Category Archives: Food

Hoji Soft Serve

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting Oahu for a short weekend trip. We were fortunate with perfect, sunny weather during our stay. We ate many things, and one thing we really enjoyed was Nana’s Green Tea.

Nana’s Green Tea is in the back of a Japanese food court, Waikiki Yokocho. Their menu is filled with drinks and desserts. The prices are not cheap at all, but the quality is decent. I’d recommend the soft serve or parfait desserts.

We tried both matcha soft serve & hoji soft serve. While everyone is familiar with Instagram-friendly matcha, we were introduced to hoji tea. Hoji is roasted tea that has a more subtle, darker flavor.

I think hoji soft serve could make it big as an Asian dessert. As someone who follows food news, I’ve never come across any hojicha coverage, but matcha is covered all the time. Hoji isn’t as Instagram-friendly (perhaps swirl it with matcha), but the flavor sells itself.

LA Boba Shops

There is endless boba in Los Angeles. I currently live in Ktown where every block seems to have a boba shop, a patbingsu shop, or both.

It’s hard to rank boba joints, because the drink customization (sugar level) and drinks on the same menu vary so much. There could be a big difference between the house specialty (let’s say rose milk tea) and the random drink (almond milk tea).

I value the quality of the ingredients (made in house with real things instead of powder), the freshness of the pearls (boba), and the flavor profile (not mind-numbingly sweet). I’ve tried many dozens of boba joints in LA, and I usually order large, 50% sugar, and less ice.

Below are places that have consistently good drinks with a sample recommended order. Not every order is your standard PMT (pearl milk tea).

Good

  • Gong Cha
    • QQ Passion Fruit Green Tea (comes with pearls & coconut jelly)
      (fruity & refreshing)
  • Sharetea
    • Taro Fresh Milk Tea with Pearls
      (real taro bits is a plus)
  • Tan-Cha
    • High Mountain Green Tea with Cheese Foam
      (as a cheese foam drink, it is heavier than a PMT)
  • Ten Ren’s Tea Time
    • Honey Milk Tea with Pearls
      (their teas are underrated)
  • Twinkle Brown Sugar (Ozero)
    • Brown Sugar Grass Jelly
      (drinks like a meal)

Decent

  • 7 Leaves Cafe
    • Sea Cream Jasmine Tea with Honey Boba
      (crema top layer)
  • 85C Bakery
    • Sea Salt Mountain Green Tea
      (has a good foam/crema top layer. their boba is bad)
  • Kung Fu Tea
    • Jelly Wow
      (not a traditional PMT, more of a meal)
  • TPumps
    • Mango Passion Peach with Boba
      (tea is very “drinkable”, not the best, but it goes down well. boba is not fresh)
  • Wushiland Boba
    • Jasmine Green Milk Tea with Pearls
      (try 1/2 regular & 1/2 small pearls)

While I don’t inherently favor chains, I’ve found that big chains from Asia are more reliable and consistent with the boba freshness. Gong Cha 9 out of 10 times will have fresh boba, whereas your average LA boba shop will probably not have fresh boba.

Lin-Mint Shake

Shake Shack rolling out a featured shake for #17?

You know I’m on it like 0.5 seconds on the clock.

8th ave (between 43 & 44) had The Lin-Mint Shake:

Lin-Mint Shake - $5.75

Close up of the shake:

Lin-Mint Close-Up

The shake tasted as advertised. It was a thick minty chocolate concoction. There weren’t many sizable cookie chunks, so the shake was very drinkable.

For cheaper (and more practical) shake fixes, I’d recommend Potbelly or Steak ‘n Shake Signature. This is a total ThisIsWhyYoureFatMoment, but the prices for each places’ shake (incl. tax) are as follows: Shake Shack $6.26, Potbelly $3.48, and Steak ‘n Shake  $3.80 (with candy/cookie filling).

(via Linthamist)

Steak n Shake NYC Hours

NYC was about 20 degrees Celsius today, which meant short lines for dinner in the city.

We went to Steak ‘n Shake and it lived up to expectations for a $4 double cheeseburger with fries in NYC.

original double cheeseburger

For such a small restaurant space (typical of NYC dining), the kitchen & wait staff seemed to outnumber the dine-in patrons.

What hours is Steak ‘n Shake NYC open?

The Manhattan Steak ‘n Shake is open from 10 AM to midnight every day.

NYC Steak n Shake hours of operation 10am to midnight

It’s located at 1695 Broadway in Midtown West between 53rd & 54th Streets. This is right next to the David Letterman studio. The phone is (212) 247-6584.

Top NYC Restaurants: Location, Location, and Location

Time Warner Center

Location, as always, matters.

This excellent Grub Street piece explains where NYC’s wealthiest residents (Upper East Siders) eat. It also goes into why top tier Midtown & Downtown restaurants (like Per Se & Momofuku Ko) have to be so culinarily exceptional to earn those set menu dollars.

Bundle looked at spending habits and explains that NYC’s wealthiest spend their money at pricey neighborhood options:

In fact, all of the places whose clientele consists of more than 15 percent luxury spenders are on the Upper East Side, and all are low-key places like Mezzaluna and Bar Italia — not to mention a surprisingly large number of neighborhood sushi spots.

Less affluent diners in Manhattan (from midtown, lower Manhattan, or outer boroughs) avoid uptown and dine at closer top restaurants as an investment:

When diners do spend hundreds of dollars on dinner at a restaurant in the East Village (maybe after waiting in line, since no reservations are accepted), this data shows us it’s likely a significant investment. And the only way a restaurant will keep customers like that coming back is to offer them an exceptional experience with cutting-edge food.

In addition to non-UES residents patronizing top restaurants, NYC has a huge food tourism industry. Top NYC restaurants are destination dining options for those out of state or out of country.

Philly Cheesesteaks

Went south to get some sandwiches.

As a first timer, we had to hit the tourist spots: Geno’s & Pat’s. Little did I realize they were right across the street from each other, next to a park.

Geno's

Geno’s, clearly going for the Shock & Awe campaign.

Inside Geno's

Geno's Menu

Nice & simple. Tourists want the cheesesteak. I assume locals (if hypothetically locals ate here) go for the roast pork.

Geno's Cheesesteak

As you can see, there isn’t that much meat for a $9 sandwich. The cheese (whiz) shines with a high cheese to meat ratio.

Pat's Front

Pat's Ordering Window

Pat’s offers a lot more options on the menu. I found it unnecessary, but I guess it allows customers to get it their way.

Pat's Menu

Pizza Steak? Fish Cake? What??

Why?

Pat's Cheesesteak

Pat’s obviously offers substantially more meat than Geno’s. Here, I’d point out that the line for Pat’s was noticeably longer too.

At both places, I got with onions and cheese whiz. I didn’t get fries because it would fill me up too much. Keep reading to see why I had to preserve stomach space.

Pat's Signage

Since Philly is a two hour drive from NYC, I made an executive decision to hit up a third spot.

Dalessandro's Steaks

Thanks to Serious Eats, we hit up Dalessandro’s.

Dalessandro's Menu

Dalessandro's Cheesesteak

Cheaper than Geno’s and Pat’s (both $9 each), this $7.25 cheesesteak was amazing. The cheese is mixed into the chopped steak (as opposed to topping the meat).

Bian Dang Truck

I’m late to the party, but finally managed to try the Bian Dang truck. They’re known for the common Taiwanese dish, pork chop over rice.

Bian Dang line

Bian Dang logo

Menu

$4 is a lot for a zong-zi. I guess that’s the price you pay for convenience. Then again, I still seek out 5 for a dollar Chinatown dumplings, so maybe I’m not the target customer.

Pork Chop over Rice

Nice photo of the goods. $7 for a good amount of food. It’s two pork chops, but no tea egg.

Bian Dang - Food Court 32

This plate of pork chop over rice was taken earlier this year in February at their Ktown branch in Food Court 32. You get a lot more food for roughly the same price at their brick & mortar location.