Sunday, 21 September 2014

Xi'an Famous Foods - New York City

Xi'an Famous Foods (@xianfoods) is a favourite amongst New York foodies. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation, MSN's Appetite for Life with Andrew Zimmern, New York Chow Report and various magazines. It has been referred to as a true New York success story, with its owners coming from humble background. Xi'an Famous Foods has been on my radar for a while, because I was born in the city of Xi'an and spent the first twelve years of my life there prior to coming to Canada. I recently visited Xi'an again, the second time since I came to Canada. Check out my travel page to see what I ate while I was there!

Xi'an Famous Foods started in Chinatown and now has 7 locations. We visited their Midtown location. It's just a short walk away from our hotel in Time Square. There was a line-up in the restaurant, but the service was swift. Their food preparation area is fully visible to the customers and I watched them beat the noodle against the countertop after we ordered, making that characteristic 'bi-ang' noise. Dinner & a cooking demo, not a bad deal. The interior was relatively small and quite busy, thus we took our order to go and ate in our hotel room.

Xi'an Famous Foods exterior & interior


Check out the picture of a cow on the left hand side of the following photo, can you guess what that means? It took me a long while, longer than I care to admit, to figure this one out. At first I thought, 'cows should not poop in this restaurant'. Right? Nah, it means 'No Buillshit'. Clever indeed.


Xi'an Famous Food menu


We got a lot of food, two types of hand-ripped noodles, an order of cold skin noodle and two stewed pork burgers. These food brought back so much memory from my childhood. It was quite nostalgic tasting Xi'an food, because of how difficult it is to find Xi'an food in Canada. Xi'an food is unlike the rest of Chinese cuisine due to its heavy Middle Eastern influence, resulting in very bold flavours using spices such as cumin.

I had their Concubine's chicken hand-ripped noodles while my dining companion had their spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles because I don't eat lamb. The hand-ripped noodles were luscious and had a great bite to them. The topping was authentic in flavour. I wish my noodle was spicier as I love my Xi'an food with a kick. If you are a spicy food lover, ask them to make it extra spicy for you.

Spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles - N1


Concubine's chicken hand-ripped noodles - N6


I also ordered their liang pi cold skin noodle to try, because this dish was a childhood favourite. When I was young, I would walk over to my favourite liang pi shop in Xi'an with 2.5 RMB (~ 0.4 USD/CAD) in my pocket and order a bowl of extra spicy liang pi to take home. I would always get the extra large bowl. I guess my gluttonous nature started at a young age. The liang pi from Xi'an Famous Food reminded me of growing up and taking that long walk to the liang pi shop. It was my favourite dish of the night.

Liang Pi cold skin noodles - A1


Lastly, the stewed pork burgers, another childhood favourite. It was quite good, although not quite the same as the ones I had growing up. The ones I had as a child was distinctively fattiers, with small chunks of fat throughout the burger, giving it an extra level of decadence. 

Stewed pork burgers - B1



I'm glad that we got to try Xi'an Famous Foods on our New York trip. It was a good experience and brought back so much childhood memory. 

Please see my travel page for more NYC restaurants! Follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous) for more food photos and fun!

Until next time,

A


Xi'an Famous Foods on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Marea - NYC

To be frank, I'm not a believer of saving the best for last. Why save the best for last when you can have the best first, now, all the time? Marea (@MareaNYC, @ChefBianco) was our best meal during this New York trip and it was our last dinner in the city. I wish we hadn't 'saved the best for last', our meal was so great that I would be happy to go back on another day of our trip if we could. 

Marea offers high-end Italian food and has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including two michelin stars. Marea's signature dish, octopus & bone marrow fusilli, was featured on New York Chow Report. It was a pure joy to watch and Marea has been on my radar ever since. I knew that I had to come to Marea during this trip to NYC.

Marea is located just South of Central Park, with a pretty and sleek interior. Drink wise, I had Sam's Answer from their cocktail menu. It is made up of vodka, st. germain, cucumber and grapefruit. This was the perfect cocktail for the humid, sticky, burning hot New York day we were experiencing. It was sophisticated and not too sweet. My dining companion had wine pairings for his first and second course. 

Sam's Answer
stolichnaya vodka, st. germain, cucumber, grapefruit


The food was amazing, all of it. We started by munching on bread. The olive focaccia was savoury and moist. I used it to mop up olive oil and later on my pasta sauce. This was followed by complimentary amuse-bouche. The salmon crudo made one tasty little bite.

Olive focaccia


Amuse-bouche


Onto appetizers, we had the involtini and zuppa. The involtini was golden and crispy on the outside and filled with juicy lumps of crab meat and lardo on the inside. The chilled pistachio soup was lusciously creamy and well balanced by the smokiness of the trout roe. It was delicious. 

Involtini
pork, crab, lardo, tomato honey


Zuppa
chilled pistachio soup, grilled calamari, radish, smoked trout roe


For our main course, we both had their handmade pasta. The Strozzapreti was the perfect pasta for seafood lovers, the generous lumps of crab together with the brininess of the sea urchin, brightened by a touch of fresh basil. It was topped with toasted breadcrumbs for a textural difference.

Strozzapreti
jumbo lump crab, sea urchin, basil


Now onto their signature dish, the very reason we came to Marea, the Fusilli. The octopus was braised in red wine with olive oil, garlic and sweet tomato sauce until fork tender. The beautifully braised octopus was then combined with rich bone marrow and shredded fresh basil leafs. This made the most delicious pasta sauce imaginable and it was topped with toasted breadcrumbs. We got a side of wild arugula, dressed simply in lemon juice and extra virigin olive oil, to balance the richness of the pasta dishes. This pairing was recommended by a friend and it was brilliant.

Fusilli
red wine braised octopus, bone marrow



Apologies if this following picture is a tad unappetizing, but I felt the need to show you what my plate looked like after I was done with it. If I had more bread, this plate would be completely cleaned off. Yes, it was that good.


Wild arugula & lemon salad


We of course had to have desserts. Have you seen anything so beautifully presented?

Panna cotta
caramelized goat milk panna cotta, almond, anise hyssop, melon granita


Caramello
chocolate cake, chocolate gelato, caramel sauce, crushed nuts, meringue



Complimentary dessert bites


Lastly, the service was good, as you would expect at a place like this, but I found our waiter to be a little bit too stoic. If that makes sense? He was knowledgable, helpful and polite, but rather serious. In fact, the whole experience had an air of seriousness for which I wasn't accustomed to, but I can't complain about the fast, thorough and helpful service.

This was our best meal in New York City and well-worth the trip. I would definitely go back to Marea whenever I'm back in New York. How can I not? :)

Please see my travel page for more NYC restaurants! Follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous) for more food photos and fun!

Until next time,
Allison

Marea on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Back from NYC - Blog posts coming up!

Hi there!

I'm back from New York City! (Actually been back for several days now...)
There are several blog posts in the works... stay tuned!
Here is what you can expect to see over the next week or so:

  • Amy's Bread
  • Five Napkins
  • Junior's
  • LadurĂ©e
  • Marea
  • Xian Famous Food
It'll be great, I promise. I cannot wait to share my trip with you! Here is a sneak peak...



Follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous) so you won't miss a thing! ;)

Thanks a bunches & with love,

Allison

Monday, 1 September 2014

Simply Gluttonous is going to New York City!

I'm going to NYC for the first time very soon! I'm excited! I thought I should share a screenshot of my custom NYC trip map, highlighting the landmarks we will be visiting (red), food places (gold), dessert shops (blue) and transit points (green). In case you are wondering, that little pink house looking thing is our hotel. :)

I'm excited to say the least. Let me know your thoughts and suggestions on Twitter or via email. :)

Follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous) to see my NYC adventure!

Speak to you all very soon,

Allison



Sunday, 31 August 2014

BiteBar


I discovered BiteBar (@Bite_Bar) by accident, while walking down a stretch of Elm Street that I never walked down before. The signage outside the store indicated a cupcake shop and I thought it wouldn't hurt to pick up a couple of cupcakes for dessert. Then into the store I walked and I was greeted by an array of beautiful and tiny creations... miniature cupcakes! Of course, duh, BiteBar. I should have figured that one out.

I feel that BiteBar should be featured on shows like Sex and the City or Gossip Girl (both are my personal guilty pleasures), with its chic feminine decor and its menu featuring cocktails and bite-sized desserts. I got a dozen mini cupcakes to go, which covers all of the cupcake flavours they offer. My personal favourites were:

  • Have A Mint, a mint & chocolate flavoured cupcake
  • Mocha Chocolate, mocha & chocolate flavoured cupcake
  • Cookies N' Cream: chocolate, vanilla & cookie crumble flavoured cupcake
These bite-sized cupcakes were truly delicious. I personally don't eat cupcakes very often, because they tend to be overly sugary. I liked that BiteBar topped each cupcake with rich semi-sweet buttercream, and not that sugary frosting that a lot of other cupcake producers use. I thoroughly enjoyed these miniature creations and I'd highly recommend BiteBar.

These cupcakes were so gorgeous, I had some fun photographing them. I took some photos with my iPhone 5s while I was in the store and I took lots more photos with my DSLR. Please enjoy the foodporn! ;)

For more photos of decadent food, delicious drinks and my adorable kitty Tumble, follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous)! Thanks a bunches.

Until next time my lovelies,

Allison


iPhone Photos:






DSLR Photos:





Wednesday, 27 August 2014

BerBer Social

I recently went to a bridal shower at BerBer Social. BerBer Social is a restaurant & lounge in the St. Lawrence Market / Old Town neighbourhood, opened by the owners of its next door neighbour, Sultan's Tent.

Upon my arrival, I was immediately impressed by the Middle Eastern/Northern African inspired decor. It reminded me of the Miraj Hamma Spa at the Shangri la Toronto. We each had a three course meal at 50 dollars per person. I didn't have exceedingly high expectations when it comes to the food, but the food was quite tasty. I started with the chickpea salad, pretty basic, but hearty. And the portion size was very large, considering that it's an appetizer featuring a starchy ingredient. For my main, I had their vegetable tangine, which was very delicious. It is named after the earthenware (tangine) the dish is cooked in. My tangine arrived at the table pipping hot, serving zucchinis, potatoes, carrots and yellow squash in almost a tomato stew. Despite my gluttonous nature, I quite love vegan dishes and I thought this vegan dish was very well done. The best part of the meal was the dessert. Rather than getting individual desserts, they made a carrot cake with coconut frosting for us. It was a gorgeous cake and so delicious. If I wasn't so painfully full from the enormous amount of chickpeas I had for appetizer, I would get a second slice. After dinner, we were entertained by a couple of gorgeous belly dancers. A lovely way to cap off a dinner I would say.

I had a lovely time at BerBer Social. Great food, even better company. Congratulations again Ayse, the beautiful bride!

For photos of food, drinks and my kitty Tumble, please follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous). Thanks a bunches!

Love,
Allison

BarBer Social exterior



BerBer Social interior


Appetizer - Chickpea salad


Appetizer - Tomato soup


Appetizer 


Main - Braised lamb


Main - Vegetable tangine


Dessert - Carrot & coconut cake




BerBer Resto Bar Lounge on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ramen Raijin

The last couple of weeks have been freezing! It was like October in August, which inspired today's post on one of my favourite Toronto ramen spots.

Ramen Raijin is situated at the corner of Gerrard St E and Yonge St, in the Ryerson/Discovery District neighbourhood. I have been here countless times since its opening. In my opinion, Ramen Raijin differentiates itself from other ramen shops in Toronto in two ways: its spacious interior and its generous portion size. There are several solid ramen shops in downtown Toronto, but they are small. Having to wait in line outside these shops in the cold bitter Canadian winter is just too much. I never had issue with getting a seat at Raijin, because of its large interior. 

At Raijin, the noodle and broth are house-made and packed with flavour. The miso broth is my personal favourite. It's savoury, luscious and with a hint of creaminess. The spicy miso ramen is also quite nice. I would typically get their gyoza or karaage to share, and I would get extra meat on my ramen for a few extra bucks. That should come as no surprise to you, considering gluttony seem to be a theme of this blog.

For photos of food, drinks and my kitty Tumble, please follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous). Thanks a bunches! 


Speak to you soon,

Allison
Gyoza
Pan fried Japanese dumplings


Miso ramen
soft boiled egg added


Miso ramen
with extra meat - a Simply Gluttonous usual


Tonkotsu ramen




Ramen Raijin on Urbanspoon
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