Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lunch at LouCas

LouCas: ExteriorAfter the Sunday mass, we went out for lunch. We were in the mood for Italian but we didn't want to go to Manhattan, so we knew that we had to go to LouCas for an excellent Italian food in our area.

When we arrived, we were surprised that the place was quite empty, there were only several people. I knew what I wanted for an appetizer: fried zucchini. It was very good, thin and crispy. While my husband ordered the appetizer special of the day: cream of Maryland crab, which was creamy but lacking the crab meat.

LouCas: Fried shoe string zucchini LouCas: Cream of maryland crab
Fried show string zucchini and Cream of Maryland crab

For the entree, we both had the day's special. I ordered lobster ravioli, it was very good. The ravioli was huge and had enough filling, the sauce was smooth, so yummy. My husband ordered diver sea scallops, another good choice. The scallop was tender and not overcooked, the risotto was creamy and perfectly al dente.

LouCas: Lobster ravioli LouCas: Diver sea scallops
Lobster ravioli and Diver sea scallops

The service was friendly, however it was a little bit difficult to find our waitress once they had more customers. She was very busy, we even had to ask another waiter for our check. The ambience was good, definitely a place to bring in family for a nice lunch or dinner.

We were very full and had to skip dessert. I was okay with it since I remembered that I still had lots of desserts at home that I bought from Tafu and Bouchon Bakery yesterday.


9 Lincoln Highway (Route 27)
Edison, NJ 08820
(732) 549-8580


Monday, April 28, 2008

Glico sweets fair at Mitsuwa Marketplace

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Glico sweets fair - displayMy husband and I love to go to Mitsuwa, so we try to go there often especially when they have special event. Last weekend they had the Glico sweets fair, so even though I had bought a lot of sweets from Tafu and Bouchon Bakery, I still persuaded my husband to check this out. When I arrived there I was disappointed since I thought that there would be special Glico items from Japan, unfortunately they only put their regular items out in front of the store.

I still got some goodies though: cream collon, capu-capu, strawberry kitkat, matcha kitkat and D-plus maple bread. They always have different kitkat flavors whenever I went there, so that is another reason why I love to go to Mitsuwa.

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Glico - Collon - cream Mitsuwa Marketplace: Glico - Caplico - capu-capu individual
Glico: Collon cream and Caplico capu-capu

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Nestle - Kitkat - strawberry (uncovered) Mitsuwa Marketplace: Nestle - Kitkat - matcha (uncovered)
Nestle: Kitkat strawberry and matcha

Mitsuwa Marketplace: D-plus - maple bread (unwrapped)
D-plus maple bread

When we go there, most of the time we get the soba from Kayaba, tempura for me and kitsune for my husband. Their soba is the best, the noodle itself is always al dente and the soup is very tasty. In addition to that, they are very cheap! That's why whenever we want soba we always go to Mitsuwa, since we have been to lots of soba places and no one beats them yet. I also got the green tea ice cream and cream yaki from Oishinbo.

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Mini tempura soba - from Kayaba Mitsuwa Marketplace: Kitsune soba - from Kayaba (another view)
Mini tempura soba and Kitsune soba from Kayaba

Mitsuwa Marketplace: Green tea ice cream - from Oishinbo Mitsuwa Marketplace: Oishinbo - cream yaki and tai yaki making
Green tea ice cream and and Cream yaki from Oishinbo

Then we went to Whole Foods to do some grocery shopping. From there we headed home, we were so tired and sleepy since we woke up early that morning.


Mitsuwa Marketplace
595 River Road
Edgewater, NJ 07020
(201) 941-9113


Good food from Paris Sandwich, Tafu, Bouchon Bakery

Paris Sandwich: ExteriorBefore going to Chicago, we took a small trip to Manhattan. We stopped by Paris Sandwich to pick up something for breakfast, we got green tea waffles (one plain and one with kaya), pancake muffins, grilled chicken sticky rice. The waffles only cost me $1 a piece (extra for the kaya), they were light and tasty. "Kaya" is a jam that is quite popular in Indonesia, I was pleasantly surprised to find it here. The sticky rice was also good, a little salty but it has a lot of meat in it mixed in. Unfortunately the muffins were disappointingly dry, and didn't really have much taste to them.

Paris Sandwich: Banh kep with kaya Paris Sandwich: Pancake muffin (unwrapped)
Green tea waffles with kaya and Pancake muffins

Paris Sandwich: Soi man (close up)
Grilled chicken sticky rice

Tafu New York: ExteriorWe then stopped by at Tafu. I love anything with green tea, so it's been a while since I wanted to go here and finally today was the day. When I opened the door, I was very happy to see a lot of goodies and wanted to buy one of everything :-) These were what I bought:
- Houjicha cheesecake: very creamy
- Matcha, Houjicha and Sakura truffle chocolates: good
- Matcha, Houjicha and Genmaicha cookies: dry
- Matcha daifuku: good
- Matcha cupcake: very moist, they were from Kyotofu
- Matcha rollcake: very good
- Matcha, Kocha, Plain financiers: very moist, they were from Kyotofu too

Tafu New York: Display Tafu New York: Display
Cheesecake and Daifuku display at Tafu

Actually I also wanted to try their iced latte, unfortunately the machine was broken so they didn't have it today. I guessed now I have more reasons to go back.

From Tafu, we went for more sweet at Bouchon Bakery, one of my favorite places to go. I told my husband that I had to go there at least once a month, crazy huh?! :-) Today I bought boston cream donut, flourless chocolate cake, spring bonnet and quiche lorraine. The donut was moist but dense, the custard was not too sweet. The chocolate cake was good and chocolatey. The spring bonnet was okay, the cake was a little bit too dense but the mousse was creamy. The quiche lorraine was amazing, the crust was flaky and buttery, the filling was smooth and not overcooked.

Bouchon Bakery: Boston cream donut (close up) Bouchon Bakery: Flourless chocolate cake (close up)
Boston cream donut and Flourless chocolate cake

Bouchon Bakery: Spring bonnet (in box) Bouchon Bakery: Quiche lorraine (close up another view)
Spring bonnet and Quiche lorraine

Then we went to Mitsuwa Marketplace for their Glico sweets fair, read about it on my next post.


Paris Sandwich
113 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-7221

569 Lexington Ave
Double Tree Metropolitan Hotel 1F
New York, NY 10002
(212) 980-1310

705 Ninth Ave
New York, NY 10019
(212) 974-6012

Bouchon Bakery
Ten Columbus Circle, Third Floor
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9366


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Desserts from Batch and L'Arte del Gelato

Batch: StoreBatch is owned by Chef Pichet Ong, who also owns P*ONG restaurant next door. He is nominated for this year's 2008 James Beard Award for outstanding Pastry Chef.

When we walked in, there was no customer, which was good for us since that meant we could take more pictures (and we did!). The bakery was very clean and neat, with a single refrigerated display case straight ahead, and an L-shaped white counter to the left. The display case and counter were packed with a variety of nice looking goodies.

Behind the display case a pastry chef was working, so I guess some of those desserts had to be pretty fresh. The man behind the counter immediately greeted us, and he was very nice and patient -- especially since we spent the next 15 minutes asking a bunch of questions about what they had on display (again, thankfully it was empty).

I bought a lot of goodies from here: chocolate pecan pie, Vietnamese coffee cake, pineapple tart, raspberry and cream cake, hazelnut chocolate layer cake, mango chai pudding, and ovaltine banana pudding rice crispies. Don't worry, we didn't finish everything in one day. We live in New Jersey and there are not too many places that sell good pastries and desserts, that's why I always buy a lot of goodies from Manhattan on the weekend for my sweets supply during weekdays; otherwise I will have to make my own (doesn't hurt to be a pastry chef).

Batch: InteriorWhen we were at the store, Chef Ong came in from P*ONG next door. I heard he mentioned that he was looking for something. Without hesitation, I asked the man behind the counter if it was ok to have my picture taken with Chef Ong. Right away he called the Chef and let him know of my request. Thankfully, he was nice enough and agreed to have a picture with me, eventhough he looked a little confused :-) Just in case you are courious too, I consider him one of the celebrity chef, so why not have my picture taken with him.

Batch: Display
Pastries on the counter. Note the bone shaped biscuit for your best friend

L'Arte Del Gelato: StoreSince I couldn't eat the stuffs from Batch in the car (I had not taken the pictures of any of them yet), I asked my husband to stop by at L'Arte del Gelato which was on the way to Holland Tunnel. We both loved their gelato as well as their sorbetto, the gelato is creamy and not too sweet. In addition to that the owner, who usually is behind the counter, is very friendly (you'll recognize him pretty easily). This time I got medium tiramisu and pistachio gelato, and as usual he gave me a sample (without me asking for it) which happens to be vanilla gelato. As we expected, the gelato was perfect!

L'Arte Del Gelato: Vanilla gelato (sample), tiramisu gelato and pistachio gelato (close up)
Tiramisu and pistachio gelato from L'Arte Del Gelato

Anyway, as soon as we arrived at home, we went to bed for quick nap eventhough it was almost 7 pm. We woke up very early that morning, and at this time our eyes could barely open. When we woke up around 9 pm, I started to take pictures of everything, then we decided to try the chocolate pecan pie, Vietnamese coffee cake and pineapple tart from Batch.

The chocolate pecan pie was good, the filling was not too sweet like most pecan pie is and the crust was not too crumbly.

Batch: Chocolate pecan pie (close up)
Chocolate pecan pie

The Vietnamese coffee cake was only ok, the texture of the cake itself was moist, however the coffee taste was not strong enough, we could barely taste the coffee. For me, it tasted like a plain cake.

Batch: Vietnamese coffee cake (close up)
Vietnamese coffee cake

As soon as I saw the pineapple tart at the counter, I wanted to try it, since I used to eat this when I lived in Indonesia, also I saw Chef Pichet Ong made it on Martha Stewart show. It didn't disappoint me, the filling was not too sweet, the dough was not too crumbly, just a perfect combination.

Batch: Pineapple tart (close up)
Pineapple tart

Since we had a late lunch (at around 3 pm) and we're still full, we decided not to have dinner in addition to the sweets. Then before went back to bed, since I was still excited after seeing Pope Benedict XVI, I decided to write my very first post on this blog. That's wrapped up my whole experience of the day, what's another wonderful day.

The following night after we had dinner, we charged on to finish the remaining pastries from Batch.

The raspberry and cream cake was just as the name suggested. Layers of vanilla sponge cake and vanilla buttercream with raspberry fruits, covered with sparkly buttercream with raspberries on top and ground nuts coating on the side!! We thought it tasted pretty good, but not exceptional.

Batch: Raspberry and cream cake (another view)
Raspberry and cream cake

Next was the hazelnut chocolate layer cake, which we thought was much better than the raspberry -- except that we couldn't really taste the hazelnut. Chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate ganache and chocolate cookie crumbs on the sides.

Batch: Hazelnut chocolate layer cake (close up)
Hazelnut chocolate layer cake

The mango chai pudding consisted of a mango puree at the bottom, chunks of sponge cakes, chai pudding and sprinkles of shaved chocolate with bits of something that we were not sure of. Taste wise, though, it was a disappointment. The mango puree was too sweet and we could not taste the mango flavor (more like syrup than puree). The chai pudding had an unusual taste. Overall, we didn't enjoy this.

Batch: Mango chai pudding (uncovered)
Mango chai pudding

The Ovaltine banana pudding rice crispies is probably Chef Ong's most famous creation. Ovaltine pudding with chunks of chocolate cake, sliced of bananas and sprinkled with caramelized rice krispies. This was actually pretty good, especially if you get rice krispies chunks in the scoop. The Ovaltine pudding was creamy and definitely has the chocolate-y flavor.

Batch: Ovaltine banana pudding rice crispies (uncovered)
Ovaltine banana pudding rice crispies

With this, we finished all the goodies that we bought from Batch. We will go back in the future, but after we try P*ONG first.


150B W 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 929-0250

150 W 10th Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 929-0898

L'Arte del Gelato
75 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-0803


Late lunch at Kampuchea

Kampuchea Restaurant: StoreWe read about Kampuchea several months ago, and had been planning to dine there for a long time but somehow never materialized -- until now. A late lunch sounded like a good idea (hint: less crowd).

The first think we noticed was the mural of a giant rooster on the wall next to the entrance. Certainly a little different. As we walked in certain things stood out: the wooden tables and stools, the smallish open kitchen, and the wine rack on the wall.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Interior Kampuchea Restaurant: Interior
The interior

Our waitress was very nice and helpful, she gave us some good recommendations and suggestions on what to try. That coupled with some prior knowledge from other bloggers and reviewers, we ordered the tamarind baby back ribs, catfish savory crepes, and sandwich tasting (which came with a choice of 3 sandwiches). If we had some room left, we would try the noodle.

The tamarind baby back ribs was good, the meat was very tender and tasty -- they fell off the bone easily -- with a dab of a spicy glaze brushed on the surface. It came with a lime dipping sauce, and (even more) spicy pickle. We discovered the best way to enjoy the ribs was to eat it with the dipping sauce to cool it down, followed by a little bit of the pickle. It was hot, sour and cool at the same time but in a good way.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Tamarind baby back ribs (close up)
Tamarind baby back ribs

The catfish savory crepes was our favorite, even though the sauce was a little bit on the sweet side that it just too overpowering on its own. Fortunately it came with a bowl of fresh lettuce, which the waitress explained should be used to wrap the catfish nuggets. The 'wrap' certainly brought the sweetness down and worked very well with the dip. Note that it only came with 2 lettuce, so you're bound to have leftover catfish -- which we just ate with the crepes.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Catfish, ground pepper, honey soy, sesame seed (close up)
Catfish, ground pepper, honey soy, sesame seed crepe

Lastly was the sandwich tasting. We chose sweet pulled oxtail, hoisin pork meat balls, and coconut tiger shrimp. The last time I ate oxtail was at Brasserie 8 1/2, which was really good so I had high expectations. I wasn't disappointed, as the oxtail was very tender and tasty, my favorite out of our three choices. My husband, though, preferred the meat balls. Although the meat balls were tender, for me it was only ok, maybe because there was not enough sauce. The shrimp was disappointing, as it again didn't have enough spices in my opinion.

Kampuchea Restaurant: Num pang (sandwich) tasting (another view)
Num Pang (sandwich) tasting

At the end, we were full and decided not to get the noodles, maybe next time?

After we paid the bill (wow, they certainly add up), we walked back to our car which was parked right in front of 'inoteca (on the other end of the block). Eventhough I was full, there's always room for dessert. In my world, the meal is not complete without it. So, we stopped by teany (which was on the same block) to take a peek, and perhaps to grab a dessert. Sadly there was nothing of interest. Next to teany was another small cafe called Bruschetteria, no dessert but maybe it's worth a future visit.

teany: Store Bruschetteria: Store 'inoteca: Store
Lots of restaurants on this block

Then I remembered that Chef Pichet Ong just opened a bakery next to his famed P*ong restaurant, so I made an executive decision to go pay a visit to Batch.


Kampuchea Restaurant
78 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 529-3901


Monday, April 21, 2008

Breakfast from Ceci Cela Patisserie

Ceci Cela Patisserie: StoreOn that Saturday, we needed to grab an early breakfast, and surprisingly most bakery and pastry shops do not open until 7:30 am. Fortunately Ceci Cela Patisserie was open at 7:00, so it was an easy decision. Situated about a block away from Balthazar on Spring St., Ceci Cela stands out with the yellow painted wall frame and a contrast blue awning. It definitely has a rustic look, although the condensation on the glass display detracts from the nice display of pastries and desserts inside.

As I walked in, the store was empty, and the staff was still bringing pastries from the kitchen downstairs (that opening in front of the store leads to the kitchen). The last time I stopped by, it was late in the day and there were not a lot of choice, so I didn't get anything. This time I was determined not to leave empty handed. Browsing over the display, I picked up our safe choices for breakfast (plain croissant and ham and cheese croissant). In addition, I also bought mini fruit danish, mini chocolate croissant, mini orange brioche, bags of mini palmiers, mini madeleines and mini pistachio madeleines -- you can see a pattern here.

The plain croissant was good, I definitely could taste the butter, but the outside was not crispy enough. I still prefer the croissant from Patisserie Claude though, which in my opinion is the best croissant -- crispy and flaky outside, chewy and buttery inside, even thinking about it makes me happy :-)

Ceci Cela Patisserie: Plain croissant (another view)
Plain croissant

The ham and cheese croissant was interesting, with a baked melted cheese on the surface that gave it a crusty cheesy texture at the top. Again, I could taste the butter, but there was only a small amount of ham & cheese inside, considering the size of the croissant. I think if they make the croissant shell smaller it'll be perfect (or more ham & cheese inside, depending on your point of view).

Ceci Cela Patisserie: Ham and cheese croissant
Ham and cheese croissant

We didn't touch the rest of the pastries until the evening. The mini fruit danish was soggy by then, but still tasted good (your standard danish fare). Surprisingly the mini chocolate croissant held up well, maintaining the crispy outside texture and butter flavor. The mini orange brioche was disappointing, though, since the taste of rose water was too overpowering -- my husband actually felt a little queasy while consuming it -- so be forewarned.

Ceci Cela Patisserie: Mini fruit danish, Mini chocolate croissant, Mini orange brioche
Mini fruit danish, Mini chocolate croissant, Mini orange brioche

Next came the cookies. The mini palmiers were good, very crunchy texture and I thought just the right balance of sweetness and butter. Mini madeleines were also surprisingly good, moist and buttery enough, my husband liked it. The mini madeleines are normally drier than the regular ones, so I was pleasantly surprised.

The mini pistachio madeleines were a different story, though. They were dry and the taste of pistachio were not strong enough. This in spite of the visible piece of pistachio that was embedded in each cookie.

Ceci Cela Patisserie: Mini palmiers, Mini madeleines, Mini pistachio madeleines
Mini palmiers, Mini madeleines, Mini pistachio madeleines

Overall, I liked the ham and cheese croissant the most out of everything that I bought from Ceci Cela Patisserie. I won't be back anytime soon though.


Ceci Cela Patisserie
55 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 274-9179