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:
- Having really great food (duh)
- 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…)
- Having really reasonable prices (~$20 an entree and ~$10 an appetizer)
- Having the right “mood” that pauses time and allows you to get lost in your food and conversation
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.
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 Cafe Mogador: NYC’s pioneer Moroccan restaurant
2512 Steinway St
Astoria, NY 11103
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been sick with the flu, hence, the lack of publishing. I haven’t eaten much other than soup and cough drops for days now. I’m feeling better though! Writing this post made me long for the days my taste buds could differentiate between unique flavors. Recently, I had to go to Astoria for a work project and had some time for myself to eat whatever I wanted. A friend of mine, Miss A.M., who is obsessed with all things Egyptian highly recommended Kebab Café, mostly for the delicious food but also for Ali, the owner and chef.
I came in when it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so I had the restaurant to myself. Ali was preparing food. The “kitchen” was tiny, taking up just a small part of the already tiny restaurant. This is Ali here, behind the mound of fresh vegetables. Throughout my meal, we spoke at great lengths about his passion for food. He says he was born in the kitchen and that to truly understand someone, you have to understand their food. “This is Alexandrian food, not Egyptian,” he made sure to mention to me may times. When I told him I was Chinese, he smiled knowingly. “You guys know how to appreciate food.”
I couldn’t stop looking at all the beautiful vegetables he was working with.
Some slow-cooked meat with lots of veggies he was preparing for dinner. Continue reading A Delicious Plate of Alexandrian Food in Astoria
Al-Amir Mohammed St Downtown
Amman 11110, Jordan
I’ve been back from Jordan for nearly a week now and still salivate at the thought of eating hummus and pita from Hashem. Prior to my trip to Jordan, I naturally looked up all the food places and foods I needed to try and found that Hashem was the only restaurant that consistently showed up on everyone’s “must try” list. Hashem showed up on TripAdivsor, NYTimes, niche little blogs, Wiki Travel, and even Arab news sites. It is frequented by upper, middle, and lower class Jordanian locals, as well as tourists. One journalist described Hashem as “a gateway for bridging the city’s well-off west end and its poorer eastern neighbourhoods.” It opened in 1956 and has been extremely popular ever since. The hummus recipe was brought over by the Palestinian founder, Hashem Turk, whose family owned a restaurant on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Israel.
In our one week trip where we were only in Amman for maybe two full days, we had Hashem four times. The first time was for dinner the night we landed. Second time was for breakfast the next day. Third time was the night before we were leaving Jordan. Fourth was the morning after at the airport where we savored our little tub of hummus that we had purchased to-go the night before. As someone who is almost morally opposed to eating the same thing when traveling, I know how ridiculous this is. But Hashem is really that good.
There’s no menu. You have the choice of creamy hummus, chunky hummus, and fuul (fava bean). Every meal is served with pita on pieces of paper (easy clean-up to say the least) and complimentary pickles, fresh basil, onion, tomatoes, and very sweet tea.
The star of the show is easily the hummus. This is the creamiest and freshest hummus I have ever tasted in my life. The chick peas are ground super finely and then mixed with tahini (sesame paste), plenty of lemon juice, and hyper rich tasting olive oil. It is served with finely chopped green peppers and whole chick peas in the center. The hummus has the right amount of salt and tang to shock your tastebuds, only to then be washed down by large pieces of pita bread. The hummus is more acidic than I’m used to in the US but is balanced by how damn creamy it is. I can’t even fully describe what it tastes like but trying to decipher the taste by memory is making me salivate. Continue reading Best Hummus of My LIFE (sorry, it’s in Jordan).
128 E 7th St
(between Avenue A & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009
Started with this glass goblet of some Greek wine that the waiter suggested. I told him I like my wines like how I like Beyonce – full bodied, which is exactly what this wine was. Great for a cold spring night.Our meal began with complimentary piping hot soft pita with creamy hummus on the side. This is something I would pay for as an appetizer. It tasted even better because it was free.
We ordered the Htapothi Scharas ($16), a classic grilled, marinated octopus with a balsamic reduction sauce and capers. It is the most expensive appetizer on the menu but is so highly recommended by all Yelpers that I had to get it. And they were so right. The octopus was DELICIOUS. Continue reading Pylos, a Greek gem in the East Village