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.
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
Ciao For Now
523 E 12th St
(between Avenue B & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
I discovered another yummy (and super healthy) brunch place in the East Village area. It’s tucked off to the side between A and B so is away from the hustle and bustle of the crazy EV hipsters. The restaurant ends up having a very homey and small-town feel, almost like Boston. Ciao For Now is neighbors with Northern Spy Food Company, but is not as “famous” and never has a wait.
I read all about their Almond Brioche French Toast ($9.50 with fresh OJ or grapefruit juice) before coming and knew I had to get it. Brioche in general is amazing for french toast because it has a concentration of egg and butter, making the bread slightly puffy and yes, QQ (chewy). Almond Brioche is just brioche with almond cream and a sweet almond crusted topping. You really can’t go wrong with this french toast. However, the beauty of what Ciao For Now did is that the french toast isn’t heavy at all. It was buttery and delicious but somehow manages to stay light and healthy. How? I really don’t know.
We also shared the Organic Steel Cut Oats with brown sugar, currants, and cranberries ($4.25). I love love love steel cut oats because they are chewier and have more of a bite to them than regular rolled (or quick) oats. This is because steel cut oats are pretty much straight up oats chopped into smaller pieces. Rolled oats are oats that have been flattened by a roller and have had their outer “bran” skin removed. The result is a softer, less textured oat. Bran is tougher but also more nutritious (yay fiber) and I just prefer the texture. The Ciao For Now bowl was a hearty bowl of steel cut oats with a little too much brown sugar. Luckily, it wasn’t mixed in so I removed most of it before devouring the bowl. Though it came with a side of milk, the oats were already very creamy and delicious. The oats were perfectly cooked so that they weren’t overly soggy nor were they still too hard. This was probably the best oatmeal I’ve ever had…
109 St. Marks Pl
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
I wanted something healthy, but not a salad nor sandwich nor sushi. I didn’t want to wait in ridiculous lines for an eggs benedict but also didn’t want a bad brunch. After much debate (per usual), LAW and I decided to try Hummus Place right in St. Marks. I knew that hummus was healthy and I read some good things… my main qualms were that I couldn’t imagine having hummus as a meal… and LAW really wanted to try this place and I was in a disagreeing mood… but he won this one. Continue reading
216 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Shabu Tatsu serves up traditional shabu shabu, aka. Japanese hot pot. Its name comes from the sound of swishing your meats in the hot water. Unlike Chinese hot pot, shabu shabu is much lighter. It uses a dashi broth made from just hot water and seaweed. Chinese hot pot is heavier and often uses a hearty pork bone broth or an extremely spicy beef stock with various seasonings. I prefer Japanese hot pot because the light broth cooks the meat and vegetables without masking their natural flavors. Though, because the broth has no real seasoning effects, you need very fresh ingredients and deliciously fragrant dipping sauces. Normally shabu shabu is served with ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce. In addition to the sauces, Shabu Tatsu also brought freshly chopped scallions and daikon to mix in.
We ordered the Prime Rib-Eye Beef Shabu-Shabu Dinner Course, which was $26 per person. $26 is a lot to pay for cooking yourself some veggies and meat in a boiling pot of hot water, but Shabu Tatsu really showed me how it is completely worth it. The set included an amazing vegetable platter and of course, a big plate of prime rib-eye. The vegetables were extremely fresh – no stringy veggies to be found. The veggie platter also included tofu and Kishimen (wide and flat wheat noodles) and Malony (fat, rounded, and translucent noodles made of potato and corn starch).
The prime rib-eye was cut in the perfect thickness (not thin to the point of papery non-existence… something you find in some shabu places… but still thin enough to be cooked in just a few seconds… and thick enough to taste like meaty meat). Because shabu meats are served raw, they have to be high enough quality to be eaten raw… this is definitely not enforced in certain places. Shabu Tatsu’s meat is very high quality, smooth and did not contain any knots or stringy bits.