Category Archives: Pizza

Eating the Big Apple

When I plotted a graph of my monthly food expenditures for the past year, a friend noticed a spike in the month of July and asked, “Was that when you went to New York?”. He was spot on. My friends and I had some pretty decent meals to say the least and here are some of the more memorable ones we had:

1) Shake Shack
During this second trip to New York, I had time to check out Shake Shack in Leicester Square. The square itself is a pretty sweet location to just sit on the bench and chill with your friends (and maybe some squirrels) while you devour that hard-earned Shake Shack burger, a trophy from your 30 minutes of waiting.

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Verdict? Pretty good. However, it has yet to usurp In N Out from its throne in my heart.  Maybe I’m too impatient to wait that long for a burger, or maybe I’m just biased towards the west coast. My friend absolutely fell in love with Shake Shack though and was extremely eager to make another visit to this establishment.

2) The Halal Guys
Yay to vendor food! Its location made it an ideal lunch stop before my visit to the Museum of Modern Art.
Long line? Yes. Overrated? Maybe. Bang for your buck? Absolutely. For $6, you get a chicken rice plate that is worth two meals (or one very satisfying meal if you have a hearty appetite).

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My recommendation comes with two warnings though:
1) The hot sauce is the spiciest shit. And you know that I am dead serious because I rarely use expletives to describe things and least of all, food.
2) One bowl is rumored to be roughly equivalent to 2000 calories. It is up to you what to do with this information…

3) Ippudo Ramen
My friend and I walked into this restaurant at an odd hour for lunch, about 3PM, and successfully avoided the long line that I’ve heard can go up to 2 hours. We were instantly seated and I proceeded to ordering my first twenty dollar bowl of ramen in my life.

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A little skimpy with ingredients, but the noodle and broth were great. My favorite was actually the egg, half-boiled to perfection.

4) John’s Pizzeria
I used to believe that restaurants within the vicinity of main tourist attractions are tourist traps with mediocre food. For a place nested pretty close to Times Square, this restaurant sure has fine pizza. Absolutely love the thin crust and all that cheesy goodiness.

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5) Kale Salad
Nothing out of this world but I never knew that a simple kale salad with golden raisins, pine nuts and lemon dill dressing could taste this appetizing. Perhaps my body was just intensely craving for some greens after nearly a week of nearly everything but vegetables.

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Chelsea market is a great spot to hit if you, like me, enjoy looking at food. The garden in the second floor balcony is really worth checking out too. Here are a few sights in the market:

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The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. I was definitely tempted to get a whole lobster or a lobster sandwich.

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Time to Gather

Nettle Pizza @  Gather, Berkeley

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Finally tried this nice looking restaurant in Berkeley that prides itself in seasonal and organic dishes. My previous attempt to dine here was unsuccessful because I lacked the foresight to make reservations and was too impatient to wait an hour to be seated. Fortunately there was not a line at all for lunch, probably also because of the fact that I went on a weekday.

My friend and I ordered a Nettle pizza with Hen of the Woods, potato, mozzarella, caramelized onions and San Joaquin Gold as toppings. Pretty good — I felt a little healthy eating this than I would a regular pizza. Their Pancetta pizza with egg as a topping looked pretty good too.

So how does this pizza fare? It is good pizza but I would still go for Cheeseboard, Sliver (new pizzeria similar to Cheeseboard but closer to campus!) or Bobby G if ambience were not too concerned about ambience.

Eat Real

Eat Real Fest @ Jack London Square, Oakland

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Amo la Pizza

How do you like your pizza?

Personally, I like thin-crusted pizzas with some fruits or vegetable toppings like bell peppers, pineapples or artichokes. And the pizza better be oozing with molten cheese. Thin-crusted, because thick crusts are too heavy for my liking and I occasionally feel that the thick layer of carbs dulls down the taste of the toppings. For this reason, I favour pizzas at Italian restaurants over the thick-crusted ones in say Pizza Hut although there are definitely days when I would have some Papa John’s and the likes of it.

Over the past month, I have probably eaten Italian food at at least five different occasions and I can now say without an ounce of doubt that Fratini’s Restaurant is my favourite pizzeria in Brunei. Thin crust, cheesy and flavourful – their pizzas simply fit the bill. Furthermore, they have the 50% off any pizza and pasta for the month of Ramadan!  I do not have a picture of it here but my favourite pizza from Fratini’s is the Hawaiian. Gotta love the pineapples.

Fratini’s Restaurant @ Kuala Belait, Brunei

The Quattro Stagioni is a decent vegetarian option but I was quite disappointed with their artichoke toppings. I have had artichokes as pizza toppings and they tasted wonderful but the ones on the Quattro were quite sour. Perhaps they were pickled artichokes as opposed to regular artichokes.

Although I may have made Fratini’s seem more superior to Pizza Hut, I have to admit that I love their Honey Garlic Chicken flavour which is kind of hard to find outside of Brunei. I was hoping to have my Honey Garlic Chicken on thin crust but to my dismay, two of the Pizza Hut branches I went to at the Airport Mall and at Gadong did not have the Thin Crust option any more so we resorted to ordering The Edge.

 I still miss Pizza Hut’s Thin Crust. This was like honey garlic chicken on a giant cracker.

Not quite sure how to end this post following the expression of my delight at finally having Honey Garlic Chicken pizza but my chagrin when I found out that two Pizza Hut branches did not have Thin Crust, so I’ll throw in some interesting fact about Pizza Margherita that I learnt from Italian Magazine:

Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy who was presented with a pizza that resembled the colours of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green(basil).According to popular tradition, in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created  a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.

Now I will forever see the Italian flag on my pizza every time I have my Margherita.

Paradise Pie

This, was paradise in a pan. The swirl of mango puree on top of the roasted ham and pineapple was simply amazing. A thicker pizza base, maybe, and this pizza would be perfection. 

I have only one regret walking out of Bobby G’s Pizzeria – the regret of ordering a half instead of a whole pan of Paradise Pie. I would have devoured the entire pan of Paradise.

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza

I distinctly remember watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted and Marshall drove all the way to Chicago and defied all sorts of obstacles just to buy a box of Chicago pizza that was supposedly mind-blowing.  Then and there in my cramped room in the boarding house did I make a vow to myself to try this amazing pizza if circumstances should somehow lead me to the Americas. Talk about effective advertisement!

Fast forward two years and here I am smacked in the Bay Area, thousands of miles from that elusive  Chicago pizza. Eating a Chicago-style pizza was on my bucket list and I was telling Eric how it was imperative for me to fly to Chicago before I graduate; not to see the Cloud Gate or to shop till I drop on Miracle Mile, but to tick off that item on my bucket list. Instead, he proposed that I save myself hundreds of dollars on flight tickets and search for a place in the Bay Area that served Chicago-style pizza.

That was how I met Zachary’s Chicago Pizza.

The Chicken Special - my first stuffed pizza!

The deep-dish pizza which oozed with melted cheese,baked chicken and savoury tomato sauce was delicioso! As Eric and I were famished that Friday night, we initially had second thoughts on whether a Small would satisfy our hunger. It proved to be sufficient for three and in retrospect, I shouldn’t have eaten three-quarters of my daily calorie requirement in a single meal. Whoops.

I am glad to have accomplished one of my life’s missions. Thank you Zachary’s and 51B AC Transit, for making my American Dream come true without making me broke.