[New York | Brooklyn] Juliana's Pizza

Categories: American (Traditional), Pizza
Address: 19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Date Visited: March 2017
Price: $$
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:30am–3:15pm, 4:00–10:00pm
Verdict/Summary: Just an ok pizzeria. Disappointing given its reputation. Sure - fresh ingredients, not too greasy and coal oven-roasted. But really - just ok pizza, ok appetizers, ok service. I honestly don’t get the hype here. Will probably try the original Grimald’s right next door next time when I’m back in the area.

http://julianaspizza.com/

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Outside of Juliana's Pizza. Luckily, only a short 5-10 minute wait on a Saturday afternoon (5pm)

Outside of Juliana's Pizza. Luckily, only a short 5-10 minute wait on a Saturday afternoon (5pm)

In 2015, TripAdvisor dubbed Juliana’s Pizza as the best pizzeria in the United States after having analyzed tens of thousands of reviews based on both quantity and quality (qualifying restaurants must have had 500+ reviews & at least 10% of the reviews stating the phrase “best pizza”). New York City/Brooklyn based Juliana’s proudly topped the list.  

My brother, visiting town for a week, hankered to check off “authentic New York-style pizza” off his been-there-done-that bucket list. Where else to go but Juliana’s, I guess? So off to Brooklyn we went on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. At 5pm wait was minimal for a party of 3. We waited for only about 5 minutes outside the door before being ushered in to a table inside.

 

 

 

 

 

Juliana's interior. Cozy, casual, homey. Not too loud but ain't quiet either.

Juliana's interior. Cozy, casual, homey. Not too loud but ain't quiet either.

Open kitchen showing the chefs at work kneading pizza dough

Open kitchen showing the chefs at work kneading pizza dough

Freshly made, hot sizzling homemade meatballs with tomato sauce

Freshly made, hot sizzling homemade meatballs with tomato sauce

We were just stopping by for an afternoon snack so we didn’t order too much, though we did custom make a dank toppings-filled pizza:

  • Housemade meatballs with tomato sauce ($12)
  • A large classic Margherita Pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($21)  + toppings:
    • Anchovies ($3)
    • Pitted Kalamata olives ($2)
    • Pepperoni ($4)
    • Prosciutto ($6)

The meatballs came out in 10 minutes but the pizza took a little longer (~20-25 mins.). The meatballs were hot, moist and in a bath of fresh tomato sauce. But they were a little boring and flavorless. A pass for me.

 

 

julianas-pizza-meatballs

And the pizza….  

julianas-pizza-parma-pepperoni-cheese
julianas-pizza-parma-ham-cheese-olives-pepperoni-sardines
julianas-pizza-brooklyn-close-up

To be honest: I’ve had much better pizzas in most places elsewhere. Your neighborhood Italian restaurant probably can make better ones or at least ones on par. Toppings were sparse (for what we paid for) and slightly bland even after adding so many savory supplementary toppings. I can see why many people who straight up just ordered the Margherita pizza without toppings found the pizza flavorless. The mozzarella was thin and tomatoes skimpy. Thought not soggy, the crust was NOT crispy. For a thin, fresh-out-of-the-oven NY-style pizza, this definitely could’ve been a lot crispier. 

In short, the experience was disappointing. The pizza looks better than it tastes (thank you camera). I don’t think the prices justify for the quality and definitely not a wait if there is one.


PS:

For good pizzas, go to:

  • New York: haven’t found a decent place I liked yet :D
  • Melbourne: +39 Pizzeria
  • Shanghai: Mercato by Jean Georges, Scarpetta and D.O.C. Gastronomia
  • Los Angeles: Jon & Vinny’s Pizza Mozza, Bestia

[New York] Quality Eats (dinner)

Categories: American (Traditional), Steakhouses
Address: 19 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014
Date Visited: March 2017, dinner
Price: $$$ (~$65-90 for two, with a couple of drinks)
Hours: Dinner: Mon-Wed 5:30-11pm | Thurs-Sat 5:30-12am | Sun 5:30-10pm
            Weekend Brunch 11-4pm | Wed-Fri Lunch 11:30am-4pm
Verdict/Summary: MAYBE - question is, what are you looking for? Quality Eats is a chic, quality restaurant in Greenwich known for their modern twists on classic dishes (eg. $29 for a hanger steak, steak tartare for $16). Please note that this is NOT a traditional New York steakhouse or porterhouse, so don’t come here looking for something similar to Peter Luger’s or Del Frisco’s. But come if you're looking for fresh ingredients, cooked-to-order and affordable steaks without having to break your bank. Their steaks are solid, though their appetizers have room for improvement.  

What to Order: The Don Ameché steak ($29), served nicely charred, sliced, and pink-in-the-middle; with amazing chicken liver mousse toast and balsamic-dressed arugula

http://www.qualityeats.com/ (212) 337-9988

Don Ameché steak ($29), charred, sliced, chicken liver mousse toast and balsamic-dressed arugula

Don Ameché steak ($29), charred, sliced, chicken liver mousse toast and balsamic-dressed arugula

Crab & Avocado ($18), jumbo lump, cilantro, citrus

Crab & Avocado ($18), jumbo lump, cilantro, citrus

Sausage & Pepper Toast ($15), Faicco's sausage, B&G peppers

Sausage & Pepper Toast ($15), Faicco's sausage, B&G peppers

We each individually ordered a main (steaks!) and shared some appetizers and sides.

Appetizers (pics on the left): Not bad but neither were memorable,

  • Sausage and pepper toast ($15)
  • Crab and avocado ($18)

Sides (unpictured): Overpriced for portion sizes and just alright.

  • Grilled bokchoy ($8)
  • Spicy mushrooms ($8)

To be honest, these weren't impressive and I probably won't order them again if I returned. However, I did hear great things about their grilled octopus ($25)!

birthday-cake-dessert-quality-eats

[Shanghai] Thought for Food - The Living Room by Octave (Brunch)

Thought for Food 意膳坊 by Living Octave 音昱听堂 

Me and Mother, after the hearty brunch

Me and Mother, after the hearty brunch

Categories: Organic, Contemporary Fusion
Address: 357 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Taiyuan Lu
                建国西路357号, 近太原路
Date visited: March 2017
Price: Sunday brunch 208RMB or 308 RMB / per person 

http://new.livingoctave.com/Food.aspx

Verdict: Yes! Exceptional service, beautiful environment and zen atmosphere. Give it a try if you're looking for healthy, organic comfort foods prepared in innovative ways. 

So I might be a little biased, given how I love the concept of The Living Room by Octave and even threw my father a huge birthday party here. So yes, I have been here many times for various occasions (talks, seminars, dinners, lunches). In short, The Living Room by Octave is a premier holistic wellness center offering integrated and customized wellness programs as well as a welcoming space for communities to gather (eg. TEDxShanghai and Eco Design Fair). Beautifully designed by award-winning architecture Calvin Tsao, it is really one of the most beautiful spaces in Shanghai.

Their restaurant, Thought for Food, shares a similar philosophy. Focusing on comfort foods that are balanced in nutrition, nourishment, and taste, dining here is a token of appreciation for our wellness. Every dish is dish is underpinned by values of sustainability, seasonality, and nourishment. Needless to say, ingredients are organic; some even locally grown at the restaurant!

P.S. Head chef Alexander Bitterling (ex 3-Michelin star restaurant chef) loves fermenting all the sauces and condiments himself. Yes, even the vinegars! It's quite amazing!

Brunch:

  • 208RMB for buffet appetizers, salads, charcuterie, breads + 1 main course + 1 dessert
  • 308RMB buffet appetizers, salads, charcuterie, breads + all 3 main courses + 1 dessert
  • (Does not include price of drinks)
Slow Cooked "Cape Grim" Pure Beef, with beetroot, black jelly mushrooms, ma-lan, onions 慢煮牛肉,黑色果冻蘑菇,青葱

Slow Cooked "Cape Grim" Pure Beef, with beetroot, black jelly mushrooms, ma-lan, onions
慢煮牛肉,黑色果冻蘑菇,青葱

Spice Poached Atlantic Cod, parsnip, watercress, sweet peas 香滋大西洋鳕鱼,防风根,西洋菜,青豆

Spice Poached Atlantic Cod, parsnip, watercress, sweet peas
香滋大西洋鳕鱼,防风根,西洋菜,青豆

Organic Flour “Green Tea Waffle" filled with black sesame and organic soymilk ice cream

Organic Flour “Green Tea Waffle" filled with black sesame and organic soymilk ice cream

thought-for-food-shanghai-octave-chocolate
Amaaazingg chocolate bites

Amaaazingg chocolate bites

[Guizhou, China] A Look into the Buyi Tribe 布依族

Buyi Tribe (布依族)

buyi-tribe-weaving

This week (mid-March 2017), I took a 3-day excursion to Guizhou, China to visit a village inhabited by the Buyi tribe (布依族) to take a close look at their rich heritage of craftsmanship into plaid weaving.

To get to the village, I took a 3-hour plane ride from Shanghai to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou and then another 1-hour high-speed train ride to Guanling (关岭). From there, I took a 1-hour car ride to a village close to Anshun (安顺), where many Buyi people reside. 

History

A sub-clan of the Baiyue Clan (百越名族), the Buyi ancestors have been living in the Southern and Northern river basins for around 4000-5000 years. Referred to as "Zhongjia" (仲家) by historians, the Buyi tribe is most-known for their rice-farming heritage.

Currently, the tribe is comprised of over 3.2 million people who live mainly in Guizhou, Yun'nan and Sichuan provinces. 

Clothing

With over 3,000 years of cultural inheritance, the Buyi people's traditional clothing has become part of their identity.

 
guizhou-anshun
buyi-tribe-guizhou
buyi-spinning

The Colors of Buyi

Mainly inspired by their rice farming culture, their garments are made with locally grown cotton and tradtiioanl crafting techniques such as indigo wood root dyeing, Buyi plaid weaving, brocade, batik, tie-dye, embroidery and silver ornaments making.  

The colors and patterns of their plaids are mainly inspired by their beautiful environment: rsurrounding blue skies, white clouds, evergreen mountains and clear waters. 

Symbolism of the Plaids

The plaid patterns are characterized by a complex arrangement of tiny squares within squares lined within a grid. The grid symbolizes their motherland, China, while the squares represent the multitude of scattered clans spread across the country. The tiny squares within represent the Buyi people in the clans.

Reflecting their hamonious relationship with nature, specific patterns take the shape of waves, thunder storms, mountain curves, contour of terraced fields, rice grains, fish bones, birds, sunbeans and more.

buyi-tribe-women
loomweaving-buyi
weaving-technique-buyi-tribe

Purpose

What an enlightening experience to see these lovely crafts entirely made by hand by these women. Which brings me back to the main purpose of my trip: to learn more about their culture, history and capabilites and help them raise cultural awareness. In short - to help the Buyi tribe sustain their traditional handicrafts and heritage by connecting them with pertinent parties (eg. artists, designers, brands) so they can market their product and sell them at a price that's well-deserved.

YAN Artisans, the organization I'm working for, aims to establish sound institutional structures and sustainable business mechanisms to help them build connections and partnerships with modern markets in the fashion industry. So... Potentially interested artists, designers, fashion enthusiasts or anyone who's keen to learn more - feel free to private message me!

Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

A local lunch in the village

A local lunch in the village

[Orlando] A February Summer Toast

Snapshots from my 4-day escapade from snowy New York earlier this month.

A premature toast to summer - where else to go but the "happiest place on earth?" I've been to all the other Disney parks most more than once, but first time in Orlando! Bucket list item checked!

Finally fulfilled my childhood obsession/fantasy of visiting (ahem, I meant attending) Hogwarts. Butterbeer, you were a little too sweet though...

Sunshine and magic, turkey legs and lemonade, palm trees & salty breezes-
with lots of love from Pooh bear & friends:

Thanks for reminding me of my youthful spirit again, Orlando x

Flying over snowy New York 

Flying over snowy New York 

Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

Meatballs & spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

Meatballs & spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

Ready for Epcot, Disney!

Ready for Epcot, Disney!

orlando-palm-trees
Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom sunset

Animal Kingdom sunset

Can't enough of the trees

Can't enough of the trees