Monthly Archives: May 2012

Brunch for Spies!


Northern Spy Food Co.
511 E 12th St
(between Avenue A & Avenue B)
New York, NY 10009

 

Another brunch post!  This time a little less “alternative” than Hummus Place and Maharlika, but still not quite the traditional brunch like Prune.  I was so intrigued about this place because of its name.  Northern Spy Food Company… a restaurant that serves food for Russian spies?

    

Not quite… quite the opposite actually.  Northern Spy Food Co. is a homey little restaurant that is named after a New York apple called the Northern Spy.  The wooden furniture and delicate flower patterned wallpaper work together to evoke a warm countryside setting.  We ordered the buttermilk biscuits ($5) with apple butter to fully immerse ourselves in the wholesomeness.  The apple butter was amazing actually seemed like it had more apple than butter – definitely homemade.  It certainly didn’t need any more butter because the biscuits came out warm and super buttery.  The slight tartness of the apple butter melded very well with the biscuit.  I was very pleased!

L.C. and I both ordered the Kale Salad ($12) with cheddar, sweet potato, almonds, pecorino, and two baked eggs (+ $3).  Kale seems to be the new “it” vegetable.  It is popping up in all the NYC restaurants as sides or salads.  Then again, is it only because I just started noticing the vegetable?  Or is it really showing up everywhere… Kale is in the cabbage family and apparently contains a lot of sulforaphane, a chemical with anti-cancer properties, and indole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA cell repair and helps block the growth of cancer cells.  Woot!  With all the cancer research craze going on, it would make sense that this vegetable is gaining popularity.  It is also very fibrous (I was so full after this salad!!) and really gets your digestive system going, like… really really does.  If that isn’t enough, Kale also gives a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, and K (a cup with 180%, 200%, and 1020% of our daily intake respectively).  If you understand the Chinese concept of heat, or 上火, Kale also helps to cool your body down, or 清火.

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Ikea!

Okay, watch this first.

Now try not to think about the song while you finish reading my post.  It’s going to be difficult.  This catchy catchy (that wasn’t a mistake, it is in fact catchy catchy) tune was written and performed by my talented musician friend, Brad Go, and shot by the one and only LAW+Hags!  I tagged along during the location scout and after a tiring afternoon of sitting in sofas and lying in beds, we ate at the awesome Ikea Restaurant.

Pictured above is my tray of delights.  Clockwise, we have a simple salad, honey mustard and ketchup, Dryck FlÄder (Elderflower drink), Swedish Meatballs, Crack Pie, Fork and Knife, Ikea Furniture Shopping List, and Lingonberry Juice.

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Best Chicken and Rice?

    
Halal Guys
53rd St & 6th Ave
New York, NY 10019

 

If you’re visiting New York City and want to try something quintessentially NYC, forget the pretzel and hot dog stands, and try some chicken and rice from Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th*.  You’ll find Halal Carts on almost every street corner in the city, yet Halal Guys has somehow able to secure the “best” title in a majority of New Yorkers’ minds.  LAW works near there so I sometimes will go and have a weekday lunch with him there and even on weekdays, there is always a line (see top right).  I hear that on weekends, both for lunch, dinner, and post-partying munchies, the line can get pretty crazy… sometimes up to an hour wait.

True… the pile of chicken and bin full of lamb do not really look that appetizing.  But no one ever said this was a pretty meal.

Once it is all put it all in a tin plate with extra white sauce and drops of super spicy red sauce, you will for sure be salivating for the first bite.  The rice is a yellow rice that is quite firm and not sticky at all.  The white sauce is like a Greek-yogurt sauce and helps to bind all the ingredients together.  Looking at some recipes online, it appears that the white sauce is made with yogurt, spices, and lots of mayo… gluttony.  You can get the Chicken and Rice platter, Lamb and Rice platter, or the Mix Platter which contains both meats, each for $7.  The pita bread that it comes with is soft and chewy, much more doughy than supermarket pitas.  Thankfully, the platter also comes with some chopped lettuce on the side to freshen up the fattiness of the chicken and sauce.

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A Filipino Brunch at Maharlika


    
Maharlika
111 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003

 

Sauce.  Lots of it.  And very sweet.  This is what I ate most of at my weekend brunch at Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant in the East Village that boasts a menu of hearty comfort dishes that range from traditional to newly interpreted “modern” Filipino dishes.  I, again, wanted something non-traditional for brunch (no egg bennies allowed*) and found Maharlika.  Pictured at the top is Jufran Banana Sauce, aka. Filipino ketchup.  It is made from mashed banana, sugar, vinegar, and various spices.  It seems like it is a common favorite, like Sriracha.  Our waiter even informed us that he loved putting Jufran on his Big Macs.  To the bottom left is the sawsawan sauce, essentially vinegar infused with chilli peppers, garlic, and whatever else you want to put in it.  This sauce was particularly great because it balanced a lot of the sweetness in the meats.  To the bottom right is homemade guava jelly and macapuno jam (a kind of coconut), apparently the peanut butter and jelly of Filipino cuisine.

I ordered the Pampangan-Style Sizzling Sisig with Egg ($16).  I’m not too sure what pampangan-style means but sisig refers to a method of preparing meat where the meat is marinated in a citrus sauce or vinegar, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices.  Sizzling Sisig is a traditional dish that is made with a variety of pig parts; in this case, pig ears, snout, cheek, and belly.  The belly is cooked three times (boiled, grilled, and sauteed) and then the dish is flavored with garlic and lemon.   Continue reading

Fish, a seafood shack in the West Village


Fish
280 Bleecker St
(between Jones St & Commerce St)
New York, NY 10014

 

At the recent Rosa Mexicano Blogger Tasting Event, I met someone who was obsessed with Fish.  He compared it to one of my favorite restaurants of ALL TIME, Pearl Oyster Bar, and said that he even preferred Fish because it was more gritty and shack-like.  I’ve tried almost all of Pearl Oyster Bar’s competitors, primarily for lobster rolls, and so had to try Fish.  I already knew that it wouldn’t be as good as Pearl because I am loyal and Pearl is the best, but could it be nearly as good?   Continue reading

Rosemary Garlic Bread Made by Yours Truly

When I’m bored, restless, and/or stressed, I usually like to do one of two things: clean the apartment and/or bake.  The more restless and stressed I am, the more I like to “challenge” myself.  I’ll scrub the bathtub extra hard and bake a more demanding recipe, such as bread.  Not a quick bread though, because I make those all the time.  I wanted to make a real bread this time.  Quick breads, such as banana bread, are breads that are leavened with baking soda instead of yeast, making the process much quicker.  Non quick breads require yeast and lots of time.  So on a glorious restless day, I made a loaf of Rosemary Garlic Bread, using plenty of yeast and time.

And oh my did the apartment smell GLORIOUS with the hot steamy fresh bread coming alive in the oven with plenty of roasted garlic and rosemary.  I modified a recipe by cutting it down quite a bit because the original made 4 6″ loaves.  I only wanted to make one. Continue reading

“Gourmet” Japanese Curry at Curry-Ya


Curry-Ya
214 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003

Okay, ignore the little turd in the corner of the plate.  Ignore the little frozen green beans as well because they taste like the airplane kind (you know, the kind that has that funny aftertaste of frozen vegetables?).  Focus on the perfect mound of rice and the gleaming Japanese vegetable curry.

Zoom in.  So many veggies!  Curry-Ya is a tiny little restaurant in the East Village that serves up a variety of curries, ranging from the original plain curry ($7), to the homemade hamburger curry ($11), to the berkshire pork cutlet curry ($13).  You have the option to add toppings like corn, egg, mini hamburger (see turd-like thing in first photo), etc.  If you go at lunch, the curry even comes with a nice simple salad with a homemade dressing that tastes like ginger miso dressing.

Before Curry-Ya, I always just made my own curry.  With products like S&B Golden Curry being sold in almost every Asian supermarket, Japanese curry is very easy to make at home.  So easy that it has become a staple for potlucks and parties, anything requiring mass production.  However, Curry-Ya serves up “gourmet” curry (as they call it), curry that is made fresh and not from blocks of frozen paste.  According to their website, the curry is made from a base of chicken and oxtail soup with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and spices.  Does that make the curry better than the kind I make at home?  Not… really.  Curry-Ya’s curry tastes very similar to the curry packs that add apple, my favorite kind!  The curry was definitely very yummy, slightly sweet and very fragrant.  I just couldn’t taste a big difference between Curry-Ya and my homemade curry (I’m so good.  Just kidding, S&B is so good).   Continue reading

ABC Kitchen, Apps over Entrees.


ABC Kitchen
35 E 18th St
(between Broadway & Park Ave)
New York, NY 10003

 

ABC Kitchen is one of those staple NYC restaurants that everyone recommends to their out-of-town friends because it is a safe recommendation.  It was opened by a famous chef, Jean-Georges, and it boasts a cool NYC vibe with its rustic wooden farm chic decor.  The kitchen uses only fresh organic and local ingredients, which is all the talk now.  It also has a cool concept as it is attached to its own furniture store that sells all the furniture and kitchenware that the restaurant uses, forcing you to pay attention to not just your food, but also the $55 ripple porcelain plate that your food sits on.  Its pricing is also standard NYC pricing for a decently “nice” restaurant, with entrees ranging from $18 to $37 and appetizers ranging from $6 to $17.  As you can tell from the large price ranges, the menu is pretty large and so I didn’t post about ABC Kitchen until I had been there twice, once for dinner and once for lunch.  I’m going to combine the dinner and lunch items so you get a larger survey of their food (you’ll notice the change in lighting in the photos).

This is the Roasted Carrot and Avocado salad ($14), probably my favorite item on their menu.  I got it both times I was there because it is so unique and really defines the restaurant for me.  The salad features a large handful of fresh greens with roasted carrots, fat slices of avocado, crunchy seeds, a dollop of sour cream, homemade garlicy croutons, and a citrus dressing.  The roasted whole carrots (each about 5 inches long) were caramelized and exceptionally sweet.  The ingredients are reminiscent of a simplicity and charm of the “countryside” yet when combined, produces the complexity that you would expect of a stylish NYC restaurant.  The textures are crunchy (croutons and seeds), soft (avocado and sour cream), and leafy (greens), while the flavors are sweet (carrots) and sour (citrus).  Yum!

This Chicken Liver Toast ($10) was from their Market Table section of the menu.  Their menu items consist of quite a few “toast” options, including a Roasted Kabocha Squash toast and a Crab Toast.  My friend is really into liver pates so we chose the chicken liver, even though I am a bit wary of chicken liver because bad chicken liver has a horrible, horrible, gamey and iron taste.  Thankfully, ABC Kitchen’s chicken liver was quality; it was very creamy and smooth and was not as dense as most pates.  Despite the fact that it was lighter with almost a mousse-like consistency, the kitchen slathered on the pate really thickly and so was still too dense for me.  The bread, though had a nice crisp crust and soft interior, was not nearly as thick as I would’ve wanted it to be.  I ended up supplementing my pate with the bread basket because the pate was just so overwhelming.  I’m a bit of a liver pansy though; I imagine that if you were a diehard Liver Lover, you would wolf up the toast with relish, like Y.P. did. Continue reading

Sunday Night Dinners, light and quick.

Generally speaking, my Sunday night dinners always tend to be lighter and healthier to make up for my gluttonous weekend.  Though, the photo above is slightly deceiving because LAW and I each had at least two more servings of what is displayed… each, plus lots of great olive bread from the farmer’s market.  But lots of salad and corn and fish isn’t too heavy, right??

This was my first time cooking non-salmon fish.  I’m a bit of a noob in the fish-cooking department but hope to be an expert someday because I love fish so very much.  Scrod was on sale at the supermarket so we decided to try it.  Despite its severely unappetizing name, it’s actually quite a normal fish.  Wikipedia describes it as a “young cod, haddock or other whitefish, split and boned.”  Fair enough.  I like cod, why not give it a shot? Continue reading

Yakitori Totto, a midtown gem.

Yakitori Totto
251 W 55th St, 2nd floor
(between Broadway & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10019

 

Midtown is a bore.  It’s where people work and where tourists comb through on their way to Times Square and a Broadway show.  The only time you’ll ever catch me willingly headed towards that direction is when I’m heading to Totto Ramen (which I still have yet to blog because I don’t have good enough photos to do this place justice!!) and its sister restaurant, Yakitori Totto.  I recently had lunch at Yakitori Totto and already can’t wait to go back.  The food is great and they have that cool lit up egg display (see above)!  Yakitori, technically means chicken skewer in Japanese, but also refers to all skewered foods in general.  I would definitely come for lunch over dinner because they have an amazing special that gets you three yakitori over a bowl of gleaming white rice, salad, and miso soup, all for $9-$12.  For dinner, you have to order individual yakitori for $3-$5 each (though you do get many more yakitori options).

I present to you the Yakitori Don with negima, a type of yakitori that is made with chicken (thigh in this case, I believe) and scallions.  A light layer of yakitori sauce is brushed onto the chicken, adding to the already flavorful, tender, and moist chicken.  I was googling yakitori sauce recipes and it seems that real yakitori sauce is made by boiling chicken bones, soy sauce, sake, sugar, pepper, scallions, garlic, and ginger.  No wonder it is so damn fragrant… Continue reading