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.
Shake Shake UWS’ exterior and the line
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 & John’s tray of food (left); Giulia’s first Shack burger (right)
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.
Mushroom-cheese bomb of deliciousness
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.
My cup of pistachio gelato and lemon sorbet
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)
Looks like you’ve been eating deliciously!!
I’m praying that your mom’s health improves – stay strong.
wow, soup dumplings in the UES, I didn’t even know that was possible. I heard there’s some place up there on 2nd ave called like Pig Heaven or something that’s supposed to be good.
Hi! First time commenter, but I’m an avid reader and love your blog!
I was smiling while reading your bit about how to eat a soup dumpling as gracefully as possible, without losing all of the soup. My mom taught me this when I was little and I’ve taught friends….put the dumpling on your spoon (use that instead of the tongs save the juice!), lift the dumpling with your chopsticks and take tiny little bite to break it open. Then gently pour out the soup onto your spoon. Slurp that up and then put the dumpling back on your spoon, add the sauce and then eat the dumpling! It cools it down while you enjoy the teaspons of soup…better than scorching your mouth and losing the good flavor all over your plate!
Wishing your mom a speedy recovery!
I’ve got to agree that the pistachio gelato at grom is a must-order, for all the reasons you explained.
I have a similar method to eating soup dumplings as Hellogirlster, except I slurp up the soup from the tiny hole I’ve bitten on the top part of the dumpling. I also ladle in some of the soy sauce/vinegar/ginger concoction that usually comes on the side into the dumpling and it makes everything taste amazing.
If you haven’t tried it yet, you MUST have the soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai. I think they are the best. I always go to the one in Chinatown but they have a more convenient location on 56th between 5th and 6th Avenue. Happy eating!
Danny: Yeah, I thought it I wasn’t reading the Chowhound post correctly but indeed it DOES EXIST. I’ve read Robyn’s post about Pig Heaven about it as well as another Chowhound post that it’s good. Probably I’ll visit there when I feel like staying within the UES.
Hellogirlster: Hi! Thanks for commenting and be my avid reader!
As for the soup dumpling eating tip, it shall help a ton. I don’t know when I’ll be eating soup dumps soon but I’ll keep this in mind. Thank you!
ChuckEats: Ah, good to hear someone who agrees with me. :) And you are an epicurean more so than I.
thechiconomist.celine I heard Joe’s Shanghai is good. I don’t know if it’s the best since everyone has their own opinion but I’ll visit there whenever I feel like eating Chinese food outside of home. Thanks for the suggestion. :)
Hooray, you have a soup dump purveyor in your area!
I like that you got gelato/sorbet…after the concrete and custard. :)
PIG HEAVEN IS THE BEST NAME EVER.
Comments are closed.