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Posts from the ‘East Village’ Category

Sunday Best: Izakaya’s Miso Tongue

izakaya miso tongue

I don’t go out as much as I used to, though I was recently reminded of the disgusting charms of being tipsy and sweaty, wandering around the East Village in 98% humidity. I’d already shared a plate of omurice and croquettes at Bar Moga and still wasn’t opposed to snacking a little more before heading home.

Izakaya is tucked into that Sixth Street strip that used to be wall-to-wall cheap Bangladeshi-run Indian restaurants. Like the name states, it serves drinking food, casual and homey, tip inclusive. I know tongue isn’t for everyone, but it should be. These slices were slightly rare, hyper-beefy with a pleasant chew (though my dining companion gnawed on hers for a long time then put the remains on her plate, which I didn’t comment on at the time) and just a hint of sweet char from the grill.

P.S. I ordered delivery last night and added an extra lengua taco so I could eat it for lunch today. Here’s to tongue in all forms!

International Intrigue: Uogashi

It’s getting harder to keep up with all of the Japanese (and Roman, and Korean, and Malaysian) imports lately. I could be more on top of things. Sometimes I’m just not very inspired.

uogashi room

 

I went to Uogashi at least a month ago, but I haven’t written anything about it because it didn’t make me feel anything one way or the other. It’s my own fault. I was a walk-in and was seated at a table–I like the curtains though–rather than the counter.

uogashi duo

 

As I’ve come to learn, omakase just isn’t the same when it’s presented all at once on a plate. It goes too fast and I like a deliberate procession. You enjoy each piece of nigiri more when it’s assembled in front of you, and you wait in anticipation of what’s next. I didn’t even attempt to take in the rattled off descriptions of my $45 Uogashi Sushi Moriawase set, though obviously there is salmon, big eye tuna, medium fatty tuna, and shrimp.

uogashi sushi

 

The value and quality is there, though. And I’m fairly certain the $38 and $45 sets, two sushi, two sashimi options, are served in one go regardless of where you are seated. I’m glad we’re getting more sushi options in that hazy middle between utilitarian and waiting-for-a-promotion precious. I could be convinced to go again.

Uogashi * 188 First Ave., New York, NY 

International Intrigue: Ikinari Steak NYC vs. Tokyo

 

ikinari steak interior duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

Unlike the first US outpost of Afuri, the Ikinari Steak that popped-up near St. Marks in that international chain mini-district held down by Ippudo and Tim Ho Wan, was almost identical to the one I visited in Shibuya, just swapping Japanese staff for locals. Oh, and also that it was at capacity while the similarly sized Tokyo branch was maybe one-third full also around 6pm on a Friday night. A line started to form at the cutting and weighing counter and a good-natured staff member who was acting as ring-master, shouted a few times, “Stand close to the wall as you can!” which definitely wouldn’t happen in Japan, though no one seemed to mind.

ikinari steak cutting

Four cuts of steak were offered in Japan: rib-eye, tenderloin, US Angus beef sirloin, and Japanese beef sirloin. Hamburg was also an option–hamburg steak is rampant in Japan–but maybe that doesn’t translate to the US. I chose the latter, 200 grams, and the most expensive at 10 yen per gram. The US is also using grams (though they provide a handy conversion table on the menu) and lists rib-eye, filet, sirloin, and a combo of scraps. I went with the cheapest cut, sirloin at 8 cents a gram, also 200 grams.  I paid roughly the same price: $17 in Tokyo and $16 in NYC but clearly the US’s prices are higher. Both are non-tipping restaurants, though, which I love.

ikinari steak duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

You’ll get the same corn on the side, browned garlic and butter on top, and onions underneath, which get great char as they mingle with the juices. This is not dry-aged prime steak, though it’s not quite the Tad’s (r.i.p.) of Japan either. The sirloin was not supermarket steak bland, picking up smoke from the grill, and the little rim of fat adding extra lushness (if you prefer lean, just ask the butcher to remove it). You can add garlicky soy-based “J-sauce,” garlic paste, mustard, and wasabi, which are stationed at the standing tables. I don’t recall that it was recommended you order your steak rare in Japan–there are lots of signs stating this in NYC–I ordered medium rare both times. Rice and salad (radish or green) are extra. I skipped salad this time because I don’t care about roughage, but they are selling bottled dressing at the register so I guess someone likes it.

ikinari steak basket

I also love the foldable baskets for storing your coat and bag, found at Japanese restaurants everywhere, some taking the form of little hammocks adhered to the bottoms of bar stools,  though there was only one allotted for my face-to-face solo standing table, and the gentleman before me had commandeered it. (I’m also in love with the current season of Baskets, just FYI. Louie Anderson is genius as Christine.)

ikinari steak order

You verbally tell the meat cutter what you want here while you brought a little wipe-off card, filled out by a server, to the counter in Japan. This wouldn’t be a bad idea in NYC since I had to repeat myself a few times and with the crowds, the staff has high potential to become overwhelmed. 

They really think of everything.

They really think of everything

ikinari steak facade duo

Tokyo vs. NYC

I did not eat at this Bunkyo branch (there are over 100  locations in Japan) but I only just noticed the same style basket outside with what I assume to be clothing freshener. The East Village facade is more minimal, no menus out front, though there is a photo, out of frame, of the same executive chef.  

I haven’t even mentioned the standing concept yet because it’s not really that weird, though Americans prefer to sit even for tapas. There’s no one rushing you, and you can have your steak re-heated if it gets cold. Of course, it’s not leisurely either, and supposedly the price reflects the high turnover. This also reminds me that the Japanese Michelin-quality standing restaurant that was promised for Manhattan in 2013 never came to fruition. Perhaps the seeming success of Inkinari Steak may pave the way for similar concepts.

Ikinari Steak * 90 E. 10th St., New York, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Ears, Tongue, Pizza, Pizza

margot's hot supreme

Margot’s Pizza It’s doubtful I would order a supreme anywhere else but this Saturday pop-up. Hawaiian is my suburban pizza  of choice, ham and pineapple being the sweet-and-kind antithesis of ground sausage and green peppers, but a supreme also seems like the ultimate bar pie style (casual, thin, crispy) even if I went slightly out of bounds with the Hot Supreme that wisely subs pickled jalapeños for those diced green peppers. This was a very good pizza, with a nearly frico’d rim and wonderfully anisey free-form sausage that made me wonder why I had a problem with it in the first place. All that was missing was a pitcher of beer (insert your own regional cheapie brand of choice). I lucked out when a friend and his friend turned out to be in attendance (the other two bar-sitters until Margot herself showed up) so I could swap for a slice of pepperoni drizzled with honey, more to my natural sweet-and-savory tendencies. Why is honey on pizza so good when it can be so gross in other guises?

el atoradero duo

El Atoradero Since I rarely stray beyond North Brooklyn if I’m going cross-borough due to public transportation logistics and general impatience, I had to squeeze in a second meal to make my Clinton Hill pizza journey more worth the while. After killing some time, trying to work up another appetite by counter-intuitively drinking beer and buying doughnuts in Bed-Stuy, double-borough-crossing Bronx-to-Prospect Heights Mexican it was. (And if you think I’m bad and provincial, I couldn’t convince any Brooklynites to meet me.) I had a nice taco, blue corn tortilla and chewy-crunchy pig ears, followed by tongue, dead opposite texturally, described as “like filet mignon” because of its softness, drenched in a moderately spicy salsa verde. Look at those tasty slabs. I’d prefer this to that pricier cut of beef even if it provokes revulsion on social media. It’s doubtful anyone would identify braised tongue if fed a delicious bite. As an aside, if I were someone else, someone to whom Plant Love House wasn’t dead to after abandoning Queens, I might’ve stopped by Look too on the way back to the G train.

00+co farro fennel pizza
00+Co If I were to choose a new-school, unconventional pizza in the East Village I would probably pick Bruno because I like cheese, but this was not up to me. Birthday dinners that aren’t yours are like that. I like modern vegan food. No biggie. It’s more like you have to evaluate a non-traditional pizza against itself not some Neapolitan standard. Same for Chicago pies. These are hardy pizzas, no doubt, with farro-fennel balls standing in for sausage on the one of my choosing, along with tomatoes and cashew mozzarella that was a little overshadowed. My favorite was the smoky, tangy grilled trumpet mushroom and walnut cream pizza with green harissa, an overall earthy vibe and noticeable lemony brightness that once again made me covet my neighbor’s slice. 

alewife solo lady receipt

Alewife is a fine enough place for a sour beer (and maybe a super dark stout or two if its Friday) and a pile of duck confit poutine on the way home from work if those two points are connected by the 7 train and and both Corner Bistro are Casa Enrique are full, but if you are a woman doing so alone at the bar it will not go unnoticed and might be used to identify you on your receipt. Yep, just a “solo lady” here. That’s me.

 

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Pine Nut Ricotta, Paneer, Cream Cheese

PicMonkey Collage

Avant Garden. I didn’t think I’d be eating vegan food on a Friday night (you know, totally Tuesday fare) and yet there I was with a friend sharing plates, drinking wine (from a more conventional list than expected) like I was on a pretend date. It’s all very now (non-basil-based pestos, toasts, grains, pickled produce) and very tasty (the absence of dairy doesn’t register at all). Strangely, the standout was a toast. Strange because the descriptions don’t always sell the dish. Fennel hummus, Castelvetrano olive, orange, walnut was a delicious autumnal combination, rich and almost buttery, while I was resistant to the beets, mango, avocado, black sesame, tamari, tobanjan, lime not because of the long ingredient list but because the mango and avocado read too nuevo Latino, which clearly this round stack of food wasn’t considering the double dose of fermented bean products. Stick with the more outre combos i.e. smoked macadamia, maitake, and crispy leeks rather than seemingly familiar blends like tomato, basil, and almond ricotta.

artichoke slice

In a delayed Big Mac Attack-esque move, after too many drinks at my late ’90s staple Boxcar Lounge, I found myself at 2:30am crouched in a doorway with an enormous, molten artichoke slice dripping with dairy. It wasn’t until I woke up the following afternoon with a charred, ripped-up roof of my mouth (that still hurts three days later) that I even remembered taking a photo. Good going, drunk self.

lupulo duo

Lupulo. Despite the prominent bar, I find NYC places like this tricky to dine in alone because you can eat a cobbled together light meal by spending $24 on two small plates (shrimp turnovers, creamy and fried like haute junk food and duck hearts skewered with pickled mango and shishito peppers) or outlaying the same amount on a more substantial dish to receive less variety. And then despite reasonably spaced stools and well-defined place settings, after the loud male half of a big-spending older couple has had numerous samples of beer followed by multiple full glasses on one side and a single Manhattan has been consumed by a young lady on the other, limbs start splaying, elbows thrust, and personal boundaries become encroached upon until you quietly leave still vaguely hungry. 

samudra duo

SamudraBoth a vegan and vegetarian meal within 48 hours is highly unusual. Samudra is great, though, for chaat and South Indian carbs like the super light dosas filled with spinach to be healthy and hefty uthappam I always get stuffed with paneer. The best, though, might be the vada, perfectly deep-fried chickpea flour doughnuts, crackly on the outside and fluffy in the middle, served here with mild coconut chutney and sambar.

kitchen 79 geoy hor cheese

Kitchen 79. Not enough cheese yet? Let me introduce you to geoy hor cheese a.k.a. Thai crab rangoon. With sweet chile sauce? Amazing. And that doily only helps matters.

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Oldies, a Goodie

 

ny noodletown crabs

Great NY Noodletown I know this old-timer has detractors, but I’m still a fan and it’s not all driven by nostalgia (or even poor late-night decision-making–I’m quite capable of that at 8:30pm on weeknight). Get a group and over-order hacked-up duck, glazed roast pork, a heaping pile of pea shoots, crispy pan-fried noodles topped with squid and scallops, and a few lightly battered soft-shell crabs sprinkled with what I swear are jalapeños (my personal nostalgia since this was the first place I ever had crabs, shells and all, which is hard to believe in the Northeast in 2015). Manhattan’s Chinatown can be touristy and a little down at its heels and maybe each dish isn’t exemplary of its form, but the whole spread taken together with the right company–plus a few drinks–can be a can be a reminder that this part of the city still has charm. Here is every time I’ve mentioned Noodletown over the years, though definitely not every time I’ve eaten there.

tangra masala trio

Tangra Masala Remember when everyone was excited about Indian Chinese food even though a lot of it is fried and sometimes involves ketchup? The smaller, original, alcohol-free location across Queens Boulevard from Target is still a decent pit stop for paneer-stuffed wontons with a minty vinegar dip, lollipop chicken with a thousand island-esque chile sauce, and bright orange chow mein that tastes like Doritos (seriously).

lui's panang curry

Lui’s Thai Food is not the worst idea if you’re looking for a BYOB spot in the East Village on a Saturday night (and possibly trying to escape a group dinner after a memorial at HiFi because group dinners are stressful 90% of the time even though I was just singing the praises of commandeering a round table at Noodletown). I didn’t have the highest hopes and was pleasantly surprised. No, it’s not Queens Thai. It’s not Zabb Elee either. But the crispy basil duck and shrimp panang curry were right on–and intentional–dishes are dishes, none of this pick a protein nonsense. There was a tight selection of entrees to choose from like the above medium-spiced panang curry thickened with ground shrimp and featuring plump fried shrimp and garnished with a hard-boiled egg. You can be an NYU kid with a bottle of Woodbridge Chardonnay and it’s fine or pop around the corner to Urban Wines for something a little nicer. (If it’s Friday or Saturday night, my friend Lindsay is likely working–ask for a recommendation like the off-dry Mosel Riesling we had from a producer whose name I’ve already forgotten.)

Shovel Time: Momofuku Ko

threeshovelOthers might get shocked into acknowledging the passing of time when seeing kids, maybe on the occasional holiday, markedly older and bigger. I get a reality check when I realize how infrequently I revisit restaurants.

When asked if I’d eaten at the original Momofuku Ko, I answered naively, “Oh yeah, when it first opened.”

“So, seven years ago?”

Er, closer to six and a half, but ugh, yes, I guess so. Those toddlers would be third graders now.

It’s slightly odd that I would go to both iterations of Momofuku Ko in its early days because I’m not a Chang fanatic in any way. (I’ve only been to Ssam Bar once and just for lunch.) It’s happenstance. In this case I was looking for an extravagant holiday dining experience on short notice (Eleven Madison Park was booked, Blanca was available) and ultimately counter seating is more conducive to solo dining.

Or so they say. It is slightly jarring when 97% of a restaurant’s clientele is made up of 29-year-old couples. The imbalance was neutralized and then some when I realized that the teenage boy and parents who had been seated on our shared corner weren’t VIPs but the visiting family of one of the chefs, Ecuadorian living in China, who were finally getting to see what he does first-hand. Those 13 cocktails, wines, beers and sakes certainly helped smooth my jagged edges, but my heart had grown maybe two sizes after observing such pride and appreciation.

What’s different? Well, it’s been a while. The space, clearly. I prefer a little more distraction, less intimacy, and that’s the case with more seats and a very open kitchen. The approach feels less precious and more luxurious at the same time. The backed stools are plenty comfy for the gramps in your party, and I didn’t even notice the music this time around, though I do recall going from liking to not liking over the course of the evening. Something distressingly close to world beat crept in.

March 2008 was the pre-SLR days (and pre-camera ban, as well). Now I’m living in a post-SLR world where everyone, not just food bloggers, snaps photos of what they’re eating, whether movie theater nachos or an acai bowl. Taking pictures of your food is now right up there with brunch, avocado toast and pumpkin spice lattes in its basicness. I’ve come to rely on a phone, myself. It just feels weird to tote around a camera in NYC now, even one small enough to fit in my purse. These photos don’t pretend to be anything they aren’t.

momofuku ko amuses

The meal was kicked off with a so-called grape soda that tasted like grape candy in that way that Concord grapes do and an aperitif (verjus, cappelletti, soda) that was also grapey but stiffer and more bitter. A tartlet, half-filled with chewy sopresatta that looked like tartare (my neighbors exclaimed “picante” but the spice was just an undercurrent) and lobster paloise followed. Apparently, paloise is a Béarnaise that uses mint. More apparently, I have a grotesque palate because my first impression was that of cream of mushroom soup. And then, a vegetable roll.

momofuku ko millefeuille

Mille-feuilles (and matcha) are going to be a bigger thing in 2015, aren’t they? This savory version made from rye flour with trout roe and green tea powder had an earthy, burnt flavor–intentionally, I’m assuming–that I’m not sure I loved.

red snapper, green chili, shiso, consommé

red snapper, green chili, shiso, consommé

What stood out in this tartare were the bright pops of flavor that came from finger limes.

scallop, pineapple, basil

scallop, pineapple, basil

The dashi was both saline and fruity sweet and stood out even more than the scallops while sipping it from the bowl after they were gone.

branzino, myoga, shiro shoyu

Much raw seafood. This incorporated what thought were banana blossoms but are actually ginger buds, which made the dish read Thai to me despite the soy and more delicate flavors.

beet, brown butter, anchovy, furikake

beet, brown butter, anchovy, furikake

I haven’t discussed beverage pairings because at some point they start blurring together. The beets, brightly acidic, fishy and packed with umami were an inspired match the Goose Island Lolita, a tart wild ale aged with raspberries–and this is coming from someone who thought most of the sour beer pairings at Luksus were too sour. I don’t know if I would find this dish as dynamic without the beer.

One unanticipated side effect of opting for the pairing (something I hadn’t originally planned on) while solo dining is that I started falling behind, a surprise since keeping up my drinking has never been a problem. It’s that you’re not talking while eating and taking those pauses and sips.

mackerel sabazushi, wasabi, leaf, dashi ponzu

mackerel sabazushi, wasabi, leaf, dashi ponzu

One bite was not possible, despite the instructions. The rice had chewy, molten bits like the socarrat that forms at the bottom of a  paella.

trout consommé, sunchoke, kale, mousse

trout consommé, sunchoke, kale, mousse

The hyper-smooth trout was more akin to pate, but once again my brain immediately shifted lowbrow and imagined the pink slabs would taste like  bologna. Maybe I was just ready for something heftier and less precious at this point.

soft scramble, potato, caviar, herbs, bread & butter

soft scramble, potato, caviar, herbs, bread & butter

Oh yeah, like the bread, a warm sourdough with radish butter.

This was a riff on the soubise dish of yore, eggs now fluffed rather than precise and runny-yolked, the potato chips more of a crumble.

During this course one of the male youngsters asked a female counterpart “Are you going to be OK with it not being egg whites?” And then I snapped both their necks before he could continue on about wanting two kids and any more than that being “up to the uterus I’m with.” No, no, I just diverted my attention back to that nice bread and my glass of champagne (Suenen Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru) and remembered that no conversation has its perks.

celery root, white truffle, tandoori

celery root, white truffle, tandoori

I’m always indifferent to pasta, then blown away by renditions like this agnolotti. Crisping the truffles was a bold move and the resulting nuttiness stood up to the tandoori spicing.

halibut, brussels sprout, uni, apple

halibut, brussels sprout, uni, apple

The halibut didn’t really work for me. The flesh was watery and increased the sensation that I was eating cheese sauce (bizarre because processed cheese is practically what gets me out of bed in the morning) not uni. What looks like black pepper was possibly pulverized bits of char–or possibly something else completely.  I know this dish was on the lunch tasting menu at one point, so clearly someone demanded its comeback.

 

lobster, sweet potato, tonburi, sauce

lobster, sweet potato, tonburi, sauce

Then, boom. It was back on. If I were asked (actually I was asked upon leaving) about my favorite dish, this would be the winner. I don’t know exactly what is going on here to create such intense flavors. The lobster sauce is rich and buttery and hides a thin layer of parsley oil while the sweet potato is very present but not cloying. The tails, themselves, are a highlight. The crispy nest is a mystery.

foie gras, lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

foie gras, lychee, pine nut, riesling jelly

A classic. The thing about this snowy shaved foie gras dish is that I certainly remember it from my last visit, everyone seems to, but the version I tried those six-plus years ago didn’t contain the pine nut brittle. That little extra completely changes the texture and adds a different type of sweetness than the lightly perfumed lychees or sharper gelee.

momofuku ko duck

duck, lime pickle, watercress

The meaty course was just right. The portions seemed spot on,  fatigue never set in and by the last savory dish I didn’t want to die. And that knife!

momofuku ko mignardises prep

Mignardises being assembled.

momofuku ko clementine, campari

Clementine sorbet and Campari as palate cleanser.

coconut, banana, rum

coconut, banana, rum

The showcase dessert was light and tropical, topped with a rum-infused meringue.

momofuku ko mignardises

I was excited for the canelé that I had seen prepped earlier. The macaron was made of chickpeas and miso.

I couldn’t think of anything obvious or major that I would change (feedback that was solicited). My only request would be a selfish one and that’s the option for a shorter tasting. I’d like to return before 2020 (you know, when those grade-schoolers become freshman) and a smaller commitment would ensure it.

Momofuku Ko * 8 Extra Pl., New York, NY

Newborn: The Black Ant

It’s been a roller coaster of a week for edible insects. The Nordic Food Lab cautioned against eating raw ants as if that was something being done on so large a scale it merited a public service announcement, a pest control company announced a series of pop-up “pestaurants,” which means grasshopper burgers in D.C., oh, and Vice reported on Butterfly Skye’s Edible Bug Shop in Australia.

black ant smalls

New Yorkers can get in on the bug craze, too, at the appropriately named The Black Ant that recently opened in the East Village. If anything, the Mexican restaurant which definitely stands out from the latest burst of modern Mexican food in NYC, comes by its unusual ingredients honestly. Chef and partner Mario Hernandez (also of Ofrenda) taps into the country’s pre-Columbian roots in a way that comes across a novel rather than gimmicky. And while the insects are getting all the attention, these proteins of the dystopian future are used sparingly.

black ant insect dishes

Crunchy, tangy chaupulines appear on tlayudas, kicking back on a lava flow of Oaxacan queso de rancho spiked with charred chile de agua salsa while ants show up in a few places, including the guacamole hiding unexpected slivers of orange and flavored with chicatana (flying ants) salt, served with the thick, palm-sized tortillas that also accompany many of the mains. Both are very good (and I would say that even if I hadn’t been a guest of the restaurant).

black ant mains

Other highlights include a yellowtail ceviche and a serrano ponzu, yes, with black ants (and sea beans just to throw things off), and insectless entrees involving suckling pig, squash and green mole, and scallops and oxtail tinga in a pozole-ish stew. You can even have a cocktail named after the Mayan god of maize–the Yum Kaax is a milky blend of corn juice, ant salt and tequila, flavored unusually with hard-to-chew epazote leaves, more commonly used as a natural Beano to season beans.

black ant sweets & drinks

Completely un-related–not to mention un-appetizing–but I came home this evening to ants crawling all over my carpet, something that’s never happened in the 15 months I’ve lived in this apartment. I did not try to eat them.

The Black Ant * 60 Second Ave., New York, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Three Continents, Three Boroughs

onomea kalua pig

Onomea Despite New York Times attention and practically being across the street from my apt, I have always been resistant to Onomea. Maybe it’s all the starch. Maybe it’s the small menu. There are really only five entrees and drinks-wise, three beers and two rums that you can mix with fruit juices like strawberry-guava. The mom-and-pop vibe works, though. Being NYC, the portions are reasonable and there’s a salad taking up one quadrant of the dish, a green anomaly you wouldn’t see sullying a plate lunch in Hawaii. The kalua pig, pulled roast pork shoulder that’s not wildly dissimilar to North Carolina bbq, feels like mixed-up picnic fare when taken with bites of rice and macaroni salad. The appetizers will have to wait–my dining companion doesn’t eat pork or raw fish, squelching any shared poke or spam musubi.

donostia quad

Donostia With Huertas just a few avenues over, the East Village is turning into a pintxos destination. I’ve yet to see anyone capture the San Sebastian spirit fully, but at least we’re getting closer. Txakoli is on tap and montaditos are the showpiece, displayed on the counter yet prepared to order. Grilled halloumi and mackerel breaks the cheese with fish rule deliciously while thick aioli topped with curling octopus legs, and razor clams anchored by a white bean puree both present seafood on bread in a more traditional manner. Of course, you can also just have Spanish charcuterie and cheese.

uma plov

Uma’s I’ve never been down with the whole still burgeoning Rockaways scene, but sometimes you acquiesce. Uzbeki food seemed like an odd choice for the neighborhood, odd enough to try. The service and food were a little wonky, which wasn’t unexpected considering the lackadaisical energy heavy in the air. The beef in the plov was tender, not too lean and almost lamb-like (the meat I really wanted) in flavor. The rice, though, was just shy of fully cooked, creating a chew that nearly reminded me of the grit that kept turning up in my mouth after sitting on the windy beach near a crumbling dune. That said, I would still go back. It’s a popular place and nearly nothing on the menu is over $10.

Alder

twoshovelAlder was not exactly what I expected. The food was fairly straightforward, at least in comparison to WD-50, which wasn’t a detriment for the dishes since most are memorable close to a month later. I couldn’t conjure up a single detail about the room if I tried, though. Perhaps that wasn’t the point.

image

Even though I’ve been trying to work my way through two pounds of Chinese sausage picked up at Costco, I still ordered the pigs in a blanket that wrap flattened hot dog buns around the sweet fatty links of lap cheong. The emphasis here is more on the link than the normally puffy coating. Served with sweet chile sauce and Japanese mustard, these are the perfect cross-cultural snacks. They will not be forgotten come Super Bowl.

image

The quail scotch eggs, whose shrunken size provides a good coating to innards ratio, also tread in bar snack territory.

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Grilled octopus combined the most unusual flavors and it was also the most successful composed dish. Octopus and chorizo, I could buy in that Portuguese-y pork and seafood way. Sweet potato–why not? Banana, though, seemed, well, bananas, one step too far. It was not. Oily sausage, paprika and octopus coins are strong enough for a sweet, starchy accent.

image

Instagram works. I might not have considered the goat if I hadn’t seen the whole animal being prepped before service. I’m not sure what else went into this take on Jamaican goat curry and coco bread, but based on taste it was less a riff than a rendition, just presented spilling out of a wedge of acorn squash.

Alder * 157 Second Ave., New York, NY