The Lounge at the Ritz in White Plains, NY- Surprisingly Good

I am not usually a fan of the Ritz; see my experience at The Ritz in Amelia Island, Florida. However, I was pleasantly surprised by The Lounge at the Ritz in White Plains. The food was excellent despite slow and inattentive service. The lounge area is comfortable enough and cozy enough for a long conversation.PROSCUITTO FIG FLATBREAD: Spiced orange marmalade, arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese. This was great. The orange marmalade and fig on the flatbread made me feel like I was eating something from my grandma’s house (if I had an Italian grandma.) It was chewy when you hit those sweet pieces. The prosciutto did not come through but also didn’t distract. The arugula, although pretty, distracted. Thanks to the goat cheese that tied all ingredients together.
WARM APPLE SALAD: Seasonal Brine apples, toasted pecans, cranberries, Bibb lettuce, goat cheese, citrus vinaigrette. The salad was not warm but other than the temperature everything else was perfect. I learned that I love Bibb lettuce and I can love a salad. There was the crunch from the pecans, the sweetness from the cranberries and the apples, the punch from the goat cheese and the lettuce to bridge the gaps. It was a beautiful culinary symphony.  ASIAN MIXED RICE BOWL: Vegetable medley, marinated beef, egg, sesame oil. This is Ritz’s version of a Bibimbap – surprisingly excellent. I was more surprised that it was very spicy. The Ritz honored how Bibimbap should be eaten and did not bow down to the pop culture to satisfy. Kudos to the Ritz in White Plains.

Highly recommended for people who are not in a rush and have patience. Will definitely return.

This experience took place at

The Lounge at
The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester

3 Renaissance Square
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone:(914) 946-5500

H Mart in Williston Park, NY- Tasty Sashimi and Great for the Pocketbook 

I shop at Asian grocery stores, from time to time. When I am out in Queens, I tend to go to H Mart in Williston Park on Long Island. H Mart is best for one reason: You can buy reasonably priced sashimi and indulge/gorge until your heart beats with delight. You can buy all the accoutrement and make the plate real pretty. This plate consists of tuna, salmon, octopus, yellow tail, seaweed salad, and the “smelly” daikon salad (My co-workers had a huge issue with the daikon salad when I brought it into work one day.  They threatened to go to HR to stop me from eating the smelly food!) Of course, I also had ginger and wasabi. All in all, this plate was less than $50. The effort to cut up the sashimi was minimal. The presentation was beautiful.

So why wouldn’t you do the same, if you are a sashimi fan and eating out in restaurants is not always economically viable?

The H Mart in Hartsdale (Westchester, NY) has a hot food court (My post on Reliable Food Court Eating). That’s also an excellent option for delicious Asian food with ingredients straight from the supermarket. This is as close to Asian local/home eating as one gets in the New York ti-state area.

This experience took place in

H Mart
400 Hillside Ave
Williston Park, NY 11596
(516) 699-0270

P.S. This is my 6th of 17 challenge, writing one post a day until I go on vacation this month.

Global Grill @Myong Gourmet in Mount Kisco, NY- LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. 

Global Grill in Mount Kisco was a very pleasant surprise. This is how they describe their offering. “Our Influences emanate from New American Progressive across the US, Europe, Korea and East Asia. You will find tastes from Middle East, India and Japan with a French flair.” From the small sample size of my lunch there, I would agree.

It is a big and beautiful restaurant with a counter filled with gourmet dishes. Although the food was great, the concept was confusing. The same location has a restaurant, a section for a cafe and a take out counter, in addition to offering catering service. Chef and owner Myong is trying to do too many things at once with her food magic.

Myong’s Korean Fried Chicken – gluten free – Asian pear jicama slaw and fries. My friend loved the jicama slaw and asked for seconds. The fried chicken was also excellent. She was not overwhelmed by the fries.

Bi Bim Bop with Bulgogi – Grilled sweet Korean beef, crispy rice, spring vegetables, kimchi, fried egg, XO sauce. This was soooooooo good. They ran out of white rice so they substituted with crunchy black wild rice. the rice was divine. Man, this was heaven on a big plate. I wished I was a big 250 pound man with a much bigger stomach for food. Believe it or not, I almost ate the entire thing in one setting.

The food was so excellent as was the service. Will definitely return… LOVED it. LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. 🙂 A huge smile!

This experience took place at

Global Grill
@Myong Gourmet
487 Main St,
Mt Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 241-6333

Danji Korean Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC – A Trendy and Professional Little Thing Without the Korean Spiciness

Danji is a Korean restaurant that prides themselves for offering authentic Korean cuisine in small but sharable portions. I was at Danji, in Hell’s Kitchen, with a few friends during a very cold January night. It was so inviting to step into the warm restaurant after a brisk walk. Our friends had been waiting and we immediately started ordering. The restaurant is small and intimate. Cute is the word that comes to mind – they stash their menus in the drawers of the dining table. #KoreanRestaurantsNYC

The menu is a combination of the traditional and modern. One of my friends is a regular and took on the task of ordering for the entire table. She is a brave soul. All seemed good until we were ready for dessert. Painfully, we learned that Danji does not offer desserts!

Tofu w. ginger scallion dressing and soy vinaigrette. This dish was listed in the MODERN section of their dinner menu. Not sure why. It tasted very authentically Asian to me. It meets the authentic Asian expectations – above average for outside of Asia, I would say.

Steak tartare w. quail yolk, toasted pine nuts, asian pear: yook hwe. This was interesting. When you mix all the ingredients (which is a little difficult because everything is tiny), you get a nice smoky flavor and slight sweetness and crunch from the pear. But it was very hard to mix and it was a very small portion to share between four people.

Garlic honey wings w. sesame seeds: dalcom han dak twi-gim. I would skip this dish. It was good to fill the empty stomach but really average.

Scallion & Korean pepper pancake: gochu pajeon. Loved it. Much more superior than what I have tried in Korean restaurants in Flushing. Very well prepared and very crispy. Not too spicy.

Trio of banchan (Korean side dish). Hmmm. Lots of kimchi and kimchi flavor here. Fermented veggies or tofu is for hardcore food lovers and an acquired taste. I love kimchi for its spicy kick and for the delicious smell. See my adventure in this other Korean restaurant that uses kimchi in every dish.  On the topic of fermented foods – on my last super list, I must have stinky tofu, another smelly and stinky/sour/spicy food (subjectively speaking by people who don’t like it). I find stinky tofu to be fragrant and saliva-inducing. 

mmm. mmm. good.

Bulgogi beef sliders: spicy pickled cucumber & scallion salsa. This apparently is a hot item on the menu. It was good but I did not find it to be special. Just smaller than a regular burger and instead of a beef patty, we have got bulgogi. Not sure what the big deal is.

Spicy pork belly sliders: scallions, cucumber julienne & gochujang. Same idea as the bulgogi slider.

Spicy whelk salad w. buckwheat noodles: golbaengi moochim w. bibim soba gooksoo. This was spicy! Come to Mama! Finally, a Korean dish that I can identify. All the dishes we had before were not spicy enough for me; too bland from what I am used to with authentic Korean food from the Korean grocer H-Mart.

Special that day: Sable fish with baby bokchoy and daikon.

Korean fried rice.

Danji is a decent Korean restaurant with a New York trendy restaurant vibe. The diners that night all seem to have come from work or got dressed up for dinner (Really, People? So uptight.) It’s a fine place to mingle with your business peeps. The food is interestingly Korean/New York. I would not say that it’s authentically Korean; I think it’s authentic Korean flavor prepared to please the NYC professionals and bent toward a mild palate for the White constituents.

But the worst crime Danji committed is to not offer any desserts! Not acceptable. Highly recommend that Danji rethink their menus to include desserts. If you are going white, you may as well go white all the way. Don’t wimp out now.

Regardless, a fun and engaging night was had by all. Instead of desserts, my friend ordered dessert alcohol. THANK YOU for the save.  Thank you for introducing me to a hip NY restaurant.  🙂

This experience took place at

346 West 52nd Street
New York, New York 10019
Tel: 212-586-2880

Kalbi House in White Plains, NY – Take Two, Still Excellent

Sometimes when a restaurant is good and you love the dish you had before, you must return to repeat the experience. One good experience could be a fluke but multiple times, now that’s called data validation. This is exactly what I did with Kalbi House, a Korean BBQ restaurant in White Plains, NY. See my first post on Kalbi House here.

Here are the starter side dishes. As excellent as I remembered it.

Here is another view of the starter side dishes. If you love the side dishes, they will keep on coming. This is a standard practice in Korean restaurants.

Dolsot Bibimbap (Stone Pot Bibimbap): I compared this picture with the one from the last post. They look remarkably similar. What consistency! This is my favorite Korean dish. It was so good the last time that I ordered it again. And it still is excellent. The friend I brought along was very satisfied with this dish as well. The crunchy rice at the bottom of the stone pot was such a hit!

Nakji Bokeum: Stir-fried mini octopus and vegetable in spicy sauce. This was something new that we tried. It was very good. The noodles were flat in taste but the octopus was good.

Although Kalbi House offers sushi, I have always only ordered Korean dishes. I like to go to a Japanese restaurant for sushi and a Korean restaurant for Korean food like the bibimbap. Crazy! Right?  Kalbi House makes very good Korean food at a decent price. The decor of the restaurant leaves a lot to be desired (the table we sat at was a little sticky) but that is secondary in my book. So bring your friends, bring your family and order Korean.  Enjoy!

This experience took place at

Kalbi House
291 Central Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606
(914) 328-0251

Salt & Fat in Sunnyside, Queens, NY – A Craving for a New Beginning

Ah, today is the last day of 2014. Looking back, 2014 is a transitional year for me and therefore I feel a post on Salt & Fat is rather appropriate. Craving of salt, fat and sugar is the feeling one gets when things are out of alignment in life, i.e., be your body or your emotional state. It is fitting that I am ending the year with Salt and Fat! Hope the New Year brings much happiness and a new beginning to all.

Salt & Fat is this Korean-inspired small plate restaurant in Sunnyside, Queen, NY. I ended up there one Saturday night because the traffic into the City was horrible and Sunnyside was a much closer destination. But aren’t I glad that I went?

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2014/12/img_1555.jpgWe were seated immediately and popcorn with bacon fat was served. I know some people marveled over the popcorn here. It is all right but in my opinion, popcorn with truffle oil is much more superior than the one with bacon fat. However, it is cute to be served popcorn. I am a fan.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2014/12/img_1554.jpgPrince Edward Island Mussels, chorizo, potatoes, corn, lobster broth. The best part about this dish is the fact that the mussels were very fresh and clean. In addition, the charred bread was an interesting touch. Other than that, I still prefer the French classical preparation of “Moules et frites” in white wine.

This is the Grilled Octopus, with grilled daikon and pine nuts in squid ink. This was an absolutely excellent dish. The combination of grilled octopus with the squid ink was unique and smooths the texture of the octopus and tasted a bit on the salty side. I especially like the grilled daikon soaked with the dripping from the octopus and with the squid ink at the bottom. Very sexy for a daikon. The pine nuts provided a nice contrast to that of the octopus. 🙂

Sadly, they have since taken it off their menu. At the time of this writing, I could not find this dish on their online menu anymore.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2014/12/img_1552.jpgThis is another dish that has been taken off the menu. It is pork fried to perfection on one side, as you can see from the photo. It is brown and crispy, filled with flavor. These three pieces of pork are the best for the night. Very flavorful. I only wish that I had taken a picture of the menu so I could write it with more information and authority .

Whatever it is underneath the pork was nothing to write home about and the onions were dismal. The pork was the shining star for the night.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/970/71374261/files/2014/12/img_1551.jpgWe ended the meal with this complimentary drink. This is a yogurt drink that originated in Asia; it is called 養樂多 (Yang Le Duo) or 多多 (Duo Duo), depending on your age. Duo Duo is the diminutive of Yang Le Duo. I grew up with 多多 Duo Duo and still love to have 多多冰棒(Duo Duo ice pops) every summer when I return to Taiwan. Just writing about this makes me feel a little homesick. I long for the sun and the warm breeze of my tropical island.  Hard to beat the sensation of eating an ice pop in the tropical summer with the NY gray, cold and damp winter now.

Lastly, I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog in 2014 and have found connections and meanings between your food experiences and who you are as a person. I know I have. I am grateful that I am able to leverage writing to connect the dots and appreciate what’s important and precious. Cheers to a new year and a new beginning! Hopefully with less salt, fat and sugar.

This experience took place at

Salt & Fat
41-16 Queens Blvd.
Sunnyside, NY 11104
Tel: 718. 433. 3702

So Gong Dong Korean Restaurant in Hartsdale, NY – Recommend for the Tummy and the Soul

So Gong Dong is a Korean restaurant in Hartsdale, NY. My friend and I were going for Japanese BBQ in White Plains but since my friend had never tried kimchi before, we ended up at So Gong Dong tonight. I was honored to be there for his first introduction to kimchi. 🙂 #koreanfood

Here are the side dishes that came with the meal. From right to left, we have bean sprouts (non-spicy), kirby with chili and vinegar, kimchi, and daikon with jalapeño. The egg on the most left is for my tofu dish coming up. Very satisfactory indeed. My friend said that Christmas had come early for him! It took me another 10 mins before I realized that I was completely happy with this line up. Yes, I was a little slow tonight.

Soondubu Jigae: Korean silken tofu stew in a stone pot with options such as seafood, beef, dumplings, etc. I asked for the seafood and beef option. I then chose the spicy level which I went for regular. The last step is to choose between kalguksu (Korean thick noodles), ramen or hot stone bowl of rice. I had the hot stone bowl of rice since I liked the crunchiness of the rice at the bottom of the bowl. They cracked the egg and dropped it into my stew while it was bubbling hot. 🙂 Really cool.

My friend, being a novice to the Korean cuisine, was not shy in ordering the same. He also went for a Soondubu jigae: he chose kimchi on the hot spicy level with ramen. This is such a risky behavior for someone who has not had this dish before but he went for it. Brave! It was spicy enough!!! I think not only did Christmas come early for him, the New Year’s eve also arrived much sooner than expected.

Highly recommend this place. Good winter food that warms the tummy and the soul with a small check for the wallet. The entire meal pre-tip was a little more than $25. Go on Monday nights.  The service was fast and they leave you alone to chat until you are ready to leave.  Happy.

The experience took place at

Do Gong Dong Tofu * BBQ
411 N Central Ave
Hartsdale, NY 10530

H Mart in Hartsdale NY – Reliable Food Court Eating

H Mart in Hartsdale, NY is a grocery store that caters to the Asian population. You can find Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and other regular supermarket items here. The produce section is fresh and immense. The seafood offering here is impressive (pre-cooked lobsters anyone?) Further, it has a food court that are particularly strong in Korean dishes, with Chinese and Japanese running tightly behind the Korean food.

On this past Sat, we landed in H Mart for lunch and some ethnic grocery shopping – that usually means Korean seafood/chives pancakes, spicy tofu, and tri-colored corn for me. My peeps at work know and have seen me eating all these “weird” things. There is always a lot of prepared food, very convenience for a busy household. The food court food is strong for food court eating and passable for restaurant quality. Here is what we had:

O Jing Uh Bokkeum: spicy stir-fried squid. Excellent. This dish always satisfies and never fails. Love.

Bulgogi Bibimbap (before): As you may know by now, I love this dish. This was not as good as the Dolsot Bibimbap from the Kalbi House but it was good enough for the price and for the convenience. The dish is also kind of pretty from my perspective, something to do with chopped up fresh vegetables, sweet beef, topped with an egg that just get me going.

This is what the Bulgogi Bibimbap looked like after I added in the kimchi, red chili sauce, fish cake stripes and rice. It’s ready to be eaten. 🙂 Isn’t it pretty and yummy looking?  Could not wait to dig in.

Nabeyaki Udon: Decent but nothing to write home about. Japanese food is not H Mart’s strong suit.

Last but not least, here is how much it costs to eat in a food court in the expensive Westchester County, NY. Welcome to the competitive world of New York metropolitan area.

This experience took place at

H Mart Food Court in Hartsdale, NY

371 North Central Avenue

Hartsdale, NY 10530

(914) 448-8888
This is a great place to go for grocery shopping, if you can stand the crowds and the tightness of the aisles.


Kalbi House in White Plains NY – Korean Dolsot Bibimbap

I have been jonesing for some Bibimbap, one of my favorite Korean dishes. Spending a month in Taiwan this Summer never led me to a Korean restaurant. You would think that at least the geographic proximity would make the cuisine more popular but not so. I had to come back to New York to get my fix. This Sat I went to the Kalbi House in White Plains to try the stone pot Bibimbap or Dolsot Bibimbap.

The side dishes that automatically accompany a meal in a Korean restaurant. All very yummy and if the American salad were more like this, I could eat it everyday. The Korean side dishes have umami when compared to most of the American salads that always make me feel like a horse eating hay.

Dolsot Bibimbap: This is how the Bibimbap looked when it first came. Isn’t it beautiful? Look at the egg!
Dolsot Bibimbap:
Here is how it looked after I mixed everything together and added the chili pepper paste. Because the rice is in a stone pot that came hot, the rice was crispy and slightly browned at bottom. The rice was also in chunks. When you mix the rice, you get both the softness of the rice and the brown and crunchy pieces from the bottom. I absolutely loved it!!! 🙂

Jo Gae Tang: Clam and vegetable in broth casserole.  Look at how big the clams are and how fresh.

Nabeyaki Udon:
Because we were in a Korean restaurant, Japanese food were also on the menu!(?) I really don’t get this fusion approach. It really confuses the issue. Please stick to what you do best and don’t give a bastardized version of the Japanese Nabeyaki Udon. In all fairness, it was not bad but it was not authentic.

Overall, I was very happy with this experience and will definitely return to try the famous Korean BBQ, their broiled fish, Korean pancake, rice cake in broth, and nakji bokkeum (stir-fried mini octopus in red chili sauce)! See how I already picked up my five meals at the Kalbi House.  Thumbs up!

This experience took place at

Kalbi House
291 Central Ave
White Plains, NY 10606