Archive for the 'Restaurants' Category

Di Di Dumpling in Flatiron

What is a good Chinese restaurant without a stupid name? We’ve all had our fair share of Famous Sichuan, Joe’s Shanghai, Golden Jade, Grand Sichuan, Tokyo Kitchen, but I think Di Di Dumpling takes the top of the list of stupid Chinese restaurant names. (I know that Tokyo is in Japan, but the restaurant is labeled, “Tokyo Kitchen: Chinese Restaurant.”) Di Di specializes in making dumplings. They offer both pot stickers and then the traditional dumpling. You can make it a meal with hot and sour soup, lo mein, or tempura. I’d just like to reinforce that their speciality is dumplings, the hot and sour soup is mostly sour, the lo mein has no taste, and the tempura was just too scary looking to try.

The counters have sets of four sauces: potstickers, dumpling, red chili, and rice vinegar. The potstickers sauce was sweet, so I poured tons of that in the hot and sour soup to try to balance out the flavors. The dumpling sauce tasted like soy sauce, so that was added to everything. And then of course hot sauce was added to everything too. After draining half of each bottle, the side dishes were excellent. The potsitckers didn’t need much sauce because those were delicious. I’d certainly recommend the potstickers, and even the dumplings, but stay far away from the lo mein.

Drinks at Cafeteria

Last summer was filled with booze, restaurants, and stupidity. I went out to restaurants nearly three times a day (no breakfast, but certainly indulged in late night drunken meals), Starbucks multiple times a day, and then headed to the bar at least four times a week. I shudder on the thought of how much I spent. But it was my first summer of living in New York and I didn’t care.

I used to think this summer lived in the shadows of last, but I’ve come to stop comparing them. This summer is different. I’m not eating out as much. I only drink Starbucks once a week. And I can count the amount of times I went to a bar or club on my hand. (Half of my hand, even.) I’ve fully embraced my inner workaholic and I am working a full time job, part time job, and then an internship. I don’t need to work this much, but I find it fun. I find it fun to be productive and I love the discounts at Club Monaco. But the weeks have been flying by and I haven’t had the time to enjoy my summer.

I was invited out for drinks with a few friends at Cafeteria. I’ve always wanted to try this place, but it is on the 7th Avenue and we all know how often I venture that far west. So meeting up with friends was the perfect spark to head out there. The drinks were typical for Manhattan  – $12-14 a drink. I’m pretty sure they are aware of how ridiculous the prices are because there are no prices on the online cocktail menu. But we decided to skip individual drinks and order carafes.

We asked the waitress how many drinks we can expect to pour from the carafe. “Oh, five to six!” We figured that it would bring each drink to less than ten dollars and ordered two. A friend and I shared a White Peach Punch ($40) and the other two shared a White Sangria ($30). Five minutes later, the waitress returns to our table, “Your drinks are currently being made! So does this mean that you want to order any food?” So does this mean? Why would us ordering drinks imply ordering food as well? But being the fatasses that we are, we decided to go with the Rosemary Grilled Flatbread, which consisted of hand stretched foccacia, roasted artichokes, goat cheese, truffle oil, arugula and shaved parmesan. The waitress returned with two relatively small carafes, “Oh, I brought you the big glasses so you’ll get about 4 drinks from each!” I looked around the room – there weren’t any smaller glasses. But even with four drinks, that would make my drink $10 even, and then White Sangria would be even less per drink. No big deal.

The grilled flatbread came and it was out of this world. The drinks were strong and we were maintaining a nice buzz, but my friend and me decided to order another carafe. We tried a sip of our friends’ White Sangria and it was great, so we bought one of those. She came back with two new glasses – one of which was smaller than the other, so we realized that she wasn’t a conniving bitch. But we filled those to the brim and only received two glasses each from it. Chugged those.

The bill came and I just threw down my credit card. I’ll worry about how much I charged to it later. I just wanted the night to be fun. I’ve been working too hard and this was the perfect reward. I felt young and free again.

Meatpacking District: Artichoke

My friend and I wanted to take advantage of the decent weather, so we thought to go to the Highline. We’ve talked about it all summer, but never actually quite made it over there. So we grabbed coffee on 14th and headed over on a bus. We walked up to the Highline on the 14th Street entrance, walked three blocks, and saw our favorite pizza shop, Artichoke, down below and left the Highline.

We usually stumble to their East Village location at odd hours of the night thinking that it was the only one, so it was such a shock to see that they have another location in Meatpacking. (Their website reveals a third location. Go Artichoke!) The pizza is a little expensive – $4.50 a slice – but it is absolutely delicious! Their main pizza is called ‘Artichoke’ and is artichoke hearts, spinach, cream sauce, mozzarella, and pecorino romano cheese. They also offer other ones like margarita, but those are not worthy of a mention because artichoke is that amazing.

This location differs from the rest in that it has seating that isn’t a broken bench outside and that it actually fits more than two people. The waitresses were not the friendliest people, but as if bad customer service would keep me away from delicious pizza. The pizza is so gooey and thick and just out of this world.

I’m a huge fan of its exterior – very Meatpacking District and very Italian. And the Range Rover just adds to the aesthetics.

Hell’s Kitchen: Room Service

I took the weekend off from work to relax and rewind. Most of my friends, including myself, are leaving the city next weekend, so I figured I’d have an extended weekend with them this week. I’ll have to work double this upcoming weekend, but that’s fine.

I met up with three friends last night for dinner. One of them suggested going to Room Service, a Thai restaurant that I’ve been eager to try since I discovered it on Yelp a few weeks ago. Room Service has two locations in the city, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. If anything indicates quality and quantity in New York, it is having multiple locations. Spice, a popular Thai restaurant, has nine locations in the city. My beloved Cafetasia has two. And then there’s Holy Basil with only one, for good reason.

One friend had preference to the Hell’s Kitchen location because she had to leave after, so we made the trek there. I’ve always felt that Hell’s Kitchen is too far out of the way and has unreliable subway lines (ACE,123), but the neighborhood is loved by its residents. Personally, I’m more of a fan of Greenwich Village or Union Square, which both have amazing accessibility to multiple subway lines, as for I like to travel and go throughout the city. But there are some self-sustaining neighborhoods, like Hell’s Kitchen and Siberia Battery Park City that work for their residents.

We started off the dinner with two appetizers: Sesame Tofu and Flank Steak. Sesame and tofu are one of the few tasteless ingredients in the world, so the thought of ordering them together was a little stupid, but they turned out okay. We asked for soy sauce in addition to the sauce that came with the sesame tofu and proceeded to drown them in both. The flank steak was a complete miss. It claimed to have come in a “roasted jasmine rice sauce,” but that sauce tasted like balsamic vinegar. And I hate balsamic vinegar.

I ordered extra, extra spicy Chicken Basil Noodles as my entree. I was excited because I love spicy basil noodle dishes and I now had the opportunity to use my green chopsticks. It’s nice when Asian restaurants uses plastic (and sometimes ceramic) chopsticks instead of the break-apart wooden ones. There also seems to be something marketable in green features – Starbucks having green straws, Room Service having green chopsticks – both of which I think are really cool. The actual dish was tasty. I won’t say that it is the best chicken basil udon I ever had, because there was hardly any chicken, but it was not bad. It was only $8.90, so it isn’t like I could complain. It was a relatively large proportion and the flat rice noodles were great.

I recommend Room Service as a cheap lunch or cheap dinner. I wouldn’t order any appetizers though. You can get Pad Thai and Basil Noodles for $8.90 each. Leave a little tip and dinner for two can be about $20 dollars total for two.


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