Sep 2006

Caracas Arepa Bar – New York City

Photos by Super Chan Chan

Brother and I ended up getting take out for dinner last night and had the Pabellon Criollo (Venezuelan National Dish—a platter with white rice, black beans, shredded beef and fried sweet plantains sprinkled with white salty cheese) delivered to the apartment. It turns out that Venezuelan food, this dish in particular, is dangerously similar to my favorite Cuban treat – Vaca Frita. The major difference between the two dishes I’d say is the use of cotija cheese on the beans and a yellow sauce that accompanied the beef. While I’m not sure of the exact name of the sauce, I’d describe it as slightly sweet, slightly spicy and perhaps mustard based. The beef was also a lot less “frita” AKA more moist. Cuban rice and beans are a lot more flavorful, probably due to the generous employment of lard. The Pabellon Criollo was very satisfying, but my heart still lies with the Cubanos.

Caracas Areapa Bar
91 E 7th Street
New York, NY 10009
Phone: 212-228-5062

Caracas Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon

Sep 2006

Wong Wong Restaurant – Philadelphia

September 14, 2006
Cuisine: Chinese

941 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-1805

Phone: 215-928-8822
Website: none


Entree I: Cashew chicken


Entree II: Beef noodles prepared “Hong Kong” style

I do not care much for Chinese-Americana fare, but the Astronomer loves it very much. Every so often I indulge the Astronomer and we go out for Chinese food. I had a meeting last night near Chinatown so we hit up Wong Wong afterwards. We had not read anything about this restaurant beforehand and chose it on impulse. My rationale is that one can’t go too wrong picking a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, especially a restaurant of the “non-banquet” variety; they are more or less all the same. Although I must admit that the barbecued roasted ducks flanked on the outside window of the restaurant helped to draw me in.

It was late in the evening so we each only ordered an entree. The Astronomer had the cashew chicken with white rice while I had the beef noodles. We shared each dish. The cashew chicken was tasty and mild, nowhere near as spicy as a Kung Pao preparation. The chicken was good quality white meat stir fried with peas, carrots, water chestnuts, straw mushrooms, celery and topped with toasted cashews. All winners but the celery. The sauce seemed a bit too light in color, but was satisfying in flavor which is what really matters. The beef noodles were not exactly what I had anticipated. I wanted a thin pan fried egg noodle, but instead I got a thicker more chow mein like noodle. Nevertheless, it was still quite good. My only complaint were the bean sprouts. I’ve disliked bean sprouts since my youth. The beef was very tender and really hit the red meat spot.

All in all this was your average Chinese establishment. I enjoyed the food for what it was—cheap, warm, and salty. The noodles were priced at $6 and the chicken was $8. Fair enough.

Wong Wong on Urbanspoon

Sep 2006

Monk's Cafe – Philadelphia

September 9, 2006
Cuisine: Burgers, Belgian, Other

264 S 16th St, Philadelphia 19102
Between Latimer St & Spruce St

Phone: 215-545-7005

Appetizer: Monk’s Mussels prepared “Ghent” style – Saison Dupont, fume, parsley, caramelized leeks, bacon, bleu cheese & garlic. Served with frites, bourbon mayonnaise, and bread rolls.

Entree I: Monk’s Burger with Monk Topping – caramelized leeks & blue cheese in between a roll from the Metropolitan Bakery.

Entree II: Steak Frites Salad – sirloin steak (grilled to order) over baby greens served with fresh cut frites.

After so much superb eating this week, I was a bit disappointed by dinner at Monk’s Cafe. The food was good, but not great which is somewhat understandable given that Monk’s is better known for their 200+ beers on tap. However, prior to my visit I had heard many positive things about their food, especially the mussels. I found the mussels to be very average. The Ghent preparations did not penetrate the mussels so they just ended up tasting like mussels, which isn’t terrible but did not meet my expectations. The bread that accompanied the mussels were not ideal for dipping. Crostini is definitely a better mussel complement due to the crunch factor. The frites were tasty, as was the bourbon mayo dipping sauce, even though I usually steer clear of mayo.

The Astronomer ordered the Monk Topped burger that I thought was pretty decent. The fixins (cheese and leeks) were fantastic, but the burger itself seemed a bit dry. I like my burgers juicy like the Kobe Beef Sliders from Barclay Prime. Additionally, the hamburger patty was smaller than the bun which is a big no no. The actual bun was alright, but could’ve been softer.

For my entree I ordered the Steak Frites Salad. The steak was prepared rare (just the way I like it) and the greens and dressing were fine. The salad was exactly what I expected; nothing more, nothing less.

Since I’m not a beer connoisseur and found the food just average, Monk’s Cafe will most likely be a one time deal.

Monk's Cafe on Urbanspoon