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Labor Day eating report

windycity | Sep 8, 2009 09:28 AM

Took an out of town foodie friend on a LES/Chinatown/ Little italy Labor Day eating tour, hitting her favorite spots. Some of these are old timers for me but it was nice to get re-acquainted with them, and nice to eat at places that are new to me.

Brunch: Dim Sum A Go Go
We went super early to beat the crowds and it was about $57 for 3 of us, which is higher than normal but we were starving. The standout was the baked pork bun (not the mantou type steamed bun, which is also delicious.) The duck dumpling was also delish.

Snack: Minamoto Kitchoan
I had always wanted to go here but never went. I tried the peach sorbet (frozen) which gets raves on CH. We both agreed it was the best, with a truly delicate flavor. I also enjoyed the sakura mochi, and the combination of the cherry and plum flavors. The yuzu red bean was good as well. What fell kind of flat for me was the whole persimmon with red bean filling. I've been missing Payard, and this place was like a pristine museum or temple of Japanese desserts, with a judicious use of sugar and a focus on flavor. We both really wished that the place had more seating and tea service but I will definitely bring people back. Plus this place has the friendliest service.

Pre-dinner snack: Grilled corn at Cafe Habana.
Corn, cotilla cheese, mayo, cayenne pepper and a squeeze of lime hit the spot while waiting for a friend to get into Manhattan. Really good with horchata (which was slightly on the watery side) to dull the burn.

Dinner: Nyonya
I've come here sporadically through the years. They usually have inattentive service at best. The last time we came was in the spring for a friend's birthday, and they had terrible service. We kept trying to order thai iced teas which never showed up. Not a one. At the end of the meal, we figured that they probably ran out of either the tea or the cream (go fig.) I had nearly given up.

This time was the best meal I've had at Nyonya yet - short wait, and a perfect complement of dishes plus the alright service (which was good compared to past experiences.) Beef rendang in a rich sauce that was incredibly tender, beef chow fun, mango chicken, and hainanese chicken plus roti canai and chicken stock rice and coconut rice made for an excellent and filling meal. No misorders.

Dessert: Oro Bakery
Quiet, good music, decent if slightly pricey desserts and wine. A good pit stop in Little Italy. The macerated cherries in brandy packed quite a punch.

Other places I ate at over Labor Day weekend worth noting:
Nicky's Sandwich shop - I think the bahn mi is tastier than before, and less dry. Definitely beats Baoguette. Might not beat Num Pang, and loses to Kampuchea's duroc pork on taste but not on value.

Madeleine: Love their salted caramel macaron, it's easily my favorite. Did not really enjoy the lime coconut one, as it tasted exactly like a lime Skittle, which is my least favorite of the flavors. Orange praline was so so. I find some of their flavors overly flowery and intense - I made the mistake of eating a rose one which tasted too much like soap, without a good balance like the Kee's rosewater lychee macaron. But I had an amazing pear chocoloate there before, and will be back for more delights. My friend bought one in each flavor to go.

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