A brave dessert aficionado’s pursuit of all things fried, glazed, and sugary.
Located at 47th Street and 12th Ave, Underwest Donuts is an unassuming doughnut shop. It’s actually inside a carwash, and the shop itself is just a counter where a few friendly employees dole out freshly fried doughnuts to anyone who wanders through.
For such a small shop, there was a fairly extensive choice of doughnuts, and I bought an array to bring back to campus. I ordered three of the “special doughnuts” (pictured below), and one of the regular sugared doughnuts upon recommendation from guy behind the counter. He actually fried the dough and rolled it in sugar in front of me, to emphasize the freshness.
The Maple Waffle is one of the newer flavors, and it has a very strong maple flavor, but in a good way that seems to transport you to the Vermont wilderness.
The Pumpkin Ginger doughnut was a little strong for my taste; it tasted strongly of ginger.
The Dark Chocolate was my favorite – it had a rich chocolate flavor without being overly sweet.
(Pictured, clockwise from the top: Pumpkin Ginger, Maple Waffle, Dark Chocolate, and Sugared)
Final thoughts: Were these doughnuts amazing? Absolutely. Would I go back? Not a chance. Getting to Underwest Donuts was such a pain – it’s too far West, and to get there you have to navigate the Hell that is Times Square. However, if you’re looking for genuinely good, fresh doughnuts that aren’t downtown, you’ve found your haven.
As learned from the women of Sex and the City, dating in New York City can be rough. It’s even rougher when you’re a college student, living on a college student budget. If your parents are anything like mine, they are reluctant to give you much “food money” because of the amount they’re already spending on your meal plan. With that being said, living in one of the most expensive cities in the country doesn’t help much either. No one wants to blow his or her entire weekly allowance on a first date. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for “wining and dining.”
Don’t worry, though, there is hope! Believe it or not, nice date spots that won’t break the bank exist. So, in an effort to ensure that you don’t disappoint your date and get to see them again, I’ve compiled a list of tasty (cheap!) spots.
CREAMLINE NYC in Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market is an experience in and of itself. Inside its brick walls lie dozens of restaurants and shops. One of which, is the all-American restaurant, Creamline. From peanut butter/jelly/banana sandwiches to grilled cheese fingers to fried oreos, Creamline NYC satisfies all of our childhood cravings. Follow dinner with a walk on the High Line, which is right to the market. Trust me, you’ll need to walk off this meal.
P.S. DO NOT skip the malted milkshake. Worth every calorie.
Treat yourself, and your date, to some mouthwatering dumplings at Mimi Cheng’s. My personal fave is the steamed ‘Reinvented Classic’ dumpling, made with pork and baby bok choy. The laid back environment is the perfect place to bring someone you’re just starting to get to know. For dessert, order the caramel apple pie dumplings- they are a must-have!!
S’Mac, aka Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese, is basically every mac and cheese lover’s dream come true. They offer specialty mac and cheeses and made-to-order mac and cheeses. For me, the best option is the build your own mac and cheese. With 15 cheeses, 4 herbs, 12 veggies/condiments, and 6 proteins to choose from, there is something for everyone. It’ll be hard for your date not to be satisfied. And, if you’re “of age,” follow dinner with drinks at one of the quirky bars that the East Village has to offer.
As long as Gaia exists, there’s no need to spend $25 on a plate of pasta at some fancy Italian restaurant. This little hole in the wall serves up prime Italian food with rich flavors. My personal favorite is the spinach and ricotta gnocchi; it’s the perfect consistency! They also do daily pasta specials, which keeps things interesting (hopefully like your date).
Warning: they do close relatively early and fills up quickly, so plan ahead, and make a reservation!!
As Midnight Munchies nears the end of the semester, we decided to treat ourselves to something a little more lavish. Our expedition this week took us down to NYU territory off the 14th street 1-2-3 stop for Coppelia, a 24/7 Cuban diner with a reputation for one of the best late-night burgers in the city: the Frita Cubana.
Only a twenty minute ride from Columbia, Coppelia has garnered such a legendary rep that they have a bouncer outside just to make keep things under control. Unlike many 24/7 diners, the dark atmosphere inside isn’t trying to cover up any outstanding dirt and grime; the restaurant felt clean enough while still maintaining that diner charm. Service unfortunately moved at a very relaxed pace, so much so to have our table groaning in distress whenever catching sight of food drifting past us. Some say waiting makes the heart grow fonder, but clearly those people have never experienced the wait period between ordering a Cuban cheeseburger and actually getting to consume said Cuban cheeseburger.
Perusing the menu, you’ll find a wide assortment of quality munchies, from breakfast omelettes to salmon entrees, mostly manageable for a thin wallet like mine. Intel from the street showed that the only way to go in terms of bang for your buck was the Frita Cubana burger, a behemoth of ground sirloin, cheddar cheese, pickles, chicharron, and roasted Cuban pork. The Frita Cubana is essentially the gorgeous lovechild of a juicy cheeseburger and an authentic Cuban sandwich, a concept that had my mouth watering the whole subway ride down.
Let’s break down this burger real quick. It came out alone on a plain dish, looking fairly modest (be more attentive than we were and realize that you must order fries separately). The patty was sufficiently thick and juicy, with cheese dripping down the sides in a very agreeable fashion. Though it was a strong part of the whole operation, the burger quickly moved to the background after the chicharron came into play with the pork. This pork was ready and begging to just melt in your mouth on top of the patty, packed with Cuban spices to send you right down to a beach in Havana puffing on a cigar whilst munching on your Frita Cubana. The tender, spiritual nature of the roast pork was only further elevated by the crispy chicharron, a Cuban specialty of crunchy fried pork rinds, topping off the whole burger in a storm of crispy goodness. Savor this one.
Overall, my experience at Coppelia was a good one. The price was just about right (around $10 for that burger), the place was clean, I got my food eventully, and that burger definitely belongs on any New York eating bucket list. Keep it on your radar and make the stop in at any point on the clock. I give Coppelia four dancing Castro’s out of five.
This week we’re going to move out of the realm of dinner and explore a lighter, and usually more rushed, meal: lunch! The goal is to show you all that lunch doesn’t need to be a rush job. Instead, it should be the mid-day break that you look forward to. So here’s your challenge: pick a day next week that you’re going to forgo to protein bar and on-the-go yogurt and make lunch in the morning. If you need some help deciding what to make, I can help!
Today I’m sharing with you Veggie Wrap “Hand Rolls” with a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. This recipe is an obvious play on sushi. We’re going to put a ton of fresh, crunchy veggies and hummus in a crisp seaweed wrap. Our “soy sauce and wasabi” is going to be a deliciously sweet and savory honey mustard. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s so good.
Here’s what you’re going to need to…
1 Raw Nori Seaweed Sheet
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Leaves of Kale
A heavy dollop of your favorite hummus
Dipping Sauce/Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Dijion Mustard
1 tsp. Honey
FIRST… Wash your veggies well. Julienne the pepper and carrots (cut them into long, thing strips as seen below.) Cut the tough, center core out of the kale. Then, just rip the kale into bite-sized chunks.
When all is said and done, your cutting board should look like this…
TO MAKE THE SAUCE…Put your teaspoon of both dijon mustard and honey into a small bowl. Mix it up. (How easy is that?!) You can use another kind of mustard if you have no other choice, but I strongly encourage the dijon. The difference in flavor is really noticeable. The dijon has a kick that plays off the honey brilliantly. It’s borderline magic.
NEXT… Toast your seaweed. You can do this several different ways. If you have a convection oven, that’s the easiest. Pop the sheet in there and toast it for about 30 seconds, or until it turns green and is flexible to the touch. The change from toasted to burnt happens really quickly, so keep your eye on it. Other ways you can do this is holding the seaweed in tongs over an open flame or in a dry pan on your stove top.
TO ASSEMBLE… Do this quickly while the seaweed is still malleable. First spread a generous heap of hummus into the middle of the wrap on the diagonal (because thats the direction you’re going to roll it.) Then, add your cut vegetables. You can put as many as you feel comfortable with. I like to really load it up. If you have extra, just make another wrap, or dip it in more hummus!
Roll it all up on the diagonal, using your fingers to scrunch in the veggies and keep the roll tight. Channel your inner Chipotle worker. Then, slice it down the middle and you’re ready to eat!
Happy lunching everyone! Let me know how this works for you in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!
Breakfast and brunch, when done right and with love, have to be some of the most enticing and delicious meals (yes, I count brunch as a meal). Eggs, butter, carbs, protein-overload – I love it all.
After learning about eggocado’s versatility and simplicity, I’ve been experimenting with this 2-ingredient, bursting-with-flavor brunch dish consisting of a single egg nestled in half a carved avocado, seasoned to one’s liking.
After a few minutes of prepping and only 15-20 minutes of baking, you have yourself a nutritious, mouth-watering, and addictive choice to start your day. I truly believe mornings are for decisions, the most important decision of all being how you will choose to go about your day. Your mindset. #Eggocados are a great way to catalyze happy mindsets. It’s also a particularly suitable choice for us broke frugal college students looking for a filling, easy, and spectacularly healthy and quick meal. Want a snack in between classes? The eggocado is your best friend. Feeling savory for breakfast or brunch? Look no further than this green well of happiness.
My first attempt, pairing a slightly-overcooked eggocado with two of my favorite fruits, strawberries and grapes, was mediocre at best. The yolk wasn’t slightly runny as I preferred, it was under-seasoned, and the avocado wasn’t fully ripe, making it underwhelming in terms of flavor and texture. Even though avocado, egg, strawberries, and grapes sound like the last things I’d ever imagine harmonizing together, the acidity from the fruits and the heftier tones of the eggocado melded well.
The next time I tried, I made sure to use specific seasonings, even over-salting a bit to ensure that the flavors were more multi-dimensional. I also chose a particularly ripe and gorgeously green avocado, careful to carve out the pit and its surrounding fully so the egg would “sit” comfortably. This is an important step –the egg may be larger than you think, and it wouldn’t do well to have it spill over the sides of the avocado. Using a blend of sesame seeds, minced garlic, pepper, and some chili flakes, I popped it into the oven and was far more pleased with the consistency of the egg and the overall texture/flavor. I highly recommend this combo, in addition to having bananas on the side; two famously buttery friends mixing perfectly.
Tips for your eggocado:
Use a sufficiently ripened avocado. It should be dark green, almost black, and “cushiony” to the touch. Not too hard, not too mushy.
Season, season, season!
Cut a small bit off the rounded edge of your avocado half, so it sits nicely on your pan/rack/plate, etc. It also prevents your egg from spilling over and away!
Try to use a convection oven, rather than a microwave. The oven will distribute heat most evenly, resulting in overall better quality and taste.
Have you tried the #eggocado? What’s your favorite way to prepare it?
For this week’s edition of Midnight Munchies, we took another trip down to the Lower East Side to investigate a little place called Goa Taco, notoriously serving up some of the city’s most unique, cost-friendly taco nourishment. Conveniently, Goa Taco is located very near last week’s Cheese Grille, daring those hungry enough to take down both in one trip (a move I would highly recommend if you’re making the trek anyway). The shop seats about 12 uncomfortably in one tiny Carman dorm sized room containing kitchen, register, and seating, so peep this place when the weather is nicer so you can walk and taco (ha).
Upon first being told about our destination for the week, my taste-testing crew expressed skepticism about how there are a million other hole-in-the-wall taco shops around NYC that are equal in their quirk and quality. Goa Taco’s tacos, however, are not your run-of-the-mill tortilla wraps. Goa derives its name from the trading port in India where the paratha flatbread was created, the paratha being the replacement for the tortilla in a standard taco. This paratha bread changes the taco game completely. This stuff is golden, flakey, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and just buttery enough to make it completely impossible to eat this thing without making your hands glisten for the next few hours.
The tacos we tried were the “slow roasted pork belly with pickled red cabbage and chipotle mayo” and the “poached turkey breast Vietnamese banh mi”. The poached turkey breast was cooked excellently and was full of flavor. The tenderness of the turkey in combination with the crunch of the vegetables and the peanuts all floating in between the loving embrace of the paratha bread was an experience no less than blissful. That being said, somehow the pork belly taco was even better, packed with flavor coming from all directions in the form of smoky chipotle sauce, crunchy and sour cabbage, and the fatty pork belly. Honestly if I could just eat the paratha bread with this chipotle mayo for a week I would be thoroughly convinced that I had reached heaven. For 8 dollars, you’ll be hard pressed to find an experience in this city that will make you feel this #blessed.
Tacos aside, the real best part of Goa Taco is the small dessert menu that holds only one, sacred item: the mascarpone paratha churro. Yes. The delicious foundation of the tacos above have been incorporated into one of the greatest sweet treats of all time. When it came out, the churro looked modest in size, but it was massive in its grace and beauty. The cinnamon and sugar sparkled and shined on the crispy exterior of this nub of fried dough. Served fresh out of the deep fryer, it was scorching hot and smelt like everything happy you could ever think of happening to you in the course of your life. I took my innocent first bite, preparing for what looked like a pretty decent churro, but was instantly thrown into shock as a sea of molten Nutella flowed into my mouth, drowning me in a sea of hot love. My face was covered in Nutella and sugar by the time I had devoured my churro in three bites. Looking up, I saw liquid Nutella dotting the faces of my companions, who were sitting in awe at the event that we had all just experienced. Not bothering to clean our faces, we left in the highest of spirits, confident in that moment that nothing could bring down our happiness even with midterms staring us down in the next week.
Overall, Goa Taco is cheap, delicious, different, and incredibly satisfying. With the weather warming up, a trip to the Lower East Side and the taco shop could really be all you need for a date of dreams. I give Goa Taco 10 pounds of molten Nutella out of 10.
(Disclaimer: this is not a review entry but a photo-dining experience)
Last week I went to Dos Caminos in Meatpacking for NYC Restaurant Week.
Having only been there for a quick bite simply for guac and chips (or fajitas), it was my first time getting the “full meal” experience at the restaurant.
I had their Prix-Fixe lunch menu with Chicken Tortilla Soup, Chile Rubbed Brisket Taquitos, and Torta de Chocolate & Caramelo. My friend ordered the same appetizer with Grilled Organic Salmon Tostada and Tres Leches Cake. And of course, we ordered guac and chips: the Shrimp. Chorizo & Roasted Tomato.
This is not a review entry, but I would say that although the dining service was great, I would not go back to dine for a full-meal experience. Perhaps I have a different taste for Mexican food, as I’ve been and dined in Mexico and lived in Texas for a few years and had Mexican food there, but the food was not that special compared to other Mexican restaurants around New York or in other big cities. Of course, the reasons for it might be that the restaurant caters to American consumer’s general taste for food, and that the ingredients they use could be and probably is not all from Mexico, which could account for a subtle taste difference.
That is not to say that all the food I had: appetizers, entrees, and dessert, were not good. They were tasty and cooked perfectly, and I finished every bite that was on the plate. After all, the place was pretty full, the vibe that the restaurant’s interior created was great (like most big Meatpacking restaurants/bars), and people seemed happy about their orders. Clearly Dos Caminos is doing something right. My only big disappointment was their Tres Leches cake. I don’t know if it was just that day, or if they simply have a different recipe, but the cake was really hard and barely wet, making the cake less flavorful than what I had expected.
I would definitely go back for their guacamole though. I must say. The big bite of shrimp, roasted tomato, guac, salsa verde, and toasted tortilla chip, were on fleek.
Below in the last two photos are the details of the menu for both NY Restaurant Week and their regular Guac selections.
In the spirit of the recent Lunar New Year, this week’s column takes us to Chinatown for a legendary late night bargain stop. Wo Hop is open nearly 24 hours, from 10 AM to 7 AM, to serve hungry customers all over Manhattan at any time of day. The place gives off a divey diner vibe, with the walls covered in photos and celebrity autographs. There weren’t too many people when we were seated, so the service was very quick and the wait staff very friendly.
After being seated at a diner booth, we were given water and a VERY welcome cup of hot tea after walking several minutes from the subway stop in freezing weather. The menu consisted of pretty standard “Chinese” food (Chow Mein, Beef and Broccoli, Fried Rice, Dumplings, etc.) so we decided to go with some common choices: Beef Lo Mein, Pork Fried Rice, Orange Chicken, and Szechuan Chicken. Disappointingly, white rice on the side cost extra, an added cost a broke boy like myself frowned at. That being said, the portion sizes of each dish just about made up for it.
The pork fried rice was by far the highlight of the meal, with just the right meat-to-rice-to-vegetable ratio to keep a hungry crew happy. The massive, steaming plate vanished very quickly as it took center stage against some solid contenders. The orange chicken came out topped with fresh orange slices and provided a crispy complement to the bolder Szechuan chicken, both covered in incredible sauces. Both dishes had large pieces of batter fried chicken and stir-fried vegetables to dream about. Finally, the beef lo mein contained a tantalizing blend of noodles, crisp veggies, and big slices of flavorful beef. The sauce went perfectly with the beef in the noodles and made the plate into a beautiful work of midnight munchies art.
Overall, Wo Hop provides a killer amount of quality Chinese food for a reasonable price at most hours of the day (and night). Your meal shouldn’t cost more than maybe $10 a person to guarantee that all walk out full and satisfied. The funky décor of the place makes it into a destination for late-night diners who find themselves downtown and hungry with some spare cash. Wo Hop gets four fried dumplings out of five from me.
It’s Friday night. You’ve just left a show at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights and step onto the sidewalk ravenous. You look across the street and see a friendly looking restaurant on the corner with a warm glow coming from one of the windows. Upon closer inspection, you realize that the glow consists of rows and rows and rows of rotisserie chickens roasting, dripping in Dominican goodness. You’ve reached the midnight meal of your dreams.
Washington Heights is home to one of the city’s largest Dominican populations. If you’re looking for authentic Dominican food in NYC, this is the place to be. The original Malecon restaurant is located just a few blocks from the 168th St. stop on the 1, but for those who can’t make it up to the Heights, the wonderful owners dropped a second location much closer to Columbia down on 98th and Amsterdam (having been to both, I can assure you there is no difference in quality between the two). In this article, I’ll cover the original restaurant whose hours extend a fair bit later to 2 A.M.
The inside of the establishment is much larger than the view from outside would lead you to think, with plenty of seating within boasting views of the glorious chicken ovens. Judging by the décor of the place, you would expect the price range of this meal to be up towards the $15-20 range; this is not the case. An entire chicken will only run you $10, and believe me when I say that one Malecon chicken is much more than you could ever ask for.
My first trip to Malecon stemmed from a recommendation my friend who lives in Washington Heights gave me, selling it as the ONLY place to go for the best food in the neighborhood. I was instructed to not even look at the menu but to order a single chicken with beans and rice, no questions asked. I remember watching the guy working the ovens pull out chicken after chicken, throw it down on the cutting board, and in three or four swift motions, cut the chicken with scissors into a few big sections.
When the chicken is brought to you, it comes out with two little containers of a green sauce. When I asked friends about how to describe the green sauce, I heard “life-changing,” “I’d put it in my water if I could,” and “it could make John Jay’s food edible”. These are not understatements. The Malecon green sauce would make a criminal turn himself in. The Malecon green sauce would bring Congress together to actually get things done. I’m heavily convinced that this green sauce could even cut through the bureaucracy of Columbia’s administration. Pour it over your entire meal. As if you’ll need more food, you get fresh baked bread for free for your table.
This chicken is everything you could ever love about food. Cooked to perfection, it’s juicy with a slightly crispy skin covered in seasoning. The meat almost falls right off the bone, so as much as you want to keep it classy with the silverware, the real way to go is to just pull and chow. Not to be ignored, the rice and beans are an essential part of the Malecon experience in order to avoid a meat overload. Together, the three components of your meal complete a legendary trifecta of flavors.
I quickly discovered that the best ratio of food to price at Malecon for one person is one half-chicken, a side of rice, and a side of beans. For two people, including tax and tip, your bill will only just pass the $20 barrier. If you bring the whole gang and order a couple chickens and some sides family-style, you can bring the price down to something like $7 each.
All being said, next time you find yourself craving a late-night meal that will comfort you like only your mother could, Malecon will be there waiting for you with open arms and chicken wings. I give Malecon a rating of 5 green sauce-colored stars.
After two months of Ferris and John Jay sketchiness and mediocrity, with the full weight of closed dining halls upon us, my suitemates Rebecca and Trevor, along with myself, set out to solve the issue of our potential starvation. Subsisting on fun-size Snickers, Kit Kats, and Haribo Gummy Bears (full-size and petite) could only last our souls and arteries for so long, and we set out on a three-course meal extravaganza.
Trevor looked for the autumn-inspired appetizer, entrée, and dessert recipes, and after much debate (“BUT THESE DON’T INCLUDE PUMPKIN, UGH, THEY DON’T QUALIFY AS FALL WHAT IS MY LIFE”) settled on garlic-rosemary “Hassleback” potatoes, a casserole-like eggplant-roasted-red-pepper baked spaghetti, and an innovative no-bake Greek yogurt cheesecake. Brimming with anticipation, hunger, and slightly intimidation, the three of us ventured to Garden of Eden (gasp!) to avoid the expensive black hole that is Westside Market (PSA: 10% discount for Columbia students with ID!).
Split three ways, the total cost of our grocery load equaled that of one meal swipe, a fact we found nothing less than remarkable.
We set out first to make the crust and filling for our no-bake cheesecake, as that would take the longest and had to be chilled. Crushing the graham crackers was surprisingly easy and quick (and therapeutic!) thanks to a heavy-duty rolling pin and Ziploc baggie. Melted butter made the crust complete, and soon the entirety of the minuscule Hartley kitchen smelled like gingerbread cookies. It took all of our willpower to not eat the crust as-is. I can’t say the same for the filling, an interesting hodgepodge of cream cheese, Chobani, lemon juice, and sugar, a heavenly yet simple combination.
After leaving both the crust and filling to chill away in the fridge, we moved promptly on to gingerly slicing away at the Hasselback potatoes. The recipe called for a specific slicing technique, where half-moon chunks of potato would be very thinly sliced, leaving the bottoms intact to hold maximum flavor release from the garlic and rosemary. Five huge Russet potatoes, one tiny, incompetent knife, and many thin slices of garlic and fragrant sprigs of rosemary later…
Though preparation was long, leaving it to work magic in a 425-degree oven was all that stood between the potatoes and our stomachs.
Next, we moved on to roasting the vegetables for our pasta bake’s sauce and base. By this point, the several passersby who were understandably entranced by the abnormally delicious smells in our suite eyed us with envy as we snickered shamelessly.
After a quick pureé of the roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions, we added some spaghetti cooked slightly under al dente, and then began assembling the dish, falling into silenced awe between gasps of how good the fresh buffalo mozzarella was (at this point, we were so hungry we resorted to half-laying the mozzarella on the dish itself and half-inhaling it).
Eight minutes searing under a 450 degree oven left us with surely one of the world’s greatest pasta dishes.
Though we were waiting impatiently for our cheesecake to finish chilling (cake for breakfast is always a good idea, even better if it’s cheesecake for breakfast), this was all-in-all, an utterly successful attempt at feeding ourselves like “real adults.” With a little experimenting and a lot of hope and luck, we were able to start off fall break on a comforting and delicious note with these easy yet completely satisfying recipes. Definitely give them all a try and you will surely end up as pleasantly surprised, ecstatic, and full as we did.