Eaten, Barely Blogged: Bum-Rushing
For only four dollars more than what I pay for my occasional lunchtime chirashi near my office, Hibino, sort-of-near my apartment, presents a selection of raw fish, roe, okra (!) and omelet shreds that is the definition of jewel box precious. Plus, the rotating selection of $5 obanzai, Kyoto-style tapas (somehow it doesn’t bother me that they’ve appropriated the word as much as when it’s used to describe sliders or chicken parm) are unlike anything I’ve had elsewhere. There were meaty chunks of lightly battered, fried monkfish in a broth with baby bok choy and enoki mushrooms, crispy, sliced chicken cutlets served with a fluffy pumpkin tartar sauce, and a selection of soy-stained white blobs that turned out to be potatoes, burdock, and scallops that I’m guessing were dried and reconstituted (the latter dish just showed up, we didn’t order it, and the two others turned out to be more substantial than I’d expected for the price). Just beware that 10pm closing means 10pm—I’m conscientious about lingering to the point where being the last person in a restaurant is a phobia, and we still got the bum’s rush. Previously on Hibino.
Grand Sichuan House
It’s still nice having Sichuan food in Brooklyn, but things weren’t as good as I remembered from past visits. The dan dan noodles and cold tripe and tongue dressed in chile oil, and sautéed green beans with pork were all fine. The slices of double-cooked pork with leeks, though, were gnarled instead of fatty and lush and lamb with cumin was lacking any sear, what you might call wok hay. It was like when I sautee food at home and can never get the pan hot enough or the meat dry enough and end up steaming it into grayness. I’d still probably return if I happened to be shopping at Century 21 and the urge struck. Once again, we ended being the last people in the restaurant at 10:30, closing time, but managed to leave of our own accord, no prompting.
I finally gave into the late-night commercial (which they no longer run) touting their expensive/expansive/extensive wine list. We cobbled together a Peter Luger-esque meal of grilled bacon, creamed spinach, hashbrown potatoes, and a medium-rare porterhouse for two that was as good as any I’ve had in NYC (or maybe the non-expensive Napa Valley Cabernet clouded my judgment). The biggest difference between Empire Steakhouse and Peter Luger was that the staff was Russian, the clientele Asian, and barely audible ‘80s music kept pushing in and out of my consciousness. Why not eat steak to muffled Journey and A-ha? Thankfully, a couple of tourists came in half-way through our meal so we were only the second-to-last table left in the place.