Oceana in Manhattan, NYC – The World Is My Oyster, A Matter of Food and Life

I have been thinking a lot about how to write this post because the experience was not only about the food. The food played a big part for sure but the experience was more about connecting the dots in life, much like how the oysters showed up on the plate for me that night. Oceana is a seafood restaurant located on 49th Street and Ave of the Americas in New York City. It’s supposed to be a great one with a premier locale.

Oceana belongs to the Livanos Family who owns Moderne Barn in Armonk and City Limits Diner in White Plains. I was not aware of this fact until I did the research on Oceana post my dining experience.  Interestingly, the performance of Oceana is consistent with my experiences at both restaurants in the Westchester county. It’s consistently fine but not outstanding. Read my earlier posts, click here for Moderne Barn and here  for City Limits.image Chef’s compliment – Something about sunchokes with cream. Couldn’t really hear the waiter. It was good. imageOysters: Naked Cowboy (LI), Summerside (PEI), Dabob Bay (WA), Totten Inlet (WA), Fanny Bay (British Columbia), Tokeen Bay (AK).  I won’t point fingers since I am not 100% sure… I believe starting at 12 o’clock is the Naked Cowboy (2 each) and then rotate clockwise to Tokeen Bay. If that were true, Dabob Bays were really dumb! They were tasteless and meaty with a low salinity. Naked Cowboys and Summerside were everything one would expect from east coast oysters. They were beautiful, sweet and strong with a mineral taste. imageTamari Glazed Steelhead Salmon: soybeans, water chestnuts, shiitake broth. Excellent. Excellent. This was the best for the night.imageSticky Toffee Pudding: rum caramel, coconut ice cream, toasted coconut. Oceana’s dessert menu sounded very promising but the reality is far from satisfactory. This was ok but I certainly would not spend my calories on it.imageChocolate Layer Trifecta: chocolate cake, toffee crunch, chocolate crémeux. I love chocolate. Chocolate makes me happy. When a menu item lists chocolate three times, I expect the dessert to deliver a pleasant punch if not a high. Hershey’s kisses is the quality of this dessert. Mediocre and main stream. I had two bites.imageChef’s Compliments: They came by twice to try to give us the same complimentary dessert. My friend believes that the chef went out to a Duane Reade across the street and bought a bag of these to distribute to the diners. Sadly, they taste true to the Duane Reade candies.

Whenever I have oysters, I highly anticipate. Oysters are a representation of best things life can offer – smooth, alive, salty and sweet, mineral/floral, and filled with changes and surprises. They never sucked for me until those two dumb oysters that night. On that tray of twelve, some were pleasant highlights and two were not worth eating, reminding me to check my cavalier attitudes at the door, pay attention to my present-and-now, connect the dots and don’t let the restaurant bring their oyster sampler. Take charge to find that oyster high. Live deeply and fully.

Consistently with the other Livanos Family restaurants, Oceana was fine but not outstanding.

This experience took place at


120 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Salvation Taco in NYC – Where the Worlds Collide

On November 10th, 2014, I went into the City to have dinner with a friend. My friend introduced me to Salvation Taco which is located inside the POD 39 Hotel and is run by the Michelin starred chef April Bloomfield and her partner Ken Friedman. This is an interesting restaurant and my experience that night was extremely memorable. Salvation Taco features a menu with international influences where the worlds collide in the form of tacos! Can you say #KimchiAndTaco?

We walked in without a reservation and were immediately seated at a high table. What a nice surprise for a busy restaurant on a Monday night. The atmosphere was vibrant and easy-going. The guacamole and chips came soon after we ordered drinks. The guacamole was fresh; it tasted like the inside of an avocado mushed-up. 🙂  You can see the mush in the photo, can’t you?

We ordered Korean BBQ with pickled daikon, marinated kimchi & furikake. This really knocked the ball out of the park. This is the Korean BBQ in a cast iron pan. The meat is done exactly how it should be done. It was perfect.

These are the side dishes to go with the BBQ. First vertical column on right from bottom to the top are kimchi, daikon, and scallions. Second column are seaweed/furikake and Korean spicy sauce. All are great additions to making the Taco.

Now we wrapped up all the goodies inside these small pieces of tacos. Really yummy and fulfilling. Tacos were warm and soft. Lots of love went into making the tacos.  I felt loved.

In full disclosure, I had never liked Mexican food and Salvation Taco converted a non-believer that night. This is my very first post on the Mexican cuisine. Because of how everything was so well put together and how easily Korean BBQ and Asian ingredients worked into the Mexican tacos, it was impossible to not love it. This is where the worlds collided for me and felt like a perfect dance at the end of the night. I think this is the beginning of something very nice.

This experience took place at

Salvation Taco
145 E 39th Street
between 3rd Avenue and Lexington,
inside the POD 39 Hotel.
New York, NY
(212) 865-5800