smoked salmon and avocado ftw

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My new favorite sandwich is salmon and avocado. I used to be a turkey and colby jack girl, then I switched to tuna salad sandwiches, and now it’s all about the smoked salmon and avocado. If I phrase it like that, it sounds like I’m becoming more hoity or health conscious, but it’s really just that I’m discovering new foods and my palette is improving. I’ll still go for a good ol’ turkey and cheese every so often. But smoked salmon and avocado? Wow. It’s a revelation. The only problem is that in comparison to other sandwich options, it’s downright pricey.

When I first started working, I ate out every lunch, which in the Flatiron District equates to a serious drain on the bank account. Now I try to bring my lunch to work, but I still love Cafe Prague, because they’re amazing. And their smoked salmon and avocado sandwich (pictured above) is just TOO amazing. So yummy. But at $11.92 a pop (with a side of chips), it’s just too much for me. So I went to the grocery store, bought sliced potato bread, avocados, smoked salmon, and swiss cheese, assembled, and voila! My version (pictured below) is not as great as Cafe Prague, but for the budget conscious, it’ll do.

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Cafe Prague
cafepraguenyc.com
2 West 19th Street
Flatiron District, New York, NY

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yum yum chinatown dim sum

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I love dim sum. Absolutely adore dim sum. But strangely enough, in the two and a half years I spent in China, I only had dim sum once. As much as I love dim sum, it’s not something you can really eat on your own and dim sum options in Shanghai aren’t as plentiful as one might expect. My sister was in town last weekend so I took her to Jing Fong in Chinatown, which is my favorite best dim sum place in New York. It’s been around for a while and is fairly well-known, but it’s fairly big so the wait isn’t as horrendous as the crowd outside would suggest.

Most people probably refer to it as the restaurant with the escalator. If you’re walking along Elizabeth Street, you’ll probably see a crowd of people waiting outside, and inside there’s a little podium with a guy giving out numbers and waiting times and two big escalators connecting to the actual restaurant area above. Once you ascend (after a 35-minute wait for us, on a Saturday around noon), you get seated at a table (a shared table if you’re a small party) in this giant space that looks like it was decorated by the same person that decorates all Chinese restaurants in the US, and it’s time to order! Ah, the thrill of having to hunt down or beckon for your food, one eye on your plate and the other on the carts circulating between the tables!

Since it had been such a while since I last had dim sum and I do love my dim sum and I had been craving dim sum, I admittedly went a wee bit crazy with the ordering. It’s just so easy! You see food, you point at food, you get food. All my favorite foods! Foods that I only know the Chinese names of! 咸水角 (xián shuǐ jiǎo), 虾饺 (xiā jiǎo), 芋头角 (yùtóu jiǎo), oh my! And since my sister hadn’t had snails in a long time, we ordered a plate of those. Yum. The bill ended up being about $50, which is more than usual due to my gluttony, the snails (not a standard dim sum dish), and the extra food we ended up taking home. But oh, so worth it.

Jing Fong Restaurant
20 Elizabeth Street
(between Canal and Bayard Streets)
Chinatown, New York, NY

new starts and salads

Holy crap, it’s 2016. And how neglectful I’ve been with this blog! Tsk tsk.

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I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions, but I suppose the ol’ standby is to eat healthier, which is always a task given my sweet tooth, fairly abysmal cooking skills, and dislike of anything green and leafy. That said, I’m fine with vegetables if they’re just an accompaniment or side dish, and I’ll cook/eat vegetarian/vegan due to some of my friends, but I’m generally not a ‘salad as a meal’ person. So this here is a rare meal for me indeed. It’s a salad. Woot.

Iceberg lettuce, cha shao (barbecued) pork, hard-boiled egg, Gouda cheese, avocado, sweet peppers, tomatoes, apples, and soon-to-be-added Thousand Island dressing. With a side of buttered toast. Healthy? Oh yes. Granted it could be healthier, but … baby steps, people! Score one for the new year.

eating lunch … at my desk :(

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I remember this one article that said that although eating lunch away from your desk is incredibly important psychologically, employees’ satisfaction levels are also correlated to whether or not they had a choice in eating at or away from their desks. Makes sense, right? Mind breaks are important, but so too is the freedom to choose for yourself. And I totally get it. Being forced to eat at your desk is a double whammy of suckage.

I usually don’t mind eating at my desk. In past jobs (architecture firms) we always had the choice to eat at our desks or the meeting/kitchen table depending on if you were working or wanted to socialize, but since deadlines were constantly fast approaching, it was pretty common for us to order in food, eat at our desks, and chat while eating/working. Here, we always eat in the kitchen because we share a single (albeit partitioned) office table that is viewable to passersby. We have to eat in shifts and I find it incredibly mind-numbing to eat while staring at a white wall, but as long as I have my phone to watch Coursera lectures or read some emails, I’m fine.

But when everyone else goes for a meeting and I’m alone and am forced to eat lunch at my desk in order to keep an eye on the door? That bites. Especially when it’s a slow day. There’s only so much BuzzFeed, DailyMail, and BoredPanda one can read before one’s mind goes completely numb. The sandwich was good though. Wagas never fails.

lunch, aka the delivered meal

I rarely go out for lunch, because in a small office where clients can come in at any moment, it’s not a good idea to be away too long. And as much as I’d like to say I brown bag it, I’ve left my packed lunch on the kitchen counter way too many times while I rushed out the door in the morning, and it’s just so much less effort to order delivery.

Good thing there’s a whole host of cheap deliverable food in Shanghai!

Noodles, rice, oh my. Often I just order from whatever place my colleague is ordering from, so it can be hit or miss. Lately I’ve just been going with fried rice, because it’s the least risky option. Usually it’s at least decent/edible … but if anyone ever offers you curry chicken rice from a chain called Babela’s Kitchen (巴贝拉), save yourself the trouble of throwing it out and just say no. Seriously. Say no.