Rib-eye Steak


Rib-eye steak with Mushrooms, Onions and White Wine Gravy + Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

This is a very simple steak dish that I enjoy making. To prepare the gravy, I caramelized the onions and mushrooms in butter and then add some white wine, red wine vinegar, cream and some salt/peppers. Pour the gravy over the cooked steak and serve with some Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. Gan: Sarah always prefer Asian style steak (Japanese to be specific) over NY style aged steak - without much seasoning (except the dry spices). That is until we saw how Gordon Ramsay cooked steak on TV. Just simply pan fry it with olive oil and finish it with butter. It just brings out the flavor quite a bit. I heard from someone that butter is a chef's best friend in most high end restaurants, deglaze with it, make sauce with it, fry with it, emulsify with it.

La Isla


104 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ


Phone: 201-659-8197

This is one of our favorite Cuban Restaurants in the NYC metro area. It was recommended by a friend Pei, who used to live in Hoboken. The restaurant is tiny so expect to wait in line to get a table. Some of our favorite dishes there are the Ensalada de Espinaca y Remolacha (spinach tossed with mango, avocado, blue cheese, oranges and red onion in a champagne vinaigrette with toasted macadamia nuts, served over roasted beets), Sopa de Pollo (homemade chicken noodle soup with potatoes, carrots, celery and corn), Camarones al Ajillo o Enchilados (sauteed shrimp in garlic sauce or red creole sauce) and of course, their Sandwich Cubano.

Gan: I still remember the first time Pei and Kelvyn brought us to this place. We were so skeptical about having any decent restaurant in New Jersey, let alone a Cuban restaurant. Wow, this was even better than most of the better Cuban restaurants in NYC! This remains one of the best restaurant you can find in NJ.. heck, it can be compared to any good NYC restaurants. We've been coming here regularly since Hoboken is very close to Jersey City, where we live.

Gan's favorite drink at La Isla --Morir SoƱando (frappƩ made with fresh orange juice, evaporated milk and sugar)
Gan: Lol.. sweet tooth. I'm just surprised how well orange juice go with evaporated milk.

We usually order this Daily Special for lunch, Pollo Asado or Roasted Chicken (thigh). The dish comes with two sides.
Gan: One of my favorite dish. Only about USD7. Classic Cuban food like Pollo Asado or Aros con Pollo is one of the best chicken dish you can get. For some reason, Sarah and myself just adores Cuban food. We think the really flavorful way of cooking is similar to what we eat in South East Asia - maybe the spice we use are similar. Yummy.

Boiled Yuca with Garlic

Maduro - Sweet Plantains

Spinach salad with beets, onions, mango, maca damia nuts & grilled shrimp

Gan enjoying his delicious lunch.
Gan: Go blue! (favorite Umich cap)

**Pictures taken with my iphone camera :)

La Isla on Urbanspoon

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake + Red Bean Soup Dessert

This is another awesome chocolate cake recipe I found on recipezaar. The cake was very moist and not too sweet. I also made some Red Bean Soup Dessert, just because I felt like having some! :)



Panini with Prosciutto, White American Cheese, Pear and Arugula + Riesling

I found this delicious prosciutto panini recipe on recipezaar.com. I replaced the Focaccia bread and Pecorino Romano cheese in the recipe with Croissant and White American cheese since Gan likes them better. To prepare, I sprinkled the Croissant with Balsamic Vinegar and then layered it with Prosciutto, White American Cheese, Caramelized sliced Pear, and Arugula. I grilled the Croissant on the pan until the cheese melt, cut into half and served it with a glass of Riesling.
Gan: I'm not really a sandwich kind of guy.. but this is a favorite, especially the caramelized sliced pear inside.


Address: 50 Clinton Street, New York


Phone: 212-477-2900

Yesterday Gan and I had the most wonderful gastronomy experience at Chef Wylie Dufresne's wd~50 restaurant!! This is by far, the BEST RESTAURANT we have tried in NYC, very different from all the other fine dining places.

wd~50 is famous for its molecular gastronomy cooking techniques and Chef Dufresne is one of the leaders in this field. Molecular gastronomy is basically the use of science to create new techniques of preparing and cooking food. Boy I have to say, we were totally blown away by the food that was created using this technique!

Every dish was spot on when it came to presentation, portion, taste, flavor and texture. There was not one dish that we dislike and to make the dinner even more perfect, we got a kitchen tour and we met with Chef Dufresne! Two thumbs up for wd~50!

Gan: We have only scratched the surface of the NYC restaurant scene and it would be presumptious to assume we're any sort of authority in bestowing any kind of accord like the prestigious Michelin rating or NY Times and Zagat rating. However, I must say I'm most impressed with wd~50 and it really opened my eyes (or should I say awakened my tongue) to what great food could really be. To most, the food here is avant-garde, with all the molecular gastronomy/experimental food cooking technique and what not, but to me, the thing that will probably stay with me for a while is how great the taste was for almost all the food we had that night. Not to say the presentation was shabby (it was really clean and beautiful) but if I can sum everything up for that night, it has to be TASTE.

Da Man ---- Caught a glimpse of Chef Dufresne at the Kitchen entrance. Wasn't sure if I was able to go say hi so I tried to snap pictures of him from my seat. I think he saw me :P Gan: I've never seen Sarah that excited before and did I imagine drool dripping down the side of her mouth? :-P

Nice marble wall deco at wd~50. Gan: The ambience of the restaurant was nice and comfortable. It was quite surprising for such a good restaurant, we were still able to get reservations at 6pm for 7:45pm on a Friday evening. It's probably due to the location at lower east side, which is more popular with the late night clubbing crowd. It's busy but not exactly crowded.

Sesame Flat Bread
Gan: It was quite messy affair.. lol.. crumbles all over the place after we're done

We kept checking out what other people were ordering. All the dishes looked amazing. Gan: There were some banking type crowd around our table. I guess the price limits it to a certain crowd from affordability perspective. We definitely can't make it a routine affair for us.

I like sweeter wines, so the waitress recommended Tokay Pinot Gris 'Marckrain' Martin Schaetzel 2004 Alsace, France. Lovely indeed! I can drink this every night. (or not! one bottle cost $64!)

Foie gras, mole lentils, quince yogurt - I love the foie gras appetizer (another cruel ingredient I should be swearing off - sigh). The mole lentils were actually not real lentils. it was created using some other ingredients to make it taste like lentils. I finished up everything and was still hungry for more. Gan: It was good. I didn't even realize the lentils were not really lentils. We were most recently reminded of this type of molecular gastronomy technique on Top Chef, with the colorful character Marcel. There was apparently a connection with wd~50 in the Marcel Egg Scandal.

Smoked eel, blood orange zest, black radish, chicken skin - Gan had the smoked eel for appetizer. Gan: I took a chance with this. Don't usually like smoked dishes but I thought.. what the heck, let's experiment! It was good.

Pork belly, radish, corn, miso-walnut, sour plum - Gan ordered this, it was magnificent!! Gan: This is justs amazing! Everything just worked.. and the thing that matters most, it tasted amazing. The plating was interesting and I thought they were using dirty plates! Lol. This has got to be one of my favorite dish ever.

Gan was in total bliss after taking a bite of his pork belly dish
Gan: That hit the right spot! Clean plate.

Duck breast, smoked hen o’ the woods, snow peas, rhubarb - Duck breast was very tender
Gan: I liked Sarah's duck as well. Very refine and flavorful.

Pre-dessert - raspberry sorbet with goat cheese. superb! Gan: This was my favorite of the 3 course dessert tasting menu. The licorice or the sorbet was salted.. and that was very pleasant for this desert. Previously, the dessert that was most memorable for me was the goat cheese sorbet or ice cream from Aquavit. I think I'll remember this for some time.

We both had the three course dessert tasting menu and this was the first --Creamsicle, rooibos, squash, orange blossom. Gan: This is just great as well. The ice covered creamy ice cream was just divine. Froth here again.. as has been on many of the dishes we had that night.

Yuzu, shortbread, spruce yogurt, pistachio - this is my favorite!
Gan: There's a lot of Asian ingredient influence as well. This is yet another great dish.

Cherry covered chocolate, molasses, lime - I was expecting hard chocolate, but I was surprised to find out that it was chocolate mousse underneath instead. very tasty, not too sweet and the molasses reminded me of the shrimp paste molasses we have in Malaysia for Rojak (fruit salad)

Complimentary sweets after the dinner. The one on the left was made of peanut butter, the right one tasted like yuzu soft candy. Gan: In a lot of restaurants, the sweets are usually an after thought or just the simple and safe truffle chocolate. I like that they kept giving here and gave sweets that are just such a culinary delight.

The restaurant's Maitre D' gave us a kitchen tour after the dinner. It was a dream came true for me! I was trying to contain my excitement the entire time so I don't end up scaring everyone in the kitchen! The station you see right in front is the hot food station and that was where Daniel Boulud and a couple of other chefs, food critics and celebrities ate during a dinner hosted by Chef Dufresne in an episode of After Hour with Daniel. Gan: It was a real treat. It's always a good sign of a great restaurant to see the chef-owner still very involved in the daily operation of the restaurant. For restaurants to be willing to show the gut of the operation to the customers, they must put themselves on a very high standard.

Chef was kind of camera shy... lol

We were so excited to meet him!! Gan: Chef Wylie is indeed an impressive chef. We'll definitely be back for more. It's really an unforgettable culinary experience.

wd-50 on Urbanspoon

Braised Soy Sauce Pork Belly

Gan is a very honest critic of my food and he's not afraid to offend me when he comments on my cooking. That's why I was very happy when he told me that this is the best soy sauce pork belly dish I have ever cooked. :) It's a simple dish, and here's the recipe:

To add more flavors to the pork bellies, I marinated them with soy sauce and dark (sweet) soy sauce the night before. I seared the bellies with some sesame oil, and once the bellies turned golden brown, I braised them for about 2 hours with just enough water, more soy sauce, dark sweet soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, some Shaoxing wine (made from glutinous rice and wheat) , one whole garlic, and some ginger slices. I've also added two hard-boiled eggs specially for Gan.

I served the pork bellies over rice. A simple dinner, done.

Gan: This is one of my favorite dish. I'm not too sure what's the origin of the dish but it could've been from the Fujian (Hokkien) region in China (my ancestry). Even Japanese have something similar to this Oh Tau Yiu Bak (black soy sauce pork belly in Hokkien) called Buta Kakuni (popular in the Okinawan region). Sarah has been trying to perfect this dish for some time now.. It's usually good but I think the vinegar and Shaoxing wine really did it this time and brought everything together. It's aromatic, tender, and just plain yummy. I was happy! The hard boiled eggs were mmm.. mmm.. good!

East Boat Lobster


East Boat Lobster Restaurant

Address: 72 Kenmare St, New York


Our friend Ray Chan first introduced us to this Hong Kong seafood place near Little Italy about four to five years ago and it's become one of our favorite "comfort food" places in NYC. The restaurant has absolutely no taste in interior decorating, but who cares, they serve good lobsters!

East Boat cooks their lobsters in many styles. They have Lobster with Butter, Lobster with Ginger and Scallion, Lobster Baked with Cheese, Malaysian style Lobster (hot and sour - our favorite!) and the list goes on. Aside from its lobsters, East Boat is also famous for serving generous portions of food! People usually go to East Boat for varieties and good seafood for a reasonable price. They are also very popular with their meal sets, for example, Meal "J" that we ordered comes with Shark Fin soup (I know it's cruel, I'm trying to quit), garlic bread, salad, steamed razor clams, a Malaysian Style (or Any Style) Lobster, Salt Baked Shrimp, Fried Rice, "Sir-Loin" Chicken and Japanese Style Scallops. The meal also include ice cream for dessert. Gan and I are yaokuis so we usually go there by ourselves, but I would definitely recommend going there with family or friends to avoid overeating!!

Gan: This is comfort food for us, I guess. I still remember Sarah wasn't that big a fan of lobster or any shell fish but she does like them at selected restaurants or cuisine. This is one of it. One thing Sarah do absolutely love though is the razor clams. They serve it less often now in this restaurant. I'm guessing the market price for razor clams is too high for them to make it into their all-inclusive pricing than it used to be.

Lobster Any Style + "Sir-Loin Chicken" meal, $48.95 for two!!

Shark Fins Soup - Gan told me that these are fake/vegetarian shark fins?!

Steamed razor clams drizzled with light soy sauce and scallions. Favorite razor clams dish in NYC. It's so good that we ordered another serving. Yaokui!
Gan: Sarah's favorite. Razor clams don't usually need to be drenched in sauces. This is one perfect example of the right way to cook this.

We ate all these Food!!
Gan: We don't have lobsters often back in our hometown but it's definitely a staple of Cantonese cooking. I'm just guessing but this kind of plating is more French influenced in the old days of banquet style buffet.

Enjoying my Green Tea Ice Cream

Lobster on the wall.......err.......
Gan: lol

Lin's Taiwanese


Lin's Taiwanese Restaurant

Address: 8402 Broadway, Elmhurst NY

Phone: (718)429-4818

Shaun, Debbie, Kim, Gan and I went to have dinner at Lin's Taiwanese Restaurant in Elmhurst after Shirley's housewarming party. In our opinion, Lin's is the best Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant in NYC. We've heard that there's another Taiwanese restaurant in Flushing that is better, but since we've yet to try that place, so Lin's remains as our favorite for now.

We waited in line for quite a bit before we got a table. As soon as we sat down, Gan and I went crazy, as usual, and started ordering ALOT of food. We had some standard Taiwanese dishes such as the "San Pei Ji" (Chicken with sesame oil and basil), "Chang Wang" (intestines with preserved veggies), steamed sea bass, Bamboo shoot with shredded pork and stir-fry "Do Miao" (a type of Chinese vegetables). I wish there's a Lin's near where I work or live so that I can have my favorite dish, the bamboo shoots with shredded pork all the time!

Gan: I think this restaurant cooks the best tasting Chinese food in the NYC area. Their dishes have what we chinese call "wok hei" or "aroma of the wok". It's basically the slightly burnt smell and taste from the extreme heat from the wok. It's especially great with their veggie dishes.

Shaun and Debbie

"San Pei Ji" - Chicken with sesame oil and basil
Gan: Classic Taiwanese dish. Basil is not used as commonly in Chinese cooking but it complements well with chicken and brings out the appetite.

"Do Miao" - snow pea leaves?
Gan: The "wok hei" is prominent with this dish

Love Taiwanese cooking!

My favorite dish at Lin's -- Bamboo shoot with shredded pork
Gan: This is my favorite as well

Kim ordered this Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice, not bad actually.

Steamed sea bass
Gan: It's common to see aquariums in Chinese restaurants where they keep the fish they serve on the menu. That's as fresh as you can get.

Group picture after the dinner. It'll last me a while before my cravings for Lin's return and we'll have to drive to Elmhurst for this again.
Gan: I bet it won't be that long before we have to do this again. :-)