Dong Chun Hong – Korean Chinese Fusion in Flatiron

As a matter of speaking, this post is along the lines of decompressing after a busy week of sorts and also clearing out some old pictures that needed to be organized. It has taken me several visits to write about Dong Chun Hong, because for starters it took me some time to learn the name. However, every visit probably was an excuse, to go back to the place for more. I was introduced to this place by my friend Cheng, who has actually been great about introducing me to some places off the beaten path. This one depending on your point of reference, might just be an extrension of another Korean Fusion Place, meandering along the fringes of Koreatown.

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An interesting collection of dishes, the menu has an interesting assortment of Dim Sum dishes, and I can tell you that I have happily worked my way through an assortment of fried shrimp balls, seafood dumplings, vegetable dumplings and crispy shrimp rolls to tell you that the Dim Sum is pretty good.

 

 

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An interesting feature called the Spicy Dumplings, offer a heavy but well fried dumpling with a flavorful and light tasting filling. In fact, the Siu Mai was a little mediocre, possible because it was not an often ordered dish, other wise the rest of the fair was pretty good in this department.

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Given, the multitude of noodle and rice dishes, I have not really ventured beyond their basics menu. There  jjajangmyun (spicy black bean noodles) has convinced me this dish is a winner. I have also tried their spicy seafood rice, which essentially is a fried rice with kimchi. Their ramen style noodles have more than enough for two. All things considered, their wait staff speak good English and offer service with a smile. The large menu certainly ensures that you will not get bored every time you are back. Take it from me, you has been there literally a countless number of times, which given the number of lunchtime options in the city speaks volumes for the place.

Dong Chun Hong

312 5th Ave
(between 31st St & 32nd St)
New York, NY 10001

http://www.dongchunhongnyc.com/

 
Dong Chun Hong on Urbanspoon

 

Bellota at 42 in White Plains

 

Peppers at 42I have to confess, that there are many dimensions and moods to dining in a restaurant, the company, people, and sometimes the day of the week. The first time I tried Bellota at  42, it looks like almost everything, other that company did not seem right. Despite reserverations we had to wait, and the noisy bar hardly made for a good segway into the special meal that we were looking forward to.

 Well, this time around we went there on a much quieter evening with the Small Bites team, including of course Liz.

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It was for starters an amazing experience watching the sun set against the back drop of the “hurry home” cars on a fairly cold night. The cocktails paired with what seemed to be a bottomless selection of tapas was well worth it. I liked the quieter evening and loved the company of fellow bloggers since I did not have to worry about taking pictures. This time round the food seemed really good. I photographed some, since there really was too much action going on to get all the dishes

 

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Chickpeas are a huge favorite and I loved what the chef did with them. We were lucky that we had the picky vegan with us, so the chef made an extra effort to keep her happy in turn all the rest of us could enjoy the silky hummus and there amazing chickpeas that I am dying to try to make at home.

Belota

One of the items that I loved was a crisp chicken sandwich right along sided the lovely ham, that was the namesake Belotta variety.

Potato Bravas

The Potato Bravas was the one item that still did not feel as good as some of the renditions I have had certainly not like the variety in Spain. But I certainly feel this restaurant has redeemed itself in my mind. I shall just stick to going there early on weeknights.

 

 
Bellota at 42 on Urbanspoon

Taj Palace – White Plains, NY

  I have been on a quest for the past several years to find an Indian restaurant that is less that fifteen minutes away from home.  It also needs to be one that I can go to with the brood when I am tired, without feeling that I am depriving the family of home-cooked comfort.

Of course, as I tell my students while my wish list sounds simple, it is a tall order of sorts.

For the most part because I am looking for a blend of homestyle simple dishes along with some restaurant staples. I want innovation balanced with authenticity. I also need them to taste like they were made from the scratch just for us, I know, I know…

The good thing is that my quest keeps me searching and trying out new places all the time. We had visited Taj  in White Plains, shortly after reading the times review. It brought us to the restaurant on a Sunday, to experiment with their buffet and some items off their menu.

Now, if you are trying an Indian restaurant for the first time the weekend buffet is not a bad place to start. It is a well loved standard that competes with other brunches and usually gives you a good lay of the land.

The set-up was tastefully done, with bright earth tones that were cheery without being garish. The staff were pleasant and helpful and this service was even and attentive.

Sure enough, the buffet had the usual suspects  – an assortment of appetisers, rice and curries. My son loves dosas (rice and lentil crepes from Southern India), these were really substantial and made crisp and done just right. The coconut chutney it came with was creamy and fresh tasting. The dosa also traditionally is accompanied by a spicy lentil stew which was a little too plain for my preference. Since the kids skip this anyway, they were unaffected.

One of the most amazing features of their spread was their samosas. These vegetables turnovers were crisp flaky and did taste like they were done from the scratch. I think these delectable turnovers will make me return to this restaurant again and again.

The other highlight was the regional diversity on the menu, although not all the dishes were highs, some lacked the nuances of flavor and seemed a little lackluster. Overall, I would not be as excited about the place as the times was, but I think it certainly has opened up possibilities for Indian food in the area. While this restaurant does fall into the under fifteen minute distance, and will be one we shall get back to, I think my quest still continues….

 Taj Palace

95 South Broadway

White Plains,  NY 10601

Taj Palace on Urbanspoon

The Bakery and Bunnery and the West

Somewhere towards the end of our summer trip, to Yellowstone we stopped and spent a day in Jackson Hole, WY. I have to confess, some trips are just meant to be perfect. As with all trips, I end up sorting and arranging pictures well into the next one, like I am sitting now going through all these wonderful experiences and memories and right after New Year, I felt that I needed to write about this interesting meal that is well worth journaling. I realize we are done with one more vacation, but if you do read this blog, you know the restaurant reviews are more about good food memories that I want to share in between recipes irrespective of time.

So, just as we loved the Tetons and the Rockies taking time to pause in awe at their wonderfully majestic scenery, the town turned out to be a beautifully pleasant ending point to our journey.

With quaint little alleys and galleys, we spent about an hour in the evening meandering around taking in the very different sights and sounds of this Western Oasis.

Our dinner stop was a place that I was very sure we could not go wrong with, it was the Bakery and Bunnery Restaurant, know for, well its cakes and bakes. Just as a testimony to good advertising, it is worth mentioning that I really did not know much about the place, but their postcard at the hotel persuaded me that the place was probably worth a stop, and all things considered it definitely was.

We sat outdoors in the charming trellised outdoors, soaking in the last of the beautiful setting sun. The menu was an interesting collection of sandwiches and breakfast items that could comfortably carry you well into the end of the day, just like it did for us – Soups, Large and well seasoned Sandwiches and if you love eggs, you will be in heaven.

We tried a bunch of this and that, kids had eggs with home-fries, actually Aadi had their eggs benedict and liked it. Personally speaking, it was good but not necessarily great! Worked for the seven year old though. Dad had a sandwich, bread baked on premises. I had the chicken quesadilla, the serving sizes were very generous. Kids loved their fresh squeezed orange juice. We finished off with great chocolate cake and pie. My only disappointment was the Starbucks sign. I am not a fan of chains and wince when I see an independent establishment pandering to one. Hey, I prefer the dying breed of independant bookstores to Barnes and Nobles as well. Back to the restaurant, do pay it a visit if you live or are visiting that neck of the woods.

The Bakery and Bunnery

130 North Cache

Jackson Hole,  WY 83001

307-733-5474

 

  
The Bunnery Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Benjamin Steak House – A Review

I stepped into Monday, with a sense of tired contentment. It was a good warm holiday, with a houseful of children, my brother, cousin and some friends. As with everything else in life, it is the simple pleasures in life that matter.

The first time that I recieved my invite to a media event for Benjamin Steak house, I passed it over most because I am not a huge red meat eater, however the second time around possibly because I must have felt I needed nourishment to get through the holidays (joke!), I took a look at the menu and the huge selection of seafood won me over. If you are like me who believes that steakhouses are only for red meat lovers this place will change your mind. Of course, they have great steak, but the fun begins there.

As mentioned, I went to the dinner as a part of an event that was put together by Ruby Kris Media Group and our charming hostess was Kristen Ruby and the attentive staff at the Benjamin Steakhouse. We were started off with this lovely, creamy lobster bisque that was rich and satisfying in just the right proportion.

An assortment of appetizers followed, begining with these thick cut Canadian Bacon slices. They were rich and Anshul and I actually split one, since we knew that the best of the evening was yet to come.

This was followed by mini-crabcakes that were moist but not necesarily outstanding. The two serving sauces that accompanied the crabcakes offered a nice balance of flavors. In fact, this was a nice highlight of the flavors they were nicely nuanced without being overwelming.

These flavors were nicely rounded off with a seasonal salad, made with roasted beets, crunchy walnuts and goat cheese. The sweet and earthy flavors were nicely rounded off with balsamic drenched croutons.

One can count of Anshul, to read the fine print and requested the servers to bring us their seafood platter. If you are a seafood lover like me, I would highly recommend returning just to make an evening of the platter with sparkling wine.

Moving onto the main courses, we of course had the porterhouse steak, and the waiters had a bit of a shock since I passed on them. Anshul, did his share of justice and prounounced that the meat was moist and cooked just right.

I did have their lamb chops, which was perfectly done. I was very surprised to hear that the chef had cooked them with just olive oil and salt, this light combination allowed the well grilled meat to offer the perfect foil for the mint sauce that accompanied the meat.

The fish based main course was a platter of perfectly done salmon and Chillean sea bass. They proudly pronounced that they use wild caught salmon only. A gentle note here is that, Chillean sea bass or the patagonian toothfish is an endangered fish and we should try to consume it with some moderation.

We took a walk to their wine cellar, which was really lovely and they actually have a special table for a wine tasting meal, that can be done on request only and my guess is for special occasions. Another highlight here the vegetables that accompanied the meal were very flavorful, in particular their “Creamless creamed spinach” and the chef has been kind enough the share the recipe. I shall certainly make it up one of these days.

Finally, the sweet ending a platter of the most amazing desserts. To persuade diners to eat dessert after such a wonderful meal takes some very good dessert and this is exactly what they had. I tried some key lime pie with their German style whipped cream and Anshul had their chocolate mouse cake and commented on the light and rich flavors.

Overall, their was a lot of photo action on our table, it is worth mentioning that the place is large enough to not not cramp everyone’s else style. The decor is warm and classic with a touch of contemporary. Their flavors are definitely worth checking out, do not take my word for it, pay them a visit.

Benjamin Steak House

610 W Hartsdale Ave

White Plains, NY
Benjamin Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Vermilion in NYC

Vermillion was on my mind for a long time, I have a mixed relationship with fusion flavors. I like to dabble, mix and match, sometime with gentle touches and sometimes with an assertive touch. I like to check out culinary marriages of different cultures because I feel that this allows me to get an insight into how different people interpret and understand culinary styles and techniques.

It was Anshul’s birthday and I could not think of a better occasion to head over with him to NYC. Actually, what made the case more compelling was the fact that the GPS had dropped and the connection wire had snapped. So, long story made short, I was in the mood for non-driving options. The husband anyway does not make it in to the city very often, so this was a fun thing to do.

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Running Bear Pancake House – West Yellowstone, Montana

One of the highlights of vacations for us (at least, for me and the kids is doing breakfast), sure we do breakfast at home, but most often even on weekends, it is a rushed affair. Also, nothing remotely as elaborate as the breakfast/brunch fare we eat on the road. Among other places we tried this summer visiting Yellowstone National Park was the Running Bear Pancake House. In general, one of the highlights of traveling is always the food, even if it is generally of the unglamorous variety.

The restaurant entrance has bear paw tracks that are guaranteed to thrill most aspriring bear watchers. It took the kids sometime to realize that these were artificial paw prints.

The restaurant offers breakfast and brunch options all through the day, but also has dinner and sandwich selections, for other meal times. Other reviews do warn about serving sizes and I will assure you that they were not exagerating.

As we placed our orders, the kids were kept busy with coloring mats. The coffee, was fragrant and inviting. I will tell you if you have enough cups in the park you will make a mention of it. We all had eggs, and then the interesting highlights, were a non-traditional french toast that was made with zucchini bread. Even the father had to agree that this was good.

I did not want to miss out on the pancakes, so I ordered some buttermilk pancakes that were huge, and I shared them with the kids. They were soft and well leavened. Possibly, the mexican skillet eggs that I ordered were ok, not great. The salsa was out of a jar and there was too much cheese on the eggs. But this is a matter of preference and I am sure some would like it.

Service was good, friendly and efficient. I would highly recomment the place. It is comfort food done right and served with a smile.

Running Bear Pancake House

538 Madison Ave

West Yellowstone, MT 59758

 
Running Bear Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Punjabi Market – All India Sweets and Restaurant

 Diversity was one of the most facinating things about Vancouver BC (when I visited last year) that caught my attention. With the snobbery of someone who lives in the shadow of NYC, I never thought that I would be impressed by diversity, somewhere else. Vancouver, however does it differently. It is a much smaller town and its diverse heritage is pretty much built into its fabric and ambience. The street signs such as this one for Punjabi Market, actually feature the script of the community it represents. You will see similar signs across other neighborhood, such as their vibrant and large Chinatown.

So, visiting Punjabi village we went. I will warn you that if you are expecting something like Jackson Heights, you will be disappointed. This ethnic neighbourhood is significant smaller. It is possibly a distance of about 2 to 3 blocks and has a collection of food markets, clothing stores and restaurants.

It is however filled with a lot of good character and a select number of eateries at least one of which, I can vouch for.

We settled for the restaurant that appeared the busiest called All India Sweets and Restaurant, and yes as the name suggests, they certainly do have a good assortment of Indian sweets. They also keep Indian style tea, available in carafes to enjoy. This is very smart because, if you like your tea and have a sweet tooth like me, chances are you will try some of their wares to pair with the tea. A note on the tea, while it was avaialble for the taking was seriously good, and this I will say is from a tea snob like me. They have an affordble and interesting buffet, but their menu seemed more interesting by far.

They had an authentic assortment of sweets and savories and some of the best tea that they had available in carafes. I think if they were closer we would have stopped there frequently just for tea, dessert and samosas. The later by the way, was flakey, hot and flavorful.

We ordered a bunch of chats, their papri chat was especially good, made with fresh and crisp tasting papris which essentially tasted like home. The dosa which we ordered at the kids insistence what interesting. Well, I say this because while the sambhar tasted nothing like the real deal, the lentils that came with it was very good and flavorful in their own right. Just goes to show, food may not often be authentic but still taste pretty good. The milder coconut chutney tasted more like a yogurt raita howevr met the approval of the younger customers who dunked their dosas into this dip with glee.

The highlight of our meal were their Channa Bhaturas, for which I had high expectations and they did not disappoint. The channa was soft with fresh spice notes, the bhatura was freshly fried with the distinct tang of fermenet dough. All of this was accompnied with red onions spashed with lemon juice lightly dusted with chaat masala. Just heavenly. It is one of the best versions of this dish, I have savored outside of India.

All Indian Sweets and Restaurant

6507 Main St Vancouver, BC V5X 3H1 Neighbourhoods: Sunset, Punjabi Market (604) 327-0891

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
All India Sweets & Restaurant (Main) on Urbanspoon

Day One Grand Teton – Stop at Dornans for Breakfast

 The summer vacation before back to school was much needed and did not disappoint. My husband loves the mountains and has been raving about Yellowstone for almost as long as I have known him. He is also extremely nostalgic about all the travel done during his graduate school days, so I often listen and discount the rave reviews with a pinch of salt. However, my first glance of the Jackson Hole, WY,  landscape straight out the plane window, and I was mystified and awed by the magestic beauty of the Teton mountains.

When we travel, the choice of food destinations is usually left to me, but Anshul did insist on the first stop at Dornans.  This simple down to earth place for our first breakfast set the perfect mood for the trip. The restaurant is a family owned place actually going down several generations with the family is set within the Grand Teton National Park, in a converted chuckwagon. What I loved about the place was its lack of the typical commercialism that you might usually find with a place like this. I know, what can I say, as a jaded New Yorker, I find this surprising. It presented itself simply, without any fuss or frills.

The menu had the usual breakfast trappings with the food being cooked right in front of you. We picked good hearty menu options, in fact, ended up overeating.

All the options for eggs, juice, sausage and of course the pancakes did not disappoint. If you like your coffee flavorful but not too strong, you will love their self service options for coffee. With a sense of wistfullness, I had to agree that if this was anywhere close to work, chances are I would be sipping coffee the whole day enjoying the pristine scenery, which is really what makes this a must visit stop. The restaurant is located against a backdrop of the Teton’s with the Snake River gently wandering past in a clear and unhurried manner.

Even as we were eating, we saw a large moose run past, thrilling the kids to no end. I have to confess, I was so startled, I did not have a chance to even get my act together to take pictures of the animal. Yes, it is this perfect scenary that just cannot be customized. If you are in the area, I highly recommend this stop to get a great start into easing into the stunning western landscape and hearty honest to goodness food.

The next few days were just a feast for this nature lover. I hope you shall listen and share my amazement at the beauty of the western landscape.
Dornan's Chuckwagon on Urbanspoon

Asellina for Restaurant Week Summer NYC

Last week was the end of Restaurant week in the city, for various reasons I have never been able to take advantage of this, it is either the wrong week, wrong neighborhood,  wrong whatever, just not been right. I have lately managed to be the model person and have been bringing my own lunch, healthier, tastier (ahem) and certainly cheaper, even the bodegas that I like to frequent cannot really beat free. BTW, I have actually lost a couple of pounds, not that I am proclaiming my cooking to be the next diet fad, it really becomes more along the lines of portion control.

But, anyhow, but now I am also into Friday celebration meals, after all once a week, can be a splurge kind of lunch.

So, the more upscale with restaurant week all pointed to Aselina. We do not do too much Italian food (my fault!), it is hard for me to pass up on all the various ethnic options and settle for something that we can find so much more easily in Westchester. I have tried, Sri Lankan, Persian, Thai (well, I think that you get the drift) all within a stone throw away. But, today Aselina was calling us and for mighty good reason.

As soon as we began crossing the blocks, the rain came down, pouring, hard and soaking. Nonetheless, we braved it, Ken being a gentleman and me being crazy, rain loving me. We arrived at the restaurant looking like wet rats, despite feeling cold for the first few minutes, we shook out pretty well, thank you drip and dry. We stuck nicely to the pre-fixes offered to us by the restaurant week menu.

 We started with a pre-fix seafood salad, compact, tasty and flavorful. What was nice about the place was their well-proportioned serving sizes, adequate but not too large. The main courses offered three choices, a mint flavored ravioli, well more like a mint enhanced red sauce, I had a pretty amazing pasta dish with sausage and spinach. This in fact, will be the inspiration, make that loose inspiration for tomorrow’s dinner.

We finished off with dessert, a chocolate cake and melon panna cotta. Well worth the rainy walk.

By the time we headed out, the rain had cleared leaving the streets washed and relatively fresh. It was nice to walk across the five blocks feeling well sated. We shall probably be back, maybe the next season or for a celebration when the mood hits. If you want to check it out, here is the lowdown.

Aselina

420 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10021

 

 

 

 

Asellina on Urbanspoon

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