Archive for July, 2007


July 31, 2007

I love it. Who cares they are not yogurt, or their health benefit was a lie. Pinkberry is awesome. It’s totally worth dealing with very incompetent store staff, who can’t remember 3 toppings you order. I just went to K-town after lunch because I was craving it too much.
But I can’t afford $5.68 for snack, and I am known to make things at home. So I have tried using Fage, Stonybrook, low fat, fat free, everything, but it’s not the same. Can someone please find a recipe? I will make it and serve you with three toppings for $3!


July 27, 2007

Every morning, Bobby Fish parks his busted up maroon Dodge van at the edge of a Hess Express parking lot on West 207th Street. He unloads his signs and opens his Coors Light umbrella. “Bobby Fish,” the signs proclaim, “El Rey Del Ceviche.” People call him the King- it’s not just his own posterboard. (from Gothamist)

Sounds good to me! I’d eat there, if I ever made it past 125th. Anyone ever have it? Is it better than the Red Hook Ball Fields ceviche? Is that really is real name?

Don’t miss the comment battle below between the “hell to the no” camp and the “Your Purell covered bodies would rot at the first contact with some otherwise harmless bacteria” iron stomach camp.

I buy the argument that a fresh (and busy) seafood stand, even if it’s on the side of the road, is of comparable quality to most “seafood” restaurants. Then again, dude can’t get sued if someone gets food poisoning from his stuff.

Would you eat it?

The SnarkReport: Moldy Morimoto

July 26, 2007

With my dining partner Matt in tow, we were off to the METApacking District for a restaurant week lunch at Morimoto. When Hua told me that Morimoto NYC was like being in Vegas, my interest piqued. Vegas?? In NYC?? No WAY, can’t wait! (Sarcastic face here). This perceptive comment has inspired this no-holds-barred, special Vegas edition of Umami Mart, live from NY!

As I rushed to meet Matt on 10th Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, I noticed Morimoto one side, and these two joints exactly across the street.

Craftsteak, Del Posto AND Morimoto–three restaurants owned by celebrity chefs–on the same block?? How could this be? It reminded me of one of those strip malls that I grew up surrounded by– the above two are side by side and look exactly the same! Matt noticed that Del Posto looked like an Olive Garden from the front, which I thought was pretty on point. At least Morimoto’s entrance had some flair to it.

Location, VEGAS Factor: **** (out of 5 stars- one star taken out cause c’mon, even Vegas isn’t as bad as the suburbs)

Perhaps one of the things I was most anticipating in visiting Morimoto was the interior design– Tadao Ando is one of my favorite architects, and I was ready to be wowed.

I was far from wowed- frankly, the interior is a confused mix of materials and concepts. Ando is known for his minimal, sparse concrete designs, but here there were these curtain like waves undulating from the ceiling, that extended down one side of the restaurant. Another wall was just a plain wall flanked by clear glass. Uncharacteristically inconsistent.

There were these cement columns that jutted out from the center of the room, that acted as lamp posts essentially. Cement steps led you down to the lounge bar area, and the bathrooms.

So there’s a lounge and bar downstairs that could fit maybe 30-40 people. Can’t you just imagine all the lines of coke that can be snorted right off this bar? Vegas factor is way up on this one.

This glass bottle motif was used as the backdrop for the bar, which I thought was pretty neat looking (we’re in Vegas here, cut me some slack).

Also, there was a wall of these bottles along one side of the cement steps going downstairs, backlit to make these starshaped designs. There was really no function for them to be there except to add bling to the place.

Interior, VEGAS Factor: **** (one star taken out cause it’s still Ando, and he could never be entirely Vegas-y although he really did try!)

Now the bathrooms, what a beauty! I never wanted to come out! Forget the sushi lunch- you can find me on the can! When you walk into the stall, you’re faced with an infinity mirror behind a beautiful glass wall of cherry blossoms. It’s pretty hot.

Now this looks like just another toilet, but au contraire! This, my friend, is the Toto toilet. It’s like magic. Look at all these buttons! Such toilet fun should be banned from public restrooms- I never wanted to come out!

Bathroom, VEGAS Factor: ***** (it’s so perfectly Vegas!)

And now, the food. Does that really matter, when you’re in Vegas? Of course it does, but when you’re in a place like this, it’s no longer about the food– it’s about the scene, the hype, the decor, what everyone’s wearing, blah blah– all the stuff that really probably shouldn’t matter, but all the sudden you realize that you’ve become THAT person. It’s sorta upsetting to know that an Iron Chef would put himself in such a superficial category of trendy restaurateurs (although I’m sure he doesn’t see it this way, and whatever, this is Vegas).

Alright, alright, so the food. We got the sushi platter and the cod with a soy sauce glaze. Nothing too crazy. Oh wait, and we got Morimoto’s signature ‘tuna pizza’ as a starter, which was pretty good.

Here’s the sushi platter– the eel came sloppily toppled over, which I thought was tacky, and ironic.

The waiter mistakenly quoted the white tuna for mackerel. Get it straight people.

Cod came dripping in soy sauce, and did NOT come with a side of rice! We ordered a side of rice (major faux pas), and when we got the check, we saw that it was $5. Isn’t that crazy? The Morimoto gods were loathsomely punishing us for wanting our carbs!!!

We were curious and got a bottle of the Morimoto pilsner. It’s brewed in Oregon with “free range coastal water” (whatever that is, it means they are allowed to charge us $25 for a bottle) by a company called Rogue Ales. It was nice though, I liked it– if nothing else, we got to keep the bottle.

Best part? I found this piece of mold on the plastic bag that came to put the bottle in. Isn’t it sort of pretty? It looks like a little nugget of pot.

Food/ Drink, VEGAS Factor, **** (The sushi itself wasn’t all bad, but both dishes were pretty forgettable. Pretty on par with what you would expect in Vegas, so it gets four stars)

Miscellaneous observations and questions asked throughout the meal:
– Music was one of those super cheesy chillout lounge soundtracks that you find in the dollar bins nowadays. The 90s are over, HELLO! And the volume was at an awkwardly loud volume.
– “Don’t you think it’s weird that all of the waitstaff are white?”
– Flies were buzzing all over the place. We were confused about that. Flies at Morimoto?
– Wait staff were all dressed in awesome outfits by Maria Cornejo. Yes, I asked.

Here is Matt’s 2 cents about the Morimoto Vegas Experience (via chat):

Matt: – flies, really? i just paid $5 for this fucking rice

at least the spray of water up my ass was free
11:52 PM i wish i took a shit there

And there it is: $5 rice, but f
ree ass water, flies a buzzin, scatterings of mold, identity crisis interior, a pornstar bathroom, and a coked out bar room. Check please!

Morimoto Overall Vegas Factor: **** (one star taken out cause we’re in New York, not really Vegas- although sometimes, I can’t quite distinguish one from the other)

Beet Beats Ex-Lax

July 25, 2007

Blame Mel, inspired by Ayagwa.

Caution. This is my version of Aya”Orange Oil”gwa’s Fear and Loathing in the Realm of Seafood-Lovers. If you don’t like poo talk, don’t bother to read. As umami’s mission statement says, “we all eat three times a day, so let’s talk about it” To me, it’s more like, “we eat three times a day — shit (literally) has to come out”. I was telling Mel about it, and she insisted that I post it, so here it is.

This has nothing to do with bad food, it’s human reaction to certain ingredients that causes a massive bowel movement. It was at Jule’s bistro on St. Marks a couple of years ago. We had dinner before going to a friend’s house party in Alphabet City. I was feeling duck, hence french bistro was the right choice of the evening. Soup du Jour was something like chilled beet and star anise soup, and I thought “hm, it sounds very interesting”. I like beets, especially when roasted with olive oil, then marinated in vinegar mixture, sort of home made pickled beets. Apparently what I didn’t know about beet is the stuff “cleans” you out.

According to wikipedia, “The Romans used beetroot as a treatment for fevers and constipation, amongst other ailments. Apicius in De re coquinaria gives five recipes for soups to be given as a laxative, three of which feature the root of beet.”

Yeah, it is easy to say on the web, but to experience on first person basis wasn’t.

I was starving. The soup came to my table, its deep red color,and a contrast of creme freche lookes very appetizing, so I enjoyed it, sopped with bread, yum yum. By the way, I do NOT like star anise, nor any type of licorice flavor, but my hunger overcame that part of the flavor.

I guess I’ve never had large amount of beet in my life (I had it on salad, or had a piece of a pickled one here and there, but never a bowl of soup). After the main course (which I believe it was duck, and very tasty), I started to feel it. That awful shiver, sweat coming down, and you feel like you are punched in the stomach. I could still keep my composure. My sphicter was tightly shut, no leakage was there. Unlike wax from escoloar, after all, beet is just a vegetable. Yet, I had no idea what beet does to you body, so I was just wondering if the duck was a bad one, or I was reacting to star anise.

So we walked to my friend’s apt on Avenue D. That 4 block walk was the most excruciating one. I was sweating profusely, almost losing control. We arrived at her building. Unfortunately she lived in a 5th floor walk-up. I ran up, got to her apt. Luckily, we were the first guests, and I ran into the bathroom, sat down, and relieved everything. I mean EVERYTHING, and It was RED. I first thought, God, I have a colon cancer and will die, but then realized it was the soup. The color was deep red, as if the soup I consumed didn’t go through my body at all, just passed all the tubes and came right out.

After 4 minutes (could be 2, but who cares) of pissing out of my ass, it was done. I just couldn’t believe how powerful it was and since then, I haven’t had any more than a piece of beet at a time.

Lesson here: orange oil, as well as beet, all one needs to do is portion control. Escolar should be fine if eaten less than three sashimi pieces. Beet as well, if you eat small portion of it, you should be fine. However, if you are constipated for like a week, feast on it, then everything will come out.

Mentos + Carlsberg

July 24, 2007

Thanks Dennis for this!

Cheap Eats

July 23, 2007

I was just checking out New York Magazine’s 2007 Cheap List — two places that have already been written about on Umami Mart are included on their list: Little Pepper and Boi to Go! Hopefully we can check out the whole list and blog about all of them!

Bon Appetit!

"If You Don’t Eat Fat, You Don’t Store Fat"

July 22, 2007

Brenda Dickson is a has-been soap star who taped this guide to style and beauty in the late 80s. Watch this video from about 4 minutes in for her cooking and eating tips, it’s the best thing ever, and it’s inspired me to start wearing silk head scarves in the kitchen. Thanks Christi for this!

Can I Sue Tom Colicchio?

July 19, 2007

It’s not focused that well, but that’s a pretty hardcore scar on one of the supplest regions of my body- my forearm. Whenever people see this scar, they immediately yelp YIKES, HOW DID YOU GET THAT?

Ok, so some background. April 2007- my birthday. Location: Craftbar the little sister Tom C.‘s Craft. A decent alternative around the corner when there’s no way you’re gonna get a table at Gramercy Tavern without a reservation.

Scenario: A vodka martini and a beer. Oysters and meatballs (excellent meatballs). Lookin good, feelin good. Bathroom is downstairs. Kayoko is wearing high heels. Alcohol+ Kayoko+ high heels= bad idea. Take the alcohol out of the equation, and it’s still a bad idea. The funny thing is that they weren’t even that high.

So I’m walking down the marble staircase to go to the bathroom after our meal. Lookin good, feelin good. Then, I bail, HARDCORE. Slow motion: my legs go up first, splayed out in the air, I land on my right arm. HARD. I mean, all of my weight must have landed on my right arm. I get up, there’s a huge gash on my forearm and god, check out this gnarly bruise! My arm won’t stop bleeding. It’s throbbing. Christi is freaking out-she’s used to my klutziness, but not to my blood. Lots of blood. Good thing I’m used to my own klutziness. And my blood.

I go to the bathroom. I pee. My arm is throbbing, but whatever, no big deal. A really sweet woman offers me some aspirin. Nothing like a martini, a tumble, and some drugs to get the night going.

Meanwhile, there’s some manager dude right outside the bathroom and Christi tells them what happened. I tell him I need a band aid–I clearly need more than a band aid. Christi’s yelling, “she may need stitches! she may need stitches!” Manager dude is cool and tapes my arm up and brings me a bad of ice, “to keep the swelling down.” Fantastic. He takes down my number “just in case”. Christi sternly suggests that they need to stick some of those anti-slipping things on their steps. The girl thinks of everything- she would make the best litigator.

So I show up to my night of karaoke wailing and birthday bashing looking cute except my arm is all taped up and I’ve gotta keep it lifted so it’s elevated. Awesome! Everyone is pretty much used to my perpetual klutz-factor, so no one even bothers to ask– I may be a year older, but some things never change. Later, I asked Matt if I should sue them, to which he quickly replied, “DON’T.”

A few weeks after this incident, Pam from the Office bailed at Buddakan and practically broke her back. To all restaurants: consider the escalator.

Ok so here’s the reason I’m bringing this up after all these months: last week I got a voice mail from some guy saying:

Hi, this message is for a KYoko. This is Dwight from xxx, and I’m calling about an incident that took place a few months ago at Broadway and 19th street in New York. Please call me back at yyy.

CRAZY!!! And I love how he didn’t even say the incident at “Craftbar”, instead he shoots off the cross streets like I would know what he’s talking about. Classic lawyerspeak.

So whatever, I called him back, and he was this fast-talking, typical lawyer dude. He said, “Yeah, we were wondering if you got your arm checked out by a doctor, we wanted to make sure everything was ok, and that it was healed and that you don’t have any major damages,” or something like that. I was floored. Tom Colicchio wanted to know if I was going to SUE HIM!! AMAZING!!!

Lucky for Tom, I’m too poor to hire a lawyer, and I’m too lazy to try to come up with some clever strategy to nail this down, so I just told Dwight, “don’t worry about it, it’s fine, I’m not going to sue you or anything.” I think he was taken aback by that, cause there was some silence. La di da.

Honestly, it’s not completely healed. For a while there I could not do dolphin stands in yoga, and the muscle is still pretty sore, sometimes affecting the nerves all the way into my hands. I’m hoping Dr. Wu, my miracle-making acupuncturist, will be able to fix it.

To all Craftbar, Craft, ‘wichcraft, and Craftsteak diners: Tom is running an empire now, so don’t hold back if you trip yourself into a tizzy the next time you’re there.

Tom: wine and dine me at Craft as my date and we’ll call it even.

All-Clad or All Crap?

July 18, 2007

I was watching the Today Show this morning, and Bittman was explaining to Lauer that we do not need to buy expensive kitchen stuff. He said one can go to any restaurant supply store and buy cheap stuff. I do see his point that chefs cook thousands of meals and abuse pots and pans, so restaurant supply is the most durable and long lasting.

I go to TJ Maxx, Marshalls or Daffy’s to buy clothes, but I have to admit I buy my kitchen stuff almost exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. I drool over their All-Clad collections, cry a little imagining life with their margarita making machine, dream about owning the full Global knife set and shout a little when finding a new shiny color for Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I shouldn’t go there after eating escolar, that’s for sure.

In terms of teflon coated pans, yes, I do buy a cheap one and throw it away once it starts sticking onto my food, but everything else is All-Clad, Le Creuset and all my knives are Global. I have a billion gadget from OXO, Microplane this and that. Is this bad? Am I a sucker for consumerism? Do I watch too much Food Network? Do I need an intervention? Over the years, I collected many pieces of All-Clad, and I don’t regret any of it, but are restaurant supply store items as good, or better than high end brands? Is this like me bitching about the German oven? What about Japanese knives using the same method as samurai sword making techniques?

I want to hear people’s opinion about this. By the way, Emeril cookware is made by All-Clad, but I do NOT consider his crap to be the same quality as my loving All-Clads.

In-N-Out Burger Coming to NYC???

July 18, 2007

Via, I came across a post on this blog that says Departures magazine has a mention that In-N-Out may be coming to NYC!

If you are a Southern California native like myself — or have done their drive thru — you understand how exciting this. I’ve always said this joint would do so well in NYC – the lines would be outrageous, but I’d be waiting in line to get my cheeseburger with all the fixins’!!