Tag Archives: Dinner

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion

Sometimes I wish I could carry you kids around in my pocket so you could have a real bird’s eye view of my meals. Some are really sad and would make you feel like a chef extraordinaire for frying up a grilled cheese; others would have you drooling. Earlier this summer I went to San Diego and ate the best.Mexican.I.have.ever.tasted. Hoooly mackerel. After a 3 hour drive back from LA, the only words I could utter were, “El Cotixan?” Alas, I did not take any pictures.

What I did take pictures of was an incredible Hawaiian fusion meal enjoyed while overlooking the marina on my last, blissful night in town. Roy’s has locations all across the country but I like to think the one in San Diego is more authentic because of its proximity to Hawaii. And the fact that I ate the meal with a Hawaiian.

Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish Hong Kong with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette

Roy’s Hawiian Fusion Cuisine, San Diego Waterfront, California. The menu at Roy’s combines Asian cuisine with a Hawaiian influence, serving up delicious, warm, homey cuisine. Roy Yamaguchi opened the first restaurant in Honolulu and now has 31 locations all over the country, and the world. I don’t usually cover giant chain restaurants, but this one was worth the write-up.

On the menu:
Wood Grilled Szechwan Spiced Baby Back Pork Ribs with Mongolian BBQ Sauce
Hawaiian Style Misoyaki Butterfish Hong Kong with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette
Shellfish Platter
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Shellfish Platter

The Verdict: Oh hello spicy sweet delicious tender juicy beautiful meal. The ribs fell off the bone and were perfect with a sesame seed crunch. The butterfish was reminiscent of Nobu’s black cod, the shellfish platter boasted fat lobster and shrimp, and even the cocktails were rich and delicious. Everything on the table was rich but never heavy, and the view was just spectacular; a cherry on the sundae. By the time the warm made-to-order cake came, you could’ve given me a pillow at the table and I would’ve taken a nap right there, full and happy and already missing sunny California.

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Just Chill and Lay Back Cause It’s…

Oh hey! Remember me? I missed you guys. So I’m back. With a couple basic recipes, but stuff you’ll want to make over and over again. And ain’t it pretty?

On the menu:
Cranberry, almond chicken salad
BTM Salad
Serves 4 

Chicken salad

2 chicken breasts
1 sprig fresh dill
1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken breasts in a medium sized pot and cover with water for poaching. Turn heat to high and let water come to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot for 10 minutes. Turn heat off and let chicken sit in hot water for 15 – 20 minutes. Once chicken is cool, shred with fingers and toss with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate chicken salad for at least 30 minutes before serving.

BTM Salad

1 medium sized tomato, sliced to 1/4 inch slices
1 ball of mozzarella (approximately the same size as the tomato), sliced to 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
1 cup of fresh corn, boiled on the cob and then sliced off the cob

Dressing:
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Plate slices of tomato alternately with mozzarella. Mix corn together with balsamic/oil dressing. Top slices of tomato and mozzarella with corn mixture.

This meal is so basic, is best served cold, and is super light and refreshing for summer. The subtle change in the classic BTM salad is really unexpected and delicious… and led this “meal for 4” to turn into a “meal for 2” when The BF had seconds. And then thirds. I thought I’d have leftovers but the “This is SO GOOD!”s were way more gratifying.

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Sunday Sauce

A few weeks ago I pretended like I was a good Italian housewife and made sauce on Sunday. I have my go-to, easy-peasy red sauce, but I didn’t have a nailed-down creamy vodka sauce recipe that I really loved. I figured this was a good opportunity to concoct one.

Vodka sauce shown here with breaded chicken cutlets and penne pasta

On the menu:
Vodka sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2 cup vodka (or 3/4 cup if you’re feeling particularly boozey)
1 (28 0z.) can tomatoes, crushed
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sautee onion in butter until translucent. Add vodka and cook for 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Simmer for around 35 minutes. Add heavy cream and cook over low heat for another 35 minutes. Add half of the parmesan cheese, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add cooked pasta to sauce, toss until coated, and garnish with remaining grated parmesan.

*Note: this sauce is good the day you make it, but it is KILLER after it sits in the fridge for a few days. You could easily double this recipe and freeze half for a rainy day. It’ll be even better when you rediscover it.

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Throwback to a More Glamorous Time


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m never really one to be on top of the newest and most exciting places. I view this blog as more of a way to bring you along on my journey of discovering “new to me” places and hopefully inspiring you to go or stay away from some of the thousands of restaurants in New York. So when the BF told me he had heard about a new bar located in Kaufman Astoria Studios (the film studio where Sesame Street and The Cosby Show film/filmed at), I figured he had stumbled upon an old article. Turns out the place has only been opened for 2 months. So… ahem… you heard it here first.

The Astor Room 34-12 36th St, Astoria, Queens. You enter the restaurant down a marble staircase, surrounding by gold-framed mirrors and peacock wallpaper. Enter to the left and a piano greets you, followed by a dark mahogany bar and a feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. The bar just reopened but in its hey day in the 1930s, it was frequented by silent movie stars that were filming at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The menu is a throwback, too, with dishes like Dover sole, lobster thermidor, and short rib stroganoff.

On the menu:
Crispy fried calamari over roasted tomato paste with green pepper shavings
Spaghetti carbonara
Double cut coca-cola porkchop
Smoked seven layer chocolate cake


Verdict: It’s aces! It’s keen! It’s swell! (I had to Google “1930’s slang”… in the interest of full disclosure, you know). This place is awesome. The food was SO well done; the pork chop was juicy but crisp and sweet, the spaghetti smooth and buttery, and the seven layer cake sprinkled with gold. Yes, gold. Edible gold. Old world luxury and glamour at its finest, gals and pals. I also have to give props to the amazing staff. I read many reviews of The Astor Room that criticized the service, but I could not have been more impressed. Our wine glasses were never empty, an empty plate never sat on the table for more than two minutes, and on our way out the maitre’d asked if we needed umbrellas to battle the rain. We were never smothered, always taken care of. Loooove love love this place.

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Oh, hello there. Remember me?

Hi friends. Lauren E. here. How many of you are actually reading this after my very long hiatus? I’m gonna guess 3. Hello mom, dad, and… okay, maybe 2.

In any case, I’m back! I made myself a manageable schedule to keep on posting amidst the busy day job schedule I’ve recently inherited. I love my new job but suddenly this blog felt like a chore. “Ugh, I guess I’ll post tonight…” But then I was eating at all these amazing places and missing great recipes in my life and I thought, “Okay, time to get back in it.” A good friend told me if it’s my passion, I can’t just give it up.

So I’m not. I’m not giving it up! And to welcome you back, I bring you a week of Astoria (it’ll be Wednesday to Wednesday… so sue me). Have you been to this neighborhood? It’s the one I live in. It’s the one I love. It’s affordable, it’s safe, and the restaurant scene here is blowing up. Visit us, why don’t cha?

Pachanga Patterson 33-17 31st Ave, Astoria, Queens. The idea behind this restaurant is simple and brilliant. I usually try to reserve my opinion for the “Verdict” section of my restaurant reviews but I just can’t contain myself. I LOVE THIS RESTAURANT and I love the idea that inspired it. In the restaurant world, “family meal” is the meal that the kitchen staff eats after all the patrons have gone home. The meal, built on the remnants of the night at the restaurant and enhanced by the cooks’ expertise, comes out without agenda. Pachanga Patterson’s owners claim that because the restaurants they’ve worked in have had mostly Mexican staff members, no matter the cuisine of the restaurant, all the “family meals” come out with a decidedly Mexican influence. It is these menu items that make up the menu of Pachanga Patterson. Each dish has a Mexican flair, and is made with local ingredients and by expert hands. Small plates, even smaller prices, a cozy tucked-away atmosphere, and a warm staff that takes care of you like you’re part of the family, too.

Braised pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skin and pickled red onion

On the menu:
Guacamole and house fried tortillas
Chipotle braised short rib tacos with roasted tomatoes and scallions
Berkshire pork shoulder tacos with crispy pork skins and pickled red onion
Panna cotta with pumpkin seed brittle

Verdict: Duh. I love this place. Not only is it literally downstairs from the BF’s apartment, but it is some of the most delicious, well-thought-out, comforting food I’ve had in Astoria. Hands down. The pork shoulder was so tender and perfectly complimented by the crispy bits of skin and juicy, fat slices of pickled onion. The guacamole was DIVINE and the chips fresh. The panna cotta pushed the whole meal over the top, and had me running for the kitchen to make my own pumpkin seed brittle. The restaurant is slowly adding more meals to its hours (recently lunch, soon-to-come weekend brunch… thank God!) and come summer, they have a lovely patio out back, perfect for drinking pitcher after pitcher of sangria and pretending like you’re in Mexico. Ah bliss.

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This dish is Asian because I added soy sauce

Hello friends! This has been a particularly busy week for some reason, but a little birdie told me that a loyal reader really missed my posts (hi Ron!). This dish seems mundane to me, but if I can spark an idea in just one brain for an easy and delicious dinner that travels easily to work the next day for lunch, well… then I think it’s worth it.

On the menu:
Chicken stir fry

1 large chicken breast, diced
2 cups vegetables*
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp garlic salt
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp unsalted peanuts

Heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add vegetables to the pan along with 2 Tbsp of water and cover. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove cover. Add brown sugar and garlic salt and stir. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and peanuts and toss until everything until coated. Serve over cooked white rice.

*Note: I took a short cut (so SUE me) and bought a bag of “Oriental Vegetables” (hey Krasdale: it’s 2011, time to update) frozen and then threw them into the pan. It was easy as pie. You can surely add raw vegetables to this, though, and as many or as few as you like. This tasted delicious with broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, and onions.

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Prune

I have a lot of opinions. If you know me in real life, this is not news to you. Some opinions are totally founded, others… not so much. I’ll admit it either way. One opinion that I think is completely justified is the aversion to trendy restaurants. If the chef is incredible, the food the best you’ve ever tasted, the ambience outstanding, then great. I want to eat there. If the food is mediocre but no one is willing to say it because the backer is a Vanity Fair editor and Jerry Seinfeld dines with Brooke Shields at this place on the regular… I just can’t buy it.

Enter Prune. Anthony Bourdain endorsed. Frequented by celebrities. And wholly worth the money.

photo c/o Foodie in Denial

Prune 54 East 1st St, New York, NY. Prune is a teeny, tiny American restaurant with an open kitchen, bright lights, and zero pretension. The menu is small but hearty, the wine list extensive, and each bite worthy of a “wow.” Reservations must be made at least a couple days in advance for weekend spots but it is so very worth it.

On the menu:
Roasted marrow bones with parsley salad and sea salt
Pork braised in octopus broth with clams, kale, and beans
Lamb blade chop with potatoes skordalia and dandelion greens
Cornmeal poundcake with poached pears, whipped ricotta, and rosemary syrup
Candied pumpkin with sugared “hay” with greek yogurt and honey

Verdict: Oh mama. This is one of those meals where in two weeks I’ll probably forget what I had for my main course because the starters and desserts were so incredibly out of this world. I had a slight apprehension when my dining partner suggested the bone marrow. It literally showed up on the table looking like the picture above, and all I could think of was, “My dog chewed on bones like that.” But friends… oh, friends. You dig out the roasted marrow with a little spoon and spread it on oiled toast, top it with the crunchy greens, sprinkle a little sea salt on top and inhale. If you can get past the consistency of the marrow, you will LOVE this dish.

The other standout of the meal was the dessert. After a full bottle of wine, I was feeling just adventurous enough to order something called “hay.” I am so very glad that I did. Little cubes of candied pumpkin are nestled in shredded wheat, with a dollop of greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. I wanted to lick the plate. It was just that good.

For a take on Prune’s fabulous “hay” dessert, take a cup of greek yogurt, crunch up some shredded wheat cereal into the cup, and add a drizzle of honey. I don’t know if this dish is commonplace somewhere in the world, but if not… I’m patenting it right now. Hey breakfast.

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