Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vietnamese sandwiches at a Chinese restaurant- my kind of fusion!

When this week started, I didn't know I would be taking a world tour of pork sandwiches. First I went to France. Next it was Cuba. And I concluded my world tour in Asia when I got the taste for Chinese food Friday. Hing Won is right down the street from me, known for their delicious pig (pork belly) over rice. Well, they also use it in a sandwich. It's their variation of a bahn mi, a Vietnamese sandwich.

I'd never had a Chinese food sandwich, but this one gets it right. The rich pork belly is mellowed by a sweet sauce, and pickled vegetables. The sandwich also features a generous serving of cilantro, one of my personal favorites. The bread is toasted and you're left to enjoy a sandwich sure to leave a smile on your face. It was a great way to end the week!

Eating cupcakes to support Haiti

I'm generally a fan of cupcakes. But when the proceeds go to support the rescue efforts in Haiti, there's no way I'm turning that down. So when my coworker Brittany told me she was selling cupcakes to send money to Haiti, I was happy to chip in.

Fortunately, my company is matching gifts by employees to organizations like the Red Cross. Be sure to see if your employer will do the same to maximize impact and help the effort to support our Haitian brothers and sisters.

Cubans sure know how to make a great sandwich

I was working furiously all morning the other day when my stomach announced that it was lunch time. Needing to get back to the office quickly, I opted to grab a quick sandwich. Like the ham and gruyere baguette I had the other day at Le Pan Quotidien, it was composed of pork, cheese, mustard and nice bread. But this was not your average ham and cheese. This was a Cuban. From Margon. If you don't know, you better ask somebody!

Roast pork, ham and salami (mmmm!!!) complemented by Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles. It's all mashed down in a panini press until the bread ham and salami are all crispy, cheese is melted and I was drooling at the counter waiting to get my hands on it. This may be my favorite $6 sandwich. Ever. And it was so quick, I was back just in time to answer some questions from my boss. Can't be mad at that!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eating Lunch Out: Utsav

Sometimes you have to get out of the office for lunch. Today, I went to one of my go to spots for lunch: Utsav. The thing I really love about this buffet is that every time I go, they have a few different dishes. They usually have a paneer dish, a couple of lentil dishes and a variety of meat dishes. Today they had goat and some delicious saag chicken. The spinach was smooth and it was actually not overly creamy.

And the best thing about getting out of the office for lunch is you can have some quality time with friends or colleagues. So if you like Indian food and me, let me know and we can hit up the Utsav buffet.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I bet you can't pronounce Quotidien either

I don't know why I never ate at Le Pain Quotidien. I had known about it for some time, but I just never went in there. Actually, I think maybe the reason was because I couldn't pronounce "Quotidien." I mean, that would be embarrassing when a coworker asks you where you went for lunch and you can't even pronounce the place! But i didn't take French in high school. So what do you expect?

But anyway, my wife (who did take French) gave me the pronunciation (ko-ti-dee-YEN) and I gave The Daily Bread a shot.

Oh buddy, this place is official.

All kinds of artisanal breads, pastries and organic spreads and other goodies. But it was lunch time, and I was hungry. So I had my eye on one thing: a sandwich. I opted for the ham and gruyere and I was not disappointed. I mean, the thing tastes as good as it looks. The baguette was so fresh and crusty. The creamy cheese perfectly complimented the salty ham. Know that I will be back for more.

The Office Vulture

At a very young age, my dad called me "The Vulture." That was because I would eat whatever my brother or anyone else didn't finish. Just because I am at work doesn't mean I still can't be a vulture. Instead, I now wait for meetings to end and then I strike to eat the leftovers!

And so what was my Office Vulture plunder today? A pumpkin whoopie pie! It looks good. I brought this home to share with the wife since she loves pumpkin. More from the Office Vulture to come...

Monday, January 11, 2010

The other side of the commute: A taste test in NJ

As much as I love eating in NY, I live in NJ. And so it's imperative that I have some go to places close to home.

And I've found a couple since moving in August. I love Paratha Junction for Indian food. But I haven't found some staples like a money Chinese food spot or just local places with good dishes. So I set out to try four local spots with my wife. The spots we tried were Szechuan Ace, Paradise Biryani Point, Dosa Grill and Rai Rai Ramen. All located within a quarter of a mile of each other. All 5 minutes from home. And all on the same night! Sounds like fun, huh?

I ordered from the train so I could pick each up on my way home. First, Chinese food.

Szechuan Ace
I got a spicy chicken dish off the regular menu and fried chicken over rice and shredded potato cooked in red oil from the szechuan menu. I also got a scallion pancake, although it was more pancake than scallion. The highlight was the potato. It had a nice flavor and texture. The chicken was cooked well and was served with minced pork and the Chinese greens, like the NYC Cravings truck introduced me to. It wasn't as good as the NY counterpart, which wasn't surprising to me.

Paradise Biryani
I didn't get the biryani here because I my eye on another rice dish. Plus, the biryani at Paratha is really good. Instead, I decided to try the butter chicken. It was enjoyable, but with a closer and equitable option, I doubt I would go back just for that.

Dosa Grill
I got some vegetarian Indian from Dosa Grill. Bhindi masala was the order here (okra in a mild curry sauce) was also very tasty. But it wasn't a game changer. Udipi is closer, so we'll probably stick with that. That's the bhindi masala below.

Rai Rai Ramen
I was excited to try this spot. They have a lot of standard Chinese dishes and sushi on the menu, but I was focused on the Japanese ramen section. I got the chicken katsu curry ramen and kim chee fried rice. The curry broth that came with the ramen was delicious and flavorful. The chicken katsu was nice; panko breaded, crispy and juicy. The only downer were the noodles which were very much like what you would get out of a package. The star of our tasting was definitely the kim chee fried rice. Absolutely delicious! It's hard to mess up fried rice, but this was just great. The kim chee gave great flavor and the pickled ginger gave a bit of bite. We will definitely be heading back here!

It was definitely a fun night of eating, and we now know some more local spots with unique dishes. Love eating, even on the other side of the commute.

It was also date night, and you can read more about that from my wife Tanya over at