Cooking List

As I face the daunting world of school loans and the realities of having no significant income for the next four years, my food fixation has taken a thrifty turn.
Rather than sample restaurants, I’ve decided to focus on honing my own culinary skills.
As I had a “to eat” list of restaurants before, I’m now putting together a “to cook” list; a compilation of dishes I should know how to cook, for myself as well as for others.
Here’s a few for starters, I’d love to get some suggestions. What other basic dishes should any self-respecting cook should be able to execute? Any good recipe suggestions? I have a couple to share too :)

The list in progress:
Pound cake (check)
Banana bread (check)
Chinese pork dumplings
Real scrambled eggs
Banana pudding
Roast whole chicken
Mashed potatoes (still looking for the perfect recipe that doesn’t involve gobs of butter. Not sure if that exists.)
Homemade pasta
Pie! Pie! Pie!
Spring onion pancake
Shepherds pie
Mac & cheese

Bangkok 54

A few friends and I went to Bangkok 54 today and ordered family style. We ordered Penang Curry, Pad See Ew, and Red Chili Sea Bass. The fish dish was pretty good – mildly crispy, tender fish breaded, fried, and drenched in a sweet, red, not at all spicy sauce, all served over a bunch of random, bland, non-complementary veggies (zucchini & celery?! O.o). Not sure if it was worth the $17 price tag, but it was passable.

The same could not be said for the other two dishes. The sauce of the smooth creamy curry was delicious, but the chicken was dried out and tough. The chicken in the noodle dish was similarly dry; the noodles themselves were too chewy and seemed undercooked.

Overall, the food was underwhelming.

At the end of the meal, I pulled out my iPhone that had the Money Mailer app w/ a 15% off coupon. As is customary, this app has a “redeem” button that provides a code and a message that states “show this code to the cashier”, thus implying that printing of the coupon is not necessary (ala Groupon & Livingsocial apps). However, the coupon was promptly by rejected by the manager because I had not printed out a paper copy! I thought that was a rather miserly, 20th century, tree-killingĀ  move on his part, and not at all the way to run a small business in the service industry. If you advertise a coupon, you should honor it!

Just Sayin’.

Watts Grocery

Watts Grocery is a moderately sized restaurant in a low key group of shops in Durham. I ordered the vegetarian plate for the night – crispy lentil and cheese fritters over lightly seasoned greens, mushrooms, tomato, parsnips and radishes.

I’d never had parsnips, and the jury’s still out, but the dish overall was delicious. No flavor overwhelmed the others, and everything melded together in harmonious veggie goodness. When I cracked open the crispy fritter’s coat, melty cheese oozed out with chewy lentil bits. The veggies and mysterious (& delicious) green sauce were a perfect light, cool complement to the fritters. yum!

Plus the appetizers of cheesy hushpuppies were piping hot, greasy, crispy mounds of yum.




Good Bites Cafe (Belmont, CA)

Our trip to SF was such a whirlwind of food and sightseeing, both Jen and I were negligent in recording our meals. However, it would be criminal for me to keep living my life without jotting a few notes about this little Filipino hole in the wall.
I love small, obscure restaurants tucked away in some corner, serving delicious, simple food for cheap cheap cheap. This place fits the bill and is probably the best meal I ate in California.
We came here for a late brunch. Each meal comes with a choice of meat, garlic rice, and a salad, all for $7! We also got a free appetizer of pita/naan type bread with the best thick garlicky hummus I’ve ever tasted.
Our meats of choice: sweet bacon, sweet sausage, and marinated beef. All were delicious but the juicy smokey sweet sausage trumped them all. The garlic rice was sensational and lacked the usual oil laden feel of most fried rice.
Plus, the owner was super friendly and hospitable, I felt like we were being served at his house :)
Thank you Yelp.

Dim Sum in Chinatown on the worst day ever

It snowed while we were in New York…in October! That’s just not supposed to happen. But it did. And it changed our plans around but we were able to make it out to Golden Unicorn in Chinatown. Dim sum places tend to be hit or miss. However, this place was pretty good. Subtract the pushy cart pushers (haha), it would’ve have been an even more pleasant dining experience.


Hot Pot

I’ve never had hot pot at a restaurant before–only in the comfort of a home where I can unashamedly fall into a food coma after. But this place was really nice: clean, trendy and tasty. It’s so much easier to eat hot pot when you don’t have to prepare all the different add-ins yourself!!


Shanghai Dumpling Brunch

When in Flushing, stopping by Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao is an absolute must. If someone recommends Joe’s Shamghai to you, they’re not your friend–friends don’t let friends eat second-rate Xiao Long Bao!



We also ordered You Tiao and sweet warm soy milk. Mmm. Here’s a tip from our experience–check how many pieces come in an order before you order multiple quantities. We ended up with 8 large pieces of You Tiao when we thought we were only ordering 4…