Leisurely lunch at 15 East

15 East has a pretty good lunch deal.  $29 for a 3 course prix fixe.  On this visit, the first course was a choice of (1) home-made tofu served with ginger soy, (2) market greens with figs or (3) chilled summer corn soup.  Of course, I picked the corn soup – I love chilled soups and I love corn, really no other choice for me.  It was a very small portion, but the deliciousness more than makes up for the diminutive portion size, it was like eating corn off the cob in liquid form.

15 East – Chilled summer corn soup

Second course was a choice of (1) cold soba with shrimp tempura, (2) abalone risotto or (3) chef’s selection of sushi, 4 pieces and 1 roll.  All options sounded equally good, but today I was craving sushi.  I love that 15 East doesn’t dumb down the sushi selection and give tuna, salmon, etc.  Today, I got a negi toro roll, arctic char, snapper, yellowtail and scallop.  15 East has very high quality fish and a great selection.  Their sushi rice is quite good, I can’t say it’s as good as Sushi Yasuda but it is better than most places in the city.

15 East – Chef’s selection of sushi and roll

And I can’t leave 15 East without a few pieces of uni… 15 East had 4 types of uni on the menu today, from Chile, Santa Barbara, Hokkaido and Kyushu.  The uni pictured on the left is from Kyushu and the more orange-y one on the right is from Hokkaido.  The Hokkaido uni is more creamy, but the Kyushu uni had the more intense ocean taste of the two.  Both = sooooo good!

15 East – Hokkaido uni ($12) and Kyushu uni ($14)

The final course – any dessert off the menu.  I had the Mineoka Tofu, a scoop of home-made milk tofu in kuromitsu syrup.  Yum!  (Not photographed as tofu generally looks like a giant white blob with my poor iPhone photography skills)

  • 15 East – 15 East 15th Street – 212.674.0015

 

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Asian comfort food from Pure Thai Cookhouse and RedFarm

We had a quick dinner on Saturday night at one of the best Thai restaurants in Manhattan – Pure Thai Cookhouse.  Back when I use to work in Midtown West, I use to visit this place at least once a week for lunch.  Some of my favorite things on the menu are green papaya salad (their version is spicy!), ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles, sukhothai pork noodles soup and pa-yao beef noodles soup.  On Saturday night, I had their chicken curry puff, ratchaburi dry noodles and pad see ew with beef.

Pure Thai Cookhouse – chicken curry puff ($6.50)

Pure Thai Cookhouse – pad see ew with beef ($11)

Pure Thai Cookhouse – Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles (all mixed up) ($12)

I love the pad see ew at Pure Thai, they make it with vermicelli instead of the flat rice noodles that most other places use.  I like this because it makes the noodle dish feel much lighter.  They also load it up with differnt kinds of veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, and napa cabbage.  My favorite dish at Pure Thai is the Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles, it consists of house made egg noodles, topped with roasted pork, lump crab meat, yu choy, scallion, and a sprinkling of white pepper.  When you get the noodles, you need to make sure you mix everything all up, at the bottom of the bowl, there is a slight savory, somewhat funky (because of the fish sauce) and sweet sauce spiked with pickled jalapenos.  It is SO GOOD.  I didn’t have dessert, but they usually offer only one option and it changes daily, if you see the mango and sticky rice, GET IT.  Another must have is their roti rolled with palm sugar and condensed milk.  Nom!

On Sunday, our regular routine is to go to Barry’s Bootcamp and then right after class (before heading home to shower), we like to bring our sweaty selves to either Taim, RedFarm or Ootoya.  This week, RedFarm’s patrons were subjected to our post-workout glory.  Our usual order consists of a selection of 3 dim sums and then one rice or noodle dish.

RedFarm – Crispy duck and crab dumplings ($12)

RedFarm – Shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings ($11)

RedFarm – Panfried pork buns with spicy sauce ($12)

RedFarm – Rice noodle rolls with XO sauce and shrimp

This week we had: pan-fried pork buns, crispy crab and duck dumplings, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings and rice noodle rolls.  The crispy crab and duck dumplings and shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings are hands down my favorite two dim sum dishes at RedFarm.  Is it significantly more expensive then dim sum in Chinatown?  Yes.  Is the quality of ingredients and care of preparation much better?  Yes and yes.  The crispy crab and duck dumplings are built around a small crab claw and consists of bits of duck, veggies and of course, crab meat.  This is all shaped into a cute little fish and deep fried.  It is served with a yellow curry dipping sauce that is very flavorful and has quite a spicy kick to it.  The shrimp and snow pea leaf dumpling are also very delicious, the shrimp is nice and big and fresh.  The dumpling skin has a great chew to it and they give you the spicy chilli soy sauce that usually accompanies chinese style boiled shrimp.  The rice noodle rolls with XO sauce and shrimp is a bit pricey at $22 – but the rice noodle rolls have good “wok hay“, there is a generous helping of some pretty spicy XO sauce, the shrimps were cooked perfectly and very flavorful and I think the sunny side up egg was a nice touch to add richness to the dish.  Overall, a winner!

I ate a lot this weekend… (Kanoyama, Rubirosa, Momofuku and more)

I’ve been trying to keep vegetarian (mostly) during the week, but once the weekend comes around, I kinda go nuts…

Friday night dinner at Kanoyama with some friends:

duck

Kanoyama – Duck with miso sauce cooked on a persimmon leaf

baby conch

Kanoyama – Baby Conch with lemon and sea salt

corn tempura

Kanoyama – Corn Tempura

sashimi

Kanoyama – Sashimi Omakase

Kanoyama is my favorite casual sushi place in the city.  Very good quality and selection, you can end up spending A LOT here for a superb experience or you can scale back and still eat really well on a relative budget.  I think one of the best deals to be had here is the Sashimi Omakase, a selection of 9 different types of sashimi, about 2-3 pieces of each – all for $40 (includes soup/salad and ice cream).  They usually offer a pretty varied selection, on Friday, I had scallop, kanpachi, trout, tuna, toro, fluke, red snapper, and two kinds of mackerel.

Saturday late lunch with Kevin at Rubirosa:

Rubirosa - Vodka Pizza with mushroom and garlic

Rubirosa – Vodka Pizza with mushroom and garlic

Rubirosa serves a Staten Island style, super thin (almost cracker like) crust pizza.  The vodka pizza has the thinnest layer of delicious vodka sauce with blobs of fresh mozzarella distributed across the entire pie.  I added mushrooms and roasted garlic.  I love Rubirosa’s pizza for a light lunch, the crust is very light and crispy, no extra dough to weigh you down for the rest of the day… so you have room in your stomach for…

A perfect kouign amann from Dominique Ansel:

kouign amann

Dominique Ansel – Kouign Amann

A short stroll from Rubirosa over to the west side of Soho leads us to Dominique Ansel bakery, the only places that I know of in the city that makes kouign amann.  If anyone knows of another place to get this delicious treat, please let me know!  For those who have not yet tried this sinfully rich baked good, I suggest you RUN to Dominique Ansel to get it.  The best way I know of to describe this is:  it is like a really rich, buttery, dense, sweet, caramelized crossiant – only BETTER!  Check out some of the other offerings: here and here.

Capped off Saturday night with a late dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar:

momofuku grilled corn

Momofuku Noodle Bar – Grilled corn with Benton’s bacon, lime and cotija

Momofuku grilled octopus

Momofuku Noodle Bar – Grilled octopus with piperade, radish and pistachio

momofuku ginger scallion noodles

Momofuku Noodle Bar – Ginger scallion noodles with pickled shitake, cucumber and cabbage

I really enjoy going to Momofuku Noodle Bar for late dinners.  Although you still have to wait, it is a much shorter wait compared to during the ‘prime hours’ and while you wait, you can enjoy one of their refreshing alcoholic slushies.  I had the creamsicle slushie made with soju, orange and cream.  I don’t like orange or cream separately but when you put them together I just cannot stop thinking… Oooooohhhh ORANGE JULIUS!!!!!  When it is summer time, I see corn on the menu and I HAVE to order it.  Over the years, Momofuku Noodle Bar has done great things with corn,  but I love this season’s incarnation – their rift on the Mexican elote.  Momofuku’s version adds a great smokey flavor with Benton’s bacon and it is served off the cob, I could eat this all day without having to worry about kernels getting stuck between my teeth.  Momofuku does a great job with the grilled octopus, super tender and very tasty, it is a great dish if you want octopus in a pinch but I don’t think it compares to other octopus preparations I’ve been having recently, here and here.  Ginger and scallion noodle is my tried and true favorite here – complete comfort food when you want something lighter than Momofuku’s ramen, which is delicious, but very very rich with the pork-y broth and pork belly pieces.

Ended up in Queens for a late lunch on Sunday and decided to have some Korean BBQ at Hahm Ji Bach:

assortment of banchan

Hahm Ji Bach – assortment of banchan

haemool pajeon

Hahm Ji Bach – haemool pajeon

kalbi

Hahm Ji Bach – marinated kalbi

bibim naengmyun

Hahm Ji Bach – bibim naengmyun

My first time here and I liked it a lot…  Their haemool pajeon is really good, not too thick, not too thin, the best part is their choice of ingredients.  Most restaurants should really call their haemool pajeon (seafood pancake), squid and tons of scallion pancake, but Hahm Ji Bach does it right and includes baby squid, scallops, shrimps and mussels in their version, soooo good!  I will be back to try their samgyupsal, which is apparently what they are known for.

  • Kanoyama – 175 2nd Ave (at 11th street)
  • Rubirosa – 235 Mulberry Street (between Prince and Spring)
  • Dominique Ansel – 189 Spring Street
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar – 171 1st Ave
  • Hahm Ji Bach – 41-08 149th Place (Flushing, NY)

Kevin’s Birthday Lunch at Marea

I have been so busy between work and school lately, this post is seriously overdue – this meal occurred on Monday, August 6.  Sorry for the delay, but now on to the food!

Marea, the crown jewel of Michael White’s dining empire, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city.  If you want fresh seafood (raw and cooked preparations), expertly prepared house-made pastas, a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and gracious service, this is THE place to be.

I’ve been for dinner on several occasions and my plan of attack for a table of two usually goes something like this:

  • Ricci (sea urchin, lardo, sea salt)
  • A selection of 3 – 4 crudo – they are all delicious, but I especially like the razor clams, parrotfish, and deep water snapper
  • Two appetizers: Astice (nova scotia lobster, burrata, eggplant, basil) and one other appetizer
  • Two pastas: Fusilli (red wine braised octopus, bone marrow) and one other pasta

If it is a table of four, we usually add two fish entrees or a large salt baked branzino to share.

I had the pleasure of taking a day off with my husband last Monday and decided Marea was the place to go for his birthday lunch. Marea offers a business lunch option for $45, which includes a primo and secondo.  Let’s get to the good stuff.

marea menu

Our appetizer choices:

marea soup

marea sardine

Sardina (seared mediterranean sardine, cured lamb’s tongue, frisee, salsa verde) – Kevin’s appetizer pick, I had a bit of the sardine and it was great!  Not fishy at all and cooked perfectly.

Zuppa (watermelon soup, heirloom tomatoes, surf clams, crispy shallots) – it was a hot day and a chilled watermelon soup seemed like the ideal option.  I’m not sure how much longer this dish will be on the menu as summer is ending soon, but this soup is soooo good – very refreshing, not too sweet and a perfect summer appetizer.

Our mains:

marea pasta

Fusilli (red wine braised octopus, bone marrow) and Spaghetti (fresh cut semolina pasta, crab, santa barbara sea urchin, basil)

We didn’t want to fight over who got which pasta so we decided to order both and ask the waiters to split it up, which ended up working out very well.  Both pastas are wonderful, however, since the fusilli has bone marrow in it, it is a very rich dish, maybe too rich for a hot summer day, so getting half of that, along with half of a lighter pasta was a good idea.  The fusilli is one of my most favorite pasta dishes, the octopus is super tender, the sauce along with the bone marrow coats your mouth in the most wonderful way and the pasta… perfectly cooked.  The spaghetti is fantastic too, the sea urchin gives it a wonderfully briny taste of the ocean and the fresh sweetness of the crab is the perfect foil to that taste sensation.  I was so satisfied after the two pastas, I didn’t even need dessert!

To end the meal, some petit fours:

marea petit four

Blackberry pate de fruit, salted caramel ganache, apricot mini tart… what a great way to end the meal!

Sunday Brunch at Balaboosta

After a Saturday night display of gluttony and other drunken shenanigans, Kevin’s birthday weekend continues at Balaboosta on Sunday for a leisurely brunch. I must admit, it wasn’t our first choice, we tried to go to Caffe Falai for their delicious cornetto but their air-conditioning (or lackthereof) was a huge fail. After that, we walked to Rubirosa in hopes of getting their Eggs ‘Rubirosa’ (poached eggs/smashed meatballs/parmigiano hollandaise), again, the air-conditioning was not up to par.

eggs rubirosa

Eggs ‘Rubirosa’

We ended up at Balaboosta. And a good choice it was! I had the Shakshouka – so glad I ordered it! I had forgotten how much I love the combination of eggs and tomatoes. Balaboosta’s shashouka has the perfect balance of spice, cumin and tomato-y goodness. This is really THE dish to order here during brunch. I’m totally inspired to make this at home, just need to find a good recipe…

shakshouka

Shakshouka