Thursday, May 31, 2007

92nd Street Y

I attended a Discussion Panel at the 92nd Street Y this past Tuesday.
Guest panelists included, Gael Greene, Arthur Schwartz, Michael Whiteman, and Jacques Pepin.
Moderated by Michael Colameco. 
Topic : Is dining in Manhattan really the best it's ever been?
It was a great event and I hope there are more down the road. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Popeyes cuts transfats

Just saw that Popeyes cut transfats from their menu. I am definitely celebrating that move as Popeyes is my favorite fast food fried chicken joint...yes, it's even better than KFC. That faux-cajun goodness is wonderful! Something about those cajun spices, crispy skin, and perfectly moist chicken makes me a happy dude. Hopefully, the switch to the transfats-free doesn't affect the quality...

Bruni vs Katz's

clearly, this Bruni character is a dumb ass...
Katz's Deli *
granted, the decor sucks, the service is hord, but the pastrami sandwich is probably the best sandwich in the WORLD.
that makes up for all the previous lost points and then some.

cured for 3 weeks, and steamed for 6 hours. that makes for a good pastrami.
Bruni has no business giving this meat mecca just 1 star. was it just "good"?

(None) Poor to satisfactory
* Good
** Very good
*** Excellent
**** Extraordinary

mind you, this is the same man who gave Masa (japanese eatery in the time warner building) 4 stars when it first opened.
i've been the masa's kitchen and it is a joke. it's home cooking but just plated professionally.
you're better off going to mitsuwa and having a 5 minute meal. you'll thank me later when you realized I saved about $495 a head.

anywho, frank bruni is a dumb ass and it feels good to say that.
give it a try... i guarantee you'll have a smile after you do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Grandpa Eddie's Jamaican Jerk Sauce

Found a great Jerk Sauce at a random street fair in Hoboken, NJ - Grandpa Eddie's Jamaican Jerk Sauce. By no means am I a jerk sauce connoisseur, but after one sample of the sauce I was amazed by the complexity of flavors. It's sweet at first, then turns slight hot, then sweet again. I tried putting it over some red beans and rice and it (pardon my expression) kicks it up a notch. For the Monday hang out with Porthos, I made some jerk chicken wings and I was pretty pleased with the results.

Jerk Chicken Wings
5 Pound chicken wings
10 Tblsp jerk sauce

1) Marinate chicken over night in the jerk sauce using a ziplock freezer bag.
2) Start broiler going and have pan 6 inches from the coil/flame. Take out wings and let it rest until they are room temperature.
3) Place wings on pan and cook for 7-10 minutes on one side - until skin is nice and browned.
4) Flip the wings and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Put knife in one of the wings and juices should run clear. Let rest and enjoy - the key is to make sure the wings are still juicy (making a small test batch is key). If you've never had ginger beer, now would be a good time to try!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sushi Yasuda - Review

Sushi Yasuda - Recommended
204 E 43rd St, New York 10017
Btwn 2nd & 3rd Ave
Phone: 212-972-1001

My girlfriend just got a new job, so figuring what better way to celebrate than going to the best sushi restaurant in NYC - Sushi Yasuda. I've been here 2 other times sitting at the sushi counter with Yasuda-San and another time with his #2 guy (Okino?) - both times being the best sushi I've ever had. This time we sat with Mizuno(?) the 4th guy at the sushi counter. It was very good, but not mind blowing which was a little disappointing. I even tried some defensive measures to make sure the dinner came out great. For lunch, I had bad pre-boxed sushi rolls from the cafeteria that might have been made the day before. This helped, but still something was missing. Overall, I give the restaurant an 88/100.

My Menu

1) Kimo (various fish livers) - Highly Recommended
2) Soft Shell Crab - Highly Recommended
3) Sushi Omakase - Highly Recommended

Dish Comments
1) Porthos likes to call fish liver the foie gras of the sea. The fish liver flavors are so rich and satisfying. It's amazing how the different fish livers have their own unique taste.
2) I've been craving soft shell crab for a while and it made sense to get it here. It was spectacular. Perfectly crispy with a great flavor. The soft shell crab also was nice and thick, where you could see a lot of crab meat and tamale. A lot times soft shell crabs look like they're pressed down and you really can't see any crab meat - not true here.
3) Again, everything was very good to great with only one below average item - sea eel which was very dry. My keys to sushi and sushi rolls are a fresh fish flavor (obviously), rice and nori that falls apart easily in the mouth, the texture and flavor of the rice and nori, and the correct ratio of rice to fish. My cafeteria sushi experience had nori that was chewy, rice that was hard, and no fish flavor. With the #4 guy, the sushi was very good and he hit on almost all of the marks. The standouts include Negi-Toro Roll (and hand roll), shima-aji (my favorite), king salmon roe, and freshwater eel - these were all spectacular. Other pieces were very good to great, but again something was missing. With Yasuda-san, each fish had a completely distinctive taste and the fish felt so alive in the mouth. With the #2 guy, the rice complemented the fish and fell apart in such an ethereal way. The #4 guy did not have any of these components, which was again a little disappointing.

Overall Restaurant Experience (88/100)

  • Food 9.0/10 - Very good to great sushi
  • Service 5.0/10 - Very good service, except the waitress spilled soy sauce on my girlfriend. I was pretty upset about it, but they were very nice and my girlfriend wasn't that upset since she was wearing a black shirt. Still unacceptable...
  • Atmosphere 9/10 - Everything is very minimal - sushi counter is made of blond cedar wood that makes you want to eat sushi. Mixed crowd to the solo business man enjoying sushi, to loud groups at the counter...
  • Price 8/10 - Expensive meal - $260 for the 2 of us, but I was still happy at the end.

Closing Comments
It's funny how the same cut of fish can be so completely different when a master sushi chef handles it. The previous two times I was on cloud 9 when I left the restaurant - feeling like I just had sushi for the first time. This time I was very happy, but missing that cloud 9 feeling. I will only hand out a highly recommended rating when I have that cloud 9 feeling. Still recommended and I think better than Sushi-Ann, even though an argument could be made that Shumi in Sommerville, NJ was an equivalent experience. If you go, make sure you sit with Yasuda-san, otherwise you may get mixed results.

Friday, May 25, 2007

BBQ Weekend

Hope everyone is ready for a little BBQing this weekend.
I know I am...
Will surely post after the event.

Tentative working menu :
-Grilled Quail with Garlic Basil Pesto
-Grilled Foie Gras on Bun with Apple and Caramelized Onions
-Beef Kebobs with Miso Sauce
-Grilled Sausages
-Jerk Chicken Wings
-Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Smoked Mozarella
-Sweet Potato Soup or Thai Avocado Soup
-Potato Salad & Corn on the Cob
-Bread, Cheese, Charcuterie
-Beverages (Soda, Juice, Water and maybe Beer)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sudo Honke (Brewery)

Sudo Honke is the oldest Sake Brewery in Japan.
Established in 1141, the President is the 55th generation Master Brewer of his family to take over the Brewery.
The sake recipe is guarded with extreme care and pride.

Kakunko - (pronounced : Kah Koon Koh) Their flagship Sake is undeniably the most aromatic sake I've ever tastes. Over-the-top bouquet and even stronger flowery aftertaste lingers in the back of your throat. Simply said, Amazing.
Polished down to 27%, the Yamadaho rice is extremely rare and therefore extremely expensive.

A bottle of Kakunko easily runs $300+ per bottle (720ml).
But the experience is worth the splurge.
To give you some reference... Robert Parker gave it a 91

The bottle in the middle is Kakunko.

Kori Kori - Sashimi 201

"Kori Kori..." This is the Japanese "onomatopoeia" that best describes fresh white fish.
(ie. Hirame aka Fluke. Not the case for Toro or other fatty fish)
Fish, like any other animal go through rigor after death.
It is at this stage in (white fish) Sashimi preparation that is most desirable by gourmands.
The filet should be sliced thinly by the skilled chef and enjoyed immediately.
I have had the pleasure of dining on a snapper sashimi style 20 minutes after it was caught.
It was a life changing experience.

Above:Sashimi platter served at Lan. Quite good. Professional refridgeration is the key to keeping these fish so fresh.

(Starting at 12 o'clock going clockwise)

Kanpachi - "Kori Kori"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


(aghem) All right...  I know in today's foodie world (especially here in NY), it's credibility assasination to even mention McD's or Burger King in one's food blog. 
Especially on a blog that prides themselves on knowing quality "good food". 
But I gotta say, now and again, an occasional Whopper really hits the spot. 
1) I know that the meat is poorly raised beef and the processing plant can't be any better. 
2) The lettuce, tomatoes and onions on the burger are probably genetically engineered. 
3) The fries are dipped in sugar before being fried to (a) create more crisp, and (b) sugar has addictive properties and will increase sales equalling more profit for the company. 
4) And finally, the person assembling my burger is probably only making minimum wage and has a small chance of ever breaking out of their current socio-economic situation. 
There, 4 horrible reasons why we should boycott these establishments...
But the bottom line is...
It's fast, full of flavor and fills your tummy. 
What can I say???  Convenience WINS!

Beef... in trouble.

If you love beef as much as I do... this is a must read article in the
dining section of the New York Times.
Never mind the gas prices, what are you doing to my steaks?

on a side note...
I'd like to think I've eaten some really nice steaks and beef dishes in the past.
And I'd like to think I do a pretty good job expressing my love for beef.
But I stumbled upon this site/blog by some "hardcore" beef eaters and had to share this with you all.
Talk about taking it to a whole 'nother level.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


There is something mystical about Charcuterie.
Perhaps it's that "old world" artisan flavor, or simply the concept of hanging pounds and pounds of meat up in the country side and letting the crisp valley air pass by as time stands still.

I recently find myself pondering at my desk, what it would be like to become a cheese maker, or a wine maker, or a charcuterie maker, or a baker, or an angler, or even a mushroom hunter.
So the question really is, could I become a Culinary Artisan? Or, would I want to become one?
Would I give up all the leisures modern day civilization has to offer and trade it in for a log-cabin up in the Pyrenees with nothing but a dog, a rifle, and (while i'm at it, why not!?) a 22 year old French lover. We would drink wine, eat cheese, cook game, and make babies.
Could life really be that simple?

Monday, May 21, 2007


Eighty-Eight Dollar Fried Rice Arrives! (oh, no)

It used to be that restaurants competed for customers by offering value-driven options. Then things started to change. First there was the $45 burger stuffed with foie gras and fashioned from short ribs at DB Bistro. Then came the $55 truffle-dusted Mac 'n Cheese at Waverly Inn. Now my friends, we have entered the era of the $88 bowl of fried rice. This one comes to us courtesy of the man who brought us salmon lollipops, edible flavor sprays (oh, my) and babes in bikinis peddling dinner at Hawaiian Tropic Zone. You guessed it, none other than David Burke. Hey, the guy does good gimmicks. And someone's buyin 'em. So this fried rice of his is made with lobster and king crab chunks, and topped with raw Japanese Kobe beef strips, a tiny fried quail egg and a dollop of American caviar. The final touch is gold leaf, 'cause what would fried rice be without gold leaf after all? Ah, that would be fried rice for four bucks, that's what. Where did we go wrong? David Burke & Donatella is located at 133 East 61st Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, 212-813-2121.
***courtesy of the Strong Buzz***
seriously guys? come on!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory - Review

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory - Recommended
65 Bayard St, New York 10013
Btwn Elizabeth & Mott St
Phone: 212-608-4170

I wanted some ice cream after a big meal in Chinatown, so there's only one place to go in Chinatown - Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. The gimic here is they serve ice cream with Asian flavors - Lychee, Green Tea, Durian, etc. Now the ice cream is good here, but nothing great. I am a bigger fan of gelato which has a super smooth texture and intense flavors due to the smaller proportion of fat (less eggs, no cream). With that being said, the ice cream here is still good and very fun due to the Asian flavors. My girlfriend and I had a cup of taro ice cream and a cup of the almond cookie ice cream. Flavors are great and definitely reminded of those ingredients. Lychee didn't taste that good for some reason - I made it a couple of months ago and mine came out more flavorful. Overall, I give the place a 75/100

Overall Restaurant Experience (75/100)

  • Food 7.5/10 - Good flavors, but the texture could be better. Great variety though.
  • Service N/A - Young kids that are serving the ice cream and they're very helpful.
  • Atmosphere N/A - Ice cream shop that does get crowded with kids and adults
  • Price 7/10 - I guess average price for NY ice cream - $3 a cup, still pricey to me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Beef, it's what's for dinner...

Brandt Farm Beef from Dean and Deluca (Soho).
Sirloin Steak with sauteed miso shiitake, castello cheese, and picholine olives.
Served with sliced ciabata bread and truffle butter. Makes for a fun TV dinner.
NCIS never tasted this good!!!

Dinner @ Artisanal

Great dinner with friends.
Enjoy the Pics.

Niman Ranch Pork Chop
Pan Fried Skate with Blood Orange Sauce
Monkfish with Lentils
Chadam Cod with Artichokes

Dinner was phenominal. So phenomenal, it lasted 6 hours.
Here are the desserts from the meal.

Chocolate Souffle Cake
Strawberry Panna Cotta

Cheese Plate:
Fourme d'Ambert

Thursday, May 17, 2007

insieme' review

Owned and operated by the same guys at Hearth...

Located at the Michaelangelo Hotel on 51st and 7th.
(enter through doors and immediately to your right)
Cool decor and just opened for business April 16th of this year.
Needs to work out some kinks but over all a very nice experience.
The meal started out a little underwelming but bloomed into a phenominal experience.

The wine selection was Spectacular!
Sancerre Rose - Awesome
Soave White - Wonderful
Austrian Red - Outstanding
Greek Santorini style Dessert Wine - Phenomenal

The wines served last night made the meal. Clearly a very educated beverage director/owner.
more details to follow...

Truffle Oil is a Fake...

E-mail conversation about Truffle Oil yesterday...
> > okay guys, I need to ask the experts, D'Artagnan or true is this
> > article?
> >
> > Truffle  Article <>
> >
> > Is Ds' oil a fake?  Are we paying for real truffle flavor but getting
> > jipped in the kitchen?
> > Does this mean I have never tasted real truffles?  Hmmm lots of questions
> > here.
> >
> > I do like the oil and probably would continue using it only because it
> > tastes really good.

> yes, it's laboratory made. thanks to modern day science... and capitalism.
> scientists are able to synthetically fabricate the same molecular taste
> profile that make  truffles truffles.
> therefore, the oils are a dead ringer of the real stuff.
> like any other product, there are ones that are good and those that are bad.
> take for instance Roland.  They make a pretty subpar product.  
(well, most of their products are subpar)
> hence the price point is amazingly competitive.
> then there's dartagnan's truffle oil. one of the better stuff out there.
> they use a very high concentrate extract to fuse with the olive oil or
> sunflower oil and you get an undeniable huge nose.
> so the answer is, yes.  this stuff is "fake".
> besides, if you were to put a ripe truffle into oil, you can run the risk of
> growing bacteria and killing who ever eats it. (scary) anaerobic bacteria love
> clinging to funghi, and especially in oil.  the conditions are optimal for
> bacteria. it's like their four seasons.  simply, it's not wise to infuse real truffles in oil.
> hope that helps.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

salute to Pork Belly

A co-worker made braised pork belly yesterday and brought it in the office to share with the team. 
Pork belly, rules!  Braised Japanese style...  sweeter because of the special Mirin she used.  But it was outrageously delicious.
Thanks A for the TREAT!
Apologies for not snapping a pic of the dish. 
By the time we realized, we had finished devouring the meal. 

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

Another day, another cooking event, this time for Mother's Day. Much respect to chefs out there cooking for a living. Even though I cooked for 4 people today, it was still a little tough after the cooking marathon yesterday. Food still came out very tasty...

1) Mixed Greens with Roasted Mangoes, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onions
2) Broiled Red Snapper with Chorizo and Mussels
3) Pan Seared Shanghai Tips
4) Greek yogurt with dates, figs, and honey

Mixed Greens with Roasted Mangoes, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onions

Salad here is very interesting, since it has the sweet and spicy thang going on contrasting with the richness of the goat cheese. The textures of the walnuts and crispiness of the salad makes it interesting to eat.

3 Mangoes skin and seed removed, cut into slices
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Hot Sauce from a yellow or orange pepper (e.g. scotch bonnet or habanero)
1/3 cup water
Goat Cheese (the sharper the better)
1 Vidalia Onion sliced
Juice of 2 fresh limes
Salt and pepper

1) Roast mangoes in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes.
2) While mangoes are roasting, saute onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Salt and pepper onions immediately after place in the pan. Make sure they don't burn. You're looking for them to turn into a light brown, then to brownish color. Congrats - you just made caramelized onions...
3) Combine two of the mango slices in a food processor along with the juice of 1 1/2 limes, a touch of the hot sauce (to taste), the honey, a drizzle of the olive oil, and a little water. Puree it until smooth. You want the consistency of a salad dressing - add more water if needed. Adjust flavors (e.g. honey, hot sauce, salt, pepper etc.) if needed.
4) Combine salad with dressing and plate. Add caramelized onions, 2 slices of roasted mango, crushed walnuts, and goat cheese on top. Finish with extra virgin olive oil.

Broiled Red Snapper with Chorizo and Mussels
Got this from Jacques Pepin, tweaked it slightly, and it came out wonderful. I served this with some leftover Mexican rice and beans. The sauce from the mussels and chorizo are heavenly and match perfectly with the snapper. I could eat the crispy chorizo from the broiler every single day (but I would probably need an angioplasty)


2 pounds Red snapper fillets, scaled, and bones removed
dozen mussels scrubbed and beards removed
1/4 pound Chorizo sausage (i got them deli sliced, not what i wanted, but came out really good any way)
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
fresh basil
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper

1) Place chorizo (reserve 1/4 of the chorizo) in a saute pan over low heat. Cook for 5 minutes until oil is released and chorizo gets crispy.
2) While chorizo is cooking, preheat broiler. Also, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub olive oil over snapper fillets and add a generous amount of sea salt and pepper to both sides of the fillets. Add chorizo slices on the bottom of the broiler. Place fillets on top of the chorizo in the broiler. Broil until skin gets crispy - maybe 7 minutes? Switch fillet and chorizo to oven and finish off (to make things easier use a toaster oven to broil and as the oven). Make sure it doesn't overcook...maybe another 5-7 minutes depending on thickness of the fillets.
3) While fish is cooking, remove chorizo from the saute pan. Saute shallots in chorizo oil until softened over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add mussels and cook over high heat. Add white wine and cover for about 1 minute. Remove mussels that have opened in your serving plate. Cover and cook the remaining mussels that have not opened. If they still don't open after a 1 more minute, discard.
4) Add fish on top of chorizo and mussels. Make sure to get the juice from the fish and chorizo back in the serving plate. Add olive oil and fresh basil.

Pan Seared Shanghai Tips
Shanghai tips are like bok choy except the bottom part is more green, and I think it has way more flavor. I treated these vegetables like the Italians do, since they love to caramelize their vegetables a lot to bring out more flavor...this works on almost all veggies.

1/2 pound shanghai tips cut in half thoroughly washed
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese Rice Wine
4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
Peanut oil

1) Heat oil over in a saute pan over medium heat. Place shanghai tips cut side down. Cook until very caramelized on the cut side down and do not move the vegetables (maybe 5-7 minutes).
2) Add more oil if necessary and sautee garlic until fragrant (15-30 seconds)
3) Add soy sauce and cook for 10 seconds (soy should immediately form a glaze)
4) Add rice wine and cook for 10 seconds. Immediately serve.

Greek yogurt with dates, figs, and honey
A thick Greek yogurt, fresh cinnamon and nutmeg are key here. Nice rich dessert that doesn't make you feel gross afterwards.

1 cup Greek yogurt
6 dried figs
6 dried dates
tablespoon of honey
fresh mint
2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1) Place figs, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and reduce until a syrup is formed. Put aside to cool.
2) Divide yogurt evenly into serving bowls. When syrup is cooled down, add syrup mixture (including dates and figs) into the yogurt and swirl around. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

親子丼 Oyako-Don (Chicken&Egg Rice Bowl)

Here is my attempt to make the best retail Oyako Don by using as many premium products as possible.
(Premium products designated by a "*" in front)

-*Jidori chicken thighs
-*Organic eggs
-Shiitake mushrooms
-Dashi broth
-*Aka Sake Mirin (Red Sake Mirin)
-*Shiro Shoyu (White Soy Sauce)

Koshihikari Echigo Beer
made with Malt, Hops and Koshihikari Rice.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Multi Cultural Tacos

Had some people over last night and decided to make a bunch of dishes inspired by different cultures with tortillas as the serving vessel - Multi Cultural Tacos for the TC crew! To answer the question up front, all of these recipes I came up with myself. Basically inspired by eating lots and lots of good food.

Here's last night's the menu:
1) Home made guacomole and hummus
2) Indian snacks
3) Middle Eastern Inspired Pizza
4) Latin Style Braised Beef
5) Mexican rice and beans
6) Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
7) Chinese Roasted duck, cucumbers, and hoisin sauce
8) Enoki mushrooms in sake and miso
9) Chinese Tong Choy (aka Ong Choy)

Comments about the menu
1) Easy stuff to make and way better than the stuff that you can buy at the local mega mart...recipe available upon request
2) Was thinking about making a chicken tikka misala from scratch instead, but this was the easier thing to do. The snacks are Haldiram's Panchrattan which can be bought at most Indian grocery stores. Sweet and spicy potato sticks - so good.
3) Basically baked pita with hummus, tomato, red onion, cucumber, mint, lemon juice, and olive oil. The tomato, red onion, cucumber, mint, and lemon juice reminded me of a salad that I had at an Afghani Restaurant. Hummus and pita reminds me of one of my favorite cheap eateries in NYC - Mamouns.
4) Not sure how I got this, but after going to Mexico I have been inspired to do more braising of meats. Basically a chuck steak rubbed with cumin, cinnamon, chipotle powder, and mexican oregano. Braising in orange juice (I think this is more cuban, but I still like it), garlic gloves, liquid smoke, and olive oil. Sear the meat with sea salt, sautee onions, tomato paste, and a bay leaf, add a can of whole tomatoes and simmer for 2+ hours. Serve this on a corn tortilla with white onions, cilantro, and tomatoes...optional mexican rice and beans and/or guacomole
6) Sausage, peppers, and onions served in a tortilla is surprisingly good. Was thinking about having tomato sauce, basil, and smoked mozzarella cheese (representing a pizza), but thinking that would be too messy.
7) This is inspired by the Peking Duck again in a tortilla. Place the duck, cucumbers, cilantro, and hoisin sauce in the shell...a classic.
8) Had this at Gyu-Kaku (Japanese bbq) in the city, so I had to do a recreation. Basically enoki mushrooms, soy sauce, sake, miso, scallions, garlic, and butter roasted. Topped off with truffle oil...
9) One of my favorite chinese veggies...sweet and crunchy. It's a veggie that has a hole in the center and grows in waterways


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Best of Luck Dante!

I did not have a chance to say goodbye to one of my favorite chefs in the city, Dante Boccuzzi(formerly of Aureole NYC) when he uprooted to Cleveland, Ohio earlier this year. I've known Dante for a few years now and he is one of the humblest chefs I know (and I've met a bunch of chefs). His food is wonderful and carefully put together to give the diner a controlled flow through out the meal.
Too many chefs today, load up their tasting menu with excellent dishes that play a wonderful solo but never have the right chemistry to balance their characteristics with the next dish.
Dante was one of those rare Chefs in the city that pulled it off and kept to his game by doing it day in and day out. Salut!

But fate had it that we met up at the James Beard Awards (last Monday) as everyone was breaking down their booths and running into each other while loading our cars.
"Cleveland it is!" he said with a smile and invited me to the Grand Opening later this year in September.
His wine director and I exchanged cards and we look forward to working on a project together.

Now when someone talks about Cleveland, Ohio, I will have 2 subjects to start a converstation with. Chef Dante Boccuzzi and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.
I think I will lead with the first.

Friday, May 11, 2007

日本の形 The Japanese Tradition - 鮨 sushi

Here's an oldie but a goodie. Make sure you take notes while watching this, and do EXACTLY what you learned the next time you attend a sushi establishment. Then post your comments here.


The Age of Momofuku

My image of the David Chang has always been one of a pompous ass. There, I said it. Let me march to the beat of a different drummer.
But the Press LOVES him, and now after winning a James Beard Award for "Rising Star Chef", life is going to be even more peachy for Mr. Chang.
The other night at the "Chef's Night Out" event, he was all into himself as if he already knew he had secured the JB Award in his pocket. Gloating and shaking hands like how Russell Crowe would after 8 beers and 20 lap dances.
But this article on "Eater" helps paint a different picture for me... Chang, perhaps an average "Joe" like you or I, and a down to earth type of guy.

So perhaps I've been a little critical of this guy in the past.
But the fact still remains, his noodle shop serves really bad noodles.
As a foodie with a lot of Japanese friends in the industry, we all frown upon his noodles.
But if the general public likes it, there must be some merit to his existence. (cynical)

Anyways, here's the bottom line...
For the love of god, please don't make him out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread...
Chang is just some Korean (correction) kid who cooked at some famous places. He's not really that good at what he does. His kitchen skills are subpar. And nothing else really stands out in my opinion.
He simply opened a noodle shop under the name of Momofuku, which for those of you who didn't know, refers to the godfather of instant noodles, Ando Momofuku himself. The founder of Nissin Cup Ramen.
If he meant to pay homage to the godfather himself, Great...!
But I can't help but chuckle at the resemblence in quality between the two. (dig)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alain Ducasse Interview

Here's an interesting interview with Alain Ducasse one of the most well known French chefs in the world. He gives his opinions on Michelin stars, Joel Robuchon (another famous French chef) and the new fad in cooking - molecular gastronomy. Enjoy...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Yakitori Totto - Review

Yakitori Totto - Highly Recommended
251 W. 55th St., New York, NY 10019
nr. Broadway
Phone: 212-245-4555

There are some food experiences that make you say "ahhh, so that's what real (insert food item) is supposed to taste like." For me, pasta and gelato in Rome did this. Sushi Yasuda did this as well. And, now Yakitori Totto has taken this distinction. I've had some yakitori (grilled chicken) before and I generally liked it a lot. Skewered meats in a bar environment for cheap - what's not to like. However, I never knew how good yakitori could be until coming to Yakitori Totto. Now, I know the key to great yakitori is intense chicken flavor, juicy meat, and the aroma of good charcoal. Overall, I give the restaurant an 88/100.

My Menu

Porthos ordered all the food for our dude's night out, so I'm not 100% sure what we ordered but this is what I think we had...

1) Nonkutsu (soft bone) - Recommended
2) Shishito (peppers) - Recommended
3) Seseri (chicken neck) - Highly Recommended
4) Teba (chicken wing) - Highly Recommended
5) Jidori Karaage (fried chicken) - Highly Recommended
6) Momo (chicken thigh) - Highly Recommended
7) Kinoko (eringi mushroom) - Highly Recommended
8) Kobe Beef Gyutan (beef tongue) - Highly Recommended (best of the night)
9) Kawa (chicken skin) - Highly Recommended
10) Tsukune (chicken meat ball with raw quail egg) - Highly Recommended
11) Tokusen Toridon (chicken, egg, onion, rice) - Highly Recommended
12) Negi Tori Don (chicken, scallion, raw egg, rice) - Highly Recommended

Dish Comments

1) First time every eating chicken bones. Bones are a little crunchy almost like popcorn, but tasting like chicken. Very good stuff.
2) Great roasted pepper flavor and a nice sauce, but a little spicy.
3-6, 9, 10) All the chicken dishes have a great texture, a real intense chicken flavor, super juicy meat, and a great charcoal aroma. It really makes a difference using organic chicken and cooking it properly. The chicken neck and skin stands out the most.
7) Never had this mushroom before, but it could almost make me become a vegetarian...almost. The mushroom has a very intense flavor, great meaty texture, and somehow is really juicy. Maybe my second favorite of the night.
8) Beef tongue is very tender, great flavor, and great texture. Definitely my favorite of the night.
11,12) Both rice dishes were incredible. It's so satisfying having great chicken and perfectly cooked eggs with white rice.

Overall Restaurant Experience (88/100)

  • Food 9.0/10 - The food is high quality and also extremely satisfying like good home cooking, a very rare combo.
  • Service 8.4/10 - Japanese place. See my other comments...nuff said.
  • Atmosphere 9.0/10 - Looks like this could be in Japan. Small place with lots of wood paneling. Crowd is mainly Japanese. Great feel to the place for groups. The waits are insane though, but it maybe worth it. I went 3x previously around 7pm and the wait was at least 1 1/2 hours. Last night, we went at 10pm and the place was still busy - no wait however.
  • Price 9.5/10 - For the quality of the food, the price is phenomenal. It came out to $60 including tip per person - Porthos obviously ordered for 10 - even though we were 4 :) And we ordered good sake as well.

Closing Comments
After going to Yakitori Taisho, I thought I understood what good yakitori was. Not any more. Taisho does not have the organic meat and the charcoal, which definitely affects the flavor and texture. They cover it by adding a sweet sauce, which is tasty; however, the stuff at T0tto is ethereal. Like Sushi Yasuda before, this experience at Yakitori Totto may have ruined me since I will expect more from any future Yakitori joint.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Sea Salt versus Kosher Salt

After many years of watching the Food Network, I knew that salt was important. However, many of the Food Network personalities (e.g. Alton Brown, Tyler Florence, Emeril, etc.) were always advocating the use of kosher salt. Kosher salt has a fine texture and is not as salty as other salts. It gets its name from its use in making meats kosher, by helping to extract the blood from the meat. I was generally very happy using kosher salt whenever I cooked. However, after having D'Artagnan cook for us, my views on salt have changed.

D'Artagnan prefers using sea salt on everything with his views of kosher salt being "kosher salt sucks." D'Artagnan is a chef in NYC, so it's very helpful asking him food questions since he deals with food for a living. After having D'Artagnan's lamb and duck which was insanely flavorful, I decided to give it a try. I have now come to the realization for all meats and seafood I will use sea salt. Sea salt gives meats and seafood a better crust and a more intense flavor. I immediately noticed the difference after cooking some chicken and salmon using sea salt. I prefer vegetables to have a less pumped up flavor, which is why I'm sticking with kosher salts there. That's the great thing about cooking, you can always learn new things and improve on technique. Give it the side-by-side test (chicken with sea salt vs kosher salt) and I think you'll probably come to the same conclusion.

The 2007 James Beard Awards

Looking forward to seeing who takes home Best Chef of the Year...
Along with Rising Star Chef, and others...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Poor Man's Surf and Turf

I went to Mitsuwa, our favorite Japanese supermarket, to buy some groceries and I wanted to cook some fish. However, walking down the meat aisle I saw some jidori chicken. Jidori chicken is basically organic, cage free chicken raised really well. After being blown away by the jidori at LAN, I needed to buy some and see how it performs. Below are the recipe / results.

Broiled Jidori Chicken and Asian Style Scrambled Eggs
1 pack (1 pound?) Jidori Chicken thighs
2/3 cup Dry Sake
Sea Salt
5 Large Organic Eggs
1 Scallion - white part only - finely minced
1 garlic clove finely minced
1 tsp finely minced ginger
1/3 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Lemon
Japanese White rice cooked according to package instructions

1) Marinate chicken in 1/3 cup dry sake for about 10 minutes. Not sure what this does, but according to Porthos it's traditional Japanese.
2) Whisk eggs, scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and remaining sake in a bowl. Whisk until foamy and pale - maybe 5-10 minutes. Not sure if this helps that much, but saw some chicken farmer in France make eggs this way on Tyler's Ultimate. Set aside.
3) Dry chicken thoroughly and place in a baking dish, skin side up. Turn on broiler and wait till it gets to the maximum heat
4) Add a pinch of sea salt to both sides of the chicken.
5) Place baking dish under broiler. Cook until skin is incredibly crispy - maybe 5 minutes. Turn the chicken around and cook until finished. Maybe 3 minutes depending on your broiler. Chicken should have crispy skin and be super juicy on the inside. If it's still raw, cook some more, but make sure the skin doesn't burn. Let rest for 5 minutes.
6) While chicken is resting, heat up a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add egg mixture and gently fold until curds start forming. Once curds start forming, stir until a little less than 1/2 the mixture is liquid. Take off heat and fold some more until only 5% of mixture is liquid.
7) Serve Rice, add scrambled eggs, then add chicken on top. Top chicken with a squeeze of lemon and garnish with more scallions.

The flavor of the chicken is really good, but I was expecting phenomenal stuff since it was Jidori chicken. I was still pleased though. Crispy skin, super moist meat, and pretty good chicken flavor - way better than your supermarket Perdue chicken. The combination of the rice, egg, and chicken are heavenly.

Pan Seared Salmon
2 Salmon Fillets Scaled, Pin Bones Removed
1/3 cup Dry Sake
Sea Salt

1) Marinate Salmon in sake for 10 minutes.
2) Turn on non-stick pan to medium heat. Remove salmon and pat dry. Season liberally with salt on both sides.
3) Add a little peanut oil to pan. When oil is shimmering, add salmon skin side down.
4) Keep cooking skin side down side until 3/4 of the side of the fillet looks completed cooked - maybe 5 minutes. Important step is to not move the salmon at all.
5) Flip fillet over. Skin should be super crispy. Cook for another 2 minutes and take off the heat and cover the pan.
6) Let rest for 10 minutes and serve with chicken and asian style scrambled eggs.

The key here is to get real good salmon that looks fatty - nice thick white streaks between the flesh. If you have good salmon, you don't need to do much. Again, not sure what the sake did, but I'm adding it to my repertoire. Crispy skin, moist fatty salmon, and sea salt make for a nice fish. This combined with the Jidori and Asian Style Scramble Eggs makes for a tasty poor man's surf and turf.

Friday, May 4, 2007

They are chopsticks, not drumsticks!!!

My blood boils when ever I see people sitting next to me at an Asian restaurant waiting for food and decide to play with their chopsticks. Twirling them between their fingers, and beating them on their plates as if they were Max Weinberg.
Damn it! It pisses me off!
I'm quite certain, these individuals would never pick up their forks or knives and fidget around in between courses at the Olive Garden (oh yes I did...)
Just a little respect for other cultures around the world would be nice.
Shame on you.
It's simply rude and embarrasing.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Feel Good Article

from yesterday's NY Times Dining section. 
A good change of pace from restaurant reviews and "what's hot, what's not". 

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Jacques and Rick

Two of my favorite TV chefs, Jacques Pepin and Rick Bayless, were cooking on Rick's PBS TV show - Mexico One Plate at a Time. For me, this was like watching Joe Montana and Barry Sanders on the same team. Jacques Pepin was the personal chef to three heads of state including Charles de Gaulle. I have learned so many key cooking techniques from watching his TV shows and reading his books - like how to cook proper eggs. Every time I watch Jacques a lot bulb comes on. Rick Bayless is a chef that deals with authentic Mexican cooking - not the crap that Bobby Flay does. Watching Rick, I always learn something new and he explains things so well and with such great passion. In the episode, Jacques also mentioned that he learns something new from Rick all the time - uber cool.

This particular episode had Rick visiting Jacques at his vacation home in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (btw - Jacques has a ridiculously amazing vacation home overlooking the water). It was such a great episode - premise being they would both cook their own dishes. First they went to the market to go grocery shopping. It was great to see how they approached picking ingredients. Rick ends up making a salad of grilled cactus, chaya leaves and arugula to top red chile-seared mahi mahi. Jacques sprinkles cumin and Mexican oregano over his red snapper, grills it whole, and then serves it with his version of a chopped tomato and avocado salsa. It was very cool to see how they both shared the same enthusiasm for cooking using different techniques. One of my all time favorite cooking episodes!

Sake in a Can...Not what you think.

Saké in a can is definitely not as romantic as the 300ml or 720ml glass bottles we are all used to seeing at restaurants.
But don't let the packaging fool you.
There is a reason to this madness.
Kikusui Shuzo "Funaguchi" Honjozo Saké is a star in it's own right.
Being un-pasteurized, this draft style saké needed a special container to preserve all its natural freshness and flavors. After years of trial and error this plastic lined can was perfected.
Commuters jumping on the trains in Tokyo grab this cutie to unwind on the trip home. And at 19%, it has a slightly higher alcohol content than most sakés.
Being a Honjozo, the aromas and flavors have been enhanced by the addition of a small amount of distilled alcohol.
Always keep refrigerated and served chilled.
You can find more information of this saké here:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How do you spell sellout?

M. A. R. I. O...and Mario was his name-0. Oh yes. Mario Batali is now offering a $100,000 lunch in Vegas. For 100 g's, he will personally fly out to Vegas to cook you and your friends lunch. What won't this guy sell? Is he going to have a line of plus-sized clothing for women next? Between his cookware, writing books, being on TV, or opening 1 of his many new restaurants, where's the time for quality control of his existing restaurants? I had some sub-par experiences at Babbo and Otto last year (years past I had great experiences there), but I guess it makes sense since he obviously could care less about his other restaurants. With all this ranting on Mario, I do admit that he's a great teacher that shows great passion for cooking. However, he's all about the greed now and could care less about his own restaurants.

It makes sense considering every single other personality on the Food Network spends an equal amount of time on the Home Shopping Network as they do on the Food Network. Makes you appreciate the Eric Ripert's (chef of Le Bernardin) of the worlds more...