Astoria Seafood Review Part 2: Dessert Course

I’d like to preface that I rarely give bad reviews or get irate in public. However, I think this needs to be said to anyone who is interested in dining at Astoria Seafood. 

The main take away from this review is this:  “don’t ever assume anything“.

This is Part 2 of my two-part review of Astoria Seafood. Click here to read Part 1: Main course – restaurant review.


It took me some time to post my review of Astoria Seafood because I wanted to ensure it is as rational and truthful as it can be. I also took the time to think through the experience to extract anything constructive I can learn from it.

This post goes into a more constructive, “what can I and Astoria Seafood learn from this experience” route.

Lessons for me and Astoria Seafood

What I should do next time

When I try a new restaurant that has a different concept from the traditional ones, I usually ask the staff how it works and what I should expect. Unfortunately, this time I only chose to follow what the Yelp reviews and tips said about the restaurant. Next time, I will do both. This will minimize any headache and frustration on my part.

What Astoria Seafood could do next time

I strongly believe the staff needs to evaluate their service system. Perhaps something like this:

  1. Hostess greets you as you enter. This doesn’t even have to be so formal, they can give a shout to the people coming in i.e. say “who hasn’t picked and paid for their seafood?”. This step can thin out the herd from first timers to regulars. Hostess can tell the regulars to do their thing and first timers can get a quick 101 of how it works.
  2. After paying, cashier gives customers copy of their order receipt, directs them to go back to the hostess who will find a table for them and tells them to keep their receipt until they are seated.
  3. Hostess tells clients to keep receipt on table to show what they paid for so the waitress in charge of table can use it as reference.

These steps minimizes any headaches especially if you need to sit people, community style, during busy hours. It also gives first timers who don’t think to ask how it works or don’t read restaurant reviews a fighting chance. Being in the service industry, a restaurant’s responsibility is to educate and create good experiences for people.

Lastly, avoid this at all cost: tell or imply to the customer it’s their fault for not saying anything if they felt there was an issue. You will get customers that are from different spectrums of personality, do not fault them for that because it’s your job to accommodate accordingly. You are after all in the customer service industry. Bottomline, the phrase “don’t ever assume anything” plays a big role here.

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Photo by Jill Conyers; Quote by Don Miguel Ruiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astoria Seafood Review Part 1: Main Course

I’d like to preface that I rarely give bad reviews or get irate in public. However, I think this needs to be said to anyone who is interested in dining at Astoria Seafood. 

The main take away from this entire story is this:  “don’t ever assume anything“.

Since this is a long post, I decided to break this up to a two-part story:

This post is Part 1: Main course – restaurant review. Click here to read Part 2: Dessert course – take-away lessons from my experience.

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Let me start by bottom-lining my review. If you’re interested in dining at Astoria Seafood, then go at your own risk. Be as prepared as possible. Ask questions if you feel unsure. Learn from my experience.

I typically go on Yelp to read people’s reviews before I try a new restaurant. While I know Yelp reviews are subjective, they give me the opportunity to see the good, bad and ugly of a restaurant. Reviews don’t usually deter me from trying unless the pictures I see are rather appalling.

Astoria Seafood got rave reviews in Yelp, Google, and Foursquare. Queens’ foodie residents also raved about the place and considered it as their top go-to seafood restaurant. I’ve always wanted to go to Astoria Seafood, but didn’t take the plunge until last Saturday.

The Concept

The restaurant’s schtick:

  1. You pick your choice of fresh seafood. They have a variety of choices (lobster, scallops, mussels, king crab, snapper, bass, etc.).
  2. You pay for what you pick. They charge by the pound and depends on what type. After you pay, you tell them how you want it cooked (grilled, baked, or fried).
  3. After you pay, you go back to the front, tell the hostess your name and show your receipt.
  4. Hostess writes down your name and # of people.
  5. You wait your turn to be called.
  6. Hostess calls you and once seated, they then start cooking your food. I learned/experienced this step the hard way…

Before I move on, I’d like to preface that Astoria Seafood was VERY busy when we got there. I expected this because of the Yelp reviews and tips I got from a Queens foodie I follow on Instagram.

The Wait Times

Paying

After picking the food, there was a short line to the cashier. There were 2 cashiers at that time, so it’s not a lengthy wait. Basically, they tally the weight of each seafood you got, total up your final cost, ask how you want it cooked, and you pay.

Getting a table

After hostess took our names, we waited between 20-30 minutes before we got seated. The hostess was quite entertaining to watch because she would call people as she was smoking her cig. When she called to seat people and no one came to her, she would say “ok, forgot about them, don’t care about them” and would proceed to call the next one on her list. When it was our turn, she was calling “Lina” first, I asked her do you mean “Liane”? She said, “yes that’s what I said, I clearly can’t say your name right”, in a joking way. Laughs all around.

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We’re called the same time as another group. The hostess seemed to have decided to do community style seating with my group and this other group without inquiring if it was OK with us. I didn’t complain because they were VERY busy and the other group didn’t seem to mind as well. One thing I noticed before we’re even shown to our seats, was the hostess and waitress got into a little spat with one each other. Waitress was complaining about the hostess’ system of sitting people to their manager. Hostess is a little sassy one, talked back. They seemed to be fighting about the hostess’ deciding to sit 2 groups in a table for 6 and waitress wasn’t too happy about that (side note: We think this is what made them so confused about our group, which you’ll later read how it unfolded). Now was this a way to act in front of customers? If I still have your attention, you be the judge and read on.

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Continue reading “Astoria Seafood Review Part 1: Main Course”

Dad’s Oven Roasted Pork Belly Recipe

2 lbs pork belly
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt
2 small bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup soy sauce
Marinate the pork:
Dry the skin thoroughly with paper towel.
Score (hiwain) the skin every 1/2 inch with a sharp knife
Generously rub the salt into the skin
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a shallow baking dish
Place the pork in the dish meat side down
Marinate uncovered in the refrigerator for at least one hour
Preheat oven to 425F
Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place a roasting rack on it
Remove pork from marinade (discard) and place on the rack
Pat the skin again with paper towels to make it dry
Roast the pork for 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Rest the pork for 15 minutes before slicing

Quick Recipes in my book

Recently, I realized that I detest recipes with more than 8 ingredients. I mean, why does one need 8? Are those 8 ingredients really crucial to the taste of the final product because chances are they’re not!

Anyway, in honor of The Everygirl 30 Day Challenge that starts today, here are my 5 quick and easy recipes:

1) Oven Seared Steak

# of Ingredients I use: 4
[salt, pepper, rib eye, oil (or butter)]

2) Pasta Amatriciana

# of Ingredients I use: 7
[pasta, can of peeled tomatoes, guanciale (pork cheeks), parmagianno reggiano, pecorino romano, extra virgin olive oil, peperoncino]

3) Sinigang na Baka/Baboy/Isda/Manok (Sour soup with beef/pork/fish/chicken)

# of Ingredients I use: 7
[onion, tomatoes, meat of choice, fish sauce, sinigang mix, water, vegetable of choice – I prefer spinach or kale]

4) Fennel/Anise and Arugula Salad (made this up, but feel free to personalize)

# of Ingredients I use: 6
[arugula, fennel/anise, salt, lemon, pepper, EVOO]

5) Beef/Pork/Chicken Tacos

# of Ingredients I use: 4
[soft taco sleeves, meat of choice, salsa, salt]

Please share any quick and easy recipes you have in your arsenal on the comments below or tweet them to me @Lianepamuspusan

5 Ways to Search the Foodie in You

Several months ago, I was a cooking machine. You can find me almost every day (and night) in the kitchen whipping something away. In addition, I like discovering new restaurants which serve delicious food. I like going to food markets just to browse what the vendors have in store for their clients. Unfortunately, my machine has died down and I have now become a victim of monotonous and crappy junk.

Does that ever happen to you? One day you’re high on something and the next you just can’t stand doing it?

Pasta Amatriciana
Pasta Amatriciana

So, what does one do to get the machine back up?

1) Watch Julie & Julia – the best foodie movie there is.

2) Read food blogs. I am a fan of Food52 and Emiko Davies.

3) Revive your Pinterest Food board. Cook the recipes you pin for god’s sake.

4) Keep your kitchen/dining area clean. It helps to fire up the good old cooking spirit in you.

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First Apartment Kitchen

5) If all of the above doesn’t work for you, search Yelp for the best [insert favorite type of food here] restaurant around your area and go there!

 

Straccetti di Manzo (“strips of beef”)

While browsing through old photos, I stumbled upon this:

Straccetti di Manzo roughly means “strips of beef” in Italian. It originates from Rome and .. well that’s the extent of my knowledge. I first tried this dish when I was at a trattoria near University of Bologna. My colleague introduced the dish to me and I was hooked!

As you can tell from my photo below, the recipe calls for strips of the meat mixed together with arugula, grana padano, EVOO, salt, and pepper. I look forward to making this dish once my meatless diet comes to an end.

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Recipe:

– strips of beef (boneless sirloin sliced thinly will do)
– 1 clove of garlic
– EVOO
– arugula
– parmagianno reggiano cheese (or if you can find Grana Padano, even better)
– salt and pepper
– balsamic vinegar (optional)

1) Saute beef and garlic
2) Season with salt and pepper
3) Mix in the arugula, toss until it wilts
4) Plate it
5) Grate some cheese on top
6) Eat it! Feel free to sprinkle some balsamic vinegar on top too!

meatless diet for 40 days

I challenged myself this lent season to not eat beef, pork, and chicken. I figured going pescatarian for forty days might do some wonders on my physical and mental state. 

In addition, it’s also a great way to introduce a series for the blog. Let’s call it, “meatless diet for forty days”. Catchy, isn’t it? 

We’ll start with stir-fry vegetables with poached egg and packaged soup

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Recipe

  • collard greens
  • fennel or anise – can somebody tell me the difference? Cause I sure can’t
  • edamame – I use the packaged ones you find in the fridge section of your grocery store.
  • roasted pine nuts
  • lemon juice
  • minced garlic
  • EVOO
  • salt
  • poached egg (Don’t know how to poach an egg? Watch Julie & Julia, that’s how I learned!)
  • packaged or canned soup (optional)

1) Saute minced garlic in EVOO until brown.

2) Add collard greens. Saute, saute, saute until you see it start to wilt.

3) Add pinch of salt. 

4) Saute some more. 

5) Taste the collard greens to see texture. If it still tough to chew, saute.. saute.. saute. 

6) Taste it again. If you can handle the texture, add fennel/anise. Saute again. 

7) Taste the collards again, if it taste tender and not tough at all to chew, add edamame. Saute. Sprinkle some lemon juice in there while you’re at it. 

8) Taste your concoction. If the texture and taste is to your liking, plate it. Otherwise, add more salt (or lemon) and then, guess what? Saute some more. 

9) Once you get tired of sauteing, plate your concoction. You can follow how I did it on the picture above – placing the poached egg on top of the veggies or feel free to create your own masterpiece. 

Couple of notes: 

1) The yellow stuff you see in the picture is packaged broccoli and cheese soup. My mom bought it at TJ Maxx, so I’m not quite sure where else you can source it. I added it for extra flavor, but again that was my preference. 

2) I don’t measure my ingredients (I know, the horror!) as I prepare my food base on the length of time I would like to eat it. For example, if I want to eat it for two days, I eyeball my ingredients to accommodate that length of time.

A boost of berries for your salad

Salad-Ingredients

 

My recent venture with salad ingredients:

  • spinach (good for fighting acne, especially the ones that break out around the chin area)
  • white stilton cheese with cranberries (you get the essential nutrients, i.e., calcium and protein from the cheese and antioxidant benefits from the cranberries).
  • balsamic vinegar with a hint of raspberry (well, I just can’t have salad without a little Italian infused flavor).  

Continue reading “A boost of berries for your salad”

Roasted Bone Marrow

I have finally ended my seemingly daunting search for bone marrow bones in NY. I was at the Pacific Supermarket, 3 stops away from my stop, and there it was calling out to me saying, “here I am! I only cause a pretty $1.xx”.

Anyway, I have then made it my mission to cook roasted bone marrow today following this recipe. For the parsley salad, I opted out of capers since I am not a big fan of them. I used honey wheat bread instead of the regular french bread that the recipe uses.

I was first introduced to roasted bone marrow at this gastropub in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood called Quinn’s. After that place, I have never again eaten it roasted other than cooking and eating it the Filipino way —- “Bulalo” style. Then last year when I went home for Thanksgiving, my sister introduced me to this restaurant at Bellevue Place called Koral that serves bone marrow, roasted style. Since then I was hooked to this dish.

Some fun facts:

Anthony Bourdain considers roasted bone marrow as his comfort food and apparently this stuff is actually healthy for you (in moderate amount of course).

My History with Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana

I cooked this using substitutes instead of the original ingredients.

  • Bacon instead of guanciale (pork cheek)
  • Macaroni noodles instead of bucatini (long tubular noodles)

I met this pasta during my first trip to Rome last year. I was walking around the Trastevere neighborhood and happen to stumble upon a restaurant called “La Scalleta”. It was lunch time, so I went in to try it out.

I ordered Pasta Amatriciana (and an osso buco style dish, which I will talk about at a later post). I instantly bonded with the pasta of course, because it was REALLY good.

When I returned to Bologna, I told my Italian roommate about this encounter with the Pasta Amatriciana. She told me that she knows how to cook it and proceeded to tell me that she can teach me how to. Of course I didn’t pass up on that offer.

The pasta became my go-to meal during my second and third semester at school because it was that kind of meal for a student.

See the recipe here.