Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category

Best Seafood in Queens

November 18, 2007

Friday was Astoria exploration day. After hitting P.S. 1 for a rooftop performance by Min Tanaka (which was more about the 4 or 5 photographers who were making so much noise throughout) Ryo guided us into her ‘hood. It was already nighttime dark at 6pm, and very chilly, so I was hugely relieved when we arrived at the unassuming restaurant Elias Corner.

I love how it says “for Fish.” I’d read up on the place on-line when Ryo mentioned this restaurant — she had wanted to go, because it smelled so good, and it was always packed, but always ended up at the Beer Garden down the block and never made it out.

When we arrived, we were the first ones in the dining area, but within 30 minutes the place was already packed. Upon entering, we passed by a huge glass case displaying the evening’s ingredients:

Fish, fish, shellfish and more fish. Dizzying!

There are no menus in the restaurant. You have to ask the waitress to tell you everything they’ve got for the day, or ask for something specific (and I assume they probably have it). We started out with the grilled octopus, fried calamari, small white fish fried, and chopped green salad.

The friendly waitress cut the octopus for us. SO moist and tender, absolutely delicious. There was an online review that complained that the octopus was rubbery, but not so! In fact it was so darned good we got another plate of it! Yummmmm

Both the calamari and the fish were beautifully fried. Light, crispy, not too greasy or batter-y. I am not the biggest calamari fan, but this was pretty nice. The little fish fried whole were AWESOME. We got our calcium for the day, for sure. Both dishes were nice and simple — served with a big lemon half. That was all you needed — a little lemony acid to cut through the oil.

The chopped green salad is worth mentioning as well. Dressed lightly, it also had dill, which added a lovely flavor to otherwise ordinary roughage.

For the main course, we decided to split two grilled fish — Mediterranean sea bass and red snapper. Again, there’s no mystery in the preparation here, just simple, straightforward, and beautifully done. Both fish were dressed in lemon halves and perfectly moist on the inside.

Mari preferred the sea bass, but by that point in the evening I was so content that I’d lost my faculty for discerning one great dish from another. It was all good. I didn’t take an “after” pic, but very little remained. Mari was sucking on the bass bones like a cat.

The only surprise was the bill. Since there is no menu, you don’t really know what you’re getting into. We got several carafes of white white, and maybe 6 Greek beers, and the total came out to $42 per person. A bit more expensive than we’d hoped for, but well worth the price and the trip out to Queens.

Elias Corner for Fish
24-02 31st St.
Astoria, NY11102
Phone (718) 932-1510

Pacific Northwest Road Trip 2007

August 6, 2007

Just got back from a 6 day jaunt around the pristine and spectacular Pacific Northwest, stopping in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. The trip was cloudless, seamless, no accidents, no trip-ups– just good times drinking, eating, discovering, and mellowing with my friend Kristi, who gets a cookie for putting up with me through 2 states, 2 countries, and all that mileage.

My traveling method is really to just go-with-the flow. Especially when you’re traveling with others, I think it’s important not to create any strict expectations about what to do/ where to eat. I did want to eat well, but I had only done a little research going out there, so we ended up getting stuck in a few tourist traps, but whatever, it happens. Here are a few highlights from the trip.

Kristi and I were super stoked when we drove by this Kwik-E-Mart in Seattle. Neither of us knew this was happening to 7-11s all over the country, and it was a very random, very welcome happenstance.

We of course got out of the car, got our Squishee on (the sign really does say Squishee!), and took pictures with Homer, Chief Wiggum, Apu and Ralphie. YES!!!

Seattle is known to be the coffee capital of the US. It is, of course, where Starbucks originated, and I was very looking forward to drinking some hardcore coffee.

My friend Dawn, who lived in Seattle for 3 years, recommended Espresso Vivace, in Capitol Hill, which was my favorite part of town. Look at my cappucino, isn’t it pretty! It was neat to watch the barista make the heart/ leaf design– she basically put the foam on top of the espresso, then with a quick flick of the wrist, created this work of art. And it tasted even better than it looks, really bold but not overpowering, at just the right temperature too.

Kristi’s hot cocoa was gorgeous too, with the whipped cream on one side and the foam with the design on the other. So cool! Watching these hot baristas made me want to master the art of coffee!

We went to Pike Place for their row of veggie, fruit, seafood, cheese, flowers and just-about-everything-else vendors, right alongside the water. Here’s a little clip of this one specific seafood vendor, famous for throwing the customers orders from one end of the counter to the other, and singing all the way through.

Kinda kitchy, but I loved it. It’s sorta hard to tell, but the guy behind the counter really did catch the huge fish! And these fishermen are all so HOT!

In Vancouver, we went to this great indoor market on Granville “Island” (not to be mistaken as a real island, it turned out). Here they house a plethora of local produce, bakeries, butchers, and like Pike Place, just about everything else.

How great are these little pieces seaweed, sold as “sea asparagus”. So cute! I’m sure it would be good in salad and soups.

I had one of these “salmon rolls” which is basically salmon rolled in pastry puff. Since the northwest is especially known for their salmon, this was a great little treat. For $2, it was the best deal ever!

Ironically, the best meal I had throughout the entire trip took place while I was waiting for my flight at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. By then, Kristi was already on her way back to San Diego, so I was all by my lonesome.

I had been saying to Kristi everyday, “let’s go get oysters today”, but for one reason or another, it never happened. Oysters of the northwest are absolutely the best, in my opinion, so I was totally stoked when I got a chance to sample a few before leaving. In the airport, of all places! Thank god for Anthony’s (it turns out it’s a chain!).

Overlooking the tarmac, I ordered a glass of chardonnay at the bar, along with a half dozen, local oysters. I wish I had taken a better picture, but they were all jewel-like creatures of wonder.

There were three different kinds: Baron Points, Snow Creeks, and Bay Waters (I’m pretty sure this is right).

The Baron Point oyster, above, was a luscious, plump beauty, that was milky and briny- just how I like them! The other ones were more subtle, with a little crunch, even, and airy. PERFECT.

After the oysters and another glass of wine, I was pretty wasted and ordered this fresh crab and avocado salad with a bold of clam chowder. The crab was so meaty and delicious! It was truly a fantastic meal, all for myself, to end a memorable journey.

Other good eats/ drinks from the trip that I unfortunately don’t have pictures of, but highly recommend:

– Hot dogs on the streets of Seattle and Vancouver. Best street dogs ever. In Seattle, they smear cream cheese on the bun, which was so good. I had a great dog in downtown Vancouver, from a cart on Robson Street- really good sausage, topped with grilled onions, a slew of various condiments (horseradish mustard and Sriracha, oh my!), on a delish deluxe bun. Yummy!

Linda’s Tavern Bar in Seattle, in Capitol Hill. Great little place. Best martini I’ve had in a while. We went twice!

– The bar Shanghai Tunnel, in Downtown Portland. I hear it’s haunted, as this underground place used to be where locals were lured and kidnapped (or “Shanghaiied”), then sold to ship captains to be slaves. The place was awesome- really seedy, kinda creepy. And you can smoke inside, which I appreciated. Good music too.

– The pho at Ballet, in Seattle was excellent. Large Vietnamese population, I take it. Lots of Vietnamese restaurants all around town. I’ve been super into Vietnamese lately- perfect for summertime!

– The Charlatan for affordable food and drinks in Vancouver. Steamed mussels were yummy, and they had this great, comfortable deck that was perfect for people watching.

Fear and Loathing in the Realm of Seafood-Lovers

July 13, 2007

WARNING: This post is not for the squeamish, overly sensitive, or the faint of heart. Skip this post if discussion of bodily functions offends you deeply. I’m serious!!!

I’ve mulled over in my mind, for almost a month, whether to blog about this or not. I wasn’t sure this was for Umamimart readers. Then TM forwarded me this link yesterday. Check out that fish.

It looks delicious right? And it’s being served at a fancy restaurant. But I was convinced: food-lovers need to be educated about the fish escolar!!!!

I have a deep appreciation for food. I am not super-picky nor super-gourmet, but I do get depressed if I am not eating good delicious food consistently. I am not an amazing cook, but I enjoy trying out new things, planning meals, and making food for friends and loved ones. It must have been a Wednesday night, in June. It was already hot in the city. I planned to make me and TM a fabulous fish dinner. I went to the market at Grand Central, and looked at their fish selection. I was hoping for sea bass, honestly, but it was so darned expensive. Then this caught my eye. Looks good, right?

The laminated article taped onto the display case is from New York Magazine, calling Escolar the “It” fish. I asked the guy how I should prepare escolar. “It is a very fatty fish, so you have to make sure you cook it all the way through,” he said, “I would broil it or bake it.” Sounded good to me, I bought two gorgeous fillets. When I got home, I got on the interwebs, to see if I could find a particularly appealing recipe. I googled escolar, and. to my great surprise, instead of pulling up a jillion recipes, I was faced with this, this and this:

“Escolar should not be offered on any restaurant menu. “Caution” is hardly the operative word. A friend and I each ate escolar at an upscale restaurant in New Jersey. The fish had been prepared superbly in modest portions and was delicious. Within twelve hours, my friend and I each experienced violent diarrhea. The unpleasantness was truly miserable. Following that initial experience, I explored various postings and other internet alerts. Trust me. This fish is vastly worse than ex-lax or castor oil. If you enjoy violent diarrhea, by all means, go out and order it.That was a comment posted by an anonymous person on a fish blog.”

OK so what to do? Here I was, planning to make a scrumptious dinner for my sweetheart, only to discover that the fish I’d purchased is known as the ex-lax diarrhea fish?! WTF?! What is a considerate person to do? I weighed my options. I could just toss this fish, and go out to get some pasta or something. But come on! How bad could this really be? I bought it at Grand Central Market, for crying out loud! And the chefs in the NY Mag article raved about it! And anyway, even if we did react to it, TM and I both have had diarrhea before — in fact we had both survived a pretty nasty bout of food poisoning together, and not that I’d want to relive that experience, but we are tough people, we could handle it! I ignored the warnings on the interweb and got to work.

It was a very simple preparation I settled on, finally — lots of lemon, salt/pepper and wrap the fish in foil, broil in the toaster oven for about 7 minutes per side. I forget what exactly I served with it — but when TM came home, we sat down for a DELICIOUS experience. The escolar was thick, moist, rich, so buttery. It tasted even better (fattier) than sea bass. It was cooked just right, and the lemon worked great. I tried to tell TM about what I’d read on-line, and my resulting trepidation about the fish, but he was so blown away by the wonderful flavor, I didn’t feel like ruining our lovely dinner with internet rumors.

The next day we got up and went to work. By the late morning, I was kind of in a panic. Along with my morning movement, there had a disturbing amount of ORANGE OIL (someone described it as pizza oil, which is exactly what it looks like) floating in the toilet bowl. I didn’t have any cramps, nor any diarrhea. But this oil was really frightening, and plus I noticed it was all over my underwear! Horrified, I got back to my cubicle and chatted TM, sending him this link:

10:20 AM me: have you had orange oil in your poo? TM:no, i had a perfectly fine poo thank you very much

3:42 PMme: this is crazy orange oil is coming out of my butt TM: for real??? oy that is not a selling point for that fish it tasted great though! me: i know! very richTM: OMG lemme go poop and see what comes out me: yeah take a close look3:43 PM seriously!3:46 PM TM: WHOA WHOA orange oil me: what TM: coming out of ass me: do you have it??? OMG OMG OMG TM: WTF LEAKAGE me: I KNOW TM: FUCK HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON??? me: OMG TM: HEEEELP3:47 PM me: the blogs were right, dude! fucked up, man
3:49 PM TM: what/ thefuck.3:50 PM TM: they should put a sign up at the fish monger3:51 PM “WARNING: MAY CAUSE ORANGE OIL TO SHOOT OUT OF ASS” me: HAHAHA For these reasons, escolar has been banned from consumption in Japan since 1977, as the Japanese government considers it toxic.3:52 PM TM: but that’s not necessarily true me: that it’s toxic? TM: wait so it’s a laxitive? me: well TM: it has “purgative” qualities if taken in small quantities purgative as in “violent diarrhea will ensue”3:59 PM me: Keriorrhoea, as opposed to diarrhoea, does not cause loss of body fluid and is therefore not life threatening. Not all people are affected by the wax ester. However, if it does, it causes significant discomfort ranging from stomach cramps to rapid loose bowel movements, with onset 30 minutes to 36 hours after consumption. Recovery is expected within 24 to 48 hours. do you have diarrhea? TM: great no4:00 PM just orange oil leakage me: this is what scared me when i was looking up recipes at home last night yeah me too it’s pretty disturbing TM: freaky me:
must expel orange oil

25 minutes

4:27 PM TM: i’m leaking!!!4:28 PM me: oh geez use a butt plug4:29 PM i was leaking this morning TM: i’ve never needed one until now! i think it’s showing through my pants! me: oh no, really?
4:30 PM TM: embarassing!4:31 PM me: that’s terrible, I’m sorry!!!!!!!!! 😦 (>_<)

16 minutes

5:46 PM TM:omg i just farted orange5:49 PM me: OH GOD5:50 PM i hope you have a tissue or something in your buttcrack

Escolar, the “IT” fish indeed. More like the “Sh*t” fish, if you ask me… anyways… You get the picture. Perhaps too vividly. TM was clear after a day, but I suffered through for another 2 days before I could relax about staining my underwear. And as much of a hedonist as I am, even the delectable flavor and texture of escolar are not reason enough for me to ever risk living through that experience again. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.