Friday, April 10, 2009

Chronicles of ridic(ulous)

Now, as promised, I've returned to finish this post! First up is a partial review of Cafe Zaiya, which has been previously mentioned) this time for their curry pan and their an bread (a.k.a. red bean bun). The red bean bun called to me when I walked up to the case of pastries. Well, actually the An donut called to me, but the red bean bun was cheaper and I didn't want to spend too much money... more on that at the end of the post. I actually forget how much it cost, but it wasn't too bad, probably around $1.25 (I'm not senile or plain forgetful, but when I bought the two breads together and I don't know how the price split). It was satisfying, 'nuff said. The outside was soft and resilient, as expected of any Asian bakery, be it from Chinatown or the Yamazaki's in Taiwan. The surprise came when I got to the middle, unlike some places in Chinatown who try to nickel and dime you by skimping on the filling, I was met with a solid chunk of red bean filling. Not cloyingly sweet and just right in thickness, it definitely hit the spot. I would most certainly buy this again, not just because I sometimes crave Asian breads, but because it was sickeningly good.

Up next was the curry pan, a fried concoction covered in panko bread crumbs, and filled with pungent pungent beef curry! See? the description itself is undeniably delicious. The combination of savory and sweet was to counter to, what I expected to be overwhelmingly sweet, the red bean bun. The outside bread is kind of chewy (yet again), I suspect they include mochi in the batter, but I can't say that with any sort of certainty lol. Again, biting in, I was pleasantly surprised to find filling from tip to tip. There was a plentiful amount of curried beef strips cut up real thin, spiced moderately so as to complement the bread, and not to overshadow sweetness. Honestly, if you look at the picture, it doesn't do the amount of filling justice, it's kind of squeezed down by where I bit in. I bet I sound like a broken record, but at around $1.50 (again, not sure of the price) I would buy this again too. Both of these would fail to satisfy me for a meal, but they make for a nice afternoon/breakfast snack.

After I left Cafe Zaiya, I headed to work, along 5th avenue, when I realized... this wouldn't do. There wasn't enough calories between the two of these. So I hung a left at 42nd, walked straight into Crumbs, and gawked at the case of brownie varieties for a good minute. After awkwardly ignoring the cashier asking if she could help me for what seems like the longest time, I decided on the 'Baba Booey.' On one side was chocolate cream cheese, on the other, peanut butter cream, topped with peanut butter chips, they definitely deserved points for creativity and presentation. I took the time to cut it in half to get a pic of the innards before eating, which reveals a chocolate cake base and more peanut butter frosting inside. Did I mention peanut butter makes me happy? Anyway, the cupcake was ridiculously sweet (even by my standards, and I can handle sweets) and a bit overly moist... maybe too much butter or oil or something. In any case, the cake was a bit of a disappointment as a whole, but the idea was solid, and the frosting was top notch. Maybe I got a lemon, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I probably would go back, but at $3.75, it's not really worth it.

Final stop on the day (on the way back to school for class) was Fay Da bakery on 34th and 8th. Also the same location as Lunch Box Buffet, this day was reserved for bread. Anyway, I decided on the (from left in picture) pineapple bun (波羅麵包), taro bun (芋頭麵包), and the milk cream bun (奶蘇麵包). I did also buy a steamed char siu bun, but I was too hungry and I ate it on the way to the subway station haha. Total cost of the purchase was a sweet $3.95. That's right... in midtown... 4 breads for under $4. This place made Cafe Zaiya look expensive! The pineapple bun was what I have come to expect from a prepackaged Asian food store, not spectacular, but at something like 80 cents, it was okay. The sugary top was flaky, the bread was airy, light, and somewhat firm, in other words, it didn't tear apart in ribbons like really good bread. The taro bun was heavy from top to bottom, with the bread being thick and chewy (again, not a good thing, but not a bad thing). The innards were sparse, but certainly sweet and fragrant of taro... it was white and not purple like I expected though. The milk bun was like the pineapple bun... but with sweetened milk/butter inside, that should explain a lot. Finally, the char siu bun... uh, I don't remember much about it except the pork was plentiful and really thinly cut like pork floss. Anyway, it doesn't really matter that much when everything is so cheap! With that said, the breads were decently good, and definitely hit the spot for a nice afternoon snack. I think I'll return quite often, if not only because the food is decent, but because I'm a college student... and I'm poor.

To cap off the night, we hatched up a plan. In the morning I had bought a roll of cookie dough (because according to my sister, I am a girl who craves things). Anyway, I digress, so I made a couple inches of it for breakfast, prior to the breads and cupcake, and realized... this is such a waste of cookie dough, I could make this part of a giant ice cream sandwich. So I called up Chris at work, and asked if he had brownie, which he did, and we decided to make a supersized ice cream, brownie, chocolate chip cookie sandwich. So at night, we (Wayne, Chris, Rich, Han, and myself) convened with all the components and assembled this monstrosity. Yes those are 2 9" cookies... about half a tube on each side, a full box of brownies, and a pint of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Uh... calorie count on the 'chipwich? just shy of 7000, I ate a plurality (thank you Mr. Schmidt... of AP US History) of it. No recipes this time... this shouldn't be replicated.


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