Archive for the ‘New Jersey’ Category

Mitsuwa Field Trip

December 14, 2007

For some god foresaken reason, Roach and I were inspired to take a bus to Mitsuwa, all the way out in buttfuck Jersey the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t know what it was– fantasies of all the food shopping possibilities, or simply the food court extravaganza– that lured us to make the trek. Whatever it was, we were on the 11:30am bus. I was supposed to be sleeping, in a food coma all day for fucks sake. Damn Mitsuwa.

Mitsuwa is a very large chain Japanese grocery store that is scattered all around the east and west coasts. My mom practically lives at the one in Santa Clara. I’m not kidding. It’s where she can buy her matsutake mushrooms, Shiseido shampoo, a rice cooker and rent videos of Japanese TV shows all in one place. It’s like she never left Japan. It’s sick.

There’s a convenient shuttle bus out of Port Authority for all of us Japanese people (or just Japan-crazy people, or just suburban-grocery store crazy people, or just the foodie crazed people) to take to get to Mitsuwa– can you believe it? A bus specifically to take us to Mitsuwa, in Jersey?? Ain’t America grand???

We got there in time for lunch (just as planned), and all the food stalls tempted us with their plastic replicas of the food encased right next to the register (so Japan!). Why don’t American restaurants do this? It’s really quite ingenious.

Although all the plastic meals looked tempting (soba, sanuki udon, katsu, tempura, etc. etc.), we both couldn’t resist Santouka Ramen.

The above “set” menu (plastic) of a bowl of ramen and a small bowl of ikura (salmon roe) over rice, PLUS a wonderfully soy seasoned hard boiled egg was only $11. It’s a good price, and perfect for someone like me who can never decide whether to go noodle or rice. I’m all about carb overload- bring it on.

I had Santouka once at the LA Mitsuwa after reading all the raves via Oishii Eats and my friend Jim. It’s an extremely rich pork soup base, but really quenches that thirst for a good bowl of ramen (read- good, not the best).

Below pics are not plastic- they are the real thing. Could you tell?

If you like a really hearty soup, you’ll enjoy this. The chashu pork slices were flavorful, and not too fatty, like at Menkui-Tei.

The noodles were floury, which isn’t my favorite, but I would say that the noodles themselves were better than that of Setagaya.

My ikura don- nothing to complain about here:

I didn’t take a picure of the egg, which was the best part. It was dark brown, it had been stewing for so long. Mmmm, so good.

It took us about 15 minutes to slurp and chew. To work off all that we ate, we walked just a few feet to the sprawling jungle of a megastore specializing in all things Japanese– produce, condiments, kobe beef, facial masks– all under one sturdy roof. In the end, 3 hours and less $70 in the bank later, we were ready to go home.

I am from Cupertino, California. I am a suburban girl at heart. I love this shit.

A Taste of Montclair

June 3, 2007

For every celebration, my mom and I venture to a new restaurant in her town, Montclair, NJ. Since the mid-’90s, Montclair has been fancying itself a little SoHo. My mom was just telling me about this new shoe and clothing store around the corner. Her words went something like this: “They had great shoes….I think the name of the store is spelled K-o-r-s….” My goodness, Michael Kors is down the road from the fire house. Is no suburban space sacred?!

Even before it became a hip place for bored New Yorkers to take over (yeah, I said it!), Montclair was a haven for lovely restaurants. Some have been around for ages (like Italian favorite Al Di La), while others are newer kids on the block. We had been eyeing one of the younger ones, called Epernay, for about a year before trying it out.

They offer a beautiful setting for any day, so I chose it for Mother’s Day. My mom had a hearty Onion Soup with Gruyere Cheese, overflowing from a little pot. There was barely room for the broth for all of the succulent pieces of onion and melted cheese that filled the pot. I had the Local Organic Greens with Aged Sherry Vinaigrette. Although the veggies were a little limp, the vinaigrette added a sweet-salty flavor to this light opening dish.

For the entree, my mom had a hard time choosing among the dishes and waited until the waiter came for the order to make up her mind. She ended up choosing the Roasted Salmon White Beans & Chorizo Sausage with Grain Mustard Sauce. She loved the salmon, which was perfectly crisp on the outside and tender inside. The chorizo was not the high point, as she found the texture a bit too hard compared to the rest of the meal.

I went with the heart attack on a plate, the Hanger Steak with Bone Marrow, Haricots Verts and Mashed Yukon Gold Potato. The bone marrow was definitely a plus! The hanger steak came medium rare and along with the beans and potatoes made for a hearty meal. The serving came in slices small enough not be too overwhelming to finish in one sitting.

For dessert, we had an Apple Tart Tartin and a Lemon Tart, along with a cappucino and a double espresso. The lemon tart was surrounded by this delicious raspberry (?) sauce. The sweet and tart tastes matched up really well. The apple tart was not as sweet as I thought it would be. The tart was chunky and filling. My mom was worried that it would be too sweet (she has diabetes), but really it wasn’t. To top it off, the tart came with heavy cream, which was decadent, but I felt that the tart was not sweet enough to really make the cream stand out as an addition.

Epernay has daily specials such as Bouillabaisse and Trout Amandine, four different kinds of steak and three different kinds of mussels. If ever you are in the neighborhood, you should defintely try it out.

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 8, 9 & 10

April 3, 2007

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Prologue
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 1 & 2
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 3, 4 & 5
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 6 & 7
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Midway Meditation

Friday 3/30
Total Spent: $0

LUNCH–> $0

i boiled some penne in the morning and married it with some of the puttanesca that i had left over from last Sunday’s batch. seriously, it doesn’t get any easier than dumping a handful of dry pasta into a pot of boiling water, even at 8 in the morning. desperate times call for desperate measures! and the sauce flavors were a lot deeper after letting it sit for a few days. shave some parmigiano on top, and you have yourself an easy peasy lunch.


we had plans to travel to Jersey City to visit this historic Loew’s theater, where they were showing Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity on their gigantic screen (excellent film, Raymond Chandler is such a GREAT writer). it really is a magical, gorgeous theater, very gaudy and ornate, but it was abandoned for a long time so it has this brooding, dilapidating, Death in Venice morbidness to it. love it– totally worth the trip out there. we got a tour backstage and boy, what a labyrinth! the place is HUGE! it’s been around since the 20’s, and the community banded together in the 80s and stopped the city from tearing it down– volunteers basically run the place and are continuously restoring the theater as we speak. incredible!

so anyway, i think i sorta found the trick to how to stay out late without starving. it’s all about food conservation. i ate about half of the pasta for lunch, and saved the other half of it and ate it at around 5pm right before leaving for the night. that’s it! i didn’t get hungry for the rest of the night! brilliant!

it was sad though, when i had to say no to a meal in Koreatown back in Manhattan with my friends. i HATE saying no! especially to Koreatown!!!


Saturday 3/31
Total Spent: $0

i wish i could be more exciting, but i randomly came down with a bad fever on Saturday so i ended up really not eating anything or going out the entire day. i even missed Dawn’s birthday party. so sorry Dawn! happy birthday!!!!


Sunday 4/1
Total Spent: $10

Lunch–> $0

still feeling pretty groggy, i just had some instant miso soup.

Key Foods
Washington Ave., Prospect Heights

grocery shopping in my neighborhood is not something i really look forward to. i basically have to walk about 15 minutes for the nearest DECENT store, which saddens me because there are few things that i find true pleasure in then grocery shopping (i know, it’s weird).

whenever i walk in, there is always this slight medicinal smell. it’s so not ok. but really, i can’t complain, their produce isn’t all that bad (i’ve definitely seen worse), and they carry good yogurts, which is all i can really ask for.

so i came out with a quart of Brown Cow maple yogurt (at $4.50, pricey as hell, but i’m sick so i splurge– Brown Cow is creamy and rich and so so good), broccoli, organic eggs (on sale, otherwise, i don’t generally care if my eggs are organic or not, although i do like them brown), scallions and bottled marinara sauce (on sale for $2.50).


i was planning on just chilling out Sunday night, maybe go to see a movie, maybe just stay in, when i got a phone call from Troy, my old landlord (not to be confused with Troy Division). i talk about them a lot, him and his partner, Kumiko– they are basically my surrogate family out here in NY. i found my first apartment off of Craigslist in Sunset Park, and since i moved here without knowing anyone, Troy and Kumiko, who own the building, welcomed me into the neighborhood and into their home. they truly are wonderful people, and some of my dearest friends here in NY– they really take care of me and look out for me. it’s nice to have that in such a lonesome city, and i truly think that if i didn’t have them here, i would have left NY long ago. even though i’ve moved away, i still try to see them a few times a month.

ok, so back to my dinner. Troy knew i was sick and told me that Kumiko was making nabe, which is a traditional japanese stew, perfect for cold winter nights. this is EXACTLY what sickly Kayoko needed. and on top of this wonderful dinner invitation, Troy said he would pick me up. LUCKY ME!!!!

Kumiko is an excellent cook– she just puts stuff together and creates the most inventive, tasty dishes. this night, she said she threw in whatever she had in the fridge and freezer: fresh shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, scallions, carrots, crabmeat, shrimp, chicken breast, tofu and ground pork balls that she had used to stuff cabbage the night before. amazing. this was all simmering in a soymilk based broth that really brought out all the flavors of the ingredients in the pot. mmmmm… so hearty and soulful!

and in the japanese tradition, once you eat to your heart’s content, you add rice or noodles at the end to finish it off. we had ours with udon. slurp!

Tweezy, their bratty yet darling french bulldog, was one happy lad after our fabulous nabe feast– he eats everything!

$10 + $73.25 (Day 1-7 total) = $83.25

$100 – $83.25= $16.75

i’m gonna make it!!!