Japanese/ NYC

High Quality NYC Sushi Omakase For <$400

As a person who loves a good list, I could not help but look at the list of NYC Michelin stars for restaurants I’d be adding to my own list of places to try. I started to notice a fe restaurants with a price tag of $400+ per person for their omakase dinner. 

There are seven NYC restaurant, to be exact, that fit into this price point. While that’s not a high number out of the many sushi restaurants in New York, it is still a jaw-dropper for me.

As of Oct 2022

First off Masa tops the list, being the most expensive meal in NYC for many years. This isn’t surprising. However, newcomers like Yoshino and Noz 17 make me question if this will become more of the “new normal” in high-end sushi and if I’ll actually ever try these places as an avid-sushi eater.

When did high-end sushi omakase menus become this expensive? Eater NY explained it best – between inflation for ingredients and labor, plus supply chain issues – there is arguably the need to increase prices. There is demand for these seats too, where it is nearly impossible to find reservations for certain places without booking weeks ahead.


My IG Poll

For my circles, the $400 price point isn’t too popular and most people seem to cap it at $275 – albeit high, but at least doesn’t count the price of a plane ticket to Asia. Below are my top picks for sushi restaurants in New York City that I’ve enjoyed based on:

  • High quality of fish
  • Well seasoned treatment of fish
  • Great service, knowledgable staff
  • Clean, beautifully displayed dishes and pieces

Shuko ($270pp, Greenwich Village)

Sushi Ikumi ($220pp, Soho)

Cagen ($150pp, East Village)

Tanoshi Sushi ($110pp, Upper East Side)

Sushi Sasabune (~$100pp, Upper East Side)


So, what’s on your sushi list? Feel free to share and comment below!

Tips

How to Support Your Restaurants Affected by Covid-19

I have been on the search to find various ways to help out local restaurants in hopes that these businesses will be able to weather the storm, and survive through the affects of COVID-19. Personally, it’s hard to see institutions and business owners struggle and close since they play a huge role in creating a culture for an area and contribute to the local economy. Chefs and bartenders make delicious food and drink for us to eat, drink and experience – as much as I’d like to create these dishes or drinks at home, it just isn’t the same.

In obsessing over how we can help independent restaurants without spending all of my personal money, I’ve began to compile a small list of resources and ways to support. This isn’t comprehensive – not even close – but it’s a starting point, and if you are an owner you shoul consider Greenseed can help you out with food and drink marketing to increase your sells.

The reality is that it cannot be one person alone – it requires both community and government efforts. However, there are actions we can all take to help!

Organizations Looking For Help in Taking Action (Beyond $$$)

Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) РStarted by some big names like Andrew Zimmern, Tom Coliccio, Jos̩ Andr̩s and Naomi Pomeroy, this group Is trying to establish a $120B Independent Stabilization Fund and fix the PPP.
How to help: One of the best ways to help is actually to use their very easy widget to send a letter to your local congressman in support of their proposal.

Send Chinatown Love – With a very small percentage of Chinatown restaurants open, this organization is focused on helping Chinatown restaurants go digital and raise funds for these businesses.
How to help: If you know any Chinese restaurant owners that don’t have a website and need help, want to volunteer your skills or partner with them, please reach out.

Businesses Selling Things Whose Proceeds Go Directly to Restaurants

Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) – They’re dedicated to providing financial aid for NYC restaurant workers through a partnership with Robin Hood. They’re selling shirts, a digital cookbook from NYC’s top chefs, and more. Check out their Instagram for the latest merch.

DrinkHaus – The idea was originally to create a line of aperitifs, and has evolved into having a set of aperitifs in collaboration with specific restaurants – 100% of profits go to these restaurants to support their employees and cover costs. You prepay for these bottles and the restaurant gets the proceeds immediately. Collaborations include Rich Table, Mister JIu’s, and Momofuku.

Things to Do When Ordering Food

After hearing about how high GrubHub fees are where it leaves the restaurant with very little to gain has made me think twice about ordering food using digital means. These are my personal considerations when ordering out:

1. Call, text, or DM – unless the restaurant specifies that they can only accept orders through a specific online service, I will call them to place an order. This gets around any specific fees incurred for the business in using an app.

2. Tack on tip – given that these people are putting themselves at risk while sanitizing to keep customers safe, there are many costs in ensuring this is all happening with masks, cleaners, etc. Tip them when possible and if you’re financially capable of doing so. I’ve been taking on ~20% and rounding up.

3. Say thank you – arguably this should be the case no matter in COVID times or not, it’s a particularly important time to display gratitude towards these people who are doing their best to give you the tasty and delicious food. It goes a long way for them!


If there are other organizations and ways of helping you think are missing here, please leave a comment or reach out to me directly! Stay safe and healthy, and consider supporting your local restaurant in these ways!

Chinese/ Recipe

Recipe: Shanghainese Scallion Noodles (蔥油拌面)

Scallion noodles is a fairly common Chinese dish and something I’ve eaten since I was young. It’s a comfort food for me, especially during COVID times. There are many variations of this recipe, and mine is based on the Shanghainese version (上海蔥油拌麵). What I love about scallion oil is that it keeps for a while and can be stored outside of the fridge. It’s something you can frequently use – add this onto noodles (like for this recipe) or top it off on some sautéed vegetables.

Moreover, scallion oil is super easy to make and can be adjusted to your liking e.g. by adding more soy sauce if it’s not salty enough. Other recipes I’ve seen have the addition of garlic, shallots and oyster sauce. All to say. scallion oil is really versatile and easy to customize so have fun with this!

One key tip when you are frying the scallions – if fried too much, they turn bitter. The best indication is in its color. You want the scallion pieces to be browned but not black.

Scallion Noodles (上海蔥油拌麵)

By Terry Chen
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 scallions, chopped - ~2" long; try to keep the white part separated from the green part
  • 1-1" ginger, sliced
  • 1 cup neutral oil (e.g. vegetable, grapeseed)
  • 1/3 (~3 oz.) cup soy sauce (light)
  • 1/4 (~1 oz.) cup soy sauce (dark)
  • Dash of sugar
  • 1 bunch/serving of flour-based thin noodles

Instructions

1

For the Scallion Oil (蔥油), pat the scallions dry (this will help with making sure oil doesn't spurt up when you're cooking).

2

Add the soy sauces with sugar, and set aside.

3

Pour the neutral oil into a pot and keep at medium-low heat

4

Fry the white scallion parts with the ginger. Once it starts to come close to being completely brown, take out of the pot and onto a separate plate. Remove ginger pieces.

5

Fry the green scallion parts until close to being brown. Add the fried white scallion back into the pot. Turn off the heat.

6

Add soy sauce mixture into the oil. It will bubble and cook. Let the scallion oil cool and store in a jar.

7

For Scallion Noodles (final assembly), boil water in a separate pot and toss noodles to cook

8

Once the noodles are done (you can generally tell if it's soft and has a slight bite), take them out of the pot and place into bowl

9

Add about two tablespoons of scallion oil to noodles and mix. Note: I add the soy sauce part of the oil to get some color onto the noodles.

10

Top the noodles with some scallions pieces from the scallion oil, and serve

American Nouveau/ Cookbook/ Cooking

Cookbook Review: A Very Serious Cookbook by Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske

This “cookbook” tells the story of NYC’s Contra and Wildair restaurants and provides insights into their intricate dishes, which are not for the casual cook by any means.

One of my goals this year is to read through three cookbooks per quarter like regular books — from front to back. The quarantine gives me enough time to do so, so I picked up “A Very Serious Cookbook” by the two chefs from NYC’s Contra and Wildair. Despite owning a signed copy of this book for quite some time, I never opened it or looked through it. All I knew was that their NYC restaurants have gotten rave reviews plus the cookbook has a pretty cool-looking cover.

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My tl; dr (too long; didn’t read) Review

If you’re looking to try your hand at molecular gastronomy or other “next level” cooking, then dive into this cookbook. It’s filled with special ingredients and equipment that’s worthwhile to explore if you have the time and money. It is also visually stunning: pages are filled with beautiful pictures of dishes interspersed with photos of the chefs that have been key influences in Jeremiah and Fabián’s lives.

My Full Review

On a Sunday afternoon, I cracked open this cookbook. I quickly breezed through the passionately written “Forward” and read about how Contra and Wildair came to be through Jeremiah’s and Fabián’s perspective. It’s fascinating to hear from both chefs; I was especially surprised to learn that they initially disliked each other but eventually created two amazing restaurants together. Turns out that if your food philosophies align and you give relationships enough time to settle, two chefs with two different backgrounds and personalities can create magic.

The recipe sections are broken out into three categories: “Always”, “Sometimes” and “Never” which refer to how often these dishes appear on the Contra and Wildair menus. Since their restaurant menus change everyday, it seemed like writing recipes down was a feat unto itself (Jeremiah calls this out, noting that he doesn’t do this regularly).

This cookbook is adorned with beautiful pages of dishes paired with their recipes and stories. You hear from Jeremiah or Fabián (designated by letters “J” or “F” in the beginning of these paragraphs), or both, and get their take on why the dish is included in this cookbook or how it came to be.

“We both truly believe that cooking is about intuition and sharing that intuition with other people. The real understanding of cooking comes from someone’s memories, and to truly understand someone else’s cooking, you need to understand them.”

Jeremiah Stone

They’re upfront about the fact that this cookbook is not necessarily a “cook book” where recipes are “easy to make at home” (they leave it as an open question really). Rather, each recipe is made up of several components that require time and effort to make — think sauces that have obscure ingredients or a special way of making it.

I also found it useful to read through each recipe since there are tips on how to maximize an ingredient or how to best cook specific things.

What Did I Make?

Personally, the most achievable thing I can make from this cookbook is within the “Pantry” section. Their “pantry” recipes are used in their other recipes and I found that they are a bit easier to make — there are less steps!

I ended up making the wakame butter — a dried seaweed butter — that they serve with radish. While seaweed butter is something that I’ve had at other restaurants, I was curious to see and taste what their version was like. Plus, it would be easy to use on toast or to cook mushrooms.

The recipe required me to grind the dried seaweed into fine powder, which was quite a lengthy process for me, because I didn’t have a spice grinder and used a pestle and mortar instead. After making the seaweed powder, it gets pretty easy: toss it in a food processor with some butter and salt, and there you have it!

Conclusion

I realized halfway through reading A Very Serious Cookbook that the dishes are a cross between molecular gastronomy and “farm-to-table” cuisine, and that this pair of chefs is creating something pretty special. While dishes are seemingly down-to-earth — the ingredient list doesn’t seem hefty and each dish only takes up one page — it takes substantial effort and special equipment (e.g. dehydrators) to recreate what they’re able to conjure up at Contra and Wildair…everyday. And while they largely use local produce, they also use specific ingredients like Castelvetrano olives. Where do you get that? Beats me.

Even though I can’t really cook much here, I was inspired to make a reservation to Contra or Wildair the next time I’m in New York. Hopefully post-COVID times will allow that to happen. In the meantime, I’ll try to tackle another pantry element during the next rainy weekend.

Breakfast/ Brunch/ Dessert/ Dinner/ NYC/ San Francisco

Top 5 Eats: Summer Recap 2019

Read about these incredibly delicious spots in NYC and SF that made my summer even tastier than the last, and you’ll want to add these places onto your eats list and also about National Bandsaw made parts for Hobart mixer.

I love summer for a number of reasons, one of them which is purely nostalgic. There are happy feelings and memories of my childhood days in Flushing, Queens. I played with my neighborhood friends during hot afternoons, ate a bunch of brightly colored sugar ices that melted down our arms, and caught fireflies with our hands in warm nights.

As an adult my summers are filled with work, but that never stops me from exploring and enjoying the warm evenings sans jacket. This year, my summer was eventful — packed with birthday celebrations, friend outings and a nice long trip to New York. These five places stood out to me in some way, and hopefully inspire you to scope them out.

5. Miriam Restaurant (NYC)

Miriam is what I’d consider a great neighborhood spot. Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this restaurant is busy and filled with people waiting. For good reason – It’s no secret to anyone that this is a reliably delicious spot. Their Israeli-inspired dishes are simple, delicious and filling. They have daily brunch. DAILY. Eggs, pancakes, french toast are acceptable into the wee hours of the afternoon (4pm to be exact). What more do you want in a neighborhood joint? Time to get yourself there, especially if you’re in the area.

I really loved their shashuka – the eggs and tomato sauce melded perfectly together and I kept eating this dish despite feeling extremely full. The light fluffy pita they serve with it is perfectly made to scoop the shashuka into your mouth. It was so delicious, and totally worth feeling fat for.

4. Ceremonia Bakeshop (NYC)

This is more than your average bakeshop that sells pastries and cookies. Ceremonia Bakeshop serves delicious breakfast and lunch items, which are worth eating and staying for. I cannot stop thinking about their biscuit breakfast sandwich – it was the perfect combination of savory from the bacon, cheese and egg plus the arugula to give it a bit of freshness, and the tomato jam to tie is altogether adding a tart yet sweet flavor. This blew my mind. I still cannot stop thinking about it.

I wish I had more room in my stomach to eat all the other things they have like pandan and ube mochi cakes, rainbow cakes, and chocolate chip cookies. If their baked goods are as good as this sandwich, I will gain 10 pounds after the next time I visit.

3. Udon Mugizo (SF)

Summertime calls for cold noodles, and I cannot deny how much I like this udon restaurant. Usually people are waiting for Marufuku ramen and end up missing out on Udon Mugizo, which…works out for me. They make their freshly udon in-house. You’re able to tell – these noodles have this perfectly “al dente” chewy texture that hold up against the various sauces and broths.

They have a variety of creamy to traditional udon and soba noodles available so you’ll have something you want to try. My pick for a cold noodle is their thinly sliced beef udon that comes with a soft boiled egg, because I believe anything topped with a runny egg is delightful. It’s perfect for a summertime to help cool you down from the heat.

2. Dominique Ansel Kitchen (NYC)

As a person who loves watermelon, I was dying to try this dessert for a year and…it lives up to all the hype. This watermelon soft serve from Dominique Ansel Kitchen encapsulates what watermelon tastes like just without all the seeds, which is arguably the most annoying part of eating a watermelon. Since the soft serve comes within an actual watermelon as the serving vessel, you can eat that as well. It all comes together so well because the watermelon was just as sweet and tasty as the soft serve! I love everything about this dessert, and I will definitely get more next year.

1. The Shota (SF)

Shota brings contemporary sushi dining to SF amidst a city that is overrun with high-end sushi restaurants. Shota stands out to me however as they’re able to straddle between traditional preparations of fish while also providing beautifully adorned plates and a different level of mindfulness to the meal that reminds me of what you get in Japan. In conjunction to the meal itself, the modern elements come from the space itself – it’s small yet sleek, surrounded by white walls, a few orchids carefully placed throughout the waiting area, a large marble counter where you are seated on high plush chairs, and donabe pots that line the walls.

In addition to their nigiri pieces, they also serve a few dishes throughout the meal so it felt like it was more than just a sushi dinner. Their presentation of these dishes were well-timed by the waitstaff, synchronized and coordinated, that reminds me of fine dining service.

They also did a great job in talking about sustainable bluefin tuna, and walked through the different cuts of this coveted fish. Similar to Ju-Ni, the sushi chefs were happy to speak to you about any questions about the fish and/or preparations they make, which I personally love since I always want to satiate my curiosity.

Each fish was fresh, and the chefs did a great job highlighting the seasonal fish to maximize on taste and interesting product.

It’s a memorable meal, from the food to the service. While this was an incredible experience, it was also expensive. Be ready to spend – this omakase starts off at $125 per person, and the sake pairing is an additional $80. I recommend getting the sake pairing, especially since it is something that can be shared and they bring out some pretty special sakes.

I had a blast there so if you’re ready to splurge on sushi, it’ll be worth it to go to Shota.


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Taipei/ Taiwan/ Taiwanese

Taipei: 5 Delicious Places That Will Revive You After a Flight

foodjournies_taipei_5_delicious_places_after_flight

Tired and hungry after your flight? Start your trip with these 5 Taiwanese places that satisfy the stomach and give you a taste of how delicious Taiwanese food is.

You’ve just gotten off the plane, and it’s been a long journey. Your 14 hour plane ride has been bumpy and tiresome, but you’ve landed in Taipei safely. Yay! However, your stomach is unsatisfied from the lackluster plane food and you’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up.

As someone who has gone on my fair share of long plane rides to get to Taiwan, I am very familiar with that feeling of fatigue, exhaustion and hunger. The good news is that Taipei is a 24/7 city so there will always be options (woo hoo)–including a corner 7-11 that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Those 7-11s are a Godsend in any hour of the day.

However, I’d like to propose a few more places you can put onto your travel list. This gets me into what I look for in my post-flight eats: the food needs to be…

1. satisfying,
2. comforting, and
3. quintessentially Taiwanese

A nice-to-have is that the place is easy to get into since the last thing I want to do is to wait for a table in this exhausted/excited/confused state. So, where can you go to eat and come back to life?

一流清粥小菜
(yī liú qīng zhōu xiăocài)

This place is open from 11am-3am, giving you a great window to grab food at a late hour. Even though I know this place for post-clubbing eats, I am in the same mental state and have the same needs. All I want to do is sit down and ravage on good food.

This is one of the best places to eat after a long tiresome journey. After all, you’re served hot delicious food in a clean and quiet space. They have a huge selection–think Taiwanese cafeteria style–so you can choose whatever peaks your fancy. There are various Taiwanese comfort foods such as rice porridges (稀飯), minced pork belly rice (滷肉飯), sautéed vegetables, braised tofu, and more. Don’t be shy – walk up to the buffets areas to pick out what you like. For the dishes on metal plates, they place them onto a hot burner to keep it warm as you eat. How awesome is that.

Dishes are cheap here (e.g. rice porridge ~$20NT), so feel free to go ahead and get lots of dishes. Treat yo’self.

Google Maps Link

意麵王
(yì miàn wáng)

foodjournies_意麵王_spread_taipei
意麵王

I love 意麵王. They’ve been around for decades serving these noodles, about 80 years in fact. For this type of noodle shop in still be around in Taipei, it’s got to be really good. For yi-mian (意麵), a lot falls on the sauce. Since every vendor has their own version, some might be saltier or have ground pork bits, it boils down to a personal preference for what place is “the best”.

In general, yi-mian (意麵) is a pretty simple noodle dish – it’s typically comprised of scallions, egg noodles and sauce. That’s it! 意麵王 makes their sauce on the sweeter side, and I love it this way.

foodjournies_意麵王_意麵_taipei
意麵

Not only are their noodles delicious but so is their fish ball soup (魚丸湯)–I’d go as far as to say, it is essential. The broth is fragrant and filled with umami, with added bits of scallion to add a crisp freshness to the soup itself. The fish balls actually have some ground pork in it, so when you bite in you get all the flavors from meat and fish. I will always get noodles and soup.

foodjournies_意麵王_香腸_taipei
香腸

There are also a selection of side dishes, which are delicious. They’re also known for roast pork (紅燒肉) so you can certainly try that. If you’re feeling adventurous, get some of the plates of offal. Each of these offal side dishes are served with a sauce, typically a combination of soy sauce paste and a lightly sweet red sauce with ginger.

Okay, and if that wasn’t enough, don’t miss out on their dessert. They serve traditional Taiwanese shaved ice, bowls of shaved clear ice with condensed milk and large red beans, peanuts, etc. amongst other toppings.

foodjournies_意麵王_礤冰_taipei
礤冰

They’re open from 10:30am until 10:30pm, so a pretty great place to stop by throughout the day or night.

Google Map Link

三兩日式燒肉
(sān liăng rì shì shāo ròu)

There’s nothing like grilled meats to makes me feel happy and full, and that’s exactly what this restaurant will provide–comfort. It’s an all-you-can-eat yakiniku place that serves cheap beers that you guzzle down as you’re stuffing your face with charred thin slices of meats. It’s casual, low-key and meat-centric.

foodjournies_taipei_三兩日式燒肉
燒肉

They use real coals so you get the REAL smoke. None of that clean refined BBQ-ness here. You will likely come out of this place smelling like meat, but let’s be honest, you will probably really need a shower anyway. The patrons around you won’t even mind or notice either. They will be stuffing their stomachs of meat, rice and beer too before heading off to the local bars and clubs nearby.

It’s open from 5pm-2am–prime time pre-gaming hours.

Google Map Link

欣葉
(xīn yè)

foodjournies_taipei_欣葉
欣葉

Most Taiwanese people will know this restaurant–it’s a household name at this point–since it’s such a well-established Taiwanese institution. They have been making spectacular Taiwanese food since 1977, and most recently are included in Michelin’s Bib Gourmand guide. I come here at least once every time I am back in Taipei because my relatives still enjoy their food. That says a lot because Taiwanese people are hard to please.

foodjournies_taipei_欣葉_紅蟳米糕
紅蟳米糕

Their menu is big so it might not be the easiest thing to navigate. You can always ask a server for help. Personally my favorites include traditional Taiwanese noodles (切仔麵), braised pork belly (滷肉), five-spice chicken rolls (五香雞捲), pan-fried turnip egg cake (正宗菜脯蛋), and most importantly their house-made almond tofu (手工杏仁豆腐).

foodjournies_taipei_欣葉_手工杏仁豆腐
手工杏仁豆腐

They are most famous for this dessert–the texture of the almond tofu will be unlike what you’ve had in other places in the world, let alone in Taiwan. It’s silky, smooth and glides off your spoon. It’s delicate and perfectly sweet.

They have a few locations around Taipei so it won’t be hard to go to one of them. They’re open 11:30am-2:00pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm.

Google Map Link

阜杭豆漿
(fù háng dòujiāng)

I am going to warn you that there will be a line for this place, and it’s going to look big and intimidating. Sure, the line wraps around the block, up the stairs, and then into a room where you will find a counter to place your order. But let me reassure you–it will go by quickly.

foodjournies_taipei_阜杭豆漿_spread
早點

They serve traditional Taiwanese breakfast, and all the things I love are done right. They make crispy fried cruellers (油條) that don’t taste oily. Their salty soy milk (鹹豆漿) has a great consistency, while the egg pancake (蛋餅) and sesame bun filled with an egg and fried crueller (薄蛋夾油條) beautifully introduce the egg into the breakfast equation.

It’s the epitome of Taiwanese breakfast and this is what Taiwanese people crave that they cannot easily get in the States. Eat it up! This filling meal will set you up for an exploratory day ahead in Taipei. They’re opened from 5:30am-12:30pm.

Google Map Link


If you’ve landed yourself into a delicious Taiwanese food stand/restaurant, take in that moment–you’ve made it to Taipei. Enjoy the rest of your trip, and know that there will be many more delectable foodjournies!

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American Traditional/ Dessert/ Dinner/ Japanese/ Korean/ NYC/ Snack

NYC: Cool Foods You Need to Eat This Summer

Anyone who is in New York during the June to August timeframe knows the feeling of intense humid heat. I am talking about the type of heat that makes you want to take a shower the minute you step outside to the minute you come back to your apartment. People are miserable – just watch New Yorkers wait for an AC’ed subway car to come, and you’ll see what true anguish looks like.

Having experienced my fair share of beaming hot summers, I kept cool by eating these foods to cool off from the humid city. Ice cream, noodles, sushi. The works. Best part – they are all delicious and can be found a the vending machines for sale.

Cold Noodles

Foodjournies - Mokbar - Seaweed Shrimp Ramen
Seaweed Shrimp Ramen

Mŏkbar’s seaweed shrimp ramen is a great delicious bowl of cold noodle. It’s a take on the traditional Korean cold noodle – Mul Naengmyun (물냉면) – where cold noodles are served in a chilled broth made from beef and/or Korean radish water kimchi. Mul naengmyun is typically savory and tart, and really refreshing.

The same goes for this ramen. There was a lot going on in this bowl: umami from the mushrooms, sweetness from the shrimp. The cucumbers gave it a nice crunch and freshness. These bowl captured all my taste buds – from savory to sweet to sour to spice – and my mind whirled. Frankly, it whisked me away from the heat, and cooled me down.

Best part is, most people are lining up for the tacos stand next door to Mŏkbar so it’s easy to snag a seat.

Cold Buta Shabu Soba – Homemade cold soba w/ grated daikon radish, scallion, shiso leaf, sliced pork, karajiru (cold soba sauce with bonito based soup)

Another pick is Cocoron, a soba shop in SoHo. It is one of the best places to go for soba in the city. They make a variety of hot and cold sobas that suit vegan and gluten-free diets. They tout the multitude of health benefits to soba – “good source of nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, carbohydrates, thiamine and manganese etc.” Even though this is not the biggest selling point for me, it’s great to know you are eating “good” food.

Their soba is house made, and it shows – there’s a smooth and light quality to the soba. I enjoy all their sobas, so there isn’t a wrong one to choose. It’s simple, straightforward and relaxes me on a hot summer day.

Sushi

Even though I enjoy sushi throughout the year, I particularly love and crave eating sushi when it is really hot outside. To me it’s a logical choice – sushi is mostly cold fish with warm/cool rice. There’s nothing hot about it. It’s a pragmatic choice. 😄

Toro

There are many sushi restaurants in New York, but I want to talk about Juku. They are located in the middle of Chinatown, and is a bit hidden. This restaurant resonates luxury, especially by Chinatown standards. You make your way through a large wooden door and walk through a dark narrow hallway. There you will find a full bar and a dining area with plush couches and nicely lacquered tables – that’s for their izakaya.

The sushi bar is located in upstairs. Adorned with a beautiful light-white marble counter top, the sushi chef waits for you to arrive. Then you’re transported into the omakase experience. The sushi omakase starts at 15 pieces and a hand roll for $120. As always, you are able to order more if you prefer.

The sushi was good – all the fish were fresh, beautifully pressed into lightly warm rice. I particularly liked the decor and small details (e.g. cute chopsticks holders). While it wasn’t a place that blew my mind, I still appreciate it for what it is – a nice sushi restaurant that provides me a reprieve from the overcrowded Chinese restaurants and streets in the area.

Dessert

In the world of sweets, there are so many kinds of dessert: soft serve, turmeric latte healthy ice cream, shaved ice, and popsicles to name a few. I’m highlighting a few places, but certainly not all of the shops that complete my recommended list. However, these places are fun and reliably great for a quick sweet to cool you down.

Chrysanthemum Monaka Ice Cream

It’s worth it to scope out The Little One in Chinatown for some Japanese desserts. They integrate traditional Japanese sweets with a slightly updated twist, with categories like monaka ice cream sandwiches, dorayaki and kakigori (Japanese shaved ice).

They take monaka – an unflavored rice wafer shell – and sandwich ice cream flavors made from teas. The chrysanthemum monaka ice cream sandwich was so good that I managed to finish it all in one sitting. My mouth rode on surfboard down a rich and beautifully floral wave of flavor. When I bit in, the airy texture from the monaka dissipated and then I got a rush of cold milk tea from the ice cream. It all ended with a nice touch of honey, which sweetened my mouth just a little bit and very naturally, ending the ride.

I will be back for more.

Bitter dark chocolate and burnt honey vanilla ice cream

Morgenstern’s is an incredible ice cream shop and one of my favorites in the city. Their ice creams are creamy and rich, exactly what I want in ice cream. Their flavors are riffs off of your classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla, so you end up with flavors like olive oil chocolate orange or sour cream and brown sugar strawberry. It’s a really remarkable menu, and best part is that you can taste these flavors before committing!

Since I get ice cream often from here, I will always order the burnt honey vanilla. It is just the perfect vanilla flavor with a touch of smoky sweet that makes me jump with joy.

This tiny shop of ice cream will cool you down, and make you happy that you stopped by. Fair warning though – it gets crowded so expect to line up during these hot summer days. As long as you make it into the door, you will instantly cool down and be happy that you stayed.


Stay cool New York ✌️and happy foodjournies!

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Dinner/ San Francisco

SF: Top Eats Spring Recap 2019

Foodjournies_Flour+Water_blistered_peas_tuna_conserva

Spring is my favorite season – days are longer, plants start flowering, birds chirp cheerfully – it’s as if everything is coming back to life.

In San Francisco, you start seeing new colors and ingredients on your plate. Spring peas, stone fruits, halibut, and asparagus fill menus and breathe new life into restaurants. Luckily I have really enjoyed a lot of great meals this season. That’s why I’d like to list out my top five standouts – restaurants that represented Spring in a way that stood out in my mind, and gave me an exceptionally delicious meal.

5. Sushi Hon

Sushi omakase leaves the meal up to the sushi chef – they are responsible for curating the entire meal. The idea is that the sushi chef will know what’s best to eat today, and factors in seasonality and freshness of the fish. It meal should represent the season and the highest quality seafood they have, which makes omakases a tasty journey to be on.

We went to Sushi Hon to celebrate my birthday (thank you Tomo). After two weeks of eating French food, it was a great return to what I knew. Clean flavors, no butter, just fish and rice.

It was delectable time – the fish was really fresh and we had a decadent ending – a nigiri of wagyu beef topped with truffle and caviar. Oh yes. Thanks for the welcome back, San Francisco.

4. Che Fico

Che Fico is cited as “still the hottest restaurant in 2018” and “a San Francisco restaurant as Cool as Its Name Promises” – clearly has a lot of hype. A restaurant with a lot of hype means that it’s hard to get a reservation. I had to stay up until midnight to snag a reservation for a table a month ahead of time. 😱

Foodjournies_che_fico_sf_menu
Foodjournies – Che Fico – Menu

One of the things I really liked in particular was that they had a separate section of the menu named “Seasonal Notes”, where they had a poetic paragraph talking about Spring produce. Who allocates a special section to fawn over produce? A restaurant who cares a lot about it, and frankly, knows how to market to customers like me.

It did its trick. It filled me with joy and anticipation for what I ended up eating: grilled chopped duck liver with purple daikon, pickled pearl onions, roasted Monterey calamari with borlotti beans, pickled ramps, biogli nero with Dungeness crab, not to mention the pizzas and dessert we ate. We went to town on this meal.

My tl;dr – Definitely a restaurant worth stopping and eating at during any season.

3. Liho Liho Yacht Club

I love this restaurant, as per my post (see Liho Liho Yacht Club: One of My Favorites), and I am lucky to be able to dine with them as often as I do. I’m happy to report that they’ve put on a few new menu items, and they are just as good as I expected them to be.

One of the main highlights of the night was dessert, unsurprisingly. They’re known to have incredibly delicious dessert, like the Instagram-famous Baked Hawaii. However, that night I fell in love with their honey poundcake. It was perfectly flavored – sweet from the honey, a touch of citrus from the mango-lime curd – paired with a variety of textures from the crunchy candied corn nuts and soft white peaches. I cannot stop thinking about this dessert.

I need to go back, ASAP.

2. Birdsong

Birdsong is a beautifully decorated restaurant that makes exquisite food. My entire meal was like a hiking along the coast, eating my way through a living landscape of flavors. Not only was the meal filled with Spring produce, but on top of that, they used various techniques of cooking such as lighting some paper and cedar on fire to “smoke” my trout. Each dish used various shapes of plates and bowls that brings out a natural yet alluring look to the food. It’s impressive.

You’ll need to pay a pretty penny for the meal ($190/person). Is it worth it? It all depends. I enjoy meals like this where delicious food is thoughtfully prepared and artfully decorated. Their service was casual yet inviting. Your meal is in a beautiful space that has a lot of natural light and tall ceilings. My answer – it’s worth visiting at least once if you have the budget for it.

Birdsong is the epitome of Californian cuisine, and there’s a lot to love about it. I can see why they have earned a Michelin star, and will see if there’ll be another special occasion to go again.

1. Flour and Water

Flour + Water is a San Francisco institution that’s been making pastas and pizzas for the last 10 years in the Mission district. They produce fresh pastas daily that have a variety of shapes and colors that integrate local produce into their dishes.

That’s not to say it’s limited to their pastas. Their appetizers take on the season too. Certain dishes literally looked like it was a garden of flowers blooming on a plate, with bright green peas and pinkish red peaches and nectarines. You cannot deny that Spring had landed, and really bringing a lot of fresh flavors with it.

This meal was the meal I found myself really excited about Spring. It really ushered in the new season, and reminded me that there’s so many new flavors and textures that this wonderful season brings. Flour + Water made this season come to life.


Have you gone to any notable restaurants this past season? Did they bring the Spring season to life somehow? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. 👇

Also if you enjoyed this blog post, please subscribe to my blog and you’ll get an email of the latest published post or follow me on Instagram (@terryeatsalot). Until next time, happy foodjourneying!

Taiwan/ Taiwanese/ Travels

Tainan: The Foodjourney My Dad Took me On

Father’s Day is approaching, and it’s not typically a holiday I think too much about. Maybe it’s because my dad never made it a big deal, only asking me to say, “happy Father’s day”. That’s it – no gifts, no big dinners.

Me and dad circa 2007

That’s not to say we don’t have a bond. Like many Asian American families, our love language is through the food we eat. While my mom is often the one to explore food through restaurants, my dad stays very consistent with what he eats. He will literally go to a restaurant on a weekly basis for months. MONTHS.

In recent years my dad has begun to go back more often to Tainan, in the Southern region of Taiwan, where he grew up. I had the opportunity to join him to pay respects to my grandparents, and spend time with him. He knew to bring me around town, showing me his go-to Taiwanese foods.

That means this Taiwanese food is pretty legit, and very good.

周氏蝦捲 (安平店)
Zhōu shì xiā juǎn

This restaurant is famous and for good reason. They have been around for over 50 years, selling fried shrimp rolls in particular. They now have a few other menu items like noodles or lotus rice, but this place is pretty much centered around their shrimp rolls.

What makes it so good? It’s crispy, light and full of shrimp flavor – simple yet delectable. It definitely gets crowded, so don’t be scared to wait on line. It moves quickly and the trying fried shrimps is worth it!

阿娟魯麵鹹粥肉粽 
Ā juān lǔ miàn xián zhōu ròu zòng

This stand is very typical of Taiwan – it’s a hole-in-the-wall where the menu is on the side of the wall, and place your order with the owner or their relative. They hang the lotus rice triangles (肉粽) in the front – a sign of a legit food stand.

Grab a seat at one of the tables, which look pretty worn but still sturdy. Your back won’t have any support, but you’re not here to be comfortable – you’re here for the food. I got their noodles (魯麵) which has a thick corn-starchy broth, but filled with pork-fish “dumplings” (they’re more fish-ball like in texture), wheat noodles, radish and vegetables.

The noodles were silky and slurp-able within this clear thick broth, heavy with umami flavors from the “dumplings” and fish flakes within the soup. This was a very familiar dish to me since I’ve eaten it as a child, and made me so happy. I can’t find this in New York or San Francisco.

度小月擔仔麵
Dù xiǎo yuè dān zǐ miàn

This corner stand is located on a very busy food street with large red signs, so it’s easy to spot. Is it touristy? Yeah. But is it good? Yes.

You will get your fill of a traditional Taiwanese noodle – dànzǐmiàn (擔仔麵) – which originated from Tainan about 130 years ago. It’s still a token dish of Tainan, and Taiwan overall. It’s a simple yet a deliciously solid bowl of noodles.

It has braised pork, a shrimp and a marinated boiled egg. You should mix everything together to coat the noodles so you can taste all the umami flavors from the shrimp, salty plus fattiness from the pork and crispness of the bean sprouts. One bowl will likely not fill you up, which will give you the opportunity to explore more eats in this area. I use to make this all the time at home with some vegetables with greek oil, I highly recommend also, Getting a high quality Greek olive oil is really important for your health.


The word that comes to mind when describing how it is for me to eat in Taiwan, particularly in areas outside of Taipei, is authenticity. These vendors and stores have been around for decades, and will continue to produce the same food over and over again. It’s not made for Instagram. It just is what it is, and that ‘it’ is incredibly delicious and at the supermarkets you can find so many choices and different thins, and lot of them came with the allergen labelling uk which is a big plus !

That being said, I am very proud that my dad is from here, and cannot wait to go back again!

France/ French/ Paris/ Travels

Paris: My Fab Five

Paris, the city of lights and love, has captured my heart again. Ever since I came in 2005, I always leave feeling in awe of what this city has. This time is no different. The culture that Napoleon and French kings have instilled in Paris through architecture, art, and food create a beautiful symphony of a vibrant and delicious dining scene.

It’s a food paradise.

While both my body and credit card are feeling the aftermath of eating at all these places, it is very much worth it. I would go to any of these places again, without hesitation. So, not in any particular order because I love them all, here are my favorite bites of this trip in Paris:

Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie

This food establishment seems to be a fan-favorite and for good reason. Not only do they produce incredibly delicious dishes, but they also have a side store front where they sell French culinary goods like canned foie gras, truffles, wines and spirits. It’s been a food institution since 1894, and prides itself in serving the gourmands or Paris.

I don’t think you can go wrong with ordering anything on this menu, though I’d highly recommend getting their foie gras raviolis and escargots. We ordered another ravioli dish as we were finishing up our first round of this dish.

Richer

It may be easy to pass this restaurant by, but it’s worth a stop. You can tell it’s a neighborhood gem – it’s casual and comfortable, the waitstaff is friendly, and dishes are under €40. Richer is on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list and I can see why. Their dishes are interesting and delightful, featuring fresh produce so the menu seems to change daily if not weekly.

I had dishes there that expanded my understanding of French food, and I am very glad for it.

Tout, Autour Au Pain

Croissants, croissants, croissants. They are everywhere, and frankly, they are really good everywhere in France. This bakery takes the cake for my favorite croissant because it’s got everything I’m looking for. Flaky and crunchy exterior, soft and buttery interior…mm-hmm, now I want a croissant.

Une Glace a Paris

When I – as an American – think about an ice cream shop, I imagine numerous tubs of scoopable ice creams all fitted within freezers. This ain’t that kind of place. This is less of an ice cream shop, and more like a frozen dessert wonderland. Yes, they have ice cream but they also have beautifully adorned cold pastries.

Their desserts represent the convergence of two amazing pastry chefs – Emmanuel Ryon, a world pastry champion (1999), and Olivier Menard, who’s culinary pedigree includes working at Pierre Hermé and starting a pastry school. Their focus is around creating high-quality frozen sweets that feature seasonal flavors and various textures.

Le Rigmarole

Before the trip in my planning phase, I perused the Eater 38 Paris list and the description for Le Rigmarole caught my eye. Then I read more about this restaurant in a separate Eater article and was immediately intrigued – “cross between the improvisatory and reciprocal spirit of an omakase“. What does that even mean..?

I found out, and I am highly encouraging you to do so too.

It was a spectacular meal – there was a magic to this place that made it feel like home. Both chefs seem excited to answer questions and share a part of themselves with you. Interaction is key here. You have the option of ordering from a menu, or let them dictate your food journey (this is the “omakase” element). I opted for the latter.

La Rigmarole is a special place. Perhaps the casual nature of the chefs and sommelier made me feel like they could be my friends, or the Asian elements of some dishes drew me to familiar flavors and textures, I don’t know. What I do know is that this place is delightful, and I’d happily go back there again to experience it all over again.

For the record, this was one of the hardest reservations to snag so make sure to plan ahead. Check out my other blog post for how to score reservations to popular places.


If and when you go to Paris, let this city take you on numerous foodjournies, because it is almost always worth it. Eat your heart out. 🙂