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Posts from the ‘Asian’ Category

OBAO Preview

In 2006 I worked a block from where OBAO, Michael Huynh’s latest venture, is scheduled to open on Monday. The immediate area has shaped into a multi-culti lunching paradise (Güllüoglu, Barros Luco, Mantao Chinese Sandwiches) or maybe it just seems better in comparison to the Financial District blandness I’ve grown accustomed to. And I shouldn't complain so hard, we're getting a Baoguette down here.

Obao lamb, beef on sugarcane & pork belly

Based on the sampling at OBAO’s preview party, there is high promise. The grilled cubes of pork belly were a little sweet with nice char and good balance between the meaty and fatty bits. Lamb chops were coated in chopped lemongrass and tasted like they’d been marinated in coconut milk. Instead of shrimp paste, thin slices of beef were wrapped around sugarcane. Bacon too. Why had I never thought of that?

Obao satay & shrimp roll

Shrimp rolls and chicken satay were perfectly fine renditions, but couldn’t compete with the oomph of the pork, lamb and beef. Or maybe I just have a preference for the fatty.

Obao soup

I think this was a pho. It definitely was pho-like, but the poached egg threw me off.

The unknown element will be the noodles, which weren’t showcased at this event. I’m crazy for laksa and can’t decide if the non-traditional green tea soba noodles as they are touting will be a welcome tweak or just weird. Will the char kway teow also be an Asian hybrid? I’m sure I’ll get the answers soon enough.

Obao exterior
I imagine the signage will be complete and the garbage bin removed by opening day.

OBAO * 222 E. 53 St., New York NY

Harbourside at The InterContinental

Update: I re-visted in July 2012 and the buffet is still awesome and pretty much the same, minus the price (it's closer to $100 now) but you don't need a whole rundown. Instead, I have a newer set of photos.

* * *

Ok, I just dubbed StraitsKitchen the most awesome buffet in the universe. That title is now taken. Maybe The InterContinental hosts the most Decadent buffet in the universe. Yes, $80 (approximate, based on the current exchange rate) is crazy but you could recoup that in champagne, lobster and foie gras, alone.

I made sure to take advantage of the free flowing bubbly (Moet & Chandon, no generic sparkling wine). I'm stereotyping but I can say with great certainty that the majority of the clientele drank no more than two glasses; it's not a big drinking culture plus that whole "Asian flush" thing. But the waiter will refill as long as you keep downing them, though after the fourth or fifth glass (hey, flutes are small) they do ask before automatically topping off.

Intercontinental buffet plate one

Plate one: half lobster (people were seriously grabbing like two whole lobsters at a time-I was very restrained), salmon mousse, scallop of some sort, a circle of foie gras topped with a thin square of dark chocolate and assorted cold seafood.

Intercontinental buffet seafood

I enjoyed the chilled seafood station. The middle shelf was filled with lobsters just minutes before.

Intercontinental buffet plate two

Plate two: in the back is seared foie gras with a apple chutney (they are obsessed with foie gras everywhere and way generous with it), jamon Iberico (there was a carving station with three different Spanish hoof-on, whole leg hams), peking duck, "surf and turf," a toast with steak, mushroom and lobster claw meat and shrimp tempura.

Intercontinental buffet plate three

Plate three: more lobster, shrimp, squid and dried scallop dish.

Intercontinental buffet sashimi

I also got some sashimi with this round. Tuna, and maybe mackerel. I forget since this was almost a month ago.

Intercontinental buffet peking duck

Peking duck "action station" with dim sum, soup and assorted self-serve warm dishes in the background.

Intercontinental buffet plate four

Plate four: peking duck redux, cashews, a different Spanish ham and French cheese, one was Comte.

Intercontinental buffet desserts

I didn't really capture the sheer volume of goodies in the dessert section. As you will note, they had both white and milk chocolate fountains.

Intercontinental buffet plate five

Plate five: aqua green macaron, random cake, dinosaur egg-looking goodie, lemon coconut pastry, lime tart and cheesecake in the center. While picking at our sweets, we were kindly informed by our server that the buffet would be closing in ten minutes so we should make a quick final run. 3pm already? I have no idea how three hours passed so quickly.

I probably only sampled 15% of what was on offer. I don't like filling up on pastas or heavy meaty dishes. And I never eat congee, yogurt or granola at breakfast buffets because it just doesn't seem worth it. Oh, or d.i.y. Caesar salad, which seems very popular at Asian buffets.

It wasn't until we left that we realized the jazzy lite music serenading us all morning was actually being played by humans.

Harbourside at The InterContinental * 70 Mody Rd.,  Hong Kong


 Gone? Dammit, I never got to try their crab rangoon. (8/28/09)

I wouldn’t believe you if you told me I would be eating Filipino congee for my Christmas meal. Every year I have a holiday dinner date at an often random restaurant a few days before December 25th because I don’t do the going home with the boyfriend for Christmas thing (no, not even after nine Christmases). This year was Elettaria, primarily because I never paid a visit when it was new–and why not now?

I got the impression somewhere that the bar scene overshadows the dining. That wasn’t really the case. In fact, I still have no idea what kind of scene it is other than an all-encompassing one. Maybe the Monday before Christmas isn’t representative because the room really cleared out after 9pm (as opposed to Wilfie & Nell–where I showed restraint by only drinking and not ordering pork sliders–packed solid earlier this same evening. Maybe that’s the New York magazine review effect). All of the larger corner tables were taken by canoodlers, gay and straight. There was a primo banquette between the bar and dining room that seemed reserved for seniors only. Children were present, as well as twenty-something lawyers flirting with each other. Oh, and even a little person (who was not Peter Dinklage). Something for everyone.

Elettaria interior

Including me. The cuisine is Asian-inflected, I knew that. But I was still surprised when our waiter described the only appetizer special, “Lugaw, a Filipino rice porridge with beef torchon, quail egg and tripe.” Really? I had him repeat it later because his accent was thick and all I caught initially was Filipino and tripe. That’s all I needed to hear, though, and more than enough to sway me from my original choice of smoked duck.

Elettaria lugaw

I should’ve been eating congee my entire time in Hong Kong because it’s good sick person food. Now, I could make up for lost time. I don’t know that porridge makes for a compelling Manhattan starter though really it’s not any stranger than ordering soup as a first course. And it endeared me to the restaurant. The menu was otherwise winsome and filled with lots of ingredients that appealed to me but it was the lugaw that won me over.

I’m still not certain what a beef torchon is or if I even heard that correctly (you usually see that term in relation to foie gras). No matter, the flavors and textures worked. The meat, a bit chewy and gelatinous, melded well with the creaminess of the egg and ricey broth. Fried garlic and minced scallions added punch.

Elettaria quail

Normally, I would’ve been drawn to the fried quail. This looked like a decent-sized portion. Maybe I’ve lost my tolerance because the food even though mildly fussy, was very filling. Fussy isn’t the right word, what I mean is there were many components to each dish.

Elettaria guinea hen

Being overporked in 2008, I went for the guinea hen. I’d forgotten how wonderful a simple skin-crisped-to-perfection bird can be (though not simple in price—this was the most expensive thing on the menu at $30. It was early Christmas dinner, though, so no nickel-and-diming). The legs were surrounded by gnocchi, sliced chestnuts and a soft cabbagey squash relish. Maybe I’m just imaging the cabbage.

Elettaria sea bass

Sea bass, potatoes, fennel prosciutto and octopus? A little complex without being incongruous, and hearty for a fish-based course.

Elettaria pineapple upside down cake

That would’ve been plenty but you need dessert for a celebration so it was an unnecessary pineapple upside down cake and served with coconut gelato. At least it wasn’t molten despite its pucky looks.

Thumbs up on lugaw and hen skin. And here's to venturing beyond  pork products in 2009.

Elettaria * 33 W. Eighth St., New York, NY


3/4 I’ll temporarily stop boohooing about the state of Asian food in Carroll Gardens. Eton is a small step for the neighborhood, small in stature and in menu, and only works if you’re craving Chinese dumplings.

No, you won’t find any five-for-a-dollar (isn’t it four in a few spots now?) deals, as Sackett Street is no place for such bargains, but $3.50 isn’t exactly extortion. And anyone who’s had their fill of the standard pork and scallion will appreciate the variety served here.

I tried all three staples: pork, beef and cabbage, chicken and mushroom and vegetarian. I really didn’t notice the vegetables in either meaty dumpling. The fillings are substantial, dense and almost meatbally, with very little extra space left for the blobs to float around inside the dough, which is a good thing. You can choose from a variety of sauces in little plastic to-go containers. I would recommend both sriracha and soy sauce drizzled on these two dumplings.

Eton dumplings

The vegetarian is a little odd though not un-tasty, using celery, tiny tofu squares and lentils, I think, but you must make concessions for local tastes. I heard that initially there were complaints before the vegetable dumpling became purely vegetarian. These matched well with the ginger-soy sauce on offer.

Shrimp dumplings were the special on my few visits and they might’ve been my favorite, at least interspersed with a few pork and beefs because those can bog you down. I was expecting a mousse-like puree, but the seafood is chopped roughly and tossed with edamame beans, which provides more texture to chew on. I would pair these with chile oil.

Dumplings are a fine enough Chinese snack (though I’ll always have a soft spot for the greasy, cardboardy crab rangoon from Wing Hua—or is it Ting Hua? I always forget which is the one on Court Street) but what I’m really looking forward to are the noodle soups that will supposedly be on the menu in October. I love a good Asian noodle soup so I’m hoping that what ends up being served isn’t the equivalent of the sad black-charred pizzas coming out of not-so-far-away South Brooklyn Pizza. All I was told is that they will be Asian-ish, not totally traditional, and that short ribs will probably play a role. 

Eton menu

Yes, so Eton currently has two menu items. Hawaiian-style shaved ice has equal billing with the dumplings but I don’t eat things like that so I can’t speak to the snocone-esque treats. I’m really not supposed to be eating sugar (yes, they have four sugar-free syrups—I just don’t like fruity icy things, except for maybe halo halo and that’s just because it looks insane) and when I do I save it for something over the top like the hot fudge sundae that almost put me into a genuine coma at the Jersey Shore last weekend. Sweetened ice just isn’t enough to sway me. I do like that the toppings range from mochi to marshmallow fluff, though.

Eton * 205 Sackett St., Brooklyn, NY

Bar Q

Another short-lived venture. (2/09)

I’ve yet to be swept up by the bbq mania that’s taken hold in NYC over the past few years. That could be why news of Bar Q’s opening didn’t initially motivate me. I’m not unfamiliar with Anita Lo’s refined Asian cooking and am aware that she wouldn’t be mesquite smoking brisket and slathering KC Masterpiece with abandon, but the words Bar and Q just dissuaded me.

Luckily, all it takes is a friend suggesting a food-related outing and I’m game. Sherri, my Momofuku Ko companion, tends to be my partner in dinner splurging. Small and pricey isn’t an easy sell for everyone (but then, I’m someone who balks at spending more than $30 on an item of clothing).

Bar_q_filipino_spritz_2The cacophonous white-on-white space was full when I arrived at 8:30pm for a 9pm reservation. I was banking on a table opening up sooner and one did shortly after ordering a Filipino Spritz at the bar. This was sort of a joke to myself (I was out trying to kill time because James’s mom was in town for some Hispanic conference and spending the night at our apartment. The woman is insane beyond words, not in a funny way, and totally baffling in that she looks completely white, but was born and raised Filipina yet has weird disdain for the culture and claims to be Spanish, which appears to be her first language. So, James has this bias against Filipino things because of her influence, which just makes me like them more. I’d go to Manila in a second, he even has an office there, but it’s just not happening) but the prosecco, calimansi (which I falsely predicted would be big in 2004. Elderflower is hands down the cocktail ingredient of 2008, and yes, it was on the menu), aperol weren’t sugary and cloying, just slightly sweet and a touch bitter.

We ignored the raw bar menu (is the fish on Monday taboo still relevant?) mostly because everything cooked sounded so appealing. Ultimately, we split two appetizers and two entrees. Words like stuffed, fritters, crispy and tea smoked are magic to me. This is my favorite type of restaurant food; super concentrated flavors thanks to savory fish sauce, pickles, Chinese sausage and lots of pork. But portions are sparing enough that you don’t feel bogged down or overly monstrous. I guess Fatty Crab and Ssam Bar are cut from the same cloth, but there’s something so personality driven and over hyped about those two that I can’t bring myself to relent.


I hate breadbasket haters, it’s so Atkins 2004 but uh, I’m not supposed to be eating bread (I interpret this self-imposed dietary restriction semi-loosely, especially when it comes to things like pork buns) so marginally less starchy crackers were a boon for me. It’s not like I’m saying shrimp chips are healthy, but psychologically it deluded me since it wasn’t a hunk of French bread. I can take or leave pappadums, though.

unagi scallion fritters with a sweet soy dipping sauce. The problem with fritters is that sometimes the batter just clouds the ingredients. The eel was a bit subtle for me and got a little lost in the puff.

spit-roasted pork belly with kimchee, takuan and steamed buns. The pork buns more than made up for the fried nothings. It’s not soft unctuous pork belly but crackly like lechon (with the Filipino again) or chicharrones. Tartness always compliments fat, so spicy vingared kimchee and daikon added appropriate fresh crunch. I don’t know what the green sauce was.

stuffed spareribs with lemongrass bbq, peanut and thai basil. Tender boneless ribs were hiding out under a tuft of what I want to say was shaved daikon, and were stuffed with a blend of citrus from lemongrass, something funky either fish sauce or shrimp paste with a touch of peanut sweetness for balance. The combination was Thai-ish but not hot. 

tea-smoked long island duck breast with chili and lemon. Chile (I can’t spell it chili) and lemon doesn’t fully explain the components, especially since sesame noodles are almost equally prominent as the medium-rare duck. I know some people lament surprises on the plate, but who is put off by noodles? I wasn’t, though I would say this was one of the more preciously sized dishes.

warm walnut soup with malted rice crispies. I only had a small bite of the dessert but it tasted like earth tones, kind of cinnamonny and graham cracker-ish. I’m not sure how fond Americans are of dessert soups, but at least there weren’t any Asian riffs on molten cakes.

Bar Q * 308 Bleecker St., New York, NY

Momofuku Ko

I’m neutral on David Chang, no hate, no love. I’m naturally turned off by hype, though. Obviously, or I would’ve eaten at Momofuku Ssam in the evening by now but I just can’t be bothered.

I was kind of fascinated by all the Ko hoopla and the gone in sixty seconds reservations game didn’t even bother me. At least it’s democratic, if not glitchy. And trying to score a spot did get me to work at 9:55 instead of 10:05 for a week. Um, and today post-Momofuku Ko I didn’t even make it into the office.

I do wonder if the newness has already worn off. On my way to the East Village for pre-dinner drinks (a few shots of Maker’s Mark at Otto’s, which was probably a mistake. Not the tiki bar so much as over-imbibing. But I’d been home alone all weekend and by 7pm on Sunday I was antsy and bored out of my mind) I received a call presumably from a hostess asking if I’d prefer an 8:45 to my 9:15. Sure, why not.

Tipsy and running late, my friend Sherri and I completely missed the extremely subtle entrance, marked with the signature peach but obscured by metal latticework, and had to pop into the noodle bar a few storefronts down for directions. Normally, I’m anal about addresses and luckily, this was the only misstep of the evening.

Well, and maybe ordering a bottle of the private label sake. I wasn’t feeling flush enough to spring for the wine pairings ($50) but we didn’t realize the bottle was going to be so large. Those little juice glasses start adding up and next thing you know you’ve forgotten half the things you just ate. Thank goodness for photos and the internet.

By now you’ve already seen a cavalcade of photos and descriptions, but that’s never stopped me from adding my Johnny-come-lately perspective before.

Pork Rinds with Togarashi Pepper

I’ll concede that the cracklings were better than the over-salted puffs you normally buy in a bag. Very light and airy but gone in seconds.

English Muffins with Pork Fat, Sea Salt and Chives

Hmm…I couldn’t determine if the rolls at Allen & Delancey were amazing or if I’m just bread deprived. I know now that they were amazing because these mini muffins were certainly good but they didn’t bowl me over. The pork fat could’ve been more assertive. Maybe my taste buds had been dulled but I expected a richer more unctuous flavor.

Fluke Sashimi with Spicy Buttermilk and Chives

I’ve been on a sashimi kick recently so this was fun. The creamy chile-spiked sauce was a welcome diversion from soy sauce and wasabi, and I would never think of adding poppy seeds into the mix. Yes, more chives.

Kimchi Consomme with Beau Soleil Oyster, Pork Belly and Braised Cabbage

The kimchi was so mild that I forgot it was a component of the broth until looking at other's photos. I think the food could remain refined and still punch up the spice a bit. I hate the word luscious (I promise never to say succulent) but the soft, barely fatty pork belly definitely was. I also like shellfish paired with pork, which I usually associate with Portuguese food. There’s definitely nothing Iberian about this presentation, though. The pork-seafood combo definitely seems to be a recurring Chang touch.

Coddled Egg with Hackleback Caviar, Onion Soubise, Potato Chips and Chervil

I notice other reviews mentioning osetra, but I’m fairly certain this was hackleback (or was it paddlefish?). I also notice sous vide coming up in conjunction with this dish but I don’t think anything was cooked in that manner. Perhaps soubise, a slow cooking process in butter that enhances sweetness, sounds like sous vide? A printed menu would be appreciated by introverted freaks like me who need to know every little detail but hate to be all pretentious and chit chat aloud about every minute ingredient. No matter, this was very luxurious and the sliver-thin crispy potatoes added nice contrast to the softness of both chicken and fish eggs, and I don't even like potato chips.

Scallops with Nori and Bacon Dashi

I can’t remember what the white swipe is to save my life and I even asked. I also don’t see this exact dish on any blogs so I can’t jog my memory that way. The porky broth and sweet scallops complemented each other. The seaweed was a little chompy.

Shaved Foie Gras with Lychees and Wine Gelee

This was the nuttiest dish by far, and by nutty I mean creative and unexpected. All you can see in this shot is a pile of fluff that’s actually shaved foie gras. It totally does melt in your mouth but that’s one of the foulest metaphors in world history. The liquid underneath softens the shavings into a mousse-like consistency. The sweet perfumey squishiness of the lychees didn’t seem like a perfect match for the liver but I did like eating this.

Deep-Fried Short Rib with Pickled Carrots, Daikon with Mustard Seeds and Grilled Scallion

Throughout the meal I was transfixed on hunks of meat getting deep fried (they were using the same deep fryer that I own) and sliced into thirds and wondering when this decadence would come our way. The proportion of crispy exterior to rare insides was wonderful. I now resolve to deep fry meat more often. The mustard seeds weren’t overwhelming at all. And you kind of have to love all the bright colors—they felt kind of Uniqlo and the pickling punched up what could've been an overly rich dish.

Grilled Rice Cake on Pickled Turnips and Cabbage with Miso Soup

I ended up dunking my rice cylinder into the soup, which caused it to fall apart. That probably wasn’t the optimal eating style. My powers of observation were long shot by this point but this seemed like one of the tamer courses, simple and soothing. I would've been fine with skipping this course and going straight to the sweet.

Pineapple Sorbet with Dried Pineapple

The transitional palate cleanser of double pineapple. It's not very often that I get excited by sorbet, and this was no exception. Sure, it was fruity and cold with some concentrated chewy bits but I was looking forward to the apple pie.

Fried Apple Pie with Sour Ice Cream and Toasted Miso

Ah, wake up call. I remember the cool mouth-freezing sensation more than the fruity taste. This is where I freaked out. Not because of the food (though I will say the sour cream was a distinct touch) but because of the music. I couldn’t concentrate on my apple pie because They Might Be Giants's, “Ana Ng” was making me laugh. It was an accumulation of the entire evening’s soundtrack enhanced by too much sake. Rush, Luna and the Stone Roses didn’t throw me into fits as much, though.

The song that really pushed me over the edge was “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” I’ve never felt more thirtysomething in my entire life. I didn’t feel sad and nostalgic (my default state of mind) but rather kind of incredulous and peaceful (which was short lived since I started a fight when I got home).

In the ‘80s I wouldn’t be able to fathom sitting on a stool in NYC spending over $100 on dinner while listening to Camper Van Beethoven. But then, as a teen I had zero idea what the future might be like so nothing would surprise me. As a senior in high school I used to joke with my sister whenever seeing then strange and new, space age-seeming minivans, “wow, it is the ‘90s.”

Inventive tasting menus paired with the sweet strains of decades-old college rock is the ‘00s.

Momofuku Ko * 163 First Ave., New York, NY


1/2 I hadn’t planned on going out the eve before Christmas Eve but somehow ended up meeting a couple of friends in Williamsburg (like it or not, whenever I’m home alone during holidays I seem to end up in Williamsburg) for drinks. I was hoping that no one brought gifts because I’ve been bad since the early ‘00s and have bowed out of exchanges. But I was bestowed with a handmade stocking filled with a bottle of Poochi-Poochi, anyway. Appropriate for a sake bar. I ultimately ended up breezing through two medium servings of a sake whose poetic name I can’t even recall.

Octopusballs It’s kind of hard to not order at least one plate when a place is called Snacky. The menu is larger and wider ranging than what you’ll find from searching online. It might be over-ambitious for the tiny kitchen but we didn’t experience any mishaps. There was no way I could pass up the cheese wontons, a.k.a. crab rangoon, a particular obsession of mine. I will try this silly east-west masterpiece on any menu where I find it. I also tried the takoyaki, because why not? I kind of liked the mushy texture with octopussy bits hidden inside, but the raw ginger strips were a little too zingy for me. The mini Popsie burgers looked appealing and I’m intrigued rather than scared by the pizza with Chinese sausage. Dairy can definitely work with Asian food. Just think of those mayora going nuts…ok, mayonnaise isn't dairy, is it?

DumplingsDeann got two orders of two different types of dumpling, which I thought was odd considering the numerous choices on the menu, but whatever. Everyone’s entitled their own eating ideas and I try not to impose my food beliefs on others (though I did have to pipe up with a resounding “no way” when she espoused the charms of nearby My Moon).

I noticed a friend of a friend at the bar and being full of the holiday spirit (as well as spirits of another nature) I said hi because he’s a food/music person with taste I generally agree with. I swear I’m not persnickety but I don’t always see eye to eye with others. Plus, I called him a foodie or some such horror earlier this year in a post about Belle and Sebastian of all things, and I can’t be known as a meanie even though I am 70% the time. CheesewontonsI’m just wary of food-obsessed folks because they’re usually annoying and/or humorless. I’m not naming names but it’s fair to say I find few food blogs entertaining (this isn’t a food blog, so there).

I don’t know why I’ve never been to Snacky before. Ok, I know why, because I rarely eat in Williamsburg (I just looked it up and my last meal in the nabe, yeah nabe, was at bizarro Lazy Catfish way back in April. They did have crab rangoon, I must add) but it’s as cute and breezy as its name implies.

Snacky * 187 Grand St., Brooklyn, NY

Burmese Cafe

*Dang, the word on the internets is that Burmese Cafe is over. I too, saw the gates down last weekend and worried. (11/16/07)

I can’t even begin to explain how misguided it was to try and peacefully shop at the Elmhurst Target the Friday before Christmas (and this was intended as an antidote to the always troubling Atlantic Center Target that had been attempted earlier in the day) so I’ll refrain. But at least I was able to squeeze in a new Roosevelt Avenue Asian restaurant into the migraine-inducing trip. Burmese Café appears to have taken over the corner spot that used to be Karihan ni Tata Bino.

My only experience with Burmese food includes two non-recent visits to Rangoon in Philadelphia and a late '90s undocumented delivery meal from Village Mingala in the East Village (strangely, Village Mingala is quite possibly the first restaurant I ever set foot in in NYC. I first visited in '94 and accompanied a friend to pick up a take out order for the artsy bisexual Indonesian girl who was letting us stay at her 11th St. and Ave. C walk-up). I recall things like night market noodles and thousand layer bread, rich dishes that hinted at India. Burmese Café is nothing like that.

Part of me doesn’t want to admit that their food wasn’t immediately accessible. Some cuisines jump out while others don’t. I find Thai and Sichuan food grabs my attention without even trying, and not just because of the spice. Also heat-driven and good-oily, Malaysian and Indonesian fall right behind. Burmese feels like it’s in the realm of Laotian or Cambodian, lesser known and kind of raw and sharp. Though I don’t think Myanmar shares much in common with the Philippines, the vinegary, bitter, pungent qualities I tasted in the dishes we ordered felt vaguely Filipino. The style could grow on me but I have to get to know it better.

Lephet Thoke

The tea leaf salad truly is a strange combo, hot, sour and crunchy all at once. It seemed to contain sesame seeds, sliced green chiles, bean sprouts, dried broad beans, peanuts, dried shrimp and tomato slices. James, who’s fairly open-minded food-wise said, “I hope it tastes better than it looks.” It did look a little swampy. Let’s just say I had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day (it's better fresh because after a few hours the crunch turns to mush). I was thinking the leaves would be dry like you’d find in a teabag but they’re wet and fermented, very much like grape leaves for dolmas. I don't recall it being described as using green tea leaves, but that's the case.

Duck Soup

I thought it was strange that James ate this without complaint since it was way funkier than the tea leaf salad. It contained bitter greens that might’ve been mustard, odd bits of poultry and blobs of liver (which only I ate) in a sour broth. James compared this to something his mom might cook, unconsciously delving into a heavily boiled, vinegary Filipino repertoire that his Midwestern father isn’t fond of.

Beef Curry

Ok, I “got” this dish. It’s basically Burmese rendang, stiff chunks of meat stewed with coconut milk and aromatics until most of the liquid is absorbed. Like I was saying above about Malay-Indonesian food being good-oily. I’m not scared of the shiny orange pool that coats the bowl.

Burmese Café * 71-34 Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights, NY


There’s nothing worse than a tipsy, starving, angry meal. Thankfully, I don’t have these too often. The routine goes like this: I’m supposed to go out to dinner, usually on a Saturday night. My dining companion is anticipated to get home around 9pm, possibly earlier (it was their suggestion to go out for dinner since they’d be spending the day with their mother, which was an unexpected weekend imposition). Said companion doesn’t call and time starts ticking. I get bored and have a glass of wine, which turns into two and then I hem and haw over whether or not to just eat something because I’m getting cranky. By 11pm, the supposed dining companion shows up, I’m pissed (in both senses of the word) and my original restaurant choices are closed or closing. Brooklyn is lame that way. All the city does is sleep.

I’m not fond of Gravy, but it came to mind as being open later. If I was going that direction, newer Trout, right next door, would’ve made more sense, but it was too hot to sit outside and I didn’t want total junk food. Well, Gravy’s menu had been pared down since my last visit and was essentially serving burgers and boring sandwiches. I could’ve dealt if we weren’t left waiting for our order to be taken for a good 15 minutes despite a near empty restaurant (the outdoor tables were all occupied, but there are only like four of them). Normally, I’m overly polite about bad service or being ignored. But not when I’m starving, tipsy and angry. After asking for someone to take our order to no avail, we left. And by this point I was even more hungry and angry (though less tipsy).

We headed over to Park Slope since we were going to check out that new bar Union Hall (charming space, hideous crowd. I just don’t think I can go out anymore. Williamsburg is all annoyingly young and looks obsessed, but the rest of gentrified Brooklyn might be even worse. The crowds are also heavily under-30 but they’re all polo shirted and khakied and travel in packs. I mean, the guys. The girls are so nondescript I can’t even recreate their look in my mind). Nana had 20 minutes left before their midnight closing. I hate, hate, hate eating in restaurants that are about to shutter for the evening, but by this point I was desperate and there was still a party lingering in the back garden so I felt like the heat was off of me a bit.

Nana is Asian mish mash/sushi bar style, you know, like chopsticks for everything, a DJ booth and cocktails with lychee in them. Not my typical first choice, but hardly horrible either and the prices were fair. We went with the fusion and sampled roti canai (Malaysian), prik khing shrimp (Thai), and sweet and sour duck (Chinese-y). It’s doubtful that I’ll go back any time soon, but Nana served its purpose in trying to patch up a doomed dinner.

Nana * 115 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Mooncake Foods

Nice as can be, fun food, good prices…oddball location. I'd been meaning
to try Mooncake Foods for some time, but I'm just not ever in that weirdo
area above Tribeca, right near the Holland Tunnel. But it occurred to me
when I was trying to think of somewhere to eat that was walking distance to
M1-5 where I had to go for this Sweet
party. I don't know…hipsters and what passes for porn these
days. The food was definitely sexier than the party. The Thai beef salad,
spicy wings and summer rolls I tried were all perfectly tasty-it's the kind
of food I'd be inclined to grab on the way home from work. But seeing as how
I live in Brooklyn, that's not going to happen. I guess what I'm saying is
that Mooncake Foods isn't necessarily someplace you'd go out of your way
for, but if you were ten blocks in either direction it'd be a must-do.

Mooncake Foods28 Watts St., New York, NY