Thursday, June 22, 2017

Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut


The other and perhaps bigger reason why I came all the way out to New Haven was for Louis' Lunch (261 Crown Street, 203-562-5507), allegedly the birthplace of the American hamburger. Yep, that hamburger used sliced bread and was shoved into some very medieval-looking panini press-like grills.

I liked it more than I thought I would. In many ways, it was a hamburger for purists, as you weren't overwhelmed with a taste of a bun or special sauce or anything like that. Instead, it was just some good charbroiled ground beef, salt, and onions, with just a little bit of bread and tomato to accentuate it. Plus, some of that local white birch beer was delicious with it too.

I don't know if I'll come here again though as there's hardly any seating in here (probably no more than 15 or 20 seats?). I got here just five minutes after they opened, and even then there was a good wait. Having said that though, it is a pretty cool little venue with these old wooden seats and booths. I'm glad I finally made it down here, especially given the odd operating hours that they have.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, CT

White Clam Apizza

I took a train out to New Haven, Connecticut because I wanted to try the local pizza or "apizza" as they call it here. What was so unique about it? Well, a lot of it was the thin and crunchy crust, which was almost intentionally a bit dry and burnt, carrying with it a slightly smoky aroma. It also tends to lack cheese unless you explicitly ask for it.

This shop (157 Wooster Street, 203-865-5762) in particular is also famous for this white clam pizza, which gave it a bit of savoriness, even if I forgot to ask them to add bacon. The other surprise was the dried red chili peppers that actually packed a reasonable amount of heat, unlike many places back in New York. I still prefer a more traditionally chewy Neapolitan crust, but I'm happy that I made the trek all the way out here.

An Outlet of the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company

Everything Bagel and Scallion Lox Smear

I had to get a bagel while I was still in New York. While I didn't have time to go to the places that I really wanted to go, at least there was an outlet of this chain nearby that I was able to hop over to before checking out of the hotel. And yeah, I liked my everything bagel with a scallion and lox spread, which helped it go down with ease. Next time I have to remember to get a bialy not to mention spend a bit more time in New York in order to go to the other places that I wanted to hit up yesterday.

A Disappointing Run to Gray's Papaya in Midtown New York

Hot Dog and Papaya Juice

I still needed a bit more food, and I figured that I'd swing up to the new midtown outlet of Gray's Papaya (612 8th Avenue at 40th Street), in part since it was open 24 hours, and in part since it's literally been more than a decade since I last ate their stuff. What a disappointment it was though, and it wasn't just because I forgot that onions in New York are in a red sauce. The red sauce wasn't as bad as it could've been, but the weiner was surprisingly skinny and salty, neither of which were a good thing. Well, it's not like anyone ever comes here for a gourmet meal, but I should have just gone up a few more blocks to try that Halal Guys food truck instead. At least the papaya juice was good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sarge's Delicatessen & Diner in New York City

Pastrami Sandwich and Matzo Ball Soup

My food plans for today got unexpectedly screwed up this afternoon. Still, I needed food and a Jewish deli sounded pretty good, so I made my way over here (548 3rd Avenue, 212-679-0442). It's too bad then that this wasn't as good as Katz's. The pastrami, while tender and thinly sliced, was a bit too delicate in taste without enough fat to make it exciting. Similarly, the pickles and the matzo ball soup were fine but nothing remarkable either. At least this place is open 24 hours, and the bagel and smoked fish selection looks pretty good too, so I'll need to keep it in mind in case I ever need an extra early breakfast before many of the other bagel shops open.

The Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York City


Yeah, I know that this was a bit touristy, and that I'd in fact already been to an outlet of theirs out in Newark sometime back. But we finished a meeting nearby and needed a quick bite, so we popped into Grand Central Terminal for a dozen on the half shell (89 East 42nd Street, 212-490-6650). The east coasters that I requested above were all fine, as was a cherrystone clam stew that I got on the side, even if it was surprisingly thin and spartan. I'm not sure if the rest of the menu was any good (I worry that it might be like The Fish Market from back home), but I have to admit that it was pretty cool to be sitting under those vaulted arched tile ceilings deep in the lower levels of Grand Central Terminal. Was Lex Luthor supposed to be showing up anytime soon?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Crif Dogs Has An Outlet in Brooklyn Too

John-John Deragon

I walked toward the train station here in Brooklyn when I noticed that Crif Dogs had an outlet over here too (555 Driggs Avenue, 718-302-3200). Despite all of that food earlier, I figured that I might as well grab one of those bacon-wrapped deep-fried hot dogs while I was here. The rendition above was apparently quite popular, featuring cream cheese, scallions, and everything bagel seeds. It tasted as good as it sounded, and went down in the blink of an eye. I don't think they had an adjoining PDT speakeasy at this location, but they did have some old school Ms. Pac Man and Galaga video game tables that consumed a good number of my quarters.

Joe's Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn


I needed some carbs to round out all of that shellfish and booze earlier, so I stopped at this pizza shop (216 Bedford Avenue, 718-388-2216), particularly since I saw some Zagat stickers on it. Only after looking it up just now did I realize that I'd been to their Greenwich Village location many years ago. My verdict is still the same: nothing mindblowing, but it had a very crunchy crust, and it was interesting to see all of the celebrity photos on the wall too.

Maison Première in Brooklyn, New York


I just found one of my new favorite places in the world (298 Bedford Avenue, 347-335-0446). It's basically an absinthe and oyster bar, and I was so happy with everything that I was virtually fist pumping with every sip and bite. They of course have an absinthe fountain in the center of the bar, together with a wide selection that they happily took me through. And food options included not only a very long list of oysters (again, they helped take me through a bunch of east coast ones), but also sea urchin from Maine and some local Long Island fluke served raw as well. I couldn't be any happier parked at this bar. Again, biiig thumbs up.

A Quick Bite at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

Hamburger and Beer

I needed a quick bite before heading to my next meeting, and fortunately, Shake Shack's Madison Square Park outlet was on my way there. The line was nowhere near as bad as it was last time, but there was still a bit of a wait, particularly to pick up your food at the window (strangely, your buzzer rings before your food is ready, and even when it is ready, they haven't figured out your drinks yet).

Also, it looks like my perception of their food has been blown up a bit in my head, as this wasn't as good as I had remembered it to be. Still, the bun was pretty good, their house beer was refreshing (done by the Brooklyn Brewery folks), and there was still a hint of charbroiling in the patty. Maybe it's also my fault for getting the cheapest single hamburger; I should double up next time, or maybe even try their hot dogs.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lupulo in Chelsea, New York City

Bulhão Pato Clams

This Portuguese place wouldn't have been my first choice after flying over 24 hours door to door (835 6th Avenue, 212-290-7600). But it was raining tonight and I didn't have an umbrella, and these guys were right around the corner from the hotel. Plus, they had a counter with beers on tap, not to mention small plates on the menu.

The food was fine, like those clams above, as well as some local oysters and a plate of fava beans. But the cooking could've been a bit edgier too, even with just another pinch or two of salt or a drizzle of their punchy olive oil. I kept forgetting that I'm in the US too, so "small plates" were relative to America. Well, I liked the local beers on tap at least, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can find around here later in the week.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

An Outlet of Canton Paradise in Singapore

Steamed Molten Salted Egg Yolk Custard Piggy Bun

An outlet of the Paradise Group's Canton Paradise chain was nearby and thus chosen for lunch today. Sure, they had those cutesy little steamed buns above (surprisingly filled with salted egg yolk, BTW). But I was more into other things like their sliced century eggs in vinegar or their take on beef chow fun, which wasn't as traditional as I preferred but nonetheless featured some nicely caramelized shallots that made me want reach in for another serving.