Tag Archives: japanese

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

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

House of Small Wonder

House of Small Wonder
House of Small Wonder
77 N 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Attention fellow friends who love cute little non-traditional brunch places: I have found your next brunch spot. It’s just off the L train in Williamsburg. House of Small Wonder is a pseudo European cafe with Japanese influences. You all know my opinion of eggs bennies and scrambled eggs (rarely worth the trek out for brunch unless you’re Prune) and my deep love affair with Japanese brunches (see Sakamai and Shabu Tatsu). House of Small Wonder is another Japanese inspired brunch place to add to the list. Its menu consists of both “euro” items like sandwiches (e.g. fig+brie+apple sandwich, salumi arugula sandwich), croissant french toasts, and croque madames, as well as Japanese inspired dishes like Okinawan taco rice, tsukune don (meatball + rice), and sashimi zuke don (sashimi + rice).

House of Small Wonder
It’s decor is also the cutest! You basically enter a little greenhouse with a REAL LIVING TREE in the center of the restaurant. Every wooden surface, faded piece of art, pot of plant, and trendy diner (see B.J. in this one) is Instagram worthy. K.C., B.J., R.Y., and I got to the restaurant before it even opened (10am on weekends) to ensure we got in without a wait.

House of Small Wonder
We each started with the Lavender Latte ($5). This is one deliciously smooth, creamy, latte with a hint of lavender. It has just the right amount of sweetness to feel like a real latte and not a dessert. I give it 10 out of 10 points for warming me physically and emotionally (lots of feelings were expressed at this brunch <3). For those looking for more of a boozy brunch experience, they also offer a cocktail list with concoctions such as fizzy pear, lavender lemonade, and tipsy latte. K.C., B.Y., R.Y. – next time we do boozy?

House of Small Wonder
K.C. and I both ordered the Sashimi Zuke Don ($15), which consisted of soy sauce marinated sashimi of the day, avocado, sweet mushrooms, sesame, and egg served over sushi rice. The ratio of toppings to rice was perfect. Every bite was like a perfect bite of sushi really. The quality of fish was solid (not the highest grade but also zero fishiness). The rice was great. Highly recommend. Continue reading

Hoppy!

Sakamai | Hoppy
Hoppy Happy Hour @ Sakamai
157 Ludlow St. (across from Pianos)
New York, NY 10002

Sakamai | HoppyTo continue the Sakamai love, a couple weeks ago, Sakamai graciously invited me to a party they were hosting for Hoppy, a Japanese beer-like drink that just launched in the US.  The party was super interesting … unlike any party I had ever been to! There were small bites (by Sakamai’s Executive Chef, Akiyama-san) and drinks paired with performances by a Japanese comic storyteller and a traditional enka singer (?!). How many of you have been to a party like this? #blogperks

Sakamai | Hoppy
Hoppy tastes like a light, sweet-ish wheat beer (my kind of beer) though is technically not a beer because it doesn’t have purines… not really sure what that means but apparently purines are super unhealthy (can cause metabolic diseases like gout?!) and exist in all beer (watch out, America – beer bellies aren’t the only side effects from beer). It’s low carb and low cal and often spiked with shochu, making it much stronger than it seems. I’m excited for the day NYC’s bros go to bars and scream “HOPPY!!!!!!!!” to the bartenders when they order rounds of Hoppy for their fellow bros. Gotta love the name (at one point we all cheered “HOPPY!” at the party – it was amazing.)

Sakamai | Hoppy
The food we had was delicious. If you ever find yourself hosting a fancy party with a budget and need hors d’oeuvres (yup, had to google the spelling for that one), skip the usual catering and beg Sakamai to cater for you (I have no idea if they even offer this service). The bite sized food we were served were all delicious. This here is a chicken meatball. 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

Nishida Sho-Ten: FAMAZING gyoza and delicious, authentic ramen

Nishida Sho-Ten
Nishida Sho-Ten
302 E 49th St (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10017

I’m really tired of eating at fancy places (#firstworldproblems). I was about to blog about my recent trip to Bouley, then just got so bored writing about the smoked Alaskan salmon with Tasmanian mustard seed, creme fraiche, coconut sugar, and gluten free crouton (yes that is all in one dish, the amuse bouche actually – not even a real dish). I’ve come to accept that as much as I have an appreciation for places like Bouley and Jean Georges, I get most excited about eating, taking photos, and blogging about homey hole-in-the-wall places like this one!

Nishida Sho-Ten
I like eating where hip Asians eat too I guess.

Nishida Sho-Ten
So, Nishida Sho-Ten is a cute little ramen place in Midtown East. There are always diners eating there, but I’ve never had to wait in line for a seat before. Continue reading

Brushstroke: delicious and filling fancy pants lunch

Brushstroke
Brushstroke
30 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10013

What started out to be a painfully awkward lunch at Brushstroke became a surprisingly delicious one. LAW and I were invited by his parents’ friends for lunch at this fancy David Bouley restaurant. The restaurant is spacious and quiet (too quiet, though the bottle of wine fixed that). We each had the $55 lunch tasting menu, which came with an amuse bouche (above), an appetizer, entree, rice bowl, and dessert (lots of food!). The amuse bouche was very tasty and light. Each bite was extremely different: one with a yuzu gelee, another with a smokey salmon, and the third with a cauliflower puree and truffle. Delicious.

Brushstroke
There are  five different apps to choose from. I chose the Pacific Jumbo Oyster with uni, bay scallop, and meyer lemon foam (yes, that egg-looking thing is actually a light, airy lemony foam…). This is one of the most umami things I’ve ever had. One bite with fresh oyster, uni, AND scallop?! *faints* So good. 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

Sushi Tsushima: deeelicious nigiri and soba

Sushi Tsushima Sushi Tsushima
210 East 44th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Aves)
New York, NY 10017

LAW and I have recently discovered a whole slew of great authentic Japanese restaurants around 41st to 44th street on 2nd to 3rd Ave (more on the blog to come!). I always knew about Sushi Yasuda, but didn’t realize that its neighbors were all super legit Japanese restaurants as well. Sushi Tsushima is one of them.

LAW and I were craving sushi one night and didn’t want any of the cheap sushi places Murray Hill is saturated with. Literally walk down any block in the area and you’ll basically hear chants and sake glasses falling into beer. Fratty, cheap, sushi places defines Murray Hill. Walk up north a bit and interestingly enough, you’ll find a little Japan. Part of why I love Manhattan is even though it’s pretty tiny, turn a corner and you can be in a completely different world.

Sushi Tsushima
We first ordered the Moriwase C set ($31 with soup and salad), which included nigiris (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and eel) and one roll of your choosing. We picked the Blue Fin Tuna roll, mostly for its value (you get to pick any roll!). The fish was fresh. Rice was great, though I prefer a little more vinegar in my sushi rice. The set certainly whet my appetite and reminded me to never eat $5 rolls again.

Sushi Tsushima
We then deviated from the sets and ordered nigiris one by one. Clockwise, we had the Seared Salmon with Lemon and Salt ($4.50 each), Yellowtail with Yuzu Pepper ($4.75 each), Sea Eel with sauce ($6.00 each), Seared Mackerel ($6.00 each), and Uni ($8.00 each). These nigiris are much more expensive than the set, and for good reason… All of them were great, but here are the specific reviews in the order from least favorite to favorite: 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