Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tanuki Tavern-Delicious Sushi!

Last night, a friend and I had a late dinner at Tanuki Tavern at the Hotel Gansevoort. My parents were kind enough to give me a gift certificate that they had sitting around the house, probably only because it was going to expire at the end of March, but hey, no complaints here!

Tanuki Tavern is a Japanese "gastropub" that serves up amazing sushi rolls, hibachi, ramen, and rice dishes. The decor is adorable, we sat in this pink room that made me think Hello Kitty could have been an inspiration to the designer.

My friend Antonio and I ordered a bunch of dishes and just decided to share them all. It's so much more fun to share and be able to taste a little of everything! To start, we had the edamame which was unexpectedly spicy and unlike any edamame I've ever had. We split two sushi rolls, the Rock Shrimp Dynamite Roll and the Sesame Crusted Tuna Tataki Roll. Both were delicious, but we loved the Dynamite Roll the most. It was drizzled with an amazing spicy "dynamite" sauce that was creamy and amazing. Once we devoured these rolls we shared the steak hibachi which was mildly disappointing. It was about the size of my palm, waay too small and was undercooked a little too much; and trust me, I love my steak cooked medium rare. It didn't come with any sides so we had to order an additional bowl of jasmine rice. If I were to go back, I would only order from the sushi menu...I was so impressed with the quality. Tanuki is a trendy but casual spot that would be great for drinks and a small bite to eat. ( I had an amazing grapefruit cocktail that had tiny cherry blossoms in it...adorable!) I definitely want to go back again and I would recommend it to any sushi lovers.

Tanuki Tavern
at Hotel Gansevoort
18 Ninth Ave (entrance on 13th Street)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

CRAVING....White Manna

Unfortunately, while I was home in Jersey I didn't get to visit the most amazing and mouth watering burger joint in the world. I'm not exaggerating. White Manna, in Hackensack NJ is nothing short of a legend.This place has been around for over 50 years, some even claim it's the original White Castle. My parents have photographs of White Manna that they took in the 80s when they used to eat here. And this place hasn't changed one bit. A tiny little burger place that serves up the most delicious sliders you will ever eat. They're each a $1 and depending on how hungry you are, you could inhale anywhere from 3 to 6 of these ( or more, I've seen it done). The original way of having them is with cheese, carmelized onions, a pickle, and ketchup.

NEVER ask for lettuce and tomatoes.

Placing an order here is an art form. You can only ask for burgers from the burger guy and you better know exactly what you want when you're going to order. If you want fries (I recommend the cheese fries...why not? You're already indulging) or a drink you have to ask the drink & fries guy NOT the burger guy. The people who work here are so nice, but if you screw this up you might get a death glare. They take their burgers very seriously.
The only way to end your meal would be to leave with a milkshake in hand. They're homemade and probably the best milkshakes I have ever had. Hackensack is about a 30 minute drive from NYC and totally worth the trip if you have a car. My friends and I do it all the time and it's the perfect getaway on a Saturday or Sunday and you won't have to eat for the next 24 hours. Okay, it's decided..I need to take a trip before the end of the week!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pamper yourself for less

My friend recently told me about this awesome website called LifeBooker. Basically, it's a site that gives you up to 60% off on beauty services in NYC. Haircuts, facials, massages, manicures, pedicures...anything you could possibly be looking for (sorry boys, this is mainly for girls although they do have a section for you too...look for "just for guys"). So this is how it works: people cancel appointments last minute all the time. What happens to these open time slots? They get sent to LifeBooker and people get the benefit of jumping in and snagging these appointments for over half off the original price. It's so easy to use, you can make an appointment online and choose from a number of different places so it's simple to compare prices. I know this is sounding like a promo for the site, but college students are always looking for ways to find bargains and a cheap haircut or facial in the city is soooo hard to come by. I recently found a mani/pedi for $25 at Allure Day Spa which is an amazing deal. If you're looking to pamper yourself for an affordable price you should definitely check it out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Back to reality...and a new discovery

After a looong and relaxing week in the Puerto Rican sun without any kind of communication with the outside world, nothing could be even MORE relaxing than a weekend at home with some of my mom's home cooked food. While we were in Puerto Rico, we had to unfortunately deal with having a student budget so a PBandJ at the beach every day was our lunch of choice. Some of the local cuisine in PR was definitely worth trying. A dish called Mofongo consisted of mashed plaintains mixed with butter & garlic and stuffed with either chicken, beef, or fish was actually pretty amazing. I returned to New Jersey last night after a pretty easy 3 and 1/2 hour flight which consisted of bawling my eyes out while watching the Blind Side and eating a sandwich that came in a plastic bag. But anyway, I was lucky to return to a delicious pot roast that my mom knew I would be craving. She also introduced me to a vegetable I've never really had that was SO good I asked her for the recipe. She made Braised Leeks with Lemon and I've never really had anything like them! So easy to make and so delicious. Here's the recipe, you neeeeed to try them.

You'll need:
  • 4 small or medium leeks, tough outer leaves discarded and leeks trimmed to about 7 inches long and cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Young Foodies

While I was home in Jersey this weekend, I stumbled upon an interesting article in the NY Times about food blogs! The article mentioned how food blogs have blown up in New Jersey and restaurants are now used to people coming in with cameras to document their dining experience. What was interesting was that most of the popular food bloggers admitted that they don't accept free meals because they want their ratings to be fair and unbiased. It made me think that it must be hard NOT to accept a free meal from someone who wants to be featured on your blog. But that's the beauty of the blog community...there are still so many bloggers who want to publish without influence from advertisers or for profit.

One of the blogs mentioned that I checked out and will now read daily is A Food Coma. The editor is Alexandra Harcharek who is only 21 years old! The site is aimed at college students and people in their early twenties who have a love for food and dining, yet are tied down by a student budget (kinda like how this blog is supposed to be). On their page they say this:

Amateurs, mostly. Just barely old enough to drink, but not rent our own cars.

But we are also avid learners and experimenters. Food enthusiasts.

We aim to discover new things and then teach others about them.

I really love this little quote because it says a lot about young people, especially in NJ & NY, who are adventurous winers and diners. It's exciting to know that there is an entire community out there of young's definitely a peek into the future of food blogging. Even though it's a Jersey based blog, you should check out A Food Coma, they also have some amazing recipes. I'm eying the "Peasant Pasta w/ Cannellini Beans". Also check out the article from the NY Times. I think I'll add a RSS feed of A Food Coma to my site as well.

One of the Food Coma bloggers capturing a visual of what looks like a delicious meal.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Just because I love Gaga...

Just wanted to say that I'm soooo happy that Lady Gaga will be gracing the April cover of Cosmo. And she looks...great! No elaborate costumes, no ridiculous hairstyles, this may be the most dressed down you'll ever see her. Totally off topic but I can't help but love this woman.

Shhh don't tell!

I keep hearing things about this bar called P.D.T (Please Don't Tell) on St. Marks and I've decided I need to go here. I first heard about it when I was watching the Travel Channel a few weeks ago and saw a show called "Extreme Bars". So here's the deal.

P.D.T is a cocktail lounge hidden within a hot dog shop. I know, I'm already sold with just that. Kinda like a speakeasy, you first have to walk into a supposed hot dog place called Crif Dogs. (They serve deep-fried hot dogs and waffle fries, sounds like a delicious heart attack)

Inside, there is a vintage phone booth that you must enter if you want to go to P.D.T. You pick up the phone and wait for someone to answer. Then the back of the phone booth will open and VOILA you have entered a posh cocktail lounge.

Doesn't this sound like fun? NYMag has raved about the cocktails that they serve up at this place and I definitely want to make it a point to go here in the near future. If anyone has been, please let me know how it is!

113 St. Marks Pl. near 1st Ave.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sushi Love

So I briefly mentioned in a previous post that my favorite food ever is sushi. All kinds of sushi. Whenever I'm home in Jersey, my family and I always go to the same sushi restaurant: Nagoya. I won't bother telling you too much about the place because it is an unlikely scenario that anyone will find themselves in Mahwah, New Jersey looking for sushi (but if you do, GO HERE).

My brother, Adrian, is famous at this place though. Whenever he walks in, he gets a freakishly warm welcome from the staff and I feel like I'm dining with a celebrity, probably a B-List celebrity, but still. The main sushi chef and restaurant owner (everyone calls him Sushi Steve) is always giving Adrian free little samples and bottomless amounts of sake. My brother and his friends even made a Facebook group for Nagoya lovers where they plan group dinners about once a month. It's getting a little ridiculous.

Sushi Steve always comes up with the most creative rolls that involve anything from jalepenos to mangoes. The BEST appetizer would be the "Crunchy Crunchy Crunchy" which is basically a slab of spicy tuna mixture sandwiched between crispy seaweed wasabi crackers. YUM.

But anyway, whenever my brother or I end up eating here, we can't help but take pictures because the sushi is just so beautiful! The reason I even thought of writing this post was because I was just browsing through old pictures and started salvating at the thought of inhaling any of these dishes right now. I WISH. I am going home on Sunday, so I think a trip to Nagoya will be in order...