Brick 22 Warren St
(between Broadway & Church St)
New York, NY 10007
Y.N. is the queen at finding food deals (did you know you could sign up for Red Mango’s mailing list and get a free froyo? Y.N. did.) and cooking classes. She invited me to a mozzarella-making class she bought on Groupon. I’ve started learning a lot more about cheese from my cheese connoisseur roommate, B.A., who used to work at Murray’s Cheese Shop, so decided to take the plunge and join Y.N., M.F., and R.C. on this cheese-capade. The class was hosted by Brick, an Italian restaurant in the heart of Tribeca. The restaurant is supposed to be medicore (according to Yelp), which may be why they are offering classes on Groupon. The class was about $34 per person with the Groupon and included 1 bottle of wine between two people, a little plate of antipasti, and enough cheese curds to make a little ball of mozzarella. Definitely not good bang for your buck but it was a fun experience nonetheless!
We each got a bowl and two pairs of gloves to begin.
We also got a little cup of cheese curds.
This was our cheese-making teacher, Patrick. He is a senior at Fordham University graduating with a degree in Sociology. Random. His family owned a dairy farm, which is why he knows so much about cheese. He gave us a brief history of cheese while making snide and sarcastic jokes throughout. His jokes made us feel awkward but increasingly were more funny the more wine we had… Continue reading →
Pylos 128 E 7th St
(between Avenue A & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009
Started with this glass goblet of some Greek wine that the waiter suggested. I told him I like my wines like how I like Beyonce – full bodied, which is exactly what this wine was. Great for a cold spring night.Our meal began with complimentary piping hot soft pita with creamy hummus on the side. This is something I would pay for as an appetizer. It tasted even better because it was free.
We ordered the Htapothi Scharas ($16), a classic grilled, marinated octopus with a balsamic reduction sauce and capers. It is the most expensive appetizer on the menu but is so highly recommended by all Yelpers that I had to get it. And they were so right. The octopus was DELICIOUS. Continue reading →
Prime & Beyond is a steakhouse that originated in Fort Lee, NJ. In 2011, it opened its second location in East Village. Prime & Beyond is a traditional steakhouse with Korean accents. Actually, it has more than accents; it straight up has Korean bbq options on the menu. Cleverly, the guys from Prime & Beyond who inputted their info into Yelp categorized its initial NJ restaurant as “Korean.” There is a huge Korean population in Fort Lee (Wiki says Korean Americans accounted for 23.5% of the population in 2010) and it makes marketing sense to have the steakhouse under “Korean.” For the East Village location, where the crowd may be more diverse, it is categorized as “American (traditional).” Without looking at the menu first, you would assume that you are entering a traditional Smith & Wollensky-esque steakhouse. For once, I didn’t look ahead at the menu before going simply because I didn’t have time.
I immediately spotted Korean bbq influences after looking at the menu. In addition to tradition steaks, the restaurant has a short rib stew, kalbi (bbq short rib), bulgogi (Korean bbq beef), spicy pork, and for $5, will serve your steak with a side of Korean scallion salad (the kind that comes with all Korean bbq meals). After we placed our orders, we were immediately served a generous portion of salad with what tasted like a soy sauce based dressing. Free appetizers are a Korean tradition (aka. “ban chan” or small appetizers that come with any Korean meal you have in Ktown) so the free salad stood out at this steakhouse.
The next “Asian” thing I noticed was that after we had our salad and the waitress came by to swap out our plates, she brought along a napkin for each person to put their utensils on. I have always thought it was really strange that Americans put their utensils directly on the (potentially very dirty) table. I was happy to see that Prime & Beyond felt the same way about utensils.
Me, LAW, E.R., and A. Z. shared the Prime & Beyond Bacon Strips ($7). The bacon strips were 50% fat and 50% lean meat. The flavor was great, salty and smokey with a nice charred exterior in certain bites. Though, I must say that Peter Luger’s bacon smokes this bacon any day. The lean meat portion of the bacon was way too tough, almost like a jerky. It just didn’t melt in your mouth the same way Luger’s does. Continue reading →
EN Japanese Brasserie is one of the first Japanese restaurants I had heard of when I moved to NYC. It is one of those places “everyone” has been to and deems to be a good place. I had never been because there have been so many cuter, smaller Japanese restaurants in NYC that always make the cut over EN. After a very long week at work, LAW and I finally made last minute reservations for a late dinner at EN. Our table wasn’t ready so I immediately got a drink to force myself to relax (is this how I know I’m getting old?). I had the Ginger Cocktail ($13), which was a mixture of homemade ginger ale, rice shochu “Shiro,” lime juice, and soda. The drink was very light, too light for my purposes, but pleasant. The homemade ginger ale was soothing and gentle. The lime juice added just a little acidity to the ginger and rice shochu. The drink was so light to begin with that they really needed to use one of those gigantic ice cubes because the mini crushed ice cubes they used diluted the drink too quickly.
We ordered the EN Kaiseki ($65), which is the smaller of the two prix fixe menus offered. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. The meal is meant to be balanced and seasonal.
The kaiseki starts with an O-Banzai, a chef’s selection of three small Kyoto-style appetizers. We had the Hijiki (hijiki seaweed and soy bean simmered in shoyu), Zenmai Piri-Kara (royal fern sprouts in a spicy shichimi togarashi) and Kinoko Kiriboshi Daikon Ohitashi (assorted Japanese mushrooms & sun dried daikon radish with yuzu). All three were chilled, delicious, and balanced. The hijiki seaweed was sweet and tasted slightly of miso. Unlike the typical green, flat, and crunchy seaweed salad you find, hijiki is cylindrical and chewy (super QQ!). Delicious. The zenmai piri-kara was my least favorite only because I tend to not like mushy things – the royal fern sprouts were quite mushy. My favorite was the kinoko kiriboshi daikon ohitashi. The assorted Japanese mushrooms were bulbous little buds and tremendously fragrant. I had never had sun dried daikon before. It tastes less bitter than fresh daikon. The yuzu was so light, slightly sweet, and slightly citrusy. I can imagine the sauce tasting great with a nice fillet of fish…
The next course was the Chef’s Sashimi Selection. Bear in mind that photos are only of one portion. We didn’t have to share (more for us!). The chef’s selection wasn’t exactly much of a selection because it included just the basics: salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. I love the basics so it wasn’t a problem. The sashimi was overall decent quality but since I have been going to Kuraso often lately, very little can compare.
Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Black Cod was next. It tasted similar to the Robatayaone that I love but was a smaller fillet and less fatty. Flavor was perfect but was lacking the crispy fatty skin that I also love. Continue reading →
I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while because it is friggin awesome and so so easy. It’s also great for cooking for larger parties too. I made this for our last roomie dinner where I had to feed 3 hungry boys, LAW, H.W., and B.A., and myself, one very hungry girl (I doubled the portion from this post for our dinner). The chicken only takes about 15 minutes to make and is extremely flavorful and juicy. It tastes great with a bowl of piping hot jasmine rice. Add some veggies on the side and you have yourself a pretty balanced meal. I got the recipe here but added more of most ingredients to amp up the flavor.
The recipe calls for garlic, fresh ginger, scallions, and red chillies. I cut up a lot of each, especially the garlic. The recipe asks you to use 2 cloves of garlic… I think I used something closer to 5… Continue reading →
130 St Mark’s Pl
(between Avenue A & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009
Kura is a new Japanese restaurant on St. Mark’s that is NOT owned by the St. Mark’s Japanese restauranteur legend (who owns Soba-Ya, Robataya, Cha-An, Curry-Ya, and Shabu-Tatsu). It’s actually owned by Huey Cheng, a fellow middle school classmate of mine from Beijing. He recently moved to New York and has been working on this venture with Chef Ishizuka (with many more to come).
Kura is an intimate sushi restaurant that doesn’t have a menu. It’s currently hidden under some scaffolding, but even without the scaffolding, the entrance is small enough that one might just walk past it. It also doesn’t have windows. All these things make it sound like a pretentiously expensive restaurant, but it isn’t. At all. Kura is modestly elegant; the smooth, matte, white ash wood decor makes the place feel homey. It’s just dim enough and small enough to feel intimate; yet, the soft warm lighting allows you to see your food clearly and the seating is arranged such that you don’t feel claustrophobic (even without the windows.)
LAW took me here on Tuesday night and we tried the omakase with both cooked foods and sushi. Chef Ishizuka specializes in Osaka cuisine, which tends to be on the sweeter side. We started with a yellowtail sashimi with a light ponzu type sauce with lots of scallions. The chef includes some kind of fish skin chopped up in the mixture, which adds a little fattiness and, surprisingly, crunchiness. It is slightly sweet with a citrus aftertaste. LAW claims this is the best yellowtail he has ever had in his life. Continue reading →
Woo! New media! This is long overdue but I hope you enjoy nonetheless.
LAW, the very best director I know and my very best eating partner, put this video together for me from our November Paris trip. I’m thinking of doing more of these if people like them – so let me know!
Melt Shop 601 Lexington Ave
(between 52nd St & 53rd St)
New York, NY 10022
This is a late post, as you can tell from my box. I went with some coworkers on Valentine’s Day for lunch because we decided that since we were indulging in chocolate all day, might as well go all out with a heavy, greasy grilled cheese for lunch. I rarely order grilled cheeses because I feel like it’s something I make quite well myself. It’s all about having good bread, decent cheese, butter, and a panini press. The last time I ordered a grilled cheese was when I was at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, and everyone knows that is a must-try. It turned out good but just as good as my own… anyway, I gave Melt Shop a try since I love specialty restaurants.
E.D. and I both ordered the Truffle Melt ($7.95) with havarti, arugula, cracked black pepper and truffle oil on sourdough. I remember distinctly it was freezing that day because the guy working the takeout window kept closing the window as soon as someone placed their order. Nonetheless, he was very cheery and told me to have a sweet valentine’s day. Continue reading →
On a Friday night, R.S., A.C., and I grabbed dinner at Cafe Himalaya, a tiny, cheap, and incredibly busy restaurant on 1st and 1st. The food is Himalayan/Nepalese and is very vegetarian friendly. We sat down at about 7:00pm and watched the line of people grow. It was cold outside so they all waited inside, squished between tables while staring at our food as we ate. It was as if they were counting down for their turn on the swing. Not ideal for a mini high school reunion catch up dinner. Probably a better venue for a quick dinner before a night out across Houston in Lower East Side. We all started with a cup of homemade darjeeling tea with milk and sugar ($1.50). It tasted like Hong Kong milk tea with condensed milk. It was a little creamy for my taste but R.S. and A.C. both got second rounds. They also have butter tea… which I had my share of in Tibet. If you haven’t had it, it’s worth trying. It’s tea with salt, butter, and milk… very much an acquired taste.
R.S. ordered the Tsel Khowa ($7.50), a mixed vegetable curry cooked “Nepali style” with basmati rice. I didn’t get to try it but like Serious Eats said, it looked like there was too much broth. I prefer heartier curries, not watered down soups. On the other hand, vegetables did look fresh. Continue reading →
Rosa Mexicano 9 E 18th St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10003
Thanks to M.B., I was lucky enough to be invited to sample Rosa Mexicano’s new brunch and late night menu to be offered from February 23rd to March 10th (starts tomorrow!). I stepped out of work for about an hour and a half on a Tuesday morning and started off the day with a shot of tequila. Rosa Mexicano skips coffee.
I was then offered a chaser, a Chilled Horchata de Coco, which is a classic Mexican beverage made from pressed rice milk infused with coconut. The smooth and creamy flavor of coconut soothed my stomach from the tequila and prepared me for the rest of my meal. The aftertaste was subtly of sweet rice. Mr. Howard Greenstone, president and CEO of Rosa Mexicano, explained to us that they chose to add more sugar than typically added in traditional horchatas to better suit the palate of Americans. I appreciated his honesty. Truly. One of my pet peeves is when Chinese restaurants that clearly know they are not making Chinese food, market their food as “authentic.” There’s nothing wrong with a good regional twist. Continue reading →