Morimoto {Restaurant Review}

If you were to ask the boy what his favorite restaurant in the city is chances are he would say Morimoto’s.  Over the years we’ve been to the NYC location at least half a dozen times and have no plans on stopping our (almost) annual visits.   When Pear’s birthday rolled around, we decided to take him there to celebrate.

We arrived about 30 minutes early for our reservation and were given the option of hanging out at the bar or being seated right away since they had tables open. We chose the latter and were whisked away to a table right in front of the open kitchen!

Once seated, we ordered some drinks to start off with.  I can’t find the drink menu online so here’s what I can vaguely remember of it…
Pear chose a martini with sake and calpico as the base.  Slightly citrus-y…light and refreshing!


I chose another sake based drink.  It appeared to be a twist on a mojito.  Completely opposite of what I usually order…this drink was sweet and fruity, but not overwhelmingly so.  I was again reminded why I don’t like muddled drinks…I like my drinks to be clean and crisp.  Here I found myself quietly spitting out pieces of mint leaves into my napkin.  I don’t think I’d order this again, but I would recommend it. 
I almost forgot about the boy’s “drink”.  He decided to order a pot of tea.  When he asked the waiter about the selections the waiter rattled off a pretty long list and the oolong sparked his interest.  One pot of peach oolong tea on the way!  I tried a sip and thought it had more fruit flavor than tea.  But the boy seemed to like it enough.  Later on during the meal the waiter came over to ask if he’d like the pot to be refreshed with hot water.  The boy happily obliged.

Now onto the food!
The boy’s goal is to eventually try everything on the menu here.  I have faith that we eventually will if we keep up our somewhat frequent visits!  Its hard to try different things though when we clearly have our favorites.

One of the appetizers we have to order every time we come is the spicy king crab – tobanjan aioli, micro cilantro.
The price of this dish has gone up over the years.  It now comes in at a hefty $34 – I think the first time we had this years ago it was about $29.  But in our opinion, worth its price!  This dish seems simple enough to replicate at home – crab legs with a spicy mayo sauce mixed with some tobiko and lightly heated through.  Morimoto executes this dish so well and we love it so much that we prefer to just have it here instead of attempting it at home.


Pear thought the lamb carpaccio looked interesting and decided to give it a try.

I don’t eat raw but the boys seemed to enjoy the dish.  Lamb carpaccio – shiso buds, scallion-ginger dressing


The final appetizer we decided on was the tempura calamari salad – white miso dressing, crispy shallots. We’ve ordered this salad quite a few times in the past as well.  Another dish on our favorites list!  Crispy calamari, field greens, light and tangy dressing…delish!


In between the appetizer and entree course, we decided to have some sushi.  We knew that we’d be bordering dangerously on full by the time our entrees arrived, but how can you go to Morimoto’s and not get some sushi?!  Especially since we were seated right in front of the bar!


Soft shell crab roll –
deep fried soft shell crab, asparagus, tobiko, avocado, scallion, spicy sauce.  This was the first time we ordered this and most likely won’t be the last!  I could have done without the avocado and found that the end pieces were extremely hard to eat because of the size, but in the end we all gave it a thumbs up!


Spicy tuna roll – chopped tuna, scallion, spicy sauce.  Unlike our local Japanese restaurants, the spicy tuna roll here does not consist of pulverized fish drowning in a heavy sauce.  The tuna here is chunked in fairly large pieces and lightly dressed in the spicy sauce.  The boys enjoyed the roll from what I could tell!  The boy commented that you can actually taste the fish instead of it being overwhelmed by sauce.


Onto the entrees!

The last time we were here the boy ordered the surf & turf – wagy filet & hamachi ribbons, herbed potatoes, crushed citrus & avocado (prepared tableside)  He was so floored by the potatoes he decided that he had to have it again!  The dish arrives with the surf portion prepared tableside.  The waiter quickly dresses the avocado and hamachi with a citrus dressing and tosses it together.  I tried a piece of the boy’s steak and it was good.  But I’m not a huge red meat eater so I don’t have the same appreciation as he does for it.  As a sidenote…the last time the boy ordered this dish we both fell in love with the potatoes.  We couldn’t pinpoint the spice that was in them so we asked the waiter what it was.  He said he’ll be right back…we had assumed that he went to ask the kitchen.  Instead, he returned with a slip of paper printed with all of the ingredients in the dish!  <the spice was star anise by the way!>
One thing that was different this time around was that they used baby potatoes instead of fingerlings like last time.  However the potatoes were just as tender and good!

Pear ordered the braised black cod – ginger-soy reduction.  Nothing bad to say about this dish!  Moist, flaky, YUM!


The last few times we’ve been here I’ve ordered the same dish.  Because it is THAT good!  I guess I’d consider it my favorite!  Seafood ‘toban yaki’ – half shell lobster, king crab, mussel, clam, diver scallop, red miso-sake broth.   Gosh…where do I start?  Hmm…well how about not using the word gosh again?  The term toban yaki loosely translates to ‘roast on a ceramic plate’.  Morimoto executes this perfectly!  The miso broth is gently flavored with all of the juices from the seafood.  That broth…oh how I love that broth!  I usually order a side of rice so that I could spoon the broth over and eat it!  In my experience though, almost every time the scallop has been overcooked. :-(  But that’s ok because I can never finish the dish anyway!  Now this is something I need to learn how to replicate myself at home!

The carnage.

To pretend to be healthy we ordered a side of the Chinese broccoli.  I would definitely pass on these next time.  They were weak.  Limp, greasy and bland!  I dredged them through my miso broth and it helped bring them back to life a little bit…but overall not worth it.

We were all too full to even think about ordering dessert!  Again, Morimoto did not disappoint!  Almost everything was done perfectly and presented beautifully.  We WILL be back!

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HK Station {Restaurant Review}

We’ve been back from AC for a few days now…and I’m getting the vacation blues!  “last week at this time I was…”…I can’t be the only one that does this am I!?

I haven’t finished sorting through all of the pictures yet to pull the ones I want to post…so I’ll just skip ahead to this post that has been sitting in my drafts for a while now.

E and I meet up about 2x a month to go to dinner…when we have a Shecky’s event we usually head down to Chinatown to grab a bowl of cheap noodles.  Our favorite place to go for this is Hong Kong Station.  My best way to describe this place would be similar to those salad bars that you find in the city…where you pick your lettuce, toppings, dressing and they mix it all together for you.  The difference here is that you pick your type of noodle – ranging from thin rice noodles to thick udon noodles and everything in between; your toppings – various meats and veggies; and then your soup flavorings (scallion-garlic oil and/or curry-garlic sauce).

The service is fast, food is tasty and have I mentioned CHEAP!  :)  From the last time we went I think the noodles were $2.50 and then each topping is about $2.  Our bowls are always under $10.

As far as the toppings go – there is a huge variety.  From common things like ham, fried eggs, veggies, and grilled chicken to some more exotic things (ie things that I won’t touch but everyone tells me I should try cuz its good :-) ) like beef tripe, beef stomach, pork intestines, chicken gizzards…and all of that fun stuff.

I usually get 2-4 toppings depending on how famished I’m feeling.  Obviously in the below picture I was starving since I got 4 toppings!  I like that if you choose chicken, spam or ham they will take it over to the griddle and heat it up there for you since the soup won’t heat it thoroughly enough.   And if you’re not in the mood for noodles you can also get the toppings over rice!

Off to the side of the cashier they also have some additional condiments that you can add to your noodles like soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, vinegar, white pepper, etc.

Thumbs up!

45 Bayard St # A
New York, NY 10013-4929
(212) 233-0288

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Jup She {restaurant review}

Neatly tucked in between Baxter and Centre Streets on Grand lies a little known Korean restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown.  Yes – Korean in Chinatown.
The boy and I have been here several times before (I more than him) and we enjoy the place for what it is: decent Korean food.  Its definitely not the best we’ve ever had but it will satisfy the craving in a pinch.  Parking here is much easier than parking in ktown or Flushing.  I usually have luck right on Centre St.

In a rush to make our movie showing, we decided that we’d grab a quick meal at Jup She.  The menu is on the small side in comparison to other Korean restaurants I’ve been to.  They don’t offer the option to cook the meat at your table at this restaurant, which I don’t mind at all.  I don’t always want to walk out smelling like BBQ after a Korean meal!  Not all places have great ventilation.

Most people I observed ordered the bi bim baps from the menu.  There are several types to choose from on the menu ranging from tofu, pork, bulgogi, and galbi to name a few.  I used to order the spicy pork one a lot…that was until I discovered my love for soon dubu and I haven’t turned back.

As with all Korean restaurants I’ve been to, the meal started with the server placing some banchan on the table.  A lot of reviewers complain about the small quantity and variety of them here.  We have been to some restaurants that give you as many as 8-12 varieties.  I’m not quite fond of them most of the time, so their small offering was more than enough for me. There were 4 dishes in total.  They comprised of kimchi, pickled daikon, potato salad and a savory steamed egg custard.  The steamed custard was a nice touch and unexpected.  But overall none of the banchan were really memorable and we just picked at them.
To start with we ordered an order of the duk bokki.  Thick, chewy rice cakes and fish cakes slathered in a sweet and spicy sauce.  NOM!  I’ve made this at home a few times and I prefer my version better because I hate sesame seeds…and this dish is always loaded with them.  Also, I like mine extra spicy and its usually been on the sweeter side whenever I order it.

On this night the boy decided on the bulgogi bi bim bap and it didn’t disappoint.  He likes to let it sit for a few minutes after it arrives to the table to let the edges crisp up some more.  Sometimes we find that during the peak hours they don’t let the stone bowls heat up enough so your rice won’t get that highly desired crispy bottom to it.

I went with the soon dubu as usual.  Its not the greatest from here but I like it enough to keep ordering it!  The best I’ve had so far was from BCD in Ktown…but it sure is better tasting than what I make at home.

Thumbs up!

Jup She
171 Grand Street
NY NY 10013

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New Tu Do {restaurant review}

Greetings!

A few months back after some retail therapy at Bloomingdales, E and I decided to head over to chinatown for a quick dinner.

In my search to find a restaurant that serves banh beo in the city, Tu Do came up several times and had great reviews overall (on yelp). We got there pretty late (slightly after 9…and the restaurant closes at 10 on weekdays) and quickly placed our orders. Two bowls of pho, an order of spring rolls (I’m a firm believer that the spring roll will determine how good or bad the rest of the food will be!), and an order of banh beo.

The spring rolls were standard. Nothing spectacular…a little lacking in the flavor department. The texture was a lot softer than I’m used to as well…perhaps too much vermicelli and veggies in it and not enough pork…definitely not enough seasoning!

E got her pho with sliced beef and I got mine with grilled chicken.  Upon inspection of the bowl of noodles I wasn’t sure what I was getting into…it seemed as if there was an oil spill on top of both bowls! :-( And it turns out, I have never had an oilier bowl of pho before! It was rather unpleasant. If the broth had some umami it would have made up for the oil slick. But unfortunately, that was not the case either. At least the noodles had decent texture…

Now onto the banh beo…I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never had it before. From wiki: “small steamed rice cake or rice pancake in Vietnamese cuisine. It is white in color and typically features a dimple in the center, which is filled with savory ingredients including chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallions, mung bean paste, crispy fried shallots, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and oil.”

Not sure if this was supposed to be served warm or not?? But ours was cold.  The rice cakes were smooth in texture and not too dense. The toppings were fried garlic, mung bean paste (unbelievably dry and crumbly!), scallions and dried shrimp.  Like the others, this dish also lacked flavor but was saved by splashing some of nuoc nam on it. I would give it another shot..maybe just not at this restaurant.

Overall the whole meal was pretty lacking and I was quite disappointed.  Maybe it was because we were there close to closing time?  But then again, that is no excuse to serve sub par food! E was there in the past and said that the food was never this bad.  I’d give the restaurant another try and chalk it up to an off day.

Thumbs down!

New Tu Do
102 Bowery St
New York, NY 10013

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