All posts by Jenn

About Jenn

Jenn was raised in Battery Park City and as a child one of her favorite places was Picasso Pizza. Being older and wiser, she now is a connoisseur of all the fantastic restaurants and bars in the area as the food/culture writer for

Bon Chon on John versus Chambers Street Location

Bon Chon Showdown: John Street vs. Chambers Street

Bon Chon on John Chicken Wings
Bon Chon on John's chicken wings!

As those of you who have lived in the area for a while may know, the block on Chambers St between Church and Broadway used to house a place called “Bon Bon Chicken” that served Korean Fried Chicken.  In the past year or so, however, the shop was bought out by Bon Chon, a Korean Fried chicken franchise from South Korea.  In addition to this take over, Bon Chon opened another restaurant on John Street, not too far from the Chambers Street location.  In the past when I had visited the Chambers Street location, it never seemed busy-in fact, I’ve never had to wait, and their deliveries never took very long.  Wasn’t opening another store less than 10 blocks away a little redundant?  What did the new Bon Chon on John have to offer besides its catchy name?

After visiting the two establishments on a Sunday night, I can see why BonChon decided to open up a new restaurant.  First of all, the Chambers St. location is a hole in the wall; it’s a tiny store front with four picnic style tables, one of which only seats two people.  The only differences I can detect from the store’s Bon Bon days are the new logos and packaging, and they now use flat screen TVs to display the menu.  This location clearly focuses more on delivery and take out, and looks more like your typical fast food joint.  And the food did come out super fast; although there is a disclaimer on the wall stating that their chicken is cooked fresh to order and we should expect a 30 minute wait, we got our small order of mixed flavored chicken in less than 3 minutes.

After the Chambers St experience, Bon Chon on John took me completely by surprise.  As we walked down John St, I initially thought the restaurant was closed because it looked so dark inside.  I expected the same florescent lighting and fast food feel as the Chambers St location, but Bon Chon on John is a, dare I say classy, restaurant and bar, complete with mood lighting for people on dates, and two flat screen TVs at the bar for people trying to catch the game (a much more appropriate way to use a TV, don’t you think?).  They provided us with actual plates and silverware, and even gave us a bucket for our chicken bones!  I felt so civilized.  The only downfall here was that in order to try two flavors of chicken, we had to order the medium sized meal, and the wait time was about 15-20 minutes.

As for the actual chicken, both locations used good quality meat, but you could tell that Bon Chon on John’s chicken had just come out of the fryer- it was steaming hot, super crunchy on the outside, and still juicy on the inside.  Bon Chon on Chambers was just as crunchy, but the meat was a little less juicy.  The chicken wings and drumsticks seemed a lot smaller at the Chambers location, but that could have been due to the way it was presented.

Another thing that set the two locations apart are the side dishes.  Chambers only offers bread and rice, while John offers fries, rice, bread, coleslaw, or kimchi coleslaw, and every order comes with a side of pickled radish.  Of course, we got the fries at John St, and I have to tell you, these might have been the best french fries I’ve ever had!  They  had a really thick crispy outer layer, but were tender on the inside, and not at all mealy.  The fries were just as crisp as their twice-fried chicken, which makes me think that perhaps their fries are twice fried as well!  They were also extremely generous with their side portions, and they gave us an entire cone of fries!

Bon Chon on John was much more expensive, however, than the Chambers location.  The small meal that we ordered at Chambers was $7.99, and came with one drumstick and six wings.  The medium order at John was $13, and it only came with one more drumstick than the small order at Chambers!  That being said, we did get bigger pieces of chicken at John St, and they did give us a huge portion of fries.  Plus, the ambiance of Bon Chon on John is worth paying a little extra money, as is the fully stocked bar!  The bartender was very generous, and offered a free shot of his own unnamed concoction to everyone in the restaurant.

So, do we really need two Bon Chon locations in lower Manhattan?  When it comes to fried chicken, the answer should always be yes!  At the end of the day, both locations serve crispy, delectable Korean fried chicken, and I think each location serves its purpose.  Chambers St is perfect for those times when you just need that chicken NOW, or if you just want to grab a box on your way home.  Bon Chon on John is perfect for happy hour, or those of you who want to enjoy the game while snacking on crisp juicy chicken and a beer, or who are just looking for a more civilized fried chicken experience.

Just so you know, Bon Chon on John offers some of the best happy hour deals in the neighborhood.  They offer a buy 1 get 1 free deal on drinks all week from 4pm-8pm, all day on Saturday, and from 4pm-11pm on Sundays.  Plus, Tuesday night is Ladies Night, which means that on top of the BOGO drink deal, girls also get a free special entree!

We pit Burritoville versus Blockheads Burritos

Race to My Place: Burritoville vs. Blockheads

We pit Burritoville versus Blockheads Burritos
We pit Burritoville versus Blockheads Burritos

We’ve all had those days. It’s 7 PM, you’ve just come home from work, exhausted, and the last thing you want to do is cook up some food- especially if you’re feeding more than one mouth.  You consider ordering delivery, but you’re starving and don’t want to wait an hour for your food to get there.  That’s where we come in.

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times, and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme! We will compare delivery speed, packaging and presentation, quality and taste, and value.  This week, our contestants are Burritoville and Blockheads.

Ever since the advent of the “food blogger” there has been an ongoing debate as to whether LA or NYC has better food. Our lack of decent Mexican food has always been a point of contention for New Yorkers, one that LA-ers never fail to bring up.  Today we will test that theory right here in Battery Park City with a Burrito Race!

It’s important to note that Blockheads does have a burrito lunch special that comes with chips, salsa and a drink for $8.95. In order to fairly compare the two restaurants, however, we had to order the exact same items from both places. We ordered Chicken Fajita Burritos, Guacamole and Chips, and two Diet Pepsi’s from each. Continue reading Race to My Place: Burritoville vs. Blockheads

The Energy Kitchen

Get This Deal: 50% off Energy Kitchen

Guess what?!  All throughout the month of May, our recent Race to My Place contestant, Energy Kitchen, is offering 50% off all smoothies and salads.  This discount has come just in time for the hot and humid weather we’ve had all week! Grab a smoothie and enjoy Andrew Zuckerman’s Wisdom exhibit at the WFC, a stroll along the Esplanade, or check out some of the landmarks in our “Places” Tab!

Energy Kitchen
71 Nassau St
New York, NY 10038
(212) 577-8989

Tokyo Bay Sushi

Race to My Place: Sushi!

Tokyo Bay Sushi
Tokyo Bay Sushi

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme. This Friday, our contestants are Sun Cafe and Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant.

We ordered a Rainbow Roll to test both their sashimi and their California Rolls, a Spicy Tuna Roll, and a Shrimp Tempura Roll for those who are squeamish about eating raw fish.

Delivery Speed: TIE
I was extremely impressed — both restaurants somehow managed to deliver the food in exactly 16 minutes!  This does make me worry a little about whether or not they have the rolls pre-made, but we didn’t order anything that would take too long to prepare, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Packaging & Presentation: Sun Cafe
Sun Cafe won the packaging and presentation category by a landslide.  It is rare for a restaurant to put so much effort into presentation for deliveries, but it really helps give a good first impression. I was so taken with the small touches and attention to detail that Sun Cafe demonstrated, that I was almost ready to name Sun Cafe the winner right then and there.

Yeah, that’s right, that orange blob you see is a butterfly carved out of carrot.  How cool is that? They also included a cute little plastic tray to use for mixing soy sauce and wasabi, which I really appreciated. I always have a hard time getting the right wasabi-to-soy-sauce ratio in those sauce cups that normally come with delivery.

Tokyo Bay opted for a neater, plainer presentation, simply packing all three rolls into one container.

Quality & Taste: Tokyo Bay
Tokyo Bay redeemed itself with its quality and taste. The sashimi used in their Rainbow Roll was fresh and delicate, unlike the tough and fish fare from Sun Cafe.  Tokyo Bay also had a better rice-to-fish ratio. Additionally, the rice was soft and sticky — the way good sushi rice should be.

When I looked beyond the carrot butterflies (apparently there to draw attention away from the actual food) that came with Sun Cafe’s sushi, I noticed just how thick the layer of rice was on all of their rolls. This definitely made their rolls more filling, but it made the sushi less enjoyable and more difficult to chew. It probably didn’t help that their rice was really hard: I couldn’t tell if it was undercooked or stale.

Sun Cafe’s spicy tuna roll had zero heat to it, but instead had a strong sesame flavor. Enjoyable, yes, but a spicy tuna roll it was not. On the other end of the spice spectrum was Tokyo Bay’s spicy tuna, which had a nice tongue-tingling spiciness –just enough to be exciting, but not so much that I was reaching for my water. Both shrimp tempura rolls were decent, although I should note that Tokyo Bay added avocado and cucumber to the roll while Sun Cafe did not. I found the cucumber a little overwhelming, but it did add even more crunch to the tempura.

Value: Tokyo Bay
I had a difficult time deciding the winner for this category. Here is the price breakdown:

Sun Cafe
Spicy Tuna Roll: $6
Shrimp Tempura Roll: $6
Rainbow Roll: $9

Tokyo Bay
Spicy Tuna Roll: $5.50
Shrimp Tempura Roll: $5.95
Rainbow Roll: $12.95

As you can see, there wasn’t much of a difference between the spicy tuna and shrimp tempura rolls.  Sun Cafe’s rolls were a little bigger, but they also used a lot more rice. The main difference in value was the Rainbow Roll. However, the extra $4 for Tokyo Bay’s Rainbow Roll is definitely worth it, because Sun Cafe’s was inedible to the point that not even their cute presentation could compensate.

To sum it up, although Sun Cafe’s presentation and packaging skills almost won me over, the poor quality of their rice and sashimi was unforgivable. Tokyo Bay’s plain-looking but higher quality sushi was the winner of this race!

Sun Cafe (3/6 pizza slices)*
67 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007-1821
(212) 608-3822

Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant (4/6 pizza slices)
183 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 431-8666

Happy Hour: SouthWest NY

Happy Hour: SouthWest NY

Happy Hour: SouthWest NY
Margaritas at SouthWest NY

This new Eats segment will focus on finding places to wind down after work and enjoy a drink with coworkers, friends or even a hot date. Every week, we’ll be taking one for the team and hitting happy hour at a different Battery Park City watering hole. We’ll report back on the quality of the venue’s libations, the specialness of their specials and the tastiness of the food on which we nosh to prevent ourselves from descending into a stupor.

For our seminal happy hour, we headed to SouthWest NY, which, it ironically turns out, does not have any happy hour deals of which to speak. Still, now that the weather is warming up, the venue’s waterside location in the World Financial Center Plaza and its bountiful outdoor seating make it an ideal place to grab a drink and watch the sun set.

Continue reading Happy Hour: SouthWest NY

Race to My Place: Health Food

Race to My Place: Health Food

Race to My Place: Health Food
Energy Kitchen's tuna steak proves that ordering in can be healthy.

We’ve all had those days. It’s 7 PM, you’ve just come home from work, exhausted, and the last thing you want to do is cook up some food- especially if you’re feeding more than one mouth.  You consider ordering delivery, but you’re starving and don’t want to wait an hour for your food to get there.  That’s where we come in.

For each installment of Race to My Place, we pit two restaurants with similar cuisines, estimated delivery times and prices against each other to see whose delivery reigns supreme! We compare delivery speed, packaging and presentation, quality and taste, and value. For this health food race, our contestants were Energize Me Foods and Energy Kitchen.

After eating greasy take-out everyday for a week, my stomach was begging for a break. I decided to reward it with more delivery, but this time, with health food!  Today we are comparing two similarly named restaurants, both claiming to serve food that will boost your energy AND keep that spare tire off your midsection. Let’s see if there’s any truth to their claims.

Continue reading Race to My Place: Health Food

Get This Deal: 30% off Landmarc

Today, is offering a pass code that will give you 30% off of lunch or dinner at Landmarc. And, if you have a Visa Signature card, you can also get a free dessert tray for your party of four or less. The offer is valid at both Tribeca and Columbus Circle locations!

You have until April 27th at 8:30 AM EST to get this deal, and the special expires May 26th.

Landmarc [TriBeCa]‎
179 West Broadway,
New York, NY 10013
(212) 343-3883‎

Salsa Dancing to kick off The Spirit of Salsa

Tribeca Film Festival Drive In: El Espiritu de la Salsa

Salsa Dancing to kick off The Spirit of Salsa
Salsa Dancing to kick off The Spirit of Salsa

I’d like to preface this by saying that I’m not a film critic, so I won’t be commenting on how great the shot compositions were, or how they used this or that documentary technique really well.  What I can comment on, however, is how inspirational El Espiritu de la Salsa was.  This is one of those movies that can totally change your life if you just let it.

New York can be a lonely place, especially for new comers, professionals with long work hours and dangerous jobs, and people who are newly single.  The towering skyscrapers cast a feeling of gloom and doom over the city, and unless you know where to look, it can be hard to find those patches of sunlight.  This documentary follows New Yorkers from all walks of life as they come up to Harlem to find that sunlight at Tomas Guerrero’s Santo Rico Dance School.

Tomas Guerrero in The Spirit of Salsa
Tomas Guerrero in The Spirit of Salsa

Everyone is there for a different reason: a newly retired couple is looking to spice up their lives; a pastry chef seeks her next adventure; a newly single equities trader wants to learn how to be alone in the city after a three year relationship.  Whatever problems these strangers are going through, they all hope the same thing-that salsa dancing will be the answer.

Slowly but surely, the spirit does its magic.  You can tell just by watching them on their journey just how empowering salsa can be.  There is something about the Latin music and the sultry moves that, according to one of the dancers, Jessica, allows girls to be sexy in an appropriate setting and manner.  It also gave the men a way to be strong and manly, yet passionate at the same time.  Sitting there in the audience amidst the cat calling and good cheer, you couldn’t help but smile at their transformations and tap your feet along to the music.

No matter who you are, there will be somebody in this documentary that you can relate to.  And who knows, maybe one of them will inspire you to take up salsa classes or your own personal adventure.  Tomas Guerrero ends the movie by claiming that he can teach anyone to salsa.  My only question, where can I sign up?

Join us tomorrow at 6:30 PM at the World Financial Center Plaza for the next Tribeca Film Festival Drive-In feature: Big.

Caruso's pizza pie, half pepperoni half plain

Review: Caruso’s Pizza

Caruso's Pizza on Fulton Street Pizza Box
Caruso's Pizza on Fulton Street

When I was asked to blog about food (my one love) in Battery Park City (my favorite neighborhood), there was no way I could turn the opportunity down. I recently moved back to Battery Park City after living in the East Village for four years, so you can imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find any recommendations for decent Pad See Ew on or any website besides Yelp.  My goal for this blog is to be able to remedy that. I’ll try my best to seek out the hidden gems in BPC, FiDi and lower Tribeca, and maybe along the way, steer some people away from places that didn’t quite hit the mark.

For my first assignment, I had planned to compare delivery from two different pizzerias, but due to a personal technological muck-up, I was left with just one pizza from Caruso’s.  We ordered a large plain pizza, half with pepperoni ($22).  The pizza came in exactly 35 minutes, which wasn’t too shabby, and it came with an entire bag of paper plates, plastic utensils and even small plastic containers full of the standard NY pizza condiments. Things were looking up.

Caruso's pizza pie, half pepperoni half plain
Fast pizza might mean haste makes waste

We opened the box, and an oddly white pizza stared back at us. They must have used fresh mozzarella, which is one of my favorite pizza toppings, so I couldn’t wait to shove a slice in my mouth. Without even using any of the condiments they offered, I quickly took my first bite.

And was quickly disappointed. The mouthful I got was chewy and bland. The crust was more doughy than crusty. The sauce was oddly sweet and somehow tasteless at the same time.  While the fresh mozzarella added a nice touch to the pie, it did absolutely nothing for the flavor of the pizza. The condiments that they so graciously delivered did improve the flavor, but then it just felt like I was eating bread with red chili flakes and oregano.

Now, the pizza wasn’t completely awful, and perhaps if I walked by at lunch time I’d grab a slice fresh out of the oven. However, there were two other people helping me eat the pizza, and at the end of the night, there were still three slices left in the box. You do the math.

When I sampled a slice of the pepperoni, the meat added some much needed sodium. That’s really all this particular pie was wanting: salt and perhaps a few extra minutes in the oven.  I may try a slice from Caruso’s in the future with some added toppings, but I am not inclined to try their plain cheese pizza again. It was just, well, plain.

140 Fulton Street
New York, NY 10038
(212) 267-2927