Hold the Tuna

April 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

Almost every time I go to Las Vegas, the first dinner is always at Kabuto Edomae Sushi. There’s already plenty of literature on why it’s a fantastic restaurant, so I won’t elaborate, but we’ve always enjoyed our meals here, and the price is really good for the quality, especially compared to similar places in NYC.

This time, though, I was accompanied by the burden of guilt. I had just read this fascinating and compelling article about endangered bluefin tuna, and I knew it was definitely going to show up more than once in the omakase. But I wanted to do my small part as a consumer and stop eating bluefin. So I had to steel my resolve before going so as not to chicken out. Think of the poor tuna!

It was mostly that I didn’t want to create a fuss at one of our favorite sushi restaurants. I don’t actually like tuna that much. Yes, fatty pieces of chutoro and otoro are objectively delicious, but I actually prefer leaner cuts of meat in general, and that includes tuna. I want to taste the flesh, not just fat. (I realize I’m definitely in the minority on this.) And when it comes to any kind of tuna, it’s just not as high on my list of loves as other things like giant clam, squid or amberjack.

Not tuna, still delicious

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Eating in New Orleans: Dessert & Oysters

April 6, 2016 § 8 Comments

15-sucre

Day 2

After spending the morning making an epic trek out to Bywater for barbecue, we parted ways for an afternoon of individual pursuits. Lucy went to the WWII museum, while I took a nap and Kaiti was supposed to go to yoga but ended up napping as well. Post-nap, the two of us decided to indulge our sweet teeth at Sucré, an adorable dessert shop nearby.

We probably went a little overboard ordering, as I was barely digested before our dinner a few hours later. Oops. In the moment, though, gelato and a s’mores skillet sounded like a great idea!

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17-sucre

I ended up in a lot of pain later from overeating, but in the moment, they were most certainly delicious. Thus I was still full by the time we got to the famed Commander’s Palace, all dressed to impress due to its strict dress code.

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Sadly, we didn’t get to see much of the fancy mansion or its courtyard because we got put in a side room that had its windows covered.

Our first course was the turtle soup, which I had never had before. It was good but not my favorite — glad to try it but probably wouldn’t order again. We also got the Commander’s Palace butcher block, which came with a variety of yummy meats, paté and dips.

For my entrée, I ordered the pecan-crusted gulf fish, apparently one of their signature dishes. It was amazing! The fish was incredibly tender, and I forced myself to finish it even though I was disgustingly full. We also got a side of crawfish tails, which was an unexpectedly generous serving, though it was less impressive to eat because it somehow didn’t have any flavor?

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Journey to the East (and Back)

March 22, 2016 § 6 Comments

The first thing on our itinerary for our second full day was to eat BBQ, at Kaiti’s request. (Girl is obsessed.) The best option in town seemed to be the Joint, located east of the French Quarter in a neighborhood called Bywater.

We knew nothing about Bywater before deciding in the morning to walk there. It was only two miles, we had ample time before the Joint opened and nothing else on our schedule. The weather was perfect for a nice morning stroll.

I did a cursory search of the neighborhood to get a feel for it and came across this article, which was not super helpful but at least gave me the sense that we wouldn’t get mugged on the way there. Apparently people love to describe Bywater as “gentrifying,” “great” or even “hipster” (just don’t mention Brooklyn), but that wasn’t really our impression.

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As soon as we left the French Quarter and crossed Esplanade Avenue, the vibe became much more residential. The streets were quiet, and we barely saw a soul. There wasn’t much of anything to look at except the occasional colorful house. Railroad tracks ran along the water, so any attempts to view the Mississippi River were blocked by industrial scenery.

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Our two-mile trek turned into three as we had to take a winding path due to random bits of construction. We passed maybe two or three businesses total. One of them was a combination bar, grill, game room and laundromat, which just delighted me. This is a picture of a different one I saw, but it was basically the same gist:

Everything you could ever want

Everything you could ever want

The Joint seemed like an oasis in the middle of suburbia. There was really nothing around that we could see. The nondescript restaurant already had two customers waiting outside by the time we got there 20 minutes before opening. We took the extra time to play in the park across the street (despite the sign warning not to trespass on private property).

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Eating in New Orleans: Pistolettes & Beignets

February 29, 2016 § 7 Comments

I think I’m addicted to bread pudding.

We ate it every night on this trip. It was so good every time! And so different from the mushy nonsense I had in San Francisco. But I’ll start at the beginning.

(I apologize that most of these photos were taking with my phone in dim restaurant lighting, so image quality isn’t great.)

Day 0

Due to major flight delays on my end, Kaiti and I got in around the same time, so we had a late dinner while waiting for Lucy. We needed somewhere close to the hotel that was open past 10 p.m., so we decided on the Original Pierre Maspero’s right around the corner.

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The seafood pistolettes (stuffed bread rolls) were the standout. Hot and creamy and delicious! The Crescent City sampler, which came with small bowls of gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish etouffée served as a proper introduction to Louisiana Creole cuisine. The latter in particular was my favorite: creamy and flavorful without being too salty.

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Holding back on the entrees meant more room saved for dessert, and this bread pudding did not disappoint! That’s a large dinner plate holding a serious hunk of bread. It was tasty and very dense, like carrot cake that had been made into French toast, though it wasn’t soaked all the way through so I wouldn’t give it a perfect 10/10. Either way, we didn’t manage to finish all of it and left stuffed.

Day 1

We started our day with arguably the most well-known of them all: Cafe du Monde.

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It was already pretty crowded by the time we arrived at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, but we found seating pretty quickly. (The line was out the door when we left later.) We were quickly introduced to the seemingly main demographic of New Orleans (or just New Orleans tourists): middle-aged white people, as far as the eye could see.

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I wasn’t expecting much from the beignets, considering I don’t like donuts and generally don’t like deep-fried foods. Still, we ordered two servings and got to eat two beignets each.

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Well, after tapping off 90 percent of the powdered sugar piled on top, I was irrevocably converted to a beignet lover at Cafe du Monde, solely because of how dense and chewy they were on the inside. Mmmmmm perfection.

We didn’t think our little breakfast would be enough to last the whole afternoon at the swamp, so we made a beeline for Central Grocery, which claims to be the originator of the muffuletta sandwich.

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San Francisco Day 3.2: Walk, Eat Until You Die

September 14, 2015 § 5 Comments

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I didn’t have definite plans for the afternoon, which is why I somehow agreed to the grueling hike over and up to Coit Tower from the Ferry Building (I think Kaiti was trying to kill me). It’s only a mile from the Ferry Building, but the last bit consists of 400 stairs, and I really thought I was going to die. I would’ve been fine if I weren’t sick, but alas, my body barely managed the climb.

Fresh-faced at the beginning of our journey

Fresh-faced at the beginning of our journey

So far away T__T

Halfway to the tower, but still so far away T__T

I took a lot of breaks LOL

I took a lot of breaks LOL

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UGHHH KILL MEEEE

Blackberries on the way up?

Blackberries on the way up

The views at the top of Telegraph Hill were a small consolation. The bottom level of Coit Tower had a cool wraparound mural and small gift shop. We didn’t go up the tower elevator because we didn’t want to wait in line, and sadly, we did not see or hear any parrots.

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Looooong Bay Bridge

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San Francisco Day 3.1: A New Morning

September 11, 2015 § 6 Comments

By Tuesday, I felt a bit better — still congested, achy and now coughing, but able to move around more and finally bring my camera (Olympus OM-D E-M5) out in the afternoon for some better quality photos.

Kaiti and I started our day early, heading out at 7 a.m. for a double whammy breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves and Tartine.

C&W is known for their Rebel Within, a poached egg inside a muffin speckled with green onions, which was reminiscent of Chinese scallion rolls (hua juan). I also couldn’t resist picking up a fig tart because they were so pretty!

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We got to Tartine before 8 a.m. and there was already a line forming outside. I was full, but we ordered a cup of bread pudding, a mini lemon tart and a pain au jambon (ham croissant).

I’m always drawn to bread pudding on dessert menus because I love bread and pudding. Yet somehow I’m never completely satisfied, I guess because I always expect it to be breadier? More like French toast maybe? Tartine’s bread pudding had the texture of watery scrambled eggs. I’m not saying it was bad, but I probably shouldn’t order bread pudding anymore.

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Canadian Sugar Mama (Day 2)

June 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

car

Carpool selfie! (cr: Xixi)

According to Chen, Seattle is boring and can be toured in about a day, so we somewhat hastily planned a visit Vancouver. (I use the word “planned” lightly as we were all too busy/lazy to figure out an itinerary until the last minute. We might not even have ended up going if I hadn’t booked a hotel??)

The four of us (minus Shirley) left the morning of the second day. The two-and-a-half hour drive passed by relatively quickly, probably because I was sleeping in the backseat, hehe. (Thanks for driving, Chen and Lucy!)

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Backseat buddies!

It was kind of scary having to turn off all our mobile services after crossing the border simply because we were so unprepared. On the way, we furiously Yelped a few places to eat while Lucy took screenshots of all the maps we’d need.

We were so preoccupied with simply having our passports (I might’ve threatened to maim anyone who forgot hers…only because I had a previous time-wasting experience of a friend forgetting his!) that we forgot one major detail: None of us had any Canadian money, and we had no idea where to find currency exchanges. And it turned out that I was the only one with a credit card that had no foreign transaction fees.

Conclusion: I became a sugar mama for 24 hours.

Everything from parking to souvenirs to meals were billed to me. (Give me all the points!) It was actually kind of fun? But only because I knew they would pay me back later! And it certainly made things easier not struggling to split the check at the table. (I kept all my receipts and spent some time with Excel upon returning to Chicago.) « Read the rest of this entry »

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