Eats around town

March 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

Blue Ribbon Sushi at Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place

Favorite dishes – bombolotti all’Amatriciana (sauce of spicy tomato and guanciale) and roasted sunchokes with almonds and brown butter – at Maialino during a leisurely lunch while between jobs

Introducing Laura to Toro‘s grilled corn and bone marrow (look at those gorgeous colors!)

Sadelle‘s pick up (sesame bagel with smoked Scottish salmon, chive cream cheese, red onion, tomato, capers). I was obsessed with their bagels for a while but now the lines have gotten too long and I’m pretty sure they upped their prices.

Matcha latte at Chalait – gorgeously prepared but not sure I’ll be getting on the matcha trend train any time soon

Spaghetti alla vongole at Rafele Ristorante, my parents’ favorite restaurant whenever they come to visit (though we introduced them to OTTO the last time they were here so now they may have a new favorite Italian place)

Lovely Sunday brunch with Bohee at the beautiful Untitled at the Whitney

Booze-free dinner at Balthazar with Cindy (clearly not skimping on French fries though)

Delicious and super spicy spread at Pok Pok lunch (finally tried it after years of wanting to go) with Wes

More Sadelle’s – this time dining in with the full-on smoked fish tower and endless bagels (much better than just picking up)

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Kinshop

August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dinner at Kinshop with Cahill girls began with a bottle of crisp white wine, a perfect pairing with the brightly-flavored meal to come…

Starters included a (very) spicy duck laab salad with toasted rice, ground chili and romaine hearts. Acidity from fish sauce, rich meatiness from the duck, and cool freshness from the lettuce – so many different elements playing off each other in a seemingly simple dish.

Our second starter were the grilled prawns with fresh lime and “Phuket-style” black pepper sauce. Loved sucking on those brain-filled shrimp heads a la Anthony Bourdain, and the sauce was so good that we kept it for other dishes.

This fried pork and crispy oyster salad with celery, peanuts, mint and chili-lime vinaigrette was probably the dish I was most excited about (based on reviews) and yet, it thrilled me the least when I finally tried it. Don’t get me wrong, it was still mighty tasty but I think the flavors didn’t meld together as well here as in other dishes.

This was the runaway favorite – fried broccoli and Chinese sausage with young coconut-gooseberry chutney and fermented plum vinegar. Yes, the broccoli is fried so it’s probably lost all its health qualities, but none of us cared. It was surprisingly light and ever-so-crisp and went so well with the tartness of the plum vinegar and sweetness of the chutney. And who’s going to complain about Chinese sausage with their vegetables?

My favorite main plate – Northern Thai style curry noodle with braised brisket, cucumber, peanuts, fresh herbs. So comforting, so complex. This is something I’d want to eat on a rainy day while watching television on the couch. Definitely better than a burger and fries.

Our second main – massaman: braised goat with fried shallots, purple yams, mustard greens, and toasted coconut – a very rich dish with tender goat, lots of greens (there’s our fiber for the day) and an amazing coconut brothy concoction. Roti was the ideal vehicle to mop up any remaining sauce.

Desserts: Thai iced tea ice cream, lychee sorbet, coconut cream cake with kaffir lime syrup and toasted coconut. The coconut cake was somewhat bland, but we all fell hard for the ice cream and sorbet, the lychee sorbet especially. It reminded me of being in China, where we’d eat bowl after bowl of that fleshy, sweet fruit.

Top Chef fame aside (the owner and chef is Harold Dieterle, winner of Season 1), this is a great, casual place for a dinner that features a spin on your classic Thai and Southeast-Asian cuisine.

Kinshop
469 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
212.675.4295

Ngam

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer’s going by so quickly and with that realization comes the panic that there’s too much to do in too little time. Restaurants, exhibits, performances, meeting with old friends…why can’t we get 6 months of summer instead of 3? Luckily, some things, like eating out and gathering, go hand in hand. Case in point: a dinner with friends from high school at relatively new restaurant, Ngam, in the East Village.

There aren’t any assertions of authenticity at Ngam, just a focus on comforting, decidedly Thai dishes that nevertheless keep in mind the Western palate. My Thai burger, though a cooked bit too rare for my taste, had bright clean flavors – spiciness and slight pungency from the sai oor curry paste, acid from the green papaya kraut – to balance against the rich taste of the beef and a top-heavy sesame bun and came with a generous handful of addictive Chiang Mai kabocha fries and homemade red curry mayonnaise that Pomme Frites needs to riff and add to their repertoire of sauces so I can enjoy them really late at night.

M ordered an intriguing take on the classic pad thai which used long strands of green papaya instead of the usual rice noodles. I liked that the dish wasn’t overly sweet, a mistake more common than not at Thai restaurants trying to appeal to American tastes.

And X’s crispy chicken “laab” with sticky rice, though definitely not traditional in that it used larger nuggets of meat instead of minced chicken, had a healthy dose of fish sauce, lime, and cilantro.

All in all, Ngam is great for both classics and new approaches to traditional Thai dishes, and the restaurant’s vibe – artsy and rough around the edges – is great if you’re going with a group. Add the fact that they’re on Seamless and what’s not to love?

Ngam
99 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10003
212.777.8424

NJ eats

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Thai food at Four Seasons and pizza (including a dynamite eggplant, spinach, mozzarella, and roasted red pepper slice) at Mario’s Famous pizza. Good food with good friends.

Raging heat and a golden moon

March 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

I first had drunken noodles (pad kee mao) at a place called Bangkok Bistro in Georgetown. The wide rice noodles reminded me of Chinese chow fun, especially when stir-fried with veggies and thinly sliced beef, but the flavors tasted so much brighter. I think it was the first time I understood that a dish was capable of being savory, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. The dish has become somewhat of a personal barometer for any new Thai restaurants that I try. When I still thought I was going to Washington University in St. Louis for law school and visited last spring, I was so disappointed with the local version of drunken noodles that I actually began to doubt my school of choice. Luckily, it worked out that I ended up somewhere with an excellent offering of Thai cuisine.

drunken noodles

Here in NJ, we’re blessed with a wide variety of Asian restaurants, and Four Seasons is probably one of my favorites. It’s small and sparsely decorated, with only a couple photos of Thai royalty here and there, but the owners are friendly, the service is snappy, and the food…oh the food. Granted I only ever get one dish, but it’s so damn good that you’d never need anything else. The noodles are coated in a spicy and sweet red ambrosia and the combination of chicken, barbecue pork, shrimp, and egg keeps each mouthful interesting. There’s a healthy amount of fresh Thai basil thrown in there, the strong anise flavor of which I’ve really learned to love over the years, and a sweet crunch from all the red peppers. Although I always get mild level, this dish is anything but. Throughout our meal, and despite the fact that we were sucking down Thai iced teas, Tonia, Jiawen and I were all crying from happiness and heat, a good place to be.

Thai iced tea

Also, on our way home, the moon was absolutely stunning! There’s apparently some scientific explanation for its appearance tonight (full moon phase coinciding with perigee), but it was so huge and golden that the effect was somewhat disconcerting – as if the world was about to end. The photo below really doesn’t do it justice. An hour later, though, it was normal-sized again and the moment was gone.

super-moon

 

Four Seasons (cash only)
1353 Stelton Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
732.819.8787
http://www.pad-thai.com/

 

Birthday at Bangkok Joe’s

December 10, 2008 § Leave a comment

This year, I celebrated my birthday with dinner at Bangkok Joe’s.  Even though it was down on K Street and snowing by the time we left campus [we opted for a cab], once we got to the waterfront it was extremely easy to find.

Bangkok Joe’s is nowhere near your casual Thai restaurant – the decor inside was extremely classy and dimly lit – but the food comes out amazingly quickly. Erin and Lee had to leave at around 8:00 and ordered their food while we waited for friends from University of Maryland to arrive, and they got their food in about 15 minutes. They definitely could have ordered with the rest of us and still made their party afterwards.

The food was delicious.  Joe’s is more of a dumpling bar than entree-oriented, so we orderd appetizers for the table as a sampling.  Pork and crab shumai, fried calamari [because I can never resist anything dipped in batter and submerged in boiling oil], giant chicken dumplings, and others. I really liked the calamari here but the shumai wasn’t that amazing.  I think I still prefer the dimsum ones at China Garden.

The entrees were served in these beautiful white noodle bowls that were rather deceiving when it came to serving size. I was full before I even finished half of my drunken noodles but ate them anyway.  I don’t know why I love them so much, but the balance between spicy and sweet is always an excellent combination. And for some reason, the chicken tasted really good too. The only gripe we had [mostly Ameya] was that due to the asymmetricity [?] of the bowls, we couldn’t reach over and steal some noodles from the person sitting across the table as stealthily.

The highlight of the dinner was definitely dessert. My favorite was the fried roti dough with taro paste inside and ice cream on top.  It was so simple yet everything came together so well and I loved the subtle sweetness of the dough itself. The other desserts were a flourless chocolate cake with berries and rum chocolate sauce and mango sticky rice, a classic.

We will definitely be returning to Bangkok Joe’s in the future but with a focus on the dumplings. I saw peking duck dumplings, a variety of different rolls, and other items that sounded delicious but I couldn’t fit everything in my stomach at the time.

People’s Republic

June 27, 2008 § 4 Comments

Ameya (high school friend who is also interning in the city) and I went to grab some lunch at Republic near Union Square on Monday. The area is a favorite of ours since it’s the second stop on the uptown 4 express from Fulton Street where we work plus there’s a whole slew of decent restaurants right in that circle. I’ll be going to Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe for Restaurant Week on July 25. *

Republic is a Thai restaurant and it’s HUGE. It’s a bit deceiving from the outside, but once you walk in and up the steps, there’s a large and spacious area with communal tables and benches and the noise is so loud. However, it’s cheap, there’s variety in the menu, and it’s quick so it fits within our one hour lunch break.

For drinks, we ordered the Thai Iced Tea (Ameya’s) and a Honey Kalamansi (me). What I really appreciated about both was that neither was sickeningly sweet and you could tell there was no artificial flavoring included in the making of the drinks. The Thai Iced tea was smooth and delicious and I only wish I could recall exactly what was in the kalamansi – honey, meyer lemon, thai basil? There was a lovely tartness from the lemon that lingered on the tongue a few seconds after drinking it. If anyone knows the recipe, please tell me!!! I’d like to try making some myself.

Thai iced tea and Kalamansi limeade

Ameya ordered the Grilled Beef with rice angel noodles, mint, lettuce, jicama, and carrots and I got three small dishes –fried calamari with sweet chili sauce, grilled eggplant with lime juice, sesame seeds, and miso, and beef satay with a spicy peanut sauce. Service was quick and my goodness, these portions were HUGE! Ameya, a devoted meat lover, had trouble finishing the somewhat too-salty grilled beef skewers and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen him struggle eating beef. In the middle, he started taking it off the skewers and just wrapping it in the lettuce Korean bbq style before dipping it in the provided peanut sauce, which couldn’t compare to the one I had for my beef satay.

Ameya's beef dish

My fried calamari was unfortunately, inconsistent. Some rings were rubbery and hard to chew while others were perfectly tender, but there was a sizable amount of crunch on the outside (well-seasoned too) and the chili sauce had just the right amount of sweetness to counteract the saltiness of the crusts.

Assorted appetizers

The eggplant, on the other hand, was just what I was craving at the time. Light, smoky, and a bit acidic from the lime juice. It wasn’t overcooked and mushy, but it did not have that raw taste either. The only way to improve this appetizer would be to create some spicy condiment to accompany it. As for the beef satay, the result was similar to Ameya’s dish. Heavily seasoned, yet for the most part, rather tender, and paired well with a spicy peanut sauce that was both sweet and salty. I liked. But those three dishes were pretty substantial, and I walked out of the restaurant feeling very full and very sleepy. So it shouldn’t be any surprise I didn’t get much work done after lunch.

Next time: trying their noodle dishes, which is what they’re more famous for, especially their broth noodles. Eeeeeee!

Republic
37 Union Square West
212.627.7172
Manhattan delivery

Restaurant Week NYC is from July 21-25 and July 28-August 1 this year. Book your tables at opentable.com now! I know of some places I have in mind already.

 

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