Archive for the ‘west village’ Category

dAn $80 seven course tasting menu for $55 ?  Count me in!

Eva and I couldn’t pass up this good dinner deal in the West Village.  We had 7PM reservations for Chanto and I guess it was still considered pretty early, because I was surprised to see so few people there.  While the restaurant seems small because all you see are the tables in the back and the mezzanine, there are actually a few levels to Chanto.  There’s even a designated fine dining room.  The restaurant has a full bar with a large lounge in the front, which probably means it gets to be pretty crowded on Saturday nights.  The decor and furniture are mostly deep reds and black, giving off a very intimate vibe.

chanto outside chanto bar

 Course 1: Fatty Tuna Carpaccio with a ginger sauce and watercress salad.  The fatty tuna was delicious – it was so .. smooth, it just sides down my throat!  The color of the tuna is really good too – it definitely has that vibrant zebra pattern, though you can’t see it too well here.

tuna carpacio

Course 2: Tebagyo- chicken wing filled with pork gyoza stuffing marinated in teriyaki sauce with Chinese broccoli on the side.  Teriyaki sauce is probably one of my favorite sauces- it’s like soy sauce, only better!  And you can put it on virtually anything, and is especially yummy on those greens.  I tend to be really good about my veggies and don’t eat them with any type of sauce, but this teriyaki/choy combo may be deadly.  Also, chicken wings stuffed with pork?  Wow- who thought of that idea?  Soo clever!  The flavor of the pork is preserved inside the chicken and the chicken itself was good because of the teriyaki.  This goes to show that you can make a dumpling out of anything.   

pork stuffed chicken wingchanto- pork chicken wing inside

Course 3: Sauteed miso marinated black cod- sake kasu sauce garnished with sake plum and watercress salad.  I was a fan of the fish, but not so much the sauce.  I’m not sure which element of the sauce my palate didn’t appreciate, but the favor just didn’t do it for me – it was a bit on the tangy side.  The fish was succulent and flavorful all by itself. 

chanto- miso cod

Course 4: Hashiyasume/Intermezzo: yuzu sorbet.  This more or less tastes like plain yogurt with its hint of sourness- but different.  The flavor needs a little getting used to in the beginning; it’s like nothing I’ve ever tried before.  But I think plain yogurt is probably the easiest way to explain this in both terms of flavor and texture. 


Course 5: Specially aged charcoal grilled sirloin- served with jyaga butter wasabi soy sauce.  It seems to be a Japanese twist to the classic American potato and meat dish- but taste-wise, it just wasn’t very inventive.  The meat was cooked medium rare [on their suggestion] and was a little tough and meaty tasting for me.  The soy sauce didn’t go well with the steak because it was just too salty- I did like the large grain salt they provided- it didn’t take over the taste of the beef completely. 

chanto sirloin

Course 6: Omakase nigiri sushi.  Nigiri pieces were good, but what stood out for my friend and I were the tuna sushi pieces- they were sooo soft and flavorful, they kind of just melted in our mouths.

chef's choice sushi

Course 7: Chanto chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream.  If I was a chocolate lover, I would probably trip over myself in chocolatety happiness with this cake.  It’s rich molten chocolate on the inside and chocolate cake on the outside – with ice cream on the side- how can one go wrong with that?!  I certainly wasn’t going to let this go to waste – I mixed each spoonful of chocolate with some greentea to take out some of the sweetness just so I could tolerate this massive amount of chocolate.  In the end, I didn’t finish the cake, but I did manage to eat a good chunk of it.  The green tea ice cream was great though- it has a very strong green tea flavor.   

molten chocoo cake molten choco lava

One of my favorite things about Chanto is the plates that they use.  All the China were beautifully and intricately decorated, giving it a very classy feel.  Before Japanese Restaurant Week, I didn’t even know Chanto existed and I’ve been in the neighborhood before.  I’m glad I discovered this place and would definitely come here again.  They do seafood, regular entrees, and desserts well.

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The Saturday before Time Out NY’s article on the best pizza places in New York came out, I was already thinking of pizza.  It was just a mere coincidence that TONY had the same thought process.  Of course, the “best” pizza is always so relative and arbitrary.  And it’s New York- there’s almost as many pizzerias as Starbucks here!  Anyway, Eva and I compiled a list of places to go with the help of TONY.  We came up with about 8 places that were going to be in the areas we were shopping that day [we decided it’d be a good idea to walk off the calories].  Unfortunately, time didn’t permit us to visit all the places we wanted, but here’s a quick overview of our day. 


1. L’asso.  41 Kenmare St.

I’ve been here previously but wasn’t a very big fan of their slices.  I wanted to come back this time with a more critical eye and taste it all over again.  I’m sure you’ve noticed the pizza-less picture here and that’s because L’asso had a really big order to fill that day sothey didn’t have any slices avaliable, so we didn’t get to get any pizza here.

ray's ray's kitchen
ray's pizza 1 ray's pizza 2

2. Ray’s.  27 Prince St.  The original.

Ray’s is split into two parts; a restaurant and a pizzeria.  Both spaces are small, but the cramped pizzeria never seemed to bother bother the customers waiting in line for pizza.  We got a slice off a brand new pie and ate it outside.  I love the stretchiness of the cheese on pizza when it first comes out of the oven and hasn’t congealed yet.  Mmm..  just thinking about it makes me drool.  The tomato sauce was more acidic than I expected, and Eva thought it balanced very well with the saltiness of the cheese.  She’s one of those who loves the combo of sweet and savory flavors in one dish.

ben's pizza ben's pizza inside
bens pizza 

3. Ben’s Pizza.  177 Spring St.

I’ve heard people rave about the Silician slices from here, but I can’t say that I appreciate those because there’s just too much breading.  The New York style I had was not the most impressive.  I would classify it as more than mediocre, and worth spending the money on, but nothing to write home about.  At least, not today’s slice.  This one was more on the bland side- no aspect of the pizza really stood out to me.  It was just a normal slice.  You can’t really go wrong with a slice from Ben’s. 

joe's pizza ben's pizza inside
joe's pizza slice joe's pizza closeup

4. Joe’s Pizza.  7 Carmine St.  Where Spiderman gets his pizza.  Open until 5am.

Whether or not it’s because of Spiderman, the line for Joe’s swiveled out the door.  I liked the tomato sauce because it wasn’t as acidic as Ray’s, and it had more flavor than Ben’s.  It tastes like very standard tomato sauce- maybe it was canned?  *shrug.  What I didn’t enjoy was that it was overheated quite a bit.  My cheese bubbled and browned in certain places, which put an end to my stretchy cheese effect.  The crust was crunchy and thin, which is essential for New York style pizza, but this time, it was overdone and a bit on the brown side.

beard papa's 

Right next door to Joe’s is a Beard Papa’s.  We decided to take a break and split a green tea cream puff (the pic was really ugly so I didn’t post it).  I wasn’t happy with the filling.  I usually go to the Beard Papa’s on Broadway & Astor, and they have a really thick creamy filling.  This batch of filling was a bit too runny in consistency and in turn, affected the cream puff’s flavor.

una napolenta

5. Una Pizza Napolentana.  349 E 12th St btwn 1st & 2nd Aves.

Apparently, at 3:30 in the afternoon, it was too early for pizza.  I didn’t know it was a sit-down place until we got there, and my guess?  They only offer dinner service.  Looks like I’ll have to come back for this one.

s'mac s'mac inside
s'mac brie  s'mac brie

Instead of venturing further uptown to finish the list, we went to S’Mac [a restaurant devoted to mac & cheese] and got ourselves some mac and cheese before we both went our separate ways.  It’s pretty pricey for mac & cheese, but they’ve got some good options, such as the brie mac & cheese that we ordered.  Creamy Brie, roasted figs, roasted shiitake mushrooms & fresh rosemary.  You can also choose to get bread crumbs on top, which we did.  The brie made the dish really heavy, but it was so good!  I enjoyed the saltiness of the fig with the soft mac and brie together with the crunchiness of the crumbs.  Eva lighted the sweet figs balanced with the saltiness of the brie and mushrooms with the crunchiness of the crumbs.  I say, it was a good balance of textures and flavors.

I didn’t find any spectacular pizza today, but I am going to work my way uptown and to Di Fara’s in Brooklyn, which was named #1 in TONY and by a co-worker.   Mmm… there is nothing like a good thin crust New York style cheese pizza.  =)

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