Friday, April 04, 2008

3/30/08: It's All About the Food Part II - New York Edition

Back in November, I had a chance to visit Japan. On one fateful day, a friend in Osaka tried to kill me was kind enough to be the perfect host, and show me around town to pig out shamelessly on a quasi-gourmet tour, result in my consuming 5 meals in addition to breakfast. As you can imagine, this came awefully close for me to renounce eating forever allowed me to gain deep appreciation of the local cuisine.

Now, you may not be wondering what would happen if the role was reversed, and I had the opportunity to show my friend around NYC. Well, wonder no more!

My friend Motohiko was visiting NYC on business, and he was available to see the City on Sunday. Of course, I would not miss this opportunity to exact my revenge repay my gratitude. What is the proper protocol to one-upping settle an old debt like this? Why, by eating 6 meals, of course! (5 meals + 20% interest?!)

Here's what transpired:

We began with my favorite ramen place, Rai Rai Ken for their Shio Ramen. (Unfortunatly, the grand opening of Ippudo NY was still one day away.)

After that, we paid a visit to Sakaya, where Hiroko-san let us taste few saké selections. The memorable one was Echigo Den-e-mon Junmai Ginjo from Niigata (SMV: +1), with one of the coolest traditional label I have ever seen. Unlike the crisp, clean, and fruity style of a typical Ginjo-class saké, Den-e-mon was soft, round, and subtle with underlying minerality and yeast. As I explained to Hiroko-san my mission, she made a recommendation for Fried Dumpling place in Chinatown. Before heading to Chinatown, we stopped by Pomme Frites on the way for their famous Belgian Fries. In addition to the standard ketchup and European mayo, we tried the smoked eggplant mayo.

Next on the list was Chinatown. Initially, I had one place on the list, but we ended up going to three places. First stop was 120 Elizabeth Street for their Pork & Vegetabe Steam Bun. As big as the size of my closed fist, it is a tremendous value at 70 cents each.

On the way to Fried Dumpling place in Mosco Street, we walked by Chinatown Ice Cream factory. I told Motohiko about the place, and despite the fact it was 45F, his reply was, "we are here, so might as well." We both went with Lychee ice cream.

After our body temperature dropped about 10 degrees in span of two minutes, fried dumplings were welcome development. Handmade right behind the counter, it really hit the spot. And, with the price tag of 5 for $1, it was another unbeliebable deal.

After all that walking, we headed to Union Square area, and refreshed ourselves with Wheat Beer at Heartland Brewery. Since dinner was on the horizon, we needed to walk off some calories, so I showed him Barnes and Noble, Whole Foods, and Strand Books.

The coup de grace came as a courtesy of my favorite Italian restaurant to the north of Union Square. We started with a fantastic Ca'del Bosco sparkling wine from Lombardy, with its richness, depth, and vibrancy that is closer to Champagne than Prosecco.

As we were full, we feasted family style starting with the appetizers of Mozzarella and Prosciutto and authentic Napolitan-style Pizza Margherita baked it brick oven. The main dish was Tagliatelle Norcina, where the pasta is complemented by cream sauce with black truffles and sausages. We finished the evening off with Chocolate Tart and coffee, one of the best food-drink matches.

To his credit, my friend braved through the whole day finishing anything that was put in front of him. I am looking forward to the third installment of this misadventure, that's for sure!

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