a couple of Japanese spots…

Posted in Restaurant review by positivelogicalist on March 28, 2009

Haven’t written in a while, so I have a bit of backlog to catch up on…

Kano Yama
East Village
175 2nd Ave (at 11th)

We arrived for dinner on a Friday at quarter to eight.  The wait was about 20 min or so.   Place was quite packed, but we found little alcove to duck into and preview the menu.  I liked what they had done with the interior, with a huge tree-like centerpiece in the middle of the room.  We ended up taking a pair of seats at the sushi bar and ordering the mini-tasting appetizer.  It was served on a bed of crushed ice with thinly sliced key limes: oyster, tuna sashimi, and sweet shrimp.  Very tasty.  I had actually never had sweet shrimp before (and it turns out they actually are sweet…)  I was quite impressed with the presentation.  When it came to the main course (we ordered the sushi for two), the plating was a bit less exciting, but still decent looking.  I found the fish to be fresh tasting.  And I didn’t hate the spanish mackerel like I usually do (not sure if this is due to freshness or what).  My favorite sushi is just plain old boring tuna, and I was pleased to find four nigiri worth.  Also, the rolls provided weren’t the usual minimalist variety, I think there was some eel/avocado thrown in there.   There also seemed to be some actual Japanese people sitting next to us at the bar, always a good sign…

Yakitori Totto
251 W 55th St. (at 8th Ave)

What’s the story with bowls of salt on floor in Japanese restaurants? Anyway, we went as a party of three and ordered a couple of appetizers, some sashimi, and a whole bunch of different skewered meats.  The tuna sashimi (maguro zuke) in garlic soy sauce was awesome, definitely recommended.  As far as the meats go, I was a little bummed that they had 86ed the chicken hearts (just for the novelty..) but many of the other choices were good: chicken meatball & green pepper, kobe beef tongue, etc.  Too bad they didn’t have any more conventional cuts of kobe beef on the menu.  Was kind of confused by that..  Nice experience, but the place wasn’t a mind blower.


le quartier chinois nouveau

Posted in Restaurant review by positivelogicalist on March 17, 2009

Took a trip out to Flushing, Queens this weekend with my girlfriend, inspired by this NYT piece she dug up.  This is “mainland China,” as opposed to the predominantly Cantonese influence in Manhattan’s Chinatown.  Absolutely fun way to spend an afternoon.  We started at Nan Shian dumpling house (38-12 Prince St).  As a certain hilarious piece of self-critical social satire so rightly points out, there was a strange thrill in being the only white person around.  After waiting in line for about 20 min we were seated elbow to elbow with the other patrons, and given a small bowl of dark vinegar to contemplate while we waited for the menus.  We ordered pork and crab soup dumplings.  I’m told these are quite difficult to make, and I found them delicious and very aesthetically pleasing.  No credit cards, of course.

After lunch we headed to the “golden mall” (41st Rd. and Main St.)  It’s crowded, dirty, and makeshift.  Awesome.  I loved it.  What a trip.  We had a big bowl of hand-pulled noodles and beef at Lanzhou handmade noodles, where the menu includes a number of endearing made-up English words.  The strong cilantro flavor surprised me, since I don’t normally associate it with Chinese cuisine, but it worked nicely.  Definitely check this place out.

Finally: bubble tea.  Quickly (41-40 Kissena Bv.)  As always, I did wonder a bit about the whole premise of gelatin balls + straw = …  but, you know, that’s what it is.