Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ippudo NY - 65 4th Ave (between 9th St & 10th St) New York, NY 10003 (212) 388-0088

If you're planning on going to Ippudo after 6pm, expect at least a two hours wait for a table. Don't bother trying to make a reservation ahead of time, they don't take any. So if you're really looking forward to this place, make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes and get ready to throw back a few orders of beer and sake, because it's gonna be a while.

Why people are willing to wait hours to pay $14 for a bowl of ramen when the average price is $10 is beyond me. In terms of both broth and texture of the noodles, their ramen does not exceed the standard characteristics of what ramen should be. Ippudo has the traditional pork, egg, and bamboo shoots in their shoyu ramen. It's fair to say that most ramen places consists of the same ingredients. The distinction of a good bowl of ramen should be their broth and noodles. The broth should be flavorful and the noodles fresh. How other ramen places such as Rai Rai Ken and Setagaya stand up to Ippudo is debatable. It seems like everyone has their own favorite ramen place to go to. Other than the fact that Ippudo offers refill on noodles for an extra $2, I just don't see what it is that makes this place stand out.

Some of the best and most renowned ramen places I've been to was in Tokyo. I must admit I haven't tried Fujimaki's reputed and infamous ramen for $100 USD yet, but don't count on it because I don't plan to.

To say Ippudo is overrated sounds cliched but the exposure they're getting seems undeserved. The value that you get for the price that you're paying just isn't worth it. And it looks like the attention that they're getting is going straight to their heads. Has a hostess ever rolled her eyes at you when you asked to see their menu? It seems like that's the kind of attitude you'll be receiving at any over-hyped, non-Michelin rated restaurant. Don't buy into the hype. Take your money and go spend it elsewhere.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: No
Price: Expensive $20-$30 PP

Main Course: Shoyu ramen

Service: Satisfactory

Website: http://www.ippudo.com/ny

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pio Pio - 8413 Northern Blvd Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (718) 426-1010

Pio Pio has recently changed it's location to a more spacious locale across the street on Northern Boulevard. Through their enormous glass windows, you can certainly see that the move hasn't affect their business at all. The restaurant still attracts a large group of devoted patrons who are ready and eager to satisfy their fix on Pio Pio's famed rotisserie chicken. As soon as you walk through the door, the aroma of their roasted chicken immediately gets a hold of you and somehow you feel a lot hungrier than you did before.

There is usually a long line of people waiting by the door, but it doesn't take that long for them to sit you down. You can always call ahead to make a reservation if you don't like to wait and it's usually recommended if you're going with a large group.

For appetizer I like to start with their mixed seafood ceviche. They put together the right amount of lemon juice and seasonings that makes this dish quite palatable. However the size of their dish has gotten significantly smaller since the last time I ordered it. I wonder if they're cutting back due to renovation costs.

The Matador Combo is great for a group of 4-5 people. The combo comes with fries and sausages (salchipapas), rice and beans, fried plantains (tostones), and avocado salad. I've never been a fan of their tostones because it always comes out dry and rather bland but their chicken never fails to deliver. For the most part, the Pio chicken is tender and juicy and their blend of Peruvian seasonings and spices is what separates this place from all the other Peruvian restaurants around the neighborhood. And everyone can agree with me that it's the spicy green chili sauce that takes their chicken to a whole 'nother level.

Their new location on Northern Boulevard has a nice and trendy feel to it. They have a large bar right by the entrance, trust me, you won't miss it. I wasn't even sure if they had a bar at their old place. The restaurant is still very loud and crowded and they still play the "Happy Birthday" song in Spanish every five minutes. They really need to start checking people's licenses, if you ask me. It's hard to have a regular conversation when you're there with company. You have to shout so the person sitting in front of you can hear you. So I really wouldn't recommend this place as a great "date" place.

They have several locations in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx but the one I go to is in Jackson Heights because it's ten minutes from where I live.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes
Price: Reasonable $25-$35 PP

Appetizer: Mixed Seafood Ceviche
Main Course: Pio Chicken

Service: Satisfactory

Website: http://www.piopionyc.com

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sushi Village - 3250 Francis Lewis Blvd. Bayside, NY 11358 (718) 886-4733

You really have to be a sushi lover to appreciate what this restaurant has to offer. It's an all you can eat Japanese buffet restaurant that doesn't require you to get out of your seat at all. As soon as you sit down, your server will bring you a menu that lists a variety of sushi, special rolls and other dishes you can choose from. All you have to do is mark down on a sheet of paper what you want and they'll bring it to you as soon as your food is ready. Their menu has an extensive list of all the Japanese food you can think of; teriyaki, sashimi, udon, tempura, and best of all, fried ice cream. This place has got the works! The only thing that I can think of that's missing from their menu is ramen noodles. But then again after eating all that sushi, you won't have room for anything else.

Located right on the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 191st street, the restaurant has a parking lot for its customers so you don't need to worry about finding parking. However it's rather small, so if you go during the weekend, it can get full really fast. Compared to other buffet restaurants like Harvest and Minado, Sushi Village offers a wider array of sushi to choose from. But don't expect to find snow crab legs and Peking duck on the menu. This is the place to go for sushi, if sushi is what you're craving for.

The restaurant has a nice and welcoming atmosphere. It's reasonably priced, the service is good, and most importantly, their sushi is fresh. If you're planning on ordering special rolls, I recommend the lobster roll. Make sure you come hungry so you have enough room for dessert.

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes
Price: Reasonable $20-$25 PP

Appetizer: Shrimp Tempura
Main Course: Lobster Roll
Dessert: Fried Ice Cream

Service: Satisfactory

Website: http://www.sushivillageny.com/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

STK NYC - 26 Little w 12th Street New York, NY 10014-1303 (212) 488-2110

At first glance, the outside of this restaurant seems low-key and understated. If you don't pay careful attention to the address of this place, you just might miss it. Hidden in the heart of the trendy Meatpacking District is this pricey yet delectable steakhouse. It's got a contemporary atmosphere, with a swanky vibe; and the service is superb. The staff is friendly, attentive, and readily available to serve you. The place is filled with people in their 20's and 30's looking for a place to see and be seen. It's a great "date" place too, but it does get loud and crowded at night, especially during weekends.

For appetizers, what I recommend people to start out with is the Lil' Big Macs. Trust me, they're not your average Big Macs that you'd normally order at a McDonald's. They certainly don't taste like one either. These little burgers are so sinfully good. For the main course, go with the 24 oz. porterhouse. It's actually big enough for you to share with another person. What's unusual about this place is that they charge you extra for toppings on your steak. Go with the peppercorn crust if you can handle a little kick with your steak. As for the side dish, go with the mixed mushrooms. I'm a big fan of shrooms and believe me, you can't go wrong with this dish. Now for dessert, I strongly recommend you get the STK funny bone. It's a chocolate cake topped with peanut butter and caramelized bananas with chocolate ice cream on the side. This dessert is so good, you won't regret ordering it. For those who are on a diet, I suggest you loosen up a little; you only live once. :)

Bottom Line:

Recommended: Yes
Price: Expensive $100-$150 PP

Appetizer: Lil' Big Macs
Main Course: Porterhouse with Peppercorn crust
Dessert: STK funnybone

Service: Superb

Website: http://www.onelittlewest12.com/stkny/