Monday, June 29, 2009

Gold-Laced Sake Tea Being Served in the Lower East Side!

Ken Hamazaki is an artist that is especially dear to my heart. I was introduced to him years ago while in Kyoto at my friend's café. As part of their five year anniversary party, they had Ken-chan (who is a old friend of my friend) come and perform the "Red Tea Ceremony" at the party. It was projected real-time onto a huge wall in the café and onto the street. It was a really amazing experience. It was amazing to now be here in NY years later experiencing it all over again. This very traditional and humbling experience, has been displaced from Japan onto the dirty streets of the Lower East Side.

Ken Hamazaki is currently having a solo exhibition at the Kumukumu Gallery on Rivington. It is a show called "Gratefull Red" which is a play on the Grateful Dead's classic American music iconography. It's a series of red on red canvases with very subtle designs that are barely painted on the surface. It was only for this opening reception that Ken-chan was performing his famous "Red Tea Ceremony" on the sidewalk outside the gallery. All were welcome to come and experience this traditional tea ceremony. The one exception, is that his tea, is not tea, it is traditional matcha mixed with nihon-shu (sake) instead of water, so it was crazy strong! It's especially funny watching the Japanese people that don't know it's alcohol get taken aback when they sip the tea! He even threw in a extra special touch this time, a gold flake into each serving. Very posh, must have been really expensive! It was amazing to see all the passerby's stop and observe this unusual and very special moment.

Kumukumu Gallery
42 Rivington (between Forstyth + Eldridge St)
New York, NY

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Beyond Sushi.

We felt like the luckiest girls in the world the other night after being invited by Chef Hirata to the most amazing sushi dinner! All the way up at E 47th street, tucked away down a few stairs is this simple small sushi restaurant! (obviously known by local chefs ;) We were blown away by the amazing omakase dinner! I apologize in advance for the obscenely long entry.

We started with a great duck salad and a plate of hamachi, served carpaccio style. This was ridiculous, it had a small bit of RED yuzukocho on top! I've never ever even heard of red yuzukocho. It's usually green-yellow and the citrus taste is impossible to miss! I LOVE yuzu! We also had a tempura dish made up of tiny whole fish, you could see their frozen faces through the fried batter... they were so yummy, like popping french fries.. but with heads and tails!

We then had tuna sashimi in okura and yamaimo. Yamaimo, is the super sticky Japanese mountain potato that gets mixed up until its a verty particular consistency. (and had very interesting uses back in Japanese Edo period ;) It usually gets served alongside raw tuna. In this case they mixed it with okura to make it even more gooey. It's definitely not for beginners but I find the texture interesting (in small doses)! So after the meal had already blown my mind we moved into the sushi, which is what this restaurant is known for!

We dove (head first) into an insane sushi platter, with some crazy fresh fish... the toro and salmon were like butter, the hamachi was heavenly and the uni was sweet like candy! Everything was amazing! Next, we were each given each our own plate of nigiri, choice of the chef, from tuna tataki, to aji, to sake, and finishing off with anago as the last piece to eat. It was lovely and perfectly balanced. We finished off (or so we thought) with a lovely bowl of ume udon to share, which had two ume-boshi (picked plums) in the broth giving it a slightly sour taste! I love anything ume taste too. Hirata-san picked everything perfectly.

And just as we were about to fold up our napkins, we were hit with yet another sushi plate! (compliments of the chef there!) It was ridiculous but it couldn't be wasted! Apparently, it was three pieces of some of the best sushi around. I had never had any of them before. All three were pink and so fresh looking, a kind of beautiful gradating colour scheme. The first was "aka mutsu", the second "shima aji" and the third was "ishi dai". From left to right, it went from a softer lighter taste to heavier as you go right. You finish on the heaviest one. They were all unique and amazing.

With all the incredible sake we drank and all the amazing fresh fish we ate, we left floating... High on fresh raw fish feeling so full but so healthy... and SO happy.

141 E 47th St
New York, NY
(212) 207-1938

It's Teariffic!

Being from Vancouver, I of course love bubble tea! Of all the bubble tea I have had in my life, this was actually the first time I ever had it warm! I had the black sesame milk tea. It was super tasty. Teariffic is a cozy little café in Chinatown and a perfect way to end the day after dinner in Chinatown.

51 Mott St. (between Bayard St & Pell St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 393-9009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Malaysian Sensation!

My token Singaporean friend, Nick is a big foodie too and he's the man when it comes to Malaysian food. He took me this spot in Chinatown for some yummy Malaysian eats. Although he says the food in Singapore destroys any of the Malaysian food here in NY, this spot holds him over. I think I have to agree with him that the food is better here than at Nyonya. It's hard to do a direct comparison, but the Roti Canai was definitely better! The roti at New Malaysia has a very different texture, not crispy and airy, but rather chewy and more crepe-like. I found it to be more satisfying and soaked up the curry sauce better! We ordered chicken satay to start, which was topped with a great peanut sauce! Then the wide rice noodles with beef in a brown sauce.... super naughty and delicious! They mix in gailan and egg, which makes it even more gooey and saucy... LOVED IT! We also had the crispy fried flounder fish. It was also great with a tasty sauce. As you can see we ordered WAY too much food, so we pretty much rolled out of there in pain. But it was so worth it!

New Malaysia Restaurant
48 Bowery (between Bayard St & Canal St)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 964-0284

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Throw Me A Bean!

I have been meaning to post this for some time now. Chris, aka Peanut Butter Wolf, gave this to me at his show while he in New York wrapping up their recent U.S. Tour. Intelligentsia, a famous Chicago-based coffee spot with several locations in LA, created a custom blend for Stones Throw for their recent U.S. Tour. I'm dying to try their coffee but I want to keep this package in nice condition. It may be a collectors item someday!

Stones Throw

Intelligentsia Coffee

Dumpling Crawl!

Last weekend I went on a crazy dumpling-eating marathon! It was a whole group of foodies that get together and go to the top chinese dumpling spots in Chinatown! It was awesome because I have my standard favourites but we got taken to six different spots, NONE of which I had been to before! They were all really good and super cheap! My favourites was our first stop, Sweet Spring Dumpling and our last stop, Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle & Dumpling. Vanessa's was really good too, especially the duck sesame sandwich, which isn't technically a dumpling but we were advised to order it. By the fifth and sixth spot, we were all feeling way too full and were down to 1-2 dumpling each just to try. It was an intense experience and I felt like I might actually turn into a dumpling... but it was SO worth it! The last place, Lam Zhou, was especially amazing because it had the most local feel to it and no front sign in English and a guy pulling the noodles by hand in front of us! We ordered a bowl of the noodles too to all share, just to try and they were delicious! They had this interesting green chopped green garnish that they called "mustard" and it was meant to be added to the noodles. The steamed dumplings were great and also felt very handmade. The taste was really different than the other places, because they put ginger inside with the meat! I can't wait to go back and hit up all my favourites!

Sweet Spring Dumpling
25 Catherine St
New York, NY

Fried Dumpling
106 Mosco St
New York, NY
(212) 693-1060

Tasty Dumpling
54 Mulberry St
New York, NY
(212) 349-0070

New Wonton Garden
56 Mott St
New York, NY
(212) 966-4886

Vanessa's Dumpling House
118 Eldridge St,
New York, NY 10002

Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle & Dumpling
144 E Broadway (btwn Pike St & Rutgers St)
New York, NY 10002