Category Archives: Drinks

Speak Low – Angel’s Share

Had a fantastic night last week at Angel’s Share.  I ordered the “Speak Low” which was featured on the back of the menu with Bacardi, sherry, and macha (green tea powder).

I’m not usually a “sophisticated” drinker in the sense of wanting to explore different tastes in my cocktail the way I love to with food, but this time I thought I’d give it a try.  I also incorrectly assumed it’d be a sweeter cocktail because of the rum, but it wasn’t.

The first sip was a bit chalky because of the macha powder, but eventually grew on me.  I pictured a sophisticated silver Asian man consuming the drink in a suit and tie, despite later catching up with a friend who said despite the chalkiness that she LOVED the drink.  Oh and she’s my age–!

Doesn’t this look fantastic?

Speak Low at Angel's Share

Angel’s Share - 8 Stuyvesant Street - (212) 777-5415

Gramercy Terrace

I had a great bonding day with my Dad on the 21st starting with a fantastic lunch at Gramercy Terrace. The restaurant is beautiful, even with the dreary sky and fog the light poured in. We weren’t sure if it was going to be a good experience at first because of the rain and how noisy it would be, but at most it just reminded me of my childhood favorite: Rainforest Cafe (boy, have we come far! haha).

You take the elevator to T (level 18) and you walk into an unassuming space with a hospitable hostess. Low and behold, right behind her is the terrace itself.

The restaurant was covered in green plants from ceiling vines to trees, and the waitstaff dressed in black and white covered in the brightness from the retractable glass windows and ceiling. Fantastic all around.

Gramercy Terrace Interior

Interior

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I started with a Whiskey Cobbler (American Whiskey without a name, raspberries, and lemon juice). It was extremely tart with probably a bit too much lemon and too little raspberry–not really my taste and lacked the right balance.

Whiskey Cobbler at Gramercy Terrace

Whiskey Cobbler

We ordered two entrees, the burger and chicken fried steak.

My dad said the burger was just okay. It looks a bit bigger than a Shake Shack burger, but I didn’t really get a good look at it. I loved the bun accent from toasting though and the mini milkshake it came with! It was also supposed to come with “spicy fries” that in reality weren’t spicy at all–just salty. Altogether, I think my dad was a little disappointed.

Burger at Gramercy Terrace

Burger

I ordered the chicken fried steak. Now, I’m not exactly an expert on traditional chicken fried steak, but it was AMAZING. Anyone who eats meat would tell you the same. It was seasoned perfectly, ridiculously moist with a delicious breading, and came with a delicious celery slaw. I gave my Dad a–I just gained ten pounds–look and we both agreed we’d go back just for that.

YUM.

Chicken Fried Steak at Gramercy Terrace

Chicken Fried Steak

I don’t consider myself a sweets person, but when it’s a new restaurant, especially a Danny Meyer restaurant, I know it’s going to be good. (+10 pounds?). We ordered the chocolate cake with Gramercy Tavern in mind, so our expectations were really high. When it arrived it looked a bit unconventional with very straight heavy looking cake layers and a plastery looking mousse filling accompanied by some salty chocolate bits. Despite the funny appearance, green eggs and ham, the cake was delicious. It was very thick like The World’s Best Chocolate Cake, but no funny traces of uncooked flour here! The mousse was more like a dried out ultra firm mousse than a light fluff, but again still delicious.

Chocolate Cake at Gramercy Terrace

Chocolate Cake

My only complaint was that it was a bit awkward with the event planner(s) walking people around through the entire meal giving them tours. Couldn’t take wait for an off-time? Otherwise, the service was very charming.

I’ll definitely be returning with my brother for the chicken fried steak, and with my Mom for the chocolate cake…and everything else.

Remy Martin Tasting

I went to a Remy Martin tasting last week after a colleague forwarded me the invite. Prior, The only dedicated alcoholic pop-up marketing projects I had gone to were House of Walker and a private tasting of Balvenie.

It was a pretty warehousey area all the way on the west side of 34th St, but it was a pleasant surprise seeing the posh temporary space upstairs. They called the event the Remy Martin Heart of Cognac Experience. We walked in and grabbed some “Remy and Ginger” (ale) and cognacs straight.

After a drink in the bar, some gorgeous women brought us back to a giant lab table covered with mini alchemy sets of 4-, 8-, and 14- year old cognac. Everyone in the group competed to construct a VSOP based purely on aroma and of course my team won (by a lucky guess?).

It was an all around fun event for young drinkers. After the mixing they took us around themed rooms, even one with a “straight-from-the-cask” gimic (…I mean excellent marketing). Too bad the brand ambassador had already told us they were retired casks AKA they just threw some cognac into a dusty cask. Gross?

I definitely recommend this event to people who want to learn more about cognac, but I wouldn’t expect too much. We didn’t really learn about the intricacies of production aside from one major point they drove home: there are a bagillion production batches that go into one blend. Ok, this can definitely go both ways. If it were Scotch you could be the Johnnie Walker with massive blends, or you could be a single malt or single barrel. I’m pretty sure the presentation was dumbed down considering that Remy Martin in reality does have a very comprehensive line of cognac to ultra ultra premium Louis XIII for a bagillion dollars.

Oh and there was a photo booth:

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Hakkasan – Overpriced Mediocre Modern Cantonese

Where to start…

I haven’t been as active of a foodie as some of my friends used to know of me (but I’ve also lost a lot of weight-WOOHOO!!), so anytime I go out for an epic meal that is exactly what I expect.

Hakkasan, however, completely failed me.

I first heard of the restaurant through my bff foodie friend Leeann who sent me a link.  Looked like a high-end in a trendy sense (not quality sense), Chinese version of Nobu so I was pretty excited.

Last minute before our reservation, I did a check to see where it was and did a quick glance at what I should be expecting.  CRAP.  CANTONESE FOOD.  Now, I’m not too sure.  Coming from a Cantonese family who often goes to SF, Vancouver, and Toronto for family AND FOOD (not to mention living in HK for a summer), I was nervous.  I no longer wanted to spend a fortune on something that I expected to be mediocre.

Even though I am not always fair and partial when going into a meal, normally once I try the food, nothing else matters.

Unique Decor/Entrance – Finding this restaurant was a bit of an adventure.  I’m in a cab and went right past the restaurant on an otherwise residential block.  If I hadn’t looked up the restaurant earlier and recognized their logo, I probably would have been embarrassedly searching for an additional five minutes, haha.

So I walk into the entrance and down a long hallway that appeared to be the entrance of a swanky hotel.  I thought WHOOPS! because no one greeted me at the door and halfway down the hallway I walked by a desk (which I think was the coat check? or something?), then walked by a strange booth and curtain that was more like a coat check… then finally a desk at the back.  OK–weird, but different in a neat way.  If you’ve been to The Modern, it was kind of like that, except the front of Hakkasan didn’t have a menu posted!

I see my friends and new pals, we sit, and open up the cocktail menu.

Cocktails - Junoon-style, I wanted to see what type of funny fusion flavored drinks they had.  Awesome–my friends all ordered the very sweet Hakka, and I wanted to take the route less travelled with a delicious Tanqueray No. 10, pear, all around delicious cocktail (pictured above).

YUM.  Okay, things are looking good.  We were set up at this amazing and beautiful table in a “room” of sorts.  The whole restaurant was like a labyrinth and the walls were made of those ornate Asian-inspired wooden partitions that weren’t really walls so there was still this great open feel.  I would say it is a perfect place to bring someone you want to impress (as long as they/their family isn’t from Hong Kong)

Now the menu.  Nothing too detailed in the descriptions with things like Pipa Duck, Duck with Black Truffle, jasmine roasted pork ribs (which didn’t taste like jasmine–picture below), spinach tofu, spicy prawns etc etc.  I didn’t think much of it, just that if I were going to pay a pretty penny relative to Chinatown, I expected each simple thing to be executed perfectly.

APPETIZERS

We ended up ordering two steamed dim sum platters, one fried dim sum platter, and one jasmine roasted pork ribs for appetizers.  They weren’t amazing, but definitely still delicious.  I hadn’t had amazing Chinese food in a long time and I assumed the prices reflected the quality I was going to get (though you can never really be certain when a new restaurant opens).  Needless to say, I was really looking forward to this.

I basically set myself up for disappointment.

Steamed Dim Sum: If the real goal is to deliver amazing food (how else can a restaurant be sustainable?), then I think the steamed dim sum was risky on their part.  If you are going to serve people har gow at those prices…it has to be amazing.  It was definitely NOT amazing, and I’d prefer a har gow from Ocean Jewels or any ghetto dim sum place with fresh shrimp dumplings.  The skins were not fine, the shrimp was mediocre.  Considering how much that dim sum was…it was not worth it.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying you should instead get an entire pack of frozen for the price of one har gow, but I am tempted…

What else was in there…some pumpkin/duck thing that was underwhelming.  Just because something is orange doesn’t make up for the fact that I don’t taste pumpkin.

Fried Dim Sum: The fried dim sum was delicious, but overpriced. (sensing a theme here?).  Nothing special here.

ENTREES

We ordered their special spicy shrimp (which was just ok), their truffle duck, the wagyu beef, spinach tofu, and some others.

I think there is definitely some hype that goes along with a restaurant, but it’s your choice to buy-in or not.  Obviously this can enhance your experience, and if you prefer that, great.  For me, life is harder!

Wagyu Beef - The wagyu beef was nothing phenomenal.  It definitely was nothing like kobe beef in kobe, and also cost significantly more than what I would have priced it based on quality and not the marketing gimic.  I honestly think my garlic marinated skirt steak at home is better than their wagyu beef–and that is insane.  The prep I’m sure is not too different–thin slices with some tastey gravy.

Truffle Duck – we wanted to go out and make sure we got the full experience (without spending the $888 on their abalone), so we ordered the $88 duck.  Ok, yes, it was good.  By the time it came to our table is wasn’t exactly hot, but I can’t remember the last time I had really hot duck anyway.  It tasted like…wait for it… wait for it… truffle and duck.  Nothing surprising here, and nothing too phenomenal.  If you are a truffle junkie then you may feel the need to try it, but honestly it just wasn’t worth it.  A whole duck is probably under $20 still these days in Chinatown (cut up and everything), and at Hakkasan you get half? Less?  Then think about the cheapie truffle oil they probably used instead of real truffle.  Now, that is just frustrating and I feel like a fool!  There was of course no sign of real truffle anywhere on my plate.

Spinach Tofu (pictured above) – I was definitely impressed by this simple dish.  There were a lot of flavors, and the tofu had an amazing texture. BRAVO!

Some birdsnesty seafood dish (pictured above)?  Don’t remember what exactly it was, but it was okay too.

Service - I thought our waitresses were hospitable in their gorgeous red dresses, except after all our entrees came out they never really came back to us.   Considering we had a big party, I find that so hard to believe!  I also think it’s really funny that this one waitress was so obviously uncomfortable in her super hot dress because she kept holding the front of it closed!  :-/.

Alternatives - I think all-in-all I would have preferred to spend our $100/each check on a delicious dim sum at Ocean Jewels with perfect dim sum, and fresh steamed shrimps, garlic crusted crabs, but hey, maybe that’s just me.  Oh wait, and even with the crab it probably would have been significantly less per person -.-.

This experience reminded me of a video my cousin send to me last week on the truth of bottled water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfPAjUvvnIc.  Basically, the people were fooled with the marketing of the fancy presentation of the water… and thought different bottles tasted differently despite it all having the same source, haha.  It’s pretty funny–you should definitely watch it!


Pegu Club – Cocktail Flashback.

So I wrote this blog last OCTOBER, but never published it.  So funny how all of it is still true today now that it’s the beginning of April.

I haven’t been out at the bar in over a month (maybe two) because I’ve been successfully trying to lose weight and be a healthier person overall (not staying out late, etc).  So far I’ve lost 15 pounds (YAY!), but realized my social life has severely suffered.  Before, every meal was part of my social calendar with a close friend.  Lunch, dinner, everyday, all the time.  Now, it seems that some of my closest friends have physically become the furtherest, from adventures to India, Prague, and more India, and also unavailable because of their work schedules (investment bankers, psht! <3).

So goes every recent grad’s story–we feel alone sometimes because we lack that constantly social interaction, and the stress of work isn’t overwhelming, but definitely a bit new.  Our new reality was that what our routine is now will only become more strenuous and longer as we become more successful. Anyway, tonight I decided I need to write SOMETHING in my blog since I haven’t in a few months.  It was something I committed too when I was a cool undergrad and I realized there is no reason to just give it up!

I went to Pegu Club with my friend Iris tonight.  She originally introduced me to this great spot last year, and I all I remembered of it was its relatively spaciousness (the bouncer did a great job at preventing it from becoming too packed), and how it would be perfect for a date.  One day, one day, I’ll bring that special someone here, but until then it is sacred for girl time.

It was what my typical Saturday nights used to look like–meet up with one of my close pals,catch up on man stories and job stories, and check-in on just about everything.  It had been so long and much needed!  Thankfully, my friends appreciate a perfect cocktail as much as I do, if not more, so I had two nights of greatness in a row.  Friday, I went with Leeann to Blue Owl and had a delicious Cottontail, but Saturday was to top off the weekend nights!

Of course I somehow managed to encounter some rude bridge and tunnel older types at both bars, but hey–the deliciousness was worth it.

First up at Pegu was the mystery drink.  Iris, one of my cocktail bar expert friends, explained to me that Milk and Honey didn’t have a menu and the bartenders would make what you wanted based on what your cravings were, but I didn’t expect this out of Pegu.  They were out of the punch tonight, so I asked the bartender for a recommendation.  He asked ever so simply if I liked raspberries, and when I said yes he proceeded to make me a delicious drink of Tanqueray, raspberries, and hints of other things that I didn’t catch (I wasn’t readily watching the whole time).

UPDATE (4/7): If you are in town and like the idea of Milk and Honey, then I can safely say you should consider Pegu Club a strong contender for your most delicious cocktail bar options.