Tag Archives: fish

Okonomi: a perfect Japanese breakfast


Okonomi
150 Ainslie St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

We were told the wait was two and a half hours. We waited two full hours. And. It. Was. Worth. It.

Okonomi is a tiiiiiny little Japanese restaurant tucked away on the north side of Williamsburg. It opens from 9am-3pm on weekdays, and 10am-4pm on weekends (at night, the restaurant becomes Yuji Ramen). It serves only traditional Japanese ichiju-sansai set meals for breakfast and lunch. “Ichiju-sansai” literally means  “One soup, three dishes”  – aka a healthy set meal.


I was pretty skeptical with the raving reviews. How good could breakfast really be? I did my little Yelp search beforehand and saw all the photos. The food looked pretty and small – usually the opposite of how I like my food. We got there at 10:30am on a Saturday and already saw a long line forming out the door. Someone sat outside with a suitcase – that’s when you know the place is good. That person NEEDED to eat here before jetsetting off.


Two full hours later, me, N.T., B.J., and A.H. got seated across from this couple.


You can only order the ichiju-sansai (set menu) (~$30), but can choose your fish. We had a choice of Spanish mackerel, some kind of tilefish, and a sashimi over rice bowl. I got the Spanish mackerel, which is pictured here along with all the other dishes. (FYI those flowers were real :)) Continue reading

Poke Post #2: Wisefish

Wisefish Poke
Wisefish Poke
263 West 19th St (6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011

Alright food friends. Quick update here. I went to Wisefish recently with N.T., G.B., H.W., and LAW to do a little taste comparison against the glorious Sons of Thunder. Just by photo comparison, you can see the main difference between the two: Wisefish poke bowls have a lot more stuff. The ordering mechanism is different. At Sons of Thunder, you pick your fish (or octopus or tofu or whatever) and that’s it. It comes with greens, radishes, seaweed salad, etc.  You can also add toppings like krispies (yes do this), nori, avocado, etc. for an additional price. At Wisefish, you pick your fish and then get unlimited toppings from their toppings bar. It’s like the new-ish PinkBerry method where you pay a little more but get as many toppings (edamame, hijiki, radish, etc) as you want – or more precisely, as many as will fit in the bowl/you’re shameless enough to ask for. The price ends up being similar.

Because at Sons of Thunder I have to pick and pay for each additional topping, I find that I cherish/appreciate those toppings that much more. Also, a bigger point here, the quality of fish is just better at Sons of Thunder. The Wisefish tuna and salmon are cut into smaller cubes and are a bit…. softer (maybe marinated too much?) and stringy-er. Though, the fish quality isn’t a dealbreaker because it’s still decent and the number of toppings and sauces you can get sort of makes up for it. You should certainly go if you’re in the area. If the purpose of your meal is to have the best poke on the other hand, I would go to Sons of Thunder (I still have Pokeworks to try so I’ll let you know if my assessment changes). Continue reading

Best of Hawaii: Oahu!

Big IslandI’m BAACCCKKK! Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been super busy with work stuff and haven’t had time to tell you about all the amazing restaurants I’ve been to lately. But fear not! I am back. I actually just got back from a long vacation in Hawaii so I’m super well-rested and ready to make this year better than the last. One of my new years resolutions is to do more things that I want to do (such as blogging). No more agreeing to go to things I don’t want to go to or going out when I just want to stay home and eat spam and watch Making a Murderer.

Speaking of spam, Hawaiians <3 spam. You’ll see a ton of spam in Hawaii because during WWII, spam was served to the GIs in the area and eventually found its way into the local cuisine. Those of you who think spam is gross because comes in a can or is “mystery meat” need to back off and be a little more open-minded. All spam is is preserved pork shoulder, pork butt, salt, water, sugar, potato starch, and sodium nitrate (help keeps the pink color in meats like spam and pepperoni). So basically, if you ever have pizza with pepperoni on it, you have no right being weirded out by spam. Just try it. I <3 it.

Anyway, this post is dedicated to all the best foods I had in my time in Hawaii, many of which included spam. I visited Oahu, Maui, and Big Island. All beautiful, awesome places. I can’t say that Hawaii is necessarily a foodie destination but there are definitely some great eats, especially if you like spam or tuna.

OAHU!

Moanalua 99 Eats
Moanalua 99
1151 Mapunapuna St
Honolulu, HI 96819

The first spot I’ll recommend you check out is the Moanalua 99 food court. Yes, a food court. It’s extremely close to the airport so very convenient (and also VERY TASTY). The food court has a number of really well rated spots, including Mary’s Mediterranean Kitchen, Take’s Fish Market, and this place we went to called Urawa Japanese Fusion. I had the BEST fish+rice bowl here out of my whole trip. Really. Continue reading

Sakamai’s new brunch menu is BOMB

Sakamai
Sakamai
157 Ludlow St. (across from Pianos)
New York, NY 10002

NEW BRUNCH PLACE TO ADD TO THE ROTATION!!!!! If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s waiting in line for generic eggs benny’s or pancakes at an overhyped “boozy brunch” place, which is for some reason all the craze in NYC. I have higher standards for my brunch (#snob #jk) and want something more special if I’m going out for brunch than something I can whip up in my kitchen. Some of my favorites are Soba-ya, Shabu-Tatsu, and Prune – if you need an eggs benny). Even just based on that list, you can tell I have a soft spot for Japanese brunch food…

Sakamai Sakamai is a modern izakaya (aka. a Japanese bar that serves food) and sake bar. This month, they just launched a new brunch menu which showcases great Japanese dishes intertwined with some Hawaiian (ie. spam) ingredients and Western flair (aka. fusion but I hate that word). Natalie, one of the owners (who is Japanese-Hawaiian and studied architecture in college like me! :D), graciously invited me to sample their brunch menu this past weekend. I took LAW as my guest (duh) and tried a number of amazing things.

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I sometimes get invited to these things and I ALWAYS disclose it. I also always keep my reviews unbiased (even though my meal is comped) because my blog would be worth nothing if I pandered to anyone who gave me free food. Most of these comped meals end up being pretty mediocre (hence they need bloggers like me to help them advertise – I won’t name names, but if you go through the blog you’ll know which ones I’m talking about) but in this case, I lucked out cause… the food was truly awesome.

Sakamai
We started with a couple drinks. I got the Flying Squirrel, which is a cocktail made with coldbrew coffee, walnut liqueur, and coconut cream. It was a delicious alcoholic iced coffee. Coffee itself was high quality and the walnut liqueur added some sweetness and nuttiness. Really great brunch cocktail, especially if you’re tired of the usual bloody mary and mimosa. We also got to try two of their housemade “Shrub” beverages: watermelon and celery-apple. Both drinks were carbonated and, oddly, clear (wonder how they make it). The drinks were very light and refreshing. A good alternative to juice.

Sakamai
We started with the Cha Soba Salad ($15) with green tea soba and sesame soy dressing. It. Was. Awesome. All these different kinds of greens (sprouts, cabbage?, seaweed, corn, tomato, avocado, sesame seeds, some kind of root, AND SO MUCH MORE) sit on top of a bed of green tea soba. The dressing is very light so allows all the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients shine through. The sesame oil just adds an extra bit of umami to make the salad really addicting. So effing good. Definitely a must order when you come (when, not if).

Sakamai
As our first “main,” we shared the Loco Moco ($16), which is a kimchi fried rice served with a hamburger bun and sunny side up egg. The rice and patty are doused in a dashi soy gravy. If you’re looking for a hearty (post-hangover cure perhaps?) brunch dish, this should be your pick. Continue reading

MEW Izakaya: my new favorite late night dining spot

MEW Izakaya
MEW Izakaya
53 West 35th Street (between 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10016

SOOO EXCITED! Rarely do I go to a new restaurant and know immediately that I’ll be a regular from that moment on. MEW Izakaya is now my favorite late night dining spot. LAW and I tend to eat really late (my terrible work schedule doesn’t help) so I’m so so so happy to have found MEW.

MEW Izakaya
Izakayas are Japanese late night drinking spots that also serve food. MEW is an amazing izakaya tucked underground in K-Town (you literally walk downstairs). Most of the crowd fits under the “hip asian” category (think shaved heads with pony tails, denim on denim, and beanies that sit straight up on your head). The menu is an awesome mash up of Japanese foods with Western flair. I literally am going to go back again and again until I’ve tried everything. Continue reading

Lan Larb: pretty damn legit new Thai restaurant

Lan Larb
Lan Larb
637 2nd Ave (between 34th and 35th street)
New York, NY 10016

Murray Hill is completely over saturated with Thai places, most of which I qualify as TOTS (take-out Thai standard – as in decent pad thai, pad see ew, and basil rice). I rarely order anything else because TOTS places don’t have much else to offer that is good. I miss dishes like steamed lemongrass fish, phat kaphrao (this spicy stir fried ground pork with lots of basil), and LARB. Luckily, a place called Lan Larb opened up near my place. I generally think that if you name your restaurant the name of a food, you are damn good at making that food. Decided to check out the larb!

This (above) is larb. Larb is actually a Laotian dish of minced meat, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted ground rice, and lots of sweet raw onions. It was delicious here. The dish has a great combo of sweetness from the fish sauce and onions, acidity from the lime, and spice from the… spice. The roasted rice was delicious and added a great crunch. I could totally just have this with a bowl of rice and be very, very happy.

Continue reading

Cafe Mogador: NYC’s pioneer Moroccan restaurant

Cafe Mogador Cafe Mogador
101 St. Marks Place (between Ave A and 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009

Cafe Mogador is the definition of the type of restaurant that I love. It has all the right components to keep me going back again and again. I’m almost sad that I just discovered it now because it is just that good. It satisfies my criteria of:

  1. Having really great food (duh)
  2. Having a speciality food (I hate places that do “all things” because it is impossible to do all things well) – Moroccan specifically (think tagines, cous cous, hummus, babaganoush…)
  3. Having really reasonable prices (~$20 an entree and ~$10 an appetizer)
  4. Having the right “mood” that  pauses time and allows you to get lost in your food and conversation

Cafe Mogador
The drinks are also strong. There’s really nothing not to like! It’s been around since 1983 so is pretty much an East Village landmark. A colleague of mine said his wife grew up going to Cafe Mogador as a little girl. I can’t imagine growing up in East Village but if it involved coming to Cafe Mogador every weekend, I’d be pretty happy about it.

Cafe Mogador
LAW, B.A., B.P., H.W., and I came on a Friday night and definitely waited a good hour before we got a table. It was warm out (YES warm nights!) so it wasn’t so bad. We started with the Hummus Falafel Platter with green sauce ($12). The hummus is the best I’ve had in the city, not quite at Jordanian hummus level, but very, very, good. Not as machine-made smooth as store-bought… FRESH is how I would describe it. Fresh, light, and creamy. The falafel was also the kind I like: small, crisp on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Hate it when falafels are over fried and have a thick crust and dense filling. Continue reading

Apartment 13: Japanese, Caribbean, and American

Apartment 13 Apartment 13
113 Loisada Ave (Ave C and 7th Street)
New York, NY 10009

I was lucky enough to meet CutiePatroller last week over dinner at Apartment 13. CutiePatroller is a NYC food blogger recently started working for Tabelog. Tabelog is a review site curated by other food bloggers. The idea is that the reviews you read will be of higher quality and will contain better photos so you can make a more informed decision. You might remember, but I was a judge for Tabelog a while ago for one of their many restaurant awards. It was awesome to connect with CutiePatroller because a) I don’t really ever connect with other food bloggers and it’s great to learn about their processes and challenges; and b) she’s super cool and fun AND has had her own little boutique clothing store (Cutie Room) in NoHo. Needless to say, I had a great time! Now onto the food!

Apartment 13
Apartment 13 serves up fusion Japanese, Caribbean, and American cuisine. It’s well rated on Yelp and sounded like it has interesting flavor combinations so I was pretty excited to try it. We started with Mimi’s Maryland Crabcake with coconut crema, sour mango, and scotch bonnet (don’t know what that is) ($13). $13 for a single crabcake is definitely on the pricier side. Given the price and that it was pretty mediocre, I wouldn’t recommend it. It came not cold nor hot, symbolic of our meal to come. At least it was packed with crab and not just filled with breading.  Continue reading

THE ULTIMATE ICELAND FOOD (and tour) GUIDE

IcelandOkay, maybe not the ultimate, but I think pretty close to it. LAW, G.B., N.T., and I spontaneously decided to go to Iceland over Easter weekend. We left on a Wednesday night and came back Monday night. In our typical way of travel, we jam packed the days with as much as possible. Since most of you actually reading this post are probably also planning to go to Iceland, I’ll share with you our itinerary first and then go into the food. Since this isn’t a travel blog, I won’t go into details about the specific sites. But I think the schedule we did will help you plan. If food is all you’re here for, skip ahead!

IcelandFirst of all, Iceland was amazing. If you’re on the fence, I hope I push you over to the other side so that you go. The place is unlike any other that I’ve been to. Crazy weather, endless waterfalls, miles and miles of Mars-like terrain – do go. Here’s my itinerary, which I think was pretty efficient and allowed us to see most things available from Reykjavik.

IcelandDay 1
Rented a car from the airport and drove to Reykjavik (where our hotel was). On our way to Reykjavik, we stopped by: small town where former U.S. troops hung out, The Blue Lagoon (2-3 hours of hanging out in a geothermal pool, very cool), and The Bridge Between Two Continents (yes, that’s what it’s actually called), which is a bridge that connects the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This is probably the most efficient way to spend your time because all of this stuff is on the way to Reykjavik.

Day 2
The Golden Circle, which is a loop that takes you to multiple iconic sites. We saw the Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall (epic), Geysir, and Kerio (a volcanic crater lake – underrated).

Day 3
Drove along the southern coast and saw two beautiful waterfalls off of the highway, the Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Both are awesome in their own way. One has a beautiful LOTR-esque path behind it that you can walk through. Another is hidden behind a narrow canyon. You literally hike through and immediately find yourself standing up against this epic waterfall. After these two waterfalls, head towards the town of Vik (which isn’t that cool) but is right by the awesome Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

Day 4

We did a day hike at Glymur, which leads you to the highest waterfall in Iceland. If you’re into more treacherous hikes, I would definitely do this one. We forded many rivers and hauled ourselves up the mountain using various ropes and chains drilled into the mountain. I would recommend taking a picture of the map at the start of the hike because the trail gets a bit confusing.

Day 5
Hung out in Reykjavik. Went to the best rated cafe (Reykjavik is supposed to have really good coffee) and ate our way through the day.

ONTO THE FOOD! Continue reading

Shi’s Kitchen: Braised Chili Fish (Dou Ban Yu)

Dou Ban Fish
Man, Chinese New Year came and went so quickly. CNY is one of my favorite holidays because it brings together all my close friends and forces us to stuff our faces. It’s like Thanksgiving where the only purpose is to eat (and be thankful) but with better food (sorry).

So, on Chinese New Year, you pretty much HAVE to have a whole fish because of the Chinese saying “年年有余” or “every year you will have a surplus”. The word for “surplus” sounds like the word “fish” so… we eat fish to ensure that we’ll have more than enough to eat for the rest of the year (the culture really does revolve around food). You also can’t finish the fish (to show that there is, in fact, a surplus).

Dou Ban Fish
On the morning of my Chinese New Year party, I went to HK Supermarket in Chinatown and picked up a Live Striped Bass. The fish monger helped me gut and scale the fish so I didn’t have to attempt the mess at home. Continue reading