Archive for the ‘*Sonja’ Category

Inari, Four Ways

February 27, 2008

Inari sushi is one of those things that I always want to order even though it always tastes kind of bland. I do like bland food though. I’ve had inari covered with spicy tuna before which was pretty delish. I made my own version.

I don’t really like plain white rice. Actually I do but I have pounds of different grains at home that I need to use. I used black (or purple??) rice, white and brown. I made some sushi seasoning and also used one of those ready-to-use seasoned packets of lotus root/carrot from the Japanese grocery. I just added in extra (spicy but totally not) bamboo, peas, scallions and some chopped shiso. I usually saute some onion but I didn’t have any (and also there was a gas leak in my building but TMI).

I just topped these with some ume/shiso furikake (rice topping). It definitely tasted better than just a plain inari but not totally mind blowing.

I keep jarred salmon flakes/eggs around if I want to eat ochazuke in the morning. Is that gross?

Okay obviously this was the best. Ikura. When do those globules of orange fishiness not taste good? I just want to eat a bowl of it, like cereal.

Last one was just covered with chopped shiso. That was the best along with ikura. Do you love my plates? They look like they are from Ikea but are supposedly “concept” appetizer plates that you arrange differently according to the number you use. Which sounds so Ikea to me. So here is a meal you can make without a range, supposing you have a rice cooker.

This was totally Sandra Lee for Japanese food.

Fresh from the Box

February 23, 2008

They sell these sweet fried pancakes in Korea for ~$1. They have some rice flour sometimes so they are chewy. Wait that might actually a different food all together. Okay what I’m talking about is “hoddeuk.” It’s filled with nuts and sugar and drips fat and syrup all over you. Yum! Since they obviously don’t sell it fresh here I made it from a mix. I never make anything from mixes so I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t turn out disgusting. Like Betty Crocker cakes.

I brought this back from Korea because it also included an acorn squash flavor. I used a rice cup measuring thing because it called for cc’s. Who has measuring cups for that?

You end up with this yeasty dough. Everything is included.

This is the filling. It’s basically sugar and nuts and spices. Like, 1/20 part nuts and spices and the rest sugar.

Pile it on on. Actually I don’t understand how much you are supposed to put in I only used half. I think a lot of Koreans are diabetic…

Form little balls and fry them. I made some in a dry pan and no no they were so bad.

You should smash them a bit to get them flatter. I am so Alton Brown I used a wine bottle.



This is one of those foods that seems universally likeable. Oil and sugar, the perfect combination. I’m sure this is super easy to make from scratch but actually, I am lazy. The end!

Never Underestimate Yourself; or How to be a Fatass Overseas

January 29, 2008

1. Eat stinky tofu in China. Check.
2. Eat street food in Hong Kong like Tony Leung. CHECK!

Okay so ever since the first time I saw Chungking Express I’ve been in love with Tony Leung. Then I noticed that he is ALWAYS eating street food in movies. I’ve had this obsessive dream of eating street food in Hong Kong and it has finally been realized. Now I only had one day to eat to my heart’s content but luckily my best fatass-partner-in-crime happens to be from Hong Kong. This is going to be one long entry but it just serves to show how ridiculous I was that day.

First things first. I had to eat some sort of street food because I am the easily distracted kind and it was possible that oops, I’m back in NY and I didn’t eat street food in Hong Kong like Tony Leung OMG! Peawok took me to his usual joint where we just partook of some light nourishment.

Love this! Just throw some tables on the sidewalk and start eating noodles at 10 am. It was next to a live poultry shop. You know, the kind where you pick and they chop.

Toast with condensed milk and honey, raisin toast with honey and butter. This only tasted good because I was in Hong Kong.

We walked 15 minutes and then felt slightly fatigued…
Where could this be…

Looks like a normal, cute cafe.

A nice clean black and white interior.

Wait, can you read the writing on the plate? If you can’t, it says agnes b. le pain grille. Yes, agnes b. has their own restaurant and cafe! Wtf! Apparently Armani has a restaurant as well but no time for that.

Served up fresh bread nestled in an origami-ed napkin. The bread tasted like pizza, why??

This was “Seafood Bisque” on the menu but you can see for yourself that it was soo not creamy enough. But it was actually deliciously crabby so why am I complaining!

I’m not quite sure why I ordered this because I usually try the stranger items on the menu. Camembert and green apple on a toasted baguette. It tasted delicious.

Okay okay that’s all normal and well and seems like a good sized lunch, no? Well as I say in the title do not underestimate yourself.

Coffee eclair. Notice that they BRAND the dessert. Like, in case you forgot where and WHO you were eating.

White choco mousse cake.

Hazelnut cake.

Mille feuille.

Wait…ordering four desserts for lunch isn’t normal? Whatevs, it’s agnes b. The food is like the clothes…pretty good and normal but overpriced for what it is. Oh and also the service was making me kind of antsy. We had individual bottles of water and every time we drank any from our cups the waitstaff would patter over and unscrew the bottles, pour an ounce into the cup and screw the caps back on. This happened about 5 times so I stopped drinking water because I got so nervous. But I felt special and that’s all that matters.

After shopping for a couple hours I saw something glittering in the distance.

A random cafe in a mall. Okay, whatever goes. JUST KIDDING. It’s the cafe of L’atelier de Joel Robuchon. Yes.

Yes the restaurant is right next door and yes those are mall escalators leading you to a $300/person meal!

I just settled for something little. Green apple juice!

A salted caramel tart, one layer of mousse, one of caramel and one of choco ganache.

I was so sad that I had to limit myself when there was this:

But this was the best:

So now you know how to write “this label is not edible” in Chinese.

Then I bought a box of macarons. The shell was so thin and and tender, perfect. There are too many macaron photos in the world so sorry to bother you with this one. But sorry NY does NOT have any good ones. (If you are wondering why they’re all cracked it’s because I immediately squashed them)

Directly after exiting the mall of dreams, we started feeling a bit peckish.

This is Mak’s Wonton House, or some other name like that. It has apparently the best wonton noodle soups with a few locations (I think there is one in LA as well).

And it WAS good! The broth is the same for all the noodle soups but the toppings are different. I got shrimp dumplings which were just shrimps in wonton skins but delicious! The noodles were very thin and slightly chewy and the soup was on the greasy side but mild. It reminded me of ramen in a way. This bowl would fit in your hand and cost ~$4. I’m sorry but that is way too expensive for fast food like this especially considering I could have eaten 4 bowls easily. Actually I should stop complaining I ate this quite awhile ago!

Ooh artsy photo #1:

I really wanted to eat street food again so we stopped by this dessert shack. Actually they served noodles and other savory foods as well but my friend threatened me with physical violence if I ordered any more.

A very thin cold soup of ground black sesame. I could distinctly taste almonds that might have been used to cut the amount of sesame. Loved this! But totally needed to gargle and rinse afterwards.

Sago/tapicoa in sweetened coconut milk. I was so impressed by the desserts here because nothing was overly sweet or cloying. They were boarding on bland but both desserts were the mindless-eating-inducing type.

Stopped in for another dessert at a very chain type place.

OMG how can you NOT be in love?? Mango sorbet in thinned coconut milk with sago, cuts of mango peeking out and a scattering of that wonderful fruit the POMELO. The colors the colors! I think I’m going to make this at home.

Okay but that was all mere child’s play. This is how Peawok and I really roll. Two people does not equal two dishes.

I forget what kind of greens these are but I eat them in the US as well. What are they?? We needed to start light.

Shrimps in sweet and sour sauce. Freshness matters! Tasty but so messy. I love how they tried to be class with the flower!

Chicken in a clay pot(?). Sometimes I think chickens are different in Asia. Like, I’ve NEVER seen those parts before…

Squid over vermicelli with garlic. So surprisingly good! But I think I read in Amy Tan once that squid should “roll into lucky balls” when fried. Why aren’t they lucky balls.

Mystery mess.

Oh, it just turned out to be rice steamed in lotus leaf with mystery meat.
I saved the best for last.

I order this in Chinatown all the time. I have no idea what it’s called but it’s basically a big pork patty with mushrooms and water chestnuts chopped into it. A pork pie. The one I usually get is literally swimming in an inch of oil so by comparison this was healthy (I’m sure…). I love this salted preserved fish they put on top that tastes like heaven but smells like feet! “Unfortunately” they only have salted egg here.

Of course, we had to end on a sweet note. Mango with cream, pomelo and sago again. What a great combination.

I ate so much.

The More Things Change…

January 20, 2008

How do you document vacation trips? Taking photos of family, friends or famous landmarks? Well I’ve always documented trips with photos of my meals. I may have no clue where I was or who I was with but I totally remember what I was eating. Faces fade but food remains. So if you happen to have the same habits as me you might come across the “problem” of the repeat meal. You already ate the same exact meal before but you can’t help taking pictures of it. But then you can play compare and contrast:

This my favorite place for ddeokbokki, rice cakes in spicy sauce. All the pictures on the left are from about a year and a half old, the pictures on the right are recent. It looks basically the same except they’ve gotten a bit sloppier and saucy-ier on the right. It tasted exactly the same. Meaning I immediately got heartburn. Delicious!

Biji jiggae is a very mild stew of “tofu dregs.” I don’t know what that is but I think it’s like the ricotta of tofu. I’m probably wrong. Anyways, it was definitely spicier this time and didn’t have any seaweed in it. I think it actually tasted better the second time. The texture is amazingly soft and pillowy.

Hameul pajeon is a big green onion and seafood pancake that is dipped in soy sauce as you eat. Oops the picture on the left is actually the recent one. The chopped octopus used to be integrated into the batter and now it’s kind of tumbled on top. Definitely better the first time.

Kalgooksu is thick flour noodles in a konbu and seafood based soup. The broth thickens because the noodles are cooked in the broth, not separately. This place makes it with fresh clams. Okay so now I see they totally cheated me on the kim/seaweed, the amount of clams, carrots and zucchini. But it still tasted great! Oh MSG, what would Korean food be without you. Red but bland, I think.

Odds and Ends

January 13, 2008

Little things I’ve had recently that were memorable for some reason..

Definitely the dirtiest restaurant I’ve been to in Seoul (Insadong area, pic above). They serve fermented rice wine called makgoli which tastes like vinegar. Except opaque and alcoholic…mmmm. This is some mysterious fish that is completely fried and greasy but kind of delicious. Season it yourself with the coarse salt on the side. The place is most often frequented by workingclass men.

I think it’s “carp bread.” The woman squirts a bit of batter into the cast iron pan and tops with red bean, closes the top and rotates the entire thing. The taste is so normal but amazing when it’s fresh. Plus it’s cute. It’s basically the same as the Japanese version.

The smallest cuttlefish ever. They look like some sort of insect…you eat them whole, of course.

Doesn’t this look amazingly nasty? I thought it was some sort of weird fungus.

But of course it was just rice cake covered with very finely ground black sesame. So lightly sweet and delicious. “Ddeok” (rice cake) is one of my favorite foods but it’s actually quite bad for you.

My favorite at Dunkin Donuts. The Engrish reads “Green Tea Chewisty.” It uses sweet rice flour? The same for making rice cakes and it makes the donut really chewy. The icing is kind of marzipan-ish and it tastes blandly amazing.

Ha, I actually cooked something! These are garlic tops which are way more difficult to get in the US than in Asia. Why?? That’s all for now…

Yongsusan Traditional Palace Food

January 10, 2008

The average Korean meal will cost KRW5-7,000 (USD 5-7 dollars). But for KRW30-40,000 you can try an excellent traditional palace-style meal at Yongsusan. It’s located beneath the Seoul Finance Center and caters mainly to businessmen and their foreign business partners.

I thought the decor was kind of nice because they used traditional fabric for runners and patchwork lighting.

Millet and rice porridge. This was really blah as it looks.

Acorn jelly with toasted seaweed and stewed beef, various pickled veggies.

Bossam is wrapping boiled pork belly and spicy pickled radishes in blanched cabbage with a little salted shrimp. This was excellent because they also broiled the pork slightly so it wasn’t just a hot gray mess.

Jellyfish and cucumbers in a mustard sauce and frozen sashimi in a hot pepper sauce. I love jellyfish! The rubbery texture gets me every time. But Koreans are always putting hot sauce on raw fish which totally masks the flavor.

Rice cake soup. I was just reading that the rice cakes are shaped to resemble silk worm cocoons for prosperity…EWWWW!!

Okay it starts getting messy because the idea is you are served various courses but all on the same plate. But I’m not really a plate cleaner so you end up with various debris under the new course. This is a skewer of rice cake, beef and mushroom. It tasted exactly how it looked. Don’t you hate that? I mean fries should taste like fries but I hate cooked beef that just tastes like cooked beef.

Holy shit this was mad good. It was minced up beef short ribs sprinkled with pinenuts. You can see how fatty it was. Served with stew and rice.

Dessert included rice cakes with sweet white bean and TOMATO filling. Drink was the 5 flavor tea which is really bizarre and salty, vinegary and sweet. But it’s supposedly good for the complexion.

“Hanshik” (traditional multi-course Korean meal) isn’t really as fancy a meal as a full course French meal would be but it is a departure from the norm. I don’t think it’s that popular with the younger generation who prefer to splurge on Western food, but it’s definitely a must for anyone who likes Korean food. Like me.

148, Wonso-dong, Jongro-gu
Seoul, Korea
Tel : 02-743-5999

Dongdaemun Pochangmacha

January 8, 2008

Korean pojangmachas (street food stalls) are a common sight all over Seoul. I find them usually run by women who serve up cheap, filling and overly savory foods in a no-nonsense fashion. They park their carts on the street and you can find kids, college students and businessmen chowing down on the unsanitary delights at all times of the day (but usually at night).

This cart is in Dongdaemun, an area named after one of the four entrance gates in old Seoul. This is where you can find fake Gucci socks as well as fabric and trims. Note the toilet paper roll that replaces napkins.

The fried food is all cold and hard by the time you get there, but don’t worry they will REFRY it to get it nice and greasy. You can get squid legs, glass noodles wrapped in seaweed/kim, dumplings/mandoo and sweet potatoes all coated in thick batter.

So this is one of the options you can get. My mother thinks this is disgusting but I find it fabulous. They stick all the cold fried items of your choosing in the ddeokbokki sauce (rice cakes, fishcake and chili sauce simmered together) and slap it all on a plastic bag covered dish and sprinkle with perilla leaves. It’s spicy and warm and you can barely tell what you are eating, meat or vegetable. Delish! They also give you a paper cup of the soup that the fishcakes/odeng have been simmering in which has a dashi base. This costs 4,000KRW or $4.60 and is way more than anyone can handle.

Katz’s (NYC)

December 29, 2007

Screw WD-50, Katz’s is the LES’s finest food institution.

You start off light with some french fries.

Nibble on their two kinds of pickles, fresh cucumber and your extra vinegary deli staple.

I always get the matzo ball soup. A huge glob of pillowy, chicken fatty goodness.

Knoblewurst? WTF is that. I don’t know but it tasted good!

Of course, the pastrami sandwich. Slather that grainy mustard on!

Katz’s Deli
205 E Houston St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-2246

Momofuku Again

December 21, 2007

I haven’t been to here in so long because I get scared by the mad groups of Asian Americans and the Bridge and Tunnel type couples. But my friend really wanted to go and of course I’m all up for ramen at any time.

We started with shrimp and grits. It had some fancy adjectives attached but I already forgot what they are. This was a really weird combination. There was crispy bacon and a COLD poached egg. I ordered it because it sounded weird and it was. But not in a good way. We also ordered those pancakes that are like Peking duck and have hoisin and cucumber along with the Berkshire pork inside. I definitely think those are the best item on the menu.

My friend got the original Momofuku ramen but I ordered the duck leg ramen because it, again, sounded weird. I guess I assumed the meat was off the bone but actually they expected me to tear it up with chopsticks. Which proved impossible. Unremarkable broth, no memma/bamboo…everything was sort of blah. Fatty duck skin doesn’t do so well when dunked in broth.

Hitachino White Ale was so good though! I would have done better just to get the pancakes and beers. I think this place is just decent but definitely not worth the line and the loudness. Going at a weird and inconvenient time like 3 pm, which I have actually done before, is the best solution. The chef was cute though.

163 1st ave
New York, NY 10003

Kimchi Jigae, Faking French Style

December 21, 2007

My sis sent me a couple pots for Christmas. Which sounds really sad but I like to roll like Martha and they are actually ideal presents for me.

But being 11 pm I didn’t have time to go buy ingredients. So I made kimchi jigae/stew. In a Le Creuset pot. Whatever…

Start with fatty pork slices in a dry pan over medium low heat. I just keep a few frozen slices in the freezer to use for this.

When your apartment smells horribly animal-y, add sliced garlic. A lot of it.

Add cut up kimchi and stir. The more funky the better. Somebody once told me there is some kind of kimchi that is fermented for years. But that’s just plain nasty. Funky is good but kimchi that starts smelling like cheese is so not it.

Now this is when you add powdered dashi or actual dashi broth. I have dried anchovy, dried shrimp, konbu, mussel and shiitake mushroom powders that are ground up. I keep them in individual ziplocks in the freezer and use them for soups. I think this is way better than that MSG-laden powder with the blue fish on the packaging, you know what I’m talking about. So anyways add whatever you want.

Add water and simmer for however long you feel like but the kimchi should become kind of translucent. I also add ddeok, or rice cakes.

I use these because they’re cute.

Okay so you end up with something that looks like this. I added sweet potato starch (??) noodles (it smells horrible when you are boiling them) and green onions.

I also made my favorite rice:

1/3 brown rice, 1/3 mixed grain wild rice, 1/3 white. I also buy these Japanese 13 mixed grains that are portioned into individual packets. Add a splash of sake and it tastes SO FREAKING GOOD.

Yeah so I started making this at around 11 and ended sometime around 2 am. Whatevs, it was good! I also just made up this recipe so anything goes. Tuna in olive oil or spam is also a good addition.