Thursday, January 30, 2014

nykeiko eats: The Elm [Williamsburg, Brooklyn]

Isaac Mizhari spotted at The Elm
Soooo Dave and I have been eating out a lot lately but I like to believe that we have been really good about cooking at home as well. Also, we like to find excuses to celebrate; like every stepping stone in our life. It could be for a raise, a bonus, a promotion, signing of contracts or most often, just because!
Most of the time, it is just because we enjoy good food and drinks and dates (when there's candlelight, it's a date!!)

Michelin-starred chef Paul Liebrandt's The Elm makes its debut in 2013 in Williamsburg and is getting a lot of buzz. We went to check it out last week. Dave made reservations for The Elm just before the Christmas holiday without letting me know. He wanted to snag prime dinner hours on a Friday night.

The food was anything but simple yet delicious. Fresh ingredients and aromatic flavor combinations under one bite. Each bite tasted different. It kind of reminded me of Montreal's French cuisine.

The dishes were small so we ordered 4 dishes to share from the Raw, Land, Sea and To Share menu.

Love this table made out of all these type of wood!

I liked the bourbon maple mulled wine cocktail I ordered.
Delicious cocktails

Raw: The Beer tartare
Land: Duck with pomegranate jus
Sea: Skate with capers and green grapes
Share: Lobster Cassoulet. Traditional slow cooked stew with beans.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Daily show!

Daily Show January 27 taping

Yes! We attended another taping of the Daily Show on Monday with guest star Jeff Garlin. It was loads of fun like the first time! Except this time, we were there with some friends who are also fans of the show which makes it even better!

We got in line at around 1:40 p.m., got our tickets at 2:40 p.m., went to Totto Ramen (no wait time!), got a delicious cup of almond milk chai from Kahve and then back to the Daily Show building to join our friends who picked up the tickets we put on hold for them. Taking a day off to enjoy New York makes me happy. Returning to a four-day work week also makes me very happy!

I'm going to be so busy this week with work, green card application and all types of paperwork implicated in adulthood. Meh...

They give us some time to take pictures of the studio and when they do, the camera phones come out...

We didn't get to try the new Totto Ramen location (just a block away from the original location) since they were closed on Monday afternoons. By the way, I had not been to Totto Ramen in a while since the last times I had been there, the broth had been extremely salty and not enjoyable. Today's broth was less salty and perfect on a chilly day except I think I lost my love for Totto as I have developed a palette for lighter and cleaner ramen broth. I still like their dons very much though.

Totto Ramen Paitan ramen

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Monday, January 27, 2014

nykeiko eats: Four Seasons Restaurant

Four Seasons Restaurant: The Grill room
A week ago, I mentioned that I had this Gilt City voucher for the Four Seasons Restaurant. At the time of purchase, I did not known it was not affiliated with the Four Seasons hotel which was the reason I wanted to buy it in the first place. Dave had brought me to a restaurant in a Four Seasons resort on my birthday in Hawaii and I thought it would be something special to try in the city.

There was a snowstorm last Tuesday but since the voucher was expiring on that day, we strapped on our warmest gear and made it to the restaurant. We were planning on getting drinks and appetizers and be on our way to grab dinner somewhere more affordable.  The voucher was for the Grill Room and included two drinks (cocktails, wine or champenoise), oysters (raw or fried) and 2 appetizers to share. A $95 value I paid $44 ($58-25% off) for. Well, we were determined not to succumb to the voucher's trap and purchase more food but after being slightly intoxicated by the strong cocktails as well as a discouraging snowstorm outside, we decided to stay for dinner and order just ONE entrée to share. We picked the bison and foie gras steak dish which cost $68 (insert shock emoticon here). Yikes at the price but we read it was da bomb digity and went for it. Even with the voucher, the meal costed me over $150! I was shocked. Imagine we did not have a voucher, the meal would have costed over $200. Oh well. This is the price to eating fancy in midtown Manhattan.

Overall, it was a pretty good meal but we were not totally satisfied. The Four Seasons is known for its power lunch and some celebrity sightings but at this price, I expected something more. The waiter of course treated us like coupon customers by not serving us bread until we asked as well as not asking us how we would like our bison cooked. I was pretty peeved but should have not been surprised. I tipped him accordingly...not 20% but still more than 15% so that I don't make voucher users look like cheapos. The tartares were good but not amazing. We did enjoy the tender bison and Dave couldn't stop eating the french fries. I could have brought him to McDonalds for them.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this place even with a coupon voucher.

Gimlet in a wine glass?
half a dozen oysters
Salmon tartare 
Beef tartare 
Dave couldn't stop eating these! 
What else is on the menu?
Bison and foie gras steak split in 2 

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Friday, January 24, 2014

nykeiko wears: My purse... [Lauren Merkin]

It is blurry because my camera doesn't know where to focus anymore!
This is my latest go-to purse. It is the Iris clutch with magnetic closure and python embossed leather by Lauren Merkin. I purchased it back in November here. Made in New York City (and not China)..I love that!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

nykeiko eats: Gotham West Market NYC [Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop]

List of vendors at Gotham West Market

"Let's try something new!" Laurie said last Saturday night when we were looking for some grub in Manhattan. We were in a car and looking for somewhere to go after a plan of mine fell through. We were going to get drinks and appetizers at the Four Seasons Restaurant (Gilt voucher!) but it was closed on Sundays. Oops, I didn't know. So, we were stuck looking for something else to eat but remained positive that we would find something exciting for our tastebuds.

In Manhattan, there is always something new. You just have to read every website or blogs just so you can stay on top of every single restaurant opening or closing happening in Manhattan/Brooklyn. Eater NY's The Shutter reports on them all the time. There's probably a monthly turnover. Our favorite reads come from Eater NY, Grub Street New York, New York Times's Dining and Wining, New Yorker, Serious Eats NY and Bon Apetit will sometimes have good restaurant features! There's a lot but we try our best to stay on top of it! Sometimes, someone is going to mention something and it will ring a bell. Gotham West Market was one of them. Here, you can find 8 high-end artisanal food vendors serving their handpicked favorites on the menu. There are Brooklyn favorites such as "Blue Bottle Coffee" and established store "The Brooklyn Kitchen". Farm-to-table delicacies from "Little Chef", artful tapas from "El Comado", charcuterie and beer from Gramercy favorite "The Cannibal". There's also a bike shop!

One vendor who brings in a lot of ramen fans is Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. The first original shop is in Tokyo! Okay, so what's the big deal? So basically Ivan is the first American soul ever to bravely open a ramen shop in ramen-loving Tokyo city and made it successful! He is a middle-age Jewish man from Long Island NY! His ramen must be really good if it can compete with other great Japanese ramen shops, right? Ivan Ramen has been getting banging reviews and recently mentioned on all sorts of food blogs including Serious EatsEater NY, New York Times. Even though I didn't crave ramen that night, I had to give it a try. Read more about what I thought below...

El Comado
Sandwich shop
The Brooklyn Kitchen in Gotham West Market
What I thought about Ivan's ramen...

Dave and I both tried the classic shio ramen while Laurie had the vegetarian shoyu. She also ordered half a dozen Malpeque oysters from El Comado. I thought the broth was good and maybe just a tad too oil but still light enough which I prefer. I personally do not like the signature rye noodles which is probably healthier for me but I like the traditional stuff. Maybe it should be an option. At $13 a bowl, it is also one of the smallest bowl of ramen I've had in the city but it is kind of the perfect size to pair with something else. Thank goodness I also ordered a smoked whitefish with salmon roe donburi ($12) which filled my stomach just perfectly.

I can see why the ramen is so popular. It's like the perfect comfort food on a cold winter's day. This bowl of ramen will soothe the chill pains away in an instant.

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop in Gotham West Market
Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop at Gotham West Market

Ivan Ramen slurp shop: Smoked whitefish Donburi

Shiso ramen

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

If pet rats are your thing...

This made me smile today amidst the snow storm :)

Pictures via

Mysterious noises? It is aural artwork! [Times Square by Max Neuhaus,2002]

If we are somewhere close to Times Square, I am always drawn to take a look despite being turned off by the large crowd. However, I don't seem to mind crowd in Times Square too much. It feels kind of cool seeing visitors from all over the world come to this one place! It is iconified as "The Crossroads of the World" for a good reason. I am sure if I ask each passerby where they come from, within an hour, I would meet thousands of people visiting from many different countries. There's no place like this. Anyway, this is why I like Times Square but also, there's always something happening. There could be an exhibition of some sort or special events. When we were there this past Sunday, we saw Fox Sports setting up for a Superbowl event next week however, there wasn't really anything else going on. That's when we remembered about this one permanent exhibit that is in Times Square 24/7, 365 days a year, that not many people know about. It is called Times Square by Max Neuhaus.

It is an aural artwork right in the middle of Times Square where thousands of people walk by every single day yet have no clue about it. Right off 46th street, right under my feet in the picture, there are "mysterious" noises coming from below the grates which emit loud harmony of bells and gongs to unwary passerby above. Most people think it is sounds coming from the subway but for those in the know, they stand around and let their curiosity get the best of them.

So next time you're in Times Square and want to get lost in the middle of the mass, stand there, listen, look up and all around and take a moment for yourself....Before it is ruined by the costumed Elmos, Woody, Naked Cowboy or Spidermans asking you to take a picture with them!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

One Piece, One Thought: Crystal baguette ring

Judith Leiber crystal baguette ring

I wore this ring maybe only once about two years ago for a July wedding. I shouldn't neglect my jewelry like this. I like how it glams up my hand instantly while I wore it with an all-black outfit. I didn't have my engagement ring at that time so it was the only sparkly thing thing I owned. Now my engagement ring is my go-to bling ring but really, I want to mix things up more often but for convenience sake and minimum effort always gets the best of me.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Personalized cards [Totoro]

My friend Jimmy drew us Totoro in a bride's dress in our wedding card.

So I drew Totoro back in our Thank You card...David also contributed :)

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

nykeiko eats: $32 dinner pour deux in NYC [Jinya Ramen Bar]

Sometimes, to save money in New York, you have to be crafty. I got a Gilt City Voucher for Jinya Ramen Bar for a $57 + $25 off (credit for referral) dinner for 2. Sure, if we didn't get the voucher, we would have probably just ordered one tapas and two bowls of ramen and spend a bit less money. We had to tip on regular service, not $32. But since we did get the voucher, we got this entire meal for less than $50 AND bring home this bottle of sake we did finish. The bottle of sake alone cost $38.

This is what the meal looked like. We were pretty stuffed and satisfied. We got there at about 6 p.m. on a Saturday night and it wasn't packed at all.

-Bottle of sake
-1 tapas
-3 skewers
-2 bowls of ramen
-2 desserts

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

That time I made my husband work for his birthday gift... [Pok Pok Satay and Peanut sauce kit]

The satay pork skewers a la Pok Pok

"Baby it's your birthday, cook for me!"

That time I bought my husband a Pok Pok ingredient kit to make thai food for his birthday and thought it was a great idea but it turned out to be a lot of work! This kit included authentic thai ingredients used by chef Andy Ricker to recreate dishes that taste just like it does at Pok Pok. We absolutely loved Pok Pok the last time we went (here).

Monday, January 13, 2014

The BCBG group sample sale was all about Hervé Léger [January 2014 NYC sample sale]

I haven't been to a sample sale since last December! Sample sales are steadily revving back up again in New York City and the first one for me in 2014 is the BCBG group sample sale with labels from BCBG, Max Azria and Hervé Léger. Here's my review for Racked NY.

My sister purchased her first Hervé Léger last year and has put it on high rotation during the holiday season and got many compliments. She wanted another one and asked me to find something for her at the sale. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything that would suit her but I did end up getting a high-waisted skirt for myself. I brought the piece in size small to the dressing room and had so much trouble fitting into it. Another shopper actually helped me zip up as I did for her. It's like a Spanx/skirt-in-one and I can easily pair it up with any tops I own. I would need to shed some of my winter blubber to fit comfortably and make breathing slightly easier. It's suppose to stretch and mold to my body as well so getting it tight should be okay.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Weekender: Ballet, Brunch and Cronut™ (Well, finally, I get to talk about the infamous Cronut™ on my blog...)

Oops late post. How was your weekend?!

New York City Ballet in the David Koch theater

Dave is sick and his cough is not letting him get much sleep yet he's still cute as a bug to be around. If I get sick and lack sleep, I become a bitch galore. I felt slightly like a bad wife when I left him last Saturday night to see the ballet with a couple of friends. I bought these great tickets a while back and was looking forward to it. The New York City Ballet's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker was everything I had imagined it to be. It is my first time watching the Nutcracker but I knew all of the songs. My favorite is Tchaikovksy's Pas-de-Deux with the sugarplum fairy and her cavalier. That song creeps the heck out of Dave every single time I play it and he will shut it off or run away when I do. It's pretty funny to torture him but it is inexplicable why it creeps him out so deeply to the core.

Sugarplum fairy and her cavalier costume for The Nutcracker
Oh yea, I saw Kate Burton on my way to the ballet. She was reading! Not a Nook!
Kate Burton from Scandal riding the NY subway!
Well, finally, I get to talk about the infamous cronuts on my blog... (Not sure when to use ™so I put it everywhere)

The next day, I was going to meet some friends for an early brunch but when I decided to bring them Dominique Ansel's Kouign Amann despite the freezing rain, I was about an hour late. That morning, I got to Dominique Ansel's bakery at about a quarter past 10. An hour + since the bakery opened shop. When I saw that there was a manageable line of about 20-30 people outside (probably a dozen more inside the bakery) for the cronut, I thought that this could be one of the shortest cronut queue possible -even the blizzard didn't stop fans from lining up- So I gave it a try. Piece of cake (cronut) I thought. I've done longer lines for sample sales (ahum, the Alexander Wang sample sale) so this was nothing! I was told that there might be enough cronuts for everyone so I hopped in line with high hopes. It wasn't however, a piece of cake. It was pretty cold outside and raining. I didn't even have an umbrella but I did not care. I was committed. At that moment in time, I was very thankful for my Canada Goose coat investment.

A guy in front of me was already getting his second batch of Cronuts™ and he was there since 8:45 a.m.! He said he has had Cronuts™ many, many times before and keeps coming back for more. I was eager to taste them after hearing that. In less than 40 minutes (I timed it), I was able to get my frozen hands on some Cronut (2 Cronut™ limit per customer). I was so proud of myself for getting them and not having to wake up at wee hours in the morning to line up which I thought would have been the only way to ever try these sugary babies! I was even able to hop back in line to get 2 more Cronuts™ so that I could get enough to share for brunch and also to bring home to my sickling husband and his cousin. Sooo did I like them? Not at first. I was actually pretty disappointed. Maybe because I was so stuffed after the big brunch but I was definitely not loving them like: "oh my god, give me more!" Or "I would line up for hours to get these!" I was however, content to finally taste them. Some (maybe just one) of my friends thought they were wonderful so that made me happy too. When I brought some home, Dave devoured a whole one in less than a minute. He ate it so fast. Couldn't he have slowly savored them while thinking of me waiting under the freezing rain to get them? He liked it which made my freezing my ass off worth every second. The other one was offered to his cousin but he only took a sliver out of politeness. So, we had almost a whole Cronut™ remaining and I didn't feel like eating it. It was not until bedtime that Dave reminded me that I should not waste THE Cronut™ and must eat it while it was still somewhat "fresh". I ate half and that's when I actually thought the Cronut™ wasn't so bad after all. I love croissants so really, what could be so bad about them? So maybe, maybe I would go back one day to try another Cronut™ flavor when the weather is lousy on a Sunday morning :)

Dominique Ansel's cronuts and DKA

Dominique Ansel first Cronut™ flavor fof 2014: Peanut Butter Rum Caramel!
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Sunday, January 5, 2014


Here I am posing for Dave on a Saturday night for fun.... I was trying to imitate Asian glamor posing.

Wearing Isabel Marant pour H&M lace dress

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Friday, January 3, 2014

We heart Grand Central Station [keiko wears]

Photoshoot in Grand Central Station NYC

On me: Uniqlo top/The Row skirt (purchased at this sale)/Tibi sandals (purchased at this sale)
On him: Proper cloth custom fit shirt/Freeman's Sporting Club jeans (purchased at this sale)/Cole Haan shoes

Our after-wedding photoshoot took place in mid-October last year (yikes! still getting used to 2014) about 3 months after our wedding sooo I guess I would prefer simply calling it a couple's photoshoot. It was a lovely photoshoot in one of New York's most iconic buildings, both of us 30, living in New York and just married! It should be one of the best times of our lives to capture and remember forever! Who knows where we will be in 25? 50 years?

We initially had a bit of jitters about being photographed but they quickly disappeared when Bernie and Molina completely took control of the shoot and told us exactly what to do for every single pose. Not sure what angles work best for me unlike some people who knows their best and most flattering angles, I completely entrusted them to make us look our best. Sure, it is still weird looking at pictures of myself but when I see the big picture and where we were, these pictures have definitely become one of my fave photos!