I’d like to start by giving myself a pat on the back for keeping my kitchen intact. A.W., L.C., and R.Y. got me an amazing pressure cooker for my birthday and until this meal, I had yet to really use it for anything other speed-cooking rice. This is because pressure cookers are scary and if handled incorrectly, can turn into bombs and explode (don’t google “pressure cooker” with “bomb”, just don’t do it).
I had a set of chicken thighs and legs in my freezer that I had to use and was so tired of my honey-soy glazed version that I make so often now so decided to experiment with something totally new. I was also feeling lazy and wanted something fast and easy. The internet told me that fast, easy, juicy and flavorful chicken is inseparable from the pressure cooker. Feeling extra brave, I decided to just go for it. I found this Thai Chicken recipe here and modified the recipe so I didn’t have to buy any new ingredients. Continue reading
157 Ludlow St
(between Stanton St & Rivington St)
New York, NY 10002
As some of you may know, I was invited to be a judge for Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site that is huge in Japan and just starting to make its mark here. The reviews and ratings are generated by aggregating information from the top X amount of bloggers in a given area. The ratings are therefore meant to be more legit. “For Foodies By Foodies” is the idea. I wonder if the reviews will be lower or higher than average Yelp reviews… food bloggers are definitely more critical than the average Joe, which makes me think reviews will be harsher on Tabelog. On the other hand, bloggers also are more likely to be friends with folks in the restaurant business or be invited to blogger events, after which they are almost required to give higher ratings.
For example, Tabelog hosted a blogger meet and greet at SakaMai, a newish Japanese restaurant in LES that opened earlier this year. The entire restaurant was taken out for this private, excluuuuuusive event. I felt pretty boss rolling in with my plus one, Y.N., getting handed a fresh deck of business cards Tabelog graciously made for all of us, and having my photo taken like a celebrity. Okay, my head may have been in the clouds at this point, but I really felt great having my blog be recognized and found!
But back to my point. SakaMai provided us with an open bar of all kinds of sake, wine, beer, and cocktails, along with seven dishes to sample (or stuff your face with if you’re me…). As I am writing this, I feel pressure to give all praise to SakaMai because Tabelog paid for my gluttony that night. But I assure you, dearest readers, I will not. I will only be telling the truth because ultimately, I want my blog to be truthful and helpful.
Dish 1: Carrot Puree with dashi gelee and summer truffle. The puree was naturally sweet from the carrot. Dashi is a simple broth or stock that typically serves as the base for miso soup. It’s meant to be fragrant and light, which is probably why I didn’t taste it. The carrot puree was quite strong and overpowered any other flavors. Summer truffle was beautiful to look at but also overpowered by the carrot. Continue reading
Lacking scallions and enough garlic to make my usual honey soy glazed chicken thighs, I needed another recipe for the thighs and drumsticks I had in the fridge. Using my Google skillz, I found a recipe from The Kitchn that involved ingredients my very bare kitchen has (it’s the end of two weeks again where the roomies and I bike to Chinatown for our groceries).
Ingredients (slightly modified from posted recipe):
- 3 chicken thighs
- 3 drumsticks
- 3 tablespoons of miso paste (darker is better for this)
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder Continue reading
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St
(between 4th St & Bleecker St)
New York, NY 10014
There are so many great places to eat in NYC that sometimes I forget to return to my favorites. Pearl Oyster Bar is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC for a number of reasons:
- I love seafood. Especially oysters, grilled fish, and lobster rolls, all things Pearl makes ridiculously well.
- Pearl is unpretentious.
- Something about the space, lighting, and simple furniture sucks me into a vacuum where I forget where I am and how long I’ve been eating.
- Pearl makes the best blueberry pie.
The fourth reason is the reason you must eat at Pearl in the summer months between June and August. Any other time, you are more likely to end up with some kind of strawberry-rhubarb or cherry-something pie. I find their non-blueberry pies to be underwhelming, often too sweet for my taste. Their blueberry pie tastes way less syrupy and more like the actual fruit. Imagine grabbing a large handful of fresh summer blueberries, the kind that is fat and bulbous, bursting with flavor, and eating it all in one monstrous bite.
LAW and I went at the very end of August because I realized I had not had Pearl’s blueberry pie yet and freaked out a little bit. I was excited the entire week for our Pearl meal. On the day of, I reminded LAW at least five times about going that evening. Come 7 or 8PM, I found that he was still working on something he needed to get out by 3AM. All of a sudden I became grumpy and extremely sad that we may not end up making it to Pearl and that I would have to wait an entire year for blueberry pie. LAW must have saw the desperation in my eyes and immediately understood the urgency. He carved out two hours for me as we raced to Pearl on our bikes. The stars aligned at this point. Normally, the wait would have been at least 30 to 45 minutes. There was still a line but there were miraculously two free seats at the bar that no one wanted. Continue reading
Erin Rose Bar
811 Conti St
New Orleans, LA 70112
Neighborhood: French Quarter
When I think of po’ boys, I think of lots of fried seafood and lettuce in a soft, crusty bread. It’s not my favorite. I need more flavor than mayo and fried seafood. G.B. still feels that way but only because he didn’t go with us to Killer Poboys. After much research on the Internet, I found that Killer Poboys offers some of the best poboys in French Quarter district. To get to Killer Poboys, you have to enter Erin Rose bar and weave through the drunken Nola crowd to the back. There is a room in the back decorated with all kinds of lights and signs reserved for the po’boy craftsmen.
The two men in the kitchen were both very large, jacked, and looked like they would have each owned a Harley or something. Watching them cook was very interesting. They treated their ingredients very delicately (see photo of one of them measuring pork belly on a scale).
LAW and I shared one as a snack before dinner. We got the Coriander Lime Gulf Shrimp Poboy (market price that day was $12 – expensive). The shrimp was some of the freshest I’ve had and was marinated in strong cajun-like spices and grilled to perfection. It had a nice smoky flavor and was so tender, sweet, and juicy. Delicious. Continue reading
1109 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
Neighborhood: French Quarter
I’m a little sad that I didn’t fully do my research before coming to Nola. We booked the tickets about a month ago on a whim because we all just wanted to go somewhere. I sort of forgot about the trip until the weekend came up, which for the non-planners in the world, is perfectly great! For the planners in the world, myself, I felt lost and slightly stressed out about not knowing what we were going to do and eat everyday. Luckily, we had phones and the Yelp app. Luckily, G.B. knew he wanted jambalaya for his last meal in Nola. Luckily, LAW is very good at Googling and filtering for the best jambalaya in French Quarter area. Coop’s Place is a gritty restaurant close to Café Du Monde (where everyone gets their beignets) serves up all the best of Nola.
I started with the seafood gumbo, which came with my taste plate (second last photo). Unlike other gumbos I had earlier, this one was lighter, less thick, and way more spicy. It was a great tantalizing soup to get my tastebuds craving for more food.
We shared the Fried Oysters served with cocktail sauce and lemon ($9.50) as a starter. BEST FRIED OYSTERS I’VE EVER HAD. I normally never opt for fried oysters because I always felt that the friedness completely overpowers the natural sweetness and umami flavor from the raw oyster. They didn’t have raw oysters on the menu so I had to go with these. Best choice of my life.
Restaurants-who-fry-oysters, listen up. The oyster should still be raw inside the fried batter! It has to be flash-fried so quickly so that the oyster doesn’t cook. The batter has to be super crispy and light so that it doesn’t overpower the oyster. This perfect specimen here maintains the deliciousness of a raw oyster and is further complimented by a thin layer of crispiness. So damn good. E.C. and I were its biggest fans. We ordered another portion before even finishing the first plate. Continue reading
25 Pell St
(between Doyers St & Mott St)
New York, NY 10013
If you live in NYC and like Chinese food at all, chances are you have heard of Joe’s Shanghai, a restaurant in Manhattan Chinatown that is known for its soup dumplings. Joe’s Shanghai has over 2,200 reviews on Yelp and a solid 4-star rating. Its sister restaurant, Joe’s Ginger, only has 247 reviews and a 3-star rating. This isn’t because the food is any worse. This is because the people who go to Joe’s Ginger aren’t the people active on social media. (Case in point. Joe’s Shanghai has a Facebook page and Joe’s Ginger doesn’t.)
Joe, presumably the owner, has smartly branded his soup dumplings across two very different consumer groups by offering the same product in two separate restaurants (that happen to be right next to each other). The tourists, the American NYC-ers, the review-chasers all know about Joe’s Shanghai. On any given weekend night, you’ll see a long line of J.Crew wearing hungry customers waiting outside of Joe’s Shanghai. Joe’s Ginger, on the other hand, almost never has a line and is usually just at capacity with Chinese diners.
This is changing as more people write blog reviews like this one. Here is a happy non-Chinese family slurping down soup dumplings at Joe’s Ginger on Friday night. Notice the tacky pinkish glow from the florescent lighting. Reminds me of all the cheap (and delicious) restaurants in China.
This is the classic Pork Soup Dumplings ($4.95 for 8). The ideal soup dumpling has thin, yet chewy skin. It should be just thick enough so it doesn’t break with the weight of the pork and soup. The soup should be fragrant, hot, and light. Joe’s does a decent job, probably one of the best soup dumplings in Manhattan, but is far from great compared to the ones in China. The skin is a bit thicker than ideal. The soup is also too heavy and greasy. Still tastes delicious enough that I keep coming back. Continue reading