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January 26, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.



689 Mission Street at Third Street

San Francisco

Ph# (415) 284-4040

Restaurateurs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, have truly outdone themselves in creating Ame – their most recent food endeavor. Ame is housed in the graceful St Regis Hotel in San Francisco. This restaurant epitomizes zen elegance in both setting and food.

Given the sublime flavors that are served here, Sone and Doumani couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for this restaurant. Ame, in French means soul – and the masterful menu that combines Japanese, American, French and Italian influences is divinity that truly touches ones “Ame”!

I tried the tasting menu but got to sample a vast array of dishes from what my family ordered. Here is some of what we ate……

I started with an appetizer of Three Preparations of Sashimi. I thought this dish was very good. It was not the best sashimi I’ve ever had but the fish and scallop was very fresh and the combination of flavors was remarkable.

Three Preparations of Sashimi

My next course was the Lobster Bisque with Lobster Tortelloni. I think that this is one of the best Lobster Bisques I have ever had. Unlike other lobster bisques, this one was not heavy and laden with cream. It was actually refreshing to be able to taste the clear flavors of this wonderful soup. The Lobster Tortelloni just took the Bisque to a whole new level. When I bit into the Tortelloni, it was like an explosion of flavors in my mouth – it was unbelievable!

Lobster Tortelloni

My next course was their signature Broiled, Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in a Shiso Broth. This is one of those dishes that  just makes you go weak in the knees with every bite. How can anything taste so darned good? I’ve had black cod at many different fine restaurants but this dish can only be god’s own creation!

Broiled, Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in a Shiso Broth

My next course was the Lamb Tenderloin with Caramelized Endive, Black Truffle Sauce and Potato Puffs. This dish was very good too, the lamb was very tender and the truffle sauce complemented it very well.

Lamb Tenderloin with Caramelized Endive, Black Truffle Sauce and Potato Puffs

I also tried the Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop with Boudin Noir, Caramelized Apples, Mashed Potatoes and Sauce Dijonnaise and the Spaghettini with a Maine Lobster. Both these dishes were very good, nothing outstanding though.

Grilled Berkshire Pork chop with Boudin Noir, Caramelized Apples, Mashed Potatoes

Spaghettini with a Maine lobster

We had my children with us too and so they made their Grilled Dry-aged NY Strip Steak into a kid friendly dish topped with their version of chicken nuggets. I don’t eat Beef but was told that the Strip Steak was unbelievably good ( better than most local steakhouses). The chicken nuggets were to die for – it was like biting into fluffy clouds of chicken that had been deep-fried to a perfect crispness. I think the adults enjoyed those nuggets more than the kids did!!

Grilled Dry-aged NY Strip Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Chicken Puffs

You would think that we would have been done by now but wait till you see the desserts!

We ordered the Brown Butter Chocolate Gancahe Crunch with Amontillado Sherry Ice-cream. I loved the chocolate crunch in this dessert and the ice-cream complimented the chocolate decadence perfectly.

Brown Butter Chocolate Gancahe Crunch with Amontillado Sherry Ice-cream

I thought their Parfait of Roasted Strawberries and Strawberry Ice Milk with Sesame Honeycomb was truly outstanding. All the layers that went into creating this dessert kept each bite interesting.

Parfait of Roasted Strawberries and Strawberry Ice Milk with Sesame Honeycomb

Oh Ame!! What a gorgeous meal with fabulous service– it’s a dining experience that truly speaks to ones soul! I, for one, cant wait to go back.

My ratings for this meal: (all ratings are out of a possible 5)

Food:    ☆☆☆ ☆ 1/2

Ambiance: ☆☆☆☆

Service: ☆☆☆☆

Price: $$$

Overall experience: ☆☆☆☆

Would I go back: Definitely

Dishes I highly recommend:  Broiled, Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in a Shiso Broth, Lobster Bisque with Lobster Tortelloni, Parfait of Roasted Strawberries and Strawberry Ice Milk with Sesame Honeycomb

January 18, 2010. Tags: , , . $$$$ Restaurants, ☆☆☆☆, ☆☆☆☆ Ambiance, ☆☆☆☆ Food, Fusion restaurants, Highly Recommended, San Francisco Restaurants, Upscale Restaurants. Leave a comment.

Pho Bang Restaurant: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

Pho Bang Restaurant: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

41-07 Kissena Blvd.

Flushing, New York 11355

Ph# 718-939-5520

Ever been to a Vietnamese Restaurant and not had Pho?

I have!

Pho Bang serves up some of the tastiest, bang for your buck eats one can find. The average cost for a dish is between $5-6 and boy do they feed you well. When we went, there were 7 of us. We ate like maniacs- ordered all the meats from shrimp to beef and the bill only came to about $60!! Now that’s a deal.

My most favorite thing to eat at Pho Bang is the grilled pork. I think they have mastered their pork dishes. If you don’t eat pork there is plenty you can substitute with.

Here is some of what we ate:

The Goi Cuon is a Vietnamese summer roll, which is wrapped with rice paper and stuffed with cooked shrimp, pork, green leaves, and mint, bean sprouts and rice noodles. It is served with a tangy peanut sauce.

I thought their summer rolls were pretty decent. I like my rolls more on the delicate side so when I saw them brining out a big lump of a roll I didn’t think I would like it at all. When I tried it though I thought it was quite tasty. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of the roll. I found it got too mundane after a few bites.

Goi Cuon - Vietnamese summer roll

The Tom Bo Nuong Vi is a table grilled marinated shrimp and beef dish, which is cooked at your table. It is then served with rice papers, greens and delicately pickled raw veggies and a dipping sauce. This dish was delightful. The dish came on a bed of flavored oil, which is used as a cooking medium on the grill.

Table Grilled Marinated Shrimp and Beef

Table Grilled Marinated Shrimp and Beef

Table grilled Marinated Beef

While the meats are cooking, we soaked the rice papers in a bowl of water and waited for them to soften. Once the meat is cooked, we wrapped the meat/ shrimp alongside with all kinds of green leaves they provide – such as lettuce, mint and cilantro. We then topped it off with some fresh jalapeños and the dipping sauce and …………well you just have to try it to experience the yumminess of it all.

Rice Paper Wrappers

Table Grilled Marinated Shrimp with Greens on Rice Wrappers

Table Grilled Marinated Shrimp with Greens Wrapped in Rice Wrappers

The Bahn Tap is my most favorite dish of all. Bahn Tap is an appetizer in which thin pieces of grilled marinated pork are served on a bed of shrimp flavored chips. It is topped off with crunchy, fried garlic and roasted peanuts. This dish is served with mixed greens and the way to eat it is to wrap the shrimp chips and pork in a lettuce leaf and top it of with cilantro, mint and jalapeños. I think this dish has the perfect combination of all the textures and flavors that good food should. It has the perfect marination for the thin pork, the crunch of the chips and the greens, which are both to different and yet come together to make perfection. The jalapeños add the right amount of spice and interest to this dish.

Bahn Tap

Mixed Greens

Bahn Tap Wrapped with Mixed Greens

We also ordered the Bun Tom Xao, which is a sautéed shrimp on rice vermicelli, and a Bun Thit Nuong, which is marinated grilled pork, served on rice vermicelli. Both of these dishes are eaten with greens just as the above dishes. Both these dishes were very good too.

Bun Tom Xao

Bun Thit Nuong

I’m not a fan of chicken in Vietnamese cuisine. I feel that they do their other meats so much better but the chicken curry dish that we tried really pleasantly surprised me. The Bahn Mi Ca-Ri Ga is a chicken stew with potatoes. It is hearty stew that is simmered with curry powder and coconut milk. It was really outstanding. The stew had been simmered to the perfect texture where the curry was thick and really delicious.

Com Chein Ga Hoac Heo

We also ordered a Com Chein Ga Hoac Heo, which is Vietnamese chicken fried rice with green peas. The fried rice on its own was okay but it went very well with the Bahn Mi Ca-Ri Ga (chicken stew)

Bahn Mi Ca-Ri Ga

I just love Pho-Bang. Its one of those places that you get an urge to go and eat at every few weeks. The digs are- well Chinatown – but with food so good and prices so cheap – who cares!! The staff is a cut above the Chinatown rest. In the noisy bustle and quick turn around of tables, they are quite proud of the good eats that they serve up on a daily basis.

My ratings for this meal: (all ratings are out of a possible 5)

Food:    ☆☆☆ ☆

Ambiance: ☆

Service: ☆☆

Price: $

Overall experience: ☆☆☆

Would I go back: Definitely

Dishes I highly recommend: Bahn Tap, Tom Bo Nuong Vi, Bahn Mi Ca-Ri Ga

January 12, 2010. Tags: , , . ☆☆ Ambience, ☆☆☆☆ Food, Bang For Your Buck, Cheap, Cheap & Good, Ethnic eats, New York City - Queens, Spicy Food, Vietnamese Restaurants. Leave a comment.

Bukhara Grill

Bukhara Grill

217 E, 49th Street (Between 2nd & 3rd Ave.)

New York, NY 10017

Ph# 212-888-2839


This little mid-town “Indian Spice Rave” as they call themselves is quickly becoming one of my favorite Indian food finds. Being Indian, I’m usually very picky about eating Indian out and really don’t end up liking very much of what I try. Bukhara Grill however is quite an exception to my rule.

The restaurant is a carbon copy of one of the most famous Restaurants of yesteryears in India called Bukhara. They have styled their wooden menus, the copper drinking glasses, checkered napkin-bibs you can wear while eating, in exactly the same way. While the look and feel of the two places are the same, the food at Bukhara Grill has far surpassed that of its old and tired counterpart in India.

Copper Drinking Glasses & Checkered Apron Bibs

Wooden Menu

We went to eat at Bukhara Grill, in a big group of about 15 people and so I got to try a plethora of dishes. Here is some of what we ate.

Mint chutney with Hariyali Kababs

The one thing that is flawless at Bukhara Grill is their mint chutney. It is quite rare to find Indian restaurants that make such good chutney. So right off the bat, as soon as you sit down at your table and start munching on the papads (crisp lentil flatbreads) and dipping them into the chutney, you just know that any of their dishes using that mint chutney should be pretty spectacular. This brings me to my favorite dish of the night – The Chicken Hariyali Kababs.

I just love their Hariyali kababs. They are made to perfection. These tender chunks of chicken, slathered with delicious mint chutney are grilled to perfection on skewers in the tandoor (clay oven). The Chicken Hariyali Kababs at Bukhara Grill are pretty much on par with any of the hariyali kababs I have had in India.

Chicken Harilyali Kabab

For a vegetarian version of the Hariyali Kababs we tried the Pudhina Paneer Tikkas (Indian cheese). The paneer tikkas were good but really couldn’t compare to the chicken ones, as paneer cannot absorb flavors the way that chicken can.

Pudhina Paneer Tikka

I rarely try mushrooms in Indian cuisine as it’s not really an Indian specialty but their Pickled Mushrooms really surprised me. I really enjoyed it. The mushrooms were cooked, probably on a tawa (a flat iron cooking griddle) and then were combined with very tasty “pickled” gravy. I loved all the flavors and textures that came together in this dish and would highly recommend it.

Pickled Mushrooms

I was not very impressed by the Talli Machi( fish kabab). It was deep-fried, too crispy and too salty for my liking. This dish could have been a fried anything and would have tasted the same. The fish just did not distinguish itself. Next time, I would try their grilled fish tikkas.

Talli Machi

The Mutton Sheek Kabab, which is made of ground goat or lamb meat, is quite nice too. It was tasty enough, not outstanding though. I thought the kabab itself was a little too thick and might have had more delicacy if the sheeks (kababs) were made a little thinner.

Mutton Sheek Kababs

The Chicken Malai Kabab (kababs with cream) failed to impress me. This kabab, when done right, is one of the tenderest, most delicious kababs one can ever eat. I found the pieces of chicken too big and not tender enough. This was one dish that we could have easily skipped. However, I did manage to pour a whole lot of mint chutney on it and load it with freshly sliced onions and fresh green chilies, which made it taste quite good ( but it took too much “work” on my part – skip this one)

Chicken Malai Kabab

Chicken Malai Kabab

I always judge an Indian restaurant (that serves food from the northern west frontier province cuisine) on two things – how good their Kali Dal (black lentils) and Chicken Makhani (Chicken with a curried butter sauce). Bukhara grill does great on both fronts.

Their Dal Bukhara is very good. It isn’t however as good as the famed Dal Bukhara from India (which to be quite honest is really not that good in India either anymore).

Dal Bukhara

The Chicken Makhani is very yummy too. The creamy gravy has the right mix of sweet and tart. The next time around, I would try their Chicken Tikka Masala. I always prefer Chicken Tikka Masala to Butter Chicken ( Chicken Makhani). The dishes are rather similar in taste, but vary as one uses precooked chicken tikkas in the gravy and the other one just uses regular chicken. I always feel the chicken tikkas add much more depth and interest to the makhani gravy. For the vegetarians, the Paneer Makhani was equally tasty.

Chicken Makhani

We also tried the Gosht Mughlai Korma. I’m not a huge fan of red meat but found the Korma (gravy) of this dish to be quite delicious. I wasn’t as taken with the meat part. I thought it wasn’t tender enough and on many bites, I just tasted the fat part of the goat versus the meat. However gravy part, eaten with plain white rice was really very yummy.

Gosht Mughlai Korma

We also ordered the Sarson ka Sag (which is spinach with mustard greens). This is really a North Indian specialty and when made well can be eaten by the buckets (literally). Their version was okay. I really couldn’t taste the mustard greens in the dish, it was kind of like a mushy green bowl of stuff. Not horrible – quite edible- but nothing special. I wouldn’t get it again.

Sarson ka Sag

The rice and rotis’s (breads) were all very good. The Naans are huge and can easily be shared by three people. We tried their garlic and plain naans, which were both good. We also tried their pudhina paratha (mint bread) – there I go again with the mint. It was delicious.

Basmati Rice with Peas

Mixed Naans

Mint Parathas

All in all, I highly recommend Bukhara Grill. They serve up some really good Indian food. I prefer going there for dinner versus lunch. They have a great deal for their lunch buffet but I just didn’t enjoy the food as much– but I’m willing to try it again. The staff is so eager to please and and the owners are very friendly and accommodating.

Bukhara Grill is one of those places where you enter light and eager with anticapaiton and you leave with your belt buckle very loosened and dragging feet. Don’t plan on doing much after eating here – after a meal like that – the only place you can head off to is bed!

My ratings for this meal: (all ratings are out of a possible 5)

Food:    ☆☆☆ 3/4

Ambiance: ☆☆ 1/2

Service: ☆☆☆1/2

Price: $$

Overall experience: ☆☆☆1/2

Would I go back: Definitely

Dishes I highly recommend: Chicken Hariyali Kabab, Mint Paratha, Pickled Mushrooms.

January 7, 2010. Tags: , , . ☆☆ Ambience, ☆☆☆ 1/2 Restaurants, Ethnic eats, Indian Restaurants, New York City - Manhattan, Spicy Food. Leave a comment.

Lunch at Bouley


163 Duane Street, New york, New York

Ph# (212) 964-2525


The first time I ate at Bouley was in 1996. My mother in-law took my husband (fiancée at that time) and me for dinner to celebrate our graduating Graduate School from Columbia.

The experience  for me was beyond divine. Even though it was almost 12 years ago, I still remember being delighted by every course we were served! Little did I know at that time that Bouley would close down that very year. I’ve never forgotten that meal. I really think it was one of the best meals I have ever had….in my entire life!

So, after 12 long years of Bouley having closed, reopened, moved locations and so on, I finally went back to try it one more time. This time I went for lunch. They have a great pre-fix deal for lunch for $48.

Here is some of what I ate.

Porcini Flan,Dungeness Crab, Black Truffle Dashi

I started with the Porcini Flan, Dungeness Crab, Black Truffle Dashi. This dish was outstanding. The crab just melted in my mouth and the combination of the mushrooms and dashi was to die for. This dish had so many layers of subtle flavors to it – I tasted something different in every bite. Everything about this dish was superb.

A Roasted Rouget

I had the roasted Rouget for my next course. This dish really did nothing for me. The fish was very fresh and roasted to perfection but I found the bed of sauces it was on to be unimpressive. It really did nothing for the dish. I guess I expected more.

Pennsylvania All Natural Chicken Baked in Buttermilk with Seasonal Vegetables and Mushrooms

My friend ordered the chicken. I found this dish to be similar to my Rouget. Though the chicken was excellent and very tender, it was a little underdone and the vegetables and sauce it came with did nothing for the dish. It didn’t have the depth I expected from it.

Fresh Washington State Black Cod, Organic Buckwheat, Sunchoke Cloud, Black Onion Powder

I had the Fresh Washington State Black Cod, Organic Buckwheat, Sunchoke Cloud, Black Onion Powder for my entrée and honestly – for me it was YUCK!!!!! I did not like it at all. It sounded like an interesting dish and came highly recommended, but once I tried it I just could not get through it. It was one of those semi-cooked, quivery , jellyish kind of dishes that I personally just do not like. I have to say that when the staff saw that I didn’t like my dish they immediately offered to bring me something else. They were really very gracious.

Lime Sorbet with Pineapple

Lime Sorbet with finely sliced Pineapple

The lime sorbet was a palate cleanser that was brought to us right before dessert. This dish really jolts your taste buds and wakes you up. I thought it was very good but I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of it as it was very strong. It served it purpose really well!

Hot Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé Vermont Maple Ice Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sorbet

The dessert was beyond divine. This was the best chocolate soufflé cake that I have ever had. The ice creams that accompanied it were unbelievable too. So fresh, so beautifully flavored – it was a perfect way to end our meal.

I have to say that overall I was disappointed with this meal. The two outstanding things I ate were the Crab-Porcini mushroom flan and the dessert. The rest of the meal was just okay. I would go back again though. Bouley is such a charming place, with impeccable service and grace. I really enjoyed the experience and parts of the meal were outstanding. It’s hard to judge a place like Bouley based on just one meal and one menu. I still believe that Chef David Bouley can recreate the magic that I experienced 12 years ago and I am willing to go back and try.

My ratings for this meal: (all ratings are out of a possible 5)

Food:    ☆☆☆1/2

Ambiance: ☆☆☆☆

Service: ☆☆☆☆

Price: $$$$

Overall experience: ☆☆☆1/2

Would I go back: Definitely

December 26, 2009. Tags: , , . $$$$ Restaurants, ☆☆☆ 1/2 Restaurants, French Restaurants, New York City - Manhattan, Upscale Restaurants. Leave a comment.