WD-50 (August 17, 2014)

November 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

A summer visit to one of my favorite restaurants in New York City, WD-50, which is sadly closing November 30. Love that the atmosphere and service is always friendly and super casual (if you drunkenly ask for a kitchen tour at the end of the meal, they’re usually nice and polite enough to say yes) and the food manages to be sophisticated and comfortingly familiar at the same time.

Highlights of this particular meal were the first two dishes – an oyster in its “shell” and a super rich, flavorful potato ravioli paired with caviar, both paired with a lovely champagne, an updated version of shrimp and grits, which is one of my favorite Southern dishes to begin with, the pork collar course and the verbena mousse with buckwheat (which oddly reminded me of Carvel ice cream cake and seemed to amuse the waiter when I told him so).

This was also the first time I decided to opt for the wine pairing…and thanks to that and the additional bottle of sake we ordered towards the end of the meal (because the oat meringue dessert didn’t come with a pairing and someone at our table apparently would not let that stand), yours truly had a massive hangover the next morning. Worth it though…

Oyster in its “shell,” preserved lemon, snow pea, hazelnut with Pinot Meunier Champagne “Brut Blanc de Meunier” Millesime 2007 Jean Michel from Champagne, France

Egg yolk-mashed potato ravioli, caviar, cucumber with Pinot Meunier Champagne

Avocado-pea soup, smoked crab, pistachio with Riesling “Vandenberg” Tatomer 2010 from Santa Barbara County, California, USA

Cuttlefish, carrot, chamomile, schmaltz with Sauvignon Blanc Bluxome Street Winery 2012 from Russian River Valle, California, USA

Charred chicken liver, szechuan, injera, melon with Viognier “Antoine Creek” Grammery Cellars 2013 from Walla Walla, WA, USA

Shrimp grits, pickled jalapeno with Grenache, Zinfindel, Mourvedre Rose “Old Hill Ranch” Bucklin 2013 from Sonoma Valley, CA, USA

Hamachi, turnip, shiso, blood sausage with Hoyo Sawayaka Junmai Uchigasaki Brewery from Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Pork collar, poppy seed, red bell pepper, tamarind with Bourgogne Rouge Camille Giroud 2011 from Burgundy, France

Cured duck breast, curds-n-whey, sweet potato, rice noodles with Malvasia Nera “Medos” Castello Monaci 2011 from Salento, Italy

Oat meringue, banana, strawberry, yeast

Verbena mousse, rhubarb, buckwheat, camelina oil with Sparkling Apple Cider ‘La Transparente” Cidrerie du Vulcain from Fribourg, Switzerland

Ovaltine cake, marcona almond, cardamom, sheep’s milk with Tawny Porto Quinta do Infantado “10 years old” from Douro, Portugal

Cookie dough ice cream with sarsaparilla jelly

The pass at the end of service

Betony and Alder

August 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

Two very different meals, spanning seven months. One of my first splurge meals after moving back to NYC was at Betony, helmed by Eleven Madison Park alums and executed to perfection. Unfortunately, since this meal took place so long ago, I don’t really remember the specific components of each dish but just that the overall experience – food, service, ambiance – was very much worth the money. The standouts were definitely chicken liver mousse, super smooth and served with bits of fried chicken skin and green apple, the roasted chicken and the grilled short rib. 

The second meal was in late spring at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder in the East Village, which focuses on bar food with a modern twist. Though I didn’t think it could compare to his flagship (WD-50, which is sadly closing this coming fall), it is a way to sample some of Dufresne’s food without paying a pretty penny. The best dishes were the “pigs in a blanket” (Chinese sausage, Japanese mustard, sweet chili sauce) and the French onion soup rings with beef gravy and gruyere but I do wish the portions had been a little bit more generous. 

Momofuku whole rotisserie duck

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Three months later…another large format meal at Momofuku Ssam (I swear that I eat at places other than Momofuku).

This time, we had the whole rotisserie duck stuffed with duck and pork sausage (and served with chive pancakes, bibb lettuce and four flavorful sauces) with the broccoli salad (smoked bluefish vinaigrette and crisped duck skin), spicy rice cakes and sausage (because it’s too good to not order), pork belly buns (for the Momofuku virgins), and crispy fingerling potatoes (with crab mayo and chili). 

Yet again, so much food for the five of us (the maximum allowed is six), even with multiple rounds of eating, but we still managed to knock back a few Blood Mary’s (which had country ham in them) and dig very deep when it came to the dessert of Concord grape sorbet with black sesame and peanut crumble (in other words, the best iteration of the PB&J ever) and mint julep truffles (which were a little too dense and sweet for my taste). 

Afterwards, I wanted to pass out so badly but amazingly, an iced coffee from Third Rail and a 45 minute walk all the way downtown managed to keep me upright for the rest of the day. 



Momofuku Bo Ssam

April 8, 2014 § 1 Comment

Had a pork-tastic dinner this past weekend consisting of Momofuku Ssam Bar’s pork belly buns and bo ssam. Totally worth the meat sweats and food coma afterwards, although it’ll be a while before I can eat any pork again.

Spring approaches…

March 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

and all I want to do is sit outside and eat pastries all day. Please take me back to Paris.


February 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

…of Mallorcan beaches and the days when I had hours to spare.

Hot Doug’s

October 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

Hot Doug’s – first on the “where to eat” list of so many travel guides, shows, and blogs and a must for the food-obsessed’s first visit to Chicago. We got there relatively early in the day since we’d heard about long wait times but the line was barely out the door when we arrived. Menu choices ran the gamut from the classic Chicago dog to the famed foie gras and Sauternes duck sausage with truffle aioli, foie gras mousse, and fleur de sel, so we ordered a variety (plus the duck fat fries which are only available on Friday and Saturday) and tucked in. Big hits were the Chicago dog (it’s classic for a reason), the Texas smoked link, and the wild rice and Asiago bison sausage, which wasn’t as gamey as I thought it’d be. I actually wasn’t floored by the duck fat fries but they did the job of lending some crispiness to all the meat and starch. In the end, Hot Doug’s is definitely worthy of all the acclaim and fandom, a casual place where Doug himself still mans the counter and takes orders, the staff are super efficient at getting customers their food as quickly as possible despite the long lines, and the food is just frikkin’ delicious. 

Hot Doug’s


Well said

Smoked Texas hot link with Coca-cola BBQ sauce and habanero-jack sauce

Cheddar Jack-stuffed atomic bomb with ancho-chipotle aioli and cheese-stuffed hot peppers

Wild rice and Asiago bison sausage with chilli aioli and smoked Provolone cheese

Classic with everything

Cognac-infused pheasant sausage with fresh herb mustard, double creme brie cheese, and duck confit


Duck fat fries



Hot Doug’s
3324 North California
Chicago, IL 60618


GT Fish & Oyster

October 1, 2013 § 2 Comments

From a trip in May – upscale seafood at GT Fish & Oyster in downtown Chicago. The mussels, which came in a large cast-iron skillet with crusty grilled bread, were the hands down favorite dish of an all together great lunch.

Assorted oysters with ponzu mignonette and GT cocktail sauce

Fish and chips with dill pickle remoulade and house malt vinegar

GT lobster mac and cheese with English peas

PEI mussels with roasted tomato, basil and ciabatta

GT Fish & Oyster
531 N. Wells Street
Chicago, IL

Big Star Chicago

June 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

After so many years of saying that I’d visit, I finally took a trip to the Windy City as a short break before bar review began. Much eating and touristy activities ensued, including an inaugural meal with Esther (who, together with her husband Bryan, graciously housed Jee and me during our stay) at Paul Kahan’s super chill restaurant Big Star in the hipster-ish Wicker Park neighborhood, where we indulged in Palomas, margaritas, and an assortment of tacos.

My favorite dishes were definitely the queso fundido, a molten mixture of queso Chihuahua with poblanos, and housemade chorizo generously smeared on warm corn tortillas, and the fish tacos with beer battered tilapia, chipotle mayonnaise, cabbage, lime, and cilantro.

Classic margarita and La Paloma

Tacos de panza with crispy braised pork belly, tomato guajillo sauce, queso fresco, onion, and cilantro

Tacos al pastor – marinated spit-roasted pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, grilled onion, cilantro

Queso fundido – my favorite

Tacos de pescado


Big Star
1531 N. Damen Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60622


Happy place

June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

From a recent visit to Ithaca Farmers’ Market (Macro Mamas always a must) at Steamboat landing + Taughannock Falls. Sometimes a retreat to nature is the perfect cure for stress.


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