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Needle In A Haystack

  • c
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Hope you will have patience with my tale but I just discovered this site (article in Hartford Courant) and thought someone might be able to help. I was an assistant buyer at Lord & Taylor from 1976-79 and a place that my boyfriend (now husband) and I used to treat ourselves to was Maison Japonaise on the corner of 39th & Lex. It was a kind of French-Asian fusion place before the style became trendy, and our favorite dish was something called Chicken Flambe'. Actually, there was nothing 'flambe' about it, it was boneless chicken with a delicious creamy sauce that had an ingredient that my young, untrained palate couldn't identify. It was served with sauteed bean sprouts and something else that I can't remember (do the math - it was 28 years ago!). We left the city in 1979 for the suburbs of Connecticut and went back to the restaurant once or twice in the early 80s.

Fast forward 19 years to 1998, and I have just bought the gift shop I worked at since 1988, and I have travelled to the New York Gift Show with the previous owners who would be helping me with my first "buy". They said they were going to make reservations for dinner at a place they always ate at when they came to town for the gift show, (you guessed it) Maison Japonaise! After a few good laughs about the coincidence, and wondering if they still had my favorite on the menu, we arrived at the new location, a few doors down from the old. Of course they had Chicken Flambe on the menu with the same bean sprouts, etc. Of course I ordered it and was transported back to my twenties (we all know what a strong association taste and smell have with memory!). And the ingredient I hadn't been able to figure out was a hint of cinnamon in the sauce. Everyone loved their dinners and I returned home with plans to return the next time I was in the city.

A year goes by and I am coming in for the gift show and make plans to meet my cousin at Maison Japonaise for dinner. I call to make a reservation to find that the number has been disconnected. They are GONE! Was it like Brigadoon, rising from the mist of the past for one last meal of Chicken Flambe'?

My question to all of you is, do you have any suggestions as to how to recreate this dish, or find anyone from the restaurant that does know the recipe?
I hope I haven't misused the resources of this site, but it seems like you're a bunch of friendly folk who might be able to point me in the right direction!

Thanks in advance!

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  1. La Maison Japonaise Restaurant 125 E 39th St New York NY 10016 (212) 682-7375
    I just googled this. Don't know how old it is but I did get this response.
    Hope it helps!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: RichK
      c
      Charlotte's Web

      I called the number and it appears to be a fax machine. Thanks anyway Rich! (sigh)

    2. I'm sorry I can't help you with your specific request, but I want to echo your affection for the place during the same period (late 1970s). I don't remember ordering the chicken flambe, though.

      1. I had dinner there once around 1995-6, I remember because they had quiche as an appetizer which I proceeded to order and it filled me up so I only picked at my entree which I think was soft-shell crabs in white wine sauce. Anyway......the "flambe" may have been done in the kitchen to burn off any excess alcohol in the sauce before serving, so you would not necessarily always get a flaming plate carried to the table in dramatic fashion. As for the sauce, I would suggest googling up recipes for flambeed sauces, perhaps you will be able to approximate what you had then. Good luck!

        1. ok here's a long shot idea....

          LA MAISON JAPONAISE, INC. is incorporated in NYS. You can order their certificate of incorporation from the Department of State and try to contact the principals or law firm that are listed.

          The CEO's name on the online corporate record abstract is HIDEKI TAKAMI. Unfortunately the address listed was the restaurant but google does have a NY address and phone # for somebody with that name.

          You decide if it's worth the effort...good luck!

          Link: http://appsext5.dos.state.ny.us/corp_...

          1. Give the owner a call.

            Hideki Takami, (631) 597-6606, Lewis Wk, Sayville, NY 11782

            1. c
              Charlotte's Web

              Thanks for all the help! I will try to contact the previous owner.

              1. If there's any chance you're getting notified about a post here 9 years later, I'd love to know if you had any luck with the recipe. It was my favorite dish there too. You're right about the cinnamon, because I asked Arthur, the Irishman who was the host and partner with the 2 Japanese owners. The chicken was lighted breaded with a little cinnamon, and the sauce had cream, mushroom, and madeira wine in it. Whether there were more ingredients or not, I don't know. This was absolutely my favorite restaurant until it closed. The chicken flambé was $5.75 when I first started going there in 1975!!