok at a very high temperature and it also wasn’t fluffy enough.  That said overall it was a tasty dish. 7.75/10

Ma La Fried Chicken:

This is a special that is on the chalkboard.  However, they’ve offered it every time I’ve been here.  The chicken is crispy on the outside, but really nicely tender on the inside.  It’s also not greasy whatsoever.  The flavor is very ma meaning it has a lot of the numbing flavor and it is also la (spicy), but not crazy spicy.  I like this dish a lot and its definitely another “must order” type of dish.  8.5/10

Overall, I enjoyed this restaurant a lot and while it has its hits and misses, the hits are very good and it’s become one of my favorite restaurants in the Lower Eastside.  I highly recommend checking it out.

79 Clinton St (between Rivington & Delancey)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 253-2527

Mission Chinese – Finally Americanized Chinese Food Done Right (Part 1)

The term “Americanized Chinese” conjures up thoughts of cheap take-out food featuring gloppy sauces, unidentifiable fried meats and fun names like General Tso’s chicken and moo goo gai pan.  However, while many “foodies” may act like it’s a sacrilegious, for many it has a nostalgic quality about it and I have many friends who really like having this type of food from time to time.  That said you’d be hard pressed to find someone who really thinks of this type of food as cuisine that you would go out of your way for.  The problem is that mentality this has created this idea that this is actually what Chinese food is like (i.e. basically cheap, greasy food).  Besides the fact that saying “Chinese food” is kind of ridiculous because it’s literally like saying European food, it’s really created this stigma that people can’t get over and to a certain degree it’s created this self-perpetuating cycle because many restaurants think that’s what customers expect.

This has finally started to breakdown as people have become more educated on Chinese food via the media and as authentic Chinese food has become more readily available.  However, in terms of Americanized Chinese, I did not grow up eating Americanized Chinese food and it holds no nostalgic quality for me and most attempts to make fusion Chinese food have generally been awful in my experience.  So is it possible to make good Americanized Chinese food?  I think the answer is yes as places like Mission Chinese are making great food that is not authentic Chinese, so it truly is Americanized Chinese.

The restaurant is a tiny space on Orchard and looks like a take-out joint up front and opens up into a small room with fluorescent lights in back.  The wait times are ridiculous at 2-3 hours at peak times and so you constantly see lines out the door.  However, luckily I live close enough to get take-out from here and I just call in my order and pick it up 20-30 minutes later.  I haven’t actually eaten in the restaurant since I don’t want to wait, so it’s tough for me to comment on service.

Here’s what we got:

Thrice Cooked Bacon:

This is one of the signature dishes.  Its chunks of bacon stir fried with rice cakes, tofu skin, bitter melon, chili oil and fermented black bean.  It tastes exactly as it sounds and was surprisingly quite ma la (numbing and spicy).  I’d read that this place makes stuff quite ma la and it did live up to its reputation.  I liked the tofu skin and rice cakes as well; they provided a nice textural balance to the dish.  Also, as a word of warning this dish is quite salty although it’s salty in a good way.  Overall, this was a very good dish.  8.25/10

Kung Pao Pastrami:

This was another signature dish.  Its chunks of pastrami, which I believe they get from Katz’s, stir fried with peanuts, celery, potato and chili oil.  This was also quite ma la although more la (spicy).  It was also a bit of a salt bomb since pastrami itself is quite salty, but it tasted really good with rice.  It had decent wok hay, which is the smoky flavor you get from stir frying in a very hot wok.  Overall, this was another very good dish. 8.25/10

Stir Fried Sweet Peas:

These were individual peas, pickled ramps and chili oil.  I thought it was a really well prepared dish as I found the flavor of the sauce to be excellent and was also again nicely ma la.  However, I thought I was ordering pea pods and I don’t really like sweet peas, so while I thought it was a very good for a sweet pea dish, I don’t really sweet peas so it’s hard for me to be really constructive on this dish. If you like peas you should try this dish. 7.25/10

Fresh Tofu Poached In Soy Milk:

This was interesting, it was tofu in a bath of soy milk with spicy fermented bean paste (dou ban jiang).  The tofu was just regular tofu and the soy bean milk was quite milky in flavor probably more so than usual.  It was actually quite a light and refreshing dish, which was a nice contrast to the other dishes.  The dou ban jiang was salty and spicy and the fermented flavor went well with the dish.  Overall, I thought it was a reasonably tasty dish and a good compliment to the other dishes. 7.75/10

Mapo Tofu with Pork Shoulder:

This was the last signature dish and was probably the most normal tasting dish in that it tastes reasonably similar to an authentic version of mapo tofu.  It was quite ma la, oily and salty.  I’d say that it was probably a little more salty than normal, but not in a bad way.  The pork shoulder was different since you normally use ground pork, but I liked that a lot because the pork was pretty decent quality.  The other thing that was different is that they use a more firm tofu as opposed to a silky tofu.  I liked the tofu, but I prefer silky tofu.  Overall, this was very good and definitely worthy of being a signature dish.  8.25/10

Beijing Vinegar Peanuts:

These were roasted peanuts in the skin with smoked garlic, anise and rock sugar in black vinegar.  I was hoping these would be more similar to the ones at BaoHaus which I really like.  However, these were just so so, they just tasted like regular roast peanuts in some vinegar.  6.75/10

Stir Fried Pork Jowl and Radish:

Jowl are the cheek and are similar to pork belly or thick cut bacon.  This dish was jowl stir fried with fermented black bean, shiso and mint.  I could see where they were going with this dish, but this was one of the duds for me.  I felt like it was just a bunch of ingredients put together, but they didn’t meld well.  In particular I thought the shiso and mint were totally out of place with the black bean.  So while it was an okay dish, it wasn’t something I’d go out of my way to order.  6.75/10

Barley Rice:

This is just rice with barley in it, but for some reason I found it particularly tasty.  It was cooked very nicely, slightly al dente and the barley gave it a slight bit of flavor and it tasted great with the other food. 8/10

Overall, I enjoyed Mission Chinese a lot and I have a lot of respect for what Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint have done.

154 Orchard St (between Stanton & Rivington)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-8800

Anepalco’s Café – Literally Amazing Chilquiles in Orange

When I come home I always try to make every meal count because while I come home quite a bit, I’m never there for that long, so I try not to have any misses.  On my last trip home from the holidays, I asked on chowhound for some new Mexican recommendations in Orange County and Das Ubergeek gave me this recommendation.

Honestly, if you gave me the menu and asked me if I wanted to try this place I would’ve probably said no because the menu is a mix of Mexican and American and just looks like some type of jack of all trades master of none type of menu that wouldn’t be good, but luckily looks can be very deceiving.

The restaurant is a small non-descript café located just off the 22 freeway by the hospital and doesn’t have too much in the way of décor.  The place is tiny and probably can fit maybe 15 people comfortably.  The guys working there were nice guys.

Here’s what we got:

Anepalco’s Chilaquiles:

Chilaquiles are a Mexican dish that is made up of fried tortilla strips, red sauce, scrambled eggs, cotija cheese, sour cream, avocado mousse and pico de gallo.  When I’ve had this dish before it’s been more like fried tortilla strips with all of the sauces dumped on top.  Here they made the tortilla chips into a semi-cake and topped it with a small omelet, pico de gallo, avocado mousse and sour cream on top with the red sauce and cotija cheese on the side.  It looks much nicer than other versions I’ve had.  The tortilla chip cake is really good and the toppings were all very good, but the real standout was the red sauce and cotija cheese.  I would categorize it as amazing and I don’t say that about that many things.  It’s a little spicy and has this addicting tangy flavor that pairs just perfectly with the cotija cheese.  It was just so good.  This is definitely one of the best dishes I’ve had in a while. 9/10

Huevos Rancheros:

This was another dish that was highly recommended.  Its typical huevos rancheros consisting of tortilla, black beans, scrambled eggs, cotija cheese, avocado mousse, pico de gallo, sour cream and red sauce.  It was actually fairly similar to the chilaquiles, but with black beans and a tortilla instead of a tortilla cake.  However, it was one of the better huevos rancheros I’ve ever had and while everything was very good, it was the red sauce and cotija cheese again that really set it apart.  The flavor of that sauce with everything is just so good. While I thought it was very good, I’d give the nod to the chilaquiles. 8.5/10

I loved this place and it was one of the best new finds I’ve been to in a while.  I can’t wait to come back and try more stuff including the huevos divorciados, which were also highly recommended by the staff.  I highly recommend coming here.

415 S. Main St
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 771-2333

Pok Pok Wing – Delicious New Thai Chicken Wing and Other Thai Specialties in the Lower Eastside


Pok Pok Wing is the new restaurant opened up by Andy Ricker, who runs a well-known Thai restaurant in Portland.  I didn’t actually know very much about him or his restaurant other than they are from Portland.  I did a little research and this NYT article has a decent amount of information about him, which you can see by clicking here. Pok pok apparently is the stone mortar, which they use to grind various ingredients.

The restaurant is located in the old Baohaus space on Rivington.  It’s tiny and they didn’t change too much except the pictures on the wall, which are of various Thai record covers and ads. You can see what it looks like on their website.  I’ve only been getting take-out since I’d rather eat it at my place than at the restaurant, but everyone seems nice and surprisingly I think most of the staff is Thai.

On to the food:

Ike’s Wings (ordered spicy):

These are deep fried whole chicken wings marinated in fish sauce, garlic and sugar.  When I say whole chicken wings I literally mean that as they are much bigger than the normal chicken wings you get when you order buffalo wings.  They are nicely crispy on the outside, but not overly crispy or fried.  The meat is tender and the seasoning is sweet and spicy at the same time and you can definitely taste the garlic.  They remind me of Korean chicken wings a little bit and I couldn’t decide if I like them better or not.  I do think I can probably eat more of them than Korean chicken wings which taste awesome at first, but I get sick of them after like three or four.  I thought these were very good overall and comparable or better than any of the other “Asian” chicken wings out there.  I definitely recommend ordering them spicy. 8.5/10

Papaya Pok Pok (added salted black crab, Isaan style with pla ra and dry chilis):

This is som tum, which is a papaya green salad with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimps, peanuts, salted black crab, pla ra (fermented fish sauce) and dry chilis.  The version here is basically the traditional version with nothing particularly different about it, which is fine by me since it’s one of my favorite Thai dishes.  It was a little more on the sour and tangy side compared to most versions I’ve had and it was actually surprisingly quite spicy which I was pleased with as I was expecting them to dumb it down due to the neighborhood and crowd, I wouldn’t say it’s Thai spicy, but it’s way spicier than most Americans would want.  I thought it was pretty decent, but I don’t think it’s as good as the better versions I’ve had in NY at places like Zabb Elee. 7.5/10

Khao Man Som Tom:

This is a combination with som tum (green papaya salad) served with coconut rice topped with sweet shredded pork that has been cooked in palm sugar and black soy sauce topped with fried shallots and cilantro. The som tum didn’t have the salted crab, pla ra and dried chilis, which meant it was lighter in flavor and much less spicy than the other version I had.  I would ask them to make it spicier next time.  The coconut rice was quite nice, it was fluffy and had good coconut flavor.  I was surprised at how good it tasted.  The pork was nicely tender and had good flavor.  However, it was a bit too sweet if it was a little less sweet it would’ve gone from good to really good.  I really liked the fried shallots on top of it.  Overall, I enjoyed it, but I wish the pork was a little less sweet.  8/10 (7/10 for som tum, 7.75/10 for the pork and 8.25/10 for the coconut rice)

Pok Pok Som Tum Drinking Vinegars:

This was various fruit flavored vinegars that are mixed with soda water.  They had tamarind, honey, apple and pomegranate favors. These drinks were quite interesting as I’ve never really had anything like this.  I tried the tamarind and the pomegranate.  The vinegar is both sweet and sour, but not super sweet or sour.  The tamarind was more sour and the pomegranate was more sweet.  It went really well with the soda water.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but I really liked it and found myself wanting more after I finished the drink.  I definitely recommend trying one of these.  8.5/10

Overall, I like this place and it’s definitely a great addition to the neighborhood.

137 Rivington St (between Norfolk St & Suffolk St)
Manhattan, NY 10002
(212) 477-1299

Momofuku Ssäm Bar – David Chang’s Gut Busting, But Delicious Bo Ssam (Pork Shoulder)

David Chang has truly become a celebrity chef and every restaurant he opens seems to turn to gold as they all do really good business.  While I am not a huge fan of Asian fusion food and I don’t like every dish David Chang makes, I do think that David Chang has created something good and I’ve got a lot of respect for what he’s done (he also seems like a nice guy from the TV interviews etc I’ve seen him in), so I’m rooting for him.

I’ve heard about his version of Korean bo ssäm for quite some time and I’ve been trying to put together for a dinner for a while, but given the long lead time necessary for a reservation and people’s constantly changing schedules it took me a long time to finally come here.

The format at Momofuku Ssäm Bar has changed immensely from the first time I came when it was a Chipotle-style Korean burrito type of concept.  Now it’s got a full menu and real food and is not some fast food concept with the hallmark being their large group bo ssam and rotisserie duck offerings.

The restaurant is long thin space with tables, long communal seating and an open kitchen.  The walls and floors are all dark wood and look reasonably sleek.  However, the layout is kind of weird so it’s a bit cramped and definitely on the loud side.  The service was reasonably good and everyone was nice.

On to the food:

Steamed Pork Buns:

This dish is one of David Chang’s signature dishes. It consists of a white steamed Chinese bun called mantou with steamed pork belly, hoisin sauce, cucumbers and scallions. While many in New York thought that David came up with something totally revolutionary, I originally thought that he just copied a Taiwanese gua bao, which is very similar to this except the condiments are slightly different.  However, I read an interview where he explained that he was trying to re-create Cantonese style Peking duck buns except using pork belly instead of duck.  This makes sense because while both gua bao and Cantonese style Peking duck buns use a steamed mantou, the condiments at Momofuku are very similar to a Cantonese style Peking duck bun except he uses cucumbers instead of spring onions.  Anyhow, the dish comes together nicely, the pork belly is tender and flavorful and the sweetness from the hoisin sauce goes well with the cucumbers and scallions.  However, people always want to know what’s better and for me a good Taiwanese gua bao is definitely better because I prefer the condiments. With that said, this is still a very tasty dish and definitely worth trying out.  8.25/10

Bo Ssäm:

This is David Chang’s version of a traditional Korean dish called Bo Ssam, which is steamed pork belly with condiments that is put into lettuce wraps with condiments.  The main differences are at Momofuku they give you a whole pork shoulder where as traditionally they give you sliced pork and the sauces and condiments are a bit different as well.  Here they give you lettuce, rice, spicy and sweet bean sauce, ginger-scallion oil, chopped kimchi, pureed kimchi and oysters.  I liked the spicy and sweet bean sauce a lot, the ginger-scallion oil tasted just like the typical Chinese version meaning it was good, the kimchi was decent, but not great and I wasn’t much of a fan of the pureed kimchi.  The oysters were nice as they tasted fresh and briny.  The pork was flavorful and tender, however it depended on where the meat was as some of the meat was very tender and delicious and other pieces were a bit dry.  I liked it in the lettuce wrap, but after a while I started to like it better with just rice and bean sauce.  It was extremely filling and even though we had 8 people, I was almost too full and ended up being a zombie on my couch afterwards.  Overall, while I didn’t think it was quite as transcendent as some made it out to be, I did think it was very good.  8.5/10

I thought this was a unique and enjoyable meal.  While it’s not something you can eat very often, I’d definitely recommend trying it out.  I look forward to coming back to try his rotisserie duck ssäm.

207 2nd Ave (between 12th St & 13th St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500

Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex – Exceptional Lobster and Shellfish in the Lower Eastside


Ed’s Lobster Bar Annex specializes in lobster rolls and other shellfish.  I’ve heard about Ed’s Lobster Bar in Soho for a long time, but for some reason I never got around to trying it.  However, when I heard they opened up a branch in the Lower Eastside, I immediately decided to try it as it was an exciting addition to the neighborhood.

The restaurant is located in the space previously occupied by the now defunct Sachiko’s on Clinton Street across from Clinton Street Bakery.  The space has been nicely redecorated with white walls, white marble counter tops and light wood.  The motif works well as I feel like restaurants serving lobster rolls are supposed to have spring colors because I immediately think of New England / Martha’s Vineyard architecture when I think of lobster rolls and this matches that idea.  The restaurant is laid out with a bar at the front of the restaurant, a raw bar in the middle and full tables and outdoor seating in the back.  I enjoy sitting at the raw bar as you can talk to the staff and watch them prepare some of the dishes.

Here’s what we’ve tried:

Oyster Sampler Plate:

This was a platter sampling all of their different types of oysters.  It included Beausoleil, Canada Cup, Rappahannock, St Simon and Tatamaguchi. While each of the oysters had a different flavor, they were all very good and tasted very fresh.  They gave a trio of condiments including a vinaigrette, a chunky cocktail type sauce and horse radish. This was excellent.  8.25/10

Clam Chowder:

I’m a huge fan of clam chowder so I was excited to try their version.  I don’t think I’m a clam chowder connoisseur and I’ve never lived in New England, but I thought this was one of the better clam chowders I’ve ever had.  It was rich and creamy, but not overly salty like a lot of the clam chowders that I’ve tried have been.  The clam in it was nice and didn’t taste overcooked like most clam chowder.  I really liked adding the oyster crackers to it as it added a nice crunchy texture to the soup.  This was great. 8.5/10

Lobster Bisque:

We also tried the lobster bisque, which was also excellent although my girlfriend preferred the clam chowder.  It was creamy and smoky and you could taste the flavor of the lobster.  I really like the smokiness of it. They also added a single lobster ravioli into the soup, which was a nice touch.  This was delicious. 8.25/10

Octopus Crudo:

This was simple poached octopus with olive oil and salt.  The octopus was beautifully tender and the combo of olive oil and salt went really well with this.  This was probably the second best octopus I’ve had in NY with 15 East’s octopus being the best.  8.5/10

Mini-Lobster Roll:

We wanted to try a lot of stuff, so instead of getting the full lobster roll we decided to get the mini-lobster roll.  The roll is toasted brioche, which was really good, it had a nice sweetness to it that really complimented the lobster well and the crunchy texture of the toasted bread was nice.  The lobster meat was excellent; it was perfectly cooked and had a little bit of creaminess because of the sauce they use.  This was really good and I think this might have been better than Luke’s which has been my go to lobster roll spot.  8.75/10

Fried Clam Slider:

This was clam that had been fried in a corn meal batter served on a toasted mini sesame hamburger bun with lettuce, tomatoes, pickled red onions and tartar sauce.  I really liked the corn meal batter as it complements the clam very well.  I did scrap off some of the tartar sauce because I’m not a huge fan of tartar sauce.  Overall, this was solidly good.  7.75/10

Fried Oyster Slider:

This was oyster prepared in the same way as the fried clam except it was served on a tiny brioche with tartar sauce only.  The oyster tasted very similar to the clam and the whole thing was quite good. 8/10


They gave these as a side to the fried clam and oyster sliders.  They are sweet and tart at the same time.  I thought they were really good. 8.5/10

Lobster Tacos:

These were hard taco shells filled with lobster dressed in a Panamanian green sauce and red cabbage coleslaw. The lobster meat was good, but the sauce was too sweet.  While I thought it was good, it was the one thing that I don’t think I’d order again as I thought the sauce was too sweet.  6.75/10

Lobster Ravioli:

These were homemade ravioli stuffed a minced lobster meat filling. The ravioli were nicely al dente and you could tell they were homemade.  The filling was nice albeit quite simple.  The sauce was just a simple cream sauce although I thought it was a bit on the bland side.  It was good, but I think that the dish needs to be a tweaked a little because the sauce led it to being a bit bland. 7.25/10

Fried Apple Pie a la mode:

This was a freshly fried apple pie that looks like an empanada and is dusted with cinnamon sugar.  The filling is apple and cinnamon and the exterior is flaky pastry dough.  It honestly tastes like a really good McDonald’s apple pie. It pairs very nicely with vanilla ice cream. 8/10

Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich:

This was three small brioches with a scoop of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream.  The brioche is excellent and the buttery and sweet flavor of the brioche goes well with the ice cream.  We both liked the strawberry ice cream the best, but they are all good.  8.25/10

Belfast Bay Lobster Ale:

I kind of had to order this because it’s a “lobster ale”, typical ale that is a big bitter and hoppy, but just wanted to show it because I liked the lobster theme.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ed’s Lobster Roll Annex, I thought the food was exceptional and I’d highly recommend checking it out.

25 Clinton St (bet Avenue B & Houston St)
Manhattan, NY 10002
(212) 777-7370

LTO (Limited Time Only) – Dinner by Chef Eddie Huang

LTO is a “pop up” restaurant showcasing a specific chefs’ tasting menu in the space that used to be Broadway East (B East).  I got an email from the LTO listserv and I was excited to see Eddie Huang as I obviously love Chinese and Chinese influenced food.

The restaurant looks exactly the same as it used to.  It’s a sort of cavern-esk room with exposed white brick walls with red booths and wooden tables.  I generally liked the décor.  Although it was probably only 25% full of customers, so it felt a bit empty.

The service was a little disjointed as we had multiple servers and it was hard to get the waiters attention.  The servers were nice though.

Anyhow onto the food:

Fried Oyster Po Boy:

This was the typical Baohaus gua bao type of thing with a steamed bun, fried oysters, pickled aikon and carrot and a pate spread.  I thought this was excellent, the oysters were perfectly fried, the pate spread was a nice addition and the pickled daikon really went with well with it. I hope he introduces this to Baohaus because these were really good. 8.75/10

Cumin Spiced Beef Skewers with Scallions:

This was simply grilled beef skewers flavored with cumin and there was also a side of grilled scallions.  I wasn’t crazy about this, the beef was a little overcooked and the seasoning was a bit bland.  I did like the scallions though. 6.5/10

Icebox Duck Wings:

This was duck wings braised in soy sauce, five spice and maybe a few other things, in Chinese they call this preparation lu wei.  Duck wings don’t have much meat on them, so they are mainly skin.  I’m generally a big fan of lu wei meats and I thought it was pretty decent, but it didn’t blow me away.  7.5/10

Peanuts in Black Vinegar:

These are roasted peanuts in black vinegar with chopped cilantro.  These were great.  The combination of flavors is self explanatory, but all go really well with each other. 8.25/10

137 Fried Gator:

This was gator tail that was battered and fried.  The batter was seasoned with cinnamon.  I wasn’t crazy about this, the cinnamon flavored batter wasn’t my thing and the meat was decent, but I was hoping it would be more tender than it was. 6.75/10

Sesame Liang Pi Salad:

This was a take on Xian Famous Foods signature dish using cold wheat noodles in a spicy sesame sauce.  I thought this was pretty weak though, nowhere near as good as the version at Xian. It wasn’t very spicy and the sauce wasn’t all that flavorful. 6.5/10

FOB Chicken:

This was a roast chicken served with a slightly sweet chili sauce.  This was really good, this was probably one of the best roast chickens I’ve had in a really long time.  The skin was nicely crispy, but not overcooked and the meat was very tender even the chicken breast was really tender.  The sauce went well with the chicken.  I need to give Eddie Huang some serious credit for this, I really liked this. 8.75/10

Salt Cod and Chinese Broccoli Fried Rice:

This was served with the FOB chicken.  I really like salted fish in my fried rice, so I thought this was excellent.  It was a bit oily, but in a good way.  This accompanied the FOB chicken very well. 8/10

DMV Steamed Blue Crab:

This was two different types of blue crab; one was Maryland blue crab seasoned with Old Bay spice and the other was steamed Shanghai blue crab served with a scallion and ginger oil sauce.   Both were excellent, the Maryland blue crab tasted just like the typical Maryland blue crab preparation and the Shanghai blue crab was really nice with good sweet meat, I didn’t even think it needed the scallion and ginger oil sauce although it did go well with it.  This was a big hit at the table. 8.25/10

Hunan Corn Kernels with Leeks and Ham Hock:

This was corn kernels with smoked ham hock and leeks seasoned with a spicy seasoning.  I really like this type of preparation and this version was quite good.  The smoky saltiness of the ham hocks really goes very nicely with the sweetness of the corn and the spicy seasoning brings it all together.  I’m a fan of this dish.  8/10

Hush Puppies:

This was corn hush puppies served with a sweet chili sauce.  They were nicely fried and the chili sauce went well with them. I liked this dish. 7.75/.10



Soy Caramel Bread Pudding a la Mode:

This was exactly was it sounds like, but surprisingly the ice cream was ginger flavored although it was pretty mild and it had a nice salty caramel sauce on it.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this delicious dessert as it tasted a lot better than it sounded. 8/10

Overall, there were some hits and misses, but the dishes that were good were great.  I enjoyed the meal quite a bit and some of the dishes like the FOB chicken really showcased his skills nicely.  It was of a bit of an overkill from a pure quantity standpoint (we were so full when we left), but whatever that’s a good problem to have and that happens at pretty much every tasting menu.  I’d definitely recommend trying this out if Eddie Huang decides to do another “pop up” type of deal.

171 East Broadway (between Pike St & Rutgers St)
Manhattan, NY 10002

Panade – Awesome Cream Puffs in the Lower Eastside

Panade is a small café that I’ve been going to for a few years, but for some reason I never wrote a post about it.  They serve various pastries, cookies and coffee.  However, the reason I love this place are the crème puffs.

The place is run by young Chinese-American woman who is very friendly.  Originally, the shop was across the street in a very small space, but recently they moved across the street into a much bigger space.  This is great because I assume that they moved because they are doing well. The inside walls are exposed brick, there is a big counter where the food is showcased and prepared and there are tables along the back end of the store.

Banana Crème Puff:

The reason I come here is for their banana crème puff.  It’s similar to Beard Papa’s, but better. The puffs are fresh and fluffy, they dust powdered sugar on them and the filling is great.  The banana pudding filling is so good, great banana flavor and fresh sliced bananas.  These are great.  8.5/10

Overall, I highly recommend stopping by Panade as it is really good.

132A Eldridge St (between Broome St & Delancey St)
Manhattan, NY 10002

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake – Great Cheesecake in Nolita

Eileen’s Special Cheesecake is a family run bakery that sells mainly cheesecakes with a few other pastries.  The place is a really small place that has 2 or 3 tables in it and there is a display case showcasing their cheesecakes.

I’ve been coming here for years, but some reason I never wrote it up.  It’s a really great place and definitely my favorite cheesecake in the City.  I’m not a cheesecake expert, but I really like cheesecake and I think this might be one of the best versions I’ve ever had.  I’m not sure why you don’t hear about this place more often.

Strawberry Cheesecake:

The cheesecake is so good.  It’s not really dense like some cheesecakes and not overly sour or sweet like some cheesecakes.  It’s actually very light for cheesecake and it’s always fresh as well.   The strawberry topping is good as well, the jam / sauce isn’t overly gooey or sweet and the strawberries are pretty decent quality.  The pictures below are the small and medium size; they also have a large size.   8.5/10

Raspberry Cheesecake:

Same as the previous cheesecake I described except there is a raspberry sauce and whip cream on it.  This version is excellent as well. 8.5/10

Overall, it’s a great place and I highly recommend going.

17 Cleveland Pl (between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-5585

Luke’s Lobster – Delicious Lobster Rolls in the East Village

I’d heard about Luke’s Lobster for a long time, but for some reason it took me a long time to finally decide to go.  That was a mistake because this place is great.

Luke’s is a tiny shop in the East Village with maybe 10 stools and small counter tops to eat on.  It does have a sort of nice New England type décor that feels pretty comfortable and homey.  However, it is a very small, so it’s not the type of place you’re going to hang around for a long time.

On to the food:

Lobster Roll:

Normally, I don’t like a lot of lobster rolls because they are doused with mayonnaise and diced celery, neither of which I’m not particularly fond of.  Thankfully the lobster roll here is much different (I’ve never been to Maine, so I don’t know if this is how they normally are).  The bread is really good, it’s lightly toasted with a little bit of butter (I believe) and it tastes very fresh, the dough is slightly sweet which really goes well with the lobster.  The lobster meat is really good; it’s sweet and not overcooked.  The meat is seasoned lightly with some celery salt, paprika and a small dab of mayo.  It was excellent, we really liked it.  By the way the roll is a bit on the small side; I could probably eat two of them.  8.25/10

Crab Roll:

The crab roll is the same, but with crab meat.  While it was good, it wasn’t as good as the lobster roll because the meat wasn’t as sweet, so I felt it was a less flavorful than the lobster roll.  However, overall it was still quite good. 8/10

New England Clam Chowder:

This was the one disappointing dish here.  It really just tastes like the same clam chowder you get out of a Campbell soup can.  It was a bit too salty as well.  6/10

Overall, I really liked the lobster roll and I will definitely be coming back.  Highly recommend.

93 E 7th St (between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 387-8487