Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant’

Missing Life in New York (Especially the Pho)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Displacement, disappointment, dissatisfaction. It’s fair to say that I am not the only one experiencing these feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mid-semester of my sophomore year I was sent home to do online learning like many other students this past Spring. The virus took everyone by surprise, but it’s impact on college students is a unique one. For many students, learning at home is not only difficult, but also dismal. No longer on campus, one misses out on the most vital aspects of college – lively discussions with peers, spending time with friends, and the chance to explore the city. Miles from New York, missing my friends from NYU, and struggling to stay on the ball with classwork, I’ve found that this semester cannot be described with words. Instead imagine a very deep, very tired-sounding sigh. 

But I’m trying to change that.

After a particularly busy past week (two novels to read, an outline for a paper due, and starting on a presentation for Spanish class, so on), I decided I’d order Vietnamese this weekend, pho in particular. We are nearing the end of the semester which means papers, projects, and other major assignments are flooding in, all due within days of each other. Food of course being my favorite way of treating myself, I let myself have at it. Having recently moved from home to across the state, I’m not familiar with many restaurants where I am now, but I’ve been craving pho and have been on the search for a reliable pho restaurant. As it turns out, one wouldn’t expect it but the second-best pho I can now claim that I’ve had is from a small eatery in the food court of a nearby mall, Pho Kitchen. Second-best. 

Maybe I’m lying a bit to myself. To be completely objective – the pho was absolutely delicious. I sat in the food court, mask placed to the side and socially distanced (which was a good thing or people probably would have heard me slurping up the noodles and soup), and added a little Hoisin sauce and sriracha to the broth, mixing it in alongside the noodles, beef, onion, and cilantro. I squeezed a lime over it to top it off, stirred a little more, then dug in. The beef was perfectly tender, the broth flavorful and warm, and the noodles not too hard or too soft. All and all, completely satisfying. Why was it second-best then, you may be wondering?

It wasn’t PhoBar. PhoBar, which my friend Leslie introduced me to in our Freshman year, is located very close to Washington Square Park and was conveniently only a little ways away from our residence hall. I had had a cold and at that time it was just slightly more socially acceptable to go out to eat when visibly sick. We sat at a shared table and having only tried pho once before and disliking it, I wasn’t sure what to order or how to feel. 

“Just get the classic beef pho,” Leslie said, and I followed her orders.

Classic Beef Pho from PhoBar in New York City.

It turned out to be the cheapest item on the menu, which made it even better, but truthfully, it couldn’t have possibly gotten better. Even through my congestion and with what little ability I had left to taste, I was floored by the flavors of every part of the soup. Very quickly, just after a few bites and sips of broth, I became a passionate fan of pho. Leslie and I returned to PhoBar frequently after that and it is still one of our favorites.

When I was craving pho last week then, maybe it was more than just the soup I was yearning for. After all, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal I had, so all that was really missing was the fact that I wasn’t at PhoBar with Leslie. I wasn’t in New York.

Pho here will never be as good as pho in New York for that very reason. And on the same lines, online classes will never be as fulfilling as going to class on campus. Life in New York will always feel at least slightly superior to life anywhere else.

One could say that feeling discontent with this semester would be inevitable due to all that is happening, namely the pandemic. But in another attempt to try to grin and bear it, no matter how tiring it may be to keep grinning, I am doing my best to push through online classes and keep up with what is due. However, this is undoubtedly difficult. A few friends of mine themselves are going through rough patches and find themselves unmotivated. If you find yourself in the same position, here are a few helpful tips from U.S. News on dealing with onlines classes: 

  • Form a Schedule – Oftentimes having a solid structure to your day can help with keeping things in line and therefore getting more work done. Try writing out or printing a schedule, hang it up somewhere you will see it, and do your best to adhere to it throughout the day. 
  • Find Your Space – If you have a very busy home, it’s best to find a quiet area in your house to minimize distractions. If this isn’t possible, try going to your local library or somewhere you can get away from whatever may be pulling you away from your work.
  • Eye on the Prize – It may be difficult, I know for a fact that it is very difficult for a few friends of mine, but it is important to have a goal you want to reach and therefore a reason to get yourself to do work. “I’m just trying to get this degree,” is something a friend of mine says all the time, and I think it’s a simple but important mantra for many of us to take up during this time.
  • Stay in Touch – As for missing out on social interaction, use FaceTime or something of the like to keep in touch with friends from college. My friends and I use an app to send video updates to each other and it’s proven to help us a lot. Not only do we get to hear about what’s going on in each other’s lives, but it’s nice to see the faces and hear the voices of the people who I lived with for almost a year, who I care about deeply.

For more information, click the link above. Keep in mind that these things may not come easily or could be difficult to implement into your life. This is perfectly okay. It is more about the effort you put into doing better than how far you may actually get. I myself feel that it’s rare to have an actual productive day, but when I do I let myself savor the moment. It’s these moments that help me get through the semester. When you have that day (and you will), make sure you savor the moment, too.


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Fancy Fridays: Making Traditions

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

By the second semester of my Sophomore year it was firmly established that my friends and I needed something to look forward to, and not just big events. To weather the storm of stress caused by regular classes, major assignments, and jobs, we needed a weekly treat; something small; something to hold us over until the following week. My friend Leslie coined the phrase “Fancy Fridays” to describe it. At the center of our newfound tradition? Something mouthwatering. 

It was very simple. Just a good meal, whether cheap or expensive, it didn’t matter, though sometimes we had to reign ourselves in and not splurge too much. At the heart of the tradition though was our need to take time for ourselves, to treat ourselves. For this reason we often excused spending more than we should have (and this probably occurred way more than it should have). “What’s for dinner Friday?” became a question worthy of major debate. What were we craving? How much were we willing to spend? It varied each week, but we always chose a meal that brought the relief we needed. 

Some of our go-to meals: Wings from Atomic Wings, ranging from plain to super-spicy, because our tolerances differed. An Indian food feast from Leslie’s and my favorite Indian restaurant we accidentally discovered the year before. Pepperoni pizza from Joe’s, which was just a few steps from our residence hall. Joe’s was especially important to us. When we had sudden cravings at 1:00 a.m, we could easily slide from the couch, go down the elevator, through the lobby, and be at their doorstep in less than 5 minutes. In retrospect, maybe it was a little too accessible. 

But there is one Fancy Friday meal that we all still talk about to this day. On Valentine’s Day weekend, three-quarters of us single, we decided to go all out and make a reservation at Irvington, a lavish restaurant nearby. Truthfully, this didn’t occur on a Friday, but rather the day after. We postponed for a day and then when Saturday night came, we made it a hell of a time. Those of us who never wore makeup put some on, we all picked out a nice outfit, and when we were finally ready we walked up Union Square and entered – the W Hotel.

Unknown, “Irvington Restaurant – New York, NY”, https://www.opentable.com/r/irvington-new-york . Accessed 17 Nov 2020.

So there was some confusion at first. We stood in the hotel lobby, feeling foolish and whispering to each other before we realized the restaurant was within the hotel. Soon enough we spotted it (it was just to the side, and in our panic we missed it), we gave the name the reservation was under, and we were seated. The meal was fantastic.  The waiter was so nice, we still remember his name. And overall, we got our moment. We were able to let our hair down and enjoy ourselves.

At the end of the day, after some takeout and a movie or fine-dining and a stroll through the city, the only thing that mattered was that we got the relief we so badly needed week to week. It was a breath of fresh air, a true moment of peace to be able to sit and savour something delicious and do nothing more. Our Fancy Fridays were truly our saving grace in a sea of school stress.

Even if it is not centered on a meal, it’s important to form traditions during college for the same reason – it will give you something to look forward to and bring you a moment of relaxation. So what are some ways you can form traditions, whether it’s with your friends or just for yourself?

  • Find something you enjoy – Relaxation will likely come from doing something you like, whether it’s a serious hobby or something small. For my friends and I, eating something delicious was always an easy way to decompress. Even something as simple as watching a movie or show can make for a simple but effective tradition. 
  • Put in the effort – The goal of these traditions is to find some inner peace, if only an ounce. If you have to pull yourself away from readings and papers, do so. Especially if you feel you are already running low on energy. The only way to relax is to set aside time to do so. This could apply to purposefully searching for something you enjoy as well. It may feel like a bother, but knowing that once you find something to do that will ultimately relax you, it will be worth it.
  • Let it happen – Not just the name of an amazing Tame Impala song. Yes, this pretty much completely goes against my second point, but it’s still relevant! Sometimes traditions come about by themselves. Notice what’s going on in your life that you enjoy, or things you are doing that you’d like to keep up. Go with it and see if this works for you.

Lastly, if you are looking to make food a part of your new tradition, Campus Clipper has some amazing coupons to help you out! Here is one for Amorino Gelato:

https://www.campusclipper.com/new/popup1.php?CUP_COD=3876


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Expanding Your Palate: A Delicious Accident

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020

If you don’t leave your comfort zone voluntarily, life will drag you kicking and screaming out of it. This was part of the rude awakening I received as I transitioned to living in New York my freshman year. It wasn’t just college life that presented a challenge to me, but the city itself. New York has a unique way of making a person feel not just lonely, but isolated, despite living side by side with millions of other people. You walk with them on your way to class, you eat a foot away from them at the tiny corner restaurant, and you sometimes even find yourself angry that they are in your space. And yet, no matter how close you may be to others, you somehow still feel alone. At least, this is how it may feel at first. 

My second semester at NYU brought on more adventures than expected. With my new friend Leslie beside me, I finally felt less lonely than I had at the beginning of the school year. I could breathe a sigh of relief that now I had someone to do things and go places with. But classes and schoolwork got the better of us, and in about mid-March we found ourselves as unsatisfied as before we had gotten to know each other. As we sat under the fluorescents of the library at 2:00 a.m. one night, I turned away from my half-written paper and said to Leslie, “We don’t do anything. We only have a quarter of the year left and nothing to show for our freshman year.”

She was reluctant to acknowledge it, but ultimately agreed. However, we both knew what the real problem was. Nearly identical in nature, two homebodies out of their element, we were anxious. Overall uneasy, generally nervous, ultimately too timid for New York. And broke. Most of all, broke. 

New York is a city that demands for you to demand something of it and we were used to having to ask nicely. But no longer. We made a decision to go out more, to try to do something fun, even if it was just one thing, every weekend. We would break out of our shells and get to know the city, as we were meant to. We would save the money for those things that were worth it and would find other events that were free to go to. Inevitably, we were drawn to more and more restaurants with mouth-watering images of food on their websites and dazzling settings to dine in. Going out to eat undoubtedly became one of our favorite ways to treat ourselves, and that we did. 

Some Friday night in April we chatted eagerly on our walk up to Panna II, an Indian restaurant Leslie had hyped up to me after reading reviews and seeing pictures of their interior, which looked like an explosion of Christmas lights. She was excited to try Indian food for the first time and I hadn’t had my fill since last summer, so as we approached Panna II we were too distracted to realize what was happening.

“Come in, come in,” a man at the foot of the stairs said. We could see Panna II, just a few steps up from where we were on the sidewalk, winking at us with all its lights. Hungry and keen on stuffing ourselves with chicken tikka masala as fast as possible, we followed the man without a second thought. We followed him down. As we walked down a previously-unnoticed set of stairs into another restaurant, we looked at each other, panicked and too shy to say what was on our minds: “Wait, I’m sorry, I think we’re in the wrong place.”

In a whirlwind we were seated under rows of multicolored chili lights and menus were placed in front of us. When the host left us to browse the menu, we could only stare at each other. 

Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant in New York City.

“I don’t think this is it,” I eventually whispered across from Leslie. “Is this maybe their downstairs area?” I had been so set on Panna II that I was hopeful this was the case.

“Maybe?” Leslie whispered back, also clinging to hope. At this point we had to have looked suspicious huddled over the table, whispering to each other and looking around with wide eyes, completely disregarding the menus. 

“No, this isn’t it,” I said, but it was still barely registering in my mind.

“Then where are we?” Leslie asked. She was as frazzled as I was.

I looked down at our menus and found our answer. I read out, “Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant.”

We stayed. It would have been rude to leave even though we hadn’t ordered yet, and anyway, we still got our Indian food and twinkling lights. The food truly was some of the best, if not the best, Indian that I’ve ever had. Leslie quickly became a fan of it and ever since, we’ve ordered take-out from Royal Bangladesh countless times. Though things hadn’t gone as planned, we made the most of it and ultimately had a spectacular night, one that we’d laugh about for a long while after.

This night didn’t represent a huge leap in our leaving the comfort zone, but it was undeniably a moment in which we had to learn to go with the flow and enjoy the moment. It was especially difficult for two people who needed to feel in control when exploring the city, but it paid off. I know though that if we could have gotten just a little more comfortable a little more quickly, we would have had way more stories to tell from our freshman year. 

Curious to see how I could have prepared myself to be more “out there” my freshman year, I recently researched some ways to get out of your comfort zone. The ones I found most notable chalked up to forming habits and reshaping your mindset to trying new things. I believe these to be the most important when wanting to explore the city because New York can take a lot out of you otherwise. If you find yourself struggling to want to go out, it is perfectly normal. But I’d suggest doing anything you can to get yourself to walk the city’s streets and uncover what it has to offer. Starting out small, just one restaurant, museum, or happy accident at a time can take you there.

And if you’re craving Indian food after reading this, Campus Clipper has a coupon just for you to use at Mughlai Indian Cuisine. Click on the link below to get either 50% or 15% off a delicious meal! It will be sure to satisfy your cravings.

https://www.campusclipper.com/new/popup1.php?CUP_COD=3601


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Starting College, Roommates, and Italian for Dinner

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Before me is a white plate cradling little pockets of ravioli with a layer of parmesan, like snow dusted on top. The green of the sage just barely peeps through. My mouth waters and I look over to my friend Leslie whose face must mirror my own. Her plate of pasta speckled with pepper and pecorino beams up at her, same as mine does at me. “SO worth the wait,” she says. We dig in. 

Ravioli Burro e Salvia from I Sodi.

Months prior to this, Leslie and I met in our History of the Universe class. I noticed one of the girls I was waiting outside the classroom door with was wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt. I thought to myself, This girl is cool, I’m going to make sure to sit next to her. And thanks to our professor who loved to assign group work, we ended up working together because we were seated next to each other. Only about a month into the semester, I was waiting for the elevator in my residence hall when I bumped into Leslie taking out the trash one day. We both started apologizing profusely for the run-in before we realized who the other person was. “Wait, you live on this floor?” I asked, and she nodded. It turned out she lived just a few doors down from me (and it also turned out that this would be a huge blessing for me during my freshman year).

The more time passed, the more uncomfortable I got with my living situation. As Leslie and I got closer, I would spend more and more time in her dorm studying or just hanging out until I absolutely had to go to sleep, or she or her roommate did. Many times I would show up to class and she’d ask for updates on how it was going over in my dorm. I’d sigh and update her because there was always something to tell.

The issue? My roommate.

Or maybe it was me. Likely, it was both of us. The strangest part of it all was that when we were texting over the summer before the semester started, we got along really well. I actually had very high hopes for the school year and was thrilled that I was roomed with someone who was so friendly and who had all the same preferences I did on the housing application. So when things started to go south, I did my best to smile through the pain. She missed a week of cleaning? It’s okay, I’m not always good about remembering either. She had her boyfriend over and they were being too loud? That’s fine, I can handle it. He’s sleeping over now? It’s okay. I’m fine. He’s here again? Okay. Maybe it’s just a few days in a row. It will stop. Wait, he’s here again

Truthfully, it got worse. The amount of time it would take to tell every incident, to detail what life in the dorm was like, would be immense. There was yelling, a lot of it, then the strained moments in which we tried to compromise, then ultimately silence that was not just awkward, but filled with tension. We were definitely both at fault. I was used to my living situation at home, where I could be left alone in peace and quiet, and she was used to being able to have people over whenever she wanted. There were times we lost our tempers with each other, but we also tried to be civil with each other the following day. Countless discussions about what we could do to make the other feel more comfortable often came to nothing, and we even went to our RA for guidance at one point. At the end of the day, whether we had come to an agreement or not, we were left unhappy.

Since then, I’ve chalked it up to us being victims of circumstance. I am almost certain that if we hadn’t had to live together we would have been friends. We were just highly incompatible when it came to our ways of living. And unfortunately, it got to the point I’d do anything to be out of my dorm. 

“I know what we can do,” Leslie said one day as we lounged on her bed. Her eyes had lit up all of a sudden as we watched a movie on her laptop in the dark. We’d been dying for a break in routine lately and she knew I needed something to take my mind off of my living situation. “I Sodi,” she said excitedly.

I blinked. “What’s that?”

“I Sodi. It’s a super fancy Italian restaurant. You have to make a reservation, like, months in advance to eat there. But after our History of the Universe final, we should go there to celebrate!”

So we made the reservation (two months in advance) and saved the little money our parents sent us to be able to have a fulfilling experience come December. When the day finally came we threw on our nicest looking sweaters and coats and braved the cold wind, walking the streets of New York to finally arrive at the steps of I Sodi. And yes, it was worth it. Of course, it was nice to be out of the dorm, but it was also one of the few times that semester I genuinely enjoyed being in New York. We still felt out of place sitting amongst people who certainly looked like they didn’t have to save money to eat there, but the meal has lived on in our memories as one of the best New York has gifted us thus far since living there. Worries fell away, the food melted in our mouths, and I could forget about what awaited me back at the dorm.

I Sodi in New York City.

But many times when I look back on my freshman year, especially that first semester, I wish I’d done better. What if there was something I could have done to make my situation more tolerable not just for me, but for my roommate?

Here are some steps you can take to try to improve your relationship with your roommate:

  • Take a Breath – Maybe you are like me and you get overwhelmed by what is bothering you and want to fix it immediately. There were times I know I was a little too quick to get on my roommate for something when I should have calmed down first thing. So breathe. Sometimes it’s a case of having to choose your battles. If you think you can handle it, try to do so, especially if there is more than just one issue at hand. 
  • Talk to Them – Can’t take it anymore? Sometimes you have to start that awkward conversation. Make sure you know what you’re going to say first and make sure you have a positive attitude before you talk to your roommate. They will likely hear you out and try to fix the situation if you are nice about it. In other words, don’t be my roommate or me who many times just snapped at each other. 
  • Give Them a Chance – College is overwhelming. It doesn’t take long to realize that. So it is likely your roommate may forget (again? Yes, again! It’s okay, take another breath) that it’s their turn to clean, or that they promised they would take out the trash. Give them at least a week before you bring it up again. It can take a while to implement something into your routine.
  • Talk to Your RA – If you are still having issues, do not be shy to knock at your Residential Assistant’s door. They will more than likely smooth over the situation and will be a neutral voice that you can count on to help you and your roommate reach a true compromise. 
  • Take it Easy – It’s possible more issues will arise, likely a few of the same ones. I made the mistake my freshman year of getting too hung up on these things, of letting them eat away at me to the point I couldn’t enjoy my time in New York. Do your best to shrug these things off. Do things that you enjoy to take your mind off it. You cannot control your roommate, but you can take care of yourself. 

And if all that doesn’t work? Find your Leslie and your I Sodi and plan something amazing that you can look forward to. Spoil yourself. Do it. You need it. 


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Monster Sushi: A Japanese Experience

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

With the new semester unfolding and taking a large part of my daily routines, I haven’t had many opportunities to go restaurant hunting for reviews. Thanks to Rosh Hashanah last week, I was able to take a break from campus life and head to the city for some alone time – essentially some time for me to wind down with great food. I walked into a Japanese restaurant on 23rd Street called Monster Sushi, a restaurant that many of my friends frequently visit. According to my group of friends, Monster Sushi is one of the best sushi restaurants in the city at an affordable price, and I just had to check the place out for myself.

Monster Sushi has a chic modern interior while maintaining the air of a traditional Japanese restaurant: the furniture has a modern flair, whereas the décor, accessories, and sushi bar exude Japanese culture. I was immediately seated at a table and the waiter kindly explained the menu to me. Like most Japanese restaurants, Monster Sushi has a wide variety of sushi rolls. What I found to be unique about Monster Sushi was their bento box specials. “Bento box” can literally be translated as “lunch box;” the bento boxes consist of a variety of side dishes accompanying a main dish. Monster Sushi has an extensive list of main dishes for their bento boxes aside from simply sticking with the commonly found chicken or salmon teriyaki boxes. I ordered the Chilean sea bass bento box, which came broiled with a special light soy sauce. Each bento box comes with soup, salad, rice, a choice of spring roll or shumai (Japanese steamed dumplings), and a choice of California, tuna, or salmon roll.

Sushi Bar

Miso Soup

I was first served the miso soup as a part of the bento box special. The miso soup was light yet flavorful with the rich taste of the miso—a very traditional starter for a bento meal. Shortly after finishing the miso soup, the waiter served me the Chilean sea bass bento box. I was fairly impressed with the size of the box and how packed it was with food. The overall presentation was great, and after tasting the dish, I was even more impressed with all of the flavor combinations. The Chilean sea bass was crisply seared on the outside, then broiled with a light soy sauce that seeped into the layers of the fish. The sauce consisted of soy sauce, ginger, and vinegar to add on to the light flavor and to maintain the freshness of the fish. Along with the Chilean sea bass, I enjoyed all of the accompaniments to the bento box. The spring rolls that I had ordered instead of the shumai were crispy, packed with vegetable and shrimp filling, and seasoned perfectly so that there was no need for a dipping sauce. The salad was also extremely fresh, topped with a light ginger dressing that was just sweet enough to entice my taste buds. To top this all off, the salmon roll that I chose consisted of fresh salmon pieces wrapped in white rice and seaweed, and these salmon rolls were larger compared to those from other Japanese restaurants I have frequented.

Chilean Sea Bass Bento Box: spring rolls, salmon rolls, white rice, and salad

Apart from the bento box, I had also ordered the Godzilla roll, one of Monster Sushi’s specialty rolls. The Godzilla roll consisted of spicy tuna with avocado and flying fish roe on the outside. I had heard that this roll was one of the most popular rolls at Monster Sushi, and after tasting it, I had a clear understanding as to why this is so. The Godzilla roll had the right amount of spiciness in the spicy tuna which blended well with the freshness of the tuna itself. Everything about this roll was perfection: the ratio of rice to fish as well as a flavor balance of richness and light freshness.

The Godzilla Roll

Monster Sushi far exceeded my expectations of the typical Japanese restaurant. I absolutely loved the bento box, especially because I was able to have so many different dishes within one order. Although Monster Sushi is slightly more expensive than other Japanese restaurants, it is definitely worth the price considering the sizes of their rolls and the amount of food they give per entrée. My experience at Monster Sushi was wonderfully delicious and I would highly recommend this place to people who are hunting for some great Japanese cuisine without having to travel too far.

Use this coupon from the Campus Clipper booklet to save on delicious sushi!

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
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Going French with Vive la Crêpe!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

My dream has always been to travel Paris to indulge in the art, culture, and food of France. But with school and work currently dominating my life, my plans of traveling will have to wait until I’m able to squeeze in some vacation time. When that time comes, I’ll be committed to trying all of the delicious food that France has to offer. But in the meantime, I’ve found a small local café that specializes in one of France’s most popular delicacies, crêpes. Vive la Crêpe! brings French street culture into the streets of New York.

Upon entering Vive la Crêpe! in Union Square, I met with with the social media manager, Kate, who gave me information on the popular eatery. Focusing solely on crêpes and café drinks, Vive la Crêpe! aims to exude an aura of “authentic French coffee shop.” It succeeds: small yet homey, with wooden walls and chairs throughout the café, each employee at Vive la Crêpe! has been trained to perfectly create the signature delicate dessert in order to provide diners with an original French crêpe experience rather than turn it into something Americanized. The unique presentation of the crêpes is something to be admired: served in a cone, the crêpes, which are considered street food in France and served in food carts and small storefront windows for a quick eat, are easily portable and resemble over-sized ice creams that just as easily melt in your mouth.

My partner for the day, Maria, and I ordered one savory crêpe and one sweet crêpe to see if Vive la Crêpe! could tackle both worlds.  From the extensive menu, we chose the spinach, goat cheese, mushroom and basil crêpe, as well as the Nutella crêpe. Soon after we ordered, we were holding two large cones of hot, freshly-made crêpes. The ingredients of our savory crêpe were fresh and clearly designed to be a healthier option with creamy goat cheese. The fresh spinach and basil, mixed with the distinct taste of goat cheese, gave this savory crêpe a light yet satisfying meal-like quality. According to Kate, this is one of the most popular crêpes on the menu. Our Nutella crepe was amazing as well, the soft crêpe sheets covered in nutty and chocolatey Nutella. Sweet and simple, the Nutella crêpe would be great as a light dessert or a snack to satisfy a sweet tooth. The layers of crêpe that encased these delicious ingredients were extremely soft and fluffy while still maintaining the traditional thin texture. None of the edges were crusty or over-cooked, and the crêpes were evenly chewy throughout.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, Mushroom, & Basil Crepe

Nutella Crepe

Vive la Crêpe! is the perfect place to grab a quick bite to eat, as well as a place in which you can find a great cup of espresso — all for an affordable price. Better yet, Vive la Crêpe! has a smartphone application with a QR code so that diners can redeem a free crêpe with their first Vive la Crêpe! receipt (with no expiration date!). A hot spot in NYC, Vive la Crêpe!’s Union Square establishment has sister locations in NoLIta, the West Village, and the Upper West Side so that people all over Manhattan can indulge in a great crêpe experience. Maria and I had a wonderful time at Vive la Crêpe!, and I can confidently say that you can grab the best crêpes here, right on the streets on New York City.

Visit their website, download the app for free crêpes, and check out their menu here: http://www.vivelacrepe.fr/

Get a great discount at Vive la Crepe using this coupon from the Campus Clipper

Vive la crêpe! on Urbanspoon

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter

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The Mussel Pot: A Seafood Experience

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Summer nights in NYC are absolutely beautiful, and around dinnertime on Bleecker Street, there is a sense of orderliness as the city-goers file into the restaurants to enjoy a relaxing night out with great eats. This past Saturday, I finally found some time to myself where I could take a break from my usual routine of work, and I headed out to Bleecker Street with my good friend Amanda for a girls’ night out. Bleecker Street is extremely popular for having some of the best restaurants in the city, and it’s been a popular hot spot for people of all ages. Out of the many restaurants on Bleecker Street, Amanda and I chose The Mussel Pot for a seafood experience that so many New Yorkers love.

Known for having some of the best seafood in the NYC area, The Mussel Pot takes great pride in its mussel pots, as the name implies. The restaurant was warm-toned with soft lights, exuding a romantic atmosphere. The Mussel Pot has a small garden behind the restaurant for diners who wish for peaceful outdoor dining in the busy Manhattan neighborhood, providing a great chance to escape the busy city.

The Mussel Pot has an extensive list of drinks, ranging from an entire page of beer to a creative list of specialty drinks. To start our meal, Amanda and I each ordered a specialty drink; Amanda ordered the Hemingway Daiquiri Martini which contains rum, grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and maraschino, and I ordered the Almond Joy, a mix of Godiva white chocolate and Malibu coconut rum swirled with brown chocolate. Our drinks arrived shortly after we ordered them, and we were just as soon satisfied with our choices. The Hemingway Daiquiri Martini was light with a tart sweetness to it, making it a great drink to start the meal with. The Almond Joy was delicious as well, with a strong chocolate taste.

Hemingway Daiquiri Martini

Almond Joy

We ordered our entrées right after receiving our drinks, starting with the seafood rigatoni and Guinness-battered fish and chips, our two seafood favorites. We also ordered two different mussel pots: the Bouillabaisse and the Louisiana. A great thing about The Mussel Pot’s menu is that their mussel pots are listed by region. For example, the Bouillabaisse is under the French section and the Louisiana is under the American. With six different regional categories, diners are able to experience dishes of varying ethnicities.

The seafood rigatoni and Guinness battered fish and chips arrived first and these two dishes simply blew us away. The rigatoni was cooked to a perfect al dente with an excellent creamy, cheesy sauce over it. The seafood rigatoni was overflowing with different types of seafood, containing baby shrimp, scallops, and mussels. All of the ingredients used were fresh and Amanda and I both loved this delightful dish. The Guinness battered fish and chips were also astounding. Lightly battered, perfectly seasoned, and cooked to a great crisp, the fish and chips were my personal favorite. The dish came with three different sauces: ketchup for chips, tartar sauce, and vinegar. The tartar sauce and vinegar were great additions to the dish, each giving different yet delicious flavors to the fried fish.

Seafood Rigatoni

Guinness Battered Fish & Chips

After we finished our two dishes, our long awaited mussel pots arrived in large stainless steel pots. The two mussel pots were steaming and packed with fresh mussels and seafood waiting to be devoured. The bouillabaisse contained fresh scallops, clams, shrimp, and a thick saffron broth –a classic French styled dish with a great richness to it. All of the seafood incorporated into the dish was well-cooked and the mussels were especially amazing. The natural taste of the sea within the mussels mixed with the saffron broth created a great balance of flavor to the mussel pot. The Louisiana contained Andouille sausage, baby shrimp, crawfish tails, gumbo sauce, and scallion. A classic American mussel pot, the Louisiana had a smoky heat to it that is often found in southern dishes. The bouillabaisse was rich and worked off the natural briny flavors of the seafood, while the Louisiana added a great contrast to it with its spices and distinctive seasonings. The two mussel pots were packed with flavor and were a great finish to our meal.

The Bouillabaisse

The Louisiana

There’s no doubt that The Mussel Pot is one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood – diners flowed in out and of the restaurant, crowding the place by peak dinner time. With friendly service, great atmosphere, and amazing food, there’s no surprise that The Mussel Pot is a favorite of many NYC diners. Amanda and I loved our experience at The Mussel Pot, and I highly recommend this place to seafood lovers and others alike who simply enjoy a quality meal in the city.

 

The Mussel Pot on Urbanspoon

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
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Authentic Mexican Food in NYC: Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco

Friday, June 29th, 2012

“Oaxaca is a city in Mexico well known for its exceptional food. We have dedicated ourselves to bringing you traditional Mexican fare. Whenever possible we purchase our produce, meats, dairy and soda from local, organic and sustainable sources. Our salsa and sauces are made from scratch and all our food is made fresh every day. Please enjoy our little taste of Mexico.” –Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco

After visiting Mexico during the past couple of summers and consuming only the best original Mexican food, Mexican food in New York did no justice in pleasing my taste buds. I missed the authentic flavors of the grilled meat and the spicy but refreshing salsa. New York’s take on Mexican food is just not the same as the food from Mexico itself, no matter how hard these taquerias emphasize their authenticity. I was about to give up on my search for the perfect Mexican restaurant when a friend and I came across Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco. I was able to find Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco through the Campus Clipper, where student savings and student discounts offer a variety of cheap eateries. This little taqueria is located off Bowery, in an alley covered with colorfully decorated sidewalk. From the outside, Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco looks like any Mexican restaurant – a good amount of seating both indoors and outdoors with a “specials” list hanging on its walls. Despite having a similar look as popular Tex-Mex chains, Oaxaca proved itself to be the most original and authentic Mexican restaurant to set place in NYC.

Patty Wu, the owner of Oaxaca, walked us through the menu and explained some of the highlights offered at Oaxaca. Although the menu is not extensive, customers are able to mix and match fillings and toppings, thus able to get a good variety with simple ingredients. Another thing that Patty mentioned was the special tacos that were not on the menu: the Korean taco and the potato poblano. The Korean taco is filled with Korean bulgogi, sweetly marinated beef, topped with pear and mango slaw, kimchi, and gochujang, the infamous spicy Korean pepper paste. The potato poblano is a vegetarian taco made of stewed potatoes, vegetables, and pico de gallo. My friend, Amanda, and I voted the Korean taco as our favorite, not because of our Korean heritage, but because this taco had the perfect balance of sweet, sour, tangy, and spicy all in one. We’re very well aware that bulgogi has the tendency of being overly sweet from being marinated, but Oaxaca’s bulgogi was light and chewy, with a slight taste of sweetness.

Pollo Guisado, Carne Asada, Korean Taco

 

Potato Poblano Taco

Amanda and I were served with four different tacos: the Korean taco, potato poblano, carne asada (grilled steak), and pollo guisado (stewed chicken). Upon tasting the tacos, I instantly knew that this was the taste of Mexico that I had been desperately searching for. Wrapped with double layers of heated corn tortilla, each taco had its distinct taste of meat and salsa, while at the same time giving the authentic taste that brought me back to Mexico.  We also tried the enchilada (carne asada, pollo guisado, carnitas), chicken quesadilla, and the burrito. This may sound like a lot of food to split between two people, but everything served at Oaxaca is light and fresh, leaving you satisfyingly full instead of bloated as happens after a heavy Mexican meal. The great thing about Oaxaca is that all of their meats are slow cooked, making them extremely tender and well marinated, and their meats are hormone free. To top all of this off, Oaxaca serves Jarritos, traditional Mexican sodas that have a refreshingly cool yet not overly sweet flavor.

Chicken Quesadilla

Enchiladas

Burrito

 

Jarritos

Oaxaca Revolucion de Taco is an overall amazing Mexican restaurant, but the best thing about it is that everything is so affordable. With each taco priced as low as $3.25, it’s guaranteed that you can enjoy a filling meal without having to break your wallet. Oaxaca also offers a great lunch special deal and a taco happy hour, where you can get a taco for only $2. With a wide delivery range and a “bring your own beer” system, Oaxaca is a popular taqueria amongst local eaters and traveling eaters like myself. Everything on Oaxaca’s menu is worth trying and I will be paying them another visit shortly for another round of tacos.

Use this coupon from the Campus Clipper to enjoy a cheap, but delicious Mexican meal at Oaxaca!

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
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Oaxaca Taqueria on Urbanspoon

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Cheers to Homey Organic Goodness: Corner Shop Cafe

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

It’s been excruciatingly hot in NYC recently and having to take the crowded subways couldn’t have been any worse in the insane humidity level. Despite roasting in the heat, I had the chance to meet and catch up with a good friend of mine, Kaila, as we went to grab a bite to eat at Corner Shop Café. A small, trendy restaurant located on the corner of Broadway and Bleeker near Soho, the Corner Shop Café was a delightful surprise to both of us.

Painted a deep gray and featuring red brick walls, the Corner Shop Café gives off the kind of rustic, vintage air that is popular with today’s hipsters. Kaila and I benefitted from the recommendations of Jen, our friendly waitress who covered the menu and daily specials for us. As she suggested, we started off with a salmon tartare to share, plated with strips of crispy yucca chips and pesto sauce. The salmon tartare was a beautiful escape from the steaming streets; the freshness of the salmon and avocado mixed with the smoky taste of cilantro, chipotle, and capers gave the perfect blend of creamy and clean that I look for in an  appetizer.

Salmon Tartare with Yucca Chips

Moving on to our individual entrées, Kaila went with the Corner Shop Café favorite, truffle mac & cheese, and I decided on the pancetta-wrapped pork loin with Waldorf apple slaw and orzo. The pork loin was cooked to absolute perfection, the moist and succulent meat wrapped in salty pancetta with the sweet apple slaw and creamy orzo balancing the usually heavy meal. Pancetta wrapped pork loins can easily be a disaster if the seasoning is off. However, the Corner Shop Café’s take on this dish presented a fantastic balance among multiple flavors. Despite not being my own dish, I couldn’t help stealing bites of Kaila’s truffle mac & cheese throughout the meal. With the creamy taste of three different types of cheese and the nutty taste of shiitake mushrooms and truffle, I couldn’t stop commenting on how delicious it was. We also added prosciutto to the mac & cheese, lending a heartier flavoring to the depth of the cheese.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Loins with Waldorf Apple Slaw and Orzo

Truffle Mac N Cheese with Shiitake Mushrooms and Prosciutto

As we were finishing up our meal, Mark, the manager of Corner Shop Café, gave us two magnificently colored cocktails crafted by their bartender. I had the chance to speak to the creator of our drinks, who said that all of the cocktails at the Corner Shop Café are his original recipes and tweaks on some of his favorite drinks. I had the pleasure of tasting the Berry Peculiar Margarita, which contains Sailor Jerry Rum, iced tea, raspberry puree, mint, and lemon juice, and also the Angry Peach, which contains Bombay Sapphire, lime juice, peach schnapps, and prosecco. Both drinks had a distinct tartness mixed with a sweet, bubbly taste, refreshing enough to beat off the grueling heat. The bartender also described the drinks as having the “mellowness of the berries and the tartness of the gin.” Though these unique cocktails came at the end of our delicious meal, they were definitely the highlight of the evening.

Berry Peculiar Margarita

The Angry Peach

Corner Shop Café prides itself on serving only quality organic food prepared immediately before each meal (brunch, lunch, and dinner). All of the meats used are free-range and grass-fed – only the best types for the best quality. Our waitress, Jen, also recommended that on our next visit we try the truffle poached eggs and the tuna burger for brunch, indicating that brunch at Corner Shop Café is always a fantastic experience for people of all tastes. With the woody décor and lively atmosphere, Corner Shop Café is perfect for a casual date night, a hangout with your friends, or even for a quick meal alone after having roamed around the city. Kaila and I left extremely satisfied with our experience at the Corner Shop Café and there is absolutely no doubt that I will be paying them another visit soon.

Corner Shop Café’s website: http://cornershopcafe.com/

Use this coupon from the Campus Clipper to enjoy a fantastic meal at Corner Shop Cafe!

Becky Kim, Queens College, Read my blog and follow me on Twitter
Click here to download the Campus Clipper iTunes App!
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Corner Shop on Urbanspoon

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Kebab Garden: Middle Eastern Eats Turkish Style

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

The red brick interior and dark brown tables and chairs bring a very pizza parlor vibe to this Turkish restaurant. In much the same way pizza parlors offer more popular variations of Italian food, Kebab Garden serves up popular Turkish fare such as the titular kebabs as well as hummus, babaghanouj, and gyro sandwiches. Also available is non-Turkish fare such as macaroni and cheese and spaghetti with tomato sauce as part of the “Daily Specials” on select days.

Despite not being on the daily special menu, the food my friend and I ordered was still inexpensive and delicious. Think you’ve tasted all gyro and kebab have to offer? Think again; Kebab Garden is a lesson in why regional food differences really do count. I ordered the lamb doner kebab, which comes with rice and salad, while my friend ordered the chicken shish sandwich. And despite the store being open to the hot temperature outside, the restaurant itself remained only pleasantly warm. We also did not have very long to wait for our food. The chicken shish sandwich was ready in under 10 minutes, but be advised if you order the kebab it will take a little more time.

But it’s worth it, especially if you’re picky about your lamb like I am. I wanted it well done, but not charred or overdone in anyway. Crispy but soft and with just the right combinations of spices is how I like it. Kebab Garden’s lamb doner kebab delivers and then some. The meat is tender and juicy, really taking advantage of the earthy taste and somewhat tough texture of the lamb. It came cut in thin strips, and when doused with the white sauce that came with my order, was absolutely perfect. It paired really well with the rice and salad giving the meal a very down-home vibe, too.

The chicken shish sandwich was just as good as the lamb doner kebab. The chicken was tender, flavorful, juicy–everything you could want from chicken–with an added bonus: it was Turkish style! Think you’ve had chicken in a pita before? Think again, as Kebab Garden’s chicken shish sandwich will blow you away to the point you’ll keep eating long after your full. Between the sandwich and kebab, my friend and I completely forget the soft, warm bread were given to start our meal. The yougurt drink was also forgotten, a cold creamy yet salty drink worth trying.

To finish her meal, my friend ordered the baklava which initially didn’t interest me. I’d had baklava many times before, but the flavors of the pastry always seemed off to me and I never really liked it. However, continuing the trend that afternoon, Turkish baklava is also very different from the usual Grecian variety. My friend’s portion was heated up so she could sample the natural flavors better. Hmm, I thought looking at the flak dessert, this looks worth trying, so I dug in and was happily surprised. It was delicious, flakier and with a more mellow sweetness than I was used to in baklava. It’s definitely a must-order when visiting Kebab Garden.

If you’re looking for Turkish home-cooking or even a new spin on your beloved kebab or gyro, I highly recommend visiting this establishment. They’re currently redesigning their restaurant and have changed the service from self-serve to waitstaff service. Kebab Garden is located on 128 First Avenue between 7th Street and Saint Mark’s. They’re open 11:00AM to 3:00AM everyday, and make for great post-bar and club food. In fact, it’s great any time at all, especially with a student discount like the one offered below.

Evelyn Oluwole, Brooklyn College

Image credit: kebabgardenny.com

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