Just Opened Meets: Be Fat Be Happy
In this series, we delve into the lives of some of New York’s best-informed food and drink bloggers. We’re asking about what’s new and exciting on their foodie radar, as well those old favorite haunts they just keep going back to.
This week, we meet Caitlin Sakdalan, the girl behind Be Fat Be Happy.
Tell us a bit about Be Fat Be Happy – how long have you been doing this and how did you get started?
“I’ve loved food since I was a kid (and a chubby one!). When I grew up, the baby fat disappeared but my love for eating stayed. For me, eating is an experience to be savored, it should fill our stomachs and make us happy. The Instagram is an archive of everywhere I’ve been in New York. I started my account when I moved to New York about three and a half years ago. Back then, it was easier to grow a foodie Instagram account because the market wasn’t so saturated. We were a small community of food bloggers and we’d go out and eat together and collaborate with each other. In May last year I took it up full time.”
What makes Be Fat Be Happy different from other Instagram accounts focusing on food in NYC?
“I travel a lot, so I show food not just from New York, but a wide range of cuisines from around the world. I appreciate all types of food – I love expensive, delicious food just as much as I love $2 noodles from a great hole in the wall. What I really search for is quality and value in food. Also, I care about the taste just as much as how the food looks – I’d rather post something that’s Asian and brown, but delicious, rather than a beautiful plate of food that gets more likes but actually wasn’t very nice.”
Where’s your fail-safe date night in NYC?
“That would have to be Izakaya Mew – it’s this little Japanese Izakaya spot in a basement in midtown. It’s got an industrial, cool vibe but is also super cosy. They have great music, cheap drinks and consistently good food. The food is primarily Japanese inspired, but it also pulls from other Asian cultures. All the plates are shareable, so it’s really romantic and intimate for a date. If you ever go, which you should, there’s this thing called the Omu Soba – it’s like omu but with yaki soba noodles, mayo and tangy barbeque sauce. It’s great.”
What’s your favorite recent opening in New York?
“Boucherie has just opened a new branch in Park Avenue – the food, the drinks, the service, it’s all superb, and you really feel like you’ve been transported to Paris. They have a Monday night special of lobster and fries and it’s really, really good. They change their menu seasonally so I’m not sure if it’ll still be on there, but I also had these amazing seared scallops in a tomato, garlic, and fennel seed broth which were delicious. Oh, and the crème brûlée is amazing.”
Where do you think you can get the best desserts in the city?
“Honestly, I’m more of a savory person so I’m really picky when it comes to sweet things. I used to live on the Upper West Side and I loved the classics – Levain Bakery’s chocolate chip walnut cookie, banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery. Oh and I also love the desserts at The Smith – the s’mores in a jar and the sticky toffee pudding are both to die for. When I go there, I have to order both because I can never choose just one! OK so it turns out I do quite like sweet things!”
Best cocktails you’ve ever tasted?
“I think the best cocktails in the city are at Bohemian. It’s in Noho and it’s a Japanese-inspired speakeasy bar and restaurant. It’s super intimate and the cocktails are all really well made and unique, without being too over the top. They’re strong, and stand out on their own, but they pair really well with the food as well. I hate drinking something that takes away from the food and vice versa but at Bohemian they do a great job of making sure the food and drinks complement each other.”
Are there any new restaurants you’re excited about that are opening soon?
“Gjelina (in California) is supposed to be opening a restaurant in New York. They are so good at making simple ingredients stand out in dishes. The food is super fresh and you can really notice that. I live half in California and half in New York so it’s a great case of both my worlds coming together and it’s super exciting.”
Best foodie destination in the USA outside of New York?
“Right now I think it’s actually Portland, Oregon. I was there for about a week recently and the food scene is just fantastic. I was so excited I had to eat 4-5 times a day, I just couldn’t help it. They have amazing Thai food and a great range of street food. If you go, there’s this place called Nong’s and they have this amazing thing on the menu called the ‘Khao Man Gai’. It’s a simple chicken and rice dish with sweet chilli garlic sauce, fresh cucumber to cut through the deep flavor and a soup on the side. It’s seriously good. They’re also huge on happy hour there – it’s from 2:30-5:30 and then starts again later in the night, and if you go to the fancier restaurants, a lot of the delicious food goes on deal in happy hour too, so you can order things like rib eye steak, without the huge price tag.”
Who’s your favorite chef?
“David Chang – I love following what he does; he takes everything he knows and loves about Asian food, culture and other cuisines, and elevates it to make it his own. He’s really opinionated about the fact that people are accustomed to paying lots for high end Italian and French food, but they always expect Chinese food to be cheap. He’s turned that on its head. He’s taken the idea of upscale, high quality Asian food and made it popular and justified. I also love Jordan Andino – I think he’s going to be the next big thing in New York. He owns a Filipino taqueria called Flip Sigi and it’s amazing. They do really clever twists on traditional Filipino food. He’s so passionate and energetic when you talk to him, and he’s often in the restaurant when you go in. You should check it out.”
Is there anything new you discovered on a menu recently that we should know about?
“Actually yes, at Flip Sigi they have this breakfast sandwich called the L.A.E.Me restaurant. It was originally a collaboration between Flip Sigi and Black Seed Bagels but it was so popular, they’ve now made it a permanent fixture on their menu. It’s egg, cheese and longanisa (a sweet Filipino sausage) in an everything bagel. It’s so unique and so good – the perfect start to the day!”
What’s your Instagram post that’s got the most likes?
“A photo that I posted of something that I ate at Egg Slut when it was a pop up in New York reach over 200k people. I think that was probably because of the name – it’s just calling for attention! Another one that did really well was my mac and cheese ‘pull’ video from Bohemian. That’s another dish you should try – it comes with a tomato butter toast and it’s seriously good.”
Featured image: Caitlin Sakdalan
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