Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting in touch with my Asian roots...

So the other day, I actually had a craving for rice. Never thought the day would come. Back at home, my mom would make rice every single night for dinner. My sister and I complained like none other, that rice tasted like nothing and that we were so bored of the texture. So I admit my parents were right, that one day I'd be enjoying rice so I should learn how to make it for myself. And that day was the day.

Anyhow, I was yearning for some rice to go with my Trader Joe's Channa Masala (yay frozen dinners) but I had no rice cooker. Though this past weekend when I was in Koreatown I did see some of that pre-packaged rice that you can pop in the microwave...but how sketch does that sound? Idk, seemed pretty questionable to me. So I decided to do some research and find out how to make rice without a rice cooker. Fortunately, it turned out to be super easy, thanks to this website.

The rice turned out nice and fluffy, and awesomely ready to be mixed with
that channa masala. Btdubs Trader Joe's microwavable dinners are fantastic. This one in particular was only $2.19 and had two servings. So I had half leftover from the night before, when I ate it with some naan. Indian food rocks. The meal probably would have been better with basmati rather than jasmine rice but at this point I was really ready to eat any type of rice.

So good! Yes, I added some bok choy...just to add to the Asian-ness.

Moral of the story is: you do not need a rice cooker to make rice! Simply cook it over a stove like how you would make pasta, simple as that. Pretty awesome discovery, if I do say so myself :)


Friday, June 24, 2011

Baked By Melissa (Times Square)

Cupcakes are definitely the "trendy dessert" here in NYC. There are so many different shops selling these cute little gems, each having their own unique way of reaching out to customers. Whether it is the homey taste (Magnolia), vegan recipe (Babycakes), or even manly appeal (Butch) there is always a selling strategy that makes these culinary endeavors a success.

A few days ago I happened upon a cupcake store that is really unlike any
other: Baked By Melissa. Whoever Melissa is, she must be a genius. Her bakery features the tiniest cupcakes I have ever seen, each having a diameter similar to that of a quarter. They were sold 3 for $3...literally a buck per bite. The gimmick was that you can get a taste of a variety of the many creative flavors available, and I gotta admit, it was pretty tempting. Too cute to resist, and the flavors all sounded so good!

My friend mentioned how each of these cupcakes probably cost no more than a few cents to make, yet are being sold at a price of a dollar each. And each person who walks into the store has to buy at least 3. The average person would probably buy about a dozen, I would imagine. Talk about profit!

So I bought the minimum amount of 3 cupcakes (because I am a poor college student): red velvet, peanut butter cup, and rice krispie (this month's special). They even came arranged in a cute little box!

It took quite a bit of patience to take the delicate cakes out of the box without crushing them...

Now these little babies may look small, but don't let that fool you when you take a bite (slash pop the whole thing in your mouth). The cake is soft and moist, and the flavor of each of them really stands out. My favorite was by far the peanut butter cup. I was amazed at how peanut-buttery it tasted, despite the minuscule size of the peanut butter frosting on top.

And aside from the scrumptiousness of these cupcakes, the perk of it all comes from the lack of guilt after devouring them. I mean, it's the equivalent of eating 3 bites of cake; no harm done, right? Plus, it's 3 different flavored bites. Can't get any better than that. Definitely will revisit sometime later in the summer to try more flavors...maybe I'll try their s'mores cupcake, or pb&j...ooh and the mint chocolate. Good thing I don't have a choice but to get more than one. Hehe.

Til next time,


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bon Chon Chicken (Midtown)

Hey all!

Last week, one of my friends from Australia introduced me to her favorite food in NYC. She's here on exchange for the spring semester, and has tried out countless places downtown because she conveniently has an internship right near Herald Square. So when she told me about her obsession with Bon Chon Chicken, I knew I had to try it.

We went to the shop in Koreatown, on 5th Avenue between 32nd and 33rd street. It was a small and dimly lit place, but with good ambiance, mainstream music videos playing on flat screen TVs in the wall.

The menu was a lot shorter than I expected, giving us a few different combinations of wings/drumsticks/tenders to choose from, and a small list of sides. We decided to order the combo soy garlic fried chicken along with a side of bulgogi beef, veggies, and rice.

At this point I was pretty much starving, after having commuted down from Morningside Heights after work and walking in circles through Sephora (how can a girl resist?), so I was happy to find that the service was speedy. The bulgogi looked tremendously appetizing, and the taste did not disappoint.

Slightly sweet and very tender, it went perfectly with the rice. Or, as the Chinese would say, "xia fan" (my parents would be proud). Veggies were bland, but what can you really expect from a few stalks of steamed broccoli and carrots?

The famous Korean fried chicken came on a plate of six wings and two drumsticks, perfect for two, but turned out to be a bit of a let down. I admit I'm not much of a fried chicken person in the first place, but I was expecting something different from your typical American KFC type of food. It was definitely more savory, but the taste fell somewhat flat. Aside from a slight garlicky note, the crispy layer tasted primarily like plain old soy sauce. If the chicken itself were juicy, I might have liked it more, but there wasn't a substantial amount of meat on the bones. After finishing the bon chon, my passiveness towards fried chicken still remains.

My friend did say that this Bon Chon was not nearly as good as the one in St. Mark's Place, where the menu has a lot more variety and the chicken is better overall. I do want to check it out sometime, perhaps for the non-fried-chicken items. Korean food is awesome, in my opinion, but I have to say I'm more of a fan of the healthier and more traditional options (ie kimchee and bibimbap). In terms of atmosphere, though, Bon Chon is pretty good if you want to have a chill place to hang out with a couple friends and nosh on some chicken, and perhaps even hit up a karaoke bar afterwards :)



Monday, June 20, 2011

summer in the big apple

Hi! My name is Diane and I am a lover of food, art, learning, and the cosmopolitan life. After finishing my first year of college, I am spending my summer in NYC. I am working every weekday 9-5 but now that I have some down time I want to compile my passions into something a little more tangible, in the form of this blog. Pretty excited, not gonna lie :)
There will be restaurant reviews, documentation of my cooking experiments, shopping stories, and pictures of various urban adventures. Enjoy!