Monthly Archives: March 2013

New Kid on the Block – Kura’s Omakase Leaves You Feeling Happy

IMG_8528Kura
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-YaRobatayaCha-AnCurry-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.)

IMG_8505
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 New Kid on the Block – Kura’s Omakase Leaves You Feeling Happy

Melt Shop, “gourmet” grilled cheese

Melt ShopMelt 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.

Melt Shop
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 Melt Shop, “gourmet” grilled cheese

Cafe Himalaya

IMG_8215
Cafe Himalaya
78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009

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.

IMG_8216
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 Cafe Himalaya