Friday, December 31, 2010

Piroshky Piroshky – Not Recommended (for sweet pastries)

Piroshky Piroshky
1908 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101
Phone: (206) 441-6068

This Russian bakery across from the Pike’s Place Market is pretty famous, so we decided to wait in line (there's always a line at least 5-10 deep) to see what all the fuss is all about. We got the cinnamon, cardamom, orange peel braid (bread) and I really didn’t get it. The texture of the bread was nice and airy, but the flavor was a little m’eh to me. The flavors would have made sense, but it didn’t harmonize together or gel at all. Next time if we decide to give it one more shot, we’ll skip the sweet and go straight to the savory dishes since they looked pretty fun.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Elliot's Oyster House - Revisit

During my xmas visit to Seattle, the only thing I was looking forward to besides my mother-in-laws home cooking was Elliot’s. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – Elliot’s friggin rawks and you can’t get anywhere near this quality of oysters in NYC. We sat at the oyster bar as usual and the oyster shucker picked some phenomenal ones for us. Then, kinda like a sushi chef he was figuring out our flavor profiles and the ones at the end were 100% in my strikezone finishing with the best one last. He was very friendly and chatted us up mentioning the head oyster dude only wants oysters that are very local - nothing from the east coast which is why the quality is so high.

Even the waiter was right on point recommending great local microbrews to go with the oysters and giving us some bread to cleanse the pallet in between tastings. Unfortunately, we ordered a non oyster dish that was average to below average. Salmon, eggs, and onions were pretty shite - overcooked eggs and mediocre salmon flavor. They need to visit barney greengrass to figure out what a proper l.e.o. (lox, eggs, and onion) tastes like, but it didn’t matter since the oysters were king.

Here were my top 3 picks – although they all pretty much kicked massive ars (kushi, deer creek, and humboldt bay were honorable mentions).
#1 - Little Skookum
Comments – Huge oyster flavor with a nice sweetness behind it. Crisp texture leading to a nice creaminess.
#2 – Penn Cove Select
Comments – Mammoth sized oyster that I thought would be kinda gross due to the size, but the texture was soooo creamy and it had a huge oyster flavor behind it.
#3 – Cranberry Creek
Comments – oddly mellow at first, then had a great lingering oyster aftertaste.

Food and Humor

Some of the BEST ways to get conversations going is by food and by humor. I have been in foreign lands, and when they see me eating their food, they know I'm not "that foreigner." Humor, on the other hand, takes it to whole other level. Even if there's no food around, and heck, people are just down in the dumps cuz they have no food, putting a smile on their face is priceless. Anyway, enough of the drama. My coworker gave this site to me, and now I pass it on to you readers: a combination of food, humor and just plain ol ripping on the Food Network:

How did I not see this site before?!?! Like I told him - I have a server to build. But. I. Can't. Stop. Browsing. That was an hour ago.



Edit: Here I am, hour #3 am still browing the site. I just found out that this site is done by s-i-s-t-e-r-s. And they're Babe-raham Lincons, too! Total dude humor. These broads totally rock.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Did U Order The Code Red?!

U gosh darn right I did!
My first time and it's totally keeping me awake while stuck in the Holland Tunnel.
Tastes like any red sports drink mixed with Mt. Dew.

Stopped, in a toasty car, and can't roll down the windows, I'm happy to be doing the dew.

Making Soba at Home

After a great tutorial event at the Japanese Culinary Center last week, I decided to give it a whirl at home.

Ingredients :
400g Soba Flour
100g Strong Flour
350ml Water
Soba Tsuyu (dipping sauce)
Hari Nori (needle thin nori for garnish)

I approached this project like I would pasta.
I'm looking for strong glutens to form, but wait... the recipe only calls for 20% Flour and 80% Soba Flour. You can't get much gluten from Soba (aka Buckwheat), so the 20% Flour mixture was going to have to carry the mother load. This meant some serious kneading.

Where there's a will, there's a way.
With just plain household materials and my bare hands....
Low and behold.. my first Soba Noodles.

10 min Prep

Prep it, Set it and Forget it.

It's so easy and zero babysitting.

Pick up a nice pork loin from your grocery store.
Gather your favorite root veggies and some aromatic veggies like onions or leeks. Toss in some herbs and you are done!

According to vegetable, cut to uniform sizes/shapes, and lay onto the bottom of roasting pan.
This acts as a bed so the protein does not come into direct heat from the pan.

Season well, lightly cover and throw in pre-heated 350 oven for 75 min (for this 3# piece). Take foil off the last 10 minutes of roasting.

Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minute, slice and plate with veggies.

I threw in chicken stock into the pan 20 minutes prior to finish. Just wanted to increase more pan juice.

A dallop of your favorite mustard is a great touch to the dish. A slight take on bollito misti but steam/roast.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Braising Short Ribs

When it comes to hearty winter dishes, a well braised Short Rib is right up there on the list of favorites.

I was playing around with ideas for a beer braised short rib the other day.
Not too bad I say... Not too bad.

Ingredients :
3# of Beef Short Ribs (cut to 4" portions)
1 bottle of your favorite rich and malty beer
1C Fond de Veau
beef stock
3 cloves of Garlic
handful of thyme (your favorite herbs)
salt and pepper
2T butter
1C mirepoix
1T tomato paste

Directions :
Pat your short ribs with wondra and sear all sides.
Remove and let rest.
Saute the following for 5 minutes - mirepoix, tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper and butter.

Add Beer and Fond de Veau and let melt. Now arrange the short ribs in to the pot and pour enough beef stock to cover protein. Toss in thyme and bring up to boil. Cut heat, cover and throw in 350 degree F oven for 4 hours.

Take out, let rest for 15 minutes and plate. Voila, you got a hearty meat dish fit for any winter night.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cilantro and Parsley RECALL

(CNN) -- A Texas produce distributor has recalled cilantro and curly parsley after samples in Quebec and Michigan tested positive for salmonella, the company said Monday.

The "precautionary, voluntary recall" pertains to cilantro and parsley from J&D Produce Inc., packed between November 30 and December 6, the Edinburg, Texas-based company said in a statement. Cilantro and parsley processed and branded as Little Bear between those dates can be taken to retailers for a full refund.

Those with questions can call J&D Produce at 956-380-0353

full article

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Xmas Day Lunch

In Seattle for Xmas vacation and the in-laws took us out for some congee for xmas lunch. This is comfort food numero uno for me, so I was uber happy.

Funny tid bit - the owners of the congee joint were saying Merry Xmas to all the non Chinese there. The non Chinese did not say anything back and looked a bit offended - pretty sure they were Jewish. Good times...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fresh Soba

Made my first batch of homemade Soba from scratch today.
(Recipe to come shortly)

1 or 8

One of the best lamb chops I've ever had.
@1 or 8 in Brooklyn

Chef Yokota displays his talents in Billyburg folks. Another great spot in the Brooklyn resto renaissance.
A must go destination for sure.

I think my friend sums it up best.
"Chef Yokota is a master of Fire". He simply has great control over the flame, whether it be over the grill, in the oven or on top a burner with a sautee pan.
This enables a chef to bring out the very best in each ingredient and highlight it on the plate.
Hats off to you sir. Keep up the great cooking.

The ingredient itself was perfect. Gotta hand it to the chef for not going with a bigger (older lamb). More flavor and more fat isn't always better. This was Australian lamb to be exact. Great young gaminess with tender meat and soft fat surrounding the bone. It was not overly greasy like many of the lamb chops served at steakhouses.

And to be perfectly honest, it was better than Gotham's spider rack.
Lately, Gotham has been slipping and their signature ROL isn't the industry standard for me anymore.
Perhaps this third generation chef is making his mark?
You tell me.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Little girls have their Gingerbread-House.

Little boys have the SLAUGHTER-HOUSE!!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jewel Bako

Now that Yasuda is on his final few weeks here in NYC, I gotta re-gauge my sushi meter. To be honest, it's not as good as before and you can probably attribute that to a "don't care" attitude.

Well the search for my 2011 "go to" sushi joint continues.
What is it I look for in a sushi counter experience?
Who is crazy about sourcing the very best and still charges under $100 a head.
So many questions raced through my head and the short list came down to one.
The only one I should say that really made me truly happy when walking out those doors after a meal.

Jewel Bako. Originally a 1 Star Michelin restaurant under former Chef Shimizu (now at 15 East), Chef Yoshi has kept there Star for 7 consecutive years.

If you have a chance to eat at Jewel Bako, do it. I recommend reserving a counter spot and not the tables. There's a huge difference with sushi immediately eaten and ones that sit on the counter until all other plates are done.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best. Complaint. Letter. Evah.

The article came from The Telegraph, but here's the letter, with pictures, from a passenger on Virgin Atlantic Airways to Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, the owner, regarding his experience focusing on the food he ate.

Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit. Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:

I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:

I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn't custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:

It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:

I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen. My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:

Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.
Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincererly



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Izakaya Riki

If you are looking for a Hayashi Rice dish, Izakaya Riki (on 45th between 3rd and Lex) is NOT the place to go.
The food there is below average at best.
Never ever stepping through those doors again.
Total garbage.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunch : American Japanese

If you are a "Japanese" joint, take note. This is a freebie you guys.

Using Yakisoba noodles in leu of spaghetti for your Japanese pasta dishes is smart. Throw some shrimp, sliced shiitake mushrooms, butter, soy sauce and garlic and you got an instant crowd pleaser.
100% bullet proof for your line cooks. It's forgiving under heat lamps. And everyone loves this dish.

Bottom line is, YOU can't go wrong.

Men's Eating Club (Round 1)

***Warning - Explicit Language Used***

The Men's Eating Club of NYC kicked-off our first ever meal at Momofuku Ma Peche (in Midtown Manhattan).
What better place to start what we hope to be a monthly or bi-monthly event.

A few of us fellas are in the food industry so it makes it easier to get rezzies from time to time.

Below is a list of dishes that were sent out during the 20 course / 3 and a half hour Man-Fest.

Gose style German Beer
First bev of the night. Great intro and explanation Colin (Bev Director).

seafood plateau :
Shrimp Cocktail
normally not a remarkable dish.. but for some reason, it was actually Very Good. not overcooked, flavor and textures were right on.

Alaskan King Crab Legs
slightly briny, good texture, and the dipping sauces def helped make this memorable as well.

3 types of Oysters
all on the plumper side. but not overly creamy so you got best of both worlds. meaty and briny.

Fluke Ceviche
prepared in house marinade. first hints of SE Asian spices for the night.

Calamari Salad
bigger Asian flavors coming through. anyone can enjoy a good calamari dish.

Marinaded Scallops
a little bit of heat rounds out this marinaded dish. like a professional athlete, my palate was nicely warmed up .

reminded me of an Olivier Roelinger dish. bite-sized morsels of perfectly cured and sauced mackerel.

Sea Bass
reminded me of Hong Kong. steamed sea bass with soy and hot oil draped right before serving.

Saison Beer
great bottle conditioned saison style brew. although i'd prefer drinking this towards earlier fall, the dishes that came next totally paired well with this gem.

beef 7 ways :
Wagyu Tataki
bite sized cuts of japanese beef done tataki style. starting out nice and slow. kinda like kissing a womans neck and nibbling on her ears. the seduction begins.

Cured Tongue Salad
onto the kiss. full on tongue, gentle and sweet. the accompanying greens could be the raspberry chapstick she put on for your pleasure.

Beef Tartare
another fantastic dish that showcased the chef's obsession to quality meats. two words, "half chub"

House-made Lemongrass Beef Sausage
flavorful and perfect texture. served with some boston bib lettuce and condiments. the fondle. a nice surprise. no bra and total handfuls.

Cote de Beouf
one of the best in the city. when the beef is this good, you don't need to do anything else to it. real dry aged beef flavor. very very good. and the blouse comes off. Certified Angus Beef i'm sure.

Braised Oxtail
probably the highlight of the evening. i know none of us at the table could replicate this dish. it was pure perfection. to me, the beauty in this dish was the texture. how could it be so tender, and yet, when you chew, it still had texture? it smelled, tasted and felt great. it was so good, i thought i was getting a hummer under the table.

Braised Shank
this 8# braised shank plops down on to the table. everyone says it, but it's so true. "meat" the FLINTSTONES. i had already blown my load on the oxtail. but sure as hell wasn't going to not eff this "Dish".

Carrots tossed in Beef Bone Marrow
absolute delight. carrots never tasted so good. new experience. delicioius!

Brussel Sprouts fried and flavored with Beef Fat and Nam Pla
this was a staple at Ssam Bar for a while. and rightfully so. inventive and masterful.

Brisket Pho
per instructions by the chef, and just to make sure we were in food coma, our waitress brought out some bowls of noodles. i mean "come on"! her face looked just as shocked as we were.

Beef Consomme
(paired magically with the epoisse) rich, dense, beef broth. their play on a consomme, and why not. you could do whatever you wanted to me at this point. total submission.

cheese course :
Epoisse with Black Truffles served with Tom Cat Bakery Baguette
a magnanimous moment for all of us. perfectly tempered epoisse with sliced black truffles laced on top of the wheel. spooned over the yummiest baguette in NYC.
earthy, woodsy, stinky... absolute perfection.

And to finish, what we called the "Tiger Balm/Sarsaparilla/Mint" Digestive
Our Server highly recommended this crazy Italian elixir to help us "digest".
This completely served as the cigarette after sex.
And it worked. I felt a lot better after taking the shot and actually regained most of my motor skills.

Thanks to the team at Ma Peche for a killer meal. Hats go off to all of them. (Front and Back)
This level of awesomeness will be hard to replicate for sure.

Inflation or just Armageddon?

The cost of rice is rising way too fast.
I remember when this exact brand was $21.99 per 15lb bag.

50% increase in 5 years. At this rate, my family won't be able to afford real rice for dinner anymore.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Salad Sundays

Making the most out of some left overs... I tossed together some greens with Fig Balsamic and primo Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Great stuff folks.

Leftovers from last Thursday night at Momofuku Ma Peche.
-baby carrots sauteed with marrow and herbs
-bits of beef shank(braised in apple cider, sherry and broth for 9hrs)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mentaiko Spaghetti

Mentaiko is Cod roe marinaded in chili, sake, and few other ingredients to help preserve and cure the eggs.

A very common and modern way to enjoy this dish is to make it into a pasta dish.

Takes basically 15 minutes to prepare (mostly the time to boil the pasta) so it's very popular with busy households, single bachelors, and students.

Pasta (for 2)
3T of (loose) Mentaiko
2T Butter
1t of Soy Sauce
Finely julienned Nori for Garnish

Take your al dente pasta out of the pot and into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and mix. Then add mentaiko and mix. Then add soy sauce and mix. Plate and garnish.
So simple and very fulfilling. For a 15 min dish, it's tops in my book.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grain de Vanille

Grain de Vanille - Highly Recommended
12 Place de la Victoire, 35260 Cancale, France

Anthony Bourdain wasn't kidding when he recommended this place on his little TV Show.
It is the epitome of what you imagine a local French bakery in the countryside would be like.
Within a few blocks from the place, you get a whiff of the most fragrant warmed butter scent ever.
Staffed by local high school girls, and not a lick of English spoken, it was an experience to say the least.

Getting to Cancale took some chutpah on our part.
I rented a nice ride, but unfortunately the rear wheel drive wasnt' the most opportune with weather conditions as random as Lady Gaga's outfits.
One moment, it would sunny and warm, and in a few hours, we would experience blizzard like snow conditions.

So basically, this little coastal town called Cancale is Chef Olivier Roellinger's painting canvas.
He and his wife run a myriad of high-end restaurants and shops under the umbrella Les Maisons de Bricourt.

There is a local strip down by the water that has some nice bistros, but for the most part, the high-end joints in town fall under Roellinger's reach. I couldn't get a rezzie at his flagship place, but that was OK. I enjoyed Cancale for it's oyster farming community and ate a great meal right on the waterfront.

Once at the bakery though, there still was a language barrier, and I had to resort to hand gesturing with a lot of broken Spanish, Italian and French.
But where there's a will, there's a way.

We were sat down and I think I ordered just about 1 of everything.
All were great, but here were the highlights.
Apple Tart, Butter Cookies, Macarons, and Caramels.

The Apple Tart was nothing like I ever had. They weren't going for flaky crust like in a Mille-Feuille, but more like a cobbler type of texture, but thinner and for a lack of a better more scientific work, just "better".

The Butter Cookies must have been baked in an Alien Kitchen galley because there had to have been a pound of butter in every cookie. I don't know how they made those cookies so crisp and perfectly baked, and yet, absorbed butter like a ShamWow.

Macarons were quite amazing as well. the Pistachio and Raspberry Macarons in the picture were the best I've ever had. Just so fresh and vibrant in flavor.

And finally the Caramels. Vanilla, Butter, Sugar, and a hint of some Spices made this childhood candy unforgettable. I grew up in Japan, and pretty much every kid enjoys Morinaga Caramels.
These caramels in Cancale brought back memories from my childhood while also giving me several more layers of refined enjoyment. Wonderful!