24 January 2008

Penang, 41 Elizabeth St. (between Canal and Hester)

I apologize for my lack of posting over the past week, even though I'm sure none of you are really that heartbroken. I was going to enter a teaser post in about my TGIFriday's experience at Pittsburgh airport, but work got busy and frankly, I'm trying to be upscale here people. Seriously.

I've been to Penang with a group of friends before, and I don't remember much, except showing up late (and not much about the food). I think I was kind of miffed that all the prices were $10+ and it was all weird asian food that wasn't your classic American Chinese faire, so I got dumplings or something boring like that.

I stopped by after work on Tuesday to get over this prior experience and truly begin living again, and the establishment was near deserted. Maybe three tables were occupied, and I forgot how cool the decor was. Again, out with fellow foodie David and we split a few dishes: Roti Canai, fried wontons, coconut fried rice and dried curry chicken.

The Roti Canai was really good - it was this thinner-and-flakier-than-naan piece of bread with this delicious coconut curry sauce. Tasty. The fried wontons were fried dumplings...although the sweet and sour sauce that went with them was very nice! The dried curry chicken was just okay (it kind of upset my stomach). The coconut fried rice was pretty good, although they falsely advertised and said that there were beans in it, when there were no beans and onions instead. Lame-o. However, the dish did come with shrimp, and might I tangent for just a moment, I HATE it when restaurants do not devein their shrimp. It's so gross to be eating a shrimp, and seeing that little black vein running along their back that you know is filled with waste product. Gross gross gross. Ew ew ew.

After this par meal, I decided life would not be complete without some dessert. More specifically, the mango with sticky rice. I like mango, and I like sticky rice. How could I go wrong?

It's more possible than not that I could, as at first, the waiter said "Oh, I don't think we have anymore left, but I'll check." He went away, and then poked his head out of the refrigerated case after grabbing a 5"x2" rectangle of white saying "We do! I'll have it right for you." I stared in disbelief as he put it in the microwave. What?!


You can't be serious.

But he was.

Thanks to modern technology, minutes later he served up some sticky rice with mango slices. And I want you to know I finished every last grain it was so good.

Penang gets 2.5 rating forks out of 5:

Menu found here.

17 January 2008

Zen Burger, 465 Lexington (Between E. 45th and E. 46th St.)

So I guess I'm already breaking my rule of only posting about restaurants I go to dinner to (or was it really a rule in the first place? Maybe implied...hrm.), but I was convinced by my co-worker Rob to post about this place.

Zen Burger recently opened as an all-vegetarian joint. There is no meat in it's products, just made from good ol' veggies and soy. Everything on their menu is vegetarian-friendly, down to their ZenBacon and ZenBeef.

Personally I didn't feel too "zen" walking in there - in fact, the decor was harsh with it's white and orange detail, and despite looking in "Employees only" entrances and broom closets, I did not find my rock garden or quiet waterfall to meditate upon. However I did find a calming fountain (of soda - haha I almost had you!) and two large calming containers of iced tea (a rarity to find in NYC - unsweetened iced tea, that is).

But back to the lack of zen. Zen Burger was swamped when Rob and I entered, and even moreso when we left. In our span of waiting 10 minutes for our orders (not bad for the turnover) I saw two people had their orders get misplaced. I wondered why they got so mad...again, not very Zen of them. Instead of getting angry while I waited for my special order, I cleared my mind, practiced some yoga and contemplated the meaning of life.

Rob ordered the ZenBeef Burger meal, and I bought the ZenSouthwest Burger meal - so we each got a veggie burger with the standard suite of toppings, and Rob's with "Special ZenSauce" and mine with "ZenChipotle Sauce". Upon bringing our food back to our company's cafeteria (about a 5 minute walk), we began to devour our food, but much to my un-zenlike dismay, my burger was cold. Not even lukewarm, and neither was Rob's. I was very surprised with the amount of turnover that the store was going through; and mine was a special order! Neither of us received our sides of ZenSauce that the menu promises, making me very unhappy with my fries and having to opt for ketsup instead.

However as mediocre as the food was, Rob was right when he said that ZenBurger was good tasting, and a reasonable price for lunch (~$7 for a meal) in Midtown East.

Zen Burger gets 2/5 rating forks:

Website located here: http://www.zenburger.com/

16 January 2008

Diablo Royale, 189 W. 10th St. (between Bleecker and W. 4th)

While at Starbucks sipping green tea, when I finally narrowed my selection of 18 restaurants down to two, I ended up opting for some Mexican over Asian fusion tapas last night around 18:30. Diablo Royale welcomed me in for dinner, embracing me with her warm heat, the glowing glass candles lit the entire way around the restaurant, her antler chandeliers and the aroma of tasty Mexican. While sitting at Starbucks, I really had no hunger whatsoever (hence the tapas idea), but once I stepped in that door, I couldn't shovel chips and salsa fast enough in my face to help defer the hunger.

The waitress came over and (easily) convinced my fellow foodie David and I into ordering appetizers, a round of margaritas and large main courses. Another (!) basket of chips and salsa found itself on our table, as we demolished the first faster than an illegal handbag vendor running from the cops. We rounded off our order with a raspberry margarita and a blood orange margarita. At $9-10 a drink and seeing how small the glasses were, I was très skeptical until I had the first sip, and ZING! The taste of pureed fresh raspberry and incredible top shelf tequila (not that Cuervo shit; those days are OVER) rolled over my tongue like the Wave pool used to be at Geauga Lake. (It's kinda lame how they have it now, the bunch of little waves. Although I admit it's probably safer; once when I was about 8 I was riding the "kahuna" wave in and a really fat woman landed on top of me and I couldn't get up for air. I think I just kicked a lot until I broke free, totally riding that killer instinct till the end. They don't call me The Killer for noth-okay, maybe they don't call me the Killer at all. Whatever.)

Soon after (but not soon enough, as within about five minutes of basket two of chips and salsa were placed on our table, they were cashed) the appetizer arrived - four mini cobs of grilled corn with lime mayo, cotija, and cayenne. I was hesitant because I just paid $6 for corn on the cob, but within one bite I was hooked. I gnawed off each so tender, so tasty kernel typewriter style, and the waiter had to pry the plate out from under me as I was attempting to lick the remnants of the seasonings up.

About 30 seconds later, the main course arrived - Al Pastor tacos (roasted pork and pineapple-pico-crema served on a flour tortilla) and adobo spare ribs (braised with chilie and Mexican honey and served with tostones). While perusing the menu earlier, I thought that the ribs would be the surefire winner, and they were definitely good - the meat was falling off of the bone! - but I thought the sauce was just okay, and frankly, the sauce makes the ribs. I'm really not one to overdo on sauce of any type - I barely put any salad dressing on my salad, I rarely use gravy, and I hate sugar in my tea (what the hell does that have to do with anything?!) and I think they overdid it. I was looking for more of a rub with a sauce on the side. The tostones that accompanied were pretty good although slightly salty (which I do like).

The tacos on the other hand - I mean, they had me at Hello, but the flavor was so complex I didn't even notice I had them dripping down my hand. The pork was ever so spicy, enough to not notice at first but to overwhelm your taste buds and inhibit anything else you taste for the next ten minutes or so (or at least until you refresh with some margarita). They could have put more pineapple crema nonsense on, but the tacos were overstuffed as is. An excellent dish.

We did not stick around for dessert, as I'm not really a dessert person...but the tab was pretty reasonable for two drinks, an appetizer and two main courses. Our waitress was very upbeat and knowledgeable, and extremely convincing (although I didn't put up much of a fight). The service was good, the decor and ambiance were notable.

I give this restaurant 4 rating forks.

Link to their site is here: http://www.diabloroyale.com/, menu on page.

Wilkommen, Bonjour, Greetings, Konnichiwa, etc.

Greets and welcome to the Flying Fork - if you don't Fork it, fork you!

What I'm hoping to do is set up a blog that reviews restaurants I go to in the city, and use it as a record of what's good, what's bad, and what's ugly. I have a "deck of cards" that lists 52 restaurants in New York City, where each "card" is a $10 off of a $30 tab coupon.

Obviously I'm not going to review and eat just at those venues, but at least it's somewhere to start.

So without further adieu....

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