Wong

Wong is an asian spot in the village that’s really tucked in the community that’s overrun by new specialty eateries like Potatopia and Umami Burger. However, it stakes its own claim in the territory with a unique look and a typhoon lobster that one has to see to believe. The restaurant has a very rustic feel that makes you feel like the entire dining room is in the middle of the kitchen. There are plates and utensils lined up against the walls atop a full wall mirror. One can also see the kitchen from the dining area. You can also sit at the chef’s table, although now I feel like that’s been a bit overplayed at restaurants these days. I don’t see the attraction with that but to each its own I wager.
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Away, on to the food. The menu here is very minimal, which would appeal to those who know exactly what they want or do not want to go over an extensive list. However, I love having choices at asian restaurants to I was a bit peeved by the selection choices. You do get a nice mixture of dishes though, from vegetarian to meats and seafood. I did go here mainly for the typhoon lobster so I couldn’t really be that upset when I knew exactly what I wanted, lol. It is meant to be shared, because it is a whole lobster, along with Ground pork, egg, curry leaves and crispy garlic. It cost $33 and it is perfect for 2 people if you also get it with a few sides. It was real good but a bit overpriced for what you got with it.

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It took us a while but we did get through the entire lobster and it was really good, as well as the side rice. I’d recommend the typhoon lobster if you’re with someone but other than that anything else on the menu will do. If you do end up going there, let me know how you liked it.

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Tao Uptown

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Tao, one of the more glamorous restaurant establishments in the city, just opened a sprawling new location downtown in the Chelsea area and I thought it was time I visited the original location before heading to the new one, so could compare the two. I’ve always liked Tao, if not for nothing but just that huge magestic Buddha centerpiece statue in the middle of the establishment makes it all worth it.

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Similar to The General, Tao makes you feel like you’re entering a different world when you dine there. You go through two huge wooden oak doors and enter a far east land from the bustling New York city streets that you were just on. Inside, you’re greeted by a bevy of pretty hostesses behind the front desk, and to your left are plush couches and lounge chairs in the bar area that’s perfect for after work relaxing and ordering a few drinks. Past that is the dining room and the first thing you see is the giant aforementioned BUddha statue that’s just as welcoming as the waitresses are. The seating arrangements are reminiscent of a cafeteria layout where it’s sprawling but there really isn’t much of an order to them. There are also steps that lead to an upstairs seating which, if seated next to the edge, one can look down on the patrons dining downstairs.

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Now unto the food. We ordered a bunch of meals of the menu so as to get a good sampling of when I head to the other location and compare the two. They included the sweet potato tempura and the asparagus tempura, followed by the Chinese sausage fried rice topped with egg, and finally the Mandarin sizzled fried rice with Shrimp. I must say that I really enjoyed the sweet potato tempura more than I thought I would and the Mandarin fried rice was amazing. Fried rice is my go-to meal at Asian restaurants so I am a hard critique but this met my expectations and more. For dessert, we ordered the Giant Fortune Cookie, which comes filled with with white & dark chocolate mousse on each side, and two fortunes tucked in the middle. It is also served with assorted fruits of strawberries, pineapples, blueberries and other kinds of fruit. It was really good but after eating all that food, we couldn’t even finish it.

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The menu was pretty straightforward and the servers were very courteous. I am looking to go to the downtown location soon and I will let you know how it stacks up, but this experience will be hard to top. Tao Uptown is located in Midtown on 58th and Madison. If you’ve been there or plan on going, let me know!

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The General

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I stopped by The General for dinner recently and, in short, it was an experience. I had heard good things about the place and wanted to see what the fuss was about so I went. The reservation was at 6:00. We arrived at 5:30, only to be told that they were having an issue with the Kitchen, so they would open at 6:30 and we had to come back. So we walked around, explored some stores, since it is walking distance from the shopping mecca that is SoHo, and returned. We there then told that it would be opening at 7 now, and that someone had called me to leave me a message. No message was left, only a missed call that directed me to the management group that owns The General’s directory. Clearly, I was not going to go through hoops to contact the establishment, when at first thought, I figured they were calling us to return, and secondly it was walking distance with no message left. At this point I was clearly frustrated, but we left and came back at 7:15. We were seated, without as much as a sorry and business went on as usual.

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Now on to the establishment itself and the aesthetics…The place is elegantly designed, and sort of made to resemble an exclusive member’s only supper club where only a whose who of people would dine there. This is clearly evident by the fact that many celebrities have held their album release and movie after parties there. The space is beautiful and looks very opulent, with red plush chairs and exquisite lighting. Thre is also a huge chandelier that is reminiscent of the one at The Hurricane Club. There is also a downstairs that I am guessing can be used for exclusive and private dining events as well.

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The food tasted amazing. We ordered the salmon and the fried rice and shared them tapas style, along with the general tso’s and they all tasted great, with great presentation. They were too expensive for the portions, as any place else would have been a lot cheaper, but I guess you are paying for the experience. However, in the middle of the meal, the waitress came and replaced the tap water we were requested with a bottle of Evian water, which made me a bit perturbed. Why? Because we had clearly been drinking this water the entire time, and her reason for the switch was that they were being inspected by the board of health, and that they had to do the switch, but at no extra charge. Now I would not have mind if this didn’t signal to me that clearly the water wasn’t that sanitary, and that might have also been the reason why we had been allowed in so late after our reservation.

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The entire experience left me with a bit of a dull taste in my mouth about the establishment. I doubt will be returning back there again, but my friend I was with can’t wait to go back. They are not as used to critiquing restaurants as I am so I guess that is the difference in viewpoint. However, this might have also been a one-off incident that only happened one time so your experience might be different. If you go, let me know how it was in the comments!
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The Burger Joint

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I stopped by Le Parker Meridian’s Burger Joint’s new West Village location and the look and feel of the new space is just like the old one. It is rustic old school bar feel, nothing fancy about it, just great burgers. You are either ordering a plain or cheeseburger and then the toppings. The instructions are written on cardboard paper, there’s no fancy drinks and everything is straight to the point.
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However, what you get in the burger department is extremely juicy and fulfilling, a testament to why Burger Joint is consistently in the nation’s top burger categories. They scream out the names of whoever ordered it and it makes you really feel like you’re inside of a noisy bar and they’re talking over a bunch of noise. This makes it retain a very authentic and unique feel that I loved. I won’t bore you cause it really is about the burgers here so here are the pictures. It is located on 33 West 8th street, and it looks like a hole-in-the-wall establishment so pay them a visit. They also sell milkshakes!
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No. 1 Chinese Restaurant


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This is one of my favorite places in the city, especially during the lunch hour. It has a very distinct feel to it when you dine here, as opposed to anywhere else. The space gets filled fast and there are regular waits at the door to be seated. Once seated though, it is as if you’re in a communal space and a part of something, a feeling you do not get with other spaces. It is reminiscent of another of my favorite oriental spots in the city, Wo Hop, although the ambiance is different.
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The space is big but because it is always packed, it makes it seem a lot smaller than it is. Everyone there seems to be engulfed in their own world as well, so there’s a bit of intimacy to being there also. A corner booth is always the best as it gives you view of the entire place.
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The food is really good, and there’s a plethora of things to choose from. I’ve tried a few of their rice and noodle dishes, such as the general tso’s and the lo mein, but my go to favorite is the five spices chicken. It is a dish that other asian restaurants also make but I love having it here because it is extra spicy and they give you a whole lot for your money. The prices on the dishes are really good, with most falling in the $10 range.
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The waiters are always nice, but seem to always be in a rush because of how busy it gets around lunch time. My only gripe is that, they are a bit hard to track down when they leave your table and you need something because, again, they’re always on the move helping other table. Aside from that, I love this place and would recommend this to anyone in the Financial District and needs a great meal for a great price.
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Eight Turn Crepe

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Crepe Cones! The Japanese always come up with the coolest things and food is no different. They’ve managed to take traditional crepes and turned them into cones that one can eat on the go, similar to how one would eat an ice cream cone. It works out wonderfully and the choices are as vast as one would find at any traditional creperie, such as Vive le Crepe.
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The first outpost is in NoLita, right when you exit the 6 train on Spring Street. It is a little spot with minimal seating by the windows and the majority of the space dedicated to the kitchen. The windows feature full on display cones showing the various types they offer to any passersby, from the sweet to the savory. On the right hand side of that inside the shop are LCD screens depicting the origins of the location, Japanese girls eating crepe cones, as well as delectable visuals of the insides of these cones and their ingredients. The menu is displayed atop, as well as a portable menu on the counter so you can make your pick. The entire place seems to be digitized and you order you sign for your card by finger on a tablet, just like most small businesses in the city are starting to do these days.
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Now unto the food. They’re really good and they are worth the price. They are comparable to other crepe locations and at times even cheaper. However, they are just as filling and look just as pretty, as evidenced by the pictures in this post. I’ve been there twice already and the strawberry banana is my favorite. They have a plethora of fruit flavors and savory ones that include turkey or ham with lettuce. I haven’t tried them but they look really good.
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I recommend you stop by as soon as possible as everyone was asking where we got it from when we were eating them on the train, so I expect the place to be swarmed soon.
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The Russian Tea Room

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Restaurant Week in New York City is the perfect time to visit new restaurants you’ve never been to or return to old favorites at a fraction of the cost. The Russian Tea Room is a New York food institution known for its grand opulence and judging by the pictures alone, you won’t be disappointed.

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Once you enter through its revolving doors, you’re transported to a time and place far far away and you don’t return to the street lights of New York City until you exit. The entire dining room is adorned in red, including the leather chairs and most of the accidents on the decor. There are also sculptures and pictures all over the interior that oozes of opulence, as if you’re in a Russian castle dining room. You will also encounter a lot of Faberge eggs situated all throughout the place, especially in the 2nd floor where the bathroom is. They come in all shapes and sizes and are so expertly designed that you would think they cost millions of dollars each, and I would not be surprised if they do.

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The Restaurant Week menu consisted of about 3 options each for the three-course treat, which included items from both sea and land. The salmon was really good, but the chicken was a lot heartier and came with rice, just like the salmon. It was good, and portioned accordingly as far as Restaurant Week items go, but if one is not used to paying such prices of $38 a person for such portions they will complain. However, considering most other items on their regular menu are over $40, this is an absolute steal. I didn’t care much for the appetizer, but the entree and dessert (a cheesecake), were both delicious.

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If you have been dying to go to this revered New York culinary institution, there is no better time than now, as Restaurant Week is only a week away from conclusion. The waiters were nothing to write home about as they were pretty standard, and never bothered to fill up my water as it got lower…AND lower until there was nothing left. However, they did courteously give me a ring for us to pick up our credit card we had left behind, of which I give them a lot of credit for. If you make a stop there, make sure you stop by the bathroom floor below and just marvel at the intricacies of the Faberge eggs down there!

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Sugar & Plumm, West Village

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Sugar and Plumm, the wonderful food/candyland hybrid I reviewed a few months ago, has a satellite store in the west village, so I decided to stop by to check it out. The reason for my trip was the recently added danish dessert they’ve added to the menu. Called ebelskivers, these tiny mini donut looking delights, are packed with flavor and come in a variety of sweet and savory kinds, which cater to every palate. On the savory side, they have ham, bacon, salmon and other options one would expect from a creperie, and the same goes for the sweet side as well. They offer apple caramel, nutella, chocolate and berry flavors and that side is why I went. I fully expect this to become a new craze in the city pretty soon as they are cheap and taste amazing. Here’s a picture of the menu.

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At 2 for $5, 4 for $9 and 6 for $14, we settled on six so we could try a bunch of items on the menu. You order in twos so we got the Apple Caramel, the Banana Nutella and the Chocolate Chocolate. They were all extremely delicious and a delicacy I would recommend anyone to try. Here’s a video of the chef hard at work creating the ebelskivers. The contraption they use to make it looks like a regular bake pan, but it heats by itself with no oven, and the chef had to manually turn it, as he stuffed the ingredients into the outer shell. It’s quite interesting and you will get a glimpse of it in this video…

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I also decided to try one of their shakes as it looked extremely tempting with the amount of options they offered. From grasshopper to fluffernutter to Candy shop and plane jane, how could one not want to try them all, with such inviting names! I went with the candy shop and it came with strawberry ice cream, mini m&ms, gummy bear drops and rainbow sprinkles. It was amazing! They also offer smoothies and sundaes with amazing names as well so there are a plethora of options to choose from to satisfy every craving.

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There are so many things to try on the menu and I plan on going back real soon to continue my taste test. Sugar and Plumm is located on 257 Bleecker Street and in the front, they also sell a huge amount of baked goods and candy. From macaroons to candy to cookies, the store is a great stop for anyone into sweets and here are the pictures to prove it.

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Wafels & Dinges

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The Belgian Wafel truck Wafels & Dinges opened up its first storefront in the village and you know I had to go try it out! Known for its addictive and uber popular waffles that come with an assortment of toppings in both sweet and savory flavors, the storefront is just as whimsical as the insides of the trucks are.
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Located on 2nd and Avenue A, the place is reminiscent of a creperie or cafe, with the way the menus are posted on the ceilings and how you place your order. The available options are also just as one would get from a creperie, along with fruit toppings, nutella and ice cream. There are waffle makers hanging on the walls and pictures of what I presume to be Belgian racers. The seatings are a not your ordinary, as they are more park bench than fine dining and covered in the company’s yellow and dark brown colors. It’s very welcoming though.
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They have the traditional wafel and the liege wafel, which is smaller but also sweeter. We got both, with me opting for the liege. I got it with bananas, strawberries and ice cream with whipped cream on top. The other order was for the original waffle, with a nutella spread, ice cream and strawberries. They were both extremely well made and presented nicely as you can see in the pictures. We devoured them real quickly and I’m mad I forgot to take after pictures.

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The real charm of the place is the hostesses and owners, who are real chatty and aim to please. They were out and about picking up completed trays and weren’t shy of photo ops with anyone who asked. This is probably my new favorite summer spot and I can’t to go back!

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KTCHN

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KTCHN (Pronounced Kitchen) is a great place in the heart of Times Square that one has to try. The waiters are all dressed up in with colorful suspenders and the space is very welcoming. In the front is an open-air seating with views of the bustling crowd outside due to the glass walls and on the other side of a veiled curtain is another seating area specifically meant for those who come for dinner and a movie nights. They get to view a predetermined movie on a large screen tv while they dine and order drinks from the menu. In the back room is also a lounge area with couches.

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As it is Restaurant Week, the menu came with a separate one for the 3 course pre-fix menu that’s going for $38 a person during dinner. They also offered the a la carte menu for those who aren’t that hungry or simply wanted to order a specific thing. Their pasta was delicious, as was the shrimp mac n cheese. Below are pictures, along with one of the margarita.

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The decor is very nice, with a piano located in the rear of the room and graphic crystalline deisgns at the edge of the windows. The owner came over and chatted with us and was very cordial, a sign of someone who cared about how people felt about his establishment. Ktchn is located on 508 west 42nd between 9th and 10th so stop by if you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend it because it’s great good at a good price! If you don’t believe me just take a look at the aftermath, lol

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