203 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 12th St)
New York, NY 10003
These nights have been cold. Normally on a cold winter night, I’ll crave something hot and hearty. But the heaviness of Thanksgiving dinner (with some leftovers still in the fridge, like J.W.’s shepherd’s pie which I had for lunch two days in a row…) has made me crave hot foods that are light. How many of those can you think of?
Vietnamese food is overall one of the healthier cuisines. It uses more natural herbs for flavoring and tends to use water or broth over oil. Pho is the perfect combination of hot and light. A bowl of pho consists of rice noodles in a beef broth made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, charred onion, ginger, and other spices. Compared to other noodle soups, pho is definitely a much lighter option. The rice noodles are almost airy and compensate by being great soup sponges. The soup is flavorful but still clear, allowing you to drink up every last drop without feeling sick (this also depends on how much MSG the restaurant uses). Continue reading
This week has been busier than usual. I suck for not posting and I feel terrible about it. I’m going to suck even more after this because I am going to re-post a blog post from earlier this year when I made Egg and Tomato noodles for myself. It’s one of those weeks where I just miss home and crave homely foods, such as these noodles. Here is my post from March, 2012:
Still sick in bed. I have very little energy today so I am going to repost a photo and add the recipe for it. Egg and Tomato (鸡蛋炒西红柿) is a classic Chinese dish that every household makes when in need of a quick and simple dish. Continue reading
I love Japanese Tofu (日本豆腐). Despite it’s name, it is actually a Chinese tofu made with eggs and soy milk. They are sold in tubes in Chinese supermarkets and are much more expensive than regular silken tofu – for good reason. The eggs make the tofu particularly smooth and silky and the extra protein makes it slightly more filling than traditional silken tofu. I also love the slightly eggy flavor. This was my first time making it and I’d like to say it was a success! Continue reading
Bo Ky Restaurant (or New Bo Ky Restaurant)
80 Bayard St
(between Mulberry St & Mott St)
New York, NY 10013
Y.P. wanted pho. I don’t have Vietnamese food very often for some reason… not too sure why because I love pho and love this one whole roasted fish dish that you pick at and wrap in rice wrappe sheets – anyone know what it’s called? I was going to be in the Financial District area so looked up the best pho place in the area and found Bo Ky.
The restaurant reminded me of those typical Chinese fastfood places in Hong Kong where people slurp up their wonton noodle soups in suits, leave cash on the table, and head back to their busy lives. We came on a weekday for lunch and the place was surprisingly packed with mostly solo diners. You are expected to share tables and to leave as soon as possible.
I didn’t actually see pho on the menu, though everything they had was “pho-like”. They had a number of other noodle dishes, as well as some appetizers such as the Salted Water Duck, which I saw many order. People came in as regulars and ordered without even looking at the menu. I felt pretty n00by needing a menu and taking more than 3 minutes to decide. I ended up getting the Cambodian Noodle Soup ($5), which had a typical pho-like broth (supposedly made by simmering beef bones, oxtails, flank steak, onion, ginger, and spices) but instead of the usual condiments, had pork slices, shrimp, and fish balls with half-cooked bean sprouts.
Xi’an Famous Foods
81 St Marks Pl
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003
This, my friends, is my go-to weekday spot when I don’t feel like cooking and want something delicious and cheap. Xi’an is a city in China in the Shaanxi province that is fairly centrally located. Its cuisine therefore is heavily influenced by all regions of China, especially Sichuan for its spiciness and numbing flavors. As the first capital of China and the start of the Silk Road, Xi’an cuisine is also influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine. Hence, you’ll see a lot of cumin-flavored meats… I always get three things at Xi’an: a noodle dish, a burger, and a tofu dish.
Pictured here is the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles ($4.50). This is a very traditional dish that originated in Xi’an. The noodles are made from rice and are served cold with cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro, and chewy tofu/bean curd pieces. The sauce is garlicy, sweet, sour, spicy, and tingly all at the same time. It honestly is an explosion of flavors and textures. The noodles are very springy and chewy, which pair very well with the crisp cucumbers. The cucumbers, bean sprouts, and cilantro add a bit of freshness to the spicy and oily sauce. I always, ALWAYS get this in the summer because it is light and refreshing, especially compared to Xi’an Famous Food’s other noodles… I took my dad here when he came to visit and he thought that this was even better than what we get in Beijing. He’s from Xi’an, so he would know.
The other noodles are all hand-pulled noodles. There is quite a variety of flavors, my favorites being the Spicy Cumin Lamb, Spicy Hot Oil Seared, and the Pork “Zha Jiang” noodles. These noodles are made with flour and are hand pulled to a tremendously chewy texture. They are wide and flat, equivalent of a pappardelle pasta. As you can see, the noodle dishes are saucy as hell. You can generally adjust the level of spiciness though don’t go asking for zero spice because it just isn’t going to happen. They pride themselves in serving authentic Chinese food and will only cater to your weak buds to small extent. Honestly, if you can’t handle it, you should just force yourself to eat spice more often and you’ll soon appreciate it, I promise. Continue reading
In the great You Es of Eh, we often think of Japanese food as merely sushi and and edamame and forget about a super duper important, tasty part of it: ramen. Big bowls of chewy noodles in hearty pork or chicken bone broths topped with slices of tender and flavorful barbecue pork, ramen is definitely one of my favorite foods (along with pizza and cookies). My most favorite ramen place is Totto Ramen in Midtown West but I have yet to write a legitimate blog post about it because I am waiting until I get a new camera (SOON!) so I can do the place some justice (my photos now are horrible so don’t judge by the link)! For now… I present to you two other ramen places. One not so good and one pretty good. Minca Ramen Factory*
536 E 5th St
(between Avenue A & Avenue B)*
New York, NY 10009
Kambi Ramen House*
351 E 14th St
(between 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Still sick in bed. I have very little energy today so I am going to repost a photo and add the recipe for it. Egg and Tomato (鸡蛋炒西红柿) is a classic Chinese dish that every household makes when in need of a quick and simple dish. It’s like the tomato sauce and pasta for Chinese families. I’d like to think this is a pretty healthy meal; you have your carbs, veggies/fruits, and protein. I crave this right now in my sickly state but would need to buy tomatoes to make this… reminder to self:
ALWAYS HAVE TOMATOES IN THE FRIDGE. edit: NEVER STICK TOMATOES IN THE FRIDGE! There’s a Z-3 compound in tomatoes that pretty much dies when it’s forced to live in cold environments. Without that compound, the tomato apparently loses most of its flavor, shrivels up, and becomes watery and grainy – GROSS. I can’t believe I’ve been making this mistake all these years. Thanks, S.V.L. for the pointers!
Recipe (as usual, measurements are approximate because I never measure when cooking Chinese food*):
68B Forsyth St
(between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10002
In the mood for some cheap somewhat-legit Chinese food? Henan Flavor is a good place to check out… only if you order the best. Their menu consists of a variety of hand-pulled wide noodle dishes, dumplings, and the renown Big Tray of Chicken (pictured above). They have some other chicken dishes but I have never seen anyone… anyone order them. I’ve been here a couple of times and have now tried many of their dishes. I would suggest not to order the noodles, even though Yelp reviewers say otherwise. The noodles are decently chewy and clearly homemade but the soups and the sauces lack depth and flavor. Yes, one big bowl of noodles can range from only $4-$6, but I can guarantee you a better meal if you order these things instead:
1. Pork Pancake or 肉夹馍 (meat between steamed buns).
This “pancake” is $2 each (one pancake pictured) and beats Xi’an Famous Foods and Prosperity Dumplings pancakes by far. The steamed bread (it really isn’t cakey; not too sure why people insist on calling it a pancake) is soft and chewy. The exterior seems to have a very thin film of crispiness. The pork inside is like an Asian carnitas: semi-fatty, lots of juice (as you can see from the semi-soaked bread), and bursting with flavor. It also has the perfect 1:1 bread:meat ratio. I happen to love cilantro so this was of course a welcomed addition. But if you are like LAW and despise these fragrant little green things, the lovely woman who makes the pancakes is happy to exclude them from your order.
2. Big Tray o’ Chicken or 大盘鸡 + NOODLES
Remember how I told you NOT to get any noodles dishes? This is because you have to order the Big Tray of Chicken and ask for noodles on the side. The Big Tray of Chicken (first photo) is a fairly large tray of chicken and potatoes seeped in a spicy chili oil sauce… for only $12. This is by FAR the most expensive item on the menu and for good reason. This large tray fed 3 hungry eaters, two of whom are boys who normally eat for two, for TWO meals (they are great as leftovers). The chicken is super tender and rich with flavor. They also use Sichuan peppercorns, which gives the dish a slightly numbing taste … extremely addicting. The potatoes are very soft and a nice carby addition to the chicken, especially since the chicken will have you hissing like a snake after a few bites due to the spice and numbing effects. The NOODLES on the side are just plain hand-pulled noodles that come on a plate. The reason I like ordering this over any other noodle dish is because you can pull off a single noodle and dip it in the chili oil sauce as you wish, keeping all the noodles al dente, rather than soaking in a soup or sauce that makes them soggy and blah. Continue reading
This is a classic homestyle dish in China, my kind of comfort food. I scrambled some eggs and took them off the heat before they were completely done (to ensure they are soft and fluffy later). Then sautéed some diced tomatoes with sugar and salt. Added in the eggs and simmered until I started getting a soup. Boiled noodles on the side for just a few minutes so the noodles were still chewy and not overcooked. Mixed together soup/sauce with drained noodles and nom nom nom…