Koku in Armonk, NY – Asian Fusion and Chinese Dialects at Their Best from Fuzhou, China

There is a new restaurant in Armonk, NY. As a resident of Armonk, I am so delighted that I now have more options on Asian Fusion restaurants. Koku took over Made In Asia next to the CVS in town. The restaurant is modern with hip designs that are comparable to those in the City.  I walked in with my 12-year-old and the brainless hostess sat us right in front of the bar where it was loud and child-inappropriate. Of course, I declined and sat ourselves at the sushi counter and watched the actions.

The friendly sushi chefs were absolutely amazing behind the counters. I couldn’t figure out what language they were speaking and I decided to ask.

“What language are you speaking?”
“That’s not Chinese!”

I exclaimed in both English and Mandarin, the official language of China and Taiwan. They then quickly switched into Mandarin and conversed with me. They were speaking the Fuzhou dialect.  I am slightly surprised because the Fuzhou dialect is close to the Min Nan dialect which is also known as Taiwanese. Yes, I can also maneuver in Taiwanese. Confused, I looked up Chinese Dialects in Wikipedia… OMG. This is a moment when having the 5,000 years of Chinese heritage means the world. We really should be more proud as a people. Grilled squid with Teriyaki sauce. Although this dish was in the menu in the restaurant, it is not listed on their website. That’s unfortunate because it was excellent. It was done the authentic Japanese way. The squid was still tender. It was so good that my picky small human changed her opinion on the squid and ate a lot of it! She used to reject eating squids. Salmon roll. Respectable. This is also not on the menu. My new sushi chef friends decided to treat us and made this crab and guacamole appetizer for us.Nabeyaki Udon: Noodle soup w. shrimp, chicken, egg, fishcake & vegetable. Sadly, this is the only dish that under-delivered. The broth was too young. The noodle did not absorb any of the goodness from the broth.

The restaurant appears to be staffed by people, other than the bartender and the hostess, from Fuzhou. They are the friendliest bunch I have ever known in Armonk. They all commute from Flushing; one of the chefs moved from Virginia for this job. They were so eager to please and to make sure that we like the food. They were so eager to deliver high customer service. I don’t think I could ask for more from a restaurant. Koku has great pricing, excellent food, wonderful staff, and a lively atmosphere. Highly recommended it.

This was a completely opposite experience than my recent trip into Chinatown. There was no belittling of me, click here to read my Chinatown post.  Koku’s people are young, vibrant and want to do the best they can. Chinatown is of the past and Asian Fusion in Armonk represents the future!

This experience took place at

454 Main St
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone:(914) 730-0077

❤️Homemade Venison Taco Soup with Wild Boar Sausage- Happy Valentine’s Day from a Nonconformist ❤️

I am not crazy about February 14th as the Valentine’s Day, mainly because it’s usually too cold to wear a skirt in New York. I also take pity on all the men who have to buy things for their women but secretly really rather not to. In comparison, Chinese Valentine’s Day is on the 7th day of the 7th month in the Lunar calendar and that usually lands it in July or August when the weather is warm and my toes can be in sandals and legs without tights. No gifts have to be bought for the Chinese Valentine’s Day. When I think through the history of Valentine’s Day, I think the Chinese myth is also much more romantic, where two lovers are separated by the Milky Way and can only meet once a year on Qixi 七夕 (7th day of the 7th month) over the bridge Magpies formed for them.


On this Valentine’s Day weekend, my wonderful friends reminded me why being a conformist can be good from time to time.
My hunter fiend, Mike, gave me a care package containing his homemade venison taco soup with wild boar sausage, Mexican shredded cheese, and chips. Gave me instructions on warming up both the soup in water and the chips in the oven.
This is the end result. The soup has both red and white beans, corn and tasted very much like chili but with a distinct taste of the venison. Yummy behind belief. This is why people hunt.

I ended the meal with dark chocolate with orange peels, one of my favorites, from my friend Dan, whom I had not seen in a long time. Maybe Valentine’s Day is not too commercial or contrived when you have good friends.

I heart ❤️ friendships and good meals anytime.

An Important Tangent- A Celebration of Junk Food and Life

This is a slight departure from most of the other posts. I wrote a FB post today that led me to further understand my obsession with food. Here is an excerpt:

“This past year is as tumultuous and painful as the first year I was in the US.

I was 15-years-old when I came to study the violin in Manhattan School of Music, by myself with very basic English knowledge. I stayed with a host family who did not like me, did not feed me, left me to fend for myself to figure out the Port Authority and the subway, and did not come to my aid when I was lost at night. Yet I remembered smuggling the Entenmann’s chocolate donuts from the school cafeteria (the only other place I had access to food) to hide in my closet, reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and looking up every other word in the dictionary, to practicing the word ‘Horizontal’ a thousand times to rid of my accent and to excelling in everything I did.

This past year, I was separated, became single and began to rebuild my life and my identity.” Due to custody arrangements, I move from one place to the other multiple times a week, hence making no place feel like home. I have come to live the life of a gypsy, with a car trunk full of shoes, clothes, gym gear, and sometimes food and water.Through the emotional roller coaster, I have come to live on some junk food that got me through nights of horror, refueled and sustained me.

  I know I am a long way from the 15-year-old fresh off the boat Taiwanese girl. I know I am a long way from Entenmann’s chocolate donuts. I am who I am today, a food loving blogger because of the strong food culture in Taiwan and because of the chocolate donuts. Let there be popcorn, ice cream, chocolate, peanut butter, candies, and energy bars. Let’s celebrate the wonders and importance of junk food in our lives.


P.S.  This is my challenge 9 of 17, writing one post a day until I leave for vacation on the 21st.

Fortina in Armonk, NY- December Challenge 2 of 17, Buzzing Flies Accompanied Our Brunch 

Fortina is a very popular restaurant in my hometown. The three prior visits yielded much happiness and fulfilled tummies. See my Fortina posts, click here for my first experience, here for the pizza and here for the Rye Brook location. However, this Fall brunch visit is rather different, unfortunately. To quote my 11-year-old, “Even the flies are trying to get out of here.” The restaurant was loud with music and buzzing sounds of flies. We could not bat the flies away quick enough.

Really? Multiple flies buzzing in our ears and above our food in a restaurant that charges $21 for a small pizza? Shame on you, Fortina.
WOOD-FIRED POLPO with white bean, olives, salumi vinaigrette. Decent octopus. The white beans were ok. The wood-fired anything in Fortina is usually good.
HAM AND EGGS with prosciutto, soft poached egg, crispy potatoes, parm. Looked interesting and tasted salty. My daughter found it not worth eating. She picked at the crispy prosciutto and potatoes and skipped the poached egg completely. THE LUIGI BIANCO pizza with burrata, robiolona, parmesan, black truffle. This had been my favorite of Fortina. It kind of was still fine but the constant swatting of the flies did not enhance my enjoyment.
Here is the bill, $60. Probably would have been justifiable without the flies. We finished our food as quickly as possible. In fact, ate only less than half and ran out of the restaurant.

Do you think I should have asked them to swat the flies for us? Don’t forget to bring your fly swatter when you go eat at Fortina’s. Buon appetito!

This experience took place at

Fortina Armonk
17 Maple Ave
Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 273-0900

Kira Asian Bistro + Sushi Bar in Armonk, NY- Hometown Japanese Restaurant Run by the Chinese, Paled in Comparison to Daido

Kira Asian Bistro + Sushi Bar used to be called Kira Sushi when I first moved to Armonk eight years ago. The menu was more Japanese than Asian fusion. Now with the new brand name, it’s clear that they serve both Chinese and Japanese dishes with a bend at being fusion. Their specials that day were dominated by many Chinese dishes and the staff all spoke Mandarin. This was my first time at Kira.
Tuna or Toro Tartare (Chopped tuna or toro topped with caviar serve with chef’s special sauce)
Chirashi Deluxe (Assorted sashimi over a bed of steamed sushi rice)
Special that day – a version of Chinese broccoli.

Honestly, this was average. This was something I would expect from a good restaurant in Armonk: fresh sashimi, good presentation, and tasty. But there are so many restaurants like this in the Westchester area. The only reason Kira would stand out is because it is the only sushi restaurant in town. I would repeat because I live in the town. Would I travel to eat at Kira? Probably not. I would travel to go to Daido, the Japanese grocery store in White Plains, to buy the sashimi and cut them up myself.

This experience took place at

Kira Asian Bistro + Sushi Bar
575 Main St #7
Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 765-0800

The Beehive in Armonk, NY – A Stale and Convenient Marriage. Oops! I Meant Brunch.

The Beehive is a very popular spot in Armonk, NY for brunch on Sundays. The Beehive serves the typical breakfast items with a Greek bend. I had been to the place many times before because it’s in my town but had never been in love with the food. I recently went back again because the other better brunch spot (Mariani’s/Zanni) was closed! I guess if you can stay in business, people will come due to limited options in Armonk.
“Slamon” Benny: Smoked Salmon, Poached Eggs, Hollandaise on an English Muffin and Hashbrowns. The upside: the hash was awesome.  The downside: the eggs were over-poached and the salmon was too thick and voluminous. This was not my dish but sitting across from it, I had no desire to try it. The proportion looked wrong. In addition, the Hollandaise sauce congealed quickly and made the entire dish even less visually attractive.

Special for the Day: Turkey Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, and Hashbrowns. The upside: the hashbrown and the grilled Turkey bacon were awesome.  The downside: the eggs were bland even after I mixed in ketchup and hot sauce.  And this was not the first time the eggs had disappointed me. I could have done it better myself!

Note: I was eating this at 2:30pm in the afternoon after having been up for six hours on an empty stomach. I should have been a lot more enthusiastic!!

Like many things in life, I go to the Beehive because it’s convenient and it’s a habit. There are somethings in the Beehive I love but it is far from perfect. If the circumstances were different, I would never go to the Beehive. Doesn’t this sound like most marriages you see and know?  🙂

We truly need better breakfast options in Armonk!

This experience took place at

The Beehive

30 Old Rte 22,
Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 765-0688

Fortina in Armonk Take Two – The Fantastic Luigi Bianco Gourmet Pizza and a Dismal Singles Bar Scene

This is my third post on Fortina, an Italian restaurant in Armonk. The food is obviously good and made an impression. The first post was my very first try on this straight forward Italian restaurant that uses wood fired oven and pizza as the main draw. Click here to read the first post.   The second was on its new location in Rye, NY, as well as an impromptu octopus dish ranking.  Click here to read the second post.  This third one is focused on the new pizzas I tried.

THE LUIGI BIANCO: burrata, robiolona, parmesan, black truffle. Best gourmet pizza. No need for any other adjectives.

WOOD-FIRED CAULIFLOWER: hazelnut romesćo. Who knew that I would be such a fan of wood-fired anything?  The romesco gave the cauliflower the saltiness it needs.

SPICY MEAT-AH-BALL: fontina, pickled cherry peppers.  This was my friend’s choice. The spicy meatball pizza is the second most popular pizza here. The crust is perfect – not too thick and not too thin.  Still slightly chewy in the middle like any good bread should.

Wood-fired anything at Fortina is always good.  Highly recommend it for the food.  However, the bar scene on a Friday night is pretty dismal for singles.  Should always go with a friend or family.

This experience took place at

ARMONK, NY 10504
(914) 273-0900

Fortina in Armonk, NY – Straight Forward Italian Food, Cooked in Wood-Fired Ovens

Fortina is an Italian food and pizza restaurant and a relative newcomer to the Armonk restaurant scene. It opened in May 2014. As an Armonk resident, I watched people flood to the restaurant and I heard my friends’ reviews after they went there. I did not go to Fortina until December last year and was very pleasantly surprised by how good the food is and how vibrant the bar scene is.

I was there during a weeknight after 8pm. The place was packed with couples, families, and friends. First thing I noticed when I entered the restaurant was how many good-looking men were at the bar. That is not typical of Armonk. 🙂 I also noticed many good-looking women with their friends at the tables; now, that’s Armonk!

The wait staff was friendly and quick to respond. The music played was the 80s with large screen TVs on the wall. The atmosphere was very lively and loud. It’s not so great if you want an intimate conversation but it is great for large party socialization.

Classic Margherita – tomato, basil, mozzarella. Since this was my first time, I wanted something simple and classic just in case they screw it up. I went for the margherita pizza. It was so much better than expected. Wood-fired oven is KING. The pizza was very yummy and was shared happily.

Tortelloni – sweet potato, brown butter, pecans, parmesan. This was lovely. The sweet potato inside the tortelloni was just sweet enough to satisfy and left a desire to eat a second mouth full. Well done, Fortina.

Fortina really lived up to their slogan – Straight Forward Italian Food, Cooked in Wood-Fired Ovens. It was good. I would recommend it for simple eating and for meeting new people at the bar. 🙂

This experience took place at

Fortina Pizza
17 Maple Ave
Armonk, NY 10504
914 273 0900

Zanni Restaurant in Armonk, NY: Napa-Style Italian Cooking for Brunch

There used to be cafe inside Mariani’s Garden in Armonk, NY, where I frequented with my friends. As we were getting together again, I realized that Mariani’s was out of business and in its place came Zanni Restaurant, a self-proclaimed Napa-Style Italian cooking eatery. My friend and I went for brunch one Sunday.

The breakfast menu looked very similar to that of the cafe before Mariani was closed. Cannot tell why this is Napa-style cooking with the menu. But ok, I gave it a try and ordered a dish of nondescript scrambled eggs. The eggs were cooked to my liking, much better than what I would have done. They were fluffy and balanced.  Seasoned well.

This is the Gardener’s Veggie Frittata, with tomatoes, onions, avocado, mushrooms and prima donna gouda.  My friend enjoyed this dish very much.

Here is the breakfast menu.

In summary, the food was pretty good. The wait staff was attentive and courteous. The restaurant was newly remodeled. The dinning room where we sat had huge skylights which made brunch in a cold November seemed like the best thing in the world. The coffee was decent and the value is there for Armonk. Will definitely return to enjoy the food and my friend’s company.

This experience took place at

Zanni Restaurant
45 Bedford Road, Armonk, NY 10504
(914) 273-6700

Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY – Good Food, Pushy Staff

I went to Moderne Barn in the village of Armonk, NY recently for the first time. This restaurant is very close to where I live but in the four years since it opened, I have not visited. I pass by it everyday to get on the highway. I was deterred from going because the menu really was not very interesting to me. Too conventional and too American. Alas, I am glad I went because the food was not bad.

My friend and I shared everything. Here is our Lobster Cobb Salad with romaine, blue cheese, bacon, tomato, pickles, avocado, croutons, and eggs. I loved the addition of pickles; my friend did not. The pickles gave it the sourness and crunch that contrast well with the lobster.

Seafood Risotto with mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, and tomato.  This was very delicious.  The risotto was cooked well.  The seafood was fresh.

Cast Iron Brownie à la Mode with vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce. This was the best dish of the night! We loved it. The cast iron pot was a great idea. The brownie was a little crunchy on the outside, warm and sweet. The vanilla ice cream slowly melted because of the warmth from the cast iron pot. It was excellent!

Now, here are some of the negative feedback on the restaurant. The staff was way too pushy. We arrived at 6pm for an early dinner on a Wednesday night. The restaurant was empty. But the staff was in our face, interrupting our conversations left and right, pushing us to order drinks, to order entrée, and to take the dishes away from us. Since the restaurant was empty, there were way more wait staff than customers. Multiple waiters came to bug us on the same thing. Unforgivable! Interrupting customers in mid-sentences.

Lastly, once the restaurant had more people, it was almost impossible to hear our conversation. The restaurant is set up beautifully but the architecture amplifies the sound.  All the conversations become louder than they are – like in the symphony halls.  The wait staff continues to try to kick us out while there were multiple empty tables right by us. I HATED that. We left before 8pm. Our dinner took less than two hours. The way the staff behaved was not cool.

Thumbs up on the food.  Thumbs down on the service.  😦

This experience took place at

Moderne Barn
430 Bedford Road
(Route 22)
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone 914 730 0001