Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ichi Umi, NY, NY

Overview
A friend of mine moved to NYC in August so when I visited I recommended Ichi Umi. It is mainly a Japanese sushi and seafood buffet, and there is a bar underneath the restaurant, which we didn't visit.



Food
They say a picture is worth over a thousand words, so here are a bunch of pictures.
first view when you step in the place

A lot of selection to choose from

sashimi station

small dishes station

grill station
Other than the pictures I posted, there are also a crepe station, a ramen station, a lot of hot food options, and a fruits and desserts station.
My plate of raw shellfish and sashimi
Really, I pretty much love this place. The amount of food you can choose from is amazing. The sushi are made right behind the buffet, so you can see them making it. At either the crepe or ramen stations, they have a bunch of toppings, and you get to choose how you like it then they will make it at the spot. The fruits and desserts were okay, but it could have been because I already ate too much by that point.

Final Thoughts
Given that the restaurant is in a busy part of NYC, the price was expectedly expensive. We were there on a Friday night, so it was $34.95 per person, plus tax and tips. However, if you can eat a good amount of food, this place is worth it. They also have a 1.5 hours limit, but chances are you won't need all of it. If you like Japanese foods as much as I do, give this place a try.

Prices: $$$
Taste: 5/5
Atmosphere: 5/5

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just One Cookbook Recipes

Today review is not on a restaurant or food truck. Instead, I will review couple recipes that I tried this past few week.


Overview
The website is run by Namiko Chen, and her recipes ranged from appetizers, full meals, sushis, and my favorite, desserts. Over the past few weeks, I tried 4 different recipes from her website, and here's my thoughts on them. Apology for the not so great pictures.

Custard Pudding

 One of the easiest recipes, this custard pudding requires only milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extracts. All you need to do is boil it for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat and steam for 10 more minutes. After it cools and put in the fridge, you'll get a nice desserts after a meal.

http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/custard-pudding/





Japanese/Souffle Cheesecake

 This is one of the desserts I wanted to try the most, and it definitely made me work for it. To start, this is not your traditional baked cheesecake. Instead, I had to put the pan into a rack with boiling water, and then I put it in the oven for a good two hours because it didn't cook as far as expected. But the cheesecake turned out great. It was moist all the way to the center since the water kept some moisture in the oven so it didn't dry out the cake. If you are up to the challenge, this is a great recipe to try.
 http://www.justonecookbook.com/recipes/japanese-cheesecake/

Ingredients
After I put on the apricot jam
an out of focus picture of a slice

Green Tea and Chocolate Steamed Cake

Green Tea Steamed Cake
These next two desserts were made with pretty much the same recipe, except one is with chocolate powder, and the other one with matcha powder. With just 8 ingredients and easy steps, these were also very easy to make. Just boil them for 10 minutes in a ramekin and you have yourself a great little cake. What I like about them is that it isn't overly sweet, easy to make, and I can justify to myself that since it has matcha powder I can have multiple of them at once :p.


Chocolate Steam Cake

I added some red bean paste to the middle

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Terakawa Ramen, Philadelphia, PA

Overview
It's been a while since my last post, so let's go with my favorite ramen place in Philadelphia, PA. Located at 9th and Race St, it is at the outskirt of China Town. It is a small place with a limited number of seats. I didn't take any picture of the outside and inside of the restaurant but they are easy to find.

Food
Going there by myself, I can only eat so much. So I ordered a bowl of Miso Ramen and Charshu Onigiri. The miso ramen has a miso soup base, with toppings like charshu, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, half-boiled egg, and kikurage mushroom. If that wasn't enough, you can buy extra toppings and noodle separately for cheap.

The charshu onigiri is a seasoned rice ball with charshu bits in it, covered with seaweed. They also give you a spicy mayo dipping sauce. It is something that I get every time I go to Terakawa.

Other things I had tried from previous trips include takoyaki, curry udon, karaage chicken, and so forth. They were all very good and well worth the price.

Final Thoughts
I've been to this place so many time that I can say so much more about it, but I will stick with only what I ate on this trip. For only $9 before tax and tip, it is fairly cheap, and the taste is great compared to a few other places I've tried in the city. If you are ever in Philadelphia China Town and can't decide on what to eat, Terakawa Ramen is a great option to have.

Price: $ 
Taste: 
Atmosphere: 
Service: 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Freeze Dried Astronaut Cookie and Cream Ice Cream Sandwich

I was at a candy shop a few weeks ago and noticed this freeze dried ice cream. My first thought was "Who actually want to eat something like this?" But the novelty of it intrigued me, so I bought it.
The Candy Shop

Freeze dried ice cream anyone?













I completely forgot that I bought this until today, when I was searching through my kitchen for a snack. So it was time to try it.



















When I opened the package, it looked just like a normal ice cream sandwich, except it was completely dry. It was hard to bite, which was also annoying. It did taste just like a cookie and cream ice cream sandwich, but that's obvious since it's just freeze dried. Overall, I think I would stick with normal ice cream. It's fun to try it once but it wasn't worth the price.

http://www.astronautfoods.com/products/ice-cream/astronaut-ice-cream.html

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cheese E. Wagon, Philadelphia, PA

Overview
Today post will not be for a restaurant, but instead a food truck. If you live in a city or going to an big university, chances are you have tried food trucks before. They are usually cheap and fast. Occasionally there are also gourmet food trucks which are most expensive and fancier. The truck I went to today fall in between the two.
The name of this truck is called Cheese E. Wagon, located on Market St, between 33rd and 34th St. Since I skipped breakfast today I went there at 11am for some brunch food.
     Pictures of its menu

Food
The food I ordered was the steak breakfast burrito for $5. I would've bought the chicken quesadilla since it was great when I had it last time but I figured I would try something different this time. As stated on the menu, it has steak, blended cheese, roma tomato, egg, and some hot sauce since I asked for it to be spicy. 
Overall, the burrito was fresh, as the chef cooks the food when you place your order. The size of it was okay, personally I would like it to be a little bigger. If I order this again I would probably ask for more hot sauce since that gave it a better flavor and help distinguish it from your normal egg and cheese sandwiches. 

Final Thoughts
I don't go to Cheese E. Wagon often. This was probably the 4th time I bought food from it. The chicken quesadilla is definitely what you should try if you are there for the first time and I will try to take a picture of it when I get it. But for the burrito, I would say that it was good but I don't think I'll get it next time. I'll probably stick with what I know and get the quesadilla :).


Price: $5 
Taste for the burrito: 
Wait time: about 5 minutes
recommendation: Chicken Quesadilla

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tokyo Sushi Buffet Hibachi & Bar, Mays Landing, NJ

Overview
Continuing for the last post, we were in Atlantic City, NJ for Thursday. After we check out on Friday, we decided to take a short drive(15 minutes on the expressway) to Tokyo Sushi Buffet Hibachi & Bar, which is in Mays Landing, NJ for lunch before we go our own way. My friend spent a year teaching abroad in Japan, and I love Japanese food, so this is naturally a good place for both of us. We got there around 12pm which is when the place opens.

Food
Since we only went for the buffet, I won't be commenting on the hibachi & bar portion of the restaurant. The buffet has a wide selection of hot food, sushi, salad, and ice cream (they have red bean and green tea ice cream, which aren't easy to find).

First let's talk about the hot food. There were 3 aisles of them and they were either Japanese or Chinese styles of cooking. You can see on my plate the food I tried that day.


What stood out was the walnut shrimp and the fried squid. The sauce of the shrimp was sweet but not overwhelming, which was perfect for me. The squid was fried just long enough so it wasn't dry or chewy. The clam was disappointing, they simply boiled it and was bland.



Next, we hit up the sushi. They were lined up nicely on a plate over ice, which kept them chill. The selection were mostly standard, with the usual salmon, tuna, crab meat, fish roe, and so forth. Depending on the sushi chef, they also make different specialty rolls. On that day, they had a seaweed hand rolls, and a spicy salmon layered sushi (at least that what I'll call it), just to name a few.


Overall the sushi was fresh, I had my favorite spicy salmon rolls and spicy tuna rolls, which were both up to my expectation. The seaweed hand roll wasn't that great, however, since they only have seaweed in it and nothing else.




Other things that were there but I didn't try include the shrimp cocktail, raw clam, and majority of the salad and dessert selection, as they weren't too appealing compared to what I had at Caesars the night before. However, I did have some ice cream and that was a fitting end to my buffet trip.

Final Thoughts
For only $10.99 per person for lunch on a weekday, you really can't ask for much more. While the hot food wasn't great, the main point of going to this place is for the sushi, which I was completely satisfied with. As far as I know, they have two other locations in Deptford, NJ, and Freehold, NJ, and this was the newest one. If you like sushi but don't like to pay so much for it, this is a place for you.

Price: $ 
Taste: 
Atmosphere: 
Service: 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Caesars Court Buffet, Atlantic City, NJ

Overview
Two days ago my friend and I went to Atlantic City for some fun and stayed at Caesars. Since Caesars gave us a BOGO buffet, we decide to go try it out. We were there around 6pm and there were plenty of seats available. Our busboy was friendly and explained to us the layout of the buffet as it was renovated recently. The buffet is divided into 6 sections, Chinese, Italian, seafood, carving station, desserts, and wine station (not included in the buffet price).

Foods
One thing that I always tell people is that when you go to a buffet, you are picking quantity over quality. So when I rate them I should do so accordingly. Here are a couple pictures that I took (sorry the pictures aren't that great. I'll get better at it eventually!) .




Chinese food section. Your typical egg roll, chicken, beef, and dumplings. the kimchi in the basket was a nice touch.

Italian and seafood section. Sausage, stuffed shell, meatball, steaks, and broccoli rabe. The soup was New England clam chowder, and a bucket of buttered clams for the seafood section.
I also tried their raw oysters and plenty of desserts, which unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of.


Final Thoughts
Overall I was happy with the food I tried. It was definitely not cheap as it was about $32 a person before tax and tips. The food tasted good for a buffet, and the desserts were really good. I regret that I was too full to try the carving station, it looked really nice. If you are at Caesars Casino and can't decide on what to eat, this can be an option for you.

Price: $$ 
Taste: 
Atmosphere: 
Service: