Tuesday, October 28, 2014

HEADS UP TO ALL: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week COMING SOON

Hello foodies in NY~


So, for those of you living in New York, it's going to be HUDSON VALLEY RESTAURANT WEEK starting on November 3 until the 16th! :)

If you live in the city, you can take your car, the metro north, taxis, etc. and check out some restaurants up north! :) It can be an adventure!!

I've heard and read many reviews that are quite positive --- one of my favorite restaurants, X2O, will also participate in this lovely event. This restaurant is near the city and it doesn't take too long with the metro north - You get off at the Yonkers station and walk 2 minutes and BAM, the restaurant will be right on/next to the water. :) For other restaurants, you may have to go further and take the taxi or drive to the restaurants!

If you do live in the Hudson Valley area, then please check out the list of restaurants below!!! It's a great deal and I don't think there would be any harm in trying out new foods/restaurants - especially if you have a chance of finding a gem in an area that you live in! :D

So the prices seem to be a few bucks cheaper compared to NYC's Restaurant Week, which is
Lunch = Prix Fixe - 3 Course Meal - $20.95
Dinner = Prix Fixe - 3 Course Meal - $29.95

Perhaps it's because of difference in area? season? *shrugs*

You can check out the participating restaurants here: http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m=8&ref=9538&pid=417&cmpid=Email&spMailingID=11330203&spUserID=Njg4NjU3NTQyMjES1&spJobID=363727575&spReportId=MAS2

Some restaurants that look super awesome are:

X2O (my bias)
Caterina de Medici at the Culinary Institute of America
The Bocuse at the Culinary Institute of America
American Bounty at the Culinary Institute of America

Hope you guys enjoy!!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014


FIRST EVER TIME making gnocchi, and it didn't turn out bad.

I looked up online how to make gnocchi and I didn't follow the exact recipes that I saw, so I am here to share with you what I did:

1 Potato, boiled (or baked)
1 Cup Flour, will have to sift later
1 Egg, beaten
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper
1 tsp dry Oregano (but if you use fresh oregano, I'm sure that'll be better)
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Parsley
1 tsp Onion Powder

After boiling, or baking the potato, mash the potato in a bowl until there are no hard pieces (use fork or potato masher).

Then, slowly sift your flour into the potatoes so there are no clumps.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix -- when you see the dough forming, take it out of the bowl and place it on a board with some sprinkled flour.

Flour your hands as well so the wet dough doesn't stick to your hand as much. 

Knead the dough (fold inwards) and dust a little bit of flour on it as you do it so it's not as sticky. Knead for about 1 - 2 minutes, and then mold the dough into a ball.

Dust your knife with some flour and cut the dough ball in half. At this point, get a pot and add some water - put it on high heat.

While the water is boiling, use half of the dough and roll it out into a rope. Then, get your flour dusted knife, and cut the gnocchi dough into bite size pieces. 

Now, to cook the gnocchi -- when the water is beginning to boil, add the gnocchi. Once it floats to the top, it's cooked.

Then, remove it and shock it in cold water so it can stop cooking, or add it to a pan with some butter and saute until golden/brown.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

X2O - Xaviar's on Hudson Review

One of my all time favorite restaurants is X2O: Xaviar's on Hudson. [Warning: this post might be slightly long, but it also has a TON of pictures - you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it.]

This restaurant is located in Yonkers, right next to, or should I say on, the Hudson River. It is owned by Chef Peter Kelly who is very well known around the Hudson Valley area. He has additional restaurants that have been well received by people such as Xaviar's Restaurant (Piermont) and Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar. He has been on Iron Chef, beating the contender with the "Cowboy Rib Eye" and even hosted Anthony Bourdain.

The scenery that you get from the restaurant is really stunning. I've been here for brunch once and for dinner on multiple occasions. I'll be honest - ALL of the dishes weren't perfect, but my experiences here have made it one of my favorite restaurants.

The pricing is not horrible and the ambiance of the restaurant is quite nice for a romantic dinner and it is fitting for a casual lunch or brunch too. They also allow you to pack the food and order for take away which is a plus for me. ALSO, they do promotions on Groupon where I've purchased a 3 course dinner for TWO for $85 -- I've seen others using this at the restaurant as well, and the good thing about it is that you can choose from their regular menu. They don't have a select menu for Groupon users, which is great! I've also seen some promotions at Costco where you can purchase a $100 gift card for $75 or something like that. So, keep an open eye for those!!! :)

I've read some reviews online where people talk about decor and I definitely understand that that can be a part of someone's experience but if the food is really good, I think it's worth over looking that stuff. Sure you can work on those things but there are some places out there where the decor/interior of the spot might not be the best but the food is just banging! Don't you agree? Online, there have been divided reviews regarding experiences at the restaurant, which is definitely understandable but, I am definitely glad to say that I've had a wonderful, satisfying experience each and every time.

You can check out their menu here: http://www.xaviars.com/restaurants/xaviars-x20-on-the-hudson/



Asparagus Flan: I had this appetizer during my first time at this restaurant, which was during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week in March 2014. I am a big fan of flan, but this savory version was such a new concept to me that I just had to try it! I am sure glad that I did because it was FANTASTIC. The moment I got a taste of it, my eyes widened and I was in complete awe. The flavor, seasoning, the presentation was just superb. Two thumbs up for this dish, and I really wish that they add this to their menu for future appetizers because it is HEAVEN.
Asparagus Flan with Rock Shrimp

Sam Won Gak - Korean Chinese Restaurant Review

SamWonGak is a Korean-Chinese Restaurant, located in Queens, NY.

If you want some good JaJjangMyun (Noodles with Brown Bean Sauce) then, go here. I've tasted this noodle dish from various places, but I've gotta say that this place is the BOMBDIGGITY and the best in NY/NJ. This restaurant is very casual and don't expect to get small portions and exquisite presentations. The prices are decent and the portions are pretty large. You get the bang for your buck, essentially. It get's pretty busy on the weekends, especially during dinner time so beware!

FOOD TIME: -- Please excuse the half eaten pictures because I totally forgot to take the pictures... Hopefully I'll update the pictures in the future..

They have different types of JaJjangMyun (written in Korean as - 짜짱면) but I think that they all taste really good, except for the Vegetable one. I say this because they add in Bell Peppers, and the flavor/taste of the bell peppers are very overpowering and that's all you can taste when eating the noodles. Aside from this, the rest of the Noodles with the Brown Sauce are very delicious. The sauce is brought out on the side so you can put on the noodles as much or as little as you want.

Fried Beef in Sweet and Sour Sauce (Beef TangSooYook 탕수육) - Very delicious. The sauce isn't too sweet and it isn't too sour - it's just right. I suggest you get some soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes, (which are already set on the table) and pour it on your plate so you can dip the beef into (about a 2 tbsp - soy sauce; 1 tbsp - vinegar; however much of the pepper you want). It just enhances the flavor, and if you want more seasoning, that's a def go to recipe.

When ordering the Fried Rice, please beware that the portion is pretty big so if you want to try other dishes, SHARE THE FRIED RICE!! The picture might make the portion look small, but don't fall for it! It's a pretty hefty portion. haha.

Their Fried Dumplings sort of taste like Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) but without the soup. It's really good, and it's pretty big so if you're not sharing, a plate of these dumplings might be enough to fill you up.

I would recommend this restaurant if you want some good JaJjangMyun, good Korean-Chinese food really, and the bang for your buck! :)

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Nizza Review

What can I say, this restaurant is just a place you NEED to check out at LEAST once!!! And if you do, I hope that you enjoy Nizza as much as I do.

I've been here more than 4 times and each time, I left with a very pleasant experience. Like Isabella's (review is here: http://wondersforthesoul.blogspot.com/2014/10/isabellas-restaurant.html ), everyone that I've brought here have said positive things. It's a medium sized, cozy restaurant with a decent number of tables and a lovely atmosphere. They also have tables outside, if you're an outdoor sitter. If you're worried about pricing, I'll just say you don't have to worry about your bank account being drained. SO! If you want to go on a nice romantic dinner date with great food and good pricing, you definitely have NIZZA as a choice!! :) I've been here for both lunch and dinner but during lunch hour, it's definitely less crowded but during dinner, it's a different scenario. (Note: Nizza has a moderate noise level, but during the lunch hour it's a bit more quiet since there's less of a crowd.)

Check out the menu here: http://nizzanyc.com/menu 

These two are just a must try if you go to Nizza:

Socca - a chickpea pancake that is full of flavor and also, for those have a gluten free diet, this is gluten free!!!!! (on the left side of the picture)

Gnocchi Al Forno - this was my first gnocchi and it made me look forward to all the future gnocchi dishes I would try. It is very creamy and for cheese lovers, GO FOR THIS! Super cheesy and just pure love!!! Don't think about calories with this one because if you decide to go with this, you won't be able to get away from those calories because of how delicious it is!!! (on the bottom right of the picture)

Their lunch special's are not a bad choice either since it's $9.25! I've had the House Roasted Turkey Paninetto (with caramelized onions, fontina and garlic mayo) with Tomato Soup with Fresh Ricotta and it was really good. The portion was moderate for me, where it made me feel full but not stuffed to the point where I was going to knock out. Of course, depending on your appetite and the meal that you choose, it might be too small or maybe even too much. I personally think that this lunch special is totally worth the $9.25. If you ever visit during lunch time or are around the neighborhood looking for a lunch spot, check out the lunch special. It should be at the top left corner of the menu! (on the top right of the picture)

This restaurant is a DEFINITE recommend!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Petrossian - Restaurant Week (July 2014) Review

I went during Restaurant Week back in July 2014, not knowing what to expect. The reviews I saw online were divided between positives and negatives, but sadly, I can side more so with the negative side than positive.

The food wasn't awful but if you want, and only if YOU want to, I would suggest trying this restaurant during restaurant week instead of paying full price for the meals... or if you want to get caviar, of course. Personally, I wouldn't pay full price for the food because there wasn't anything spectacular from my meals...

FYI - they had caviar as an option on their restaurant week menu but there was an additional $12 charge. Basically, they made it worth the regular price... SO, they might as well NOT place it on the restaurant week menu or at least put a disclaimer that the caviar won't be given on a discount.


My appetizer was a salad (no picture). Just a regular salad is all it was. Nothing special.

My entree was steak with a root vegetable puree. The steak wasn't bad. A bit more thin than I expected, but none the less it wasn't that bad. The root vegetable puree on the side was REALLY exceptional. It was full of flavor, creamy and it was the best part of the meal. Now... if only I could remember what the root vegetables were... :(
(I think it might've been fennel and parsnip....) 

My dessert was a little cake with peach and vanilla ice cream on the side. The peaches were a bit sour and the vanilla ice cream, which I believe was freshly made at the restaurant, tasted a little weird to me too. The dessert too was mediocre and it didn't grasp my attention for its tastiness.

Overall, with the exception of the root vegetable puree, everything else was mediocre and unmemorable.

If it's not obvious already, I don't recommend Petrossian as a restaurant, but if you would like to go. Go for it, since everyone has different experiences, and hopefully you're time at the restaurant will be a positive one.

Check out my instagram: @wondersforthesoul  http://instagram.com/wondersforthesoul

Cafe Boulud - Restaurant Week (Aug 2014) Review

Cafe Boulud, located in the Upper East Side, is one of the Michelin starred restaurants owned by the world renowned Chef, Daniel Boulud.

I came here with my boyfriend for Restaurant Week back in August 2014 and I can't tell you how much I looked forward to the whole experience. I expected to have a great time and enjoy every dish because of how much my boyfriend raved about the place, but surprisingly, I wasn't that crazy about it. It was a Cosine Wave.

You can view their current menu here: http://www.cafeboulud.com/nyc/menu

I sadly don't have a picture of the restaurant week menu but these are the dishes that I had selected.

For the appetizer, I decided to go with the: Shrimp Ceviche with a Mango Salsa, Guacamole, and a Plantain Chip. The tender, sweet shrimp was just beyond words and the salsa and guac really added a nice refreshing yet rich flavor. I could have eaten SO MANY PLATES of these because there was a party in my mouth! I wish I could have ordered more because my entree failed to impress me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Food in London 5 - DUCK AND WAFFLE

This post is so long overdue but let me just say, that this restaurant left such a beautiful impression on me and is FOREVER embedded in my memory. If I ever have the chance to go back to London, visiting this restaurant again will be on top of my list!!!

Duck & Waffle is a restaurant on the 40th Floor of the Heron Tower. You're not only promised a beautiful view, but a beautiful atmosphere, amazing food, and a wonderful staff.

Trying to decide on which restaurant to go to for date night, I came across Duck & Waffle by fate on someone's Youtube channel and decided to give it a go!

When we got there, we were seated by the window and at that moment I was completely mesmerized by the view.

When the menu came, I didn't know where to focus my eyes on because there was just so many wonderful selections!!! We ended up choosing:

Bread with N'duja and Gruyere - REALLY GOOD. It had a spicy kick to it which surprised me, since it was my first time tasting N'duja, and the gruyere really topped it off well. The moment my boyfriend had a bite, he couldn't suppress his emotions of happiness.

Jerusalem Artichoke Ravioli - AWESOME. It was a very rich, creamy dish with wonderful flavor. The hazelnuts added a great crunch to a very soft dish and the nutty aroma did a solid job on the dish. It was a great dish to share because I don't think I would have been able to eat it all by myself.

Duck & Waffle - DELICIOUS. I was skeptical of the idea of, the literal title, DUCK and WAFFLE, but after one bite, I became a fan of having waffles with poultry. The mustard syrup that was paired with this dish was fantastic. The mustard seeds really added a tangy, spicy kick to the sweetness. The duck meat, egg, waffle, and syrup just paired magnificently.

We both had Gin and Tonics but Duck & Waffle had their own twist to the classic drink -- They added Yuzu sorbet and Rose Petals and my, oh, my was it tasty.

For dessert I don't remember clearly what I had, but it was a fruity dessert and my boyfriend had something chocolatey, I was really good but I preferred the savory dishes. We also ordered the cheese table but it wasn't to our liking. When we got our checks, the staff had forgotten to place the cheese table, so when we told them about the mistake they were nice enough to put that on the house since we expressed that it wasn't something we enjoyed.

This place is not only good for romantic evenings, but a great place for a girl's night out (because they have a bar/lounge a floor below), a nice family dinner for a special occasion, etc.

If I'm not mistaken, this restaurant is open 24 HOURS/7DAYSAWEEK. Yeah, you read that correctly. 24 HOURS. For a foodie like me, that's so dangerous! 

Check out my instagram: @wondersforthesoul http://instagram.com/wondersforthesoul

Isabella's Restaurant

Isabella's is a Mediterranean restaurant located on the Upper West Side (359 Columbus Avenue).

I must say that this restaurant is one of my favorites and any guest that I bring to this restaurant, leaves with a "I hope to come here again" comment. I've dined here at least 4 times (NOTE: the 4 times I have been here have been for dinners!!!, so I won't/can't write about their lunch/brunch menus or how my time then was), and each time, I have never been disappointed. The atmosphere is great! The waiters/waitresses I've encountered were all lovely and accommodating; they don't rush you! The pricing is not bad and compared to going to an overpriced restaurant with disappointing food, going to Isabella's is a better choice, especially if you're in the area. 
You can see their menus here: http://www.isabellas.com/menus-and-food     
In addition to their menus, they have specials which differ (I'm assuming) day to day or maybe even week by week, something like that, but if you hear something you like from the special's list - GO FOR IT! Whether it's the appetizer or the entree, the stuff that comes from the "special of the day" list is really ON POINT.

Previously, I've had a Tomato Curry Bisque with a Crab Corn Salsa which just melted my heart. My friend and I shared this dish, and I feel like maybe we should have gotten our own bowls. Haha. It was THAT good. (on the right side of the picture)

Another special dish I tried was a Gnocchi with Truffle Shaving and a cream sauce. Very rich, and obviously, creamy, but it wasn't over the board. The truffle flavor really complimented the dish and the smooth texture of the gnocchi was just mesmerizing. During my dinner, I was able to hear the opinion of a lovely lady to the left of me, who is said to be a "big gnocchi fan," stating that the gnocchi she ate at Isabella's was really delicious. "One of the most delicious gnocchi's I've ever had."

A few dish recommendations I must write about are (the one's I've tasted of course):

Artichoke Alla Romana (Appetizer) - There's a wonderful roasted flavor from the artichokes, and the creamy tang from the brown butter vinaigrette pairs well the arugula. Everything comes together quite well and since it's a light dish, it won't be overbearing for the stomach. 

Crispy Point Judith Calamari (Appetizer) - This one is my mom's favorite, and I must say, it's some pretty good Calamari. You can rarely go wrong with Fried Calamari, but Isabella's takes it to another level. There's a solid spiciness to it, but it's not unbearable that you'll reach for the water immediately. The spiciness balances out the fried, oily aspect of the dish.

Mushroom Ravioli (Main) - I must say this particular dish might not fit everyone's palate since it consists of mushrooms and there is a blended arugula sauce, adding a very bitter flavor to this dish. Tasting the blended arugula alone is not the best choice, but when paired with the ravioli, some sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and pieces of fresh arugula, it comes together to be a wonderful dish. Very interesting composition of flavors, really. 

Recommendations from others:

Grilled Branzino (Main)
Herb Roasted Chicken (Main)
Cheeseburger (Main)
Hay&Straw Linguine (Main)

Good pricing, great atmosphere, awesome food! I highly recommend this restaurant to everyone!!!!! :)


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