Restaurant Review: Red Hook Lobster Pound

Details: Located at 16 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003, among other locations.  Official site is http://www.redhooklobster.com/

Lobster rolls (around $16 a piece). Elote corn cup (around $5). Mediocre drinks (around $10). Good.

Score: 7/10

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Restaurant Review: 456 Shanghai Cuisine

Details: Located at 69 Mott St # A, New York, NY 10013. Couldn’t find an official site.

Standard shanghai dim sum place. They also have General Tso’s chicken for the inexperienced and unknowing.

You come here for the soup dumplings. They differ slightly from other places that I’ve eaten; a little smaller, plumper (that’s what she said =p).

Also ordered the scallion pancake with beef and the shanghai lo mein. It was all okay.

Service… is no worse than at any other chinatown restaurant. Not better either.

Score: 5/10 Good place for soup dumplings. Not much else.

Restaurant Review: The Stand

Details: Located at 239 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003. Official site is http://www.thestandnyc.com/

The Stand is a restaurant with a comedy club downstairs… or the other way around.

I came here for brunch and must say they were awesome. The staff were friendly and hilarious. It was hard not to eat without a smile.

We ordered the Breakfast Tots (tater tots with eggs, cheese, and bacon), Cookie Dough Pancakes (pancakes with chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate sauce, and maple syrup), and the Crab Cake Benedict (eggs Benedict with crab cakes and a small salad). The tater tots were okay. Crab cake Benedict was very good. The pancakes were freaking amazing. They were a little crispier than your average pancakes and the chocolate sauce was like Nutella.

We also had coffee and some old fashion’s. They were great as well.

Score: 7/10 Great brunch place. Worth a visit for those pancakes and friendly staff.

Restaurant Review: Hanbat

Details: Located at 53 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001. Official site is http://hanbatnyc.com/

Hanbat is a traditional Korean restaurant near Koreatown.

I came with some friends. We ordered the Jap Chae (mixed dish of vegetables, noodles, and pork), Bul Go Ki (sliced thing beef), Nakiji Bokum (sauteed small octopus and vegetables in spicy sauce). It was all right.

Score: 4/10 Nothing special. Nothing extraordinary. Your standard Korean fare… just a little less tasty. If you want Korean food, I strongly advise going somewhere else. Especially considering that there are so many better Korean restaurants in Koreatown.

Restaurant Review: The Stanton Social

Details: Located at 99 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002. Official site is http://thestantonsocial.com/.

The main thing about the Stanton Social is the atmosphere. The food isn’t bad and the prices are a bit high for what we were served, but the feeling of comfort while eating there is appreciable.

Me and some friends got here a little early for brunch, before their 11:30 AM opening time in hopes of avoiding a rush. There was already a crowd outside which started building hype. As you walk in, a live band was playing a calming, snazzy performance, adding further hype. We were seated in a very comfortable booth (as you can see from the above pic), cementing the hype for the kind of food that would accompany this ambiance. I was moderately satisfied.

The food was essentially breakfast tapas or small dishes of breakfast food meant to be shared with others at the table. We ordered the banana pancakes, breakfast bruschetta (scrambled eggs, ovendried tomatoes and asiago cheese on toast), bacon polenta (served with poached eggs and chili oil), potato and goat cheese pierogies (served with carmelize onions and creme fraiche), and the mac and cheese (with sausage and peppers). For drinks, we had coffee, the Ruby Jack (Jack Daniels, pomegranate juice among other things), and the Vietnamese Coffee (Finlandia, Khalua, coffee).

The food was all right… just small. Especially considering the price. This is generally why I hate tappas in NYC. Phenomenal cosmic price… itty bitty serving size (reference Alladin, RIP Robin Williams). And though the food was good, they didn’t make anything extraordinary. Mac and cheese and pierogies aren’t complex. The drinks were really good.

Score: 5/10 A nice environment with tasty, but simplistic food. You’re paying for the atmosphere. In my opinion, not worth coming to for brunch, lunch or dinner, but worth it if just for drinks. Full disclosure: I find most tapas (in NYC) overrated and unsatisfying, so part of my negativity is because they served brunch in the form of overrated and unsatisfying tapas.

Restaurant Review: Noodle Village

Details: Located at 13 Mott St, New York, NY 10013. Official site is http://www.noodlevillage.com/

Noodle Village is a Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown that specializes in… noodles. They have some other stuff, too. Like soup dumplings.

I came with some friends and we got the Shrimp Wonton, Shrimp Dumpling, and Braised Beef Brisket Hong Kong Style Lo Mein. It was just okay. The beef brisket was too chewy in some places. We also had the Lollipop chicken. That was also just okay.

Score: 3/10 Kind of hated it. In the restaurant’s defense, I’ve eaten a lot of Cantonese food in my life and I generally do not enjoy it. My other friend who was there loved the food.

Restaurant Review: Indikitch

Details: Located at  940 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019, among other locations. Official site is http://indikitch.com/

I don’t normally write a review for fast food or fast-casual food, but I tried Indikitch the other day and felt compelled to do so.

Indikitch is essentially fast-casual Indian food served in the same format as Chipotle, that is assembly line style and very quickly. It’s Chipotle, but with Indian food instead of Mexican.

A new one opened in Midtown and I decided to visit for lunch. The space is very large, clean, and modern. Prices are around ten dollars for a meal.

In regards to how you order, its pretty much like Chipotle. Here’s the link of the menu for convenience: http://indikitch.com/menu.html. First you pick a meal. Personally, I prefer the feast in that you get some veggies and lentils along with nan. Next you pick a meat or if you don’t like meat, then you can pick a veggie or cheese based main ingredient. They all come with rice, too.

One main difference with Chipotle is that while the meat is prepared before hand (like Chipotle), they actually cook it with some sauce on the spot with every order. Some people might appreciate this, some might not, but it’s noteworthy.

As for taste, the food is pretty good. It’s not as good as a sit down Indian restaurant, but its still not bad for something prepared so quickly.

The main reason why I needed to write a review is because Indikitch filled a need sorely missing in this city. That is, we need more food of similar quality and speed as Chipotle, but we need it to taste different.

A while back, I (and I imagine a lot of people) ate Chipotle for a prolonged period of time. I worked in the city and Chipotle was fast and tasted all right. But you can only eat the same thing so many times and after a while, I no longer had any desire to eat there. Ever. And really, I didn’t eat at Chipotle all those times because I loved the taste. Chipotle was just so easy. And relatively cheap. And the quality was far better than McDonald’s or any other fast food chain. But what I really wanted was a greater variety of food, maybe from a different region, with the same relative price, speed, and quality Chipotle delivered. As a wise man once said, “man cannot live on bread alone…,” or burrito bowls.

Luckily for me, Indikitch fulfilled that desire. To a greater extent, Indikitch stands at the forefront of a potentially profitable trend that may be descending upon the city. For example, Korilla, the well-known Korean-Mexian fusion food truck, has opened a brick and mortar location near St. Mark’s. Like Indikitch, they serve Korean food in the Chipotle format.

It is my hope that both Indikitch, Korilla, and any other similar restaurants using the Chipotle method find great success in their endeavors. I envision a day where there aren’t only Indian and Korean foods represented in this format. I want Thai food, Japanese food, Italian, French, English, and every other country represented in this convenient way. Perhaps one day, they will even open a food court where all these competing restaurants work together to provide a truly multicultural and convenient place for a person to eat lunch during the work day while preserving their piggy banks. A true United Nations of fast-casual food.

In conclusion, Indikitch is great. Go try it out. Go try Korilla at their brick and mortar location. Stop eating Chipotle, or at least eat less of it. And prepare yourself for the oncoming onslaught of convenience, speed, and quality, in a multicultural variety of flavors.

Score: 7/10

TV Show Review: Teen Titans Go! (2013)

Details: Currently airs on Cartoon Network. In its third season and is ongoing.

I was in the mood for some lighthearted entertainment and decided to give the cartoon Teen Titans Go! a shot. After watching an episode… I then watched all the episodes in Season 1. After watching all these episodes, I can safely say that Teen Titans Go! is… perfect. It is a perfect, hilarious, lighthearted cartoon and does everything a good cartoon should.

When thinking about Teen Titans Go!, I can’t help but think about other cartoons I’ve loved and laughed at. Cartoons like Recess, SpongeBob, or Kim Possible. Cartoons that can be amusing to kids, but provide an even greater level of humor for an adult.

Each episode of Teen Titan’s Go! is ten minutes long, which is great. Less drag, more focus, and a faster pace. There aren’t really any overarching stories over the season nor are there really any themes and morals. Its just fun and hilarity, childish and amusing.

What is noteworthy are the voice actors. They clearly have mastered playing their respective characters, be it through their performances in the prior Teen Titans cartoon (which was more serious) or the ample voice acting experience they all possess (check their imdb.com pages, very impressive). Each character has their time in the sun and are given plenty of hilarious lines.

Also noteworthy: references. For example, one episode involved a giant robot clearly referencing the Power Rangers. They even used the actual Power Rangers melody. Actually, Batman and Aquaman even make small appearances despite DC’s heavy embargoes. I think its because of the comedic nature of the show, but I still appreciated they actual depictions nonetheless.

Additionally, the music selection used/written for this show is fantastic. Nice one whoever writes/picks the music.

8.5/10 If you want something funny and lighthearted to watch, can’t go wrong with this. Watch the clip above if you’re unsure this is your cup of tea. I have no idea what the showrunners are smoking, but there are some episodes that were clearly written under the influence of something.

Video Game Review: Mirror’s Edge (2008)

Details: Played on PC for about five hours.

This game was pretty terrible. I was relieved when it was over.

Mirror’s Edge is a game released by Electronic Arts back in 2009. The main emphasis of this game was on trying to express free running through the first person perspective. This game puts in a barely satisfactory effort in that regard, but let’s start with the good before we get to the bad.

Despite being a years-old game, Mirror’s Edge still looks amazing. I was running the game on maximum video settings and it looked great on my 1080p monitor. The art — which focuses on a clean style with bright colors contrasting with white — is also lovely to look at. I do have a bias for minimalist, clean styles (be it in video games or interior decorating), so this was right up my alley.

In regards to gameplay, Mirror’s Edge is at its best when you are running at maximum speed and free-roaming/navigating an expansive level. At its core, Mirror’s Edge is a first-person platformer/puzzle game slightly reminiscent of Portal and Portal 2. However, despite succeeding a few times, Mirror’s Edge fails by trying to take away the speed and freedom of the game and forcing the player to conform to strict, one-path level design and half-assed combat mechanics.

For example, many times throughout the game your are forced to fight enemy guards (armed with guns) or else you cannot proceed through the level. You cannot avoid them or run past them. The game only gives you a few options for combat: strike/punch/kick (which sucks and if you try, you will get killed) or disarm (which involves running up to a guards face and waiting for a prompt).This is retarded because it generally leaves only two ways to combat groups of guards: disarm them one by one or disarm one and use that guard’s dropped gun to kill the rest. Guns can be picked up, but cannot be reloaded. Also, aiming/gun control is terrible and was clearly not thought out in development. In a game which should be focused on speed and navigation, this slows the game down to a frustrating crawl.

Furthermore, the levels themselves are confined to a set path which you must pursue in order to complete a level. Many parts of the game require to player to stand around and think about a level rather than run through with improvisation. Personally, there were some parts where I died over and over again, eventually figuring out some obtuse solution to a path with only one exit. This did not feel very “free” in a game about free-running.

Here are some more negatives:

The controls weren’t precise for a game that required some fairly precise platforming.

The story was ridiculous and did nothing to motivate a player. It was cheesy as hell.

The use of flash videos instead of cinematics or even in-game scenes to tell the story was pretty lousy. I wonder if it was a lack of budget or just laziness that caused the decision to include these scenes.

In conclusion, it wasn’t that much fun and I enjoyed uninstalling this game much more than I should have.

Score: 3/10 When I purchased Mirror’s Edge, I was expecting a fast paced game where I would run through large, mult-pathed levels that required me to act with speed and improvisation. What I got was a game where levels had only one path; forced combat on me with shitty controls; and a stupid story told through flash videos. The fun parts of this game are few and far between. Mirror’s Edge is a tolerable game as long as you do not spend more than three United States dollars on it.

Restaurant Review: Bianca

Details: Located at 5 Bleecker St #1, New York, NY 10012. Official site is http://biancanyc.com/

Bianca is your standard, authentic, Italian restaurant.

The space is moderate but the tables are stacked on top of each other, leading to lots of bumping into other people.

I came here with some friends and we ordered the lasagna (used bechamel, which I prefer to ricotta), Stracceti di Manzo (Sliced filet mignon with fried potatoes), and the mushroom pasta (special of the day). The pasta was fresh and the food was good. It wasn’t anything extraordinary; just your average Italian fare.

I did appreciate the short length of the menu. A short menu suggests to me simplicity and a focus on what a restaurant knows how to make, and I can appreciate that. Do what you’re good at.

Score: 6/10 Whenever I eat Italian food I realize that it is the same at most places, unless the restaurant is trying something different/unique. This place doesn’t try anything different/unique. It was still all right though.