Oh, home. I love home. Whenever I go home I find that I’m in this room most of the time, watching either my mom or grandma prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner, and/or some snack. During every waking hour of the day, someone is always in the kitchen prepping or cooking. This past Christmas, I learned how to make Braised Pork Over Rice (卤肉饭), a classic Taiwanese comfort food. I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t enjoy this.
Finished product! The pork belly that we used was a bit too fatty… hence all of the extra oils. Feel free to use less fatty meats or skim the fat (or eat it like me because it has so much flavorrrrrr). The recipe is very simple and very similar to my Red Cooked Pork Belly that has become quite popular.
Couple pounds of pork belly (sorry, this recipe isn’t super precise but it’s also because it doesn’t need to be). Blanche the pork belly (aka. dump slabs of the meat into boiling water for about a minute and take out). This gets rid of some of the gamey flavors. Then chop them up into 1cm thick bits.
Diced onion, garlic, and ginger.
Star anise, cinnamon, ginger, a few bay leaves, and rock sugar (not pictured). Continue reading
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 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
This is LAW’s favorite dish and definitely one of my favorite ones to make because it is very, very easy, and very, very tasty. Twice Cooked Pork Belly (回锅肉) is a classic Sichuan dish. Every household has its own version of it. Common recipes include scallions, napa cabbage, and bell peppers. Twice Cooked Pork Belly literally translates into return-to-wok-meat because the fundamental part of the recipe is to boil the pork belly first (some use just water, others use broths with ginger, cloves, star anise, etc.), freeze it, then slice it up and return to the wok for stir fry.
My version breaks this fundamental rule but I promise it’s still really good. It’s very quick to make and goes really well with a bowl of steaming rice (下饭). I only use 4 ingredients: Continue reading
25 Bond St
(between Livingston St & Fulton St)
Brooklyn, NY 11201
ANOTHER ramen place I needed to try. I needed to try it so badly I was willing to trek all the way into Brooklyn for it, and not Williamsburg I tell you, DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN. So far, I have tried Totto, Ippudo, Minca, Kambi, Hide Chan, Rai Rai Ken, and Yuji, all hyped up ramen places that battle every year to be the best (let me add that Totto doesn’t get as much love as I think it deserves). Ganso is now added to that list. It is rated 4 stars on Yelp with 84 reviews, most of which rave about the “perfectly al dente noodles” and “solid ramen” bowls. One even described the the ramen as “transcendent.” Go figure.
I came with V.P. and J.W. for a Sunday lunch. We shared the Buta Kimchi Buns ($9), which came with two buns stuffed with 9 braised pork belly, jalapeño kimichi, and spicy mayo. It only cost $4 for an extra bun (I was expecting $5). I wasn’t expecting too much from this almost conventional “pan-asian” bun filled with korean kimchi, chinese pork belly, and mexican jalapeños. Given the whole mexican korean food truck craze and the general korean-chinese mix, the concept (A.W.) of the bun seemed ordinary. BUT, I was pleasantly surprised. The pork belly had a perfect 2:3 fat to non-fat ratio. It was thickly sliced and mouth-wateringly succulent. Flavors were just right; a little sweetness and saltiness from the pork with no extra sauce (aka. actually flavored meat) and a little acidity and spice from the jalapeño kimchi. The mayo wrapped everything up in a nice creamy explosion of flavors. I really enjoyed this.
We also shared Rio’s Wings ($9), which included 6 Bonchon-esque wings. Legit tasted like Bonchon. Continue reading
Chinese New Year has never meant so much to me as it did this year. Yes, it marks the beginning of the Year of the Snake, and yes, I am a Snake. That definitely adds to the significance. But Snake aside, for some reason, I felt ultra traditional this year and felt obligated to bring people together for a large meal. The years of my mother telling me the importance of family and home cooked meals on new years eve must’ve finally kicked in. Not only did I want to celebrate the occasion, I also wanted to do it right. All Chinese New Year eve dinners involve some sort of whole fish, some kind of whole chicken, dumplings, etc. My family specifically always also includes Sichuan Cold Noodles (四川凉面) and Red Cooked Pork (红烧肉). I have never made any of this on my own so this past Saturday was a first. Like all Chinese recipes, my mom didn’t give me exact measurements of anything. “Add sugar, soy sauce, ginger.” Errrr… how much of each? Go figure. Use your brain. Or how my mom would say it: move your brain. Anyway, I’m either a naturaaaal or had some beginner’s luck with me, because the pork belly turned out succulent, flavorful, and just delicious. Here’s the quick and dirty rough recipe to my family’s secret that has been passed down from my great grandmother in Sichuan.
I was feeding a lot of people so I bought over 3 pounds of pork belly. Make sure you keep the skin (it ends up tasting ultra QQ)! First, I put the strips of pork belly in boiling water. Don’t ever have the meat touch cold water because apparently cold water tightens up the meat. After a minute or so of boiling, I removed the meat and tossed the water. The water smelled pretty damn porky. Boiling the meat helps get rid of that gamey flavor.
I then patted the pork belly dry and cut them up into these little nuggets.
391 2nd Ave
(between 23rd St & 22nd St)
New York, NY 10010
Most underrated restaurant I have ever been to. I came here over a year ago and it was empty. I came here again on Sunday after watching a movie in the area and it was again, empty. I didn’t remember my experience from the first time, meaning it couldn’t have been too bad. I was hesitant to go since it was literally empty but we were all starving and just wanted something edible at this point. They have a $9.99 lunch special for an entree and drink, we figured we might as well just eat here. And I’m so glad we did because lunch turned out to be amazing.
We all chose to have Vietnamese coffee over any of the alcoholic beverage options. I expected a pre-mixed sweet coffee beverage but was so happy to see this drip coffee contraption with condensed milk at the bottom. The coffee was strong but not bitter. The roasted flavor of the coffee beans just subtly came through the sweet condensed milk. So good.
366 W 52nd St
(between 9th Ave & 8th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
It’s getting cold again and naturally, I am beginning to crave ramen again. No other ramen in the city satisfies my palate as much as Totto Ramen does. If you follow my blog, you’ll have heard the name mentioned quite a few times. It’s a bit of a hike from downtown but is always incredibly worth the time traveling, and the time waiting in line. We went for a late 2:30pm lunch on a weekday and still needed to wait 30 minutes to be seated. Like seasoned veterans, we sat down and knew exactly what we wanted to order: 2 bowls of Spicy Ramen ($10.25), one Char Siu Mayo Don ($4.50), and one Pork Bun ($3.00).
Slurp slurp slurp. This is my favorite ramen on the menu. Other favorites include the Vegetable Ramen, and the Nikku Ramen, which is an extra large bowl with piles and piles of delicious, tender pork belly. The Spicy Ramen is exceptional when you just want a solid bowl of no-fuss pork broth noodles. The noodles are always perfectly al dente and they come with a mound of fresh spring onions that really help freshen up the porkiness of the broth. The spicy sauce is that delicious kind my Sichuan grandmother has taught me to make: fried chili flakes and powder. It comes with generous slices of pork belly that has been torched to produce a nice smokey finish. Slurp slurp slurp.
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Soba-Ya is, of course, known for its soba. They market themselves as a Japanese noodle restaurant and proudly display this anonymous quote on their homepage: Sobaya’s handmade noodle … sheer joy! Soba is a gluten-free buckwheat noodle that when made correctly, is supple, slightly chewy, and retains an earthy flavor. Gluten is a crucial ingredient because it is what holds the dough together and gives it its springiness. Without gluten, the dough can easily become very dense… ever had a bad gluten-free loaf? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about then. It is very difficult to make great soba, which is probably why it is so expensive to have good soba in New York. The noodles are usually served on a bed of ice with a chilled, light dipping sauce on the side, or in a warm noodle broth. The photograph above is of the Kamo Seiro, soba with duck dipping sauce. This is a combination of the two aforementioned serving methods as the noodles are not cold, but are room temperature, and the dipping sauce is piping hot.
Yes, yes, the soba is great but the real reason I come to Soba-Ya all the time is for this:
229 E 9th St
(between 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
First very important note: ask to have this come with your noodles or rice. The soup and pork belly are so flavorful that you’ll want to have something with it.
The pork belly is tender and surprisingly lean. I find that most pork belly dishes come with fat juicy pieces: half fat, half meat. To be honest, I did wish there was a little more fat because the large piece of lean pork belly seemed a bit dry at times. The egg actually did not resemble a poached egg as the yolk was not runny in the center. The yolk had somewhat condensed a bit and was at that beautiful transition between watery and fully cooked. The center was orange and had an amazing soft yet bouncy texture (vivacious viscous viscera as a friend said). It was more a soft-boiled egg than a poached egg, which I tend to prefer anyway. This egg rivals my favorite seasoned soft-boiled egg at Ippudo. The broth was light and was complimented very well by the fresh scallions.