I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Xi’an Famous Foods

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: What sounds more appetizing? The Chinese name of a dish or the literal English translation of the dish?

The cold weather is coming in which means that lines at ice cream shops are shorter and eating bowls of hot noodle soup hits the spot. I remember when I was little and I attempted to describe the pure awesomeness of noodle soups to my very Caucasian friends, they looked at me like I was nuts, soup and noodles? Isn’t noodles suppose to be smothered in a red sauce or cream? Soup? What is this weird Asian kid thinking? Well guess what guys, while you were stuck at home eating cans of watery condensed chicken noodle soup, I got legit noodles that it was okay for me to slurp and actual bits of meat and soup…who is the weird Asian kid now? (still me I think)

Lamb Noodle Soup

Lamb Burger-no supersize
Anyways, Xi’an Famous Foods that originally started off in a small stall in Flushing has invaded Manhattan in the past year opening multiple locations so you can get you Northern/Mongolian Chinese foods like Lamb face salad and hand pulled noodles without the 7 train trek. I can think no better way to beat the incoming cold than a bowl of lamb noodle soup from Xi’an. I went to the St. Marks location in the late afternoon and it packed. I opted to get my order to go. I got an order of the lamb noodle soup and the lamb burger. 

The noodles are made to order as well as the other menu items so it may take a while but the food is worth it. By made to order, I mean they are hand pulled before getting a quick dunk in boiling water. The noodles travelled well and still had a bit of chew to them when I finally started eating them. The broth was flavorful and meaty and although I decided to not get it spicy, it still tasted good, though I added a bit of sambal sauce in it and will most likely get it non-Gringo spicy next time. The lamb burger is a nice treat and is not really like a burger. If burger by definition is meat in between a bun then yes, it is a burger but not something you are finding at Shake Shack. The Bun is a Uighur flatbread that is split open and filled with shredded lamb that is heavily spiced with coriander, cumin and chili. The result is a robust and flavorful sandwich that will make a lamb eater out of anyone.
Xi’an Foods is not really a sit down and have a calm dining experience. It is the Far East version of a turn and burn operation, but like most turn and burn operations, they depend on volume and in order to get that, they need to turn out good tasting food which they are. Xi’an is also very Gringo friendly which they have pictures on the wall and vending machine lettering system so ordering is not hard at all. If you plan on eating there, just be prepared to get cozy with the people around you, and like always, slurping is okay.

Xi’an Famous Foods
81 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lets do Brunch: Union Square Cafe

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Sharing is caring, but when bacon is on the table, screw that

Dining in New York, it is unavoidable to try and avoid eating a Danny Meyers ran operation, and beside who would want too? Shake Shack, Gramercy Tavern and others from fine dining to jean casual all his food is top notch and enjoyable for whatever mood you are in. Before he had his stark empire, he had to start somewhere and in 1985 he opened up Union Square Café, a New York classic eatery and up until recently, started brunch service. I went with the family to check it out and covered the menu pretty well. Union Square Café is located well, as the name says by Union Square and tucked away on the side away from the bustle of the Green Market. Stepping into Union Square Café, you feel as if you stepped into someone’s house and somewhat reminds me of the Beard house. It has that classic Americana feel, maybe the show room of a Huffman Koos. My quip with the space in Union Square Café is that if you are seated in the lower level, it feels a bit cramped with the low ceiling, and I was unconsciously watching my head every time I got up from my seat.
Regardless of the space, the most important thing is the food. 

Bread basket like whoa
The bread basket was promising with 3 kinds of bread: a crispy rosemary flatbread, a mini baguette and a country sourdough bread which were all good and with a side of cured olives that had a hit of orange zest, there was almost no need to order any starters or snacks. We started with two snacks, the bacon and eggs and the polenta crisps. The Bacon and Eggs was a favorite snack that I have ordered 5 more off and called it a day. It was a play on chips and dip in which the bacon was the chip and the eggs were scrambled into a creamy consistency that became a dip. Enough bread, Food after jump!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shopsins: The Castles

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: First time I have been to Shopsins, and finally saw Kenny cooking in the kitchen. It was a good day.

Thankfully growing up in New Jersey, I never was deprived of sliders with legendary spots like the White Mamma and White Rose system to just knowing that White Castle exists. One of my favorite places that make sliders is Shopsins. Say what you want about them, but when it comes to a burger or sliders, they make a damn good one. Better yet, they have found a way to make sliders an acceptable breakfast treat by simply adding eggs and that is why on their insanely long menu, the castles is worth ordering, eventually because the amount of times I have been there, still have not been able to try everything that I have wanted on there. For some reason, the name the Castles makes me think of Castle Grey Skull from He-Man and eating this makes me feel awesome and makes me ride on top of a tiger…with a hell of a lot more clothes on than He-Man, its fall and it’s kind of cold.

The Castles is an order of their sliders, and fluffy eggs and a glutton amount of cheese is piled on top of it. This is the meal, well for a big eater like me, a snack of champions. For a few bucks more, you can add some hatch chilies on it but not necessary in my opinion because when you got their hot sauce (it’s a proprietary “housemade” blend for you Brooklynites!) that basically makes everything taste good. If you want tasty sliders for breakfast and make it look socially acceptable, get at the Castles at Shopsins.

Also, screw everybody, I think it is a requirement to get a milkshake or an egg cream with an order of sliders or just anytime i you come here. I noticed that the slutty cakes is now in milkshake form so you can get a tasty peanut butter and pumpkin milkshake at 9am, how is this not awesome?

Essex St Market
120 Essex St

New York, NY 10002

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Doughnut Plant Fall Flavors and Trois Pommes

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: there is no way I can ever limit myself to just getting one doughnut

Oatmeal Donut

The Doughnut Plant is always a place that is a must stop for me regardless if I am under time constraints. Meeting up with people in 10 minutes? I got enough time to grab a doughnut…or two. The opening of their Chelsea location, I noticed that the lines at the original Lower East location have noticeably died down and a lot more tolerable. This is good that I do not have to wait so long for doughnuts, bad because I buy more doughnuts. Yes, such a horrible Catch-22, something that totally relates to the Joseph Heller novel. 

I like that they have their standbys like the tres leche and jelly doughnuts but they bake seasonally and being fall, had of course a pumpkin doughnut. I picked up a raspberry and the green tea doughnut as well and the oatmeal doughnut that debuted with the opening of their Chelsea location but I have not had the chance to try it until now. 

I got all cake doughnuts because I just like cake doughnuts but they also offer the pumpkin yeasted as well. The pumpkin was good with hits of candied seeds on top, i would have liked a bit more pumpkin-y flavor to it though but good pumpkin fix overall. The raspberry was moist and had a weirdly electric magenta color too it that somehow matched the tartness of the raspberries. The matcha doughnut thankfully tasted better than it looked, it was a dark green, like Ninja Turtle green but the earthy grassiness of matcha came through and for those of you that like green tea, and do not want sugar bombs, this is your doughnut. The oatmeal doughnut that is now on their regular lineup was definitely not what I expected, in a good way. Oatmeal made pastries in the past usually taste gritty and paste-like and thankfully, this was not the case. The oatmeal doughnut had the warm taste of nutty, oat flavors of an oatmeal raisin cookie and had the perfect crumb, lightness and density. 


The previous week, I went out to Trois Pommes, all the way out in Park Slope and sampled their weekend doughnuts. Trois Pommes is a neighborhood bakery just making wonderful cookies and pastries and on the weekends, they have their jelly filled doughnuts. They come in either a regular sized or mini, so I did the smart thing, I got both of them. The doughnuts are dense and chewy and have a sticky glaze on the outside. First bite is an explosion of sweet and tart raspberry jam that lazily oozes out. The mini doughnuts are like candy and addictive because you can just pop them in your mouth in one whole bite. I definitely like the mini ones, but maybe because mini things have the illusion of tasting better.

Jam filled Donuts from Trois Pommes

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street
New York

Trois Pommes
260 5th Ave # A
NY 11215-1927

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WD~50: I want all the Fried Hollandaise you have

 Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Why use illegal mind-altering substances when eating at WD is mind blowing enough?

Headed by Wylie Dufresne, WD~50 stands out against other establishments because of their innovative, playful food that combine contemporary and classic techniques. See what I did there? I was able to describe WD without using that phrase: molecular gastronomy. Like someone that knows a lot more about food and smarter than me most likely, said that those that make food and cuisine that they dub as being molecular gastronomy are doing it poorly and doing it for the shits and giggles and the food here, is executed with precision that to just coolly call it molecular gastronomy is like calling sushi raw fish. The food at WD is creative and has a casual atmosphere but has a service and quality of food and execution that up to par with its Michelin rating.

Sesame Flatbread

WD has one of the best bargained tasting menus in the city which I decided to take full advantage of and being my first visit here, I added on the Eggs Benny dish that is one of the notable dishes that I needed to try. The aerated sesame flatbread was unbelievably light and crisp that I would find myself chomping on through the meal. The closest comparison texturally is like a potato chip and for some reason, I had a strong white trash urge while eating these to ask if they had any jalapeno and cheese from the MRE packs (this of course is a outlandish idea, because anyone that has eaten a MRE knows, that you never, ever get the cheese wiz, stupid peanut butter). Tasting menu after the Jump!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First looking at Laduree

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Laduree is actually a French Consulate, pretty sure you can apply for a student visa there, fee is waived with a minimum of box purchase

I used to think the Bisous Ciao Macarons bags used to be an emasculated bag, but Laduree takes it. I could be fighting off a pack of wolves and drinking gasoline, but walk down street with that distinct emerald green Laduree bag, you are going 99% (may or may not include the ones on Wall Street) will be thinking, “cute bag” with the up most sarcasm, that you can conjure up.
The end of August marked the opening of Laduree, the French Consulate Parisian confectioner shop that makes their bones in making delectable macarons one of my favorite treats. The opening of this shop is the first one to hit American soil, it is kind of like Red Dawn except colorful, sugary, and no communists and Swayze.  Upon its opening, they lines for the shop have been long and endless like the lines for the 4GS. Although I personally have not been there, my quarter life celebration is coming up, and I was gifted with a small box of macarons.

Rose, vanilla, orange, raspberry, coffee, lemon, salted caramel, and cinnamon raisin

I got a box of 8 that contained rose, lemon, coffee, raspberry, vanilla, salted caramel, orange blossom and the exclusive New York flavor that debuted at fashion week, cinnamon raisin. The cinnamon raisin one was the mind blower here because it had an intense flavor and yet was light at the same time. There were actual bits of raisins in the filling. The only one that did not like as much was the Rose flavored which was a bit overpowering giving a popourri essence equivalent to your Mother in Law’s bathroom. Although Bisous is currently my favorite macaron producer in New York, there is a reason for their ridiculous long lines and Francophile worship, it is that good. The macarons are imported in daily, from French Land and with the frequent flier miles, these things still set the standard for macarons. Though these are going for 3 bucks a pop, making this most definitely a 1%er everyday thing, this is a special occasion or a once and a while purchase, not something you are picking up in the morning along with your Americano. 

864 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10021

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sundaes and Cones

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Who else feels awkward when they get a sample spoon of ice cream and they do not have a bucket to chuck it?

Fall is here meaning that I for some reason, people slowly stop eating ice cream. Something about it’s too cold to eat or something. Preying on other’s weaknesses ( I am a horrible human being for thinking like that) I take the chance to hit up ice cream shops that get ridiculously packed in the hotter days so I can get my ice cream fix, line free.

One of those places is Sundaes and Cones, in the East Village. Sundaes and Cones could be a typical cute ice cream shop with usual flavors but they also have some interesting flavors such as red bean, black sesame, avocado and wasabi for the adventurous all leaning towards flavors that would be common in Asia. I was in a fruity mood (yup, set myself up for that one) and they had a fair selection of sorbets I decided to try their guava and lychee ice cream. Guava one of my favorite fruits and is a fruit that is found in tropical areas. It is a flavor on its own but the best way to describe it is it tastes a mix between strawberry and a bit of kiwi, but I realize that the basis of the flavor combinations is unfortunately from Bubblicious gum and bad tasting candy. Lychee is another fruit that I like and usually in the past when I had lychee ice creams, they usually had an overwhelming sweetness and artificial aftertaste but the ice cream of Sundaes and Cones did not have that and had the best replication of the taste of fresh lychee in frozen confection form.

I notice as I was leaving, they were baking up fresh cookies, something that I must get the next time I stop by there and taste, for chocolate chip cookie research and comparison. Sundaes and Cones as the name states, does sundaes that I would like to try in the future, but need to enlist at least another person, so I do not look like a complete fatty.

Sundaes and Cones
95 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dozzino: Neapolitan in Hoboken

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Be selfish, do not save pizza for others later

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about food in Hoboken is red sauce Italian and booze food: fried or covered in cheese or both. Yet, the thought of a carefully constructed Neapolitan pie is something that you would not expect to find here but like most of my food-ventures, I am humbly proved wrong on what I come to expect. Just a few blocks down from the best mozzarella ever, is Dozzino that is still a fairly new place that opened about two years ago.

I visited Dozzino and had an early dinner there and sat in the front/bar (I do not believe they have a liquor license) which was minimal and spacious and had a single flat screen that had the end of the Rutgers game going on, making any New Joosey native comfortable. Plus we beat Pitt somehow so that is always a plus. I decided to go full on fatty and order two pies, I got the La Pizza, which is basically a Margherita pie, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and the Dino, which was tomatoes mozzarella and Mortadella. Interesting enough, they have a FAQ /glossary that go through all their ingredients and what there are which is nice for people that are not food nerdy like me and knows the difference between a grana pandano and a regginao. Proudly toting sourcing mozzarella from Lioni Latticini and meats from Salumeria Biellese, I was excited to try their pies. Pizza after the Jump!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Best Mozzarella, Liz Lemon Sandwich at Fiore's Deli

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Fresh Mozzarella is meant to be eaten solo, you are not going to want to share it.

There are moments in your life where you ask yourself the question:

“What did I just put into my mouth?”

For your sake, hopefully you are not somewhere is West Africa, a sleazy café in Amsterdam or a frat house with the permanent stench of stale beer and Axe body spray. Hopefully, you will be in Hoboken, New Jersey (may not be too far from the frat house scenario unfortunately) at Fiore’s Deli eating their mozzarella.
Mozz from Fiore's photo from times.com

I have heard of this magical place but never really went out of my way to stop by there and get some of their homemade mozzarella. As much pride as I have being from Jersey, I never think about Hoboken as being a destination of anything food related. I though Hoboken was where people from Stevens and where the Guidos migrate too when the shore gets too cold. Some of the stereotypes were proven true as I passed by 2 “bros” already with a healthy afternoon buzz going, that Hoboken is not such a bad place and in fact, kind of reminds me of Carroll Gardens. 
Looks like your ordinary deli...

However, Hoboken is home to some of the best mozzarella I have ever eaten in my life. This game changer mozzarella can be found at Fiore’s Deli on Adams Street. Like Tiger when he first started playing golf and way before he was sleeping with waitresses from Perkins. Making mozzarella since 1913, you can say they have the mozzarella making process down pat. I came in here just before closing as they were wiping down the counters. Immediately after walking in, 4 others walked in and as we all quietly milled about, the counter man walked out and asked the only question that needs to be asked when you walk in, “how many pounds do you need?” He knew why we were there and when you are making great mozzarella, that’s al you need to ask.


The mozzarella is different first on appearance, most mozzarella from say Dipalos or Joe’s Dairy is formed into balls, yet here it is sold in braided logs and woven like a thick tasty rope. One thing I must stress is that mozzarella should be eaten at room temperature and should not be thrown into the refrigerator or a cooler. Screw the USDA regulations, we Americans are too obsessed with keeping things cool and against anything room temperature. To buy a pound of this and then throw it immediately into the fridge or a cooler is like the Pope giving you a communion wafer and you spitting it out, you just do not do that. You eat this fresh and buy as much as you can eat in a day. If god forbid you do have some leftover, then you can put it in the fridge but bring it to room temperature before eating it, but be aware, it will not taste the same.  This is the epitome of what mozzarella should be and taste like. This beautiful clear white log of cheese is tender, borderline gelatinous and on first bite you get the overwhelming assertive taste of milk then a wave of saltiness slithers its way onto your taste buds that any brain function. This mozzarella has ruined all mozzarella for me and will be the mozzarella that I will compare all too.

Magical Gravy Roast Beef and Mozz

This Fiore’s Deli on Saturdays has a special that they only do on Saturdays that I was luckily able to nab. Every day they have some kind of special by Saturday is Roast Beef and Mozzarella day. You grab a roll from the side, that Fiore’s gets from Dom’s Bakery and they will load up the roll with thick slices of their fresh mozzarella and paper thin slices of rare roast beef. The kicker to this sandwich is the gravy that comes with it, and you must get it on the side. This sandwich is best consumed the day of and eaten like a French Dip sandwich. The gravy is an intensely flavored salty beefy au jus that is so good; I froze the leftover gravy, in order to save the precious juices. I call this the Liz Lemon Sandwich because this is the sandwich that they feature on 30 Rock on the sandwich day episode and eating this, Tina Fey ain’t acting, it is that good. So venture into Hoboken and get a great sandwich and unbelievably fresh mozz. Just don’t take my sandwich or mozz or you will all have chins.

Fiore's Deli
414 Adams Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: I hate revolving doors.

It is easy to pass by Otto that is located in the Village and close to the NYU campus. Besides the maroon awning, you could mistake it for a NYU administration building. Inside Otto is modeled to have a timeless yet suave look of a Euro train station that you can imagine if this was Roman Holiday and combined a traditional enoteca. Maybe add in a weird sewer stench (no doubt given the Euro Zone lately, the sanitation department is most likely on strike) and street urchins making passes at your pockets and it will be just like that!  Above the hostess stand is a faux timetable of “trains” destinations to major European cities, specifically cities in Italy. 

Bread and grissini- easy to stash for later

 A fresh freshman out to lunch with the parents, stated loudly that the faux schedule were names of bigger parties that were waiting to get seating and the city names were the last names of the parties. I do hope that private school education is put to good use Mom and Dad, and hope to god she is not going to be a poli sci major. However, if I am wrong, my apologizes to the Napoli family. Sarcasm aside, Otto feels to one of the most accessible restaurant in the Batali Empire and family friendly yet could pull of a respectable casual date here (I mean, if I went on dates this would be fine, right?). 

The bread comes out in a neatly wrapped parcel and a pack of grissini, I guess it adds to the “in motion” type of theme going on here at Otto. Note, they do not give you any olive oil or butter and if you want to, you must ask for it specifically. The bread crusty and springy and a nice sourness that I actually could have eaten on its own but not everyone is weird like me and since I was not dining solo for once, we got some olive oil which I believe they use at all the Batali restaurants. The olive oil is quite good, grassy and buttery and smooth throughout. The antipasti are a must at Otto especially the vegetables. I generally do not praise vegetables but the vegetables are a must get here at Otto. We opted to go for one of the constants, the cauliflower alla Siciliana and the season-like one the autumn corn with fregola, (bead-like pasta). Covering the USDA Dinner plate slot, we got the octopus, celery and lovage (herb).  Enough Bread! Food After the Jump!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Christie's Jamaican Patties

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Jamaican Hot Sauce smite all demons

Every good eating food culture has some variation of meat stuffed pastry: bao zi, empanada, Cornish pastry and of course Jamaican Beef Patties. I have found myself going to the Farmers market at the Grand Army Plaza and although it is smaller than Union Square Market, it is just as good and has all your needs. I have found myself going for a pre or post market snack at Christie’s Jamaican Patties. I have never been to Jamaica and my previous experiences of beef patties where the frozen ones in the supermarket and eating one at the local 7-11. Although it did not taste bad (level of sobriety may or may not have affected the taste), I do know that the beef patties at Christie’s is hell of a lot better.
Christie’s has other baked goods such as breads and Danishes and even has a small lunch counter of curries and jerk, the thing to get here is the namesake Jamaican Patties. They have 3 different patties beef being the popular, chicken and a vegetable one that is filled with cabbage and potatoes. 

It would be a mistake to not go for the extra carb boost and get the patty stuffed in between one of their fresh coco breads, which does not taste like coconut or chocolate as the name may suggest, but it is a hearty roll with a crusty exterior and fluffy interior making it a worthy transport vessel and greasy hand protector while you chomp down on one of these patties. The filling is ragu-esque and warmly spiced, heavy on the all spice and black pepper. The coco bread should actually be a requirement, in catching inevitable filling squeeze out as you bite into the patty. Add a little of the house made Jamaican hot sauce, which has a great pepper flavor and a kick that will flush all toxins from the previous evening.  Don’t forget to get a ginger beer of a Ting to wash it all down. 

Christie's  Jamaican Patties
334 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11238-4302