Shoutout to OK Ryan in Flushing

This is a Love Letterdisclaimer a place I haven’t visited in awhile (possibly months or a year) but still exists in a place I love dearly but no longer live full-time at the moment – check latest reviews on other sites accordingly as some items might be out of date.

Crosspost from ViewingNYC

Thought of OK Ryan recently as some of best Taiwanese food I’ve in NYC, including special order dishes for Lunar New Year – actually remembering what a comfort the place was since I was in Taiwan for Lunar New Year a week or so ago. Also, this is one of the few places in NYC to get legit Taiwanese breakfast. It’s in pretty far out Flushing and quite a hike even from the last subway stop into the part of Queens where there are actually strip malls with parking lots, but for me was always worth it to ride out all the way on the 7-Train from where I live in Murray Hill.

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I unabashedly love Taiwanese food, a food category that is surprisingly difficult to find in New York City, let alone at a high quality. After trekking across boroughs to the end of the 7 Line, I’ve finally found a favorite destination for this elusive cuisine. Ok Ryan shines in signature Taiwanese dishes, such as oyster omelettes and stinky tofu along with traditional breakfasts…. read more

 

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The Best Foie Gras Experience at Au Pied de Cochon

This is a Love Letter: disclaimer a place I haven’t visited in awhile (possibly months or a year) but still exists in a place I love dearly but no longer live full-time at the moment – check latest reviews on other sites accordingly as some items might be out of date.

I had one of the best dining experiences traveling alone at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal in the super cool Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood. It’s not a fancy pants white table cloth place, feels more like an upscale bistro/French brassiere that is unpretentious yet refined. Definitely fine dining although hipster beards and tattoos would not be out-of-place here.

I didn’t get a chance to try the famed foie gras poutine since I dined alone, but I definitely will if I have the opportunity to return to Montreal. Instead I had apps of a fresh baguette with butter, definitely above average. I do think it’s the sign of a good restaurant when items that are sometimes throwaway are given a lot of care.

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Then I felt adventurous and had the foie gras nigiri. I had something similar awhile back at A Plus Sushi in Taipei. Not the most pretty, but holy crap, it tasted amazing and genuinely like nothing I had ever before. Fusion food tends to be crap, but this combo of big ole hunks of high quality foie gras, good nigiri rice, topped with the slightest bit of soy sauce made this trip worth it alone.

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Of course, I had have what Anthony Bourdain had, the Canard en Conserve or Duck in a Can – literally a pound of duck and foie gras cooked in a can with vegetables and thyme so all the fatty juices melange. I rarely can’t finish a dish, but the richness and how tasty it was almost nasty. I kept trying to shovel more bites of the fatty duck, foie gras, and lard-glazed veggies but couldn’t especially after the plate of nigiri and bread. I ended up taking half it back with me. I joke around about eating heart attacks in a can, but very little hyperbole here. Perhaps kind of an abomination to French Canadian chefs, but it was bomb the next day reheated with sriracha sauce.

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Eating at Au Pied de Cochon and Jean Talon Market were definitely the highlights of my trip to Montreal. For solo travelers, it’s a fantastic place to dine alone with a long bar in front of friendly chatty kitchen staff. I was far from the only one enjoying a foie gras feast on a solo trip.

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Ironically, I’m writing this love letter I mentioned I had been there to an older Canadian couple on the same bus I was traveling on from Croatia to Bosnia, who I thought were surely French tourists at first but then turned out to be awesome friendly Canadians whom I talked food and politics all day after we bonded after I mentioned I had been there. Nothing brings together people like food.

  • Website
  • 536 Duluth Est, Montreal, QC, H2L 1A9
  • $30+ Canadian Dollars or so for entrees and $12 for apps 

The Original Yogurt Coffee at Cafe Duy Tri in Hanoi

Vietnamese Yogurt Coffee originated Hanoi’s Cafe Duy Tri. Cafe Duy Tri represents one of the atmospheric, what I call old school coffee places in Hanoi, but ups it a notch with its own roaster, selling beans out front and three low floors/crawl spaces to hang out in with free Wi-Fi. It’s a bit hot and can smell a bit cigarette-smoky but worth coming through for the experience and for the yogurt coffee.

Real talk, the yogurt coffee I’ve had here is second-to-none in Hanoi, and I’ve had a lot of yogurt coffee in Hanoi. The key difference is instead of the regular tart yogurt used by most places, they freeze theirs so it has a frozen soft serve quality that balances the stronger notes of the coffee differently than other place I’d been to. Really good. It’s a little out of the way of the old quarter area, but I enjoyed walking around the lake in this area. Much more calm, leafy, and residential. Stop by if you’re planning on checking out the One Pillar Pagoda, Chua Kim Lien, or Maison de Tet Decor nearby.

Coffee Master and Craft Beer at Vagabond Hanoi

One of my favorite parts of visiting Hanoi was chilling with one of the owners of Vagabond, a craft beer and coffee bar near the 24h street and train tracks that many tourists enjoy going to. We talked about the Lakers, Celtics, my thoughts on Hanoi as a Taiwanese-American, childcare, etc. Just a good time.

Vagabond has a variety of coffees, including traditional Vietnamese and Aeropress expresso, two draft beers on tap, cold-pressed juices, and more bottled craft beers. I personally preferred the blonde even though I’m normally an IPA-drinker, but both are worth stopping in for.

This place definitely represents a new wave of shops in Hanoi that might be taken as worldwide hipster generic if not for its showcase of indie Vietnamese brands as well as warm and very hip locals. It’s a good stop for people who need a little taste of home and to pick up some more upscale and unique gifts. I’m so happy I saw it and stopped in.

  • Facebook
  • Address:7 Tôn Thất Thiệp, Hanoi, Vietnam 100000
  • Price Range: $1-$3 USD

Chang 1989 Coffee Shop: Hipster Hanoi Communist Glamour Nostalgia

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I was walking back from the Obama/Bourdain Bun Cha place (verdict: solid family restaurant Bun Cha eg. like your local diner you’ll eat at a few times per month not the best Bun Cha in Hanoi. Was worth the fangirl experience for me) to my lodgings and discovered this place: Chang 1989 

It seems like kind of akin to Cong Ca Phe and maybe ripping off the aesthetics, maybe a bit more upscale.

I really enjoyed the yogurt coffee I had there, and the overall good vibes. It’s off from the tourist and general madness that is the Old Quarter in a much more normal and also nicer residential neigborhood with clientele that reflected that. Definitely felt like a relief since I stayed near the “24h” street so my days often had too much close proximity to asshole-acting dirty Australian backpackers, weird hippie white people from the North America constantly wearing logo t-shirts and bandanas, and of course your random European vacationers as well.

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So yes, it was kind of a nice relief to be in a more upscale location with cheaper than average coffee (~1 USD) at better quality compared to the busier part of town sitting with locals.

The yogurt in the coffee tasted fresh with the that right amount of subtle Asian yogurt sweet and tart mixed with Vietnamese coffee, which they brewed quite delicately rather than just intense dark roast. Considering I’ve been trying a new coffee shop a day everyday at this point in my time in Hanoi, it stood out.

What I admire about the brand new place, so new that kid had a nailgun putting up more of the nostalgic wood paneling, is that it had a lot more attention to detail and shine than a lot of places I’ve seen trying to replicate the same feel. Unlike a lot of places where nostalgia is faded and sometimes even unintentionally dreary because of that or looks too artificially hipster, this place pops with color, like a technicolor film coming to life, a youthful exuberance. It does the old world glamor of a time that probably didn’t exist right. I lingered longer than I normally would alone and took more pictures than I normally would – like I think I was being creepy.

The friendly young people running it are definitely step above the hipster hive and after months on the road, that’s appreciated. If you’re going to Obama/Bourdain fan-girl, stop by here after your Bun Cha.

  • Foody.vn Page
  • Facebook 
  • Address: 30 Hàm Long, Quận Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội
  • Price: ~1 USD per cup of coffee

 

“Poutine Fries” I can’t stop thinking about at The Ribbon

I normally detest brunch, but I ended up at The Ribbon for a friend’s birthday party way before the normal crowds. So worth it, I would totally come back here for the two items I got to try: The Prime Rib Poutine ($28) with an egg on top of steak over fries over cheesy gravy and onions.

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Before we had that, the best banana bread (menu item The Banana Pecan Loaf) I think I’ve ever had with a slightly sweet creamy inside. Complex flavors all around, not too sweet. Almost had a light Asian bakery quality to it.

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Setting is nice too and way a touch above a lot of the generic brunch places in NYC with semi-nice settings with mediocre $13 dollar egg plates.

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Amazing Longanisa at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is known for clam chowder and Seattle Seafood, but as luck would have it, I had less than half an hour to spend there before a flight and found this gem. I lived next to Daly City for years and miss Filipino food so much living in NYC, and this is definitely some of the best longanisa I’ve ever had, paired with some awesome pancit and rice. Check out Oriental Mart if you’re in the area and don’t want the usual.

Longanisa with Rice and Pancit

Longanisa with Rice and Pancit

The people who work here are awesome too. Super nice and a fun bunch. The food stall has some serious character and Filipino pride that I appreciate by extension.