Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spice (Astor Place)

This weekend we somehow managed to have a mini-NYU med reunion. My friend Mike was visiting the city at the same time as I happened to have a free weekend, and what better way is there to celebrate than with food...?

I was in the mood for Thai - given the chilly weather - and although it's a chain restaurant, Tiffany and Mike both had positive things to say about Spice.

Our first attempt at eating here was at the Union Square location, but the wait for a table for 7 people was over an hour. Only 5 blocks away though, is their Astor Place location on 10th street and 4th avenue, where the wait for a table was only 15 minutes

While most of the others were all about the mojitos and wine with dinner, I opted for the Thai iced tea instead: sweet, slightly creamy, and delicious

I also ordered the Thai chicken wings appetizer: drowned in Tamarind chili sauce which was actually very very mild in spice

The sauce was sweet and lightly spicy: Mike and I both agreed that it was overall very yummy

Both Mike and Tiffany ordered the Drunk Man Noodle with chicken: wide rice noodles, sweet basil, onions, bellpepper, chili, and chicken

Daniella ordered the green curry (normally quite spicy, but she requested that it be mild): eggplant, bamboo shoots, red bell peppers, and in her case - also served with chicken

It seems to be a pattern with NYC Thai restaurants to serve rice in a cone-shape:

I ordered the roasted duck noodle with egg noodles and bok choy: there was more soupy-sauce than I expected, but the flavor was good. The duck was also tender, although they were unfortunately a bit stingy with the bok choy

Service was speedy - especially considering how busy the restaurant was. Literally within 10 minutes of ordering our entrees, the food was sitting in front of us. This speed and everyone else's hunger worked against me though, since I didn't manage to snag photos of either Rishi's, Brian's, or Pojen's dishes... *Sad panda*

Finally, check out some of the cool light fixtures on the wall in the waiting area:

Overall rating: 7/10

77 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Buttery: Revisited

In the flurry of the Christmas holidays and what felt like too many days of being on-call, I finally get a chance to relax, and realized that I'm behind on my posts (not to mention VERY behind on my research project).

As I sit here on the couch in Daniella's comfy apartment on 96th street and Park Ave, the internal debate rages: do I play with photos on Lightroom and add to my blog, or do I finally get to those over-due chart-reviews and prepare for the research presentation that is looming ever closer???

You can tell which one won out...

Last weekend a few of us had Saturday off, and Jason happened to be visiting Christina (all the way from Michigan), so brunch seemed like a good idea. Although Ameeka and I have already been to The Buttery in Boston's South End (you can see my previous post on that visit), none of the others had, and they voted for it to be our destination.

Normally I'd try to be a bully and insist that we try some place new - for the sake of my blog as well as to excite my taste buds - but this time I gave in without a fight. Jason has been gimpy ever since tearing his MCL (medial collateral ligament) while playing hockey a few weeks ago, and Christina's been battling a terrible cold ever since our program shipped her out to St. Vincent's Hospital in the Worcester boonies around the same time.

Watching Jason gimp around in his crutches (which he's actually quite speedy on), and hearing Christina's lumberjack-deep rumbling Adenovirus-induced voice, were enough to spark sympathy even in my cold, cold heart, and I decided to let them have what they wanted.

Finally, to add another ailment to our list of disasters, Ammara had been to the dentist immediately before we were planning to eat, and the nerve block they gave her resulted in slight facial droop on the left side. She handled it well though, and neither drooled nor did she end up biting herself at all during the meal.

Ameeka ordered the huevos rancheros: 2 eggs (she chose sunny side up) with guacamole, quesadilla, black beans, sour cream, and home fries (although the menu says tomato salsa)

Jason ordered the chocolate chip banana pancakes with whipped cream and side of Vermont maple syrup

I chose the smoked salmon and eggs: chive-scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, mixed greens, and home fries

Ammara ordered the Buttery Breakfast (I ordered this last time and you can check my previous post for the picture) while Christina ordered the New England crab cake sandwich (a picture of this can be found on my previous post also) 

Once again The Buttery did not disappoint. The food was good and it was nice having a free Saturday with no responsibilities but last-minute Christmas shopping. Ok and maybe also a research project hanging over my head. That I probably should have worked on with my free time. But I'm not going to dwell on that right now


 Overall rating: Unchanged

The Buttery
314 Shawmut Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

China Pearl

Yesterday a few of us were on-call for Christmas day, but managed to snag the evening off. Our dilemma was this: 3 of us don't know how to cook (1 of us is actually a fire hazard... yes... that 1 would be me), and Christina was stuck in the Worcester boonies all day - meaning she didn't have time to cook.

So, we decided to have a Jewish-style Christmas dinner: i.e Chinese food. China Pearl is a restaurant on Tyler Street in Boston's Chinatown that I've been to once or twice for dim sum, and it was overall decent. Thus, this was the place I decided to order take-out from last night.

As we were waiting for the OR to finish preparing for an emergent endoscopic decompression of a sigmoid volvulus, I was on the phone trying to decide how best to balance a meal that had to satisfy both the vegetarian(s) in our group as well the carnivores.

Yes - that's right: as my patient was lying there on a stretcher with his colon dilated to the diameter of my thigh, I was wondering: "what's for dinner?"

Here's what I finally decided on:

Vegetarian egg rolls: (primarily filled with cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts)

Vegetarian dumplings: (these were filled with chives and tofu)

Tofu and vegetable cow fun:

Sauteed pea-vines:

Sesame chicken:

Fortunately we were able to successfully decompress and untwist the sigmoid volvulus quickly, and I managed to make make it to Chinatown before 7 (thanks to my speed-demon driving skills and awesome Droid GPS).

The egg rolls were pretty good. Despite being ordered to-go and having to survive a 30 minute drive to Sayuri's place, they stayed quite crispy.

The vegetarian dumplings though, were a miss. I wasn't a fan of the flavor of the tofu and chive filling, and the wrapper was way too thick

The tofu and vegetable chow fun was good - the noodles were soft and had just the right amount sauce.

Sesame chicken is pretty hard to mess up, so that dish was tolerable too, but certainly not the best that I've had.

Last but not least was the sauteed pea-vines, which is typically one of my favorite Chinese vegetarian dishes. China Pearl used maybe a bit too much oil in the cooking, but this was still my personal favorite entree out of the three.

At the end of dinner Sayuri offered up snowman-shaped PEEPs for dessert, but all of us universally hate marshmallow. One thing I learned from my high school Chemistry class though, was the fact that PEEPs are VERY flammable. Must be a combination of all the extra sugar-coating and the abundance of air within the marshmallow.

Sayuri wasn't a huge fan of playing with flaming balls of PEEPs at the time, but promised me that maybe in the future...

Overall rating: 5/10

9 Tyler Street
Boston, MA 02111

And next, just to show off my people-photography skills:

 Christina snapped this one of impending epic food-coma

Monday, December 24, 2012

Kookoo Cafe

This Christmas Eve morning both Eliza and I were post-call from some painful shifts: in Eliza's case she had actively dying patients, and in my case I spent the last 24 hours covering General Surgery call at a community hospital where the ancillary staff don't know the meaning of the term STAT... need we say more?

Eliza has been wanting to try a place called Kookoo Cafe in Brookline Village, so that's where we found ourselves this morning.

The shop is tiny and quaint with about 5 tables for 2 and 1 table that seats 4. Eclectic in style with various pieces of abstract art on the walls and mis-matched chairs and tables, the place was right up Eliza's alley.

She ordered a coffee while I opted for a caramel steamer and almond croissant:

Additionally, Eliza went healthy with a banana (not pictured because... well we all know what bananas look like) and we both ordered the avocado Parmesan sandwich:

I love avocado, and this sandwich also included some tomato, cucumber, and honey which was an absolutely delicious combination.

This place is definitely worth another visit

And finally to top it off, waiting for me when I got home was a beautiful pair of X-mas earrings and new fur-edged wrap. Who doesn't love gifts???

Happy Holidays!

Overall rating: 8/10

Kookoo Cafe
7 Station St
Brookline, MA 02445

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


This Sunday I had brunch in the West Village with my friend Jesse, at a little French bistro that he and his girlfriend are quite fond of - called Buvette. This place doesn't take reservations, and is incredibly popular on weekends, so we were very lucky to be seated within 15 minutes of my arrival (granted Jesse had already been waiting for half an hour by the time I got there: darn the crazy holiday midtown traffic!)

I ordered Le Oeufs with prosciutto: Buvette's signature steamed eggs cooked via the milk steamer in their cappuccino machine

At first I didn't understand what was so great about cooking eggs with a cappuccino machine, other than the novelty and perhaps speed (?) but Jesse pointed out that the texture was different. The eggs look like scrambled eggs, but are perhaps a little fluffier

The combination of eggs, toasted fresh bread, and prosciutto was delicious and very very filling. Although the plate wasn't particularly large, I was stuffed and could barely finish it all

Jesse ordered the octopus salad (not pictured because of camera malfunction) and we got some scones with butter and raspberry jam to share:

The scones were good, but not amazing. They were no longer warm by the time they reached us, although this is to be expected, given how busy the restaurant was.

Last but not least, we also shared the Duck Rillettes: spiced duck confit on toast

This was also delicious (I'm always a fan of duck) but I didn't have enough stomach space for more than one piece

The only truly disappointing part of the meal was the fact that I didn't have any appetite left for dessert. Jesse mentioned that they have an amazing chocolate mousse, which I will have to wait until my next visit to NYC to try...

Overall rating: 8/10

42 Grove St
New York, NY 10014

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back Forty West

This Saturday my first activity after getting back into NYC was to grab brunch in Soho with a few friends. I had been spending the last 5 weeks (while working Transplant nights) browsing my favorite food blogs and came across a post by Kathy YL Chan about Back Forty. It looked delicious and they now have a location in Soho (Back Forty West), so I had to give it a try myself.

We arrived in time for brunch, and in the true brunch spirit, Daniella ordered the spiced pumpkin pancakes:

Anna opted for the healthy option of the hearty green salad: shaved vegetables, chicken breast, lollo rosso, and spiced pumpkin seeds with lemon mustard dressing

I chose the pulled pork sammy with BBQ sauce and rosemary fries

Jenny ordered the poached egg sammy - not pictured because she was sitting on the far end of the table - but it looked decent. What appeared to be the most popular item on the menu that day (but which none of us had enough appetite to order) was the pumpkin bread with walnuts, spiced currents, and cream cheese icing. It's normally not like me to pass up a yummy pastry, but my appetite hasn't been what it once was... I must be getting old O_O

Another person who's getting older is Daniella (pictured on the far left) who's birthday is today. Happy 27th to an awesome friend and psychiatrist! (Not my psychiatrist - because we all know that I'm perfectly sane...)

Portion sizes weren't exactly impressive at Back Forty West, but with America's obesity epidemic I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing. My sandwich was ok, but not memorable, and the fries were only ok as well. Everyone else seemed pretty luke-warm about their food too, so either we ordered all the wrong things on the menu, or else the place just isn't that great

After brunch, Anna and I met up with a few more friends and made our way over to Rockefeller Center to check out the Christmas tree:

Despite having lived in NYC for over 4 years and having spent at least part of every holiday season there for the past 6 years, this was my first time actually getting to see the tree in person. We had to fight through an insane crowd of tourists, but mission finally accomplished!!!

Overall rating: 5.5/10

70 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Friday, December 7, 2012


Today Louis got us reservations for the 10-course tasting menu at L'Espalier for lunch. The menu changes with the season and unfortunately my attention-span is too short to remember the names of all 10 courses, but I will try my best to relay them accurately:

The amuse bouche was a cheese eclair and corn-bread bite with tiny dollop of whipped butter:

The butter that was served with our bread were shaped like Hershey's kisses:

 The soup course was light with a corn-like flavor and bed of caviar at the bottom:


 Lobster bisque:

 Foie gras with kumquat:

 Palate cleanser of champagne ice with Matcha crumbs and Chantilly cream:

Sole and sea scallops:

 Beef terrine with sausage:

Cheese platter - from left to right:
1. Fourme D' Ambert
2. Tarentaise (my favorite): very nutty and sweet
3. Brother's Walk
4. Weston Wheel
5. Ribiola A Tres Latti

 The cheeses were paired with fig-bread and honey:

The most exciting part of the day was immediately before dessert, when one of the elderly gentleman at the table next to us took a fall, striking his head against the wall. His wife doesn't know the meaning of the word "calm," so she managed to create quite a fiasco. Fortunately the restaurant wasn't particularly busy at the time, AND the old fellow was quite feisty and appeared to be clinically stable. Louis and I - being the humanitarians that we are - helped the fellow up, and after he was seated at our table to await the EMS, we were relocated to finish the rest of our meal

 The first dessert was a citrus gelato with tapioca and white chocolate:

 The second dessert was a pumpkin flavored custard-cake with vanilla ice cream:

By the end of the meal, Louis was feeling as light-headed as the old fellow who fell, but fortunately the elevator had a chair:

Overall rating: 8/10

774 Boylston Street,
Boston, MA 02199