Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Flushing Mall Food Court

Last weekend during my visit in NYC, my friends Daniella and Anna decided to take me to the Flushing Mall food court. It's funny to think that we made the long trip from Manhattan all the way to Queens just to eat at a mall food court - especially when growing up I had always been under the impression that food court food ranks just barely above hospital food and just below airplane food in palatability. However, this place has had good reviews, and when Daniella told me that they offer Japanese-style ice cream crepes there, I was sold. While common in San Francisco (and obviously in Japan), I've been hard-pressed to find ice cream crepes on the East coast. Very painful, since I've been craving them since the last time I was in SF's J-town over a year ago.
The first thing I got after arriving was a banana-Oreo crepe with coconut ice cream and topped with caramel and whipped cream:

Daniella ordered soup dumplings, because generally soup dumplings are a good choice. Sadly though, these had skin that was way too thick and were not nearly as attractive -nor nearly as yummy as what you would get at Joe's Shangai:

To add insult to injury, they gave her only a small, flimsy plastic spoon to eat them with - which was not even big enough to hold the soup that kept spilling out of ALL of them. Yes - there was lots of soup spillage, even despite the dumpling's overly-thick skins.

For my entree I chose the pork potstickers - 10 pieces for $5 - a great price considering their size, but the potstickers themselves were disappointing. Like with Daniella's soup dumplings, the skin was too thick, and the filling was bland in flavor:

Daniella also got chili dumplings:

Anna ordered seafood noodle soup which ended up being too spicy for her to tolerate. Check out the scary bug-eyes on the shrimps that still had their heads and shells attached:

While I was pretty darn pleased with my ice cream crepe (it's hard to mess up anything that consists of ice cream, whipped cream, and Oreo cookies), overall I was disappointed by the other food offerings in the Flushing Mall food court. Don't get me wrong - for a food court they had a much wider variety and higher quality of food options than most, but this place is definitely not a good replacement for real restaurant cuisine.

Overall rating: 5/10

New World Mall Food Court
4021 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11354-4432

Monday, September 26, 2011


This weekend was a coveted "golden" weekend and I was able to make trip down to NYC where one of the first things I did after arrival was visit Laduree, which recently opened a shop on Madison Avenue.

This Parisian bakery is known for it's macarons, which are so popular that there's been a line going out the door and wrapping around the corner ever since they opened their new location two months ago.

While waiting in line, a random passer-by questioned us: "What are you in line for?"


"What's so good about them? Are they free?"

Nope. They're actually rather pricey - but they're yummy!

*Rolls eyes and walks away*

In all, Daniella and I waited for about an hour and a half (you can see her pictured above with our bags of goodies). You would expect the line to move more quickly - given that all the macarons are pre-made and it should be a simple matter to just box them up and charge the customer. Wrong. The problem is that people are so darn indecisive. They stand there pondering and pondering what flavor(s) to get. C'mon people!!! Are you REALLY going to waste 15 more minutes of your life weighing the benefits of vanilla vs. chocolate? You've already waited in line for over an hour. Make the wait worth it and get both, dammit! My transaction was simple: "How many flavors do you have?"


"Ok give me one of each. Thanks."

The end. The sales-person is happy (I just dropped $45 on a 3-second encounter), I'm happy (yummy macarons!!!), and the people in line behind me are happy (Helllls yeah - one more person down, almost my turn next!).

Were these macarons worth the money? Or more importantly - were they worth the hour and a half of my valuable weekend? Totally. They're light, and airy - almost melting in your mouth. The flavors are true to what is advertised, and the textures of the filling are appropriate to the flavor (for example - the caramel macaron not only had caramel flavored cream, but also had a layer of caramel). By far the best macarons that I've tasted so far (and believe me - I've tried almost all the other macaron places in both NYC and Seattle).

My only warning: I've been told that each one of these babies has almost 200 calories, so don't eat all 15 at once

Frambois (Raspberry):



I'm currently still working on the other 12...

Overall rating: 9/10

864 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Sunday, September 25, 2011

North Street Grille

Last weekend my friend Jesse came up from NYC to check out Harvard's B-school, and we were able to snag brunch together at North Street Grille on my day off:

Jesse got the banana nut waffles with a side of bacon (not pictured):

In honor of my West-coast roots, I decided on the California omelette (avocado, tomatoes, and mushrooms):

The food was yummy, portion sizes were good, and the restaurant was clean and cozy. Not too far outside was an old-looking tree that a bunch of tourists were taking pictures of. Neither Jesse nor I could figure out what was so special about the tree... free cupcake to anyone who can answer that question for me!

Overall rating: 7/10

North Street Grille
229 North Street
Boston, MA 02113

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Neighborhood Restaurant

Last weekend a few of the interns decided that it was about time we started feeling more like people again, and escaped the hospital for brunch at Neighborhood Restaurant in Somerville. This place is popular, and we had to wait for about an hour and a half for a table of 6. My guess is that this isn't an unusual situation, given that they had a table set up with iced tea, coffee, and a cake-like bread for those of us milling around waiting to be seated. (Unfortunately, it took us about an hour of wait-time to figure out where they kept the cups for the iced tea and coffee. Hint: they're in the bottom drawer of the plastic storage bin next to the table)

We were seated in an outdoor patio area that was pretty eclectic and colorful, with *surprise* a bunch of grapes hanging from a wooden lattice-work above our heads.

In any other setting it might be considered romantic, but not here. Looking around at all the rainbow colored umbrellas and neon-colored table-tops, the word "hipster" popped into my head. Don't ask me why. I don't even know what makes someone a hipster - and I don't think that bright colors are necessarily associated with them (in fact, I'm pretty sure that in NYC all the hipsters wear dark jackets and super-skinny jeans (also dark) and ride around on bikes = completely unrelated to what I was seeing at the restaurant).

For brunch at Neighborhood Restaurant, each order comes with your choice of either a fruit bowl, or their special cream of wheat. While waiting in line, we kept hearing people rave about the cream of wheat (if you check the Yelp reviews, they also gush about the cream of wheat) - which was pretty surprising. When people think of cream of wheat, the boxed stuff is usually what comes to mind: not exactly appetizing. But I decided to trust the reviews, and passed up the fruit bowl. I was not disappointed. The cream of wheat was pretty yummy - creamier and sweeter than what Quaker Oats makes, with a dash of cinnamon on top.

For entrees, I shared the Portuguese breakfast and apple cinnamon crepe with Christina. The Portuguese breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, homefries, a crabcake, potato cakes, rice and beans, chorizo, and blood sausage.

The crabcake and potato cake were great, the homefries had some peppers and spices mixed in -which was a nice touch, and scrambled eggs and chorizo are always hard to mess up. As for the blood sausage... I've never tried blood sausage before, and I know it's popular with people in the UK, so I had hopes that it would taste better than it sounds (and taste better than it looks). I was wrong. I should have been fore-warned by the expression on Christina's face when she took her first bite, but I decided to be brave and try some for myself. EPIC DISASTER. It tasted horrible. It isn't even a matter of the texture, and I can normally tolerate liver dishes pretty well, so it wasn't the metallic taste of the heme that bothered me. There was an extra "aroma" (for lack of a better word) that lingers in your mouth which was the real kicker. Perhaps it's an acquired taste... After all, there are people in Australia who love Vegemite, and from everything I've heard, that stuff is also nasty.

The apple cinnamon crepe was a good way to wash away the taste of the blood sausage. Rather than ice cream, it was paired with hand-whipped cream and had a drizzle of caramel on top:

Overall, the food was good, and given the nice weather and the pleasant company, the wait really wasn't too bad. Portion sizes were huge, and we left completely stuffed. Plus, as an added bonus - I now know better than to ever order blood sausage again. We learn something new every day...

Overall rating: 7/10

Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery
25 Bow Street
Somerville, MA 02143

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fozen Lemonade

While Daniella and Anna were visiting me last weekend, we did most of our touring of Boston on foot. Considering how muggy and warm it was on Sunday, it was probably a less than wonderful experience for my friends. At one point while we were passing by the Prudential Center, Daniella and Anna had to make a pit-stop for hydration. Luckily planted directly in our path was this cart selling frozen lemonade:

At over $4.00 a pop for about 8oz of ice and flavored syrup, I thought it was a rip-off. But I guess being cheated is better than passing out from dehydration. Being slightly more badass than the other two, I didn't need re-hydration and therefore did not try this "featured on Food Network" frozen lemonade. Asking Daniella and Anna how it tasted also wasn't useful... after all, if you give a man dying of thirst in the dessert a drink of water and ask him what it tastes like, he'll say it's amazing. Doesn't mean that the water was anything special - just means he (or in our case - she) was amazingly thirsty.

Daniella got the cherry flavor, and Anna chose the watermelon. They looked exactly identical. Same shade of pink:

Overall rating: None

Russel House Tavern

By far one of my favorite restaurants that I've tried since coming to Boston, Russel House Tavern is located in Harvard Square. It's a pain in the butt to drive in that neighborhood and I nearly killed a few undergrads while looking for parking, but it was totally worth the effort.

Here is my photo tribute to a very yummy dinner:

Island Creek Oysters

Deviled Local Farm Eggs

Arugula salad with pork shoulder

Grilled bluefish

Roasted Giannone farm chicken

Seared Arctic Char

Sorbet trio

Chocolate caramel cheesecake

Mango mousse cake

As Daniella was quick to point out, the crowd in the dining room was surprisingly young and mostly attractive (her words, not mine). Seems that Harvard Square is the "it" place to be on a Saturday night in Boston...

Overall rating: 9/10

14 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Last weekend two of my friends decided to visit me in Boston, so I took them over to the North End for lunch. Daniella was in the mood for clam chowder, so we had initially planned on eating at Neptune Oyster Bar, which seems to be a popular choice around here for seafood. However, when we arrived there we were told that the wait for a table would be over an hour and a half, and my response was: "Hells no!" That's how we ended up next door at Rabia's.

As you can probably guess from the name, the restaurant is an Italian take on seafood. When we arrived, they had a few specials to offer, one of which was the roasted figs stuffed with prosciutto:

I normally hate figs - as far as fruits go, I find the texture too mushy, and the flavor too sweet without enough tartness to balance it out. I decided to give this appetizer a try though, in hopes that the saltiness of prosciutto might provide the right balance. Sadly, although the overall preparation of the dish was decent (roasted figs are less "mushy" and more "melt in your mouth" than when raw) and had a yummy sauce, I was disappointed by the amount of prosciutto, which was minimal: they had a sliver-sized piece tucked into each fig. In fact, I would almost swear that they cheated me, and one of my figs had no prosciutto at all!

Daniella and Anna both got New England Boston clam chowder, which they reported was too thin in consistency and bland in flavor.

For entrees all three of us chose the warm baby spinach salad with baked portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, herbed goat cheese, and balsamic dressing. The name here was slightly misleading since the spinach itself was not warm - although the mushrooms and red peppers on top of it was. The portabella and peppers were a fantastic pairing and the amount of goat cheese provided was generous. Sometimes balsamic dressing can be overwhelming, but that wasn't the case here.

Matt was the only one who selected a true entree, and he went for the Risotto di mere: a risotto made with lobster meat, shrimp, scallops, calamari, salmon, vegetables, and prepared in a "rose sauce." I couldn't tell whether he enjoyed it or not: his expression tends to remain exactly the same regardless of what he eats... as does his response whenever someone asks him: "how did you like your food?" It's virtually always: "good." *silence* ... *Victoria waits for elaboration*... *more silence* He finished the entire plate of food, so I guess I'll take that as a good sign?

Overall the place was tolerable, but I'm disappointed we didn't get to try Neptune - given all the hype that I hear about it. Maybe that's for the better though, given that everything that gets hyped up usually ends up being a big fat disappointment (Hurricane Irene anyone?! I'm soooooooooo glad that I spent all of Saturday being harassed by patients in the hospital trying to get me to discharge them home before the "big storm on Sunday!!!!!" Yes guys - all that rain was SUCH a disaster. All that rain and ... nothing else)

Overall rating: 6.5/10