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Everything posted by alwang

  1. I had a very good dinner at EMP last week, though not quite the transcendent experiences others here have enjoyed. My dining companion and I had the new Gourmand, which seems freshly updated for the fall. Some assorted impressions: - Count me among those who aren't crazy about the dining room. I don't have a problem with the cavernous size, but when you combine that with the tiled floors, the room becomes way too loud for this sort of dining. - The bread was astonishingly poor. Not to harp on it too much when there's so much else to eat, but there you have it. - The presentation of the dishes, in general, was a little disappointing, and I hope to have links to pictures soon so you can see for yourself. It's not that the presentation was sloppy- just not as interesting or creative as I'd like, or would expect from seeing pictures of previous food. It could be that because the menu is still new, Chef Humm will be tweaking the arrangements as they go forward. - Sea Urchin Custard with Hawaiian Prawns, Calamari and Green Apple I thought this was fantastic: a deeply flavored ragout with prawns, calamari, and scallops layered on top of the uni, and topped with a green apple foam to cut some of the richness. My dining companion found the tartness of the foam a little overwhelming. - Nova Scotia Lobster Lasagna with Fall Spices and Keepsake Farm Chestnuts Best dish of the night for me. Succulent and sweet lobster morsels blanketed by a single sheet of chestnut flour pasta. Topped with delicious whole chestnuts and edible flowers, bathed in a rich lobster broth. Lobster and chestnut is a combination I'm going to have to duplicate on my own. My only issue is that the sheet of pasta was not particularly easy to eat. - Vermont Suckling Pig Herb Roasted with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Prunes Perhaps my expectations were set too high here: this was a good dish, but I didn't consider it a highlight or signature. The pork belly was unctuously tender, but nothing about the flavors were particularly memorable. If I were to describe the cooking at EMP in one word, I'd say "consistent." All of the other courses ranged from good to excellent, with no real stinkers.
  2. A related discussion on the Pennsylvania board, albeit focused on the high end: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=98349
  3. Looks tasty: wish I coulda been there...
  4. I'm always amazed at how cheap mussels are, for the amount of flavor they pack. I also find skate an interesting, inexpensive fish that may be more unique than serving yet another piece of salmon. I think buying a whole fish and serving it family style is another way to stretch the budget a little when entertaining. There are any number of relatively cheap braising cuts that can make for a pretty impressive dish: beef short ribs, lamb shanks, etc.
  5. I have reservations for dinner at EMP next week: does anyone have any thoughts/suggestions regarding the current dinner menu, either ala carte or Gourmande?
  6. alwang

    Boning chicken wings

    Photos for clarification: http://studiokitchen.typepad.com/studiokit...en_scallop.html
  7. If people haven't checked out Michel Richard's "Happy in the Kitchen", I'd highly recommend it. As a cookbook, it strikes a great balance between interesting new techniques and thoughtfully conceived recipes. One of the methods he makes use of quite heavily is essentially sous vide on the cheap: tightly wrapping foods in Saran wrap and poaching it at controlled temperatures on the stovetop. For the short-duration, relatively high temperature applications he's talking about, I'm sure his methods work fine.
  8. alwang


    Maybe it's just a case of me ordering the wrong thing, and I'd be curious to try the torinikuramen next time. Don't want to take this too far off-topic, but I felt the shio broth was inferior to Setagaya's, and the miso broth inferior to Menchankotei's, both in a very objective way.
  9. How do we reconcile the experience from this thread with the conventional wisdom about not covering stocks? I can vouch for the fact that making stock in a pressure cooker makes for a very fine, clear stock.
  10. I didn't mean to imply that Chikalicious and Kyotofu were similar stylistically (or similar to Tailor, for that matter). My point was that since Sam Mason made his name as a pastry chef, it's a reasonable line of inquiry to compare him against other pastry chefs going at it alone, i.e., the recent dessert bar trend. I never got a chance to try Room4Dessert, or I would have included that one as well. -al
  11. Had a good, if not sublime, meal at Tailor Saturday night. Some scattered, unsorted observations: - The char was my favorite savory dish: the floral aroma when they brought it to the table was amazing. The fish texture was spot on, although I think I would have liked the lime pickle flavor to be carried by something other than spaetzle; something that would have given a little textural variation. - Foie was fantastic, somebody needs to make a foie gras peanut butter Kit Kat. - Pork belly: the meat itself was not that tender, and unremarkable. The miso butterscotch itself was excellent, but not particularly difficult. Artichokes were good, but I would have cut off the tops as they were stringy. I thought in terms of composition, this was the simplest of all the dishes. I was looking for something more. - Duck tartare: i liked the gaminess of it, but didn't love the texture. The cherry preserve was nice, but I didn't get much out of the marjoram pesto. I thought the chocolate bread crisp was mostly flavorless. - The bread, as advertised, is very good, but apparently they source it from nearby Grandaisy. I'll definitely be picking up some next time I'm in the neighborhood. - Both my dining companion and I agreed the Sweet dishes were more interesting than the Salties. The soft chocolate and mission fig dishes were probably my overall favorites for the night: they pulled together a wide range of harmonious tastes in a way that wasn't replicated by any of the savories, which seemed, actually, a little simple and restrained in comparison. The best of the Sweets are also leaps and bounds better than dishes at the dessert bars I've been to (Chika, Kyotofu). I feel the ice cream for both of those desserts serves a real key role in binding the other components together, and really encouraging you to eat everything simultaneously. For some of the salty dishes, there wasn't that binding element: it wasn't easy to incorporate all the flavors of the foie in one bite, for instance. - The one dessert I would pass on was the blueberries with black olive loaf. The loaf itself, once you got pass the novelty of olives, was on the dry side. More importantly, I don't think the flavors balanced well, and leaned too heavily on the sour side. The blueberries, possibly because they're at the end of season, were tart. The yogurt sorbet was slightly tart. The citrusy foam was very tart. Couple that with the fact that at that point in the meal we were drinking pretty sour cocktails, it made for an unsettling end to the evening. - Speaking of cocktails, this meal confirmed for me that there is a very limited selection of cocktails that I would drink with a meal. That said, I'm not sure I'd revisit Tailor's cocktails even if I wasn't eating. The Charantais was excellent, but the others were pretty disappointing, including the Violet Fizz, the Paprika Punch, and the pumpernickel raisin scotch. Even accepting that these are not your traditional cocktails, you can get better-made and conceived inventive drinks at PDT. - What is noteworthy about Sam Mason and Tailor is not the execution of the dishes (which at this point is average), but the interesting AND subtle flavor and texture combinations. To compare it to a contemporary, Ssam Bar also deals in interesting combinations, but they tend to hit you over the head like a hammer (not a bad thing, just different). Tailor's choices are nuanced, and often inspired.
  12. alwang


    I was at the Mitsuwa Santouka this past weekend, and my conclusion is that their ramen is nowhere in the same league as Setagaya. We had both the miso and the shio ramen, and the broths for both were just not very noteworthy. The toppings were pretty skimpy, and the pork itself was a little dry, and not grilled like Setagaya's. The noodles were actually pretty good, possibly better chew than Setagaya, but I've grown fond of the uneven widths of Setagaya's noodles, and so the Mitsuwa noodles seemed a little overly uniform. The only thing the Mitsuwa ramen has going for it is it's cheaper.
  13. alwang

    Foam Recipes

    Can I ask why you chose to use gelatin for the watermelon foam and agar for the other two? Is it because you prefer agar for warm foams? Or is it because you prefer agar for cream foams? Thanks, -al
  14. I like Allison: the food is solid, and Allison herself is really friendly. When I'm near Lansdale, there's a hole-in-the-wall chinese place called Chong's Dumpling House that's great for dumplings, noodle soups, buns, etc. Probably my favorite Chinese place in the area. Chong's Dumpling House 13 W Main St, Lansdale, PA (215) 855-4812
  15. Just curious: has anyone had any experience using one of those electric heat guns you can buy in hardware stores for cooking appications? They're usually pretty cheap ($15-30), go to temperatures of up to 1000F (some with adjustable settings), and don't require any separate fuel. I've never used one, but I'm wondering if they might be a better alternative to a propane torch for things like creme brulee or searing meats after sous vide. I was a little irritated when the propane canister for my torch just happened to go empty in the middle of a job the other night. Thoughts?
  16. Yeah, I pretty much just seared it right out of the bag. That's an interesting explanation: I'll try letting cool down next time. I will say though, I don't really have this problem when I do short-time sous vide, like fish or steaks, and I also sear straight out of the bag.
  17. I did some short ribs over the weekend at 55C for 48 hours, followed by a quick pan seat. While the meat was a nice pink, I felt that there was a lot of liquid left in the bag, and the meat was drier than I would have liked. I find this only happens for certain cuts at extended cooking times: I did some lamb neck at the same time and temperature, and that came out tender and juicy. Would it have helped to rest the meat in the bag for a few minutes before the sear, or is there some other way to allow some of the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat?
  18. My girlfriend and I stopped by Cafe Diem for lunch this past Sunday: for some reason, hot muggy weather sometimes gives me a jonesing for a steaming bowl of noodle soup. I got the pho dac biet, and as reported, the broth is very clear and flavorful. It's got a little more oil than Pho Xe Lua's (which I would consider the Philly standard-bearer), but that's not too bad. The noodles have nice chew, and even though I tend to prefer thinner noodles for pho, I enjoyed the uneven texture. However, I thought the meat is inferior to pho xe lua's: mostly overcooked, and not enough tripe or tendon for my tastes. Overall, it was very enjoyable and as good as any pho in Philly, but unless I was in the area, I wouldn't go out of my way to choose it over Pho Xe Lua. For pho. I did notice after I had ordered that 80% of the clientele were eating bun bo hue- clearly, that's where the action's at. I'll be getting it next time. -a
  19. alwang


    I guess I'll answer my own question: http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0501,l...3,59830,15.html
  20. Can someone confirm what day of the week it is that Cafe Diem's open for dinner? Is it Friday? I was at Xe Lua last Thursday. The pho is really excellent; the non-pho dishes, not so much. -a
  21. alwang


    Is it possible the urchin was not cooked, and was just blended in raw at the end? That sounds pretty tasty.
  22. We got there at 8:30, and were gone before 10:30. Maybe next time we can meet up (Though I suspect after these posts that seats are going to start to get a little harder to come by at Ushi) -a
  23. As luck would have it, I was at Ushiwakamaru this past Friday for dinner, and I was also seated in front of the youngest chef (seniority at Ushi appears to be inversely correlated with relative hirsuteness ) A quick caveat, I have not eaten at the top tier of NYC sushi spots: Yasuda, Karuma, or Masa. That said, Ushiwakamaru was some of the best sushi I've had. My dining companion and I both ordered the $49 15-piece chef's selection, though I requested a sushi/sashimi mix while her's was entirely sashimi. Some highlights include the ikura (best I've ever had), the uni, and the small glass shrimp. The only disappointing items were the tarban (overpriced, underflavored) and the tuna. I guess they don't trot out the best toro for the $49 menu, but this wasn't even *good* tuna: no fat content, and a weird cut with a lot of connective membrane. I would definitely go with the sushi/sashimi mix versus all-sashimi. The rice is quite good, and I thought the slices of sashimi were a little undersized.
  24. alwang


    Hmmm, different strokes for different folks, I guess. I was at Momofuku on Sunday, and I have to say I vastly prefer either of the Setagaya options to Momofuku's (we had the Momofuku ramen and the braised pork neck ramen). The broth, noodles, and toppings were all superior at Setagaya. The meat, I'd call it a toss-up. Price-wise, I agree Setagaya isn't cheap, but Momofuku is in the same price range. Plus, if you get the deluxe tsuke-men or the regular Setagaya ramen with $1 for extra noodles, you're talking about a truly prodigious amount of food. The other Manhattan ramen places are a little cheaper, but none are $6, as far as I know. BTW, I still love Momofuku's other menu items: the shrimp with sweet corn and miso butter we had yesterday was fantastic. I just won't be going there for noodles. -a
  25. I made a "ramen" broth the other weekend that I was very happy with: it was sort of inspired by ramen I've had at Setagaya in New York. It was primarily pork bones, but there was also some chicken bone, dried scallops, dried shiitake, nori, onion, carrot, and chinese dried brine shrimp. I think mixing the pork with a little chicken and seafood gives it a more complex flavor, even though it's still primarily tonkatsu. The other thing is I did the whole broth in a pressure cooker, no pre-blanching or browning of bones. This vastly speeds up the cooking time, but limits how much you can make at one time. Once I reduced down the broth a little, it was pretty delicious, very comparable to better ramen I've had in New York. Now, noodles are a different story. I was forced to use Chinese-style dried flour noodles, and they were just not the right consistency. Is there a quality dried noodle that would be suitable for ramen? I've looked in asian markets, including Japanese markets in Manhattan, and all I see are instant ramen, or other noodle types. If anyone has an easy to follow recipe for fresh ramen noodles, that would be appreciated as well. Thanks, -al
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