Dominique Ansel Bakery- New York City, NY

Dominique Ansel is one of the most prominent bakeries in the area– it’s so famous, in fact, that there’s a line out the door every morning. Most people are there for their famous cronuts, but Dominique Ansel also sells other goods, like croissants and meringues and breakfast sandwiches.

This visit to New York was the first time I had a cronut, that’s a half croissant, half donut. Dominique Ansel served as the pioneer of the cronut, and that’s one of the reasons there’s such a long line out the door. But the cronut’s not the only amazing thing at Dominique. I did love it, but their Kouign Amann and meringue were equally delicious.

We ordered an unhealthy amount of pastries, but above all, my favorite thing was this:

Yeah, it’s pretty much the most blogworthy thing on the planet. Not only was it my favorite sweet at Dominique, but it was also probably the best thing I’d had in New York. The raspberry mixed with the meringue was mouth-watering, and the presentation was something else.

The meringue alone convinced me of wanting to go a second time (and a third and fourth and fifth). But combined with the croissants and kouign amann and cronuts, I was sure after that visit that Dominique Ansel was the best bakery ever. Mark my words, the next time I’m in New York, I’ll be visiting at least once a day. The lines are worth it.

Dominique Ansel: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ (and maybe even a half more)

Signing off,

Anya

IPPUDO NY- New York City, New York

Every year, my mom and I go on a mother daughter trip to New York. She’s hoping that it’s a tradition that’ll last even when I’m in college. It’s every Labor Day weekend, and each year, we start out at IPPUDO Ramen. As ramen lovers, we find that eating at IPPUDO for our first meal is a sure way of starting out the trip right.

IPPUDO NY has two locations, but most people go to the one on 4th avenue. It opens at 10:30, but there’s always a wait and a long, long, line. That’s how you know it’s good.

When you finally get seated (don’t be upset, it’s worth the wait!), the waiters welcome you to your table in cheery Japanese. We actually asked our waiter about this, since most of them don’t start out knowing Japanese at all. Every waiter and every person in the open kitchen usually knows about 20-40 words each. It’s a part of their training, and definitely adds to the ambiance and authenticity of the restaurant.

I usually go with the Akamaru Modern, and add Bakudan, which is a spicy paste they put in Ramen. The only naturally spicy ramen is the Karaka-men, but bakudan can add spice to any ramen too. The Shiromaru Hakata Classic is another really popular one.

For starters we usually go with the IPPUDO pork buns, but we also got the karage chicken. The pork buns were disappointing simply because last time, I remember them being absolutely delicious. I think the house changed the sauce (now there’s an excess of mayonnaise), but the pork itself was still the same.

Now that we’ve tried karage chicken, we always order it at ramen restaurants. It’s a crispier chicken because they only use the leg, and they usually pair it with some kind of delicious citrusy sauce or peppers.

Karage chicken is now an “always order” for me, a perfect appetizer (you can’t go wrong).

The kitchen is unbelievingly fast with the food, and everything is very filling, so come in hungry. The Akamaru Modern ramen comes in a big red bowl, with my bakudan on the side.

I’ve said before that I love the meat in ramen– it’s always slow-cooked, delicious, and melt-in-your-mouth. IPPUDO’s meat tops that list, and their broth is always flavorful and hot.

Since the last time I went, IPPUDO definitely hasn’t gotten less busy or gone downhill. Its ramen is a full meal– you’ll be set for the entire day. The waiters are super accommodating, and the kitchen is always fast with the orders.

You won’t be disappointed.

See you next year, IPPUDO!

乾杯,

Anya

Mochicream- Torrance

Mochicream has long been one of my favorite places, up there with Tpumps and Amorino. They’re basically a gourmet mochi place, with flavors like double mango, raspberry mille feuille, caramel pudding, and honey raspberry. Those are my favorites, at least.

Since I’m not a big fan of red bean or matcha, Mochicream gives me the liberty of choosing flavors I love, like delicious caramel pudding. For red bean and green tea lovers, however, Mochicream also has those flavors available. I got a set of 10 mochis, and while they’re pretty expensive, averaging about two dollars each, I would much rather pay for it than sub par mochis elsewhere.


Cross-section!


Since Mochicream will always be one of my favorites, I’d give it nothing less than πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ !

For mochi lovers everywhere!

Anya

Shiso Burger- Berlin

Looking for a burger place in Berlin isn’t hard. But unlike most other burger places in Berlin, Shiso is fusion, and they use much smaller buns than other restaurants.

It’s busy, and a bit hot, but the twisted potatoes are worth it. Let me explain. Many European cities and small markets sell twisted potatoes as a cheap eat– they’re crispy, twirled around on a stick, and probably bad for you.

But I love them, and it’s so worth it. They’re better than french fries, and better than chips.

With my favorite chips as an appetizer, I shared 4 small burgers for my main. The best of these was the chili lemon burger, but the cheeseburger, shiso, and bulgogi burger were also quite good. The shiso and bulgogi burger were the most unique; in place of the meat, they offered tuna and bulgogi instead.

I wasn’t a fan of the buns, they were soggy, and soft, and I like my buns crispy! They’re also rather difficult to share, but the portion size is small enough that you can have one on your own and order an appetizer as well. It’s also supposed to be one of the better burger places in Berlin, and while I’ve certainly had better, this was still quite good.

Shiso Burger: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4

-Anya

Katz Orange- Berlin

A modern eatery known for their slow-cooked eats, Katz Orange works as a “food lab”, experimenting with different flavors and techniques. Their menu is extensive, with many different food options, and for their slow cooked meats, they even offer “second helpings”.

We started out with some bread and butter, and I got a pink grapefruit vanilla soda, which was delicious, fizzy, and sweet for summer.

After drinks, we ordered appetizers, beginning with the ceviche, which was okay, but not impressive. The ceviche at Mossel and Gin was far better in my opinion, with subtle flavorings and soft fish, whereas this was more harsh and cutting in its flavor and texture.

We then loaded up with food, duroc pork (slow-cooked of course) and spreewald lamb, ordered with sides of green pea mash and braised carrot. As another appetizer, we ordered the french fries with dipping sides of tarragon mayonnaise, avocado-tomate, and mojo rojo.

The full extent of our food that night is this:

Looks heavenly, tastes heavenly.

The pork and lamb came in twin containers, but the pork is the specialty, served with pickled cauliflower on the side. The sauces in the picture accompany each meat. Seconds of each dish are also served (when asked for πŸ™‚ ).

Here’s a close up of the green pea mash, which I thought went excellently with the meat. The cashews on top also added to the rougher, more nutty texture to the dish.

We chose three sauces for our fries, but the best was by far the tarragon mayonnaise. They make their sauces themselves, and it pays off, as does the fact that the french fries are cooked in delicious organic goose fat.

The roasted carrots were my favorite of the sides we got with the meats; they came with delicious chanterelle mushrooms, and frankly tasted a bit candied.

I may have single-handedly polished off the carrots and pork by myself. πŸ˜‰

While the main meal was better than dessert, the dessert was delicious as well, with caramel lemon overtones.

It came with a side of lavender ice cream, subtle, but taste-changing at the same time.

Cheers, to Katz Orange.
πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

-Anya

John Dory- Amsterdam

It’s easy to underestimate how small Amsterdam is. As frequent travelers, my family tends to walk everywhere they go, in every city we fly to. Amsterdam, however, is so small, that you can traverse the whole thing and it seems like we don’t even miss a beat! As a consequence, we arrived at our reservation for John Dory a full hour early.

Luckily, they were open, but only for drinks, so we leisurely sipped for a while before ordering our food. They did let us order quick snack– oysters to share.

After a little bit of a wait but some great conversation, we decided to start ordering from their delicious (though limited) menu, which I’ll include a picture of here.

The deal was you could choose however many dishes you wanted of whatever combination, according to the course prices at the bottom of the picture. I chose the mackerel, the octopus, and the dessert featured on the left-hand side of the page. The dessert was a special, and the waiter kindly recommended the other two dishes. πŸ™‚

Before our mains, the kitchen came out with some surprise amuse bouches. And they were absolutely wonderful!!

I loved the beautiful arrangements, and the amuse bouche at the bottom of the picture was one of my favorites of the whole meal. It was crunchy, I believe filled with crab, and perfect for the appetite. Sort of like savory ice cream cones. πŸ™‚

The mackerel was the best of my mains, with an amazing pumpkin flavor and a beautiful edible flower to top. Truly, this dish was Michelin worthy, though John Dory is not a Michelin restaurant.

Although the octopus was amazing, I think I would have liked it better had it not been for the peanut sauce on the side. I rarely like peanut sauce on my food, so I admit that bias. But I can hardly see how anything could compare to the gushes of flavor and beautifully placed sides on the mackerel.

The dessert lived to it’s hype on the menu, with a gushing lava cake in the middle (it’s made to share) and whipped cream and caramel on our separate plates.


Hot, melting chocolate. Yum.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 1/2

Monte Pelmo- Amsterdam

Please do not do the following stunt at home. It should be said that we did all these ice creams in one day, and let me just tell you that that was a BAD idea. And that’s even after a full meal.

Monte Pelmo is number one on the list, so thankfully, we stopped after that (for Amsterdam, at least). It’s a very busy shop, especially on a hot day. It’s on an alley with other small restaurants, and the poor employee there must have to work doubletime with all the people inside!

Also rarely served in the US, passionfruit has always been one of my favorite flavors, with a unique summery glow foodies crave. Tart, sour, sweet, and refreshing all at the same time, I got in in a cone (with another cone on top because that’s what foodies DO!).

Ahhhhhh…. ice cream makes for such beautiful foodie pictures. I definitely have a love affair with ice cream.

Cheers!

Anya

Jordino Haarlemmerdijk- Amsterdam

Back on my mission to try all the best ice creams in Amsterdam! Previously, I did Banketbakkerjj Van der Linde, the ice cream shop with only one deliciously creamy flavor of ice cream. The link to that post is here at http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/07/24/banketbakkerjj-van-der-linde-amsterdam/.

Jordino is number 4 on that list, run by a cute old man who also serves up homemade delicacies like cannolis and champagne truffles.

There are so many delicious ice creams in his shop, but the one that looked most appealing to me was the smurf ice cream. The novelty of it drew me in, I’d never seen a smurf ice cream in the US before.

He served it to me in a sugar cone, and it made for an excellent picture. My conclusion is that smurf ice cream is SO GOOD! It tastes like marshmallows, but blue! AKA exactly what you’d think a smurf would taste like, if that makes sense. πŸ™‚ It’s a little sweeter than other European ice creams, but I really didn’t mind because a) marshmallows and b) smurfs.

I SCREAM YOU SCREAM WE ALL SCREAM FOR

ICE CREAM!

Anya

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Blue Pepper- Amsterdam

After the Dutch colonization of Indonesia, delicious Indonesian food remained on the mainlands. At the present, one of the best Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam is Blue Pepper, a small fine dining place with a dimly lit ambiance and pre-set menus. πŸ™‚

The restaurant opens at 6, but fills up towards later hours. Even with the preset menus, our waiter recommended us eating family style– with a combination of the two pre-set menu choices.

We got two of the traditional pre-set, and one of the more modern menu. The first dish that came out was the amuse bouche, a little like a kebab with cheese sprinkled on the top. It was quite delicious!

After the amuse bouche, the dishes from the preset menu came out. The first dish was a light soup with a strong sense of lemongrass. Two types of soup came out: one with shellfish and one without. My Papa has an allergy to shellfish, and often, preset menus are required to have another option on hand for their customers.


The first picture is the lemongrass shellfish-based soup, and the second is the modified one.

Another one of the first dishes to come out, the softshell crab with mango and pineapple was delivered right next to our soup platters.

Although the fruit was a nice touch, the fried outside of the crabs overwhelmed the inside, making the dish more commonplace and greasy than would be an expected of a more upscale restaurant.

The baked scallops were my favorite dish of the night, accompanied by caviar and greens.

The raspberry was a nice fruity add on, and the scallops themselves seemed to disassemble in my mouth as I ate them.

Then the chicken sate and lamb sate came; this was one of my favorite dishes that came out. It reminded me a little of a kebab, but with an Asian twist (for example, they added grapefruit instead of say, tomatoes).

The duck came in a tortilla-chip like bowl with greens on the side. The menu said it came with avocado salad, but from what I saw, there really wasn’t any. It seemed that in place of the avocado, they added cucumber. It was also pretty soggy, with the juices of the meat seeping into the chip. In contrast, this was one of my least favorite dishes on the menu, seeming both too common and too badly done.

After the duck, it was truly a family style meal. Waiters brought us all kinds of dishes including fish, beef, and a truly delicious goat curry.



My least favorite dish was the mixed vegetables, which to me tasted kind of pickle-y. Truly rather bland. The best dishes were the Balinese fish of the day and the delicious goat curry. Although a little more fishy than I would have liked, the balinese fish was melt in your mouth, and was paired nicely with some crunchy deliciousness on the side. I was very excited about the goat curry, because it was the spiciest thing on the menu. Not only that, but it was also very melt in your mouth (I seem to like melt in your mouth things). For those who don’t like goat, the beef curry is another delicious alternative, though it is far less spicy.

I took a bit of all the dishes and put them on the plate they provided, which was topped with a beautiful volcano of rice.

To be quite honest, dessert was somewhat of a letdown, with a mango pannacotta and a surprise dessert with a mix of several traditionally “Indonesian” flavors. The mango pannacotta was delicious, but other than that, dessert was disappointing.

Because of Blue Pepper’s reputation as one of the top 5 Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands, I had expected something spectacular. I didn’t get what I expected, but I did get a pretty good meal. Not spectacular, but worth the experience. Indonesian food is definitely one of my new favorites. πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4

-Anya

Pancakes Amsterdam- Amsterdam

Dutch pancakes are one of Amsterdam’s finest specialties (along with bicycles, of course πŸ˜‰ ). The best dutch pancakes in the area are served by Pancakes Amsterdam, a busy, local chain with crispy crepe-like pancakes and a line through the door and out to the side of the street.

The location I went to was at Centraal, at Prins Hendrikkade 48, 1012AC Amsterdam. I had hot chocolate to start, without whipped cream, and it came out in no time. The waiters seem to love the fact that we all ordered the Dutch pancakes and not the American ones (maybe Americans order American pancakes instead?), and anyways, they serve both!

The first time we went there (yes, that’s right, this is another one of those times where I was so addicted I went again πŸ™‚ ), I got the smoked salmon pancake, which came with creme fraiche and guacamole! We Americans like our avocados ;). In addition to that original base, I added a side of bacon, which they incorporated inside the pancake itself.

I later learned that most local Dutch get the ham and cheese pancake, because that’s what they make at home. So the second time, I ordered the ham and cheese Dutch pancake with bacon, pesto, and smoked salmon. I daresay I did a better job ordering the second time.

While both meals were absolutely AMAZING (maybe my favorite meal in Amsterdam in contrast to the last post, Wagamama), Dutch pancakes are very filling, so if you’re not very hungry, I would consider sharing. However, I highly recommend coming on a hungry stomach, as the food is well worth it (this is what calories are made for). And it’s healthy, too!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

An amazing meal with amazing people <3