Throwback Thursday – Villa Erasmo – Middle Village, NY

It is been awhile since I posted something food related. There were several projects that were going on simultaneously in the last six months. One of these projects was serving as a committee member for my local parish’s Jubilee gala. To celebrate the successful execution of the event, the committee was treated to a four course prix fixe dinner at Villa Erasmo located in Middle Village, N.Y.

Villa Erasmo (69-61 Juniper Blvd South Middle Village, NY 11379) is a secret find Italian restaurant located past Juniper Valley Park.  

We went on a Tuesday night and I was 45 minutes, thanks to a broken rail at one subway stops. Anyways, the four course meal was good overall, but have had better versions of each dish. The bread was very very good.  Portions of each dish were perfect where there were no leftovers. Service was overall great and very accommodating. I would personally like to return to thr restaurant and explore the rest of the menu. 

Here’s the four course meal that I ordered: 

Appetizers: Eggplant rollatini and butternut squash agnolotti. 

The eggplant rollatini was a good start to the dinner experience. It had a the right amount of cheese and eggplant balance. It hit the spot. 

Butternut squash agnolotti was something I did not expect. The dish looked like two ravioli, this was my least favorite dish. 

Entree: Veal with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

The veal entree was also unexpected but in a good and healthy way. The taste of the veal, mushroom and artichoke hearts all together in sauce was well balanced especially eating it together in one bite. 

Dessert: Tiramisu

The dessert definitely hit the spot with a great balance of whipped cream, cocoa and rum. The dessert definitely went well with a cup of tea to end the night as the restaurant was closing. 

Eggplant rollatini

Butternut squash

Veal entree with mushrooms and artichoke hearts

Tiramisu

Stay tuned for more food adventures both at home and on the road. 

Throwback Thursday – Pizzeria Forno E Trattoria

Earlier this spring I decided to try a neighborhood spot in Maspeth NY called Pizzeria Forno e Trattoria. I always pass by during my bus ride to Jackson Heights or doing my walk. The restaurant felt cozy and homey. The food looked really good and fresh. I even got overwhelmed with the options that I had to get recommendations from the manager and owner. 

So my guilty pleasure is cheese, I love cheese so given my cheese craving that day everything ordered had cheese in it. Therefore is what I ordered. 

Top photo: CREPE DI SPINACI $8.50 Crepe stuffed with ricotta and spinach topped with white four cheese sauce. 

Overall the dish was to die for the stuffed crepe just melts in my mouth and tasted all five kinds of cheese. It hit the spot. 

Bottom photo: Half Sopressata and half Quattro Formaggi pizza pie $23.50 

The pizza pie was freshly made and the pie crust was perfectly thin. I did not feel guilty consuming four different cheeses and the spicy salami. 

Flashback Friday – Dosas

Happy Friday! Although it is National Dessert Day, I have been fascinated about the popular Indian street food – Dosa.  When I first saw this dish, I was overwhelmed by the how big it is.  It is mostly served as a meal for a good part of the day.  Personally I have consumed it as an early dinner.

Dosas also known as Dosai is an ancient Tamil dish.  This gluten free, vegetarian street food dish is made up of rice and lentils.  Therefore, there are health benefits in its consumption.   Dosas are a good source of carbohydrates and protein that will last the whole day.  It is a lengthy process to make dosas and I don’t think that I will be making one anytime soon.  Therefore, I will be leaving this up to the pros.

Recently, I have had the experience of consuming this vegetarian dish at two places in New York City.   One famous spot world is Saravana Bhavan.  There are two locations in New York City (Manhattan).  This restaurant does not need an introduction because it is well known throughout India; the establishment of this franchise was made a controversial person who is banned from leaving India because he was convicted of murder.  This is to show that as long the food is good it does not matter where it originated from. But if you don’t want to be traumatized,  I visited another spot, which is located in Queens called Hillside Dosa Hutt.  This neighborhood spot is in the heart of the Indian community. The cashier that served us was hospitable and knowledgeable about Dosas.  Hillside Dosa Hutt was recently listed on the Eater list of the top 60 cheap eats places in NYC. 

Hillside Dosa Hutt – Marsala Dosa $5.50 (Top Left) and Paneer Bhurji Masala Dosa $9.00 (Bottom left) Saravana Bhavan $9.99- Marsala Dosa (Top right)  and Onion Chili Rava Dosa $10.99 (Bottom right)

Portions of each dosa were huge. I have not been able to finish a whole dosa in one sitting.  If you want more variety then Saravan Bhavan is the place to go, but for a quick meal on a budget then Hillside Dosa Hutt will suffice. 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday- Family Style Chinese food

Ever since I was a child I would have family style Chinese food. This is not your typical Chinese American cuisine. Majority of authentic Chinese restaurant are identified based on the number of Chinese customers eating there. There are two family style Chinese cuisine I have eaten at, both in Elmhurst. Every year I always have to celebrate my birthday with Chinese food. I grew up with the belief of consuming noodles on my birthday signifying long life.  When I eat at these family style Chinese restaurants I always request an order of pan fried noodles. Recently I had a craving a found a recipe to make it on own, which was recently posted here under Traditional Tuesday. In addition to the pan fried noodles we would order a crusted t-bone steak and honey walnut shrimp.

The top collage was taken place at China Pearl Chinese Restaurant, one of the original Chinese restaurants in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $300.

The bottom collage was taken place at the recently opened Broadway Seafood Chinese Restaurant also located in Elmhurst. Total meal cost including tip was $170.

The major differences between the two restaurants is the quality of food. China Pearl had the better house special soup, steak and honey shrimp walnut while Broadway Seafood had more street food options such as lamb chops and roast pig and duck and soy sauce chicken.

The pan fried noodles with seafood is better at Broadway Seafood than in China Pearl.

Stay tuned for more eating journeys…

Flashback Friday – Pho Bang 

Happy Friday! One of my family’s favorite spots to eat on a lazy night of cooking is Pho Bang, a Vietnamese restaurant in Elmhurst, NY. This restaurant also has several locations, one in Flushing and the other in Chinatown. The restaurant accepts cash only but it is a great family spot especially for quick and cheap family dinners. The dishes are not only cheap, but it has been recognized as one of the top restaurants in Elmhurst by Zagat.

My father would end up with the bill and from my recollection of the costs the total including tax was less than $30 for three people.  Even better the portions are family style! 

The awesome thing about this restaurant is their prep and presentation of their beef and abundance of vegetables. There are variety of pho to choose from, but we usually go with the Tai Chin Nam Gan Sach without the rice noodles, which is a beef soup with fresh eye round, navel, tendon and omosa. The dish comes with noodles, but we love the flavor of the beef broth plus it is carb free. The beef just cooks in the hot broth as it is served to maintain its tenderness. The vegetables of bean sprouts and mint with lemon enhanced the flavor of this refreshing hot soup. 

Another dish that we love to order is a specialty called Nam Nuong which grilled pork hash balls that come with picked carrots, shallot and radishes along with steamed rice wrappers and green leaf lettuce. This dish is refreshing and versatile where you can use the rice wrapper and place the ingredients in it. You can even go paleo and do without the rice wrapper and use the lettuce to make a wrap. 

Pho and Nam Nuong

Other dishes to try include their spring rolls which are made out of rice wrapper. Can’t go wrong with the summer roll, bun (rice vermecelli) dishes and grilled pork chops. 

Last month a fire broke into the restaurant. The restaurant is currently closed but it is undergoing renovations. Can’t wait to return to this restaurant once it opens again. In the meantime, check out the other Pho Bang restaurants in Flushing and Chinatown. 

Flashback Friday – Esquared Hospitality making its mark in Queens & Manhattan

Summer is going by way too fast! I have had the privilege to recently dine at Champions Bar & Grill located inside the grounds of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.  In order to eat at this restaurant, reservations were required.  In addition, only Loge and Promenade Season Subscription Ticket Holders with a restaurant pass were allowed.  As one can tell, this was a splurge lunch.  Normally, this post will be placed on the “Throwback Thursday” section of this blog, but an exception has to be made as the US Open will wrap up this Sunday 9/11.

After meeting with the chef and staff, I was overwhelmed by the high quality dishes offered.  After the chef’s suggestions, I decided to go with the lighter fare section and ordered the Grilled Asian kobe skirt steak salad ($34) with french fries ($12).  Taking full advantage of the experience, I burned the wallet(s) more by ordering a Moet Chandron Rose Champagne ($28).  20160830_144740

The meal was presented as I expected – classic David Burke (DB) style.  French fries on their little metal baskets.  The fries were not as crispy as I expected, I always eat their fries and so far the best french fries I have had from them were from David Burke Townhouse.  The kobe skirt steak did not melt in my mouth as I thought it did because I ordered it medium instead of medium rare.  Portions were filling and the champagne complemented the meal.  Staff and General Managers (GM) were accommodating.

Previous to my US Open experience, I have eating at BLT Prime in Gramercy back in January for the Signature Series  Event and that was a splurge dinner of $175 per person.

On a more wallet friendly side, I have eaten at BLT Steak in Midtown East where I have ordered a prosecco ($15).  I have had two specials: the rock tempura shrimp (don’t recall the price; it was a one day special) and the duck liver mousse pate (complimentary tasting from the Executive Chef).  Plus, I ordered the duck fat hash browns ($12) and for dessert I went with the Chef’s suggestion of the “banana cream” cream puffs ($12).  The duck fat hash brown dish was a side dish that is filling and comforting enough that it could be a main entree.  But the cream puffs were the perfect ending to my meal as its balanced sweetness of the bananas and cream covered up the pungent and rich flavors of the duck liver and fat.

Even though my food selections at the restaurants were not the healthiest, but the quality of food given for the amount paid was well worth it.

Chef David Burke has announced on social media that he will be opening the BLT Prime by David Burke in Washington D.C. and Tavern 62 at the former Fishtail by David Burke restaurant in New York City.  I am also excited to explore the other sister restaurants especially Casa Nonna and By Chloe.

Till then stay tuned!

Flashback Friday – Neirs Tavern

Happy Friday!! It’s been over a month since my last post, which was on an American holiday Memorial Day.  After a month of being MIA due to several food exploration dishes, I am back on the first of July – 4th of July weekend.  To begin:

Happy Birthday America!! To celebrate food and American history, let’s explore an historic venue in American history.  This venue is not in Washington D.C. or in downtown Manhattan, but in Woodhaven, Queens.

Almost 6 weeks ago I took my parents to the oldest tavern in US history now – Neir’s Tavern.  Actually I heard about this tavern from a segment that aired on $9.99 with Dave Evans where he had the tavern’s famous coldest beer in New York City.

Neir’s Tavern opened in 1829 and was restored in 2009.  The tavern has made several appearance in famous movies such as Goodfellas and Tower Heist.  I have had the privilege of meeting the tavern’s owner at the recent Queens Taste event & samples their cotton candy wings.

When I took my parents to the tavern, the location of it was not ideal but we were lucky to find parking.  Once we arrived, I felt the historical presence that this tavern has.  I definitely took advantage of the happy hour special of the $3 draft cold beer.  Also, I discovered that the tavern also has $5 lunch special that is a steal.

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Happy Hour Draft Beer $3

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BBQ Jack Wings $7.95

To start, we ordered the BBQ Jack Wings ($7.95), they were perfectly fried with the right amount of sauce.  Other popular wings also include Cotton Candy Wings, Teriyaki wings and Thai Chili Honey Wings both for the same price!

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“Tower Heist” Sandwich $9.95

My dad is a huge steak person so every non-Thai or non-Filipino restaurant he looks for the steak options.  The only option he had was the “Tower Heist” sandwich, obviously named after the movie “Tower Heist”, which is an open face steak sandwich with lettuce and tomato.  It comes with fries and cole slaw.   The steak tasted similar to a roast beef sandwich, so it was my least favorite.

After reading the food reviews of the tavern and there were rave reviews on the burgers.  Therefore, my mother and I ordered two burgers that were named after an actress Mae West, who got her start in this tavern and the classic movie “Goodfellas”.  My mother settled for the “Mae West” burger, which is made up of angus beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mushrooms along with cole slaw & fries.  Her burger was good, fries were not as crispy as I have had in the past and cole slaw had an acidic, sour and tangy twist that is unique from the cole slaws I have had in the past.

Finally, I went for the popular “Goodfellas” burger, another burger to add to the growing list of burgers I have had in recent years.  The “Goodfellas” burger consisted of an angus burger with grilled tomato, onions, pepper jack cheese and chipotle honey mayo.  The burger also came with fries and cole slaw.  The burger could have cleanly presently and huge that it had to be dissected with a fork & knife.  The burger overall was flavorful especially with the mayo and pepper jack cheese.

At the end of this high protein dinner, the overall service was good, but they were short staff where the bartender was also our server.  I would definitely return especially for lunch and explore the variety of wings they offer.

 

Flashback Friday – Ayada

Happy Friday, after a week of planning and cooking healthy meals on a budget for Cinco de Mayo, it is time to head to one of my favorite Thai restaurants to date.  Ayada Thai is a neighborhood gem and a great place to eat with a group of friends.  I usually take my relatives from out of town here and even have held small birthday parties here.

Ayada Thai is located in Elmhurst, Queens.  The restaurant offers authentic, affordable and tasty Thai food that will feed an entire family.  The restaurant received a lot of press and awards for their amazing cuisine.  They have been covered by ABC NewsNew York TimesVillage Voice, New York Magazine, and even was voted as one of the best Cheap Eats and best Thai Restaurants in Zagat.  More importantly they received recognition of  Bib Gourmands by Michelin Star.

I can definitely testify to Ayada’s success by the food portion and quality of food that is provided to us.  Below are images of my family and my personal favorite dishes:

BBQ Pork $10

BBQ Beef $10

Satay Chicken $7

Shrimp in a Blanket $5

Crispy Chinese Watercress Salad $15

Crispy Catfish Salad $15

Shrimp Pad Thai $11

Chicken Pad Thai $9

Beef Pad Cee Eiw $9

Fried Banana (only sold on Saturdays)

Thai Ice Tea $3

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1) BBQ Pork 2) Beef Pad Cee Eiw 3) Fried Banana (sold on weekends), 4) Crispy Catfish Salad, 5) BBQ Beef and BBQ Pork 6) Chicken Satay and Shrimp in a Blanket, 7) Crispy Watercress Salad, 8) Shrimp Pad Thai

Best times to go is during lunch and early dinner before 7pm.  I have not tried their lunch special yet because I work on the weekdays.  Given that half of my heritage is Thai I can testify to the authenticity and taste of the food.  Food is overall consistent and I will definitely return for another family meal.

Throwback Thursday – Budget Date Night – Himalayan Yak

Happy Thursday!! A few weeks ago decided to finally try Himalayan cuisine.  I went on a date at Himalayan Yak located in Jackson Heights, Queens.  This restaurant is an eclectic mix of Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine.  Side note: this restaurant was on the scene of ABC TV series Ugly Betty.

The first dish we ordered were “Momos”, which are Tibetan dumpling made of a thick dough containing meat and vegetables.  There are also vegetarian momos as well.  We ordered the steamed momos, one set comes with pork and vegetable ($7) and the other only had vegetables ($7.95).  The food is served with julienned pickled carrots, which were spicy along with three different sauces equivalent to condiments from an Indian restaurant.    These momos were good and the consistency of the dough makes it really filling.  It is definitely a great starter and safe dish to try.

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Momos – Tibetan dumplings

In addition to the momos, we decided to go adventurers by entering the world of “Yak”.  Yak meat is one of the healthiest and leanest meat (95%-97% lean), almost as equivalent as grass fed beef.   It is also low in fat and cholesterol than beef, skinless chicken breast and even salmon.  It may help with lower risk of heart disease and cholesterol.  However, my date was not there yet so we compromised with yak cheese ($6.50).   Given the price of the cheese we were anticipating a huge platter, but it did not appear that way.  This serving plate below looks small, but the texture of each piece of cheese was insulating and filling.  On a tasting level, it was equivalent to aged cheese that was overpowering, but the apple slices complimented the strong aftertaste.   Yak cheese has several health benefits since it is derived from grass fed yaks in the mountains of Nepal, the cheese carries more omega-3 fatty acids especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which help fight heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and even body fat gain.

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Yak Cheese

Finally, my adventurous Himalayan food journey did not end and talked my date into ordering the Nepalese dish – Sandeko Bandel ($6.95), which is smoked wild boar topped with lemon juices and spices.  The dish looked and tasted like bacon – to die for –

Wild boar is another piece of lean meat, but it is expensive to cook.  However, it has health benefits such as low calories, less fat, less saturated fat, low cholesterol, and higher protein content than beef, lamb, pork and chicken.

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Sandeko Bandel: Sliced smoked wild boar topped with lemon juices, chili powder and Sichuan pepper

Overall service was good, food was very good especially if one is on a budget.  Personally I would return to try their other dishes especially the Thali, Ngopa, and more yak.  If one wants a cheaper meal, go during lunchtime, and if you check in on Yelp.