: 240 Central Park South New York, NY

Phone: 212-582-5100

If you have read my posting on the Convivio restaurant in Tudor City, you'll know that Gan and I (as well as many of our yaokui friends) are big fans of Convivio and its chef/owner Michael White. We kept going back to Convivio for its consistently well executed and reasonably priced Southern Italian fare that we almost neglected his newly opened, already awarded one Michelin star seafood restaurant Marea, until now. While Convivio serves Southern Italian dishes and his other restaurant, Alto does Northern Italian, Marea serves mainly seafood with a limited selections of meat dishes for the carnivores out there. Some people compared Marea to Le Bernardin, but I feel although Marea serves exceptional seafood, it is no Le Bernardin. You can clearly see the 2 Michelin star gaps between Le Bernardin and Marea in its consistency across the menu. Having said that, the single Michelin star which Marea had garnered is certainly well deserved and had provided itself a great platform to continue to improve. Note: If you're feeling sorry for chef Michael White, don't. He's one of the most successful restaurateurs in the city, with a total of 4 Michelin Stars (2 for Alto, 1 for Convivio and 1 for Marea). To put it in perspective, legendary New York City chefs Eric Ripert only has a total of 3, Daniel Boulud has a total of 4, and Mario Batali has a total of 2. Tom Collicchio has 0.

OSTRICHE east and west coast oysters served with morellino mignonette & cucumber-lemon vinegar. Not part of menu

Just like Convivio, Marea has a rather utilitarian menu which is divided into crudo, ostriche, antipasti, pasta, secondi di pesce and carne. You can order dishes a la carte or the recommended $89 Four Course Prix Fixe which includes a choice each from the Crudo, Ostriche, or Antipasto (Appetizer) / Pasta / Pesce or Carne (Entree) / Dolce (Desert) section. I recommend going with the four course prix fix, which is always a good value in Michael White's restaurants. But be mindful that the portions of some dishes at Marea can be much bigger than the ones at Convivio. I didn't know that and ordered some of the heaviest dishes on the menu, ended up having a tough time finishing everything on the plate.

UOVO slow poached egg, crispy monkfish cheeks, wild mushrooms, garlic chips

SPAGHETTI crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil

BRODETTO DI PESCE adriatic seafood soup, clams, langoustine, scallop, spot prawns, snapper

I had Uovo, which is a slow poached egg with crispy monkfish cheeks, wild mushrooms and garlic chips; spaghetti with crab, santa barbara sea urchin; and a huge bowl of brodetto di pesce for main entree. Among these three dishes, monkfish cheeks antipasti and crab and sea urchin spaghetti were my favorites. I like that they play with contrast in texture in this dish -- crispy monkfish cheeks paired with a smooth and runny poached egg. And oh my god, the spaghetti with crab and sea urchin was insane! Michael White is a pasta god. His handmade pastas are officially my favorite pastas especially those served with sea urchin!

ASTICE nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto, basil

FERRATINI manila clams, calamari, hot chilies

SCAMPI langoustine (new zealand) seared

AFFOGATO zabaglione gelato, espresso and amaro

Gan ordered Astice, which is nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant al funghetto and basil which he thought was really fresh and appetizing. He wasn't too crazy about his pasta dish Ferratini with manila clams, calamari and hot chilies. The dish was too light and a little bland in flavor even though the brightly colored red chili was in abundance. His order of seared New Zealand Langoustine scampi was somewhat of a disappointment. Slightly overcooked and with little meat to chew on. For dessert, I love Michael White's Affogato at Convivio and both Gan and I ordered that in Marea as well. It's like a higher end version of the same dolce dish in Convivio. A perfect Italian palate cleanser to finish up the meal.

ZUPPA lobster and butternut squash soup, porcini mushrooms, brown butter (other dishes ordered by the table)

BRANZINO seared wild striped bass, marinated salsify, roasted brussel sprouts, fresh pancetta, saba (other dishes ordered by the table)

PANNA COTTA vanilla bean panna cotta, lemon verbena sauce, blueberry sorbet (other dishes ordered by the table)

Marea is definitely more expensive and extravagant than Convivio and it's a daring venture when times are not that great. But just like the Romans do not build their empire by being conservative, Michael White is charging ahead with expansion of his own empire in the NYC culinary world. After being rewarded with the various accolades within just a year of its opening, and already gaining loyal customers, I think Chris Cannon and Michael White had done it again. Oh how I wish I have an expense account like the real food critics out there!

Marea on Urbanspoon

Happy Birthday Txikito!


We've been going to Txikito for about half a year now, and it's one of our favorite restaurants in the city. Our friends love it too. Bartender Brian and manager Brett are amazing and always making sure that customers are well taken care of. Owners Alex and Eder are two very talented chefs who never fail to impress us with their signature dish and specials. The quality of the txokos at Txikito are also amazing; I still vividly remember the txoko co-hosted by guest chefs Ruben Garcia, Ramon Martinez, Will Goldfarb and Dave Cruz earlier this year and the dishes these chefs prepared. Among our favorites were baby sea cucumber with praline sauce by Ruben Garcia and Ramon Martinez from Jose Andres Think Food Group and wild Alaskan Halibut and Shellfish cream by Dave Cruz of Ad Hoc (a Thomas Keller's restaurant) supported by the Nobu crew. I missed Ashley Christensen's txoko in August because of Britney's concert (regrettably), but Gan couldn't stop raving about Ashley's dishes, especially the trio tomato soup.

Txikito is honestly one of the best thing that happened to NYC food scene. Thanks for making these past six months so "food" memorable for us yaokuis and we are looking forward to more good food and great times at Txikito. Zorianak!

Photos of food we ate at Txikito on November 15:

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Krave Truck Korean BBQ


Hudson between Grand and York Street, Jersey City (Day)
Columbus and Marin, Jersey City (Evening)

For some of us here in NYC metro area who can't wait for LA's Kogi Korean BBQ Truck to arrive in the city (rumored arrival - 2010), Krave Korean BBQ is the answer to our prayers, at least to the jersey city folks for now. Of course, Krave does not have high caliber chef like Roy Choi (a Le Bernardin alum) nor does it have the same variety/creativity of the korean+mexican street food served at Kogi - think Kogi dog (hot dog) and black jack quesadilla, but the guys who cook at Krave definitely know their Korean BBQ meat, they are delicious! It used to be that Krave only serves dinner near Grove Street Path Station in the evening, but recently they join the line of amazing lunch trucks at Hudson Street. It didn't take too long for people to find out about Krave and its delicious Korean BBQ meat so lines are definitely forming (and getting longer each day) during lunch time at Krave's Truck!

Korean Taco and BBQ rice platter. BBQ rice platter with kimchi and a pick of 2 meats - spicy pork, sesame chicken and kalbi or Korean Taco and BBQ sampler ($10 with 3 meats and drinks).

BBQ pork and kalbi beef over rice with kimchi

Luke's Lobster


93 E 7th Street, New York, NY

Phone: 212-387-8487

Seems like lately New Yorkers are crazy about Lobster rolls, again. It used to be that Pearl Oyster Bar, Mary Fish Camp and Mermaid Inn are the few good places in the city to grab good lobster rolls. But nowadays, you can go to Ed's Lobster Bar, Lure Fishbar and Ditch Plains for excellent seafood and lobster rolls. I haven't been to Lure Fishbar and Ditch Plains but Chef Paul Liebrandt from Corton gave those two places pretty good scores during his lobster roll tasting tour and his favorite was the one from Mary Fish Camp.

Gan and I definitely prefer Ed's Lobster Bar more than any other places; our friend Yao Hua brought us to Ed's a few years ago and we never went to other places for lobster rolls ever since (plus the wait at Ed's is shorter). We like Ed's Lobster roll because the lobster is fresh and well seasoned, and the roll is always nicely toasted. We also like that the lobster roll is light and refreshing but still satisfying.

At $27-$30 per lobster roll, we can't go to Ed's anytime we want. So I was especially excited when I found out there's a new lobster place in town that promises fresh lobster from Maine at affordable prices ($8/$14). The verdict? Luke's lobster rolls is definitely cheaper, but we were abit underwhelmed. We thought it was a little under seasoned and did not have enough mayo (maybe because "butter, mayo and seasoning are optional"?). But we like the bread alot, it was one of the better lobster roll's bread out there.

Since the restaurant is sandwiched in between caracas arepa and caracas arepa take out store, the space is tiny and there's not much dining-in space. It's definitely not a place for big groups. Although the best thing about Luke's (at least to me) is that the place is open till 1am on Friday and Saturday! Another place for me to pick up midnight snacks in the city!

Luke's Lobster on Urbanspoon

Bouchon Bakery


10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY

Phone: 212-823-9364

After a disappointing lunch at Marlow & Sons, Gan and I were just driving aimlessly in the city, thinking of the next thing to eat. For some reasons, Gan just kept driving uptown and before we knew it, we were arriving near the Time Warner Building. Perhaps unconsciously we were both gravitated towards getting some goodies from Bouchon Bakery. But more amazingly, we managed to get a free parking right next to the building almost as soon as we arrived there!

In case you didn't know, Per Se and Bouchon Bakery actually shares the same pastry kitchen so it's the same people making the pastries for both Per Se and Bouchon Bakery. There are three Bouchon Bakeries in the country; the original Bouchon Bakery is located in Thomas Keller's "headquarter" in Yountville CA (a few blocks away from French Laundry), and another one at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. I still vividly remember the taste of hand crafted chocolate candies and nougats Per Se restaurant gave me for my birthday after dining there. To me, Bouchon Bakery is by far the best French Bakery in the city; the pastries there are as good as those I had at Laduree and Stohrer in Paris.

Gan and I decided to have the caramel apple, muffin, madeleines, fig and pistachio macarons and granola parfait to go since the seating area was quite packed. We just ate the caramel apple while watching Yankee-Angels game at home, and decided to save our macarons and the rest of the goodies for breakfast and tea time tomorrow. It's gonna be a good day!

Bouchon Bakery's Foie Gras Dog Biscuits for your four legged friend, anyone?

I almost wanted to order everything. I really wanted the doughnuts, croissant, coffee cake, bow tie, etc......

cookies, tarts, macarons...

Hello fig and pistachio macarons!

I love caramel apple, but this was just ok. I thought the apple wasn't crunchy enough.

Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon

Pair like a Pro: French Connection @ The Standard


I've always thought New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Food & Wine magazine and Travel & Leisure magazine was the sister event of Food & Wine Classic Aspen, but it's actually the sister event of Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. New York City Wine & Food festival was founded to benefit hunger relief organizations like Food Bank for New York City and Share our Strength. And even though the festival was just two year old, it's been able to attract some of the most famous chefs/food tv personalities. Looking at the festival's website, it's hard not to notice the star-studded lineup -- Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, David Chang, Alain Ducasse were some of the well known chefs who took part in this year's festival.

If you happened to be around meatpacking district or Dumbo area on Oct 8-11, you probably noticed the areas were literally transformed into a food wonderland filled Foodies and food enthusiasts from everywhere. Tickets to the individual events can be purchased in advance, and there's an overwhelming selection of events to choose from: culinary demonstration by famous chefs, sushi rolling class, wine pairing class, dinner with famous chefs etc. I wasn't planning to attend any of the event this year (or last year) because the tickets were pretty expensive. But since my friend Wenwen won a pair of tickets from serious eats to attend Dovetail's John Fraser and master sommelier Andrea Robinson's "Pair like a pro: French Connection" event in the Standard Hotel, I finally got a chance to check it out.

Our event was on Oct 11, a Sunday afternoon and I arrived a little late on the day of the event because of delayed service at Path Train (Yes I know, no excuse). Fortunately, I only missed the introduction and Andrea Robinson was just starting to explain the types of wine when I walked in (she picked a total of 6 different wine). Throughout the event, we tasted 5 different bite size dishes on the tasting plate prepared by Dovetail's Chef/owner John Fraser paired with the wine Andrea picked.

I really loved all the wine Andrea Robinson had chosen for us; It was one of the best Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah that I have tried. The always reliable Albrecht Gran Cru Riesling Pfingtsberg 2004 and Chateau La Louviere Blanc matched especially well with Chef Fraser's wonderfully prepared oysters with grapefruit and sunchokes, and shrimp sausage with cardamon and sour cherries. And the Pinot Noir, Etienne Sauzet Cahssagne-Montrachet 2007 complemented Chef Fraser's beef cheek lasagna and casoulet croquette perfectly. The casoulet croquette, which was made with four types of pork: guanciale, panchetta, baby pig's leg and bacon was just plain amazing.

Wine pairing is definitely an art that will take me a long time to learn and acquire. I didn't expect to be an expert after attending this event, nevertheless, I did learn that successful wine pairing is about complementing food with flavors, texture, body and acidity of the wine. Also, this events confirms that red with red and white with white do not always work since it also depends on the way the food was cook (ie. type of sauce, seasoning, spices). Sounds complicated right? It is. I think I'll just leave it to the sommelier to pick my wine next time I dine at a restaurant.

Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson

Chef John Fraser

Wenwen and myself at the event

Lucinda Burrito & Taco Truck


: Parked daily on Hudson @ York in Jersey City

Phone: 201-484-0566

I have been going to Lucinda for its fish tacos and grilled skirt steak tacos for sometime now. It used to be two ladies cooking at Lucinda Truck but the new owners are now Chris and Natasha. Equally nice, and tacos are equally good. The fish and grilled skirt steak tacos there are delicious but small, so be sure to order two if you are hungry. It usually takes some time to cook the tacos so call ahead so you don't have to wait too long. Lucinda's chips, salsa and guacamole is also awesome, but I haven't seen it on the menu for a long time! Maybe it's time to bring it back? :)

Owner Chris and Natasha



60 3rd Avenue, New York, NY

Phone: 212-254-0888

Despite the recent buzz, Apiary was actually opened in fall of 2008 by Jenny Moon (who used to worked as an executive assistant to Chef Daniel Boulud) and two partners from Ligne Roset, who were responsible for the lovely decor at the restaurant. At that time, a veteran NYC Chef, Neil Manacle, who used to be Bobby Flay's sidekick and ran three of Flay's restaurant was hired as the executive chef. It was said that the food at Apiary under Neil Manacle was inconsistent and diners were more intrigued by the restaurant's interior than the food. So that probably explains why I only took notice of Apiary after Scott Bryan from Veritas replaced Neil Manacle in Spring of 09 and I guess so did many other fans of Scott Bryan.

Apiary restaurant, despite its name, has nothing to do with bee yard and anything bee related. It's just a neighborhood restaurant that emphasizes on good, simple, seasonal American food created by chef Scott Bryan. A bunch of us went there during restaurant week to take advantage of the restaurant week menu, but I just recently found out that the restaurant is now offering $35 three course prix fixe menu Sunday through Thursday, and Monday is "No Corkage" night.
When I ate there, I was really impressed by the Tuscan mushroom soup, it was hearty and the parmesan and mushroom soup combination was delightful. The rest of the appetizers, diver scallops and hamachi crudo were also crowd pleaser, and everyone was looking forward to main dish after those impressive appetizers. I ordered roasted organic chicken since I wanted to see how good Apiary cooks chicken. It was actually not bad, pretty juicy, but I would only ranked it the third best roasted chicken after Nougatine and Locande Verde since the meat at these places were more flavorful then Apiary's. The skate was cooked well, but I wasn't crazy about the smoked bacon razor clam chowder and fish combination, it was a little heavy for me. Regrettably, I didn't pay too much attention to the amazing vanilla panna cotta dessert that I had ordered. I was actually too distracted by the appearance of Scott Conant of Scarpetta at the restaurant, and was trying the whole time to get good shots of the "Scotts" across the dining room. But Gan and other my friends who ate there that night would tell you that they thoroughly enjoyed the dishes at Apiary.

It's been a while since I was at Apiary and I wonder how the restaurant is doing now. But I believe they'll be fine they now have the right chef, the right food at the right price, a successful combination that will make it work this time. Needless to say, I will be back to Apiary next time for more good food. Just pray that no one famous (like Anthony Bourdain) walks in again and distract me from the food!

Diver Sea Scallops with eggplant caviar, chorizo oil, upland pepper cres

Hamachi Crudo with avocado, hearts of palm, jalapeno

Tuscan Mushroom Soup with sour dough croutons, parmesan

Atlantic Skate with smoked bacon razor clam chowder, corn, tarragon

Roasted Organic Chicken with mascarpone polenta, spring peas, carrots, tarragon jus

Confit of Duck Leg with parsnip puree, caramelized endive

vanilla panna cotta

Apiary on Urbanspoon

Louisiana Spice Truck


: Near Harborside Financial Center Plaza 2, Jersey City

Phone: 718-938-1628

So my wish came true. There's a new lunch truck "in town", and it serves awesome Louisiana creole food! Having never been to Louisiana, my experience with creole food was only through eating at Emeril's New Orlean Fish House restaurant in Las Vegas and Mardi Gras restaurant in Forest Hills Queens. I like the spices and complex taste of creole food - it's like French, Spanish, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, African cuisine all infused into one cuisine, in a good way. Some of my favorite creole dishes are shrimp creole, jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish bisque... you can say that creole food and my taste bud just clicked.

Since I no longer live in Queens, and it's been ages since I visited Las Vegas (or I should really visit New Orleans), I don't get to eat in a creole restaurant as much as I would like to. So it was a sweet surprise when I discovered Jessie's Louisiana Spice truck on my way home one day, I think I've been praying hard enough for a new place to eat in Jersey City. Jessie had been living and working as a chef in Paris for many years, so it's our good fortune that he decided to start a lunch truck in Jersey City. His menu changes, but you can count on him for mouth watering jambalaya at any given day.

If you work in Jersey City and you are looking for something new and nice for lunch, Louisiana Spice truck is the place for you. Check out the website or follow him on twitter for the latest menu/news. Why settle for the same old pasta, pizza, sandwich or soup for lunch when you can get exciting dishes like chicken and sausage gumbo, brisket, pulled pork, pineapple cheesecake, chocolate bread pudding, creme anglais,
red bean and rice and banana pudding?!

my first lunch box from Louisiana Spice Truck. Jambalaya with chicken and Andouille sausage and rice.

Chicken Gumbo!