Sorry guys, no food this time. Here are some photos I shot this past Tuesday.
NEVER FORGET THE FALLEN!
BLT Bar & Grill
123 Washington St, New York 10006
(At Carlisle St)
As we all know, the downtown Manhattan area around the former World Trade Center became quite desolate after 9/11. Once flourishing businesses were either destroyed, damaged, or eventually went out of business. Restaurants were one particular business that was hit hard in the area. Throughout the years several new eateries would show up here and there but their days were unfortunately numbered. For quite some time, people simply did not want to be near the affected area. Eventually the construction of the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower began and I am happy to say that an incredible revitalization has been taking place here in downtown Manhattan ever since. Business are slowly but surely making a huge comeback, new construction is happening practically on every block, and most importantly the hustle and bustle of people has once again returned. I am confident that downtown Manhattan will not only return to its former glory but it will most assuredly surpass it! One such new construction has been the new downtown W Hotel and with it arrived BLT Bar & Grill. My friends and I are always searching for new lunch spots around the office so it was time to give BLT Bar & Grill a try!
Grilled Chicken Sandwich: We started things off with the Grilled Chicken Sandwich. I loved how this sandwich arrived in three sections on a small cutting board along with a pickle and fries. Served between toasted multigrain bread, this chicken was very tender and flavorful on its own but that’s just the beginning because you also get some wonderful sopressata and mozzarella cheese in this sandwich. The sopressata adds a slight peppery and garlic taste to the chicken and the mozzarella adds that mild cheesy goodness. What really made this sandwich great was the olive tapenade that was applied to each section of the sandwich. The tapenade will immediately remind of really good pesto. Together with the nuttiness and crispness of the multigrain bread, this sandwich will take you through several flavors and textures. I usually find chicken sandwich somewhat boring or lacking in the flavor department but this chicken sandwich is definitely one I would order again!
BLT Burger: Let me just say that I really enjoyed this burger. Every restaurant always seems to have their own idea of what “medium” or “well done” is supposed to be and any time I order meat or a burger in a new place I am always hoping that they get the temperature right. I ordered my burger medium and it arrived perfectly pink and medium. The beef was very tender and really juicy. The kind of juicy that runs down the length of your arm and makes a wonderful stain on your shirt which you wore to work. Taking a small sample of just the beef, I was happy to say that it was well seasoned. The gooey aged cheddar cheese was generous and distinct in flavor with just a slight sharpness. If it was up to me I would have extra sharp cheese on all of my burgers. You may also not realize how important a good bun is when it comes to burgers. Personally, I love burgers that are served on English muffins but this bun was very soft and slightly sweet and worked really well to absorb the juiciness of the beef. Lastly, I must not forget about the glorious bacon! This was some really great bacon. Really thick and double smoked, this bacon had the perfect crispiness/chewiness ratio and an excellent smokey flavor. This burger is definitely going on my downtown list of great burgers.
Scottish Salmon Burger: You can tell by the photo that you get a generous amount of salmon on this burger. Unfortunately what you cannot tell from the photo is that the salmon was completely unseasoned. I took a few bites of it just to makes sure and yes it was good quality salmon but it was completely blah. A definite salt & pepper crisis! You might think that this was the end of the salmon burger but luckily the burger came with three things that saved the day! There were red onions, some wonderful avocado, and a really nice cayenne tartar sauce. After applying some of that creamy tartar sauce things dramatically improved. Together with the red onions and avocado, this burger finally picked up some flavor! I really think this could have been an excellent salmon burger if the salmon was properly seasoned. Thank goodness for avocado and tartar sauce!
Fries and pickles: Fries and pickles were served with all of the aforementioned dishes. The fries at BLT Bar & Grill are excellent! Perfectly crispy, slightly battered, and with just the right amount of salt. As for pickles, if you love sour and salty pickles as much as I do then you will definitely love these.
It’s really great seeing downtown Manhattan coming back to life after so many years. BLT Bar & Grill is a great addition to the many new restaurants in the area. Their food is good, if somewhat pricey, but I will definitely return again for lunch when I’m craving a really good burger not to mention that I’m also curious about their dinner offerings. And yes I don’t just eat in Brooklyn!
21 Mott St, New York 10013
(At Mosco St)
When I want authentic Chinese cuisine there is only usually one place I go and that of course is Chinatown. Whether it’s in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, each borough’s Chinatown offers something unique and different. One such unique place has always been Hop Kee. I have been eating there for ages. Perhaps it’s because of the large variety of food choices on the menu or maybe because everything there is always so flavorful or maybe because prices there are just so cheap or perhaps it’s because my friend’s father happens to work there. It’s all of the above! Any outing to Hop Kee usually turns into an enormous feast of Cantonese fare and this time was no exception.
Beef Chow Fun: Yes we have all had beef chow fun before but you cannot always find that perfect combination of flavorful tender beef and fresh tender flat noodles. Delicious and well seasoned! Actually I have to say that pretty much everything at Hop Kee is amazingly well seasoned with flavors that you simply cannot just dismiss.
Salt & Pepper Calamari: Crisp on the outside and so very tender on the inside! Fantastic flavor from just the right amount of pepper and salt. Often times fried calamari requires a dipping sauce but not here. Simply great without anything extra!
Salt & Pepper Pork Chops: I love good pork chops and I particularly love pork chops in Asian eateries because the pork chops are usually flattened and extremely tender. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a time and place for a great All-American pork chop, such as the incredible pork chop served at Buttermilk Channel or Flatbush Farm, but there’s still something quite different about Asian style pork chops. These pork chops had a wonderful crispiness to them and essentially the same seasoning as the aforementioned calamari.
Crab Cantonese Style: OMG! This is what I live for! It’s probably my favorite dish at Hop Kee. Yes the crabs are absolutely messy and are a total pain in the arse to work with but don’t be afraid to get down and dirty with these beauties because you will be rewarded not only with a mess on your pants and shirt but also some of the sweetest and most delicious crab meat you’ve ever had! If you want a real flavor extravaganza then you need to scoop up some of that wonderful ground pork in black bean sauce that accompanies the crab, find a nice piece of crab roe, and finally add some of that crab meat which you so patiently struggled to get. The result of all that effort is just plain ‘ol WOW!
Sauteed Clams: Fresh and large clams sized clams in a tasty black bean sauce. Flavorful and definitely not rubbery.
Young Chow Fried Rice: You can’t just have Chinese food without some fried rice. This fried rice was fluffy, moist, and tender. It had great flavor once again from the seasoning and some help from the bits of roast pork and peas. A great side dish to pretty much anything!
Crispy Chicken: Roasted chicken that was perhaps glazed with crack! Tender and juicy on the inside but the best part was that incredible crispy skin.
Fillet of Flounder with Silk Squash: Coming back to the seafood department, we had some wonderful flounder. Lightly crisp pieces of fresh flounder that just fall apart in your mouth. The Silk Squash that came with it was great! It reminded me somewhat of a cross between zucchini and okra.
Sauteed Green Beans in Garlic: I think I could have easily consumed the entire plate of these amazing string beans! Amazing buttery flavor with a prominent garlic taste. Tender and delicious!
Lotus Cow Skin Soup: I don’t think I have ever eaten the same soup twice at Hop Kee. Each time the soup is a completely new and unique taste. As expected, the cow skin is obviously quite fatty and chewy and may not be to everyone’s liking but the pieces of lotus in that soup’s broth are delicious. I guess I can best describe the flavor of this soup as a slight resemblance to liver or something mineraly.
Pork & Shrimp Dumplings: Fresh house-made pork and shrimp dumplings. These guys were huge and with just the right dough consistency. Nothing like eating a tough and leathery dumpling. Inside each dumpling you will find some delicious pork and nicely sized chunks of shrimp. Yummy!
Chinese Spinach in garlic: If you like spinach then you will love this dish! Great garlic flavor!
Sweet & Sour Ribs: Crunchy pork ribs in a sweet & sour sauce. That says it all!
Forget anything about ambiance and atmosphere because Hop Kee definitely lacks both. From street level you might be somewhat hesitant to try this amazing below-ground level restaurant. Fear not! Go there! Eat there! You won’t regret it and you won’t have to refinance your house and kids to eat like a king!
Taishu Izakaya Kenka
25 Saint Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
And now for something completely different! I’m sure you’re all very familiar with the items in each photo however there is something there that is quite unique and no I’m not talking about the mackerel.
If you guessed bull penis then you are a winner! I love yakitori and I also love weird and crazy foods so there’s no way I could possibly pass up a bull’s penis once I spotted it on the menu. So of course the million dollar question is how was it?! I can tell you one thing for sure though! When they finally brought this dish over, my first thought was “Holy crap! This thing looks like some guy’s tool!”. Did that stop me? Hell no! Being polite, I cut off the head portion for my friend. I watched him start to eat this thing while slicing a piece off for myself. The look on his face was priceless. It’s the kind of look one gets when they are carefully walking that tightrope between swallowing something gross or hurling all over the place. I then began eating the piece that I cut for myself. It really had hardly any kind of taste. Just like tofu is somewhat tasteless unless you flavor it with something. There was some kind of sweet brown sauce smothering this thing but I have no clue what that was. It wasn’t so much the flavor as it was the texture that really got to me. The texture made me think of a combination of pure cartilage and fat. Somewhat chewy, firm, and crunchy all at the same time. While I was chewing on this thing I still had a close eye on my friend who was still walking that tightrope. Watching him made me feel a little bit uneasy and in an instant I was doing the very same balancing act as him. Somehow I managed to distract myself, chew my piece up and swallow it! Utter disaster had been avoided. To sum up, this thing was God awful! Not because of the taste but because of the texture. Would I try this again if it was prepared in a different manner? Absolutely!
Casa La Femme
140 Charles Street New York, NY 10014
Baklava and various other Egyptian desserts: Dessert was great! Dry baklava can really ruin your day but this was very fresh and moist. The kanafeh was delicious as well.
The Great American Health Bar
35 West 57th Street between 5th and 6th Ave
As much as I love food, I always try my best to eat as healthy as possible without sacrificing flavor. It’s not always easy and there are definitely times you just have to say the hell with everything by indulging in a fabulous greasy cheeseburger. I had heard of The Great American Health Bar before but I have never actually made my way there but it was the perfect spot after a nice walk in Central Park. So without further adieu let’s talk about the food!
Green Salad: Your standard everyday green salad consisting of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and carrots served with a carrot ginger sauce on the side. A satisfying salad but I wish the dressing had a little more salt or perhaps any salt at all.
Matza Ball Soup: Man it’s been ages since I’ve had Matza Ball Soup so when I heard that it was on the menu I had to get it. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with something that normally tastes like dry cardboard. There’s something always comforting about a good Matza Ball Soup. The matza ball should be firm but not a brick either and in this case it was just right. The broth was rich and not watery like I’ve seen it sometimes at other places. The broth also contained some carrots and another veggie which I do not recall. Overall it was a good Matza Ball Soup however once again it lacked salt. I’m guessing that because this place is trying to be healthy they are avoiding salt as much as possible.
Pizza: Once again keeping in mind that The Great American Health Bar is HEALTH oriented, one cannot expect this to be your typical pizza. One top of a thin crust you will find green, yellow, and red roasted peppers laying on top of a tomato sauce which once again, you guessed it, lacked salt. Of course the biggest sacrilege of all is the fact that this pizza has no cheese! Outrageous I say but overall it was still a somewhat tasty “pizza”.
Falafel: Falafels are a wonderful invention and whenever I see the possibility of a good falafel I have to order it. The falafel arrived in a nice toasty pita which was overflowing with your typical Israeli salad. However! Once again the Israeli salad lacked any salt! Yes yes I know it’s a friggin health bar but I need some salt for flavor. Besides the lack of salt, I also noticed that the falafel was served with tahini sauce on the side instead of being inside or on the falafel. I usually like my falafels drowned heavily in tahini sauce so poor me had work on gettin that tahini in there manually. Once everything was good to go I took a bite. It was a simple yet tasty falafel. The falafel balls were crisp on the outside and tender, green, and fluffy on the inside. Perfection! Even though I’ve had better falafels, this was still a good falafel once you sprinkle on some salt and throw in generous amount of tahini sauce.
Glace Ice Cream: A scoop of strawberry and a scoop of coffee ice cream. The Great American Health Bar is quite well known for their fat-free (or was it low fat?), cholesterol free ice cream. It was ok even though I don’t really like soft ice cream and because it’s trying to pass itself off as healthy ice cream it simply did not have enough rich flavor for me.
I think I will definitely return to the Great American Health Bar. The food was definitely healthy and tasty after some minor modifications. Their menu is quite vast with lots of other enticing choices. All the more reason for me to return and try something new and healthy. Something that you have to keep in mind when dining at healthy food joints is the fact that you cannot always expect a certain food to taste as rich and as good as its unhealthy alternative but it does not mean that a healthy restaurant can’t dish up something healthy and tasty at the same time either. If I’m in the area and want something that won’t clog my arteries and want a place that has a ton of healthy food options then I will most certainly stop at The Great American Health Bar.