Tag Archives: salad

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

Fuku: David Chang’s take on the spicy chicken sandwich

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFuku
163 1st Ave (10th st)
New York, NY 10003

I’ve been wanting to come to Fuku since I first heard that David Chang was creating a restaurant solely dedicated to fried chicken sandwiches. I… love… chicken sandwiches. And I’ll let you in on a secret. Every time I go home to Beijing, I have a list of restaurants I always have to hit up, ranging from my favorite peking duck to THE GREATEST spicy fried chicken sandwich ever from KFC. Yup, KFC. Those of you from Beijing will understand. KFC does not have it on its US menu. They call it the Zinger burger. The sandwich consists of a big, thick piece of dark chicken thigh meat fried to perfection, a smear of mayo, and a light sesame bun. It’s amazing. Just take my word for it.

Anyway, that was for context. In my mind, Fuku was benchmarked against my glorious Beijing fried chicken sandwich.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALAW and I came around 1:30pm this past weekend. Fuku is only open from 11-4 Wednesdays through Sundays. The place was packed with Asians. Maybe everyone else is benchmarking against Beijing KFC too?

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I ordered everything on the menu sans alcohol: 1 spicy chicken sandwich + 1 Koreana (Fuku’s newer off-menu spicy chicken sandwich with daikon radish) + 1 fuku salad + 1 french fries + 1 seltzer water.

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God I was excited. H.W. had visited a few days earlier and said it was the BEST THING he’s had in NYC. People waited HOURS in line when the place first launched mid June. Continue reading

Ducks Eatery: Soul food meets Southeast Asian flavors

Ducks Eatery
Ducks Eatery
351 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003

I haven’t been this psyched about a restaurant in a while (The Bao aside, of course). I didn’t know what I wanted to eat but wanted something new and great. I was looking for an unconventional place with unconventional food. Ducks Eatery happened to be exactly what I was looking for. The menu is like a blend of comfort soul food with Southeast Asian flavors. Very, very interesting. And surprisingly very, very good.

Ducks Eatery
T.W. and I both had the Watermelon Gimlet ($12) with watermelon, gin, lavender, and lime. Very light and refreshing.

Ducks Eatery
We all shared a couple appetizers. FIrst up is this Smoked Duck Salad ($13) with black rice, pomegranate, apple, and black garlic. The pomegranate and apple added a great tartness and crunch to the almost creamy, smokey duck. Black rice was a really interesting addition. It was a little sweet and chewy, which rounded out the dish quite nicely.

Ducks Eatery
These are the Smoked Mussels ($14) with chili oil, house cultured smoke butter, and toast with maple and chive. Also H.W.’s favorite appetizer of the night. The smoked mussels were pretty damn intense. Slightly fishy, very smokey, and bathed in a flavorful oily sauce. It was a serious flavor trip.  Continue reading

Comfort Found in Meatballs: The Meatball Shop

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeatball Shop
170 Bedford Ave
(between 8th St & 7th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

I hope you’ve been here already by now. There really is no excuse. It’s cheap. It’s hip. It’s healthy and unhealthy as you want it to be. I’ve blogged about The Meatball Shop before, but my old camera didn’t do it justice. If you’re looking to spend less than $15 for delicious, unpretentious, hearty food, The Meatball Shop should be on the top of your list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe menu is sort of confusing if it’s your first time. There are five types of meatballs (beef, spicy pork, chicken, veggie, and special-of-the-day), six sauces (tomato, spicy meat, mushroom, parm. cream, pesto, and special-of-the-day), and essentially four ways to eat them:

  1. Plain with sauce and bread (four meatballs per serving, $7)
  2. As sliders (one meatball per slider, $3)
  3. In a sandwich of some sort (two to three meatballs per serving, $9-$10)
  4. Over a bed of whatever vegetables the chef feels like giving you (three meatballs per serving $10)

There are also sides that you can pair your balls with, such as spaghetti, roasted greens, risotto, etc. These sides can go under your balls of next to your balls. You can mix and match as you like. That’s pretty much it. Continue reading

Manchurian Cuisine

东北人家
东北人家 (Dongbei/Manchurian People’s Home)
Restaurant Chain in China

Dearest NYC readers, this post is going to be somewhat irrelevant for your weekend restaurant search. This post is less of a review but an introduction to northern Chinese cuisine. Dongbei, previously Manchuria, is the most northeastern region of China. It shares a border with Russia, Mongolia, and Korea. The cuisine is rarely talked about in the US and I think that should change. Here in NYC you have your Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan and maaaybe even Yunnan food. All are very different, by the way. Dongbei or Northern or Manchurian food is another major type of cuisine that is probably one of the least pretentious ones. Because the weather can get extremely cold in the region, the cuisine is very substantial, hearty and uses LOTS OF GARLIC. Northerners also eat a lot of delicious carby foods, aka. my kind of foods. Pictured above is the waiting area of the Dongbei restaurant we were at where you get free sunflower seeds and are encouraged to toss the shells on the ground. Love China.

东北人家    东北人家
Chinese cornbread. It’s denser, grainier, and less sweet than what we think of as “southern” cornbread in the US. My dad hates eating it because it was the only carb he had growing up during the Cultural Revolution in China. I, a first world child, grew up eating jasmine rice and so relish the meals where we have cornbread. This is a panfried version.

东北人家
Wo Wo Tou, or directly translated as “Nest heads” … go figure. This is a steamed version of the corn bread. Often sweeter, and chewier because of its shape.

东北人家
Crispy “Hand-Pulled” Pancake. It’s like a scallion pancake with more layers and no scallions. Greasy, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, this pancake is addicting as hell.

东北人家This is a classic one. Braised Pork with Vermicelli. The pork is cooked until extreeeemely soft, giving the soup a nice porky flavor. Wilted winter cabbage adds sweetness to the soup. Fat clear noodles soak up the soup. You eat the pork, cabbage, and vermicelli, AND drink the soup. Continue reading

Lunch by the Marche d’Aligre


On our last day in Paris, before our afternoon flight, we got up early and checked out the Marche d’Aligre, one of the more traditional and popular outdoor markets in Paris. Imagine walking through tight rows of vendors yelling a slur of French words at you that have something to do with the beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables that they are selling. Bunches of bulbous grapes ranging from soft yellow to deep purple, bright red tomatoes bursting with juice, creamy avocados cut open with slices to sample… god it’s beautiful. Unlike the farmers’ markets in NYC, the produce at this marche were just glowing with freshness. I felt like I could taste the tomatoes by just looking at them. The lively environment with local frenchies hustling and bustling about for their week’s groceries also added to the fun. After we wandered around and didn’t buy anything (I so wish we had come on day 1… I would’ve gotten so many fruits), we hopped on over to a cafe for lunch. I can’t remember the name of the cafe but I’m sure I have it written down somewhere and will update when I find out.


I had the Croque-Madame, which is simply a croque-monsieur (grilled toast with ham and cheese) with an egg on top. Though it looked very pretty, the toast was a bit overtoasted and so lost the soft chewy center of great bread. The whole thing just tasted like crust. Ham was very mediocre quality (like packaged sandwich ham), unlike most of the amazing cured jambon’s we had at other places. Sorry to ruin the photo for you guys.  Continue reading

Ciao For Now! But I’ll Be Back Reaaaaal Soon.

Ciao For Now
523 E 12th St
(between Avenue B & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009

 

I discovered another yummy (and super healthy) brunch place in the East Village area.  It’s tucked off to the side between A and B so is away from the hustle and bustle of the crazy EV hipsters.  The restaurant ends up having a very homey and small-town feel, almost like Boston.  Ciao For Now is neighbors with Northern Spy Food Company, but is not as “famous” and never has a wait.

I read all about their Almond Brioche French Toast ($9.50 with fresh OJ or grapefruit juice) before coming and knew I had to get it.  Brioche in general is amazing for french toast because it has a concentration of egg and butter, making the bread slightly puffy and yes, QQ (chewy).  Almond Brioche is just brioche with almond cream and a sweet almond crusted topping.  You really can’t go wrong with this french toast.  However, the beauty of what Ciao For Now did is that the french toast isn’t heavy at all.  It was buttery and delicious but somehow manages to stay light and healthy.  How?  I really don’t know.

We also shared the Organic Steel Cut Oats with brown sugar, currants, and cranberries ($4.25).  I love love love steel cut oats because they are chewier and have more of a bite to them than regular rolled (or quick) oats.  This is because steel cut oats are pretty much straight up oats chopped into smaller pieces.  Rolled oats are oats that have been flattened by a roller and have had their outer “bran” skin removed.  The result is a softer, less textured oat.  Bran is tougher but also more nutritious (yay fiber) and I just prefer the texture.  The Ciao For Now bowl was a hearty bowl of steel cut oats with a little too much brown sugar.  Luckily, it wasn’t mixed in so I removed most of it before devouring the bowl.  Though it came with a side of milk, the oats were already very creamy and delicious.  The oats were perfectly cooked so that they weren’t overly soggy nor were they still too hard. This was probably the best oatmeal I’ve ever had…

Continue reading

Sunday Night Dinners, light and quick.

Generally speaking, my Sunday night dinners always tend to be lighter and healthier to make up for my gluttonous weekend.  Though, the photo above is slightly deceiving because LAW and I each had at least two more servings of what is displayed… each, plus lots of great olive bread from the farmer’s market.  But lots of salad and corn and fish isn’t too heavy, right??

This was my first time cooking non-salmon fish.  I’m a bit of a noob in the fish-cooking department but hope to be an expert someday because I love fish so very much.  Scrod was on sale at the supermarket so we decided to try it.  Despite its severely unappetizing name, it’s actually quite a normal fish.  Wikipedia describes it as a “young cod, haddock or other whitefish, split and boned.”  Fair enough.  I like cod, why not give it a shot? Continue reading