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”

Memorial Day Weekend in New York City

Summer’s official welcome weekend is finally here. What are your weekend plans? It’s been a while since we had a 3 Day weekend like this, so let’s do a run through of what we can do, shall we?

PROJECTS/ERRANDS

Remember those projects/errands you’ve been putting off since winter? Well, time to man up and do them! Mine are the following:

  1. Sell s*** I no longer/have no use for.
  2. Marie Kondo the heck out of my closet

EAT

I am slowly succumbing to the notion that I may never cook a full meal again as I’ve found myself eating out more often. While I know this is not the most healthy, physically and financially, I seriously can’t help myself (oh god, am I addicted to eating out?). Anyway, I thought about it and decided that it may be better for my wallet in the meantime because whenever I buy veggies or fruits from the market, I end up throwing them out. More wasteful ‘no? I do still cook at home once in a while. I subscribed to Hello Fresh recently and while the concept is great, it’s not the cheapest at $59/week for 3x 2 person meals.

That said, here’s something I plan on doing in the next month. Eat at new places. I find myself eating at my go to restaurants that it’s starting to get too monotonous and expensive. There’s over a million restaurants in this city (ok that’s an exaggeration, but if you live here you know what I mean), so me thinks it’s time to discover. This weekend, I plan on dining in at least one of the following:

Astoria Seafood

Not a novel concept for me, but eating in a restaurant where you choose fresh seafood and then give it to the chef to cook? PRICELESS.

ophoto from yelp

Nai Tapas

I’ve wanted to come here since 2 years ago, perhaps my wish will come true this weekend.

NiaOutphoto from eatery row

SHOP

Memorial Day Weekend Sales are probably the best time to buy a new mattress. I bought one 4 years ago during Memorial Day weekend at Macy’s and then promptly returned it before it was delivered because I found a cheaper one 1 week after. My picks:

Gap – up to 50% off + 20% purchase using code MORE. Gap has been killing the wardrobe game lately.

The Real Real – 20% purchase using code REAL. Good deal for snatching that gently used designer piece you’ve been eyeing.

Old Navy – 50% Tees, Shorts, Tanks and Swimwear. 20% regular priced items. Some dresses are on sale too.

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If all else, you can catch up on some zzz’s, exercise to get *some* form on your abs, and do your regular weekend routine like as if it’s not a 3 day weekend.

The one take away? Don’t waste the weekend away on doing mindless tasks, like scrolling through your social media pages (ahem, listen to your own advice, Liane).

Happy Weekend everyone!

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5 Tips about Shoes or Jimmy Choos

New York is a sample sale hot bed. Every single day there is at least one happening somewhere in the city. I’m no stranger to sample sales (or any sales for that matter). I’ve been on both sides of the table and it is a double edge sword not everyone can handle.

Jimmy Choo is one of the major events this week. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), the location is very close to where I work. Yesterday was the first day and I managed to squeeze myself in before they closed for the day. The event is held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Flatiron. If you’ve ever been to that place, then you know how huge that place is. Thankfully, they held the place in one big loft on the 4th floor, away from the other conferences that’s also taking place in the pavilion.

To say the least, this sample sale is much like going in a Gap mall store offering 50% off everything on Black Friday. It was chaotic. Shoes strewn and thrown around by shoppers. Shoes stacked so high that you’d really have to dig through the pile in order to find those pretty treasures. Few of the shoes even have scuffs or look worn out; I don’t understand how they justified adding those in the pile and pricing them at >$200. For a luxury brand, Jimmy Choo sure does not care about how their sample sales are implemented. I understand it’s a sale, but if you brand your goods as “luxury” you gotta implement your branding, even at the lowest form.

Aside from the craziness, I managed to find some jewels to share with you all.  Zip ties signify the shoe price. Green = $200; Pink = $250; Orange = $325. In love with the bottom 2 pairs. They were the rarest pairs (i.e. couldn’t find it in other sizes) I found.

The sale ends tomorrow at 6pm. I’ve read from multiple sample sale blogs that from previous years’ sales, markdowns tend to happen during the last 2 hours of the last day. If this sale follows the trend from previous years’ sales, then I highly recommend getting your behind to the Metropolitan Pavilion and snag yourself some Choos.

My top 5 tips:

  1. Do NOT go during lunch time (read: long lines!). Try to leave work early or take a late lunch if you can. This will lower your chances of waiting too long in line.
  2. Wear sandals you can easily slip in and out of. Plus, it’s hot tomorrow, so it’s a 2-fer benefit.
  3. After your first go around the room, try on your stash. Return the ones you don’t like (respect the shoes though, don’t just throw it back) and then go another round. Shoppers and sales peeps tend to return some shoes that are not bought. You may find the one, if you didn’t already find it the first time.
  4. The window by the men’s smallest shoe size table is a gold mine. Walk by to see if you can find some jewels in your size. Also, don’t hesitate to check other sizes, sometimes you may find a pair that’s actually your size.
  5. Quadruple check the goods you’ll buy. Once you buy, you can’t return.

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Jimmy Choo Sample Sale

Tuesday, May 16 through Thursday, May 18
Tues 11am-7pm, Wed 8am-7pm, Thurs 8am-6pm
The Metropolitan Pavillion: 123 West 18th St

4 Years Ago..

I stepped out of La Guardia Airport with a huge bag in tow. I went in line for a taxi, snubbed a would be “black car” driver, and sweat my ass off because it was humid af. This was my “Welcome to New York” greeting.

 

Couple of weeks ago, I came across the first street I ever lived in. It was so far from the subway line, but convenient enough since it’s close to markets, coffee shops & restaurants. It was an AirBnB rental that I had for 2 weeks.

Those 2 weeks were the busiest I’ve ever been. Looking for an apartment or a room was not an easy fit especially if you’re new to the city. To top it off, I also started my internship (a requirement I had to fulfill in order to get my MBA diploma). Craiglist became my best friend/enemy, but it somehow came through for me. I found an apartment 2 days before my AirBnB rental was up and found myself trekking to Sunnyside.

Since then, I called Sunnyside my home. Can’t imagine moving away from here though I have a slight inkling that it may happen next year given how rent increases have been.

People asked me, why New York? Well, I came here to jumpstart my career in fashion (circa 2012). I wanted to be in product development in fashion, but because I didn’t have the “experience”, I had to look elsewhere. Now, 3 years later, I work in the beauty industry alongside product developers. I’m not a product developer myself, but I get so much exposure on the processes.

New York has taught me a lot about life. It taught me that it’s OK to see poop and huge rats in the subway because that’s the norm. I learned that smells are a part of everyday city living and I shouldn’t complain about it. Also, the NYC subway system is like Hunger Games, especially during rush hour, people can be brutal and snappy especially when trains don’t run smoothly.

Would I stay for another four years in this city? Why yes. Would I feel different in a year or so? Possibly. But you know, New York gives off that vibe. You know that vibe that tells you to not give up on her and to keep on trekking. That’s what New York does.

 

Restaurant Week : New York City

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Twice a year, people of New York City gather to celebrate New York Restaurant Week. During this time one can enjoy three course meals at any of the restaurant participants for an affordable $25 lunch and $38 dinner price.

For me, Restaurant Week is a good time to discover new restaurants the city hast to offer. If you’re wondering where you should make reservations, here are my recommendations:

1) Fig and Olive – Midtown – Mediterranean

Lunch Menu Picks

Appetizer: Salmon Crudo
Main: Truffle Risotto
Dessert: Chocolate Pot De Creme

The truffle risotto is delicious. It’s a small serving, but it will pack a major punch on your taste buds! If you have an extra $7, I highly recommend ordering the crostinis.

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2) Les Halles – Flatiron – French

Appetizer: House Made Pate
Main: “Paleron”
Dessert: Creme Brulee

I personally like their Cote de Boeuf, but since it’s not included in their restaurant week menu, I recommend the “Paleron” is a preview to the rib roast mothership.

Les Halles -steak-frites

3) Hatsuhana – Midtown – Japanese

Hatsuhana is my go-to sushi place in the city. The restaurant week menu is not available online, but I highly suggest this place if only for the fresh fish they serve. My tip: sit at the bar where you can see the sushi chef work their magic.

4) Socarrat Paella Bar – Midtown/Chelsea – Spanish Tapas

Dinner Menu Picks

Tapas: Croquetas del Dias
Main: Paella de Arroz Negro
Dessert: Flan

Paella with black rice and assorted seafood is the bomb. It’s good for two people, so make sure you bring a companion when you try this place out!

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Fig and Olive | Les Halles | Feed the Model Blog

The Many Faces of Caroline de Maigret

Music producer and fashion muse, Caroline de Maigret, chatted last night with Melissa Ceria about her life in New York, Paris, and her book, “How To be a Parisian Wherever Your Are“. I don’t closely follow her – only seen street style pictures taken of her – but based on how she answered the questions last night, I can tell how grounded and passionate she is.

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Here are my take-aways from the talk:

1. She comes from a family who worked in finance and politics. She considers herself as the black sheep as she didn’t want to be part of that life. To get away from the expectations, she moved to NY to become a model.

2. She loves music and I quote: “Elvis is my king, forever..and ever”.

3. Humor is important for her and so is living in the moment. The woman knows how to make fun of herself.

Note: NSFW

4. She is a proponent of equality between genders.

5. Finally, one more quote from her: “Knowledge builds confidence”.

NY Fashion Week at the Museums

While one may not get free access to this week’s New York fashion shows, they can certainly take advantage of these museums’ free admission days to see fashion-centric exhibitions they offer during fashion’s most busiest week.

1. Museum of Modern Art

Admission: Free Fridays (4p – 8p)
Metro: N, Q, F, E, M
Recommended Exhibition: The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters

If you love Paris, then you’ll appreciate this artist’s works depicting his time in the city of lights. (Fact: The artist’s parents are related by first degree.)

2. Fashion Institute of Technology

Admission: Free
Metro: E, C, N, R, 1, 2, 3
Recommended Exhibition: Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s

If you love fashion heritage, then this is a must see for you.

3. Brooklyn Museum

Admission: Pay what you wish ($16: suggested contribution for adults)
Metro: 2, 3
Recommended Exhibition: Killer Heels/The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe

If you love shoes, then run over to Brooklyn to see this exhibit pronto!

[MOMA | FIT]

Cibo: Sunnyside’s Takesushi

If you’re an uni sushi (sea urchin) lover, then you’re familiar about how this dish can set you back a few dollars. Sunnyside’s Takesushi is the only sushi restaurant I have been to that offers uni-centric dishes at reasonable prices. Now, if you are a sushi connoisseur you may wonder, how fresh is the uni? Quite fresh actually because the owner, Robin Kawada, is passionate about fresh food. Every morning, he visits the New Fulton Fish Market to purchase the best and freshest fish available.

I’ve been to this restaurant three times now and it’s the only sushi restaurant I would frequent as a Sunnyside local. The place is accessible from the 40th St stop of the 7 train and within just a few steps, you will find it situated around the corner of 42nd street on the north side of Queens Boulevard.

It’s not one of those fancy sushi places that you would normally find in Manhattan, but the food here is on par with what you will find in a Manhattan sushi joint. I usually go during lunch time as I prefer their lunch menu (it’s also cheaper). They have a good selection of raw and cooked sushi, as well as, dishes for the non-sushi eaters. During my last visit, I ordered the Jennifer Roll (spicy yellowtail roll with fish eggs and scallions) and my go to dish, Uni Maguro Don (rice covered with uni and tuna sashimi). Robin, who is also the sushi chef, wondered if I would be able to finish both dishes did me a favor by cutting thin slices of the fish.

If you’re looking for a good place to take your Valentine this coming Valentines Day, then I highly recommend making the trek down to Sunnyside to eat at Takesushi. Your wallet, tummy, and date will thank you for it.

Cibo: Sunnyside’s Salt & Fat

If you are looking for an off the beaten path restaurant during your visit to New York City, look no further than Sunnyside’s Salt & Fat. A perfect escape from the City’s tourist trap restaurants, this casual and intimate place situated along the south side of Queens Boulevard caters to anyone who enjoys fusion style cooking.

In one word, I would describe the food as delicious (groundbreaking, I know). If you are familiar with tapas style food portions, then the portions at Salt & Fat will not be foreign to you. The dinner menu contains 15 choices that are made to be shared. I personally like the scallops, roasted carrot puree, truffled corn salsa, and capers – the blend of flavors is amazing and lives up to the name of the restaurant. The Yellowtail Tartare is another favorite of mine – if you are a fan of the sushi version, you must order this!

If you like pairing your meal with a beverage, the restaurant offers a medium size beer and wine selection. As for their dessert menu, do not expect it to be the same number of choices as the dinner menu. They currently have three offerings and one of them is the chef’s special that rotates every week.

Metro: 7 Local to 40th & Lowery
Price: $$
Food: Delish!

Scallops, roasted carrot puree, truffled corn salsa, and capers

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Yellowtail tartare, yuzu gel, scallions, cassava chips

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