Tag Archives: fried rice

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 Sakamai’s new brunch menu is BOMB

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 MEW Izakaya: my new favorite late night dining spot

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 Lan Larb: pretty damn legit new Thai restaurant

Big Wong King: a place for a fast meal of Canto BBQ and congee

Big Wong KingBig Wong King (between Canal and Bayard St)
67 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

After buying my groceries from HK Supermarket (you can check out my grocery list here, where I can average $2.33 per dinner per head), I always grab a meal somewhere nearby before heading back home. Most recently, I went with my mom to Big Wong King just south of Canal Street. I read that their BBQ is supposed to be pretty fantastic.

Big Wong King We started with Pork Congee (or porridge) with Thousand Year Old Egg (aka. preserved duck egg) ($4.00). This is one of my favorite congees to get. The egg, as gross as it may sound to those who have never had it, is super tasty and adds a lot of savory flavor to the congee.

Big Wong KingCongee here was nice and thick. Not too salty. Would be great for a rainy or sick day. Bowl was much larger than it looks because I don’t have a comparison. It was about the size of a large ramen bowl.

Big Wong KingIt was already after 8pm when we got to the restaurant, so they were out of the chicken and roast pork. We settled for a plate of roast duck ($5.50). The duck was good, but not amazing. Skin was not as crisp as it could be. Meat was flavorful, but mostly through the soy sauce that was poured over it. Soy sauce was way too salty so the pieces soaking at the bottom required large amounts of rice to wash it down. The cuts of duck were huge and very filling. My mom and I barely finished half of it. Continue reading Big Wong King: a place for a fast meal of Canto BBQ and congee

Yunnan Kitchen: decently tasty but also pretentious

Yunnan Kitchen
79 Clinton St
(between Rivington St & Delancey St)
New York, NY 10002

I’m not completely against non-traditional Chinese food. I love Baohaus, especially their fried chicken bao and fried fish coffin bao, which are both not traditional Chinese dishes. I also love Mission Chinese, a hip little modern Chinese place that even has a kale salad. That has got to be the least Chinese thing ever. But I still love it. ‘Cause they do it right. It’s hip in the right ways. They have crispy pig ears (totally Chinese) and use Old Bay seasoning (totally not Chinese). Danny Bowien experiments with all kinds of Eastern and Western flavors and brings them together in exciting, unpretentious ways.

Yunnan Kitchen, on the other hand, pretends to be traditional but also wants to be hip and pretentious. The space is occupied by mostly non-Asians (no offense) and the menu encourages sharing “delicious small plates.” Nuh uh. Chinese people don’t share small plates. We share big plates. Pet peeve of mine. Pictured above is the Cold Noodles ($12) with ground pork, pickled mustard greens, cilantro, and peanuts. This is a pretty classic dish – spicy, sweet, and nutty – but $12 is ridiculous for a tiny bowl of limp noodles. Check out Xi’an for some serious noodle damage.


We also shared the Beef Tartare ($13) with chili oil, green cabbage, and rice cracker. I liked the rice cracker and green cabbage combo but also felt like the portions were way too small for a $13 dish. The beef was lightly flavored. Nothing too memorable.


These Stir Fried Mushrooms ($11) with sawtooth herb, ham, and peppers was probably my favorite dish from the night. There were a number of different kinds of mushrooms sautéed with a smoked ham and spicy green peppers (green long horns?). My only suggestion to Yunnan Kitchen is to serve it on a sizzling cast iron plate. It smells so good, it deserves to come out crackling.  Continue reading Yunnan Kitchen: decently tasty but also pretentious

Kenka – open until 4am… you know what that means.


Kenka
25 Saint Marks Pl
(between 3rd Ave and Astor Place)
New York, NY 10003

New York City night owls, prepare to meet your next favorite drunken food spot.  Think cheap Japanese tapas… the menu is huge, featuring a wide variety of foods like yakitori (Japanese bbq on a stick), grilled fish, fried udon, ramen, fried rice, soup, and even mochi ice cream.  AND it is open until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.  The food is not ridiculously mind-blowing but it is pretty good… and it becomes ridiculously mind-blowing when you’re intoxicated, of course.  I actually recently went just for dinner and so was finally able to take pictures.  Pictured above is the Yaki Udon, which is fried udon noodle with pork, squid and vegetables ($6.50).  The noodles are thick and chewy.  Pork was fatty and flavorful.


Here is the Yakitori BBQ Chicken ($4.00).  It is nothing compared to Yakitori Totto, but certainly serves its purpose.  Meat was not super tender nor tough.  Sauce was a typical terriyaki kind of sauce.  I didn’t like it too much, but my friend M.B. wiped the plate clean.

Continue reading Kenka – open until 4am… you know what that means.

Chinatown Hangover Cure at Congee Village

Congee Village
100 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

 

If you are an American Born Chinese and grew up eating in Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, Congee Village will make you nostalgic for your childhood.  Congee Village is the quintessential Chinatown restaurant.  It is Cantonese (early Chinese immigrants were mostly Cantonese so most Chinatowns now are dominated by a Cantonese population), uses huge gold wallpaper adorned with dragons and phoenixes, has plenty of large, round table seating, and has an all male wait staff that wears black slacks, white shirts, and little black vests.  If you’re hungover, Congee Village will provide the hearty dishes and watered down tea to make things right again.  I happened to be both an ABC and hungover on a Sunday afternoon (well, I’m always an ABC) and so Congee Village was doubly perfect for me.

I seriously woke up, with a headache, craving Salted Fish and Diced Chicken Fried Rice ($9.50).  If you’ve never had it, you’d think I was weird.  But if you have, you’d completely understand.  I needed the oily goodness of second-day jasmine rice fried up with chicken, peas, scallions, and most of all, salted fish.  Good fried rice is always made with second-day rice because the extra day in the fridge* lets the rice dry out.  Fried rice always involves some sort of liquid (oil, some kind of sauce, or cooking wine) and if you start out with a plump batch of rice, the additional liquid will just make your rice mushy.  If you can’t fry each individual grain of rice, you know you have a problem.  The chicken is actually kind of useless in my opinion and I’d be completely okay leaving it out… but it is part of the traditional style of this canto dish so Congee Village leaves it in.  Chicken is very difficult to make well… a couple seconds too long on the stove and you have a dry stringy wok of diced chicken.  I do love the peas but according to T.W., they are not actually part of the traditional dish.  Americans eat a lot of peas, so one day, someone just decided to add them to every fried rice possible.  It adds color and I think it tastes great.  It gives a bit of sweetness to counter the salty fish… my favorite part of the dish.  Yes, salted fish smells kind of like … feet … but it tastes like salt on crack.  There isn’t a whole lot of it in the rice, which makes it all that much more special.  Tiny pieces of the fish are sprinkled throughout just to give you enough to make you yearn for more.  Serious umami factor here.

Continue reading Chinatown Hangover Cure at Congee Village

Soy Sauce Fried Rice (酱油炒饭)

My grandma would look down on this dish because Sichuan-ers rarely use soy sauce in their cooking, and NEVER in rice. Soy sauce is more of a northern thing. Beijingers, for example, love their soy sauce. Well, I grew up in Beijing so I guess it is okay for me to make soy sauce fried rice. Had just a bowl of leftover rice (the best kind for making fried rice because it has dried up. If you use fresh rice, you will inevitably end up with a mushier fried rice where the individual rice kernels are rounded at the ends… Do you know what I’m talking about? I notice weird things like that. Anyway!). Scrambled up an egg, added the rice with soy sauce, a little brown sugar, garlic powder, and salt.