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MADAME VO BBQ – EAST VILLAGE – BRUNCH

  • September 20, 2019 5:08 am

Madame Vo is one of those places that annoyingly makes you put a credit card down to make a reservation.

Even for brunch!

What if I’m hungover? What if I wake up dead?? Enjoy that $25 a person, Madame. Hope ya choke on it.

Ok, where was I?

I think Madame Vo BBQ is the only Vietnamese BBQ place I’ve ever been to.

I’ve been to plenty of Korean BBQ. Lots of American BBQ. Never Vietnamese.

Their sister restaurant, Madame Vo, is your standard Vietnamese fare.

Madame Vo BBQ is ALL ABOUT THE MEAT.

Vegetarians, don’t even bother. There is literally nothing here for you.

Ok, so the food is pretty spectacular. The star of brunch is their version of chicken and waffles. Not sure what makes their fried chicken Vietnamese (I think there is fish sauce involved, but it’s not very prevalent) the waffles are made with coconut milk and whatever the hell pandan is.

(pandan is a tropical plant and you cook with the leaves that look like banana leaves)

It’s very good and unique but if you don’t order any of the BBQ meats, you’re missing out. Each table comes with a BBQ in the center (similar to at Korean BBQ joints) and the restaurant’s signature dish is the BEEF SEVEN WAYS.

Sort of like a sampler platter of meat. All the meats.

We ordered two of those meats, a la carte. The lemongrass marinated short rib roll is heavenly and stuffed with slices of onion.

The Berkshire Pork Meatball is equally divine. I love how the meats are moist and perfectly seasoned. No need to panic about the location of some sort of dipping sauce.

Tell me one single food item that cannot be improved by a dipping sauce??

www.madamevobbq.com

Short Rib Bone Marrow Spring Roll – $16
Served with Truffle-Hoisin Sauce

 

Nem Nuong – $16
Roast Berkshire Pork Meatball topped w/ Scallion Oil and Crushed Peanuts

Bo Lui – $16
Lemongrass Marinated Short Rib Roll w/ White Onion topped in Scallion Oil

Vietnamese Chicken and Waffles – $20
Pandan and Coconut Milk Waffles w/ Condensed Milk and fish sauce marinated Vietnamese Fried Chicken

WAYLA – LOWER EAST SIDE – DINNER

  • September 13, 2019 9:04 pm

Moo Sarong – Crispy Noodle Wrapped Pork Meatball
$8

 

The only thing preventing me from crying in my curry about being denied access to the supposedly lovely outdoor patio (wait time was 45 minutes) was how yummy the food was!

You’re lucky, Wayla! Really lucky.

Night.

Almost.

Ruined.

When we arrived at this Lower East Side hotspot, we had a bit of trouble figuring out where to go. Wayla is located in a nondescript basement with practically zero signage (see pic below).

So, when some stranger saw my struggle and decided to instruct me where to go, I was secretly horrified.

This is my JOB, people. I should KNOW this. Get with the program, Bun Boy.

Clearly I have a serious disorder and the idea of being seen as someone who does not know where he is going or what he is doing is just ABHORRENT!

(anyway……………)

We get seated in what is basically the hallway to the ever elusive outdoor patio we proceed to order our guts out.

We start with the infamous crispy noodle wrapped meatballs (which people seemed disappointed by, on Yelp) and the Berskhire Pork appetizer.

The meatballs are simple but once dipped in the sweet chili sauce, come alive. They’re only $8 so whatever.

The Berkshire pork dish is sort of like a deconstructed lettuce wrap appetizer. Everything is nicely dressed and served cold atop a few lettuce leaves.

If you feel like it, you can unearth the soggy lettuce leaves and attempt to make yourself a lettuce wrap.

Then, you’ll give up because the damn thing is so messy and just eat the remainder like a salad.

But it’s SO tasty. The vinaigrette has a nice tart bite to it.

The chicken is your standard fried chicken but it’s that green sauce that elevates things. Not sure what the ingredients are but it has the essence of that mint cilantro sauce that Indian samosas come with.

I think I enjoyed the green curry noodles the best. They weren’t very spicy but they were packed with flavor and came as a nice sized portion.

Just an FYI, two apps and two mains for two people here is a LOT of food. Come hungry, be ready for leftovers or maybe only order one app?

(But underordering is SOOOOOO boring….)

http://WWW.WAYLANYC.COM

100 Forsyth St
New York, NY 10002

 

Wayla is located downstairs, in the basement

Yum Khor Moo Yang – Grilled Berkshire Pork, Shallots, Basil, Chilies, Bibb Lettuce Wrap
$15

Mee Pad Kang Kiao Wan Pak – Green Curry Noodles
$17

Gai Tod Hat Yai – Southern Fried Amish Chicken
$24

OXOMOCO – GREENPOINT/BROOKLYN – BRUNCH

  • August 30, 2019 5:34 am

Don’t ask me to pronounce the name of this restaurant.

I said don’t!

However you pronounce it, Oxomoco is worth the hype.

We showed up on a Saturday at peak brunch hour (around noon?) and while it was crowded, we were able to snag a table with no wait. I mean, we had to be gone by 1 pm to accommodate someone’s reservation.

I took this to mean “you are revolting and we don’t like you.”

But we were starving, so FINE!

(I read stories of several hour waits, so this was a relief).

We started with cocktails, naturally. My frozen watermelon margarita was excellent, not too sweet. The Bloody Maria was horseradish heavy, which I love.

The burger is only served at Brunch and so of course, I had to have it.

If it’s exclusive and overpriced, it has to be mine!

The burger, if you count the egg, is $22 bucks. Not the most expensive burger out there, but not exactly cheap.

But it’s perfection. Drenched in a mild enchilada sauce, this dish is presented to you stabbed to the heart with a big steak knife. The Enchilada sauce has the appearance of fresh blood.

My problem with theme burgers is that the dozens of accoutrements distract from your standard burger flavors.

If you’re craving a burger, you don’t order a burrito.

What Oxomoco does is merely enhance rather than overwhelm. At the heart of it, it’s still a burger and a damn good one.

When I looked around, I was not-so-secretly envious of everyone’s Bacon Burrito.

Once you get past the unnecessary garnish of pretty but pointless greenery, you get a very tasty, egg heavy breakfast burrito with hints of potato and bacon.

Many eateries will try to cram a ton of distractions into a breakfast burrito when what actually distinguishes this meal as breakfast is often hard to find.

Often you’ll encounter a meat and potato burrito with egg filling in the blanks.

The decor at Oxomoco is also gorgeous in that famous reclaimed everything Brooklyn way, definitely come there to impress someone (or yourself).

128 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

oxomoconyc.com

Bacon Burrito – $18

Hamburguesa Pambazo – $19 ($23 w/ Egg)

 

 

PASTIS – MEATPACKING – BRUNCH

  • August 26, 2019 6:04 pm

Some food trends bore me to tears.

Others, I’m all here for.

Speaking of which, I’m 100% here for the simple, fast food take on gourmet burgers that are popping up everywhere.

Gone (hopefully) are the days of the boring enormous steakhouse burger.

There was a forgettable bun, a 10 inch tall flavorless patty of unnecessarily artisan meats, a thick slimy slice of tomato and a scant amount of pretentious cheese.

Basically, too many toppings that rendered actually eating this bland monstrosity with your hands impossible.

Perhaps this all started with the West Village’s Happy Endings bar with their faux In and Out Cheeseburger (which I did not care for)?

Then The Spaniard came out with a simple, cheesy cheeseburger of my very wettest dreams.

And then Chicago’s famed Au Cheval came to town with their legendary cheeseburger and it was all over.

Now it was time for the copycats.

Who are more than welcomed!

Keith McNally’s restaurants are all the same.

Gorgeous French Bistros.

All with, I think, the exact same menu. And the same moody antique yellow vibes and vintage Paris décor.

Boogie but still a touch casual. Always sporting a quite dense tourist population (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern).

Pastis (of Sex and the City fame) closed right before I moved to NYC, back in 2014.

I had always heard rumblings of it’s eventual return. Like an aging actress who had spent the past few years doing Hallmark movies but had a big indie film ready to explode upon the festival circuit.

And just this summer, that indie film came out.

And it was poignant.

I’m only going to comment on the burger. Because it was truly delicious.

And totally riding the simple, just cheese/meat/special sauce fast food train that has firmly arrived in New York City.

It was perfection (as were the fries).

May this train never leave.

 

52 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014 b/t Washington St & Greenwich St
West Village

pastisnyc.com

TEA & SYMPATHY – WEST VILLAGE – BRUNCH

  • August 20, 2019 4:26 pm

Tea and Sympathy is this quaint little café in the West Village that seems like it doesn’t really want you to come inside.

It’s tiny and cramped and always packed with people.

You know, the kind of place where the windows are always sweating?

Whenever I walk by, I try to guess exactly how hot it is and my answers are often over 120 degrees.

On top of that, there are some intimidating rules posted hastily on the front door (dubbed “Nicky’s Rules – they’re also printed on your menu) that give off the vibe that perhaps you’re intruding somewhere you don’t belong.

Basically, even though the place is called Tea and Sympathy, you can’t just order tea.

If you do, they will have zero sympathy for you.

And so will I, because I just warned you.

But once you get passed the rules, temperature and spatial limitations, the overall experience is still charming and the food (at least what we ordered) was delicious.

They have your typical British fare (shepherd’s pie, beans on toast, bangers & mash) but I think the thing to order is the Selection of Tea Sandwiches.

For about $15 you are presented with a huge assortment of coffin shaped sandwiches and they are all winners! The usual types are included; egg salad, chicken salad and cucumber cream cheese.

I ordered the sausage roll entrée (with mash and beans, $15.95) and it was enjoyable but not as good as the tea sandwiches.

I do think no matter what you order here, you’ll walk away satisfied.

As long as you haven’t broken any of Nicky’s Rules, that is.

I mean, they’re not too bad. Just basically reminding you that the waitstaff is always right, you must order $12.50 worth of food/drink per person and remember that tipping is customary in the US.

Basically, just reminding you how to eat at a restaurant like a human.

108 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011 b/t Jane St & 12th St
West Village

(212) 989-9735

 

SPANISH DINER – HUDSON YARDS

  • August 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Hudson Yards gets a lot of flack for being “not of the people”.

And that assessment is not incorrect.

This enormous mall that bulldozed it’s way into a somewhat blank section of Manhattan and created it’s own neighborhood was not built for you.

The owners know you aren’t the ones shopping at Neiman Marcus or casually dining at Thomas Keller’s insanely priced Tak Room.

But you know what makes them such kind, thoughtful folks?

They built us Poors an H&M!

See? Something for everyone!

But they also gave us the Spanish Diner.

I have to admit, I am constantly charmed by the quite contrived Mercado Little Spain. Jose Andres’ answer to Eataly.

The place reminds me of how Spain would be presented to us if Disney’s Epcot center were built today. It’s cheesy and over the top and I do very much enjoy it.

I’ve eaten at several Hudson Yards restaurants and so far Spanish Diner is the only place serving delicious food at a decent price.

Must be a fluke!

And not only that, the portions are pretty enormous!

We took home leftovers of pretty much everything.

Make sure you order the gazpacho! It’s prepared tableside and so tasty!

Big warning about the Canelones Gratinados con higado de Pato, it’s RICH AF!

Probably one of the richest dishes I’ve ever had.

It’s basically these chicken, pork and duck liver enchiladas covered in béchamel and cheese! Very tasty but maybe share it with 1 or 12 other people.

Even if those other people aren’t even sitting with you.

347 10th Ave
New York, NY 10001 b/t 30th St & 31st St    

https://www.littlespain.com/restaurant/spanish-diner/

 

 

 

 

 

ODA HOUSE – ALPHABET CITY – DINNER

  • July 11, 2019 9:55 pm

Adjaruli
Homemade meruli sulguni cheese baked in yeast dough; served with poached organic egg
$18

Most people are unfamiliar with Georgian cuisine.

Or perhaps Georgia makes them think of peaches or the heat or the town of Macon, GA which was once visited by Oprah Winfrey as it was voted the fattest city in the USA.

But Georgia is a mysterious post-Soviet country nestled between Armenia, Russia and Turkey.

While I’ve never been, after tasting so many delicious dishes, I desperately want to go!

Because of it’s location, Georgian food is like a tasty mashup of Russian, Mediterranean and even a little Asian (the dumplings totally look like Chinese soup dumplings!)

Oda House has a casual, nondescript vibe featuring slightly higher prices than you might want to pay based on the décor.

But trust me, it’s worth it.

We started with two things that Georgian cuisine is “famous” for.

The cheese bread and the dumplings.

You may have seen those enormous eyeball shaped bread bowls before, filled with cheese, butter and eggs. (or you not have, sorry that you’re so sheltered).

Well, at Oda House, they’re expensive ($18) and NECESSARY! So rich and decadent and comforting. You won’t be able to pronounce the name of the type of cheese they use, but I promise it’s not weird.

The Trio of spreads was also overpriced ($17) and they don’t give you any bread to eat it with. In fact, they acted like we were a bit out of line for even asking if it came with bread. I would NOT recommend this (although we did enjoy eating it with bits of leftover cheese bread).

The dumplings are a no brainer, get them.

For $8, you get one cheese (pretty good) one mushroom (very good) and one mashed potato and dill (SO SO SO GOOD!).

We decided to share one entre, so we got the Tsitsila Rachulad (which I have now nicknamed the Phylicia Rashad) which is basically a Cornish game hen with a life altering blackberry, cilantro and garlic sauce.

The dish is presented to you looking like a bloody crime scene with all that crimson sauce and you will never be happier to dust for fingerprints (with your mouth) that sauce is so good.

Also, I’m going to think about a better “bloody crime scene” joke, not sure if that one really landed.

Stay tuned!

Oh! Our waitress let us try her odd but slightly addicting and shockingly green Georgian Tarragon soda (see pic below),

 

 

76 Ave B
New York, NY 10009 Alphabet City, East Village

(212) 353-3838

http://odahouse.com

Khinkali with cheese/ mushrooms/ potatoes (vegan)
$8

Pkhali Trio (gluten free, vegan)
Eggplant, spinach, leek with ground walnuts, fresh herbs & Georgian spices;garnished with pomegranate seeds
$17

Tsitsila Rachulad (gluten free)
Organic grass-fed Cornish hen oven roasted, served with blackberry, cilantro & garlic sauce and Georgian bread
$24

KENKA – EAST VILLAGE – DINNER

  • July 11, 2019 8:54 pm

OK.

I only came to Kenka because it was featured on Broad City.

Also, I love Broad City.

Also, this was last year.

Also, I do not remember the food.

Also, I DO remember it was fun! (Hence, why 90% of the photos are blurry central).

 

25 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003 b/t Cooper Sq & Astor Pl
East Village

(212) 254-6363

http://kenkanewyork.mybistro.online/

 

JUNGLE BIRD – CHELSEA – DRINKS

  • May 26, 2019 5:11 pm

Jungle Bird is a new cocktail bar that Chelsea desperately needed.

We don’t get a lot of fun drinkeries around these parts! With a few exceptions, have to choose between boring uninspired restaurants or dive bars.

While not Tiki, this tropical themed bar is lively (aka, loud for us oldies) and serves some super tasty semi-tiki drinks.

Such as their signature Jungle Bird, pictured above. It’s not too sweet and not too sour and hopefully you’ll have not too many (they also come in a punch bowl!)

Don’t forget snacks!

The rice balls were incredible and even though the Banh Mi’s baguette was a bit lacking, the flavors were spot on.

Jungle Bird is a perfect place for a drink/snack before starting your evening but seeing as the vibe is so friendly and casual, I wouldn’t fault you if you stayed the entire night!

http://Www.junglebirdnyc.com

 

TAK ROOM – HUDSON YARDS – DINNER

  • May 2, 2019 7:26 pm

Just like all Thomas Keller restaurants, this place looks and feels….”special”.

(The reason for those quotes = none.)

There’s an anticipation in the air, like the coming of spring or the first few minutes of a new episode of “Game of Thrones”.

Of course, that anticipation often manifests itself in the form of free food!

I don’t care what you give me, if it’s free. Found it lurking in the back of the fridge? Fine!

In this case, it was breadsticks and crudité at the beginning and then a much appreciated bucket of caramel corn at the end.

Spoiler Alert, the bucket was half filled with tissue!

If you’re like me, upon discovery of this, you are going to fly into an instant rage until you recall that you never ordered it in the first place.

But all this free grub comes at a cost.

This shit’s expensive.

Now, I eat out a lot. I know how much nice restaurants usually overcharge.

Tak Room, however, takes it up a notch.

The apps are maybe a few bucks more than comparable spots but those entrees tack on a hefty $20 more than they should.

The Lamb Chops are $75.

The Filet Mignon is $85.

But the deviled eggs are only $3 each!! Whaa?…..

But was it worth it, you ask??

Yes! Second best steak I’ve ever had.

But only for a special occasion. Which is really the only reason people should go to a Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon) restaurant.

In conclusion, nothing I’m telling you is news.

Kindly disregard everything I’ve just said.

20 Hudson Yards
Fl 5
New York, NY 10001 Chelsea, Midtown West