Snacking around the LES

There’s been a lot of places opening this week that actually strikes my interest, such as Landmarc in the Time Warner Building and where I visited yesterday afternoon, Roasting Plant, that I’ve read from Grub Street earlier in this week.

Roasting Plant

To those of you who’ve read my blog for a while, I’m a java junkie. I live for good coffee (and chocolate but that’s a whole ‘nother subject). Heck, where I attend to school in the Upper West Side Starbucks is EVERYWHERE that I could only live off of Bouchon Bakery’s coffee when I’m in dire need of caffeine. I don’t really like Starbucks coffee because it tastes a bit too burnt and their latte is too milky. I’m all for the independent coffeehouses like Joe (for their house drip) or Ninth Street Espresso (for their delicious latte). Sure I like the aforementioned places but I’m always up for a better cup of coffee. Here’s the interior photos…

Interior view Interior view

Cool, funky artwork Cool artwork

I really love the design of this space, even though it’s small but it feels roomy and a great place to hang out for a while. But the thing that gets my attention is this Wonka-esque coffee storage, as you’ll see below.
The coffee... Oh, the choices…

Wonka-esque Coffee

What I learned from one of the employees, he explained that their coffee (from various regions, e.g. Kenya, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, etc.) is roasted on-site and gets rested for about at least overnight to a day, so that the coffee “de-gases” so the coffee drinker would not have an initial off taste. Then they load up the beans to that contraption you have seen before and it’s ready to be ground and brewed to your cup of coffee (drip and espresso) the moment you order. Now, that’s a great idea. I just wish I could have all of that in my house…but I know it’s not going to happen anytime soon since I don’t have that much space or the money to do so.

Anyways, I’ve gotten myself a medium Ethiopian cup of coffee ($2).

The lovely crema in my coffee

At first glance from this cup, this was unexpected: the crema. Crema is usually found in espresso drinks and I have never encountered that when I’m drinking drip coffee in any coffeehouse I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to many). This is certainly most welcome. Since I like some of my coffee with a touch of milk and went to the spot where they had the milk and sugar, they have all of this (seen below). I think my sugar-loving friend who drinks coffee will love to see that for her morning coffee.

Sweetener choices

When I took my first sip of coffee, this is the BEST coffee I have ever encountered so far. It’s smooth, some fruity notes, and bold, along with that velvety crema…oh jeez. I need to go down here more often. Somehow I need to plan out how to get down to the LES and up to the Upper West Side just before my classes start. Hmmm…

I should mention that they do have really fabulous pastries (I sampled their lemon poppy muffin). I didn’t order them just because I wanted a cupcake (which you’ll read later on). Here’s a few of their pastries sold there…

Scones Scones…looks tasty

Croissants Croissants

Danishes Danishes

Puff Pastries

After having my much needed caffeine kick, I went off to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for their cupcakes.

Sugar Sweet Sunshine

It’s been too long since I went there, I think it’s about eight months or so… I just want their cupcake, hoping that it is still as good as I remembered it.

Pistachio... Pistachio

Sassy Red Velvet Cupcakes

Sunshine Cupcakes

After contemplating which flavor I want amongst the others, I opted for their “Yummy Lemon” cupcake ($1.50).

Cupcake in half

Cupcake innards

As you can see, their cupcake is a bit dry. I don’t know if their quality has fallen or it’s just happen to be a slightly overbaked batch. It still tastes fine though. It had a nice lemony flavor and a sweet icing, with a fine, tender crumb. I’m just a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as moist as I have remembered it.

Afterwards, I walked over to Whole Foods on Bowery for their pommes frites. I know, very nutritious food. I bought the “Mini” portion ($2.99) salted with Red Hawaiian Sea Salt and two sauces, the Roasted Garlic Aioli (basically a mayonnaise) and Moroccan Chermoula Mayo (additional 69 cents since it’s an extra sauce).

Pommes Frites The frites

My Sauces for Frites Sauces

They do give you a lot of sauce than needed and since I was indecisive between two sauces, I ended up splurging (calories and a tiny bit of cost). The fries or frites, are coated in Red Hawaiian sea salt just because I never tasted it before and I might as well try it, amongst the other four choices. Anyways, the fries were fine not extraordinary, as I usually find for Whole Foods’ prepared food. The fries were a bit too salty and the fries range from crisp to soggy.

Close up of the pommes frites Close up

The sauces are mayonnaise based and they are decent. The Moroccan Chermoula was interesting due to the many variations of spices in chermoula.

Frite covered with Moroccan Chermoula Mayo

The roasted garlic aioli tasted fine. It had that sweet, roasted garlic flavor with a tiny bit of tang from the mayonnaise.

Frite covered with Roasted Garlic Aioli

If you really want good pommes frites, I would highly suggest you to go to Pommes Frites in the East Village. Their frites are so much better and consistent, also their sauces are more creative and tastier.

I wished had gelato but since I didn’t have the stomach space or the time to do so, I have to leave as is. That’s my afternoon snacking in the Lower East Side.

Roasting Plant
81 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Sugar Sweet Sunshine Bakery
126 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

Whole Foods
95 E Houston Street
New York, NY 10002

Other Stuff To Mention…

Some of you wanted to know what some of the pastries my aunt who visited recently, looked like. Here’s a Kee Wah Red Bean Paste filled pastry and one of those Green Bean Paste filled pastry from a traditional bakery, Hang Heung. There were a lot more varieties but by the time I took the photos, most were consumed by my family.

Red Bean Pastry from Kee Wah Bakery Red Bean Paste Pasty (unwrapped)

Another view of innards of Red Bean Pastry Split in half

Innards of Red Bean Pastry from Kee Wah Bakery Innards

What I love about Kee Wah is that their pastries have thin, flaky crusts and it’s packed with TONS of filling, whether it’s bean paste or lotus paste (my fave), and I haven’t found any Chinese bakery in NYC that has that kind of quality.

The box of green bean pastries The box

A box full of green bean pastries A mess of a box of green bean filled pastries

Green Bean Pastry The pastry

Green Bean Pastry - innards Innards

I had a Kee Wah version of this above pastry, obviously Kee Wah is better just because there’s so much more filling. This one from Hang Heung, had a really thick, flaky crust and not so much paste filling. Their wife cakes and red bean cakes fared a lot better but my mom ate most of them that it’s gone by the time I took photos.

One last note, there’s a new food site where you can customize and create your own favorite food establishments and reviews (from blogs or food critic reviews) called the Foodist Colony. Check it out NOW! Please and thank you. :)


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

  1. Kay says:

    I miss Kee Wah pastries..all the pastries in Chinatown here I find to be quite gross. I’ve been craving a box of their sampler cookies lately.

  2. thewanderingeater says:

    Kay: I heart Kee Wah…I really wish that they open a branch in NYC but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. I don’t really eat pastries in C-town except for egg custard tarts.

    Kathryn: Yeah, that coffee was awesome. I just wish that it would be closer to my campus.

  3. Kay says:

    I just asked my dad to send me a box of Kee Wah today! :) So happy! Yeah..I went into one of the pastry shops in Chinatown a few weeks ago that sold the type of pastries Kee Wah has and everything looked like it was before the Cultural Revolution!

  4. thewanderingeater says:

    Kay: I think I know which one you’re talking about…but I forgotten the name of the place. Anyways, woohoo! for your dad sending you some Kee Wah love! :)

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