The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

88 Palace, Village Tart, Galanga, and L'Arte del Gelato, aka 'Last Sunday'

The oh so palatial 88 Palace.

If left to my natural sleep cycle, I could sleep until 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon without a problem. (Sleep is the best. I know there's that saying, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," but dude, I want to sleep now because it feels awesome. Not sleeping will just shorten my lifespan, or make me go insane.) But if Adelyn hadn't made me haul my lumpy self out of bed at 10 a.m. last Sunday to meet up at 88 Palace for dim sum, I would've wasted a great deal of what ended up being a funner-than-average Sunday. So. Sometimes waking up before noon can be a good thing.

Our plan was to grab dim sum with Diana and a few of Adelyn's friends before checking out the Chinese New Year parade on Mott Street. Unfortunately, Diana fell sick the night before and didn't feel up to a dim sum lunch, and most of Adelyn's friends were only half-conscious by the time we were sitting at 88 Palace. Dim sum is best eaten by large groups—extended Chinese families and the like—definitely not by a party of two considering that many dishes come with three or more pieces. Luckily, Adelyn's friend Omar eventually showed up to help us eat. A rundown of the dishes:

roast pork steamed buns roast pork
Pork buns.

Roast pork steamed buns: Super soft, fluffy steamed bread filled with sweet, fatty roast pork chunks. Although it's not a favorite of mine, it feels like one of those dim sum staples you have to get.

lotus seed paste filled buns lotus seed paste
Lotus seed buns.

Lotus seed paste steamed buns: These buns were unfortunately not as awesomely soft and fluffy as the steamed pork buns—I prefer when the bun just melts into the filling. But I did like the ample blop of sweet filling.

rice noodle rolls with shrimp
Rice noodle rolls.

Rice noodle rolls with shrimp: Oh yessss, my beloved rice noodle roll. The rolls were smaller than average, but the shrimps were quite large and plump.

taro things
Fried taro.

Taro puff: There's probably a better name for these lumps of mashed taro mixed with (methinks) pork bits, breaded in a light, lacy batter and deep fried. It's sort of like a potato croquette...but with taro. I don't know how to describe taro to people who've never had it before—slightly sweet than a regular potato? But not as sweet as a sweet potato? Purple? Denser? Somethin-somethin?

siu mai
Siu mai.

Siu mai: These pork, shrimp, and mushroom dumplings were...okay. Admittedly, not being much of a fan of siu mai, I'm probably not the best judge.

chinese veg stuff
Chinese broccoli.

Gai-lan (Chinese broccoli): Because in the face of meaty dumplings, you could use a vegetable. (These may have been topped with some sort of seasoned chopped meat stuff, though—see the little brown bits on top? Whatever it was, it tasted meaty and umami-filled.) I like the combination of crunchy stems and soft leaves.

custard buns custard bun innards
Custard buns.

Custard-filled steamed buns: Ahhh, more sweet bun goodness. Unlike the lotus seed buns, the bread in these was soft and fluffy and seamlessly gave way to the custard center. I prefer my custard oozing, but non-oozing tastes good too.

egg custard tarts
Egg custard tarts.

Mini egg custard tarts: One of my most favorite things to eat in the whole world, dim sum or otherwise. These bite-sized tarts had a light flaky crust filled with soft, eggy custard. I love you, egg custard tart...I love youuuu...

The Chinese New Year Parade

mott street is crowded
Parade time.

After dim sum, we met up with two of Adelyn's friends and a recovered Diana to check out the Chinese New Year parade on Mott Street. Out of my six-ish years of living in New York City, It was the first time I actively tried to go. And now that I've gone once, I'm alright with never going again. Admittedly, the crappy view behind two rows of people probably didn't help.

confetti weee!
Confetti time.

The most exciting thing about the parade is the confetti—there's shittons of it. People were constantly setting off confetti canons, thus unleashing plumes of colorful paper bits and gold sparkles to rain upon the sidewalks and buildings and anything else that was in the way. (You can buy confetti canons in Chinatown for personal use, such as to blast in the face of a birthday girl.)

dumpling head
Dumpling head.

Most of the floats were immemorable. Of course, corporate sponsorship is to be expected, but a trolley with no obvious affiliation covered in orange balloons transporting just one dude waving through tinted windows to the crowd doesn't say "HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR" to me. (I didn't take a photo; you'll have to use your imagination.) I guess it's better than nothing though. This dumpling-headed dude was rather cute.

Census 2010 float, wuttup
Census 2010

But the best had to be the Census 2010 float with the megaphone-bearing woman shouting instructions on how to fill out the census. That's just not something you expect.

Dragon dude
Dragon dude.

And there were shiny golden dragons every so often. YEAH, THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. Give me more of those.

Village Tart

Village Tart interior
Village Tart

After Adelyn, Diana, and I broke off from the rest of the group to kill time before going to the IFC Center to watch the Academy Award-nominated animated shorts (still playing today, Monday, and Tuesday if you're interested), our rambling brought us to Village Tart, a newish bakery/cafe associated with Pichet Ong. It's a cute, cozy place with a European feel, for lack of a better description.

apple tarte tatin
Tarte tatin.

I got the apple tarte tatin ($4.95), an upside-down apple tart that first landed on my "favorite desserts" list when I studied in Paris. This version didn't ooze with caramelized apple goodness, but it was still enjoyable. The pastry was buttery and flaky, and the round of thinly sliced apple was tender without being mushy. Alas, nothing will ever come close to the best tarte tatin I've had (so far) from Ladurée. All tarte tatins probably taste better in Paris, though.

arugula salad of some sort
Mothufuggin arugula.

We were having a good time drinking tea and chatting until we ordered the arugula salad. As I can't find a description of the dish online and I foolishly forgot to take a photo of the menu, you'll have to deal with my crappy description: It was mixed with bits of Meyer lemon rind that were probably sweetened and cooked in some way and lightly dressed in a vinaigrette...and sprinkled with something else. I'd remember more if it left a greater impression. The main impression it left on us was, "This is so not worth $9." It made me want to go to Diner so I could get an amazing salad for $10. This salad didn't taste bad—I really liked the Meyer lemon bits—but it was comically small, needed more Meyer lemon, and didn't have much going for it.

Am I being too harsh? I was actually thinking of doing a post about salads a while back—when they're worth it, and when they're not—but I don't eat enough salads to say much about the subject. I generally avoid them because I'm afraid they won't be worth it, a sentiment that Village Tart reinforced.

Oh well. It's called Village Tart, after all—may as well stick to the tarts.

Mon Fung
Mon Fung? My Fung?

As a random aside, this store on Grand Street amused me because I read it as "My Fung." And then I imagined a "fung" being some sort of fuzzy creature that I could carry everywhere and WOULD BE MY FRIEND FOREVER, like MY BUDDY, and we would go on all kinds of adventures...just me and my fung.

I wonder if anyone else thinks the same thing. Probably not.

West Village-Ing

mm tasty
A bar of some sort!

Gloria met up with us at the IFC Center just after getting out of work at The Local Store, a bakery/coffee shop in Midtown East. You know what that means: FREE PASTRIES. Ever the thoughtful friend, she came bearing two boxes of goodies. The first thing we tried was this bar stuffed with all kinds of tasty bits: chocolate chunks, chopped pecans, dried cranberries, sweet goo. I'll ask Gloria for more details. It was one of those "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" thing.

Krapow Kai Khai Dow
Fried egg, YES.

After we finished watching the animated shorts (my favorite was Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty), we ate at Galanga for dinner, as I recalled that Kathy liked it and they made one of my favorite dishes just the way I liked it. I'm talking about gai pad krapow ($9.50, written on the menu at Krapow Kai Khai Dow; if I knew Thai, I'd tell you what that means), minced chicken stir fried with sliced peppers and onions, garlic, fish sauce, basil, and chile peppers so every bite is filled with fragrant basil and tear-inducing hotness (warning: Galanga does not skimp on the spiciness). The pièce de résistance is the accompanying fried egg featuring a runny yolk and a slightly frilly, crispy edge. I've been to restaurants that didn't mince the meat nor include and egg, my reaction to which is a pained internal, "NOO WHAT THE FUUUCK sob." Admittedly, I'm not that familiar with Thai food and I've never been to Thailand, but I feel like Galaga's version is the way it should be.

hazelnut and...something

I eased my slightly singed mouth with gelato at my favorite gelateria in the city, L'Arte del Gelato. Gloria and Diana got their own cups, but Adelyn and I were so stuffed that we opted to share a small. That's our idea of eating moderately. Yup. In the absence of my favorite flavor, pistachio, we went with hazelnut and banana, both of which fared quite awesomely. The hazelnut is just a smidge sweeter than I prefer, but still leaves you with the mellow nutty flavor of toasted hazelnuts. The banana tastes like...banana, deluxe. A dumb thing to marvel at, perhaps, but in other popular banana desserts, namely banana pudding and banana cream pie, banana plays a supporting role to pudding and crust. In gelato form, the banana is enhanced, but not eclipsed by the added milk and sugar. And I like that. (I also like banana pudding and banana cream pie.)

And then I waddled to the subway station and rode home with my uncomfortably distended, pants-stretching belly for about half an hour. As I'm wont to do. Sigh.

I'll have to start an exercise regimen soon. But as I've been saying that for years, methinks it won't happen until I think I'll drop dead without it.

PS: Yup, I'm posting this at 4 a.m.-ish. Nope, I didn't watch any Lost tonight. (But I did check out a bunch of figure skating videos from the Olympics. If you haven't watched Kim Yu-Na yet, then holy poot, get the fug away from here and check it out.)


88 Palace
88 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002 (map)

Village Tart
86 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10012 (map)

149 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012 (map)

L'Arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue South, New York, NY 10014 (map)


Kåre Week, Day 4: Dim Sum, Random Art, and Arepas
Home Cooking Edition: Moo Pad Krapow, Moffles, and Something Vegan
88 Palace, gelatolicious, and har har, Japanese stuff!


Nicholas / February 28, 2010 4:41 AM

I like how you said you got gai-lan because there was too much meaty bun goodness. Let's be real here, those greens are drenched in oil and you just wanted the deliciousness. No excuses needed :).

Marvo / February 28, 2010 4:56 AM

Dumpling head was cute...oh wait, I'm sorry...I meant to say kawaii!!!!

Oh wait, wrong language.

How do you say cute in Chinese?

roboppy / February 28, 2010 5:02 AM

Comment Ninja: Shhhh...

At least it's not deep fried? ;)

Marvo: I just realized, it looks like a plush dumpling I made some years ago. ROSY CHEEKS!

I had to use google to figure out what "cute" was in Chinese, which is sad, even to my Chinese-barren mind, because I heard it a gazillion times growing up: kuh-eye. (Er, not the official romanization by any means, but that's sort of what it sounds like.)

Mahar / February 28, 2010 5:06 AM

Robyn, what's with the crazy viewing habits lately? :)

I crave for dim sum constantly, so it's a little torturous for me to read your posts when I'm so hungry for it. But I read on anyway (because it means that I'm more likely to eat dim sum sooner than later. Your posts give me the conviction to travel for food.)

That gestalt desert of goodness seems to be an amped up revel bar.

santos. / February 28, 2010 6:28 AM

the only thai words i know involves menus, so i'm pretty sure "Krapow Kai Khai Dow" is "holy basil chicken egg" so for future reference you can be reasonably (maybe) sure that next time you order in a thai restaurant you'll get the following:

krapow-holy basil
kai/gai-ground chicken
khai dow-(fried?) egg

which sounds awesome right about now

kim / February 28, 2010 7:22 AM

I love gain lan too, but it's never worth it to order a vegetable side dish during dim sum hours. Too expensive. Those were probably fried garlic on top and yes, it's always very oily. :)

I also visited Village Tart. Wasn't too impressed with the dessert selections though. Would rather go to a bakery in Little Italy.

I also went to the Lunar parade. Not into it at all. Too crowded, especially with tourists.

josie / February 28, 2010 11:01 AM

Like you, I don't choose buns from the dimsum cart. It's kind of, "I can get them anywhere, anytime". Love the fried taro too. I think they put some dried shrimp (sia mi) in there to add some saltiness. I love the mini custards as well, although, I must admit, I've never seen custard bun anywhere. Your remark about having veggies in all the fried stuffs reminds me of my aunt. Whenever I go to visit her in the city and we go for dimsum, she'd say that same phrase when we pick the gai lan amidst all those fried stuffs.

Tina / February 28, 2010 1:29 PM

What is that chocolate-y, nutty goodness of a bar from The Local Store?! I. Must. Have. It.

When it comes to Village Tart, I liked the atmosphere but the desserts (and coffee, especially) didn't rock my world. I prefer Spot over VT. :-/

eatyourheartout / February 28, 2010 4:44 PM

No, not being harsh on the salad. I AGREE with you! It was nothing special. I should try that Diner salad, which caught my attention a while back when you went.

Down with Village Tart! ;) The only thing reasonable was their pots of tea, but I wouldn't go back due to their pushy service staff. I could have walked out had we not noticed we waited half an hour for our bill.

It was a fun-filled day, nonetheless and our dinner conversations at Galanga! The Thai food also really made up for my crappy moment at Village Tart. :)

roboppy / February 28, 2010 6:25 PM

Mahar: You mean watchin videos and stuff? I FEEL LIKE I'M SO CLOSE TO BEING CAUGHT UP WITH close. Yeah that's it.

I don't crave dim sum constantly, but I kind of..always want an egg custard tart. I went into a few bakeries today that had em, but it was after lunch and I was already full, so not egg custard goodness.

NINJA: Oh man there are actual Chinese characters on my page! Weee. That second one looks redonkulously complicated.

santos: That makes total sense! Thanks for the info; I'll try to remember that name. The Thai restaurant around the corner from my office just lists that dish as "Sidewalk."

kim: Although the veggie dishes may be more expensive than usual, since everything together comes out to be pretty cheap per person, I never think much about it. I'm never the only one who wants veggies. :)

If only Chinese bakeries were as cozy as Village Tart. The atmosphere isn't enough to make me go back, though. I go to places like Hon Cafe most of the time cos all I want is a milk tea.

Belinda: Egg tarts are the best. if I couldn't easily buy them, I might be driven to making them myself..

josie: keep your eyes out for custard buns! They're out there. And tasty.

Tina: I'll ask Gloria for more info!

I liked Spot more too. Although when I want dessert in the EV, I usually go to Chikalicious Dessert Club for the soft serve. mmm.

D: I should add a note about the wait; almost forgot about that! Overly attentive service at first, then we're forgotten about. Hohum.

The salad at Diner would probably be different by now, but I'd hope it's still awesome.

Joey / March 2, 2010 5:46 AM

Hey hey, you always have great pics and funny writeups. Keep up the good work!!!

The other word for taro is yam. Not sure would that make sense to your friends or not. After all it is not used in western cuisine. Best way is to let them taste it for themselves.

Gloria / March 2, 2010 5:04 PM

Aw, I wanted to see weird random balloon waving guy. *pout*

I liked granny grimm's sleeping beauty too. (if you sleep you're gonna die, die, die) That's a catchy tune.

you make me sound like a way better friend than I really am. those two boxes were tiny. Next time, bigger boxes, more sweets. Next time. And I'll bring them when Tina's around so she can get in on the action.

anna / March 2, 2010 6:15 PM

Ooh, custard bun looks awesome.

I also was underwhelmed by Village Tart. Sad to see it hasn't gotten much better since adding the full menu. :\

roboppy / March 2, 2010 11:33 PM

Joey: Yup, it's easiest to just have people taste taro than try to describe it. Yams are frequently used as another name for sweet potatoes in the US, even though they're not the same. YAY CONFUSION.

Christina: Custard and dumplings, two of my favorite's beautiful!

Gloria: My photo probably would've sucked since I'm so short. If only you had been there!, nah, you didn't miss anything.


Anna: Aw, that sucks. I heard good things about it, but it's not in "omg delicious bakery" territory quite yet.

TheSpatulaQueen / March 3, 2010 1:55 AM

Yay, more gelato! Sucks that they didn't have Pistachio that day. Today I sampled 6 cups of gelato, using Pistachio as the base. They were nowhere close to that mind-blowing hyper-flavored gelatoness, kind of like what you were saying about the banana. I've also found that the thing with Nocciola/Bacio/Nutella gelato is that as awesome as Nutella is, it's not exactly true hazelnut so it's sweeter than you'd expect.

Salads. Wow, I don't think I've ordered one of those in years. I fail at being good to my body too (see gelato example above). But yes, stick with the namesake items.

SamuelGoh / March 3, 2010 8:14 AM

your blog and photos looks awesome. I know you said you use photoshop, but still. I use photoshop and still suck.

okay, maybe I just suck.

anyway, Lost season 6 is so boo-hoo :|

Jen / March 4, 2010 7:06 PM

steamed pork buns ... gosh, I haven't had one in ages, but your pictures remind me of how much I love them

Jin / March 5, 2010 12:17 PM

Oh noes! My friend announced that a pretty good place called Village Tart opened near her apartment, and now you tell me that it isn't so good and possibly overpriced.


Lana / March 5, 2010 6:29 PM

Long time reader, first time commenter! Love your blog! I've never been to NYC but my list of food places to visit is always growing.

Ooh, and happy you liked Granny O'Grimm... the Irish are very proud of it!

ncsuemme / March 6, 2010 12:45 AM

Hrmm, when my friends and I went to Village Tart, I got the chicken pot pie and the thing was massive. Especially in comparison to the other tarts. Oh, and did I mention deeeelicious?

We were a bit spoiled (one friend knew Pichet) and received a beet salad and 3 extra desserts from him. Boy oh boy did I find the desserts delicious. In all, we shared the budino, tiramisu, cannoli (YUM), affogato, bread pudding and lemon tart. Yes, we're pigs. And they were all strong in my book.

But, I can see the overpriced part of it. Even with the freebies, I spent a bit more than I had expected, even though my entree was better sized than expected. (Your newer post had me thinking about VT... I experienced a teeny bit of the pushy part, but mainly when I was waiting about 15 min at the table for my dining partners.)

roboppy / March 6, 2010 1:01 AM

The Spatula Queen: It's hard for me to order a salad when I know my favorite one is in Paris...and is topped with fried potatoes. I guess that's not really a salad anymore. BUT WHATEVER.

Samuel: Thanks! One of my friends suggested I write a post about how I take photos and photoshop them. It's pretty simple stuff. After I tell people what I do, there's NOTHING TO BE IMPRESSED ABOUT. sob.

I'm gonna start 6 soon! YEAAH!..yeah.

Jen: Go forth! Find the pork steamed bun! And put it in your belly.

Jin: Hm..try it for yourself and tell me what you think! Even if it's a bit pricey for what it is...still not a big investment, at least.

Lana: Thanks for reading and delurking! I hope NYC is on your "to visit" list. And I love me some creepy-funny angry granny.

ncsuemme: If I tried as many things as you did, maybe I'd have have a different opinion...doooh. We were just gettin' a snack. I can understand why they'd want us to order more stuff, but being pushy isn't going to make me wanna go back...OH WELL!

Something random from the archives