Restaurant Review: Cafe K

May 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes you stumble across the great places by accident. Yesterday a few friends and I were visiting New York. We were in the Rockefeller Center area, getting tickets for a show, and it started raining pretty heavily. We looked for the nearest cafe or restaurant to duck out of the dreary weather and get some lunch.

We came across Cafe K, a little hole-in-the-wall on East 48th Street. The restaurant is narrow but deep, and the front was taken up by a large counter space so we weren’t sure if this was counter or table service. However, we were quickly taken to the back to a cozy dining area.

Image

The menu was varied, with options from sushi and fish to pasta and sandwiches. I decided upon the avocado sandwich on a whole wheat baguette and a small coffee with skim milk. The coffee came in an adorable cup with a spoon. At $1.50, it was affordable, yet weak and rather lukewarm.

Image

The avocado sandwich, on the other hand, was delicious. A generous amount of ripe avocado was layered upon a crusty, hearty baguette, complete with tomatoes, lettuce, and onions. The bread-to-filling ratio was perfect, and the sandwich was pressed, giving the bread a slight crunch. With a bit of salt and pepper, the sandwich made for a satisfying lunch.

The portion size was generous but not absurd, and at $7.50, the price was quite reasonable, especially in the bustling Midtown location. Overall the service was fast and friendly, and there wasn’t too much of a crowd on a weekday lunch hour. If I have the opportunity to come back I would like to try out the sushi. I was hesitant at first to order sushi in a non-sushi place, but the table next to ours ordered some rolls which looked delicious.

Restaurant Review: New Haven Meatball House

April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve written here! Just haven’t been eating out too much this year – but this past Tuesday I ventured with two friends to the New Haven Meatball House, somewhere I’ve been meaning to go to this whole year. The establishment is located on the corner of Park and Chapel, a bit far from my edge of the campus but I decided to make the trek.

The concept is pretty cool – you choose between 4 varieties of meatballs (chicken, beef, pork, and vegetarian), and then you choose a base to put them on (slider, potatoes, salad, etc). Lastly, you pick a sauce. When I looked up the menu online, it seemed casual, so I was expecting a Chipotle or Panera type environment.

I was pleasantly surprised – the atmosphere felt very fancy and upscale, and a bar dominated one entire length of the space. The lighting was dim with candles on every table, and the plushy booths were very cozy. The restaurant itself is small, so the overall feel was very intimate. The service was also very friendly and fast.

I ordered the beef meatballs with tomato sauce with the house salad ($8), and was surprised when the meatballs came on the side instead of topping the salad. The two meatballs were a fairly hefty size, and the meat was tender and flavorful. I thought the beef went well with the tomato sauce. The house salad was fresh but fairly standard.

20130423_180827

The experience was nice but rather incongruous. The prices are fairly low for the atmosphere that the restaurant is trying to project, but I don’t know if they succeeded in making the meatball concept fit into the upscale environment. Though the meatballs themselves are large, overall portions are pretty small, though in the end that is probably for the better since the food is rather rich. Still, it wasn’t long before we all finished our dishes, and I think all of us went back to the university dining halls for more food after leaving the restaurant.

In the end, it was a fun experience and I’m glad I got to try out the concept, but I don’t think I’ll be back for another meal. It may be a fun place to go at night to get appetizers and drinks.

Restaurant Review: Rudy’s

December 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last night two friends and I decided to check out Rudy’s on Howe and Chapel. Rudy’s is a typical friendly neighborhood bar – a bit far from my end of campus, but lively on a Friday night with the locals.

We ordered a big basket of their famous fries to share – the grande size, with truffle oil and parmesan. It was a bit pricey at $16, but the portion size was enormous. The three of us had no trouble devouring it though. The fries were blisteringly hot, but we couldn’t help but ignore the burn on our fingers and tongues as we gobbled up the delicious salty and crunchy pieces. There was a good ratio of fresh, golden, soft fries to slightly burnt and crispy ones, and the fries were satisfyingly thick.

20121130_231708

The parmesan and truffle oil added a nice depth to the saltiness, and created an addictive flavor. One friend described the taste as almost meaty. The other friend requested ketchup, but no condiments were necessary. It was a terrific experience overall, though now I go and read the Yelp reviews, and people are talking about their special sauces? We were definitely not offered any sauces besides ketchup.

The photo does not do justice to the actual enormous quantity of fries. It must have literally been two pounds of fries. Come with an appetite!

Restaurant Review: Mamoun’s

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mamoun’s is a New Haven staple. It is a cozy little Middle Eastern place with cheap prices, making it a popular spot for many students. On one blisteringly cold night last week, I ventured out from my corner of campus on a mile-long trek to Mamoun’s with a few friends.

It was the end of Thanksgiving break so the restaurant was pretty empty at 7pm, yet there was still a warm and comforting atmosphere. The menu is pretty simple – there are vegetarian and meat choices, and you can get it in a sandwich (in a piece of pita) or on a platter. I choose the hummus sandwich, which was an unheard of $3.50. I also ordered a small hot tea.

The sandwich was great. Inside a rather large piece of pita bread were tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and plenty of creamy, rich hummus. In fact, there was so much hummus that I needed utensils to eat the sandwich in order to avoid making a mess. It’s hard to find good hummus, but this was it – savory, not too sour, thick, and smooth. 

Image

The tea came in a cup that was laughably small. It looked like a shot-glass, only in a dixie cup. Granted, it was only $1, but I still expected more than two sips. 

Overall, a great place to grab some delicious food, but come for the cheap food, and don’t expect too much else – paper plates, plastic utensils, and small dixie cups are what you are going to get.

Restaurant Review: The Little Salad Shop

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

I finally visited New Haven’s only dedicated salad shop, The Little Salad Shop, located on High Street. It’s a cute little place, too small to eat in, but easy to drop-in and order a custom-made salad. I ran there one night when a conference call ran over so I missed dinner in the dining hall. At these salad places I like to take advantage of the build-your-own salad. A basic salad with greens, 4 vegetable toppings, cheese, and dressing is $7, and a protein costs $2 more.

I choose romaine, and added on tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, hardboiled eggs, and roasted red peppers, with roasted turkey on top. Unfortunately I went later at night and they were out of some toppings like palm hearts. Let me tell you, they do not skimp on the portions! All the goodies were piled and packed tightly into a large cardboard carton, with two pieces of bread included. The box must have weighed at least 2 pounds. You definitely get your $9 worth – I could not eat this all in one sitting.

The ingredients were fresh and the turkey was tender and added a nice flavorful protein boost. I do wish that the toppings could have been mixed into the salad a bit better, instead of just being thrown on top of the lettuce. Some of the pieces were a bit unwieldy to eat since nothing is chopped up. Then again, I might just be spoiled from Chop’t and Sweetgreen in DC over the summer. However, this is a great healthful way to get in your daily vegetable servings. If this location were closer to where I live, I could see myself going a lot more frequently.

Restaurant Review: Prime 16

August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

These past three years I haven’t been doing a good job of trying too many New Haven restaurants, though this city is famous for so many types of food. I will try my best to remedy the situation during my last year at Yale. Last weekend I went with a group of friends to a restaurant in downtown New Haven called Prime 16. It is known for its reasonably-priced burgers.

The restaurant itself is rather small and dimly lit, but our group of five was seated relatively quickly. The tables are kind of close together so it was a bit hard to hear the conversation – maybe not the best place for an intimate dinner, but good for a casual gathering of friends. The menu is extensive, consisting mainly of various types of burgers and toppings. There is a salmon burger, a turkey burgey, bison, and a house made veggie burger. Toppings include different cheeses, guacamole, mayo, etc. I chose the option of topping a salad with a medium-done burger.

It took a while for us to receive our entrees but we were quite pleased with them. The serving sizes are tremendous – you will definitely get your money’s worth here! The burger was massive and delicious – juicy and flavorful, with just a hint of pinkness. There were candied walnuts and cranberries in the salad – I felt like I needed some vegetables to balance out all the meatiness.

I polished off the burger, no problem. My friends ordered various types of burgers and they all enjoyed their dishes as well. My order was about $12, a reasonable price, especially since the burger could have been big enough to split into two meals. I’m glad to have found this place in case I ever have another burger craving.

A Family Dinner

August 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Here are some photos of a dinner I cooked for my family before I left for school. It was a traditional Chinese meal.

Some highlights:

Stir-fried Chinese greens with olive oil and garlic. I forgot the exact name of the vegetable, but you can find it in any Asian grocery. This was very simple to make – just heat up a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a wide pan or wok until it starts sizzling, and toss in diced garlic. After about a minute, add to the pan the chopped and washed greens. You can add the whole bunch of greens – as they cook they really wilt down into a tiny pile. Stir-fry the greens until they cook down, maybe three or four minutes. Add salt to taste right before you remove the greens from the pan. It is delicious and healthy.

This next dish, butterflied shrimp, is a little bit more tricky. You need to use fresh jumbo shrimp with the heads still on in order to achieve the freshest and most flavorful dish. Again, you can find this in most large Asian groceries in the meat and seafood section in the back. Do not peel the shrimp, but use a sharp knife to slice a slit down the back. This lets the flavor in and allows you to remove any of the intestines (little black strips). Marinate the shrimp in a mixture of salt, green onion, and sliced ginger for about half an hour. Then stir-fry in a wok in olive oil, just until both sides turn an opaque pink. This simple preparation really highlights the delicious savoriness of the shrimp.

Lastly, tofu with vegetables. Slice up a large block of extra firm tofu, and fry up the slices in a wok covered with olive oil. Flip the pieces over once, making sure both sides are a crispy golden brown. Add seasonings of your liking – I believe I added salt and soy sauce. Then toss some bok choy and sliced fresh mushrooms into the pan with the tofu. You may need to add a bit of water to the pan in order to maintain moisture in the dish. Cover the wok for about five minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.

Along with these dishes we had some leftovers from dinner the night before, as well as a pot of white rice. It was a pretty typical dinner for us – lots of green vegetables, some tofu, and seafood.