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Pan

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Pan

  1. Pan

    Yasube

    I live in the East Village, and Yasube has to outclass all Japanese restaurants in this neigborhood that charge anything near their prices by a country mile. I'll give you an example: I went to Jeollado about a year ago, I believe (maybe it was two years ago; I don't remember). It's a Korean/Japanese place that also seems to style itself a specialist in sushi. I thought their Korean food was pretty good though not consistently amazing, and I tried some sashimi that my ex-girlfriend loved - tuna IIRC. She thought it was great. (Another friend of mine also ordered sashimi that she thought was great, by the way.) It was unfishy but tasted like nothing, just texture. I didn't mind it but I was unimpressed and remarked that perhaps it was like wasting pearls on swine. And though it was dinner and not lunch, the bill had to have been close to $40/person.
  2. Looks like 3rd St. and 6th Av. I wonder if that's the one that's actually east of 6 Av. on the south side of 3 St. that I've liked and thought might be called Ali's.
  3. Pan

    Shopsin's

    That's "laksa," Stefany (though I can't answer for how a non-Malaysian place might misspell it). Asam laksa has fish and shrimp paste (belacan) in it, but no shrimp. Just out of curiosity, what ingredients could you pick out in Shopsin's version of laksa? Did it have tamarind or lime juice in it? Was it full of hot pepper? Did it have coconut milk in it? (asam laksa doesn't) Was it very salty? What vegetables were in it? Any cucumber slices? Any pineapple slices? Any fish? Was it very fatty? And what type of cuisine does Shopsin's say it cooks?
  4. I'm not sure I'm glad I read those inspection reports. Most of my favorite Chinatown places were cited for vermin.
  5. Sure. Greater NY Noodletown (its current name, I think) may not be quite as good as it used to be, but I still like it and go there at less-crowded times for some items I like and find to be more or less comfort food. My standby noodle soup there is beef muscle (shrimp) wonton, which I sometimes get with the Chinese greens (Chinese broccoli) and oyster sauce side dish. I've had various other noodle soups. Beef stew is tasty but a bit rich (fatty); the fish dumplings are good; the shrimp dumplings are good, and they used to make a beef muscle/shrimp dumpling combination for me, but I've given up on getting it anymore; the tripe is just OK; and it's been so long since I've had duck or any other noodle soup that I don't remember it, except for the seaweed soup, which I thought was fine but haven't been really interested in trying a second time. The ginger/scallion lo mein are worth mentioning. I like them a lot and sometimes have them instead of a noodle soup and get a side order of beef muscle, tripe, soy sauce chicken, or duck on the side (I have to be pretty hungry for that). If you want fast service, go to Bo Ky on Bayard between Mott and Mulberry, which serves a nice variety of noodle soups, though of a different cuisine (Chao Zhou) than the Hong Kong style at NY Noodletown. There's also a Chao Zhou restaurant on the west side of Mott St. near Grand. I had a good meal there 2 or 3 months ago, but I don't remember its name. I don't know why, but Chao Zhou restaurants in Chinatown give menus in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese, or at least those two do.
  6. Pan

    Il Cortile

    Look here for another thread on this restaurant.
  7. I decided several months ago never to go to Bereket again. I used to like their Doner Kebab sandwiches, but they started consistently making them extremely salty. I've concluded that their food is inferior to garden-variety felafel-and-shawarma places in the neighborhood, let alone really good ones further west (Mamoul's and that one - I think Ali's - on 3 St. just east of 6 Av.). It's a shame.
  8. Kum Gang San. It's a fun restaurant, specializing in kalbi and bulbogi (meat you grill at the table yourselves). But to be honest, I'm not knowledgeable enough about Korean food yet to know the difference between kalbi and bulgogi.
  9. Pan

    San Domenico

    What about the food prices? And where is the place? It sounds great!
  10. Pan

    Orleans

    The place where it seemed like the food was most uniformly good on our trip through Paris, parts of southern Ile de France, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley: Orleans. We were there all too briefly (just 2 days and, therefore, our positive impressions should be viewed with caution), but lucked out. Orleans is a sizeable city (the Michelin Red Guide says 113,126 inhabitants in the city and 263,292 in the metropolitan area), it's very diverse and funky, and has an active social scene at night. I liked it, and look forward to going back someday. After a somewhat hellish night in a Novotel in the middle of nowhere, outside of an industrial park some 13 km outside of Orleans ("La Source"), we escaped to the Centre Ville and stayed at the Hotel Jeanne d'Arc, a pleasant, somewhat faded luxury art-deco hotel with real character (it was luxurious then and is quaint and classy but inexpensive now). Right across the rue de la Republique was the best Boulangerie/Patisserie we found on our trip. Look on the east side of rue de la Republique just before you get to Place d'Arc. All of the stuff we had there was sensational (and we took things with us on our trip to Tours, the next place we went to), but don't miss their chocolate pastries! On my trip to France, my father made us eat a few times in Chinese restaurants because he's on a restrictive diet that is among other things very low-fat, and he found that when French chefs were cooperative and took out the butter and cream, they took out the taste. Unfortunately, some of the Chinese restaurants we went to in other cities were disgusting, and one made my brother and me really sick to our stomachs (it was in Tours, but I don't remember its name or exact location). The thing that the bad Chinese restaurants had in common was that they all claimed to serve at least one other Asian cuisine (e.g. Vietnamese, sometimes Thai) in addition to Chinese. But in Orleans, even the Chinese restaurant we went to was very good - so good that, if it were in New York's Chinatown, I would make it part of my rotation. I don't remember the name, but it's on the southeast corner of Place d'Arc, and you really can't miss it. We inquired and found out that the chef and ownership are Cambodian Chinese, but the restaurant does not advertize itself to passersby as serving both cuisines. Instead, it serves really fresh, well-cooked, tasty Chinese food; some dishes have Cambodian touches (one of our dishes had lemograss in it - either the shrimp or the chicken), and a few Cambodian dishes are on the menu. We had a very nice whole fish, steamed with ginger, scallions, and a brown sauce to my father's order; a very tasty shrimp dish; a chicken dish; and some plain vegetables (for my father). It was satisfying. For lunch one of the days we were in Orleans, we came back from some morning sightseeing late and most restaurants were closed already (it was about 2:20, I think). We ended up in a bar. And even in the bar, most of the food was good enough to merit at least a solid star in New York Times ratings, except that it is absolutely impossible to find a bar in New York where you could get the kind of food we got at this bar, let alone to have good food of this type, cheaply. My brother had a salad with excellent confit de gesiers de canard (duck gizzard confit), I had a tasty tournedos cooked very nicely in a brandy-cream sauce with mushrooms (at something like 9 Euros 50, the most expensive dish on the menu). I forget what other people had. Since I was in a bar, I took advantage of that to buy a hard cider. The meal was cheap, the owner (justly proud of his bar) and his mate were friendly, and we were satisfied (except for my father who I believe ordered a fish dish and found it a bit fishy). I don't remember the name of the bar; sorry. So we didn't go to any fancy restaurants in Orleans, but we were impressed that even a meal in a bar and a Chinese restaurant were much better than we had any reason to expect. I don't know whether that reflects on the food in that city generally, but the fact that we were across the street from what turned out to be a spectacular patisserie also suitably impressed us. So, to sum up: (1) That boulangerie/patisserie is sensational! Search it out if you're in Orleans! (2) If you do happen to be around Pl. d'Arc and feel like having Chinese food (for a break, to save money, whatever), look for that place, which might have been called something Imperial or something like that. And have fun walking around the old city.
  11. Pan

    Yasube

    Probably more like 15 Euros. It really was quite inexpensive, definitely not more than 20. Check it out yourself.
  12. Pan

    Le Grand Vefour

    I don't have any pics. My brother took some, but I don't think any are online. 1 Euro was essentially equivalent to 1 US Dollar last June. Find the current exchange rate here: click I think the tuna aspic my brother had must have had fennel, rather than dill in it. My brother likes fennel and hates dill.
  13. Pan

    Yasube

    At 9 rue Sainte Anne, Paris 1, there is a great Japanese restaurant. We found it because we were staying around the corner on rue Therese. The 1ier and 2ieme Arrondisements between the Opera and the Palais Royal are full of all manner of Asian take-out places and eateries - Chinese, Vietnamese, even Indian - but above all, Japanese. We had lunch at Yasube for our last meal in Paris. Everyone's lunch started off with a miso soup which was superior. I had an excellent Japanese salad, also. For my main dish, I had a terrific yakitori of magret de canard. My father had sashimi that he said was the best he had had since he was last in Japan. I've never loved sashimi, but I tried some of his, and it was great. The amazing thing, too, was the price. Including sake that my brother and I had, the cost for lunch was about 12 Euros, from what I remember. The only drawback was that our waiter was a horrible klutz. I think I remember that he accidentally hit my mother on the forehead with something and, later, almost dropped a whole tray all over us. But don't let that stop you from going. It's a great place and, yes, it's well worth your while to skip French food for a meal and go to this Japanese place if you're staying nearby or have a reason to be in that neighborhood around a mealtime (e.g. after a trip to the Louvre).
  14. Pan

    Le Grand Vefour

    Hello and happy new year, everyone! I'm sorry I have been away so long, but I will make comments as best I can on my trip generally and several eateries specifically. First of all, the 3-week trip I took to France with my brother and parents was not a gastronomical trip, and my father is on a restrictive diet (more about that later), but we did get in some excellent meals. Lunch at Grand Vefour was a highlight. I liked it better than anyone else in my party of 4; my mother and brother felt another meal on our trip was better (I'll post about that separately). First of all, the room is absolutely gorgeous (see a picture here: click). The service is gracious, extremely professional, and brilliantly choreographed. The Maitre d' was very helpful to my father in selecting items from a list I gave him of "legal" foodstuffs for him. I didn't take notes and don't remember everything everyone had during the meal, but I'll mention what I do remember. First, we were given a delicious amuse-bouche of lobster bisque (I think it was) made with gruyere cheese and asparagus. We also had a selection of delicious breads. My mother had a divine lobster salad for an appetizer (expensive and busting the prix-fixe to Hell but worth it at 77 Euros); my brother had a salad of fois gras sauteed in red wine which was excellent in every respect; I seem to remember that I had a salad with various kinds of mushrooms and hazelnut oil, unless I'm confusing this with another meal. My father had a plain but excellent mesclun. For a main dish, I was adventurous - perhaps too much so - and got the Tete de Veau, which choice was met by the waitstaff and patrons with approval. It was too salty and fatty for me, but it was a specialty, it was interesting, and it was worth ordering. My mother had a terrific magret de canard cooked in red wine and accompanied by creamed sweet potatoes and savoy cabbage delicately sauteed in sweet butter, if I remember correctly. My brother had a cold dish of tuna with aspic and dill in squares which was subtle and excellent. My father had a piece of white fish (I forget which kind) with broccoli puree. I thought it was great, but my father wasn't as thrilled. Generally, he felt during the whole trip that when the French accomodated his dietary restrictions (including low-fat), they eliminate taste. He was not impressed with the chef's solution of making his fish a bit crispy ("slightly burning it," my father felt). But the staff certainly did its very best to accomodate him. The rest of us enjoyed our main course greatly. The cheese course was a revelation! It was at Grand Vefour that I and my mother and brother first fell in love with Comte' cheese. So creamy and delicious! And it was never nearly as good in any other restaurant we ate at in France as it was at Grand Vefour, though I've found some good Comte' cheese at times at Balducci's in the Village in New York. I also got a clice of Roquefort cheese. I've never liked the Roquefort cheese I've had in the U.S., but I was open-minded enough to think this would be the place to try it. And boy was I right! It was a bit salty, but it had a wonderful flavor! I will never again say that I don't like Roquefort cheese. I also enjoyed a Camembert-type cheese very much. My brother enjoyed the Epoisse a lot and cultivated his taste for very sharp, runny cheeses during the trip. To accompany the cheese, we were given some delicious little slices of bread. I believe the bread I liked best was the raisin/caraway bread. I can't remember all the extras we were given, nor all the desserts. I do remember being given three sorbets: raspberry (excellent, with a strong flavor of the fruit), amaretto (also excellent), and some other fruit that wasn't as strong. Accompanying it was some kind of very high-quality cookie-ish confection and coulis of raspberry. We were also given pates de fruit. We later found a bakery in a smallish town in Burgundy (I can't remember which one!) that had more consistently strong and delicious pates de fruit, but I enjoyed these, and they were an extra (the apricot ones were great; the banana ones, weaker). We were also given a choice of chocolates and delicious chocolate almonds were put on the table for us. Finally, my mother said "We're finished." The waiter's response, with a smile: "We're not finished with you!" For no-one can leave before having a slice of the special cake, a unique white cake with orange zest, refreshing and light. With the appetizers, my brother and I had a glass apiece of fantastic Taittinger Champagne, just ambrosial, which was poured for us out of a magnum bottle. My brother decided to have another glass of the Champagne, figuring that no other wine could top that. All in all, a wonderful experience. All the staff spoke excellent English, by the way. The cost? Approximately E 500 for 4 people. My folks thought it was worth it for one time, but when I reminded them that it would cost us more to go to Arpege 3 days later, they decided to cancel that reservation. We later cancelled Astrance, too. I called about a week in advance to cancel, and the reservationist was very courteous, thanked me for letting her know, and expressed the hope of accomodating us in the future. (I did speak French when communicating with them, if that's relevant.) My brother turned out to be busy that night, and my folks just weren't interested in paying some E 70 a person for dinner once more. But I'm getting ahead of myself: Grand Vefour was the place we went to on our first full day in Paris (it was about 3 blocks from our hotel), and a lot happened on the rest of our trip. But more about that in subsequent posts.
  15. So the kaya buns I get at the asian bakery on 63rd drive in Rego Park (Goodies Bakery) are actually Malaysian? Ah. They are good. :)
  16. Watchout young man. Do not underestimate us neighborhood folks Welcome back Pan - LOL! Thanks, Anil.
  17. Pan

    Oriental Garden

    Thanks, Anil. I like baby bok choi and will remember the recommendation.
  18. Pan

    Ouest

    Thanks for your replies, Jaybee and Bux. Bux: I think I'll deal with your last point first. I agree with you that JoJo was more expensive in its heyday (in current dollars) than Ouest is. I use JoJo as a basis of comparison in terms of quality of food, mostly having to do with the degree of imagination and felicity of Vongerichten's mixing of flavors. I don't know how much price goes into that, but I certainly agree that it would be a little much to expect Ouest to be that good. I had heard and read several raves before going, however, and was solidly satisfied but not blown away by the place. My impression, based on that one meal, is that it's very good but not really special. I don't remember whether the spinach that came on the plate with my father's dish was a substitution, though I know he wasn't aware he was going to get it; the problem was the kitchen had run out of a separate side dish of cabbage. Yes, the food was all very fresh, except that my sturgeon might have been just a tiny bit fishy (I still liked it). My father wouldn't have thought of returning the food because he had been waiting such a long time for it! As I said, the service was very slow. I was surprised to read through an earlier thread on Ouest and see how many people really liked the service. I think that the speed of their service and the fact that they ran out of things were their low points. I see your point in your comparison of the smoked duck appetizer to a salade frisse with bacon and croutons, but I don't think that I've ever had that with a _fried_ soft-boiled egg. The confit didn't have a thick layer of fat under the skin but did come with a fair amount of fat that my mother removed and didn't eat. It was not crispy. But I guess my viewpoint was that it's the meat that's confit that I really care about, and I thought it was very good.
  19. I'm a regular at YSD, but it's part of a rotation with Moon Palace next door and New Green Bo. I find that all 3 are good restaurants and have different strengths. I don't think it's worthwhile to wait for a table at NGB when one is available at the other two (the decor is actually pretty good at YSD, though Moon Palace is a little hard on the eyes, if you care about ambience), but they do some things very nicely, including the noodles with spicy meat sauce and the seaweed with garlic cold dish. I believe I'm remembering that I like the Spicy Cabbage best at Moon Palace.
  20. Pan

    Ouest

    Thanks, Yvonne. Col Legno is still as good as it ever was - a little salty, but very satisfying, and a quiet, civilized room.
  21. I'm glad I posted about this place because now I know about two other places to check out. Thanks, folks!
  22. Pan

    Oriental Garden

    SobaAddict: Thanks for your report, but your location is impossible. It's on Elizabeth between Canal and Bayard. Elizabeth street does not extend south of Bayard. Here's the info: Oriental Garden Restaurant 14 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10013 (212) 619-0085 I will be sure to try the place out. I don't think I've tried it; I think I tried the place next door to it that IIRC has "Seafood" in its name. I had excellent shrimp there, but the vegetables were a little old (such as their celery).
  23. Katz's is a beloved neighborhood restaurant for an East Villager like me (albeit originally an Upper West Side boy). The last time I ate there was about a week and a half ago. I don't think their pastrami has deteriorated at all. I usually ask for it lean; sometimes, a little fat crops up in it, but I don't mind - it tastes so good. Yes, the saltiness is noticeable, but I don't go there all the time, so if I should die prematurely, Katz's won't be the cause. And the counter man always gives me a few strips of meat to taste. I don't remember ever rejecting pastrami based on the tastes I've been given, but friends have, and the response has always been to immediately choose another slab to their specifications. (It's probably best to tip the counter man extra if he does that for you.) Not everyone realizes that it's possible to get a bowl of soup and _half_ a sandwich, for those times when you want some soup and don't think you can handle all that meat. Last time, I had some very good split pea soup with my half sandwich of pastrami on rye (my Indo-Caribbean ex-girlfriend [still a good friend] remarked that the soup was like dal but would have been better with cumin seeds, but it was very good Jewish split pea soup). We also shared some of their cole slaw, which is just about the only cole slaw I like. Topped off with some Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, it was a perfect meal for that day.
  24. Empire Szechuan has never been a real Sichuan restaurant, and that includes the original branch at 97 St. and Broadway, 1 block away from the building where I grew up and my parents still live. They started or came in around the beginning of a trend of fake Sichuan (and Hunan - think Hunan Balcony one block up on 98 St.) restaurants run by people who were really Cantonese and weren't really doing real stuff, though Empire Szechuan was good at first, and we ate there a lot then. The thing that's special about Grand Sichuan is that it's the first place where I had _real_ Sichuan food in New York - and that much of its food is not merely good but delicious and even special. They don't pander and don't adulterate; they just provide real stuff and leave "American Chinese" food on the menu, clearly labeled, for neighborhood residents who aren't comfortable with food that is firey, oily, and has "weird" ingredients like tripe, ox tongue, or bitter melon. And if you want a cheap lunch special, you can get ordinary American Chinese food like you'd pay the same amount for in another place, but you always have a much better choice.
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