Food, New York

Aburiya Japanese Izakya

No matter where I go, I have to have my japanese food fix. That’s why I decided to check out Aburiya – A japanese owned Izakya located on the upper east side. It was more of a restaurant than Izakya but served all kinds of tapas and robatas (japanese style bbq). The reason I don’t consider this place a true “izakya” is because and Izakya is a drinking establishment that serves small plates and tapas to accompany the drinks but this place is more food focused and not as rowdy. In other words, you have servers who take your order and don’t scream your order to the chef – it was all very proper. As I walked in, the hosted with a blue tooth head set abruptly asks me if I made a reservation. I told her I hadn’t and she looks apologetic and tells me it may be a bit of a wait and starts talking on her blue tooth head set. After 2 minutes, she comes back and brings me to a table. The atmosphere is of a typical izakya/restaurant style – a very wooden interior with wooden table booths separated by curtains.

** Please excuse the quality of photos (taken with the iPhone 4s), I left my camera at the hotel that day!

Food: 4/5 – Authentic with japanese chefs.
Atmosphere: 3/5 – Clean but nothing special.

Standard
Food, New York

Jean-Gorges: Perfect lunch-date location

So for my first lunch in New York, I made reservations to Jean-Gorges. It was surprisingly easy seeing as though it was so hard to make reservations at many other restaurants in town. They had a $38.00 lunch menu that included your choice of 2 courses and a complimentary dessert. I loved the fact that the menu had so many options! If you wanted to choose an extra course, you could add $19.00. For the portions (which was the same as their dinner portions), the price was well worth it!

After we got seated, we were presented with a selection of bread. The atmosphere was very spacious and minimalistic. I was surrounded by shades of white, grey and silver, they even had a silver Fiji water holder that was a perfect fit for the bottle.

Afterwards, they served their summer Amuse Bouche: Watercress sorbet with almonds & fresh cream. Fluke sashimi, cured goat cheese with raspberry

What I recommend:

  • Parsnip soup with coconut lime and mint: 5/5 
  • Goat Cheese Gnocchi, caramelized baby artichokes: 5/5
  • Sea Scallop Caparccio 5/5

Service: 5/5

  • Everyone was genuinely polite and courteous. Great service from beginning to end. They even escorted me to the bathroom.

Ambience: 5/5

  • Comfortable chairs, big windows with a lot of natural lights.

Verdict: Definitely would come back for lunch!

 

Jean-Georges on Urbanspoon

Standard
Food

Day 1: NJ, not impressed

After 2 gravols and a 5 hour flight full of old, white jersey folk, I finally landed in New Jersey. After picking up the two suit cases I walked toward the taxi sign and an African(not African-American) man twice my size asked if I was looking for a taxi. I told him I was and he grabbed one of my suitcases and asked me to follow him, I asked him where we were going because the taxi sign was the opposite way, he then said that his taxi was parked in the parking lot down stairs and since it’s so competitive, he waited for customers inside. Since he had one of my suit cases and was walking really quickly I couldn’t react quickly enough so I followed him for a little bit longer to see if there was indeed a taxi. So he brings me downstairs, through an empty parking lot and toward an outdoor parking lot full of cars. We reach a van without a licence plate and I think something horrible is about to happen to me. As he gets to the vehicle, I grab my suit case and tell him that I forgot I had another suit case I have to pick up and walk away as fast as I could, drenched in sweat (35 degrees celsius humidity & 2 large suitcases). If he really wanted to kill me he could have done it then so I calmed myself down a little bit. So the airport is basically empty and I am freaking out because my possible killer was coming up and probably waiting for me. Even though this all sounds so sketch, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t out to get me because he came up to me and said “it’s okay, I’m going to go” and left… I finally get a cab outside which by the way cost $90.00 to get to Manhattan mid town East. So I explained my situation to the taxi driver and he told me they called the people who wait inside the airport for customers Hustlers.

I was so relieved when I get to the Sofitel where tourists were safe and welcomed.

The location of the hotel was excellent. 44th street was relatively quiet and it was right next to 5th Ave.

 

Standard
Food, Vancouver

Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge

Once again, another great night and dinner at Hidden Tasting Lounge – This time it was for my 23rd Birthday! They even gave me a complimentary glass of champagne! Great service and a comfortable and unpretentious atmosphere for a hotel lobby/restaurant. I used to love their Brie grilled cheese sandwiches but I’m so sad that they had to change the bread from toasted white bread to toasted Rye bread…

What I ordered:

  • Scallop Mac n’ Cheese 4.5/5

Creamy Mac n cheese with a side of seared scallops.

  • Hidden Burger 4/5

The meat was juicy and not over cooked.

  • Lava cake 5/5

The cake had a brownie texture which added to the richness of the lava chocolate spilling out.

What my friend’s ordered:

  • Lobster poutine
  • Curry and Nan
  • Creme Brulee
  • Chocolate Trio

Service 4/5: Great service, friendly staff. The only thing was that we had a group of 10 people and we had to wait 45-50 minutes for our food to come because they brought all our food out at the same time.

Ambiance 5/5: Comfortable and unpretentious.

 

Hidden Tasting Bar and Social Lounge on Urbanspoon

Standard
Food, Vancouver

Rodney’s Oyster House

I always have a fun time eating at Rodneys. What’s not to love? Fresh oysters, rowdy and obnoxious but charming male waiters and a seafood menu to die for. Their oysters are pricy but you wouldn’t expect any less in Yaletown. That’s why I love going between 3-5pm for their “low tide” Happy Hour menu ($1.25 oysters and other deals). I always bring out-of-towners here who want to try some good West Coast sea food. Continue reading

Standard
Food, Japanese food, Vancouver

Toshi Sushi

Toshi has been famous for their quality sushi and competitive prices for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember, it’s always been small, crowded and not the most comfortable. That is why you should always expect a line up and if you’re desperate enough, to share a table with strangers. I have definitely shared a table with complete strangers just so I could satisfy my nigiri sushi cravings and paying a fraction of the price I would spend at other famous sushi bars like Ajisai (Kerrisdale) or Sushi Hachi (Richmond, BC).

I have high expectations for my nigiri sushis because I’ve had so much sushi in Vancouver the good ones definitely stand out. There are 4 things that I look for in a nigiri sushi:

  1. Freshness of sashimi - the fish has to taste sweet and fresh, not old and stale.
  2. Ratio of fish to rice – there should be more fish than rice but not too much fish that you can’t eat it in one bite. I hate when there is too much rice in sushi!
  3. Is there a small bit of wasabi under the fish? – This is the way you’re supposed to have nigiri sushi, not with soya sauce but with a bit of wasabi underneath the fish so you can still taste the flavours of the fish.
  4. If there is seaweed, is it soft and moist or fresh and crisp

What I ordered:

Chef’s daily selection of nigiri sushis (10 piece) 5/5

  • ~$12.50
  • This special consists of the freshest fish and seafood of the day. I absolutely love the squid nigiri because the shiso leaf and the lemon juice perfectly compliments each other and I usually don’t like having a full piece of squid sashimi! Also, I always order this one for myself because I get to have a bit of everything on the menu for $12.50!

Box pressed sushi 3.5/5

  • I heard this “box pressed sushi” was an original creation by the chef because a food blogger had asked him to create something from scratch and this was the product: Pressed sushi with scallop, salmon, thin slice of lemon and avocado in the middle. It tasted refreshing but I thought the texture of the salmon and the scallop was too soft and a little mushy. Also, I think it would taste better with less rice as the ratio is a little off. But that’s just my preference.

Egg plant grilled with sweet miso 4/5

  • If you’re a fan of egg plant then you will love this dish. It’s simple and deliciously sweet after grilling the egg plant with miso it tastes somewhat caramelized. You just spoon out the mushy guts and leave the skin.

Uni Sushi 4/5

  • The uni was Fresh, the seaweed wasn’t stale. The reason I didn’t give it 5/5 was because I’ve had sweeter and better tasting uni. But none-the-less, it was pretty good!

Shrimp Suno Muno (Cold rice noodle in vinegar dressing) 5/5

  • Their Suno Muno is excellent! The noodles are perfect texture (not hard and stale), the cucumbers are freshly cut and the shrimps are fresh tasting and marinated in lemon.

Service 3/5

  • It’s so busy that I appreciate the efficiency and attentiveness to refill my tea. But you don’t walk into this place thinking that you’re going to receive great service but the servers are none the less polite and the service is quick.

Consistency of food standards 3/5

  • I’ve been here several times and I have to save it’s not the same level of standards every time. However it is understandable because you get what you pay.

Verdict: Have been there several times and will definitely go back.
Toshi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Standard