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The NoMad

At first I didn't care about The NoMad. Then I did. It's one of those things. Even though the restaurant has been billed as more casual than Eleven Madison Park, it's not exactly meatballs, fried chicken and burgers. With well-spaced tables and a velvet-and-mahogany plushness (I was in the still-day lit atrium), it's the kind of place you get your parents to take you if you're young and have doting parents with good taste  (none of this describes my situation). Instead, I acted as the adult and took out a friend for her birthday.

The nomad crudite with chive cream

I don't think normally either of us is sweet on crudite, but it felt WASPy and right. And when the vegetables, all saturated colors with a cool green chive dressing, was presented on its bed of ice, I knew this was the correct snack choice while sipping a Turf Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, maraschino, absinthe, orange bitters) and Gingered-Ale, soft cocktail (not for me).

The nomad tagliatelle with king crab, meyer lemon, black pepper

This is the same friend that is always up for an annual Never Ending Pasta Bowl, no irony, so now we've proven that we're also able to appreciate the dainty portion of tagliatelle with king crab meat and a hint of Meyer lemon. Sure, we could've eaten twice as much (and you can–this was an appetizer size). The NoMad is not inexpensive, but at $19, even I have to concede that this dish is a better value than the seafood alfredo that's $21.25 at the Times Square Olive Garden. There is no justifying midtown chain dining beyond an emotional urge (pros go to New Jersey to assuage their guilt).

The nomad zucchini bread

Zucchini bread that’s not, you know, zucchini bread.

And of course, the blabbed-about roast chicken for two. Normally, I wouldn’t order roast chicken outside of a Peruvian or Caribbean restaurant, otherwise it’s dry and boring as a Thanksgiving turkey. I just wanted to see what the big deal was. I forgot to take a photo of the whole bird (it’s not like there aren’t enough pics floating around already) stuffed with rosemary and lavender sprigs. (A minor deal is made with presenting the picture perfect chicken to the diners before being taken back into the kitchen for carving, but ours got shown to our neighbors first accidentally, so the dramatic reveal was lessened.)

The nomad roasta chicken, foie gras, black truffle, brioche

When it came back, the breast, a blend of crumbled brioche, foie gras and black truffles tucked beneath the skin, was plated with a swipe of truffled foie gras, beige and creamy like a makeup swatch of foundation, a farro-corn medly and a little jus. I generally eat chicken as a vehicle for crispy skin and shun vast hunks of white meat (I’ll never understand people who insist on white meat like it’s premium when in reality it’s bland 90% of the time) but, no, this wasn’t disappointing. Apparently, basting with liquefied foie gras does wonders for white meat.

The nomad chicken, mushrooms, corn

The dark meat came in a separate small cast iron pan with mushrooms that were like the dark meat of the fungi world (I don't know which type, but definitely not the morels I've seen mentioned elsewhere) and corn in a rich tarragon-y sauce.

The nomad chocolate tart with caramel, hazelnut, fleur de sel

Chocolate and salted caramel isn’t pushing any boundaries, but you can’t argue with the combination.

In a way, the same could be said for the whole menu. Unseen preparation aside, nothing feels radical, and it doesn't have to. Chicken breast, pasta and raw vegetables with dip have the potential to be utterly boring and dated where instead, here, it comes off timeless and luxe.

The NoMad * 1170 Broadway, New York, NY

Not Having My Cake and Not Eating It Too

Applebees iftarI will be birthday-traveling (Dubai, Macau, Hong Kong, Bangkok!) for the next two weeks, so it's doubtful there will many, if any posts here for a while. I'm not a blog-on-the-go type, though assuming I sort out prepaid SIM card issues in all those countries (I was never able to get my phone to work in Berlin) there will tweets and instagrams galore (I apologize in advance).

Because I wasn't thinking, I scheduled this vacation during Ramadan, which means no eating or drinking outside of hotels in Dubai until sundown. How can I fully experience a Middle Eastern Magnolia Bakery when no one can eat cupcakes?

The upside? All these crazy chain restaurant Iftars (I know this blog is from Kuwait, not Dubai, but both share Ruby Tuesday, Subway, and the like).

Also, there is a McSorley's Ale House in a Macau casino. This is going to be good.

See you in August.

Photo via B&D Kuwait


Denino's facadeDenino's filled two needs. James wanted pizza. "Old-school or hipster?" I asked, as if those were the only two styles on earth.  Old-school, it was decided, Staten Island, preferably. Me, I wanted a clam pie, but New Haven wasn't in the cards on such short notice. Neither of us had ever eaten pizza in (or is that on?) Staten Island, which is a shame. Pat & Joe's and Lee's Tavern were also contenders that will have to wait for another time. I did not regret my choice because Denino's is awesome.

Any place with an old man bar attached, pitchers of beer on most (laminate wood) tables, and booths (booths are key) where half the clientele and staff know with each other, is going to be good. Plus, when was the last time you saw a Kiss tattoo?

Denino's buffalo calimari

Oh, and you can have buffalo calamari. You wonder who the grotesque target audience is for Sabra Buffalo Syle Hummus, and now you know. Me.

Denino's clam pie

The pizza is thin crust with some chew, charred just a little, and non-floppy. I wanted to try half-and-half since it doesn't seem like you can do that in NYC and it's kind of a throwback to childhood when a pepperoni/Hawaiian was the crowd-pleaser at any gathering (plus, plastic pitchers of root beer and Ladybug, the Pac Man ripoff) but clams seemed weird with meat even if they weren't technically touching. I'll leave blending pork and shellfish in a single dish to the Portuguese. There was a good amount of cheese, but not so much that it overwhelmed the clams. And being a white pie, garlic and olive oil were also major players.

Despite wanting to stay for hours, Denino's is no place for lingering. On weekend nights there are waits for tables, despite multiple dining rooms, and if you talk too much (like I do) you'll soon realize the whole room has changed over and you still have half a pizza left. Eat up, box your leftovers and scram.

Denino's * 524 Port Richmond Ave., Staten Island, NY


Localized: 7-Eleven Singapore

7-11 duo

Who knew that mashed potatoes from a self-serve machine could cause such a stir? Then again, when I first encoutered the Singaporean concept of mashed potato combo meals at a 7-Eleven in the flesh, I was blown away. I've always considered the unusual snack to be a classic example of International Intrigue.

Mashed potato machine

And then I rekindled my love three years later.

They also serve Maggi brand mashed potatoes with gravy at movie theaters in Penang, and probably all over Malaysia and Singapore, too. But let’s stick with 7-Eleven here. Movie theater food is another post, though I'd love to know why they commonly serve caramel corn in Latin American cinemas, but not in the US.

Five items that Singaporean 7-Elevens have that we don’t:

Mango cheese chicken

Mango Cheese Chicken Sandwich.

Packmeals_blackcarrotcakeMicrowavable Singapore Black Carrot Cake. Carrot is colloquial; it's really daikon.

Chili crab noodles

Chili crab instant noodles

Soya sauce chicken rice

Soya Sauce Chicken Rice

Logan red date jellyLongan Red Date Jelly

Photos from 7-Eleven Singapore

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Mexico, Spain, Brooklyn

Pampano quad

Pampano doesn't get the attention of other newer, cooler Mexican restaurants, but it remains popular, seemingly with early-stage dates, guys who appear businesslike, and older Spanish-speaking women with younger relatives who only speak English. I was there to sample a new summer menu spotlighting ingredients from La Paz in Baja California. (I've also been before of my own volition, so this isn't totally shilly. And yeah, Richard Sandoval rivals Ducasse with his international expansion efforts, but I'm still curious enough to try a tapa or two at Toro Toro when I'm in Dubai this weekend. Ha, that's sounds hilarious, as if I'm always off to glitzy places.) Supposedly, different regions in Mexico will be featured throughout the year. The full menu is here with details, but I can say that the bacon-wrapped shrimp (is there a bad bacon-wrapped shrimp?) with a chipotle sauce, grilled pineapple and melon ball-sized rounds of avocado was the standout with its sweet, creamy and salty components. And it didn't hurt that the presentation was so pretty. An all-seafood meal, there were also smoked clams, a tamarind mahi-mahi and a tuna tamalito. The guava pastry did not contain seafood, thankfully, just fruit and Damiana, an herbal liqueur said to have aphrodisiac properties (they're not boasting that claim on the menu, though maybe it's legit since even WebMD mentions that usage for the herb).

Tapeo29 trio

Tapeo29 I find myself coming back here with increasing frequency. The corner bar using open windows instead of air conditioning is more Madrid than Barcelona (though both cities would let you sweat in the summer) meaning traditional, not avant-garde (I don't know the Spanish for avant-garde–de vanguardia?). Chorizo al sidra, croquetas de bacalao and boquerones aren't surprising, but they are satisfying, and before 8pm on weeknights only $6 each (plus wine and cocktails for the same price). I always leave a little drunker than intended and just full enough.

Lavender lake aperol spritzLavender Lake I didn't try any food and, frankly, it's the kind of place I read about on blogs, or rather The Times Style Magazine, in this case, and decide that there's no need to rush over. Can I live without "Scandinavian  rustic" in Gowanus? (I also refuse to give pseudo-neighborhood, Gowanus, its own category–it's two blocks from the F train.) But I didn't realize it was located on the relaxing, over-the-canal route I occasionally take home when I feel like the F is going to crush my soul so I preemptively take the R all the way to Union Street and walk the mile-and-a-quarter to my apartment. So, I had an Aperol spritz, which is dangerously close to a white wine spritzer (in spirit, not taste) and awkwardly sat by myself on a folding chair too short to reach the bar-like ledge on the back patio. At 7pm there wasn't a free table in the entire yard, which is a common phenomena and I'm certain would've been the same even an hour earlier. I'm convinced no one in Carroll Gardens actually works, despite the crazy real estate prices. Regardless, it's a pretty place, all muted tones and reclaimed wood, like a physical Instagram.

Brooklyn Ice House I have far less to say about this Red Hook bar than Lavender Lake, and yet I like it more. Thai chile sauce wings served Buffalo style (blue cheese, carrots and celery) and a pint of Sixpoint Righteous Ale don't need rehashing. Neither bar has a website, which is distressing.


Yeah, yeah, Fushimi is garish, and I guess it's out of place in that section of Williamsburg (though not-in-my-backyard pioneers SEA and Tacu Tacu are only six blocks away) but it's hardly the sensibility-offender it's been made out to be. Anyone freaking has clearly never been to Vegas.

Fushimi entrance

And just like Vegas, the customers aren't likely to be locals. With Bay Ridge and Staten Island already covered by the sushi chainlet, there is now a place for Brooklynites from all points north to enjoy glowing neon theatrics while "Big Long Dick" (I couldn't get Shazaam to work, but that's a pretty easy chorus to remember) bounces off the spot-lit walls and metallic chandeliers.

Fushimi coconut mojito

When Fushimi first opened, a friend who lives nearby suggested that we take mushrooms and check it out. I was tempered by no more than a coconut mojito on this visit, though I would not rule out the possibility of a psychedelic future excursion.

Fushimi lady's night

There is a Sexy Lady's Night, each Thursday, after all.

Fushimi combo for 2

The food? Well, it's superfluous. If you frequently eat lunch-deal sashimi at uncelebrated Japanese restaurants like I do, you won't have a problem with the quality. You will be upset if Yasuda, Azabu or 15 East are in your regular rotation. The sushi and sashimi for two wouldn't have been able to compete with the decor if LED lights were not embedded in the ice.

Fushimi soft shell crab

A fried soft-shell crab with sweet-spicy Thai sauce was a perfectly fine appetizer.

Fushimi kani salad

I like fake crab so the kani salad filled that void with a slick of "spicy aioli," a.k.a. Sriracha-spiked thousand island dressing dotted with tobiko. Look at those little purple leaves, though. A touch that shows they're trying, right? Same with the sparse microgreens on the soft-shell crab.

Fushimi restroom

The path to the bathroom feels like you're on a spaceship–if Liberace owned such a craft.  I was disappointed that the lights didn't change colors, but remained electric blue.

Fushimi * 475 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, NY

How Should a Cheese Be?

Land-o-lakes-american-cheeseProcessed cheese is having a moment. I was recently wowed by the provel used at Speedy Romeo. Then The New York Times went on a full-on no shame foods bender where I discovered that chef Wylie Dufresne shares my love (discussed here and here) of Land O'Lakes American Cheese. There's a fresh pack of Wegmans wrapped white American cheese singles in the fridge right now, and they're just not the same. It has to be the thick-cut, stacked, matte-finish American cheese.

Also, American cheese just popped-up while I was reading How Should A Person Be? (Is everyone reading that or is it just popular among the sites I track via RSS?).

Heading out of the station for a smoke, in pain, I passed two teenage girls who were standing with their bags before a deli, gazing up at its illuminated menu. 
    "What is American cheese anyway? I heard one of them say.
      Her friend replied, "I think that means it has a chemical in it."

I’m trying to glean insights. On how a person should be, that is, but I would take some processed cheese insights, too.

Crystal Light Cares


Appletini drunks no longer have to worry about inadvertently humping fugly dudes.

When in Rome

Hk elotesI hate to admit my biases (though I just took that New York quiz and I'm totally not a mean wealthy person) but I blank out when it comes to Italian food. However, I just sat up and took notice when I read that there is ube cake in Rome?! Filipinos get around.

Today, on the Fourth of July KFCs in Japan had a "tabe-hodai" i.e. all-you-can-eat promotion. Meanwhile, Kobayashi was at Roberta's.

I'm going to be in Hong Kong at the end of the month, my third trip so I kept it brief, but now I'm wishing I had more time to explore because with only 48 hours you've got to keep it Cantonese. Yet, I'm reading about a Mexican food craze that stirs up the mumble-jumble International Intrigue lover in me (as well, as my tiny sliver of Latin American-ness). Taco Tuesdays at Heirloom Eatery, Brick House, Taco Chaca, the Mr. Taco truck, and visiting Mexican chefs at the Four Seasons? Actually, the funniest aspect is what I'm assuming to be British expats (aren't 90% of HK westerners from the UK?) freaking out on corn on the cob slathered with mayo and rolled in cheese and chile powder and deeming it inauthentic. Funny, because elotes couldn't be more Mexican, yet also register as exactly something a Chinese person would concoct and try to pass off as authentically other.

Mexican Style Sweetcorn via Brick House