Thursday, November 29, 2012

New York: Yakitori Totto

For dinner on Halloween, we went to Yakitori Totto, the sister restaurant of the super popular ramen spot in NY, Totto Ramen.  We didn't have a reservation, and they almost denied us, but eventually they let us dine if we can finish within one hour.  Not the ideal situation, but we took that offer haha.

Yakitori Totto claims to be the best yakitori place in NYC.  I'm a huge fan of yakitori, especially with so many near where I live, so definitely excited to see if Yakitori Totto can live up to its hype and the Totto brand name.

Yakitori Totto
251 W 55th St 2nd Fl
Between Broadway & 8th Ave
Midtown West
New York, NY 10019

Entrance is stairs leading up to the second floor.  There's Jimmy doing the fob sign.

The sign outside.  Japanese Hiragana but in Chinese, it literally translates to "Bird Man."

Where the grilling happens.  Very small place.  There's the bar near the kitchen and only a handful of tables.  No wonder you need reservations...

Front of the menu. They have a full menu on their website.

Rather than going with the usual Sapporo, Kirin, or Asahi, we got Ebisu!

Their policy.  $20 per person at least.  Trust, very easy to hit that amount.

tuna sashimi
First up was Maguro Zuke, which is tuna sashimi in garlic flavored soy sauce.  You can see the edge is browned from the marinade.  Very light though.

tako wasa
Tako Wasa.  Raw octopus seasoned with wasabi.  I'm not a huge fan of wasabi so I didn't care much for this.

shirauo karaage
Shirauo Kara-age.  This was an awesome appetizer.  Fried small silver fish with matcha salt

matcha shio
Yup, salt flavored with matcha, the ground up tea powder!  Very unique!

kawa (skin)
First skewer up, Kawa, which is chicken skin!

Wished it was a bit crispier, but still tasty. 

ton toro (pork neck)
Tongue.  Everybody likes beef tongue except for me haha.  Pretty good though!

hatsu (heart)
Gizzard.  I think?  Hahaha

kamo negima (duck & scallion)
Kamo Negima.  Duck + scallion?  Yup.

Tsukune.  Chicken meatball is my favorite yakitori items.  We got one of each, sauced and salt-seasoned. Not bad, but not my favorite (Torihei in Torrance).  Definitely like the sauced one better.  Nice sweet soy glaze.

pork mustard
Now... this one is pork for sure... but I forget which one =|  Maybe just pork loin?  Pork mustard?  Kurobata pork though!

Negi Pon (pork loin w/ scallion & ponzu)
Negi Pon.  This one was memorable haha.  Pork loin topped with scallions and ponzu.  Love the acidity. 

hiza nankotsu (soft knee bone)
Hiza Nankotsu.  Soft knee bone, aka chicken cartilage.  Crunchy and chewy! 

shishito peppers
Shishito peppers and miso paste.

eringi bacon
Eringi Bacon.  Mushroom + bacon is a combo well received.

harami (skirt steak)
Harami.  Marinated skirt steak.  Nice sauce.  A little overcooked though!

yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball - miso)
Yaki Onigiri.  We got this sauced and salt-seasoned to try both.  I actually prefer the salt version better this time.  It's like a chewier mochi!

sunagimo (gizzard)
Hatsu, chicken heart.  One of the most popular yakitori items anywhere.  Chewy.  Still sorta bloody?

Everything was good and we got to try a lot of things since we shared among 6 people, but man, it was really pricey.  Average for a skewer there was around $3 while most places is $1.50-$2.  I can see why it is so popular though since Totto does yakitori right and for NYC, it's something a lot more unique.  If Totto was in LA, especially South Bay area, it'd have a tough time :P

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New York: Carnegie Delicatessen, Joe's Shanghai, Milk Bar

I think Halloween was the day I ate the most for this trip in New York.  Again, woke up late, but once we left the apartment, it just was non-stop eating.  Not that I mind it at all :P

Originally we wanted burgers for lunch so we stopped by Shake Shack since Edwin never had it but the line was just ridiculous.  Then we tried to go to the Parker Meridien for the "secret burger" but the whole block was closed off due to the damaged crane off a high rise caused by the storm.  That pretty much ended our burger quest so we started thinking about alternatives.

Big Shake Shack in Midtown West.

Super crazy line.  Lower Manhattan was still dark so a lot of people ventured north for food.  Lots of tourists stuck too, so they all come to Shake Shack!

times square
Times Square.  With people.


Didn't know where to go after we were told Parker Meridien was off limits, Edwin and I decided to grab a "snack" at the world famous Carnegie Delicatessen!  Carnegie is one of those old school delis in NY that's famous for their sandwiches.  At Carnegie though, portion is EVERYTHING.  It's funny, cause I've actually had the Carnegie Delicatessen located inside Treasure Island in Vegas, and I thought it was whatevers, but man, the actual location was way better!

Carnegie Delicatessen
854 7th Ave 
Between 54th St & 55th St 
Midtown West 
New York, NY 10019 

Didn't know where to go after we were told Parker Meridien was off limits, Edwin and I decided to grab a "snack" at the world famous Carnegie Delicatessen

to go bag
Our sandwich in the to-go bag.  Originally, I was gonna get their famous superstacked pastrami sandwich since I was sharing with Edwin, but we saw someone dining in and that sandwich... was waaaay to big.  We just wanted a snack so we wussed out :P

Pastrami sandwich on rye.  It's not handcarved in front of you, but it is still made right on the spot.  Machine cut so every piece is even thickness.  Funny thing was our sandwich was made by an old Chinese man and he kept on egging us to get the superstacked!  It was twice the amount of pastrami..

I actually like the pastrami here.  Juicy and peppery.  The mustard here is also really good.  Still, not as good as Katz's.

eating outside
Edwin and I eating it on a newspaper dispenser since we didn't want to eat in haha.


Afterwards, we decided to go get some xiao long bao (soup dumplings) at Joe's Shanghai.  Original location is in Chinatown and they are famous for the dumplings.  It's sorta unfair, but I compare all xiao long bao to Ding Tai Fung just because I grew up eating it.

Joe's Shanghai
24 W 56th St 
Between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas
Midtown West 
New York, NY 10019

joe's shanghai
Joe's Shanghai's Midtown location.

Menu cover.

dumplings section
Dumplings section of the menu.

soy sauce + vinegar
Soy sauce + vinegar.  They didn't bring us the actual vinegar until I asked.

crab roe xiao long bao
Crab Meat Xiao Long Bao.

It was actually pretty good.  The juices inside the bao was briny and very tasty.  The skin's a little too thick though.

regular xlb
The regular xiao long bao.  I think if I had the regular instead of the crab first, I would've liked it a lot more.

shanghai noodles
Shanghai Noodles.  Stir fried pork, veggies, and noodles in soy sauce.  I hate how we had to pay so much for something I used to get for less than $5 haha.


Afterwards, walked towards Momofuku Milk Bar for some dessert.  A few days ago, we were gonna visit the East Village location but that area's totally flooded now.  On the first floor of Ma Peche, which is another Momofuku restaurant, they sell desserts and quick snack items from Momofuku's menu.

Momofuku Milk Bar
15 W 56th St 
Between 5th Ave & Avenue Of The Americas
Midtown West
New York, NY 10019

milk bar
Milk Bar.  Small.

Ma Peche is downstairs and you can get food to go.

They sell an assortment of cookies.

Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Corn cookies.  Made with corn meal?

Compost Cookie.  It has chocolate chip, potato chips, cornflakes... pretty much everything in one cookie.

cereal milk mix
Want your milk to taste sweet like the milk after you eat cereal?  Well, they sell Cereal Milk mixes here!  Genius.

crack pies
Their infamous Crack Pie sitting in the cold display.

What is Crack Pie made of?  Just sugar, eggs, and butter.

crack pie
Somebody took a bite before I could take a picture of it haha.  It was oddly good though for being so simple.  The pie crust was the best part!
3 cookies for $6.  Pricey.

I only got to eat the Compost cookie.  I left the rest at Jimmy's when I left haha.


We decided to do a bit of sightseeing and went to Rockefeller Center.  Again, Edwin's never been before and we even thought about going to the Top of the Rock, but it was so damn expensive.  At least I've been up already.

rockefeller rink
Rockefeller Rink is open!  Not like in LA where people outdoor ice skate in t-shirts and shorts haha.

Rockefeller Building.

menu that day
We went to the basement where all the restaurants and shops were since Janice wanted a hot chocolate form Jacques Torres.  Jimmy and I stopped by the Blue Bottle at Rockefeller.

iced coffee
Iced Yirgacheffe coffee.  Yirgacheffe is a fair trade coffee bean from Ethiopia and it's a little darker than what I usually order, the New Orleans iced coffee.  Was very restless after just 3 sips.  Too weak with caffeine haha.

After our little stop at Rockefeller, we made our way towards Central Park, checked out the cool looking Apple Store, and shopped at Uniqlo before we went to Yakitori Totto for our actual dinner that day!