The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Amy Ruth's, Cafe Mogador, Taim

crazy dude
the fingerrrr!

Last Friday I ate in Harlem with Stephanie. I had never been there before, but since she was living there for the summer it was a good opportunity to visit the area and not make Stephanie schlep downtown to see me. She showed me this mildly frightening flyer (not found in Harlem, but I thought it'd be a nice warm and fuzzy way to open up the entry) while we hung out in her room. I'm not sure if the dude is vaguely pointing at himself or attempting to point at the reader.

But forget smoking. Can he make me stop eating so much in just one hour? HMMM? HYPNOTHERAPY MAN? Show me what your magic finger does.

(...Actually, don't. Please.)

Amy Ruth's
Amy Ruth's

Since I've read mainly good things about Amy Ruth's, that's where we went for dinner. Not that I forced Steph at gunpoint. She was my stomach bag of the day. That is what we humans are: bags of stomachs! I mean, we each have one stomach. Collective, we are many bags with many stomachs. I can do the math. Can you?


I didn't get enough sleep. You reap the benefits!

corn bread

A basket of cornbread was plopped in front of us. No questions; just eat it! Fluffy, light, tender and moist enough to not be classified as "dry" equates to yummy cornbread. We shared the first piece as to not stuff ourselves before getting the real food, but then we started eating the second piece too. Oops.

curry chicken thing
curry chicken

I know Amy Ruth's is known for their fried chicken and waffles, but when I saw that the daily special was "southern alabama's curried chicken", I thought, "Holy crap, I love curry! But this is different curry! I think!" My assumption that the dish consisted of fried chicken with curry (or fried chicken with curry flavor) was proven horribly wrong when my plate arrived with whole chicken pieces stewed in curry. There's nothing wrong with that, but as I've eaten stuff in curry sauce a gazillion times already, this isn't exactly what I was expecting.

"Oh god, this is the same thing I've eaten A GAZILLION TIMES."

..Okay, not the same, but it's not that different. This is one of the few times where the chicken came in whole pieces on the bone. Not bad, but a little dry for my tastes. (I guess that's what all the sauce is for.) Even though the plate didn't look like much at first (...seriously!), I discovered that chicken meat has the density of a white dwarf and by the end of the meal I was clutching my belly and going, "Uhh...chicken...deceptively small portion of."

My sides of mac and cheese and string beans were okay, but nothing special. Which is my overall impression of the whole dish; okay, nothing special. Maybe it'd be better than okay if it hadn't cost $15.

honey fried chicken
Steph's plate

Steph fared better with her honey-dripped fried chicken. I still found it a little dry like my chicken, but...ooh I'm suddenly distracted by sweet, crispy skin! That's what I want. Her also deceptively small looking piece of chicken had the same white dwarf-like density. Or maybe our fullness sensors are overly sensitive to chicken flesh.

The waitress mistakenly gave her mac and cheese instead of what she actually ordered, but Steph didn't care. Her fried okra was surprisingly good, if you don't mind that okra has a slimy, gelatinous, "hey this feels like mucus" texture. Each okra pod was snuggled in a light, crispy batter. There wasn't much flavor to speak of, but it's fried, so who cares? "Fried" saves all. Even baby kittens.

Overall we thought it was okay, nothing like "OMG, need an intravenous hookup to this chicken!" good. I thought it was a little expensive, not for the portion size, but for the lack of...awesomeness? Can I use "awesomness" as an imprecise food rating? (Isn't everything I saw pretty imprecise anyway?)


Cafe Mogador
Cafe Mogador

A few people have recommended Cafe Mogador to me, and like many restaurants that people suggest, I don't get around to eating at them for ages. Cos...I don't know. It's like any place that doesn't sell sandwiches goes into a "you can check it out later" pile. However, my old high school friend Erica (about one of maybe five classmates I enjoyed hanging out with) that I hadn't seen since...well, high school, was going to be in NYC. Fooding time? Yes.

pita (for yogurt) cucumber yogurt
cucumber yogurt

Erica started with the cucumber yogurt and pita. We didn't finish it, not because it wasn't good (tastes like cucumber and yogurt, wow!), but because...I don't know. I wasn't in much of a cucumber yogurt mood and I wanted to save my stomach space for the main course.

lamb tagine
lamb tagine

And I'm so glad I did. The lamb tagine with Casablanca (chickpeas and raisins) sauce was memorably awesome. That tender meat! How did it floof off the bone like that? You know, when the meat just falls off when you poke it with an eating implement. Throw out your knife; you won't need it. (But don't throw it in the direction of a person. Unless you hate them.) The meat fall-age doesn't make a noise, but I like sound effects so I'll just say if it did it might sound like floof.

As someone who is rarely able to clean all the meat off a bone, I ate every last lamby remain. No muscle fiber was safe. Although the sauce wasn't that memorable (if it were, I would describe it to you), I probably ate all that too. It wasn't overpowering, it was just...there. More sweet than savory I suppose, but not by much. I'd try a different sauce next time (and I hope there is a next time).

cous cous
cous cous

Ahhh, now this is truly floofy. This light little mountain of cous cous didn't have a chance; I ate it all. Cous cous doesn't feel heavy at all (think of an uber-fluffy rice, if the rice were chopped into a bajillion smaller pieces) and I fear I could eat a bucket of it if given the chance.

chicken cous cous
chicken cous cous

I didn't try Erica's chicken cous cous, but I think she liked it. So there's your rating: "I think she liked it."

We browsed JAS Mart to oogle at Japanese snacks before heading back home and eating some snacks on the train. ;) Moroccan food and Japanese snacks? Ohhh yeeeeah.

all other falafels are doomed

pretty much the entire place
this is where the magic happens

Last Wednesday I went to falafel joint Taim with Amy, a friend I made in my freshman Japanese class, and her friend Yvonne. Taim is larger than a hole-in-the-wall, but it's still pretty small and better suited for take-out than eating in. There are about six stools inside that line the front window plus a few benches outside. If you choose to stay in, they'll present your food on parchmen paper-lined woven trays using minimal white ceramic serving ware when appropriate. It's a clean, nicely styled environment (designed by Israeli chef/owner Einat Admony's French husband, Stefan Nafziger) with YES, AWESOME FOOD. Hell, I already went back there today again with Amy and some other people in tow. I'll talk about that later. Now...back to last Wednesday.

sandwich trio
sandwich trio

Isn't the tray cute? (Yes.) They gave us pickles and hot sauce on the side. But you don't just want to look at sandwich butts, right?

other view
other view

Yuuums. From front to back is the roasted red pepper falafel, green falafel ("traditional, mixed with parsley, cilantro and mint) and sabich ("slice of eggplant, fried, layered with a hard boiled egg").

my sandwich
indeed, it is green

How could I have not come here sooner? HOW? While this may not be saying much since my falafel eating history is sparse, this is the best falafel I've ever had to the point that I doubt I will find a better one in NYC. Every now and then in between chews one of us would go, "Holy crap, this is really good." It takes them a while to make your sandwich, but that's because they make it to order. Trust me, the wait is more than worth it. There is no pile of already-fried falafels; those babies come fresh from the fryer. FRIED GROUND CHICKPEA BABIES, COME TO MOMMIE!


Back to the sandwich. Unlike other falafels I had, this one was just so noticably light, slightly crisp, and fresher tasting. The other ingredients in the sandwich also had the freshness thing going for them. And what about the pita? THE PITA! Not just a mere container for the other goodies, but an amazing ingredient on its own. The soft and pillowy pita tasted like it had come straight out of the oven (although I'm not sure if they actually make them there) and its thickness made it more substantial than other pitas I've had. I used way too much hot sauce in my sandwich, which resulted in burning stomach acids and mouth skin, but it was totally worth it. (On that note, don't use too much hot sauce.)

Amy eats

Next time I go, I need to try the sabich sandwich, quickly being devoured by Amy in the above photo.

Taim is a nice place to hang out (but not for too long; other people want to eat there too!), has friendly service, and if I didn't already mention it, makes ridiculously tasty food for the budget-minded consumer. For $5 you too can find happiness. Taim is right around the corner from my favorite sandwich shop, Doma, but unlike Doma is cheaper and not populated by Apple-toting yuppies. I'd still love to go to Doma again, but those falafels...mmm.

google maps to the rescue

Amy Ruth's
113 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026

Cafe Mogador
101 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009

222 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014

thank god for youtube

This is kind of food related. Here is one reason why Augenblick Studios is fantastic:

"Why not try some candy? I'm delicious! Hehehe!"

That is one creepy gum drop.


I have this range of time in which I like to reply to comments, but I already went over it since my website was still having problems. You can read about my pain soon. The exchange of emails I had with 1and1 support is just too good to not blog! Oh yeah!

So to answer some stuff in the last entry...

Ivan: I carry my Canon Rebel around with me most of the time. If I think I'm going to use it, I bring it. If I'm only going to the grocery store, it's unlikely I'll bring it with me. ;) I bring it almost every time I to go NYC.

Cat: Haha, not a weiner! I've never used typepad, but I assume it's like Movable Type? I can't tell from the website.

SD: HAHA, did they ask why I switched? Nooo...they weren't really aware of ANYTHING. Especially not anything I was asking for. [groans]


Ivan / August 16, 2006 10:59 PM

Oh cool, thanks! Was thinking of getting a SLR, but wasn't sure if the weight was worth it.

Anyway, the cous cous is making me drool. I love the stuff but you just can't get any good ones here in Singapore.

kathy / August 16, 2006 11:40 PM

AHHHH! EVERYTHING! Why does EVERYTHING you eat look so good?! And the variety of falafels - ho man, that puts my falafel eating adventures to shame :)

Perhaps we could both pay the hypnotherapy man a visit? It'd be pretty cool if he could stop us from eating sooo much alll the time (remember how we went to Sugar Sweet Sunshine AFTER we had FIVE courses at L'Ecole? Pumpkin pudding and coconut cake?) Lol, I think that's why we get along so well!

chocolatesuze / August 17, 2006 12:20 AM

BWAHAHA youre right that gumdrop is indeed creepy with its very odd laugh i can imagine it standing over someones body 'you look awful! but why not try some candy!'

Dina / August 17, 2006 11:19 AM

We were planning to go to Taim next time we visit. It sounds good!

The best Falafel we've had so far is the little Indian store around 28th and Lexington. (kalustyans)

They have a mini-restaurant upstairs. It is SO good....

I love Falafal, but I have learned (the hard way) that there is GOOD falafel and bad worthless falafel. And around here, so far I can only find bad falafel.

yellow_mustard_girl / August 17, 2006 8:00 PM

Fried baby kittens. That reminds me of childhood. They were so delicious, but I always started to sob inexplicably after I finished off a bucket. Weird.
I want to try a green falafel sammich so bad. I have a heroin-like addiction to falafel. (Not to be mistaken with my heroin-like addiction to heroin). Please stuff one in an envelope and mail it to San Diego for me.

roboppy / August 17, 2006 9:54 PM

Ivan: SLR! I had the same qualms about the weight, but it's so worth it. I mean, I lug it around everywhere. I brought it with me while hiking in Norway!...maybe not the best idea! But I got awesome photos.

kathy: I didn't become an adventurous falafel eater until I went to Taim, and even then...I'm only eating them from one location, haha. I MUST TRY EVERYTHING.

I actually forgot about the SSS jaunt. THAT WAS AWESOME. Even if my tummy hurt. I went to SSS twice this week after not having gone in...months? Eek!

chocolatesuze: "i can imagine it standing over someones body 'you look awful! but why not try some candy!'"

Dude that is SO AWESOME. It would always save itself when saying an inappropriate thing by adding, "But why not try some candy?"

Maybe I'll say that from now on.

Dina: I totally suck and have yet to explore the Indian area around Lexington. :( Eating wise, at least. I used to walk around the area a lot because I'd walk from 23rd St to 42nd and just...roooam around. I should go at some point.

I didn't know what a range of falafels there were until I had a REALLY GOOD ONE! Eek! It's great finding good food, but then it kills your taste for anything else.

YMG: Those fried baby kittens never caught on. What a shame.

Falafels are better than heroin! Not that I've had heroin! Um! Um.

Helen / August 18, 2006 12:52 AM

We went to Amy Ruth's when I was there too. I was shamelessly excited at the prospect of eating catfish, grits, collard greens and real cornbread. The cornbread was the highlight but as you say, I thought it was all a little overpriced given the portion size and quality.

Dina / August 18, 2006 9:32 AM

I totally suck too...because although I HAVE to the Lexington area many times (we used to live near there and we usually stay at hotels around there) we almost always eat at the same place. Curry in a Hurry. We rarely try anything new.

We have been going to the little shops though. Kalustyuns and then also the "Spice Corner." Not sure if that's the exact name. They have good Indian sweets there. The guy who works there is me free samples.

Daisy / August 23, 2006 12:08 AM

oh wow, all that food looks delicious. :D

sorry about the cavity. But yeah, don't let it stop you from eating what you want. :D Just have to floss more, lol.

take care!

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