PEr FYI

July 29, 2017

Minetta Tavern Restaurant and Bar, New York City…The black label burger renders other burgers meaningless

This place opened in the 30’s so it’s wonderful to see the vintage décor of the old saloon-era interior intact. Being a full house, I sat at the refinished oak bar in the front of the room, elbow to elbow with other diners. The vibe is buzzy, exclusive, and properly chaotic.

The food rocks as much as the scene. The US$33 Black Label Burger – selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pomme frites is without question a mind-blowing rivetingly intense experience. Named the best burger in America by CNBC, a continent full of burger connoisseurs, The Daily Meal,  calls it “the stuff of legend.”  The beef is a blend of four different cuts—short rib, skirt, brisket and rib-eye. It’s like eating a dry-aged steak in burger format. The bun was airy but not spongy. There is a chewiness and lushness in the same bite. Each bite of this burger was lingered over and savored. Even the fries were perfectly seasoned, and nicely crisped. It held to the quality of the burger.

This is now my must-go place in NYC, but frequent Minetta too often and I’ll be broke and really fat. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 12, 2015

Jimmy’s American Grill & Bar, New York City…epically twisted dining experience

I’ve eaten in a lot of bad restaurants, but I can’t recall an experience as epically twisted dining in Jimmy’s American Grill & Bar. This place is a complete joke. The food is atrocious…lots of leftovers that would make me feel guilty even giving to my dogs. Service is just as bad!

This is what “good” American food tasted like 20-30 years ago, in the days of Sizzler’s and TGIF’s.The overcooked sirloin steak with mashed potato and vegetable was a travesty. We requested for medium rare and instead was  served a piece which was very strong, dry and hard to chew. The kitchen should show a little respect to the animal: don’t cook it so that it has the texture of shoe leather. The seafood pasta with salmon, grilled shrimp, mussel, clams and grilled calamari served with garlic sauce was bland, tasteless.

Mostly we were frustrated by the unbelievably atrocious service. A drinking straw was shockingly thrown to us. Request for a spoon went by forgotten the entire evening. Even several requests for the bill went unheeded. It was just very poor service.

I’m surprised this place is still open. I can’t imagine this gross place will be in business much longer. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

jimmy's nyc

October 25, 2015

Bill’s Bar & Burger, New York City…it’s non monumental, lacks a wow-factor

Given the limited choices for food within a short walk on a cold, windy and rainy New York winter night, this place was okay. Not something I can rave about. It’s not bad, but it was pretty average.

I got the “famous” CNN-rated Fat-Cat burger (2013 CNN top 10 burger award) – caramelised onion, American cheese, English muffin, LTP. Thought it was tasty, it lacked a wow-factor. It definitely should not have made anyone’s top burger list. The buffalo chicken wrap – lettuce and tomato, blue cheese, spinach, tortilla – was an okay wrap. It was tasty and the ingredients were well seasoned and it was a decent sized portion. While their new England clam chowder has a nice stick-to-your-stomach creaminess about it, it was a tad thin when compared to your typical chowder.

Certainly did not surpass Smashburger or In-N-Out. It’s non monumental. It’s fine for what it is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

bill's bar ny

June 21, 2015

Galaxy Diner, New York City…Fantastic breakfast place within a stone’s throw of Times Square

I can’t believe this kind of place – good food with a lot of choices (serving everything from bagels to steak and everything in between) and generous portions,  attentive staff, great service, and REASONABLY PRICED! – exists anywhere in Manhattan anymore, much less in Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District.

The meal was absolutely delicious, eggs perfectly poached. Decent coffee, too. The place is open 24 hours. Had a cool atmosphere which resemble outer space. Pretty clean. It is a diner and certainly not a fancy upscale kind of place but the service and food were much better than iHop. As diners in NYC go, this one’s a goodie. If you find yourself walking around Times Square and you’re hungry, don’t eat there. Prices are through the roof and many restaurants don’t even post a menu outside. For a good meal, walk west on 46th two blocks to 9th Avenue where you’ll see the Galaxy Diner in front of you on the NW corner of 9th Avenue.

Short story shorter: Fantastic breakfast place within a stone’s throw of Times Square. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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galaxy diners, nyc

May 1, 2015

Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., New York City….doesn’t deliver enough bang for the buck

At this Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network), we went through an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” recruitment simulation and given an ID card and then led to a debriefing room.  We were then taken right into SHIELD and the Avengers HQ with supposedly what is meant to be interactive displays devoted to Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor, with all kinds of computer screens and places where you can test your grip against Captain America, see Iron Man’s armour.

The Captain America room was first, in which you could take a number of physical tests showing the difference between what Captain America could do and what you could do. In The Hulk room. witness the neurological effects of Bruce Banner’s transformation into the Hulk. The Thor room boasts a hologram representation of his hammer and is filled with Asgardian memorabilia like Loki’s helmet and scepter and the obligatory Chitauri costume. The Iron Man display, is the most polished of the lot, but even this feels somewhat barebones because of how few artifacts they have for a rather oversized room. The animatronic hand (which was broken down when I was there) and the motion detector showing technology similar to video-game technology we already have,  wasn’t as fulfilling as it could have been.

At $30 a pop, this exhibit doesn’t deliver enough bang for the buck. Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. may be a co-production of Marvel and NASA, but it is not as revolutionary as one might expect. IT certainly won’t convert anyone who finds superhero movies immature. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 25, 2015

Happy Fortune Chinese Restaurant, New York City…a decent hole in the wall Chinese place

I’ve never tried Chinese food in New York…..until now. The entrance is a bit dingy with poster board notices and doesn’t look very inviting at all but this is a decent hole in the wall Chinese place.

Looking around, I guess hot pot must be a big deal here but we ordered dishes from the ala carte menu. The steamed pork juicy buns (8) siow long bao have plenty of flavourful soup inside and has a soft skin wrapping it. Some places have a thicker skin but this is not the case here. The roast duck with hand pulled noodle was pretty good but the roast duck, which was served in the bowl of noodle soup was soggy. Despite its name the pached seafood (fish, shrimp, squid) in chillli broth was not spicy at all. They gave a generous slick of chilli oil instead of adding chili into the broth. The interestingly named mixed seafood on fried rice turned out to be sweet and sour sauce on one half of the fried rice and hor fun gravy on the other. Gravy is more than just a condiment; it’s liquid comfort and this is in interesting dish.

The kitchen does gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – the food is fairly delicious.  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

chinese ny

February 15, 2015

Hudson Eats, New York City…..gourmet options from popular NYC restaurants in a food court

To review a food court is a difficult proposition because, at least in this case, each vendor has a primary residence elsewhere. Hudson Eats is a fancy, airy, marbled and luxurious food court by Two World Financial Center with floor-to-ceiling windows offering sweeping killer views of the Hudson and the Statue of Liberty. There are 600 seats over 35,000 square feet of sleek space.

This is a one-of-a-kind food court with over 14 gourmet options from popular NYC restaurants. Grilled cheese specialist Little Muenster is a vendor. You would be able to enjoy the diet-friendly, delicious Buffalo cheese pie from Skinny Pizza and seriously sugary cupcakes from Sprinkles. There’s Umami Burger, proudly peddling flavor bombs on buns and made-to-order salad maestros like Chop’t.

Overall Hudson Eats is an OK place but $20 lunches is not for the everyman. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 21, 2014

T.G.I Friday’s, New York City…far from the pinnacle of American cuisine, but they are decent

First I should say, I have never been all that crazy about this chain restaurant in the first place. Let me be clear on that. They’re far from the pinnacle of American cuisine, but they’re not terrible – they are decent.

Waking away from watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after 3.5 hours of standing by the roadside on 6th Avenue in the blistering wind and light snow, we tried to get into a couple of restaurants in Times Square but was told that waiting time is at least 30 minutes. We took a chance and jumped into the next restaurant with vacant tables, TGI Friday’s. Like all the TGI’s I’ve been to, the walls at this TGI Friday’s at Times Square are covered with everything but the kitchen sink.

We had the slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone (or should I say peel-off-the-bone) tender and juicy baby back pork ribs basted in Tennessee BBQ sauce, then fire-grilled and served with seasoned fries and ginger-lime slaw; and the Philly Stacked Burger (Braised shredded beef, mozzarella, Asiago & Parmesan, roasted cremini mushrooms, spicy giardiniera and green onion between two fresh burgers with Swiss cheese, horseradish spread, onion bacon jam and peppered bacon). The food was pretty damn good – definitely not the horrific, inedible trash-heap I was expecting – but the staff and general lack of care for customers negated all that. But…the ribs…I will return just for the ribs.

The prices were steep — most of the entrees are between $20-$30, with the sandwiches in the upper teens — but what else could you expect from a restaurant in Times Square? You’ll get the same at the Hard Rock or Bubba Gump nearby. This is the true truth, as I say it as it is…

tgif ny

December 14, 2014

Lombardi’s, New York City…put it on your pizza bucket list

This pizza “shrine” is recognized as the first pizzeria in the United States, opened by Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi in 1897 and eventually received a license for his restaurant by the city of New York in 1905. Zagat rated it “the best pizza on the planet.

Brick walls, red-and-white checkered tablecloths, the nostalgic atmosphere exudes a feeling of old New York.   Service is efficient, quick, and friendly.

Their menu isn’t very extensive at all.

First, pizza or calzone?

If pizza, White Pizza or Margherita Pizza?

Size, Small or Large?

Any Extra toppings? $3 each for premium ones and $2 for regular ones.

Our masterpiece was a small 14 inch pizzas, sliced into 6 pieces. Half original margherita (the sauce was deeply flavoured, a rich and concentrated tomato sensation) with large chunks of fresh mozzarella, fresh crushed tomato sauce, topped with Romano and fresh basil, and half white pizza (no sauce), fresh mozza, ricotta, romano, fresh garlic, oregano, black pepper and fresh basil. The mozzarella were certainly fresh resulting in an almost greaseless slice. The premium toppings – pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage – were also top quality. We also had a couple of regular toppings – fresh wild mushrooms and sliced tomatoes. Put those cutleries away, this is NYC pizza, duh, you pick this sucker up, fold it and get busy. The crust was perfect from the oven, blackened bottom, slightly crunchy but just chewy enough.

One thing you should know about Lombardi’s is that it’s cash only.

The first pizzeria in America, and from my experience Lombardi’s isn’t technically the best slice on the planet, but good enough to make gluttony the order of the night. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lombardi ny

December 7, 2014

Nougatine at Jean Georges, New York City…Fabulous, fantastic, formidable – any and all would describe Nougatine

It was quite an experience to dine at Nougatine at Jean-Georges and one of the best meals I’ve had in NYC.   It is the less formal of the Jean Georges restaurants and this classy casual restaurant shares the same kitchen and even a few of the same dishes (such as the classic Jean-Georges warm chocolate cake), as the 3 star Michelin JG.

I can’t say enough about how great the service was. Service is incredible from start to finish – extremely polite and gracious hosting staff, knowledgeable waiters and an awesome, phenomenal manager – Julian Bruell.  I mentioned that we have to leave by 6.30pm as we were watching a musical at 8. The service was very accommodating and friendly. They sat us at 5.20pm even before the restaurant’s official opening time of 5.30. Glasses were frequently being refilled, our waiter was very polite and attentive, and the timing of the food was spot on. At every course, our dishes were placed in front of us at the same time. I wish I had service like this everywhere.

The fried calamari with basil salt was flavoured perfectly and the citrus-chili dip was so delicious I wanted to dip everything in it! The slowly cooked salmon with sautéed potatoes, black olive and passion fruit was tender like butter and just the perfect visual spectacle. However, towards the middle of the fish, the sauce was way to sour and overpowering. With Jean Georges signature warm chocolate cake with the iced, cold vanilla bean ice-cream, I was reminded how I would get a molten chocolate cake as part of my last meal on earth. It was like a match made in heaven! No one can do chocolate cake like Mr. Jean-Georges.

This will be my “go-to” restaurant everytime I am in NYC. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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