Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top Chef Season 5 Finale

Highlights from last night's Top Chef Season 5 Finale


  • Stefan asking a voodoo tarot card reader about his love life, specifically about a girl named Jamie (what part of the word “lesbian” do you not understand, Stefan?)
  • The contestants cooking their final meal at the Commander's Palace in New Orleans with the help of sous chefs Richard Blais (Season 4), Casey Thompson (Season 3), and Marcel Vigneron (Season 2)
  • Hosea and Stefan fighting like children over foie gras and caviar
  • Casey convincing Carla to go outside her comfort zone and cook her beef "sous vide", a technique she had never used before which ultimately led to her demise
  • Hosea stickin’ it to his arch-nemesis Stefan by assigning him alligator as his protein for a surprise curveball appetizer
  • Carla getting pinched (hard) by a feisty blue crab, and Stefan coming to her rescue
  • Casey suggesting to Carla to make a cheese souffle instead of a tart, which ends up curdling and not being served (thanks again, Casey)
  • Carbonated blackberries (courtesy of molecular gastronomist, Richard Blais) appearing as a garnish on Hosea's venison course
  • Carla getting emotional at Judges Table ( heartbreaking)
  • Stefan wiping away Carla's tears while waiting for the judges' decision (he’s not such a jerk after all)
  • Hosea, pulling off the biggest upset in Top Chef history
  • Carla's final words, “I wanted to show people a different way of competing, to compete with LOVE!” (and you certainly did Carla)

Carla still has a chance to win $10,000 as fan favorite at the reunion special, so vote for your favorite chef at :


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Sago Worm

I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater but I never thought I would ever try a sago worm. Sago worms are the larvae of the giant Capricorn beetle, eaten as a high protein delicacy by native tribes in Southeast Asia. I'd only ever seen giant beetle larvae consumed on gross-out shows like Man vs Wild or Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and never expected to encounter them in person. However, during our most recent trip to Malaysia, my Uncle Richard thought it would be funny to challenge Kris, the only "white boy" in our family, to try sago worm. So Kris jokingly accepted his challenge. We had no idea my uncle was actually serious until he showed up to dinner the next day with a bag full of sago worms (he'd trekked out to the native jungle market earlier that day to procure them for us). Unfortunately, Uncle Richard had neglected to tie the bag securely shut, so several wriggly specimens escaped (and may still be lurking in his car as adult giant beetles-yikes!) My uncle attempted to wrangle most of them back into the plastic bag, but the worms put up a valiant fight and poor Uncle Richard was bit a couple times by their sharp pincers. You wouldn't think it, but Sago worms are cute little suckers - I held one in my hand briefly after it was caught and it stood up (well, as much as a worm can stand) and stared intensely at me. Alas, only 4 worms survived the prison break, but Kris heaved a huge sigh of relief when my aunt refused to cook them in her frying pan saying that she'd have to throw it out afterwards. Unfortunately for Kris, my aunt (goaded on by my mischevious cousins) had a sudden change of heart when we got back to her house - these worms were hittin' the frying pan! We weren't sure how long to cook them, but we figured they were done when they stopped wringling around, deflated slightly, and started to get crispy. I have to admit that I was a little nervous at this point but I showed no fear as I ripped the head and pincers off, popped the sucker in my mouth, and began to chew. Even with no salt, oil, or other seasonings added, the sago worm was surprisingly tasty - like a sweet oily piece of shrimp. The sweetness made sense because sago worms feed off the sweet starchy pulp of the sago palm, which is what tapioca is made from! Poor Kris chickened out, donating his worm to one of my willing cousins (and he still regrets that decision to this very day). I've been told sago worms taste even better raw, but I won't be testing that theory myself anytime soon. Don't worry Kris, you'll get your chance again one day...


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras & National Pancake Day!

It's Fat Tuesday and IHOP is helping expand our waistlines by giving away FREE PANCAKES. Today only at IHOP, in honor of National Pancake Day, receive a FREE short stack of buttermilk pancakes between 7am and 10pm.

Did you know that today is an official state holiday in Louisiana? Celebrate Mardi Gras with the infamous Hurricane cocktail, originally invented in Pat O'Brien's bar in New Orlean's French Quarter. For dinner, whip up some hearty jambalaya, a shrimp etouffee, or a big pot of gumbo ya ya. And because Mardi Gras is a celebration of excess, finish the night off with a colorful New Orleans king cake.

Happy Eating!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Dessert Truck NYC

Dessert Truck
(check website for locations)
I love the concept of the Dessert Truck - two entrepreneurial friends selling gourmet desserts out of a truck for $5 each. They've gotten a lot of press lately, and beat Bobby Flay in a "Throwdown" recently with their bacon creme anglaise chocolate bread pudding. Bacon with chocolate? Not as bad as it sounds! Lucky we got there early, as they were starting to run out of desserts and it was only 9pm. In our group of 6, I was the only one brave enough to try the bacon chocolate bread pudding - warm and delicious, with only a hint of bacon. But it wasn't as chocolatey as I'd hoped, probably because my portion was drowning in bacon creme anglaise. Kris had the molten dark chocolate cake (surprise, surprise, does he ever get anything other than chocolate?) and boy, was it ever good! Rich dark chocolate, warm & gooey middle, sprinkled with pistachios and sea salt. The molten center apparently has olive oil in it, but I couldn't detect any E.V.O.O. (not that it really mattered cause we fought each other for the last bite). Sorry for the poor quality photos - it was dark, and I didn't want my bacon to get cold.

The Verdict: Five words: warm molten dark chocolate cake!


Cafe Mogador

Cafe Mogador
101 St. Mark's Place, New York, NY

Seems like we've been in the East Village a lot lately. We met some friends for Morrocan food at Cafe Mogador last Saturday night. You need to pass through some strange heavy drapery to enter the restaurant. After emerging rather clumsily from the mysterious curtain and finding ourselves smack-dab in middle of Saturday night chaos in a busy restaurant, we weren't exactly sure how to get seated. Cafe Mogador doesn't accept reservations on Friday or Saturday nights, so it's first-come, first-served. Luckily, I spotted my friends at the bar and by some small miracle, the six of us were seated at a corner table almost immediately. The candlelit atmosphere was both lively and romantic at the same time. Maybe I'm getting old, but it was so dark at our table that I had one heck of a time reading the menu. Fortunately, I'd perused the menu online so I already knew what I wanted. There was also a special menu which featured items not found on the website - my deteriorating eyes managed to detect some meat specials, pastas, and a fish tagine. We ordered a few appetizers for the table - hummus (not bad, but I have to admit that I still prefer the roasted garlic hummus we get from the olive bar at our local supermarket), olives & pickles (meh), roasted eggplant (yummy), served alongside warm pita bread (quite possibly the best I've had). For my entree, I chose the bastilla, a filo pastry stuffed with chicken, almonds, and eggs, and it was quite good. Some reviews had described it as being overly sweet, but I thought the flavors were nicely balanced and leaned toward savory, with just a hint of cinnamon. Only while checking my photos the next day did I notice that my bastilla had been generously dusted with confectioners sugar (see photo above). The beets in my side salad were super tasty, but my favorite bite of the evening came from my friend's fish tagine special - the sea bass was moist and perfectly seasoned with fragrant herbs. Kris had the lamb tagine with casablanca sauce (chickpeas, onions, & raisins) over couscous and loved it. But Kris hasn't ever met a lamb he didn't like (especially when it's falling-off-the-bone tender). I managed to steal a quick bite of his lamb and found the flavors good but nothing spectacular (but my senses may have been severely compromised due to the fact that I'm such a visual eater). For beverages, Kris tried a blood orange martini which he deemed "near perfect". I wasn't as fortunate in my own cocktail choice - my blueberry mojito was light on the blueberry and heavy on the mint. I finally gave up sipping on it when I hit a impenetrable forest of chopped mint in the bottom half of my glass. Did I mention that our waiter was really nice and attentive? Even when we asked him to split our bill on 3 separate credit cards. The cost for the 2 of us was $55 (including tax) - very reasonable in NYC. We left the restaurant without having dessert - I was determined to get my sweet fix at the Dessert Truck that night!

The Verdict: Solid food and service, eclectic crowd, definitely going back for the Fish Tangine.


Chinatown Brasserie - Upscale Dim Sum

Chinatown Brasserie
380 Lafayette St (at Great Jones St), New York, NY
(if you're not interested in reading my personal dim sum story, skip the first section and go directly to the review below)
I'm from Vancouver, which arguably has the best dim sum in North America, so I often find myself desperately craving the stuff, especially around Chinese New Year. For the uninitiated, dim sum is Chinese "high tea", a lively brunch with friends and family where you share small plates of savory dumplings and other tasty delights. I had dim sum almost every weekend growing up. Then I moved to New York, tried dim sum a few times in Manhattan's Chinatown and was utterly disappointed. Several years ago at the Nice Restaurant on E. Broadway (now CLOSED), Kris found it bizarre when we were seated at a table with another family (sharing tables is common during busy weekends). The servers pushing the traditional dim sum carts were avoiding us like the plague, probably because Kris was the only white guy in the restaurant and I was the Chinese girl who couldn't speak Cantonese (the shame!). So I was forced to chase the carts around the crowded restaurant, wildly gesticulating to the servers to get the dishes I wanted. The quality of the food wasn't terrible - although the dumplings were a bit heavy on fat and filler, they were still tasty (probably from MSG). However, the situation went from bad to worse when someone started smoking at our shared table while we were eating! And don't even get me started on the horrifying condition of the bathrooms. To be fair, I've been back to Chinatown recently and had a positive experience at the Vegetarian Dim Sum House (24 Pell St). There's also a few Chinatown dim sum restaurants I haven't tried yet that have gotten decent reviews, like Dim Sum Go Go, Jing Fong, Golden Unicorn and the Peruvian/Chinese fusion newcomer, Red Egg.

Chinatown Brasserie Review
OK, back to present day. I needed a dim sum fix badly, and since I refused to go back to Chinatown, Kris and I found ourselves at the non-Chinese owned Chinatown Brasserie last Saturday. What? A dim sum restaurant not owned by Chinese people?! Relax - executive chef Joe Ng, formerly of New World Tong in Bensonhurst, is supposedly the best dim sum chef in New York. Despite the restaurant's name, it's actually located on a quiet corner in NoHo. The main dining area is a stunning space adorned with elegant Chinoiserie. A grand red staircase leads downstairs to the lounge and koi pond. At 2:30 on a weekend afternoon the restaurant was only half-full, so I guess we didn't actually need our reservation, but perhaps planning ahead got us seated at a spacious table for 4 (perfect for the 7 dishes I planned to order). The crowd was diverse - Asians, non-Asians, couples, large groups, even a few families with children. I told Kris to put away his menu, I'd done my homework and knew what to order:

Curried Chicken Dumplings: Delectable curry chicken & veggie filling in a crisp pastry shell. One of our favorites.

Fried Oysters with Sweet & Sour sauce (background) & Crispy Taro Root Shrimp (foreground): Perfectly fried oysters were heavenly with a thin crispy shell, plump and juicy on the inside, possibly our favorite dish (and Kris' doesn't even like oysters). Taro Shrimp were also executed well, crispy taro just melted in our mouths, jumbo shrimp were styled to looked like little swans (cute!) We enjoyed the shrimp but still prefer the traditional taro ball filling of minced pork.

Lamb Dumplings: Pan fried crispy edges, super tender lamb/veggie filling with a hint of satay. Mouthwatering!

Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumping: "Honey, my dumpling won't stop staring at me!" Translucent wrapper and shrimp filling were very traditional, but we enjoyed the pleasant bitterness from the addition of the pea leaves.

Turnip Cake: Served with sweet hoisin sauce, crisp on the outside, soft and luscious on the inside. Tasty savory morsels of ham scattered throughout. The spicy XO garnish packed an intense seafood punch (but I ate it all anyways).

Barbecue Duck Spring Rolls: crispy wrapper (perfectly fried and not greasy) with shredded duck/veggie filling, but nothing to get excited about.

Overall, we had a really nice experience at Chinatown Brasserie. Chef Joe Ng did not disappoint - the dim sum was delicious, expertly prepared, and beautifully presented. The only catch is that the dishes are 2-3 times more expensive than Chinatown, but I guess that's the price you have to pay for good service, a gorgeous setting, and clean bathrooms. Cost:$63 (inclusive of tax) for 7 dim sum dishes. Even with our healthy appetites, we rarely spend more than $25 in a typical dim sum restaurant.

The Verdict: Wish I could have dim sum there every week, but too pricey (sigh) for our current recession budget. But maybe if I only get the fried oysters...

I love Koi!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Kee's Chocolates

Kee's Chocolates
2 locations: SoHo (80 Thompson Street)
& Midtown (452 Fifth Avenue inside HSBC)

I ruined Kris' Valentine's Day surprise again this year when I guessed that he was getting me a sampling of Kee's chocolates. Good thing I figured it out in time to change the order to the flavors that I wanted.

Creme Brulee:
The flavor that Kee is most famous for. Been waiting forever to try because they're always sold out. Delicately flavored custard slowly oozed out of its dark chocolate shell into my happy little mouth. Perfect creme, but where was the brulee?

Black Sesame truffle:
Toasty, nutty, nice contrast of textures between the sesame seed shell and the melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate center, one of my absolute favorites

Almond truffle:
Creamy white chocolate center rolled in perfectly toasted almonds, but a tad too sweet for me.

Blood Orange truffle:
Kris' favorite for the texture because he prefers a drier truffle center (vs. a gooey creamy center). Grand Marnier added a pleasant warmth, but I couldn't really tell that the flavor was supposed to be
blood orange compared to say, a regular navel orange.

Green Tea truffle:
White chocolate center infused with
matcha green tea was meltingly smooth and delicious. Amazing flavor reminiscent of authentic green tea ice cream.

Smoked Salt:
Dark chocolate was nice and bitter, but I barely tasted any salt. The smokiness was very subtle, I probably would not have detected it without knowing the name of the flavor.

Kaffir Lime:
The flavor comes from the
kaffir lime leaf, and not the actual fruit. Aromatic like a Thai green curry, but less citrusy than I expected, fresh with a hint of lemongrass. Very interesting indeed.

Kris also picked up the last two macaroons left in the case that day, raspberry and
soursap. These macaroons are not the coconut chewy kind I expected, but more like the colorful French variety which incorporates ground almonds. The macaroons were each filled with a delicious layer of chocolate ganache. The cookie part was soft and tasted freshly baked. Flavors were very subtle; Raspberry was a natural complement to the dark chocolate filling, but we found the soursap most interesting, the mild tropical flavor emerged only as a pleasant aftertaste. Very clever.

Cost: Chocolates are $2.35 each, macaroons $2.45 each, inclusive of tax.

The Verdict:
Definitely a splurge, but worth it to try unique flavors from one of NYC's best chocolatiers.

(photo: the tiny Kee's outlet located
in a HSBC bank in Midtown)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Double Crown NYC

Double Crown
(316 Bowery at Bleeker)

Kris had dinner at Double Crown, a new British/Asian fusion restaurant in NYC last night. The concept: hawker style appetizers served amidst stunning decor. But will it be enough to impress Kris, who's actually sampled food from real hawkers in Southeast Asia? Here's what he thought...

braised pork belly(snack): "tiny sliver of pork belly, tasted OK but not as good as Momofuku"
duck buns: "mini buns, stingy on the duck, flavor was good, mustard sauce rather than traditional hoisin was interesting"
Singapore laksa: "good flavor, wish it had more broth and less vegetables/garnish"
braised short ribs: "fall-off-the-bone tender, really good"

Singapore sling cocktail: "just OK, obviously not as good as the $28 one I had at the Raffles hotel"
kumquat smash cocktail: "really good, wish I had ordered two of these instead of the Singapore Sling"

cost: "moderately expensive, to be expected in NYC"

service: "leisurely"


The Verdict: "Trendy atmosphere. Good for groups. Decent food."

3/2/09 Update:
I'm a little ashamed to admit this but Kris and I occasionally watch "The City" on MTV and on tonight's episode, Whitney & Jay had dinner at Double Crown! I think the segment was filmed in January sometime.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Durian

Durian: The World's Stinkiest Fruit!

The durian, king of all fruit! But does it really smell like old gym socks? Or as chef Anthony Bourdain so eloquently put it,"Like the whiff of a long dead relative"?

I was eighteen and visiting Singapore with my father when I first encountered the notorious durian. We picked up a small package of durian from a street vendor on our way back to our hotel. Seemed innocuous enough - buttery pods of tropical fruit already picked from their shell, wrapped tightly in several layers of plastic wrap. I didn't smell anything foul at the time. My father made the mistake of storing it in our mini-bar fridge while we went out for dinner. Upon returning to our hotel, we discovered several messages from the front desk on our phone. "Someone" had brought durian into the hotel and guests were complaining about the offensive odor. But not to worry, hotel security were methodically checking every floor and room for the offender. OOPS! We quickly snuck out of the hotel and discarded the evidence before I could even taste it.

My next encounter with durian was just as unfortunate. Kris and I were in Vancouver for our honeymoon and were sampling ice cream at La Casa Gelato. Feeling brave, I asked to try their durian flavor. It was definitely unusual and intense, tropical in flavor but with a weird aftertaste. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but I didn't hate it so I got Kris to try it. Big mistake - Kris was so repulsed that he said if I ordered a full scoop he would never kiss me again! So I chose mango gelato that day to save our marriage. Fast forward a couple years. While staying with my parents in Vancouver, my mother (who loves durian) left a full plate of it out for Kris to try. I wish you could have seen Kris valiantly choke down a few pieces so as not to offend my mother! Kris is so sensitive now that he can smell fresh durian a mile away. Fortunately, durian is usually frozen before being imported to North America, masking most of the offensive odor (which returns with a vengeance once thawed!)

So what does this fruit with the bad reputation actually taste like? Durian lovers often describe it tasting like sweet buttery custard. Haters describe it as tasting like rotting onions. Personally, I don't mind the taste of durian, it's just a stronger version of the other strange tropical fruits I grew up eating. The consistency of fresh durian is creamy, like an avocado. The flavor is surprisingly mild compared to the pungent aroma, exotic like a guava or papaya, but there's a strange savory element that surprises you like raw garlic on your palate. I can only handle a little bit at a time - durian's like the gift that keeps on giving because it'll linger in your burps for the rest of the day. Southeast Asia can't get enough of durian. Singaporeans are so passionate about durian that they modeled their Esplanade performing arts centre after this unique fruit (locals fondly refer to their arts centre as "the Durian"). Ironically, Singapore's national fruit is forbidden on their MRT(subway) system and banned from most hotels (which my dad and I found out the hard way). Andrew Zimmern, the chef who enjoys eating bull's testicles, moose nose jelly and other culinary oddities as host of the Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods", found the taste of durian so offensive that he immediately spit it out. But I've also watched Anthony Bourdain eat durian with gusto on his own travel show "No Reservations". So I guess you'll either love it or hate it. And don't fall asleep beneath a durian tree (a blow to the head from a ripe durian will probably kill you). But promise me you'll at least give it a try if you ever get the chance. The durian is said to be an aphrodisiac for women - an old Malay saying goes, "When the durians fall, the sarongs fly up!"

Kris, in front of the Esplanade Center ("the Durian") in Singapore


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crown of India, Plainsboro NJ

Crown of India
660 Plainsboro Rd, Princeton Meadows Shopping Center, Plainsboro, NJ
Yes, that's right, Kris and I had our romantic Valentine's dinner in a stripmall located in the sleepy town of Plainsboro, NJ. And it was wonderful! Indian food is our annual Valentine's tradition, so we're no stranger to Crown of India. But they definitely raised the bar this year with some live music and a special dinner buffet. We're not huge fans of buffets, so instead, we decided to "treat ourselves like kings" and order the "Combination Dinner for Two". And royal treatment is what we got. The meal started with papadum served with tamarind, tomato, and mint chutneys, followed by mulligatawny soup and an assorted appetizer platter with vegetable samosa, pakora, tandoori chicken, chicken seekh kebab and murgh malai kebab. The murgh malai (cubes of chicken marinated in a creamy sauce) was moist and flavorful and the seekh kebab (minced chicken "sausage") was perfectly spiced. For our main entrees we chose palak paneer (cubes of fresh Indian cheese in a spinach sauce) and chicken makhni (tender pieces of chicken in a tomato cream sauce, a.k.a butter chicken). The palak paneer and chicken makhni are so delicious at Crown of India that we're never been able to order anything different. The mains were accompanied by pickles, mango chutney, naan, basmatic rice, and raita, a yogurt condiment made with cucumbers, onions and Indian spices. The raita is usually eaten alongside the main course to cool down your palate, but the dishes weren't too spicy, so we didn't use much of it. And then came our dessert, kheer, a creamy rice pudding delicately flavored with cardamom and pistachios. We also had our choice of coffee or tea with dessert so we both happily ordered the Indian Masala chai with milk. The leisurely pace of the meal coupled with huge portions made us ready for a nap. As they brought us the bill, I was presented with a long stemmed single red rose, a charming gesture. Our bill (including taxes) was a whopping $37.40! And despite my full belly I managed to boogie out of the restaurant to a rousing cover of Alicia Bridge's "I Love The Nightlife" carrying a huge doggy bag.
The Verdict: Can't wait to go back (after we both do the master cleanse diet).


Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheater's Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme Recipe

Just in time for Valentine's Day, I'm sharing one of my easy fake-out gourmet dessert recipes, Cheater's Pot de Creme au Chocolat. Super easy and affordable with most of the ingredients coming from your pantry. Also lighter than traditional pot de creme because this recipe doesn't rely on heavy cream or egg yolks to make it rich. Rachael Ray made these on Oprah a few years ago and I've been making them for Kris (my hubby) ever since. I've tweaked the original recipe a bit and it's so foolproof that I usually just eyeball the ingredients rather than measuring them exactly.

Cheater's Pot de Creme au Chocolat

Servings: 2 large or 4 small servings
Preparation time: 2 hr 15 minutes
(15 minutes active time, 2 hours to chill)
Special equipment: blender or food processor

2/3 cup whole milk (substitute 1% or 2% milk for a lighter version)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur or substitute your favorite liqueur (Amaretto, Kahlua, Grand Marnier, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Chambord, Cassis etc)
fresh whipped cream or Cool Whip to garnish (optional)

Heat milk in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil (watch closely, milk scalds or boils over easily!) In blender or food processor combine egg, sugar, salt, chocolate chips and liqueur. While running blender or processor on low setting, pour the boiling milk in a slow stream. The hot milk will cook the egg and melt the chocolate. Blend for 1 minute, until smooth. Pour mixture into ramekins, demi-tasse cups, or short glasses (whatever looks pretty) and chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge. When ready to serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream or Cool Whip. Garnish with a mint sprig or sprinkle with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings if you want to get fancy.

Happy Valentine's Day!



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Weird Food Wednesdays: Century Egg

My inaugural post in a series of musings about strange delicacies around the world is about one of my all-time favorite foods, the Century Egg (a.k.a thousand year old egg)! If you are Chinese, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For everyone else, it's "Fear Factor" time! Seriously, I once saw century eggs featured on a Fear Factor food challenge and told Kris to sign me up cause I would totally win (never mind the extreme physical challenges). Century eggs are not really a hundred or a thousand years old, probably only a few weeks or months old. Chicken or duck eggs are preserved in clay, ash, lime and salt until the whites turn dark and gelatinous, and the yolks turn a creamy grayish-green. I think the lime actually petrifies the egg. The whites aren't terribly flavorful, but I like them for their strange jelly-like texture. It's hard to describe the taste of the yolk -the words pungent and sulphurous come to mind but don't sound terribly appetizing, do they? Maybe the best comparison would be to a soft-ripened fermented cheese, malodorous but still enjoyed by many. Century egg is commonly found in Century Egg & Pork Congee, a Chinese rice porridge (and my idea of comfort food) typically found in Chinatown noodle houses. While growing up, my family ate century egg several times a month (probably why we all have high cholesterol now). But everything's fine in moderation. You can also find packaged century eggs in your local Asian food market. So give them a try. And for all you doubters out there, keep in mind that Kris, who had never tried anything more exotic than General Tso's Chicken before he met me, can't get enough of century egg. Tune in next week for the world's stinkiest fruit...


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Red Cat

The Red Cat
(227 10th Ave b/t 23rd & 24th St, New York, NY)
Our friend Rory heard good things about this place so we met here last Saturday night for dinner. I was intrigued after discovering that my favorite chef, Harold Dieterle of Perilla Restaurant, had been groomed at Red Cat's sister restaurant, The Harrison. Plus, they had sweetbreads on the menu, so I couldn't say no. The sweetbread appetizer (pictured above) didn't disappoint - deep-fried chicken nugget-y goodness. But the vegetables that came with them were a bit oversalted. I stole a bite of my husband's potato pierogies-very tasty. The crispy sauteed skatewing as my entree was also aggressively seasoned - a little heavy handed with the salt in the kitchen that night. But the red hot rapini and the tempura green bean sides were both great. The rapini (broccoli rabe) was pleasantly garlicky but not bitter/spicy at all and the green beans were light and crispy. My husband's braised lamb entree was very tender, but curry seasoning with lamb isn't exactly groundbreaking. For dessert, my husband tried the pistachio semifreddo which was served with a dramatic pour of hot fudge right at the table. My husband, a total chocoholic, loved it. I tried the peanut butter parfait, topped with a peanut butter mouse which was a little too peanut-y at first, until I reached the salted brittle further down in my glass and then the flavors and textures finally coalesced. Although the restaurant was fully booked on a Saturday night, we didn't feel rushed through our meal at all. The service was lovely and the decor inviting. $115 per couple before tax & tip (including 2 beverages)
The Verdict: Great service, decent food.

Tempura Green Beans

Potato Pierogies
Crispy Sauteed Skatewing
Braised Lamb with Curried Cous Cous
Pistachio SemiFreddo with Hot Fudge
Peanut Butter Parfait