So I know I've been really slow at updating the blog with travel pictures, but bear with me, okay? We're outta Philly! After 5 days in the city, we took a train to NYC. The train ride was just around an hour and a half, and quite enjoyable. I just love trains.
When we arrived in Penn Station (thoughts of Mad Men came to mind), we got really confused. There were so many connections, people, exits - we didn't know how to get to Brooklyn, and it was my idea to stay a night in Brooklyn, so I had to get us there - by subway, of course.
Anyhow, we made it on the A Train, though not without a lot of frustration. The hotel we stayed at was one of the best ones we've ever been to. How much can I say about Brooklyn? We loved it! To me, this was the best part of NYC. There was such a feeling of community, lots of old neighbourhood stores, interesting streets to explore, and not too many people.
When we arrived we decided to go for a late lunch, and I had been craving Asian food for a while, so we decided to go to Joya, a Thai restaurant near the hotel. There were a lot of good reviews on the Internet, so I was pretty excited.
I was surprised at how modern and hip the place looked - when you go to Thai restaurants in Vancouver, you nearly always get that functional space filled with Thai knick-knacks, but this place was pretty cool looking, with exposed brick, lots of wood, and an open, stainless-steel kitchen.
We started off with Thai Iced Tea, one of my favorite sweet drinks. This version was wonderful - just the right proportion of evaporated milk to tea, and just enough sweetness to not be cloying.
I had been thinking about having a sour soup for days, so we ordered the Tom Yum soup ($3.50). This was tasty, though it had a little sweetness that I don't generally like (just a personal preference). However, there was a nice balance of lime, fish sauce, and chillies in the bowl.
We also ordered shrimp Pad Thai ($6.95), as a benchmark of authenticity, as it were. While it didn't come with the traditional accompaniment of chives and lime (lemon was given instead), I was pretty impressed at this version. While it was a more wet and sweet than what you would get in Thailand, the flavours were great, with one of that annoyingly sweet red ketchupy stuff that a lot of restaurants use for Pad Thai.
One of my favorite dishes is Gai Yang ($8.95, I think), which is grilled (usually whole) chicken. A lot of restaurants don't do a good version of this, but I was so wonderfully surprised by this half grilled chicken we got, which came with a side of sticky rice (yes!), and mango salad.
The chicken was moist and delicious. It exceeded my expectations! The sticky rice, a traditional accompaniment, was good as well. The only disappointment was the mango salad; the problem was that they used a semi-ripe sweet mango along with a sweet dressing, so the whole effect was disappointing. Sour green mango really should have been used, but they are pretty hard to find.
We were bowled over at the food and the cheap prices of Joya, and we really wished that we lived in Brooklyn so we could eat there all the time.
We were pretty stuffed at this point, but when we were walking along Court street, we noticed a whole lotta people lining up for Italian ices at the Court Pastry Shop. Italian Ice (known as Water Ice in Philly), is ice that's ground to a velvety smooth consistency with fruit or other flavours. I got pineapple, Shane got pistachio. It was refreshing on a warm summer day. Hmmm, why doesn't someone open up an Italian Ice joint in Vancouver?
For dinner we went to the New St. Claire Restaurant, a cool-looking diner near the hotel. We were trying to find a specific restaurant, but got lost instead. So we settled upon the place around the corner.
Shane got an omelette (around $9). The food was pretty mediocre.
Since they had a bunch of Greek stuff on the menu and because I wasn't that hungry, I got a plate of dolmates. This was just okay, similar to what you would get any where else.
Shane got a couple of beers to take back to the hotel.
We splurged on a meal in Philly at Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame. Both of us dressed up, and talked ourselves into the $80 tasting menu.
The restaurant was one of the most beautiful restaurants we'd been in; the walls were covered with an pearl-like iridescence, with modern white tables and lit from within with coloured lights.
Morimoto has their own beer, brewed by Rogue. The is the flight, which included, soba ale, and hazelnut ale.
A very delicious guava cocktail.
First course: tuna tartare, in a moat of soy-based sauce/broth. The sauce was pretty salty, but went well with the fish. I didn't particularly love the ultra smooth texture of the fish though; it reminded me too much of baby food.
Fish carpaccio. Delicious.
Sashimi salad. Wonderful
'Sangria' cleanser. To be honest, this didn't taste like sangria.
Morimoto hazelnut ale.
Seared salmon with an anchovy broth. Not my favorite, because the sauce smelled a little too strong. It was crying for a little bit of acid to balance out the plate.
Amazing Peking duck inspired dish: duck, green onion crepe, kimchi sauce. The highlight of the meal.
Cheesecake with blueberries. The cheesecake was very light, with a slight gelatinous texture.
We were really full when the meal ended. The whole meal lasted for about 2 and a half hours, and service was very professional. A great experience.