eat. shop. love. nyc.

Korean-style shabu shabu kalguksu
January 6, 2012, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Korean-style shabu shabu kalguksu

One of the Korean dishes I miss most from my days in Seoul is “shabu shabu kalguksu,” a Korean spin on Japanese shabu shabu hotpot that involves knife-cut noodles and a spicy leek and potato broth. See excerpt from Eyes in Korea below (and click through the link for more mouth-watering photos and descriptions).

Korean Shabu Kalguksu

My overview of Korean food continues and our target today isshabu kalguksu or chopped noodles.Shabu kalguksu is a very popular dish in Korea. Some people think it is a Japanese cuisine according to the name “shabu”, which is a Japanese word. Others say it is similar to Mongolian Genghis Khan’s meal. Some Koreans also say it is “toryeom” meal originated in Korea. As it often happens, nobody knows the real story for sure, so let’s concentrate on the dish itself.

I often go with my friends to Doul Shabu Kalguksu restaurant which is our favorite spot in Daejeon. Usually we order seafood kalguksu. The ingredients of the shabu kalguksuinclude seafoods, meat, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and rice with eggs. Furthermore there are many side dishes served at the table.

New York has a Koreatown, so why can’t I find my shabu shabu kalguksu here?!? I may, however, have found a passable alternative at Arirang (my favorite NYC spot for kalguksu, sujaebi, and kimchi jeon) – the chicken shabu kalguksu. I’m checking it out on Monday evening as it purported feeds 3-4 people – which means it probably feeds 6 with sides and apps. I will report back shortly.


Tim Raue Berlin: almost too beautiful to eat
November 15, 2010, 7:45 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

But too delicious not to eat.

Just around the corner from Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, there is a phenomenal restaurant where you can have a painfully beautiful, truly stellar three-plus-course lunch for 38 euros. While I don’t often have the opportunity to drop mucho dinero on a single meal, we were on vacation and thought we’d treat ourselves to something nice. So instead of shopping, we decided to eat at Tim Raue. The menu changes seasonally, so you can check the latest offerings here.

The entrance to Tim Raue is via a courtyard, and once you walk into the restaurant you find yourself wondering whether you are in the right place or not because it actually looks and feels a lot like an art gallery. The reception is at a desk rather than at a stand, and I think that was the most confusing. Nevertheless, we were seated promptly, walking past the open kitchen, a grand magenta wall, and underneath a gigantic painting of trash bags and empty cardboard boxes along a tree-lined street. Artsy (not fartsy), right?

While we looked over the wine list, the wait staff brought over a few complimentary small plates to start: chili-, paprika-, and cayenne- spiced cashew nuts (maybe some allspice or nutmeg, too), butter lettuce in a white wine vinaigrette with radish, sliced radishes with sweet coriander sauce, and pickled daikon radish.

We weren’t familiar with many of the German wines on the wine list, but as we were in Germany, we wanted to try something local. We asked for a dry white with strong fruit and minerality and bright acidity. Also, not too expensive. The sommelier thought for a moment, and said he had just the bottle for us. He went to retrieve the bottle, and out came yet another complimentary dish, this time a lovely lobster consomme with sweet Chinese sausage, grape tomatoes, onion, cabbage, and star anise. I don’t care much for anise or anything with a licorice-y taste, but somehow it worked well in this soup and I found myself savoring each precious sip.

Our wine arrived as we were working on our soup, and we were presented with a chilled Dreissigacker Brechtheimer Riesling, 2008 vintage. Jochen Dreissigacker is a German wine producer who has 21 hectares of land in his Rheinhessen vineyards. To learn more about the wine, the grapes, and how it was produced, click here. If you’re satisfied with me telling you this is a damn good white, just try and keep an eye out for any wines from Dreissigacker as his wines have been making wine people talk (all good things) as of late. I understand it is difficult, but not impossible, to find outside of Germany given the low yield. We were charged 30 euros for the bottle, and it was well worth it.

We finally began moving into the courses that we actually ordered. For our first course, Sara ordereda tuna tartar with wasabi and cucumber sauce, topped with frisee and wasabi flying fish roe. I think there may have been some jalapeno in there somewhere, but I’m not sure whether it was in the tartar or in the sauce.

I opted for a heavier first course with the duck liver “peking.” I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it might be something akin to pate, which wasn’t entirely correct. The duck liver was chopped finely and served as a base for a leek and ginger mousse (also mixed with some pureed duck liver, I believe) piped in the shape of little kisses. There were two small dots of barbecue sauce, which tasted plummier than most, and was served with a side of sweet cucumber and some dark green puree I couldn’t quite figure out. Each bite was sinfully rich, and though the portion wasn’t huge, I was completely sated and didn’t need any more bites.

Sara’s second course was the beef filet with a sweet pea puree and soy brew. The sauce was sweet and fruity, like a more delicate hoisin, and again topped with frisee. They did not ask how she wanted the meat cooked, and it came out a beautiful medium rare. Check out the marbling on the meat! Drool.

I ordered the suckling pig with sichuan sauce and pointed cabbage. You can’t go wrong with succulent pork, unctuous fat, and crispy skin. This was decidedly the most delicious suckling pig I’ve ever had, though I do wish that the sichuan sauce had been spicier. The waitress actually warned me that the little orange dots of sauce were very spicy, but apparently Germans have a lesser spice tolerance than kids raised on kimchee and red chilies. The cabbage roll was great, stuffed with more cabbage and veggies like mushrooms, and also containing some pork.

We were then brought a surprise (complimentary) dessert course of a tangerine ice cream popsicle dipped in tangerine flavored white chocolate and sprinkled with freeze-dried raspberries. This was our dessert course number one.

The came the dessert from the course menu: the salted caramel ice cream with cream of coconut, grilled pineapple, pineapple foam, and a round of coconut meringue. Salty, sweet, tart, charred, creamy, crunchy, YUM.

Finally, we were treated to yet another complimentary dessert, which would make this our dessert course number three: green tea mochi filled with green tea jelly and topped with vermilion foam, raspberries, a mint leaf, and dusted with matcha green tea powder.

After polishing off our three desserts, I wandered downstairs to check out the bar and the bathrooms. The bar was dark and lovely with its dark wood, the walls of climate-controlled wine, dim track lighting, and marble counter. Do stop by and have a drink here one evening, even if you don’t decide to eat. What a great place for a date.

Back upstairs, we had the pleasure of meeting two Michelin-starred Chef Tim Raue and his dog Molly (or maybe Mary? can’t remember exactly anymore). I got a little flustered and wasn’t able to say much more than “Thank you; it was beautiful and delicious!!” But I really just wanted to rave about how amazing the whole experience was, from the artwork to the lighting to the white-gloved staff to the interplay of color and texture and taste… This was better than my gourmand lunch at Eleven Madison Park, and less expensive, too. Keep up the good work, chef!

Outside, someone had scrawled out “That sunny dome / Those caves of ice” along a wall in the alley exiting the restaurant. It felt very poignant in the moment.

And as we looked back to bid adieu to Tim Raue once more, our fabulous waitresses waved us goodbye!

Eat: Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany – near Checkpoint Charlie).Rudi-Dutschke-Str. 26, 10969 Berlin, Germany. +49 30 2 59 3 79 30. Lunch seatings from noon to 2 pm, dinner seatings from 7 to 10 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Spicy devil deviled eggs recipe
November 9, 2010, 8:06 am
Filed under: Cook | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Who doesn’t love deviled eggs? The fun thing about deviled eggs is that you can really play around and experiment with different variations on the theme without messing them up too badly. A little mayo, a little mustard, something crunchy for texture, a bit of spice… and voila!

So I was trying to come up with a creative Halloween-appropriate finger food for a mini get-together I was having prior to Halloween barhopping on the LES. I thought why not dress up deviled eggs as little devils?

I decided to use some red food dye for color, a mix of hoisin sauce and sriracha to draw on the faces, and cut and dyed little carrot pieces for the horns (celery would also work). I’d do a couple things differently the next time around, though. For one, I wouldn’t bother to dye the outside of the egg whites – dying the yolk creates enough red for the face, you actually can’t really see the outsides anyway, and it dyes everyone’s fingers red. I’ve omitted the step in my directions below. Secondly, I’d use celery for the horns instead and chop a little bit of it for the yolk mixture to get a bit of crunch and to get that celery taste. If you’re not a celery fan, a tablespoon of finely sliced green onion would probably also do just as well in the yolk mixture and you can use carrots for horns. Recipe and step-by-step photos after the jump! Continue reading

Pho cuon = pho king good
August 25, 2010, 11:21 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Has anyone in NYC found a Vietnamese restaurant that serves pho cuon? I haven’t found a single place outside of Hanoi that offers this delectable rolled pho dish (as my friend Thanh calls it) to its customers. This is New York City. Isn’t there some Northern Vietnamese place in Queens or something that y’all can direct me to? Anyone?

I first discovered pho cuon on the northeast side of Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. Thanh, a Hanoi native and then-classmate of mine in Seoul,  wanted to take us around to some of the local eateries to sample Hanoi cuisine. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as that day at Truc Bach Lake (the seafood shack later also helped). We stopped at a nondescript roadside stand, no one spoke English, and before I knew it, a glorious plate of pho cuon sat before me.

Pho cuon is simple. It’s just a sheet of Vietnamese rice noodle rolled up around some slightly sweetened sauteed beef, fresh lettuce, and cilantro; served with a dipping sauce composed of what tasted mostly like fish sauce and vinegar with carrots and onions (and possibly daikon). So simple, yet I find myself dreaming about it still.

After a quick search on the web, I found this post on the Wandering Chopsticks blog and nearly wept for joy. Now I can make pho cuon at home! Further, she even posted a recipe for the dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham ngot. I guessed most of the ingredients correctly above, though I missed the sugar (duh – I should’ve caught that).

See ya. I’m off to the Asian grocery now.

Soft shell crab banh mi
June 9, 2010, 11:29 am
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I love soft shell crab. I would slap a baby (thanks, Kim) for some soft shell crab. My summertime go-to for SSC is Great NY Noodletown, but I’ve added a new SSC resto to my rotation after a chance encounter one lazy afternoon. I rarely get up to Gramercy to eat, but I had purchased a massage at Essential Spa on Groupon and found myself in the area. As my eating PIC and I began to amble downtown, we came across Bao Noodles, and we decided that we really wanted to have some noodles. We ordered our noodles, and then we saw this sign:

We decided we would get the $8.95 soft shell crab banh mi to share as our appetizer. It was the best decision we made all month.

Soft, chewy, crusty bread filled with deep fried soft shell crab, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon radish, and a whole lot of cilantro served with fish sauce and hot sauce on the side. Heaven. Continue reading

Asian “deviled” eggs
June 8, 2010, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Cook | Tags: , , , ,

My friend David lives in the relatively unspoiled and supremely fertile Tasmania, and it allows him access to a wide variety of fresh organic produce from all over the world that is grown locally.

He sent me the following note some weeks ago:

Hey you! Try this: Hard boil some free range eggs and quarter them lengthwise. Lay them side by side on a long dish. Dris them in Tamari, Japanese mayo, dots of wasabi and then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and toasted granuated garlic. I think it looks as good as it tastes! Ciao!

His is definitely a Japanese “deviled” egg. I only just got around to testing out my own version based on ingredients I had on hand, and I am admittedly lacking in my presentation skills so it didn’t turn out nearly as nicely as I imagine David’s did. Not only do I lack imagination, I lack counter space, and I also lack photogenic dishware and a camera with a decent low-light sensor. Forgive me.

It tasted great, though. Like an Asian deviled egg, though I didn’t remove the yolks and blend before returning them to the whites, so it’s “deviled” with bunny ears, not actually deviled. Recipe after the jump. Continue reading

Xi’an Famous Foods in Manhattan
May 25, 2010, 10:49 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Behold: the perfect noodle.

The $5 “spicy and tingly lamb noodles” (D1) from Xi’an Famous Foods are definitely spicy, and I suppose the tingle comes from the burning sensation in your mouth that intensifies with each glorious mouthful. I had to pat dry the tiny beads of sweat that appeared on my nose after the first few bites, but I didn’t care because it was so messing good. The ancient city for which this restaurant is named (Xi’an) is home to the famous terracotta soldiers and fuses Middle Eastern and Chinese flavor profiles together seamlessly. The smokiness of the cumin, the  mellowness of the lamb, the crunchiness of the bean sprouts and scallions, and the crazy heat from the chilies all added to the dish’s hearty, toothsome goodness. The thick, chewy noodles have a delightful texture, and they are pulled and cooked to order by this woman and her magic hands:

She takes the fat pieces of dough and splays them across the counter so that they stretch and flattens them with a few quick pounds, and then she takes the long, flat noodles one by one and *poof* magically whirls them around with a few quick flicks of the wrist and voila! They become thinner in width (though still thick in girth) and they are tossed into the pot to cook. Continue reading