Sunday, July 31, 2011

Levain Bakery

When I go to NYC, the one place I never forget to go to before I head back to LA is Levain Bakery. There are now two locations (One in Harlem, one in the Upper West Side) and I'm hoping to God that one day, they will decide to have a west coast branch in LA. I'll help man it if I have to!

My first time: I've read all the yelp reviews and food blog posts regarding this particular bakery before my stay in the Upper West Side so I knew that I would be tasting this amazing cookie...which is more like a brownie shaped into a cookie. I was only 7 blocks away but of course, it's NYC sized blocks so it's more like 2 LA blocks away. 

On the first visit, I must have still thought I was in LA because I ordered the oatmeal raisin cookie thinking that it was somehow a little healthier than the artery clogging deeply chocolatey or walnutty ones everyone was raving about.

The oatmeal raisin was okay. It wasn't the best oatmeal raising cookie I ever had. I couldn't finish the cookie because it was about half a pound! I want to know who can actually eat the cookie in its entirety and not skip a meal. I saved it for future ingestion but it didn't leave that much of an impression on me or the calling wasn't that strong for me to return to it so eventually, it ended up sorta rotting in my bag.

But!!!!! I knew there was no way in hell I was going back to LA without having tried the chocolate peanut butter cookie or the chocolate chip walnut cookie son on the day I was flying out, I got up two hours earlier and I RAN (not jogged) to Levain Bakery (wearing my pj's, no socks, and tattered sneakers no less) and bought FIVE cookies. I spent $17.50 on COOKIES! I skipped happily back with 2.5 pounds of cookies. 

The results. Let me just say that by the time I got back to LA, 2 of the 5 cookies were gone and 3 of the 5 I saved for my brothers to try and they were completely gone in 1.5 days. They're not big eaters and I snuck in a few cookie bits every time I passed by the kitchen.

I was torn between sending my body to the coronary ER or saving the cookie with frugal bites so that I could refill my taste buds with its gooey buttery chocolatey peanut buttery goodness again. It was like being stuck between heaven and hell, not knowing which way I was to go.

Yes, of course they were deliriously good. So good that I never have any good shots of the damn things. I went back a couple more times over the years and it's stuffed in my face before I can take another freakin' picture of it.

I apologize to all those who were victims of my morning run on July 15th, 2011, who had to wait in line next to a hungry and sweaty and slightly demented girl.

(Post from 2007, went back almost every year and still as good, if not better!)

Levain Bakery

167 W 74th St
New York, NY 10023
(212) 874-6080

2167 Fredrick Douglas Blvd
New York, NY 10026

Levain Bakery on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 29, 2011

Frying Pan, NYC

One of the coolest spots I was introduced to in NYC was Frying Pan, off of pier 66. My very best friends took me here for one of the culinary stops on my bridal shower/bachelorette party, getting a tip from my foodie and world traveler cousin-in-law. We started the night out with happy hour at Frying Pan, which is basically an old boat that turned into a raucous restaurant. When we got there, it was quiet and almost empty.

We strolled around, taking in the view of what the ship had to offer.

The periphery of the ship was loaded with tables and chairs, and there was a huge bar in the middle of the ship.

Their bathrooms were legit ship bathrooms.

There was random art all over the place.

The scenic view of the Hudson River was awesome, especially for this non-New Yorker.

We finally decided to settle down and get a table since a lot of beautiful Wellesley women were to join us in a bit.

We got an amazing pitcher of white sangria, that had pieces of cantaloupe and other fruits in there ($37) as well as some coronas ($7) and some old bay garlic fries ($3).

These garlic fries were the real deal. They had real roasted garlic at the bottom of each container of fries. I wish someone in LA would do em like this. If you know of anyone, let me know because I have yet to find roasted garlic in garlic fries, just minced garlic, which is totally different. The whole roasted garlic is so soft, like butter. You can't really appreciate the texture of roasted garlic in the minced versions. The fries were like $3 or something like that, which made it the most worth it menu item. But, the drinks were expensive. I didn't know my friends paid so much for it until I looked it up. They're amazing friends. I'm so lucky to have friends who know how much I love food and bless me with amazing deliciousness.

And of course, no Frying Pan trip is complete without people ballsy enough to go for a swim. I say ballsy because the restaurant was throwing ice buckets and whatever else over the boat. I definitely would not be swimming in that. The dumping of the ice buckets over the edge kind of grossed me out to get some of the splatter while we were eating.

By the time we left, it was like walking through a rave...on a boat that is. There were so many drunkards and loud, horny people. We were off to Ippudo!

Frying Pan
Pier 66
New York, NY 10011
(212) 989-6363

Frying Pan on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


So we decided to try out Lukshon after all the hype surrounding it. You mean, the guy who created Father's Office opened a Pan-Asian upscale restaurant that Asian Americans are liking? This is something I had to see for myself.

Sang Yoon did not disappoint. We didn't have really high expectations going in because most upscale Asian or Pan Asian places we've been to were pretty disappointing and there is also that immigrant parent voice in the back of my head saying good Asian food doesn't have to cost a lot.

We walked into a posh restaurant with long communal tables along with booths surrounding it. We sat in the middle long tables because the places was so jam packed and even had random side conversations with the people sitting next to us (they loved the food and were also Asian Americans).

We started with some drinks from the bar menu and then started the night off with The Spanish Mackerel.

The Spanish Mackerel was served sashimi style with coconut vinegar, jalapeño, lemongrass, green papaya ($14.00). I Loved the contrast in texture of the green papaya with the soft and tender flesh of the fish. It was simple, elegant, and to the point. It reminded me of the green papaya salad my vietnamese MIL taught me to make. I'd call it a fish salad if it's okay with you.

Then, in no particular order, the food started coming.

The Whole Steamed Fish with Taiwan spinach, black been ghee, sambal ijo (MP) was amazing. The fish flaked off so easily and I was sucking the meat off the bones. It was TO DIE FOR and cooked so perfectly only the eyeballs were left behind (and if my father was there, he'd gladly eat that, too).

This is the fish halfway through. The black bean ghee reminded me of jjajang (black bean paste) that Koreans use in jajang myun, or just as a dipping sauce. All the flavors worked really well. It was pretty expensive but I don't regret getting it.

Skirt Steak: Sichuan "au poivre," shishito peppers was $28.00 and enjoyed by my dining companions. I was not eating red meat at the time so I didn't get to try it but the two devoured every last morsel saying it was tender, with a lot of flavor.

Brussels Sprouts: Chile garlic vinaigrette, sesame was $9.00 and tasted carmelized and even my hubz who hates brussels sprouts ate about half of them.

The Heirloom Black Rice ($11) with lap cheong (sausage), onion, roasted garlic, topped with a sunny side up fried egg, was amazing. I've read about this dish on many foodie reviews and was dying to try it. It was decadent, flavorful, and the thing I keep thinking about when I think of Lukshon. This is the dish that is going to make me come back because I can just have that with a side of brussels sprout and a cocktail and I'm good!

The dessert is FREE. Just like how it should be!

It's definitely on the expensive side but we came here for a celebration dinner so we didn't feel like we were ripped off. For the ambience, service, and interesting fusion menu, I'd say it's worth it.
And I'll definitely be back for the heirloom black rice!

3239 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-6808

Lukshon on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


One of the most exciting things about going to Paris was KNOWING that I was going to be stuffing my face with one of these delectable morsels of heavenly goodness. Really, no macaron compares to these but at the same time, you must manage your expectations. They're not going to "shock" you if you've already had some macarons in the U.S. or anywhere else, really. It won't be drastically different than the kind you can get from Parisian patisseries in your neighborhood, but the slight difference you will find is in the ingredients and the natural flavors they use.

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