USA

[NYC] Eleven Madison Park | Three Michelin Star Dinner | World's 50 Best

Categories: Fine Dining, Michelin Star, New American
Date Visited: September 2018
Address: 11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010
Price:  $$$$
Reservations: Yes, must reserve ahead of time! Reservations can be booked here.

Verdict: Check out my newest Youtube video (link below) to take a look at my experience at Eleven Madison Park!

What's it like to eat at one of the world's best restaurant? Eleven Madison Park (EMP) was earned the name of BEST in the world by World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2017 and No.4 in 2018. It has Michelin 3 Stars and has won numerous James Beard Awards.
 Happy eating my caviar!

Happy eating my caviar!

[NYC] ABC Kitchen - Jean-Georges Restaurant - Autumn Dinner 2018

 Me casually trying to eat this massive piece of fried chicken.

Me casually trying to eat this massive piece of fried chicken.

Categories: New American
Date Visited: October 2018
Address: 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003
Price:  $$$ 
Reservations: Yes

Verdict: Yes! Been looking for something like this in NYC for a while now. Surprised a place like this has taken so long to pop up in NYC (given how its popularity on the West Coast, ie. Boiling Point Restaurant Chain). Newly opened and designed for the modern diner, Hot Box offers customized personal pots (everyone gets his/her own). Currently, Hot Box offers 6 basic base pots to pick from, and an extensive list of additional ingredients to personalize your hot from. Each base broth is equally packed with intensity and flavor.

Must Order: Kabocha Squash Toast

 Cozy interior of ABC Kitchen

Cozy interior of ABC Kitchen

  ROASTED KABOCHA SQUASH TOAST, FRENCH RICOTTA CHEESE, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR ($15)   This was a seasonal special and was my FAVORITE dish of the night! Savory and sweet, this was the perfect embodiment of Autumn. A must order!

ROASTED KABOCHA SQUASH TOAST, FRENCH RICOTTA CHEESE, APPLE CIDER VINEGAR ($15)

This was a seasonal special and was my FAVORITE dish of the night! Savory and sweet, this was the perfect embodiment of Autumn. A must order!

[NYC] Ikinari - Excellent Fast Casual Japanese Steakhouse

Categories: Steakhouse, Japanese, Fast-Casual
Date Visited: March 2018, April 2018
Address: Multiple locations throughout NYC
Price:  $$ 
Reservations: Nope, none needed. Just walk in! 

 Ikinari Japanese Steakhouse NYC


About: Ikinari is a famous chain from Japan, best known for its highly affordable but high-quality steaks. You can order, eat, and get out of here in 30 minutes. The menu is very limited as they only serve steaks and selected sides but they do offer a few different cuts priced by the ounce (Ribeyes, Sirloin, Filet). They weigh and cut the steaks in front of you.

There are no servers, no high-end decor, no dessert menu. After ordering, you sit and wait for your steak (takes ~5 minutes) and then pay before you head out the door. 

Clearly, this isn't meant to replace the time-honored, pedigreed steakhouses that run sacred in the New York dining institution. But frequenting old-fashioned dining rooms covered in mahogany and brass for is not exactly realistic for many people as well. Sometimes, you just want a good steak without the dress up and the fancy wines.

Ikinari is a great option for a decent steak without having to cook it yourself. 

  Middle Ribeye ~ 11oz Topped with a delicious garlic butter and fried crispy

Middle Ribeye ~11oz
Topped with a delicious garlic butter and fried crispy

All steaks are accompanied by grilled onions, a side of corn, and a garlic paste on top of the steak that's referred to as “magic paste."

 Ikinari Pepper Rice - fried rice mixed with corn,

Ikinari Pepper Rice - fried rice mixed with corn,

[NYC] 15 East - Disappointing Michelin Star Omakase Dinner

15 East

Categories: Japanese, Sushi, Omakase
Address: 15 E 15th St, New York, NY 10003
Date Visited: Jan 2018
Price: ~$320-400 for two ($65-140 for omakase sets)
Hours: Thurs-Sat 5:30pm-12:30am, Sun-Wed 5:30pm-11:30pm
Reservations Needed?: Yes

15-east-omakase-sushi

Thoughts: Disappointed. Given their price point and newly "Michelin" one star status, I expected quality on par with some of the other better omakase places around the city. Unfortunately, while ambiance was on point (slightly casual but nice), food was a letdown. Certainly not what you'd expect from one of Manhattan's "best sushi" spots.

We ordered a 15 piece sushi omakase set ($115) and a 15 piece sashimi omakase set ($115). While nothing was "bad," the omakase experience was very boring. There wasn't a single standout dish; nothing on either the sashimi omakase set or sushi omakase set that made me go, "wow, that was amazing. I want it again." Portion sizes were unreasonably TINY and we both left still hungry. For $115 per set, the omakase we got (especially the sashimi - refer to photos below) were underwhelming. 

The fish was not particularly fresh. Both the quality and creativity of here pales in comparison to the other high-end sushi restaurants I've been to in the city (Sushi of Gari, Nakazawa, Gaijin, Sushi Seki, etc.) Honestly, I would've gotten MUCH better sushi and double portions at Tomoe Sushi at 1/3 of the price. 

Just not worth it. Michelin, what were you thinking?

Recommended? No.

THE FOOD

[San Francisco] Fort Funston (ie. Dog's Disneyland)

Who: Humans who like to hike + dogs who love nature/play
What: They say Fort Funston is "Dog's Disneyland." IT'S TRUE.
Where: Fort Funston, San Francisco, California 94101. There is a huge parking lot off of Skyline Blvd. There is a sign that tells you where to go and where to park.
Why: If you love your dog, you must bring him/her here! Your dog will be super happy and therefore make you happy. What used to be a military fort has now become a popular off-leash dog park and beach with a ton of trails. You can stroll on the various trails, meander on the beach, and hike along the cliffs. It is the only park in the GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation area) that allows off-leash dogs.

There are typically HUNDREDS (yes I know) of friendly, well-behaved dogs for your dog to play and socialize with.

My dog is normally very happy. But never have I seen him THIS happy. If you love your dog, bring him/her here and he/she will have the best time!

Being next to the Pacific, it can get very windy and cold. Bring a jacket!

 Love at first sight with the Ocean!

Love at first sight with the Ocean!

[NYC] Tori Shin - One Michelin Star Yakitori Restaurant 

Categories: Japanese, Yakitori, Omakase
Address: 362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Date Visited: Nov 2017
Price: ~$100-140/per person ($70 for chef's choice omakase set)
Hours: Thurs-Sat 5:30pm-12:30am, Sun-Wed 5:30pm-11:30pm
Reservations Needed?: Yes

Summary: A sophisticated Tokyo-style yakitori restaurant. Owner Chef Shu Ikeda uses Kishu “Binchotan” charcoal to grill all its organically-sourced meats and vegetables to make them crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. The restaurant has earned one Michelin Star for 7 consecutive years (2012-2017)! Definitely recommended!

Tori Shin is perfect for chicken-lovers and for those who want something other than sushi for a special occasion or to splurge a little on a decadent Japanese meal. You have the option to order a la carte, but omakase is generally the way to go. There are a few omakase options, though the whole table has to order the same thing. I recommend the Chef's Omakase Set ($70), which is the best deal for value and allows you to try all their delicious varieties. The Chef's Omakase Set comes with pickled vegetables, daikon radish, two types of seasonal dishes, 6 meat skewers (chef's pick), 2 vegetable skewers, a rice dish (a choice between oyako don, soboro don, or chazuke), and a dessert (ice cream or seasonal dessert). 

Appetizers (NOT Omakase):

  • Sea urchin with gold flakes: This was NOT part of the omakase course. Must be ordered separately. I'm usually a huge sea urchin fan, but I thought this was just okay. The uni came out cold and not too sweet.

Omakase

  1. Cabbage wrapped turkey and duck on daikon radish with white miso/fish broth

  2. Chawanmushi with Burgundy Truffle, gingko nuts and chicken breast

  3. Chicken heart & ribs skewers

  4. Chicken heart skewers

  5. Chicken rib skewers

  6. Pork belly skewers

  7. Chicken tendon skewers

  8. Chicken breast skewers

  9. Chicken meatball skewers

  10. Oyakodon

  11. Dessert (Ice cream & crème brûlée in 3 flavors)

 Non-Omakase appetizer:  Sea urchin with gold flakes

Non-Omakase appetizer: Sea urchin with gold flakes

 (1) Cabbage wrapped turkey and duck on daikon radish with white miso/fish broth

(1) Cabbage wrapped turkey and duck on daikon radish with white miso/fish broth

 (2) Chawanmushi with Burgundy Truffle, gingko nuts and chicken breast

(2) Chawanmushi with Burgundy Truffle, gingko nuts and chicken breast

 (3) Chicken heart skewers

(3) Chicken heart skewers

 Chicken rib skewers

Chicken rib skewers

 Chicken tendon skewers! One of my favorites!

Chicken tendon skewers! One of my favorites!

 Pork Belly Skewer - SO SO GOOD. Fatty and delicious. One of my all-time favorites!

Pork Belly Skewer - SO SO GOOD. Fatty and delicious. One of my all-time favorites!

 Chicken meatball skewers!

Chicken meatball skewers!

 Chicken Breast Skewers

Chicken Breast Skewers

 Oyakodon (chicken & egg over rice!)

Oyakodon (chicken & egg over rice!)

 Torishin Omakase Dessert Menu

Torishin Omakase Dessert Menu

 Hojicha (roasted green tea) ice cream

Hojicha (roasted green tea) ice cream

 Crème brûlée in 3 flavors: Green Tea - Black Sesame - Roasted Hojicha Tea

Crème brûlée in 3 flavors: Green Tea - Black Sesame - Roasted Hojicha Tea