Tag Archives: restaurant review

A Vegan’s Heaven in the Village

This time when I chose a vegan restaurant to visit, I decided to stray a little further from campus and I found Red Bamboo on 140 W 4th Street in the Village.


The restaurant has a very calming and cozy feel, making it a very nice place to go if you are stressed. I decided to get take-out from the restaurant and it only took them 10 minutes to make my food! So, if you are very hungry after making the trek from Morningside Heights, luckily, you will not have to wait long! And my trek was truly worth it!!

Popcorn shrimp
Popcorn Shrimp

I decided to start off my meal with an appetizer. I chose the popcorn shrimp because one of the things that I miss the most after becoming a vegetarian is shrimp. The vegan popcorn shrimp were absolutely amazing! The shrimp I got had the same texture and taste of real shrimp! The shrimp were fried perfectly and the sauce that came with them complimented them very well. I will definitely be going back to get more!!

Classic blt
Classic B.L.T.

I got the classic BLT for my entrée because I was really interested in trying Red Bamboo’s version of bacon. The tempeh bacon was also really good and it  had a very similar taste to real bacon. The sandwich also included whole wheat bread, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and vegan mayonnaise. The mayonnaise didn’t taste exactly like real mayonnaise, but in some ways it was actually better. It was a little less thick than real mayonnaise and had a little bit of a different taste, which actually went better with my sandwich than real mayonnaise would have. I definitely will have to get this sandwich again!

I loved everything about Red Bamboo and I will definitely be going back sometime very soon. Everything I tried tasted absolutely amazing and now I know that there is a place that makes great substitutes for the food that any vegan or vegetarian misses. I will definitely be recommending this restaurant to everyone I know, whether or not they are vegan or vegetarian!


Mission Chinese: Sichuan Cuisine Survives on the Lower East Side

Mission Chinese Food, which opened in 2012, serves spicy Sichuan-inspired cuisine; the restaurant has had lines out the door pretty much since opening.

And then in 2013, the restaurant was shut down due to sanitation issues.

But it’s been a while since then, so I cautiously ventured down to the Lower East Side with a friend to indulge in some chili-doused chicken wings. We hadn’t made a reservation, and at first it seemed we would have to wait. But there was an area in the front where they serve the whole menu, and we’re not picky sitters.


Since it’s Sichuan-inspired cuisine (Sichuan is the province with the spiciest cuisine in China), we figured we had to order several spicy dishes, and balance it out with a couple of milder dishes.

matcha noodles

The first dish we got was the green tea noodles. This was probably my favorite of the things we ordered; the bitterness of the matcha contrasts spectacularly with the savory noodles and sweet hoisin sauce. The crunch of the thinly sliced radish adds a textural contrast in comparison to the soft ramen.

rice cakes with thrice-cooked bacon and tofu skins

Mission Chinese seems to have textural components of their food down. Chewy, starchy rice cakes, crunchy cucumber, fatty, soft bacon; all doused in a super-spicy, umami, garlicky sauce. Top it with raw scallions and cilantro and you have a winner.

chicken wings
chicken wings

The chicken wings were so good, but they were far too spicy for me. I had one; my friend had five. Imagine: delicious chicken wings, with a nice crispy skin; then imagine dumping an entire container of chili flakes on them. Wonderful, but dangerous.

pork belly and radishes
pork belly and radishes

If pork belly is on a menu, I can’t not order it. This was the other non-spicy dish; I thought the mint didn’t go so well with the pork belly and radish, but besides that the dish was excellent. A light, sweet sauce cut was with the slight bitterness of greens. The pork belly was soft, and the radishes added a nice crunch.

And then—a complimentary treat!


These were not spicy, and they were a perfect bite at the end of the meal. Spinach, egg, and (I think) tapioca. An interesting combination, but it worked.

The bathroom is in the basement. One must walk past the kitchen in order to get to it. The kitchen was filled with shouts of “hot!” “order in!” and “yes, chef!”

There’s nothing like a fast-paced, energetic kitchen to get the blood pumping and get a diner looking forward to a meal. Go to Mission Chinese. Even if there’s a wait. You won’t regret it—though your mouth might after a couple of chicken wings.

Mission Chinese,

171 E Broadway

Atmosphere: Young, hip, upbeat.

Noise Level: Loud.

Recommended Dishes: green tea noodles, pork belly and radishes

Price Range: $$

Hours: 5:30–12, Tues-Sat; 5:30-11, Sun–Mon.



Peacefood Cafe: Any Vegan or Non-Vegan’s Paradise

Everyone loves dessert, and luckily, Manhattan is home to numerous bakeries for all of us dessert lovers in the city. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a good vegan bakery, even in Manhattan. I made it my mission to find a good vegan bakery and I found the Peacefood Cafe, which is both a vegan restaurant and vegan bakery.


The cafe is a nice, casual, and cozy spot to have a meal with a friend, while enjoying their many vegan options. It is definitely a stress-free atmosphere! It is located in the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd, so it isn’t too far from campus. They also have another location in the Village.


The bakery part of the restaurant had many vegan desserts, which all look like they must be made with diary products. Upon walking in, I even wondered if their desserts were actually vegan! In place of the dairy products normally found in these desserts, the Peacefood Cafe uses healthier options, such as avocados. Not only are these desserts vegan, but also many of them are even gluten free.

From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie
From left to right: chocolate chip cookie sandwich and raw chocolate mousse pie

I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwich and a slice of the raw chocolate mousse pie. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich was two large cookies with chocolate inside, which made them stick together. Without the chocolate inside, the cookies were some of the best I have ever had. The chocolate inside was so rich in flavor that it made the cookies taste even  better. The mousse pie was made with avocado, which made me a little nervous to try it, but it was amazing! The taste of the avocado was undetectable and if anything, it made the chocolate taste even richer in flavor. I will definitely be going back to the cafe to get both of these desserts again!

Mango Lassi
Mango lassi

I also had a mango lassi while I was at the cafe, which I was a little nervous about because it is a yogurt-based drink. The mango lassi was pretty good considering it was vegan, but it wasn’t as good as the non-vegan ones I have had in the past. The yogurt used in the drink tasted like regular yogurt, but the lassi tasted too much like yogurt and did not have enough of a mango taste. Overall, it was good, but I think I will try a different drink next time.

I look forward to going back to the Peacefood Cafe to try more of their vegan options! I definitely would recommend this cafe to anyone looking for a nice to spot to eat and hang out with friends or anyone looking for a good take-out place. This cafe is great for both vegans and non-vegans, alike!

Everyone’s Favorite Foods, Veganized

For my first attempt at finding a vegan restaurant in Manhattan, I decided to begin with a place fairly close to campus. With a quick Google search, I found numerous vegan restaurants, but the Seasoned Vegan on St. Nicholas Avenue caught my eye. After I saw their catch phrase: “The food you love, veganized,” I got really excited.


The restaurant is really cozy inside and it is definitely a relaxing atmosphere. The waiters and waitresses are so nice and really make you feel at home. One waiter I met is taking classes at Columbia and tried to give me advice on what classes to take!

The best part about this restaurant is that they have both vegan versions of a lot of comfort food and also vegan versions of more upscale entrées. Any vegan or anyone just going vegan for the night, can find something they want to eat.

The problem with a lot of comfort food is that it normally contains either dairy products or meat products. As a result, a vegan cannot easily find comfort food options at home, but at the Seasoned Vegan, they have variations of numerous comfort foods that any vegan would be nostalgic for. I’d have to say that one of my favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese and the Seasoned Vegan has it! As a vegetarian, I have always told my friends, “I could never go vegan. There is no way I could give up cheese!” Although, if I could eat this whenever I wanted, I could definitely do it. The “cheese” tastes very similar to regular cheese, but it does have a little bit of a different taste and texture to it.


After having the macaroni and “cheese,” I was very excited to try my entrée because I ordered a “tuna” melt, and being a vegetarian, I haven’t had tuna in a long time. The “tuna” was a really good substitute for real tuna. It had a really similar taste and texture, and the seasoning was amazing. The salad that came with it went really well with my sandwich.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 11.00.16 PM

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to any vegans looking for a good vegan restaurant to go to, as well as anyone looking for a healthier option to the food they know and love.

Cheap Eats NYC: How to keep your date (and wallet) happy

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.

Click for their menu. 

MIMI CHENG’S DUMPLINGS in the lower East


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!!

Click for their menu. 

S’MAC in the East Village


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.

Click for their menu. 

Gaia Italian Cafe in the Lower East Side


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!!

Click for their menu.

Happy eating, and happy dating!!

Midnight Munchies: The Morningside Classic – 115th and Broadway

Recently I’ve been receiving some feedback and requests asking that Midnight Munchies take a look at some local stops so this week we hit the closest to home I can think of: our sweet beloved, the 115th st. halal cart. I can still remember the first time I visited, a young clueless Wisconsin boy lost and hungry late in the night with no sense of where to go to satisfy my cravings. Hopefully this article will assist some current prospies in avoiding the same situation next year and informing you of the best place within a few blocks to go when your tank is empty.

2015-04-12 02.36.52
Yes, this was consumed in under five minutes by me. No, I do not feel any guilt about that.


When I first got to New York I shied away from the food carts, thinking that they were poor quality and going to cause some major trouble in my stomach. I was right about the stomach part (many people with weak stomachs definitely feel the aftermath of a natural disaster traveling through their digestive system the next morning), but on quality I could not have been more wrong. I have no trouble in saying that the best late night food in Morningside Heights can be found until the wee hours of morning at the corner of 115th and Broadway, right next to Morton Williams. For only 5 sweet dollars you can get lamb over rice, chicken over rice, falafel over rice, or a combination of those over rice! If that’s not the best cash deal in the city I honestly don’t know what is. Of course there’s always the option of getting a lamb or chicken gyro or a falafel sandwich for 4 bucks but really that’s only of use when you’ve consumed so much lamb and chicken over rice that you need something to switch it up with (or you only have 4 bucks). The secret to the best halal cart meal you can get here (in my opinion) is to first of all make friends with the guys that own the cart. These guys came over from Egypt together, friends for a very long time, and started this halal business. They put up with the rowdiest, most obnoxious inebriated college students at 3 a.m. week in and week out, so use your best manners and drop them a tip when you can, they’re genuinely good people. Once you’ve gone enough times to be recognized when you roll up, you should be in the clear to not feel guilty about asking for a ton of white sauce and then asking for a little bit more on top of that. It’s really the only way to go; you should feel like Moses parting a sea of white sauce when you go in with your fork. Another power move when you’ve got some loose change on you is to request chopped up pita on top of your halal. I was only introduced to this possibility about halfway through first semester, and it changed the game completely. At this point your halal will carry some hefty weight so you better be ready to run back to your dorm and consume promptly to gain back all that weight you burned off lugging it back (plus probably quite a bit more). The pita on top will cost extra, but has not let me down yet in taking the halal to the next level.

2014-10-30 05.41.27
Actual picture of the lamb meat being as happy as I was to eat it. Photo credit: Jack Donohue


A lot of people will tell you that the “Halal Guys” is the definitive place to go to get halal in the city. However, having been to two halal guys locations and the 115th cart, I stand by my claims that our trusty 115th comrades have the halal cart game on lock. They’re always willing to hit you with extra white sauce, they don’t hit you too hard with the hot sauce, every once in a while they’ll throw some French fries on top, and they will always give you a completely full or overflowing box of halal. Plus, how can you beat just walking across the street and throwing down a few bucks to get hot halal in minutes? If you find out, let me know and I’ll give it a look. I would also like to point out that just writing this article made me extremely happy because now I’m thinking about halal, and I’m probably going to get some right now. Find me there Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays between 2-3 a.m., we can break pita together! I give the 115th halal cart a hundred smiling first-years out of a hundred.

Location: 115th and Broadway, Morningside Heights

Hours: I’ve only seen this place closed past 4 a.m., chances are if you’re awake and hungry they’ll be ready for you

Price: $4-6

Midnight Munchies: Goa Taco and the Paratha Life

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).

Pork (soon to be in my) Belly Taco

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.

Stuffed full AND overflowing with that cheeky chipotle mayo on the bottom of that paratha.

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.

I couldn’t resist taking a bite of the paratha before the picture, apologies.

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.

I feel like posting a picture of this churro does it a massive injustice. Please do yourself a favor and go see it in real life I promise you it’ll be right up there with the most beautiful things in the world.

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.


The New French: Lafayette

Mesdames et Messieurs, the reviews are in: Lafayette you are juste magnifique!

 If there’s one culinary bite of wisdom I’ve managed to chew off over my relatively short life it’s one thing: Taste is place. What first drew me to food was travel, that is to say when I experienced that one dish could so deliciously convey a history, a people, and capture the spice of most importantly, a culture. Food is no other than the expression of a land and of a certain terroir. When we savour a slice of Camembert, we’re tasting the beauty of the pastureland, plains and rolling hills that the creamy cows of the île de France and shores of Normandy are grazing on. In a glass of a really good Burgundy pinot noir, it’s the Jurassic period limestone soil and thousand year old vines unique to one of the world’s most geographically distinct regions that our palettes are really sipping on. And the best authentic French food, is of course going to taste the best in none other than the land of France. So what’s the point of trying to find “authentic” french restaurants in another country? Isn’t it all going to be a sort of sad copy, a nostalgic crusade for all deprived francophones, in search of their own culinary golden age? Well this week, Noho’s infamous Lafayette showed two staunchy traditionalists the beauty of culinary translation and of the American-French restaurant variation.There’s no going back to France, but there is a way to appreciate the value of cultural interpretation, and what American chefs might add to the interpretation of French flavors. This week we’re here to celebrate one of our new favorite culinary breeds: le nouveau style, “American-French.”Cher Lafayette, you are a beautiful hybrid.



DSC_0419380 Lafayette St.


So here’s the deal, Lafayette reigns currently as one of NYC’s top French restaurants and we’re stamping it with our wholehearted francophone seal of approval. And not because you’ll find the most authentic French food there, but rather because it offers innovative, delicious spins on traditional regional french classic dishes. Now we’ll be honest, we’re not on the “Boulud” bandwagon these days. Instead we’re joining “team Lafayette” for their ability to produce delicious, creative spins on the best of French cuisine. It’s that creamy quail egg on their “New Orleans” tabasco aioli beef tartare that really revamps original flavors and makes the classics, well, fun again! The quail egg is not a culinary face lift, but rather an inspired addition. Just like that refreshing layer of sweet sauternes gelée on good ole chicken liver paté done right on a light brioche was then “razzle dazzled” into the modern age with balsamic dressed frisée.  And the best New York-Franco translation of the night that we’re recommending: Duck au Poivre, a riff on French steak au poivre (filet mignon cooked with peppercorns) but reinvented with a meaty, double stuffed Muscovy duck breast and topped with vibrant bursts of orange candied kumquat, radishes, and smoked bacon. No disrespect to Duck à l’Orange, but Lafayette’s unique kumquat announces a new burst of tart citrus flavor with an added raw crunch to pair perfectly with your duck cooked to a perfect pink. It was one subtle ingredient that didn’t renovate one of my favorite dishes, but rather re-translated a transition.


So why are we sending you on a date with duck at Lafayette next weekend? Quality, delicious dishes that fit a creative American-Franco fused menu. La service? Superbe. Lafayette’s waiters are well tasted and eager to talk you through their Holy Bible of a wine list. L’Atmosphere? It’s no comfy cave bistrot, but their art deco inspired interior and suspender strap wearin’ waiters will whisk you and your palette back to a time when dining was truly a celebration, an elegant affair, and a moment to shine your shoes for. A time when waiters still serve a “lady” first and will even delicately crack open your warm soufflé to pour in just the perfect amount of crème anglaise. Lafayette preserves the grace, tradition, and dedication to the craft of preparing and serving food in a way that embodies the very génie of the French Haute Cuisine. So come for cultural culinary innovation, but let yourself be transported back in time to a restaurant that preserves the very essence of Julia Child’s legacy.



Menu Must Haves:

Winter Paté, foie gras, red cabbage, apple cider

Escarole Salad, pomegranate, hazelnut, parmesan, truffle vinaigrette

Prime Beef Tartare “New Orleans,” tabasco aioli, quail egg

Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano

Duck au Poivre, organic grains, radish, smoked bacon

Petite Orange Soufflé with earl grey crème anglaise, mandarin salad

*And supposively we hear the pommes frites sont divine!


 French Check-In: An Afterthought from a Parisian Palette

What was your favorite Lafayette spin?

The French restaurant in NYC? Lafayette, definitely. And maybe because it’s not exactly a French restaurant serving very “typical” dishes that we don’t even really eat back at home.

The restaurant in NYC? Well, that’s a really tricky question obviously, but Lafayette could be in the top five, and considering that there are 16,251 restaurants in NYC (yes actual number), that’s something.

Seriously, this place is everything you can look for when it comes to food: simplicity and quality. I had the Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano (by the way, cheapest dish on the menu, 22 dollars, does it get better than that… ?). It’s a dish I regularly have, from time to time, at home or out. It basically contains pasta and rabbit, that’s it. But this version of it was the real thing because the pasta was perfectly cooked, the rabbit was tender and flavorful. Simple comme bonjour.

PS: Oh, and don’t even get me started on the bread.

-Jeanne Bernard




Chez Dumonet (Josephine)
117, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th)



Pigging out at the Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig, the only Michelin-starred gastropub, famous for its burger and incredibly long wait times, has been on my restaurant list for a long time. I’m a big fan of Chef April Bloomfield, and last week I was finally able to go for lunch.

There were several requirements needed to achieve success:

1. I had to go for lunch, not dinner. Going for dinner there often means waiting for hours.

2. It had to be a week day, not a weekend—on weekends, the Spotted Pig serves a brunch menu, which didn’t have the gnudi I was dying to try.

3. I had to get there right as it opened; despite the fact that they say it’s less crowded on weekdays, I knew that it would fill up fast.

So we got there right at 12, on a Friday, and successfully got a table.

We ordered three plates: the gnudi, smoked haddock chowder, and cubano sandwich. Frank Bruni recommended the chowder, the cubano was rated one of NYC’s best sandwiches, and the gnudi held a personal significance.

About a year ago, I was working Saturday prep shifts at a restaurant in Boston. The restaurant was serving a pomegranate-braised lamb shank which was served with gnudi. Gnudi (coming from the Italian word for nude) are basically ricotta balls rolled in semolina flour; ravioli without the pasta. Nude ravioli. I made these gnudi week after week, sometimes tasting the filling, but I had never actually had one in its glory.

I also couldn’t wait much longer to try them. Last summer, the Spotted Pig changed the set with the gnudi—I believe they were served with some sort of pesto. The classic set is brown butter and crispy sage; that was back on the menu, it sounded divine, and I didn’t want to risk a menu change.

Smoked haddock chowder with house made crackers
Smoked haddock chowder with house made crackers

I’m a huge seafood chowder fan, and the smoked haddock chowder was no disappointment. The smokiness of the haddock and the pancetta complemented the cream and parsley perfectly. This may have actually been the best thing we ordered.

Cubano (served with arugula)
Cubano (served with arugula)

April Bloomfield’s spin on a cubano involves (as far as I could tell) prosciutto, pork shoulder, cornichons, and jalapeños. Pair that with super melty gruyere and you have a masterpiece. A masterpiece that drips (a stunning amount of) oil, but still a masterpiece.

Sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi with brown butter and crispy sage

As featured on the second season of Mind of a Chef, here are the gnudi. Super salty cheese contrasted beautifully with the brown butter (if you’ve never had brown butter, try it; it’s basically butter that has been cooked on super low heat for maybe 45 minutes until the proteins caramelize) and sage, my favorite herb, added a nice pop.

Overall? Highly recommend. One of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had in a long time. I admire Chef Bloomfield’s ability to make a name for herself in such an incredibly male-dominated industry, and a unique name at that. I look forward to trying her other restaurants.

The Spotted Pig:

314 W 11th St; (212) 620-0393

Atmosphere: small, pub feeling; the dining room gets loud quickly and the waitstaff is very casual.

Sound Level: loud.

Recommended Dishes: gnudi, smoked haddock chowder, cubano.

Price Range: $$$; lunch plates run around $19 per plate. Dinner is more expensive.

Hours: 12 – 5pm, 5:30pm – 2 am, Mon-Fri; 11am – 5pm, 5:30pm – 2 am, Sat-Sun.

Reservations: None. Plan your travel carefully. Get there early if you don’t want to wait. For dinner, always be prepared to wait.

Worth the Hype? Ippudo Ramen

There are many different versions of “Top lists for Ramen in NYC”, but Ippudo Ramen and Totto Ramen are the two names that appear on almost all of these lists. This week I tried out Ippudo Westside for the first time and had to say that I personally preferred Totto over Ippudo.


Getting ramen in NYC is always associated with long waiting time – and who wants to stand outside for half an hour in this extreme cold weather? The three times that I have been to Totto, I only successfully sat down once. Even at Jin Ramen, which is situated in a not-so-busy neighborhood, one still faces the high chance of having to wait for at least 15 minutes for a seat. I learned from experience that to get a seat in Totto’s tiny space, one MUST go on a weekday and preferably slightly before 5pm, so you can get a seat right after it opens. Applying this rule last week when I went to Ippudo Westside, I was shocked when I arrived right at 5pm on a Wednesday and realized that most of the seats were empty. It almost seemed surreal that getting ramen could be so easy in New York.




Besides the ease of finding a seat as compared to Totto, Ippudo Westside has completely different ambiance than Totto. While Ippudo is spacious and modern, Totto is cramped and homey. This is definitely more an issue of personal preference. But Totto ramen does resemble more the experience one gets in a ramen store in Japan.  (I want to note that I’ve never been to the original Ippudo location, which may elicit more authentic Japanese feel than the newest Westside location.)


The restaurant is divided into two main areas. The bar seat areas and the table area. I definitely enjoyed the spacious bar seats at Ippudo. They are extremely comfortable and great for eating by oneself or with one other person.



 Pork buns and chicken buns.


Overall, the food at Ippudo was satisfactory but a bit over-hyped.

A lot has been said about the buns here. In my opinion – while the bun shell was quite soft and tasty, the meat content of the pork buns and chicken buns was sweeter than anticipated. Out of the two kinds, the chicken buns tasted better as they were coated and fried. There were also a lot of mayo in both types of buns. For better buns, I suggest visiting the trendy Bauhaus specializing in buns near Union Square and trying their pork buns (they’re mindblowing)



The classic pork chashu ramen “Shiromaru Hakata Classic”



 Clear soup “Torishio”


Now the most important part of the post – the ramen. I ordered Shiromaru Hakata Classic, the first on their list of ramen. While nothing was particularly wrong with any part of the ramen, it also did not stand out to me as much as I hoped. I thought the soup base was a tad too rich after eating for a while. However, the two thick pieces of pork chashu tasted quite amazing and did not contain too much fatty parts, which is always a plus.


Add-ons are always an integral part of ordering ramen. I personally love bamboo shoots – or Menma – as well as soft boiled eggs in my ramen. But I wasn’t aware that Shiromaru Hakata already came with some The smarter choice would be to order extra pork for 3 dollars.


I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of Torishio, which my friend ordered. It’s the same ramen noodles with pork chashu but in a clear soup. I always have been skeptical of “healthier alternatives” offered at places, Asian places in particular. But Torishio definitely exceeded my expectation. Even though the soup was clear, it was quite flavorful and tasty. So this option is definitely recommended.


The overall verdict: provided that you don’t have to wait for a long time to get a seat, hopping on the 1 train to get to Ippudo Westside might be something to try on a weekday. However, don’t set your expectations up too high as the ramen here is not as special as they say.


Ippudo Westside
Address: 321 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
Phone:(212) 974-2500