April 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Lately, when splurging on dinner, I’ve preferred doing omakase menus instead of European-style tasting menus since you come out feeling satisfied but not weighed down by super rich sauces and the like and Ichimura in TriBeCa has possibly the best omakase offering I’ve ever had in NYC. It’s 10 seats (two seatings each night at 6 and 9pm) in a minimalist setting and Chef Ichimura’s emphasis on aging fish to optimize flavor and texture results in some seriously delicious fish. Once again…too lazy to go into detail but I actually did manage to note what each piece was. It’s well worth the visit if you can manage to get a reservation and Chef Ichimura, who was literally doing all the fish preparation himself, was so adorable and soft-spoken that I wanted to adopt him as my grandpa.
Baby eel; roe and cod tartare; orange clam
Chawanmushi – perfectly jiggly
Sashimi of abalone; octopus; fluke; golden snapper; shima aji
Smoked bamboo shoot. Super clean flavors and a nice toothsomeness.
The beautiful bar and no surprise, Zalto glassware.
Needle fish – almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Spanish mackerel belly – this was a standout and a great example of how aging can firm up the texture of fish.
Horse mackerel – again, such a pretty piece
Medium fatty tuna
Hokkaido uni – always a favorite and super generous with the uni
Baby shrimp – super sweet and a new favorite of mine
Eel – just cooked and warm to the touch. Really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t drowned in any sauces
Chef Ichimura doing his magic
Fatty tuna – oh snap. Three butterflied layers of the butteriest toro. I almost passed out.
Dessert – simple green tea ice cream with mochi and other fixings. Just the right amount of sweetness.
February 26, 2017 § Leave a comment
Finally made the trek out to Flushing, Queens during a week off from work to sample some of the cheap, delicious ethnic food on offer. Wes (possibly the only white man in all of Flushing that day) and I started at Ganesh Temple Canteen, a cafeteria-style establishment in the basement of a Hindu temple, and helped ourselves to an enormous buttery Pondicherry dosa filled with potatoes, onions and spices as well as a spicy onion uttapam, both paired with sambar and chutney for dipping – perfect for the rainy, grey day ahead of us and just $7 for each dish.
Next, we walked back to the main thoroughfare in Flushing and began eating Chinese food in earnest. Our first stop was Golden Shopping Mall, a collection of food vendors off Main Street, where we dug into a giant bowl of hand-pulled noodles and beef from Lanzhou Handmade Noodles (again…just $7). So fucking good and made me realize how much I’d missed this kind of down-home Asian comfort food. Perfectly tender beef, super flavorful broth and addictive condiments in the pickled mustard greens and fiery chili oil.
Next, we wandered around for a bit to make room for our next meal and got lost in JMart, a giant Chinese supermarket with huge fish and meat counters, aisles and aisles of Asian condiments and one of the biggest selections of exotic fresh vegetables and fruit I’ve seen. The best part, though, was the small outpost of New Flushing Bakery, with its insanely good Portuguese egg tarts, slightly caramelized on the surface with a crazy flaky, fall-apart crust.
And because we are fatties, we then walked the few blocks from JMart back to Golden Flushing Mall and got a couple seats at Tianjin Dumpling House. For $6, we got a dozen of the lamb and green squash boiled dumplings (again, with a ton of chili oil), a combination I’d never seen before but really enjoyed. Normally, I like my dumplings pan-fried but these reminded me of the boiled pork and scallion dumplings that my mom always made at home growing up – guess it’s a Northern Chinese thing?
Needless to say, we were feeling stuffed from all the starch and meat we’d already eaten and decided to make a stop at Fang Gourmet Tea, a tranquil oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the street, for a charcoal roasted oolong tea tasting. The shop owner was super friendly and patient with our tea ignorance and after some browsing, we each ended up buying a tin of oolong tea that cost way more than all the food we’d eaten during the day.
After more than three years of living in Manhattan, was so glad that I’d finally made it out to Flushing (and to be honest, the train ride out there wasn’t even that bad) and couldn’t believe the amount and quality of food we’d gotten for so cheap. Really need to make sure I make an annual or semi-annual pilgrimage out there, especially when I’m missing food from home.
May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
Better late than never, right?
The last week of work, Alice, Komal and I had a lovely dinner at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Nougatine at Columbus Circle. Beautiful interiors, great service, and delicious and surprisingly light food. I really loved the tomato and avocado gazpacho (even though I don’t tend to like cold soups) and the salmon entree I had.
Cindy, Beth, and I also snuck out of the office during one of the last couple days of work to have a long, leisurely lunch at the Tap Room at Colicchio & Sons. Again, a great cold, corn vichyssoise, a wonderful meaty entree, and heavenly beignets to top off the meal. If only work life could always be like this.
Think that finally might be the last of the summer 2012 posts. Now to get through Winter and Spring 2013!
Trump Hotel Central Park
1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
Colicchio & Sons
85 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
March 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
Of all the places in the world, Spain is the country I want to visit most. Barcelona, San Sebastien, Valencia, Madrid – they all sound like food-lovers’ paradises to me, with their beautiful and vibrant markets, fresh seafood, and ubiquitous tapas bars and cider joints. Tertulia is a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now. The chef, Seamus Mullen, has gotten great reviews from the New York Times and NYMag, and looking at the menu, I like that he sticks with traditional Spanish fare and does it very well instead of trying to twist it into something super modern. Another testament to the food? The fact that other chefs – like Mario Batali’s Iron Chef America sous chef, Anne Burrell (peeking at the camera in the first photo) – enjoy dining there on their off time. By the way, I was taking a picture of the interior and totally not being a creepster.
In an effort to eat (a lot) more vegetables lately, Laura and I started with the pimientos de padron – fried Shishito peppers with lots of sea salt – and the nuestras patatas – crispy potatoes with pimenton de la Vera and garlic all i oli. Holy crap, both of these dishes were so effing good. I would have been satisfied with these alone. The peppers were blistered and slightly sweet, and they had the crispness of a perfectly blanched green bean. Of course, tossing them in sea salt added exponentially to their flavor. Out of about 16 on our plate, I managed to get the only spicy one.
As for the spuds, I couldn’t figure out if they were fried or roasted, because these potatoes were expertly seasoned, super crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside without any grease, and the all i oli was out of this world – garlicky and rich. Laura and I scraped up every last drop.
Our favorite dish by far, however, were the croquettes de jamon. Chef Mullen mixes scraps of prized jamon Iberico into his creamy bechamel and then quickly drops them in oil to give these babies the texture of fried soup, velvety and lovely on the inside. To make them even better, they come served with membrillo sauce, made of the quince fruit, and the sauce’s tartness cuts the luxuriousness of the croquette.
Our final dish were the crispy brussel sprouts with pork belly and mojo picon, a Spanish red pepper sauce. Our one, very small, gripe with this was the almost excessive use of vinegar which had us occasionally puckering our lips, but this was still an excellent take on sprouts, and I would still order it again.
So there you have it – a Spanish gem in the Washington Square Park area. It’s good that I don’t live in the neighborhood (yet), because I’d come here all the time, especially after a long day at work when I need a good glass of wine and some soul-warming food. Next time I visit, I plan on just ordering the classics – unadulterated jamon Iberico, boquerones, and pan con tomate – but this was a great vegetable-oriented introduction to Tertulia and fueled us for an entire afternoon’s worth of shopping in downtown Manhattan.
359 6th Avenue
New York, NY
December 27, 2011 § 4 Comments
Balthazar in Soho was always one of those restaurants I’d always walk by and think, “maybe next time.” I’d heard good things about the place but prices were pretty steep for someone on a student’s budget and I figured, it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Last week, Laura and I were in a celebratory/holiday mood and hungry after walking all over downtown, so we finally decided to treat ourselves to an all-out meal at this beloved bistro.
Although it doesn’t look that big from the outside, the interior of the restaurant is almost cavernous, with high ceilings and booths that stretch deep into the restaurant. Despite the huge space, we felt instantly at home either due to the cute Christmas decorations or the fact that even though it was 4 pm, there were a lot of people enjoying their food.
Bread and butter came first. I always take this as a small indicator of how much a restaurant pays attention to detail. First, is the butter salted and soft? There’s nothing more annoying (ok, maybe an exaggeration) than warm, crusty bread (another detail) and a frigid chunk of tasteless butter alongside it. Happily, Balthazar passed this test and Laura and I ate almost the entire thing before stopping ourselves to save room for the starters.
We ordered the onion soup gratinee, one of Laura’s most favorite dishes in the world. It might possibly be one of the best French onion soups that I’ve had, no doubt because they top rich, caramelized onions with a giant slice of bread and cheese and torch the thing so it becomes almost like a savory brulee.
We also ordered the chicken liver and foie gras mousse with onion confit and grilled country bread (this is where saving some of the bread basket did us good). Fatty and smooth – it was the holidays after all – with chunks of coarse sea salt on top, this dish becomes a meal in itself. It’s perfectly balanced; the mousse is creamy and flavorful, the onion confit has a bit of sweetness, the greens add bite and rawness and the bread has that slightly burnt flavor and crunchy texture. Even though it didn’t seem like much initially, the mousse is very rich and a lot to finish, but we didn’t really have a problem with that.
For our entree, we split the Balthazar bar steak with bearnaise sauce and frites. It’d been a while since I last had steak and I had to get used to its pure beef flavor. The fries – apparently Bobby Flay’s favorites – were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside and even though I was getting full, I kept nibbling at them until they were basically all gone.
And finally, to round out our classic French bistro meal, we ordered the warm chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream. That’s right, white chocolate. Not your typical vanilla. The cake itself fell into the “crisp on the outside, molten on inside” category and the usual contrast between warm cake and cold ice cream brought an end to a truly wonderful time. I’ll definitely be returning to Balthazar, even if it’s just for some bread and a latte.
80 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012