A glimpse into my world of food

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Aya's Kitchen: Chipotle Yogurt Potato Salad with Crispy Bacon

My friend bought me an Austrian white wine (can't remember the varietal or name but it was in a short thick green bottle) and for some reason while I was drinking it I craved potato salad, and not just a plain potato salad but something smokey.  So I decided to make a potato salad and instead of using mayo I used greek yogurt, and I combined it with chipotle for some smokiness (canned chipotle also reminds me of bonito...), lime juice, salt, white pepper and black pepper.  I used small yellow potatoes with the skin on (love the texture and flavor of the skin) and added three more ingredients that I love- bacon (crispy), egg (boiled) and shrimp (seared/sauteed).  Garnish with cilantro.  It paired really well with the wine just as I had imagined!

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Aya's Kitchen: Curry Coconut Mussels with Okra and Tofu

I ordered a coconut seafood hot pot at Momofuku Ssam Bar the other day because it sounded quite delicious but it wasn't really good.  So I decided to make something similar to it at home.  I soaked the mussels in salt water with a sprinkle of flour (plumps them up- something I learned at the CIA) and ripped the beards off.  Sweat some minced garlic and jalapeno peppers in oil (I used safflower), throw in the mussels and add some white wine and let it steam (let the alcohol evaporate too).  Add some coconut milk and when it starts to simmer add the okra and tofu.  Garnish with spring onion and cilantro.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New York City Review: Rosanjin

141 Duane St

Rosanjin was a very interesting find.  I initially came across the restaurant's name when I was looking for Japanese restaurants to work at, and the food seemed very authentic but there was very minimal information and reviews about it online.  I went there on a Thursday evening and my friends and I were the only customers! The restaurant only seats about 24 people but it was surprising to see no other guests.

I immediately noticed that the servers were slightly awkward, but friendly.  They didn't quite seem to know what they were doing.  It was an unusually hot day that day and they gave us a hot towel (would have appreciated a cold one).  We ordered the $80 kaiseki course, which we had to indicate when we made the reservation on Open Table.

The food I had at Rosanjin was probably the most authentic refined Japanese food I've had in New York City (along with my meal at Inagiku at the Waldorf Astoria).  The $80 course filled me up about 90% and we all thought the price was very reasonable.  Why then is there so little publicity about this restaurant??? The restaurant is owned by a Korean man who spent a lot of time in Japan (in fact his Japanese sounds native), and he is new to the industry.  I think if they had a better front of house manager and put in more effort to market the place, they could really make a name for themselves.  It's a shame that not more people know about Rosanjin because the food was excellent.

Green tea tofu with tonburi (mountain caviar) and nagaimo (Japanese yam)- cut ridiculously fine

Sashimi course: botan ebi (a very sweet shrimp), toro (tuna belly), uni (sea urchin) and hirame (flounder)
Grilled gindara (sable fish) with daikonoroshi (grated daikon radish), myouga (like ginger), abalone and shrimp

Ebi shinjou (grated shrimp and fish with egg whites) with gomadoufu (sesame tofu), fiddlehead fern and satoimo (Japanese yam)

Tempura (the one with the little rice crackers around it was scallop)

Pickles, corn rice and miso soup
Desserts in a kaiseki meal are never elaborate- usually just fruit and/or ice cream

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Aya's Kitchen: Turkey Burger with Lime Cilantro Jalapeno Mayo

There are two things I'm hooked on right now: potato bread and ground turkey meat (breast and thigh).  I guess I discovered potato bread at Shake Shack and now I can't get over the texture and how good it makes your burger.  I still had ground turkey left over from the day before so I made a turkey burger with a different flavor profile.  To the meat itself I added cilantro, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, salt, black pepper and white pepper.  For the sauce, I added Japanese mayo (kewpie of course) to minced red onion, minced jalapeno, cilantro, salt, white pepper and a touch of lime juice.  I ate the burger with avocado and sauteed pineapple and it was really good.  The pineapple was really juicy and the sweetness was nice with the bit of heat from the sauce.  I just LOVE the smell of turkey!

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New York City Review: Roberta's

Roberta's Pizza
261 Moore St

The last time I went to Roberta's was two years ago and back then you couldn't make reservations.  Seems quite a bit has changed at this spot.  I just think Roberta's is a really Brooklyn and really cute restaurant.  I love the casual yet trendy atmosphere and the food is solid.

The meat with cured meats from within the US- my favorite was the soppresata

Nebraska IPA
The pizzas were the best part of the meal in my opinion.  The crust was just how I like it- thin with a crusty crust but still quite glutinous.  The mortacombat was with mortadella, castel vetrano olives, parsley and mozzarella.  The shangheist was with black olives, guanciale, red onion, parmigiano and mint.  They were both good but I preferred the mortacombat.
Agnolotti with black truffle, taleggio and nasturtium- nothing special
Sweetbreads with lime aioli- loved the sweetbreads but there was not enough acid so we ordered lemon wedges
My friends didn't like this tripe dish but it was different and I enjoyed the texture (still slightly chewy).  Quite a light dish.
The brought us a carrot salad because the scallops took a long time
Best out of the entrees.  Diver scallops with pickled plum, sea beans and lardo

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New York City Review: M Wells

M Wells
21-17 49th Avenue
Long Island City, Queens (at 21st Street)

Unfortunately as I write about M Wells, there is sad news that it will close at the end of August.  Apparently they have another location but it's not known when they will reopen.  Read the article here

M Wells is really a place for people who love to eat.  I was told that it was not an actual diner and that the menu changes regularly so I was picturing a spread of healthy, local and organic dishes.  Instead, I learned that it was owned by Chef Dufour, who used to work at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal (which I have actually been to) so a lot of the food was a heart attack waiting to happen.

When I walked into this retro diner, I thought they were trying too hard to just be different and hipster.  But once I ate their food I didn't care about their slow service or attempt at making Long Island City the next Williamsburg.  We ordered a few dishes and shared them family style- the best way to eat with friends.  There really is no clear theme or concept for the food here... They just serve whatever tastes good I suppose- and I had a bit of a problem wrapping my head around it at first.  But my taste buds and belly had no problem accepting M Wells. I didn't take a photo of the herb salad with buttermilk dressing but it was an eye opener! Loved the dill in the salad and there was plenty of dressing coating each leaf.

 I knew I had to eat this when I saw another table order it.  Escargot with bone marrow! It's absolutely genius!
 I didn't know what to expect when we ordered the gravlax pie but it exceeded my imagination.  One of my favorite dishes of the meal.  Loved that there was salmon roe on it.  Served with creme fraiche and potatoes.
 The steak tartar was just alright, nothing special
 The fish and chips had a very thick batter so I wasn't a fan
We were so full at the end but I HAD to order the banana cream pie.  It was not too sweet and the crust was close to perfect.  Loved it!

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New York City Review: Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant

Asian Jewels Seafood Restaurant
13330 39th Ave
Flushing, Queens
(718) 359-8600

After doing some research online, it seemed like this was one of the best places in Flushing for dim sum.  Just like at the dim sum places in Chinatown on a crowded day you get a number and wait for it to be called out.  You really don't have to wait long to get a table so it's worth the wait.  It really feels like you're in Hong Kong or somewhere else in China when you walk into this place. What I love about dim sum is the variety you can eat with just two people.  Below are photos of everything we ate between the two of us.

Some sort of pork patty

Siew mai: pork and shrimp dumpling
One of my favorites: pork riblets with black bean sauce
Chicken feet: better than any I've had in Chinatown because it's very tender
Turnip cake
Shrimp stuffed chili peppers
Didn't really like this: celery, carrots and shrimp wrapped with glass noodles
One of my favorites: fried glutinous rice balls with sesame and lotus root paste
Fried dough wrapped in rice noodles
Some sort of pork ball
Rice noodles with shrimp

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New York City Review: Amy Ruth's

Amy Ruths 
113 West 116th Street

On Saturday, my friend and I walked from Columbus Circle to around 96th street through Central Park because he wanted to go to a raquetball tournament.  It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy day and as I was lying in the grass looking at where we were on blackberry maps, I realized that we were only 20 blocks away from Harlem.  I immediately suggested we walk further north to go eat some fried chicken.  I really wanted to go to Charles' Pan-fried Chicken but it was a little too far up, so we went to Amy Ruth's instead.

I hadn't been there for two years but nothing had changed in the restaurant.  I ordered The Ludacris (four chicken wings) with mac & cheese and collard greens.  My friend ordered the Reggie Harris (Southern honey dipped fried chicken) with grits and coleslaw.  Portion wise I thought mine was more generous.  The chicken wings here are definitely my favorite in town- crispy outside, juicy inside, no sauce around it... The mac & cheese could've used a little more salt but other than that the meal completely satisfied me.  We ordered a banana pudding and velvet cake for dessert but it was a little unnecessary since they were huge and on the sweet side.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Aya's Kitchen: Mushroom Risotto with Duck Breast

My favorite kind of risotto besides a simple cheese risotto is mushroom risotto.  I was craving duck too so I served the two together.  For the mushroom stock you can use scraps or button mushrooms.  Just combine equal parts (by volume) of mushrooms and water and add a bit of salt.  Bring it to a boil and let it simmer until you get the flavor you want.  

The general rice to liquid ratio for risotto is 1 to 3 but you can always keep extra mushroom stock and play around with it to get the consistency you want.  I seared some mushrooms and folded them into the risotto (with grana padano cheese too)

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Travel Series: San Sebastian, Spain, "Arzak"

Alcade Jose Elosegui 273
Alto de Miracruz 21
San Sebastian, Spain
+ 34 943 278 465

For our nice dinner in San Sebastian, we decided to go to Arzak over Akelarre.  I was curious about this father-daughter team and after consulting with a few Spanish foodies, Arzak seemed like the place to go.  

When I saw the outside of the restaurant, I didn't know what to expect because it looked quite old fashioned and plain.  As we walked in, we saw a completely different world inside, with a modern black and white interior.  Since it has three Michelin stars, we were really dressed up, but we almost felt overdressed compared to everyone else.  We were shown to a table upstairs, and one thing we instantly noticed was that most of the servers were women.  We of course chose to have the tasting, and ordered a bottle of Monserrat Blanc (because we had seen the mountain earlier when we were in Penedes), which was like a cross between a chardonnay and viognier (slight oxidized taste).  

The food was all aesthetically beautiful and tasted good too.  The only presentation I didn't quite like was the fish course, which I thought was cute but slightly tacky.  I was a lot more impressed with the amuse bouches and starting courses than the fish and meat course, perhaps because I was starting to get very full, or perhaps because the element of surprise diminishes after a while.

One interesting thing about the service that I noticed was how unrefined it was.  The servers were all very friendly but everything they did was rather aggressive and rough.  It made me think back to our visit to Mugaritz, where they told us that they don't want to have an uptight, formal atmosphere because they want their guests to feel comfortable.  Here was a three Michelin starred restaurant that obviously placed more importance on their food then hospitality, and not so much the formality and technique of service.  It was refreshing to experience this at such a renowned restaurant. 

Puding de kabrarroka con kataifi
Humo de jamon con tomate
Arroz amarillo crujiente con hongos
Antxoas con fresa marinada: Anchovies with strawberries- such a weird but perfect combination!
Maiz, morcilla e higos: Corn, blood sausage and figs

Beet chips with sauteed oysters

Lobster: Patata, bogavente y copaiba- the red thing looked like a tomato but it burst in my mouth!

Poached egg with bread crumbs

Rape marea baja: monkfish.  The shells were amazing because they tasted just like mussels!

Lenguado con mamia: venison
A deliciously refreshing herb salad with puffed rice
Jugando a las canicas de chocolate

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