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Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

Pickles

If America is a melting pot, Momofuku is its kitchen.  This hot spot in New York’s Lower East Side (East 13th Street and 2nd Avenue) serves fusion cuisine with an Asian flair.  The menu, which features seasonal regional ingredients,  has categories like “raw bar” and “country hams” — stuff you’d never find at your average Chinese, Japanese or Korean restaurant.

Momofuku has an interesting assortment of dishes, representing the ethnic crossovers that characterize New York City; definitely no pure, “authentic” Asian cuisine here. The pickles plate, above, for example is a play on Japanese oshinko, using local vegetables like baby bok choy, tomatillos, potatoe slices, cucumber, and turnips. Korean kimchee is also on the side.

Momofuku

The restaurant itself is a sleek, hip hall of hardwood tables and communal seating that flow into an open kitchen in the rear. You can watch as the chefs meticulously prepare each dish. One I highly recommend: the steamed buns with pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers and scallion (below).  Unbelieveably good.

PorkBun

Other plates to try… believe it or not, the $8 “Bread & Butter” is worth it, featuring fresh, soft sea-salt butter from Vermont and whipped lardo (bacon fat) on the side for schmearing.  The plate of sliced Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham — from Madisonville, TN — is tasty and unique.  The Satur Farm’s Snap Peas with mint, egg and XO was a bit too salty, but a creative preparation with Korean inspiration. And, the Santa Barbara Uni are to die for!  Super fresh sea urchin topped with celery, nori and a lemon juice-based cool broth. Incredible.

MomofukuQuattro

By far my favorite dish was one of the specials: grilled yellowfin tuna collar. Moist, flavorful, tender with a soy-miso-scallion dipping sauce on the side.

Yellowfin-Collar

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Look for the chicken meatloaves on wood planks positioned around the charcoal fire. Also, you’ll see some of my favorites from the menu: the Japanese pickles; roasted chicken wings; toro and ama ebi sashimi; peppered, roasted berkshire pork; and the terriyaki chicken meatloaf with poached egg.

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aburiyarestaurant

As soon as you enter this cavernous Japanese restaurant on New York’s east side (23 East 45th St.), you feel the warmth of its signature robata grill. The heat draws you down a long, dark hallway of curtained booths and tables to the brightly-lit grill area in back.

Sit around the counter so you can watch the attentive chefs skewer assorted cuts of meat, fish and vegetables and roast them over the charcoal fire. Little ground chicken “meatloaves” are formed onto wooden planks and propped amid the embers — this is one of their specialties.

aburiyashrimp

The sashimi is consistently high quality and makes a great first course while your selections are grilling. The ama ebi (above) were super sweet and incredibly fresh.

aburiyaapps

The draft Sapporro is ice cold. Pairs well with a start of Japanese pickles, edamame, or seasoned, roasted brussel sprouts.

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Gyu-Kaku NYC

It’s mid-December and your Weber BBQ is probably hidden away in the garage or buried outside under snow and ice. But at Gyu-Kaku (34 Cooper Square) in the East Village, you can still enjoy the flavor — and the fun — of grilling marinated meats, seafood and vegetables right at your table.

A friendly and attentive waitstaff helps you assemble a meal from a vast a la cart menu: dozens of cuts of meat and fish, including Kobe beef, marinated in a variety of Japanese sauces (miso, shio, garlic, terriayki, and others) and assorted fresh vegetables.

I ordered miso marinated freerange chicken breast ($8), garlic marinated skirt steak ($7), and a platter of assorted veggies ($10).  Add a bowl of rice ($2) and a cold draft Sapporo ($6) and it’s a feast for under $40.

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Kyoto Cookies

I know them as “Kyoto cookies”: individually wrapped crunchy waffle cookies filled with a vanilla cream. They have the crispness and “egginess” of a Chinese fortune cookie but are not as dry or tasteless.    Since I first discovered them at a gift shop in Tokyo several years ago, I’ve been unable to verify their real Japanese name or significance as part of Japanese culture. Regardless, they are a special delight — and beautifully packaged — when they can be found! (Thanks to my dad for discovering this box in NYC.)

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Sake Bar Hage, W 49th St., New York, NY

Sake Bar Hagi, 152 W 49th St., New York, NY

My dad and brother have raved about this place for years. It’s been written up in the New York Times as a “critics pick.” And tonight, I finally experienced it for myself!

It truly is a slice of the Ginza transplanted to West 49th Street in NYC. The food is Japanese “bar food” at its finest. We certainly made a feast of it, and had several rounds of drinks, for under $100. That’s a deal by NY standards.

Ice cold draft Sapporo

Ice cold draft Sapporo

Over cold, draft Sapporo beer and dry, cold sake, we started with two rounds of sashimi, a plate of oshinko (Japanese pickles), and some Japanese cucumber slices with mayo and bean curd.

Yellowtail sashimi

Yellowtail sashimi

Then we moved to a selection of grilled skewers — chicken meatballs, chicken thighs, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and ginko nuts — all topped with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt. We also gave the chicken wings a try.

Skewered grilled meats

Skewered grilled meats

Grilled chicken wings

Grilled chicken wings

We finished by sharing this stir-fry/saute of pork, cabbage, and bean sprouts in a light miso sauce. Delicious!

Pork, cabbage, bean sprout and miso

Pork, cabbage, bean sprout and miso

Nothing fancy at Sake Bar Hage, but it definitely lived up to all the hype. Off Times Square and West 49th, it’s down in the basement on the south side of the street before 6th Ave.

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