Bit(e)s and Pieces, May 2011 report
I'm in NYC for a quick visit. First meal off the train yesterday was at Momofuku Ssam and WOW. I had been to Ssam a few years ago on my last visit. I was a solo lunch diner and couldn't explore as much as I wanted to but loved the pork belly buns. I mean really, what's not to love? This time, C and I hit Ssam so that I could introduce him to the pork belly buns (v. my homemade ones) and to check out their new duck lunches. Specifically the duck over rice.
We put in a order of those two items, plus duck dumplings, broccoli salad and pickled radishes. The pork buns came first and they were just as tasty as I remembered. I nearly swooned. Then the duck on rice came, with the requested chive pancakes. Good god, I did swoon. I didn't think anything could top the pork buns, but this dish could be it. The duck was tender, and flavorful. And, the chive pancake and watercress were perfect accompaniments.
The duck dumpling soup was also very good. the meat texture was not what I expected. They really were like duck meatballs. I would have liked this dish more if I hadn't first had a bit of the duck over rice. I did find the soup a touch bland.
Lastly, the broccoli salad was a nice, lighter green to go with all the animal fat. I love Ssam and am wondering if I can convince parents to come with us for lunch on Sunday.
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Milk Bar. We went after Ssam because I had been wildly curious about crack pie. Overall, I liked it, didn't love it, and don't feel the need to go back.
We tried crack pie and the candy pie. They were tasty enough but way too sweet. After I finished my share, I definitely felt that sugar rush that would lead to a crash.
We also bought three cookies for later: blueberries and cream, cornflake chocolate chip and compost. Again, all fine. A little busy for my taste and a tad too sweet.
But, I'm glad I tried these desserts.
Momofuku Milk Bar
251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003
Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for my last lunch. I had to see what all the fuss was about. So we decided to have this as our last, in town, lunch. And, I get what the hoopla and lines are about.
So, we ordered 2 shack cheese burgers (one regular and one with no lettuce and tomatoes but with pickles and onions), fries, chocolate malted shake and the special concrete (I forget the name but it had peanuts and crushed up cone).
The line and wait for food took a bit longer than anticipated and we were in danger of missing our train back home, so we grabbed it to go and dashed to the subway. Before we entered, we each had a handful of fries and a couple of bites of the burger. We wanted to taste the foods while they were fresh and hot. We were quite sad that we had to put them away until after retrieving our luggage and got to the waiting area at Penn Station. The food was pretty cold then and the custard products were melty.
However, we enjoyed both the hot and cold bites of our food. I would have liked the concrete better if it hadn't gotten all melty causing the cones to soften up. But, that's not SS's fault but ours.
Next time, I'm going to plan on having a more relaxing meal. This is excellent fast food. I was a total and complete stress case until we got to Penn Station.
Madison Ave and E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010
Yakitori Totto for dinner. I love this place and we were last here a few years ago. This place was still great but not as good as it had been. Some of my favorite things were no longer on the menu, namely the tofu stewed in the clay pot and the fresh wasabi.
But, the chicken oysters were as delectable as ever. Crisp in the skin and the meat was just so flavorful. Also of note was the tontoro (pork), various chicken pieces and the hot pepper stuffed with chicken. I can't get over how tender all of the chicken is there.
It just goes to show, food does taste better when it's on a stick.
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019
Kyotofu for dessert tonight after a full day in Flushing. I loved this place. I was mildly intrigued mostly because of my love of tofu and its derivatives. But, we went to Kyotofu for dessert mostly because it was close to the hotel.
We split the strawberry anmitsu and the ice cream sundae with vegan brownie, fruit compote, matcha mochi and pocky. The soymilk soft serve flavors were strawberry and cream and lemon vanilla. Both were delicious. But I wanted to give a particular shout out to the matcha mochi. This stuff was amazing. I could get the swirled soft serve with a double serving of this mochi alone. Perfect combo of flavor and texture.
I'm also curious about the cupcakes. The server said that when they serve it in house, they stuff the cupcake with ice cream. I just wasn't hungry enough to go for a third dessert. But, there's always tomorrow night.
705 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019
I was disappointed with Spot. Only one of the three desserts we tried really appealed to me -- the Soft Cheesecake, which I thought was delicious. The Jackfruit Cake's flavor was not one I was familiar with. I didn't find it offensive, just o.k.. But what did surprise me was that I didn't care at all for the Yuzu Eskimo. I like citrus desserts and have had them with yuzu before. But this one didn't work for me. I found the bar's texture odd, more candy-like than ice cream-y. And the yuzu flavor didn't pack much punch.
All that said, since you've baked from Ong's cookbook, I'm sure you'll enjoy the desserts at Spot.
Spot photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
I am a huge fan of ChikaLicious. You might want to give the desserts there a try.
ChickaLicious photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...
203 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Sullivan Street Bakery
We bought a bunch of stuff for breakfast this am. And, it didn't disappoint. I've made the famous no-knead bread many times and wanted to taste more unbready items.
We had the flatbread with rosemary and sea salt, chocolate and almond croissant, banana bread, the italian donut and whole grain bread.
The banana chocolate chip bread exceeded expectations. At first I thought that the top was burnt (it was burnt looking) but when I bit into it, it gave a nice crunch (not quite the right word), before sinking into the softness of the bread. I saw visible chunks of banana and there were just the right amount of chocolate chips.
I was a little disappointed in the italian donut. But, to be fair, it was the last thing I tried, and I may have been over sugared at this point. I loved the flatbread. So simple and delicious.
Sullivan Street Bakery
533 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
Xi'an Famous Foods
67 Bayard Street
I thought this place was absolutely wonderful. I decided to try and go here on the off chance that it wouldn't be a zoo. And, we completely lucked out. But, take this report with a grain of salt: I've never tried the Flushing or the Lower Broadway location. And, the last time I was in Xi'an was in 1998.
That said, I thought this place was extremely strong, especially since it just opened. We ordered a couple of spicy lamb cumin burgers, Chang'An Spicy Tofu, tiger Vegetables, Lamb Pao Mao, Mount Qi Pork Noodles, Stewed Lamb Spine Noodles and pork burger.
I thought the pork burger was the weakest of the bunch. But, it was the last thing we ate AND I thought the lamb burger was just superb. If I had the pork burger first, I'm sure I would have been more thrilled with it. The Stewed Lamb Spine noodles were just wonderful. A bit earthier tasting than the Mount Qi noodles but it could totally stand on their own. The lamb pao mo soup was also quite good. I don't really like the pao mo bread, in general and these were a bit coarse since they were cut and not hand torn. But, the broth was amazing and the bread had clearly been soaking in the broth. I wish there were a bit more rice vermicelli noodles because that is my preferred vehicle for the broth.
The hand cut noodles were wonderful. I can't believe that many hounds ate these noodles sitting in a park somewhere. We had a hard enough time managing the noodles at a table.
Not much more to say, but we had a lovely meal here.
Xi'an Famous Foods
67 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013