Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amtrak Acela Food

I was in New York and wanted to extend my travels a bit by going to Boston. I wanted to do this in a way I have never done long distance travel before: by train. When booking my train tickets through Amtrak, I saw that the Acela high speed rail was an option. It was expensive compared to the other choices, but I decided to go for it. I wanted to say I've rode the fastest train in the Americas!
I left from Penn Station in New York and traveled to Back Bay Station in Boston. While on the train, I explored a little bit. I made my way to the Cafe Car and bought myself some food. I had low expectations for train food, and my low expectations were met.
The pizza that I ordered was frozen and microwaved. I think it was a Digiorno brand pizza. The crust was a soggy mess, and the tiny size didn't make it worth the price. This is not a pizza I think I'll crave any time soon.
While waiting for my sad little pizza, I was talked to the employee working in the cafe. I was sad to find out that my high speed rail experience wasn't exactly high speed. The train had the capabilities of going 150 mph, but only reaches this speed for about ten minutes on the trip from New York to Boston. Average speed was about 50 mph. Apparently the Acela trains are much more high speed along the route between DC and NY. Regardless, I guess I can say I've been on high speed rail during that ten minutes. I still like the idea of traveling by train, but I don't think I'd spend the extra money for high speed rail again (especially when I found out there's a $30 bus between NY and Boston that makes the trip faster than the train)...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Long Island Asian Food (Chaba Thai Cuisine and Tony's Sushi)

Here's a couple more restaurants from my travels. Today we're going to be visiting a couple restaurants in Long Island, NY serving Asian food. We'll start in Long Beach for some Thai food...

Chaba Thai Cuisine in Long Beach, NY:

Chaba is located in downtown Long Beach. They were a small restaurant but they were very busy with both people dining in and take out.
I had the Chicken Curry Noodles. I was a little afraid that this might be a boring dish of chicken, noodles, and sauce from how the menu described it. Luckily, this turned out to be a beautiful bowl of deliciousness. There was plenty of variety with lots of vegetables mixed in, arranged in a very structural fashion. The sauce was very tasty. No complaints about this meal.

Chaba Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tony's Sushi in East Moriches, NY:

I had dinner on another evening at a restaurant called Tony's Sushi. They had the menu split into three different sections. One each for Japanese, Chinese, and Thai food.
I had the Singapore Mei Fun. There was a nice presentation with an orchid served alongside the mound of noodles, but the portion was a bit small for the price. The noodles tasted fine, although there really wasn't anything that made them stand apart from other noodle dishes I've had either. The annoying part of this meal was the employee's apparently urgent need to clear the tables. From the beginning of the meal when we were served noodles with duck sauce, all they wanted to know if they could take that away for us. Someone else ordered soup and salad with their meal. They were delivered at the same time, and the servers wanted to take away the soup before it was touched while the person was finishing up the salad. They did eventually take away someones plate before they were finished with it. It was strange. It seemed like they wanted us out really quick, but there wasn't a wait or lack of empty tables. Some manager probably told the servers to make sure they clear the tables and they really took the advise to heart...

Tony's Sushi & Chinese Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, January 31, 2016

NY Jewish Food (Regal Kosher Deli in Plainview and Russ & Daughters in NYC)

In my travels around the New York area, I ended up eating at two restaurants serving Jewish/Kosher style foods. One was Regal Kosher Deli on Long Island and the other was Russ & Daughters in Manhattan.

Regal Kosher Deli in Plainview, NY:

Regal Kosher Deli is located in Plainview, NY on Long Island. They are a kosher deli serving pretty standard jewish foods. I ended up eating here on two occasions.
Pickles are delivered to every table upon being seated. They serve half sour and full sour pickles. Being that the half sour pickles were devoured before I could take a picture, it's obvious what everyone's favorite type of pickle is.
Bowls of coleslaw were also served with the pickles.
I tried two different types of knish on my visits here. My first knish was a plain potato filled knish. This one was square with mashed potatoes filling the flaky crust. Pretty tasty.
The spinach knish was my favorite of the two. It was round (I'm assuming the different shapes are so they can tell different fillings apart easier?), filled with a potato/spinach mix. It had more going on in terms of flavor compared to the plain knish.
On one visit I tried a corned beef sandwich. This consisted of a whole lot of sliced meat between sliced rye bread. I have to admit that these jewish deli style sandwiches are a little boring for my liking. I know cheese can't be added because of the whole kosher thing, but they are too much of the same thing.
On another visit I tried what they called a stuffed sandwich. I ordered the Corned Beef, Tongue, and Hard Boiled Egg. When the sandwich was delivered, the waiter informed me that they were out of hard boiled egg. I'm also pretty sure the menu said there should have been coleslaw on here as well, but that was missing too. Without those components, this was basically a corned beef sandwich stacked on top of a tongue sandwich. I did enjoy the novelty of eating sliced tongue. That is not a cut of meat that I eat very often.
Regal Kosher Deli was enjoyable. They may have boring sandwiches, but that's expected in a jewish deli. That aside, I did like the rest of the dining experience in here...

Regal Deli & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Russ & Daughters in NYC:

I first heard about Russ & Daughters several years ago and they have been on my list of New York foods to try ever since. It took me several more visits to the city before I finally made it to Russ & Daughters. They've been around for 101 years, so the amount of time it took me to try the restaurant was probably nothing for them.
They specialize in smoked and cured fish. Their cases are filled with all sorts of lox, smoked salmon, mackerel, sable, and other seafoods. There's also a large selection of cream cheeses, bagels, desserts, and other jewish foods for sale. Russ & Daughters was a very busy place. I waited over a half hour to put in my order. People were buying quite a bit in here as well. Almost every order placed that I heard was at least $100. Russ & Daughters is a little gold mine...
I had an everything bagel with pastrami salmon with goat cream cheese. The salmon was thinly sliced with a peppery coating on the outside. The goat cream cheese was new to me. It still had the consistency of normal cream cheese, but with the distinctive earthy flavor that seems to be in all goat cheeses. The combination of it all was delicious...
I also tried a pickle. A customer in front of me was ordering gallons of these pickles, announcing that she takes the train from Vermont to replenish her pickles every time her supply gets low. With an endorsement like that, I decided I must try one. It was a very tasty pickle, although I don't know if I'd travel from out of state for a pickle. 

Russ & Daughters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Nathan's in Coney Island, NY

Everyone knows Nathan's in Coney Island for their hot dogs. I've been there. I've tried their hot dogs. Hot dogs are boring. There's Nathan's franchises all over the country where you can pretty much get the same hot dogs. When I found myself at the Nathan's in Coney Island yet again, I decided to try something that couldn't be found in other locations, that being the seafood.
I started out with an order of the frog legs. The cashier said that they had never tried them and looked a bit disgusted about the thought of eating frog. Regardless, I split an order of them. The large frog legs were deep fried in an almost funnel cake-like batter. It was a bit different from the times I've tried the frog legs on Chinese buffets. The batter was the best and tastiest part. The meat tasted fine, but the veins and tendons in the meat got a bit chewy after the first leg. As of right now, amphibian isn't going to become a regular part of my diet. This was served with fries, cornbread, and coleslaw. Nathan's coleslaw was interesting. Instead of using normal cabbage, they made it from their sauerkraut. I really liked sauerkraut coleslaw. Frog legs being served at this Nathan's is interesting. I can't imagine they are a huge seller, but yet they are on the menu. I'm guessing they are a hold out from another time. Perhaps frog legs were a more accepted food for Americans in the past? Or were they a novelty food item then, and they have stuck around, still being a novelty food item for this Nathan's.
I also tried the Lobster Salad Sandwich. I had a choice between the plain lobster roll and the lobster salad. The lobster roll was served on a hamburger bun with no mayonnaise. The lobster salad sandwich came on a hot dog bun with mayonnaise and lettuce. I like foods with mayonnaise, so I went with the salad. It was pretty good. There was enough lobster in the salad where you could still see the pieces and taste the shellfish, but had a nice creamy flavor from the rest of the salad. Would have been better if it was served on a nicer bread than a hot dog bun.

Friday, January 29, 2016

NY Street Food #3 (Halal Carts & Mister Softee)

Street food in New York City is fun. Some of my recent New York street food adventures started at a Halal cart at the foot of the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge...

Brooklyn Bridge Halal Cart:
I had a Chicken Gyro. Several pieces of chicken filled a pita alongside lettuce, onions, and the standard halal cart white and hot sauce. This particular sandwich left some room for improvement. The chicken had lots of chewy pieces of tendon/fat. Even with the sauce, it was also somehow lacked flavor.

Times Square Halal Cart:

I visited another halal cart a few blocks away from Times Square. I had the combination of lamb and chicken over rice, topped with white and hot sauce. Lettuce was served on the side as a salad.



Brooklyn Mister Softee:

I took part of a long distance unicycle ride from Manhatten to Coney Island. Somewhere in Brooklyn, the horde of unicyclists waved down a Mister Softee truck.
I ordered a Nutty Merlin, meaning a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate and topped with peanuts. The truck was out of the chocolate dipping sauce, so I ended up just getting the ice cream topped with nuts. They charged me the same price with or without the chocolate. Oh well...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ghandi Cafe Inc in New York

While on a trip to New York, I ate Indian food for dinner at Ghandi Cafe Inc in Greenwich Village. This very narrow restaurant had a dinner for two special going on that included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and tea.
Sauces and crackers were served first. I'm not exactly sure what to call this thin, crunchy crackers. Papadum according to Wikipedia perhaps?
Somosas and fried onion balls were served next as the appetizers.
I had the Chicken Vindaloo as my entree. I was a little scared of the spice level of the vindaloo based on my past experience with the dish in the city. Luckily, this version of Chicken Vindaloo was spicy, but not intolerable. Rice was served on the side to absorb all that delicious vindaloo sauce.
Rice pudding and tea were served for the dessert.
I enjoyed my meal at Ghandi Cafe!


Ghandi Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NY Italian Food: Famous Amadeus, Mama Theresa's, Grimaldi's, and JFK Terminal Pizza

New York and pizza go together. Here's some of the pizza and other Italian food that I sampled on my last two visits to the New York City/Long Island area...

Famous Amadeus:

I had a slice of sausage and pepper pizza from Famous Amadeus Pizza in Hell's Kitchen. For a NYC pizza chain, I did enjoy this slice. I liked how they used slices of entire sausage instead of crumbling the  meat over the pie. The bell peppers were thickly sliced. Not the best pizza ever, but far from the worst. It was a little expensive as far as slices go.
Famous Amadeus Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Mama Theresa's Italian Restaurant in Westbury, NY:

I should have ordered pizza. Mama Theresa's had some delicious looking interesting pies behind the counter at the entrance of the restaurant. Instead, I decided to get pasta and ordered the Fusilli Al Pesto. At nearly $15, this dish was really disappointing. It was pasta and sauce, and nothing else. I don't know why I was expecting more, but I was hoping for at least something that I couldn't make at home for a fraction of what they charged here. Worst part was that the pesto sauce didn't even have much flavor.
Mama Theresa's Pizzeria & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



Grimaldi's in Garden City NY:

I honestly don't get the huge appeal that Grimaldi's has. We ordered a half eggplant, half meatball pizza. Everything on here was bland and flavorless. The sauce had very little flavor. The cheese didn't seem to have any saltiness. The meatballs tasted like ground beef and nothing else. The batter on the fried eggplant was the most flavorful component of the entire pizza, but was still lacking. This Grimaldi's had a half hour wait. The one in Brooklyn gets lines around the block. I know the coal fire pizza thing is a bit of a novelty, but it's not worth waiting for when the rest of the is pizza lacking.



JFK Terminal Pizza:

I had a flight out of the Delta Terminal of JFK that was very delayed. I ate to kill time. I ordered a slice of vegetable pizza in the terminal. It was topped with spinach, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, cheese, and sauce. Pretty good for airport pizza. It cost way more than a slice of pizza should, but it was expected being inside an airport.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Charleston, SC Food (The Early Bird Diner and Southend Brewery & Smokehouse)

I made a stop in Charleston, SC while on a drive up the east coast. I visited Charleston previously so long ago that everything was pretty much new again. One of the foods that Charleston is known for is shrimp and grits. I found a list somewhere on the internet of the Best Shrimp & Grits in Charleston, and one of the restaurants listed was The Early Bird Diner.

The Early Bird Diner:
I liked the vibe of the diner. It had some of the standard diner features, but the walls were covered with all sorts of cool sci-fi art for sale.
The restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri ate chicken and waffles here.
The shrimp and grits came in a large bowl piled high with grits. This grit mountain was then topped with a very thick shrimp stew. Of all the times I've had shrimp and grits, this was the thickest sauce I've seen with the shrimp. Because it was so thick, I found that the flavor from the shrimp sauce didn't permeate into the grits very well. It was slightly spicy with lots of medium sized shrimp swimming around. The shrimp and grits were served with a biscuit on the side. I had trouble finishing all the food...

The Early Bird Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato





Southend Brewery & Smokehouse:

I also had a much needed meal at Southend Brewery & Smokehouse while in Charleston. This large restaurant was in a lovely old building, complete with a fun, rickety elevator to take you upstairs if you needed the restroom. As the name implies, they were brewing beer in the center of the restaurant.
I had the pulled pork for my meal. The shredded pork was served on a plate piled high with all sorts of sides. There were French fries, pinto beans, coleslaw, and mustard barbecue sauce. I'm a big fan of the mustard style of barbecue sauce. I also enjoyed that they didn't serve the barbecue restaurant standard of baked beans. I'd take pinto beans like served here over baked beans any day!
Southend Brewery & Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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