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Everything posted by sickchangeup

  1. I am not on Frank Bruni's payroll, so I vote for option #2. Or who knows, maybe my friends and I are #3. As I posted in another thread, three of us went in June, and none of us was impressed. ← I would add one more option: 5) You ordered badly. Seriously, those are the worst pies there IMO. You have to go toppings heavy, rich stuff. I agree with you that those three pizzas alone make the place seem pretty bleh.
  2. Well, I guess I have to agree with NY Mag et al. now: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/200...en-as-motorino/ Keste back to #1 :-)
  3. sickchangeup

    Summer Truffles

    I think the main point is their milder flavor vs. their winter brethren. For that reason, I would use them with a very simple/plain risotto (i.e. not a thick mushroom risotto) or perhaps shaved onto salads. With the risotto, you can try putting 1/3 in early, 1/3 in late and the last 1/3rd shaved on top. Or just shave it all on top at the end, which is what I would do with the salad as well. Another guess is that you can use them lavishly since they are cheaper - thick cut, like you would a tomato, and tucked into some pastry, maybe sliced and cooked atop a steak? Egg White omelettes would also come to mind. Pastas perhaps? If you get a sense that it would blend well into a bechamel (truffle lasagna), or perhaps a mornay (truffle mac & cheese), or a large veal raviolo with butter and truffles. Take pictures whichever way you go!
  4. Miscellaneous Junk Food I swear this is starting to look bad, we did find and eat plenty of proper food - I guess we just didn't take too many pictures of it. For some reason, the stuff we wound up eating the least of (most things above we just bit into for taste, egg cakes being an exception), we wound up with the most pictures of. Junk Food Galore. From left to right: - iced tea - a package of strawberry cream stuffed cookies - a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies (the store attendant gave us these for free, no clue why, maybe he wanted to help out the trip report?) - a huge package of "Spicy Chicken Cheetos Balls". I didnt taste these, but was told they were quite good - On the bottom row are two weird cream stuffed breads. First one is like a sweet brioche with whipped cream, the second one was very strange: crustless white bread with strawberry whipped cream. Kind of like crustables, but with whipped cream instead of PB & J. Also didn't eat these. - Onion Chips. Not very good, US & England are far better. - Ramen Bowl - Grape Soda Can. Very Classic flavor. I guess Volcano's are a Korean thing? 4500 won = ~$3.50 or so, but this was from a pricey place. Finding this seemed pretty random. This one had only cheeses, and was INFINITELY worse than Momofuku Milk Bar's version. Barely touched it. These are everywhere, but I have no clue what they are. It's like a sweet light bread dough with a nice crunchy thin sweet crust. Again, at a total loss, but even the hotel breakfast bar had these. We walked past a Burger King, noticed a sign for "Garlic Cheeseburger" and went right in. These were really good: meat, cheese, cooked onions, pickles and slightly spicy red garlic paste. We also had a bulgogi burger, but in the fast food world "bulgogi" just apparently means "sweet" (and nasty). Another apparent national obsession (pizza being the only apparent obsession I didn't document) is waffles. Only got two photos of these. The above is at a fancy mall, we got the second one in from the left. "Caramel Crunch" flavor. More of a mom & pop shop operation, those are our waffles cooking away. Each waffle has a fruit sauce (one strawberry, one blueberry) and a choice of whipped cream or soft serve yogurt inside (we went with 2 whipped cream). Each waffle costs 1500 won, which is about $1.20, which is insane - they are cooked to order. The iced coffee & iced mocha were 2000 won each. I believe this is the Korea version of McDonalds The full menu. This place was (to our taste) completely awful. The meat reminded me of truck stop frozen microwave burgers. The fries reminded me of what you get right before closing from a Manhattan McDonalds with pissed off employees who hate their jobs. Burger King was infinitely better, we didn't finish anything here. Ok, the next and last part is all healthy. I promise...
  5. Street Food I actually ran into less street food than I expected, given that there is so much talk of it. I guess that's the point, most people don't expect it, and find quite a bit of it around, which is surprising. Of course, convincing my wife that dinner under a tarp would work out just fine proved to be nearly impossible, so I guess it didn't matter too much in the end. We never wound up eating a full meal off any asphalt & tarp based operations, but we did grab some snacks: I'm glad I'm not having to pronounce these (you get one little accent or sylable wrong, and people look at you like you've had a stroke), but these stuffed golden pancakes are "hotteok" or something like that (also of note: MORE sausages...). I'd previously read Peter Green's description of his son biting into one and almost losing a tongue, so I proceeded with extreme caution, nibbling like a damn bunny rabbit. It still got me pretty good on the tip of the tongue, these things are merely containers for molten lava (or brown sugar & peanuts in this case) Note the two cardboard holders I was handed. I still had to move it around a bit due to the heat of the hot oil. This walnut cake operation probably doesn't qualify, since it's an actual shop. But it's street like, so here it is. A man (with the patience of a saint, or a lot of valium at his disposal) sits there and feeds walnut segments into an empty (rotating) mold. Sometimes he decides he put too many and quickly takes back a little piece. Sometimes he adds more just before it reaches the doughy squirt gun. Anyways, then comes the dough gun, then the red bean paste gun, then the thing closes and rotates around the belt, baking at just the right temperature. At the end of the track? The old man once again, pops the cake out, and into a bucket right next to him. 3000 ($2.30 or so?) won bought you a whole bag full. Walnut Cake innards. The bean paste must be cut with something to make it cheaper, it wasn't strong at all. This may have been the best thing on the whole trip. Just outside the Lotte Department Store (the one next to the Westin) sits this lady cranking out a 1000 won egg cake. They are slightly sweet and amazingly delicious. We actually returned for a second visit, something entirely unprecedented on this trip. Closeup showing the egg in the mold with the cake while cooking. Egg Cake Innards. The best.
  6. Hot Dogs Holy Hot Dogs, I could post 20 different photos on these alone. They're everywhere, in every form, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Given the hissy fit here in NY over a new hotdog store that offers one with a fruit topping, I can't even imagine the conniption these same traditionalists would have in the face of such an onslaught: Fish Cake wrapped, then deep fried hot dog (2000 won, about $1.50) At the convenience store, hanging around cryovac'ed and ready to roll Curiously enough, this Korean Hot Dog chain has now opened up in NY - it's got quite a few stores around Seoul These were wrapped in raw dough, which was then rolled in breadcrumbs, which was then deep fried. I saw a Korean mom swirl a pretty intricate ketchup pattern onto her son's treat, so I'm guessing that's the condiment of choice around these parts. 1500 Won. "Cheese Sausage Pastry", 1900 won. Note that the pastry just to the right is also a hot dog pastry. I think this one was a hot dog pizza if I recall correctly
  7. Me and the wife recently spent 7 days in Seoul. Why? Not sure, we got cheap airfares and it seemed like a good idea. We had very little knowledge of Korean food, culture and language beyond the basics of "Korean BBQ", "Hot Stone Rice Bowl", "Pancake" & "Soju". By the end of the trip, we'd tacked on "hello", "bye", "thank you" and some very basic understanding of numbers. I figured I'd post some photos of some of the food, in what is decidedly an incredibly different take on the excellent Travelogue being run by Peter Green. His is the real Korean foodie experience one can get, this is more what happens foodwise when you're a tourist and go shopping and "touristing" a lot during the day. But we certainly do love our food, so without further ado, this is what we came across. (Note: We are based out of NY, and therefore is gonna be quite NY Centric)
  8. On the point of the differences between Keste & UPN, I agree almost to the word with KennethT. I would add that it almost reminds me of why I still go to EMP for lunch on Friday's vs. Jean Georges - EMP is closer for me, far more convenient to book time wise, I can get in and out in a short amount of time, and I spend less money. The food is not better, but at the end, it's far more doable logistically, involves far less commitment and there is definitely value to that during a weekday. In short, if you are comparing anything other than either those 4 pizzas that UPN makes, or also UPN's coffee vs. Keste, Keste wins in a landslide. Week round availability, lunch availability, credit cards, appetizers, salads, multitude of toppings, far cheaper price points - Keste has it, UPN doesn't. It's that simple, Keste wins. But conversely, and perhaps I believe this a little stronger than KennethT expressed, if you do go for a back to back between UPN and Keste judging strictly on any one of the 4 pizzas that UPN makes, UPN wins in a landslide. I just can't imagine anyone not preferring the UPN dough to the Keste one, but of course... plenty do :-)
  9. To my mind, the best pie in NY is the Margherita from Una Pizza Napoletana. It's got a tremendous charred flavor, is made with a generous amount of Buffalo Mozzarela, and the "wetness" of the pie out of the oven (at first somewhat offputting) goes to great use when eating the fluffy crust. The balance of everything is, to my mind, perfect. The only problem is the wait. On a Friday evening, it can be 2+ hours from the time you get in line to the time a pizza is placed in front of you. The man does not hurry for any reason, you can sit in the restaurant for well over an hour with nothing to eat, just watching him bake pies 2 or sometimes 3 at a time. When you start eating, you can appreciate why (just be prepared for the wait). Given the wait, and the limited days/hours of UPN I probably eat more often at Keste, where the pizzaiolo will at least put some pep in his step when it's busy, and where they have something for you to eat while/if you wait. The best pies at Keste are (to my mind anyways) not the plain ones, but the very very rich ones - ones you pretty much need to share. Same style of pizza in theory, but to my taste, each is better at something radically different. I wouldn't fuss over the old school pie places, although I guess I would pick John's on Bleecker over the rest.
  10. I agree with Keen's, although mostly for the mutton chop and the "NY'ness" of it, not as much for the steak. This is also great advice. Chinese really does work best in groups, but even with 2 I like going to both Chinatown Brasserie for Sunday brunch and also Szechuan Gourmet for spicy.
  11. I can only suggest that you go at or just after 6pm and hope they haven't yet run out of burnt ends. If they have, then I would turn around. But if they haven't.... holy ***** shit.
  12. Great call! RUB is also a tremendous success with the visiting international set. Hill Country is great too. Reminds me: Katz Pastrami on rye (no cheese!!). If you can stand the fat, which a lot of foreign folks I've treated have trouble with (many others don't), then it's the best thing in NY.
  13. The top flight restaurants should kill 2 birds with one stone Re: wine. I would absolutely recommend Per Se for both, they will design the wine around your stated preferences and budget for the meal. Le Bernardin and Jean Georges also have outstanding wine programs by the glass, although they don't carry the same flexibility as Per Se - they pair based only on the dish, and the cost is fixed (although Jean Georges does explicitly offer half pours as an option, which is very nice, especially at lunch) Momofuku Ssam Bar (this boards apparent favorite) does not take reservations, so you are guaranteed to get in, and I think the vast majority of folks on here would place it in a top 10. It wouldn't count in the Japanese category though, new American would likely be most accurate, certainly Japanese and Korean influence is present. I personally would never allow guests to leave town without taking them to Ippudo for Ramen. It does not take reservations, it's relatively inexpensive and the ramen is simply sensational. This place is definitely Japanese, but is not sushi or even cooked Japanese, just ramen. Some expertise with chopsticks and slurping noodles won't hurt here. I think you might also check into a NY style steakhouse and a NY pizza place. Having entertained a great deal of British Nationals for dinner around town (job related) over the past few years, here would be my top 5, none of these places have failed to impress: 1) Per Se (dinner, perhaps salon if on a tighter budget) 2) Jean Georges (lunch) 3) BLT Prime (steak) 4) Rosa Mexicana (mexican) 5) Co. Pizza (pizza)
  14. I'm with Doddie. In fact, the markets are the easiest place to get fed if you can't read Korean. Point at the critter, and it's yours. And once you get to the restaurant, if you just smile and bob your head, one of the aunties will happily take charge of your appetite. Mind you, if you can recognize some Korean food names, I do recommend learning to read Korean. It's one of the easiest written scripts to pick up. (As an alphabet, it's more approachable to us Westerners. Everyone say thanks to King Sejong). This means that, with a little struggle, you can mouth out names you'll recognize, and then you can point them out to the waitstaff. Just remember to smile and bow. ← Don't want to steal any thunder from your immensely helpful thread, but I'm happy to report we pulled it off successfully yesterday for lunch. In fact, we seem to have wound up in the exact same restaurant as you did. 10k won for 5 shrimp tempura from the hallway leading in to the restaurant, 63k won for a ~6 pound Russian King Crab which we purchased just outside it (the vendor won us over by somehow gesturing that she would get us to the restaurant which she pointed at). We then asked them to steam it up, added some soju and good times (We paid 13k won for 375ml of soju, a soda & cooking/serving the crab in the restaurant bringing the grand total to $69 for the meal). Here's a before picture of the little fella (the ashtray should give you a sense that maybe he wasn't so little after all!): Aaaaand the after: All the legs are buried in that photo, since they got stacked up first (one of the ladies thankfully offered to cut it all up for us):
  15. Yeah, the two good places to try and get them is Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary's Fish Camp - both within walking distance of each other. I would use Grand Central as a backup for these two.
  16. Although, I can't tell you how Willa Mae is going, I did eat there the week before Fat Tuesday this year, and it was awesome, without a doubt the best fried chicken I've had. We purposefully went after the lunch rush with a large group of about 12, and they split us up into a couple different tables. People continued to spill in all afternoon, and probably as a result of our group, there was a wait even in between regular lunch and dinner hours. I guess it's no surprise that they were packed that time of year though. The place struck us as very clean, and our server had a few (well earned I'm sure) laughs when describing what used to be there before the flood (mostly things that had now been moved onto the wall for decoration/keep sake) from what was now new. Likely as a result of the time of year, getting a cab back proved to be a serious challenge. We were advised against walking back by the guys who drove us out there, but eventually we made it back in two separate cabs that we somewhat chased down.
  17. This really is a hard list. The only thing I can add to this list would be the 10 course meal at Degustation. I hesitate to add it to this list, cause a $75 meal (before tax and tip) isn't something that will ever be undervalued to some people. Especially when, by way of example, one of the ten dishes may involve you eating a deep fried half split head of a small rouget, along with it's entire deep fried spine and tail (and also a grilled filet from the same fish). But I can say that it remains incredibly undervalued for me. I actually went back to back between Ko and Degustation, and will be returning to Degustation first and probably second as well. Now, the thing that makes it incredibly undervalued to me is not just the food. If it was its own food plus the service of a place like Ko, then maybe it's closer to being properly valued at $75. What blew me away were the service standards, they are incredibly high, and I value them as such. I'm not talking "friendly waiter/waitress" like at a place like USQ. I'm talking I experienced better execution of formal dining service standards at Degustation than I did at Adour. It was almost in the ballpark with a place as good as Le Berndardin. Two very high level hosts handled the whole meal with tremendous grace, switching out plates/cups/silverware with great dexterity for every course, announced every ingredient of every dish with great accuracy and knowledge (most of the 10 courses aren't even on the menu, some had 5+ ingredients) and they also communicated with the kitchen staff (this is a bar, so they basically communicate through/above you) with the necessary level of discretion. The flair in the pouring of the Txacoli was a nice touch as well. If like me, great service adds value to you, then I'd recommend it as undervalued.
  18. Hmmm....Seems to me we need to make a distinction between a restaurant that has a stupendous meal deal once or twice a week for those in the know, from one who's regular menu prices are largely driven upwards simply due to it's presumably expensive location off 5th Avenue. Based on a recent work related visit, $14 Caeser Salad starters ($24 if you want the chicken) and a $9 side of fries struck me as slightly abusive.
  19. sickchangeup

    Per Se

    Lost in the coverage of FG taking on a seriously extended tasting menu at Per Se was (to my mind anyways) this: Now if there was a newspaper that was tailored to the life of sickchangeup, the availability of fresh winter Perigord truffles during the summer would have been headline news. Strangely, it was only a couple of days ago that I visited the Momofuku website, checked out their links, found a link to the Tennessee Truffle people who in turn were now selling... Fresh Black Winter Perigord Truffles... from Australia (it's now the start of winter there). They were pricier than what you might find for the ones from France/Italy in the height of winter @ 90/oz. I figured I'd wait to see if I heard anything before thinking about placing an order. Well, I've now heard and tasted. I also grilled the Per Se staff about these. Apparently they just arrived a couple of days ago, and are a first at Per Se (French Laundry had them last year). From what I gathered their impressions are all positive thus far. I was told they had a very authentic and very strong aroma. I believe I also gathered that these are cultivated Perigord black truffles, the eventual culmination of some set of academic work out in Australia (forgive me if I butchered this...). Our servers say they shave very firmly and very cleanly. Today they had them shaved over gnocchi with strachetelli cheese for a $75 supplement. The aroma was incredible, I hesitate to say stronger than the French ones (absence does make the heart grow fonder), but it packed a punch. We literally took some time to just sit there and soak it in. We then proceeded to follow the advice of the staff, and mixed the truffle in with the gnocchi and the cheese. If the aroma felt like an 11 out of 10, then the taste was to my mind milder than their French counterparts. Perhaps it's was a matter of expectations, since the aroma was so strong, I expected the taste to be the same. I'm curious what others think, and am also wondering if we're gonna start to see these pop up around town.
  20. Since my "same as I've always remembered it, nothing too special" type dinner at USQ Cafe a few months back, I've circled back there for lunch in the main dining room 3 times (both business & pleasure), and found all three to be really outstanding. Is it possible or even likely that a restaurant is more or less likable depending on the time of day, or meal that they are serving? I'm guessing it's a personal thing, with the light of day flooding in, lunch seems like a real treat here. Today's meal consisted of a wonderful plancha'ed octopus, with white & green asparagus, and some really delicious crispy roasted potatoes. My wife had some Sugar Snap Pea “Tagliatini”, which were also outstanding, snap peas cut to look like pasta, just ever so lightly blanched, shocked, then served with some guanciale, parmesan & mint. We always pair our tuna tartare with a side order of garlic chips, making it substantial enough for an entree, and this has never failed us once. Today's dessert wasn't great to look at, in fact it looked quite unappetizing, but was in review delicious - roasted peaches, gelatto and a florentine. I'm also happy to report that there is now a third bread in the bread basket! Happy days, and still nothing beats their flat bread in my book, it's my favorite bread in the city.
  21. I think this is a fascinating subject, because it's at the heart of where I chose to dine, and I have a number of thoughts: - This question applies to every level of the dining spectrum. If your neighborhood Chinese place throws in a spring roll when you order delivery, brings you some fried rice unsolicited when you dine with a group, saves a prime location table for it's regulars etc... this all counts big time in my book. This is just as important as getting a secret backdoor reservation number to a McNally joint, or being served some canapes ahead of your 9 courses at Per Se. - In the end it's about value. I've been a bunch to JG for lunch, and haven't a single complaint in the world that I haven't once been comped anything. On the other hand I only went once to dine at the bar at Veritas, spent over $200 ordering and wasn't thrown a bone of any sort. Three or four incredibly well dressed high level hosts/managers just sat around twiddling their thumbs with a nervous look on their face (in an almost entirely empty restaurant), no one had it in their mind to say "hey, maybe we want this guy to come back, how about a dessert on the house?" - it's all I need to know that this isn't the sort of place that has it in mind to "take care" of people. Which is fine, but to me, it means I haven't been back despite excellent food. - In my experience, solo diners get a little extra love from the places that do take care of their regulars. Twice I've lunched solo at EMP, and both times they brought me something extra on the house, despite me not being any sort of regular (unless perhaps you roll up all my visits to the Meyer Empire I guess). It's gained them back at least twice that many additional subsequent lunch visits with my wife. - Whether correct or not, I generally believe that "hot" & "trendy" places do not do anything extra for you. We have word on Ko, but I suspect the same for a place like Corton, or a place like Scarpetta. I would love to know if this bias is correct. - Sushi restaurants are another area I am very curious about, specifically bar dining. Do house favors extend across cultures, and if so, does it follow a sort of tradition? - I can say first hand that Per Se makes me literally shake my head in disbelief at the extra value they can provide upon request, and like ckkgourmet, I'm no one in particular. I've heard some pretty insane stories out of the Ducasse camp as well. - I'd also say this doesn't count for truly huge ballers, people that drop a grand or more on a bottle of wine alone. Those people are a whole 'nother category!
  22. I think that's the best suggestion thus far, I would absolutely NEVER have one of those in my kitchen, even if I was a millionaire. I also don't get the all-clad bash, the entire Thomas Keller group uses all-clad, the Momo's use all-clad (both even link to them on their websites), Alton Brown off the top of my head as well - I've never had an issue with a single one of my pans either. I would have to go with the paneled/hidden fridge look, where everything just looks like the wall paneling and you can't tell where the fridge is. I hate that look, I want to know where the damn fridge is!
  23. Folks - he scored the second highest score by half a point in the money round even after failing to plate a piece of chicken for a judge (BTW, if you don't think the producers made sure that the empty plate went to a judge....). "best chicken ever" etc... I'd say he represented himself very well, people are waaaaay overanalyzing his failure to create a 100% perfect sauce on a brand new dish under time pressure. Big whoop.
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