262016May

First Eats in NYC, Onigiri

After getting situated in Chelsea it was time to find a bite to eat. Being close to Madison Square Gardens you’re surrounded by plenty of places to eat. However, if you just came off a red eye flight, took the train to Penn Station, and were still on West Coast hours, you’re probably looking for a lighter meal. I found that at Cafe Hanamizuki, a quaint little restaurant surrounded by the less refined shops catering to the eat and go lunch crowds.

Inside you’re greeted by a bright interior leading up to the register. There’s several small tables for more intimate gatherings and stools against the wall table for those dining in singularity. It’s not your sit and be waited on type of place, even though when you pay you’ll be prompted for a tip. But there was someone going around cleaning up, so hopefully that was for them.

The food is already prepared and ready so all you have to do is pick and choose, pay, and find a seat. I think the lunch set was the right size of soup, side dish, and onigiri.

Cafe Hanamizuki
143 W 29th Street
New York, NY 10001
Chelsea, Midtown West
+1 (212) 695-5533
hanamizukiny.com

Verdict: If you’re looking for a light meal and don’t mind the prices, give it a try. But it’s price point wasn’t worth it.

292015Nov

Shika Teppan-Yaki

It was my friend’s birthday and we decided to head out for Japanese. Unsure of what exactly we wanted, sushi or teppanyaki we opted for Shika Teppan-Yaki. It’s situated in Causeway Bay a little bit away from the busy streets. That set up the hopes for a nice dinner with my friends as we walked there. Inside, the place was set up for both sushi and teppanyaki. That is, one side was the sushi bar and perpendicular to it were teppanyaki stations. Even though we weren’t going to do teppanyaki we wanted to do the round tables instead of the sushi bar. It would be easier for us to talk. I have to say, not the best move since there was a cook at our station and he was cooking meals, not for us, but for others.

There were rooms available where they had just plain tables. However, after talking to the host, they were unavailable. Kinda not cool because no one was in there during our whole meal. Though, I’ll just imagine that the people that booked it was a no show. Not going to ping their service on that. What I will note though was our dishes were served without any explanation. Sure, that’s minor and we were the ones that ordered, but this was chef’s choice. Omakase as you will, at $988HKD. The only thing we specifically added was the wagyu sashimi. Everything else was selected by the chef. Would love to have at least our server go over the course with us. So bare with me on the dish explanations below. I’m assuming that’s what I ate. I hate to recommend or not recommend a restaurant based on service. So on to the food.

The food was hit and miss. More hits than misses, though one was a huge miss. But given the price point I’d have to say I wanted better.

Shika Teppan-Yaki
477 Jaffe Rd
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
+852 2892 8819

Verdict: I can’t recommend this place. There is huge competition in Hong Kong for upscale Japanese restaurants and this one doesn’t cut it for me.

182015Jun

Squid Fishing

Out in Penghu, a small island chain west of Taiwan, there’s a local tourist activity of squid fishing. That’s right. Just when you thought shrimp fishing was challenging enough, here comes squid. I guess these things do get caught somehow. Now we, and a boat full of others, will find out how. I take that back, I’m pretty sure this wasn’t how it’s done.

We signed up for the trip at our hotel and went down to the dock close to sunset. It was an easy scooter ride there. It’s a short wait for everyone to get there and for them to start. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Everyone gets a life vest. You pick up your size and put it on before boarding.
  • Find yourself a seat on board, either inside or out. We picked outside to ensure we had a seat together in our group.
  • The boat ride out was about 30 minutes.
  • Once there, they turn on the lights in the water. That’s about when you start fishing.
  • Drop your line to about a few feet off the sea floor. Don’t worry, it won’t snag on anything.
  • Then wait. Patience.
  • We didn’t catch anything. So I don’t know what happens after that.

Some notes:

  • There was food toward the tail end of the trip.
  • Bring a light jacket. It can get a little chilly at night.
  • The whole trip takes about 2-3 hours.

Even though we didn’t have a grand story to tell of the giant kraken that got away, I’d have to say the experience was unique. I mean come on, how many times do you think you’d go fishing or even squid fishing. Not often huh? But unique enough for me to spend about 3 hours on a fishing boat with tourists? No. There’s this wonderful island to explore and I’d rather be in town eating and exploring. And that’s what we did after getting off the boat. Luckily there were still places open.

Verdict: Don’t do it!

 

062015Apr

Cat Cafe

In Myeongdong you’ll find plenty of things to shop for. But when your feet are tired and you need that caffeinated pick me up, where else to go then… a cat cafe? Yes, a place where you enjoy your coffee in a room full of frolicking felines. A hellish place for those with allergies yet a bewildering place for people like me. There’s also a dog cafe around the corner. I stopped by. The place looked rather small and having dogs roaming around may be a recipe for disaster. Plus this post is title “Cat Cafe”, so let’s get back to that.

The place was rather difficult to spot and don’t count on Google maps to get it right. Streets in Myeondong can be small and the naming/numbering convention can lead you astray. You could probably also ask the people holding up signs for it. A group of foreigners told me about them when I came out of the dog cafe. We happened to be going off directions to an old place that shut down. This place was new-er. Okay. Wish I knew the whole story here. Oh well, we were able to find it.

First off, I love dogs and cats. Never had one growing up though. So when I walked it, the first thing that hit me wasn’t how nice and clean the place looked, it was the smell. Best way to describe it was, it smelled very, err, feral. No matter what, animals are animals. With cats, they tend to mark things. And if you probably know how they go about marking. The owners are well aware of this and supply every customer with a plastic bag to store your belongings. And trust me, you need it. I happened to witness a lady who didn’t seal up her bag. And in slow motion I saw a cat casually walk up to the lady’s bag while she gleefully held up her phone snap off a picture, I muttered “I think that cat is going to…” The cat let the lady know what it thought of her Louis Vuitton bag. Yikes.

On the positive side, there were a great variety of cats. From Saimese, to Siberian, and even Sphynx, there were more than enough. Most slumbered away, but the social ones came to visit us.

I think this place is great for cat lovers, though for the rest of us. I don’t think mixing a cafe with a petting zoo quite works. And I have to say, this place seemed to have it together. Just not my cup of tea.

Cat Cafe
3F, 37-14, Myeongdong 8-gil
Jung-gu

SeoulSouth Korea
+82 02-3789-2207

Verdict: Pass. Intriguing concept, but for the most part, you’re not missing much.

032015Apr

Baekje Samgyetang

I have to admit, it was cold and rainy, so I wanted something soupy. And of course, something healthy to fight off any chance of a cold. Getting sick in this town of eats would be devastating. So off to a popular destination in the heart of Myeongdong, Baekje Samgyetang. It’s on the second floor which we missed the first time we walked by.

Inside, it’s a very spacious establishment. Plenty of tables for all party sizes. We got a table for two pretty easily. Not to say it was empty, it was almost full and a bit early for dinner. Yeah, being a tourist has its perks. After we sat down the waitress came over. And guess what, she spoke Chinese to us. She assumed we were Chinese and at least she was half right. But the thing we learned was, this place was heavily advertised in Chinese tour books. And of course they get lots of Chinese tourists so they are staffed with Mandarin speakers.

We ordered the basic meal of stuffed chicken soup. I chose the one with ginseng and black chicken while my friend chose the the normal ginseng chicken. The food came out quick along with the banchan. At first, we were disappointed. Adding the salt and pepper, upped our feelings to a little disappointed. Then came the kimchi. That got us to meh. Unfortunately, that was the overall feel here. I really wanted it to be awe inspiring. Gotta find local recommendations next time.

Baekje Samgyetang (백제삼계탕)
8-10, Myeongdong 8-gil,
Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 02-776-3267

Verdict: You can probably find better places than this and I recommend you do so.

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