Tuesday, December 25, 2007


It's always a matter of opinion and experience. But one thing I know is I was unimpressed. My face couldn't hide it, my senses were disappointed, and my mind couldn't believe it.

After hearing tons of hype from numerous people; all of whom are good sources for recommendations, I finally made it to Japonais. From the minute the hostess sat us in the worst table in the restaurant; the 4 top by the hostess stand and closest to the rotating door, I knew it was going to be trouble.

Japonais opened a few years ago but has consistently been praised for its food; mainly the hot dishes over the sushi. Doogs gave me the play- "Try mostly small plates; appetizers and such so you get a variety...and definitely get "The Rock." After we switched to another table, which wasn't very hard considering the abundance of empty tables in a crowd of annoying young girls, euro-trashy couples and other odds and ends, my surrogate sister, my sister and I began to process the menu while sipping on a cocktail.

We decided on a few apps and 1 main. First came the lobster spring rolls. This dish was actually pretty good- this, however, was not all that surprising considering anything with ingredients like lobster and mango in a fried shell is usually good. Following not far behind was the tuna sashimi and lamb ceviche. Both of these apps were pretty good but definitely not worth they hype. I've had far superior sashimi even at places that don't speciialize in sushi and I was pretty disappointed.

The pacing of the food was always way too fast. The service tried to pick up plates before we were finished which made for awarkdness and looks of death (mainly from me cause I can be a bitch- surprise surprise). Furthermore, the staff had problem communicating in English- and for a restaurant of supposed high caliber, servers should be able to confidently talk to their tables.

Finally came Doog's suggestion, "The Rock." This app was raw beef cooked to your preferred temperature on a rock. I've had a dish similar to this at Megu; in which a server comes to prepare the meat for you first and shows you how to 'cook' the meat. At Japonais, this server seemed like he barely knew what he was doing and although this was probably the best dish we had at Japonais it feel far behind the dish we had at Megu. By the end of the apps, we felt no hope for the main course we ordered and we were right. The eggplant and sauce was severely salty and put the final finishing touches on a disappointing meal.

It could've been the night we went there, the dishes we chose or the specific service that catered to us; but I don't feel a strong urge to return to Japonais. Some of my friends love this joint but to me it falls wayyy short. In it's NY birth, it even got good reviews in the NY Times and New York magazine but as said before, it's all about opinion and experience and when your experience is poor usually you're opinion is too.

A Night at ICE

Over 7 months after receiving a birthday gift certificate from friends Ginger, A.Duh and Doogs- I finally cashed in on a class at the Institute of Culinary Education in Chelsea. I pondered which class to take for quite some time and continually nagged my culinary partner in crime, J-Food, as she had several gift certificates to ICE as well.

After profusely calling the institutes's number, I locked a spot in "Essentials of Provencal Cooking" for a Saturday night in December. J-Food only landed the waiting list, but the woman on ICE's line assured her there would be no problem in attending the class.

The day finally arrived when J-Food and I would attend the highly anticipated cooking class- we, of course, had subway issues on the way down and were 15 minutes late. We found the school and got to the 12th floor to find a disgruntled disheveled woman asking us for our class confirmation letters. J-Food began to explain her predicament and was firmly interrupted to be told she will try to make an exception for her...but only this time. Again, we tried to explain the multiple phone calls, the 20 minutes hold times, and the calming reassurance that had been given to J-Food, but reception lady wanted nothing to do with it. Luckily, she took mercy on our poor foodie souls and told us to take a right to the stairwell and walk up a flight. As soon as the door closed behind us, I couldn't help but call her a "bitch!"

We silently walked into Kitchen 1 to find the class had already begun. Instructor Chef Loren Banco was going through all the recipes on our agenda and was already on the third dish- soup au pistou. Trying to rapidly throw our belongings under a table as to not disrupt the class, I already felt intimidated as the chef guided us through all of the recipe changes and I couldn't reach a pencil to mark it down. I had this feeling like I was in high school and about to get scolded, but Chef Loren was super breezy about it and included us in the introductions as he continued with the menu. J-Food and I tried to give each other sideway glances.

After the chef went through all of the 8 recipes (Tapenade, Brandade de Morue avec Croutons, Soupe au Pistou, Daube de Boeuf, Fenoul a la Provencale, Carre d'Agneau Roti aux Herbes de Provence, Tian d'Aubergines et Courgettes, and Compote de fruits Secs au Miel) he took the class to "Table 3" to give us a knife demo. At this point, J-Food and I started to figure out that each of the three tables in the kitchen would be in charge of prepping 3 of the dishes on the menu. It was a free for all as to which table we were at and I was determined to cook a meat (either the rack of lamb or the beef). After the chef showed us the proper way to cut an onion, he allowed us to pick our tables. J-Food and I stood at table 3 (the rack of lamb table) along with several couples our parents' age and I tried not to budge. J-Food began to nudge me, "Maybe it's just better to go to Table 1?" She was right; it wasn't worth the fight.

Table 1 actually ended up working in our favor. There were only 4 of us there so we got to be hands on with most of the dishes we were preparing. For some reason, I had this funny feeling that the students in the class kind of thought J-Food and I were these dumb girls in tall boots. I told J-Food my thoughts and she agreed but reassured me, "Melis, I think so too..but lets show em we're professionals.." I couldn't help but laugh when suddenly as I began to slice the onion, the Chef went over with me the proper way to cut an onion again in a 'rocking motion.' I got the hang of it and was off on my way to slicing, cubing, and wedging the rest of the vegetables for the Soupe Au Pistou. J-Food and I prepped most of the vegetables that went into the soup, while our other team members boiled the soaked beans, prepped the bouqet garni and started on using a mortar and pestle to blend the pistou by hand. I think after they agreed to the chef's suggestion, they later regretted it. This was an arduous task which tired both of them. Meanwhile, J-Food and I took control of the fennel. One of my favorite parts of cooking is presentation. Thats the time when I've done everything I can do to make the dish taste good and can now put an artistic touch to make it look as pretty as possible. We saved the tops of the fennels for garnish and when the dish was almost complete I cut this slices of tomato to line the dish with. I placed a few slices with the springy fennels branches on either side of the plate. It wasn't my ideal; but it was good enough for now.

Just as the lamb was finishing, we frantically tried to get all of our dishes to table 1. You could see everything from our soup and tapenade to the codfish and croutons and crustless tart. The end of the class was really nice because we got to sit down with our fellow classmates and enjoy each other's cooking. Chef complimented me on the presentation of the fennel (which being the loser that I am--I was excited about) and we sat down to eat. Chef complimented all of our dishes and I wondered if he ever said anything was bad in which he responded with his most horrific stories- salt used in a recipe in mistake for sugar and a tobasco sauce disaster. J-Food being the life of the party that she always is began to probe the chef on bourbon cooking. Being a PR manager for Makers Mark, she's constantly finding opportunity in every experience- that night, she found it ideal to plug my blog (this very one you're reading!) and her liquor. I sat red-faced.

By the end of the night, we learned that one of the couples our parent's age lived a block away from where J-Food grew up, another couple played Jewish geography with 25 year olds from Rockland County and other people asked me my favorite restaurants I blog about. I guess they didn't think we were those dumb girls in tall boots after all! As I left the institute with a shopping bag of left-overs, I vowed to do another class as soon as possible- one with J-food, another with my mom and a wine course with my dad. J-Food caught a ride home to her parent's house with the couple from her Hometown and I tried to figure out where I would go out that Saturday night. To be honest, the night was eventful enough..and although a different sort of Saturday night in NYC- it was a night I'd definitely like to repeat.

Friday, December 21, 2007

NYC Restaurant Week

Its that time of year again. Winter NYC restaurant week has been announced: Gourmet Prix-Fixe Menus- Jan. 21-25 and Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2008. Get on it!! Open Table allows you to book and has a list of the restaurants available: Open Table

Lunch menus are often the best.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Spot- the Dog

Although you have to search hard to find the gems, there are actually a lot of good lunch spots in my work hood. The area I work in is one that is currently unidentified and will probably have an acronym that describes it in the next 5 years. For now I would consider it triabovcan/lo w.village/soweho. In the blocks neighboring my building, there isn't much. Sketchy delis, a random subway and a displaced Chipotle are the nearest establishments. But if you go a bit farther you can find the endearing italian sandwich shops (san panino on hudson, alidoro on sullivan, vesuvio bakery on prince), the perfect thai place with a cheap lunch (peep) and the best gourmet sandwiches, salads and others at Olive's.

There is, however, one little establishment thats really close to my heart- Grey Dog on Carmine. For some reason, its the staple for my lunch group; the go to spot when we are craving hearty soup,a tasty salad, a damn good sandwich, or their delicious tuna tacos. It never fails. Although hard to admit but there have been late nights at work when we've ordered dinner and it has made no difference that we've already had grey dog for lunch- their selection is varied and the food is consistent. Oddly enough, the hippie staff and homey surroundings also bring in celeb clientelle. A couple weeks ago, my friends saw Lilly Taylor there and its been heard that MK and Ashley "eat" there (maybe they get the coffees?). In any case, it's a mystery to me why I can't find the listing in Zagat and the rave review to go along because all I know is that its one rock in my life I won't part with.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Birthday 3 Course Discourse!

So its two days passed the official one year anniversary of 3 Course Discourse. YAY! Throughout this year, many meals have been eaten, stories shared, embarrassing details exposed (of myself and others) and critiques given. And like most years, time has flied by. With the mark of this blog’s 1 year anniversary, also comes the new and improved 2008 Zagat which I recently purchased to replace the 2007 edition. While most of the restaurants are the same, I can’t help but notice the large numbers of new restaurants that have sprung up around the city. This only means there are new places to go and check-out and a few have already been sticky-tagged in the new publication. Oh and might I add- there are color titles in the new Zagat! (hey, it’s the little things…) I toast to the success of the 1 year old 3 Course Discourse and to the many new and old restaurants to continually review. I hope you’ve (all 10 of you) enjoyed reading. Salute!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tasteful Reading

As an avid New York Magazine reader, I can’t image what life would be like when enticed by restaurant openings, concerts and events and unable to have the opportunity to see what it’s all about. Whether I actually go or not, at least I have the peace of mind that I’m close enough to make it; effort is just the key.

As a born and raised native New Yorker, my dear friend Lizbo, has lived in LA for the last 2+ years but yet still reads New York Mag religiously. She carefully dog ears her must-see plays, must-eat restaurants and all that falls in between. She has quite the archive. So when she returns to New York for holidays, special occasions and her routine summer check-in she has a full list of places she wants to go. It’s her only opportunity to put face to name so to speak.

Last week, I took off a day from work to indulge in a day of fun with Lizbo. Originally we planned this as a girlie day for spa treatments, shopping and lunch but with lack of funds and laziness setting in we settled on lunch. Plus we had to save our energy for a night of debauchery in celebration of A.Duh’s bday. As Lizbo and I tried to decide on a restaurant, Lizbo said she would reference her archived “Cheap Eats” issue of New York Magazine—this is they type of things she saves it for. One of the establishments mentioned was Bar Stuzzichini. We quickly settled on this for its equidistant location and promise for one of Lizbo’s favorite foods Gnocci.

Lizbo is a pretty simple eater and by simple I mean she safely and consistently eats kid food ie. Burgers, pizza, French fries and of course the exotic gnocci. Her usual highlight of New York Mag’s cheap eats is the burger joint section—and she’s pretty much hit up most of these places in Manhattan. I fondly remember last time she was in NY--meeting her at Zip Burger (on 52nd and 2nd) to find her sitting quietly in a booth by herself methodically eating her organic burger with Belgian cut fries and a milk shake to wash it down. However, throughout the years Lizbo she has attempted to branch out. And I give her credit for this.

Bar Stuzzichini was another one of Lizbo’s branching out moments. She awaited my late arrival for about 20 minutes (sorry- the subways!) with a glass of diet coke and a menu. When I ordered a diet coke as well, the waiter brought over a quarter bottle with the sode for refill. I thought this was the cutest touch—traditionally only served this way with wine. We scanned the menu; Lizbo looking for items she would potentially eat; me fixated on the eggplant parmigiana. The waiter arrived to answer any questions and Lizbo queried, “So the gnocci..is that spicy? What’s actually in that?” The waiter answered, “Yes it’s spicy with prosciutto- but it’s very good.” “Hmm… yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work, “ Lizbo replied. “And what about the crispy chicken? Just how crispy is it?” she asked. The conversation continued and Lizbo decided on the chicken to my surprise. I asked the waiter as well, “Is the eggplant breaded? Just how breaded?” He answered that it wasn’t breaded and it was petite. I give him credit for being able to answer such questions of ours.

We started with the meatballs- which were 5 tiny round balls that were completed breaded on the outside and what seemed to be a blend of meat on the inside. They almost looked like little falafel balls. Lizbo and I agreed they weren’t our fav yet we couldn’t help but finish the moist balls one by one. Shortly after, our mains arrived—which were simply presented no sides or garnish nonsense. Lizbo’s chicken cooked to what looked like brown crisp perfection on the bone and my eggplant that looked like a slice of eggplant layered lasagna. I really loved my dish- a light tasty tomato sauce and everything was moist and perfectly cooked. Reminded me of the eggplant parm at ‘inoteca on Rivington Street if not better. Lizbo wasn’t in love with her food; she liked the crispy parts of the chicken but thought you can taste every piece of the inside (not sure if that’s good or bad). As she described the meatballs as “mealy” she also described the chicken.

After I server removed our plates, Lizbo ordered a canola and a glass of Muscat and I ordered a cappuccino. I asked for a skim cap and the waiter said they only had whole but that there was barely any milk in it; it was mainly foam. When the cup arrived- I’d never seen anything like it; a shot of espresso on the bottom of what seemed to be a foam party on top. I couldn’t help but think of Mugatu from Zoolander. As I tried to enjoy my foam, I became quite jealous of Lizbo’s Muscat, which didn’t not come in classic dessert wine glass but rather what seemed to be a goblet. 5 minutes later, I ordered my own.

Before the bill even arrived, Lizbo and I realized this probably wouldn’t be the “Cheap Eats” lunch we had originally anticipated. Much of the time what NY Mag considers Cheap is not what underpaid 20 somethings consider to be frugal. Although I must say the dinner prices at Bar Stuzzichini are the same as lunch- so most of the entrees are under 25 (which is great for dinner) as long as you pay for sides ala carte and you are aware of the smaller side portions. Many reviews have said to actually just order a ton of the small plates, which was the opposite of what Lizbo and I did. But hey we’re backwards sort of people. Would definitely say to go for dinner rather than lunch- although the atmosphere is a little chain-restauranty (at first glance from the marble bar top I thought it would be cute but from a birds eye view the red décor is a little off-putting). We also sat for a long time over due and the service left us alone to continue our chatter storm and bask in our muscatos.
I’m just happy that we were able to fufill the Lizbo vision and allow her to travel cross the continent to actualize her reading. It's so much better to be able to taste it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Notorious Bunch

The other night while out to dinner for my friend's bday at Snack Taverna in the West Village over braised short ribs with pumpkin puree and pancetta (which was YUM!), someone posed the question, "What's your favorite restaurant in New York?" to each person at the table. I was dumb founded. There was no way I would be able to answer that question with a single entry. I thought maybe I could break it down by cuisine but even then its near impossible. How do I answer French? High end would be Chantarelle or maybe Per Se... but that's special occassion dining...on the normal dining experience it would be Jubilee...or maybe Cafe Joul? My mind raced.

So now I pose a new question. What restaurant do you dislike the most in New York? The worst food...horrible service...would never return type place. With so many great establishments around the city, it's hard to even identify these places. So often eateries are publicized for the trendy atmosphere or celebrity owners and we forget that patrons actually go to there to eat.

I can't say for sure where any of the restaurants below fall in my top list of "most unappetizing dining experiences" but if they are on this list at all, it's not a good thing in general.

English is Italian
- Recently closed English is Italian promised celeb chef success. Unfortunately for Todd English, the place fell WAY short. I went there a couple of years ago for lunch during Restaurant Week. The service was slow and unattentive during business lunch hours, which proves less customers than dinner service and more antsy patrons anxious to get back to work. The food was over salty and for a salt-lover like myself that says a lot. I can't remember exactly what I ate because I all I remember is the sodium overdose. Not a memory I'd like to look back on.

Punch- I went to Punch three time all together. The first two times were decent..nothing to write home about nothing to complain about but in a conveniant location to the movie theater and an equi distant point for gathering, I returned a third time only to be severly disappointed. The service was weird and awkward. It felt like everyone was on their first night and the Maitre D' actually made me feel uncomfortable. The scallops I had the second time I was at Punch were great...the third time, not so much. If a restaurant can't be consistent, whats the point in returning?

China Grill-Another restuarant week outing gone horribly awry. This place was completely overhyped. From unattentive service to soggy and congealed dumplings and the kicker of cold entrees- this place definitely takes the cake. As I've said before, I'd rather go to PF Changs for better food, service and ambiance and that's pretty pathetic since the chain establishments are usually associated with strip malls.

I'm sure there are many more to add to this list, but I'll leave it at these three for now. Somehow its easier to narrow it down to three bad restaurants than 3 favorite restaurants..there are just too many good ones to pick from.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The American Looking Glass

While I lived in London, I gained an overwhelming generalized sentiment of pro-Europe. Call it reverse ethno-centrisim although I wouldn't necessarily think it was anti-American. It was more of the idea that we, Americans, should take our heads out of our asses, stop thinking we're better than everyone else, and open our eyes to the world. This comes in two falvors: a very over-arching general way be it politics and world issues as well as a drilled down day to day feeling from annoying Red Sox Fans in Boston to the Starbucks phenomena.

I began to believe that everything was better across the pond from culture and attitude to espresso and men. While I haven't nearly lost that feeling, I've learned to cope with this by feeding my itch every now and again and traveling to new places.

One thing I did not get hooked on while living in London was British TV. While some of my flatmates swore by Eastenders and Big Brother(the UK edition), I found myself fiending for some Sex and the City and good ol' trashy MTV reality shows. Not to say British TV isn't trashy..because, it can damn well be even worse than the US but I feel comfort in mindless and numbing programming.

When Gordon Ramasay's Hell's Kitchen show arrived in the states, I was pretty excited to become an avid viewer. I became an instant fan of the chef while in London when eating at his restaurant on Hospital Road. So when the show first aired, I would insesently try to watch the show but failed miserably. I couldn't get into it. Ramsay seemed like such a dick; no way to get through his cold heart. Deep down, I knew this was all an act but I stopped watching the show shortly after I started.

More recently, his new show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares debuted. When I saw the ads for this show, I stayed far away. It seemed like just a bunch of yelling at poor souls. I wanted nothing to do with it and never even gave it a try.

Cut to two weeks ago- bored, channel surfing on my couch in a hung over haze one Saturday morning (okay, fine..it was the afternoon). I see Gordon Ramsay's face flash across the screen as I cliked through the channels. Upon first hearing the narration, I knew straight off the bat this was not American. I had never seen Ramsay portrayed as serious or in documentary style. US TV likes to make Ramsay into a fanatical character; the asshole chef who made it big and now makes wanna-be chefs suffer through hell. I hesitated but then began to watch and soon realized I was watching BBC America and the UK version of the show.

I watched the whole segment: Ramsay helping a family run an upstairs-restaurant and make it (with profit) while their chef (also a family member) suffers through alcohol addiction. It was actually quite heart-warming and Ramsay is with the family throughout the entire ordeal helping them along the way...and yes, CARING. It was incredible to me how different this man was by just watching him in UK programming instead of the US. To think how many Americans have wrote off this chef because of his temper and mistreatment when really behind all this is a warm and nurturing human.

Just like Ramsay was presented to me through an American looking glass, the world has been presented to me as well. It's of no surprise that once overseas, the world (and Ramsay) looked different. If nothing else, watching this show made me remember why I loved it across the ocean so much and brought my original sentiment back. Now the big quesiton is when can I return?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

re: To Age Gracefully

And the response to Ms.Wild Ginger's letter:

Dear Ms. Ginger,
First and foremost, we would like to apologize for the embarrassing situation that occurred in the restaurant last night. Because of our surrounding area which includes many nightclubs and high profile eateries, we are often the target of "stings" by police enforcement and they have sent many patrons into our restaurant that match your physical description. We have to err on the side of caution as it can lead to the closing of the restaurant. We are a neighborhood restaurant and while we certainly did not mean to insult you, these patrons that are undercover also use state issued ID cards rather than driver's licenses while also looking very young and fresh faced!
I have spoken with the Manager and he assured me that he was not trying to issue any hostility towards you and he did know that you have been in before as it is recorded in our Open Table reservation system. If he offended you in any other way except refusing to serve you, I need to know that so we can further discuss it with him. However a judgment call was made in favor of keeping our business alive so we can continue to serve the neighborhood and loyal customers like yourself. Again, we apologize and would like to see you again soon. If you do decide to return, please have dinner for two on us. If you wish to have your name deleted from our system, please advise. While it is not our wish for you to do so, your decision will be respected and granted. If you would like to speak to me directly, please do not hesitate to call me. I am here everyday until 3:00 save Thursday and Sunday.

I appreciate you taking the time to write to us,

What's the point of recording clients in open table if not to better serve them? Did they add a comment- looks underage? I mean Cmon....

To Age Gracefully...

As an unfathomable follow-up to the below post, I give you Ginger's grievance letter to the management at Crispo. I know that some of us do look young, but twice in one month is unreal...and this time, even with all the proper documentation, the management refused to serve.

Good Morning,
My name is Wild Ginger I am a 25 year old female who has lived in the Meatpacking District, XXX West 14th Street Apartment X -to be exact, for the last three years. I have frequented your restaurant quite often in both large groups or for dinner with a single companion.

Last night I was involved in one of the most utter embarrassing and blatantly disrespectful incidents I have ever experienced from any restaurant staff. I had met my friend T(also 25 years old) at your restaurant and asked the host for a table for two in your garden. The host sat us without the wine menu, so when the waitress asked for our beverage order we had said we were interested in a bottle of Montepulciano. Since there are three offered at your restaurant, she brought the menu and after we selected one, she kindly asked to see our IDs. Tand I do have young faces so we happily obliged. Five minutes after being carded by the waitress and her leaving the tableside , the older male host (who we later learned was also the manager) came back over and asked to see our IDs again. Noticing other patrons were starting to watch the commotion at our table, I unsmilingly handed over our IDs. He took our State issued New York and New Jersey (T) IDs for five minutes, came back and said 'he did not believe they were real and he could not serve us, but if we liked we could stay for dinner.' T being flabbergasted said she could provide a wallet full of backup but he refused. I, being mortified, already knew that the meal was over before it had begun. We promptly stood up and asked him to speak to a manager to which he replied that he was.

There is no explanation I can possibly think of in this world as to why the man was so incredibly rude and disrespectful to us. We are two attractive, young looking, and stylish girls. Additionally, given how often we have frequented your restaurant, I am surprised at this point that he does not recognize us-which one would think any respectful restaurant appropriately does to its returning clientele.

Since I was also in Crispo on Saturday October 13 at around 8:15pm (yes I used to frequent Crispo that often) I am asking you to look up my receipts. Check your database as well, as reservations with other parties I have brought to your business are also made in my name. I am sure that my frequent patronage although has gone unnoticed by the incompetent Crispo staff is documented somewhere. Please provide me with a contact for the supervisor of the male manager who was on duty last night, as well as any possible (though improbable) explanation for the horrible incident that occurred last night. Also be sure delete me from your database of patrons. Please also be advised that this email will be followed up accordingly.

Wild Ginger
And to be followed up accordingly we mean posted publically on 3 course discourse.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


With the ridiculously busy schedules everyone has, it's impossible to get Doogs, Ging, ADuh and myself for dinner together. Doogs is busy holding ovaries and studying bacteria in med school, A Duh is slaving a way in the name of beauty for her PR firm, and Ging is running around meat packing with a bunch of Frenchies. (I think I might have just given away the psuedoynyms of these 3 characters..ha). In any case, when we spontaneously planned a dinner for last Saturday night and everyone was able to make it, it was a wonderful surprise...and to make matters better, Ging was going to a party up town and didn't mind going the distance for the restaurant so uptown (above 14th street) was our oyster.

Originally, we tried to get into Rosa Mexicana but their next availability for 4 was 10pm and we said forget it. I did some research and read about this restaurant Fiorini that had just opened at the end of August. It sounded great--traditional Italian fare with a bit of modernism. It was opened by Donatella Arpaia’s (of famed Donatella and Burke, and the short lived Dona) father Lello (whose last restaurant was Bellini). The few reviews I found online said "Get here fast..before it's impossible to get in" so I thought that it would be a great opportunity.

When I arrived the last of the 4 to the restaurant, I could see through the window three young women amongst a sea of old people in proper jackets with a sprinkling of well established gay men in their 40s wearing pasley wall-papered shirts. As Ging put it best, "I wondered if my watch was wrong and it was really 5:30- was this the early bird special?" I soon learned that was the least of the awkwardness.

I sat down to the table and in usual ritual- Doogs handed me the wine list..I deferred to Ging as I'm not that familiar with Italian wine. Scanning through the menu, I found a slew of entrees I desired and narrowed it down to the tuna steak and the roasted swordfish with tomato olive and caper sauce. The table chose 2 appetizers to split - the asparagus with breads crumbs lemon and butter and the grilled calamari with mixed greens. When the server came over, it was like all chaos broke loose. He took Doogs's order and then as Ging ordered the 2nd app he mentioned they didnt have any calamari left. We scrambled to find a 2nd app while Aduh asked for a suggestion which the server was answering with dishes that contained speck and other delicacies Aduh would def not touch. She ended up with classic spaghetti and meatballs. I opted for the swordfish...we tried to order the clams as our 2nd app instead but it seemed unclear if the waiter got that. We thought- "Well at least we ordered our wine.."

The sommelier came out with our wine and the first words to exit his mouth were, "Are you all 21?" ADuh and Ging joked they were 17 & 18 but I guess that wasn't the time to joke. He poured our wine and I tasted..swiching the glass in circular motions on the table before the red contents entered my mouth. Would a 19 yr old really have the know how to properly taste a glass of wine? (well I guess..I think I knew how when I was 19). Anyways as much as that brought attention to our table in the small restaurant, the embarassment wasn't over yet. The sommelier returned to ask for one of our IDs! How inappropriate!! Everyone at the table was 24 and 25 years old and we were at a nice restaurant. I don't ever remember being actually carded at a restaurant that was supposed to have class. If they wondered--they asked and took your word for it. The elderly woman next to us started saying loudly, "Are those girls getting carded?!" Regardless to say, the steward had already poured our wine..what would he have done if we were under age? Take back our glasses? He returned with Doogs ID to say, "You girls are going to age gracefully..blah blah blah." Yes, we know that already- thanks for sharing and making our dinner extremely awkward by shining the fact that were 50 years younger than everyone else in the restaurant.

Then our appetizer came..and yes, I say that singularly. Our waiter did not 'catch' the clams although we said it twice and a plate of asparagus came out for the table.
A server put two pieces of asparagus on each of our plates, while saying "Well..it's not going to be much" with a snicker. The experience was just getting better and better. One thing I do have to say- although I would NEVER go back if you're under 35 or look young for your age for fear of majorly awkward meal, is that the food was really great. Everything was super fresh and tasty with subtle details that made the difference. The asparagus was beefy with the perfect ratio of lemon to butter lightly on the stalk. My swordfish was delicious with probably the best tomatoe olive caper sauce I've ever had- as it was just the right salt factor in a sauce that can be completely over saltified easily. Doogs loved her spinach gnocci as did Ging really enjoy her chicken with sausage in wine sauce. Even ADuh' spaghetti and meatballs was elegantly put together.

In addition to the staff and our fellow diners making us feel uncomfortable, there was the "we can't talk about our usual subject matter" awkwardness- yes, that means no hot lunch talk and other materials from urban dictionary. Usually 1 out of 5 words that comes out of Ging's mouth is about sex or something otherwise inappropriate. Everytime she uttered the words, "Sex, dick, masterbate" she had to whisper, which I must say was pretty hillarious. "He has a girlfriend but he told me he wanted to have (whisper) sex with me." And that's probably the cleanest of the statements.

When the dessert menus came, we couldn't even think of staying another instant in the restaurant. We wanted to run for our lives so we opted for some dessert wine at my place (ala Daddy K). As soon as we left the doors behind us, we felt a sigh of relief--we were so happy to be out of that awkwardness and onto the streets (where obviously anything goes).

As we were walked into my apartment, Ging started telling a story starting with the phrase "If I had a dick..." Ahh, it's good to be a mature 24 year old at home with her friends...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Roll it up

Although Persian, my friend 'Koover' can cook Asian food like a pro. If there was anyone I would attempt to roll sushi with for the first time, it would absolutely be him. So when he was in town visiting a couple weeks ago and we happened to pass by the Japanese market I'd noticed so many times before (and have always desperately wanted to go inside), we spontaneously made the decision to make sushi for dinner that night.

My sis, Koovs, and I shopped around the small market for all the essentials: Koover, of course, guiding us with what we needed and taking charge of reading the directions on the sushi rice so we got the right vinegar and other essentials. When we left the market we had rice, fresh sushi grade tuna, ebi, seawood, avocado, vinegar and green tea ice cream in hand. We stopped on our way back to my apartment for the bamboo roller, some mango, basil and tomatoes. We were really excited to break the seal and roll sushi for the first time as none of us had done it before.

I left the rice making to Koovs. He's a rice making pro although he usually make Jasmine rice and not the sticky rice required for sushi rolls. Regardless, the rice was perfect and we tried to stay true to the directions by using a small battery operated fan while pouring in the vinegar and stirring. Pretty funny image to see my sister with a light up fan next to this big pot of rice; I'm sure that's not exactly the way they did it back in the day. Anyways...while the rice was cooking, Koovs and I cut up all the ingredients to go in the rolls: Avocado, mango, tomatoes, basil and the tuna and shrimp. We set up a station on my kitchen table with little bowls that contained all the fillings and started to create our sushi masterpieces.

Once you put the seaweed on the bamboo mat, you take the sticky rice and spread it all over; using water on your hands to 'un-stick' the rice. In the center of the mat (topped with your seaweed and rice), you put your ingredients. We started simple with tuna, mango and avocado and ended up using all the ingrediants at once by the end. All of it tasted delish. Then you roll it up. We tried this two different ways--once with the rice on the outside (not so successful,) and then ended up continually using the rice on the inside after my sis of all people gave it a go.
Rolling Sushi]
Once the sushi was rolled up, we cut the sushi into slices and arranged on the plate.

I think what most people are scared of when rolling their own sushi is the quality of the fish, but the tuna we got from the Japanese market was extremely fresh and tasty. Also it was extremely cheap comparitively to what you recieve in restaurants. A piece of tuna sushi at a restaurant could cost you $4 a piece; but a relatively big piece of tuna used in 3 rolls costs about $4 for the entire piece at the market. I would probably recommend getting the fish at a speciality shop though; super markets just won't cut it.

(roll with ebi, mango, avocado, basil)

(roll with tuna, mango, avocado)

It all proved to be a scrumptious and great experience. It was really fun to roll your own sushi and be proud of your creation. Even my sis (who's not from the cooks) was having fun ; and I mentioned that rolling sushi is similar to rolling a joint; needless to say she was rolling some pretty tight rolls. She got the mvp for the night.

So...I'm definitely considering having a sushi rolling party...and maybe we can roll a few other things too. Whose bringing the fillings?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

On our way to brunch...we found another brunch

Definitely a new brunch shout out: While attempting to go to Friend of a Farmer, one of my favorite places to go for brunch for their amazing omelettes and country fresh feeling, l-dawg and I ventured to City Crab based on it's close proximity to our original spot (actually the line at Friend of a Farmer was ginormous...I guess everyone had the same idea as us).
I had been to City Crab before and really remember enjoying the brunch there. The thing I had remembered most about the last trip was the ridiculously good bread basket with corn bread and other treats. This time we weren't served the bread basket (maybe they got rid of it?) but I was thankful for it (those brunch bread baskets are dangerous!). In any case, we both ordered the same thing--egg white omelette with rock shrimp, mixed vegetables and cheese (me-cheddar, her-goat). It was really great. I've never thought to put shrimp or seafood for that matter in eggs before. Turns out, I've been missing out. (Although, I have had a lobster omelette before so I guess that counts). Other items on their omelette menu included an omelette with lump crab and others with shrimp. A definite recommend for something a little bit on the different side.

A quick post script--for seriously the best french toast in nyc, go to Dos Caminos. I know it's really known for it's upper scale Mexican fare, but I'm telling you--order them. You won't be disappointed. My sister got them one brunch and I was basically wishing I could telepathically switch our plates.


While at first I was hesitant to eat Greek food after I got back from my vacation, I slowly made the plunge back into some of my favorite foods. I started by trying to incorporate feta cheese into salads and omelettes but the feta always fell short. Then I began to order my signature greek salad from 2 of my favorite Turkish restaurants in my neighborhood: Taksim and Sip Sak. This proved successful. And while I know that no feta cheese will ever be as creamy and flavorful as what I had in Greece, at least the feta used in these salads are of the better quality for the US.
Yesterday I went with one of my friends to Moustache in the west village for middle eastern/mediteranean fare. I had the chicken kebab over pureed lentils which was simple and great. And I think it gave me the final push to accept that the medeteranean food here will never be quite as good the authentic type, but can still be tasty and delicious. Next on my list that I've been hearing great things about is Pylos. I'll get there sooner rather than later, and at least I know it's a shorter trip to the east village than back to Europe.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frolicking in the Mediterranean

Back from Greece. Rested, recouped, sunkissed and happy.
My trip was amazing for many reasons but for 3 Course Discourse purposes, I'll just say that the food was fab. I can best describe Greek food as a glorified diner. You can see the obvious resemblance between traditional tavernas and the diners that heavily populate NY city and the metro area. From burgers and fries to chicken souvlaki and greek salad...all of these items can be found on both menus; the difference lies in that the Greek versions are a million times better, fresher and more authentic. Tzaziki sauce in Greece is not to be fucked with (and doesn't taste like hocked up sour cream), and feta cheese in the States should barely be considered feta.
The first food I got in Mykonos was greek salad, which unlike the American version comes with little or no lettuce/rocket/leafy vegetable: it’s cucumber, tomato, onions and feta served with oil and vinegar. The onions are so sweet you can eat them by themselves; and, I, for one, do not usually eat raw onion so you know they were truly superb. The tomatoes are extremely fresh and the feta to die for. I pretty much had a Greek salad at least once a day while on the trip because I loved it so much, although this comes as no huge surprise being that I already knew how much I enjoyed it already.

There are 2 other things that I absolutely love as well: black olive spread and eggplant. And lucky for me, everywhere you went they had just that--black olive spread and eggplant. I was in all my glory. Instead of butter, restaurants would often offer black olive spread with the bread on the table and you could find something eggplant oriented at every establishment. I had eggplant frittes, the classic moussakka (which used white eggplant!), eggplant and veal, and my favorite dish which was a baked eggplant topped with a tomato, cucumber and feta salad. (see picture below).

White eggplant was something new for me though. Apparently it was white eggplant season so many restaurants offered dishes with this vegetable. It seemed to me starchier than regular eggplant and when I ordered moussaka, I had a hard time differentiating between the potatoes in the clay pot and the white eggplant. The eggplant and veal dish I got at Daphne’s in Athens was my favorite entrée of the trip, and also included the white eggplant. This dish was awesome with the extremely tender veal that slid right off and a sweet tomato sauce that pulled the meat and vegetable together seamlessly. The white eggplant in the dish inspired me to go on a hunt for it in New York; which I have yet to do.

While on holiday, you can’t always hit every meal on the head, but I think for the most part we did a great job. We switched it up between well known places like Selene in Santorini (recommended by Amex for its food and view of the Caldera), as well as places we merely stumbled upon in passing. Selene overlooks the Aegan Sea and is dimly lit (tre romantic). The food was really good too...I had seabass wrapped in a fava bean crepe with caper leaves and tomatoes, but it didn’t blow me away. The baklava was interesting but the piney taste at the end through me off. The best part of the meal was probably the seafood soufflé we got for appetizer which was awesome, but it was so dark, we could hardly see what we were eating. I finally got a taste of the whole ‘dining in the dark’ concept; not as appetizing as I’d thought in my mind. The wine, however, was great, the service attentive, and the table next to us extremely entertaining. My sister and I fell silent for the last half of the meal waiting to hear another cheesy excerpt from our neighbors.
They consisted of 2 older American men in their 40s (probably half Greek and from Astoria), and 2 young Italian girls about my age (24). They had all clearly met while on vacation and paired off. One of the guys brought a very rare bottle of wine to dinner and told them, “I thought what better than to bring this rare bottle for 2 rare girls just like you. You girls are like precious diamonds.” “Awww,” they exclaimed. I almost vomited in my mouth (my sister naturally followed suit). I tried not to stare at that table (which I’m pretty bad at), and saw a balding man and a young girl in a glittery tight gold dress. It totally grossed me out. Thank god I had finished my meal already.

So back to Mykonos...
On our first night there, we went to Nobu’s Matsuhisa. One of my friends had stayed at the Belvedere hotel in Mykonos while on her honeymoon and recommended Matsuhisa, and because my sister and I had always liked Nobu so much, we decided to give it a go. To be honest though, I was disappointed. I don’t know what I was expecting (maybe some Greek-sushi fusion?) but it was exactly like Nobu New York, only kind of saltier. The ambiance was wonderful--all outside tables by the pool with dimly lit lanterns strung together over the tables. The stand out dish was the crispy rock shrimp in spicy sauce (as it is the stand out dish in NY as well) and the nasu miso which is one of my traditionally favorite Japanese appetizers: steamed eggplant and miso sauce. The tuna sashimi salad was smothered in the saltiest ponzu dressing and the crusted sea bass we ordered was also on the saltier side. The redeeming part of the night were our ridiculously amazing espresso martinis--might be one of the best I’ve ever had and they didn’t even have it on their cocktail menu! Our server had to see if they could make it for us. Turns out they should add espresso martinis to their menu asap, it was delicious!

Daphne’s in Athens was another restaurant that was recommended to us (by American Express); but has also been written up in the New York Times, the London Financial Times and CNN. It’s located in the Plaka by the Acropolis and conveniently a 10 minute walk from the hotel we were staying at. We sat outside in the cozy alley way dining area. We ordered the wrong appetizer because my sister and I both hate bleu cheese and the first course was oozing with it; although I’m sure it was great if you like that sort of thing. This is where we had the veal and eggplant entrees that were amazing. The sauce reminded me of a sauce my grandmother used to cook her stuffed cabbages in and everything equally melted in your mouth.

All in all, everything was great. The food was really fantastic all around and Greece is just a great spot to visit; if not for the food, for the weather, atmosphere, beauty, people, and fun (aka partying and donkey riding). Now if only I could get used to the feta here again...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fresh Fish ala NYC/Greece

So I’m about to fly off to Greece tomorrow and I thought I’d just post one last time to hold you over (although I’ve been pretty bad lately..sorry it’s the summer! My apologies). Anyways, Mediterranean cuisine is probably one of my most favorite types of food so I’m pretty excited to explore the traditional meals and the fresh fish. I’ve already made a reservation at Nobu’s restaurant in Mykonos – Matsuhisa, which apparently they also have in LA.

Last night I actually went out to dinner to celebrate my Mom’s birthday at Aquagrill. We opted there for the convenience to my work and the fresh fish. My mom kept saying she liked the ‘variety.’ To be honest, I didn’t think it was so diverse but I always love fish so I can’t complain. The restaurant was good, but I wouldn’t go stark raving mad over it. I had the Chilean turbot served over cucumber and crab risotto. They give you a lot of fish; two nice size fillets and the sauce was pretty good; complimenting the fish well. For app, I had the warm octopus salad- this also, pretty good..but I was kind of testing my limits because I’m not really a fan of anything with suction cups on legs. They prepped it so that it was the least tentacley and leggy that it could possibly be and it was pretty tasty. My sister had the bonito sashimi and Japanese eggplant for starter and I thought that was tasty and extremely fresh as well.

I’ve heard some pretty good things about aquagrill but I really wasn’t blown away. Maybe I’m just too excited for the literally ‘just caught, fresh off the boat’ fish that I will be experiencing in Greece? In any case, there will definitely be a post or two when I return to the states whether to describe the tastes and smell of the Greek Islands or the over-abundance of alcohol…see you in 10 days!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mark Ronson makes me blush...

So every now and then I feel the need to write about something else other than food. After going to the Mark Ronson concert on Wednesday night, I was going to post about the best show I've been to in a very long time. But my good friend L.Dawg already did--so here's a link to her blog and post: Generator 79. But seriously, really great album (Version), amazing special guests, and nobody can help the fact that Mark is a cutie pie.

Monday, July 9, 2007

CPK arrives in Manhattan

It's hard to imagine that I would even become remotely excited over a place that hands out beepers when there's a wait at the restaurant--but on a late night trip home from some bar; my friends and I eyed the newly opened California Pizza Kitchen from the cab half reminiscing half salivating. The next day being July 4th; we pondered what we considered to be an amazing idea which could only include pizza, Doogs's rooftop, some fireworks and a man we like to consider 'nice.'

So after we enjoyed 10 dollar beers at the yankees game (in seats that were beyond amazing might I add-Thanks Ging!); we rang in a call to our friend; waited for the response and assaulted the CPK menu online. All of the personal pizza options were too much to handle from Garlic Chicken to 3 cheese to the classic bbq chicken. Each of us went back and forth on our decisions. Garlic Shrimp or Vegetarian with goat cheese? Tandoori chicken or thai? Finally, an hour and a half later our friend said he'd stop by and we were ready to place our orders. We decided we'd all get differenct pizzas to make swapping more fun. I got the bbq chicken, a.duh got the garlic shrimp, my sis the thai, and doogs the tandoori with mango. When we were ready to call in the order, we found out because of the holiday there were no deliveries. Bravely, we decided our hearts had been set and a.duh and i would make the 6 block trek to the actual restaurant (oh! The horror). Anyways all was well worth it; we got all the goods, prepped accordingly, ate a slice, make our swaps and created a 'half time' for the frieworks.

Somehow I forgot about the deliciousness of chain-dining; but I guess you cant go wrong when theres cheese bread and various sauces involved. Now if only the next chain to arrive into the island of Manhattan was the Cheesecake Factory...

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Lately I don’t know what it is but I’ve been returning to my roots…and by roots, I truly don’t mean my heritage- I mean my first love of food- Italian. The first cheese I ever liked-- Mozzarella; the first sauce I ever learned how to cook- Sicilian tomato sauce; and the cuisine that I consider to be one of my first loves. This adoration shortly expanded into all Mediterranean food including Greek, Turkish and other European food like French, but I will also hold a very dear place in my heart for the food from the country shaped like a boot.

I hadn’t actually eaten the get-down-and-dirty rich type of Italian food for awhile as I had been trying intensely to stay away from Pasta (Lean Cuisine Meals surely don’t count although they make a decent substitute). About a month and a half ago, a friend took me to Frank’s for my birthday. The little place in the east village is cozy with unnoticeable signage and a number of tables outside. The place is packed so definitely expect to wait. It also sort of reminds me of Bar Piti; not in décor but in food. We waited at the busy bar to enjoy the wonderful weather and people watch while we enveloped the classic Italian fare: starting with the burrata Mozzarella with beefsteak tomatoes and a salad with grilled mushrooms. We knew half-way through our appetizers we had ordered too much as usual and our eyes proved to be much larger than our stomachs. We both ordered the fish special for our main: a brozino over sautéed spinach in a garlic and lemon sauce. Fresh and delicious, but we couldn’t help and eye the pasta arriving at every other table around us. Next time, I’d definitely deal with the carbs but overall really awesome.

A few weeks later A.Duh, Doogs and I wanted to get together for a dinner that satisfied our pallets as well as our wallets. We opted on Foccacia, a cute corner restaurants (also with outside seating) on bank street in the west village. We had all been here before and were pleasantly delighted with the homey and warm food, the cozy atmosphere and the reasonable prices. Once again, our eyes were wider than what we could eat and we ordered the eggplant napoleon appetizer along with the Cesar salad. For entrée, this time I went with my gut (literally) and ordered the ear shell pasta with Bolognese sauce which was a nice switch from the usual spaghetti Bolognese; the sauce was delicious and the ear shaped pasta went great with the chopped meat. It was also fresh as ever. Doogs went with the Ravioli in a cream sauce with walnuts which was really great but super super rich; one of those dishes which is difficult to finish just based on the creaminess. As usual, A. Duh went with a dish infused with salmon; a black fettucini (although she opted for regular fettucini) with salmon and peas in a cream sauce. By the end of our meal, we all felt satiated, caught up on each others lives, and rekindled with a restaurant I was fond of. I ended up returning with my sister two weeks later to take her there for her birthday. This time, we split a salad and both got the rigatoni with eggplant (my favorite dish at Foccacia) as its extremely garlicy (mmm) and include my favorite- eggplant!

Cut to about a week ago, I hadn’t seen Ginger in quite some time; she had been frolicking in the Mediterranean (literally!) and busy schedules made coordination hard. So on the night before my Lasik surgery (which is amazing btw), we decided to go for a bite to eat and catch up. We ended up at Crispo; a restaurant Ginger frequents pretty often. I was a little apprehensive and I just assumed the place was over-rated; I mean it is on 14th street by meatpacking. But when we entered the restaurant, it already exceeded my expectation in coziness as it was warmer than I expected and cavernous. We waited at the bar for a table (initially the sat us at a table without any AC, which was NOT going to happen). We ordered a bottle of wine at the bar, which we had to pay for at the bar and couldn’t transfer over to the table; which is a bit annoying but the food was pretty good so I’ll let it go . We ordered an eggplant tapenade to start; which was good—the eggplant was cooked perfectly, not to mushy, not overripe and acidic. One couldn’t help but dip a little bread into it. Ginger and I decided to split the bronzini and the gnocci with duck and parmesan. The bronzini was really fresh and the gnocci was such a nice mix up from the norm, I couldn’t help but love it. The duck complimented the parmesan and savory pasta so well. In any case, the food definitely exceeded my expectations as well. The service was okay; nothing to brag about, but I will say the place was extremely busy even on a Tuesday night at 9. The service wasn’t there to shmooze with you or cater to your undying needs; they were there to take your order and bring your food and that was that.

Overall, 3 cozy places. One- Cozy trendy (Crispo); One Cozy East (Frank’s) but ridiculously busy and close tabled; One Cozy West (Foccacia). Drilling down, I can’t stay away from Bank Street. It’s an adorable street in the west village that is flooded with awesome restaurants (from Extra Virgin to Café Cluny) so its usually my first pick and Focaccia does most things right from food, atmosphere and service (although last time I waited for my check for 30 min..I guess you can’t win every time). Frank’s would be next because it has awesome food that is traditional and homey and in a Italian vibed atmosphere with the potential to watch passerbyers as you sit outside (although almost on top of your neighbor- also if I remember correctly the bartender was cute? Hmm..maybe). Lastly, I would pick Crispo. I wouldn’t ever say no to this place as I really enjoyed the food, but the service isn’t too welcoming and I think you can find equal or better food somewhere else. All in all though, I would return to all of these restaurants as they treat my first love well-Italian fare. And if you know how to cook it well, you will always have my vote.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Mom Hearts Jigmed

Usually when I go out to dinner with my family, my sister and I make a valiant effort to try and go somewhere delicious yet untrendy. My parents aren't exactly trendsetting (not that they're duds either), but, moreover, my dad expects a level of service that is often not found in an extremely busy and hip (yes, Ginger, I'm using the word again) establishment. Often in these type of restaurants, it's way less about food or service than it is about atmosphere and the scene. I guess this excalates on certain days of the week and especially on the weekends but we usually play it safe. My sister and dad's birthdays are pretty close together so we decided to do a joint celebration and my sister picked the restaurant. We opted for something asiany as that's my sister's fave, but once again a little troublesome with my mom who doesn't really eat japanese. After Tao was booked up, she looked into other options...and went with the downtown location of Megu. While the uptown version was close to our apt and probably an older crowd, we thought it best to go to the tribeca Megu even if it may be a bit more trendy. We all arrived at the restaurant and were seated promptly--however 10 minutes later, my dad was complaining about the sommelier and we began to get nervous.

Megu is beautiful though. We were seated in the downstairs dining room which sits below two stairwells that lead the path to a platform. In the center of the room is a buddah ice sculpture, and to the back the sushi bar and kitchen. We were seated directly next to the sculpture which my parents were enamored with and they wondered how it maintained its shape. But when my dad was disgruntled with the wine steward, my sister and I wondered if there was any way we would be able to turn his disappointment around. Luckily, Jigmed, our waiter arrived.

Jigmed was more than friendly, he was accomodating, helpful, and the apple of my Mom's eyes. When he first came over he explained to us how the menu worked: dishes are to share; choose a variety based on the pallete of each person at the table, and order a lot as the dishes are small. And the menu was definitely overwhelming...so as soon as he walked away we began to sort through the sections and my mom mentioned she thought he was cute. When he came back to the table, my dad asked Jigmed for Omikase for the table; he then asked us for the dishes that stood out to us, any allergies we might have and then he went to work preparing a customized dinner for us.

Jigmed started us with the crispy asparagus with 'okaki batter fry'- already he was on the way to my Mom's heart...she finds asparagus exciting and this asparagus had a nice little punch at the end. While the asapargus was still at the table, the yellowtail hamachi carpaccio with spicy kanzuri miso sauce was brought over, which was extremely fresh and delcious with a jalepeno on each slice. Following this came the red snapper salad with nuts and vegetables; which from the menu doesn't sound fantastic, but turned out to be one of the best dishes we had. This salad is prepared table side and basically looks like finely cut carrots and vegetables and some nuts. The server uses chopsticks to make little balls of the vegetables with dressing, and puts the snapper and nuts on top. Then he pours hot sesame oil over the snapper to sear it slightly and serves it. It was delicious to say the least, as was the bluefin tuna slices that came during the salad- super red and fresh. The dishes continued to come out ..and there were so many. Next was the sweet shrimp in kanzuir spicy cream which rivaled Nobu's spicy rock shrimp tempura, and then came some soft shell crab of some sort, which I can't fully eat because I actually might be allergic to it. When ordering Jigmed had asked if there was anything any of us really wanted on the menu, I answered the unagi, but the rest of my family was slightly creeped out by the thought of eel. Jigmed patiently tried to explain the taste and texture of 'uni' and somehow convinced everyone to try it including my mom, which would have been an unheard of thought before. I waited for the rest of my family to try the baked unagi with avocado and mentaikio sauce before i put mine in my mouth. I watched my mom's face, "This tastes like chilean sea bass," she said, which in mom-terms means "very good." I tried mine and while I liked it, I wan't blown away. After all these dishes, we didn't even know if we could handle any more and then the Kobe beef sliced grilled table side on a river stone came out; needless to stay it was awesome. The hot rock continued cooking the meat while on your table and was covered with pieces of garlic. The steak was tender, tasty and delicious-- a definite must have if you go to Megu. By the end of that, we were done. We had finished the white wine and the red wine (a 2005 Markeson Pinot Noir which was ridiculously fantastic and my dad shared with Jigmed who was extremely grateful), and then my dad ordered a dessert wine. The dessert wine was opened, my sister and mom had left for the bathroom, and to our surprise another entree came out--the grilled silver cod sikyo miso with green parsley sauce. We didn't know if we could even do another dish, but, of course, I pulled from deep within and gave it a try. Also really good: sweet and light. Jigmed apparently had sashimi ready to come out for us as well but we called that off and said we'd go with dessert instead.

While we discussed dessert with Jigmed, my father and him had a lengthy conversation about wine. I was watching my mom too, she was enthralled with what Jigmed was saying..."He's adorable," my mom procalimed. Jigmed even recommeded Landmarc down the block for well priced wines by the bottle and he gave his card. He then gave his dessert recommendations--we had a hard time choosing and opted for the fruit and chocolate fondue; the green tea crepes came as an extra and were by far the best.

The dinner that begun as "this could go horribly awry" actually beacame a "fantastic meal." This may be due partially to the delicious food, but I owe a lot of this to Jigmed; for giving my father the attention he insists upon and the wine talk to make him feel cool, and for providing my mom with eye candy and a 'nice personality'. And if you go to Megu and don't get him as a server, it's okay--the food stands for itself in excellence.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Uptown vs. Downtown

The age old fight: Uptown vs. Downtown. The argument has lived forever as to which is better. And like all arguments, it could always be left to a matter of opinion. I, however, always equate downtown with younger and hipper and uptown with older and uptight, so as a midtown dweller, I often shamefully mutter my address when asked where I live and throw in a quick joke about living on retired frat boy row.

When it comes to restaurants, the equation is often not so easy. Many great restaurants reside above the 14th street border and are considered trendy with modern decor and new and unique fare, and there are restuarants downtown that are of the old school nature (hold on, I'll think of an example soon I swear). What becomes really interesting is when a restaurant originally from the east 60's opens a sister establishment in meat packing, and this is exactly what happened with Fig and Olive.

I first went to Fig and Olive some two weeks ago at the original location. The set up was weird, small, and not hugely inviting. But what it was lacking in decor, it made up in taste. The olive oil, a specialty (thus the name), was great and I could hardly contain myself from dipping one too many slices of bread into one of the three varietys set on the table. We started with the Medeteranean vegetable tasting plate which was a combination of pesto hummus, olive tapanade, zuccini terrine, tabouli and eggplant and tomato confit. Everything was great from the tapanade to the tabouli, which I don't usually enjoy. We also got a hot appetizer--the seared sea scallops with shaved artichoke which was also delightfully tasty, although small to share amongst three. For my main, I opted for the Fig and Olive salad, which was a nice mixture between the salty and sweet : say the cheese (manchego, shaved parmesan) and the sweetness of the fig, walnuts and apple. My sister chose the Carmelized Cod which was awesome and made me second guess my decision for the salad--the cod was set on top of leeks (which is my fav!). We paired the meal with a summery pinot bianco which really set the entire meal at a high bar with a chocolate fondue finish that was superb.

With such a great meal under the belt (literally), I was extremely curious as to what the trendy meatpacking location would offer. I decided to check it out with a friend. Location was a little hard to find; I guess maybe because I hadn't gone to Aer in over a year (surprise, surprise) and thought the entire 13th street block west of 9th avenue was random warehousy looking buildings. When I finally got to Fig and Olive, however, I thought, how could I miss it? It was huge; probably 6 times the size of it's upper east side counterpart. Walking from the entrance directly into the host booth juxtaposed a weird barish area in the uptown version. The ceilings are set high with dim candlelit lighting, stone countertops and wicker chairs. The place was packed and I was surprised to see they could sit us without a reservation, but only at one of their cocktail tables. As soon as we sat at the table, a friendly waiter came over to get water/drink orders and instructed that soon he was to come out with the olive oil bread and some olive oil explanations. After he brought over the bread and oil to start and took the wine order (the pinot bianco again!), he disappeared from about 30 minutes...literally. As I looked at my watch, I realized we had been there for a full 45 minutes and hadn't even put in an appetizer order. Our wine was set apart from our table in a chiller as well and I knew there would probably be no one to serve it to us for another 30 minutes. When our waiter came over and thanked us for being so patient, I asked for the wine on the table 'just so we can pour ourselves if no one's around.' It was hard for me to be snarky, however, because he was actually extremely nice and apologetic...but seriously, 45 minutes without an order- pretty ridic even for a busy night. He finally took our order: olives to start and both of us got the cod. I expected the mixed olives to be outrageous, but to be honest, I picked at the small bowl out of conveniance and hunger. There was one olive I really liked but the others I could take or leave and for a place called Fig and Olive--maybe that's not so good? Our cod came and I was excited to see the piece of fish laying on a mound of leeks. The fish was fresh and tasty but somehow in my memory the uptown version was way better. Could it be? Maybe it was made with less care, more of an assembly line finish? All I know was, it tasted better in my mind. That being said, I was extremely disappointed from the service to the dishes and then some.

In the end, if I had to pick between decor and taste, I will always pick taste hands down. And often, somehow taste gets washed away in the meatpacking district; maybe it happens as it's strained through the expectation to be hip and trendy...because c'mon, don't you equate downtown with the same?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Coming Soon

Okay, so I know its been awhile...alright, a really long time. But in my defense, I have been working really hard at my 'day job' and haven't had the time or energy to write up all the fantastic restaurants I've eaten at in the meantime. In the last month, there really have been some great ones; specifically because May was my birthday month and usually birthdays mean at least 1 wonderful meal. In my case, I'm lucky enough to say I had at least 4. Dinner with the fam at Gordon Ramsay's at the London; dinner with my girls at Extra Virgin and 2 other special b-day dinners with 2 special friends; one at Blue Ribbon sushi and the other at Frank's in the East Village. If I went into great detail about any of these all at one time, this would probably be the longest post ever. So I'm going to leave it as 'coming soon'. I'm just dropping a line to say I'm back and it's not that I've stopped eating (obviously), I've just stopped writing about it momentarily (oops).

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

LaLa's Finest

On Saturday, while my 'husband' was in town, he made it his determination to go to the recently opened Pinkberry in NY and show me what all the LaLa Land hype was all about. We walked from Chelsea to Korea town to experience the delight that is. Later, we figured out there was another Pinkberry an avenue away from where we originally were. Turns out there are 3 locations in NY currently: UES, Chelsea, and Korea Town. When we got to the little fro yo joint, there was a very unorganized line. People were placing orders then waiting in a clump to receive their cups of yogurt with fruit and cereal toppings. Yogurt comes in two flavors: original and green tea. My husband gave me the downlow on how to order. He told me you only order a medium because it comes with 3 toppings. He told me original is better than Green Tea (but Im still waiting to be the judge of that) and that the fro yo tastes like real yogurt but frozen and works best with fruit since it adds a sweetness to the base. He also told me that LA was very organized and he was surprised by the mish-mash of lines and unorderliness of the assembly line. None of the topping are listed on the menu board so you have to make a valiant effort to peek at the toppings while keeping your spot in line; to avoid the stress of picking your faves on the spot. In any case, after the ordeal, it was a refreshing and delicious treat. I wouldn't say its better or worse than regular frozen yogurt; just different. Pinkberry is not as sweet and can probably be eaten for a light lunch; frozen yogurt is def more desserty. Both are def delicious. I would say Pinkberry is def worth a shot and is absolutely refreshing esp as the days are getting hotter.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Free Water!

If you've ever watched NY1, you've probably come across one of the cheezy Nino's commercials. One promoting their "FREE WATER" and the other featuring the owner, Nino, as the chef, waiter, maitre d', and bus boy with the genius tagline "Nino can't be everywhere. Or can he?" Neither of these commercials have ever made me want to go to one of his restaurants. Something about public access television and badly produced commercials just doesn't sit well. But the "Free Water" line kind of became an ongoing joke between me and my sister. We had lived 4 blocks from Nino's positano for 2 years and had never stepped foot in the establishment. One rainy Sunday night, we finally decided to give it a try. When we walked in a man in a full suit sat us at our table. The entire place was pretty empty though. The same man in the suit gave us our menu and asked us for our drink order. I almost felt like it was straight out of the Nino can't be everywhere commercial. When he asked us what type of water we wanted. My sister quickly answered, "Ice water is fine." As he left to go tell a busboy, I said to my sis, "Don't you remember from the commercial--water is free!" As the busboy poured our water, I looked at the glass and the slogan was written directly on the glass.

I almost died laughing. Wow, who was marketing for them? It's funny to try to be classy but yet come of as well...corny.
While the atmosphere was a ilttle quiet- no music to mask the awkward silence of the place...we found many enticing items on the menu. We ended up starting with the grilled calamari and special shrimp salad. Both were really great epecially the shrimp salad that was served with the ripest tomatoes and fresh beefy asparagus. We both decided on the Rigatoni with egglplant, tomatoes, and ricotta salata. The entree was simple and really well done and made us forget that we were in a place that advertises on local tv or that our waiter was this weirdly intense guy in a suit. Maybe it was the prenotions that we came in with, or that we ate there at 830pm on a rainy Sunday night but the food completely made up for it all. It was nothing inventive or very interesting but it was good traditional Southern Italian Fare and for that and the proximity to my apartment, I would go back. But if it's not in your hood and the advertisements don't completely entice you then I don't think it's worth the trek...even if they do serve FREE WATER.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Dinner Compromise

I go to dinner with A.Duh, Doogs, and Wild Ginger quite often and I love enjoying a night of food, wine and chatter with my girls--but it's always quite hard to find a restaurant that everyone is happy with. Either the location is off for some or the food is too expensive for others or they don't take reservations or A.Duh is allergic to almost everything on the menu (not her fault Obviously! but def a consideration). Somehow something so simple becomes something extremely complex. Thus, cut to the day a couple weeks ago where Doogs and I were on the phone for an hour and a half going through restaurants online via reviews and menus trying to find a good spot for the approaching night. It would be easy to go to a staple restaurant but it's always so much fun to try something new. By the time, Doogs called the fifth spot, she was about to give up. Finally though--a mirage a the end of the desert.

When we arrived at Alias in LES we expected little. The outside of this restaurant definitely speaks little for what the inside looks like or how the food tastes. On a Saturday night, the entire restaurant was packed to the max for our 10PM reservations. As we walked inside, I heard the host tell a walk-in, it would be an hour till he had a table for them. We sat at a four top in the corner and immediately ordered a sangria. The sangria was really good- a tad bit different than other sangrias I've tasted before almost like a cinnamon stick had been marinating in the pitcher for awhile. Wild Ginger had opted not to drink that night. Yes,bizzare...we all know. As we decided what to order, we noticed many of the menu items were infused with nuts: pignoli nuts in the pesto sauce or sesame oil in the hummus dip that was offered with the bread at the table (which was a nice surprise). This hindered A.Duh from some apps and entrees but she still managed to get adventurous and try the Duck confit appetizer split with wild ging and the shrimp tacos. Doogs and I split the parmesan gnocci served in a pesto sauce with broccoli rabe sprinkled with parm cheese as well. This was awesome esp the veggies. For mains, I got the cod--which was a tiny bit salty (which means it was really salty cause I LOVE salt). Doogs got half shrimp/half duck tacos. The Duck tacos were awesome--kind of sweet and a very interesting twist on classic mexican cuisine. Wild ginger got the vegetable plate in which our waiter persuaded her to try kale as one of three side dishes. As much as Kale is not a popular veggie, it was actually really good. By the end of the meal, all of us were full, a lil buzzed (except for Ging), and happy when the bill came. I think we paid around 40 bucks a piece.

We all spoke about how we all enjoyed our meals and how we would totally come back. It seemed to fit everyone's criteria for location, expense and taste--the only problem is still A.Duh's nut allergy. Girl, we need to get you an epi pen!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Serving Assumptions

As an ex-server, I often sympathize with waiters. I understand what they are going through when they are busy, or when someone orders a million modifiers, or when they fuck up. I understand what it's like to deal with pain-in-the-ass customers; the type who have a problem with everything or who are just outright rude. I understand how it makes your day when you have a really pleasant table who you can joke with or when a customer gives you a compliment. But what I really understand is good service vs. bad service or even better yet, stupid service.

The entire goal of a server is to communicate. A server is supposed to communicate what the kitchen has to offer and what the customer's wants and needs are. They are the liason between the client and the bar and kitchen. So, when a person is not a good communicator and listener this poses a problem. This weekend I had an issue at two different places due to the lack of listening and communicating skills of the servers. Fortunately, the way things were handled after we voiced our concerns was done so in a positive way and really reflected the client service of these two establishments.

Last nite the first place me and and A.Duh went to was Divine Bar, as we were looking for a low key night to just chit chat and have a couple glasses of wine. Maybe it was my stupidity for not realizing the wine costed $20 a glass and not $20 for a bottle or half bottle--but there were no labels in the dessert wine section. However, when we asked for this particular wine, I clearly said, "Can we have this..." I think rarely do two girls in their 20's share a glass of wine in a grapa glass. So when he brought out 1 glass of wine and set it in the middle of the table, I stared back at the waiter blankly. "Umm, uh...we didn't realize this was just a glass...we thought it was bottle or half bottle...?" "Yeah," he uttered back, "this is some of the expensive stuff." I mean c'mon, how can one make that sort of assumption? Do you assume a customer wants their burger rare? Can you actually assume that when two people sit down at a table at a wine bar that they are sharing ONE glass of wine, especially when there is a TWO drink minimum. WOW. It's really simple to just ask or clearly state what something is just in case a customer isn't aware. Anyways, he was cute and nice about it so no harm no foul. I guess it's not his fault that he didn't have much common sense. It's ok...he had one thing going for him; at least he was pretty.

The second communication problem of the weekend happened today. A.Duh and I had just walked 10 miles in the MS Walk and wanted to sit down, relax, and get some beer and grub. We went to Heartland Brewery which A.Duh gravitated towards for the popcorn shrimp. Needless to say they were busy-- they had overflow from all the walk participants, not to mention their regular tourists in the South Street Seaport. So when our waiter came over to shmooze with us and take our order, he got halfway through our order and started to help another customer. He managed to ring in 1 salad and two beers. Not quite what we intended to order. When he came back we said to add another salad to the order. Because he was so all over the place we decided not to confuse him with the popcorn shrimp (a big letdown by the way). But then 5 minutes later one salad came out that hardly looked like the Taco salad that had been ordered. And 20 minutes later, we still hadn't recieved the second salad. When we finally got the second salad--again it was merely lettuce and chicken. None of the ingredients listed on the menu were part of the salad. Our waiter came over to ask us how our food was and we were frank. "Well, its not really what it said it was on the menu--there's no pico de gallo, corn, avocado or tortillas. Is this what the taco salad is?" Our waiter blinked his eyes. I think he seriously had no idea what anything was. "Yeah, that's it. " And walked away. He clearly didn't know what to do. I don't think he's used to people being honest about their food. A manager came over to see if we got our food okay as she saw us waiting for a while. Again, we were honest. As I replied, "It's fine. It is what it is." She said, "No it's not okay. You're missing all the good stuff." And she trecked into the kitchen to go get what was missing. When she arrived back with the rest of our salads she apologized and was very nice about it. It was the right thing to do. Our waiter soon followed suit, stating that the kitchen must've read the dressing on the side and assumed not to put in those ingredients either (what?). Umm ok, that's the most retarded thing I've ever heard. Then he tried to redeem himself by telling us he would give us our 2nd beers on him. We opted not to get another round. Our salads still weren't that good and we just needed to get out of that place, but when our check came he left our original beers on there, which totally defeated the purpose of his attempted gesture. Whatever --he had already lost the battle with us especially when we watched him take back our check with our credit card and do a shot with other staff members before he swiped our cards.

Again, I loved my days as a server and understand the entire experience and trust me, I did my share of shot taking and having fun with my co workers--but if a table was already having issues and I was being a major dumbass I wouldn't stand in front of their table taking a shot while I held their check in my hand and they waited impatiently. Not only did he make bad assumptions and have problems communicating clearly but he had problems fixing his mistakes. His manager was his saving grace.

I think waiting tables is an extremely hard job. You have to wear a smile even when you're not happy, appease customers even when they are assholes, and fufill needs even when too many people need fufilling--BUT if you don't know how to communicate maybe you should consider another career or at least be smart enough to never assume and ask twice.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Making Friends

This post has nothing to do with food at all--it's just a cautionary tale. Note: No matter how drunk you are, or how good of an idea you think it is to make friends with a fellow tenant in the elevator at 4am after a night of drinking, it's probably not in your best interest. In your fuzzy head you think "What's another drink amongst friends?" You only realize what a bad idea this is later. Being drunk and naive, you slowly begin to realize that this guy doesn't want to just be your friend, and after innocently hanging out a couple times you also realize he's kind of an asshole, kind of a tool, and you should probably stop anything before it begins. Sorry dude, it's not attractive to make sexual comments in front of a girl you're trying to mack on--it's really not going to get you far and you look pretty sleazy. So you chalk it all up to experience (meaning, that wasn't fun and don't ever do it again) and move on and forget that anything happened.

All is forgotten, until six months later (ie. today) as you're coming home from the gym looking really hot (I mean in temperature and kinda sweaty too...seriously). An event you knew would happen eventually, though you hoped you would be lucky enough to avoid...the time has come when you have to share an uncomfortable elevator ride with him AND two of his friends. Awkward doesn't even describe it. It's crazy enough that you've managed not to bump into him since the summer, but now the day has finally arrived when you are face to face with this person you've so desperately tried to avoid and are slumped into a 2x2 elevator pretending not to know him. You can only stare at the elevator numbers for so long as they slowly move from the first to the second floor and so on. God, I shouldn't be allowed to drink sometimes...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Crumby Passover

For those who aren’t forced to eat unleavened bread as a holiday tradition, Matzoh can be somewhat tasty and interesting. For those chosen people, who for over a week reluctantly eat the stale flat crispy pieces, the novelty has definitely worn off. Welcome to Passover: the carbohydrate lover’s worst nightmare. Problem is the holiday doesn’t just stop at bread. For those people who observe it (and are not of Safardic decent), the tradition also includes: rice, pasta, corn, vinegar, corn syrup, corn oil, and anything with grain (recently pot was added to the list too as it contains hemp seed- I mean c’mon!). When I moved out of my house, however, I drew the line at pretty much rice pasta and bread. You don’t realize how many foods contain vinegar and corn syrup until you are unable to partake in them (Think anything from Ketchup and salad dressing to beer to Jelly beans and gum!).

There are some foods that come out during the holiday time, however, that I really enjoy. A little Jewish Food 101: Take the food called Matzah Farfel. It’s basically sautéed matzoh dipped in egg with onions and salt. But I guess anything that fried would taste good. On the healthier side is matzoh ball soup. Although specifically for the holidays, I eat this soup all times of year (when not on Passover, noodles are added haha). It’s just a basic chicken soup with these soft consistency balls in it, but its delic. Also specifically for Passover is Harroset (I actually have no idea how to spell it). Its apples with cinnamon and wine all mixed together. It ends up being so good on Matzoh or over salad (a new find). Brisket; although I’m not even sure if this is specifically Jewish, is awesome if made well. My mom happens to make what I think is the best brisket. She cooks it two weeks in advance and freezes it so it really absorbs all the juices it cooks in. Then two days before she serves it she defrosts it in the fridge so it can soak in the juice. It ends up being amazing and is always the first thing to go on the table.

While some of these foods happen to be really good, it still doesn’t make up for the 8 days of painful anti-yeast eating. While I know bread isn’t the best thing for me; Like everything, somehow when you are not allowed to have it, it just makes you want it more.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cafe Anonymous

Just a thought: It's really unfortunate that a certain manager at a french-moraccan cafe tried to fondle A.Duh (I mean, really, who wouldn't try..but still!) It was really nice to get hooked up with endless sangria and free eats just for being a girl. Aside from the manager's inexcusable behavior, that place has a bad omen on it right now...last time we were there things didnt go so as planned between the dinner conversation and the guy I met on the bathroom line . But maybe the spring will renew it...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Shrimp Pizza Update (2.0)

In December of 2006, I learned that I can’t date guys who don’t like girls who eat shrimp. (or maybe its that I can't date really really Jewish guys..ha) But I guess the reason for the guy who went from obsessed to avoidance was never made clear; but it pretty much made my top funny story of 2006. So when shrimp pizza guy texted me in January of 2007, I avoided his apologies. (And seriously, a text? wow, dude, you have no balls..) But then I got too curious and decided to probe. I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere by texting him back and there was no way in hell I was calling him; so a few days later I IMed him. He apologized again for being rude and tried to make small talk with me. (once again, u kidding? what a weirdo!) I kept trying to find out why he went cold turkey in a nonchalant way. By the second time when he made some weird excuse about not knowing or how he’s just an “interesting guy” I felt defeated and said ciao! If I wasn’t going to get down the bottom of the shrimp pizza story there was no point in me wasting my time. He was obviously just contacting me cause he was bored and lonely, but I was definitely not going to placate. So I thought what’s done is done. About a week ago though, I got a random text from none other than the shrimp pizza guy himself merely stating, “hi”. Umm, okay? You are a bigger loser than I thought. Obviously, I didn’t respond. I don't really know what the moral of the story is...but lay your cards out on the table? It’s more attractive that way (unless you're really drunk and just giving to0 much information...ie. my date at the white dove ala february). They will be the desperate losers trying to spark up communication again. And if you enjoy shrimp than by all means eat a juicy cocktail of it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fresh Sushi: The Unfishy fish

Ask 10 people where the best sushi is and you will probably get 10 different answers. If in your inquiries, you get an answer more than twice, it might just be some really good sushi. There are a few places in New York I hear over and over. Some are the trendy places that people like to name drop just to seem like they are 'in the know,' some are places that people just don't know any better not to name, and others I hear over and over...well, because they have the freshest and tastiest fish (some of these places come along with really large price tags- think Masa). One such place that I've begun to hear repeatedly is Sushi Seki, an unassuming little sushi restaurant in the upper east side. From the outside, a passerby would see a sign, a door, and mostly shaded windows, but step inside and there are people waiting for their tables wall to wall with reservations. The atmosphere itself is nothing special; simple tables with white linens and sparse walls, but I guess thats not the draw of the place.

When L-Dawg and I decided to go for a healthy dinner to catch up, the first thing that came to mind was sushi; as fish is one of the healthiest things a person can eat...and then because I know L-Dawg loves food just as much as I do, I thought about Sushi Seki. When we got to SS, there were people hudled around the small countertop referred to as "the bar" as they waited for their tables. I politely asked the hostess for our reservation and she told me "five minutes.." Okay, this didn't seem too bad. But it was so hot inside, L-Dawg and I decided to wait outside. When 15 minutes passed by and we still hadn't been contacted for our table, we decided to check back in. The hostess said, "They are just finishing their last roll..." I thought it was funny to determine the length of time a table would remain seated based on how many pieces of sushi they had left on their plates. In any case, we waited until our table was ready and 30 minutes later when we were brought to our seats we realized just how small th restaurant really was. Our table was one of two lined up along the wall of a narrow hallway that opened up into the "main dining room," which was probably a total of 8 tables. No wonder why there was a wait with reservations!

When we were seated, L-Dawg and I were ready to get down to business. We searched the menu for the Omakase; both of us were feeling adventurous and safe in a place that was rated so well for fresh fish. We queried the server for the difference between the Omakase and the speciality platter; she recommended the speciality platter as it all came out at once rather than piece by piece in the Omakase. We complied with our server's suggestion and started out with a salad each.

The salads were standard and good and the ginger dressing had an original hint of onion. When our speciality platter arrived, L-Dawg and I both had wide eyes. The waitress explained each piece on the menu and we decided to try each piece at the same time...its more fun that way. We started with the Alaskan King Salmon. While I'm not much of a raw salmon type girl, I must say it was great. Not fishy at all, fresh and delic with a bit of soy sauce. L Dawg and I kind of laughed each time we dipped a piece into the soy sauce because while our server said the soy sauce was unnecessary to the flavors of the fish, for some reason everytime we dipped in soy, it added a little somethin somethin.

From the salmon we moved onto the crab piece and onto the toro and so on and so on. Each piece was really good: tuna with tofu sauce, yellow tail with jalepeno, scallop sauteed in butter, spicy tuna, etc. I can't say I hated any of them. We even ordered some additional pieces so we can taste the eel, which seriously was sooo good. I took a bite of LDawgs and was forced by the laws of nature alone to get a piece for myself. It was good eel, the type that melts in your mouth. Like BUTTAH. I have to say, there have been times in my life where I've eaten sushi and felt a sense of well... a gag reflex. You know what I'm talking about! LDawg confirmed this feeling as well. Something just doesn't feel right and my throat is telling me so by closing up. I've felt this way about eel at least 2 out of the 4 times I've eaten it, which doesn't give eel a very good ratio in my mind...but this experience cleaned the slate for eel for me. Way to go eel..your back on my good side.

In any case, L Dawg and I pretty much cleaned house; we felt adventurous in the sushi department, enjoyed all the new pieces we had (even the benito--apparently a standard Japanese fish), and felt satiated after the meal (according to LDawg). Everything tasted fresh; nothing fishy; like a little bearded Japanese fisherman had made some great catches for the day.

To break it down...There is absolutely nothing new or innovative about sushi seki. There is nothing enticing about the atmosphere. Nothing fancy. But if you want really good traditional sushi and sashimi, this is your freshest bet. PS Make a reservation...even if you have to wait an extra half hour, I saw walk-ins turned away!