2015 Curry Hill Crawl at Haldi, Kips Bay

Curry Hill Crawl, Haldi

I was recently invited to the first annual Curry Hill Crawl hosted by the Indian Fine Dining Group. Curry Hill is a stretch of Kips Bay with an abundance of Indian restaurants and the faint scent of curry as you walk down the streets.

As much as I love Indian food, I’m still relatively new to the regional differences and varieties in flavor. We tasted signature dishes from three of Chef Hemant Mathur’s seven restaurants. Before the crawl officially kicked off, I had an opportunity to speak briefly with Chef Mathur, and he pointed out to me which dishes on the crawl menu were vegetarian.

Curry Hill Crawl, Haldi

The first stop on the crawl was Haldi, which features Bengali specialties and dishes from Calcutta’s Indian-Jewish communities. This is the first I’ve heard of Indian-Jewish cuisine, and I think the Jewish influences made some of the food seem Americanized.

We started off with Jhal Muri, which had puffed rice, peanuts, green chutney, tomatoes. This was a tasty little treat to kick off the meal, but I wouldn’t say it’s a must order item.

Curry Hill Crawl, Haldi

I really enjoyed the lychee martini and its sweet, refreshing flavors. There was another cocktail with tequila, champagne, and mango lassi. An alcoholic lassi is a nice idea, but that cocktail started to curdle, which isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world.

The beet and potato cutlets were interesting as I wouldn’t normally expect to find beets in Indian food. These were basically bright red, very dense croquettes. I was intrigued by the combination of beets and spices, but not too crazy about this dish.

Curry Hill Crawl, Haldi

Haldi’s cheese samosas are filled with three cheeses and come with a garlic tomato dipping sauce. These samosas were delightful. They disappeared very quickly! I brought Angela along to this event as my plus one, and this is where she made her hand modeling debut, haha.

Curry Hill Crawl, Haldi

The Gobi Lasooni was my favorite of the vegetarian dishes at Haldi. Cauliflower coated in a nice batter with a sweet and sauce sauce. Someone mentioned it reminded them of General Tso’s chicken. The cauliflower is almost meaty, and the coating was tasty. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo before everyone dug in, but you see it in the cauliflower in my first photo.

Haldi Indian Cuisine Click to add a blog post for Haldi on Zomato

Happy Birthday, Let’s Nom Nom

Poached Eggs Spinach Toast

Last week, I sat down to a delicious home cooked breakfast and started planning some exciting new things for Let’s Nom Nom. It’s been four years since I moved to NYC and started documenting my foodie adventures. We’ve certainly come a long way since then!

The latest additions to the blog include new and improved pages: Vegetarian & Vegan, Ramen & Soba, Events & Reviews. In a few weeks, I’m going to be doing a collaboration with a food discovery app, and I’m also thinking about possibly doing a minor branding refresh as I was never 100% satisfied with the logo. Perfect timing too, as I’m almost completely out of blog business cards.

Oh, and if you haven’t already noticed, I bought the blog its own domain last week as an early birthday gift. Happy birthday, Let’s Nom Nom!

Obao, Hell’s Kitchen

Obao, Hell's Kitchen

After a family trip to the Intrepid Museum, we visited Obao in Hell’s Kitchen for a late lunch… or was it an early dinner? From noon to 4pm, they have a lunch special that includes an appetizer and entree for $8. This special is available on weekends too.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant, Obao

I ordered the Grilled Japanese Eggplant as my appetizer. Very nicely done, topped with chili, crispy shallots, and herbs. Served in a very tasty nuoc cham dipping sauce. The other appetizers that our table ordered, the salad and dumplings, didn’t look quite as appealing.

Pad Thai, Obao

Han ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai for his entree. I’ve never had a pad thai topped with a poached egg, but I like the idea. Overall, Han thought this dish was okay. He really misses Asian food, and, unfortunately, I’ve been having a tough time finding places that he likes.

There were two vegetarian options available for the lunch special. John got the Mixed Vegetables Delight, which was basically just veggies and tofu served with rice. I ordered the Green Curry, which had tofu, eggplant, bamboo, bell peppers, and Thai basil. I normally find Thai green curry to be very spicy, but this one needed the help of some hot sauce. Not the most amazing green curry I’ve had, but acceptable for the price.

Green Curry, Obao

Happy hour was also happening, and we scored some good deals on beers and cocktails. John got the Ladyboy Daiquiri, which had lemongrass-infused rum, lime, pineapple juice, Thai chili, and basil seeds. He ate the chili pepper before I took a photo. I really liked the Cucumber Batida. A refreshing mixture of rum, cucumber, brown sugar, lime, and red wine.

Cocktails, Obao

John and I were the only ones who ordered dessert. John ordered some coffee dessert (maybe a semifreddo?), and I got the Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake ($9). Both desserts looked quite good, and we probably should have just ordered one to share.

Desserts, Obao

Unfortunately, the chocolate didn’t flow out the way a lava cake should, but it was soft and warm with a good mixture of chocolate and green tea flavors. I always love green tea ice cream, and the walnut soil and crunchy chocoballs added a nice touch. Come here for that $8 lunch special, and don’t forget to treat yourself to dessert!

Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake, Obao

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Thrillist x Sapporo, Hotel Chantelle

Thrillist & Sapporo Beer Event

I was recently invited to the Thrillist x Sapporo Legendary Soiree at the Hotel Chantelle. Despite the name, it’s not a hotel, but a French restaurant and bar on a cool rooftop. This event was open both to the media and general public, and the overall vibe was very trendy. The DJ was accompanied by violinist Gigi, who was an absolute badass performing in killer stilettos. Nick Gazin, art editor for Vice Magazine, hosted the event and was rocking a fabulous mane.

Thrillist & Sapporo Beer Event

We sipped on ice cold Sapporo beers, which were perfect on a hot summer’s day. There were French onion soup dumplings, sweet corn croquettes, mini ramen burgers, pigs in a blanket, and mango avocado sushi canapes being passed around, but, unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try them as it was so crowded and the food got snatched up quickly. I did, however, try the deconstructed smores. Beer and smores for dinner, anyone?

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an art off!” The big attraction at this event was the art battle between artists Elle and Lamour Supreme. They had 90 minutes to create black and white murals inspired by Thrillist and Sapporo. I loved watching the process from start to finish, and I’m a huge fan of Elle’s finished piece. Check out the process snapshots below…

Hotel Chantelle Click to add a blog post for Hotel Chantelle on Zomato

Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, hasn’t it? The truth is I’ve been extra busy in the kitchen lately thanks to our weekly CSA delivery, but I’ve slacked off a little on taking photos of my everyday cooking. A couple nights ago, I whipped up this quick stovetop mac and cheese recipe to accompany some leafy greens. It’s creamy without being too rich, which seems perfect for the summertime. Plus, it’s loaded with paprika — my favorite!

Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Serves 4 | Prep: 25 minutes

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 tbsp herbed butter/margarine
1-1/2 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy milk
1-1/2 tsp paprika
1-1/2 cups finely grated cheddar
Salt and pepper

Cook the macaroni according package directions. Meanwhile, grate the cheddar into fine ribbons. Once the mac reaches al dente, set aside 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain the mac and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the herbed butter/margarine over medium heat. Whisk in the arrowroot powder until it forms a thick paste. Add the soy milk and cooking water that you saved from cooking the mac. Continue whisking it becomes a thick, saucy mixture.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the paprika and cheddar until the cheese is completely melted. Season well with salt and pepper.

In small batches, gently fold the mac into the cheese mixture. You want every mac to be lightly coated in the cheese sauce. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. No one wants an under seasoned mac and cheese! Serve hot with greens on the side.

I used a microplane grater to grate the cheddar as the fine ribbons of cheese melt so easily and evenly as soon as they hit the saucepan. You can buy pre-shredded cheese from the grocery store, but those are treated with anti-clumping agents and often don’t melt as nicely.

If you don’t have herbed butter/margarine, you can use regular butter/margarine, but you may want to add some chopped herbs into the cheese mixture. I used a chive margarine that I made earlier in the day. Super simple: 1/4 cup of finely chopped chives mixed into one softened stick of margarine, plus sea salt and pepper. It’s a great way to use up fresh herbs!

You may want to start with 1/2 tsp paprika, then taste and adjust to your liking. I’m a huge fan of paprika, so I went pretty heavy with it in this recipe. If you’re using smoked paprika, you definitely want to go easy on the paprika as the smoky flavor might be too overwhelming.

If you’re using an oven/broiler safe saucepan, you can stick it in the broiler for a couple minutes at the very end to crisp the top. Since it was sweltering hot over here, there was no way I was going to turn on the oven!

Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Farmer Brown, Tenderloin, San Francisco

Farmer Brown, Tenderloin, San Francisco

I visited Farmer Brown to catch up with my friend Shari over brunch. This place is located in the Tenderloin, and if you know San Francisco, that’s not the nicest neighborhood. I randomly picked this place as it’s within walking distance of my hotel and the ferry building, where Shari was coming from.

Farmer Brown had an urban, industrial vibe with Southern cuisine and (live?) jazz music. I thought the copper decor was cool (says the girl who got married in a building covered in copper), but judging from Yelp reviews, the copper was a turnoff for some diners.

It’s very popular during brunch hours, and I’m glad I made a reservation. They called me the day before to confirm my reservation, then texted me the morning of to confirm again. After having to confirm twice, I was slightly annoyed we still had to wait a while for a table. At least, the mimosas we sipped on while waiting for our table were good though.

Wedge Salad, Farmer Brown

Shari ordered the Wedge Salad ($10) with little gem lettuce, brioche croutons, point reyes blue cheese and lardons. Southern cuisine isn’t really known for having the healthiest salads, but it was unfortunate that this salad was drowning in heavy dressing.

I ordered the Skillet Eggs ($11) overeasy with seasonal vegetables, potatoes, and a biscuit. The eggs were nicely done, but needed a little salt. Maybe it’s just me, but when veggies come in a skillet, I expect them to be cooked through. These were crudite coated in a layer of oil.

Skillet Eggs, Farmer Brown

The potatoes had nice crispy exteriors, but were unevenly seasoned. The pieces that Shari and I tasted had way too much cayenne… burn your mouth off, without offering any flavor. I brought the leftovers back to the hotel, and the rest of it seemed fine. The biscuit was decent and flaky.

It’s good to see cool spots like this popping up in the Tenderloin, but other than the company, my overall experience at Farmer Brown was somewhat underwhelming.

Farmer Brown Click to add a blog post for Farmerbrown on Zomato

Baohaus, East Village

Baohaus, East Village

After nibbling on food samples at the Better Booze Festival, John and I were in need of a real snack. Baohaus was just a short walk away, and since the weather was nice, we decided take our food to a park nearby. (I was hoping this couple would walk away, so I could get a better shot of the storefront. Nope, they stood there for a very long time, so this will have to do.)

Baohaus, East Village

Located in East Village, Baohaus is Eddie and Evan Huang’s shop specializing in homestyle Taiwanese food. In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the Eddie Huang whose memoirs inspired the TV show “Fresh Off the Boat”. The first season has been pretty good, and I’m interested to see where they decide to take it next season. Anyway, this little place is basically Taiwanese street food meets East Village hipster, with hip hop playing in the background.

Baohaus, East Village

2015 Better Booze Festival, Webster Hall

Better Booze Festival, Webster Hall

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a few projects for US Veg Corp, an event production and marketing brand that specializes in plant-based events. Their flagship event is the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, but they’ve expanded far beyond that.

Better Booze Festival, Webster Hall

I was thrilled to do some design work for the second annual Better Booze Festival and had an absolute blast at the festival itself. We enjoyed unlimited drinks, food samples, and live entertainment. Oh, and everything was vegan!

One of my favorites at the festival was Whitecliff Vineyard. They’re a well-established Hudson Valley winery, but they have only just gone 100% vegan. I also had a really tasty blood mary made with Balls Vodka. It was also great to learn that some of our favorite beers are also vegan! We snacked on food samples and eventually bought a few empanadas from V Spot. Can’t wait until they open their new location in East Village!

Better Booze Festival, Webster Hall

I was hoping to say hi to the US Veg Corp ladies that I’ve been working with, but I, unfortunately, didn’t run into them at the event. What I loved about this event, other than it being plant-based, was how it was packed and lively without feeling overly crowded. The lighting and overall mood were also perfect for a daytime drinking event. Looking forward to next year!

Better Booze Festival, Webster Hall

Laut, Union Square

Laut, Union Square

My brother was in town recently, and when I asked him when he wanted to go for dinner, he requested Asian food. It seemed like Han really missed the food back home and isn’t the most adventurous eater, so Singaporean it is!

I had visited Laut earlier this year with some friends and enjoyed Laut’s curry laksa. They were quite crowded during Saturday’s peak dinner hours, but we thankfully had a reservation. On my last visit, I noticed the mural on the brick walls, but not the textured ceiling.

Laut, Union Square

When our appetizer, the Satay Tofu ($8), showed up, all three of us had the same reaction: “That’s it?” The fried tofu was decent and so was the spicy peanut sauce, but this dish looked a bit sad. We were all expecting tofu on skewers since this is a satay dish.

Satay Tofu, Laut

I was tempted to get the laksa again, but opted for the Char Kway Teow ($11) with veggies and tofu. It’s nice that you can specify what protein you want for most dishes. This is one of my favorite dishes in Singapore. Flat noodles with chives, bean sprouts, eggs, soy sauce, chili sauce. Not too greasy, light spiciness. Not the most authentic, but still pretty tasty.

Char Kway Teow, Laut

Han ordered the Mee Goreng ($11), which showed up with tofu and veggies even though he had asked for chicken. Another classic that you’ll find anywhere in Singapore. Egg noodles with bean sprouts, tofu, shrimp fritters, tomatoes, eggs, and fried shallots. Han thought this was decent even though the veggies they added seemed out of place.

Mee Goreng, Laut

John got the Massaman Curry ($13) with vegetables and tofu. This mixture of spicy coconut milk, tamarind, onions, carrots, potatoes, and peanuts was very addictive. The tamarind adds a really nice touch and texture. Laut seemed to know how to do curry pretty well. I’ll have to stick to curries and noodle soups if I ever come back here.

Massaman Curry, Laut

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The Ramen Bar, Financial District, San Francisco

The Ramen Bar, San Francisco

Located at the landmark 101 California street, The Ramen Bar is a collaboration between Ken Tominaga and Michael Mina. The restaurant website describes it perfectly: “The Ramen Bar combines rustic, old-world Japanese charm with modern, urban sophistication.” Tominaga and Mina’s other collaboration, Pabu,ย  a modern Japanese Izakaya, is right next door.

The Ramen Bar, San Francisco

I visited The Ramen Bar with my friend Bruce for an early dinner on a Friday. Their happy hour starts at 3pm, and I can see this place being a popular lunch or weekday dinner spot. They are not open at all on weekends. This is the first time I’ve seen a fast casual concept for ramen in the US. Order at the bar, serve yourself water, and someone will bring your ramen to you.

The Ramen Bar, San Francisco

In typical San Francisco fashion, it was just barely warm enough to sit outside. The fresh air was nice though and the ramen kept us warm. Bruce ordered the Tokyo-style ramen ($12), which is what this place is known for. The broth is supposed to be a lighter option, and his bowl looked good. I ordered the vegetarian Mushroom & Soy ramen ($11). Loaded with shrooms!

Mushroom & Soy Ramen, The Ramen Bar

There were A LOT toppings, mostly different types of mushrooms, plus a mushroom tempura with a nice, light batter. The miso broth was tasty without being too rich or heavy. The mizuna Japanese mustard added a mild peppery flavor, lighter than arugula to the broth.

I hate to say it, but the noodles were not good at all. They were thin noodles, which would be fine when cooked properly, but they were overcooked and soggy. I’m pretty surprised by the sad state of those noodles, especially as the broth was quite enjoyable.

The Ramen Bar Click to add a blog post for The Ramen Bar on Zomato