Casa Mono


52 Irving Place, New York

Phone: 212-253-2773

If you love food and you live in NYC, you have probably eaten at Mario Batali's Tapas Restaurant Casa Mono long time before we did. I don't know why it took so long, probably because I always call to make reservations for bigger groups and for dinners on weekends? I am sick of hearing them telling me "we are all booked" so many times, I decided to be more "kiasu", and made reservation one month ahead, and it worked!

When we finally ate at the restaurant last week, I really only liked one dish and one dessert - the fried sardines and the plum brandy ice cream. The Bacalao Croquetas, Cockles, Cock Combs, Lamb's Tongue, Whole Grilled Trout and Setas that we ordered, were really just alright. No, actually the Setas was TOO SALTY that I have to drink water to flush it down. Perhaps it was because we went crazy and ordered mainly exotic dishes such as cockles, cock combs and lamb's tongue, instead of ordering the more regular and "normal" dishes such as duck, steak and chicken, that we didn't get to taste the actual good dishes? But our friend Oi Yen, who had been to Casa Mono before, agreed that the food was not as good as it used to be.

Maybe this is a case of an ambitious chef trying to do too many things at the same time, having so many restaurants in the city under his belt, doing cooking shows, writing books etc. The only Mario Batali restaurant that Gan and I really liked is perhaps Babbo, but even with that, we thought the food was salty. And Lupa was a waste of money; we rather line up an hour at Tomoe Sushi next door, than eating there next time. But maybe the "normal" food at Casa Mono might taste better, since so many people raved about the restaurants. So I am not counting it out, just yet. We will go back and give it another try, but probably not anytime soon.

waiting for a table patiently with my yaokui friends

Sardinas Fritas

Lamb's Tongue with Mint Alioli

Cockles with Huevos Revueltos and Summer Squash

Quail with Figs

Grilled Whole Trout with Tomatoes Vinaigrette

Bacalao Croquetas with Orange Alioli

Cock's combs with Cepes - tasted like mushrooms

Plum Brandy Ice Cream Arrope and Almonds

Casa Mono on Urbanspoon

Halal Cart

Address: Across the street from Au Bon Pain

Compared to NYC, there are not many dining options in Jersey City. It does not make any sense since Jersey City has so many corporate offices and the people working here (like myself) have to eat lunch too, right? So if you are thinking of your next restaurant venture, please consider opening up one in Jersey City?

There are only a number of places which Gan and I like to get our lunch from. One of them is this Halal lunch cart that sells superb chicken over rice. I have heard from friends working around midtown that there is also this very famous Halal cart. I have yet to try it so I have can’t do any comparison between the two. But the cart in jersey city is also extremely popular; there is always a long line during lunch time, and the chicken over rice dish is most popular and is usually sold out by 1.30pm.

I have no idea what kind of spices they use to marinate the chicken and I doubt they will want to share the recipes with me, but I think the yellow rice and the hot sauce + white sauce make the dish so delicious. I usually cannot finish a whole plate of food (during lunch), but anytime I get this for lunch, I completely devour everything in the takeout box. It is high in calories, but it is awesome, and cheap, $6 :)

I was negotiating with the guy to let me take pictures of his cart and he told me it's ok as long as I feature him in my blog since he's single. lol

My lunch box - chicken over rice with salad and white and hot sauce

* pictures taken using iphone



9 Jones Street (btw West 4 and Bleecker), New York


Ever since we saw Harold Deterle competed in Season One Top Chef, we have been hoping that the talented chef would open a restaurant in NYC. Our prayers were answered when Perilla was opened in the West Village neighborhood about a year ago. However, we only got a chance to eat there on Tuesday night due to our very long to-try-list of other restaurants. But hey, better late than never!

The food is seasonal American. We ordered the Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly and his signature dish, the Spicy Duck meatballs for appetizers. As for entrĂ©es, we had the Roasted Duckling, Oil Poached Chatham Cod and Grilled Hanger Steak. Gan and I really liked the Crispy Pork Belly appetizer, and I thought the dish reminded me of the Crispy Suckling Pig dish from home, which we only eat on special occasions. The spicy duck meatballs with sprinkles of mint and a raw quail egg on it was delicious; But the dish would have been perfect if he makes it into a soup dish. The oil poached cod with sambal-like toppings was just ok. Personally, I thought it didn’t have the “kick” I was looking for in a fish dish presented like a Malaysian or South East Asian style Ikan Bakar (grilled fish). He could have been more adventurous with spices and flavors since he trained with some of the best chefs in Thailand.

The Roasted Duckling was cooked well, although the mustard greens, barley, pistachios, golden currants, crispy pork fat (secret to awesome Malaysian Chinese cooking) and ginger sauce did nothing to enhance the duckling’s flavor. All of us (including Eu Wen) agreed that the grilled prime hanger steak was the best dish we ordered that day. It was juicy, delicious and the red shallot puree and natural jus complemented the steak nicely.

I was surprised to find out that the restaurant was half empty when we went there, given the Chef's popularity. I guess most New Yorkers who did not follow the Top Chef series probably would not know Perilla and its talented Chef. On top of that, the restaurant's location is hidden in a quiet section of West Village. Harold really needs to step up and differentiate himself from the other chefs, perhaps utilize more of his training from Thailand and take more risks in his cooking. Relying solely on the “Top Chef” title is just not enough for New York City.

Spicy Duck Meatballs with mint cavatelli, water spinach, quail egg

Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly with pea tendrils, trumpets & banyuls-vanilla gastrique

Local Creamed Corn with snipped garlic chives and Edamame Falafel with lemon-tahini sauce

Roasted Duckling with mustard greens, barley, pistachios, golden currants & ginger sauce

Romesco Oil Poached Chatham Cod with black olive gnocchi, oyster mushrooms & summer zucchini saucesauce

Grilled Prime Hanger Steak with cauliflower creamed spinach, red shallot puree & natural jus

Vanilla Scented Doughnuts and peach compote filling & sour cream curd

Perilla on Urbanspoon

Yakitori Torys


251 West 55th Street, 2nd Floor, New York

Phone: 212-245-4555

This was actually my second time eating at Yakitori Torys, but I was just as impressed with the food second time around. I also liked that the restaurant is not as crowded as other yakitori places, and we could easily get a table even for big groups. And the best thing is, you can stay as long as you like and they would not rush you like in Aburiya Kinnosuke.

The usual yakitori skewers such as chicken, chicken skin, beef tongue, lamb chops are really good, and you have to absolultely try the grilled squid at Torys. We ordered two plates of that dish because it was so delicious! This not a cheap yakitori place where you'd go every evening after work, but you can definitely count on them for fresh, good quality meat/seafood/veggies etc skewers.

Tuna liver paste with cream cheese

Chicken skewers

Grilled Squid - my favorite!!

Lamb Chops