Home of Manhattan’s Best Banh Mi Sandwich – Review of Sao Mai


203 First Ave.
East Village
(212) 358-8880 / Sao Mai 

East of the East Village bustle and trendiness, this family-run East Village Vietnamese restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese fare and the best Banh Mi Sandwiches on the Manhattan side of the East River.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Available in six varieties including pho, sliced pork, grilled chicken and vegetarian, these sandwiches make a quick, nutritious, flavor-packed meal that’s easy on the wallet (priced between $6-$7). The Bahn Mi are prepared on baguettes are consistently fresh and crusty with a soft and chewy middle. Independent of the filling you choose, the kitchen always strikes the right balance between bread and ingredients. Their vegetarian Bahn Mi is among my favorite comfort-food lunches. Prepared on two warm halves of choice baguette, they’re stuffed with toothsome strands of sauteed bok choy, straw mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, shredded carrot and abundant swaths of cilantro, the sandwiches and seasoned with lemongrass,  sriracha mayonnaise, that provides a subtle and reverberating pitch of complex heat. In sum, it’s a light, filling lunch that delivers high-flavor rewards.

Pho’ Sao Mai

Front: Summer Rolls; Far: Spring Rolls

Lest one think Sao Mi is just about Bahn Mi, flavor mavens and fans of traditional Vietnamese fare will find other  sections of its menu will prove well worth exploring. The Pho Sao Mai will not disappoint. A flavorful broth, rich in tender strips of brisket, sprouts, rice noodles and a medley of herbs will consistently hit the spot. Adding appeal to  Sao Mi’s attractions is its steal of a lunch menu, which includes the choice of an appetizer, entree and a soft drink, all for $10. Sweetening things further,  both the Bahn Mi and the Pho are included in this deal!

Ga Gary – Chicken Curry

With a wide variety of vegetarian options on its menu, Sao Mai is also a smart choice for a low-key dinner that guarantees value, quality and flavor. Pity that wait staff has not yet mastered the walk-in dinner crowd on weekends. During these times, the  friendly service  can turn into a source of frustration for those who do not suffer extended waits and uneven food delivery times lightly.

Sao Mai on Urbanspoon

Help Feed Hungry Families in New York City!

FedEx is donating 5 meals for each of the next 10,000 new Likes the Food Bank receives on Facebook.

Make a difference today: Like the Food Bank to help end food poverty in New York City.

Click here to like Food Bank for New York City on Facebook.

The Race to Reservations Is On – Restaurant Week 2012 Begins on January 16th!

It’s that sweet time again! Starting January 16th, enjoy twenty days of discounted fine NYC dining, ending February 10th!

Click on the image below for a list of participating restaurants.


Showcasing specialty roasts and Brazilian delights – Casa Restaurant hosts Cafés do Brasil Week Brunch


Kicking Off Cafés do Brasil Week at Casa – November 12, 2011

Cafés do Brasil sponsored a lovely brunch and coffee tasting Saturday morning at Casa, 72 Bedford St. in the West Village.

Casa is located on a cozy corner of New York City’s oldest street and serves up regional Brazilian home cooking. It was the ideal spot for an authentic experience in Brazilian flavors.

The brunch kicked off Cafés do Brasil Week, a week-long event during which 20 New York City restaurants will be serving Cafés do Brasil specialty coffees. The event runs until Saturday, November 19.

Brazil is the biggest coffee producer in the world. Attendees at Saturday’s brunch tasted three coffees — starting with Mogiana, a light-bodied selection from Minas Gerais, Cerrado from Sao Paulo, and Planalto, a rich option from Bahia.

Brazilian Farm Breakfast @ Casa

Eggs Florentine with Organic Baby Spinach and roasted potatoes with Linguiça

For brunch, Casa served each person a basket of sugar and cinnamon donuts, yucca and coconut cake and cheese bread “Pao de Queijo.” Along with the coffees, this was a perfect pick-me-up to start off a beautiful Saturday. The main dish was Eggs Florentine with organic baby spinach and roasted potatoes. Brazilian Specialty Foods provided sausage “Linguica” as an optional accompaniment to the egg dish. It was hearty and full of flavor.

For a complete list of participating Cafés do Brasil Week venues, see http://cafesdobrasil.com.


Sabores! A Brazilian culinary tour-de-force in NYC



What better way to kick off the month of June than with a sampling of Brazilian fare at the French Culinary Institute?

On June 1st,  Gourmet Latino and Brazilian Specialty Foods guided guests on a culinary tour of Brazilian flavors. A draining hot day was perfect for a demo by Chef Jacques Gautier of Palo Santo in Park Slope. He brought his knowledge of Brazilian fish to the kitchen for a lovely tasting and discussion on sustainability.

The first recipe was grilled tambaqui ribs with chili citrus glaze and corn salad. Not your typical pork or beef rib, it was refreshing to have a moist and flavorful fish served on the bone, alongside a light corn salad utilizing seasonal ingredients. Not too overpowering, the dish is perfect as a small plate on a hot summer day.

The second dish was pan roasted pintado with black beans, farofa verde, calabresa (Brazilian sausage) and watercress. Pintado is more commonly called Brazilian bass and is found deep in the Paraguay River. Farofa is similar to parmesan or bread crumbs, Gautier said, and was toasted with lard and onion to garnish the dish.

Both fish were from Mar & Terra, a Brazilian fish production plant that uses eco-friendly technologies and creates farm and production jobs for the Brazilian countryside. Tambaqui and Pintado are available in the US through Brazilian Specialty Foods.

My experience with Brazilian food has been minimal. I visited Churrascaria Plataforma last year when a friend insisted it was a one-of-a-kind experience. However, that Brazilian steakhouse was not the relaxing dining scenario I was expecting, and was just too overwhelming to enjoy.

Gautier’s presentation has re-ignited my interest in Brazilian food, now that I realize the country has many more wonderful things to offer. The country is one of the biggest food producers and exporters in the world, and their desire to promote their food using sustainable practices should serve as a model to food producers around the world.

I appreciate the country’s commitment to sustainability and their wholehearted effort to share gastronomic delights with the world. Brazil is using its food to benefit both their land and people, while aiming to feed communities beyond Brazil. Many of us are hungry to learn more about this beautiful country and its distinct products.


Vino 2011 – Italian Wine Week in NYC

January 23-27, 2011 – New York City


Where the Most Sophisticated Buyers

Meet Italy’s Premiere Vintners!

For more information, go to: http://italianmade.com/vino2011/


Waldorf Astoria and Hilton in New York City

Sponsored by: Italian Trade Commission-ICE


Click on the logo above to view the full convention program.


Reserve your tables today – NYC Restaurant Week is Jan. 24. – Feb. 6

It’s that time again, when wallet-friendlier prices help turn NYC foodie fantasies into a reality.



How to Ring in 2011 in New York City…

Marc Forgione – 134 Reade Street – 212.941.9401 – www.marcforgione.com

New Year’s Eve Dinner with Iron Chef Marc Forgione. Two Seatings. Two Great Meals.

First Seating (Menu Attached: Marc Forgione NYE 2011 1st) – $95


5 Courses

Gala Seating (Menu Attached: Marc Forgione NYE 2011 2nd) – $165


6 Courses

Glass of Champagne at Midnight


Brother Jimmy’s – 212.244.3503 ext206 – www.brotherjimmys.com

Brother Jimmy’s BBQ & Bubbly New Year’s Eve 2011 (Flyer Attached: BroJs NYE 2011 Flyer)

No Cover, No Tickets, No Lines (NO FUSS!)

Just Come On In For a Grand Ol’ Time

Cash Bar All Day and All Night

7PM – Midnight $3 Drafts of Bud & Bud Light (excluding 3rd Avenue location – 1644 Third Avenue)

Champagne Toast at Midnight

Great Music, Great Southern BBQ and Great Times to Ring in the New Year!

Mel’s Burger Bar – 2850 Broadway – 212.865.7100 – www.melsburgerbar.com

Family Friendly New Year’s Eve at Mel’s Burger Bar. For all those families looking to avoid New Years Eve madness in New York City.

Kids Under 12 Eat Free from 6PM-Closing

Free Champagne Toast for Mom & Dad at Midnight

Sparkling Cider Toast for Kids at Midnight

The 40/40 Club – 6 West 25th Street & Broadway – 212.832.4040 – www.4040club.com

Come Out and Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club. One of the Hottest Spots in New York City!

Advanced Tickets: $60, Entry into the club, Midnight Toast, Party Favors

Advanced VIP Tickets: $95, Entry into the club, 5 Hour Premium Open Bar (9PM-2AM), Passed Hors D’Oeuvres, Midnight Champagne Toast, Party Favors

Private Booths & Rooms Available for Parties

New Year’s Eve Dinner Menu including 120z Dry Edge Porterhouse, Surf & Turf, Stuff Chicken Breast, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi & Pasta (Menu Attached: 40 40 NYE Menu 2011)


Two fabulous takes on Christmas Eve feasting

Two excellent ways to celebrate Christmas Eve sans apron this year:


Almond is located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. For more information on Christmas Eve at Almond, click on the image above.



Sicilian Seven Fishes for

Christmas Eve

($48 + tax +tip)












Cola is located in the heart of Chelsea on

148 8TH AVENUE (17th & 8th)

(212) 633-8020


Keeping it classic – Review of the 21 Club NYC


21 Club
21 West 52nd Street
Midtown West


The historic 21 Club had its grand opening on New Years Eve of 1930.  Today, the 21 Club stands as a New York City institution reminding us of the grandeur of the time, which is still as relevant today as it was in the 1930s. My boyfriend and I dined at the 21 Club before a showing of the Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway.

We were seated in the Bar Room, where the 21 Club’s famous collection of sport and corporate memorabilia is showcased, hung from the ceiling. The sommelier greeted us promptly with their wine list, a collection of nearly 1,300 vinos.  He helped us find a bottle that would be to our liking; a Malbec for my boyfriend and one from the Rhone region in France for me, we requested that it be a good pairing with the 21 Club’s famous steak tartare that I knew in advance I would be ordering.

    Grilled calamari at 21 Club  Grilled calamari at 21 Club

Grilled calamari at 21 Club Grilled calamari at 21 Club

The $40 3 course, pre-theater prix-fixe menu we ordered was a steal, giving you a well rounded taste of what the 21 Club has to offer for the price of their “Speakeasy” Steak Tartare ($38).
The grilled calamari we ordered as an appetizer was light and fresh, when I finally realized the pickled cucumber was hidden under the lettuce leaf which cradled the nicely charred squid I was happy to discover it created a great pop of tangy flavor.  The horseradish-crusted salmon and steak tartare were the next courses.  Although prepared well and certainly tasty, the salmon was unmemorable.  I couldn’t wait to dig in to the huge portion of the tartare, served with a side of rye toast.  The tartare had a distinct horseradish taste and paired with the rye toast and mustard, I could have sworn I was digging in to a reuben sandwich.  The wine suggested by the sommelier was the perfect accompaniment to each bite, making the wine even easier to sip.

Steak tartare at 21 Club

Steak tartare at 21 Club

Our dessert was a to-die-for milk chocolate tart.  The smooth milk chocolate center melted in my mouth while the hint of toasted raspberry punctuated each bite just enough to keep the chocolate overload to a minimum. While we could have both easily gobbled up one each, sharing was what kept us wanting more instead of walking away with a stomach ache.

Milk Chocolate Tart at 21 Club

Milk Chocolate Tart at 21 Club

While the food at the 21 Club was certainly a pleasure to consume, the service is really what would keep me coming back.  It was impeccable from the moment we walked in and were greeted by the maitre d’, to the waiter showing me the way to the restroom without even having to ask. We were treated like royalty.

*You can still celebrate New Year’s Eve (and the 21 Club’s 81st birthday party) at the 21 Club.  For $175, start your night off with a 4 course prix-fixe feast and ring in the New Year with a champagne toast.


21 Club on Urbanspoon