Saturday, June 27, 2009


Point of (no) return.


Pucker up!

Cloud surfing.

Roped in.

Photo montage taken June 19. NHP & Huntington, NY.

Yoberry Fo Yo Mouth


BROOKLYN IS BURNING (and so is Chinatown).

The combination of a relentless sun and muggy humidity makes for one very sticky Sarah. Gross, I know. Which is where Yoberry comes in...

Shaved Fro-yo.

After we safely saw off our friend Kristal to the D train on Canal, we trekked over to Columbus Park to watch kids play ball and elderly Chinese folks congregated for the express purpose of playing cards. We even saw some old folks with their boom box and microphones, dancing and singing in Cantonese with practiced moves (strongly resembling Tai Chi...) and a peaceful smile on their lips.


I ducked into Yoberry for some relief in the form of....

Shaved Fro-yo!

DING-DING-DING. We have a winner!

One Shaved Fro-yo coming right up!

When I asked the waiter (that's him in the "Protect and Survive" T-shirt) what the black jelly tasted like, he couldn't describe it to me, thereby failing to answer my question. (And you claim to work here? Huh??!) He then proceeded to make fun of me in Cantonese to his co-worker, laughing about how I didn't know the difference between lychee and longan. (Trust me, I do.)

At first, I couldn't imagine I was being dissed by some schmucky-mugged minimum wager (I have nothing against minimum wagers, by the way. I'm one myself, but Puh-LEASE do not give me that. I may be jook sing, but I totally knew every word you were saying).


So, enough on my rant. Let's cut to the actual Shaved Fro-yo. It came with 4 toppings, so I chose strawberry, blueberry, mochi and longan (which is, ahem, decidedly not lychee). Starting from the bottom, each layer of fruit was then topped with a layer of condensed milk and shaved ice, piling up higher and higher until about a half inch from the top.

That's where the pyramid of frozen yogurt came in. I actually expected more frozen yogurt, but maybe I just like froyo a little more than the average person. Finally, I mixed all the ingredients together. While the mixture itself was cooling and refreshing - I especially liked my fresh toppings - the ice wasn't quite fine enough. Large chunks became difficult to cut with just a spoon. You could try using your teeth, but I wouldn't suggest it. Also, the condensed milk was a bit too heavy for such a hot day.

Me and my newest homeboy.

All in all, not a bad fruity iced treat. However, for $7 and an icky vibe from the staff, I'd probably skip Yoberry and just settle for a $2 ice cream down the block at Dunkin' Donuts. ZING!!

Someone needs a lesson in customer service.

Rating: 2.5 stars. I was considering a higher score, but my ethics couldn't condone dishonesty. Bottom line: No customer should have to put up with crap. Especially in another language. It's humiliating and downright immature. Please grow up, or at least wait until I leave before you make fun of me. Common sense, no? Save yourself a trip and head over to your nearest Red Mango or 16 Handles.

48 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Little Kumquat That Could

Kumquat Lime Boba.

Our dear friend Kristal came to visit the New York crew from Boston. After a zigzagging escapade that resulted in my late arrival to our designated meet-up time, we finally convened in Chinatown close to 2 p.m. Our ravenous stomachs garbled and groaned. I led my buddies to Green Tea Cafe.

Curry Chicken...

Since I've been in a curry kind of mood lately, I ordered the curry chicken. (Chicken, after all, must be safer than beef...right?)

...Caught a Case of Chicken Pox.

Jumping jellybeans! I couldn't have been more wrong. The yellow curry was good enough with a fine aroma of coconut milk. Not the spicy kind of curry, but I was OK with that. However, halfway through the meal, something started to taste off.

I take it red chicken can't be a good sign, huh? The chef must have neglected to notice that the chicken should have been cooked thoroughly in all areas before serving it on my plate. When I brought the pinkness to the attention of our waiter, he stared at it blankly for a full two seconds before commanding the attention of his higher-up. After a quick consultation, he then told me that it was "fine" to eat and that the chicken had come from the freezer.

Uhhh....did you really think I was going to buy that? (No pun intended.) I asked the waiter to heat up the chicken a little longer. I believe my exact words were to "pop it" in the microwave.

Rachel's brother Ricky (not pictured) had some sound words of advice for me:

-In case anything goes wrong, the bathroom's back there (He pointed).

-Thanks for noticing.

-No problem.

When the waiter reemerged from the kitchen with my dish, I picked around the chicken with some hesitation and finally decided not to risk it. Kristal graciously offered me some of her Portuguese Chicken, slathered with nutty peanut sauce. That kind of made up for it.

Rachel's Ribs and Rice.

Rachel was too engrossed in her peppered ribs to notice my possible salmonella poisoning (just kidding about the salmonella bit).

Kristal's Portuguese Chicken.

Ricky: Why is your kumquat green?

Me: That would be called syrup.

Ricky: (pause) Oh.

I've made it my unofficial mission to sample the kumquat boba from every teahouse in the New York City area. I don't know why or when I decided this, but at one point I must have thought it would be a fun challenge. That and curry. Some people do the same with frozen yogurt (I know you Californians are nodding your head to this).

After I'd slurped down the rest of my drink, Ricky decided to play forensics expert with the remaining lone kumquat. Armed with a fork and knife, he sliced through the pit in one precise stroke. He then proceeded to mash the kumquat, along with all its seeds, and mask it in the remains of his Portuguese chicken sauce. It turns out the kumquat and the sauce were the same color and blended seamlessly into each other. I'm not sure whether to be amazed or saddened by this.

Although half my dish was edible, the near-salmonella incident will be forever imprinted in my mind. Talk about leaving a bad impression. Sorry, Green Tea Cafe! I will not be patronising you for awhile. Need to get over my chicken fright first.

NEW Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars. The boba was decent, even considering the :ahem: generous allotment of sweet simple syrups that went into it. I generally prefer more of a natural flavor - emphasis on the tea rather than on the syrup. It's the chicken that did me in.

Green Tea Cafe
45 Mott St
Ste A

New York, NY 10013

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Guerilla guards the GoGoCurry.

Attack! Attack! Go!

To Go!Go!Curry, at once! If only all lunches could be like this...

Colorful menu board.

My friends and I arrived there around 12:15 p.m. to a relatively empty store. Not more than ten minutes later, a nattily-dressed Japanese couple entered (they were speaking Japanese - I hope I'm not making a false assumption here), along with polo shirt-clad Asian guys in their 20s and 30s who were sitting all by their lonesome. Curry seems to be a popular choice among the younger set.

One of the first things I noticed about Go!Go!Curry was how friendly the two waitstaff were. Clad in their yellow uniform shirts, the ladies giggled when I requested a picture with just the two of them. The one with plump cheeks tried to hide her face, claiming her cheeks were too fat. Too kawaii.

The left-hand wall was transformed into a vortex of curry and Japanese regalia pasted collage-style, hiding almost every inch of the original white paint. A veritable shrine to the Yankees' Hideki Matsui (well, in a place that harps the Grand Slam and Hideki Matsui chips, it's to be expected, neh?).

Oh, FYI in Japanese, "Go" means five. So, put together, "GoGo" stands for 55, or Matsui's number. Total coincidence? I think not.

Katsu Curry (mine).

I made a beeline for the Katsu Curry, which is what I came for. Go!Go!Curry serves three sizes: Walk (S), Single (M), Double (L) and Triple (XL). For $8, I had a good-sized portion of pork cutlet over rice, with some shredded lettuce on the side. But seeing how oishii the curry was, I could have used seconds on the rice to savor the curry. Bring on the sauce!

The "Grand Slam" consists of two fried shrimps, a breaded and fried chicken cutlet, a breaded and fried pork cutlet, two fried sausages, a hard-boiled egg, lettuce, a large mound of white rice and thick curry drizzled over it. I'll definitely come back for that when I have a bigger appetite.

Side dishes include Natto (fermented soy beans), Fukuzinzuke (pickled daikon) and Rakkyo (pickled shallots). Every 5th of the month, enjoy a free topping of your choice!

L-R: Katsu Curry and Chicken Curry.

Just so you can see the size difference...

"The only thing she thinks is about Grand Slam Curry!!"

Handwritten customer feedback notes lined the wall, crammed in next to copies of Matsui's smiling face. One note in particular, written in black marker, stood out to me:

"To GoGoCurry

Thanks for letting me USE your place as a shelter from the big bad city.

(Scribbled signature: R----- L----)"

Exactly my sentiments.

Rating: 4.5 stars.


273 W. 38th St
New York, NY 10018

Homage to the Homing Pigeon & His Retinue

Photo montage taken May 15-16. Essex, Conn.

Essex Go Round

Griswold Inn.

This entry originally took place on May 15 (I know - eons ago, please forgive the backlog. Work has been consuming me.)

- Everybody hop inside the car! We're going on a mini road trip!

That would be in the vein of Dad's adventurous spirit, more or less. Done with college for the year, my sister returned home to our humble abode. Not less than a week later, we were off again. This time, to a little old town we once visited as pigtailed children.

Destination: Essex, Conn.

I still remember the baby blue postcard with the shiny gold embossed logo in delicate script that read: The Griswold Inn. That's when I used to collect postcards of every vacation spot we visited. I started this habit at the tender age of seven. I'd tack some sticky tape on the back of the shiny pictures and fill my 3-inch scrapbook with them, marking the date next to each one (in my huge scrawled handwriting). Beaches, historic houses, amusement parks, shark fins and Native American memorabilia filled the parchment pages.

The Banjo Band used to play here.

Fourteen years later, the Griswold Inn still looks and feels the same as the first time I stepped through the heavy wooden doors. There are framed paintings of schooners, ship blueprints and a 2-foot-long antique brass whistle that makes a G-O-N-NNNNG noise when tapped. An old-fashioned, working popcorn maker still stands in the dining area. The warm smell of butter filled my nostrils.

My fun-sized sliders, up close.

The food's pretty darn good, too. The waitress served us a basketful of crusty handmade rolls with butter. The rolls were not as fresh as I'd envisioned, but when the clam chowder came, all that was forgotten. When it comes to chowder, New England certainly knows its stuff. Though the delicate blue-and-white doily-laced fine china was small in stature, the bowl contained a thick, rich soup. A generous helping of clams and potatoes filled each spoonful. But beware: Not for the lactose intolerant.

Double the (delicious) trouble.

My bacon sliders came next. As a rule, anything with bacon has a promising future in my book. However, the medium-done burger had just the right bounce and juiciness that made each bite so pleasurable. The addition of the chipotle mustard sauce raised it up a notch or two.

Chicken quesadilla with sour cream (Sister's).

My sister had the chicken quesadilla, which was rather bland since it lacked the spicy kick of jalapeƱos, cilantro and lime juice that would have enhanced the flavor. All in all, not a bad run.

Rating: 4 stars.

The Griswold Inn
36 Main Street
Essex, CT 06426

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cheat Sheet: Crepes

Crepe Mix.

Oh no! It's lunchtime and there's nothing to be found in the kitchen. Except, hold on...crepe mix! This one happened to be from Williams-Sonoma. Sure, you can make them from scratch the good ole French way, but the mix is ideal for times when you want to whip up something effortlessly on the fly.

Prepping the eggs.

Follow the directions on the back of the recipe tin. It doesn't get easier than that. You only need a few essential ingredients (eggs, water and butter or oil for the pan).


For the filling, just chop up some strawberries and bananas (not pictured). In addition to the strawberry-banana crepe, I made a nutella and banana crepe, as I find those ingredients work well together.

Flip it!

Creamy fruit crepe.

Flushing, Wo Ai Ni!

Bori cha and Pokka aloe vera juice.

After dim sum in Flushing, time to hydrate! My sister and I checked into Bakery de Paris.

OK, so I had no idea that the small green can was bori cha (barley tea) when I bought it on a whim. Not a smidgen of English on the can, and I can't read any Korean. I could've asked the staff what it was, but that would take the fun out of it, wouldn't it? Sometimes I like to be pleasantly surprised.

And I was. The can was cool (not cold, which I would have preferred), and the barley tea was a less-than-nutty flavor. I tend to like my barley strong, and this was not it. However, for purposes of hydration, it did the job. It could be a little plumper, though. My sister liked the refreshing (semi-artificial) sweetness of the Pokka aloe juice.

Walking back to our grandparents' apartment, we passed a number of sites and sounds...

Madina halal cart.

The Korea Times.

Magic Castle: Purveyor of all things cute.

Dim Sum Du Jour

Flavored tendons.

I never cease to marvel at the sweet, salty, spicy, fried, steamed aromas and textures floating cart by cart every time I'm out to yum cha. I could do a detailed analysis of dim sum...but I won't. However, I will say this: No matter how many helpings of the plentiful dishes I take, I usually manage to clean my plate every time. Wash it all down with jasmine or oolong tea, and you're good to go. There's a reason the tea is strong.

Mom's zippy face.

After all these years, Mom's favorite dim sum dish is still ha gow (shrimp dumpling) - I think because her grandma used to make them from scratch. Of couse, nothing can compare to homemade, but when you can't be bothered to cook, dim sum is where it's at.

Yummy blur.

Fish balls, pie gwut (pork ribs), law my gai (rustic lotus leaf-wrapped sticky rice), char siew bao (red pork buns).

Personally, my cousin's "Grandma" in California makes the best joong (sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves). The Chinese sausage is sharp and aromatic; salted eggs, mung beans, chestnuts, dried shrimp, dried black mushrooms, pork and rice are rolled into a tight hot mess (the good kind).

The name of the restaurant. Beats me if I know.

Bite-sized don tat.

I had two of these little morsels. The don tat's crust was crisp and flaky, but the egg could have been fresher and less, well...glazed over.

Celebrating a Life at Kum Gang San

Waterfalls outside the restaurant.

This entry originally took place on May 23.

For Momma Bear's birthday, we went to the source of our Korean addiction: Kum Gang San.

Kum Gang San has treated us very well in the 4+ years since we've been eating here. It all began with that Korean cookbook I rummaged from my high school's library sale. 25 cents a pop. I gave it, along with a Japanese cookbook, to my mom. It was her first exposure to such cuisine. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Ban chon til my stomach explodes.

Mommy dearest requested a trip back to Kum Gang San to get her fill of kalbi, bibimbap and all the delightful appetizers Koreans are known for. The super soft tofu was a big hit, along with the seafood pajun, which was stuffed with squid, shrimp, leeks and onions (yes - I did eat the onion).

Kalbi served with 'special sauce.'

Seafood pajun and a bite of lotus.