Dine n’ Dash: Pokéworks

By: Stella Sitt

Pokéworks, GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL!! In light of the recent PokemonGo fad (or is it here to stay?), I am extremely excited to write about poké – the new trend that has hit the streets of the East Coast. But…what exactly is poké? Poké, pronounced “poh-kay” is essentially a Hawaiian raw fish salad marinated in soy sauce topped with yummy goodness along with condiments.

Pokéworks, the first poké shop, opened in Midtown West – Manhattan last year, and after seeing this place on Yelp, I knew we had to check out this new phenomenon. The first time Terah and I visited, we hit the lunch time rush. We waited in a queue outside for ~45 minutes before stepping foot into the restaurant to place our order. There is minimal seating in the actual store and it gets cramped during lunch time, so arrive early (11 AM) if you plan to sit down and beat the line outside. The second time we visited, we arrived by 11:30 and only waited for ~20 minutes.

I would liken Pokéworks to the Japanese version of a Chipotle – a fast food restaurant with an assembly line. You’re prompted to choose your base (white or brown rice), protein (type of fish or chicken), mix –ins (seaweed, edamame, etc.) and a flavor (sauce). For $11.95, you can pick two proteins or, for $13.95 you can pick three.

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Terah and I both loved our poké bowls! The fish was fresh and the toppings and mix-ins were plentiful. I opted for salmon and tuna on a bed of brown rice topped with with shiso leaves, edamame, hijiki seaweed, seaweed salad, avocado, wasabi, sesame seed, spicy furikake, onion crisps, ponzu sauce and soy sauce. Terah ordered the salmon and tuna combo as well ,but spiced up her bowl with crab salad, which she raved about after. With everything mixed together, the combination was absolutely delicious, fresh,and  healthy! The variety of mix-ins and toppings available are a bonus as well.

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We give Pokéworks 4.5 stars! Pokéworks definitely lives up to the hype in our books, but we subtracted 0.5 stars because it was a bit pricy. Although we’re both not fans of the Midtown hustle and bustle, our love for poké will bring us back! For you gamers out there, let’s hope it doesn’t become a Poké stop or else there would be real madness.

Dine n’ Dash: The Mermaid Oyster Bar

This is long overdue, but I guess this is when you say “better late than never”… I’ve had a crazy couple weeks, which includes madness at work and moving my entire life from Queens to Brooklyn. Stella has been extremely patient with my lack of posting.

Two weeks ago, Stella and I went to The Mermaid Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village, NYC, and they did not disappoint.

When you first walk in, you notice a cleanliness. Everything is white and silver. There’s organization and thought put into how the ambiance is set. Though the walls are white, there’s a warmth that comes with this restaurant. Stella and I were seated immediately (honestly, we were shocked. Happy hour in this part of town at a place with such deals and delicious food can be difficult to get immediate seating) and started reading over the happy hour appetizer menu. We look up and nod in agreement that we wanted EVERYTHING.

 

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First came the east coast oysters ($1 each during happy hour). Perfectly shucked. Perfectly paired with a lemon and cocktail sauce. We sucked down 10 each with smiles on our faces.

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Within minutes, our other food arrived. Fried clam sliders ($6.50), mini mermaid fish tacos ($3.00), shrimp & avocado sliders ($7.50), and fried calamari ($7.50); I wasn’t kidding when I said we wanted it all.

We continued with the calamari. We both found that there was too much breading, but we both prefer foods that aren’t heavy on breading in general. I commented to Stella that my brother would love Mermaid’s calamari based on the way it was cooked and their delicious marinara.

Then we were off to the tacos and sliders. The food was delicious. Our notable favorite was the shrimp and avocado slider. We could’ve eaten eight of them had we not ordered the other food and knowing we had planned to order another round of oysters.

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I know what you’re thinking: these girls can throw down. You’re damn right we can. Why do you think we grab a meal at least once a week together?

The other round of oysters were perfect, even though we were ridiculously full. This time, we were able to fully appreciate them. I can admit; we were so excited during the first round of oysters that we may not have appreciated them as much as we should’ve.

Then, something amazing happened. A little chocolate mousse cup was placed in front of each of us. It was whispering sweet nothings in our ears and we couldn’t resist but enjoy every last bite. I love when restaurants provide a free dessert. It was nice and small, and honestly, I think it’s a classy thing to do. For the record, the mousse was perfect.

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When the check came, we were impressed with the overall cost considering all the different food we tried and the simple fact that we were stuffed to the brim.

Overall, we would give The Mermaid Oyster Bar 4 out of 5 stars. The food was delicious, the ambiance was great, and I didn’t even mention how friendly out waitress was. If you’re in Greenwich or downtown Manhattan, I highly recommend stopping over and getting some fresh oysters and delicious sliders. They also have a full menu and other locations!

Finally, Stella and I only found it fitting to play with Snapchat filters while walking off our meal afterwards. Here’s a taste:

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Dine n’ Dash: Up Thai

By: Stella Sitt

Yesterday Terah and I ventured up to Up Thai (get it?) for the second time together. Up Thai is located on Second Avenue between 73rd and 74th Street in the Upper East Side. And now…without further ado, let’s get down to the nomz!

Upon walking into Up Thai, you are greeted with a cement wall engraved with Thai writing on it. The interior is nicely decorated – adorned with wooden accents, greenery, and beautifully strung lanterns with an array of colors. The lanterns themselves cast shadows on the walls during the night (I’ve been here for dinner), which creates a very relaxing and wonderful ambiance. That being said, the design alone was very welcoming, and the lanterns put me in calm, relaxing mood. There was ample seating since we arrived early, and they do take reservations if you’re coming as a group.

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The lunch special (from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM on weekdays) is a great deal for Manhattan standards – for $11, you can choose a soup/salad, small appetizer, and an entrée. We arrived right when it opened – mouthwatering and hungry. Once the restaurant opened, the waiter promptly seated us with a smile. We started out with drinks. Terah ordered the usual Thai Iced Tea ($3.50), whereas, I was feeling a little more adventurous this time with a Lychee Thai Iced Tea ($4.50). Terah described the Thai Iced Tea as smooth, creamy, just the right amount of sweetness. My Lychee Thai Iced Tea came with two lychees, and no milk was added. It was very refreshing for the hot day (close to 80 degrees in the concrete jungle), although I found it a bit too sweet for my taste. Terah had a taste, and agreed, but since I haven’t seen this drink at many other Thai restaurants, it’s a must try and you’ll love it if you have a sweet tooth.  The drinks came in cute little Mason jars, which is always an added bonus for someone like me who is a sucker for cute canning jars.

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We both started with a salad with Ginger dressing, which hit the spot. Ginger dressing is one of our favorites! This was followed by the small appetizer we each ordered. Terah opted for the steamed pork dumplings and I ordered the spring roll. Terah described the pork dumplings as cooked perfectly; a good portion and she liked how compact they were. The sauce that accompanied her dumplings was the perfect amount of zest for her taste buds. The spring roll I ordered was filled with pork and vegetables, and crunchy, and fried to perfection without overdoing it.

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For the main entrees, I ordered the usual Chicken Pad See Ew. The portion was good, and the wide noodles and chicken were scrumptious. The right amount of soy sauce was used and the broccoli was cooked just right. I’ve been to Thai places where the broccoli is often undercooked and hard. I also liked how the dish was not too oily, which is a major turn off because my stomach does not deal well with excess oil. My foodie in crime, ordered a much more interesting dish – the Moo Dang (I’ve heard that Pad See Ew is Americanized Thai). Terah commented that the pork belly was perfectly crispy, the sauce was the right kind of sweet and sticky, and the Chinese sausage had a little spice to it and reminded her of pepperoni (in a good way).

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Overall, the food was extremely flavorful, and we look forward to coming back again! I would give it a 4.5 stars, based on the food, service, prices, location, the fact they accept most major credit cards, and the décor. Compared to other Thai restaurants I’ve tried (and that is many, since I love Thai food), this definitely ranks up there.

Dine n’ Dash: Totto Ramen

Once a week, my coworker/friend/co-foodie, Stella and I grab lunch in New York during an extended lunch break. We have come to realize that it is one of the things each week that keeps us going in our grueling jobs in finance and we want to share our love of food and experiences with you!

The plan: to post about our NYC food experiences. We will rotate who writes each week…and I’m up first!

Today, we went to Totto Ramen on 52nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Totto’s original location is in Hell’s Kitchen, but its popularity brought it to Midtown. The one thing I will say before talking about the food is this; you will wait at least 45 minutes if you go during the lunch or dinner rush. The place is always packed, does not take reservations, and is CASH ONLY.

The waiter sat us in back where plywood was decorated with Totto inspired graffiti and hung to decorate the walls. The lighting was calming and the aroma welcoming. We started with the Char Siu Pork Bun (two for $6), which were nothing short of perfection. The pork belly was cooked to the proper temperature and fell apart in your mouth. The hoisin sauce was thick, sticky, and smooth, was extenuated with a light swipe of mayonnaise, and piece of iceberg lettuce. That brings me to the bun, which was warm, soft, and delightful.

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The one thing with Totto is, when you go early, you get your food extremely fast. Our ramen came out before we were finished with the pork buns. At times, this can be quite a turn-off, but because we were mid-workday, it was welcome. We promptly received the check without asking which was marked with what an 18-percent tip would be; another situation that maybe off-putting to some.

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When I asked Stella how she would describe her Spicy Paitan with Pork ($12) and Poached Egg ($2), she immediately responded "creamy, rich, wavy, flavorful, hearty". I couldn’t agree more.

I ordered the Chicken Paitan with Pork ($10) and Poached Egg ($2). To piggy back on what Stella said, the broth, though without dairy, was creamy in its own right; the flavor was amazing. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the firmness was just right. The pork and chicken were hearty. I’d never seen such a beautifully poached egg. The nori was deliciously crisp and finally, the scallions and onions were fresh.

I added pepper, based on personal preference, and rather than hiding flavor, it truly enhanced it. I cannot tell you of an experience where I’ve had such delicious ramen.

Overall, I would give this place a 4.5/5 stars. How did they lose the half star? Stella and I both agreed that the poached egg wasn’t worth $2 based on the other item prices on the menu. But, if that’s our only complaint, then I would say Totto Ramen is a keeper.

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Play Something Country: Whiskey

This week’s Play Something Country comes from Jana Kramer’s 2012 self-titled album. “Whiskey” is one of those songs where you can feel the artist’s pain and why they’re jaded. Enjoy!

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Play Something Country: Little Toy Guns

This week’s Play Something Country comes from Carrie Underwood, a powerhouse of an artist. “Little Toy Guns” comes from her 2015 album, Greatest Hits: Decade #1. I think it’s crazy that she already has a greatest hits album, but then again, Carrie has had such a huge impact on the country music world, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. Not to mention, the song has a great message and tells the story of a broken home. Enjoy.

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Play Something Country: American Kids

This week’s Play Something Country, “American Kids” comes from Kenny Chesney’s 2014 album The Big Revival. I think anyone who grew up in a small town can relate to this. Listen to the lyrics; I’m sure there is something for anyone with this song. Enjoy!

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Play Something Country: Rewind

This week’s Play Something Country, “Rewind” comes from Rascal Flatts’ 2014 album of the same name. I think everyone has had a night that they’d like to relive over and over, and this song portrays that in a great way. Enjoy!

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Play Something Country: Play It Again

This week’s Play Something Country comes from Luke Bryan. “Play It Again” is from his 2014 album Crash My Party. Luke Bryan is extremely talented and I think this is one of the songs where you can hear his musical range. Side note, my brother, like me, has been to a lot of concerts, and he stands by his claim that Luke Bryan is the best performer he’s seen live. I have not had the pleasure, but he’s on my list for next year. Apparently, a Luke Bryan concert is one big party, which sounds great to me! Enjoy this song! I know you’ll want to play it again…

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Play Something Country: Loving You Easy

As you all know, I am a huge Zac Brown Band fan, so when they came out with this track, I was extremely drawn to the beat and retro sound. “Loving You Easy” comes from the 2015 album JEKYLL + HYDE, an album I’ve been enjoying because of the new-country sound. This is the song that has been blaring from the speakers of my car with my windows down while driving to the beach or joy riding. It’s so relaxing, so upbeat, and so amazing. Enjoy!

Like what you see? Make sure you follow unfamiliarTERAHtory; and check Terah out on Twitter and Instagram.