NYC: Barbuto

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

775 Washington St
New York, NY 10014

(212) 924-9700

Despite my love for something so simple as a perfectly tender roasted chicken with a crisped skin delicately draped in its own sticky fat and the knowledge that Barbuto is famous for making an extremely respectable roasted chicken, I found myself most willing to let go of this reservation on my weekend New York trip because it simply seemed the least interesting in comparison to the sea of unique experiences available there.  We kept our reservations anyway although my mind was distracted with memories of the intricate nature of my meal at WD~50 the night prior and filled with expectations of David Chang’s meal later that evening.  I was too busy hung up on the tenacious memory of Ssam Bar’s simple yet immensely flavorful duck bowl from a previous visit, and I was curious to try some of the things I had recreated from the Momofuku cookbook to see how they compared.  What about all the more obscure Asian dishes that I was likely to find in New York that I can’t as easily find at home?  So many things kept my mind busy, and all I could think was how even chicken even at the hand of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon had lately disappointed me.  So I took my seat in the casual, yet chic space lit by virtue of the garage-style bank of windows that allowed much light to enter and reflect gently off of the cream tiled walls and industrial metal accents.  And oddly enough once the food arrived, I found my thoughts of other foods dissolved once I began to marvel at Barbuto’s fare for reasons of its simple, yet comforting flavors in a way that I didn’t expect to be so inspiring.

This simple-looking salad ended up being quite inspiring to me. Click here to read more.


NYC: WD~50

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

50 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002

(212) 477-2900

I recently had the luxury of being spoiled with my first elaborate tasting menu at WD~50, a place known for molecular gastronomy, deconstruction of classic flavors, and other whimsical stylings that’s been in NYC’s lower east side since 2003 and held on to a Michelin star since 2006.  To many, it’s a culinary mecca of this style of food, and Chef Wylie Dufresne and his talented crew are well equipped to expertly guide you through either a 6 or 12 course tasting menu of their accomplishments.  While excited to go here, I was a bit conflicted due to the hype as there’s always that fear of being disappointed at such a high price tag, but if anything, my refusal to build up too much excitement ended up working out in my favor as I was able to experience each dish without expectations.

Also of note, they seem quite accommodating to food preferences and allergies tailoring courses all the way to vegetarian, but not quite to vegan–to quote another similar restaurant on the matter of pairing down a tasting menu to vegan restrictions, “I’m sure it wouldn’t be worth it anyway.”  Of course that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with eating that way, but in an environment that celebrates creativity and diversity of food, you’re best off eating whatever they choose to serve you without hesitance.  I ordered the menu with no restrictions, and here is my dialogue of the 12 course tasting that was presented to me in November of 2012.

the duck blind

Scotch, sherry, smoked maple, cocoa oil

This is just the drink! Click here to read about the full 12 courses at WD~50

Charleston Eats: EVO

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

1075 E Montague Ave
North Charleston, SC 29405

I managed to make a trip out here on my fairly short visit to Charleston.  I recalled seeing EVO featured for their use of fresh, local ingredients and their namesake “Extra Virgin Oven” wood-fired pizzas.  It seemed straightforward and charming enough of a concept that their presence stuck in my head, and I figured that this place might be worth investigating if I ever found myself with the time and the stomach space during my trip (a rare commodity amongst the many great restaurants to explore in the area).  That day, I was craving something lighter after all the heavy food I’d been consuming, and some quick research led me to notice that their salads looked divine.  I soon ended up in the small and refreshingly quaint historical district of North Charleston checking out a quick lunchtime sample of a daily special salad and one of their pizzas.

Click here to see more about EVO’s awesome salad and to check out their pizza as well

First Taste: Yebo.

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

3500 Peachtree Rd
Suite 1096B
Atlanta, GA 30342

Yebo (yeah-bō), a “South African informal expression of affirmation: Zulu for yes, I agree, hello,” sets the tone for a casual introduction to South African food a new tapas-style South African restaurant.  This restaurant and lounge recently popped up in Phipps Plaza taking over a location on the edge of a mall with a nice patio area that’s seen a few other restaurants come and go. It’s the tapas-style sister of 10 Degrees South featuring “South African fare with a bit of a twist.” A glance at the menu reveals this twist to be partially southern American cuisine by way of shrimp &  grits, chicken livers, bread pudding, and fried chicken (although arguably some of these things are African in nature to begin with).  I was intrigued by Yebo.’s promise of melding these cuisines and was looking forward to their flavor combinations as I think of South African food as having dynamic spices incorporated from parts of Africa as well as Indonesian, Malaysian, Indian, French, German cuisine among many others.  I warmed to the idea of this place immediately and was anxious to try it out for myself when I was offered the option of dining there.

Click here to see how Yebo.’s fusion pans out

Miso Izakaya’s Ramen Lunch

September 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

I am by no means an expert on ramen, but I have been spoiled in that I’ve had the opportunity to have a few fantastic bowls of a few types in both Tokyo and Taipei.  This privilege has been both a blessing and a curse as it’s left me with an insatiable craving for something equally as good closer to home as well as established some lofty standards for everything else to measure up to.  The bowls of ramen I had overseas were not my first specimens–I began my search around Atlanta at Shoya Izakaya and Yakitori Jinbei–but what I experienced on that side of the world really were something magical and set the tone for outstanding broth, tender pork, and pristine garnishes.  I have since tried ramen here at Tomo, Raku, and Umaido.  Some where better than others (one in particular I had no desire to finish), but none came close enough to my memories to truly satisfy me.

I have heard tales of the ramen at Miso Izakaya on occasional late nights, but I wasn’t up to date enough with social media to be aware and generally I wasn’t prepared to fight a crowd for it.  As soon as it seemed to have appeared, it faded away with the announcement that it was too much work to serve with everything else.  Fortunately enough, they have very recently opened up a lunch service there where they only serve ramen so constantly checking twitter and fighting crowds for the elusive ramen are unnecessary.  Although they will still potentially run out of broth at some point, but as far as I could gather that seems to be by 1:30 during their first week of opening which is not intimidating.

So I finally took the time to check out a bowl today.  Despite all the accolade, I honestly wasn’t expecting much based on my other experiences here.  So how did this bowl measure up?

Click here to see how Miso Izakaya’s ramen stacks up

Quick Bite: Bento Cafe’s Taiwanese Offerings Near Atlanta

June 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Bento Cafe
5495 Jimmy Carter Blvd # A4 Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 300-9798

Since I happened to be nearby one day, I grabbed a quick lunch at one of the few places near Atlanta that serves up some Taiwanese fare.  I had actually been to Bento Cafe for a bubble tea a while back and at the time, I didn’t even realize that they had a fairly large menu outside of their extensive drink and boba menu.  Since I’ve experienced some of the food in Taiwan, I’ve been hoping to re-experience some of the same flavors closer to home and this was one of the few places that seemed worth checking out.

Sadly, service was a little awkward and I was mostly ignored by the scattered server after I was seated.  I knew I wanted to try either lu rou fan (rice and gravy) or niu rou mian (beef noodle soup) or at least something like it.  I tried asking my server about the dishes, but there was a communication barrier and I ended up keeping it simple by ordering a lunch plate that resembled lu rou fan in nature and hoping for the best.

Read more about my experience with some Taiwanese food near Atlanta here

Maokong: Dan Zai Mian Lunch, Gondolas & Tieguanyin Tea

June 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the many destinations that I was most interested in involved visiting Maokong (貓空), an area just outside of Taipei lush with terraced tea plantations and tea houses with scenic overlooks of the landscape and the Taipei skyline.  One of the best ways to get to that area is by taking the subway to the gondolas that travel across the rolling lush terrain to the zoo, a temple, and the tea houses of Maokong.  Of course, make sure that you haven’t planned this trip on a Monday as we had as the gondola is apparently closed on Mondays to keep up with maintenance.  Before our second venture out in an attempt to see the tea terraces, we decided to have an early lunch in Taipei on the way out.

We decided to stop at one of the oldest places for Taiwan style noodles:  dan zai mian at Slack Season Noodles.

No. 12, Alley 8, Lane 216, ZhongXiao E. Rd, Sec. 4
(02) 2773-1244

Read more about our lunch and experience in Maokong here