263 West 19th St (6th Ave)
New York, NY 10011
Alright food friends. Quick update here. I went to Wisefish recently with N.T., G.B., H.W., and LAW to do a little taste comparison against the glorious Sons of Thunder. Just by photo comparison, you can see the main difference between the two: Wisefish poke bowls have a lot more stuff. The ordering mechanism is different. At Sons of Thunder, you pick your fish (or octopus or tofu or whatever) and that’s it. It comes with greens, radishes, seaweed salad, etc. You can also add toppings like krispies (yes do this), nori, avocado, etc. for an additional price. At Wisefish, you pick your fish and then get unlimited toppings from their toppings bar. It’s like the new-ish PinkBerry method where you pay a little more but get as many toppings (edamame, hijiki, radish, etc) as you want – or more precisely, as many as will fit in the bowl/you’re shameless enough to ask for. The price ends up being similar.
Because at Sons of Thunder I have to pick and pay for each additional topping, I find that I cherish/appreciate those toppings that much more. Also, a bigger point here, the quality of fish is just better at Sons of Thunder. The Wisefish tuna and salmon are cut into smaller cubes and are a bit…. softer (maybe marinated too much?) and stringy-er. Though, the fish quality isn’t a dealbreaker because it’s still decent and the number of toppings and sauces you can get sort of makes up for it. You should certainly go if you’re in the area. If the purpose of your meal is to have the best poke on the other hand, I would go to Sons of Thunder (I still have Pokeworks to try so I’ll let you know if my assessment changes). Continue reading
House of Small Wonder
77 N 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Attention fellow friends who love cute little non-traditional brunch places: I have found your next brunch spot. It’s just off the L train in Williamsburg. House of Small Wonder is a pseudo European cafe with Japanese influences. You all know my opinion of eggs bennies and scrambled eggs (rarely worth the trek out for brunch unless you’re Prune) and my deep love affair with Japanese brunches (see Sakamai and Shabu Tatsu). House of Small Wonder is another Japanese inspired brunch place to add to the list. Its menu consists of both “euro” items like sandwiches (e.g. fig+brie+apple sandwich, salumi arugula sandwich), croissant french toasts, and croque madames, as well as Japanese inspired dishes like Okinawan taco rice, tsukune don (meatball + rice), and sashimi zuke don (sashimi + rice).
It’s decor is also the cutest! You basically enter a little greenhouse with a REAL LIVING TREE in the center of the restaurant. Every wooden surface, faded piece of art, pot of plant, and trendy diner (see B.J. in this one) is Instagram worthy. K.C., B.J., R.Y., and I got to the restaurant before it even opened (10am on weekends) to ensure we got in without a wait.
We each started with the Lavender Latte ($5). This is one deliciously smooth, creamy, latte with a hint of lavender. It has just the right amount of sweetness to feel like a real latte and not a dessert. I give it 10 out of 10 points for warming me physically and emotionally (lots of feelings were expressed at this brunch <3). For those looking for more of a boozy brunch experience, they also offer a cocktail list with concoctions such as fizzy pear, lavender lemonade, and tipsy latte. K.C., B.Y., R.Y. – next time we do boozy?
K.C. and I both ordered the Sashimi Zuke Don ($15), which consisted of soy sauce marinated sashimi of the day, avocado, sweet mushrooms, sesame, and egg served over sushi rice. The ratio of toppings to rice was perfect. Every bite was like a perfect bite of sushi really. The quality of fish was solid (not the highest grade but also zero fishiness). The rice was great. Highly recommend. Continue reading
EN Japanese Brasserie
435 Hudson St
(between Leroy St & St Lukes Pl)
New York, NY 10014
EN Japanese Brasserie is one of the first Japanese restaurants I had heard of when I moved to NYC. It is one of those places “everyone” has been to and deems to be a good place. I had never been because there have been so many cuter, smaller Japanese restaurants in NYC that always make the cut over EN. After a very long week at work, LAW and I finally made last minute reservations for a late dinner at EN. Our table wasn’t ready so I immediately got a drink to force myself to relax (is this how I know I’m getting old?). I had the Ginger Cocktail ($13), which was a mixture of homemade ginger ale, rice shochu “Shiro,” lime juice, and soda. The drink was very light, too light for my purposes, but pleasant. The homemade ginger ale was soothing and gentle. The lime juice added just a little acidity to the ginger and rice shochu. The drink was so light to begin with that they really needed to use one of those gigantic ice cubes because the mini crushed ice cubes they used diluted the drink too quickly.
We ordered the EN Kaiseki ($65), which is the smaller of the two prix fixe menus offered. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. The meal is meant to be balanced and seasonal.
The kaiseki starts with an O-Banzai, a chef’s selection of three small Kyoto-style appetizers. We had the Hijiki (hijiki seaweed and soy bean simmered in shoyu), Zenmai Piri-Kara (royal fern sprouts in a spicy shichimi togarashi) and Kinoko Kiriboshi Daikon Ohitashi (assorted Japanese mushrooms & sun dried daikon radish with yuzu). All three were chilled, delicious, and balanced. The hijiki seaweed was sweet and tasted slightly of miso. Unlike the typical green, flat, and crunchy seaweed salad you find, hijiki is cylindrical and chewy (super QQ!). Delicious. The zenmai piri-kara was my least favorite only because I tend to not like mushy things – the royal fern sprouts were quite mushy. My favorite was the kinoko kiriboshi daikon ohitashi. The assorted Japanese mushrooms were bulbous little buds and tremendously fragrant. I had never had sun dried daikon before. It tastes less bitter than fresh daikon. The yuzu was so light, slightly sweet, and slightly citrusy. I can imagine the sauce tasting great with a nice fillet of fish…
The next course was the Chef’s Sashimi Selection. Bear in mind that photos are only of one portion. We didn’t have to share (more for us!). The chef’s selection wasn’t exactly much of a selection because it included just the basics: salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. I love the basics so it wasn’t a problem. The sashimi was overall decent quality but since I have been going to Kura so often lately, very little can compare.
Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Black Cod was next. It tasted similar to the Robataya one that I love but was a smaller fillet and less fatty. Flavor was perfect but was lacking the crispy fatty skin that I also love. Continue reading
56 3rd Ave
(between 10th st & 11th st)
New York, NY 10003
Kotobuki just opened a few months ago in the East Village, replacing Lan Japanese Restaurant. I had never been to Lan but it was apparently quite pricey and quite tasty. Kotobuki is also quite tasty but is pretty cheap – probably a better combination for success in the East Village area. Kotobuki is actually a chain that was first established in 1987 and has 3 locations in Long Island. I guess it was smart of the owner to establish a track record of success before venturing into the harsh and unforgiving restaurant world of Manhattan.
I ordered the Sushi Deluxe ($23), which was supposed to include 10 pieces of nigiri and a California Roll (they actually gave me 11 pieces of nigiri – woo!). Having recently gone to Sushi Yasuda, I tried to keep my expectations low, especially after seeing that the decor of the place kind of reminded me of a Chipotle… but I was definitely very, very happily surprised. The fish was suuuuuuuuuuuuper fresh and smooth. Not a single piece had any stringy bits or parts that would not just melt in your mouth. Tuna is usually the most obvious indicator of freshness for me because bad tuna is just really bad. The tuna here was delicious – sweet and slightly creamy. Continue reading