The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Eating With the Girl From Arizona

Last Monday Lee Anne came back from her "European Tour of Magic and Cool Stuff Like Eating Chocolates and Sneaking Into a Parisian Hostel's Closet." She went to Barcelona, Bologna, Paris, London, Switzerland, and probably other places...maybe the moon...okay, probably not the moon. But if anyone can go to the moon, she probably could. She's very smart. Or she would find a way to hitch a ride on a space shuttle by her cunningness and/or charm.

So anyway, she came back to her American homeland! To a stopover to AZ! So she could meet up with me! And get a facial! But I hope I'm mildly more of a draw than a facial. Even if it's a really good facial. I perform no skin clearing. If anything, my fooding guidance will ensure that you get clogged pores. YOUR PORES, THEY WILL CLOG. And this is how.

pork side

We shall start with slices of fatty pork from Ramen Setagaya. It was actually Nick, not I, who suggested we go to Setagaya. Of course, I wouldn't pass up a new ramen shop. It's cheap. It's delicious. And, most importantly, it tends to feature pork. That's like, 20 points right there in my nonexistent rating system. I don't think I ate the extra side of pork we ordered though since I already had a few slices on my bowl of noods.

bowl of noods
bowl of noods

Unlike other ramen shops, Setagaya only does one kind of broth: shio (salt). Doesn't give you much trouble in making a decision. The ramen is topped with seaweed, bamboo shoots, half of a soft-boiled egg, shaved Japanese onions, and pork, pork, PORK. Thin slice of pork and fatty skin. My favorite.

more noodles

I wasn't overjoyed by the noodles (nothing else compares to buckwheat soba in my world), but I liked them more than most. Firm, just slightly chewy perhaps, and very thin.

So...the broth. That's the key thing here, right? Kinda? Well. I didn't not like it, but my collagen-loving taste buds were slightly disappointed by the thin broth. You should probably know that I don't prefer thin soups; I'm into chowders and stews and things with chunks, the kind of thing that Campbell's tries to market towards men who want non-wimpy soup full of solid ingredients. The shio broth was light, not overly salty, and had all these nice flavors that I unfortunately cannot recount to you because my taste buds are as developed as a malformed fetus and are best at identify flavors like "butter", "salt", and "ew, no." However, I longed for Minca's broth, which is thick, not very subtle, and likely to give you sodium poisoning. That's just me. Judge me if you must.

omg vegetable

We also shared a little dish of chilled edamame. I like eating edamame. Like sucking the smooth, spherical babies out of a mother pod in small satisfying pops. ...Wait, that sounds gross...ah well, you know it's true.

ice cream

What do you eat to cleanse the palate of ramen? ICE CREAM! Duuurrh. This is the tradition that Nick and I have created. Of course, we would gladly follow any meal with ice cream. Because ice cream is one of the best foodstuffs on earth and if we could just share a huge-ass bowl of ice cream spanning several continents we could all unite in harmony and ice cream headaches. Except for the lactards. We can whip up some sorbet for them.

small cup with two flavors
small cuppa

We went to Mary's Dairy where I got a small cup of White on White—French vanilla ice cream with white chocolate chunks, and Sandy—mild chocolate ice cream with pieces of pistachio halvah. You could share a small cup with someone else (I shared with Lee Anne) and be satisfied with the fat content that you've ingested. While I used to be horrified by the tiny portions seemingly fit for hummingbirds given in Paris, I'm starting to appreciate them more now that I've found that the smallest size in American ice cream shops is usually kinda...big. But I guess a contributing factor of my problem with tiny Parisian scoops is that they still cost a buttload for something the size of a golf ball. You don't get your bang for your buck. Or euro.

ANYWAY. Mary's Dairy won't blow your mind, but it's better than average and a place I'd go back to. Creamy, smooth, dense, not tacky. I liked the Sandy flavor more for it's creamsicle-esque chocolate ice cream and large, but not overpowering, chunks of halvah.

mocha something?
it has been eaten!

Nick got the Mocha Almond Fudge, or something else that was coffee flavored. Ice cream is the most acceptable form of coffee for me, but...nah, my tastes buds still don't wholly accept it. I think I'm better off not being dependent on coffee, even if that means I look half comatose every morning.

Many thanks to Nick for not so discreetly paying for our dinner (COUGH) and offering to carry Lee Anne's backpack after dinner. It's no ordinary backpack; it's the kind that you could fit a dead body in. And it probably felt about that heavy.

Did I mention that I like pork?


I craved pork. And fried starchy things. And...pork. Which is why I directed Lee Anne, her friend Melody, and I to El Castillo de Jagua for dinner last Tuesday.

empty table
empty...or not

I like the feel of the restaurant. The fluorescent lights. The clear vinyl table covering. The waitresses. It feels kinda old in the nice, not dilapidated, way. I find it comforting for whatever reason. Know what I mean? Maybe?...neh?...muh...

banana shake
banana shake

I don't usually order drinks. Unless it's a shake. The banana shake was a winner to me for being quite thick and full of ripe banana tastiness, aka the crushed, pulverized souls of innocent fruits that failed to escape the destructive power of man's blender. THE BLENDER, IT IS OPPRESSIVE. I think El Castillo de Jagua most well known for their papaya shake, but since I had tried that the last time I went for something different.

pernil is miiine

It didn't take me long to decide on a plate of pernil, large, meaty shreds of roast pork shoulder. It may not be the best pernil (not that I have much to compare it to), but it's tender, mostly juicy except for some wayward dry bits around the edges, and it all bathes in a pool of porky sodium enriched fat squeezins. I LOVE DEM SQUEEZINS! I wouldn't want to drink it straight, but if I could bottle it up I wouldn't mind using it as a seasoning.

fried plantains
fried plantains

Since I am a big fan of the crossover between the starchy and deep fried categories, I couldn't resist a plate of fried plantains. Except I really should've because there was no way I could eat much of the compressed patties. Strangely, everything else on our table was highly salted except for the plantains, which tasted like they had negative salt content. Any salt I sprinkled onto it bounced right off its impenetrable yellow shell, so I dipped it into my meat squeezins instead. Victory! Somewhat. There are also various sauces on the table that you could use, but we didn't think of doing that.

garlic chicken yellow rice
chicken n rice

Lee Anne ordered a roast garlic chicken leg and plate of yellow rice. The chicken was insanely tender and juicy, a sponge of meat-ness and salt. The yellow rice was pretty awesome. Tasted...yellow. Which means it was a bit firm. I'm not sure what the definition of yellow rice is; I just know that I like it.

plate o stuff
giant plate o stuff

I left Melody's giant combination plate of stuff for the end because I don't remember what was on it. Or rather, I thought the intarwubs would have the description, but it has failed me. Or the restaurant changed their menu since it could be plastered online. Hohum. Looks like there's a nice salad, fried plantains, rice and beans, and a pile of what reminded me of fries if the fries were made of pork. (If you know the real name of this, please chime in, for I am dumbz.) The fat pork sticks were dry, but not inedibly so. Just..."Man, this is really dry"-so. The meat pulled apart easily and was laden with, ohhh you guessed it, SALTY TASTINESS, probably at a level that only my numb taste buds could handle. I actually really liked the pork chunks, but didn't eat much of them since I wanted to focus on my plate of pernil. Maybe I'll get it next time.

free buttered bread
free bread!

No one needed free bread to go with our mountains of food. But there it was. Pre-buttered and perhaps garlic-ed as well. I think we ate it all. We were unable to finish most of the other food so Melody doggie bagged the remains, giving her possibly another week of pork and sodium-enriched sustenance.

Despite the stuffed bellies, we couldn't avoid going to Sugar Sweet Sunshine when it was just down the street. The cupcakes...they called for us. In a secret cupcake language that I choose not to reveal. The cupcakes can be bastards when it comes to revealing their secrets. They're all like, "Hey, don't spill our secrets, or else we'll suffocate you in your sleep with a bucket of frosting, blah blah," but ye know, it's all empty threats. I think.

lemon cuppy cake
lemon cupcake

I loved the colorful candy topping on the lemon cupcake. The itty bitty splash of color somehow made the cupcake just SO MUCH MORE EXCITING and adorable. It's a cupcake accessory. Maybe I could use one of those. Like sprinkles for humans. Is that called "jewelry?" Eh, nevermind.

Lee Anne is taking a photo
Lee Anne, photo-ing my cupcake
my innurds, let me show you them

My pumpkin cupcake with thick cream cheesy frosting was moist, sweeeet (as opposed to plain ol' sweet) and full of fall flavors, or whatever it is that pumpkin is suppose to remind you of. It reminds me of...fall. Maybe it reminds you of something else. "Giant squash."

the horror

On the train ride home I drew a Poofy comic in Lee Anne's notebook because for whatever reason she came up with the idea of pancakes bursting out of Poofy's belly and my morbid humor thought, "OMG THAT IS HILARIOUS, I NEED TO DRAW THAT." So I did. I can only draw one thing well, and that is a malformed bunny named Poofy. Not that I draw him consistently or anything.

Lee Anne's doodle
Lee Anne's drawing

Lee Anne's drawing style is somewhat more refined and cute and not scary and much better than mine. Here's her depiction of me in a duck costume. Or a 5-year old me sans-nasal passages in a duck costume, which is a helluva lot more adorable than the current me. I know, that's how I will win people's love that I so desperately long for, by wearing a duck costume!

Lee Anne's flight back to Arizona was the next day, after which my heart sank into deeeeep depression of deeeep dark non-duck related things. But it's okay because I will see her again in early August and THE CYCLE OF CRAZY EATING-NESS WILL CONTINUE!!!

I wuz tagged

Mei tagged me to post 7 random things about myself. I suppose these things should be interesting or else this is kind of pointless. My site is where memes come to diiie. So. Enjoy.

  1. I played clarinet from 4th grade until 10th grade and was in marching band for 9th grade. Meaning that I went to band camp. Immediately after attending band camp, or more like during band camp, I realized that I hated marching band with every cell of my body and really wanted to quit. But I lasted throughout the season and the cold football games, and despite the hatred ended up being one of the better, most punctual students. Cos I'm DUMB. Turns out I could hardly stand regular band so much that despite formerly enjoying the clarinet, I dumped it in 11th grade (to the frustration of my band teacher, which I later felt bad about) to life a band nerd-free life. [breathes in...breathes out] It didn't destroy my life, so I guess it was the right choice.
  2. I have a theremin, but I don't know how to play it. I mean, I know the basics of making sounds wheeze out of it,, how to play stuff that doesn't sound like random sci-fi sounds escapes me. And I must've gotten it a while ago because I don't even remember when I bought it. I like music gadget-y things; I'm just bad at teaching myself how to use them.
  3. One of my favorite music gadget-y things is my groovebox. I don't really use it anymore, but at some point I did. Before that thing called "college" set in.
  4. The first concert I went to was a free Beck show at NYC's MTV studio when I was in 9th grade (Midnite Vultures era, for those who follow). My mum had to drive me there and I don't think she was very happy about it. YAY MUM! She loves me.
  5. I think I've walked into a sliding glass door at least once. Not in the past 10 years though.
  6. The longest period of time I've kept an internet-based friendship without having ever met the friend in real life (which we plan on changing next year) is 9 years, over which time we've had mutual friends come and go. I talk to her pretty regularly online and would consider her one of my best friends. My mum would probably think that's insane.
  7. Overall, I don't think I'm that crazy. Why this is significant...I don't know. I need to remind myself that although I may suck in many ways, I am still above the line that delineates the amount of suckness that means you should be dead. ...Or maybe I am crazy.


Ramen Setagaya
141 1st Ave

Mary's Dairy
158 1st Ave

El Castillo de Jagua
113 Rivington St

Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St


Gordon / July 3, 2007 12:30 AM

I played the clarinet too! From 6th to 12th grade and in high school i was in the jazz band.

how were the prices of the dishes at El Castilo De Jagua?

bobogal / July 3, 2007 4:56 AM

Robyn, your ramen stirred a craving inside me. I know what I'm going to order at dinner tonight - pho at the Vietnamese place I am going to later!!

PS. I ate so much this trip home, I gained 2 kgs in the first week and then another kg in the last 2.5 weeks!!

yoko / July 3, 2007 9:07 AM

You have a theremin?! OMG-- a good friend of mine had one that I tried to play. It's hard! If you want to hear awesome theremin music, find recordings of Clara Rockmore. There's a master for you!

I played clarinet, too. Um, I still play clarinet. But I didn't play it in marching band-- I played glockenspiel instead. Most useless instrument in a marching band!

Yeah, I'm a geek. But I love shio ramen.

Deb / July 3, 2007 9:15 AM

I knew there were other reasons you'd be the coolest! I'd LOVE to play a theremin. Also played the clarinet. Badly. Now I just play the radio.
There may be a move to Utah this year, so we must dine together again soon! -- Deb

maria~ / July 3, 2007 10:30 AM

Teehee, I love those drawings! I like to make chicken scratches on paper for fun too *winkz* I think your depiction of Poofy's awesome!

Sera / July 3, 2007 12:16 PM

Lactard? That is genius Robyn! I'm using that from now on...sound so much more hip than the cumbersome "lactose intolerant". :)

Oooooooooo, you ave a theremin? I want to play with one of those, they sound neat!

kate / July 3, 2007 12:19 PM

aww i wish i had close internet best friends.

the desserts you pick to eat are always heavenly-looking! especially with the photoshop brushup. i need photoshop for specifically this purpose.

Yuizaki / July 3, 2007 2:36 PM

I've been to El Castillo so many times since my friend introduced me to it a few years back. It's really great. I loved the banana shake. They need to supersize it.

However - I finally just heard about Sofrito NY...It's not too far from my job. X.X It's also spanish - Puerto Rican - and supposedly really delicious. I must try it. Must.

Oh, and I used to play clarinet in junior high. In high school, we didn't need to so I dropped it. :D

I still haven't met some of my internet friends. :D And I've known some of them for almost 10 years now too. Scary, how time flies.

Yuizaki / July 3, 2007 2:46 PM

hmm it posted double went through without the code too. :D I think!

geosomin / July 3, 2007 2:54 PM have a theremin?
If I'm ever in NYC came I come and fiddle with it?
I swear I"m not the creepiest in the least and I make kickass muffins. Could I bribe you with muffiny goodness?

I've just always wanted to fiddle with a theremin...and a tessla coil. My husband is trying to track one down to use in his music DJ sets. So many gadgets and so little time...

Eric / July 3, 2007 3:55 PM

Ha I love El Castilo De Jagua! I've been there many many times before and after shows, and have even seen the price of the pernil (roast pork) slowly creep up from $7 to 7.50 to now which I believe is $8. Still a great find though. The rice and beans that come with it are great as well.

Robyn, I am kinda disappointed that you didn't get the cubano there! At (I believe) $4 each they're quite a bargain.

As for Sugar Sweet Sunshine, the cupcakes are good, if a bit sweet.

Paris Ice Cream / July 3, 2007 4:13 PM

you stir cravings in me I never planned on and may have hoped to avoid at all costs.
It doesn't matter. It's too late.
You've gone and stirred em up and I wanna have whatever strange things you're having.
Not counting the ice cream of course, which I've been craving since conception.

Tina / July 3, 2007 8:33 PM

I love your drawings! It's soo adorable.

I think we share a strong bond over the love of macarons, pork, and gelato/ice cream. I seriously think sometimes you're my alter ego. Hmmm...

roboppy / July 3, 2007 10:10 PM

Gordon: Prices were good! You could spend less than $10 if you wanted to. I spent more. :)

bobogal: I prefer to not step on a scale EVER! Until I become 75% fat...(sigh) (There was a time when I would use a scale twice a day though. Didn't do wonders for my psychological health.)

Su-Lin: Aw...well, they ARE clear, it's not the craziest thing to walk into. ;) I hope you didn't walk into them too hard.

Yoko: YEAH it's hard! And I'm lazy. Crap. The theremin came with some videos of Clara playing. Insane stuff. I should've started playing when I was...5. But instead my parents made me play piano.

Glockenspiels are cool. Clarinets aren rather the most boring instrument you could play, I think.

Deb: I'd love to KNOW how to play a theremin. ;)

I tried playing the clarinet again after not having done it for a few years and it was surprisingly easy to get back on the horse. But I don't enjoy it enough to do it leisurely.

Ahh, yoot! Yeah, let me know before you leave so we can do something!

Maria: Thanks!

Sera: Ohh no you should thank whoever invented the word. ...GOOD LUCK!

They do sound neat. And they can sound very annoying, like a violin in the wrong hands. .__.

Kate: Well, I might have really close internet friends because I can't thrive in the real world well enough. :D Euh. Actually, I do alright in real life. But I would be kinda lonely without the internets...

I'd be so dead without Photoshop!

Yuizaki: It's a great place, eh? I've been to Tiny's more if I'm in the area since I can actually eat the whole sandwich and not feel like dying, but Es Castillo would be my second choice.

Let me know how Sofrito is! It sounds tasty.

I've been lucky to have met so many of my best Internet friends. Really only one left! During my semester in Paris alone I met up with at least 5 people (although I had met a few of them beforehand)!

(Lots of people double-post. But I delete the extras, no prob!)

geosomin: You'd have to come to NJ to fiddle with it actually, which might be why no one has. NO ONE COMES TO JERZ! Ah, I don't blame em. ;)

Yes, I accept muffiny bribes.

Eric: Ah, $8 isn't so bad. Although $7 is nicer.

As for eating after a, I think I've only done that once. Too late to eat anything usually! Too bad there's no late night ice cream shops.

I did think about the cubano, but I couldn't get that AND the pernil, and pernil won. :) Maybe next time.

Carol: Weird cravings...maybe that's what it's like to be pregnant!

Susannah: Thanks! Cute...maniacal lookin...all the same, right?

Tina: We do have very compatible tastes. GOOD FOR SHARING!!! Except for the bacon chocolate. I'm not sure I'd want to try that...but partially in fear that I would really like it and want to eat buckets of it.

Steamy Kitchen / July 3, 2007 11:04 PM

The last time I ate edamame I almost died.

I was in a BAD PISSY mood and sucked the pod so hard that the edamame pea shot fast and hard, ricochet'd off my tonsils and landed someplace where edamame don't belong.

::i have edamame issues::

bazu / July 5, 2007 12:17 PM

I've walked into a plate glass door too! Except change "walked" into "ran". I was 3 and it resulted in a shattered door, a trip to the emergency room, and stitches right under my left eye... good times.

I just came back from Puerto Rico where I gorged myself on plantains. Your photo takes me back...

And I'm with you on soba. Soba = king of all noodles. All bow down to soba. Mmmmmm.

dynagrrl / July 5, 2007 8:53 PM

I started playing clarinet in the 6th grade... I wanted to play clarinet because I knew Woody Allen played clarinet, and I figured that way, when we met, we'd have something to talk about.

Uhhhhh.... I think that makes me a loser!

roboppy / July 5, 2007 10:46 PM

Steamy Kitchen: Whoa whoa...the edamame is not your fwiend. :( BAD EDAMAME!

Bazu: ...Okay, your story beats mine by "a lot."

SOBAAA I HEART YOUU. My mum ate all my soba. :(

dynygrrl: HAHA...that's cute. :D I mean, better than my reason for playing...for which there was none. I just wanted to play something and picked it. Probably because it's really easy to play. Yaay I'm lazy.

eatyourheartout / July 8, 2007 12:30 AM

You should recommend me another Latin American restaurant to try.

Rosa Mexicano is ridiculously not worth the money and service. But, you know, a friend invited me to go and she had her heart set the place. I had my heart set on my wallet.

roboppy / July 8, 2007 2:22 AM

Grace: HAHAHA oh yes, that should remind you of me. ;) Thanks for the link! I actually bookmarked that page the other day, for the off chance that I will ever need candles.

eat: I am not too familiar with Latin American restaurants, buuut...


Christina / July 8, 2007 2:00 PM

I'm refraining from commenting of the food due to the fact that I'm hungry and I don't have anything remotely close to... wait, there's leftover pasta salad in my fridge. The roast garlic chicken looks really good and I'm glad it was moist because nothing ruins a dinner experience more than dry chicken.

I used to run into walls. I think it's because I was looking at where I wanted to end up instead of what was right in front of me. And for a while, when I was 10 I kept getting my fingers jammed in the car door. That wasn't nice. Not that I can remember what it felt like but I'm sure it wasn't nice.

Now I'm going to eat because your pictures make me hungry.

roboppy / July 10, 2007 12:04 AM

Christina: Dry chicken is a very sad thing. :( Chicken jerky is okay though.

Oh no, getting your fingers caught in doors is the worst. It's happened to me only a few times, but I think I had my finger caught under a...uh, car hood once. Wasn't closed all the way, or else I wouldn't have a finger. Which would suck.

Kathy / July 10, 2007 2:30 AM

aww man, typepad keeps on losing my comments on all your posts!

CPK does super well in Hawaii, and after eating at the CPK in NYC and LA, I have to say the Hawaii locations taste better than the others! Their Honolulu location in the Ala Moana shopping center generates the most revenue in the entire country - we eat a LOT for such a small state! ;) I'm not sure exactly why the Hawaii locations taste better... but the pizzas and pastas here must have some X factor I just can't place my finger on...another reason for you to come to Hawaii! =)

cindy / August 3, 2007 4:46 PM

Have you ever left food over in a restaurant and 3 hours later you go 'Hmmm, that slice of pork sounds good a good snack right now. dammit!'

I love your site btw! LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!

cindy / August 3, 2007 4:49 PM

Have you ever left food over in a restaurant and 3 hours later you go 'Hmmm, that slice of pork sounds good a good snack right now. dammit!'

I love your site btw! LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!

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