Monthly Archives: November 2012

Cooking Like a Man, Eating Like a Girl

There are few things in life as #winning as cooking your own food. That’s right, we’re in the 21st century and if you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen! (translation: don’t rent an apartment with a stove if you don’t learn how to use it)

Step 1: Carbs
Because we’re Asian, our meals are based on some sort of carbs. But white rice is boring. Flied lice Fried rice is dirty. The best is noodles, but you have to dress it up or you can just go to CVS for cup ramen. So below we have used chicken breast to make the broth and added some veggies for additional flavor.

chinese thick noodles with chicken breast, cabbage, mushrooms

Step 2: Protein
If some protein is good, more protein is better. And because our Asian parents told us that fish made us smarter, we have to go with some minimalist fish filet here. Don’t go 5-star restaurant and get crazy with flavor – we actually like the taste of fresh, cooked, fish so don’t cook more than a few minutes and go easy on the seasoning. Do go creative though and find something other than salmon or tuna. Invest in a sharp knife and you can impress with some cleaning and fileting skills. From the everything-is-a-test-department: if you are squeamish over some blood & guts, how can you handle diapers & throw up?

flounder filet pieces with pepper and scallions and garlic seasoning

Step 3: Veggies
No, salad doesn’t count. Grocery stores call it bok choy, but we call it qing cai and what better way to describe it – so fresh and…green. Anyways, this is your chance to utilize your versatility because the perfect Asian vegetable dish requires a bit of stir fry, a bit of water, and a bit of closed-lid steaming to achieve perfection…

qing cai and mini shiitake mushrooms

Step 4: Dessert
Let’s be honest here: steps 1-3 was for the man inside of you, step 4 is how you nurture that food baby growing inside of you. The trick for great pie: fabulous crust. Then, be generous with the good stuff (fruit, whipped cream, cream cheese, calories) and there’s no way you can go wrong.

strawberry cream cheese pie

Step 5: The Afterparty
Assuming you “washed the dishes” correctly, why not continue the festivities out and about? Because a “nightcap” is only for 50-year-old divorcees in bad rom-coms. Remember there’s no shame in ordering a girly drink – no one wants to share your bitter-tasting manhattan….

mango soju with fruit platter in ktown

Yippee Ki Yay Momofuku

You know what the difference between Chinese food and Western food is? Chinese people keep it simple. You can cook most dishes with either a pan or a pot – forget grill, fry, broil, steam….just stir-fry it or throw a bunch of deliciousness into boiling water. Forget 20 different types of sauces – a typical Chinese cabinet has soy sauce, hot sauce, salt, sugar and maybe some sesame oil and that’s it. Why do you think chopsticks were invented…Asians can eat every item on the menu with two sticks (yes, even soup).

So, naturally, it makes sense that Western restaurants invented this term “Asian Fusion” to over-complicate things and charge more money. But I’m sucker for anytime an Asian dude does something cool in “White America” (see Lin, Jeremy), so I had to go see what this lucky peach was all about…

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Dessert – before. (That’s right, I’m leading off with the dessert first because it was the best)

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Dessert – after.

Best part of dinner was the delivery service from Momofuku Milk Bar. Yes, the purveyor of awesome pies and cookies (with awesomer names) hand delivers straight to your table. In our case, we sampled the Crack Pie (to die for), Candy Bar Pie (Three words: Giant. Reese’s. PeanutButterCup.), and Compost Cookie.

WP_000682Main course – pork belly, really torn on this. On one foot, it was absolutely delicious. On the other foot, my mom can make it all day err day and this whole thing was ~70 dollars for 3 people if I remember correctly.

Beverages – they have a good selection of sake, not overpriced by NYC restaurant standards and knowledgeable waitresses (since this is a classy restaurant). The glasses in this picture contain unfiltered sake – which is supposed to be cloudy and fruity/sweeter, except ours was clear like water and not particularly sweet. Hmmm.

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Appetizer – I wanted an app that was going to be filling and has some meat in it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have our proverbial cake and eat it too (for now) and so ended with this broccoli thing that was surprisingly good.

Address: 15 West 56th Street, New York, NY
Price: ~$40 / person
Wait / Reservations: Not too bad for normal sit down, but special advance notice is required for the large format (chicken is $175 for 4 to 8 guests, lamb is $325 for 6 to 10 guests) – potentially great btw but I don’t have the guts to try

Honesty, I could probably write several hundred more words about this, but I’ll leave it off by saying that if it weren’t for the great company and having ate a late lunch, I would’ve been severely disappointed (mostly because of the admittedly high expectations.) Sorry mother peach, the hype has rendered you more like J-Lin in Houston than Linsanity in NYC.

Whiskey Village

I’ma let you finish but uh… Jose Garces is KILLING it right now. I’ve been to 4 out of the 7 Garces Group restaurants in Philadelphia (Amada, Distrito, Chifa, and now Whiskey Village) and every single one has managed to impress me. Whiskey Village’s Pulled Pork Sammy is amazing and so is the Village Burger. Duck Fat French Fries are good too, make sure to get the cheese sauce as well. As the name suggests, they are known for their whiskey – over 100 selections to choose from. I got the RedBreast on the rocks and would recommend it to anyone. The one thing I would be aware of is that the place is extremely small and the wait is really long (~2 hours on weekends) so make sure to go early (at like 5pm) on weekdays if you don’t want any wait time. Final verdict: omnomnomnomnom.

Address: 118 South 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA
Price: ~$7 appetizers, $13 entrees, $15-50 whiskey
Hours: Daily: 11:30am ~ Midnight


Redbreast Irish Whiskey

Duck Fat Fries

Pulled Pork Sammy

Rando Deli – Drunk Food

What do you do when you’re in the office at 4am, with a couple more hours left to go…but you REALLY want pizza?

You order drunk food off Seamless of course. (And scrounge the pantry like a homeless Chinese boy on the subway). For those of you uninitiated, Seamless is like dating an average looking nymphomaniac…sounds awesome in theory, but the overload of mediocrity not only gets tiring after a while but destroys your taste for anything other than amazing later. Case in point, because I can order $30 off 500 restaurants 5 times a week and unlimited amounts on weekends, I can’t eat sushi or pad thai anymore – eating a ton of them in takeout boxes has left me unimpressed with regular variations at sit-down restaurants. And this is why they hate bankers. But I try donate reasonably untouched leftovers to actually homeless Chinese boys on the subway.

Anyways, so I picked one of the few places still open and got some really healthy food. Not. Hmmm….grease. Advice: next time go for the breakfast food. At least you can trick yourself into thinking you went to sleep and this is actually the morning.

Address: Mah computer.
Price: Zero. Thank you deal code 69AMD.
Hours: 6pm to 5am (yes I have now tested the upper limit of that).
Wait / Reservations: Too long for that time of the night.

The best decision I made all week was asking the marketers soliciting our business to bring BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiched to our meeting. Ate this with some mac + cheese and mashed potatoes + gravy while waiting for food to arrive. (yes there is free food after college)

“Pistachio baklava + macaroons.” Utterly more disappointing than going to a strip club and finding it’s dudes on stage. Let’s just move on.

BBQ chicken + mushrooms pizza and everything veggies pizza – not bad, until I bit into a mouthful of aluminum foil

how can you go wrong with wings? this was half-way decent actually, super spicyness made it best part of “dinner”

Green Eggs Cafe

THIS PLACE IS AWESOME. The portion sizes are HUGE. I had an urge to consume a copious amount of sugar today and so I ordered both the Red Velvet Pancakes as well as the Creme Brulee French Toast. It was fantastic until about 5 minutes in where I just hit a wall. The sugar hit me immediately and it was painful to eat the rest. I finished the creme brulee and got down to about 4 bites left on the pancakes before I threw in the towel. Nevertheless, easily the best breakfast/brunch place I’ve been to in Philadelphia. The best part about the pancakes was the vanilla ice cream anglaise on top. I love Green Eggs and Ham  Cafe!

Address: 212 S. 13th St., 1306 Dickinson Street, 719 North 2nd Street. They have 3 locations. The 13th St. location is most convenient for Penn students.
Price: Good. $12 for a huge portions.
Hours: 8am-4pm Daily. Lines are long so be ready for a ~45 minute wait.


Kids Menu Red Velvet Pancakes

Creme Brulee French Toast

And here it is – the Holy Grail – the Red Velvet Pancakes

One amazing meal

 

Vietnam Cafe

Finally ventured out to Baltimore Avenue today to try out this Vietnamese restaurant that I saw on Yelp the other day. This ‘cafe’ is actually a pretty large restaurant and good for both casual dates and large groups. Portions for the pho is medium sized but the entrees are rather large. I got the Pho Sate which is a pho with a thicker broth and the Shrimp Sate which was pretty delicious. Maybe it was because I didn’t order anything special but I didn’t feel very mind-blown when I walked out of the restaurant. Nevertheless, overall I think it’s still a really good choice if you’re in that area or you’re craving noodles. Four out of five stars!

Address: 816 South 47th Street,  Philadelphia, PA
Price: Pretty cheap. $8 for pho, $13-15 for entrees
Hours: Daily: 11:30am-9pm


Pho Sate
Shrimp Sate
One More

Kilimandjaro

This was the first time that I tried African food and this place definitely did not disappoint. I guess you can say African food is similar to Middle Eastern and South Asian food in that the emphasis is placed on spices and seasonings of the actual foods, unlike American or Chinese food where the emphasis is placed more on the sauces that go on top. The sweet plantains were to die for, the lamb chops were seasoned extremely well but the meat itself was tough and not very good (but that’s not the restaurants fault), but the best thing I got was definitely the fried rice. Best fried rice I’ve ever had in my life. The jasmine rice was marinated with various different spices and cooked for 4-6 hours, according to the chef. Excellent flavoring and even has a small kick of spiciness at the end. 2 thumbs up for Kilimandjaro!

Address: 4317 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA
Price: Relatively cheap. $10-15 for lunch and dinner.
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm

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Sweet PlantainsImage
Brown Fried Rice – The best I’ve ever hadImage
Dibi Lamb Chops – Great seasoning, bad meatImage
The plantains deserve one more picture

Deitsch Eck

I’m going to keep this post short. After a long day of hiking in the Appalachians, we decided to wrap it up with a nice meal at a local restaurant. This Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant is no stranger to making delicious food. It was the first time I tried Birch Beer. It’s like root beer except infinitely better and more flavorful. Also their apple crumble with caramel and butter pecan ice cream on top was absolutely godlike. The perfect blend of hot and cold from the warm apple pie and the cold ice cream hits you like an orgy in the mouth.

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Smile Cafe

Easily the best Thai restaurant in Philadelphia, and trust me I’ve tried a ton. Unlike the past couple posts, this place isn’t a hole in the wall, so it’s a pretty good place for dates and figs. The lunch special is a really good bargain, they give you 2 choices of either soup, spring roll, dumplings, or salad as well as one entree all for $7.95. Their dumplings are the BEST I’ve ever had. They are SO GOOD and there’s just no competition. So juicy and moist and wet…Next time I’m literally only going to order their dumplings. I also got their red curry chicken and it was absolutely phenomenal. They had a limited choice of desserts but I got their poached pear with vanilla bean ice cream, though it was only average. If you’re craving Thai food, this is easily the best choice. Just make sure to get there a bit early or make reservations as the place is small and it can get full pretty fast.

Address: 105 South 22nd St. Philadelphia, PA
Price: Not bad. $8-10 for lunch, $15-20 for dinner.
Hours: Mon-Friday: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-9pm, Sat: 5pm-10pm, Sunday Closed

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Dumplings – These are the BEST. It has no peers.ImageChicken Lemongrass SoupImageChicken Red Curry – Make sure to ask for spicy as it enhances the flavor significantly.ImageImagePoached Pears with Vanilla Bean Ice CreamImage

Sansom Kabob House

I had a sudden urge to eat kabob today and thus my journey began to find a restaurant that would satisfy my cravings. I stumbled upon this hole in the wall restaurant on Yelp and decided to give it a shot.

The shop looks like crap from the outside but it is extremely clean and presentable on the inside. As soon as you step into the restaurant, you are enveloped in an aroma of spices and herbs, but it’s not overwhelming to the point where you can’t breathe.

The chicken kabob was insanely juicy and flavorful. All for $8.50, you get a salad, bread, chicken, and brown rice. The Afghani bread was amazing, and this is coming from someone who hates bread. My only disappointment was that they only gave you 4 relatively small pieces of chicken, but otherwise the portion sizes are very large.

Address: 1526 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA
Price: Pretty cheap. $8-10 for lunch, $12-15 for dinner.
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am – 9:30pm, Sat 1pm – 10pm
Accepts Credit Cards

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Afghani BreadImage
Pickled VegetablesImage
Chicken Kabob
Baklava – This one was okay. Didn’t really have the “WOW” factor though.