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American Traditional/ lunch/ Seafood

Wild Edibles: Fresh Seafood Heaven

Wild Edibles is great choice for any diner looking for seafood. With a market location in Grand Central, the restaurant in Midtown East proves to be just as good. This one Sunday after a nice and long hike around Bear Mountain area, my friend and I headed to get a late lunch that would – at bare minimum – have delicious raw oysters.

It was a gulp fest of raw oysters, and what made this especially sweet was knowing they were 99-cents. Also to make this even better, for every six you can get a lager or wine for $4 available EVERYDAY from noon-6pm. I happily ordered a house glass of wine on the side.

I ordered fish cakes served with poached eggs and spicy tomato ragu. I basically inhaled this dish. Every aspect was delicious: the fish tasted fresh and wasn’t “cakey”, eggs were poached perfectly, and the tomato ragu provided a tart flavor that helped undercut the heavy elements (fish cake and egg).

By breaking the yolk on top, it gave the dish an additional creamy texture. I strategically used the cake to soak up the ragu and egg yolk combination. Delicious? OH YES.

I plan on going back to Wild Edibles and enjoy their happy hour special again. I’ll be ready to slurp some more oysters, try a few more items on the menu, and walk away with a happy tummy.

Wild Edibles
535 Third Avenue, between 35th and 36th St.
New York, NY
(212) 213-8552

Chinese/ lunch/ nyc

The Noodle Bar: Cold Noodles, Perfect for a Hot Day

It’s been hot. 90+ degrees hot. That’s why finding a restaurant that provides cooling drinks and refreshing dishes is very important. After wandering around Lower East Side, my friend and I end up making a spontaneous restaurant decision and venture into Noodle Bar.

Even though it wasn’t air-conditioned that particular day, they had both food and drink offerings to chill you out. They have normal drinks, some made from fresh fruit, and also flavored sodas. I stuck to plain ol’ iced water but would be interested in trying out their other beverages in the future.

My mind was only on cold noodles and I ordered their sesame-peanut noodle lunch set. It came with two spring rolls – taro and vegetable – and a side salad. The sesame-peanut noodles were perfectly made; not only was it cooling but also very delicious. The proportion of sauce to noodle was just enough not to overwhelm the entire dish. The sauce also nicely coated the other vegetables (i.e. cucumbers, eggplant) to tie everything together. A tasty plate all for $7.95!

Being an avid noodle eater, I’m just glad that we can enjoy noodles in hot weather. The Noodle Bar is quick, cheap, and worth a trip.

Noodle Bar
172 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

Chinese/ lunch/ Taiwanese

Chinese New Year: Hot Pot Basics

Happy Chinese New Year! This is the year of the Tiger and I am not sure what it means in Chinese astrology. What I do know is that this calls for the gathering of family and friends around a huge feast of various foods such as fish, noodles, oranges, etc. because these foods are supposed to bring good luck. And get this – for those born in the Tiger year, to ward off bad luck make sure to wear red underwear.

What better way to celebrate this holiday than by eating hot pot? “Uhhh…excuse me, what is that”, you may ask. Well, here’s my definition:

Hot Pot (Huo guo, 火鍋) – n. An Asian dish where a central pot is filled with either broth or water that continuously boils and people can cook raw ingredients (i.e. beef, fish balls, mushrooms, etc.). After it is sufficiently cooked in the pot, it’s dipped into a sauce. The sauce is often comprised of soy sauce, scallions, raw egg, and Asian barbeque sauce “sha cha jiang”, depending upon personal preferences.

Now that you have an idea what hot pot is, I welcome you to the Chen family’s version of hot pot! There are a number of hot pot varieties and every family might use different ingredients and mix different sauces, but the concept is more or less the same. The greatest part of hot pot is that it is REALLY easy to prepare and there is guaranteed satisfaction from all eaters. Let us start with the base – the pot itself or as I would put it – the main arena of food action.

First, my aunt cooks the onions and cabbage in a separate pot to get the sweetness of these vegetables into the base soup. She proceeds to add water and some soy sauce, and then transfers the base soup into the hot pot.
Note: Most families use a beef stock but because we are trying to be healthy, she uses water.

Next – your sauce. My personal preference is having hot pot with raw egg, the soy sauce base, hot sauce and Asian barbeque sauce “sha cha jiang”. I have had it this way since I was a little so I have stuck with this sauce combination. The soy sauce base is comprised of:
– soy sauce
– brown sugar
– sesame oil
– scallions
– cilantro

My aunt measures the perfect amounts of each and I pleasantly spoon the base sauce into my mixing bowl. Then I mix however much “sha cha jiang” and raw egg I want into the base. For those scared of salmonella poisoning, you don’t need to add the raw egg. No judgments passed.

Now, let us talk about the ingredients that go into the hot pot itself. Everything is thoroughly cleaned and nicely plated for presentation and grabbing ease. We have:

1. Seafood Cakes – These cakes can be made of a variety of seafood: shrimp, fish, fish roe, crab, etc.  They are little bites of salty, seafood delight that bring beautiful colors and flavors to the hot pot. After cooking them, I pop them into my mouth with pleasure.

2. Mushrooms – We include Enoki and Shiitake mushrooms in our hot pot. They soak up all the flavors of the soup and add onto their normal taste and texture. Personally, adding mushrooms to anything is a thumbs-up to me since I love eating them.

3. Beef (top) and Lamb (bottom) – I find meat essential to the hot pot experience because it provides the fat to the soup…and let’s face it, we love eating fat.  It is important that the meat is thinly sliced so that it cooks quickly.  Afterwards you dip it into your sauce, and you find that the combination of meat and sauce is meant to be. The sauce helps cut the fatty flavor and adds another layer of sweet, salty essence to the meat.
Note: If you want the soup less rich, remove the fat that accumulates on the side of the pot into a separate bowl.

4. “Variety” Plate – I am not sure what to label this plate so I’m calling it the “variety” plate. Clockwise starting from shrimp, there is fish, intestine, squid and tofu. Similar to meat, I recommend including shrimp because it adds a lot of seafood flavor to the entire hot pot. I enjoy eating all different things, including intestines. Just to let you know, intestine has no particular strong flavor. I douse it into my dipping sauce and find that the texture is the highlight – soft and chewy. In addition, the tofu is incredible because it is firm and soaks up the soup flavors. It is guaranteed that I end up eating a lot of tofu every single time.
The amount of food we have sufficiently feeds four people or at least enough for us to feel sufficiently satisfied.  However, there are other ingredients like glass noodles and leafy vegetables when you put at the end of cooking, so make sure to save your stomach!

I know not everyone has the desire to eat things like what I listed, and that is perfectly fine not to include in your hot pot. In fact you can put whatever you want.  This is the beauty of hot pot; it brings people together by sharing and cooking various foods in boiled soup while eating whatever you like. It is inexpensive, easy to prepare, cooks quickly, and is extremely gratifying.

More resources:
Wikipedia –
Twenty-Five Tips for Cooking Hot Pot –

lunch/ nyc/ Seafood

Review: Pearl Oyster Bar

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve last blogged…but I’ve come back with reviews! There have been many MANY great eats with my beloved pictures, so stay tuned to my food journies. =) I more frequently update my flickr account so definitely check that out too.

Pearl Oyster Bar
Neighborhood: Manhattan – West Village
18 Cornelia St
(between 4th St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014

My friends, Prestine and Jon Lin, were feeling pretty baller/adventurous that day and ventured to the West Village for some seafood post-NYU class. Being the cheap college kids that we were, the idea of going to a nice restaurant for lunch was out-of-the-ordinary. Jon was eager to try out their lobster rolls and we were eager to join him…so off to Pearl Oyster Bar we went!

The bar itself is pretty small and there’s a connecting restaurant area. We were seated against the wall table. From what I remember, service was accommodating and they were pretty nice. The lunch crowd was comprised of no students, so you can only imagine how much we felt out of place, and looked like a lot more business-like folk. Back then, lobster rolls were around the upper-$20s and to satisfy his craving, Jon enthusiastically ordered a lobster roll.

As you can see, there are HUGE chunks of lobster so it seemed worth the price. I think he wharfed that down pretty quick.

Their version of the New England Clam Chowder was just right. Since I don’t like my chowder too thick, this chowder had the perfect consistency.

This was their Pan Fried Skate Sandwich. It was SO good. There was the right amount of condiments and the fish was perfectly flaky too.

A nice cross section shot of the Pan Fried Skate Sandwich. Yum yum.All in all, Pearl Oyster Bar is a great place to go for a classic take on fresh seafood, but it doesn’t come cheap. Make sure you bring your wallet!