Category Archives: breakfast/brunch

Breakfast with a gentle giant

It's not often that you see any posts on my Vox about breakfast, considering that I go to work at about 10am each morning, which means that I wake up at 9:30 and basically roll out the door haha. But every now and then, I like to enjoy the pleasures of a hot breakfast or brunch. There's just something so sinfully joyful about waking up on a lazy Sunday morning to a plate of fluffy pancakes and eggs and a mug of hot coffee. I have woken up on weekends to make breakfast before, but it's a lot of work early in the morning, and I always seem to have the problem where by the time I finish one item, another item has already gotten cold, and microwaving breakfast is just wrong. So when I really want fresh, hot breakfast, I look to the small mom & pop diners around Boston that offer no-frills cheap breakfast options (I have always felt that breakfast at chain restaurants like IHOP lack something, that homemade touch and flavor that little diners have).

One of my favorite hole in the wall diners is Sunny's Diner in Cambridge, just a few blocks outside of MIT's campus. It's no glamorous cafe, and I used to walk past this place without paying much attention, until I heard from some friends who came here religiously. This tiny little diner is so popular among MIT students that it is almost always packed in the mornings, especially since it only stays open until 2pm each day. The food is your traditional diner breakfast and lunch fare, and the prices are very reasonable for the amount of food you get (most breakfast plates are about $5-6 each). Anyway, my friend Zheng came up to visit from NYC this weekend, and when he mentioned that he wanted to grab a good brunch, I told him that I simply had to show him this little gem. So today, a terribly cold and windy Sunday morning, we braved the elements and made our way to the cozy inside of Sunny's Diner.


After skimming over the menu, we both quickly and gluttonously decided to order the Gentle Giant breakfast plates, which comes with a whopping 3 eggs, 2 pancakes, choice of bacon, ham, or sausage, and a side of home fries… all for just $7.50. I was originally planning to just order pancakes with a side of sausage, but after seeing that the price would come out to $7.25, there was no reason not to throw in the extra 25 cents for the big upgrade and all that variety! The greedy food-lover in me called out and before I knew it, two heaping plates of food sat before me, beckoning to me with their sweet and greasy goodness. This was going to be a breakfast that I wouldn't forget.

Where to start?!? The eggs, I asked for over easy, and they were done perfectly, with the yolks still runny and both sides cooked to tenderness. The home fries, they were amazing. I usually am not a big fan of home fries, because other places tend to make them too greasy, too soft, too heavily seasoned, too potato-y. But these were great, because they had that satisfying crunch on the outside that yielded to the soft fluffy potato inside, just like a big delicious french fry. They didn't need any extra salt either, and was not overly herb-y, which I really liked. And the sausage, it was one big link sliced in half and seared with a light crust on the flat side, juicy and savory without being too fatty or too processed. Yummm. And finally, the pancakes. I was sitting at the bar, so I got to watch them make all my food right in front of me on a big griddle, and what I love about Sunny's Diner is how everything is done as if it was done at home. They make small batches of batter at a time, and the cooks and waitresses have time to chat about anything while you wait at the bar. My chocolate chip pancakes came to me piping hot and fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar and with the butter melting on top as I eagerly reached for my fork. They were delicious, fresh, and simple… IHOP has nothing on these pancakes!

Admittedly, by the time I was done with that gentle giant, I was pretty much unable to get up from my seat. But it was such a satisfying meal I really wouldn't have changed a thing. It was definitely worth the massive food coma that followed and the blast of cold air that greeted me as I regretfully left the diner. Besides, I really can't think of any better way to catch up with an old friend than casually chatting over a hot plate of breakfast. Mmmm….


Sunday, May 20th

2:00PM Dorm Room
Brunch food from Simmons brunch. Greg was there to make a killing with multiple trips, and he was kind enough to bring me some of the food so I had something to eat for lunch, yay! Okay, admittedly the food is terrible for you, but it tasted so good haha. He brought me 3 slices of spiral ham smeared with honey mustard, with a dill dip on the side, and 3 small squares of freshly baked corn bread. Yes, I overloaded on cancerous nitrates, but the ham was juicy and flavorful with the mustard and dill dip. The corn bread was just amazing too, it had a crunchy top and a moist fluffy interior, and it was not too sweet nor too bland. I think it complemented the ham quite well. It sure complemented my unhealthy lunch quite well anyway :P

6:30PM Baker Dining
I wasn't too hungry, but I ordered a stir fry entree with double veggies to try and compensate for my lunch. It had 2 bowls of assorted vegetables, including onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, red and green bell peppers, napa, water chestnuts, snow pea pods, and scallions (seriously I went all out this time haha). For protein I got tofu, and for starch I asked for rice noodles, all stir fried with chili garlic and oyster sauce. The stir fry cook didn't use quite enough sauce though, so everything was a bit bland (although I suppose I should be thankful for that). While I'm sure the food was insanely healthy, I wasn't actually hungry enough to eat much of it, so I had a few bites before setting it aside for later.

8:30PM Dorm Room
Snuck some bites of Greg's desser tfrom Baker dining: chocolate bomb. Baker occasionally makes warm homemade desserts that you can scoop out as much as you want onto a plate. The chocolate bomb is one of the best desserts, with a chocolatey devil's food cake layer on top and chocolate pudding on the bottom. I'm not sure how exactly they bake it, but they do, and it's a little bit like eating molten chocolate cake, but the pudding isn't overpoweringly sweet like melted chocolate, and the devil's food is light, so the cake overall tastes pretty delicate. Plus Greg topped it off very generously with homemade whipped cream… mmmm. Here's a picture that he took of the dessert:

12:30AM Dorm Room
Some more of my tofu with rice noodles stir fry. I still had 2/3 of the entree left, which I decided to save for lunch tomorrow.

3:00AM Dorm Room
1 sugar-free strawberry jello cup. I could hardly tell it was sugar-free! A pretty healthy snack, considering that it only has 10 calories (!!) I decided to take a picture of it while I was in the middle of eating it, and hey it looks kind of like a rose bloom doesn't it? Sorta?

Friday, April 27th

11:15AM Lab Lounge
10 oz of Odwalla Soymilk Chai (leftover from yesterday's bottle that I bought). It's a busy lab day today, so I had practically no time to eat anything all day.

4:00PM Lab Lounge
1 Bosc pear. Hungry!!!

7:30PM Baker Dining
1 Sunset sandwich (1 egg, 1 sausage patty, slice of cheddar cheese on a bun). Baker used to serve breakfast at dinnertime each night. For some reason they stopped doing it recently, but one of the menu items that they used to have was called the Sunrise sandwich, which was like what I ate except it had 2 sausage patties, and 2 eggs (damn!). The Sunset today was good though, pretty much hit the spot after a day of practically fasting. Unfortunately the grill guy overcooked my egg, since I prefer mine to have a runny yolk, but I guess overcooking it made it less messy to eat. I skipped the home fries side, and opted to grab a side salad instead that I'm saving for another time.

Also shared the remaining leftover duck soup (from Monday's peking duck meal) with my boyfriend. Mmmm so delicious! This last quart of soup was mostly pieces of duck skeleton, since when they packed it up they poured most of the soup into the first quart. But there was still some soup and it was still as tasty as ever. Lots of vermicelli, tofu, and napa strewn about in the soup too. Divine!

1:00AM Dorm Room
A few malted milk balls that I mooched off of my boyfriend. I love these things, I used to really like those "Whoppers" brand malted milk balls when I was little.

5:30AM Dorm Room
2 small slices of leftover watermelon from yesterday's BBQ.

Wednesday, April 25th

10:00AM Lab Meeting
1 Trader Joe's plain bagel with 1.5 tbsp of smoked salmon flavored cream cheese. Thirsty as hell because when I got to lab meeting there we no cups left to drink orange juice with.

2:00PM Lab Lounge
1/2 toasted plain bagel with regular cream cheese. 6 oz of Trader Joe's orange juice. Wah, they ran out of all the leftover lab meeting food before I could get to it for a late lunch. All I found was half of a toasted bagel that was already cold and hardening, still sitting all alone in the toaster. Haha so sad. But it beats going out to buy more lunch.

6:00PM Baker Dining
Turkey and chicken wrap: tomato tortilla wrap, sun dried tomato spread, roast turkey and chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions. Toasted on a grinder toaster. Yum, I love the toasted crispy tortilla shell and the warm richness of roasted vegetables (there's something jarring about eating raw vegetables that I do not have an appreciation for… perhaps it is because I grew up eating Chinese cuisine, which uses almost no raw vegetables). I also really enjoy the fact that Baker offers the roasted turkey meat instead of the popular turkey ham that you see in supermarkets. I hate the overly salty, rubbery texture of turkey ham. It's not what turkey should be at all, unless you're using it as a healthy alternative to regular ham or something.

8:00PM Dorm Room
1 pack of Koala's March crackers with chestnut filling. Oops, still no picture of this elusive cracker :P

Friday, April 20th

8:30AM Dorm Room – Getting Ready for Lab
1 packet of Quaker instant oatmeal, cinnamon roll flavored, prepared with water. I haven't had oatmeal in a while. I used to eat it every morning before work about two summers ago. Must have gotten sick of it that way. I had to go into work early this morning, so I thought I would try and fill up more during breakfast.

3:30PM Cambridgeside Galleria Foodcourt – Thai Accent
1/3 entree of pad thai with roast pork. I had surprisingly little appetite after having starved all afternoon, since there was no Friday Forum to get free food from today. Maybe it's like how sometimes you get so hungry that you feel nauseous so you just can't eat a lot. But it was tasty at least. I always get the pad thai with roast pork whenever I eat at the galleria's foodcourt. Mostly because the other stuff, like Taco Bell and BK don't interest me at all.

9:00PM Vinny T's in Copley Square
A few pieces of thin Focaccia bread smeared with fresh roasted garlic, 1/2 entree of pollo alla fiorentina (penne with spinach, red peppers, chicken breast, in a light cream sauce with pecorino romano), and part of a chocolate bomba for dessert ("dense chocolate genoise with layers of rich mousse, hazelnuts and shaved white chocolate with creme Anglaise.")

Mmmm what a yummy dinner. I love Vinny T's bread with roasted garlic. It's so much more vibrant than other restaurants with their rolls and butter. Very comfort-food-like, though a little bit messy to eat. Don't ever go to Vinny T's unless you are comfortable with the both of you smelling like garlic all night. Greg and I polished off practically one whole head of roasted garlic, haha.

The chicken pasta entree was pretty good too. I especially loved the taste of the fresh, tender spinach in the pasta. I have always loved spinach, but only when it is freshly blanched. If I ever order this dish again, I'm sure I will try and ask for extra spinach in it.

And finally, the chocolate bomba dessert. It was super rich, which was a bit much for me after having pasta for dinner. I originally wanted tiramisu, but my boyfriend wasn't feeling it. The chocolate bomba was a slice of cake that had a layer of chocolate cake on the bottom, and the top 2/3 was a layer of chocolate mousse that was almost fudge-like. It was sprinkled with roasted hazelnuts (yum!), and sitting in a little pool of creme Anglaise, which is a vanilla-flavored custard sauce. It was really good, but just hard to eat very much of, since it was so rich. I'll put up a picture of it later when I get it off of Greg's cell phone.

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