Monday, February 27, 2006

Do You Want Learn Chinese or Lotto Numbers with your Fortune?

Not really big on purchasing food online, unless the day comes when you can have KFC fried chicken delivered to your door within an hour of keying in an online order. However, in the course of surfing other peoples' blogs (most of them woeful), I stumbled upon this site which provided such a laugh-out-loud moment that I am compelled to share it with everyone.

I came across Cookie HQ by accident, an online purveyor of all kinds of cookies you can send to your loved ones on any occasion imaginable (in fact, their motto is "Cookie Gifts for Life's Occasions"). But what really put me in hysterics was the section "Giant Fortune Cookies" - they offer around 30 varieties of beautifully decorated fortune cookies which weigh just under 1 pound and are almost the size of a football (refer to pic of the M&M Madness). At $27.95 each, these are somewhat pricey, but hey - can you name a more imaginative, unique and quirky food gift item around? It cannot be determined though if the cookies came with that thin strip of paper holding a cliched fortune.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Cookie HQ, nor have I ordered any of their items. Thus I cannot attest to the quality, flavor and freshness of their products.

Please leave your comments or email me

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Review: Minado - 3 1/2 Oinks

Restaurant: Minado
Location: Morris Plains, NJ; Little Ferry, NJ; NYC
Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: Moderate ($16.50 lunch/$27 dinner buffet - weekend prices)

Items Ordered: eat-all-you-can buffet

Comments: Struggling to load a barely used treadmill into a U-Haul truck on a Saturday morning was not my idea of fun. However, once we had finished loading the remaining pieces of furniture, one of the hungry guys suggested having a big lunch at Minado (Morris Plains), a much-talked about chain of Japanese buffet restaurants.

Had heard of Minado from different sets of friends who've tried the branches in Little Ferry (always mobbed) and NYC, and feedback had generally been positive. The branch at Morris Plains was huge and packed with mostly Asian clientele who came not only for the sushi, but also a wide range of hot Japanese dishes. Also counted ten different types of salad, of which I tried and liked two: soba salad and ceviche salad (very spicy!). Sushi wise, among the highlights of the varieties I sampled were the inari roll (sweet tofu with rice filling), salmon skill roll, volcano roll (hard to decipher what's inside but delicious), and crispy salmon roll (ate 6 pieces). One of the special rolls, seafood volcano, was liked by several members of our group but the taste wasn't to my liking.

After we stuffed our faces, it was tempting to take a nap but we remembered we had a truck to drive to the new house and unload stuff from.

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 Oinks (out of 5). A good choice for indulging your Japanese food craving. Quality of sushi is good, nothing great. Do not eat for 24 hours prior to your visit (jk).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dessert Favorite: Payard's Patisserie (NYC)

Pictured is the Chinon, one of the delicious signature pastries found at Payard's Patisserie on Lexington Ave., between 73rd and 74th St. After lunch at Orasy, we decided to take a brief stroll around the neighborhood, and as the snow started to fall, Payard's was the place that came to find for refuge. As usual, it was packed with early-afternoon snackers who've heard of this place's reputation for finely made desserts.

The Chinon, according to, is made of pistachio dacquoise, with wild cherries on a chocolate wafer. Sounds fancy? It damned well tasted great. Pistachio and cherry combination is a must-try for everyone who has a sweet tooth. Despite my expanding waistline, I also ordered the Japonais (milk chocolate mousse, yuzu citrus cream, and sacher biscuit) - initially while munching on the outer edges of the Japonais I thought it was too "chocolatey", but when I got nearer to the core it was totally different! The citrus flavor provided a perfect complement to the sweet mousse, and the taste was quite heavenly, a verdict shared by my two friends.

With the display cases containing a multitude of tempting desserts, and the pictures on the menu all looking so delectable, it was hard to make a decision on which pastries to choose. Perhaps repeated visits have to be made to sample the full range of offerings at Payard's. In the meantime I shall content myself with drooling over their website's pics.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Review: Orsay (NYC) - 4 Oinks

Restaurant: Orsay
Location: NYC (UES)
Cuisine: French
Cost: Moderate

Items Ordered: escargot, petatou, hanger steak, tuna belly

Comments: My friends decided to treat me to a birthday lunch and suggested this neighborhood brasserie. The escargots with garlic and parsley butter were delicious, as the case was also with the other appetizer, petatou. This is a mixture of warm potato and goat cheese - a little bit heavy due to the portion size and cheese. I had never tried nor heard of it before, but ordered it because the menu highlighted it as a "Chef's Suggestion". An adventurous choice that turned out pretty well.

The tuna belly was wrapped in bacon and came with bordelaise sauce. Again, a "Chef's Suggestion" that proved to be on the mark. The frites that came with the hanger steak were soggy.

Overall Rating: 4 Oinks (out of 5). A solid choice for French cuisine in a classic brasserie. A return visit is planned to sample other intriguing dishes.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Filipino Food Favorite: Perlas (Queens)

Got a text message from J., asking if I wanted to go to Perlas for lunch. He hadn't had Filipino food in a while - given last week's crazy eat outings at Bouley, Nobu, JoJo, and Masa, I agreed that a return to some native food was in order so we decided to meet up there, along with R.

"Perlas" is actually Perlas ng Silangan (Pearl of the Orient), one of the better and more authentic Filipino restaurants in NYC. It is located right under the elevated #7 line in Queens, on the block where all the businesses seem to cater to the needs of expatriate Flips, including a bank branch for remittances, air cargo delivery for those sending home huge boxes containing assorted "imported" goods, a mini-grocery to buy Chippy and Clover Chips, and a few restaurants (five, at latest count) satisfying the cravings for high-cholesterol dishes the way we remember and want them.

We actually like schlepping all the way out to Queens just for the food - we ordered our usual favorites - crispy pata, chicharon bulaklak, sisig, and ginisang mungo with chicharon. (Sorry, am unsure about English translations). Crispy pata (Pig's legs?) was tender and succulent, the deep fried skin was to die for. Sisig (pig's ears?) is always something I personally crave for, and it is consistently well-done here. After an extended pig out session (literally, as all our dishes contained pork), thought of having some special halo-halo for dessert, but I simply would've exploded right on the spot (or at least, my pant buttons would have).

Another positive for Perlas are the relatively reasonable prices. Total damage came to around $13/pax. Best to go with a group to sample different dishes and indulge yourself in the artery-clogging Philippine cuisine.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cheap Eats: New Pasteur (NYC)

Restaurant: New Pasteur
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Location: Baxter St. (Chinatown)

Along with its neighbors Nha Trang and Thai Son, these are a formidable trio of cheap yet filling restaurants on Baxter St. across from the courthouse.

The place is quite small, and nondescript. Ambiance is non-existent. Service is extremely efficient. The few times I have dined here, the food has always been excellent and remarkable for such a low price (rice dishes are roughly $4-5, huge bowls of pho around $4.50). The last time I had "Com Suon Bi Cha" (barbequed pork chop and shredded pork, steamed egg with white rice) which was a wee bit more expensive at $5.75 but a very satisfying meal (especially for someone starving after burning off calories in a salsa class). The curry shrimp ("Com Tom Xao Cary") is very spicy.

A dessert worth trying is Rainbow Ice, a sweet mixture of three kinds of beans and milk. Hard to beat New Pasteur when dining on the cheap, as tons of jury duty hopefuls have found out.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dessert Favorite: Eileen's Special Cheesecake (NYC)

Behind that unassuming little storefront in NoLita, Eileen's Special Cheesecake serves one of the best cheesecakes in NYC (Veniero's and Juniors are no match!!). I first tried their plain cheesecake and blueberry mouse tart, and those were simply amazing. Since then I've been recommending the place and bringing my friends over there to sample some of their heavenly selections. Luckily, the studio where I take salsa classes is literally across the street from Eileen's, so after burning off those calories I head over and put them on again! LOL.

For out-of-towners, or those wanting to share with their friends, Eileen's also sends cheesecake via overnight express to anywhere in the US. You can check out pictures of their delectable cheesecakes at their website,, as well as ordering and shipping information.

Also, Eileen's has been voted as one of the "Top 50 Places to Enjoy Dessert" in the city, so it's safe to say that it's ideal for pigging out in NYC.

Eileen's Special Cheesecake on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Review: Nobu (NYC) - 4 1/2 Oinks

Restaurant: Nobu
Location: NYC (Tribeca)
Cuisine: Japanese-Peruvian
Cost: Very Expensive
Dress Code: none

Items Ordered: Since this was our first time at Nobu but had heard so much about the restaurant, we opted for the 8-course omakase menu ($120) to be able to sample a few signature dishes.


A few years ago, Nobu was one of the hip restaurants which helped put Tribeca on the restaurant map and developed a reputation as a celebrity hangout. These days, the dining crowd is more mainstream - divided among couples on date, families with young children, star searching tourists - but the food has remained top notch.

The tasting menu comprised these items, with some comments alongside the notable dishes:

a) salmon tartar with caviar dipped in wasabi sauce
- strong wasabi flavor accentuates but doesn't overwhelm the salmon, it was fun drinking the sauce on its own once you get used to the taste
b) kumamoto oysters with soy and ginger
- fresh, refreshing after taste
c) yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and greens
d) black cod with foie gras
- simply excellent!
e) striped bass tiradito style
f) miso soup with clams
g) 5 pcs assorted sushi
- nothing extraordinary, I suspect this is meant to fill up the diner's stomach
h) warm Valrhona chocolate souffle cake with ice cream
- the best dessert I've tasted this year, worth coming back just for this

With most of the dishes unique and delicious, it was hard to pick a favorite but if pressed, I would go with both the black cod/foie gras and kumamoto oysters. Portions were Japanese-sized (euphemism for tiny), but at the end of the meal our stomachs were full. Service, as expected, was prompt and courteous.

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 Oinks (out of 5). Overall, a very good experience. Food is first-rate. Definitely will come back as budget allows.

Nobu on Urbanspoon