Thursday, December 17, 2015

6 Interesting Lay's Flavors in China

When I was in China, one thing I was dying to try is their bizarre Lay's flavors that you normally wouldn't see in the US. Here are some of the interesting flavors I spotted at local supermarkets and 7-11:

Cucumber 黃瓜味
It REALLY does resemble the taste of cucumber...first try was weird, but the more you eat the more you'd like it...for whatever odd reason.

Yogurt 清爽酸奶味

You're not reading this wrong...YUP yogurt flavor Lay's! I did taste the milky flavor on the chip. But it's definitely not something I would try again.

Numb & Spicy Hotpot 飄香麻辣鍋味

Almost EVERY Asian likes to hotpot, so it's no doubt this flavor would exist on the market. Wasn't that spicy though.

Cumin Lamb 孜然爆羊排味
Tasted like barbecue flavor, with a hint of cumin spice. This one is addicting...

Mexican Tomato Chicken 墨西哥雞汁番茄味

The tomato flavoring overpowered the chicken spice. Overall this one is a bit ordinary.

Italian Red Meat 意大利香濃紅燴味
This one doesn't have the taste of meat sauce at all, more of a burnt tomato sauce.

Other flavors I tried including squid and seaweed. I really like the seaweed and cumin lamb in the end. Can't wait to try other bizarre flavors in the US, like the recent "Do Us a Flavor!" winner, Biscuits and Gravy flavored Lay's.

Which interesting flavor of Lay's have you tried? 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

[Ramen Adventure #7] Ramen Zundo-ya: Super Rich, Super Good

Finally another strong competitor in NYC to prove Ippudo is overrated.

Although there are many ramen shops in NYC that claim to serve the most authentic Hakata-style ramen, but in most cases the pork bone broth in their ramen is either not rich enough or lacks actual pork flavors. Zundo-ya, one of the most renowned ramen shops in Japan, proves to the American audience what is like to have real Hakata ramen.

Ramen Zundo-ya
Sign at night
Recently held its grand opening, Zundo-ya is located at a basement location in East Village, just a block or two away from Ippudo's original post. It's quite spacious and neat inside, with the same "noisy" staff crowd you'd see at Ipuddo yelling IRRASHAIMASE! WELCOME! every 5 seconds. There are two things you should probably get if it's your first time: its signature Ajitama Ramen or the Zenbunose Ramen.

Zenbunose Ramen ("Everything Ramen"), $18
Broth: Super rich pork broth
Noodles: homemade thick wavy
Toppings: charshu, soft boiled egg, takana, beansprouts, garlic flakes, scallions

Zenbunose Ramen features basically all toppings the shop offers. Customers get to choose the richness of the broth and noodle types for their ramen. I picked "super rich" to test its claim and thick wavy noodles for my bowl.

Result? Not as rich as I would expect, but the richness does increase the more you indulge---however, it IS one of the few places that offer actually rich broth. As for the noodle, al dente as usual, but the so called "thick wavy" looks pretty regular straight for those Chinese egg noodles. It's not the typical thick wavy you'd have at other places.

I also got a small Ajitama Don on the side. Same pork charshu is used in the don. It's super rich and porky. What to expect: feels like what your mom would make.

Definitely one of the TOP ramen places in NYC---screw Ippudo and Totto, which has since downgraded their quality. Zundo-ya also offers a side of seasoning toppings (picked ginger, pickled mustard green aka takanazuke, and sesame) for all the ramen orders.

Zundo-ya is currently doing a $5 off from $20+ opening campaign promotion. Don't miss out!

84 E 10th Street New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

[Ramen Adventure #6] Mentoku Ramen: Quiet Newcomer in NYC

Compared to other new ramen restaurants, Mentoku is a bit less well-known but deserves a mention.

Opened recently in New York City, this sleek new shop is not afraid to open in the same area as the city's biggest ramen branch, Ippudo (Westside). You could easily missed Mentoku since there are so many other restaurants along the block. It's located by between 50th Street and 51st Street on 9th Ave.

I went in for a weekday lunch to try their lunch special (choice of ramen + choice of simple donburi rice OR salad on the side). The shop offers mainly Hakata-style ramen, which is basically ramen in pork bone broth. But I went in to try something you normally wouldn't see at a ramen restaurant: Match Green Tea Ramen.

Matcha Green Tea Ramen, $11
Broth: matcha, soymilk
Noodles: thin noodles
Toppings: konjac, kikurage mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions

Yup, no kidding! Their Matcha Ramen is a vegetarian dish featuring a broth based off green tea powder and soy milk. This clear broth ramen is a light ramen compared to the usual porky ramen you'd have in the city. Honestly I could barely taste any matcha in the soup (I guess that's a good thing!)---but the soup is delicious for a light ramen.

In replacement of the usual pork chashu, something called "konjac" (蒟蒻) is used. Konjac is a plant that is seen in many Asian cuisines. Its texture is similar to chewy jelly (think nata jelly in your bubble tea drinks).

The mentaiko rice is pretty standard: like something you can make at home. Maybe a little bit more roe? My taste palette dried up towards the end so I mixed some of my left-over green tea broth into the rice---and it tasted good!


In general this place is pretty nice for first timers. Staff is warm and friendly despite customer problems. I will definitely return to try their Hakata ramen. CASH ONLY

744 9th Avenue, New York

Saturday, June 28, 2014

[Ramen Adventure #5] Ivan Ramen: Upscale Ramen Joint

The first week Ivan Orkin opened his actual ramen shop (not to be confused with its slurp shop location in Hell's Kitchen) in Lower East Side, I immediately rushed myself over for its famous triple garlic mazemen.

Ivan Ramen has a super sleek interior; you won't believe you're going to eat Japanese food here! A hostess at front would sit you down when you enter. As always, I chose to sit at the bar/counter because I love to get a good view of the kitchen. (I'm not a stalker. I just like to see how every kitchen performs in general)

Looking at their menu, the prices are on the expensive side. The only reasonable priced appetizer are the roast pork musubi and pork meatballs. So I ordered the $6 musubi (another name for onigiri rice ball) along with the $15 triple garlic mazemen.

Roast Pork Musubi, $6
Toppings: roast pork, roast tomato, salted plum wasabi

The musubi is like an unfinished sushi to me. A tiny ball of rice is placed in the middle of a triangular seadweed, topped with warm roast pork and plum-flavored tomato. The musubi tastes really good actually. The only down thing is there are only 2 pieces in 1 order.

Triple Garlic Mazemen, $15
Broth: tonkotsu broth
Noodles: whole wheat noodles
Toppings: pork chashu, scallions, bean sprouts, garlic flakes

Up next, I tried the garlic mazemen everyone has been talking about. When the bowl is placed on your table, you can immediately smell a fragrant garlic scent; the whole bowl is loaded with savory garlic flakes! Unfortunately, even after an appetizer and a bowl of ramen, I was still not full. So when I decided to order another bowl of ramen, I did feel a little embarrassed. Even the hostess gave me a "wow" look when she took my order (LOL).

Classic Shoyu Ramen, $13
Broth: soy sauce + dashi + chicken broth
Noodles: rye noodles
Toppings: pork chashu, scallions, bean sprouts

The classic shoyu ramen is an extremely simple dish: a piece of pork chashu and a bunch of scallions laying on top of rye noodles. The broth has a dense soy sauce and dashi flavors, however, it's not good enough to stand out unlike the garlic mazemen, which is a must-try on Ivan Ramen's menu.


Despite the inadequate portion sizes and the expensive bill for 1 person, Ivan Ramen delivers an unique side of the ramen we never seen before. It's definitely not a traditional Japanese restaurant. If you want to enjoy your Japanese meal in a modern, chic place, visit Ivan Ramen and you won't be disappointed.

25 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

Friday, June 27, 2014

[Ramen Adventure #4] Ramen.Co By Keizo Shimamoto: Dream Come True

In January, I found out through a customer at work that Keizo Shimamoto, creator of Ramen Burger, is opening a ramen shop in the Financial District. I saw that coming ever since they debut their burger of summer 2013 at Smorgasburg: thousands of people are willing to wait in line every weekend just to have a taste of the original Ramen Burger, even until now. With Keizo's background and his influence in the ramen community, his new restaurant is going to be a strong newcomer in the city.

Keizo and his staff at soft-opening week
Ramen Burger with chips
This new ramen shop, named Ramen.Co, was finally opened in April and is now opened daily until 8pm. A majority of the customers come for the Ramen Burger, but I'm more excited to try the ramen. Keizo truly loves ramen and has always had a ramen dream (watch the video here). Knowing his love and dedication to this Japanese comfort food, his ramen won't disappoint us.

And it didn't. During their soft opening, I came into the restaurant 30 minutes before they close at 2pm and still saw crowds lingering inside the restaurant. The place is like a food court: you order up front, and cooks (including Keizo himself) will cook your food at each mini food stations. Not many seats are available: there are roughly 4 little tables near the entrance then a bar that fits about 10 people. I was worried if I had to get my food to go, but luckily one customer by the bar left right after I got my food so I rushed over, took his seat, and was ready to enjoy my bowl of Brooklyn Blend Ramen.

Brooklyn Blend Ramen, $12
Broth: tonkotsu shoyu soy sauce broth
Noodles: straight
Toppings: 2 pieces of pork or chicken, onion, scallion slices, seaweed

Said to be inspired by the art in Brooklyn, this ramen features a tonkotsu soup base with a blend of black garlic oil. The presentation looks strikingly similar to Bassanova's ramen, which I'm not surprised due to Keizo's previous work experience at Japan's Bassanova.

I always taste the soup first because it's kind of like the best thing about ramen. The soup is smooth and moderately rich. Not greasy or overwhelming at all. Al dente straight noodles are topped with 4 slices of tender pork belly, kikurage mushroom, fried garlic, and scallion.  Pork is cold, so you must soak it into the hot soup. I guess not many places grill their pork prior placing them in the bowl. Overall I was really satisfied and can't wait to try the other two ramen on the menu, Wakayama Shoyu and Hakata Shio.

You won't get the typical restaurant vibe at Ramen.Co., but it's the food that matters after all. Everything is organized and well cleaned so far. Not to mention Keizo is a very down to earth man who is driven to educate authentic ramen culture to the world. His story is inspiring and I'm glad to see his ramen dream come true! Can't wait to return to Ramen.Co!

FYI: After a series of testing, Keizo is currently selling hiyashi chuka (cold ramen) at Ramen.Co. For more information, you can check out this review here.

100 Maiden Ln New York, NY 10038

(Theme picture is from Keizo Shimamoto)

Hiyashi Chuka (Cold Ramen) Now Available At Ramen.Co

 After my initial visit in April, I know I'll be back to Ramen.Co for more awesome ramen.

I made my return when I found out about the new hiyashi chuka (cold ramen) on Keizo Shimamoto's Instagram. Almost all ramen shops would offer cold ramen during summer. But what makes Ramen.Co's version stand out is its simplicity and freshness. I got the cold ramen to go and it was still tasteful after a few hours. I believe Keizo uses a simple vinaigrette-based tare for the flavoring. It definitely brings out the aroma of fresh vegetables.

P.S. Keizo's kitchen also makes great eggs! Look at the yolk in the picture above!

(Theme picture is from Keizo Shimamoto)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

10 Impressive Egg Desserts You Should Know

Eggs are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savory, including many baked goods. In this article, we'll focus on desserts that use eggs as the main and irreplaceable ingredient. You probably know some of the following ones already. But as you scroll down the list, you would be impressed by how eggs can transform food in many different ways.

10. Egg Custard 

Egg custard is a standard egg dessert in many cultures. But have you seen it in an actual egg shell?

 9. Crème Brûlée

The signature thing about creme brulee? The hard caramel layer that topped the custard!

8. Soufflé

A puffy French delicacy made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites.

7. Egg Tart

Buttery crust filled with warm egg custard, this is the most popular Asian dessert of all time!

6. Steamed Eggs

This is super simple to make: just add water and sugar into beaten eggs, then steam it!

5. Frozen Custard

Similar to ice cream but has a much smoother and richer tasting, frozen custard is made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.

4. Ovos Moles De Aveiro 

(Portuguese Egg Yolk Confection)

A local delicacy from Aveiro District, Portugal, ovos moles are made of egg yolks and sugar.

 3. Egg Biscuit Rolls

Don't be confused with the American Chinese egg roll, this dessert egg roll (蛋捲) is very crunchy and flaky and is more known in the Southern region of China.

2. Deep-fried Egg White Filled With Red Beans


Originated from Beijing, this deep-fried dessert is made with highly beaten egg whites, flour, corn starch, and bean paste (or other sweet paste).

1. Egg Shaved Ice (月見冰)

This traditional Taiwanese shaved ice has a beautiful Chinese name: "moon sees ice." It's really simple to make, just add condensed milk over shaved ice, then crack a raw egg on top!

Enjoy this dessert article? Make sure to check out our articles on matcha green desserts and shaved ice too!

Happy National Egg Day!