A good selection of banchan to start us off and stove to warm us up What a feast! Hot BBQ o...

Kogiya Korean BBQ in Annandale VA Kogiya Korean BBQ in Annandale VA

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

A good selection of banchan to start us off and stove to warm us up
What a feast!
Hot BBQ on a cold winter night... one of the best dining ideas I've experienced. It was freezing outside, and my party of seven was fortunate to get a table right away without reservations. Before the grill was fired up, it was still pretty cold inside with the stainless steel tabletops. Then-- voila! Once we got going, the room and our bellies both warmed right up.

The complimentary appetizers, also called banchan, was varied and were replenished upon request. My favorites were the bean sprouts and kimchi. I'm not sure if the steamed egg is considered banchan, but I loved that, too. The bursts of color and flavor are memorable, long after the meal is over.

We contemplated going the all-you-can-eat route at $23 or $29 per person, but the server convinced us not to. He said the meat choices were limited and we may not get to enjoy the tastier cuts. Though the large combo set is described as serving only 3-4 people, the server said it would be plenty for our party. We ordered the beef set which included regular and spicy bulgogi, brisket, rib eye, and short rib-- all delicious! And not only was the server right, but we even had leftovers to take home.

With a couple of appetizers and some drinks, the meal ended up costing around $22 per person. Perhaps I can convince my party for an all-you-can-eat session for round 2!

Kogiya Korean BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Kubideh & Chicken Kabobs Close-up of chicken chunks Whenever I visit my brother i...

Shamshiry in Vienna VA Shamshiry in Vienna VA

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

Kubideh & Chicken Kabobs
Close-up of chicken chunks

Whenever I visit my brother in Vienna, he insists on taking me to Shamshiry-- no matter how short or long our visits are, and no matter how abundant the dining options are in his area. The welcoming staff and the hearty food have made it a favorite for me, too.

Shamshiry serves traditional Persian cuisine. Their busy charcoal grill is on full display behind glass as diners enter the restaurant. The mirrored wall in the dining room makes the place look larger than it is, and the bustle and happy chatter of the occupied tables provide a vibrant atmosphere.

The signature grilled dishes are served in generous portions and are certainly large enough to share between two people. They are served in platters with the grilled meats on the bottom, topped with a heaping pile of fragrant basmati rice. My nieces' favorite is kubideh-- ground meat kabobs. A good sampler idea is to order half kubideh and half chicken, though the chicken isn't as juicy.

I wonder why they serve the meat under, instead of over rice? I keep forgetting to ask.

Shamshiry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Soup Dumplings Sticky Rice Shumai Lion's Head Meatballs I wanted dim sum, but wa...

Sakura Mandarin in Philadelphia Chinatown, PA Sakura Mandarin in Philadelphia Chinatown, PA

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

Soup Dumplings

Sticky Rice Shumai

Lion's Head Meatballs

I wanted dim sum, but was told to avoid Joy Tsin Lau after reports of food poisoning in the past year. There were numerous options in the area, but my friend and I ended up at Sakura Mandarin under the impression they served all the good staples. I have to start by saying I wasn't really happy with it, and I would've been willing to take a chance at the iconic JTL with my cast-iron stomach.

First, I don't like to see any kind of "fusion" when I am craving authentic comfort food. While my daughter appreciated the rock shrimp tempura, it was off key for me. I stuck to dim sum, but the sticky rice shumai was too heavy, not flavorful, and fell flat. The lion's head meatball looked uncomfortably undercooked. We ordered other dishes which were okay, but at least the soup dumplings were solid.

Staff was slow and we had to ask different servers for help before we could get what we needed. I won't be going back anytime soon because, aside from the above, there are plenty of other places to check out.

Sakura Mandarin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

My daughter's favorite: rose milk tea Thick toast topped with fruit and ice cream Ic...

Prince Tea House in Flushing NYC Prince Tea House in Flushing NYC

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

My daughter's favorite: rose milk tea
Thick toast topped with fruit and ice cream
Ice cream in front; red bean crepe in back
When I was in my 20s, I was happy to "discover" new places and then share them with my family and friends. As I've gotten older, my son and nieces (all 20+) are now the purveyors of adventurous dining. A little over a year ago, my oldest niece tipped us off to Prince Tea House, and since then we've been hooked! No matter if family is visiting from as close as NJ or as far as FL and IL... it is a treat to hang out and enjoy the delectable offerings at Prince Tea House.

The tea menu is bigger than the sweet & savory food menus combined. The tea pots are the stars of the show-- black, white, fruit-infused, with milk or without-- you can go there several times and still have more to try at following visits. They also have cold teas and coffee. Everything is served with flair.

I have never tried their savory items, but the desserts are simply divine. There's a lot of Asian influence, for sure, with matcha and red bean heavily featured. 

The decor is modern and French-inspired with tufted seating, cathedral ceilings, and dainty ornamentation. It's Asian owned and operated, however, so the European flair stops at the tea pots and decor. The customer service also leaves much to be desired when sitting in an otherwise sophisticated place, but it's forgivable given its location in a grungy and urban area. With this in mind, it is a fantastical escape.

Prince Tea House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tall Charlie in a donut bun This is an impressive spinoff of the Asian original from Thailand...

Sweet Charlie's in Philadelphia PA Sweet Charlie's in Philadelphia PA

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

Tall Charlie in a donut bun

This is an impressive spinoff of the Asian original from Thailand. A young teenager saw a similar YouTube video and approached his family for help in opening up his own shop. Named after the family dog, Sweet Charlie's had an impressive opening and its popularity was visible in long lines snaking on the sidewalk out front.

I had already tried rolled ice cream, so I was happy to try the Tall Charlie... basically, an ice cream hot dog! Get it? Charlie is the family dog. The story behind it and the actual food creation is genius. Everything about this place makes me smile.


Just like the other spots, Sweet Charlie's offers a flat price that includes toppings. Aside from the Tall Charlie, their location in Society Hill gives this an instant upgrade. Never mind that the place is always crowded because you can always take a nice stroll through Washington Square Park.

Sweet Charlie's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Before dining at Jinya, I realized I never got into the ramen trend beyond trying a local spot ...

Jinya Ramen Bar in Fairfax VA Jinya Ramen Bar in Fairfax VA

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast


Before dining at Jinya, I realized I never got into the ramen trend beyond trying a local spot in NJ a few times. My nieces were happy to show me a few places when I visited them in VA. Turned out, we were all in for a surprise as Jinya just opened this past week, so we could all experience something new together.

Online reviews can be a blessing and a curse. The reviews for Jinya were split down the middle. The complaints of long wait time didn't matter to me-- it goes with the territory of being new and located in a hotspot. The complaints about quality didn't matter to me-- everyone's taste varies, and when a reviewer starts spouting out names of other places they'd rather go to they are just being snobs and wasting review space. The prices definitely were higher in comparison to most ramen places, and that's the only review I'd agree with.

Having said that, I had a lot of fun at Jinya. I liked their decor from top to bottom. High ceilings with exposed pipes, a cool mix of concrete and wood, seating at different heights and different types to suit your mood. Sit at the bar or sit at bar height, or have a seat at a regular table on chairs or banquettes. There is a hipster vibe they are going with, having their servers dressed in plaid shirts and all black underneath. From the several staff I encountered, they were all upbeat and happy to help.

We tried both chicken and pork broth bowls, at different spice levels. Read each description on the menu to see which flavor combination strikes your fancy. Or choose a simple bowl, like Jinya Chicken Ramen, then add ingredients to your liking. The broth takes 18 hours to prepare, as I've read, and you really taste its goodness to the last drop. Try not to wait too long in eating, or else the noodles will soak up the broth.

A fun note: My brother was annoyed that the girls and I wanted to eat ramen. He is convinced that you can make your own at home with instant packets and then adding your own fresh ingredients. He is stubborn that way, but actions speak louder than words. He happily ate with us and even planned to return!

Jinya Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Ice cream made right before your eyes, made with fun and fresh ingredients of your choice, i...

10 Below in Flushing NYC 10 Below in Flushing NYC

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast



Ice cream made right before your eyes, made with fun and fresh ingredients of your choice, is all the craze this summer. I recall seeing a YouTube video of night markets in Thailand, sent to me by my sister, and we both wondered when we'd be able to try the handcrafted treat. Would we need to fly to Asia? When would we be able to do that?

Thankfully, some business minded folks decided to bring the trend stateside, and 10 Below is one of the first to do (if not the first to do so!) I went to the Flushing location with my daughter and nieces in the early afternoon on a Monday, and were fortunate to skip the rumored hour-long lines. My daughter picked green tea with strawberries blended in, and my nieces picked Thai iced tea flavor. That was just the start of the fun-- at the end, they picked all the toppings their hearts desired, which included a freshly roasted marshmallow.

How does the magic happen? A cup of flavored cream is poured onto a subfreezing metal surface, where the cream quickly begins to freeze and harden. As it does so, the worker chops up the ingredients and frozen cream, until it is fairly smooth and becomes the consistency of ice cream. The finished product is rolled up with wide metal spatulas and arranged in serving cups, ready for toppings.

There is a flat price of $7 and for us, one serving was shareable between two people. It is steep for ice cream, but reasonable when you consider the performance included!

10Below Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

I live in a neighboring town that doesn't have its own diner. Although Teddy's is not a...

Teddy's Restaurant in Cranbury NJ Teddy's Restaurant in Cranbury NJ

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast


I live in a neighboring town that doesn't have its own diner. Although Teddy's is not a traditional diner and keeps earlier hours than most restaurants, it is the place I go to when I'm in the mood for diner fare. Their tagline is "Where Old Friends Meet," and it shows in the bustling crowd of locals of all ages, the service with charm and familiarity, and a menu that provides good, simple, and hearty choices.

I've been coming to Teddy's throughout the years, since moving from NY in 2007. The place is now run by Teddy's son, and you can usually find him greeting customers at the door, whether it is to welcome you to sit anywhere you'd like or to ask you how your meal was at the end. The decor hasn't changed much, with NY Yankees memorabilia adorning the largest wall, but the place has definitely grown more vibrant. 

During the warmer months, it's a treat to sit outside, especially as the sun goes down with the lights of the restaurant shining a light on Teddy's special place on Main Street. Bottomless cups of coffee and all-day breakfast are just the tip of the iceberg here.

Business lunch specials change daily and include soup and coffee
Teddy's Luncheonette Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

There are three Indian restaurants that serve lunch buffet in the small town of Plainsbor...

Jhopri in Plainsboro NJ Jhopri in Plainsboro NJ

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast




There are three Indian restaurants that serve lunch buffet in the small town of Plainsboro, and Jhopri is the best one. It's in the prime location of the new shopping village off Schalks Crossing Road, on Market Street. The interior is just exquisite, making it perfect for romantic dates, parties, business lunches, or just jazzing up any regular meal.

The main thing I love about Indian food is its complexity. I am sure I will never be able to cook this at home, unlike many other cuisines. Their lunch alone can give diners an amazing sampling of several items on their menu-- the buffet is abundant, fresh, colorful, and complexly flavorful.

The decor is contemporarily luxurious, airy, and bright. My experiences there are always special, whether it's a special occasion or not.



Jhopri - Cultured Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

London Lennie's fish fry Freshly baked bread with sides of cole slaw Mussels marin...

London Lennie's in Rego Park, Queens, NYC London Lennie's in Rego Park, Queens, NYC

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

London Lennie's fish fry
Freshly baked bread with sides of cole slaw
Mussels marinara for appetizer
Shrimp with linguini
Cheesecake and coffee 

London Lennie's is an old staple of Rego Park in Queens NYC. The pre-fixe lunch was a great way to save money while sampling more items on the menu, and even better when your companion orders different items. In one sitting, I was able to try mussels, shrimp, and fish, with a creamy cheesecake, for less than $20! The quality of the seafood did not disappoint with its simplicity and freshness. The service was nimble and professional, making it an overall pleasant experience most would be hard pressed to find in NYC.

London Lennie's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Shrimp teriyaki lunch bento box Going out to eat with my college boy is a guaranteed trip to a...

Sushi O in Edison NJ Sushi O in Edison NJ

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

Shrimp teriyaki lunch bento box

Going out to eat with my college boy is a guaranteed trip to an Asian restaurant. There are so many different places to eat near Rutgers that we almost never go to the same place twice. We picked Sushi O for lunch because neither of us have been there.

Lunch prices were great. Less than $9 for bento boxes, and even less for kitchen selections. I went with the shrimp teriyaki bento box, which was served with edamame, California roll, fried shrimp shumai, with soup and salad to start. My son picked 3 rolls for $10.95, though I really can't imagine how filling that can be! My husband got beef teriyaki without the fixings, as he is the picky one of the family.

Despite the low prices, this place had a surprisingly romantic ambiance. I would just suggest switching off the radio pop music. The servers were pleasant, prompt, and funny.

Soup & salad included with lunch


Sushi O Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 



Dim sum selections The weekend is the worst time to go to Chinatown-- any Chinatown. But on th...

Ocean Harbor in Philly's Chinatown Ocean Harbor in Philly's Chinatown

Food blogger based in New Jersey, reviewing restaurants in surrounding areas along the east coast

Dim sum selections

The weekend is the worst time to go to Chinatown-- any Chinatown. But on this particular Sunday, I had a hankering for dim sum, and it wasn't going away until I got some. After circling the block a couple of times, my friend and I gave up and finally parked in the garage across the street.

It's a shame there were only two of us. It would have been better to go with more people-- the more is not only the merrier, but also a way to try a little bit of everything without getting stuffed. We just made the best of it with ordering only what we really fancied from the pushcarts: 2 shrimp dumplings, 2 shrimp rice noodles, 1 stuffed tofu, 1 vegetable dumplings, 1 heaping plates of greens, and 1 sticky rice stuffed with meats. We also got chrysanthemum tea, which was too flowery for my taste. Next time, I am sticking to plain black tea.

Altogether, our bill was just $31. We have no idea how much each plate cost. Everything was stamped in Chinese and our servers barely spoke English. Service was poor due to our miscommunication and their lack of patience. A common joke among my friends is that these establishments are the only places we CHOOSE to go to, EXPECT poor service, and still RETURN to!

I've seen the horrible reviews. And to all those reviews, I say-- Eh. This comes with the territory of having an authentic experience. Paying just $31 for 8 food items? Cannot complain.

After the dim sum rush

Ocean Harbor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato