Tonight, I went to a Harvardwood cocktail mixer at a bar/lounge/restaurant just south of SoHo called Sugar. Harvardwood is an alumni association for Harvard graduates working in and interested in the media and entertainment industries. It was nice to meet some new people and to learn a little bit more about the realities of breaking into media and entertainment. I also ran into an old friend, Darya, at the cocktail mixer. We were in the same transfer student orientation at Harvard.
Tomorrow morning, I am off to Montreal for a few days. Back to NYC on Monday night.
I went to a Malaysian restaurant called Fatty Crab with Michelle, an old family friend from California tonight. The restaurant is located in a New York neighborhood called the Meatpacking District, which I guess was once really where they slaughtered and packaged meat, but it is now full of upscale restaurants and shops full of hipsters.
The restaurant was very small and cozy with exposed brick walls and vintage furnishings and featured some very interesting, spicy, fishy dishes. I have only had Malaysian food about 2 or 3 times before, so I am still expanding my horizons. We ordered the signature dish, the Chili Crab (dungeoness crab, chili sauce, white toast $28) as well as the Skate Panggang (grilled on a banana leaf, sambal udang kering $12) and the Lo Si Fun (short rice noodles, Chinese sausage, shiitake $11).
The Chili Crab was super messy but super fun as well. The crab came in the shell in a bowl full of a sweet and spicy red sauce that came with a few slices of toasted white bread. It was quite an effort to get at the meager amounts of meat inside the crab shell, but well worth the mess and the inconvenience. The skate was cooked perfectly tender and spicy yet fragrant with kaffir lime leaves and creamy with coconut milk. The Lo Si Fun noodles demonstrate the strong Chinese influence in Malaysian cuisine. The noodles themselves resembled Japanese udon noodle, fat with a bit of al dente texture. The sauce was a dark, sexy, salty, fishy concoction with a nice textural and flavor contrast of shiitake mushroom and Chinese pork sausage pieces floating around. We washed it all down with some cold beers. I stuck with my old favorite from Thailand, a Singha.
I’m sure the kind of food served at Fatty Crab would cost a fraction of the price at a street market in Malaysia, but the flavors were very inspiring and the cozy ambience definitely make the place worth checking out. I’m going to have to add some Malaysian dishes to my own personal cooking repertoire now!
Last night, I had dinner with the girls (Tash, Natalie, Isa) at Hakata Kinryu Ramen, a ramen restaurant across the street from my house. In local foreigners lingo, we often refer to this place as the “Green Dragon” becauce of the cute mascot on the sign and on the menus, but curiously, the Japanese name of the restaurant actually means “Golden Dragon”.
Japanese-style ramen should not be confused with the instant noodles that we often refer to as “ramen” in the West. Japanese ramen is legitimate restaurant food made with fresh ingredients. There are a variety of different region variations of noodles, soups and toppings across Japan. Kyushu, and in particular, the Hakata area, is famous for tonkotsu (豚骨) broth, which is made out of pork parts and bones which have been boiled down for hours. Basically, it is liquid lard, but it tastes really good!
I ordered my usual favorite and a house special, the black sesame and black vinegar ramen (黒胡麻黒酢ラーメン) with a side of 3 deka-gyoza (でか餃子) a.k.a. giant pan-fried pork dumplings, a unique Kinryu spin on the traditional, regular-sized gyoza. The black sesame/black vinegar soup is a lighter than the tonkotsu pork broth, which is a good thing during the humid Japanese summer. The ground up black sesame adds a richness and complexity in flavor to the soup, while the black vinegar adds a little bit of a zing and lightness to the whole production.
Luke and I went to one of my favorite restaurants in Nakatsu, Pushkar, an Indian restaurant in an old, converted traditional house, for lunch today. Pushkar has a real Indian chef and a real tandoor oven as well. They serve up a good mix of Northern Indian and Anglo-Indian classics (in other words, the kind of Indian food we associate with most Indian restaurants in the West). We both had the tandoori and curry lunch set, which came with a minced chicken curry, tamarind seafood curry, mixed salad, a piece of tandoori chicken, a piece of Sikh kebab, and nan bread.
While their lunch menu consists of several sets that are a permutations of different daily curries with salad, nan bread or rice. For dinner, they offer a full à la carte menu of Indian favorites. Some of my favorites are the chicken butter cream (similar to a chicken tikka masala), chicken dopiaza (another kind of chicken curry with onions, bell peppers and almonds), and the tandoor lamb chops. They also make a spinach and cheese-filled nan bread that is worth checking out as well.
By the way, Luke has just started his own blog about Japan as well. Check it out here.