Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku means lucky peach. This restaurant is one of three by Chef David Chang who was named chef of the year by GQ and Bon Appétit, among other accolades. The other restaurants, Momofuku Ssam and Momofuku Ko, are increasingly harder to get into. I've walked by Ssam a few times and it looks like a very trendy bar and is always crowded. Ko has just 12 seats and offers a tasting menu by reservation only—I'm still struggling to get reservations. So the noodle bar is the most casual of the three and it is relatively easy to get into. We dropped in not knowing what to expect and were very pleased with the experience.

Our server suggested a few things from the menu for us to try and not knowing any different, we followed his guidance. We started with the most popular item on the menu, steamed buns with pork belly and cucumber. There was some kind of sauce spread on the bun that gave the dish a chocolatey or sweet taste that worked really well with the more salty pork.

The next dish was the biggest risk: sliced fluke sashimi with pickled pearl onion and charred jalapeno. We're OK with raw fish in sushi, but I've never had fluke in this way before. It was really a very good dish, though it didn't look that good on the plate (kind of plain as the fish was white as was the plate). The fish was tender and not at all fishy. The onion and jalapeno were a nice texture and flavor addition. There was also some kind of oil or other lite sauce that helped to bring everything together.

Finally we shared a bowl of ramen. After our experience at Ippudo, we're getting used to gourmet noodles. The momofuku ramen came with shredded pork and two pieces of pork belly, a poached egg, scallions, and watercress (or something). The broth wasn't too salty and the noodles of course were very good. We really liked the dish.

I think the main focus of our dinner conversation was who we could bring to this restaurant. It's a unique atmosphere, casual and loud, with communal tables. The wait staff was friendly and helpful. The food is definitely good but I'd say some people might be a little afraid to try it. I think the restaurant fits in quite well though in the neighborhood and with the general crowd around here. We'll have to see who we take to momofuku next - and when we can try the other two restaurants!

Dallas BBQ

A New York City apartment does not easily allow for grilling out. To make up for this, and in the spirit of Memorial Day, we headed down the block to Dallas BBQ for "New York's Most Popular Rotisserie." The place is frequently packed when we walk by, and so we had high hopes for good food at a reasonable price. We were greatly disappointed.

Clarkr ordered baby back ribs that came with fries and cornbread. Staple foods at a BBQ restaurant, but the ribs weren't tender enough, and the fries were soft and bland. The cornbread was the best food on the plate, but was still unsatisfying. I ordered a steak and tried to replace the potato choice with a salad, only to be told that there are no substitutions. The steak was over-cooked, too thin, and was served on soggy pita. The highlight of the dish were the crispy onions that accompanied the steak.

The service proved to be as bad as the food, with the waitress bringing us steak sauce and ketchup after we had finished the food, and water after we had asked for the check.

We were less than impressed with this chain restaurant and in the future will stick to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem when we are craving good BBQ.

Written by V, who is helping me to catch up on all the posts yet to come!

Dessert Truck

DessertTruck is a new mobile food concept based in the heart of New York City at 8th St and University Place. Using great ingredients and the highest standards for execution, we bring desserts from the world of fine-dining into the realm of everyday enjoyment. At our mobile food truck, there's no BS, no pretension. Just really good desserts.

I couldn't agree more with this description of the Dessert Truck. Simple. Quick. Cheap. DELICIOUS. V and I stopped by for a bite after a lite dinner and it was an amazing way to cap off our meal. (Especially for $5.) We ordered the Chocolate Bread Pudding, which is their "take on a classic chocolate custard dessert, topped with vanilla crème anglaise." It was served warm, in a little tinfoil dish that was a perfect size to get the great taste but not overwhelm you with sweetness or richness (or calories). I could have eaten the whole thing myself, but it was nice to share. I'd definitely recommend this, and I'll surely go back. Fortunately it is not that close to our apartment that it will become a regular destination. And next time I'm going to try it with the bacon crème anglaise. It sounds weird but the server told us it is the best thing on the menu!

Grey Dog Coffee

In search of a lighter, healthier, dinner one night, we wound up at Grey Dog Coffee, known in the neighborhood for its friendly service and relaxed atmosphere. Upon entering, we were slightly confused, wondering if we should wait to be seated, seat ourselves, or order at the counter. We eventually ordered at the counter, chose our seat, and then the food was served to us. The people watching was great as the crowd was very diverse. Even the servers had their own eccentricities that made the experience unique.

The food is standard fare, including sandwiches, salads, burgers, and breakfasts. We each tried a salad: the Cobb salad, and the seared tuna steak salad. All of the ingredients were very fresh and combined to make a great dinner salad. The portion was big enough to be a satisfying meal. Each was served with a piece of onion focaccia bread. I liked that they automatically served my dressing on the side, and that they would probably have allowed us to sit there all night if we wanted to.

All in all, a great spot for a light meal or a cup of coffee (except I don't like coffee).

Written by V.

Haru - Wall Street

My brother, John, recently started work at the Wall Street location of Haru. We decided to pay him a visit one night to check out his serving skills and knowledge of Japanese food and culture. It was quite a treat to be greeted by him at the door in Japanese, and to receive stellar service all night long. Really. The best service we've had in New York City. Ever.

We went on a Saturday night, and noted that the restaurant was pretty quiet and had few patrons, although this seems typical of the financial district on weekend evenings. The decor was modern and spacious, and could accommodate large groups of people. The sushi counter was exposed and it was fun to watch the chefs at work.

At John's suggestion, we began with the standard edamame, then went on to crab cakes that were well-seasoned, included big chunks of crab, and were topped with a tasty mango sauce.

Some people are adventurous sushi eaters. Being fairly new to the world of sushi, we are pretty tame, but were very pleased with the rolls we ordered. We shared the Philadelphia, spicy tuna, spicy titanic special roll (which included salmon, avocado and salmon caviar wrapped around spicy tuna and tempura flakes). For dessert, we shared red bean mochi ice cream and tempura cheesecake. Both were fantastic and we left very satisfied.

Did I mention the service was fantastic?

Another post written by V!

Holy Basil

Holy Basil is a Thai place that we've heard about a few blocks from our apartment. We stopped in for a casual dinner and were a bit surprised. It was a rainy Friday night and when we walked in the place wasn't very crowded. We got a table right by the door, that was on a platform a few feet above the bar, overlooking the whole restaurant. As the atmosphere was definitely Thai-themed, but not too ornate or crazy. There were some curtains hanging and mirrors on the walls, with candles on the tables.

As our meal progressed the place got more and more crowded with people going out. I guess we lucked out in getting a table without a wait, as there were lots of groups waiting near the entrance for the rest of the night.

Anyhow, the food was good. We tried to get beyond the usual pad thai; I had a curry called Massa-mun. It had chicken breast meat with sweet red curry, potatoes, peanut, onion, and coconut milk. It was served with rice on the side. I enjoyed it, as I always like peanut/coconut flavors. V had Pad Sea-ew, which has chicken with wide ribbons of rice noodles stir-fried with Asian broccoli and thick soy sauce. It was a little plain, but not too bad. The highlight of the meal was the starter we ordered, vegetable spring rolls, served with plum sauce. We both loved the flavors and textures of the dish.

Overall it was a good experience, and rather inexpensive, coming in at about $15 each (we ordered soda to keep it cheap). The service was OK. I think I'd go back, but maybe try a few different dishes next time.

La Palapa

La Palapa, an authentic Mexican restaurant specializing in "Mexico City style" tacos and quesadillas and regional home cooking is on St. Marks Place in the East Village. The restaurant focuses on authentic Mexican cuisine featuring many specialties from different regions of Mexico. Salsas and sauces are rich and spicy and fresh ingredients are used.

We came to La Palapa while wandering around the East Village, looking for someplace new to try out. The restaurant was busy but there was only a few minutes wait for a table. We also figured it was appropriate cuisine being a few days past Cinco de Mayo.

The restaurant has a definite Mexican atmosphere with stucco and a thatched awning at the entrance. It gave a feel of being near the ocean, though of course it was on a busy Manhattan street. According to their website, this is exactly what La Palapa means:

A palapa is a palm-thatched shelter on a Mexican beach where you can relax with your feet in the sand looking at the ocean while you sip an ice cold cerveza flavored with lime and salt, and eat a spicy shrimp taco with salsa guajillo.

We were seated in a back semi-enclosed courtyard-type space that was less exciting than the main dining room, but the quieter atmosphere was nice. We ordered a few small things from the menu rather than entrees, starting with QUESO FUNDIDO con CHORIZO CASERO a homemade chorizo baked with cotija anejo and monterey jack cheeses served with warm tortillas. It wasn't that large of a portion, but it was pretty good, with a rather mild flavor. I ordered ELOTE del MERCADO PLAZA SAN ANGEL. This is Mexico city plaza style corn on the cob with lime, mayo, chile piquín and queso cotija. I like typical Minnesota corn on the cob with butter and salt better, but this was good too - my first corn of the season! Finally we tried tacos and quesadillas. Sadly, though the restaurant may be known for these, they weren't that good and they were very small. The "shells" were 3 to 4 inches around and the meat (char-grilled marinated skirt steak and chile chipotle barbecued chicken) was fairly dry. This made the quesadillas better, with their melted cheese to keep things a little more moist.

I appreciate the effort at authenticity at La Palapa, but the prices were a bit high and the food didn't quite satisfy my hopes. There are several other good looking dishes on the menu, so maybe we'll check those out if we're in the area, and in the mood.


Sharaku is a sushi place directly across the street from our apartment. We tried it out and weren't blown away but it was good. (Definitely not Haru!) The restaurant was busy but the service was slow. We ordered most of the normal rolls we get, like tuna with avocado, spicy tuna, Philadelphia, and then tried one special roll, called the spider roll. It had fried soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado, sprouts, roe, and spicy mayonnaise. V ordered it, but didn't realize why it is called the spider roll: the crab legs are sticking out the end like a giant spider climbing out of the roll. Needless to say, I got to eat the whole roll. It was good, but I don't know if I'd order it again. I guess we just like to stick with the simple sushi.

Dessert Club, ChikaLicious

I suppose a dessert-only restaurant isn't that unique what with ice cream shops and other similar places, but somehow, "Dessert Club, ChikaLicious" is unique as a one-food-only place. Across the street from its sister restaurant, ChikaLicious Dessert Bar (which is a fancier dessert space that serves a fixed-price menu), the Dessert Club serves only pudding:

Steamed Apple Puddin'
Adult Chocolate Puddin'
Brioche Bread Puddin'

We tried the chocolate and bread puddings. The chocolate pudding was not that unique, but V loved the Brioche Bread Pudding. It was served warm and was rich and delicious. The prices were reasonable, and the atmosphere simple (just a walk-up counter with a few seats, and a great aroma coming from the kitchen. We're waiting until we have some guests in town to try out the dessert bar.

Totally Baked

Yet another restaurant devoted to one food item: baked potatoes. Anyone who is a potato fan should not pass this place up. It is a casual fast food style place, and focuses on the lunch crowd, closing at 6pm many days. It was clean, and the woman who helped us was especially friendly and helpful. There were huge pictures of potatos on the wall, and Mr. Potato Heads for sale. The potatoes are served with small side salads in over-sized cardboard boxes with plastic utensils.

We could not afford the $55 truffle baked potato, so we had to settle for $10 choices. For this amount of money, we still expected a good sized portion of potato. However, the potato was small. There were ample toppings on each. I tried the wild mushroom (of course) which included chanterelle, shitake, oysters and crimini with shallot, chive, and manchego cheese. I wished for more cheese, but was very pleased with the variety of mushrooms and the overall taste of the potato.

Clark enjoyed his potato with grilled rosemary skirt steak, caramelized shallots and blue cheese. The steak was tender and it was a delicious combination.

We'll go back when we can afford the truffled potato (not likely).

Written by V.


"That rare well-done burger restaurant," Stand is a great casual burger place. It has a full bar and somehow manages to combine carry-out convenience and contemporary sit-down table service very well. The place is simply decorated with tall ceilings, white walls, black wooden tables and huge windows open to the street. The space is very large, probably seating 50 tables.

We each ordered a burger, of course. I had a cheese burger which came with onion marmalade, lettuce, and a delicious blue cheese sauce. The burger was juicy and a good size. The (fried) sides, which were ordered separately, included Onion Rings, regular Fries and Shoestring Fries. Each of them was good but I'd probably rate them onion, shoestring, regular. We capped off the meal with a pitcher of local beer.

It was a great meal, and I'd definitely go back. The prices were reasonable for the food and the service. And even with a whole restaurant focused on the simple burger, there is more I'd like to try. I'm sure I'll be back.