A Week of Food, Part 2: Burger Heaven, Kyotofu, and Meeting Serious Eats

On Wednesday, I was craving for a burger for lunch. I don’t know why exactly but I just want some juicy ground beef sandwiched in a good, soft hamburger bun. Since it’s almost 12, I know it’s going to be crowded to try Burger Joint since it’s not a huge space to start with. (I know this since I visited the space but didn’t try anything.) What I ended up deciding is to try Burger Heaven. You might be wondering why the heck would I try a small chain burger at all. Well, two of my male friends, Ariel and Dave told me that their burgers are awesome. Actually, to quote Ariel he said, “The burgers are heavenly.”

Burger Heaven

I walked into this diner-like setting of a restaurant. Honestly, I didn’t anticipate the particular decor but I don’t really care since I’m just here for some delicious burger than anything else. I just asked for seating for myself but one of the waiters told me that I could just pick anywhere to sit. I just walked past the counter and toward the back where the kitchen’s just off to my right.

I ordered a chocolate milkshake and their cheeseburger special.

Close up of the chocolate shake
Close up of the chocolate shake

The shake was pretty big but since I’m parched, I don’t really care about the volume nor the calories in there. Even though it might be close or past 1,000 calories by the time I’m finished with it. Anyways, the shake was pretty darn good. Just look at the photo below…

It's thick... It’s thick

The straw did stood up on its own, so it’s thick enough. The sucking the shake through a straw needed some effort but it wasn’t as thick as Stand‘s that I had in February, where I feel like my lungs are about to give out from inhaling and my brain’s about to explode from sucking too hard. In terms of flavor and texture, it’s super smooth, creamy, and the chocolate flavor was fine. It’s not intensely chocolate-y but it had enough chocolate.

Then came my cheeseburger. When my server came with my plate, she asked if I want any tomatoes, pickles or lettuce to go with it. I replied no, since I just want the unadulterated burger. If it’s good on it’s own, it doesn’t need any extras to make it taste better superficially.

The platter My burger and fries

Cole Slaw that came with it Cole slaw

The cole slaw also came with the burger. There’s nothing remarkable about that slaw. It reminds me of the type my mom picks up at my local supermarket.

Cheeseburger...unadulterated Assembled burger

Chomped cheeseburger Innards

The cheeseburger was dripping some meat juices, nicely pink, and it melts-in-my-mouth texture. It’s fine but it doesn’t taste as great as Shake Shack‘s burger. The bun is also the standard stuff one can get at any local supermarket. In other words, I like the texture and how they cook it to a perfect medium-rare but I want flavor and a better bun.

For some reason, I wanted dessert despite killing myself with artery clogging food. Since I remembered that Kyotofu started serving soy milk ice cream a while ago, I stopped by to give it a whirl, sitting at the bar in the front of the place.

Looking down the bar Looking down the bar

Fascinated by the water glass

Every time I come to Kyotofu, I’m always mesmerized by their water glass. I don’t know why but I have an odd obsession about how their glasses are shaped and how it captures the light…I need a new hobby or interest that isn’t so weird.

Soy and Tofu Ice Creams with Okara Cookies Soy & Tofu Ice Cream with Okara Cookies

Kyotofu's Ice Cream macro shots Macro shots of the dessert

As usual, the desserts look pretty. The chocolate soy ice cream was surprisingly tasty. I’m usually a skeptic about eating soy ice cream since I know it lacks the butter or milk fat that is usually found in cream and/or milk. But the ice cream was very smooth, enough chocolate flavor and it has a touch of creaminess.

The Pulico ice cream, which I think it’s spelled that way since the pronunciation was a bit skewed with her accent, but anyways this particular quenelle shocked my tastebuds in a good way. It was a very sour, tart ice cream. Almost like eating an unsweetened tart frozen yogurt but much softer and smoother. It’s also a bit more creamier than the chocolate soy ice cream.

On Thursday morning, I didn’t eat breakfast at home and I had a hankering for pancakes. The only place that would have great pancakes in the city would be Clinton Street Baking Company.

Clinton Street Bakery

Interior shot of the sit-in side Interior shot

It was 8:30 AM and the tables are almost half full. Since I was hot (it’s still 80 degrees Fahrenheit here) and want caffeine, I ordered an iced coffee.

My iced coffee and half-and-half

But since I know what I wanted, I just told my waiter that I want their famous (amongst New Yorkers) blueberry pancakes and that’s what I’ve gotten after being patient for 10 minutes.

My plate of blueberry pancakes My plate of pancakes

Pouring the syrup...
Pouring the maple butter

Blueberry Pancakes drizzled with maple butter After the pour

I know I might be seducing some of you who love pancakes with the pouring of their delicious warm maple butter on top of a pile of steaming hot, fluffy, blueberry pancakes. Oh yeah, it tastes as good as it sounds and looks. Here’s bit more pancake porn for you.

A forkful of blueberry pancakes

Innards Innards

I felt full after eating the entire plate. I almost wanted to try their scone or biscuit but I didn’t do it because I know I’ll regret it once I put my two feet on the scale the next morning. After that thought, it’s scrapped and I paid the check.

Clean plate Clean plate

I walked to Chinatown to burn a few calories off and pick up a couple of char siu sou for the Serious Eats crew. I don’t remember exactly where I got them since there’s a ton of bakeries in Chinatown that sells these things but I remembered the place, not the name.

After classes were over for me, I actually dropped in the office to say “Hi” to everyone at Serious Eats (that would be Alaina, Adam K., Raphael, and eventually Ed) and give Robyn her birthday present. It’s technically slightly belated just because she’s in Toronto on the day of her birthday and yesterday was only time where my schedule would allow me to visit her. Once I’ve settled down a bit and chat with her, we started to take photos and nosh on the pork filled pastries.

Robyn in action with her camera Robyn photographing the char siu sou

Char siu sou My char siu sou

Innards of char siu sou

I know the pastry is not exactly photogenic since it was a few hours ago where I’m walking to and fro classes and roughing it in the subways but it could be worse. Anyways, this glazed, dense, flaky, lard crust based crust is filled with sweet and savory Chinese-style roasted pork. It’s good but I wish it was heated or warmed in an oven so the crust would be crisp. Besides that this thing was a brick to your stomach. You can only eat one before you feel like you need a stomach pump or walk a few miles to feel a bit better.

After we ate, Robyn unwrapped her present. For those of you who were paying attention to my Flickr photostream a few weeks ago, I took a photo of an adorable stuffed bear and said that it’s for a friend of mine…well, that’s Robyn. And here’s her reaction.

It's love at first sight

Robyn's HAPPY! :D

Without the use of captions, you can see her genuine happiness screaming at you from these photos. Seriously, I have never seen anyone that excited or happy like that in a looong time. At least she loves the bear. Yay for me. And besides her constant petting and hugging of her bear every ten minutes, she also played with his arms…take a look below.

Robyn playing with her bear

Yeah, she’s beaming with giddy and delight.

I spoken briefly to the great Ed Levine when he just entered and sat on the table eating his lunch. You know, I almost had the urge to bow down before him but I didn’t do that before everyone would think I’m weird. Eventually we had a small conversation about the pizza and Chicago, just because I mentioned about Ariel’s going out there for this Labor Day weekend and I asked where would be a great pizza place in Chicago. Ed’s a cool guy, not as intimidating as I thought. Also, he offered some frozen custard from Kopp’s since they had a TON leftover in their freezer from an earlier custard tasting back a month ago.

Serious Eats' freezer
Serious Eats’ freezer

The Ed Levine
The great Ed

To explain the above photo, what he’s doing is stirring up the leftover Kopp’s German Chocolate Cake custard by gently melting in the microwave the ice crystals that have grown in the pint. He offered me a cup and I accepted it.

My cup of Kopp's German Chocolate Frozen Custard My cup of custard

The custard’s delicious, no doubt about that. The chunks of rich, dense chocolate cake with flakes of coconut and nuts swimming (it’s defrosted ya know?) in a pool of creamy, luscious chocolate custard. But I found it a bit too sweet for my taste.

Eventually I left the office since my mom’s expecting me home (I know, it’s ironic and strange) and she wanted me to run a few errands before I get my butt home, so I bid Robyn farewell while she’s carrying the bear like it’s her newborn child. Aww…how adorable.

Burger Heaven

9 E 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022

705 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Clinton Street Baking Company
4 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002

Serious Eats
242 W 27th St
New York, NY 10001


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

  1. Christina says:

    That must be a great pancake place since they offer maple butter. I don’t think I’ve been anywhere (home not included) that gives you maple anything.

  2. Casper says:

    Interesting, I have never heard of “frozen custard” before.
    Is it bassicly ice cream or gelato with a higher egg content, or is it actually like a mostly-egg-based flan thats been schlepped in the freezer?

  3. thewanderingeater says:

    Christina: Clinton Street Baking Co. is one of the best places for pancakes in NYC. You must try it, if you have the chance!

    Casper: Really? Hmmm…Frozen custard is a type of cold dessert similar to ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar. It typically contains 10% butterfat and 1.4% egg yolk (according to Wikipedia). It’s really popular in the Midwest.

    It’s very similar to ice cream but it’s more smoother, thicker and served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream. It’s really delicious.

  4. kathy says:

    hey tina!
    just catching up with your posts – i was at sullivan st bakery for breakfast this morning! had the raisin walnut and pizza bianca. i sampled the olive stick you had, and it was goooood, though i agree that it was far too heavy on the olive oil part :) also was at clinton st baking last weekend, had the same blueberry pancakes as you. i noticed that they put your blueberries to the side, but scatted mine over the time when i ordered it…
    funny how we keep on going to the same places…i wonder if i’ll randomly bump into you one day! :)

  5. thewanderingeater says:

    LG: Oh…thanks for clarifying that!

    Kathy: Yay! You’re in NYC! May I plug in a “finally, ” since I heard it from Robyn two months ago that you’re coming in around late August?

    Anyways, I hope we can actually meet one day…I have a feeling it will be soon.

  6. thewanderingeater says:

    Chubbypanda: The Snuffle bear’s soo freakin’ adorable! I would’ve gotten one for myself but I don’t have any space…

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