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.
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
130 St Mark’s Pl
(between Avenue A & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10009
Kura is a new Japanese restaurant on St. Mark’s that is NOT owned by the St. Mark’s Japanese restauranteur legend (who owns Soba-Ya, Robataya, Cha-An, Curry-Ya, and Shabu-Tatsu). It’s actually owned by Huey Cheng, a fellow middle school classmate of mine from Beijing. He recently moved to New York and has been working on this venture with Chef Ishizuka (with many more to come).
Kura is an intimate sushi restaurant that doesn’t have a menu. It’s currently hidden under some scaffolding, but even without the scaffolding, the entrance is small enough that one might just walk past it. It also doesn’t have windows. All these things make it sound like a pretentiously expensive restaurant, but it isn’t. At all. Kura is modestly elegant; the smooth, matte, white ash wood decor makes the place feel homey. It’s just dim enough and small enough to feel intimate; yet, the soft warm lighting allows you to see your food clearly and the seating is arranged such that you don’t feel claustrophobic (even without the windows.)
LAW took me here on Tuesday night and we tried the omakase with both cooked foods and sushi. Chef Ishizuka specializes in Osaka cuisine, which tends to be on the sweeter side. We started with a yellowtail sashimi with a light ponzu type sauce with lots of scallions. The chef includes some kind of fish skin chopped up in the mixture, which adds a little fattiness and, surprisingly, crunchiness. It is slightly sweet with a citrus aftertaste. LAW claims this is the best yellowtail he has ever had in his life.
Continue reading New Kid on the Block – Kura’s Omakase Leaves You Feeling Happy
37 W 17th St
(between 5th Ave & 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
I’ve been raving about this place for quite some time now and have already gone a bunch of times. For some reason, my photos are never satisfactory when I come. I think this is because we usually decide to go on a whim and I only ever have my iPhone with me. This time, we went with our out-of-town Turkey guests and as proper host, I finally had my camera with me. As background, Basta Pasta is a pasta place (derrrhhh) run by a Japanese owner. The dishes are subtly influenced by Japanese cuisine with a few exceptions that clearly show a cultural marriage, such as the Linguini Ai Ricci Di Mare, which is a linguini tossed with fresh sea urchin and basil in a pink sauce.
The meal always begins with a basket of assorted breads and little toasted slices of bread with a thin layer of gorgonzola spread. Bread is not warm but is pretty satisfactory, with a classic white, a golden raisin, and some other crisper/toasted white. Toasted bread and gorgonzola provides just barely enough flavor to whet the appetite. It’s surprisingly good.
We started with two orders of the Insalata D’ Anatra ($12), a salad of watercress and arugula with cherrywood-smoked sliced duck breast. This is one of my favorite simple salads because a) they give you a TON of duck for a salad; b) the vinaigrette is not too sharply acidic; and c) the arugula and watercress provides the perfect balance of tenderness and crispness. The vinaigrette is a little sweet and coats the smoked duck breast, forming what some would probably call umami. The duck is smoked such that the meat is still incredibly tender. The consistent thin layer of fat adds a bit of creaminess to the whole affair. Continue reading Basta Pasta! A place for Japanese-influenced Italian food.
After the meat overload at Peter Luger’s last week, we were craving a nice simple fish this weekend.
Roasted a salmon steak that I marinated with soy sauce, salt, ginger, garlic, and brown sugar. Bought a loaf of olive bread at Eataly to accompany the meal. Also made rosemary mashed potatoes to add more carbs to our meal. Carbs go very well with cold weather.