Chef’s Omakase at Tori Shin

I’ve heard great things about Tori Shin, the only yakitori joint with one Michelin star, for a while now but I finally had the chance to go a couple of weeks ago. Quite honestly, I didn’t want to make the trek all the way to 64th street and 1st ave in the cold but this blog post really motivated me to do so.  Let me tell you, it is worth the trek and more.

We went with another couple and we all ordered the Chef’s Omakase ($55) – it was our first time here and it was Sunday night, so we did not want to have to think about what to order after a long week.

tori_daikon

Started things off with a simmered daikon dish, very flavorful – a good sign of things to come…

tori_chickenshiso tori_quailegg tori_tomato

Skewers… chicken breast with plum and shiso, quail eggs and tomatoes.  The chicken breast was so moist and delicious, I don’t often find myself ordering chicken breast but I would gladly order this again!  Quail eggs and tomatoes – what’s not to like?

tori_porkbelly tori_chickenmeatball

More skewers!  Pork belly with garlic miso and chicken meatballs.  Pork belly is always delicious, but that garlic miso is so addictive.  The chicken meatball was really tasty and texturally pleasing with some crunch, but I couldn’t help but be jealous of those I saw with the special chicken meatball that came with the egg yolk sauce, I will definitely be ordering this next time I come.

tori_stickyyam

Japanese mountain yam (yamaimo) with vegetables… The texture of this yam is not really my cup of tea, but the taste was okay.

tori_chickenoyster tori_zucchini tori_chickenwing

And the skewers keep coming!  Chicken oysters, zucchini with spicy cod roe sauce and chicken wing.  The chicken oysters were RIDICULOUS.  Really tasty, really moist and tender, with just a small sliver of crispy chicken skin attached.  The zucchini was okay (not generally a fan of zucchini) but the spicy cod roe sauce was good.  The chicken wing was cooked extra crispy, LOVE IT.

tori_oyakodon

After all your skewers are served, the waitress comes back to ask what rice dish you want.  You can pick any rice dish on the mean, the special oyako don (pictured above) costs you an extra $5 and it is well worth it.  Perfectly seasoned chicken bits with onion and cooked egg over rice, topped with a delicious egg yolk – mix everything up with your chopsticks and you  have comfort food at its best.

To finish off, we got house made green tea ice cream, it was good, had strong green tea flavors.  Honestly, though, at this point of the meal, we were too full to care about ice cream.

Overall, great food, inviting atmosphere, friendly and helpful service.  I will definitely be coming back here again and again.

Tori Shin – 1193 1st Ave (between 64th and 65th streets)

Lazy Sunday lunch at Osteria Morini

I’m a huge fan of Michael White’s restaurants, especially, Marea.  I tend to go to Osteria Morini a bit more just because it is easier to get a last minute reservation and it is in a more convenient location for me.

A perfect home-y Italian lunch on a gloomy, slushy Sunday:

morini_meatballs

To start, Polpettine – Morini’s perfect meatballs are made with prosciutto and mortadella and baked in tomato sauce.  Easily, my favorite meatballs in the city.

morini_raviolo morini_tag

Two pastas:

Raviolo (egg yolk, ricotta, and spinach filled pasta with mushrooms, brussels sprouts leaves and parmigiano) – a little bit too heavy on the ricotta but the mushroom based sauce was light and complemented the pasta well.

Tagliatelle (ragu antica, parmigiano) – so good!!!  The ragu was relatively light for a meat sauce, it was hearty but didn’t weigh you down, perfect way to start the a weekend day.

For those on a budget, Osteria Morini’s pasta can be had for $10 a pop on Mondays after 9pm (Industry Night).

Sushi at 15 East

On Saturday night, we made it into the city for dinner at 15 East.  Our usual go-to high-end sushi place is Sushi Yasuda, and for “everyday” sushi, Kanoyama is our spot.  We figure it was time to branch out to some new choices…

We booked relatively last minute, so was unable to secure a spot at the sushi and had to make do with a table.  While not ideal, I was ok with it.  However, what I was not happy with was fact that we had a 9pm reservation and we were not seated until 9:35pm.  I suppose it was probably due to the fact that earlier tables were running late due to potential travel conditions created by post snow storm clean up.

We started with two appetizers for the kitchen:

15East_risotto 15East_chawan

Lobster and Uni risotto ($32 – really a main course from the kitchen, but we ordered it as an appetizer to share).  This was delicious, uni was blended into the risotto which was studded with nubs of lobster meat.  There were also 4 tongues of uni resting on top of the risotto.  Creamy, rich, perfectly cooked risotto AND uni?  Of course, this was a winner!

Foie Gras Chawan Mushi – egg custard with mushroom black truffle amber sauce ($18).  This was very tasty as well, although I do think I prefer a more traditional chawan mushi that is more ‘clean’ tasting vs. rich tasting.  It was a successful dish, just not really how I like my chawan mushi.

As our main, we both ordered the sushi omakase and added two pieces of uni:

15East_sushi 15East_uni

The sushi omakase contains 10 pieces ($60) – our selection included chu-toro, tuna, kanpachi (first row, l-r); king salmon, tai, black perch, red snapper (second row, l-r); scallop, sweet shrimp, anago (last row, l-r).

The two kinds of uni available on Saturday night included Santa Barbara (left) and Hokkaido (right).

15 East’s sushi was very good and fresh, however, I think the experience would’ve been better had we been seated at the sushi bar. I still much prefer Sushi Yasuda’s rice.  I think 15 East’s rice is a served a touch too cold – perhaps that would not have been an issue at the bar.

Overall, a good meal – was not happy with having to wait for our table, but for the price, I think I prefer Sushi Yasuda.

Keeping warm with Cocoron

There is nothing more satisfying on a cold winter day than a hot bowl of soba noodles.  One of my favorite places to enjoy soba in the city is Cocoron.  They have two locations:

  • 61 Delancey Street (between Allen and Elridge) – original location
  • 37 Kenmare Street (between Mott and Elizabeth) – larger location

I prefer the newer and larger location on Kenmare.  Service is generally iffy, but the food is definitely enough to keep me coming back for more.  Now, on to the food!

Two of their best appetizers…

cocoron_tofu

House made cold tofu with bonito flakes, seaweed, scallions and wasabi.  Creamy, silky tofu so pure tasting that you only need a smidge of soy sauce to enhance.

cocoron_dumplings

Steamed chicken dumplings with sticky rice – this dish is steamed to order and will normally take longer than other appetizers, but it is worth the wait!  There is a strong ginger flavor within the chicken meatball, but not overwhelming and the sticky rice coating provides a great textural sensation.

Cocoron categorizes their soba into three buckets:

  • Cold – cold soba noodles with cold dipping sauce on the side
  • Warm – soba noodles in warm soup
  • Dip – cold soba noodles with warm dipping sauce on the side

The cold soba is deliciously refreshing during the warmer months, but you want to stick with the warm or dip soba on a day like today.

cocoron_soba_dip

Our mains: Warm Kashiwa soba in the background, this soba has chicken thigh meat, chicken meatball, shitake mushroom and scallions.  In the foreground, is the Chicken Burdock Dip soba, here you get the cold soba noodles and a warm dipping sauce with chicken thigh meat, chicken meatball, shitake mushrooms and burdock.  The Chicken Burduck Dip soba is one of my FAVORITE things to eat in the winter.  Having the soba chilled preserves the al dente texture that buckwheat noodles should have, and the warm dipping sauce is seriously tasty and warms your body on a cold day.

Of course, it is not a complete meal until I’ve had dessert!  While Cocoron’s dessert menu is not large but they have two really great options:

cocoron_mochi cocoron_icedcoco

House made mochi ice cream served with kinako powder.  It is EXTREMELY rare to find house made mochi ice cream, most restaurants serve packaged mochi ice cream – you can clearly taste the difference in the mochi wrapping.  This is pleasingly chewy and serves as the perfect foil to the vanilla ice cream that it covers.  This comes sprinkled with kinako which is a classic topping for mochi – this gives the dish a nice toasty, nutty flavor.

The second dessert is frozen fruit served with coconut milk and tapioca.  There are frozen mixed berries, bananas and peaches swimming in coconut milk and tapioca.  A very refreshing and light dessert – a perfect ending to a healthy meal =)

So, run, don’t walk to Cocoron!  Just remember to bring cash, they do not accept credit/debit cards.

Lunch at Super Linda

For those who work downtown near the World Financial Center, they will know that lunch options are limited and generally subpar.  One of my favorite quick lunch spot is Super Linda.  Those who know me will know that Super Linda is the type of place I generally try to avoid.  Trendy, style over substance… but their Baja Style Fish Tacos has won me over.

Super Linda - Baja styled fish tacos

Super Linda – Baja styled fish tacos

Two fish tacos served on fresh corn tortilla served with rice (not shown), beans and salsa.  Expertly battered and fried mahi mahi filets with chipotle sauce, cabbage and lime avocado crema.  Delicious!