In 2020, I did not actively follow the local and  international dining scene, as I had plenty of non-foodie  projects that kept me busy and away  from the dining world.

But as it is customary at the beginning of every new year, I am sharing with you the previous year’s  Top 7  Most Viewed posts according to your hits:

In 2020, the review of Oiji in NYC  was the most popular among you (read by 17.2% of  all of you ). Oiji came on the restaurant scene with a bang and quickly turned into  a hot topic of the food scene in NYC  in the recent years, with some so-called food journalists going  as far as rating Oiji with the same score  they did assign to 3 star Michelin  Per Se…which, as you may have guessed, is …. a bit of a stretch.  Well, to be polite, let’s just say that it did not pan out the flattering way the hype tried to portray it , Lol. As someone who pays his food with his hard earned money, I go to restaurants hoping for the best, obviously. Sadly, my meal  at Oiji did not live up to its billing, and my gut feeling is that this was not an isolated occurence. Given how hyped-up Oiji is on the web, I am not too surprised to see that many, among you, were interested to read about my experience there.

At 2nd  position, the review of Quality Meats in NYC, read by 15.71 % of all of you, and that served as a  reminder  that steakhouses never stop to be popular among food lovers. Year after year, based on your hits, my reviews on steakhouses have been very popular, and QM’s review was no exception. QM was Ok enough, but if  you order their rib eye steak,  then I hope that yours will  be better than the one I had. If  that lacklustre steak was not an isolated situation, then QM really needs to step up their game as we are in NYC,  a city where steak lovers are blessed with plenty of   world class steakhouses, therefore a day off, at a steakhouse,  is not an option in such condition . Furthermore, read the “bottom line” section of that review …..

At  3rd  position, the review of  Torishin – New York City ( 13.48 %  of you all); In its first year, you were not  interested in  this review. But for the 2nd year in a row, it has been a very popular post based on your hits.  Here, I don’t have a great deal to add to what has already been submitted in that review. It was just one of those rare epic dining disappointments  in my long journey as a foodie. Fortunately, this is not representative of the world class dining destination  that  NYC happens to be, but the  exception that proves the rule.

At 4th position, the review of  Docks Oyster House  in Atlantic City (13.21 % of you all). Millions of people flock to Atlantic City every year for its idyllic setting and  iconic boardwalk.  Charming Atlantic City continues to be the lovely resort destination all of us have grown to know and love, albeit not as bustling as it once was. The Missus and myself decided to pay a visit to  Docks Oyster House, one of its most popular restaurants. It turned out to be, for both the Missus and myself,  another one of the few disappointments that we have encountered in our   recent dining years. As the meal progressed, we both felt despondent on the back of what we were eating, at the exception of the gargantuan lobster (the saving grace of our meal). Too bad,  as the service was superb and the lovely sparsely decorated interior did seduce both of us.

At 5th position, the review of  Mizutani in Tokyo, which can be found here. That was read by 11.45% of all of you. Bruce Lee once said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times“. I could not agree more. REAL Legendary Sushi Masters like Mizutani-San have spent their entire life repeating and perfecting obsessively the same gesture  in a way that is unimaginable by most Western standards. That, ultimately and expectedly, led to some of the most technically accomplished pieces of sushi you would have sampled. Eventhough this shop has closed since a long time, I can see how nostalgia brought you here: Mizutani-San was a giant, indeed. Therefore, it is not hard to understand how the memories of his dazzling craft can transcend time. Especially in a world where making money is far more important than  bothering about the quality of  the supply…

At  6th position,  Kelsey & Kim’s southern cafe, Atlantic City, NJ (read by  10.53 % of you all). K&K SC was a treat, a genuinely delicious treat. At that time, I was a bit upset: I was with the Missus in Atlantic City, as part of a romantic gateway at the Caesars Palace. And when I realized that K&K SC was away from our “romantic nest” (not that far though…perhaps approx 15 mins by car), I kept insisting that we skip K&K SC, especially since there are some fine restaurants inside the hotel (as well as just, nearby ….) -. But she kept insisting that we pay a visit to K&K SC.  In the end, she won, Lol, but  OMG… she was right: K&K SC was no joke, the food was delicious, service was perfect. Nowadays, I am so far away from this gem of a restaurant and do truly miss it, but I heard that they did so well to the point of opening a new venture right where the action happens to be in AC, meaning where you have the city Boardwalk. Good for you, K&K SC. You certainly deserved it. K&K SC, I do not know when I will cross your path again,  but I am looking forward to it, my love!

At  7th position, according to your hits on the current blog, it was the turn of 3 star Michelin Le Calandre in Sameola di Rubano (that post was read by 9.25 % of all of you in 2020). It is the first time that this post features in the top 7 of the posts that you have perused the most. I was not floored by their savory recipes when I ate there, but their desserts  were top class, the risotto will be remembered for a long time  and the overall experience at Le Calandre was highly enjoyable. To top it off, Sameola di Rubano is located not far from  Venice. 40 kms of Venice and 7kms away from the very pretty historical city of  Padua. What’s not to like?

-I was not actively reviewing  food  in 2020, but I ate at some few places and I am seizing the opportunity of this current post to share some of these experiences with you.


I finally tried the  popular Beba which is advertised as cooking Spanish, Italian and South American food (which are, essentially, the logical influences in Argentinian cooking, Argentina being the country that is inspiring the kitchen at Beba). I liked Beba: the food was delicious in a  hearty way , the ambience superb.

Vinette (Addr: 2497 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, Quebec H3J 1N6) is a new venture opened by the folks at Joe Beef, with a focus on seafood  items. Born in the Indian ocean,  I was blessed with some of this globe’s finest seafood, and decades later, miles away from that same ocean, that soft spot for seafood had  not faded. Therefore, Vinette was a place that did boot with the advantage of focusing on what I love the most. Vinette was a pleasant casual seafood spot, with , essentially,  basic but fine  seafood offerings.

Restaurant Alma  — (1231 Avenue Lajoie, Outremont, QC H2V 1P2, Phone: (514) 543-1363 —  cooked, during my visit there, some of the best   Spanish /Mediterranean inspired food that I ever had in a long while in Montreal.


Danny Meyer is one  of the most prolific and important restaurateurs  in NYC. I went to pay a visit to one of his most recent openings, Vini e Fritti. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, with virtually everything that kept coming from the kitchen standing as good  as it gets in NYC. I would have no problem inserting this place in my go-to list of eateries in NYC. Vini e Fritti, Addr: 30 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016, United States Phone: +1 646-747-8626

Kopitiam is marketed as cooking Nyonya cuisine – This was a lovely experience, the cooking remaining as genuine as it gets oceans away from  its place of origin. Kopitiam gained a lot of traction among food lovers in NYC, and I could see why. Kopitiam – Addr: 151 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002, United States Phone: +1 646-609-3785

Equally enjoyable was my time at Noreetuh, a restaurant that is inspired by what is made in Hawai. As argued elsewhere on this blog, it is utterly foolish to expect food to feel and taste exactly as how it feels and tastes   in its birth place, obviously, but Noreetuh is delivering some of the most thoughtful and delicious  Hawaian-inspired food in NYC. Noreetuh – Addr: 128 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10009, United States Phone: +1 646-892-3050

One of the most recent hyped-up eateries in NYC  is Pizzeria Scarr’s. Loved the retro feel of the place. However, the pizza I had there (took a Sicilian slice) was just Ok. When I went there, the line up was way too long for the sort of pizza that I was having. Again, not bad. Just not worth  my time queueing up.  I mean, there are plenty of places in NYC with better pizza and   where you do not have to wait, in line,  for …that long. Scarr’s Pizza – Addr: 22 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States Phone: +1 212-334-3481

In Brooklyn (East Williamsburg), Win son  (Contemporary Taiwanese-american restaurant)  cooked some inspired  food. As ever, remember to always go to  a restaurant with the right expectation: if you need Mom and Pop’s Taiwanese food, go to Taiwan for that. The team at Win Son certainly knows their Taiwanese traditional flavours, there is no doubt about that. But they have clearly advertised their restaurant as being Taiwanese-american and unless you do not understand the basics of the science of food…you cannot get the full traditional taste of Taiwan … oceans and continents away from ..Taiwan, …obviously! At the end of the day, Win son was a great discovery.  I hope they keep those standards as high as I found them during my visit. Win Son – Addr: 159 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206, United States. Phone: +1 347-457-6010

Lechonera La Piraña – You may look at the upper-left corner of the current blog and see names of  dining destinations such as 3 star Michelin L’Ambroisie, Pierre Gagnaire, Le Louis XV, L’Arpège and …think that I am a food snob, Lol. Not at all. I just visit those high end restaurants in search of new culinary inspirations. Inspirations that do also come from simple street fares, too, btw. My roots are humble and I am very proud of them. Consequently, the food I like the most is the simple but delicious food of my childhood: straightforward pieces of meat and seafood grilled on wood fire. I prefer a simple wood-fired piece of meat, festive in mouth, to the best food items at any of this globe’s best dining destinations.  Lechonera La Piraña gets me as close to my childhood’s memories as it is possible to experience in New York. It is a tiny roadside trailer delivering simple but delicious Puerto Rican homestyle fares such as the mashed plantains (mofongo), which I love. On one visit, their lechon (roast suckling pig) was exquisitely seasoned, chopped fresh, and served with rice and plantain. On another visit, I did enjoy some freshly made chicken pastelitos (think ‘empanada’ made with  a light pastry dough), a delicious rice with pigeon peas dish (arroz con gandules), . Soul satisfaction, indeed. Here’s a lovely video (compatible with FIREFOX…ie11 and edge seem to be too precious for any normal web link that is legit on the web, since I was not able to access this link from drama queens ie11 and edge…what a bummer…) on this laid back purveyor. Lechonera La Piraña  – When? On saturday and sunday afternoon. Where? on 152nd Street (corner of Wales), Mott Haven, South Bronx, New York.

I also tried Crown Shy in the Financial district with, at their helm, a Chef who used to work at 3 star Michelin Eleven Madison Park and his beautiful skills shone through the technically apt cooking I was enjoying during that visit. I dropped by  for their fabled citrusy, spicy grilled chicken and it certainly deserved a serious mention among the  best dishes I had in 2020. Their charred octopus was another good dish, too. Right now, Crown Shy is one of the well-regarded restaurants of NYC, and, so far, that is justified. Crown Shy – 70 Pine St, New York, NY 10005, United States; Phone: +1 212-517-1932

Here is my top 5 of the best food items I ate in 2020:  (1)The citrusy, spicy grilled chicken at Crown Shy, a position that it shared with the  braised pork  at Win  son.   (2)The lechon (roast suckling pig) at Lechonera La Piraña-   (3) The delicious and well made crab fried rice at Uncle Boons. Sadly, UB closed in Aug 2020 – (4) The monkfish liver torchon at Noreetuh, which shares this position with the Nasi lemak at Kopitiam (5) The pork ribs Calabrian chili honey at Vini E Fritti. –

All those eateries were visited, in 2020, in the small time frame when they were still open  to the public (before the Covid-19 virus forced the restaurant scene in both NYC and MTL to shutdown).

At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unusual  number of people have visited my anonymous blog. Although I appreciate that you took the time to drop by,  kindly remember that food assessment is utterly subjective. No one can help you to find  the perfect dining experience that will reach out to your expectations.

As always, I wish you all a new year of superb food! And do not forget: oftently, a big part of extracting the most out of the pleasure of dining out is to accept things the way they are, and NOT  the way you want them to be!

From where I come (a small fishermen village of the Indian Ocean), the idea of canning seafood would pass as a joke. But oceans and continents away from there, the Spaniards had a different outlook on canned seafood: they turned it into a highly marketable concept. I was curious to see how that would fare.

Recently, I wanted to make some tapas at home and decided to purchase some conservas (canned food) as you came to expect from some of their tapas in Spain.

I did purchase tins of  cockles  and  barnacles canned by Los Peperetes (Municipality of Vilagarcía de Arousa in the Province of Pontevedra, Galicia. Spain). My views on both products:

Canned (Conservas) Goose Neck Barnacles, preserved in brine. Species: Pollicipes from Spain. If, like me, you grew up with fresh seafood all around you, you will be realistic about canned seafood in a way that you will not expect them to be as dazzling as any freshly caught seafood, obviously. Eventhough there will always be a difference between freshly caught seafood that you eat just minutes after the catch vs canned seafood that was freshly caught, then canned as soon as it is possible to be, I found that these barnacles retained as much of a fresh scent and taste of the sea (lovely fresh crustacean scent, I shall concede – barnacles have a taste that is almost identical to crab or lobster) as canned barnacles could deliver.
It remains a luxury, though, because the  barnacles are marketed, by the Spaniards, as caught in difficult conditions. Consequently,  it is pricey and the quantity meager (120g of barnacles is quickly engulfed).

Cockles in brine. I was not lucky with this one, as the canned cockles  I purchased had a bitter upfront taste – which  was hardly going to please someone like me who grew up with the spectacular fresh seafood of the Indian Ocean at his door and who always felt apprehensive about the process of canning seafood. I looked at the expiry date on the can and it showed 12 SEPT 25. Canned on 12 SEPT 20. And I was consuming it in NOV 2020, just few months after it was canned. Therefore, it had couple of years to go before it expires. So, this was just bad luck, I presume, as, based on my experience with the above mentioned barnacles, Los Peperetes is certainly capable of some fine tinned products. Aside from my bad luck, you could see that the seafood was caught freshly and canned as soon as they could,  just by looking at the perfecly well preserved texture of both the cockles and the barnacles (which is, indeed, the best way to can seafood).

Bottom line: I will never be a fan of canned seafood, that is for sure, Lol. Even when I was in Spain enjoying their spectacular tapas (Tapas in Spain are divine, indeed, as I have already submitted here), I remember that the tapas made of  canned seafood were, in general, not my cup of tea. That said,  I have nothing bad to say about such fine products neither (the canned seafood reviewed in this post were  not heavily salted, which is a good thing, and the maritime fragrance was as present as it is possible for a  product preserved in brine).



Eventhough this blog  has a strong focus on food — obviously..LOL..  — it remains a personal blog where I take the liberty, here and there, to share with you some  non food-related content as well.

Here, I would like to praise two of Africa’s most exciting voices: Winnie Nwagi, the African “Tina Turner” and Mandela Mubark Adams (aka FreeBoy), blessed with a voice that,  at  times, especially on the featuring song, will remind many melomaniacs of the illustrious Jamaican reggae musician “Shaggy“. The energy to be found in their duet ” Kwatu Essimu  ”  is epic, fun  and emotional. Their voices so powerful and enchanting.

Thanks Mama Africa for your endless list of incredible musicians (Sona Jobarteh, Manu Dibango, Mori Kante, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Myriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela , Fela Kuti  and so many other legendary music artists ) !

Et il n’y a pas que ta belle musique qui émerveille, Mère Afrique! T’inquiètes…on en reparlera…in this life or in the next ..comme diraient nos compères Anglos. À suivre…!  I shall never forget  you Mama!!!! Never!!!!

Pursuing this short post, with the amazing voice of one of my ATF music artists, an advocate of …what made   YOUR ..and MY.. EXISTENCE.. POSSIBLE …   (I will let you THINK about that one, IF  YOUR EXISTENCE…GENUINELY.. MATTERS TO YOU……….I mean, LOL………..), Sona Jobarteh:




Cannot stop. Non-stop. And I will not stop. So let’s continue to dance and have fun with the following exquisite rhythms:

This amazing song from Shan’L (Gabon) makes most of my days  (she sings it in French, my mother tongue) :

Zuchu is a young lady from Tanzania, easy on the eyes, but her music (in Swahili)  goes beyond that visual evidence:

It is about the beat, the rhythm, the joy that music is supposed to bring to you. It’s supposed to make you dance, NOT…make you think. If you feel stuck with stupid things such as ………. “I am expecting the lyrics to be intellectual”, it is not music that you should look for. You need to look elsewhere. Music’s intent is to make you dance and have fun. So if you cannot dig that, go elsewhere! Do not get me wrong: I am a fan of Peter Tosh, Annie Lennox, Miriam Makeba, Dexter Holland, Fela Kuti, Alexander Blake Schwarzenbach, Bob Marley, Tom Scholz, Sona Jabarteh and a plethora of singers who are all intellectual and at the game of the “oh..i prefer the ….intellectual artist”, I can …………hold my own, obviously, Lol………..BUT….at the end of the round, know what you want: it is music…therefore, it is ..entertainment……………………you want to listen to music, then it is entertainment that you should be looking for. You need to play the “intellectual ….”, great, then let us play elsewhere (being intelligent is first and foremost about…….. getting your shit together……….).

Singuila is a bit like what Bobby Brown used to be in his heydays, and I can’t blame him for that, Lol – In this song, Singuila pays tribute to an ex-girlfriend and that echoes with me, as — whatever happened, I have and will always have the highest respect for my ex-girlfriends. Why? Because at some point in their life, I had their attention and I will always be respectful of that  — :


Ending this post with an eye-candy video of the  colourful beauty of Africa, featuring two equally beautiful voices, Yemi Alade and Angelique Kidjo:


As submitted elsewhere on this blog, I love Japan: their superlative ingredients, dazzling food, world-class traditional arts, architecture, technology, breathtaking sceneries (from the gorgeous mountainous Hokkaido to the eye candy white sandy beaches of Okinawa),  world heritage sites, their manga, amazing history,  etc. Do not get me wrong: I am not “blindly” enamored of every single thing that is Japanese… as an example, I never managed to be as impressed by their WAGYU beef as most seem to have raved about. I am still puzzled by how credit cards are not accepted outside of their major cities. Hey, we are talking about a top 5 industrial superpower in the world, here! Lol. But at the end of the count, Japan ROCKS! And that is all we need to know.

It is one of those rare countries in the world that  I love to visit and would not mind visiting again. They say you know what destination counts for you when that place is worthy of your hard-earned money. Japan is that ONE place, for me…

Given that the Covid-19 situation does not allow me to visit Japan, I had to find a way to keep in touch with Japan. Since I am a foodie, it was logical for me to connect with all things related to Japanese food. Obviously, you cannot order fresh food from Japan (of course, I wish I could get the finest  Donburi, ramen or sushi of Japan right now, as I am writing this post … haha ), therefore purchasing the snacks of  Japan was the sole solution. In that regard, I was looking for snacks that were not just about popular items (popular candies, chocolate bars, etc), but snacks that could be, mostly, as “traditionally” Japanese as it is possible.

There are many companies selling Japanese snacks online (Japan crate, Sakuraco (related to Tokyo Treat), Bokksu, Snakku, etc). I purchased snacks from the different companies I just mentioned and will review them all later on.

My main concern was traceability. We are not anymore in the days of my Grandma when you knew exactly from where the poultry or the seafood you were eating was coming from. Nowadays, any Joe Bloe can be at X location … claiming that he is shipping his goods from whatever Y, Z location he wants to brag about. So, I did not want my supposedly “traditional Japanese” snack to come from anywhere else than Japan. I had no interest in that, Lol. Consequently, I did all of the necessary due diligence to ensure that was not going to be an issue.

My other problem had to do with the unavoidable business tactics of those companies. As with any business, they need to sell. Therefore, they find all ways to get you to buy multiple months subscriptions..which I hate (hey! I just want to buy 1 box..that is it! DO not bother me with saving money on 2,3 or whatever number of months of subscriptions…) –

Current review will be about Bokksu’s snack box (the items will be reviewed in no particular order). How did Bokksu’s snack box fare? I went to find out:

As their snack boxes follow the seasons, and that we are at the end of March, I did purchase the Sakura (Cherry blossom) box, as cherry blossom in Japan usually bloom between mid-March and early May (actually, it starts as early as January in the South of Japan, and ends around early April in some parts of Japan, early May in others). Inside of this box, there was the mention of the word Hanami, which means ” looking at flowers”. Hanami is the Japanese tradition of celebrating the flowering of cherry blossoms.


-Edamame Senbei cracker. Edamame is boiled or steamed green soybean in the pod. Senbei are a  type of  Japanese rice cracker. The bits of edamame were baked in the cracker. The flavour of the edamame is subtle because the edamame itself has a natural mild flavour that can vaguely remind you of peas. The edamame’s natural sweet and nutty tones brought to the fore. This cracker is sprinkled with roasted soybean powder. The quality of this item is high, for a packaged snack (superb crunchy texture, enticing fresh flavours, prime ingredients). Excellent.


-Uni rice cracker, from Osaka. Uni is Sea urchin. The “Son of the sea” that I am (born and raised with the Indian ocean at his door) happens to be a long-time lover of seafood, therefore of  Sea urchin as well. Online, I saw reviews of this sea urchin rice cracker that did mention a fishy smell. Mine had no fishy smell at all, but a bit of the sweetness expected from the taste of fresh sea urchin. If you have tasted fresh sea urchin, you will understand that it is almost impossible to reproduce that exact fresh ocean fragrance in a snack. Well, in theory, perhaps, Lol…but not in practice. Anyways, any attempt at replicating the flavour of seafood in a snack has always been approximate and there is a reason for that : you CANNOT replicate seafood flavour in a snack!!. As expected, this snack could not fully reproduce it, but it got me as close to fresh sea urchin as it is possible to get from a  cracker  (the fresh creamy tone of sea urchin was there). And..exactly as advertised on its package, it was  “savory and salty without being overly fishy”. The presence of the salt well-judged, IMHO. No strong flavours.  Excellent.


-Funwari Meijin Mochi Puffs Kinako – The puffy texture well achieved (as airy as it gets, for a snack). Japanese offer mochi in various textures and this is one example of that. Here, it is transformed into a puffed snack. This was packed with a lovely lingering sweetness. The puffs covered with a dusting of roasted soybean powder, which led to a blend of appetizing nutty and sweet fresh tones on the palate (what’s not to like?). Excellent.


-Dondon Yaki. A Japanese rice cracker fried and marinated in tonkatsu sauce. Tonkatsu sauce has a sweet and tangy flavour, and that was expressed in this rice cracker. It tasted exactly as advertised: tangy, peppery, and a little sweet. Very Good.


-Black sesame Taiko Kumamon Design – Roasted almonds and sesame seeds mixed with sugar syrup (more accurately Mizuame) . According to its description (with the snack box, you get a booklet with information on every single snack), it is handmade in Kumamoto the hometown of Kumamon, the mascot. Even though  North Americans are familiar with a similar flavour profile (of the snack, not the mascot) — in the same category as your typical sesame seed candy – ,  it remains a tasty and familiar treat that rarely fails to please in and outside of Japan. Good.


-Suppa Mucho Plum Potato sticks.  Essentially Sour plum flavoured-potato sticks. Strong focus on blending various notes of flavours: perilla leaves, pickled plum, potatoes. Unusual, for us, this side of the world (North America), ONLY because of the addition of the flavour of the plum (the sourness of the pickled plum is there), obviously…. so it adds some interesting twist to the potato sticks we are used to. Koikeya, the company that makes those chips, does actually sell chips to America, but it was thoughtful of Bokksu to ensure that the chips made for their Sakura snack box are not available in North America at this moment. Good.


-Puku Puku Tai chocolate. Essentially a chocolate wafer shaped like a fish (a lucky shape by Japanese traditions). If you have been in Japan (which is my case), you may have sampled a popular fish-shaped cake called Taiyaki and may expect this snack to get as close to that as it is possible, but this is not the Taiyaki. Just a satisfying wafer that is as … satisfying as any …. satisfying chocolate wafer of its kind. Good.


-Hokkaido Red Bean doughnuts. Donuts rarely travel well. They just can’t as they will, naturally, lose their fresh taste, and the texture is often …naturally… a bit altered (rarely for the better). With that in mind, these donuts were still in ..relatively …good condition (for a donut that had to travel), the taste of the red bean (azuki beans from Hokkaido) as well as the one of the dough having a mild sweetness. Tasty for sure, but … just condemned to suffer from the inevitable and unfair comparison to its “cooked to order” examples that you will find in Japan. If this is your first time sampling Japanese Red Bean doughnuts, do not think that you have all it takes to assess it. Try its “cooked to order” (that you eat as soon as they have cooked it)  versions in Japan,  first. Then you can do the talk. This snack was genuine, no doubt at all about that, but it came with the inevitable limitations mentioned above. Ok.


-Aomori Apple Caramel Yakkoi Sable. North Americans will be in familiar territory, here, as this tastes exactly like your standard apple flavoured soft cookies. The texture is soft and chewy, because of the addition of sweet apple-caramel butter. Nothing to write home about, here, but certainly as satisfying as most apple flavoured soft cookies happen to be. According to the accompanying booklet, Aomori is the region that produces the big majority of the apples of Japan. Ok.


-Matcha Chocolate Stick cake (by Nakajima Taishodo in Osaka) has the potential to be a crowd-pleaser in North America, the subtle matcha flavour (using high-quality matcha from the city of Uji ) responding well to the chocolate chips in an exciting way (superlative bitter-sweet richness, the sweetness delicate, the natural bitterness of the matcha is not strong at all and it is of the enjoyable sort). It could have been just another common fine soft cake, tasty as we came to expect from most sponge cakes, but in this particular example, matcha and chocolate is a harmonious match made in heaven. I can’t begin to imagine how spectacular this cake can be when you get to try it when it is cooked to order. Excellent.


-Handmade Yuzu Sake Candy. It is made of Yuzu juice and peel, as well as Sake.   The sweet and citrusy tones particularly addictive. Loved the natural sweetness coming from that candy (a world away from the artificial sugary taste of some of the lesser candies). What’s impressive with this candy is the sheer quality of the ingredients that are used. According to Bokksu’s booklet, the candy is hand-crafted by the artisans at Daimonji Ame Honpo, a 100-year-old candy maker in Kyoto. To stay in business that long, they certainly have been doing the right things. All I can say, regarding these candies, is this:  in a fairytale made of candies, this candy would be the main character. It was that spectacular (and YES, like most people, I had my share of dazzling candies, Lol).


-Organic Sencha Green Tea from Kagoshima Prefecture. This tea featured grains of roasted brown rice (when green tea is mixed with roasted popped brown rice, it is called Genmaicha). Clearly, some bags of tea (received 2 bags) that did not sit on the shelves for a long time, which is what you are looking for: the green tea and its toasty brown popped rice grains packing a fresh scent of what they are. Sencha tea (which they grow under sunlight, the 1st harvest being the quality Sencha, the leaves that are not oxidized during the steaming process will be green tea, as opposed to black tea or oolong tea)  is the most popular tea in Japan and the one that is the most exported from that country. Kagoshima Prefecture is famous for its tea.  Kagoshima Seicha (the company that does make this tea) has been making tea for more than 130 years. This tasting was a superb example of green tea that was cultivated with the expertise of experienced tea makers.


-Mocchan Dango  Mochi. Mochi, for those who do not know, is a Japanese rice cake made by pounding steamed glutinous short-grain japonica rice. As per Bokksu’s booklet “Hanami dango is a variety of sticky rice dumplings commonly enjoyed during the spring hanami (flower viewing) season”. Think mini mochis. They were covered in sugar. As chewy and smooth and elastic as it is supposed to be. It is hard to get a bad Mochi from Japan, and this was no exception to that rule. Good.


-White Strawberry  –  In the booklet that came with this snack box, they described this item as “World’s first chocolate-infused strawberry. Fresh strawberries are harvested locally, freeze-dried, and infused with white chocolate, and cooled, for chocolate with all the flavor of fresh strawberry”. On their website, they added … “resulting in the perfect balance of smooth yet crunchy texture.”
Not too sure how this snack does fare when they make it to order (i.e., they make it and serve it to you right away), but when it landed at my place, oceans, and continents away from Japan, it failed to win my heart: first, the “chalky” texture (not the taste. The taste is not chalky. I will get to my impression of the taste in the next sentences), which I am not a fan. Is it as “chalky” (in texture, I meant) when they make it and serve it to you immediately? I do not know and I cannot talk for what I do not know. And to be fair, that is not a fault, just a matter of personal taste (some people love that texture). But then, as far as I am concerned, there was no distinct taste of white chocolate. No distinct taste of strawberry, which was disappointing as I am a huge fan of both white chocolate and strawberries. Taste is subjective, of course, but this was (for me) the weakest item of this tasting.


-20th Century Pear Langue de Chat ( Pear Fromage Biscuit). The flavour of this particular pear from Tottori Prefecture —  known as  “20th-century Asian pear” in English,  “nijiseiki-nashi” in Japanese —   making the best qualities of the equally highly satisfying rich cheese and white chocolate flavours all the more noticeable. At a glance, it looked like yet another standard biscuit. But in the mouth,  it tasted unusually great for a biscuit of its kind. Again, half of the battle here is about the sheer quality of the ingredients that are used (the 20th-century Asian pear really one of a kind, the white chocolate, butter, and the cheese excellent). One of the highlights of this snack box.


-Seaweed Tempura Setouchi Sudachi Citrus Flavor. Seaweed sheets battered and fried, flavoured with sudachi citrus. Sudachi citrus comes from the region of the Seto Inland Sea. Tangy as expected and as advertised. The “tempura” texture in question is exactly as you came to expect from a packaged snack (it is more like a chip,  and not the sort of “tempura” that the tempura Masters  of  Japan are known for, haha). I was not floored, but this was “interesting” – I mean it, as somehow, I can definitely see it growing on me (because I generally love seaweed, I love chips, I love all sorts of citrusy flavours, so one day, this item will probably end up being as good as the “sum of its parts” –I am thinking with my head and not with my heart, here  — if that can make sense to you) …- Ok, for now.


Bottom line: The market for snack boxes is very popular right now. As with any snack box offering, be familiar with their cancellation policy,   how-to / when to deactivate your subscription (Bokksu’s  FAQ has all the details you need about that ). Make sure you do not end up purchasing a 3 months subscription if all you need is just one snack box (email them if that is not clear).  What appealed to me is that you cannot find those snacks at your mall or at any corner store (at least, not now) in North America (which is where I did order the snack box from). When all things are said and done, what needs to be underlined is this: Yes,  packaged snacks come with the inevitable limitations that we all know  (some snacks do not “travel well”, most cannot compete with “baked to order” food items that you can sample minutes after they were made, etc), and I think that, with regard to this specific box, Bokksu should have better exploited the theme of the cherry blossom other than the looks of the box, the mention of “hanami” inside that same box,  and some sparse references to it (perhaps, some tea with real cherry blossom …?? some snacks with real cherry blossom, etc…  ), but the quality of their snacks cannot be denied. I am usually not big on packaged snacks, shall I concede, and I certainly know better ways to spend that money (the cost of this snack box starts at US$39.95/mo ..and that is if you opt for Multi-Month subscriptions …). In spite of that,  if I have to buy some snacks online, again, then  I will happily put my hard-earned money on theirs.

Best Restaurants of 2019
IN MONTREAL, Pamika continues to be a genuine little gem I wish I could keep for myself but they already have
hordes of fans flocking there, which sucks as the place is small and that diminishes my chances to grab a seat, under their roof, on a weekend.

Ichigo ichie remains the best Isakaya in Montreal, and they have, next to their door, one of the better ramenyas in town, Yokato Yokabai  (there are plenty of ramenyas in Montreal, true, but rarely of this quality) – both Ichigo Ichie and Yokato Yokabai are owned by the same people.

In 2019, one food item  I particularly liked in Montreal was the fried chicken at  Roch le Coq. I hope Roch Le Coq maintains the  standard of their fried chicken as high as it has been on my last visit there (October 2019).

Also tried: There were some few new openings in Montreal, of which  I found  Le Boulevardier , Provisions Bar à Vin and Le Flamant  quite enjoyable (by our local dining standards).

Last but not least, I found the sunday brunch at the Queen Elizabeth’s hotel (my review here), to be one great value brunch.

IN NEW YORK, Red Hook Tavern is a remarkable bistrot deserving of its popularity.

Gallagher’s Steakhouse offered the best rib eye I ever had in New York city, World’s capital of the North American steak,  which makes it even more remarkable.

I also retried Peter Luger in 2019 and they still have one of the best North American porterhouse steaks money can buy.

Roberta’s Pizza is widely known to have some  of the best pizza in the USA, and all I can say is that it is  not hard to believe that  hype.

The Burger at Emily is a tasty treat not to be missed while you are in NYC and Sorbillo NYC turned out to be my preferred Neapolitan pizza in the Big Apple.

Other  restaurants that I tried in NYC in 2019:  the new restaurant of Chef Alfred Portale (the Chef who turned Gotham Bar & Grill into a legendary dining destination) , called Portale in Chelsea (that was a hit), the highly anticipated Llama San in Greenwich Village (which did not impress me as much as it did for most New York critics, presumably because I was already familiar with superior renditions of what they are doing, and not all ingredient combinations worked for me, but all in all it was enjoyable and  surprisingly “different enough for NYC” to deserve  its  current hype), Kochi (reviewed here – the Chef used to work at 3 star Michelin Per Se before. They were in their initial weeks, when I went there, so give them some time to blossom, as, for now, some food items were superb, indeed, but others were too ordinary and stood as reminders that a bit of fine-tuning would be necessary, which is normal as it is a very young venture). Last, but not least, I did also visit Jeju Noodle bar — my critic here — from another Korean Chef who used to work at Per Se. Jeju takes the instant noodle that we all know, they use a home made version of that as opposed to the commercial version that we all know, and elevates it as a  gourmet dish. And it is doing it extremely well. Some may frown (as in …why am I being served an elevated version of instant noodles?), but doing business is not about emotions (well, buddy, there are elevated versions of burgers and SPAM canned cooked pork, there are elevated versions of  pizza, etc. So why not instant noodles?? ) but about what works, and Jeju gambled and won (it is a very popular restaurant). Jeju has, of course, other offerings aside from their high-end noodles.

Best dishes, food items of 2019
The sea eel nigiri (as well as the cooked items) at Sushi Amane, NYC
The rib eye steak at Gallagher’s Steakhouse, NYC

Biggest dining disappointments of  2019
-Oiji has been a revelation to plenty of food critics in NYC, but their enthusiasm did not square with what I did experience at this restaurant. My meal at Oiji was a disappointment as argued here.
-Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger enjoys an enviable reputation but  I am afraid I have got to question that.
-Quality Meats works hard to position its steak as one of NYC’s best, but my rib eye steak did not live up to its billing.
-Fuku’s Vada Pav was one of the most hyped-up food items in 2019 in NYC, but an epic failure when I went to try it.

To wrap up  this blog’s past year highlights, I will share with you the top 10   reviews that you have perused the most all along the year of 2019: The review on Peter Luger was the most popular among you (read by 15% of  all of you ), the closest second was the one on Docks Oyster House – Atlantic City (10.58% of you all),  then   L’Arpege – Paris (read by 10.44% of  you all),  Dons de La Nature – Tokyo (10.28% of you all),  Torishin – New York City (9.56%  of you all),  Restaurant Damas – Montreal (8.29 % ), Ishikawa – Tokyo (8.23 %  ), Hong Fan Tian – Montreal (7.4 % ) ,  the review of  Le Dôme Café – Paris (5.7% ), the one on Nice (5.28 % ) and the rest is scattered across various restaurant  reviews. For the first time in 5 years, the review about the steakhouses in Montreal is  NOT in the top 10 of the posts  that you have read the most (it used to be #1 year after year).

It is always interesting to opine on what you have decided to be the most popular reviews, from the standpoint of the person who did write them: as an example, I can understand how the reviews on Torishin and Docks Oyster House did appeal to you as I cannot remember any review being that upfront about those two places (most online reviews about those 2 restaurants are romanticized), but there are reviews which popularity  I simply do not get such as the ones on Restaurant Damas – Montreal  as well as Le Dôme Café  – Paris. Particularly Le Dôme Café, which is not really a dining destination. Historical, true, and very pretty in its genre, but not a dining destination. I do not see why people would  read a restaurant review about a historical restaurant. A historical restaurant, you just go and visit it. That is it, Lol.  You do not need to read a restaurant review about it.

What I find interesting is that, based on the  write-ups that are the most popular to you, I will have to observe that some of the better restaurants that I have reviewed continue to slip under your radar (as an example, the current best rib eye steak that money can buy in New York, Gallaghers Steakhouse, had its review  perused by only 0.125 % of you all, the gem that Sushi Azabu is … seems to have been of interest only for  1.37% of the readers of this blog. Not that those places would lose a sleep over that, Lol, but it remains an interesting observation …).

Last but not least, it was nice to see some of the great restaurants of the world that  I have already reviewed here (the column that is on the left of this blog) featuring in the top 50 of La Liste. La Liste  takes  the majority of  the online restaurant reviews, and then ranks restaurants based  on that. Therefore if you take issue with  it, you are potentially  taking issue with  every single restaurant review that you happen to see online and that may concern yours, too. I gather that there is no perfect restaurant ranking guide, obviously, but this is the only system that is basically taking into account the bulk  of the online restaurant reviews and not doing its own ranking based on its own way of appreciating a restaurant. So, in a nutshell, it is the voice of the people, and that voice seems to have expressed plenty of love for the following restaurants that I have reviewed here – On la liste 2020,  L’Ambroisie is #10. I have no doubt that L’Ambroisie is the best classic French restaurant in the world, but I was afraid that its steep prices would never allow it to enjoy such visibility. I was wrong, then. L’Arpege is #5. There too, the surprise was great as L’Arpege is not into fancy food, it uses few ingredients and it is very pricey, but apparently I mistakenly thought that would play against them. Seems like the people did see what I saw there, which is the potential of Passard to blow your mind away with some of the HIGHS you may experience while eating there. Les Prés d’Eugénie are #19 in the world, based on what did result from the majority of all online restaurant reviews and they highly deserved it as this is indeed some of the few  benchmark classic French cooking in the world. Also reviewed here are  L’Auberge du Vieux Puits  at #20 in the world (Great for Chef Goujon, he works so hard to put his restaurant on the map of the gastronomic world and he is  getting the recognition that he deserves …just add more punch  to your amuse-bouches, Chef!) and at #29 in the world, Le Calandre (here,  it was the savoury dishes that lacked sparks, during my meal there, but I trust that it was an isolated situation and that took nothing away from the great dining destination that this place is).  The restaurant that I love the most in the world, Dal Pescatore, is at # 27 (Great! I mean this is classic food, and in this day and age,  I was not expecting the people to love their classics that much, lol).

Before I go, I have to say that I was very impressed by Michelin recently, which does not happen as oftently as the most would expect from someone who named his web blog, Lol. Michelin removed the 3 stars that Jiro and Sushi Saito had in Tokyo. Now, you can say whatever you want about Michelin, but they are the only restaurant review sources that refuses to sell to you a “private club” as a normal restaurant. Go on any other restaurant review sources ( crowd-sourced review forums, etc) and they talk about “private clubs” as if those ventures are opened to the public, which consequence is just to fool people.

As ever with food, know what you want: you need authenticity, then go get it where it is supposed to be found. Do not expect genuine Thai, Japanese, African or whatever kind of food oceans and continents away from where it originates. Doing so would be utterly foolish. And remember:  when you read a review about a restaurant, look at the date the review was published! A restaurant was probably great years ago, but a total disaster years later. I know many restaurants that went from hero to zero within  2,3  months. So it is not hard to imagine what a restaurant can morph into across the  years…! Set your expectations accordingly. A big part of enjoying the good things in life is … to be positive, indeed, but to …stay genuinely realistic, too. Wish you all  plenty of great food in 2020!

The Alley is one of Taiwan’s most famous bubble tea (Boba drinks) shops. The ´titans’ of the bubble tea world have long been attracted by NYC with giants such as ‘Kung Fu Tea’ , ´Teado tea shop´, ´Coco’, ´Ten Ren’ as well as ‘Happy lemon’ and ´Gong cha’ having their own locations in the Big Apple. It was about time that the Alley joins this high level competition, which is what they ended up doing recently with the opening of their first shop in NYC. The Alley is already an International success story with effective or projected presence in many  of this globe’s major cities (Tokyo, Singapore, Melbourne, etc). The branch in NYC opened on Saturday Sept 7th 2019 in the NoHo neighbourhood. I went there on week 1 post opening.

I picked two of their signature items:

Brown sugar Deeriocca milk tea featured soft and bouncy homemade brown sugar milk tea pearls. Deeriocca is the name they gave to those pearls. If I had to take a guess, I would say that it is with those pearls that the Alley truly stands out as the brown sugar flavour is, indeed, one crowd-pleasing flavour. I found this milk tea — which level of sweetness they do consider as «regular » —– to not have that much sugar. It was not bland, though. Just enough sugar to keep it on the enjoyable side of the spectrum. Also noteworthy was the refined creamy taste coming from the syrup. It is a chain operation, therefore it cannot  have the « exclusive » quality of the bubble Tea you can make yourself at home, but at what it is, it is certainly a Very good bubble Tea. 8/10

Royal No 9 Milk tea
One of their most popular items according to their Facebook page. The house claims to use quality Black Assam tea leaves. This had a pleasant  fragrance coming from the tea element. Not as rich as the previous milk tea, by design, as it is just your basic milk and tea flavour, with, as it seems to be the consistent pattern  here, the sugar input kept in control – for the sweetness level, I basically took the regular one. This was not too sweet, therefore your best bet if you do not have a sweet tooth. Pleasant on the mouth, the delicate fine balance between the milk and the tea elements is technically without any flaw. 7/10

-The Missus ordered the snow lulu strawberry (strawberries, crushed ice in white peach oolong tea base , with a layer of snow velvet cream atop).  I tried a bit of it, and was disappointed: the one we tried had barely any fruity flavour coming from the strawberry. The missus  did not like it at all for the exact same reasons that  I have just raised. She railed  against the absence  of  the  usual fresh aftertaste that she came to expect from the better strawberry -flavoured bubble teas she had elsewhere and that is typical of most organic  strawberry-based liquid,  semi liquid or creamy concoctions. 5/10

The Alley enjoys a fame of the magnitude of the Apple’s Iphone when that device first came out and it is easy to see why: you feel the quality of its ingredients (as an example, the sugar cane syrup is made, onsite, with real sugar cane, which is why one does not get the artificial overwhelming sugar taste that comes from artificially sweetened products), a sense of refinement (well balanced flavours) as well as a well judged control of the sugar input. It is clear that their intent is not to excite you with bold /rich flavours, full-bodied textures, which makes it a product that is aligned with its time (a time of health consciousness). Blown away, I was not, but I did really enjoy the quality of the brown sugar Deerioca milk tea , which is easily one of my favourite milk teas. The Alley Addr: 68 Cooper square, New York, NY, 10003

Pursuing my tour of some of the finest steakhouses of New York, having tried Peter Luger, Keens, Strip House, Quality Meats  and Wolfgang.

Dropped by Gallagher’s Steakhouse, a historical steakhouse, which, during the days of the prohibition, was the first illicit establishment selling alcohol where gamblers and stars of Broadway would meet.

In the incredibly competitive steakhouse market of NYC (perhaps, the steakhouse mecca of the world – I mean, do you know any other major city with that many world class steakhouses? Do you? ), you know you have reached the enviable status of a historic shrine at whatever you do when the NY Times writes romanticized write-ups with eye-candy photographs of this sort about you – .

At Gallagher’s Steakhouse,  I ordered:

Platter of 12 oysters – Dabob bay from Hood canal (Washington) and Canadian lucky lime. Nicely shucked quality fresh oysters. The lucky lime had the advertised citrus-tone finish in evidence. The intertidal beach cultured  Dabob bay oysters, quite briny for an oyster coming from the Pacific. The mignonette properly done. A platter of fine oysters. 7/10

The 20 oz rib eye steak (Grade: USDA Prime), dry aged for 28 – 32 days on premise in their glass-enclosed meat locker ( You can see it from the street – a sight to behold). The meat is grilled on hickory coals, a rarity in a city where most steakhouses do broil their steaks. Grilling meat over an open fire has always been my preferred grilling method for meats. The requested medium rare doneness achieved with utter precision. It delivered on flavor (the seasoning, exquisite –  the steak  as delicious as it gets) and was superbly tender throughout. The great grilling effect of the open fire in evidence to the eyes/smell/palate.  Dazzling crust. My steak had its juices settled within the meat, therefore timely rested. A steak is not a moon landing mission and one can do great steaks at home, indeed, but what matters here is that this is a steakhouse and it is doing one of the better steaks in NYC. Easily the best rib eye steak I ever had at all the top tier steakhouses of NY. 10/10

The creamed spinach. Here too, the G seems to have the edge as the creamed spinach had superb taste and great balance between the cream and spinach flavours. Superb texture too. Just some delicious creamed spinach like few — surprisingly, indeed – seem to be able to pull out at the NYC steakhouses. Vibrant fresh and delicious flavours. 9/10

Even the crème fraîche to accompany the baked potato was not of the ordinary sort. The baked potato managing, somehow, not to be just an average piece of tired looking baked potato simply because most kitchen brigades keep such simple things for granted (as most diners do, actually), when, in reality, the sourcing of your potato and how you timed its baking makes a big difference. Here, they did care about that difference.

Bottom line: A very beautiful steakhouse (the warmth of materials such as  wood and leather never failing to entice) in the classic genre. But the food was as great. Where many steakhouses seem to deliver  tired renditions of classic steakhouse food, the G seems to find a way to make it a bit more exciting in mouth (even their homemade sauce to accompany the steak, made of tomato/garlic/Worcestershire sauce, was well engineered as far as balancing flavors go, its taste great ). A commendable steakhouse, indeed.

Overall rating: Food 9/10 One of the very best steakhouses of NYC.   The steaks are great here, but everything else as well. For my taste, the G and Peter Luger are my No1 steakhouses in New York, with the G being a better all rounder, for sure. Furthermore, nothing beats the appealing  texture as well as memorable grilling aromas of a steak that is grilled on open fire (a broiled steak looks unappetizing in comparison). Service 8/10 (superb service in the typical classic NYC steakhouse way). Gallaghers Steakhouse Addr: 228 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019 Phone: 212-586-5000 URL:


This is one of the latest hottest bistrots of NYC. Situated in Brooklyn, it is always packed to the brim and, in terms of  popularity, could remind Montrealers of Au Pied de Cochon when APDC was in its prime (in the days of Martin Picard, Hughes Dufour).

You come here to have fun. It is small, full of social vibe.  The food is North American bistrot food. The wine list has few pages of  great findings. The menu is short but very appealing – as an example, on the evening of my visit, menu  items such as ‘roasted corn, nduja, basil, lemon, radicchio cups’, “crispy smashed fingerling potatoes, romesco, toasted pistachios” or ”Grilled Head-on spot prawns, Calabrian chillis, garlic mojo, lemon” generated  interest. Then, once you know what we now know about the skills of this kitchen, you can easily picture such food items as not just ‘generating interest’ but way more than that.

I came here for their their widely praised Burger. While waiting for it (it takes approx 30 mins to make), I had their

Cheese plate
ALP blossom (cow) from Austria
Delice de bourgogne (cow), France
Roomano (cow), Netherlands
all in superb condition.
It is obvious that they take care of their cheeses (aging, storing, etc) way better than at some ambitious tables.  These came with figs/hazelnut jam that would make a grandma of the countryside of France, known for her expertly concocted homemade jams, drooling of envy and jealousy “putain, mais comment qu’il a fait ca!!” (holy shit! How did he do that!!), It was that great indeed. There was also some  superb pepper mostarda. 9/10

Chicken liver pâté, Served with a super Hudson River Rye toast,  Some Pickled sour cherries that revealed some pickling technique that is of a high level, the cherries of great quality, some fresh quality parsley salad. The pâté itself having a delicious taste. First-rate bistrot food items. 8/10

Country ham croquettes featured top quality ham’s flavour, 1 year aged cheddar, a Dijonnaise that would NOT be out of place at an ambitious French table in France. Freshly cooked, timely served, this was a flawless croquette expressing superb flavours. 8/10

I did put an end to this superb North American bistrot meal with their fabled Burger, a Burger  that most Burger experts of NYC do consider as one of the very best of NYC :

Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger (American cheese, white onion, frites) – When you do an online search for the best Burgers in the world, you will rarely stumble upon the Burgers of NYC, World’s capital of the Burger. Instead, you  end up with plenty of laughable Burgers and you realize that it was mainly for the roaring laughter, the derision. But in NYC, when they talk about the finest Burgers of the City, it is  serious business. And it did not take  long to get upfront and personal with how serious they are at RHT with their Burger: a bun that is a benchmark of its kind (a glorious soft texture, expertly designed to accompany perfectly well the patty without stealing the show from it) was paired, very simply, with a patty made of high grade dry-aged beef. Some  fabulous American cheese atop.  The cheese not melting as easily as most of the cheeses that are used with most Burgers out there, the patty not having any juice dripping and soaking the bun. They did carefully design that Burger  so that you get every single element of the Burger to express itself in its entirety, while perfectly complementing each other as a Burger. We were a world away from the big mess that many Burgers happen to be with their  piece of patty lost  in melting cheese,  their  bun   soaked in the juice of their patties, the overall flavour having the taste of nothing.  At RHT, they have  stripped the Burger from anything that’s distracting (the superfluous toppings, etc), and focused on delivering the perfected trinity of bun + patty + cheese.  A world class Burger! 9/10  (My fully detailed technical notes about this Burger can be found, here.)

This is food NOT  designed to parade on Instagram but to be enjoyed, as food is supposed to be. Soul satisfying, for sure. And it is affordable (a miracle, in NYC).

Bottom line: After the debacle of the day before at Oiji, it was great to have renewed with great food in NYC, one of World’s truly great dining destinations. Red Hook Tavern is a first-rate North American bistrot deserving of its resounding success (ingredients are top notch, the food reveals some serious skills in their kitchen, service and ambience are great). It is easy  to be hooked on  Red Hook Tavern. Overall rating (Categ: North American Bistrot) for Food: 8/10; Service: 9/10; Red Hook Tavern Addr: 329 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, United States Phone: +1 917-966-6094 URL:

Tim Ho Wan is the celebrated dim-sum chain from Hong Kong that is taking NYC by storm. I tried their offshoot in Hell’s Kitchen.

While reading the online reviews about them, I noticed that many people do not realize that (1) however good it is, well …it is a chain, therefore it cannot provide you with the exclusive artisan craft that can only come from, guess artisan Chef…obviously! (2) We are not in Hong Kong. So why expecting HK in NYC? Basics of the science of food= two geographical spaces, especially ones separated by oceans and continents, cannot have the same water, the same soil, etc. So food cannot taste the same, consequently…obviously! You also have the laws that regulate your food: you can bbq an animal alive in some countries, in the west, it is a big NO, etc (I am not saying that you can do that in HK, btw. That is not what I said. It was just an example about the laws regulating food and that can vary from one country to another. And that affects the taste of the food).

1.Steamed pork spare rib with black bean sauce. Superb bold flavours, the seasoning exciting as you should expect from this spare rib food item. Served piping hot / freshly cooked. Regardless of what their competitors do think, this is one of the better tasting steamed pork spare ribs in NYC. And if you still miss HK, then fly to HK, as simple as that! 7/10

2.Baked bbq pork buns – nice soft crunchy bun, freshly baked. The texture of the bun is reminescent of a “biscuit” rather than a “brioche”. Tasty filling of sweetened pulled pork that would have certainly expressed a bolder porky taste back in Asia. But this is in NYC, not HK, and the porky flavour is there, of course, but a tidbit less evident than with some other baked pork buns in HK (to the point that you could almost confuse this food item with a cake of date…somehow). This was tasty, of course, and you have plenty of taste sensations and textures going on: sweet, savory, crunchy, and crispy.  7/10

3.Steamed dumplings with shrimp and chives. Superb texture of the shell. Again, the seafood would have a bolder taste in HK, but this was tasty, competently prepared (not one single technical flaw) and certainly one of the better rendered dumplings of NYC! 8/10

I was reluctant to try THW as it is a chain (I prefer  solo operations) and I already had  my go-to dim-sum eateries  in NYC, with Hop Shing being a long time favourite of mine (I am a suck up for old school dim sum places), but Hop Shing is going a bit downhill, these days (Yes, the Char Shu Bao is still one of the best of NYC, but all the rest is not as great as they used to be), so I started to look around for other dim sum places. That is how I convinced myself to try THW.

Bottom line: I feel sorry for their direct local competitors, Lol, but THW is one of the better dumpling  shops of NYC. You can find more sophisticated dumplings in NYC, at some of the newer high end  restaurants (as an example, Hutong), but they are way too pricey. As for THW, I will re-iterate that I did not say that it is exclusive (obviously, it CANNOT… as I explained in the Intro). And I am not a fan  of their dish of dim sum chicken feet — which I tried on a 2nd visit  (they decided to do this differently from the classic  recipe but I prefer the classic recipe). Last but not least, if you insist on the quality of  the dim sum found on  the West Coast of the USA, do not waste your time here as NYC, as great as its food scene stands, its dim sum restaurants  are  not going to be a serious challenge to their counterpart of the West.  But in NYC,  this is  one of the best dim sum, in its price range. THW has it all: delicious food, fine service. Tim Ho Wan – Addr: 610 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036, United States; Phone: +1 212-228-2802; URL:

Minetta Tavern  is an iconic Gastro pub in Greenwich village. They are known for their Burger, the highly touted Black label burger, which is oftently promoted by NYC’s food critics as one of the very best in the city.


Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger comes with a  selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts, caramelized onions, pommes frites.  One of the celebrated burgers of NYC. But I caught it on a bad day, I am afraid:

-Did they achieve the ideal proportion of   bun/ patty /cheese/condiments? Nothing disproportionate, here. A highly marketed burger like this one was designed with the help of specialists (Chefs, Specialists of meats, etc) , so do not expect any non sense in that department.

-The bun? Not your beautifully textured bun.  But it was  technically properly made, as expected from such a highly marketed hamburger, with the bun having proper (rather than dazzling) soft density .

-The patty? Cooked medium rare exactly as I did request it. The flavour of the beef was there, for sure, but  not in an exciting way as it tasted  plain. The dry-aged “funk” that most people are nowadays looking for was  there, but it  did nothing to enhance the taste of the meat I was tasting on this visit.  Minetta Tavern  sure went to a lot of effort to make a patty  of quality (careful selection of the meat, etc) , but at the end of the round, this one I was having  tasted  utterly ordinary when compared to patties found in the majority of the burgers you will find in NYC. And I am not even taking the price into account…

-The overall taste of this  Burger? Uneventful! I mean, apart from the first 2 seconds, there was nothing going on. No exciting grilling flavour, no particularly enjoyable beef taste. Caramelized onion rarely fails in its role to add a festive dimension to the taste of a hamburger, but in this instance, it, too, was not interested to “throw a party”.


Overall rating: 5/10 (I have no doubt that this can be a better burger than what I was sampling as the burger experts of NYC have long praised this Burger, but I can talk only for what I tried and mine was a tired looking burger, with an ordinary bun, and a patty that failed to bring joy in mouth). I will go back in the evening and try their other food items as I loved the friendly service and beautiful laid back old world interior but I will not give a second chance to their fabled BLB. Minetta Tavern Addr: 113 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012, United States Phone: +1 212-475-3850 URL: