New York

Hey Guys.. So this will probably be my last New York Tasty Travel post until the next time I get to go back and visit the city.. I don’t know when that will be. There are no current plans for me to go back to the States. Plus, I have to apply for a visa. My mom keeps bugging me about it. I think it’s about time so I can use some of my saved up miles to go back!

For this post, I really wanted to talk about the Doughnut Plant. I discovered it while watching another Throwdown with Bobby Flay episode It was then that I learned of the existence of the TRES LECHES doughnut. After knowing that they made such a creation, I just knew I had to get my hands on one.

I LOVE Tres Leches cake. A coworker of mine from when I was working at a library back at school told me about this cake. It intrigued me. A three milk cake you say? Cake and milk. To be specific, cake soaked in three kinds of milk (condensed, evaporated, half-and-half). I mean, that does sound like a good combination. And it is. Though a popular Latin American dessert, I actually first had it in Manila at Circles, Shangri-la Makati (a must try!). After tasting it, I knew I just added another cake flavor to my favorites.

Anyway, going back to Doughnut Plant. I was lucky enough to try the Tres Leches doughnut at a stopover in Seoul en route to Manila. It was delicious. Nothing like I’ve never tasted. The doughnut cake, which you would expect to be dry and compact, was filled with creamy milk (I’m guessing a lot of condensed). This gave the doughnut such a good contrast in texture and a boost in flavor and sweetness. This is one doughnut not for the faint-hearted.


I wasn’t satisfied though. I really wanted to get this doughnut from the actual store in NYC. So it was an automatic place to go to during our ’09 trip. From our friends’ place where we were crashing, the store was a pretty far journey. Good thing by then, I’ve learned to take the subway. After what seemed like several train transfers and walking opposite directions, we finally got there.

This place already had a good following and famous name. You can see the evidence on their walls. You can only purchase the doughnuts here. Space is very limited for in-store dining. The bakery was based there, too. My brother got to take a picture of it but was threatened by the co-owner that he would be fined if he didn’t stop!

I hope you forgive me for not being able to take individual photos of the doughnuts we bought that day! I don’t know what happened (we ate them right away).. All I can really say from this trip was it was a good reunion for me and the Tres Leches doughnut. I think I almost cried when I took a bite of it.

Doughnut Plant. 379 Grand Street, NY. 212-505-3700.

P.S. I stumbled upon a Doughnut Plant while on a trip in Tokyo (no Tres Leches flavor though- sad). Yes, they have this in Korea and Japan. So take note of this the next time you travel to these places if you don’t plan on going to NYC anytime soon!

SHOCKER INFO about me: I am not a big fan of steak. YUP. Sorry. I appreciate it but I’m not a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty big meat eater but I’m just so picky with my steak. I’ve only had a couple memorable experiences with steak and this post will talk about one of them.

Peter Luger. I was very hesitant to join my friends for dinner when I first heard about the restaurant. They said the dinner would probably cost around $60 per head. As a struggling, pretty much broke, college student at the time, I didn’t know if spending that much money on meat was a good idea.

I remember the trip to Brooklyn was an adventure itself. Let’s just say there were some pretty interesting people on the train headed the same direction. The people of this city never fail to fascinate me! When we got there, the place had an old feel to it, very classic type of atmosphere which gives you that sense of old New York.

One thing that I hated about this place though.. the bad service. Ok, I wouldn’t call it “bad” service. The waiters are well-trained. Too trained that they have this attitude about them that comes off as arrogant. And I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who’s experienced this at Peter Luger before.

Then the food came. Steak cooked medium rare, as dictated, not recommended by our server. Personally, I like my steak cooked medium well but our server did insist that medium rare was the way to go. When I tasted the steak, all my irritation towards our pompous waiter went away. The meat literally melted in my mouth. Every penny spent was worth it. I ended up loving every bite when I didn’t even expect to like it! I came back two years later.. I was so ready to just dive in and eat that all I said to our waiter at that time was: “Yes, yes, whatever you think would taste delicious, I trust you!” ๐Ÿ™‚

slanted on smaller plates so the fat drips off..

Peter Luger, Inc. 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, N.Y. 718-387-7400. Reservations HIGHLY recommended.

New York City is known for many things. Broadway. Times Square. Central Park. Oh and yes, its food. One of the foods the city is known for is pizza. It all started when immigrants from Europe brought the idea over to the island. The famous characteristics of the NYC pizza: thin and flexible (easily folded in half). What is the secret behind this crust? It’s been said that it has something to do with the water used for making the dough. Something that is only found in New York and thus makes it their own. If you want to know more about NYC pizzas, there are several articles online that will give you more information. There are very interesting facts that you might have never known about this dish!

Tasting the original– So they say that the first pizza in New York was from Lombardi’s. There are still debates about this issue to this day and loyalties have been formed depending on which version of history you want to believe. As for me, I just believe in appreciating food regardless of its background story. During Thanksgiving break of 2007, I got to try Lombardi’s and my expectations weren’t disappointed. I believe we ordered a sausage and mushroom pie. It was delicious. The aroma filled the whole restaurant which made us suffer through a really long wait but our hunger was satisfied once we feasted.

The NEW York Pizza– Since the creation of the classic New York pizza, it has gone through several changes, constantly evolving catering to the newer, younger and more adventurous eaters of the city. One perfect example of such trend is Artichoke pizza. Don’t like artichokes? Don’t be so quick to judge your vegetables.. This fantastic creation was introduced to me and my brother during our trip back in 2009. We were very skeptical about going to a place named “Artichoke” but soon were surprised to see that it was actually packed.. which is usually a good sign.

After a couple of bites of the pizza, we understood why this place is worth taking a trip to in the middle of the night. It was something we’ve never tasted from a pizza before- literally like spinach artichoke dip on a pizza. GENIUS.

These are just some of the pizzas I’ve tried around the city that have left such good impressions on me. Have you tried any other amazing pizzas from New York? Share away! ๐Ÿ™‚

After getting our chocolate fix from Jacques Torres chocolates, my brother and I headed over to Broadway to watch Phantom of the Opera. Throughout the 4 years that I lived in the states, I’ve watched a show almost each and every time I came back to New York. I’ll provide a list of the shows I’ve watched at the end of this post so feel free to ask me about my opinion if you’re planning to watch a play or musical during your next trip to any city that offers good entertainment.

We were so tired from a whole day of walking (and eating) around the city that sadly, we fell asleep for most of the play ๐Ÿ˜ฆ If it wasn’t for the box of chocolates we bought that afternoon, we wouldn’t have had the sugar high help we desperately needed to stay awake!

When we got out of the Majestic Theater, we were starving. We decided to eat dinner after the show and it ended around 9 or 10pm. So we were lucky enough to stumble upon a familiar sign: Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen. How was it familiar? My brother and I remembered watching a Throwdown! with Bobby Flay episode where their sloppy joe was challenged. Even though Bobby Flay won that throwdown challenge, we were excited to try it and find out what made it so special that it became a throwdown competitor.

The place. I thought this restaurant was very cute. It was like a combination of a modern take on the classic diner and a fast food restaurant. The menu board was up on their wall. Everything in big, bold font. You order at the front counter and you wait until your buzzing device goes off to know when your order is ready for pick-up.

The food. We ordered two sloppy joes, mac and cheese and sloppy fries. I honestly have to say that it was my first time in a really long time to have a sloppy joe. Being the true Pinoy that I am, I admit that I craved for a sweeter blend from the ground meat sauce. I would have preferred something similar to our local chili con carne taste. It was very meaty and maybe not enough bread to hold everything together. Although I do realize that they were going for the classic prep of a sloppy joe where a normal bun is used. The mac and cheese was delicious, made special by the bread crumbs on top that gave it added texture and flavor. The same meat sauce was used for the sloppy fries. I love cheese so the big puddle of cheese on top made it more special.

MY OPINION. We understood why Bobby Flay won the throwdown challenge against Schnipper’s. Their food is good but nothing spectacular. Maybe if we got to try other items on their menu. I kept ogling the different types of mac and cheese. They also have other sandwiches and burgers. MMmmm…Maybe next time!

Schnipperโ€™s Quality Kitchen. 620 8th Ave, New York. 212-921-2400.

As promised.. the shows I’ve watched:
-Beauty and the Beast (NYC)
-Rent (NYC)
-Spamalot (NYC)
-Mary Poppins (NYC)
-Phantom of the Opera (NYC)
-Wicked (Chicago)
-Lion King (Las Vegas)

Being the true foodie that he is, my brother bought a copy of the 2010 edition of the New York Zagat before our NYC trip. While people create itineraries that include going to the MET or up the Empire State Building, my brother and I created a list of restaurants we wanted to check out. And the Zagat guide was our bible.

Chocoholic: A person who is addicted to or excessively fond of chocolate. That is the first google search result for the definition of the word. My brother and I, BIG chocoholics. When my brother saw the Jacques Torres chocolate store in the Zagat, it was an automatic item on the list of places to visit. Who is Jacques Torres? I used to watch his show, Chocolate with Jacques Torres. He created the best chocolate and candy pieces so I’ve always been a fan.

As mentioned in my other posts about this particular NYC trip, the weather that time was chilly. We’ve heard so much about the hot chocolate from this place that we knew it was the chocolate blanket we needed that afternoon. We got there and we thought we just stepped inside chocolate heaven. The aroma of the place was just unmistakably familiar and comforting.

no wonder, the chocolate factory is inside the store! btw, I love autumn inspired decor

We knew we couldn’t order just the hot chocolate. So we ordered a box of chocolates and a chocolate chip cookie that was famous as well.

choosing the chocolates. it was a hard task indeed.

the BEST hot chocolate I've ever had

If you’re wondering about the flavors of the chocolates, I did a little research. I couldn’t find all of the ones we bought that day but the Jacques Torres chocolate website has flavor descriptions for their dark chocolate varieties.

Jacques Torres Chocolates. 350 Hudson St. New York. 212.414.2462

I adore cupcakes. I love making them and more so eating them. Just take a look at my archives since I started my blog. 3 out of 7 posts were about me making cupcakes. Rarely do I eat store bought cupcakes anymore since I’ve been making my own. So I definitely miss going to cute cupcake stores and trying unique flavors like how I used to back in the states. During my trips to the Big Apple, I almost always made sure that I got my cupcake fix.

I’ve always heard of Magnolia Bakery from the Food Network and have read about it on food blogs and articles. My first visit back in the city after a long time was around my sophomore year in college and I told myself that it was time to take a visit to the store and find out just how great these cupcakes really are. I don’t think I have pictures from that first visit but I remember I had their red velvet cupcakes and they were delicious. It was the first time I had whipped vanilla frosting. It even tasted like marshmallow frosting! Really good. Here’s an actual time I got to take a picture of Magnolia cupcakes. These were from my Thanksgiving 2009 trip with my brother. Please pardon the quality. It was taken right before eating at Sake Bar Hagi when we were starving and had to resort to eating dessert before dinner ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Magnolia cupcakes

It was during a summer visit to the city that I came across Crumbs Bake Shop. A lady crossing the street around Union Square was holding a bag that was quite attractive. What was so attractive about it? Well, it was a bag of boxed cupcakes. I tried to follow her for a little bit longer. Trying not to be a creep as much as possible, I just wanted to get a closer look of the bag to see the name of the store where she got the delicious looking cupcakes peeking through the plastic boxes. And then I saw it” Crumbs Bake Shop” with a silly looking jester juggling cupcakes as their logo. I wasn’t able to try their cupcakes until a year and half later, fast forwarding again to November 2009…

My brother, a fellow cupcake addict

MY CHOICE: Crumbs cupcakes. Surprised? I was too. With Magnolia cupcakes, I was always left unsure whether I was impressed or not. Aside from the red velvet, I tried the classic vanilla cupcake with chocolate and vanilla frostings and the chocolate cupcake also with both types of frostings. Their red velvet is definitely something special but the other cupcakes didn’t leave that same effect on me. They were actually a little bit dry so I was disappointed. I’ve always gone back to get Magnolia cupcakes thinking that the last trip must not have been a good one but it was still the same result each time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Crumbs cupcakes are HUGE. They are satisfyingly huge. I prefer these over Magnolia’s since their cupcakes are so moist and flavorful. I’ve only gone to get cupcakes from them twice and I would crave for more each and every time.

Red Velvet & Chocolate Coconut

MY SUGGESTION: go try other cupcake stores out there. I’m sure there are lots more. If I lived in New York, I would probably go on this quest to find the best cupcakes in town. Maybe all you have to do is follow a lady holding a bag or box of cupcakes or it might even be easier just to ask. ๐Ÿ™‚ Think you’ve had the best cupcakes in New York or from another city? Please comment and share!

It was a really cold November ’09 night in NYC. The whole day was spent walking around the city and sightseeing. We were starving. All we wanted to do was eat at the nearest place we could seek shelter and warmth from the cold weather outside. My friend, Aldrich suggested that we eat at Sake Bar Hagi since it was the nearest place relative to our current location.

First thoughts- a sake bar? Would there be good food there or just bar food? There’s a long wait, must be good. But we’re starving. Then again, it was also cold outside. Next thoughts- ok, we’ll wait. It’s warmer where we were compared to being outside and the food did seem pretty interesting. So we stayed and waited.. LONG. FYI, you don’t want to see me hungry:

When we finally got a table, we ordered right away. I remember the very short amount of time that lasted between the food being set on our table and us eating. As evidence, I only got to take pictures of three dishes we had that night even though I’m pretty sure we ordered more.

Fermented Soybean Wrapped with fried tofu (Sorry, this picture isn't clear at all)

Good balance between crunchy fried outside and the tender inside of the tofu.

Spaghetti with bacon, onion, green pepper and ketchup

Very interestingly delicious! I never knew you could eat your spaghetti with ketchup. Should have thought about this dish when i was broke back in college.

Fried Rice w/ spicy cod roe

Probably one of the most memorable fried rice dishes I’ve had so far. The cod roe takes the it to a whole other level and the flavor it gives to the rice was just magnificent. I became a fish roe fan from then on.

A cold, hungry night ended with us satisfied and full with Japanese food from Sake Bar Hagi. I’d want to come back to this place and try the other items on their menu, hopefully soon!

Sake Bar Hagi. 152 W. 49th St., New York, NY. Near Seventh Ave. 212-764-8549.

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