Jump to content


eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by Pan

  1. Thanks, Eatmywords!  It's been a few years since I went to Ai Fiore, where I had one spectacular meal and two very good meals. I had a really tasty light dinner at Osteria Morini several years ago. I'll try to walk past them today and see what their outdoor setup is like. Marea was a little lost on me; I found it a little too sort of self-consciously corporate in atmosphere and I preferred the food at the others.

  2. Katja would be good. Their space is open, not behind closed doors? I'm glad you haven't gotten COVID, and of course I hope you'll be able to do whatever you want and not get sick, but it's your choice how much risk you want to take. I have one friend who's gotten COVID 3 times!

  3. I haven't been to Hearth for ages. Thanks for the suggestion. Do they have outdoor dining? I think they're a little too expensive for this group, though.


    A prix fixe is normally problematic for me because even if it's not too much food (my girlfriend and I often share an app, a main and a side), I try to be low-carb.

  4. I never did get back to everyone; sorry.


    Cafe Katja’s construction of their outdoor space was ongoing, so we ended up at Dudley’s, corner of Broome and Orchard, which is a very good restaurant. They call themselves Australian, but I can’t really tell the difference from New American cuisine. In November and December, they had two really large, beautiful structures that had roofs but were totally open on the sidewalk side, with windows on the other side and good overhead heaters. I went several times, and I definitely recommend the branzino and the Brussels sprouts side.


    Unfortunately, when I took my girlfriend there for Valentine’s Day, those beautiful semi-open structures had been enclosed in sliding glass doors, so we had to sit really outside, just outside the outer walls of the restaurant, and in that 22-degree weather, the heater was too high to do much and we were exposed to a lot of wind. We still had a good time, but it was insane, something to laugh about when reminiscing in the future.


    A great restaurant that has a lovely outdoor dining setup that’s still open on the sidewalk side and has heaters is Huertas. It’s quite a bit more expensive than Dudley’s and specializes in pintxos, the Basque equivalents to tapas, and like a tapas bar, has a good wine list as well as excellent brandies (the one that’s $20 a shot is really exceptional and worth it). I’ve been there a few times and love the place, but they do close their outdoor area early sometimes. Last week, we showed up just before 9 on my girlfriend’s birthday, and the hostess was apologetic to us.


    So we walked across 7th St. and went to Oiji, a somewhat fusiony new Korean place I’ve been interested in since it opened in 2015 but had never been to because it’s pricey. They don’t have genuinely outdoor dining, but each room of their enclosed outdoor structure is completely separate, so we were able to be seated at a 6-top by ourselves, and I felt there was a fair amount of air getting in from outside. They were apologetic about one of their two heaters in the room being out of order, but the other one provided plenty of heat. Our meal there, which cost about the same as meals we’ve had at Huertas (about $188 for the two of us, I think, before tip) was just amazing! Each dish was spectacular, and we also had our first taste of really fine soju (as we have often eaten at restaurants in Koreatown and enjoyed Chamisul, but that’s not special). They told us they are planning to move to a much larger location, where the food will be more luxurious and presumably more expensive. I suggest all of you who would consider a splurge for a special occasion keep tabs on when that happens, and in the meantime, I can’t recommend Oiji enough and feel pretty similarly about Huertas (maybe one dish I had there was just a tad disappointing, but they’re terrific and always make me happy).


    Going back to more everyday restaurants, Veselka has a good outdoor dining setup with plenty of seating. Mogador’s “outdoor” dining is really semi-enclosed, inside plastic, but can still be chilly. The big problem is that it’s outside their door, so customers take off their masks and may stand there before fully leaving. B&H has outdoor seating with heaters, but I never do anything except get their lentil soup to go.


    It looks like other restaurants I’d eaten at outside in November and December may have stopped doing outdoor dining. Arturo’s told me tonight that they have. Uluh, which is a great restaurant on 2nd Ave. between 9th and 10th that serves several kinds of regional Chinese cuisine and seems to do all of it that I’ve tried, anyway, really well, ended their small outdoor dining program some time after they literally ran out of gas for their heaters.


    In November, Barney Greengrass had the same kind of excellent outdoor dining structure, totally open on one side, that Dudley’s used to have and Huertas still has, but I haven’t been up there since then.


    All of which is a short way of asking: Do you know any Italian restaurants or other restaurants with good food and wine someone who likes Italian food might be likely to enjoy that charge prices somewhere between Arturo’s and Lupa and actually have dining that’s genuinely open to the outdoors but has heating? (Or if not, at least that have separate outdoor rooms for three people that have some circulation from outside? I’m not sure if that’s OK, though…) There is one place like that that I used to go to: Supper. But they have become really overpriced and don’t seem to me to try hard anymore, so I don’t want to take my cousin there. Restaurants she’s enjoyed are the now-closed Crispo, Lupa, the now-closed Otto and an Italian wine bar on Bank St. whose name has slipped my mind. She lives in Westbeth in the far West Village and I live in the East Village, so I think anywhere from like Soho, maybe Tribeca to the 20s might work, but she may not want to go further uptown.

    • Like 1
  5. 9 hours ago, gfweb said:


    @PanNot so sure that's a big issue anymore.  The main risk is from the ones in your party.  If covid is really a concern then getting tested before dining would be the important thing. 

    Not that I'm saying I would.

    I'm in no position to dictate to my brother on what he should be willing to do, but do note that there is a new variant of concern now.

    • Like 1
    • Sad 1
  6. By the time Xi'an Famous Foods opened their first Manhattan location at St Marks Place, Sichuan food was well-entrenched, and I remember Foo Joy serving Fujianese cuisine in the 1970s on Division St. in Chinatown, so it's really not correct to give the impression by juxtaposing two true things  - that there was nothing like XFF and that for a long time, only Cantonese/Toisanese or Americanized versions thereof could be found - that they were contemporaneous, because the gap between those statements being true is several decades long. Suffice it to say that while it had been decades since the second fact was no longer true in New York, Xi'an noodles were indeed novel.


    As for the spicy tofu, I suppose it's relatively low-carb but I remember it being a small portion. Also, luizhou, the menu you posted included tiger salad; the XFF location at St Marks used to serve that, and I got it often, but I didn't see it on the menu at the Willoughby St. location.

    • Like 1
  7. Hi, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!


    Last year, I flambed some sliced mushrooms and shallots in cognac for a side dish (I use Godet VSOP, which my girlfriend and I also love to drink). I had no organic heavy cream (I didn’t want any gum in the cream, and non-organic creams all seem to have some thickener, as do organic whipping creams), so I just used a generous amount of butter and some white pepper. It came out really good, but I want to try using some organic half & half this time (we struck out in searching for organic heavy cream - it was out of stock in the one store that carries it near me, etc.). Anyway, would you put the cream in first, then the cognac, or flambe first and then add the cream?

  8. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


    My brother and sister-in-law will be in town next Friday (December 3), and I’ve been asked to find a place where we can dine outdoors with one set of cousins. I’m not sure how large the party will be yet, probably 6-7 people I believe, but my brother’s criteria for an acceptable setup are daunting:


    (1) It has to be outdoors
    (2) There have to be heaters
    (3) It has to be partly open (not one of those “outdoor” structures that is really just an enclosed outbuilding with closed doors)
    (4) The tables can’t be close together.


    Of course, in addition to that, it has to be good (my brother is also a stickler for quality and good service), and money is somewhat of an object (we’re not going to be paying $150/person or something like that; I’d prefer to keep things at $80 or lower including a main and side, one of their cheapest glasses of wine, tax and tip, if possible, with a possibility if my girlfriend can come that we accomplish the same thing by sharing an app and an entree).


    I was thinking of walking on 32nd St. to see how things are set up in Koreatown, but I haven’t had the chance lately. But basically, anyplace south of 96th St. or so could probably work, probably with a minor preference for a location south of 42nd St. and north of, like, Chambers St., East Side or West Side - so not too much geographic restriction, at least. I’ll operate on the assumption that my cousins would not consider anyplace outside of Manhattan, because they live in New Jersey and would have to get home after dinner. Another thing is that my brother is likely to refuse to order any salad or vegetable dish that is not made with organic vegetables, so a place that uses organic vegetables is a plus, too.


    Any ideas anyone has would be gratefully received!

  9. I happened upon their location on Willoughby St. in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday. The left the door open, so eating at the counter was not in a way eating fully inside (though I'm also triple-vaxxed now). Anyway, I'm pretty strictly low-carb these days (except on, like Thanksgiving), so I didn't indulge in any noodles but got and order of their seitan salad, which also came with some bean sprouts and shredded cucumber. A little one-note, but pretty good. I'll come back at times for that.

    • Like 1
  10. There are a couple of issues. First, the market for hot sauce subscription boxes is saturated, and the market for snack subscription boxes is also probably saturated, but no-one's tried to market a mixed subscription box including both. Second, it's expensive to get this kind of business started, and I think that subscribers are likely to find 2 hot sauces and 3 snacks, if we can swing that, a better value than 3 hot sauces, for a couple of reasons: First, they'll simply be more products. Second, even if we deliver quarterly, a lot of people won't finish 3 hot sauces before the next delivery comes - 12 hot sauces a year is a lot of hot sauces even for many hot sauce-lovers! We're OK with basically breaking even at first, but we can't afford to lose money on every delivery while competing with companies that get lots of free product in exchange for promotions (we've been told that's how at least one established subscription box company is able to charge as little as they do) or are already established enough to purchase several pallets' worth of each product and get a huge volume discount. We plan on getting there but have to make things work with 120 some-odd subscribers and then be ready for 10,000 later.

  11. haresfur, I love that kind of product! This brand has heavy penetration into the U.S. market already, though, quite widely available on Amazon.


    BeeZee, the idea of regional pairing is surely interesting. At this point, though, I'd be perfectly satisfied with having a year's worth of artisanal snacks with a spicy or savory aspect of their taste to include with hot sauces. As long as the products are special, that would be enough to satisfy me and I figure it would be enough to satisfy customers.


    To give you all some idea: I think that we normally wouldn't include products that are easily available in supermarkets (including Whole Foods). It's OK if they're sold in a few specialty markets, and it might be OK if they are available on Amazon but with only a few units left there or priced outlandishly high (which occasionally happens). I don't think it's a non-starter if they can be found in specifically East Asian, South Asian or Mexican (e.g.) markets, though the more widely available they are in the U.S., the less special they are, and the less reason not to just go to the supermarket to get them.

  12. 21 hours ago, gfweb said:

    Snacks and hot sauce isnt a natural pairing to me. Almost dissonant.

    What sort of snack might you offer?

    Maybe I'm catching on the word, snack. You need a higher end descriptor.


    A Singaporean snack manufacturer also thought it was discordant because she kept thinking I was suggesting dipping her vegetable chips in hot sauce (I am not), but my feeling is that you don't eat the snacks with the hot sauce. Snacks are something you can start eating right away when you open the subscription box, and the hot sauce is something you use with whatever you're cooking or a number of things you might be ordering in.


    Interesting idea that I need a different descriptor, and definitely worth considering. I will bring this up with my partner. I'm not sure whether we need a different word or not, given that our target audience is (and has to be) Millennials who have discerning taste that tends toward the spicy and tangy, have some disposable income and desire convenience; though I might call them gourmets, they're not likely to be formal, so that makes me unsure.


    Types of snacks we've found great and are likely to appear in our subscription boxes include:


    Two types of fudge made from delicious dark chocolate with habaneros and jalapenos or chipotle and anchos, different kinds of spicy or savory nuts (Cajun-style, bloody mary, margarita, dill pickle, rosemary, lime leaf and chili, spiced rum, etc., etc.), chocolate-covered golden berries from Peru, habanero pralines, and maybe some kinds of savory chips (e.g., satay-flavored).


    I should say, the reason we were going to go with hot sauces only, rather than some savory and some hot sauces, is that we did some field market surveys and found that there was much more interest in hot sauces than in sauces like mustards, which although we would include only really fantastic ones we tried, people we surveyed found the idea of mustard more ordinary (thought it's true that our results could have been a bit skewed by surveying in San Francisco). But I think our target audience will appreciate having something to munch on after they unpack the hot sauces. I could be wrong, but it seems clear that no other company is trying this combination so far, or at least I haven't found them.

  13. Hi, everybody! I hope all of you are well and coping well in these crazy times!


    md8232, thanks for asking, and I'm sorry for the late answer. We still have yet to start sales.


    I’ll cut to the chase and then give more of an update. The short version is that we are now looking to launch as a snacks-and-hot-sauce subscription box company, and therefore, I would love your recommendations of snacks with a pretty long shelf life (so not goods that you pick up at your local bakery and eat the same day - think at least around 9 months’ shelf life before opening) that you miss when you’re not in a country you used to live in (other than the U.S., though we’re open to artisanal American snacks, too, if they’re not available in supermarkets). Specific brands I can look up are most helpful, because I would need to try a sample before considering a wholesale order.


    The longer version is: When we were close to launching as a hot sauce subscription box company, we looked at our competition again and saw that, although no-one based in the U.S. had nearly as good a lineup as we did (and I say that because I have tried the hot sauces they are selling and we didn’t consider some of them special enough to sell), that market seemed saturated (donk79 already mentioned this as an issue in January, 2018). And since we had already started looking at snacks as a nice extra to provide for our subscribers, we decided to shift gears and make this a snacks-and-hot sauce subscription box company. We have tried some excellent snacks and figure to focus on items with a spicy or at least savory component, not for example purely sweet snacks (for example, I tried a fantastic take on a trail mix that includes organic almonds, craisins and rosemary; Indonesian cashews with lime leaves and chili; fudge with chipotle and ancho; and habanero pralines). However, we don’t yet have enough snacks for a year’s worth of deliveries, so any ideas you can give me would be most welcome!

  • Create New...