Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This city reminded me of Taipei with loads of stores and restaurants to checkout and some nice shopping areas. The town has tons of gardens and temples which are jam packed with tour groups. The nice thing is there are a lot of rivers that run through the town evoking a feel like Venice which Marco Polo commented on when he visited there. Any who, the food here reminded me of the American Chinese food they serve in the states. I assume this restaurant was catering to the tourists, but maybe they really do like overly sweet food with sauce colors you won’t find in nature.

Our Menu
Pork with Fried Wonton Skins **
No idea if this is what people would really eat, but it was hella fun. Flavorful fun sweet sauce with pork and crispy wonton skins. Great with the white rice - writing this now makes me want to eat some. This wasn’t the normal sweet stuff you get back in the states but the sauce was more meaty with some sweet running through it.

Fried Chicken Strips *
This had to have catered to the tourists here which was 90% Japanese. Crispy and flavorful coating, but the meat was a bit on the dry side.

Fried Fish with Ungodly Orange Sauce ---
WTF in a bad way. Fish had absolutely no flavor and drenching in the gross neon bright orange sauce didn’t help. Immediately I was thinking combine the fried chicken strips with the sauce and you have sweet and sour chicken. Now the question is did this sauce really originate from this area or were they catering to the tourists.

Tomato and Egg Soup *
Decent soup flavor but a wee bit on the salty side. I’ve had much better - usually more tomato flavor and some richness. This was pretty watery.

Sauteed Shanghai Tips (?)*
Sauteed vegetables that were cooked nicely and covered in a chicken broth style thing - quite similar to how they do most of the dishes over in China.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

American Beer Mythology, Revised

Faithful members of the Church of Real Beer (also known by their self-effacing nickname "beer geeks") can recite a common beer mythology. It goes something like this: Back before Prohibition, America was one of the greatest beer countries in the world, producing wholesome ales in thousands of quaint breweries around the country. Back then, America commanded the respect it deserved as a great beer-producing nation. Then came Prohibition, which Americans brought upon themselves, and they were thus kicked out of the beer Garden of Eden. After the United States realized that Prohibition only led to organized crime and moonshine, it was too late. The beer hiatus during Prohibition gave "big beer" a window to elbow out the smaller craft breweries. Through bribery, trickery, and thuggery, large brewing enterprises like Anheuser-Busch, Pabst, Miller, and Schlitz forced Americans to drink thin, watery lager and by the 1970s, there was nothing left but this swill. America became a beer laughing stock. But a miracle happened. A visionary named Fritz Maytag had a epiphany and decided his calling was to restore America's beer tradition. Maytag resurrected an old brewery in San Francisco, sparking a beer restoration in the 1980s that led to the founding of venerable breweries such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams), Mendocino Brewing Company, and Brooklyn Brewery. Through hard work and devotion to the movement, beer geeks have supported a return to America's great beer tradition and won over many converts.

A version of this mythic history of American beer appears in the introduction of Maureen Ogle's fascinating social history of the United States through beer Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. In this impressively researched book, Ogle sets out to debunk the beer geek gospel. Her book creates what one might call American beer history revisionism.

Ogle is a historian. The business of being a historian is to create new histories or new interpretations. In Ogle's new beer history, the world of good and evil is turned upside down. The heroes of Ogle's book are the villains in the beer geek worldview: Adolphus Busch and Frederick Pabst, the German-born founders of Anheuser-Busch and Pabst Brewing Company respectively. Her core argument is that contrary to the belief that these two companies came to dominate the U.S. market through intimidation, cost-cutting, and swollen marketing budgets, in fact A-B and Pabst prevailed through hard work, quality, consistency, innovation, and ultimately adapting to tastes and giving the people what they wanted. The big breweries relied on these traits to overcome several obstacles, proving their worth.

To add to these two excellent reviews, I would like to describe some of the business drama that Ogle outlines in her book. A big challenge that the breweries faced and overcame was to keep beer fresh in markets outside of the breweries' local market. Determined to expand the market and grow their company, Busch and Anheuser by 1872 were shipping bottled beer to the Southwest of the United States, "making them the first Americans to exploit the commercial possibilites of Pasteur's ideas" on pasteurization. By 1879 A-B was shipping its products to every state in the United States--thanks to the innovative use of refrigerator cars--and even to India, Japan, and South America, and Europe in small quantities.

Another challenge early in U.S. beer history was the luxury tax. At the end of the Civil War, the Union Congress needed revenue and in 1862 began taxing items such as billiard tables, liquor, and beer--at one dollar per barrel. The German brewers in America wanted to show their patriotism but still hoped for a lower tax. Several Eastern U.S. brewers met in New York City to strategize and convinced Congress to lower the tax to 60 cents per barrel--thus inspiring the formation "of the nation's first trade and lobby of any kind, the United States Brewers' Association."

A third and reoccurring challenge to beer in America has been the varying forms of temperance movements. The 50 years following the American Revolution, according to Ogle, "proved as intoxicating as cheap whisky." Society saw the emergence of the confidence man (or con man) who spun "outrageous schemes" to trick people out of their money. Americans started to wonder about their nation's moral integrity. "Self-doubt and self-examination inspired action. In the 1820s and 1830s, hordes of well-meaning crusaders launched a multi-armed effort to reform and perfect the American character... the jewel in the reform's thorny crown was temperance."

This temperance movement in the 1800s eventually collapsed but it produced an "unintended, profound consequence that shaped brewing for the next fifty years." That is it drew attention to the virtues of Germans and their lager; the two lived together in harmony and moderation without the social evils Americans feared. German lager seemed to be the moderate answer between the problems temperance created and moral degradation liquor seemed to spur. Scientists, doctors, and others came to the German lager beer's camp, stating how in effect it was not intoxicating. Harper's Weekly even joined the bandwagon stating, "Good lager is pronounced by the [scientific] faculty to be a mild tonic, calculated, on the average, to be rather beneficial than injurious to the system." By the mid 1800s, lager beer saloons and gardens could be found in cities all over the country.

A later temperance movement succeeded in creating Prohibition. The success of the Anti-Saloon League had to do with the times in America, again a time of moral reflection after another revolution (industrial). "As one dry put it, 'You may exercise your personal liberty only in so far as you do not place additional burdens upon your neighbor, or upon the State.'" To many, alcohol seemed to do just that, Ogle writes. On January 16, 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution established Prohibition in the United States until it was repealed in 1933 by the Twenty-first Amendement.

Interestingly, one of the finest American microbreweries, the 21st Amendment Brewery, named after the Amendment that repealed Prohibition, explains their namesake on their website. The story harkens to the beer geek mythos:

In 1920, Prohibition wiped out this culture and put the “local” out of business. For 13 years, social interaction was largely driven underground, to the speakeasies, where regular citizens became a nation of outlaws.

But with the passage of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition, we, as a society, were able to begin the slow climb back to reclaiming the essence of the neighborhood gathering place. At the 21st Amendment, they celebrate the culture of the great breweries of old, making unique, hand crafted beers, great food, and providing a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere that invites conversation, interaction and a sense of community.

A final cultural wave helped give birth to the beloved microbrew. In the 1970s, only one-third of Americans trusted the government, down from 80 percent in the 1950s. In the early 1970s, writes Ogle, Americans rejected all things corporate and establishment, "thanks to the Vietnam war, crushing recession, and Watergate." The expression "small is beautiful" captured the feeling. It was in this environment that Fritz Maytag, who in 1965 bought the Steam Beer Brewing Company on a whim, was to succeed. Maytag, the great grandson of Maytag corporation founder Frederick Maytag I, was living in San Francisco and studying Japanese at Stanford's graduate program but pined for something meaningful. "That 'something' landed in his lap" in August 1965 when he leaned about the brewery was about to close.

In the rest of the book, the apostles of the microbrewery movement make appearances, including Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company, who controversially used contracting brewing to expand production of his beers, Charlie Papazian, the founder of the Association of Brewers and author of perhaps the most famous homebrew cook book The Joy of Home Brewing, and Sam Calagione, the founder of Delaware's Dogfish Head Brewery, which has pushed the innovation envelope by brewing with exotic ingredients such as raisins, ginger, and cocoa powder. Koch and Calagione, by the way, have been competing to produce the world's strongest beer; last I checked Koch was winning with his Utopias at 25.6 percent alcohol. And after Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev in 2008, Koch's Boston Beer Company became the largest American-owned brewery, a title that Adolphus Busch had fought hard to achieve 100 years before.

Photo by Herkie.

Boston Beer teams with NYC butcher Jake Dickson


BOSTON, MA, June 29, 2010 — Today, the brewers at Samuel Adams and artisanal meat purveyor Jake Dickson unveil the innovative Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut, the perfect beef counterpart for Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The partnership between the brewers and Dickson, owner of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in New York City, marks the first time a brewer and specialty meat purveyor have teamed up to design an original cut of beef. Samuel Adams Boston Lager is the perfect pairing for the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut; the brew’s upfront malt flavor matches the caramelized flavors of the meat, and its hoppy finish prepares the palate for the next bite.

Cut from the cap to the top sirloin, the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut has a tender texture and big beefy flavor. The Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut runs at a 45 degree angle to the rest of the muscle, yielding a tightly grained steak perfect for grilling and slicing. This carving method optimizes the Cut’s cooking properties and flavor potential, enhancing the pairing capabilities. The beef and beer intersect with great caramel notes and sweetness, while the elegant hoppiness of Samuel Adams Boston Lager finishes the lingering meaty flavor of the Cut. To achieve the recommended medium-rare to medium temperature and make the most of the cut’s beefy flavor, Dickson suggests searing the steak on high heat for four to five minutes per side. For a more well done cut, follow the searing with four to five minutes of indirect heat in the oven.

“Twenty five years ago, people thought the ultimate food and beer pairing was a 6-pack and a pizza, but today people think of craft beer more like wine. At Samuel Adams, we’ve always been committed to elevating people’s perception of food and beer” said Founder and Brewer Jim Koch. “I think working with specialty food purveyors, like Jake, to isolate very specific types of food pairings, like beef and craft beer, is taking that passion to the next level.”

In many ways, the growing appreciation for American craft beer parallels the development of appreciation for American wine thirty years ago. Beer’s complexity, offset by its core ingredients, hops and malted barley, provides layers of flavor to dishes and with pairings that wine could never achieve. A full-flavored beer, like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, often pairs better with bold, flavorful meats, than wine does. The brew’s complexity, malty sweetness and intense hop notes, pair well with and are not overpowered by rich flavorful foods or caramelized grilled flavors.

“Since the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut is tender and flavorful on its own, all it needs is a little salt and pepper to bring out its natural beefiness,” said Dickson. “I recommend searing the cut to reach the sweet spot of tenderness, and of course pairing it with a Samuel Adams Boston Lager to balance the intensity of the meat.”

Available now, the Samuel Adams Boston Lager Cut is the perfect steak for any beer lover’s grill this summer. The Cut is currently being sold at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market and will be available at select David Burke restaurants. A similar type of cut can be ordered through specialty butcher shops by requesting a three-quarter inch cut from the cap to the top sirloin. The “fat cap” should be left on to aid in cooking the cut properly. When cut correctly, it will resemble a leaner New York Strip or Shell Steak. While this cut is specially designed to be the perfect pairing for Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the full-flavored craft brew pairs well with any type of beef dish from burgers to steak and everything in between.


First official stop on the tour was this town called Wuxi which was a vacation spot for loads of emperors, poets and the like. Apologies but on the tour we were getting whisked into restaurants and they weren’t explaining that much - dishes were just thrown on the table automatically. Don't worry though, if you do any tours that encompass Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai you're more than likely going to the same restaurants I'm writing about. Any who, I’ve been noticing the surrounding areas around Shanghai love sugar in their food which is OK at times, but gets old after a while.

Our Menu
Egg custard in sweet sauce with tiny fish

This was pretty intensely fishy which I’m not that big a fan of. The egg was nice and soft, but the sauce was pretty sweet which offset the fishiness of the egg dish. My wife loved this, but I could only eat one spoonful due to the fishiness.

Steamed whole fish *
Local fish which was also relatively fishy, but this time not that intense. Prepared the way I’ve seen thousands of time – steamed, soy, thin slices of ginger, scallions, and chili

Xiao Long Bao *
Local Wuxi version of xiao long bao where the internal meat filling was doused in a very sweet soy concoction. The skin was a little rough but it was still fun to eat. It's like dessert and entree wrapped into one.

Spare Ribs in sweet sauce *
Another dish where it was pretty damn sweet – almost like a sweet soy and peanut sauce? Meat was not very tender either, but it was fun to eat with white rice.

Cabbage with tofu skin **
This was an incredibly tasty dish and it seems like they love tofu skin in this region. Different from the ones I’ve had in the states as these are way more flavorful –a combo of rich flavor (maybe oil) and salt.

Water Spinach Soup
Flavorless soup broth with fresh spinach.

Snow Beer ---
This beer is uber cheap and famous in the region for being very light – less than 2.5% alcohol. Basically slightly more flavorful than water, an attribute that I’m not looking to in a beer. On the bright side, since it’s local this beer is less than the cost of a bottle of water. Almost every beer in this region tastes like slightly malty water.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Monday, June 28, 2010

First Food in Shanghai

Arrived at the Holiday Inn Shanghai West at 6pm and the first thing I needed was to get my grub on. Unfortunately the hotel was an hour away from the center of the city so the food options were limited - things you need to worry about when booking a tour. Don’t worry my dudes and dudettes, we stayed in the center of the city later on in the tour so I definitely will turn in my full debriefing of true Shanghai food. Any who, we ended up hitting this neighborhood Hunan joint where there were loads of business people eating and getting completely hammered playing drinking games. The food I found was good, but oddly enough things you can find back in the States. Hunan food is slightly spicy, but with some sweetness – think Kung Pao chicken but with way more flavor. One thing you’ll notice is everyone smokes in China even in restaurants so it’s a pretty big pain in the ars. Still a fun way to start our eating journey - familiar but still better than the stuff back home.

Our Menu
Kung Shing Tsai *
Basically, sautéed water spinach (?) in garlic and loads of oil. Pretty good, but the ones in our fave Jersey City Vietnamese place Nha Trang are much tastier.

Spicy Beef in Hot Pot with Szechuan Peppers (no idea what this was called) *
The first thing you notice about Szechuan Peppers is how much more floral they are compared to bell peppers and even the peppers from Mexico. It has this nice combo of floral flavors, subtle sweetness, then mild heat. Pretty fun stuff, but the beef with odd bits was a wee bit too tough.

Pee Dan **
Basically marinated egg (thousand year old) with some thin, but sweet soy sauce. They use the same Szechuan style bell peppers which brings out this floral, sweet, plus heat thing. Really fun with white rice.

Rating System

--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shanghai and Hong Kong

Just got back from Shanghai / Hong Kong and was always curious to see how Chinese food from NYC/Flushing/NJ would compare to the motherland. While I was blown away by the balance and how delicate the food was in Shanghai, I was pretty surprised at how Cantonese food in the tri state area is a good representation of the stuff over in Hong Kong. Obviously it’s still better over there, but it’s not like Italy or Spain where I feel there’s a huge discrepancy between stuff you can get in NY versus stuff you can get over there. I always hear all the time the Chinese food here is no good and it can’t compare to the stuff back in China/Hong Kong and even the stuff in Vancouer, but in my opinion it’s pretty damn close. Granted some of the best Cantonese food you can get are the huge banquet style meals which we did not do, but we did eat as much as possible in a short amount of time. I’m going to share my experience as much as I can over the next couple of days, since I did a good amount of research on Chow and it’s pretty damn hard to navigate all the different opinions some time.

Room Service

Who doesn't like room service?  After a long day, you check into your hotel and the luxury of ordering food and having it delivered to you in your room is nothing short of fantastic! 

And its even better if you keep your expectations grounded... So when meals like this show up at your door, you are one happy road warrior.

The Sheraton in Burlington, VT -
I've stayed here before, and I tip my hat to them. The food here is pretty darn good. Nothing fancy, but the ingredients are always fresh and very tasty.

Well done chaps! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Amateur Night

I'm usually pretty lenient with neighborhood joints. The whole idea is that I want to like them because they are so easy to get to.
So that is pretty much why I gave Teppan another go at it within a month or so.
My first experience wasn't so hot, but perhaps I should have cut my losses short and just let it be for a while longer.

This place is literally around the corner from my place and it's just recently opened. Brand new everything. So logically, one would think the owners have some $$, they would hire some talent.

(this was my brief write up earlier this month...)

So I thought I'd give their sushi bar a try.
Even worse!
They have this roll called the "Oh My God" Roll... and literally OMG there was a loose staple in my first bite.

Depending on how deep the owners' pockets are, it's either another 3 to 6 months till they file bankruptcy.

Grand Opening.... Grand Closing

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lion Burgers in Arizona

In honor of the World Cup in South Africa, the owner of this Arizona restaurant picked up 10 pounds of lion burgers and selling out to all of those interested. I would love to try it out. Too bad it's for a very limited time only. There is a lot of outrage, however. He even received a bomb threat. Ironically, the lion meat was purchased in IL.

I wonder what a liger would taste like.

Click here for the video about the lion meat.

P.S. There are like 50 countries in Africa. So why do people refer to the entire CONTINENT as if it were one country??? The reporter even says "the country of Africa."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Dude's Dinner in 20min

Pan Seared Skirt Steak
Sauteed (Brunoise) Potatoes
(Leftover) Mashed Potatoes
Cherry Tomato Salad

Couldn't be easier and oh so yummy. 
Skirt steaks were on sale at the local A&P so picked a pound of it up. 
I had some leftover potato salad in the fridge and to give it a little fresh kick, I stirred in 1/2 a teaspoon of lemon zest.
This totally transformed it into a summery dish. 
As for the Cherry Tomatoes, I just halved them and tossed in some olive oil, vinegar and season. 
And finally the sauteed potatoes were just an instant creation.  I was thinking I wanted something I could just constantly spoon feed myself so it had to be already chopped up. 
I finely chopped a single yukon gold into about 1/8 inch cubes.  Did the same thing with a shallot and about a tablespoon worth of green peppers. 
All cut into uniform tiny cubes and sauteed for about 3 min in the fry pan.  Once the starch started breaking down and clinging to the fry pan, I deglazed with some chicken stock and constantly stirred an additional 1 min.  Once all reduced to a slight thicker consistancy, I removed into a bowl and just waited on my steak to finish up. 

Plate and Voila!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Making Mochi 101

Have you eaten cold, refreshing mochi at an Asian place and wanted to make some at home? Leave it to the Japanese to make it efficient. Watch this video to learn how you, too, can make it at home, quick, fast, & in a hurry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A tad too much egg

I committed the ultimate Italian American pasta foul...

In my defense, 1 egg would have been too dry, and that second egg just drowned my Carbonara to oblivion.
Well, it still had nice flavor but just way too wet.
Until next time...

Remember, keep it simple and just get the timing down.

Pecorino Romano
Black Pepper
and Spaghetti

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I just went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon the other night, and for goodness sakes... it's so damn good.

A buddy of mine is leaving the states and wanted to dine in a relatively "awesome" place... He asked if I had any recommendations, because he wanted a sure thing.

I've always loved Robuchon and when the game is on the line, you better bring out the big guns.
We were by ourselves... 2 dudes after work, so going to a 3 star restaurant would have been extremely gay.
Instead, Robuchon's place was the perfect place to get our eat on and not feel overly stuffy nor like we were on a date.

Dish after dish, we were completely satiated.
Can't say enough about the food there. Boy is it good.

Gen Tso's Chix

Once again, it's that time when I get a hankering for General Tso's Chicken. 
I feel it creeps up on me once every 2 months...
Luckily, I have this "go-to" place near my office that delivers the best $8 money can buy around the area. 

Dark chicken meat, battered and fried, then tossed in a tangy sweet, savory and spicy sauce.  Hallelujah! I love America. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Totto Ramen

From the same guys who have brought you delicious Yakitori.. (The Totto Group...)
They now present Totto Ramen.

Here's something I learned in Economics class... It's called Comparative Advantage.
Say you have 2 countries. Country A and Country B. Country A is really good at making Product 1 and Country B is really good at making Product 2. Just because Country A is really good at making Product 1, it doesn't mean they are also good at making product 2. And vice versa.
I could continue on and explain in another 500 words, but you should just listen to me when I say, "Stick to what you are good at!!!"
I understand the guys at Totto have a ton (literally) of chicken bones and would love to salvage that waste to make even more money... but you guys are grilling experts, not Paitan Ramen experts.
And just because you fly in a dude from Japan to make your broth, it's a futile attempt because that particular chef isn't accustomed to all the intricacies of Manhattan yet.
Your vegetables, water source, cooking conditions, poultry quality, etc...

But I digress!
The bottom line :
Totto Ramen - Not Recommended
I ordered the Miso Ramen.
Basic Paitan Broth with a dollop of Miso and Ground Pork Mixed in.
The noodle in my Miso Paitan Ramen was an 18 gauge. (meaning relatively thick)
I also ordered it, "Kata-men", which means "al dente" in Japanese. But it wasn't very flavorful.
(interesting factoid : the noodles aren't just boiled in water, but some kind of broth, adding more flavor)
The ramen is garnished with chopped scallions and minced onions, with (only) 1 slice of Chashu, and 1 semi hard boiled egg.
And the final blow was the price tag... $10.50 for a weak bowl of noodles.
I give this bowl of ramen a 6.5/10

Monday, June 14, 2010

Best Cooking Scene Evah

Just wanted to share with y'all what I think is the best cooking scene on TV I've ever seen and why I adore Chinese cooking. It's sad to know that people think it's only fortune cookies at Panda like chalupas at Taco Bell is the only kind of Mexican food. Anyway, enjoy this clip! But you can stop there, since the movie, Eat Drink Man Woman, sucks - unless you fast forward to the cooking parts. Just like the Mexican remake, Tortilla Soup.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Made brunch today with bits and pieces found in the fridge.
Saved myself 20 bucks.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Teppan (Jersey City)

This new Hibachi (Teppanyaki) Restaurant around the corner from my place just opened a month ago. 
I had (unrealistic) expectations and unfortunately fell short. 

The food, service and entertainment was pretty sub-par. 
The dessert (third party) was the best part of the meal. 

Can't go wrong with red velvet cake I guess. 

Teppan - Highly Not Recommended
319 Warren St
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Friday, June 11, 2010

White House Cheese

This is what the most powerful man in the world snacks on in the White House.
Yes, it's brain food... but come on Comerford! You can't plate Kraft American and Cabot Cheddar on THE man's plate and then let people take pictures of it?
I guess it's safe to say, the china and glassware are way more impressive than the food served.

(description from official White House press release)
A simple plate of cheese, crackers and carrots is set for for the table setting of the meeting of closed, off-the-record lunch with President Barack Obama and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in the President's Private Dining Room, March 10, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Ginger Beer

It's no secret I love Root Beer, Ginger Ale, and yes, Dr. Pepper.
And when I get to try something more artisan, but with the same rooty/barky flavors, I'm a happy man.

This Regatta brand Ginger Beer I found in a cafe in Jersey City was quite spectacular.
Bright, Light, and finished with decent amounts of fresh ginger root flavor.
Plus the absence of high fructose corn syrup made the whole experience way more enjoyable as well. For all you US readers... if you don't know what I mean... try to find some Mexican (bottled) Coca-Cola. The ingredients are slightly different from what we use here in the States.

note to Corporate America :
Sugarcane guys... always use real sugar please!!!

Delicious Convenience

In Japan, they have these ready made curry packs where you just heat up by throwing the pouch into hot water and then pour it over some steamed rice.

This particular Japanese Curry is from Niigata. My new favorite prefecture of Japan.
Just about everything is delicious up there in snow country.

This particular curry pack was slightly on the sweeter side... but had a clean hotness to it towards the end. Deeeeeelicious.
Love it Love it Love it.


Take a look at this and tell me you don't want one. Damn you California! Damn you.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't put that Coq in your mouth...

Bolivian President 'Eating Chicken May Turn You Gay'

AP - Evo Morales

Evo Morales told a conference on climate change: 'The chicken we eat is loaded with female hormones that it can deviate men from their manhood.'

Male pattern baldness and the mysteries of human sexuality are no puzzles for the president of Bolivia, who has declared they are caused by eating chicken.

Evo Morales has claimed that both homosexuality and baldness can be caused by the humble chicken.

According to EFE, Morales also claimed that chicken treated with female hormones can be linked to baldness and early breast growth in girls in European

"Baldness, which seems normal, is a disease in Europe. Almost everyone is bald and it's related to the food they eat. Among the indigenous people there are no bald men, because we eat different things," he continued.

So by following that reasoning, if we put male hormones in a chicken and we make a homosexual eat it he will transform into a heterosexual?

Morales's theories do not appear to have been immediately accepted by the scientific community, to put it mildly, and have been criticized by Spain's National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, which sent a letter of protest to the Bolivian embassy in Madrid describing the president's remarks as homophobic.

Could Morales' diet be affecting his brain?

Impromptu Dinner

One of the great things about living/working in NYC is the plethora of options one has at any given time.

I ran into a buddy late one afternoon and we decided to grab an early dinner at Porterhouse in the Time Warner Building.

Above is the Cowboy Ribeye Steak cooked perfectly (medium rare).

And to top it off, Roger Dagorn and Michael Lomanaco stopped by our table to say hi.

Solid Solid Meal. Always a treat.

Adobo Chicken Salad

I've found a great Filipino restaurant near me, so I've been hooked on adobo chicken. Figured why not give it a try on the grill. Another thing that the wife and I have been digging is the salad from Chipotle and Qdoba - basically rice, bean, meat, and romaine lettuce. This is my attempt to do both which works surprisingly well. Rich, salty, and vinegary chicken with the sweet grilled onions and corns. Add to that the crunchy romaine and the satisfying rice and you got a great summer meal.

Grilled Chicken Adobo Salad
Chicken thighs rinsed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
6 cloves garlic crushed
romaine lettuce sliced into bite sized pieces
4 ears sweet corn shucked
2 vidalia onions sliced 1 inch horizontally
Peanut Oil
Salt and White Pepper
Cooked white Asian rice (or short grain)

1) Combine chicken, garlic, soy, vinegar, and oyster sauce in a ziploc bag. Marinate at least an hour.
2) Set up three zones on your grill if you can. One Medium heat, one low heat, and one off zone. On a clean grill over medium heat, rub grates with some oil to prevent sticking.
3) Coat corn in oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium part of grill until corn gets lightly charred - nice and browned, but not completely blackened. About 5-7 minutes with frequent turning. Remove from grill and remove kernels.
4) Toss onions with peanut oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook on the medium part of the grill. About 5-7 minutes until it's soft and sweet. You may need to use a vegetable grill grate to make sure it doesn't fall through the grates. Remove and keep with the corn.
5) Take chicken out of the marinade and pat chicken down with some paper towels. Place skin side down. Reduce marinate down 80-90%. Reserve.
6) Be careful to watch for flare ups and don't move it otherwise you won't get the nice grill marks.
7) After 7-10 minutes, flip the chicken over. You may need to move the chicken off to a low zone if it's burning up to quick. The key is to really watch the grill and chicken constantly to make sure you have control.
8) Cook for probably another 5-7 minutes but keep checking. I was doing the poke test to check if the chicken was done, but you could probably use a thermometer. Thighs should be about 170F or if you push the meat it should be slightly firm to the touch - not squishy. Another check is if you pick the chicken up the juices should run clear - if there's any blood throw it back on the grill. Chicken skin should be crispy.
9) When finished take the chicken out and drop in the reduced marinade skin side up. Let it sit for 3 minutes.
10) Add lettuce to the onions and corn. Shred chicken meat and add to the salad. Drizzle the marinade over. Serve on top of cooked white rice. Buono appetito!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grilled Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon Chicken

I recently hooked up my new grill and I've been having a blast grilling everything under the sun. My recent conquest has been whole chicken on the grill and this dish just just kicked so much ars. Smoky, garlicky, and bright from the lemon, but the most important aspect to cooking chicken is it should be cooked through, but still juicy. One tip I learned is keep the breastbone in as it kept the meat incredibly juicy. I served these with a side salad and some grilled potatoes (baked them 40 mins, then sliced em up and finished on the grill to get em nice and crispy) served with some bravas sauce and alioli. So eff'n good and perfect outdoor food weather. Apologies for the pictures - need to clean my droid lens every time I take a picture.

Grilled Rosemary, Garlic, and Lemon Chicken
1 whole organic chicken
4 sprigs Rosemary
3 lemons juiced
10 cloves crushed garlic
sea salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

1) Remove chicken backbone and butterfly - rinse. Take chicken and let marinate in lemons, garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper for at least a 1/2 hour.
2) Set up three zones on your grill if you can. One Medium heat, one low heat, and one off zone. On a clean grill over medium heat, rub grates with some oil to prevent sticking.
3) Take chicken out of the marinade and pat chicken down with some paper towels. Place skin side down.
4) Be careful to watch for flare ups and don't move it otherwise you won't get the nice grill marks.
5) After 7-10 minutes, flip the chicken over. You may need to move the chicken off to a low zone if it's burning up to quick. The key is to really watch the grill and chicken constantly to make sure you have control.
6) Cook for probably another 10-15 minutes but keep checking. I was doing the poke test to check if the chicken was done, but you could probably use a thermometer. Legs should be about 170F or if you push the meat it should be slightly firm to the touch - not squishy. Another check is if you pick the chicken up the juices should run clear - if there's any blood throw it back on the grill.
7) When finished take the chicken out, add more olive oil and lemon. This is a real powerfully flavored dish - bright from the lemon, rich from the olive oil, and the charred smoky skin tastes delicious.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Commerce - Review

Commerce- Highly Not Recommended
50 Commerce St, New York NY 10014
Btwn Bedford & Barrow St
Phone: (212) 524-2301

I've heard some good things about this place and was in the mood for some good eats. Unfortunately this place totally disappoints. As soon as you walk in, you notice the large space which looks straight out of a 1930's movie - pretty cool space. Then, the unpleasantness kicks in. The first thing was the heat in the place - it was so hot that multiple people complained and I even saw couples getting up and leaving before they got food served. Also, we had reservations but still had to wait an additional 45 minutes. Completely ridiculous - I wanted to leave, but we were chatting up a storm and lost track of time. Now, with all that craziness was the food worth the insanity - definitely not! Overall, I give the restaurant an 50/100.

Our Menu
Ragu Of Odd Things
oxtail, trotters and tripe with hand rolled orecchiette
This dish seemed like it would be right up my ally. I love oxtail, tripe, and trotters, but there were multiple things wrong with this dish. The first thing was the temperature of the food - it was so blistering hot, you couldn't taste anything at all. The next was the texture of the pasta which was way undercooked - very doughy. Then the oxtails, trotters, and tripe were crazy overcooked which made it uber mushy.

Fettuccini ---
with one hour tomato sauce & house made ricotta
A complete WTF dish in a bad way. The texture of the pasta was uber undercooked again and pretty gross - hand made fettuccini was so thick, which usually means you have to cook it longer. The tomato sauce was decent, but no idea why the eff talk about a one hour tomato sauce. It's basically tomatoes, ricotta, and a hella lot of parimigianno - decent, but nothing to write home about.

Degustation of lamb offal *
w/ kidney, liver & heart
This had some pretty solid flavor - liver was nice and rich, heart had a nice beefy flavor. Each had their different flavorings - liver was paired with lots of citrus, heart had nice creamy mashed potatoes. It was pretty damn rare, but not sure if it was supposed to be that way.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience (50/100)
  • Food (6.5/10) – Both pasta dishes sucked, but the offal was OK.
  • Service (6.0/10) – Waiter was friendly but extremely pushy. He was constantly pushing for ordering more appetizers or sides after our initial order. After we said no, he mentioned what about this or that and finally had attitude after we kept saying no.
  • Atmosphere (2.0/10) – See intro. On top of that, as soon as you walk in your treated with an extremely loud crowded bar. The place was still packed even with the hot weather and it was a mix of groups of 4's - either couples, all girls, or all guys.
  • Price (5.0) – Prices were reasonable with most entrees in the low 20 range, but considering the terrible experience I was definitely not happy to pay.
Closing Comments
The crazy thing is right down the block is Casa, an excellent Brazilian place. If I'm ever in the area, to Casa I will go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ramen Setagaya Revisited

After the Memorial Day Flushing food massacre and the ethereal Kajitsu, our buddy Eric was craving some Ramen so we first tried Ippudo but as usual it was a ridiculous wait - 2 1/2 hours. So, we went to plan B around the corner in Ramen Setagaya. Pretty disappointing stuff and I don't know how this place got worse? Never ever stepping foot in that place again - either hit up Ippudo earlier or even try Men Kui Tei around the corner.

Our Menu

Shio Ramen
two slices of pork, bamboo-shoot, salt taste egg, seaweed, scallion, scallop powder, noodle
First thing that usually hits me with a bowl of ramen is the intense porky broth. Here it was way muted down with barely any flavor - I had to dose that m eff'er with chili oil and shichimi. Then, the next is the noodle which was pretty overcooked - too limp with no bounce back. Like last time, the pork was tender but not that flavorful.

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Skinner's (Jersey City)

Skinner's in Jersey City (2min walk from Grove St. Station) is probably one of the worst Irish Pubs I've ever been to.
Now the circumstances may exagerate my disdain towards the establishment, but that's life. This flogger hates Skinner's with a passion.

Friday 8:30pm -
After landing in Newark and waiting for 40 min for my car, then dropping off my bags and walking over to the joint, I was seated and waited another 5 min 'til my drink order was taken.

Upon inspecting the menu once over, I thought ordering the "special" would be prudent.
Its a special for goodness sakes.

- BBQ Brisket with Corn Salsa and Stuffed Zucchini.
If I had to grade this dish, it would be Northwest Airlines (JFK to LAX) caliber.

Brisket wasn't well cooked (if you look hard enough, it's under the 2 giant onion rings). Then the pathetic tangy bbq sauce slathered all over.

And to top it off, the table was slanted and wobbly.

Long story short, Skinner's in JC gets "2 Forks Down"!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Food Rampage

Belated post, but it was such a blast that I had to share with the dudes and dudettes. We had our friends Wei-Yi and Eric over for Memorial Day Weekend and man those two can eat! We started in the Flushing Mall Food Court to try some Taiwanese dishes and ended up going a bit overboard (as usual) then we hit up two more restaurants for dinner - Kajitsu and Ramen Setagaya.

Our Menu
  • Fried Pork Dumplings (guo tyeh) **
  • Cold Sesame Noodles (liang myen) *
  • 2 Orders of Stinky Tofu (Chou Dofu) **
  • Garlic Chive Dumpling (Joe Chai Huh Zhe) **
  • Hand Pulled Noodles (Chou Dofu) *
  • Oyster and Egg Omelet (Oh Wah Zhen) **
  • Some noodle dish with thick sauce? **
  • Shaved Ice with Condensed Milk, Red Bean, Tapioca Pearls (Bao Bing) **

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Winners included the juicy fried pork dumplings, the surprisingly delicious stinky tofu, and the garlic chive dumplings. All for a hella cheap price...good times!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kajitsu - Review

Kajitsu - Highly Recommended
414 E 9th St, New York NY 10009
Btwn 1st Ave & Ave A
Phone: (212) 228-4873

We had our friends Wei-Yi and Eric in town, so I figured it was a perfect time to check out Kajitsu - a place Porthos has been raving about. Usually, vegetarian food does not sound exciting to me at all (unless it's Indian), but this was completely mind blowing stuff. I always laughed at all the fancy restaurants serving $60-70 on all vegetarian tasting menus, but now I kinda get it. Overall, I give the restaurant an 93/100.

Our Menu
(Kaze 4 course menu)

Tiny Vegetables and White Mushroom with Lotus Root Gelée and Sesame Cream ***
Tiny turnip, Tiny Parsnip, Fiddlehead Fern, Snow Pea, Lotus Seed, Lotus Rootlet, Ramp, Shiso shoot
1000% WTF moment. I had no idea what to expect of this place and the first dish brought me to Yasuda levels. As simple as this sounds, it was basically a whole bunch of tiny beautifully presented baby vegetables but with such an insanely powerful impact. Each vegetable was perfectly prepared and had the most pronounced flavor and texture - it totally reminded me of Yasuda where each fish was completely different from the rest. Obviously there was some aiding with some type of veggie dashi?, but the combo of the veg and the sesame cream made for such an earthy combination. Completely ridiculous for me.

Cauliflower Soup with Tempra Artichoke Hearts **
Sansho Leaves, Pink Peppercorn
The first thing you notice here is the intense aroma of cauliflower as you remove the cover from the bowl. At first, the aroma was much greater than the flavor of the soup which was a tad disappointing. But, then I realized I should stop taking baby sips and take a big boy pull which really opened up the flavors of the soup. It went from slightly muted to eleven on the flavor scale. Very rich and oddly citrusy with the sansho leaves. Eating the artichoke hearts really brought out the earthiness of the soup and even the batter added to the thickness and flavor of the soup as well.

Nama-Fu Croquette and Panko Fried Vegetables with House-Made Worcestershire Sauce ***
Egg Plant, Okra, Asparagus, Leek, Sweet Potato, Onion, Patty Pan Squash, Trumpet Royal, Tofu
Grilled Fresh Chick Pea
Cabbage and Shiso Salad
One thing that people usually mess up is tempura - I have no idea why but it happens a lot. Either it's too oily, too heavy, not crispy enough, or the flavor of the ingredient is lost somehow. Not hear my fellow dudes and dudettes...this was perfectly cooked, crispy, light, and with the most intense vegetable flavors. Winners for me were the onion (best fried onion ring of all time), squash, and sweet potato. On top of that, there was the cabbage and shiso salad which was just flavored by lemon juice - couldn't believe how good that was. Also, my first time for fresh chick peas and they were friggin delish.

Steamed Rice with Grilled Bamboo Shoots **
Mitsuba, Fava Beans
House-made Pickles

Perfect texture with the rice and the accompaniments were ridiculous. The grilled fava beans were maybe the highlight of the night. Rich, earthy, and an awesome smoky flavor from being grilled all with such an awesome texture. Add that to the nice and slightly sweet bamboo shoots and you had a knockout. The side pickles were killer too which woke up the entire dish.

House-made Soba Noodles *
After all those great dishes we didn't want to stop, so we figured we had to order the soba noodles. These had such a great texture, but my first couple of tries were disappointing due to the broth. What I learned though was you needed to soak the noodles in the broth - like for a good 20 second before pulling the trigger. After learning that fact, the dish was uber flavorful again. Still curious how do they make the tsuyu without bonito though...

Rating System
--- What the F - in a bad way * Good ** Great *** What the F – in a good way

Overall Restaurant Experience (93/100)
  • Food (9.3/10) – One of the best restaurant experiences ever for me and these were all friggin vegetables. Still can't get over it and completely shocked how I didn't need or even want meat the entire time.
  • Service (8.0/10) – Waitress was attentive and the food came out quick, but slightly too quick in my opinion. No time to digest - as soon as we were done with one of the dishes, the next one came out in under 5 mins.
  • Atmosphere (8.5/10) – Typical Japanese place with a sushi style counter in front where it looks like the chef will plate in front of you. There's also seats in the back which is where we sat. Place was on the tinier side which seats maybe about 30-40. As with most Japanese joints, the place had lots of wood on the wall. We got there at 6:45pm and reservations were required. In the beginning it was a bit dead, but towards 8pm it was maybe 70% full. Crowd consisted of couples only and they were all Japanese.
  • Price (8.0) – My first thought was why am I paying $50 for 4 small sized vegetable dishes and then you eat the first course and you're like that is why. The technique and care going to each of those vegetables on the plate makes it worth the price of admission.
Closing Comments
It was so good that we were immediately talking about ordering the 8 course meal for next time. We would have ordered 8 courses, but we went a wee bit too nuts at the flushing mall ordering two huge plates of food per person. Next time, only light lunches beforehand.