Monthly Archives: February 2013

Rosa Mexicano kicks off their Flavors of Mexico series with a new Desayuno menu – officially launching tomorrow!

Rosa MexicanoRosa Mexicano
9 E 18th St
(between 5th Ave & Broadway)
New York, NY 10003

Rosa Mexicano
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.

Rosa Mexicano
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

Ganso, Brooklyn’s ramen attempt.

GansoGanso
25 Bond St
(between Livingston St & Fulton St)
Brooklyn, NY 11201

ANOTHER ramen place I needed to try. I needed to try it so badly I was willing to trek all the way into Brooklyn for it, and not Williamsburg I tell you, DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN. So far, I have tried Totto, Ippudo, Minca, Kambi, Hide Chan, Rai Rai Ken, and Yuji, all hyped up ramen places that battle every year to be the best (let me add that Totto doesn’t get as much love as I think it deserves). Ganso is now added to that list. It is rated 4 stars on Yelp with 84 reviews, most of which rave about the “perfectly al dente noodles” and “solid ramen” bowls. One even described the the ramen as “transcendent.” Go figure.

Ganso
I came with V.P. and J.W. for a Sunday lunch. We shared the Buta Kimchi Buns ($9), which came with two buns stuffed with 9 braised pork belly, jalapeño kimichi, and spicy mayo. It only cost $4 for an extra bun (I was expecting $5). I wasn’t expecting too much from this almost conventional “pan-asian” bun filled with korean kimchi, chinese pork belly, and mexican jalapeños. Given the whole mexican korean food truck craze and the general korean-chinese mix, the concept (A.W.) of the bun seemed ordinary. BUT, I was pleasantly surprised. The pork belly had a perfect 2:3 fat to non-fat ratio. It was thickly sliced and mouth-wateringly succulent. Flavors were just right; a little sweetness and saltiness from the pork with no extra sauce (aka. actually flavored meat) and a little acidity and spice from the jalapeño kimchi. The mayo wrapped everything up in a nice creamy explosion of flavors. I really enjoyed this.

Ganso
We also shared Rio’s Wings ($9), which included 6 Bonchon-esque wings. Legit tasted like Bonchon.  Continue reading

Shi’s Kitchen: Chinese New Year Red Cooked Pork Belly (Hong Shao Rou)

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year has never meant so much to me as it did this year. Yes, it marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake, and yes, I am a Snake. That definitely adds to the significance. But Snake aside, for some reason, I felt ultra traditional this year and felt obligated to bring people together for a large meal. The years of my mother telling me the importance of family and home cooked meals on new years eve must’ve finally kicked in. Not only did I want to celebrate the occasion, I also wanted to do it right. All Chinese New Year eve dinners involve some sort of whole fish, some kind of whole chicken, dumplings, etc. My family specifically always also includes Sichuan Cold Noodles (四川凉面) and Red Cooked Pork (红烧肉). I have never made any of this on my own so this past Saturday was a first. Like all Chinese recipes, my mom didn’t give me exact measurements of anything. “Add sugar, soy sauce, ginger.” Errrr… how much of each? Go figure. Use your brain. Or how my mom would say it: move your brain. Anyway, I’m either a naturaaaal or had some beginner’s luck with me, because the pork belly turned out succulent, flavorful, and just delicious. Here’s the quick and dirty rough recipe to my family’s secret that has been passed down from my great grandmother in Sichuan.

Red Cooked Pork Belly
I was feeding a lot of people so I bought over 3 pounds of pork belly. Make sure you keep the skin (it ends up tasting ultra QQ)! First, I put the strips of pork belly in boiling water. Don’t ever have the meat touch cold water because apparently cold water tightens up the meat. After a minute or so of boiling, I removed the meat and tossed the water. The water smelled pretty damn porky. Boiling the meat helps get rid of that gamey flavor.

Red Cooked Pork Belly
I then patted the pork belly dry and cut them up into these little nuggets.

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Comme Ci Comme Ça, Mediterranean/Moroccan Food Truck

Comme Ci Comme ÇaComme Ci Comme Ça
52nd and Park Ave

As much as I love to eat and try new foods, weekday lunch is usually my time to cleanse my palate. My favorite lunch spot is Chop’t and nine times out of ten, I’ll get half kale half mesclun mix, cherry tomatoes, corn, crumbled egg (makes the salad a tinge creamy), and sunflower seeds. I alternate between the Chop’t Mexican Goddess dressing, which is a jalepeno, cilantro, and avocado dressing, and my own concoction of half a lemon’s worth of lemon juice, EVOO, salt, and pepper. I always ask for extra bread because the salad on its own isn’t enough to last me. Anyway, my coworkers have been trying to organize lunches more so I’ve been tagging along occasionally. We recently picked up some Mediterranean/Moroccan food at Comme Ci Comme Ça, a food truck often parked in Midtown. The wait was about 20 minutes, pretty ridiculous for lunch, but promising for a satisfying meal.

Comme Ci Comme Ça
This is what D.Z. got: The Cous Cous Royal ($12), which includes all the meats (lemon chicken, beef, kofta, and merguez) on a bed of fluffy cous cous made with vegetable stock. All the cous cous platters come with an assortment of roasted vegetables (think eggplants, zucchini, squash, pumpkin…)

Comme Ci Comme Ça
On the opposite end of the spectrum, E.D. ordered the Vegetarian Cous Cous ($8), which is just more roasted veggies over the same cous cous. You get to pick two out of four sauces: Spicy Andalusian Sauce (red chili peppers, olive oil, lemon juice), Green Olive Sauce (light mayo base, green olives, olive oil, lemon juice, blend of spices), Spicy Mint (green chili peppers, mint, yogurt, blend of spices), and Casablanca Sauce (light mayo base, olive oil, lemon juice, blend of spices).  Continue reading

Cafe Gitane, French and Moroccan Brunch

Cafe GitaneCafe Gitane
242 Mott St
(between Houston St & Prince St)
New York, NY 10012

V.P. told me this is her favorite restaurant in the city. I find that few people in New York can come up with a singular favorite place so I figured I had to check it out. There are two locations, one in the Jane Hotel in the West Village and another in Nolita. While waiting for a seat with D.C. and M.X., I saw a waitress walk past with a delicious deep jungle green colored beverage. She saw the way I looked at it and said, “It’s the cucumber juice. You have to get it.” And so I did ($4.50). The juice was surprisingly lightly carbonated and almost a little fermented tasting… like kombucha. Don’t know how I feel about it though it did taste refreshing. The menu also boasts a number of yummy sounding teas, such as Iced Mint Tea and Turkish Green Tea. Things to try next time.

Cafe Gitane
M.X. ordered the Brie with Apple ($7.25) which came with a toasty warm piece of rosemary foccacia. Brie was just okay. Slightly hard for a brie and a little blander than most. Particularly compared to the brie I had in France which was hyper sharp. Unlike the brie, the apples were way too soft. They were almost mushy like apple sauce. I expected a crisp, sweet and tart apple, like a Fuji or a Gala, to go with the brie. The bread was good.

Cafe Gitane
D.C. was lame and had eaten with his other friends already so just had a Blueberry and Almond Friand ($4.00). A friand is a small french cake made with almond flour and eggs. I didn’t get to try it but D.C. seemed to enjoy it…

Cafe Gitane    Cafe Gitane
This was the “must-have” item on the menu: the Avocado Toast with lemon juice, olive oil, and chili flakes on seven grain toast ($7.25). Like many people before me, I agree that the toast is way overpriced. I make this all the time at home, especially when avocados are in season. Yes, it was creamy and delicious with a slight acidity and kick. Yes, the bread was thick, sturdy but soft, and deliciously toasted. But $7.25 for toast is hard to justify.

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