Tag Archives: midtown

Juice Generation

644 9th Ave, New York NY 10036 (Between 45th and 46th St)

Mon–Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

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This healthy little gem is located on 9th Ave, between 45th and 46th St. It’s not too far from the Times Square subway station, making it very accessible if you’re shopping nearby. This famous chain also has many other locations, including one on 117 W 72nd St, which is much closer to campus. While the physical store is quite small and has no seating available, they have a wide variety of options. 2017-02-18 16.44.13

Need a quick pick-me-up?  They have healthy juices and smoothies. Want something more filling? They have nicely portioned açai bowls, vegan lunch options (rolls, burgers, and noodles), and vegan pastries. What is unique about this chain is their “juice farmacy,” which is made up of small drinks with jam-packed nutrients. One such drink is the “lemon lozenge,” a blend of lemons, cayenne, and ginger, to help clear an irritating cold.

I ordered a “Green Guardian” smoothie and a “Jackpot!” açaí bowl, while my friend ordered an “I Heart Watermelon” smoothie, sweetened with agave and an “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl. For smoothies, you have the option of almond milk or hemp milk and you can sweeten them with either agave or dates.

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“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie and Almond Bliss Açaí Bowl

“I Heart Watermelon” Smoothie: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.

Overall, the smoothie had a nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and was not too overpowering. The first note of the smoothie had a very strong raspberry taste with a subtle hint of watermelon that was gradually brought out upon further tasting. It was very light compared to the “Green Guardian,” with a more liquid texture (as opposed to starchy), and would be perfect for a post-workout refreshment.

“Almond Butter Bliss” Açaí Bowl: açaí, almond butter, almond milk, banana, coconut shavings, hemp granola, and strawberries.

The “Almond Butter Bliss” açaí bowl had an overall extremely nutty flavor that my friend thought was slightly overpowering. The bowl could have used slightly more acidity with the addition of more citrus-y flavors. Interestingly, she tasted a hint of chocolate milk, which could have been caused by the mixture of almond milk and banana.

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“Jackpot!” Açaí Bowl and “Green Guardian” Smoothie

“Jackpot!” Açaí Bowl: açaí, almond milk, banana, coconut oil, coconut shavings, hemp granola, jackfruit, kiwi, and strawberries.

The açaí bowl was actually more liquid-y than I had expected, and didn’t look too appetizing by looks alone. I was blown away by the taste. The textures in the bowl brought a nice variety and they struck a perfect harmony between the chewy and crispy granola, the tarte fruit, and liquid-y açai. The nutty flavor contrasts the typical sweet and sour açai bowl and provides a nice base note. Kiwi is an unusual fruit to add into açai bowls, but it definitely works here and provides the desired citrus-y acidity. The fruit used in my açaí bowl was really fresh. After eating this açaí bowl, I felt a lot healthier and even  refreshed!

Green Guardian” Smoothie:  avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, spinach, strawberries, and swiss chard.

At first, I regretted my decision to order this smoothie. It was rather bland compared with the “I Heart Watermelon,” and I wished that I had chosen to sweeten the smoothie with dates or agave. The smoothie was rather starchy and thick. About half way through the smoothie, it was difficult to obtain any more liquid and I had to constantly poke around the cup. The more I drank, however, the more my opinion of this smoothie improved. The almond milk fragrance became more identifiable and there even seemed to be a banana-like taste in the background. Definitely sweeten the smoothie if you order this drink!

Juice Generation has a nice variety of healthy options and I can’t wait to try out the many other options that it offers.

Till next time!

Fiona

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The Cinnamon Snail: Vegan Food on Wheels

For my last blog post of the semester, I decided to try something a little different, and the Cinnamon Snail is definitely something out of the ordinary. The Cinnamon Snail is known for having vegan food trucks scattered throughout New York and New Jersey, but recently they opened a location in the Pennsy, a new food hall above Penn Station on the corner of 33rd street and 7th avenue. The food hall has numerous other options other than the Cinnamon Snail (and all of them looked great).

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Although their menu is limited, their food is truly spectacular. You will not regret visiting either their location at the Pennsy or one of their food trucks. I decided to order the Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich, which was made with roasted garlic aioli, marinated kale, tomato, onion, and of course, tempeh. They were very liberal with their use of garlic aioli along with all of the other ingredients used. The garlic aioli was delicious and tasted great with the maple marinated tempeh. This sandwich was filled to capacity and as a result, I left completely stuffed. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this sandwich. All I can really say is that you must try this for yourself because you will not be disappointed!

Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich
Maple Mustard Tempeh Sandwich

Even though I was completely stuffed, I couldn’t resist trying their Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie because I could already tell from their display that it would taste good, but I didn’t realize just how good it would taste. It was probably one of the best brownies that I have ever had because the chocolate was very rich in flavor and the peanut butter cheesecake layer in the middle was utter perfection, especially with the contrast of the chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie

I’m so glad I got a chance to try the Cinnamon Snail because it is probably one of my favorite places I have tried thus far. There really is nothing quite like it in all of Manhattan. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a quick bite in a casual atmosphere (and of course great vegan food).

Slurping in Midtown

If you know me, you probably know that I’m a bit of a momofuku noodle bar aficionado. Sometimes, though, a friend isn’t willing to make the trek to the Lower East Side (and wait an hour+), or I’m in midtown and need to eat dinner, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is definitely a close second.

Ivan Orkin is unusual—a New Yorker who, thanks to a degree in Japanese language, opened a ramen shop in Tokyo. I met and was able to speak the chef recently; he was like any guy you might run into on the streets of New York – plus a deep knowledge of Japanese food, language, and culture.

I haven’t been to Orkin’s first restaurant in New York, Ivan Ramen, but I have been to the slurp shop, in the Gotham West Market, a number of times. Orkin’s ramen is unusual in that he uses a chicken based broth (as opposed to a pork one), and rye noodles. In general, I’ve found the flavors to be excellent but the soup to be a bit cold. You want ramen to be burn-your-mouth hot; this is not.

The slurp shop has changed their menu recently, and done away with rice bowls. Instead of automatically getting an egg on top of a bowl of ramen, you have a choice of one extra topping . These include: soft egg, toasted garlic bomb, enoki mushrooms, young bok choy, roasted tomato, pork belly, chicken, bamboo shoots, seaweed salad, shiso onions, field greens, bean sprouts, shaved cabbage, gluten free tofu noodle, and toasted nori; these are also available as extra toppings. “Mega meat” (either chicken or pork) is available as well. They’ve also added several buns.

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I had the pork belly buns ($9), with spicy teriyaki glaze and miso cabbage. Also available are veggie burger buns, shrimp buns, and pastrami buns (paying homage to Orkin’s heritage). These were excellent, though they could have used a pickle to cut the fat. Unfortunately, momofuku’s famous pork buns still beat all.

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I chose the Tokyo Shio Ramen ($13), whose broth is chicken and salt (as opposed to the Shoyu ramen, which has soy sauce added as well), topped with pork belly, bamboo shoots, and scallion. The flavor of the broth is perfect; chicken-y and salty, not too fatty. It was excellent; hotter than usual—the absence of an egg was not missed.

The drinks, as well, are not to be missed. Yuzu lemonade is unique and delicious; very tart and not too sweet.

The Clinton St. Ivan Ramen features a larger menu, as well as breakfast—so sometime when I’m craving momofuku soon, maybe I’ll try out Orkin’s first NYC location instead.

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop,

600 11th Ave(212) 582-7942

Atmosphere: Casual, upbeat.

Noise Level: loud.

Recommended Dishes: Shio ramen, yuzu lemonade

Price range: $$

Hours: 11am–11pm, Sun-Thurs; 11am–12am, Fri-Sat

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Southern Style Bakery in the Big Apple

After spending a week at my home in South Carolina, returning to New York City made me nostalgic for warmer weather and the ability to wear flip flops every day.  Because I have recently been focusing on the French patisseries, I let my desire for some homemade Southern baked goods determine my next bakery adventure.

Completely different from anything I have reviewed before, Donna Bell’s Bake Shop is a cozy space tucked into a busy Midtown area, blocks away from Times Square.  Yet once I stepped inside, the noise and commotion of the area dropped away as I was greeted by a welcoming environment very similar to a Southern kitchen.  I could watch the baking process of the goods in the tiny kitchen, as they were carefully handmade.  And in front of me, stacks of cookies, cheesecakes, and desserts beckoned me to come further into the store.  Started by Pauley Perrette from the show NCIS and her two best friends, the shop is named for Perrette’s late mother, Donna Bell, and the small staff constantly works to represent her memory through their baking and attention to customer service.

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After it was pointed out to me that the blueberry cheesecake squares were especially thick that day, I could not resist picking one up to carry back to school with me.  Donna Bell’s does not have seating for its customers, but in my mind, that just adds to the cozy ambiance and size of the space.  To brighten up my walk back to the subway stop, I also purchased an Arnold Palmer (a blend of sweet tea and lemonade) to really get the full Southern experience for my day.  Stepping back outside, the temperature seemed a little bit warmer and the sun a little brighter, and with my cold drink in hand, I could almost pretend that it was summer again.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Square and Arnold Palmer

The blueberry cheesecake that I promptly devoured upon reaching my dorm had thick shell topped with a creamy filling, without being overwhelmingly sweet.  I often find that I cannot even finish slices of cheesecakes when I go out due to their heaviness and sweetness, but this square hit a perfect balance.  A thick layer of blueberry swept through the middle of the cheesecake, the fresh taste of fruit reminded me of homemade baked goods. Donna Bell’s gave me the taste of Southern cooking that I needed, without neglecting the accessibility and options of the city.

 

Address: 301 W 49th St, New York, NY 10019

City Kitchen

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This week I headed out to one of the newest food markets in the city, the City Kitchen. Located in an annex of the swanky Row NYC hotel right in midtown (44th and 8th Avenue), the food market is easy to get to and is definitely worth checking out if you’re hungry while in Midtown. I was a little hesitant to go at first, but was persuaded by a website featuring beautiful photos of the food the market offers.

Featured brands include Dough’s donuts, Luke’s lobster rolls and Whitman’s burgers. It saves you the trouble of traipsing all over town hunting down these delicious offerings. City Kitchen does you a favor by bringing them all under one roof, for relatively good prices (for midtown) and spacious, free seating.

I started with dessert first, which was Sigmund’s Pretzels. There is variety of flavors on offer, from Classic, to classy Truffle Cheddar, to a savory Feta Olive and a if you’re feeling unsure, an ‘Everything’ flavour that makes sure you don’t miss out. I went for the Churros flavor because I was missing the churros I had in Brazil. A churro pretzel is obviously not the same as a fresh traditional one straight out of the deep fryer but I must say I wasn’t disappointed. The dough was firm and chewy, and if I had a complaint was that it didn’t come with chocolate sauce, but you could buy Nutella on the side for another 50 cents, which might be worth the investment.

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Sigmund’s pretzels.

 

The shrimp ceviche from Gabriela’s Tequeira was delicious. The shrimp was fresh and beautifully laid out amongst the mango and pineapple. The ceviche was not too sour, which can sometimes happen with ceviche, and was therefore cold, fresh and perfect on a warm spring Sunday. I got fish tacos for myself. The serving size was a little small for my liking, but it was well-presented. The fish was fresh and coated with a solid batter that was fried to a golden crisp.

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Shrimp ceviche
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Small but delicious fish tacos.

 

Because I was feeling a little gluttony, I decided I might go for the Whitman burger. The line was longest and in my book that’s often an indicator of quality. I decided on the classic Upstate burger, with added cheese. It was a great burger, with the cheese perfectly melted and the patty juicy and extremely well-seasoned. I suspect that they had a special marinade, because there was a good flavor that permeated the meat. My main complaint was that the bun, which I felt did not have that soft, pillowy texture that I had grown to love and crave, but that could just be me being picky.

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Upstate burger.

 

There were many other stalls in the market, despite its relatively small size. I didn’t have the time (or budget) to try them all, but if I do return (and I most probably will), I will make a beeline for the lobster rolls from Luke’s and possibly the ramen from Kuro Obi. I saw some people get it and that gave me a hard time when trying to decide what to order. Also, if you’re a fan of Dough’s donuts, they’ve got a huge selection at this particular branch, so you just might discover some new flavors you can’t get at other spots.

The City Kitchen is a great concept and I’m glad it’s opened in Midtown. If you’re ever near Times Square and want somewhere with adequate seating, reasonable prices and good food, it’s definitely worth going down to the Row NYC hotel to check City Kitchen out.

 

NYC Restaurant Week: Butter

In honor of NYC Restaurant Week, the first visit I made was a Contemporary American dining called Butter in Midtown, NYC. Their prix-fixe menu had three choices each for Appetizer and Entrée, and two for Dessert. I had the Butternut Squash Soup with Popcorns, Ravioli with Pesto Sauce, and Chocolate Torte with Mocha Ice-cream. They also had two choices of butter for their bread, the classic, and some form of herb-butter. Overall the service and the dining, for the prix-fixe price, was great! Now time to go on the elliptical (while making my next Restaurant Week reservation through OpenTable.)

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

Butter Restaurant-NYC Restaurant Week

 

Finding Tokyo in Midtown

In my opinion, Japanese cuisine is the height of culinary achievement, aesthetically as well as philosophically. It can be extremely simple, or complicated; in the end, it has to be perfect, because every flaw is obvious.

Sushi restaurants lie on every corner in New York City, but restaurants that serve more than sushi, and actually resemble Japan, are harder to find. So far, I’ve found two: Aburiya Kinnosuke and Sakagura.

Aburiya Kinnosuke is an izakaya restaurant, which traditionally means a sake bar with bar snacks—one sits at the bar and drinks endless amounts of sake, ordering plate after plate of deliciousness. Calling the food bar snacks, however, is a gross understatement. One can choose the chef’s omasake, the equivalent of a tasting menu, and choose a price, starting at $60. The cuisine at this restaurant is heavily focused on robata grilling, but other types of food are served as well. Some of the highlights:

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Sashimi.
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Grilled on our own private plate!
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After grilling; incredibly tender.
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My favorite course; fried lotus root and small shrimp.

At Sakagura, dinner is about sharing. You order many little dishes for the table. (At lunch, it’s more like a traditional restaurant; you order a dish for yourself.)

The incredible thing about Sakagura, though, is how stark the difference between the surroundings and the restaurant is. It’s located in the basement of an apartment building, so there aren’t any windows, and this actually works to the restaurant’s advantage: it’s like walking into Tokyo, and the lack of windows helps you forget that you’re actually in a basement in Manhattan.

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Hiyayakko: chilled tofu topped with grated ginger, scallion and bonito flakes.
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Maguro tartar: chopped tuna with flying fish foe and caviar, steeped in yuzu.
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Sake oyako don: fillets of fresh salmon sashimi and salmon roe steeped in soy sauce served atop a bowl of rice.

Salmon, or sake, is my favorite type of sashimi, and this dish was no disappointment.

So if you want a respite from the New York life, and you want to spend an evening in what feels like Japan, check out one of these places. It’s well worth it.

Aburiya Kinnosuke:

213 East 45th St New York, 10017; (212) 867-5454

Atmosphere: light wood, private rooms, shouting waiters, and an open sushi bar give the restaurant the feeling of stepping into a different world.

Sound Level: Loud.

Recommended Dishes: chef’s omakase.

Price Range: Choose your price for omakase, starting at $60. There is also a la carte.

Hours: Mon-Sat: 5:30 pm–12:30 am, Sunday 5:30 pm–11:30 pm.

Reservations: by telephone only; recommended if you want a private room or are dining in a large group.

Sakagura:

211 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017; (212) 953-7253

Atmosphere: feels like being in Tokyo.

Sound Level: Medium.

Recommended Dishes: sake oyako don, maguro tartar, tori tsukune (chicken meatballs)

Price Range: ~$30 per person.

Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:30 am–2:20 pm, 6:00 pm–12:00 am; Fri-Sat: 6:00 pm–1:00 am, Sun 9:00 am–2:30 pm, 6:00 pm–11:00 pm.

Reservations: by telephone, or through OpenTable.

Chocolate and the City

I, like many of us, had some false expectations about going to school in the big apple. From Gossip Girl to Sex and the City, New York has this cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and worldly reputation that grabs people from all over the world. Eventually I came to realize that college is not really those things. But New York still has its moments.

So when I told my friend from home, who currently goes to school in the middle of nowhere, that I really wanted to go to this chocolate place to try their black sesame truffle, her response was “Wow. That’s so New York.” College is one of those experiences that is what you make it. Everyone I know here is adventurous in some aspect, and goes out into the city (or just past Morningside Heights) for something. My something happens to be chocolate.

I may be adventurous in chocolate, but I am not the type who loves every flavor in the box. Weird fruit flavors, spicy, or just overpowering truffles are not for me. But at Kee’s Chocolate I have never had one I didn’t like. From the unexpected, like kaffir lime or blood orange, to the normal yet exceedingly delicious, like champagne or tiramisu, every single bonbon I had was one of the best ever. And I don’t know how to describe the black sesame other than the most unexpected combination of crunch and sweet. Kee’s is also well known for their French macaroons and bars of chocolate, but I think I’m going to stick to the truffles for now.

There’s no doubt that everything at Kee’s is delicious – but is it super practical? No. With a box of six chocolates for sixteen dollars, it’s not really an everyday kind of thing (although they do give you a free sample with every purchase). But every time I feel like I need a bit of New York sophistication, or feel like showing off my New York style to friends from out of town, this is the place. And you can bet, that I will be getting the black sesame truffle every single time.

Check out Kee’s Chocolates in Midtown, Midtown West and Soho

Uncle Vanya Café: Russian in Midtown


Exterior of Uncle Vanya Cafe

If you’re going to catch a show at one of the theaters in midtown you might consider getting some dinner first from one of the diverse restaurants located in the area. If you’re feeling adventurous, or even just curious, you might want to check out Uncle Vanya Café, located on 315 West 54th Street between 8th and 9th avenues.

This small and intimate eatery takes its name from the play by Anton Chekhov and offers reasonably priced Russian cuisine. Despite its unassuming exterior the restaurant is very cozy, comfortable, and welcoming. The menu offers a wide variety of dishes often featuring fish, chicken, beef, potatoes, cabbage, and beats and flavored with parsley and dill. Most of the entrees and appetizers are centered on fish or meat, but there are several vegetarian dishes.

Borsch

I went last Saturday evening with a group of several friends and was accommodated without a reservation. However, the restaurant soon filled up with several groups of people, including a large party. Despite this, the acoustics made it easy to communicate, the service was competent and prompt, and the delivery of food was well paced. Thanks to the menu’s modest pricing and our gross underestimate of portion sizes, my party of four to splurged on food, each ordering a soup, appetizer, and entrée.

Russian Herring & Potatoes

To start we ordered a chicken dumpling (pelmeni) soup as well as borsch, which consisted of beats, cabbage, and tomatoes topped with sour cream and dill (apparently this dish often also contains a meat component though the one served here is vegetarian) and could be served hot or cold. For out appetizers we ordered Salad Olivier (sometimes referred to as Russian salad) which consisted of diced potatoes, onions, pickles, carrots, peas, and chicken dressed in mayonnaise. We also tried the Russian style herring, succulent pickled slices of fish served with home fried potatoes and dill; and the Vareniki, potato dumplings served with onions, dill, and sour cream. All of these dishes were thoroughly enjoyable, and I personally fell in love with the herring and the accompanying potatoes, which were well cooked and wonderfully seasoned. For entrees the table ordered beef stroganoff, sliced beef served with mushrooms in a sour cream sauce and accompanied by bulgur wheat; Golubtsy, stuffed cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice and served in a tomato sauce; and finally Chicken Kiev, a chicken breast rolled and seasoned with herbal butter, then breaded and sautéed and served with a side of home fried potatoes.

Chicken Kiev

Although I wasn’t able to try all the entrees I was pleased with my own meal, the Chicken Kiev, which was very filling and reasonably flavorful, though admittedly somewhat unexciting. Overall I found Uncle Vanya Café to be a real gem. Its reasonably priced, serves large portions, has a very cute and intimate setting, and has a large variety of fairly authentic Russian dishes conveniently located right in midtown.

 

Beef Stroganoff
Golubtsy
Salad Olivier (right) & Vareniki (left)