Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Manhattan's Finest: The Nomad

When I stepped into the Nomad restaurant at the Nomad Hotel with its nostalgic and upscale vibe, that was when I felt like I was a true grown up.  It was busy, with 40's + crowd, and everyone seemed like they'd been here before numerous times. Loud chatters filled the atrium as people sipped from their wine.  Dressed up parsnips seemed to be the  popular snack as they were flying out all night.  We were on a mission; to try their famous roasted chicken.   However, I ended up falling in love with other few dishes on the menu instead.

First off, we could not get enough of their artisan flatbread.  It was baked crisp and topped with sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and white beans.  It was hard to not fill up while waiting for the courses to arrive.

As you can see, I had no idea the marinated fluke would be a stunning art on a plate.  And yes, it tasted as amazing as it looked. The basil oil brought out natural sweet flavors of the heirloom tomato while the subtle acidity complement the fluke, making it the star. This was my favourite dish of the evening.  

Out of all the things on the menu, there's always a soft spot for poached egg, no matter what time of the day.  And this time was no different and it had to be included.  A perfectly poached egg peaked through a cloud of foam and brown butter with asparagus and crispy quinoa. When it comes to food porn, there's nothing that's more visually tantalizing than cracking a perfectly poached egg and watching the yolk slowly oozes out. Only this time, the yolk dripped down to a cloud of foam clouds. Although the sauce was a bit too high in sodium, it was an awesome comfort food no less.

Looking at this dish, comparing with other items we just had, we were not as wowed by the seemingly humble appearance.  However, the king crab tagliatelle with Meyer lemon and black pepper proved to be the underdog.  Frankly, it was a well executed dish.  The tagliatelle pasta, made in-house, had the perfect texture. It was lightly seasoned with lemony flavor, but it was enough to make an impression. Topped with succulent king crab meat, we gobbled it up the entire plate within minutes. 

When the suckling pig confit with pears cabbage and mustard showed up at the table, we already knew what we expected out of it; ultra crispy skin, a fatty layer with moist and tender meat.  

The star of the show, and what many come to the Nomad for, was the $79 whole roasted chicken with foie gras black truffle and brioche. It was the most pricey and fancy roasted chicken we have paid for.  It was presented to us fresh out of the oven before being carved up and prepared 2 ways (like a Peking duck).  It looked gorgeous with golden brown glistening skin with arrangement of fresh herbs.  But aside from that, the only other thing I seemed to notice was how small the whole roasted chicken looked compared to the size of that gentleman's hands holding it!

The different meat of the chicken was prepared two ways. Accompanied by white bean truffle puree, the breast, served skin on, was very tender but the truffle essence was very faint.   

Meanwhile, the dark meat had a more rustic take, served in a skillet with green beans and mustard seeds with a touch of acidity from vinegar. The crispy skin bits were a real treat.  Overall, the chicken was good, but in my opinion for $40-50, not $79.

Our food journey at the Nomad ended with 2 modern desserts.

I loved the artful presentation and play on 2 contrasting textures for "milk and honey".  You get the crunchy harder bits from short bread brittle with the sweet, yet mellow honey ice cream.

When it comes to taste, I thought this plum dessert was more unique than the rest.  There was a lot of flavours and textures going on in this dish; from sweet to tart to salty from the corn sabayon, spongy to rich to creamy, even temperature ranged from warm to cold.  While it was yummy altogether, I had a great time dissecting each component with each bite and trying to figure everything out.  It was unique, distinct, and special. A dish you wouldn't find at just about anywhere.

I would love to come back to the Nomad again for their creative takes on snacks, appetizers and desserts.

The NoMad on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eats! in Maui

Star Noodle

When I researched where to eat in Lahaina, Star Noodle came up on top at just about every site.  We were reaffirmed by several concierge that it is very close by, mighty delicious, and the wait is always long.  After looking through pictures, reading and hearing raved reviews, I was particularly thrilled about this place.

And that should be the first indicator how not to go about dining; with a super hyped-up expectation.  My two traveling companions were more skeptical and, thus, nothing was surprising to them.

Star Noodle is located off the highway, almost in seclusion but with plenty of parking space.  We got there at 6 pm and were not the first to be hovering around the front door.  As expected, we were told our wait would be around an hour or so.  Thus, we wandered off after putting our name down but still returned within the half hour.  We got our table shortly after and although we had doubts whether the hostess knew how to properly do her job, we were pleased with the service from our server.

This modernized Asian noodle bar reminds me of a lot of contemporary restaurants found everywhere in Thailand with a similar concept; an interpretation of what's modern in composition, flavours and texture.  For me, I find simplicity and unpretending good taste get lost in all the glitz and glam.

I guess what I was hoping in finding at Star Noodle was something that exemplifies strong, bold flavours, using local and traditional Asian ingredients.  Something special or unique that will keep drawing me back.  We ordered about 5 items on the menu.

Filipino "bacon & eggs", $12, with crispy pork (I'm a sucker for crispy roasted skin!) with tomatoes, a 62 c egg with yolk oozing out (yolk porn!) and served on a sizzling plate.  This dish was a really hearty and savoury dish.  I wish they had used a stronger vinegar rather than the apple cider vinegar as it was too mild and got lost completely in the dish.  I was also bummed out when my perfectly cooked sous-vide egg yolk turned into a scrambled egg over the sizzling plate, but that is just a personal preference that I like my savoury food drenched in creamy egg yolk.

The scallop shots,$13 for 3, were the best dish we had. A plump piece of seared scallop was topped with grated ginger in a Wafu dashi broth and lemon EVOO, giving it a savory flavoured broth with a tangy twist.

I saw the picture of hapa ramen, $12, everywhere on review websites.  When I tried it, it was by far incomparable to ramen in Vancouver.  The miso broth was not rich, as many had claimed.  The house-made noodles were good, but the broth and the meat made this ramen subpar. The barbecued pork were nothing short of food court quality.  It was dry, was not well marinaded, and not charred and smoky; just extremely average.

Our last dish, fried saimin arrived in a small size at $8.  The egg noodles were pan-fried with sliced kamaboko, spam, egg, and bean sprouts.  Again, the flavour just wasn't there.  We were advised to top the noodles with a creamy horseradish sauce, which we did.  It definitely livened the flavour a bit.  We also topped with with loads of chili sauce, otherwise, it was a plain dish, nothing more than what I could order at food courts everywhere in North America for $2-$3.

Star Noodle on Urbanspoon

Leilani's On the Beach

We tried our luck at Leilani's On the Beach, overlooking the beautiful Kaatalani beach.
Starting off with Chef's raw bar platter for $13.95, ahi poke and shrimp ceviche arrived in smaller portions that what we expected.

The fish taco at Leilani's was voted Maui's Best by Maui Time magazine.  At $14.95, I sunk my teeth into the succulent, cajun-rubbed grilled fish topped with chilies, grated cheese, salsa, and cabbage.  It was pretty satisfying.

But the most satisfying item was the ginormous Kimo's Original Hula Pie.  At $7.95, this dessert is a must-try when you are in Lahaina.  Due to its sheer size, it's best to share this dessert.  I dug in starting at the tip of the pie, scooping out creamy macadamia ice cream.  At the bottom was dark chocolate cookie crust; thick, yet crumbly like Oreo crust.   Of course, I didn't forget the rich chocolate fudge dripping down the pie, more grinded nuts, and light fluffy whip cream.  I swear, this giant piece of treat is to-die-for.

Leilani's on the Beach on Urbanspoon

Fish Market Maui 

The Fish Market was the most low profile place we visited and it turned out to be best find in our whole trip! A fish market and a fast food join all in one, you can bet the seafood here is fresh.  Don't be expecting a great atmosphere though, it is a fish market after all.

We feasted on this giant seared ahi tuna steak sandwich for $13.99 with a bag of chips and coleslaw.  This was the winner.  I love ahi tuna club sandwich, but I've never seen a tuna steak this big and thick before. It was seared perfectly, and rare in the centre, you'd have to be a fish love to enjoy this.  It was juicy and succulent and well-seasoned. The fact it was accompanied by caramelized onion, cabbage, tomatoes with wasabi aioli on  fluffy onion bun also made the biggest difference in the world.

You're not in Hawaii until you get a grilled mahi mahi.  Served with rice, pasta salad, this was a very simple and modest dish.  Nonetheless, the fish was perfection; flakey, plump and tender.

The fish taco here wasn't as large as the one at Leilani's but it was definitely a lot more loaded.  The fish was extremely fresh, nicely charred, and absolutely satisfying.

The lobster bisque wasn't exactly what I expected.  The soup was too thick, creamy and chunky with pieces of lobster and vegetables.  I didn't taste brandy, or the rich lobster essence.  This looked and tasted more like chowder than a bisque.

Last but not least, the jumbo crab cake was another tasty delight.  It was crispy on the edges and packed with shredded crab meat.  Served with Thai sweet chili sauce, this truly reminded me of a Thai dish and the rice here was just wonderfully fluffy.

Fish Market on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Secluded haven, Anantara Sikao at Trang

This 4.5 star resort is one of the largest, and located right by Pak Meng beach in Trang.  Compared to other resorts, it's right by the commercial road where there are restaurants and tour stands for booking private tours out to the islands.  Nonetheless, the beach is absolutely quiet and serene.  If you want to getaway from noise, you'll find the ultimate seclusion here.  During the evening when the tide is low, the sea level is so low that you could possibly walk really far out to other islands (maybe).

Friday, March 30, 2012

Since we couldn't make it to Japan, we brought Japan to us!

Since my last visit to Japan in 2010, I've been dreaming about returning ever since.  I was hoping that some miracle would happen and I would be able to stop by Japan this year for their magnificent cherry blossom festival and maybe take a trip to Hokkaido for an amazing food tour.  But it was all just a daydream.  The schedule didn't quite work out and I'll have to put it aside til next year.  

Instead of moping and groaning for days, I have a lucky hamster who told me a secret about a little hidden gem.  The thing is this little gem is located at the largest mall in Thailand, Central World.  I was skeptical when she told me about delicious soft serve ice cream she got from a Japanese food court at Isetan, a Japanese department store located inside CTW.  I wasn't too excited, umm.. it's a food court? how special could it be? -_______-Well I took a trip there and finally got a snap with the cherry blossom as you can see ^_^.  And that's about as close as I'll ever get to a cherry blossom this year Y^Y.  It won't ever die and not really authentic, but it's pretty to look at in pictures right? lol.. Now, let's just get to the point about the food and I'll just summarize that it was a hell of a playground.  Located on the 5th floor of Isetan lies an incredible array of authentic variety of Japanese fare at extremely reasonable prices.  Behold for it is called the Souzai Delicatessen.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Southern delicacies: Seafood from Surat Thani and Trang

Every time we head down south to the beautiful beaches and islands, we always have another agenda other than indulging in the scenery.   It's the unlimited supply of fresh and delicious seafood you wouldn't find at just about anywhere else.  

Surat Thani 
The province is one of the main ports to many famous islands in Thailand.  However, it is still a kept on the down low from tourists that Surat is also the main port of top-notch, ginormously succulent seafood.   My family's favourite stop, Ruen Thai restaurant never fails to offer big, meaty crustaceans and day-caught fish.  Here are a few dishes we ordered.

Meaty merry crab


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco recap

This was my second annual trip to Foodbuzz Festival in San Francisco.  Last year, I packed my bag and journeyed to SF for the first time without knowing anyone or what I was getting myself into.  It was a great experience.  I met a lot of fellow food bloggers and kept in touch with some.  

This year, I'm a big(ger) girl and the second time going wasn't as intimidating.  I ended up being too comfortable and mostly interested in what the festival had to offer.  I didn't bring as many cards, and since I met some people from last year, I didn't make as much effort this year to meet as many people.  Not very proactive or social, I know.  I also didn't take as many photos, often too caught up in conversations than paying attention to what was going around me.  The only thing I made sure I took pictures of was..the food!  Not very good ones either.  My camera sucks and I hate it so much >:(

Friday Night:
Goody bag
There were other gift bag stuffers not featured in the photo, 2 Godiva coffee bags, Cascade dish washing tablets, and a chocolate cake mix -__-''.  Last year's goody bag was way better : S

Welcome reception and dinner at Terra Gallery
This year's welcome reception seemed more upscale as it was held at Terra Gallery, a popular space for hosting events.  It was open bar, yay! I got to try Hell or High watermelon ale and it was amazing, tasted kinda like jolly rancher but not too sweet.  I wanted to bring a case load back to Canadaland.  Along side the booze, was an island of hor d'ourves, mostly different flavours of hummus by Sabra.  They were pretty good, and there was an interesting wasabi flavour.  The dessert hummus, coconut and chocolate, was a no go.
After over an hour since the event commenced, we were called upstairs where the buffet dinner awaited us.  Hundreds of hungry food bloggers raced upstairs and quickly swarmed around each station.
Glazed pork belly with broccoli puree
Pan-seared scallop
Tuscan beef stew and brown sugar butter roasted chicken

meatloaf muffin and whipped potato, salt cod cake, beet ravioli, mac and cheese, kale leek ricotta tart
potato brocoli soup, butternut squash orzo
Lentil salad and ceviche shooter

Too much food, too much booze.  I was near state of coma.  After the dinner, I called it a night.

Afternoon at the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon
It was another afternoon of endless food and booze sampling.  The event was 3 hours long and I didn't expect that I would be there from beginning to end.  I must say that I'm glad I stayed around. Godiva Coffee had an awesome booth, giving out sample bags of their flavoured coffee, chocolates, and pumpkin latte.  Some were not so great, such as Jimtown where the lady gave us a dab of oil from their spreads for samples.  No, Thanks.  

One of my favourite sponsors, Alaska Seafood, they always have the best food.  

Redwood Hill Farm, a family-run goat cheese producer.  Their cheese was delicious! So creamy, and soft.  MMmmmmm

Vignette Wine Country soda, non-alcoholic varieties!
Bloom Gin and their lemon honey concoction.  I couldn't have just one!!

OMG Tyler Florence! He was a really nice guy.  I was one of the last few that made it in line.  They ran out of cookbooks to give out, so I got his portrait instead. 

More food ensued...
Chocolate stout from 21st Amendment and Three Twins organic vanilla ice-cream. 
The best part about this event is that near the end, the sponsors would give out products to take home (that they weren't handing out earlier).  I witnessed some people leaving with cases and cases of stuff.  I left with 2 bags, but I had to carry them around and packed them on the plane.

Gala Dinner hosted by Alexia Foods
Shortly after,
2 hours later, after I walked through the rain, I ended up at the gala dinner hosted at the Grand Hyatt hotel.  More feasting about to commence.

I didn't like the organic fries.  There was a contest going on for which flavours would take the prize, but the fries themselves weren't even crispy.  I usually love deep fried food, especially fries, but I don't know about them.  I probably wouldn't but the brand at the grocery.

Appetizers included butternut squash risotto bites, roasted wild mushroom samosas, and vegetable maki roll.
Tyler Florence came out and performed a cooking demo. for the next hour.  The only thing I learned was how to make a brine.  

First course finally came out, Bibb lettuce salad with honey roasted pear, glazed pecans and blue cheese vinaigrette.
I had to scoot out of there so I quickly scarf down the main course, filet mignon with lemon roasted prawns, peppercorn jus, mashed potato, asparagus and heirloom carrots.  I didn't stick around for the dessert, but I heard it wasn't very good.

It was a dine and dash.  I didn't come back for the farewell brunch on Sunday hosted by Godiva Coffee.  Overall, I thought last year's event was better, definitely the goodie bag and the gala dinner were way better.  My favourite part of the festival was probably the Tasting Pavilion.

What I got from the Tasting Pavilion...

479 black truffle and white cheddar popcorn.. Only 70 calories per bag!
Of course, I couldn't fit all that in my luggage T_T I must say these were way better than the goody bag!