Archive for 'Kathy YL Chan'

The Street Sweets Truck Top 5

I like the sweet stuff just as much as the next guy, but desserts are not exactly my area of expertise. I tried the chocolate chip cookie from the Street Sweets Truck, and thought it was fine, but for a comprehensive look at their offerings I decided to turn to Kathy YL Chan, our resident coffee, sweets, and Hawaiian food expert here on Midtown Lunch (she’s also the blogger behind A Passion for Food.) She “sacrificed” herself by trying a good number of the Street Sweets Truck offerings, and filed this Top 5.


First the Treats Truck, then Dessert Truck, Wafels & Dinges, and now the Street Sweets Truck (followed by the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck). It would be easily to shake one’s head at the severe overflow of baked good and dessert oriented trucks in the city, but as far as I’m concerned (from a consumer perspective) the more, the merrier.

Unlike the other aforementioned trucks, Street Sweets Truck sets itself apart by being tied to a stone and mortar bakery in Brooklyn, One Girl Cookies. One Girl Cookies bakes a good number (but not all) of the products sold at the SS truck, including a selection of One Girl Cookies and some goods exclusively made for for SST.

I sampled my way around a good portion of their products, and while nothing is “the best of its kind”, as a whole SST is a notch above Treats Truck, the most comparable of moving dessert vehicles in town. Below, the top five to note for your next SST visit.

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Shave Ice is the Best New Thing at Cafe Zaiya (But the Frappes and Soft Serve are Pretty Awesome Too)

A few things have happened since Kathy YL Chan (from A Passion for Food) compiled her Food Porn Guide to Navigating Cafe Zaiya (on 41st btw. Mad+5th) for Midtown Lunch. Beard Papa is now gone, replaced by a coffee and dessert bar.  Since Kathy is our resident coffee, dessert, and Cafe Zaiya expert we told her to go whole hog on their new offerings and report back.  Here is what she found…

Since you’ve already had a first look at the menu and set up of Cafe Zaiya’s new coffee and dessert station, let’s just get straight to the point. The best thing on Cafe Zaiya’s new drink bar menu is SHAVE ICE. It’s near impossible to find shave ice in this city, much less a decent bowl of shave ice. It’s a terribly painful fact for someone who grew up in Hawai’i, consuming shave ice bowls on a daily basis. Zaiya’s shave runs $3.79 for a small and $4.29 for a large, and comes in one flavor: Green Tea. Unlike most places which fill the cup with shave ice and then put on the syrup, Zaiya fills half the cup with shave ice then pours on green tea syrup and plenty of condensed milk. Then more ice, till it forms a decent mound, and then more syrup and condensed milk.

How about the toppings?

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Where to get Two Little Red Hens, Doughnut Plant, Balthazar & More (in Midtown)

If you are a big fan of bakeries, Midtown would probably not be your first choice of places to be stuck 40 hours a week. Lower East Side, East Village, Soho, hell, anywhere would probably be better than here. (Though we do have 28 locations of Crumbs!) But don’t curl up into a sugar deprived ball just yet. Some of the best non-Midtown bakeries have items shipped to various shops in Midtown… and who better to uncover the best ones than our contributor, and baked goods expert, Kathy YL Chan (from A Passion for Food.) Here is her list of favorites, along with the location in Midtown you can find them. (Note: some places have multiple locations with a rotating list of sweets. You won’t be guaranteed to find each of these items at all locations on all days… but it’s still a good guide to get you started.)

Two Little Red Hens

  • Actual Bakery Location: 1652 2nd Ave (btw. 85+86th), UES
  • Favorite Item: Brooklyn Blackout Cake

This dark and luscious number never fails to leave me intoxicated in a sugar coma, post-consumption. Regardless, I return to it over and over again. And no, there are never regrets. Tiers of chocolate cake layered with chocolate pudding, finished off with frosting and a smattering of cake crumbs. Too sweet? Of course! But in just the right ways that you would expect and want. Where to get it in Midtown: Dean & Deluca

Sage General Store

  • Actual Bakery Location: 24-20 Jackson Ave., Long Island City
  • Favorite item: Carrot Cake Cupcake

The girls over at Lunch Studio have already spilled wonders on this oversized cupcake creation. Carrot cake and a smother of whipped cream cheese frosting. Simple and classic, no surprises here, just pleasure all around. Where to get it in Midtown: Dean & Deluca

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A Food Porn Guide to Navigating Your Way Through Cafe Zaiya

Is it possible to love something so much, you end up kind of hating it? That might be the way I feel about Cafe Zaiya. Yes, I’m talking about that Cafe Zaiya (on 41st. btw. Mad+5th), the Japanese fast food place that specializes in bento boxes and rice balls and amazing Japanese baked goods. The place that won best Japanese Fast Food in the Midtown Lunch Readers’ poll. That Cafe Zaiya. The simple fact is, I will step foot in that place and not be able to decide what to get. Everything just looks so damn good. In fact, there have been times where I have spent 15 minutes looking, browsing, picking something up, putting it down, picking another thing up, waiting in line for a baked good, get out of line, contemplate the sushi, put the thing I picked up down… and so forth… until I become so crazed, I just leave and eat somewhere else. I have no excuses. Love will sometimes do crazy things to a man.

What I’m saying is, I could never compile a post like this. It would require too many visits… choosing too many things… making too many decisions. I just don’t have that willpower. I would probably just end up buying one of those little fried chicken sandwiches and a rice ball every single time. Damn you Zaiya! Luckily, Kathy YL Chan, author of the blog A Passion for Food, and our resident Hawaiian food expert, doesn’t have my issues. And she was happy enough to put together this massive look at some of the best things Cafe Zaiya has to offer. Sure it’s nothing groundbreakingly new here on Midtown Lunch… but who would complain about looking at a ton of amazing food porn from one of the best lunch places in Midtown.

Cafe Zaiya, Midtown, NYC

Of all the places to eat lunch in Midtown, Café Zaiya is my safe haven. Reliable, cheap, and most importantly, very tasty. Most days I veer straight towards the bakery counter and select two baked goods. That fills you up just about right for less than $5. You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal.

The café is divided into five major sections. The bakery area on the left side of the shop, bento and sandwiches in the middle, a hot food station in the back, a cold food area to the right (sushi, salads, and cold sandwiches) and Bead Papa’s upfront. I find the hot food at Zaiya to be simply passable and nothing more. Same goes for the sushi. Divert your attention to the bakery.

Here you’ll find wonders (most priced under $2) of the sweet and savory sort, either baked, steamed, or deep fried. Below are a few of my favorites.

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