Nom Wah Tea Parlor – Great dining in New York City’s Chinatown

The Chinatown section of New York City is a densely populated neighborhood packed with authentic Chinese and Southeast Asian dining experiences. Not sure you would have a bad experience anywhere that you go, but I am so glad Nom Wah Tea Parlor was recommended to us. We never would have found it otherwise and it was the find of a lifetime.

Life itself cannot give you joy, unless you really will it. Life just gives you time and space … it’s up to you to fill it.

Chinese Proverb

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, opened in 1920 and is the oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in New York City. They are located at 13 Doyers Street on an adorable little side street. You almost want to call it an alley but it is prettier than that with all the beautiful lanterns hanging overhead.

Nom Wah Tea Parlor has other locations: Nom Wah Nolita is fast-casual restaurant in the the Nolita neighborhood (North of Little Italy), Nom Wah at the Market Line and Nom Wah Philadelphia which is a more modern version of the original in appearance but the food is the same quality that you expect

I have never tried Dim Sum before but it was on my bucket list and oldest daughter did not disappoint by bring us here. She knew Nom Wah Tea Parlor was the place to go and that I would love it. She made sure that we made time to go there on our most recent trip to New York City. We had beautiful weather so we walked from the lower east side and it was very enjoyable. Lots to see!

They open at 11 am and we got there a little before. There was a short line already waiting for them to open. I believe there is usually a line so be prepared for that. But it moves quickly and is so worth it. This is not a fancy restaurant, they have been open and operating since 1920 and the line is out the door so you know it is going to be great. This is not a tourist trap and you can tell immediately. Nom Wah Tea Parlor is very reasonably priced. We had five people and it was only about $100 before tip. For New York City that is a steal. But please note and prepare:

THEY ARE CASH ONLY!

My daughter and her boyfriend were given the task of ordering because they were more familiar than us and I am glad we left it to them. Some of the items we ordered I never would have tried and I would have missed out. We just said “surprise us.

The final decision was: House special roast pork buns, Chicken soup dumplings, Turnip cake with XO sauce, Pan fried noodles in superior soy sauce, pan fried pork dumplings, Chinese greens in oyster sauce (It was bok choy) and hot tea (not sure which one we got, I believe it was Oolong).

First off the Chinese greens in oyster sauce.. this was so good. I could have eaten just this and been happy. I never would have ordered it in a million years. How did I go my whole life not knowing about this? I need to figure out how to make it at home. In addition, the turnip cake with XO sauce is another item I knew nothing about and I will be getting that again. It was all so amazing and I just learned you can order some of their food and have it shipped nationwide at Good Belly. I will be trying that out also. They have gluten-free dumplings available for delivery!

I always appreciate restaurants that are allergy friendly and I like to support them on the restaurant review section of my blog, so check them out here at Sunday Chefs.

Tompkins Square bagels

Tompkins Square Bagels NYC – A must see!

Our daughter lives in New York City and we are having the best time visiting her and letting her show us the New York City that we have never seen. I have done all the touristy stuff, now I want to go to the street fairs and parks that I never knew existed. But the best part is finding all the little restaurants she has found. On our most recent trip to New York City, we checked out the highly recommended “Best bagels in New York City”, Tompkins Square Bagels. Now there are two Tompkins Square Bagels locations. One is located on 184 2nd Avenue (between 11th and 12th street) and another is located at 165 Avenue A (near Tompkins Square Park. We visited the the 165 Avenue A location.

I think my soulmate might be carbs

-Unknown

Beau

Our daughter had been talking about this place forever and we were very excited to check it out. Despite the hangovers from our previous nights dining and cocktail adventure (We are not as young as we used to be, so it was painful), we woke up and took a nice walk through the beautiful Tompkins Square Park to the 165 Avenue A location. I never knew this park existed, what a beautiful space. The dog parks were amazing. They had two sections: one for big dogs and one for little dogs. I so wished I had brought our Beau with us, he would have loved it.

The line was long and I was a bit intimidated thinking we were going to be there forever. However, the employees are so organized and the lines move very quickly. But you just have to know looking at that line that these were going to be fantastic bagels. I can see why my daughter says these are the best bagels in New York City if the people in the line are any indication.

The employees at Tompkins Square Bagels know what they are doing, it’s very impressive. If the line gets out the door, an employee will come out and take your order so I would recommend looking at the menu on you r phone ahead of time if you are not sure what you are going to get. I heard they had gluten free bagels after I visited, which was too bad. But it was my mistake, I just assumed they did not. I lean towards gluten free but I do not have an allergy. I love going to allergy friendly establishments. They go above and beyond for their customers and I always like to applaud that. Next time I will try out the gluten free bagel for you all and let you know how they are.

Tompkins Square Bagels is a must see on your next visit. I have been dreaming of their everything bagel with scallion cream cheese ever since. But the choices are endless and they even have gluten free bagels! Very allergy friendly.

The employees are quick and organized and you get to watch them in action making the bagels, which I found fascinating. There are so many choices… bagels, cream cheese’s, lox, dairy free, gluten free? I was in heaven. I finally decided on an everything bagel with chive cream cheese. The others got lox, tomatoes, capers and onions….they were so happy and ate them so fast I could not get pictures!

I cannot recommend Tompkins Square Bagels anymore than I have (unsolicited recommendation). As far as I am concerned these are the best bagels in New York City. They are fantastic and a must see on your next New York Adventure! I love nothing more than letting people know about the restaurants I love in my blog Sunday Chefs and I put them all on my page Sunday Chefs Restaurant Reviews.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream – My new favorite

I have a daughter who moved to New York City last year and we love nothing more than to visit and wander the city exploring any food establishments that catch our eye. It is a great way to find new and exciting places you may have missed. The little mom and pop shop or a fancy new bistro, it’s the excitement of the unknown that is so great. We have had some amazing meals and thank god we are walking so much to burn it all off! We have not been disappointed yet.

It does help that my daughter is a foodie and knows some great spots!

Ice Cream is cheaper than therapy

Unknown

Recently on a very hot, summer weekend, we ventured out to see what we could find. It was late and we were wrapping it up for the evening and walked past Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream at 172 Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side. Vegan Ice Cream? Who knew? Let’s give it a shot! We had eaten so much that day but as my husband says, “The dessert tank is a different tank, the meal tank may be full but the dessert tank is still empty.” There is always room for dessert!

A LIFE WITHOUT ANYTHING GOOD IS BAD

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Shoppe

What a cute little spot! The problem now is what to order. They all look amazing. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Ice Cream? I wish I had tried that. Earl Gray Tea? Vegan Churros and Fudge? Vegan Bourbon Vanilla Apple Crisp? Oat Milk Brown Sugar Crunch? Marion Berry Cheesecake? With the decision finally made, we ordered. The choices were a hot fudge sundae made with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for the youngest, a cup of Sicilian Pistachio for hubby and for me? I got the Vegan Peanut Butter Brownie Honeycomb.

The ice cream was so rich we could barely finish it all. I do believe, the decision was unanimous and it was the best Ice Cream we have ever had. I took a risk with the Vegan Peanut Butter Brownie Honeycomb, but it was amazing. Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream makes their vegan ice cream with Coconut Milk or Oat Milk apparently and I would have never known. If you are concerned that vegan ice cream may be a little weird, it is not. If I had not ordered it myself, I would have thought it was regular milk based ice cream.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream has locations all over the city. Nineteen in fact, with locations also in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. New locations coming soon in Connecticut and Colorado. I do believe Massachusetts should be next on the list. If you are an ice cream fan, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Vegan Ice Cream is a must see!

Restaurant Review – Luciano’s, Wrentham MA

Restaurants in Wrentham, Ma. appear to be on my list of favorites lately. Luciano’s is one of them. My husband and I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary. Where to go? Saw a Facebook post from Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA with a picture of their baked stuffed lobster and I was sold. We have been to Luciano’s before, but not since before Covid, so this was going to be a treat.

Established in 1991, Luciano’s is hidden away in a very unassuming location on Rte. 1 in Wrentham, MA. When you enter you are brought back to a classic Italian steak house of old. Great bar with weekend entertainment and a classic, sophisticated ambiance. This was just the “lets get dressed up and celebrate” location that we were looking for.

As we were being seated it occurred to me, “What if the baked stuffed lobster was a special that night and not available tonight…. I should have called first!”

Our waiter was wonderful and told us the long and complicated list of specials (Baked stuffed lobster was there!!). Explaining them all perfectly. I ordered a chardonnay and my husband got the house red wine. I don’t usually go for red wine, but the waiter’s recommendation was fantastic. The waiter noticed me stealing sips and brought a glass for me, so my husband could be left in peace with his drink. This is the kind of service and attention to detail that Luciano’s is famous for. We started our meal with the focaccia and Italian bread with olive oil for dipping. I could have had this for my meal alone it was so good.

For the appetizer we got the classic shrimp cocktail to share. It was prepared perfectly and served ice cold. For something so simple it is so easy to get wrong. They did not get this wrong. It was wonderful. We knew we were getting big meals, so we did not want to fill up on appetizers.

Ordering for me was easy and I told the waiter it was the Facebook post that got me here. He let me know that I would not be disappointed. He was correct. I cannot even remember how long it has been since I had a baked stuffed lobster. A very classic dish that isn’t on a lot of menus these days. It was my late mother’s favorite and I cannot help but have fond memories of this wonderful woman while I am eating it. Anyone who knows me knows that I feel food is love and food is memories and this meal checked off quite a few of those boxes.

The lobster came and to say I was speechless was an understatement. A two and a half pound lobster, prepared and stuffed to perfection. I actually couldn’t even finish it. The waiter chuckled at my reaction. I brought the leftovers home and my college student, home for the summer, finished it in a flash.

My husband got the Veal Saltimbocca Alla Romana and was thrilled with it. I am not a huge fan of veal normally, but I would order this. It was an amazing dish. I had every intention of getting dessert because it was a special occasion but I was just too full to get anything else.

Going to Luciano’s was the perfect choice for this special occasion. The waiter even noticed the breast cancer pin on my purse and asked if I was a survivor. I am and this year will be five years since my diagnosis and we had a very sincere chat and I appreciated his thoughtfulness. As we were waiting for the check, there were a few elderly ladies sitting across from us having a grand celebration of some sort. One woman had a walker and was tired and was having a hard time using the walker on the carpet. This wonderful man that was our waiter (I wish I could remember his name), had her sit in a chair and he slid the chair across the rug until she was in a place to use the walker more easily. He was charming and made her feel special and she had a great smile on her face throughout the whole adventure.

I cannot recommend Luciano’s in Wrentham, MA any more highly. It is the perfect special occasion restaurant. But let’s be honest, life is short, every day should be a special occasion.

Cafe Assisi cover pic

Café Assisi, Wrentham MA – Restaurant Review

Now that life is getting back to normal (Crossing my fingers here, that we keep on a positive trend) it is time to start to returning to our favorite restaurants. As a recent cancer patient, I think we have held out a little longer than most. But we are active take-out customers. One of our favorite haunts, that was our regular Friday night destination before Covid hit, is this cute little, local, Italian restaurant in Wrentham, MA called Café Assisi. It is so important to support our local businesses, they have struggled so much and for the ones that made and survived we need to make sure they thrive. These are our friends and neighbors, the ones that make donations for school fundraisers and pour their heart and soul into their business and make this our community. For a couple that loves nothing more than going into the North End of Boston for dinner, this hidden gem in Wrentham, MA is a godsend and most likely responsible for some extra pounds I have been trying to get rid of.

When you support a small business, you support a dream.

-Unknown

Café Assisi is a little Italian bistro hidden in a corner of Wrentham, Ma, right around the corner from the Wrentham Outlet Malls. It could be very easy to drive by unless you knew it was there. The owners have committed themselves to doing it right and it is working! I have never had a bad meal there. Café Assisi does a vibrant take out business and the pizza is fantastic.

A few years ago, we had them cater our daughters’ Confirmation and everyone raved about the food. We called last minute and had multiple food allergies to deal with. They pulled it all together, it was reasonably priced and a lot more food than we anticipated. People are still talking about how good it was. I am very loyal to restaurants that are open to helping with food allergies and they have always been very respectful and upfront about what they could and could not do and I completely respect that.

It’s important to support people who put their heart, soul, and last dollar into something they believe in.

-Unknown

On the spur of the moment we decided to try and get a table and completely forgot that they recommended reservations. Luck was on our side and we got a parking spot right in front and they were crowded but said they could seat us outside. Over COVID, they built a beautiful outdoor seating area with heaters, lights and plants. It is very beautiful and romantic.

We got the shrimp and pasta in a red sauce special, which my husband adored and could barely finish because there was so much food. There was lots of shrimp and it was fresh and cooked perfectly. I got the Cod in spicy, tomato sauce over sauteed spinach which was fantastic.

I am not one to get dessert, but the craving for anything lemon lately has been overwhelming. Walking in to get a table I spied the dessert case and that limoncello cake was calling to me and it did not disappoint. It was out of this world!

I cannot recommend Café Assisi any more highly. So much so that I am afraid to post this as it may get busier and I will never get a table…..but they deserve all the business they can get.

Fishermen’s View, Sandwich Ma

This week we were driving home from Cape Cod and got stuck in a massive traffic jam. One of the Cape Cod Canal bridges was closed and all the traffic was diverted to the other one. After two hours of following Waze all over the place, we decided to stop for something to eat. After consulting Google to see what was close by we were very lucky to be around the corner from Fishermen’s View Seafood Market and Restaurant in Sandwich, MA.

The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its nets of wonder forever”

– Jacques Cousteau

Located directly on the Cape Cod Canal in beautiful Sandwich, Ma., Fishermen’s View Seafood Market and Restaurant was a very pleasant surprise and my favorite new find. The amazing outdoor deck was full, so we were welcomed in to their beautiful dining room. With walls of windows overlooking the canal you felt like you were outside. Since this was our first experience with indoor dining since the pandemic, we were watching things very carefully. The staff all work masks, the place was spotless and the tables were spread far apart. We felt very safe with the procedures they had in place.

We started the meal with a perfectly portioned order of steamers and some of their piping hot, homemade cornbread. It was a great start. My daughter ordered the children’s chicken and french fries. It was a huge order and we were all picking at it because it was so good. Above and beyond the normal chicken and french fries for kids at most restaurants. My husband got the Double Decker burger and it was huge and wonderful.

I got the crab cake appetizer as my meal. Now let me explain that I am crab cake snob. I order them whenever they are on the menu. The crab cakes at Fishermen’s View were without a doubt the best crab cakes I have ever had. As we were leaving, the staff let us know that the bridge had been cleared and gave us some tips on avoiding the traffic. The owner also came by and thanked us for stopping by. All in all it was a wonderful experience.

If you are looking for great food, reasonable prices, good service and a fabulous view, stop by Fishermen’s View Seafood Market and Restaurant in Sandwich, Ma. It is my new favorite.

La Scala In Trastevere, Rome Restaurant Review

I am sitting at my desk today dreaming of Rome… There is nothing like it and now that I have been there I will never be the same. Strolling through Trastevere over the cobblestones on a warm night with family has always been my dream. After cancer, life is all about moments and experiences and Rome was one for the ages.

There were many times during our visit that we walked by La Scala in Trastevere and I kept saying we could not leave without trying it.

The hotel recommended La Scala in Trastevere, but said that we would need a reservation. We took a chance and stopped by without one and got a seat outside. It was raining, but that was not a problem, they had an awning and a heater and the effect was a very romantic dining experience.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

Helen Keller

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Spice and Wine cover pic

Spice and Wine Bistro – Trastevere, Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

Spice & Wine Bistro located in the heart of Trastevere, Rome was a place we just wandered into one night when we were caught in the rain. I was a bit apprehensive as we had not done any research beforehand regarding the food allergies. I like to do research on the restaurants that we go to in advance about how they handle food allergies, so this was a gamble, but they took it all very seriously and were very helpful. (We have allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, legumes, soy, eggplant, zucchini and gluten) We were seated at a lovely table in the back corner and I felt the place was warm and inviting.

 

Every meal should be a small celebration – Fannie Farmer

The staff was lovely and attentive. We had a great time with them. If you head in the back they have this cabinet thing where they collect all the corks from the wine bottles and I just had to get a picture of it. The waiters jumped in and made the pictures great. We had the caprese salad, bruschetta, meatballs, spicy penne, cacio e pepe and carbonara. There were no complaints. In fact, my two older daughters dream about the spicy penne, they loved it so much.

I saw that there were bad reviews on TripAdvisor for this restaurant about the staff. My experience was the exact opposite. I gave them a good review on TripAdvisor. They were wonderful and fun. If I ever have the privilege of visiting Rome another time, I would go back there again, it was very good.

I think people should give them another chance, we had a great evening.

Continue reading “Spice and Wine Bistro – Trastevere, Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review”

Donkey Punch – Rome Restaurant Review

My college student daughter has been studying in Amsterdam for the semester and we wanted to go visit her. I have always dreamed of Rome and after a long battle with breast cancer, we decided to celebrate it was over and take this bucket list adventure with our family. So we all met in Rome for a great reunion.

She has a lot of friends in Rome, so we asked for recommendations for a little place to grab lunch..street food. They live in Trastevere and all agreed we needed to try Donkey Punch. Yes, you heard it right….. Donkey Punch. It is an eclectic little sandwich shop in the heart of Trastevere. There are murals of 70’s and 80’s rockers all over the walls and the sandwich names follow the same pattern.

The college aged girl who made the sandwiches was spectacular and recommended the “Eddie Van Halen” which was porchetta, tomatoes, pickled red onions, mayo and basil and it was done on grilled foccacia bread. I got the “Eric Clapton” which was tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pickled onions and rocket salad.  Mine was fabulous but the Eddie Van Halen was the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. Next time I will get that. 

The girl making them put so much love into making these sandwiches, I told her she was an artist and I meant it. We ate the sandwiches so quickly I couldn’t even get a picture of them. I would highly recommend Donkey Punch to anyone visiting the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome, Italy. It was a great meal on the go, with a great atmosphere and great price.

“Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art”

Unknown

Trattoria Il Lucano – Rome Restaurant and Food Allergy Review

As we were walking back from the Pantheon one night on our recent life-changing trip to Rome, the kids were starving and I didn’t have any idea where we could eat. Before our trip I studied and searched for restaurants that would accommodate our family and their food allergies (Peanuts, tree nuts, carrots, cucumbers, soy, gluten, legumes, eggplant and zucchini). Italy is known for being very food allergy friendly but information on specific restaurants is hard to find, so I tried to find blog information and there was a few, but it was outdated and limited. So I looked for restaurants that were recommended by friends or had good reviews and reached out to them. Then I made a master list of the places that I wanted to visit and nearby restaurants that were food allergy friendly. (We made the food allergy cards and they were great but only used them once). It was good old fashioned leg work that got the job done. I will share my hard work with you all to save you some time.

I did a lot of prep work, but on this day I had run out of ideas. It was raining and we took a risk and stopped in at Trattoria Il Lucano and asked if they could accommodate us. We lucked out and it was a fabulous meal.

Our waiter was named Mimo and he was so much fun. He suggested that my husband try the steak which they cook at the table. We got the caprese salad, cacio e pepe, pizza and lots of house wine! Always get the house wine. We sat outside under the awning and had a fabulous meal despite the uncertainty at the beginning. My husband is still dreaming of the steak!

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook. – Julia Child