Thursday, January 31, 2013

Peels

It's been awhile since I posted about breakfast, New York, and American food, so I'm very excited to write about Peels today. Peels is an American Southern-inspired restaurant in the East Village of New York. Since my spring break in New Orleans last year (...literally just purchased a Hornets t-shirt before they change to the Pelicans), I've been craving Southern and Creole food like no other. It's surprisingly difficult to find this cuisine in Manhattan! So when I looked at the menu at Peels, I was very excited to try their breakfast selection. 

My birthday brunch with a sunny looking little brother

We started off with some iced coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, and monkey bread before our main dishes. Monkey bread is usually a cinnamon flavored pull-apart bread, but this airy slice with frosting was just as good, though I would have liked it to be even more cinnamon-y. My brother did the build-a-biscuit, which comes with their Martha Stewart-made-famous biscuit and add-ons of your choice. He chose bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, and red eye gravy on the side. I opted for my all time favorite, shrimp and grits. It comes with a fried egg, homemade tasso bacon, and jalapeno grits. It was plenty flavorful, and the runny egg brings it all together.

This place is definitely somewhere I will return again for breakfast or brunch. And I really want to go back for their other Southern-inspired dishes such as the fried chicken sandwich, fried broccoli, lemon meringue pie, and coconut cream pie. mm-MMM! ...just bring me back to the South.

Fresh squeezed OJ and monkey bread

Build-a-biscuit!

Shrimp and grits

Look at that running egg. 


Peels
325 Bowery Street
New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hong Kong Station

Hong Kong Station's moment of fame coincided closely with Jeremy Lin's stardom on the New York Knicks. During Linsanity, local Chinese would flock to HK Station to watch Knicks games whenever they were on. Every time the Knicks played, HK Station would be filled to the brim with fans of all ages. Though Jeremy Lin is gone, the televisions are still tuned in to sports channels (the owner is a huge sports fan himself), and if you ever need a place to catch the game and a cheap meal, Hong Kong Station would be a fine choice.



Hong Kong Station is known for their 車仔麵, also know as "cart noodles." Basically, you get to pick and choose from a variety of noodles and toppings to make your own personal creation. Hong Kong Station has the usual favorites, such as beef tendon, beef brisket, spicy fish balls, and beef balls, as well as many other choices such as pig intestines, tofu wraps, Chinese broccoli, mushrooms, and daikon radish. Their noodles come in a great variety as well, and you can choose from instant noodle/ramen (everyone's favorite), egg noodles, thin noodles, udon, rice noodles, and more. After you make your selection, it's topped with their house broth and a scallion and garlic topping. 

However, to be honest, I don't really go to HK Station to eat their noodles. They're great, but their other Hong Kong goodies are even better. My brother's favorite is the spam and egg sandwich. I know it sounds weird, but I promise it's a breakfast staple on that island! 

And when I want soup but not all the meat or carbs to go with it, I just get the fish paste with Chinese lettuce in soup and the ultimate guilty pleasure, fried fish skin. This may sound even weirder, but you just dip the fried fish skin the broth ever so slightly before you eat it. This way, the fish skin absorbs the flavor in the broth while maintaining its crunchy texture. Or you can soak it all the way through like my mom does or just eat the fish skin by itself like crisps, which I sometimes do. (I know, I'm disgusting). 

A final recommendation is the "dai pai dong" rice noodles. This is an innovative creation using very simple ingredients: rice noodles, typical sauces such as HK style sweet sauce and sesame paste, sesame seeds, some hot sauce, scallions, and egg. I promise you this is addictive and a great twist to a breakfast/snack that I grew up eating. 

And just a heads up, the HK Station on Division Street just obtained its beer/wine license, so head over there to get some noodles, throw some darts, and enjoy a few beers while catching a game! 

My personalized "cart noodle" with spicy fish balls, beef tendon,
and Chinese lettuce served with instant noodles! 

A spam and egg sandwich with an iced Ribena with lemon on the side

Close up of the delicious spam and egg sandwich

A cup of iced Chinese herbal tea, a plate of fried fish skin, and a bowl of
fish paste with Chinese lettuce

"Dai pai dong" rice noodles
Final note: This place serves the most consistently delicious Hong Kong milk teas in New York Chinatown. Definitely come here if you're looking for a taste of the ex-British colony. 

Hong Kong Station
45 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013


Friday, January 25, 2013

Tokyo Hot Pot: Chanko nabe and Shabu-shabu

I'm unfortunately back in the cold and bleak Boston for the school year and have been trying to stay in as much as possible because of below freezing temperatures this week. All I've been craving to eat is anything hot and soupy, which brings me back to my recent stay in Tokyo, Japan. I had two types of hot pot: chanko nabe and shabu-shabu, both to warm me up from the "cold."


Chanko nabe is part of the power diet for sumo wrestlers to gain weight. The broth is usually chicken based with sake or mirin and is served with a variety of protein sources including beef, pork, and fish. The hot pot is served with all the ingredients inside including bok choy, cabbage, daikon, fried tofu, and vermicelli. My first meal in Tokyo after a hangover inducing night was a hot pot of chanko nabe, which warmed my belly and definitely nausea-curing. After the meal, we were prepared for a walking tour of Asakusa and Senso-ji Temple (photographed above). In the photos below, you'll see Fukuko making meatballs and inserting them into the hot pot.


Shabu-shabu is another form of Japanese hot pot where you cook thinly sliced pieces of beef, pork, and chicken. We started with a white broth and a citrus yuzu broth. Our set dinner came with regular sliced meats, wagyu, assorted vegetables, two types of sausages, and a side of noodles. Like Chinese hot pot, you cook all the meats first, then the vegetables so that the broth is richer from the meat, then finally the noodles. You dip all the food in either a ponzu or sesame seed sauce, which I like mixing together. 




So when it gets cold, start a hot broth, and get dipping!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒, Hong Kong


When my family first started raving about The Chinese Restaurant, it was rather confusing. I mean, eating at a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong sounds pretty common. However, the place is actually called "The Chinese Restaurant." And according to my brother, they have the best roast pork/ char siu/ 叉燒. When I got to the restaurant, my family members all immediately said we were doing the all you can eat lunch special. Let me ask you this: have you ever had all you can eat dim sum? 

There are several possible reactions to signing up for all you can eat dim sum:
1. Unlimited har gows (shrimp dumplings)? Count me in.
2. I will be full after two greasy shu mais (pork and shrimp dumplings)
However, let me assure you that The Chinese Restaurant is a classy establishment in the Hyatt Regency with a Michelin Star and will provide you with as much as you want. The magic of this place is that you can go dine with 5 people and they will provide you with 5 individual pieces of each dim sum. Why is this magic? Because when you usually go for dim sum, aka yum cha, orders come in 4 pieces. Therefore, though you may be paying more than usual (198HKD/person), you will be able to try a lot more delicacies because you will be eating less duplicates, that is unless you purposely order duplicates for yourself. 

This is what an all you can eat dim sum experience with 8 people looks like: 


The amazing char siu and drunken chicken
Fried tofu skin rolls
Various fried and steamed meat filled dumplings

Leek and shrimp filled pan seared dumplings

Stuffed eggplant
Steamed tofu sheet rolls

Roast pork bun/ char siu bao

Sweet sesame soup

Custard buns 流沙饱

So will I go back again? Definitely. This was probably the all around strongest dim sum meal I have had in a very long time. Or even ever. It is very easy to go wrong when eating dim sum because even a slight off consistency in a dumpling wrap or texture of filling can decrease the quality of the meal. The Chinese Restaurant definitely holds true to their ratings and price value for dim sum. 

The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒  
Hyatt Regency
18 Hanoi Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon