Apologies for the almost non-existence of me blogging. It’s been hectic for the past month with my mom’s health went on limbo; going back and forth from home to the hospital. She’s fine for the time being and at home. As for me, I haven’t been eating out a whole lot because of my mom and been living off of lots of coffee but still tired despite being caffeinated. Buh. I can’t win. Anyhoo, here’s where I’ve been to whilst I have a few hours to myself during the month of March.
Discovery of Soup Dumplings in the Upper East Side
For a very long time, like during mid-winter, I’ve been craving for soup dumplings. Why? Well, because I never had one but seen a vast amount of soup dumpling food porn from Robyn‘s Flickr photostream are feeding the fire. I’ve read somewhere on Chowhound that there were restaurants that serve soup dumplings! So, I had to make arrangements to eat out with a few people so I’ve brought along my co-workers, Mary and Liz to join me for lunch at Shanghai Pavillion. (It’s not a typo, it’s how they spelled “pavilion” it.)
Stepping in from the chilly, windy streets of the Upper East Side, we settled in our seats to an upscale Chinese restaurant filled with mostly non-Asian diners. Not unusual but I was hoping there would be some besides myself and Mary.
The pork soup dumplings arrived and the waiter served our soup dumplings. Since we’re pretty much novices to eating a soup dumpling, we tried taking small bites off of it. Some fared slightly messy, as in a trail of broth leaking out into ones soup spoon, or as graceful as I was, it sprayed all over my plate. Fair warning: this isn’t sexy food, people.
The dumpling’s skin was chewy, not so thick or thin and the filing was porky and had enough salt. I just wish the tongs they gave us wasn’t pierced since the dumplings started to leak out as I picked up my second one.
Since we can’t just live on two soup dumplings, we opted for the lunch special. When our appetizers arrived, they looked different than what we excepted. The soups are not what what it’s indicated on the menu. My tomato and egg soup is basically egg drop soup with a teaspoon’s worth of diced tomatoes. Mary’s corn soup is pretty much the same except the obvious of having corn kernels. Liz’s spring roll looked decent for what it is. I didn’t try it.
Moving on to our entrees, Liz’s beef with string beans were quite nice. The beans were cooked through yet still crisp. The beef was tender and the dish wasn’t salty nor oily. Mary’s ma po tofu was quite a spicy kicker. The tofu was silky, soft and the sauce was hot enough to make me cough a bit. I was hoping there was some minced pork bits floating around the sauce but this was vegetarian (at least in appearance). As for my pork with chili and dry bean curd, it was pleasantly hot that my palate was warmed by the chili peppers. The texture of the dry bean curd almost imitated my shredded pork’s texture except a little bit drier.
The lunch was good probably a bit expensive for what it’s worth but this is the Upper East Side.
Dinner at Shake Shack
The same day when I went out to Shanghai Pavillion, I met up with Giulia and her friend for dinner at Shake Shack. Yes, I’m nuts. As you might know, I am a big fan of their burgers but Giulia has never eaten their burger. She just heard about my ramblings of how awesome it tastes. Poor thing.
When I met up with Giulia, the place was already packed because they’re reserving the downstairs seating area for a private event. It’s inconvenient just because everyone is waiting for a table to sit and eat their food and knowing that it’s a Friday evening, it’s not going to be pretty. But thankfully, Giulia and her friend already held down a table before I got here.
Giulia and John received their food first. (We’ve ordered separately but sharing the concrete.) Just looking at the glory of Giulia’s first Shake Shack burger, I know she’ll be a very happy girl by the time she’s sinking her teeth in. What she told me about her burger was that she’s surprised how juicy and tasty the burger was despite the fact it was cooked to a medium. John didn’t say much because he had laryngitis but he was content with his burger and fries.
The Shacky Road Concrete made of their own dense, creamy chocolate custard, blended with almonds, large chunks (about the size of a die), and marshmallows. Basically, it’s a decadent version of the traditional Rocky Road. It’s decadent because frozen custard has a higher butterfat and egg yolk content than regular ice cream. This concrete tasted good but I felt like it’s missing something to make it memorable.
When my buzzer finally alarmed me to get my food, I happily ate my ‘Shroom burger. I was having a huge craving for gooey melted cheese and this burger is no exception. Imagine a large, crispy, fried, globe of portobello mushroom encased with a vast amount of melted muenster cheese, topped with a crisp green, fresh lettuce leaf, a slice of sweet tomato and Shack sauce. It also helps that this entire concoction is sandwiched in a soft, buttered bun that’s slightly toasted. Sweet jesus, I’m getting hungry just thinking about this burger again. Haha…
The frozen custard flavor of the day (back in March and on a Friday) was cinnamon toast. I shared the single dip since I tried to stomach some of the concrete earlier. Anyway, I love this custard more than the concrete. I loved the bold cinnamon-sugar flavor. But it’s not too cinnamony that it feels like it’s too spicy, it’s just perfect.
Wait! There’s A Little More…
For some strange reason, my stomach was going to explode after eating at Shack Shack (usually I do) that I asked Giulia if she’s up for gelato at Grom. Surprisingly enough, she had room for more dessert. That shocked me. Anyhow, I walked them over there and bestowed upon a very good place for gelato.
Despite the fact that we’re in a gelateria, Giulia opted for sorbets. Only. In my opinion, it kind of defeats the purpose of going to a gelateria. I would go piling on gelato when I’m in one but she said that when she was in Italy with her family and they go out for gelato, she always have sorbet. I think it’s weird but I respect her choice.
Anyway, she gotten herself a medium cup of mandarin orange and pomelo sorbets. When I tried a spoon of each flavor, they screamed ripe citrus fruits. The mandarin orange tasted like a sunshine of sweet, mellowed orange and the pomelo tasted like a not-so-tart grapefruit. It all went well together, even though it isn’t gelato.
When it comes to Grom, for me, that is, I almost always order their pistachio. It screams creamy, buttery, pistachio goodness in every bite. I paired it with their smooth, lemon sorbet because it’s tart and refreshing. And something to nullify the fat content of the gelato. Ahem.
1378 3rd Avenue (between E 78th & E 79th Streets)
New York, NY 10075 (map)
366 Columbus Avenue (between W 77th & W 78th Streets)
New York, NY 10024 (map)
2165 Broadway (between W 76th & 77th Streets)
New York, NY 10024 (map)