Archive for the ‘fast food’ Category

3 days of Rickshaw Dumpling

October 30, 2007
(sorry for the really bad cell phone pics and sorry, Kayoko, this took me 2 months to finally post)

Back in AUGUST, I took the most boring class ever for 3 days straight – my instructor wore a piano tie on the first day. Rickshaw Dumpling was literally on the same block where I was taking the course (it’s on W. 23rd and they also just opened in the NYU area).

So, of course, i hit it up for lunch every day and here’s what I got;

Day one (pics 1 and 2): Steamed Szechaun Chicken dumplings with chili and white soy bean and chili-soy dipping suace and watermelonade.
These dumplings were my favorite – if I went back, I’d get these fried in the noodle soup (there are 6 types of dumplings, and you can either get them plain (steamed or fried), in a salad or in a noodle soup – each dumpling type has its corresponding salad and soup type). These were nice and spicy. The watermelon drink was really refreshing.

Day Two, I got Classic Pork & Chinese Chive dumplings in clear soup (with greens, beansprouts, scallions & fresh shanghai noodles). Noodles were great, dumplings ok.

Day 3 (last picture) was Chicken & Thai Basil dumplings in peanut sate soup (with green coconut, cucumber, lime & fresh shanghai noodles). Again, great noodles but if I went back, I’d see if I could get the Szechaun Chicken dumplings in this soup. Peanut flavors were great!

If you are in the area, this is a great place for a light lunch or snack. I’ll definitely be going back!

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In-N-Out Burger Coming to NYC???

July 18, 2007

Via eater.com, I came across a post on this blog that says Departures magazine has a mention that In-N-Out may be coming to NYC!

If you are a Southern California native like myself — or have done their drive thru — you understand how exciting this. I’ve always said this joint would do so well in NYC – the lines would be outrageous, but I’d be waiting in line to get my cheeseburger with all the fixins’!!

"Expect the Best": My New Mantra

June 24, 2007

By Jane Stillwater

I was raised in the most Republican town in Northern California. Very early on in life I learned to always expect the worst. And guess what? The worst always arrived — like clockwork.

Now I’ve gots a new view on life — “Expect the best!” That’s the new me. Do we have the most corrupt group of people in the history of the United States camping out in our White House? Does a man whose campaign contributions come from “Vulture Fund” beneficiaries and war profiteers sit in our Oval Office, gleefully wringing his blood-covered hands? Not to worry. Americans aren’t dummies. Sooner or later they throw crooks in jail. “Expect the best!”

The State Department is keeping me from embedding as a progressive journalist in Iraq. Heck, this might be a good thing. Who needs to go over there anyway? It’s hot and dusty and if I want to watch pathological killers blowing everything up, I can do that at the local cine-plex for only five dollars (I get the senior discount). “Expect the best!”

I live in a housing co-op that’s run by a bunch of self-interested schmucks whose only goal in life appears to be to see how many of their relatives they can move in illegally. And because I’m a whistle-blower, they keep doing nasty things to me and it looks like it’s only gonna get worse. “Expect the best, Jane.” Yeah, right. But what if the schmucks and me meet over tea and they offer to give up their greedy ways and we patch things up? Hey, it could happen.

I gotta start imagining that good things can come my way and not just catastrophes. We can stop global warming. We can stop war. America CAN have better education and healthcare. People CAN get along. “Expect the best!”

So. Where does the sushi and chocolate come in? Good things are also happening to one of my daughters. After graduating from high school, she floundered around a lot — many young people do. But now she’s got her own apartment and a new job! I’m so proud of her. I gotta admit that I had expected the worst — but now look at her! Hurray! And, even better, my daughter now works with food. “If you come over, I’ll give you a free sample,” she said last night. What can be better than that?

It turns out that my daughter works in a delightful little secluded indoor alleyway in North Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto” — three doors down from Chez Panisse, only not that expensive. Let me take you on a tour.

Located at 1611 Shattuck Avenue, its entrance is innocuous. If you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it. “OMG, look!” I exclaimed. “Kirala has a carry-out place!” The best sushi bar in Berkeley has just gone on-commando. Sushi-to-go! And bento boxes too. And udon.


Then there’s Soop, a specialty food bar featuring soups made right on the premises and served with a chunk of warm buttered corn bread. “Our soups are completely organic,” the counter person told me, “except for the onions. We can’t seem to get enough organic onions.” Good to know.


Next comes Picoso, a small kitchen alcove that sells Mexican food with hand-made salsa. “And they make their own guacamole,” my daughter whispered in awe.

Then there’s a gelato counter named Ciao Bella that offers a whole rainbow of gelato flavors. I tried a scoop of their chocolate jalapeno and my friend Abhi tried their pistachio. Delicious. And the young lady behind the counter was very cheerful and helpful and funny. I left a whole quarter in her tip jar — I was that impressed.


And way in the rear of this delightful food-court wannabe is a tiny little cubby that sells the best chocolate in the world, called Alegio. “Ours actually IS free-trade chocolate,” said the proud proprietor. “Would you like to try some of this dark chocolate imported from a co-op farm off the coast of West Africa?” Would I!


“Expect the best.”

The whole alleyway smelled totally wonderful. Rich aromas battered my senses. Hey. Forget about blogging my poor fingers to the bone and substitute teaching at juvenile hall for a living. I wanna work HERE.

After you mix and match your meal from the menus of the various shops, you can carry it up some stairs in the back, to a small outdoor garden with picnic tables and a waterfall. At one table, I found a family of five happily eating their dinner. “We come here often,” said the dad. “For perhaps $15 you can get a healthy gourmet meal and dessert plus a magical place to eat it in.”

Oops, I almost forgot. Up above the waterfall is an old-fashioned Chinese tea shop called the Imperial Tea Court, modeled after the kind that Chinese poets used to frequent back in the day. they sell freshly-made noodles and every kind of tea. “And be sure to say that the noodles are hand-made,” my daughter informed me.

“Expect the best.”

The people who run these shops are mostly small-business owners, taking a chance on the American economy because they love to make and sell food — and chocolate. I hope their efforts succeed.

My son and his significant other are expecting a baby on January 1 — so 2008 looks like it’s going to be a good year too. And I turn 65 in two weeks. You know what that means — cheaper transportation rates, senior benefits and Medicare! Plus maybe we’ll finally get a president in the White House who actually cares about America and not just about pulling off the biggest heist in the history of the planet.

Things are going to be okay. “Expect the best!”

PS: I really don’t eat all that much chocolate any more. Since I started my new high-fiber diet, I’ve noticed that my legendary craving for sugar has gone way, way down. But unfortunately there’s no fiber in chocolate. But maybe they could start making chocolate-covered salad? Chocolate-covered roast beef? Chocolate-covered All-Bran!

Shake Shack Season Begins!

March 23, 2007

The Shake Shack (and its infamous queues) reopened yesterday. As of now, the hours are 11am-6pm, but will be extended soon.

Also, check out their custard calendar. Peanut Brittle Banana?!?! I’ll give you one guess where I will be this Sunday. . .

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park
Enter at Madison & 23rd
212-889-6600

The Bánh Mì Taste Test: Boerum Hill

March 16, 2007

as Matt and I walked down Atlantic Avenue last weekend to browse their row of mid-century modern furniture shops, a Vietnamese sandwich, or bánh mì, at Nicky’s was definitely on his agenda. it was a beautiful day, people were out, indulging in as much of the springtime tease as possible (Saturday- warm, sunny; today- snow!)– it was the perfect day for a bánh mì for sure.

we found Nicky’s at the corner of Atlantic and Smith St., a tiny little place with just a few tables and a bar looking out into the street. this would be Nicky’s second outpost- their first being in the East Village on 2nd and A. Lydia (one of my favorite foodies who we just lost to the London fog- come back Lydia!) used to rave about Nicky’s in the city so this was exciting that they opened a shop in my borough.

i don’t know what i was thinking, but i completely forgot to take a picture of our sandwich at Nicky’s, so bear with me. we ordered the Classic, and for $4, it’s the best deal on Atlantic, as far as i can tell. the baguette was filled with pâté, ham, ground pork, pickled carrot, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño, and mayo. Matt says that the bread was warm and crispy (i don’t remember this, but he said he watched them toast it). the ham was not as good as it could be, but i loved the contrast of the spicy jalapeño peppers and the sweet ground pork. Matt said that he likes his pork roasted, so he wasn’t so into this.

when we were done with the sandwich, i wanted another. i had stupidly not ordered one cause i thought i wasn’t hungry, which is always a HUGE MISTAKE (Matt agrees here). but honestly, i wasn’t bowled over by the sandwich so i had this brilliant idea to hunt down this other Vietnamese sandwich place in Boerum Hill i had heard about.

so i used NY Mag’s new text messaging feature to find the place– i typed in “Food Vietnamese Boerum Hill” (seriously, you New Yorkers need to program this number into your phones) and a second later came the words “Hanco’s, 85 Bergen St., near Smith St.” right down the block! what luck! we were on our way.

right off the bat, let me say that Hanco’s makes a better sandwich. we ordered the pork sandwich (above- this time, i didn’t forget to take a pic!) which included grilled pork, mayo, butter, pickled carrots and daikon, and cilantro. the baguette came out hot and crispy (i definitely noticed this) and the pork was sweet and tender. we asked for the “spicy” version, and it was VERY spicy- my mouth was on fire when by the time the sandwich came to the last sad bite, but it was worth it. for $4.25, it was absolutely worth the 5 minute walk from Nicky’s. they serve different bubble teas too, for you boba tea fanatics (Anmol). inside, there are a few tables, and a magazine rack full of new magazines, so it’s a good place to kill some time– grab a bargain meal AND get the newest scoop on which country Brangelina are adopting from this week in US Weekly. awesome.

i must say that i am incredibly impressed by the fact that there is not one but TWO bánh mì joints within a 5 block radius in Boerum Hill. Matt still says that he likes the place on Mott and Broome in Chinatown better, but i would say this satisfied our craving just fine (right Matt?). i am yet to go down to Sunset Park where there are supposedly these shops lined up, but i sure am happy that there is one closer to home. *k*

foot note: there is this new, cute little gourmet grocer around Smith and Bergen called Chop Chop that was very minimal and sparse, carrying fresh pre-packaged salads, fruits and veggies, and racks of dry foods, such as these spices (i’m such a sucker for Colman’s mustard).


Cheapest Breakfast in the West

March 4, 2007

Since I live in San Diego and have the luxury of driving wherever my little heart desires for a beautiful Sunday morning breakfast (like70° outside), I choose to cross the street and dine at IKEA instead! Yes, I know this sounds soooo super ghetto, but guess what – shutup. I don’t know if I have the same degree of passion for food as some of you… I simply just like to put it in my mouth. Not too picky, but then again not too adventurous. So I stick with what’s good and in this case… butt cheap, greazzzy and filling. I am going to be feasting like the Queen of Misson Valley (center of San Diego, where I dwell) in about 20 minutes or so. I will be enjoying scrambled eggs, mmm bacon, sausage, waffles or Swedish pancakes and it comes with coffee. And here’s the best part! All for freakin $2.99!!!! Oh, but it gets better – I’m not tipping either! That’s right, it’s cafeteria style — seat my self and put my own tray on the kitchen rack when I’m done. Fancy feasting here I come!!!

Why I can’t write a review on Matsuya.

March 4, 2007

Maybe it’s an ominous sign that my first blog entry as the Tokyo correspondent for Umami Mart is about being unsuccessful on my first assignment – write a review on Matsuya.
There are a slew of other teishoku (set meal) chain stores like Matsuya – i.e. Yoshinoya, すき家, etc. These are establishments that serve set meals and a la cart (see Menu picture) dishes. Lots of beef bowls, curry, rice with condiments, etc.

As an American girl, I find it hard to find these places inviting. They are usually lit excessively by rows and rows of fluorescent lights where under them sit rows and rows of stag diners – all male. This is definitely not a place to enjoy a meal – in fact, I think enjoyment is restricted. Meals run very, very cheap – a curry meal or a beef bowl for 300-400yen (about $2.50-3.50). With these prices, one must assume that ingredients come shipped in bags, prepackaged with preservatives.

I don’t consider myself a food snob, but it’ll take me a little more convincing to visit a Matsuya or Yoshinoya. Besides, I’d rather go to the local fish market and eat this (a hefty portion of shimesaba and fresh salmon sashimi) for 700yen (about $6) in the comfort of my own home. Lunchtime calls…