Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2006

Les Enfants Terribles serves up French-African cuisine, but I’m usually there just for the brunch since it’s situated between my neck of the City and Chinatown.  I’ve been here countless times since it’s opened and have never been disappointed with their brunch food.  Though, I have to say, I only recommend this place for brunch.  I’ve had dinner here once and it wasn’t enjoyable.  I ordered the duck confit, and it had a really jelly like consistency [too much fat I’m assuming].  Also, at night, they dim the lights down so low that I couldn’t even see my food. 

The original plan was to go to an all-you-can-drink brunch in Greenwich, but decided that if we were going to be hitting up wine tastings all day, we probably shouldn’t start the day off by getting completely smashed- since most of us drank a ton of wine just the night before.

While the space inside Les Enfants Terribles is small, the restaurant managed to fit a bar, which is where most of the action takes place every night.  Since the space is small, the seating is cramped, which would normally be very bothersome, but there’s generally no fights for space during brunch hours.  There are also a few tables outdoors.  It seems that they’ve taken a few tables that belonged to the school a few blocks away and incorporated them into their outside decor.  There’s even a little chalkboard indicating the day’s specials.  Thus, the outside decor gives off a very banishing kids from the classroom to sit in the halls to figure out what they’ve done wrong vibe, which fits with the restaurant’s name. 

les enfants terribles, outside
the floor to ceiling windows behind the school desk-chairs open up during nice weather

While they don’t offer any spectacular dishes, they have a good variety of choices for brunch.  One can perhaps find better versions of everything they serve here at other restaurants around Manhattan, but that’s just too much trouble.  I like it here for the cozy neighborhoody setting and consistently good food, which is what always draws me back.  Speaking of which, I’m offically back to my eggs benedict and salmon thing.  I got the eggs benedict norwegian, which comes with  ::drum roll:: salmon!  The salmon I believe was cured; it had a good flavor- nothing special or unsalmony about it.  I noticed they’ve changed their hollandaise sauce- it’s orange, not yellow like it used to be- or maybe there’s just too much cayenne [if they even used that – I didn’t taste it].  Anyways, the eggs benedict came with a side of fries and mesclun salad, with a light olive oil based dressing.  Another reason why I love coming here is because their fries are always soo crunchy.. except for today!  Mine were half crunchy, half soggy, but Phil’s were really crisp, so I just stole his.     

eggs benedict eggs benedict

The quiche special of the day was duck and that is what Rich ordered.  I enjoyed the flakiness of the crust and the cheesiness of the quiche, but the duck itself was a bit too hard for me.  I think it baked too long and the meat started to shrivel up into Chinese sausage like consistency, so I wasn’t too pleased with it.   

quiche

Phil got the equivalent to a philly cheese steak.  Under the mountain of gooey cheesiness, there were strips of steak and caramelized onions.  Can you see from the picture how wonderfully golden and crunchy his fries look??  Since he sat right accross from me, I had easy access to his fries.  Phil didn’t like the onions too much though, so Rich and I fought for them.  They were so sweet [maybe just a touch too sweet] and juicy, which is the only way I like my onions.  I didn’t get to try the meat so I cannot comment on that but Rich and Phil both gave it their thumbs up.  In fact, Caled ordered it two weeks later for himself.

steak

 Caled got the duck leg confit, which came with fries and bacon salad.  The duck leg was braised in herbs, which I haven’t seen before.  I was surprised that this dish would have a more spruced up salad than the others.  I don’t know why they would choose to put bacon in this salad, but I certainly wouldn’t complain becuase I love bacon.  Rich ordered this two weeks later and they both gave it their approval. 

duck leg

While Les Enfants Terribles may not serve the best of everything, they have a unique selection for brunch and can satisfy almost any palate.  There are veggie options and regular eggs and bacon! 

Read Full Post »

About a year and a half ago, a few of my friends and I lunched at Tribeca’s Nobu.  I fell head over heels in love with the place.  For my birthday this year, I thought I’d recreate the love by going to Nobu 57.  However, I’ve been putting off writing about my experience at Nobu 57 because I was sadly disappointed.  I couldn’t wait to have the black miso cod again after all this time, and after tasting others that don’t quite live up to its name’s connotations in my mind.  When my sister volunteered to take me, I was estastic because I’ve been waiting to check out the new space, and this way, I wouldn’t have to foot the bill. 

David Rockwell, the designer for 57 actually lives a floor above my old boss, but I never got the chance to meet him [damn my boss’ private entrance].  When you walk through the big half wooden, half thick glass door, you are greeted by the bar, and have to go upstairs for the dining area.  The dining area is very spacious and floor space was not cramped because the tables were well spread apart.  The only thing that I found weird about the set up is that they have these half booth type things; there’s a bench with the split into two, and two regular chairs on the opposite side.  We sat at one of these half booths and felt that we were way too close to our neighbors than we would have liked.  The two next to us was definitely trying to have an intimate meal of sorts, and I don’t think it helped to hear every part of our conversation.

nobu outside nobu inside
the space outside  //  the space inside (part chic, part avant garde)

The waitress introduced the cuisine as Japanese-Caribbean; this was the first I’ve heard Nobu described as such.  I thought it was just “New Japanese,” and was not previously nor am I now aware of any Caribbean traits in the food.  Hmm..  now I’m swearing I heard wrong because the website clearly states “new style Japanese food.”  Either way, the waitress told us that they like to serve everything family style so we should get a couple of dishes to share… which is how I usually eat anyway…  

Before I question my hearing some more, let me talk about the food.  Originally, I wanted to do their omakase because I read somewhere that certain aspects of their omakase menu is even better than Morimoto’s, but decided to do a la carte instead.  Overall, everything was too salty and overpowered by soy sauce.  My palate likes salty elements, but this was even too much for it.  The level of sodium in the dishes severely kicked my ass – and my sister’s.  The presentation was very appealing though- all the colors were quite eye catching.

 We started with the salmon skin salad as an appetizer.  The salmon skin was crispy with good portion of salt cured dried salmon on it.  The salmon was lightly grilled and wasn’t too hard as sometimes dried fish is.  The salmon came apart fairly easily with the use of my chopsticks.  There were a few good sized pieces around the bed of mesclun greens, which were topped with carrots and sesame seeds and some dried fish flakes.  I liked how the salmon was placed along the outside of the salad tower, so I could see the actual portion of salmon.  The salmon skin was not too salty in it’s own right, but since the salad came with a dressing made with a soy sauce base, it made the whole salad salty.  I’d even go for a typical Japanese teriakyi sauce than to have my salad drown in sodium.  Come to think of it, if there was just a light drizzle of low sodium soy sauce, [or one of the nice aged ones Nobu has lying around], it wouldn’t have been so bad.  The soy sauce just took over all my senses and I couldn’t concentrate on the actual salad. 

salmon skin salad 

There was no way I was going to leave Nobu without having the black miso cod, and that is just what I ordered.  I also wanted the chilean sea bass, but we really weren’t too keen on ordering all fish for dinner.  My cod looks different from one in my memory [where are the blacken sides?!  This looks like miso covered regular cod, but then again I’ve seen back cod look like this before too- I guess I was just expecting exactly what I had all those months ago].  Did you know that black cod has antifreeze proteins in its blood?  Maybe that’s why it tastes so good.  Anyways, the cod meat had a very soft, smooth, silky texture, and I literally slurped it down.  Unlike the salad however, the saikyo miso was not salty, but it was a touch too sweet.  Someone probably added too much sugar to this batch of miso.  I was saddened that I didn’t experience the same foodgasm I did the first time I had black miso cod.  The dish was still good, and I’d definitely order it again, but it just didn’t live up to my mind’s hype.

black miso cod
(from Nobu’s website)- how the fish was presented the first time I had it

 black miso cod black miso cod 2
black miso cod from nobu 57

I also decided to order something I normally wouldn’t; beef.  I blame the iron chef.  I forgot for a split second there that though I’m more open to meat now- it’s just the kobe beef I’m partial to.  It also slipped my mind that I was disappointed by the meat during my last Nobu visit.  By the time I remembered this, I already placed my order in for the beef toban yaki.  This is a dish of sliced beef, asparagus, and enoki and shiitake mushrooms in what I’m going to call a soy sauce based sauce because I’m quite sure there was something else in the sauce, I just couldn’t make it out by taste.  Everything came in a toban, which is the name of the platter used to cook the beef.  The concept is that the beef comes medium raw and would continue to cook to the customer’s desired state as long as it stayed in the toban.  My sister and I wanted a medium/medium well meat, but we couldn’t figure out a way to plop the meat face down without drowning in the sauce.  I thought of spooning the sauce out and use it as a dipping sauce, but we had no spoons, and even if we did, we had nothing to spoon the sauce into.  As a result, the sauce seeped into the beef and it was the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted [saltier than the salmon skin salad even].  I realized not only didn’t I like the sauce, but I didn’t like the taste of the beef either.  I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about the beef.  I’m thinking it has a lot to do with the way the sauce interacted with the meat that I didn’t like.  I tried to eat as much of it as possible as not to waste it; the mushrooms and asparagus helped to cover the saltiness and the odd flavor of the beef.  Eventually, my sister and I gave up.

beef toban 

We decided not to order dessert because nothing really caught our eye.  She had the bento box before, but that comes with chocolate and I was not about to go to the other extreme and sugar myself up after my insides swam in salt for the last hour. 

In the end, I regret not ordering any sushi.  I remember a lot of people saying that you’re not suppose to come to places like this for the sushi, but for the food.  Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people actually giving praise to Nobu’s sushi.  Maybe I should’ve ordered a roll or two. Mm.. spicy tuna roll. 

Ultimately, this experience made me think about Anthony Bourdain’s book, A Cook’s Tour about his search for the perfect meal.  No matter how one tries to recreate and manipulate current circumstances to reflect a previous experience, it will never be the same.  Bourdain talks about how he’s trying to duplicate his first foodgasm in France and realizes that no matter how hard he tries to prepare himself for it, times have changed, and so has he, and he won’t be able to relive that experience again.  That’s how I feel about Nobu’s black miso cod this time.  I sayNobu’s because I’ve had the dish elsewhere before, but it was at Nobu’s that first gave me the euphoric experience.

.

.

It seems that it wasn’t only me who didn’t have a good experience at Nobu 57, the chowmaster felt gypped too.

Read Full Post »

This week, from Monday to Sunday, you can eat at some of the big Downtown Manhattan names for $30 for 3 courses.  Some restaurants include Les Halles, Roy’s New York, and Delmonico’s.  Hmm..  I really want to go to Roy’s New York.

Check out the list of restaurants here

Read Full Post »

After my dinners at Morimoto and Spring Street Natural, I still wasn’t done with my birthday celebration with food.  There were still many-a more meals to go.  I figure that my birthday is the perfect excuse to be a fatty.  Even to this day, a whole week and a half since my birthday, I haven’t received all my promised birthday meals yet.  Alvin, being the sweet man that he is wants to cook me dinner and bake me cookies!  He’s devising a special menu and we’re gonna go to Chelsea market and make a day of it.  Too bad I have to wait two more weeks before he’s free for this! 

Also, Bak came back from Harrisburg aka the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania to take me to brunch.  I chose Ivo & Lulu since it’s a tiny place and I know I could never go with the regulars.  Sadly, I was stupid enough to think that they would serve lunch and dinner, but realized when we got there that they have dinner service!  Now I really have to find a way to come for dinner.  There are tons of restaurants in the Tribeca area that I haven’t gotten to try yet, mainly because for the two years or so that I worked in the area, I mainly confined myself to the Hudson Street/Nobu area.  BTW, if you guys are in that area- definitely check out Bubby’s.  It’s one of my favorite sandwich places ever.

We ended up going to Lucky Strike, because the fact that they wrote their menu on the mirrors that line the walls really drew me in.  It reminds me of how Balthazarhas their menu on the mirrors.  Yes, I’m a sucker for marketing gimmicks.  …Hmm… I just looked on the website and realized that this is actually a sister restaurant to Balthazar [seriously, I didn’t know].  This is definitely a low key version of their more popular chains.  I’ve never seen a Balthazar/Pastis like overcrowding here all the times I’ve walked by.  In fact, I think Lucky Strike has a more cozy and basic neighborhoody type vibe.  There’s a full bar in the front and in the back is the main dining room that has about roughly 15 tables for 2.  I like the skylight in the back letting in natural sunlight- especially on a Saturday afternoon.  Their brunch menu was small medley of French and American fare.  There were a few lunch and a few breakfast items, which was as much as I could ask for. 

lucky strike lucky strike

For once, I was all egg-ed out to order my typical eggs benedict.  Arthur and I actually did a lot of burger talk the night before- we were on the subject of BLT Burger for the longest time, that I now had a craving for a burger.  We were discussing BLT Burger’s soft opening a week before it was set to open and both started craving their kobe beef burger.  Do you see where this is going?  I ordered a burger, which is as atypical as a beancurd can get.  Granted, it was a veggie burger, but it was a burger nonetheless.  Hands down, the firm’s caf makes the best veggie burgers.  They’re fat and you can see actual veggies when you cut the patty in half; it’s absolutely amazing and so tasty. 

veggie burger

My veggie burger came with a slice of provolone cheese on an english muffin ( I seriously don’t know what’s up with sandwiches on english muffins lately) and a side of fries.  This patty was such a disappointment because it reminded me of one those that you get in the frozen section at the local supermarket.  I can’t even reiterate what it tasted like or what I thought was in the patty… on a second thought, it’s weird I didn’t question its contents earlier.  It was light colored and looked like a soy patty, which I’m almost certain it wasn’t.  The actual patty also didn’t have much distinct individual flavor.  It was just filling for my ketchup, mustard, lettuce, and tomatoes.  So aside from the unmemorable veggie patty experience, there were the fries.  They were normal enough; not crispy enough for a crunchy fry whore like myself but at the same time, not soggy enough for me to refuse.

brioche toast

I had Bak order the brioche french toast (a) because it’s not challah, (b) brioche is my favorite bread (challah being second), (c) because it sounded yummy.  The order of french toast came with fresh fruit, ie. banana, grapes, and honeydew.  The honeydew was surprisingly sweet and tasty for the end of October.  French toast in brioche isn’t really different than in challah from what I could tell; maybe it’s the batter that makes them taste the same?  Anyhow, this french toast wasn’t as fluffy or as fat as I originally anticipated it to be.  I’ve seen people smush french toast to the grill so it’d cook faster, and it seems that that practice was exercised here.  I remember the cooks at my college used to do that to speed things up.  The restaurant wasn’t exactly packed so I’m surprised this tactic was used.

Whether or not Lucky Strike lived up to my standards is irrelevant since we devoured everything without complaint.  In fact, I think I ate more than Bak.  I think the Pennsylvania suburbs shrank his appetite.  Sadness.

 ….  That night, I went out to Petite Abeille, which is the same place I had brunchwith Irene and Eva a few months back.  I chose this place mainly because it is spacious.  I knew it would accommodate our group of 15 with no trouble.  Most of the restaurants I like to eat at are tiny, so it took me a while to think of this place.  Anyways, Petite Abeille serves Belgian fare, which I’m not entirely familiar with- even after I’ve eaten here.  I mean I drink Stella and Lambec’s, but that’s as Belgian as I usually go.  My french teacher in the 7th grade was Belgian though, but that means absolutely nothing here.

petite abeille bread basket
inside the restaurant  //  reserved- just for us (the table, not the bread)

I ordered the vol au vent friteswith the description of: chicken stew with bacon, onion, mushrooms served in a puff pastry.  I took this to be a chicken pot pie of sorts- something I absolutely adore cuz I mean, come on, it’s like having a bit of dessert in your main course!  Well, this wasn’t exactly chicken pot pie, it was more a square shaped ashtray with the chicken and other stuff stuffed inside and a cream sauce trying to drown everything.  The puff pastry was fluffy due to its hundreds of layers, and it was the highlight of my dish.  The rest of it was bland, even the cream sauce, which I expected to give my chicken flavor.  It was hard to believe I had two bland items in one day.  I kept thinking that some hot sauce would really kick my dish up a notch, but refrained from asking.  I’m all for natural flavors, but this dish had no flavors.  I don’t know where they escaped to!   

chicken stew puff pastry
 Jen ordered the macaroni jambon fromage au gratin(gratinated ham and cheese macaroni) which gave us all serious flashbacks to Jupiter, Florida and the Food Shack.  I think we could all swear on our own lives that we’ve never had better mac and cheese than at the Food Shack.  We could subsist on that and burritos from Anna’s Tacqueria in Cambridge for the rest of our lives and be happy people.  It wasn’t so much the taste of this dish that reminded us of Florida, but the presentation.  The big humungo bowl of what seems to be never ending cheesy goodness is just too foodgasmic.  I liked how this dish wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy, but the inside were a mixture of cheese and cream, that I found to be too creamy.  By not too cheesy, I meant a forkful of the cheese on top and the noodles, which were soft and more rigatoni than macaroni.

mac n cheese cheese noodles

Petite Abeille’s best offering is probably their mussels.  I guess I should’ve known that since they advertise a beer and mussels special on Monday nights.  The exact details escape me, but you can check it on their website.  Ian got the grand-mere [grandma!] mussels.  I have no idea why they would be grand mother mussels, because it comes in a creamy bacon and beer concoction- wouldn’t that be more grandpa-ish?  Anyways, this sauce was so good, I wanted to slurp it up out of the pot.  There was a good balance of bacon and beer flavors with a smoothness at the end, but it didn’t taste like you were drinking beer straight up- it was more the aroma than anything.  Each serving comes with 2lbs of mussels [which isn’t much after you eliminate the shells, but still a good portion], so it was a nice hefty pot and thankfully I sat right across from Ian- so it was easy for me to steal the mussels.  The mussels were probably the most redeeming dish to the restaurant’s dinner menu.  This only means one thing- I’ll have to hit up that beer and mussel special someday.

mussels

 One last note before all you people scurry off with your lives… Jen also ordered a beef tartare dish.  I tried to find the dish on the online menu and either I overlooked it or it’s not there b/c I couldn’t find it.  I was trying to find the exact description for you guys.  What I wanted to say was that when the server brought the dish over to our table, I’m quite sure I had a pretty appalled look on my face.  The tartare has been pated to look like raw ground beef someone forgot to throw onto the grill, with some fake grill marks.  I didn’t know what to make of this dish.  Beef tartare is an actual beef dish I would willingly eat, but I wasn’t so sure what to think when I saw this.  I mean, yes, it’s a clever way to present a dish, but the idea of it being so closely related to an actual burger just got to me.  I am probably just making too much of it – but that’s what you get from a girl who’s nicknamed Miss Beancurd.  So my foodiness got to me and I dug my fork in and it’s not so bad if you like mushy beef with a ton of scallions.  There was an astounding amount of scallions crammed into this patty.  I can stand a few here or there, but I thought this was overkill since it was all I could taste.

beef tartar

Okay, one more note.  It’s a small one and it’s about their fries.  So… I didn’t like them.  I guess that’s not a big surprise, right?  They’re not skinny and crunchy.  In fact, just by looks alone, they remind me of the fries from Wendy’s.  These fries are perfect for those of you who like big fat soggy potato-y tasting fries. 

.

.

.

I guess you can just call me a picky eater.

Read Full Post »

I initailly had no idea that Spring Street Natural used only organic ingredients in their food; although, the name “natural” should’ve been a big hint.  I’ve walked by this place many times during my weekly trips to Soho, but I’ve never eaten here.  I usually just go across the street for some of Eileen’s Cheesecake instead.  =X  I am glad I got to try this out though.  My overall impression of this place is torn between “semi- impressed” and “disappointed.”  Their dishes are very inconsistent.  Some dishes really had me try to tackle others for bites, but others I wasn’t happy with the chefsmanship (haha witty, eh?) of.  The space itself was small and cramped, and in being cramped, they manage to serve a lot more people.  When you get in, directly to your left is a full bar, which I was surprised existed because of the area and large amounts of people.  I bet it is hard to get around the bar area.  To the right of the bar is the main dining area, the tables were really squished together so it was hard for us to maneuver. 

spring street natural  spring st natural
outside // inside

Here’s the bread basket!  I wasn’t a fan of the bread basket.  I’m more partial to the oats and not the wheats, which seemed to comprise most of this basket.

bread basket

I wanted two different appetizers so I got Arthur and Jen to share them with me.  Umm, can you say .. fatty?  I wanted the spinach salad and the grilled squid.  The salad was very simple, it came with spinach greens (duh), grapes, dried mango, feta cheese, onions, and the real key to this salad, which was the vinaigrette.  I’m not sure what kind of vinaigrette it was though and that makes me really sad.  It was sweet but not too sweet and the flavor was new to my palate.  I can’t remember what dressing it was, but undoubtedly it is one of the best dressing I’ve ever had.  Arthur and Jen agree.  The grilled calamari was nothing special, in fact, the ends of the tendons were burnt.  I didn’t appreciate how they only gave us a few measily tendons and left out the other pieces.  The white beans/salsa-ish medley didn’t really go with the squid, and it was bland on its own.  The regular fried calamari was much better.  

salad grilled squid

Caled and Jon ordered the crispy calamari, which came with two dipping sauces.  The first seems like a thousand island type sauce and the other was a spicy vinaigrette.  The calamari was lightly battered and fried on the outside and  gave way to a soft non chewy middle.  The calamari was bland alone and I did miss the marinara sauce because I wasn’t too pleased with the flavors of their dipping sauces, but the spicy one was better in my opinion.  It helped give the calamari a needed kick.

calamari

The reason I wanted to come to Spring Street Natural is because organic means seasonal seasonal and fresh.  I like how their menu caters to the different seasons since certain seasons yield certain specialty items, like fall and pumpkin respectively.  I saw that they are featuring a pumpkin ravioli dish and I was sold.  I didn’t even bother to look at the rest of the menu to see if it would satisfy the palates of my friends.  The pumpkin ravioli came with smoked duck, zucchini, and toasted hazelnuts in brown butter.  Doesn’t that sound good or is it just me?  I mean, the hazelnuts are an odd touch but I like hazelnut, so I figure why not?  Unfortunately for me, I was really disappointed with my entree.  The ravioli did not taste like pumpkin- it wasted like straight up almond paste.  I love almond flavoring but I don’t know what it was doing here, especially since nowhere in the description did the word “almond” appear.  I’m positive it wasn’t hazelnut- it was almond.  The hazelnut was just sprinkled around the top; the almond taste was inside the ravioli.  It was soo strong and sweet that it ruined the ravioli for me.  The only thing that saved the ravioli was the duck.  The savory taste of the duck helped to balance out some of the almond.  If the ravioli stuffing recipe for this dish is remade, this dish can possibly be saved.  Right now though, it’s going on my no-no list.

pumpkin ravioli

Arthur got the  pan seared duck breast “drizzled with pomegranate molasses, pinenuts and figs; served with scalloped sweet potatoes and apples and sauteed Tuscan kale.”  There was a good portion of duck for his dish so I stole a couple of pieces to eat with my ravioli.  The duck tasted like typical duck; there was nothing special about the duck itself.  It was cooked to a good degree so it wasn’t rubbery and it’s natural juices were still in tact somewhat.  This was one of those sweet and savory dishes.  The duck and the kale are savory, but everything else is sweet.  I didn’t get to try the flavors together so I don’t know how they taste.  Hopefully, they balance out.  Arthur’s one of those people who likes to eat in layers rather than combining the layers, so I don’t think he’d be much help either.  Looks like you’ll have to try this one out and assess for yourself.

duck


We all agreed the best entree out of all of us (there are a few others that I didn’t show because I didn’t taste them), is the roasted atlantic salmon with “fresh garden salsa, basil mashed potatoes and grilled zucchini.”  The zucchini was over grilled even though the one in the picture looks like it bears perfect grill marks; the other side shows something completely different.  The salmon and the mashed potatoes were so good though.  I have no remarks on the salsa but the basil mashed potatoes were creamy and light and not overly basily.  It’s the only basil mashed potatoes I’ve ever had in New York, but I’ve had it in Vegas before and found it too thick and basily.  This was seriously whipped to perfection.  After trying the previous dishes, I was surprised how good the salmon tasted alone.  It was so tender and the sauce fromt he salsa just seeps into the pores of the fish!  As a testament to how good this dish was, everyone was ignoring their own dish and digging their forks into this plate.  Then… Caled started to threaten all of us that he’d stab us with his knife if we continued… so we had to distract him while stealing.  =X

salmon

After fooding, we went bowling in Jersey, which I haven’t done in years!  I kicked ass the first round, but then Daniel warmed up and kicked my ass the second round.  Moreover, we were bowling sober… kinda.  We went to Gatsby’s a block away from Spring Street Natural for a few drinks before heading into Jersey.  I guess it wasn’t a total liquor-less night.  Then again, it never usually is with the boys.

Read Full Post »

For my birthday, Eva took me to Morimoto’s!!!  We got to sit at the omakase bar, which only seats 8 and got to watch all the chefs in action- including the iron chef himself, Morimoto.  We got there for the first seating at 6:30.  We had to take our shoes off when we got to the omakase bar.. which was really oddly set up because we basically had to climb on top of our seats and then lower ourselves into them.  Trust me, there was no sleek way of getting in or out.  The omakase bar came with bottled water service, though I believe for the amount of money we paid, it should get bottled alcohol service.  We ordered sparkling water, of course.  Our waiter/server, Dave came to talk to us about what is being offered on the omakase aka “chef’s choice” menu tonight.  We got wind of something really cool.  Apparently, Morimoto was filming Iron Chef America a little while back and he imported all these truffles from Alba, Italy for it and had a whole bunch left over after the show so he brought it to the restaurant.  In fact, in the bunch is one of the largest truffles found in the past five years; it weighs about 2 pounds!  Morimoto’s restaurant is actually right behind the Food Network studios.  Anyways, Morimoto decided to create a seven course tasting menu using these truffles for $300.  The regular omakase menu starts at $200, which comes with lobster and like one or two more courses, but we were going to get the $250 menu anyway, so we sprang for the truffles because… well.. it’s my birthday and I wanted them.

morimoto morimoto inside 
morimoto kitchen place setting

There was so much food that I forgot a lot of the specifics of our meal.  Dave neglected to repeat what was in our dishes once we got them so this is the best I could do with my knowledge combined with my dining partner’s.  We tried, we really did.  I had half a mind to call up Morimoto to speak to Dave and ask him what he served us that night, but that’s a little overboard, no?  Any help from you guys would be greatly appreciated!

Course 1: Toro tartar on a deep fried tortilla chip with baby greens on top with what we’ve deduced should be crème fraîche and black truffles. 

toro toro

We deduced the substance in the white teacup to be crème fraîche due to the fact that crème fraîche costs a buttload and we really doubt Morimoto would feed us yogurt.  This is very close to plain yogurt in consistency, texture, and taste- although much milder [I managed a taste test without touching the truffles].  Dave demonstrated that we should swirl the black truffle around in with the creamy substance and spoon dollops onto the toro and eat it like that.  You can see Dave’s handy work above.  The truffles definitely made the whole teacup taste like truffles; I ate a few spoonfuls straight from the cup.  I watched them dip the chip into a deep fryer for a few seconds and then cut them up on put the toro on top.  It makes the what I’m assuming was once having a bread like texture [it looked like a really thin paninni going in] tastes like an cracker with tons of air pockets.  Due to the air pockets, this was a light cracker, but very oily.  Meh, we only live once right?  It was hard to eat because everytime i bit into the chip, crumbs would fly all about.  It was also hard to hold after a while and I soiled my hands with truffles and crème fraîche.  The flavor combo was good though; the truffle definitely added a kick to it.  If there was no truffle, I would’ve gladly added some spicy mayo to this toro and eaten it like that.

Course 2: Seared yellowtail with aged soy sauce and scallions with white truffles

 truffling plate yellowtail

The chef laid the yellowtail and sprinkled scallions on top and drizzled everything with soy sauce.  Then, he boiled some hot oil and seared everything all that once.  The oil cooked the fish very lightly, giving it a new texture.  It’s the same way fish is made in the traditional Chinese household- Ming Tsai did a segment on it once.  My mom steams the fish with ginger and scallions, adds soy sauce and sears it with the hot oil.  It gives the fish a nice sheen and it tastes different too.  You should try it sometime.  The yellowfish was so fresh and not too salty with the soy sauce.  The truffle flavor was light and didn’t overpower the flavor of the fish. 

Course 3: Yose dofu

tofu

This is by far my least favorite dish of the bunch; I was unimpressed no matter how much truffle blankets it.  This dofu was made in the restaurant in a big clay pot and scooped into individual portions.  The chef then sprinkles some special olive oil and top with white and black truffles.  The dofu, in Cantonese is known as dau fu fa.  It’s usually a sweet treat; you drizzle liquified sugar onto the dofu, mix it up, and eat it.  Morimoto tried to make this a savory dish and… I thought it was disgusting honestly.  Dofu itself naturally has minimal flavor and as good as truffle is, truffle dofu is not.  The actual dofu was made really well- it was silky smooth and went down like milk.  I never eat anyone else’s dofu except from Tong Wu on Grand btwn Bowery and Elizabeth.  I kept trying to avoid thinking, “I could get the same quality homemade dofu for a dollar a quart in Chinatown.”  There was the tiniest bit of olive oil and since the dofu is already soft and smooth, the oil didn’t have much purpose.  Though the olive oil itself had a good strong flavor, it would have been better suited for another dish. 

Course 4: Risotto with uni [sea urchin] and a quail egg sprinkled with scallions and white truffle with truffle flavored foam on the side

risotto

Thank goodness for this risotto because it totally made up for the previous dish.  The flavors of this dish was really heavy with the cheese and quail egg.  If I had this on a regular basis, I’d definitely be asking for high cholesterol and a heart attack but it wa so good!  The risotto was all plump and fluffy.  I really enjoyed the flavors of all these ingredients mashed together.  That truffle flavored foam [I’m guessing there’s some truffle oil in there somewhere] was so good.  Why have I never had truffled risotto before in my life?!  And uni!  The uni was in the bottom of the bowl and I forgot about it until I dug it out in a spoonful and what a pleasant surprise.  The hidden egg yoke gave me a flashback of the truffle oil egg yoke ravioli I had a few weeks ago.  *mmm.   Back to this dish.  The risotto is a bit bland by itself, but with the flavors of the truffle, the smoothness of the egg, and the uni, it was golden. 

Course 5: Big eyed red snapper with black ruffles and cilantro swimming in some celery soup.

big eyed snapper

This is suppose to be the chef’s favorite fish and I can totally see why.  It was the best snapper I’ve had- everrrr.   Honestly, the fish didn’t even need any of the truffles; it was perfect alone.  It was expertly descaled and the texture was not too rubbery [undercooked] or hard [overcooked]- it was the perfect balance.  The celery soup however, kicked my ass on the first bite.  I didn’t expect the soup to be so pungantly celery-ish.  It was nuts.  Eva saw me face and was horrified.  I had that face on that looked like I just inhaled something really sour and it was beating me up.  Then, I took a second spoonful and you know what?  After the initial shock, it was actually tolerable.  Eva ended up doing the same thing- except she does brain freeze head shake thing.  She took a second spoonful and had the same reaction- it wasn’t bad.  I guess it’s kind of disheartening that the truffle really played no part in the flavor of the dish; it just seemed to be placed on top of the fish randomly.

*Course 6: 3 oz of kobe beef with a poached quail egg and mushrooms with truffle oil, topped with big slices of white & black truffles

kobe kobe 2

Here we are at my favoritest part of the meal.  The part where a non meat liker like me, especially red meat, learned to like – of all things, beef!  Once in a while, I will get a craving for a burger, but that usually means a turkey burger or a veggie burger, but I’m not really a meat person.  I just don’t really like the taste of it.  This is the best fracking meat dish I’ve ever tasted!  I think… I just like kobe beef.  =X  This is not good.  My expensive palate is just going to get me into trouble.  This is seriously where the truffles came into play wonderfully.  The taste of trufle combined with beef with mushroom and dipped in egg yolk is orgasmic.  The beef was tender and juicy, like good beef is suppose to be.  The only qualm I have about this is that the meat was a little too rare for me, but thank goodness it doesn’t look like or wobble like it was still moo-ing.  Honestly, after the first bite, I really wasn’t concerned about what stage my meat was cooked to- I just wanted to savor each and every bite.

Dessert: Truffle ice cream with candied pear, preserved pear slice, and chestnut cream in unidentifiable sugar blocks

truffle ice cream

First off, I have to say that I have no recollection of what that white block and its innards are.  Eva says chestnuts on the inside and i will agree.  I remember it was good and sweet and the white blocks that separates the cream tastes like blocks of hardened cotton candy.  I don’t generally like chestnuts, but apparently, I’m all for the cream form of it.  I took one bite of the ice cream and I was like, “whoaaa there are truffles in this!  This is truffle ice cream!!!  Holy crap!”  The truffle flavor was too overwhelming and I couldn’t eat the ice cream by itself.  The sweetness of the pear really balanced it out for me though.  Eating the truffle ice cream makes me think about the Iron Chef episodes when everyone is always trying to make ice cream out of everything and anything.  Wasn’t there some type of asparagus or fish ice cream at one point?  Bleh!  Truffle ice cream is a good concept and you could definitely taste the truffle, but it definitely wasn’t something I could eat alone.

Since Morimoto spent most of his night at the sushi bar, I got Dave to put in an order for a spicy tuna roll and have Morimoto make it for us.  I liked that he didn’t mash up the tuna with the spicy mayo for this so we could taste the actual fish.  The mayo blend he put together definitely has more kick to it than the ones I’m used to, but it was good.  I’m obsessed with spicy mayo.  There was a lot of scallions in this, which I have a slight problem with since I’m not a fan of scallions.  The ones in the previous dishes were ok because they were absolutely tiny.  

I also noticed that they only used the belly of the fish for all the sushi.  We saw one of the chefs cut off the top later and the ends of the salmon before cutting a piece for the roll he was making.  No wonder everything costs an arm and a leg!  But, there’s the proof that customers are only getting the best.

spicy tuna roll

Look!  They put together a little plate of stuff for me for my birthday!!  Aren’t they the sweetest?!  This was actually the only candle I got to blow out on my birthday, so it means a lot to me.  I didn’t get any birthday cake this year.  It’s kind of hard to believe.  Cake from Morimoto does make up for it though.  =) There was chocolate cake, espresso cake with a chocolate covered espresso bean and a tiny piece of sponge cake with green tea powder.

birthday cake

Finally…. the piece de resistance!  A picture with Morimotooooooo.  ❤  Eva and I are seriously like groupies of the culinary world- we squeed everytime he came/looked our way!

morimoto & i

birthday girl / morimoto / my friend Eva

.

.

.

Truffle infused beef.  Mmm. 

————-

*gasp!  Alain Ducasse’s white truffle menu… for free?!!  Click to read about the Amateur Gourmet’s free truffle tasting.  I am.. all sad inside cuz I want some too!

Read Full Post »