Sunday, July 24

The Bazaar by Jose Andres (Los Angeles, CA)

After a day in LA and finally visiting The Broad and seeing that balloon dog, my friends planned a dinner at the Bazaar inside SLS South Beach. Having dined here on recommendation and not because of Yelp reviews or my own research, I had no predilection about this place, other than that Jose Andres had won some James Beard awards. All I knew was that I was in for an experience, and that's just what I got! I've been gone from Edesian Feast for a while due to my studies, but it's not every day I get to go fancy for dinner so I thought I'd share, especially since DineLA is going on and they're one of the restaurants participating.

The parking not-so-myths are true-- street parking is pretty terrible around the area, and valet is about $16 if you're dining at The Bazaar. Strange that they charge different prices for the different venues in the hotel.

I can only say that the ambience is curious, with curated pieces of baroque inspired furniture and lighting as well as fancy but rustic benches. There's even a shop to one side... As a whole, the spacing was a little strange, but the overall ambience trendy with a little bit of romantic.

For food, we chose to go with many of the recommendations made by our waiter, including the philly cheesesteak and cotton candy foie gras. The burst of cheese in the first was delicious, but was a bit too cheesy even for a cheese lover like me. The "steak" part of the cheesesteak was an amazing, thin sliced steak that was indescribably delicious. The texture of the foie gras was surprising, both fluffy and crunchy on the inside. It was surprisingly good, even though I don't tend to like sweet in traditionally savory food.

We also ordered the mushroom wild rice, which was again a bit on the cheesy side, but still good. The sea urchin steamed buns were quite delicious and had so much flavor packed into a small bun, but it was so unfortunately small. My favorites were the Jamon croquetas and the grilled Spanish octopus, the latter which came with two sauces that were so good we didn't leave a drop! We had a couple other dishes and some showy drinks (LN2 Caipirinha and "Magic" Mojito), which were fun. While my only complaint is their choices of overly strong cheese, they've definitely put thought into creating complex flavors and mouthfeel for each dish, which is why I'd definitely be interested in trying their dessert one day!

Sorry, no photos of the food (yet), and the lighting was rather dark I don't know if I could do the food justice! But I really liked this piece of art on the wall...

Monday, February 15

Willa Jean (New Orleans, LA)

Having been on hiatus for so long, I've accumulated a huge list of restaurants that I've been meaning to talk, about I almost don't know where to begin! I decided to start in New Orleans since it's the last city I've lived in for the longest period of time. One of the many is a new addition to the John Besh family, Willa Jean.  This establishment is fairly new to the city and is less than a ten minute walk to the stadium. It's also on the same block as Blaze Pizza, boutique shops, and the newer Company Burger, so if you're looking for something more casual, there's always options.

Willa Jean, a more rustic chic looking restaurant compared to some of John Besh's other restaurants, is one light-filled restaurant. With a high ceiling, tall windows, and wooden finishing, the spacious restaurant is the perfect place to have brunch in New Orleans CBD. I frequented Willa Jean when it first opened, especially for lunch and brunch. While I couldn't complain about the presentation of their dishes, I was never impressed by any. I tried a salad with fish, which was so fishy I had to ask for chicken, which also smelled. I'm usually one to stomach any kind of seafood, and (at least that day) it was disappointing. Their brunch options were better, and so are their pastries from the bakery section. Their Milk Money Latte, at a hefty $6, is pretty delicious, and from what I remember, $1 goes to some local farmers.  Their pastry section is beautiful, and they serve Intelligentsia coffee (and it's decent), which is probably their biggest saving grace.
Service here was never great except for the one time I sat at the bar, which has always puzzled me with John Besh restaurants. More often than not, service at Besh's restaurants is terrible, even with the higher than average prices. While service isn't as important as the quality and taste of food at restaurants, it's a huge "landmine" (as Taiwanese say) when it's terrible. While the food and restaurant itself is beautifully crafted at Willa Jean, I still find it hard to vouch for the food.

Price: $$-$$$
Rating: 3/5
Tip: You know those delicious complimentary sugar dusted brownie bites from Luke? The bakery often has them for sale. Win.

Willa Jean
611 O'Keefe Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70113
#: (504) 509-7334
Willa Jean Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 25

Hello, 2016

After my very extended hiatus from blogging, I am officially back!  Well, for at least a couple of months.  I've been out sick for almost a full month, and while I've been out and about, I haven't felt 100% just yet.  The hardest part of being sick? Not being able to sing, or rather, trying to sing and having that phlegm get in my way. Ew.  I've been meaning to revisit my 2015 travels and catchups with old friends before 2016 hit, but alas, the flu consumed me!

I haven't written much in such a long time, besides my personal statement and revision of others' papers, that I feel like I need to find my voice again. A couple of writing habits (resolutions, anyone?) I have decided to change are double-spacing between sentences and using less exclamation marks. If I don't look like I'm over 25, at least I can sound like it, right?

I almost always start my new year in Taiwan, and this year was no different. I of course went to my favorite sushi place in Taichung, Motode Sushi and frequented 家料理 during my stay. I packed on a couple of pounds during my stay, something quite inevitable when in Taiwan. School brought me back to New Orleans, and with my mom, we went to try one of John Besh's fancier restaurants, Restaurant August. I also had the opportunity to try Commander's Palace, and after all, I think it did live up to its name.  The food was delicious, well presented, and the service was impeccable. I would definitely recommend it as a pricier option in New Orleans. And oh, District Coffee opened in place of Velvet Coffee, and their drinks are pretty darn good!

April brought me to Boston, where I attended an Internal Medicine conference and learned how to put in a central line and practiced my suturing.  I had fun learning, and had just as much fun exploring Boston's Little Italy (North End) and eating at Neptune Oyster. School also brought me to Atlanta, where I had supper at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails and enjoyed short rib (below) with potatoes and bacon on the side. Can't say no to that bacon!  (Heh, cue resolution)

June brought me to Australia, again, for school purposes. I found that the number of Asian restaurants and cafes in Brisbane had increased in number, and witnessed Kiss the Berry (below) go from being a pop-up to two shops! I also got to go to Ekka c/o of Yelp, where I met Jake (below). They still make the best acai bowls 'round the world. My Sydney itinerary this time was very different from that of the past, but it was a lot of fun traveling with friends. A change from my usual travels alone. My lemon tart (below) from Bourke Street Bakery was amazing, of course, and breakfast from Le Monde was also pretty delicious.
This is Jake ;D
Fast forward to finishing school, I drove to Houston with my mum and left all my belongings with family and friends who were kind enough to lend me their space. I had way too much boba for my own good, and continued that goodness into NorCal, where I stayed for another few weeks with friends.  It was so good to catch up with old friends and my sister, and my friend's family was so gracious to have me around for Christmas! We even had lunch at Bistro Jeanty in Napa Valley and stopped by Artesa Winery, where I discovered Tempranillo.
Needless to say, 2015 was a year filled with adventures, food, and most importantly, family and friends. The reason food remains the focus of my blog is not only because food brings people together, but because of my dad. It's hard watching people eat and not eating while you're hungry, but imagine physically not being able to! You realize how much of a blessing it is to be able to enjoy food when someone you love simply isn't physically capable of swallowing food. As some of you may know, my dad was left without the ability to eat after a series of unfortunate events - the sequelae from radiation treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer. Food was one of the main bonding times in our family, and my dad loved to treat people to restaurants. My dad is the reason I keep writing and reminding myself that having food, and being able to eat it, really is a daily blessing.

This year (2016) I have set out to intentionally spend more time with family and friends, and since I've graduated, I happen to have a little more time! Definitely more time compared to the last four years. Even though where I will be this year is a huge question mark, if the last four years has taught me anything, it's that life rarely happens the way you expect it to. When life gives you lemons, you can always choose to make lemonade.  The strawberry type, of course.

Sunday, June 7

The Grocery (New Orleans, LA)

What's the deal with guys and sandwiches anyway?  Well, The Grocery is one of those delis that is indeed packed with sandwich lovers.  The Grocery is located in the Garden District on Saint Charles, where the picturesque houses of New Orleans are.  Under large oak trees and sandwiched between residential houses and scattered shops, The Grocery was a former pharmacy in the 1800's.  This deli has been around for over ten years now, and well, is a placed well loved by locals.

It is bustling during lunch hours, and for good reason.  Their service is friendly, sanwiches are delicious, boasting a large variety from po-boys to paninis, a large selection of sodas, and even dessert.  Its casual, un-updated ambience with an old-time feel really has this place feeling like what New Orleans did even decades ago.  I've realized my love for corned beef, and so I got the Creole Corned Beef (9.25).  Toasted bread and delicious meat, the sandwich was exactly what I was craving - a hot sandwich with flavor and character.  I'm not sure if the creole coleslaw was just different and unexpected, but a part of me wished it was dressed with the classic toppings.  Either way, it was a delicious sandwich, and I will be back for more!

Rating: 4/5
Price: $-$$
Tip: they cater and deliver to some areas too!

The Grocery (Website)
2854 Saint Charles Ave,
New Orleans, LA 70115
#: (504) 895-9524
Click to add a blog post for The Grocery on Zomato 

Stanley (New Orleans, LA)

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Stanley is one of the most popular breakfast spots in its walking radius.  While there are many restaurants in the Quarter, Stanley is in a prime location, with open doors looking right out onto the streets.  While I haven't tried a ton of places for brunch in the Quarter, Stanley is the best that I've had thus far.

Though their food is still on the greasier side for me (but much better than a lot of NOLA restaurants), their food looks and tastes fresher than a lot places around town.  Their presentation is decent, and their menu choices are numerous!  They have classic breakfast items with a New Orleans twist, such as oysters and boudin with their eggs benedict.  I, however, had the Corned Beef Hash (for my love of corned beef), which is just that with poached eggs, and toast.  The food was surprisingly less salty than I had expected (good thing especially in NOLA), though the toast was loaded with butter... The corned beef was fresh and delicious, especially alongside those potatoes.  If those potatoes were home fries, the dish would be perfect, as they were a little soggy for my taste.  Though their portions aren't huge for the price, their taste is much better than several breakfasts in the area.  Not to mention, they also have Italian sodas and house made ice cream and sorbets!  For visitors in this area hunting for a breakfast spot, this is it!  Fill yourselves with a delicious breakfast and hop over to Jackson square for a morning stroll.

Rating: 4/5 (Great location, good food and service, but place needs some touch ups)
Price: $$-$$$

Stanley (Website)
547 Saint Ann St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 587-0093
Click to add a blog post for Stanley on Zomato

Friday, April 24

Blaze Pizza (New Orleans, LA, U.S.A.)

There's a new pizza place in town, and well, they're kind of the hottest thing right now.  Located in one of the newest buildings in downtown New Orleans, this place boasts a speedy assembly line, fresh dough made from scratch, and a blazing hot oven that fires their pizzas in just 180 seconds.  Think Chipotle, but with pizza.

The newness of this place bring a large line during lunch, and understandably so since their prices are very reasonable (7.95 for a signature), especially for its location.  Although this can be shared between two people, I have to admit to consuming the whole pizza by myself...

Blaze offers signature pizzas, but also offer the option to customize your own pizza.  They offer gluten-free dough, and their cheeses are all pasteurized.  I was torn between the BBQ Chicken and the Green Stripe, which is is a pizza with pesto drizzle over grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, chopped garlic, mozzarella, arugula, and settled for the latter.  I also chose to add garlic to mine (in picture below) from the huge variety of toppings, which made it that much better. 

Even though the line was nearly out the door, because the pizzas are thin crust, they are quick (just 180 seconds in the oven!).  Thin crust pizza is my favorite, and they do it just right without burning the crust.  Another point I noticed was that the ingredients they use look fresh (especially their cheeses), and their workplace is clean.  Unfortunately, I can't say this about the majority of restaurants in New Orleans, and I appreciate it that much more when I find a place that is casual, comfortable, and clean.  Needless to say, I will probably be returning when I'm craving pizza.  And maybe just so I can try the s'more pies. Mmm...

Price: $ (7.95/pizza+tax)
Rating: 4/5
Tip: Open hours 10:30am-11/12pm

Blaze Pizza (website)
611 O'Keefe Ave. Suite C-9
New Orleans, LA 70113
Blaze Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 19

Blue Dot Donuts (New Orleans, LA)

I recently lost my hard drive which stored basically my whole photo collection - and no, I hadn't backed it up on a second drive - so they are ALL GONE.  I was able to capture a few screen shots of photos that decided to stay un-pixelated on Lightroom, but all the "good" ones are gone.  In attempt to stop my grieving, here is my woe-is-me post while I eat my delicious donut.

I'm not the biggest donut eater in the world, possibly because I don't usually do much sweets (thankfully), and I enjoy original glazed donuts almost exclusively, but I have found myself making a stop at Blue Dot more often than I should.  What hooked me?  Their maple bacon long johns and blueberry donuts.

My favorite is the maple bacon, though it is on the sweeter side.  Let's not forget the bacon fat sitting in the glaze that oozes with every bite, but nevertheless, this is one of the items that I always get when i'm at Blue Dot.  I think it's the balance between the savory bacon and the sweet glaze that does it for me.  The blueberry donut (not the blueberry glaze)  is another of my favorites because... blueberries are delicious!  A lesser known flavor they have is wedding cake, and while it's not my pick, I have a friend who loves their wedding cake donut!

Another item they have during Mardi Gras season is the King Cake donut, which is possibly my favorite king cake out there - just cause it's a king cake AND a donut!  The texture is less dense than a king cake itself and just like a donut, with sugar sprinkles on top! Mmm...

The location of this Blue Dot is away from most other businesses and restaurants - but this does make the parking a bit easier. There is as five dollar minimum for credit card charges, which can sometimes be inconvenient, but hey, more donuts for everyone!  But apparently not enough to last till closing time since they start running out late morning!  

There is some seating indoors and out, and though this is a classic donut joint, it's a place where people sit around to enjoy a cuppa with their scrumptilicious donuts.  As for me - I am at home enjoying mine with some coffee while listening to Birdy's Fire Within.

Rating: 3.5/5
Price: $

Tip: Five dollar min on credit card; go before 11am to view their full selection (especially on weekends)

Blue Dot (Website)

4301 Canal St
New OrleansLA 70119
#: (504) 218-4866
Blue Dot Donuts on Urbanspoon