Skip to content

Archive for

The Week in Chains: Hebrew, Hawaiian, Hungry

Cinnbon israel

The debut issue of Israeli Playboy describes
Playmate of the Month, Marin Teremets, as "the hottest and sweetest
thing imported from America since the chain Cinnabon.” If this photo is to be used as evidence,  the country has some unusual
ideas about baked goods.

Like the Chinese embracing Friends a
decade-and-a-half late
, in 2013 South Africans are now getting a taste of KFC's
breasts-as-buns, Double Down.
Don't feel too bad for them, though, because they
get a Hawaiian burger (pineapple! "Colonel dressing!") and no one
else does.

I'd like to promise that this is the first and last
time I ever republish a Hungry Girl tweet (I could always move on to Facebook
where she's upsetting dieters by posting photos of fries from Gordon Ramsay in
). But damn if those Cherry Blossom drinks and sweets aren't pretty.

Next time in Tokyo, there may be a Dippin' Dots.

Photo: Cinnabon Israel via Facebook

Eaten, Barely Blogged: Celebs, Curry, Classics

Sweet chick trio

Sweet Chick I would not say that Williamsburg, or
NYC in general, needs another southern joint. How much fried chicken can a city
stand (and I love fried chicken)? Battered, craggy and sticky with sweetened
soy like the finest Chinese takeout, General Tso fried chicken, is a different
story. Add a light rice waffle with what appeared by be chopped Chinese
broccoli baked in and you have a fun blackboard special. Lest you think all
this retooled Americana is a young person’s game (jerky fries? purple
drank?)  it was good enough for Canadian
Pat Kiernan and family, who'd apparently made the block-and-a-half trek on a Sunday

Laut curry meeLaut And then I (or rather my table-mate) spotted
Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova the following night strolling past our window.
I only saw the backs of two tall, skinny people all in black. If an ‘80s
celebrity marriage can last this long, it gives hope for the rest of us. Laut
does the dreaded pan-Asian thing, mostly focusing on Thailand and Malaysia.
Stick with the latter. The laksa and curry mee wouldn’t compete with anything
you’d find in Queens or Chinatown, but where else are you going to get these
spicy soups anywhere above 14th Street? Ok, I take that
back—according to Menupages 12 other restaurants that fit that criteria.

Qi thai grill delivery

Qi Thai Grill is on Seamless, which tickles me, if
only because it means beef tendon salad and pork belly (not so crisp,
admittedly, after the journey) arriving at my door. Read more here.

Pok pok duo

Pok Pok And sometimes Brooklyn Thai needs to be
experienced in person. Reports of smaller post-hype crowds may be true, but
there is still likely to be a wait. In my case 45 minutes at 9:30pm on a Wednesday.
Kaeng kradang, a chalkboard special described a cold weather curry, turned out
to be a highly jellied pork terrine, feeling a little more French-Vietnamese
than Thai (though I know it's not). I would eat this on a baguette rather than
with finger-fulls of sticky rice. A duck salad and ribs with a pair of dipping
sauces rounded out the meal, just right for two, despite the server’s warning
that we had under-ordered. Keep your eye out for Columbia Street on a future
episode of The Americans (you’re watching it, right?). Film crews had taken
over a number of blocks near the waterfront. I did not see Keri Russell (who
apparently owns a Brooklyn brownstone, as all celebrities big and small, minus
Pat Kiernan, seem to).

Diner and Dumont While distinct restaurants,
obviously, these two that I hadn't patronized since the early '00s may end up
being Williamsburg old-timers as places like La Villita Bakery and La
Borinquena get pushed out. In the days before 20-somethings regularly dined on
entrees costing roughly their ages, $12 mussels and fries felt fancy (it was
the mayonnaise in lieu of ketchup that clinched it). That was the only thing I
ever ordered at Diner. Dumont still makes a nice burger. Supposedly, so does
Diner but I’ve never tried it (nor the steaks). Because I may be a decade older
but still not free-spending, I didn’t bother ordering any of the specials with
no prices mentioned. I will admit that a squid salad with lentils and fennel and
duck breast with farro and kumquats were definitely a step up from the bowl of

Walter food duo

Walter Foods Pretty much the newer but not that new
version of the mid-20s people and prices place. Chicken, steak, pork chops–the
standards–are all ok, but nothing that would explain why the restaurant is
always so packed. While eating steak frites and deviled eggs, I realized that a
Shazam for faces would be a valuable invention. Right before closing, a dude
being filmed showed up and everyone seemed to know who he was. Then again, the
room also appeared to be morphing into a private after-hours space, so perhaps
the room was just filled with his friends celebrating his Kickstarter campaign.

Lodge I would lump Lodge right in with the above or
not even mention it at all. It's always been a non-entity to me, a place with
no appeal. But it was open relatively late on St. Patrick's Day (a blessedly
low-key, non barfy holiday in these parts) and so I stopped in and had my
frequent semi-boring office lunch, steak salad, but jazzed up with pears,
walnuts and goat cheese for dinner. It was certainly better than Flavors and I
give Lodge a leg up for playing My Bloody Valentine’s Ecstasy and Wine and Up For a Bit With the Pastels (neither on Spotify, annoyingly) both my driving to school in the
morning music, taped from record to cassette, of course.


The Week in Chains: Petites Tomates, Pei Wei Kuwait, Pretzels for Saigon

Petite faim

Frankly, I would visit an international P.F. Chang’s sooner than a Pei Wei, but the question has been posed on Twitter.

Pei Wei has expanded globally! Has anyone visited either of our international locations in Mexico or Kuwait?…

— PeiWei (@PeiWei) March 22, 2013

Maybe you’re familiar with CaliBurger? I am not. Two
will be opening in China
with the promise of 
“an environment that looks, smells, and feels like California.”

Auntie Anne’s, on the other hand, is nationally
ubiquitous, right? Now Saigon will have access to soft pretzels (but not the
dipping sauces
, according to this blogger).

Three’s a chain, so Mission Chinese Paris, looking
more like a reality
, merits a mention.

On the uncool end of the spectrum, France loves fast
and is the second-largest McDonald’s market after the US. I don’t imagine
the chain’s cherry tomatoes packaged like fries is contributing to its

SAT-style, Starbucks could eventually be to China as
McDonald’s is to France. According to Chief Executive Howard Schultz, “”It’s
no doubt that one day China will become our second-largest market after the US
and it’s possible that, over many years, potentially the largest one.”

Wendy’s in Ecuador? Ok, why not.


Zizi Limona

threeshovelIt didn’t seem right to lump Zizi Limona in with the recent Williamsburg batch. Partially because even though the newish Mediterranean-plus restaurant got
the Hungry City treatment and a Brooklyn Heatmap nod, whenever I pass by–maybe at the wrong times–I see a candlelit expanse of diner-less tables. And that’s just not right.

The above-mentioned plus is that it’s not just a falafel joint, something it might be getting unfairly pegged as. Recently when deciding where to eat with a group, I suggested Zizi Limona because it wasn’t likely to pose a seating trauma on a Saturday night. It was shot down with the supposition that a friend of a friend didn’t want kebabs because she’d just spent the past few years in Iraq. No arguments in this case–Williamsburg is rife with all-American food; fried chicken, burgers and bbq for miles–but the not wanting kebabs argument could be a problem. For what it’s worth, there are seven items in the section called Classic Big Zi’s (as opposed to less traditional Big Zi’s, Small Zi’s and salads) and only one involves kebabs, served with a mysterious sounding black babaganoush.

Zizi limona tershi

I may try the lamb eventually, but other dishes give a fuller picture of the border-crossing style. Take the Tershi, Jewish by way of Libya, a naturally sweet, gingery pumpkin mash grounded with cumin and stewed chickpeas. I don’t know anywhere else in NYC that serves it.

Zizi limona sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

Or the bourekas, called here Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar, flaky pastry cylinders stuffed with non-traditional mozzarella and basil and moved eastward with almonds and honey.

Zizi limona chicken liver

A special featured chicken liver, rich, unadorned (I thought it might be coated and fried) and served with Jerusalem artichoke (or sunchoke, if you rather) two ways: pureed as a base and slivered and fried to a crisp as a garnish gone wild. Hit with thyme and Santorini vinegar, like a less sweet balsamic, this was about as far from a kebab as you could get.

Zizi Limona * 129 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: 11211

Le Comptoir It seems like just yesterday I moved to
Clinton Hill, but that was five months ago. Now it’s winter and I’m living in
Williamsburg where there is easily ten times the number of restaurants and I may as well be a grandma. That’s
one reason why Le Comptoir seemed like an odd choice to be name-checked in the
new rental’s glowing ad copy.
I wouldn’t consider the bistro notable enough to
convince anyone to move nearby and only went because I wasn’t in the mood for a
long Saturday night wait after a day of moving and it was empty (while Walter
Foods next door was at capacity) at first, then filled with drinkers up front.
I think they live on their all-you-can-drink weekend brunch. Service was
predictably wonky and my Sazerac, which I only ordered because it was listed,
was served iced like the Manhattans in Southeast Asia. My steak tartare with
salad was fine, if not generously portioned for $11. A fallback, not a first

Briskettown breakfast tacos

BrisketTown I’ve still not experienced the primetime
bbq (nor the just introduced lunch sandwiches) but during the day they serve
the brisket–and you should get the brisket–in Austin-style breakfast tacos.
The floppy flour tortillas make the creation feel more like an open-faced
burrito. Despite tales of lines for dinner and running out before closing time,
there was not another soul inside for the morning shift. Though the pulled pork
and brisket look similar (I did not try the vegetable, the third offering) each
had its own unique garnish: a slightly bitter cabbage for the pork and pickled
red onions for the smoked beef. The latter, blended with scrambled eggs and
chile sauce had the edge. I have never been to Texas so I can’t speak to any
authenticity–bacon or chorizo are the favored meats there–but the breakfast
tacos have been given thumbs up by more than one Austin transplant.

Forcella Part of the 2011 montanara pizza craze that
apparently has died down. And once again, we were the only diners on a
weeknight (not a good trend). I like the concept–it’s not as if they’re going
full-Scottish and battering and deep-frying the whole pizza–but it failed to
deliver. The whole center was sog, defeating the whole purpose of the fry. I
would’ve rather had a langos.

Maision premiere happy hour

 Maison Premiere A wild exception to the
everyplace is empty experience. Arriving at 4:05pm for the 4pm-7pm $1 oyster
happy hour was no prevention against waiting until 6pm until an iced tray of oysters
appeared in front of me. Whether or not this was the result of a
three-day-weekend Monday (I hope to god) or a normal Monday, I can’t say. And
the seating procedure was arcane, to boot. The initial 20-minute quote turned
out to be just to enter the restaurant, which was already at capacity, and not
for any guarantee of bar seating where you can order food (seats with ledges in
the bar are drinks-only). Said prime bar seating is a free for all and
predatory. If you wait another hour or so one of the real sit-down tables will
eventually become available. Logistics aside, a buck an oyster is a good deal,
and 18 varieties means you can get an education (I knew I liked Malpeques but
the super briny new-to-me Beausoleil and Totten Island oysters were the best)
even if it’s unlikely that I would return anytime soon (or could unless I snuck
off work early). The non-raw bar food is ambitious. Loup de mer crudo was
precious in size, though brightly flavored with grapefruit and marcona almonds
for a little richness. And I was not expecting a cloche and tableside saucing
with the langoustine and sweetbreads, especially not as the large group of
young men at the next table were doing their best impression of Dave Chapelle channeling
Rick James by shrieking “I’m rich bitch.”

Omg tacoOMG Taco
Technically 11206 (and no, this isn’t Bushwick) there is not probably any reason to eat
here other than being very drunk and/or needing food on the same block as the
Montrose L station.With that said, the bistec taco (pictured) could’ve been worse.

Taco Chulo There is not a strong argument to eat
here either, though I have done so many times. It is useful for large groups
with varying levels of interest in food–and there’s no harm in a margarita and
queso-drenched  nachos every now and