Amber: NYC: Chelsea

Hibernating on this freezing Sunday wasn't an option as I'd signed up for a class at the UCB Theatre every Sunday for the next 8 weeks (good god, why in the thick of winter must I do this shit to myself?!), so I decided to hit a few birds with one Manhattan commute and planned to go to the library, Amber, and then class.

I had a $15 for $30 of food Groupon to use for this place, and it was expiring in a week, so I needed to get this done.  The first thing that annoyed me about this place (I mean, other than the fact that the sushi rolls are $15 a piece, but they are interesting.  Oh, in case you don't know me, I have almost always the read and marked the menu to a restaurant long before going there.  In this case, about 7 months before, not at all uncommon), is that the Groupon says one must make a reservation to use this and must mention the Groupon on the phone.  Now.. why?  Are they trying to embarrass coupon users?  Would they not let them use the Groupon on a busy night?  I really don't understand.  Further, I was planning to go by myself for lunch on a Sunday to this place I'd noticed was never busy at all for lunch.  It's really awkward when you have to make a stupid reservation for one for a seat in a room that you and the reservationist both know will be damn near empty.  But whatever.

She also mentioned that I'd need to spend more than the Groupon amount, which almost no one ever asks for, but, again, whatever.

So I fucking forgot again that the Jefferson Market Library is closed on Sundays and that the only ones open are the Stephen Schwarzman Library and the Mid-Manhattan Library.  So now I had to carry the books with me into the restaurant and then schlep them to Midtown to return them or else I'd start getting fines the next day.

Anyway, upon entering I noted that this large space with typical nice-sushi-place decor had just two other people in all those rows and chairs.  Thank god they had me reserve my spot.  The restroom was predictably nice, by the way.  They were either jacking into my iPod, or they play a '90s satellite radio station.

I had to order more than $30 worth of food, so I figure out the $32 worth I'd be downing this faternoon, whoops, typo, *ahem* afternoon.

Lemongrass Seafood Soup - $5: Shrimp, scallop, rice noodles, mushrooms, edamame, cilantro in tom yum broth
Mmm, spicy, lemongrassy, fish saucey.. light, warming, *slurp, slurp slurp*

Tropical Fruit and Shrimp Cocktail - $7: Pineapple, jicama, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, spicy peanut dressing
Very tasty!  Sweet!  Hints of spiciness!  Creaminess of peanut butter!  Nice and crunchy!  Lots of great flavors, hoorah!

Gado Gado - $5: Egg, Fried tofu, cucumber, bean sprouts, jicama, with roasted peanut dipping
The tofu was nice.  Fried is the only way to go when you're putting a basically flavorless nutritional source in a dish, and the tofu was fried nicely here.  As you can see, the egg was boiled.  It was kind of pointless that way for me, and I would've preferred it scrambled up in there, especially as this dish lacked depth of flavor.  The roasted peanut butter starts the task, but then there's little to bring up the back in all the jicama, cucumber and bean sprouts.  This large salad is the kind of thing poor people would eat: cheap sources of low-taste protein with a bunch of stomach-space filler.  For my part, I'd have enjoyed some vegetables (or maybe fruits) and some spice.  Point is, it was a large salad with only a little flavor, but at least that made it easier to part with, which I'd need to do in order to have any space left for the most important part:

TriBeCa Roll: Avocado wrapped with salmon and pineapple, topped with spicy mayo and chopped ham
Really tasty, but the teeny ham cubelets sprinkled on top like little garnishes underwhelm the large pineapple chunks, delightful though the pineapple is.  The pineapple, salmon, avocado and spicy mayo are all wonderful together though!  Oh and the soy sauce is extra smoky here, which was really nice with this roll.

I think the waitress was being a bit catty to me, but honestly it was sort of hard to tell.  I didn't get to weigh-in, as they added the gratuity for me.  Now, they tipped exactly the amount I would've, practically no matter what service I received because that's the fucked up way our society works nowadays, but Groupons aren't really supposed to work that way.  It just feels a little insulting, like they're afraid that they didn't trust me to tip.

Also interesting to note, there was apparently some party getting underway upstairs, and at one point a waitress in a weird black-and-white-striped-French-Maid-ish-but-even-weirder outfit came down and asked the bartender some stuff.  Then as I was walking out, a man with a unicycle passed me by.  He stopped to  assure me the party would be starting soon, having mistakenly thought that I was leaving out of impatience for the show to start.

FA Rating:  )(
Price: $$$

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