Foodie Alert: Hot Chocolate Festival

Any chocolate lovers out there?

Well, if you are, then February is a sweet month for you. February is when City Bakery hosts its annual Hot Chocolate Festival where they have a different, unique flavor of hot chocolate everyday like banana peel hot chocolate and rum raisin hot chocolate. I’ve been waiting around for the flavor that I’m drooling over, but I thought I’d spread the news so you can check out some of those flavors yourself. Visit their website to see what flavor might woo your taste buds: http://www.thecitybakery.com/hot-chocolate .  I’ll probably post a review when the day of my special hot chocolate comes along 😉

Hope everyone’s having a great President’s Day weekend! 🙂

Hungry Tummy

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Foodie Alert: NYC Restaurant Week

Hello my fellow Foodies,

It’s that time of year again: NYC Restaurant Week!!! It will be held from February 17th to March 7th. It’s a great chance to try out those fancy restaurants that are usually outside of your price range or just a good deal to try out a new restaurant’s 3 course prix-fixe menu. Lunch prix-fixe is $25 and dinner prix-fixe is $38. Restrictions may apply on weekend days and whether lunch or dinner is offered as a part of Restaurant Week depending on the restaurant.

For a list of participating restaurants and further information, visit the the Restaurant Week website at http://www.nycgo.com/restaurantweek/ .

Is anyone as excited as I am? 😀 What restaurants do you recommend and which ones are you looking forward to trying?

Hungry Tummy

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East Harbor Seafood Palace

Dim sum anyone?

If you’re looking for a bite of the traditional Cantonese meal, East Harbor Seafood Palace in the Brooklyn Chinatown of 8th Avenue is a good option. Eighth Avenue is lined with numerous restaurants and eateries to try, but East Harbor Seafood Palace is my preferred choice because the restaurant is spacious, the food is consistently good, and the plates and utensils are always clean.  It’s big enough to host large groups.

Number received to wait for a table

Number received to wait for a table

Inside East Seafood Cuisine

Inside East Seafood Cuisine

For those unfamiliar with dim sum, also described as going “yum cha” in Cantonese, it’s the Cantonese version of brunch. Dim sum is served from morning to early afternoon (around 2pm). It’s best to go before 12pm to avoid the long wait. Little dishes, often kept warm in individual bamboo steamer baskets, are paraded around in push carts so you can hail down the cart with the dish of your heart’s desire. The dishes are served along with tea to aid digestion which is why having dim sum is called “yum cha”, which literally means “drinking tea”. Each of the dishes ordered are marked off on a card to keep track of how many are ordered.

At East Harbor Seafood Palace, they don’t have picture menus explaining each dish, which can be intimidating to anyone who doesn’t speak Chinese or who’s not familiar with dim sum, because who knows what you’re eating. But never fear! There are a lot of iPhone and Android apps out there with pictures and descriptions of each dish like Dim Sum Assistant and HK Dim Sum 101, which are free on Google Play. Sadly, I couldn’t find any free ones for the iPhone.

Now that we’re done with the dim sum introduction, here are some pictures to seduce your taste buds. I won’t review each dish as I didn’t try everything ordered but the general consensus between me and my friends was that it was a good meal that left us quite happy.

"Chiu Chow Fun Gor" (Pork and chicken dumpling with peanuts, chives, and radish)

“Chiu Chow Fun Gor” (Pork and chicken dumpling with peanuts, chives, and radish)

Clams

Clams with black bean sauce

These clams with black bean sauce and sliced peppers were nice and hot, straight from the wok on the push cart!

"Luo Mai Fan" (Glutinous rice with peanuts, chinese sausage and scallions)

“Luo Mai Fan” (Glutinous rice with peanuts, chinese sausage and scallions)

The glutinous rice is portioned into individual bowls for each order. They’re plopped upside down onto a dish while displayed on the push cart and uncovered when served.

"Luo Mai Fan" (Glutinous rice with peanuts, chinese sausage, and scallions)

“Luo Mai Fan” (Glutinous rice with peanuts, chinese sausage, and scallions)

Egg tart

Egg tart

The egg tarts are my favorite dessert there; I get them every time I go! The crusts are flaky and the egg custard is sweetened just right to enhance the egg flavor. Mmm…I’ll have to drool over this picture until next time.

East Harbor Seafood Palace
714 65th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 765-0098

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Audrey’s Concerto

When I stepped into Audrey’s Concerto, I felt like I was transported out of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The cute and cozy pastry shop decorated with wooden furniture and simple, white walls adorned by Audrey’s logo offers a breath of fresh air from the traditional Chinese bakeries in the surrounding area. As I stepped through the doors, I was immediately drawn to the counter filled with a myriad of colorful treats that blended Eastern and Western influences; the desserts ranged from green tea tiramisu with red beans to green tea mango mousse to pumpkin pie.

While scanning the little shop that seated 13 people at maximum, I noted the cute custom cakes on display that resembled more like pieces of art than edible pastries; on display were cakes shaped like a Chanel bag and a classy stiletto. Foot-high, chocolate Eiffel Towers and colorful macarons also lined the shelves of the bakery for sale. Also important to note was the sign that said “CASH ONLY”.

Audrey's Concerto

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Chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream on display

Chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream on display

Excited but full, I browsed the chalkboard menu hanging on top of the wall for drinks. Their drink menu offered coffee and latte, but focused more on various teas and specialty beverages with honey. I ordered the earl grey tea with milk and sugar, while my friend ordered the lavender rose with honey. Unable to escape the temptation of the beautiful desserts calling out to me, I also ordered the osmanthus jelly with lychee pudding.

Osmanthus jelly with lychee pudding

Osmanthus jelly with lychee pudding

The osmanthus jelly with lychee pudding was the ideal choice for a light, refreshing dessert after a heavy meal. The osmanthus jelly is a dessert made from the osmanthus flower, which gives a light apricot-like flavor to the jelly. I have not seen osmanthus jelly offered elsewhere in New York so far. I was so happy to be able to taste it here, as I have only had it in dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong before. The osmanthus jelly layer was a perfect precursor to the bottom layer of lychee pudding, which was light like a mousse and imbued with lychee flavor as if I was eating the actual fruit itself. One dessert was not enough! I’ll certainly have to be back to try the other creative flavors at Audrey’s Concerto :).

Audrey’s Concerto
2379 86th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 266-2829

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Poco

Poco is a tapas bar nestled inside Alphabet City. Since I was going to Poco for my friend’s birthday celebration on a weekend, I was excited and ready for their brunch menu, which included the option of UNLIMITED drinks along with the entree for either a 1.5 hour or 3 hour time limit. The price varies depending on the time limit that you choose. Sadly, the unlimited drinks don’t cover the whole drinks menu, but it includes red/white sangria, mimosas, and bloody mary’s. Excited and hungry after browsing through their menu before my arrival, I walked into Poco a bit surprised by how “poco” it was. Although the restaurant had a good amount of tables fitting about 10 to 12 parties, the space felt rather tight with the crowd and the confining interior design. Booths hugged the walls on one side of the restaurant while a bar lined the length of the opposite wall, making only a meager amount of space for a row of tables squeezed between the support beams in the middle of the room.

As one of my friends was running late, Poco was kind enough to seat us a couple of minutes later so that we could postpone the start of our 1.5 hour time limit. To my amusement, we were literally seated in the corner of the restaurant. Our table was tucked in the small space between the side of the bar and the wall. As the backs of my two friends could literally touch the bar, the bartender naturally also doubled as our server. The positive side to this was quick access to our drinks and the bartender.

ImageMost of us ordered the unlimited drinks option along with our entrees. I tried the white sangria and the mimosa. Although the drinks didn’t taste very delicious or seem very strong, the restaurant was quick to refill. Oddly, my white sangria seemed to only contain oranges as the fruit base rather than a medley of fruits. It felt like I was drinking an orange juice cocktail, but who can complain about an unlimited drink option that only cost $10 for 1.5 hours?

The brunch menu is composed of the typical American brunch selections with some Spanish twists, such as including chorizo in the dish rather than a regular sausage. For food, I ordered the truffle mushroom omelet, which came along with a mesclun salad and potato hash on the side. The omelet was satisfactory but unremarkable; the truffle oil flavor was noticeable in the middle of the omelet.The potato hash had a nice crisp on the outside. My friends also ordered the lobster mac and cheese, lobster benedict, and two eggs any style. I tried a bite of the lobster mac and cheese, which was fantastic. The shell pasta was melted with cheese made from a three-cheese blend with big chunks of lobster and topped with crunchy panko. The cheese flavor did not distract from the lobster and you could still taste the freshness of the seafood. For the two eggs any style, they don’t offer the eggs hard-boiled so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of getting that. Since we went there for weekend brunch, the dishes were served in regular portion sizes, rather than tapas-size.

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Truffle Mushroom Omelet

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Lobster Mac and Cheese

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Lobster benedict

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Two Eggs Any Style with Chorizo

Overall, the service was good and the atmosphere was lively, albeit a little cramped. The food was decent, but nothing spectacular enough for me to go back for more. Also, please note that the restaurant is CASH ONLY, so make sure to check your wallet before you go or else you might end up washing dishes…

Poco
33 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-4461

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Argo Tea

Soooo…this is not a full, blown-out post, but I thought I’d share one of my favorite hang out spots in the city. This is my go-to place whenever I want to have a quiet afternoon to sit down, relax, and catch up with old friends: Argo Tea.

I think of Argo Tea as the Starbucks version of tea, but more relaxing and well-lit. Originally started in Chicago, they began opening in NYC a few years ago and have various locations in Manhattan. They have a wide selection of specialty tea drinks (both hot and cold), as well as plain tea and coffee. My favorite (and regular) is the Earl Grey Vanilla Creme. I love this cafe because it’s a great alternative for non-coffee drinkers like me.

Argo Tea offers free wifi for two hours along with your purchase. Many of their tables are equipped with outlets on the table ledge for those customers planning to spend their afternoon tapping away at their laptops as they enjoy their cup of tea.

This is just a quick tip, but I might have a more detailed post or more pictures in the future. For now, enjoy! 🙂

Hungry Tummy

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Hello!

Wow! Has it really been a two year hiatus? I have returned! There shall be more food to come in the future. Promise 😉

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