Tag Archives: japanese

Fushimi: French inspired Japanese food

Fushimi
Fushimi
475 Driggs Ave (right off of the L train in Williamsburg)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Doesn’t look like NYC right? Fushimi is a gigantic restaurant (in NYC terms) tucked a couple streets behind the Bedford Ave stop on the L train in Williamsburg. I wouldn’t have known about it had I not been invited to sample their menu recently. I brought LAW along with me who also played Mr. Photographer for me. And let me tell you, it was quite an experience. 

Fushimi
The place is decorated like a lounge. Red and blue lights everywhere. I was told to ask for Sunny when I got in. So I did, and the hostess said, “you must be Tiffany,” as she curtsied/bowed to me. Service is serious. We waited for a couple minutes before Sunny showed up in a tight-fitted suit. 

Fushimi
He brought us to our table, which was in a booth with red tassels that hung off the top rim of the ceiling. The decor was very stereotypically “Asian” – I almost felt like I was in Hong Kong at a mafia-run lounge. Sunny had the chef prepare us a special menu that included some specials they planned to debut over Mother’s Day weekend. The food is fusion, which is often way too sweet and drenched in sauces for me. Fushimi was different, and was less fusion than French-inspired Japanese food. Sunny also explained that a lot of people tend to think of Japanese food as just raw fish, which he tries to dispel through Fushimi’s menu. Fushimi’s menu is therefore mostly cooked food. Something Sunny hopes will appeal more to Westerners or older folks who are not used to eating raw foods.

FushimiAll the menu items are Japanese inspired but certainly don’t stay within the realm of Japanese food. LAW started with the West Meets East cocktail ($10), which is a whiskey based cocktail that is very, very strong. Definitely a good deal given the quality of the drink.

Fushimi
I started with the Yuzu Citrus Martini, which is a deeeelicious girly drink. Yuzu is a citrus fruit commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It kind of tastes like a grapefruit and mandarin orange hybrid… very great for a cocktail because the bitterness cuts out the alcohol flavor.

Fushimi
Our food adventure begins with the Prawn Frites ($15) with coconut and macadamia crusted jumbo prawns and homemade lemon tartar sauce. The side salad was dressed in a yuzu wasabi vinaigrette.

Fushimi
The prawns were ginormous. The photo doesn’t do it justice because you have nothing to compare it to. The prawn was sweet, tender, and very meaty on the inside. I couldn’t really taste the macadamia crust but the coconut added a nice flakey texture to the crust. Good stuff.

Continue reading Fushimi: French inspired Japanese food

Gaming the System at Soba-Ya

Soba-Ya
Soba-Ya
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

This will be short. All of you know that I LOVE Soba-Ya. If you follow me on Instagram (@whatshisees), you’ll see a photo of it nearly every weekend. The lunch menu is deeeelicious, filling, healthy, and sooo damn tasty. We’ve gone so many times we’ve figured out how to maximize our food with the least amount of money.

Soba-Ya
The restaurant offers a lunch menu where you pick a rice bowl of some kind and a soba or udon for about $15. BUUT with lots of trial and error, LAW and I have found that certain bowls are way more worth it as regular bowls (non-lunch-menu), and others more worth it as lunch-sized-bowls. So, we always get the Sake Oyako don (above) regular size and the Seared Tuna bowl lunch size. The salmon regular bowl is way bigger than the lunch one, whereas the tuna bowl is about the same size. For the lunch size, you can ask for extra soba for just $3.50. This way, LAW and I can share the lunch portion soba and feel like we have two portions.  Continue reading Gaming the System at Soba-Ya

Cocoron – Where Hearty Meets Healthy

Cocoron
Cocoron
61 Delancey St
(between Eldridge St & Allen St)
New York, NY 10002

It’s been snowing for hours. It’s cold. I’ve had too much greasy food lately so ramen is out of the question. I could have hot pot… OR I could have soba. Hot soba. Soba is very difficult to make (unlike ramen or udon), which is why bad soba is SO bad. Bad soba is usually very grainy and brittle. Cocoron’s soba is smooth, stretchy, and has a slightly roasted buckwheat flavor.

Too bad I’m really just reliving my hot soba moment through writing this blog post, because there is no way in hell I’m trekking to LES for this right now. But if you’re in the area, you should check out Cocoron. I blogged about it a long time ago, and it still remains one of my favorite little noodle shops in the city.

Cocoron
The kitchen takes up a good half of the entire restaurant and is bordered with a bar. There are maybe four other tables and that’s it. Tiny, cozy little place.

Cocoron
I always ask to sit at the bar when there is one because I love watching the kitchen action. There’s always so much going on. Like, that saucepan that is about to slip off and fall to the ground, spilling all the precious broth in great dramatic fashion. Continue reading Cocoron – Where Hearty Meets Healthy

Nagi Ramen: 12-hour sardine broth with wide noodles

November and December of 2013 was a ton of traveling. I went to Italy, North Carolina, Beijing, Dubai, and Japan. The next couple of posts will be mostly from these travels (in no particular order), especially since winter in New York is very sad (dirty, dark, and depressing). Once the weather warms up a bit, I’ll be back on the New York grind.

Nagi RamenNagi Niboshi
1-3-1 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

While in Japan, I was on the hunt for the best ramen as well as new kinds of ramen I have not had. I thought I hit a jackpot when I found Nagi as it is consistently very well rated and is unique. Nagi serves up flat, wide noodles (like pappardelle) with traditional wavy noodles and has a distinctive extra-umami broth. The niboshi broth is boiled for 12 hours with dried sardines. For those of you who hate sardines, I know you hate it for its fishiness but the 12 hours of boiling kills that fishiness. LAW, who hates all things fishy, didn’t even notice. The broth is just very fragrant and… umami.

Nagi Ramen
Like a lame tourist, (it’s hard for me to keep my cool, even though this is my third time in Japan), I was excited to use the ticket vending machine to purchase my ramen. I was about as excited as that cartoon in the background.

Nagi Ramen
The ramen dudes were super jolly as they made noodles for their customers. They would poke fun at each other and their customers (me) while serving. They didn’t speak English, but we managed because we didn’t care what they gave us. Everything looked great.

Nagi Ramen
Ugh. Yum. I got the one with everything in it: thick, soft slices of pork belly, seaweed, bamboo shoots, scallions, and a soft-boiled egg. Continue reading Nagi Ramen: 12-hour sardine broth with wide noodles

AMAZING Weekend Lunch Deal at Shabu Tatsu

Shabu Tatsu
Shabu Tatsu
216 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003

I decided I love weekend lunches. Not brunches. But lunches. I love eggs but rarely feel that I’ll find a good enough eggs benedict to wait in line for… that being said, I recently found a place where I don’t have to wait in line.

I digress. Soba-Ya has always been a favorite of mine. LAW and I go almost every weekend for our weekly dose of delicious salmon sashimi, torched tuna, unagi over rice, and cold dipping soba. The price is just right, always under $20 each with tax and tip. Recently, we decided we had been going to Soba-Ya TOO much and decided to venture out to some other lunch deals in East Village.

Shabu TatsuWe searched Yelp and found Shabu Tatsu, which I always love going for dinner for Japanese hot pot. We found that they also have a weekend lunch menu that seemed too good to be true. They have these lunch sets that range from $12 to $14 and come with egg drop soup and salad.  Continue reading AMAZING Weekend Lunch Deal at Shabu Tatsu

what shi said: Huey Cheng, owner of Kura and all around BAMF

KuraFINALLY! I’m so excited to share the first of many what shi said interviews that I will be doing with all the food industry BAMFs. To start the whole shebang, we have Huey Cheng, owner of the very loved Kura restaurant in East Village. Kura was recently written up in the NYTimes, and if you haven’t read it, you need to right now. It profiles Chef Ishizuka (above) so very well, accurately depicting his joyfulness and candid style of making sushi. What the NYTimes article does lack is a profile of the man who started it all: Huey. (Huey is camera shy, so here is a photo of the amazing chirashi bowl Kura offers in place of him.) Continue reading what shi said: Huey Cheng, owner of Kura and all around BAMF

SakaMai for Tabelog’s Blogger Event!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASakaMai
157 Ludlow St
(between Stanton St & Rivington St)
New York, NY 10002

As some of you may know, I was invited to be a judge for Tabelog, a Japanese restaurant review site that is huge in Japan and just starting to make its mark here. The reviews and ratings are generated by aggregating information from the top X amount of bloggers in a given area. The ratings are therefore meant to be more legit. “For Foodies By Foodies” is the idea. I wonder if the reviews will be lower or higher than average Yelp reviews… food bloggers are definitely more critical than the average Joe, which makes me think reviews will be harsher on Tabelog. On the other hand, bloggers also are more likely to be friends with folks in the restaurant business or be invited to blogger events, after which they are almost required to give higher ratings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor example, Tabelog hosted a blogger meet and greet at SakaMai, a newish Japanese restaurant in LES that opened earlier this year. The entire restaurant was taken out for this private, excluuuuuusive event. I felt pretty boss rolling in with my plus one, Y.N., getting handed a fresh deck of business cards Tabelog graciously made for all of us, and having my photo taken like a celebrity. Okay, my head may have been in the clouds at this point, but I really felt great having my blog be recognized and found!

But back to my point. SakaMai provided us with an open bar of all kinds of sake, wine, beer, and cocktails, along with seven dishes to sample (or stuff your face with if you’re me…). As I am writing this, I feel pressure to give all praise to SakaMai because Tabelog paid for my gluttony that night. But I assure you, dearest readers, I will not. I will only be telling the truth because ultimately, I want my blog to be truthful and helpful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADish 1: Carrot Puree with dashi gelee and summer truffle. The puree was naturally sweet from the carrot. Dashi is a simple broth or stock that typically serves as the base for miso soup. It’s meant to be fragrant and light, which is probably why I didn’t taste it. The carrot puree was quite strong and overpowered any other flavors. Summer truffle was beautiful to look at but also overpowered by the carrot. Continue reading SakaMai for Tabelog’s Blogger Event!

Pig Feet in NYC! – at Hakata Tonton

Hakata Tonton
61 Grove St
(between S 7th Ave & Sheridan Sq)
New York, NY 10014

We celebrated T.C.’s birthday at this small Japanese restaurant in the West Village. It has a maximum capacity of about 25 people. The seats and tables are all wooden. There is a gigantic red lantern in the middle of the restaurant. People are engaged in animated conversations but the noise level is a consistent soft humming.

We shared the Seaweed Salad ($5) with yuzu ponzu dressing. Nothing special here. Just a nice, light salad to start the meal.

We then shared the Grilled Pork Tonsoku ($7) with scallion and ponzu sauce, which was like the Ratatouille moment when critic Ego, at the end of the film, has a bite of the ratatouille for the first time. He experiences this crazy flashback to his childhood when his mother made him the homiest, tastiest ratatouille. Pork tonsoku is pork feet, something my grandmother always prepared for my mom and something my mom always prepared for me. The Hakata Tonton version is delicious. It has a very rich, chewy texture (think tendon meets fat…) and the exterior is perfectly grilled so it is slightly charred and crisp. I am thinking about going back and just ordering one of these for myself with a bowl of rice.

Continue reading Pig Feet in NYC! – at Hakata Tonton

Dieci, a romantic little Italian-Japanese place carved into 10th street

aDieci
228 E 10th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

I was looking for a cozy little restaurant where LAW and I would be able to pause time for a couple of hours for his birthday. Dieci seemed to fit the bill. We had walked by this mysterious little restaurant a number of times and G.B. recently went and had very good things to say. The Italian-Japanese restaurant is carved into the ground on 10th street between 1st and 2nd avenues. Because the restaurant is below ground level, there is a certain quiet intimacy to it. We sat next to each other facing the window, where we could spy on East-Villagers walk by as we ate. Aside from the uncomfortably high and tiny bar seats (LAW had to rescue my lap napkin that fell to the floor at least three times), the place felt perfect for the occasion.


We started with the seared duck breast with garlic and scallions ($10 – I think). The portions were larger than I expected for a fancy-ish place like this. The duck was a little gamey, but almost in a good way. It was marinated in something a little sweet and salty and served with bits of scallion and garlic. Each piece had a thin sliver of fat attached to it, which cut the gameyness and added a little juiciness. Not standout but certainly tasty.

After having the squid ink pasta at Daily Catch recently, we’ve been on the hunt for a NY equivalent. This is the Tagliolini ($16), squid ink pasta, tomato, and calamari.


The tomato sauce was fantastic. Super fresh. Naturally sweet. Slightly garlicy. Simple. Definitely made with some very high quality tomatoes. The squid ink is probably the best I’ve had in the city thus far. Not many pasta places in NY offer squid ink so I don’t have much to compare to. It was very fragrant, as squid ink is without being too fishy, but could have been a little more al dente. Continue reading Dieci, a romantic little Italian-Japanese place carved into 10th street

A Perfect Meal at Robataya

Robataya
231 E 9th St
(between Stuyvesant St & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

The way I feel about Robataya is the way people should feel about their significant others. It’s always a treat when I get to spend time with Robataya. I always feel better about myself after I spend time with it. The more I spend time with Robataya, the more I grow to love it. The reason I haven’t fully blogged about Robataya sooner is because all my photos have been pretty crappy. The lighting is not the brightest and there’s a yellow warm hue that my old camera just couldn’t handle. But LAW recently got me an awesome Olympus PL-5 so I knew it was time to showcase Robataya.


I hate using the word “tapas” but that’s kind of what Robataya serves up. The menu offers a variety of grilled (over an open hearth) vegetables, meats, and seafood. There are a number of appetizers on the menu as well but the stars are all in the grilled items. I ALWAYS get the brussels sprouts ($6). It’s ALWAYS the freshest, most perfect brussels sprouts. ALWAYS perfectly grilled. ALWAYS salted just right with Suzu Salt, a salt imported from the Noto peninsula in Japan. According to Robataya’s menu, this salt “can only be produced by using the cleanest seawater in the region. Its saltiness is rounded by acidity, bitterness, and sweetness.” Continue reading A Perfect Meal at Robataya