When I first moved back to the US, I remember “farmer’s markets” being all the craze. I would hear things like, “Oh, I got these beautiful fingerling potatoes at the farmer’s market today!” or , “I like knowing that my tomatoes are from a farm just a couple hours away from me.” It sounded a bit pretentious to me at the time, but then I realized that my family shops at a so-called “farmer’s market” in Beijing for all our groceries. It isn’t a novel concept, nor is it a new-age health or sustainability craze, it’s just the way a lot of people buy groceries in China.
Welcome to Shuang Yu Market, the local market by my home in Beijing.
Bags of man tou, or steamed buns, in the back of a van.
Locksmith and key duplication.
The fresh meat hall where we get all of our pork. Freshly ground pork, ribs, spine for stew, etc. Continue reading
2512 Steinway St
Astoria, NY 11103
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been sick with the flu, hence, the lack of publishing. I haven’t eaten much other than soup and cough drops for days now. I’m feeling better though! Writing this post made me long for the days my taste buds could differentiate between unique flavors. Recently, I had to go to Astoria for a work project and had some time for myself to eat whatever I wanted. A friend of mine, Miss A.M., who is obsessed with all things Egyptian highly recommended Kebab Café, mostly for the delicious food but also for Ali, the owner and chef.
I came in when it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so I had the restaurant to myself. Ali was preparing food. The “kitchen” was tiny, taking up just a small part of the already tiny restaurant. This is Ali here, behind the mound of fresh vegetables. Throughout my meal, we spoke at great lengths about his passion for food. He says he was born in the kitchen and that to truly understand someone, you have to understand their food. “This is Alexandrian food, not Egyptian,” he made sure to mention to me may times. When I told him I was Chinese, he smiled knowingly. “You guys know how to appreciate food.”
I couldn’t stop looking at all the beautiful vegetables he was working with.
Some slow-cooked meat with lots of veggies he was preparing for dinner. Continue reading
231 E 9th St
(between Stuyvesant St & 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
The way I feel about Robataya is the way people should feel about their significant others. It’s always a treat when I get to spend time with Robataya. I always feel better about myself after I spend time with it. The more I spend time with Robataya, the more I grow to love it. The reason I haven’t fully blogged about Robataya sooner is because all my photos have been pretty crappy. The lighting is not the brightest and there’s a yellow warm hue that my old camera just couldn’t handle. But LAW recently got me an awesome Olympus PL-5 so I knew it was time to showcase Robataya.
I hate using the word “tapas” but that’s kind of what Robataya serves up. The menu offers a variety of grilled (over an open hearth) vegetables, meats, and seafood. There are a number of appetizers on the menu as well but the stars are all in the grilled items. I ALWAYS get the brussels sprouts ($6). It’s ALWAYS the freshest, most perfect brussels sprouts. ALWAYS perfectly grilled. ALWAYS salted just right with Suzu Salt, a salt imported from the Noto peninsula in Japan. According to Robataya’s menu, this salt “can only be produced by using the cleanest seawater in the region. Its saltiness is rounded by acidity, bitterness, and sweetness.” Continue reading
173 Ave A
New York, NY 10009
Both Westville locations are so incredibly popular. They are especially known for their market vegetables. You can pick four of them for $14 (used to be $12, I believe!). Your choices range from lemon grilled asparagus with parmesan, to soy glazed green beans, to korean cucumber salad, and roasted beets with walnuts. There is always a huge list to choose from and I don’t know anyone who goes to Westville and doesn’t get the market vegetables. Pictured above is the full plate of brussels sprouts with honey dijon, cauliflower dijonaise, artichoke hearts with parmesan, and fried plantains with cojita cheese. I think because I cook Chinese food almost every week night that I’m not as enamored with the plethora of sauteed veggies. Continue reading
216 E 10th St
(between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
New York, NY 10003
Shabu Tatsu serves up traditional shabu shabu, aka. Japanese hot pot. Its name comes from the sound of swishing your meats in the hot water. Unlike Chinese hot pot, shabu shabu is much lighter. It uses a dashi broth made from just hot water and seaweed. Chinese hot pot is heavier and often uses a hearty pork bone broth or an extremely spicy beef stock with various seasonings. I prefer Japanese hot pot because the light broth cooks the meat and vegetables without masking their natural flavors. Though, because the broth has no real seasoning effects, you need very fresh ingredients and deliciously fragrant dipping sauces. Normally shabu shabu is served with ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce. In addition to the sauces, Shabu Tatsu also brought freshly chopped scallions and daikon to mix in.
We ordered the Prime Rib-Eye Beef Shabu-Shabu Dinner Course, which was $26 per person. $26 is a lot to pay for cooking yourself some veggies and meat in a boiling pot of hot water, but Shabu Tatsu really showed me how it is completely worth it. The set included an amazing vegetable platter and of course, a big plate of prime rib-eye. The vegetables were extremely fresh – no stringy veggies to be found. The veggie platter also included tofu and Kishimen (wide and flat wheat noodles) and Malony (fat, rounded, and translucent noodles made of potato and corn starch).
The prime rib-eye was cut in the perfect thickness (not thin to the point of papery non-existence… something you find in some shabu places… but still thin enough to be cooked in just a few seconds… and thick enough to taste like meaty meat). Because shabu meats are served raw, they have to be high enough quality to be eaten raw… this is definitely not enforced in certain places. Shabu Tatsu’s meat is very high quality, smooth and did not contain any knots or stringy bits.