Food bytes from the Big Apple

A very exciting project has been keeping me preoccupied lately and I haven’t cooked nor baked anything interesting to blog about. But I promise to unveil the project I’ve been working on in the coming weeks.

fancyfood
Fancy Food Show Exhibit 2010

Anyway, I just got back from the Fancy Food Show in New York. I took their one-day seminar about starting a business and I will never look at grocery store prices the same again. It was unfortunate they did not allow exhibitor’s booths to be photographed because it was indeed a foodie paradise. Products from all over the world were featured lavishly. There were good and bad products but I noticed that baked goods that were sold with a shelf life of more than a couple of weeks did not taste good at all.

Since I don’t have pictures, it’s no fun to discuss the fancy food show, so let’s move on to the two dining experiences that changed the attitude of the "Hungry" Hubby towards Asian food.

I apologize in advance for the blurry discolored photos. I wasn’t planning on blogging the experience and all I had at hand was my camera phone.

 momofuku a
Momofuku! First in line. :)

Let’s start with Momofuku. I think David Chang’s famous joint needs no introduction. Everyone raves about his pork belly buns and outstanding ramen. And you know what, our experience lived up to the hype. The sauce and textures of HH’s sliced scallops were unbelievable and my pork belly buns were meant to be savored. HH’s fried chicken wings were as good as the book’s recipe (well maybe my sauce was a bit better ;) ), but my ramen was a revelation! Ramen cooked to perfection, it had just the right bite, but I seriously loved every piece of pork, seaweed and egg in my noodle bowl.

porkbellybuns
Pork Belly buns
ramen
Momofuku ramen with, what else? Pork Belly!

I have to voice out this observation though. Those pork belly buns flew out the kitchen like hotcakes and it amazes me how people in NY appear less concerned about fat in their diet. And yes, looking at the folks in the restaurant that day you would wonder where the obesity problem in the U.S. was because these were fit, skinny people shoveling pork belly buns into their mouths as fast as the kitchen can make them.

Which brings me back to my lament of the porkchop situation in our RVA meat cases- mutilated and shaved off of that all important layer of fat. :(

Anyway, the only disappointment in our Momofuku meal was the strawberry ice cream dessert, it was …nothing special.

But it was the following night’s dinner that had me singing Yakitori for the next few days.
Yakitori Totto is one of Thomas Keller’s favorite restaurants in New York. When I read Ruhlman’s experience way back in 2007, I was imagining a place I would truly enjoy but dangit!, 2010 is almost halfway through and I have not eaten there yet.

Well, I was determined that on this trip I would.

I dragged HH out of class early so we could be at the restaurant when it opened at 5:30 pm, otherwise it’ll be normally an hour wait. To work up an appetite we walked from the Javits center all the way to 52nd street. It’s a very discreet looking restaurant located on the second floor and we almost couldn’t find it because I had the address number wrong. I was close to tears (after all, I walked 1.5 miles in sticky heat) until HH spotted the sign.

yakitoritoto
Yakitori totto

We were first in line, but it didn’t take long for a line to form behind us. A guy behind us told us that he ate at Yakitori totto “the first time yesterday” and it was hands down the best yakitori in New York so now he is back for more.
HH couldn’t wait to order beer, but I quickly decided on what skewered fare I was going to have. Here was the rundown of what we ordered:

Kobe Beef Gyutan – Kobe beef tongue
Lamb Chop
Harami – skirt steak
Enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon
Asparagus wrapped in bacon
Hiza Nankotsu – soft knee bone (yep- cartilage and bone – it was delish!)
Negima – thigh and scallion
Kawa – skin
Sanagimo – gizzard
Berkshire pork belly
Reba – Liver
Negi Tori don – charcoal broiled chicken over rice with scallion and soft boiled egg
Daiginjyo tofu – premium pure tofu in hot pot (25 minute wait)

beeftongue
A blurry pic of the beef tongue, I loved it, HH did not
negiyak
Negi Tori Don – this is my perfect rice bowl, it is served with a soft-cooked egg

Each skewer was roughly $3.00 except for the beef tongue which was $8.00 and the lamb which was $7.00.

As you all noticed, I didn’t take much pictures for my food blogging took a backseat to the food disappearing quickly into my belly.

Verdict?

I’m speechless with how good it was. Simple flavors with a lasting impression. Keller got right when he said: You have some chicken, special tofu and some rice and egg. And it’s like, ‘god, I’m in heaven.” It’s just such simple food.

You feel that each skewer that was laid on your plate was made with such care and reverence, the flavors…OMG …the flavors are so real…so pure…

I had to laugh when the menu said on top “ Yakitori served with okinawa salt. Yakitori sauce upon request.”

Yes, nothing was swimming in sauce.

Best of all, I’ve had HH convinced that Japanese food was more than just sushi or hibachi. There is this other realm which exist – the art of the Yakitori and I sure hope that RVA will soon catch up with this one.

Please enough sushi joints…