Archive for the ‘tofu’ Category

Fridgin’ Out

February 8, 2008

I know, this “what’s in your fridge” shit is so tired! But I’ve been wanting to blog about these specific food finds, so I’m just gonna bite it and start the “Fridgin’ Out” column. What a DORK.

Here’s this funky herb concentrate stuff that I got at a little Argentinian bakery in Jackson Heights called Terma Serrano. Mariana, whose family is from Argentina, urged me to get this– she says you add it to soda water. It reminds me of an alcohol-free version of digestives like Fernet Branca or Cynar, or coca cola. It’s an interesting, bitter, herby flavor.

Fridge Lifeline: at least a year.

I know I was all about Greek Gods yogurt a few weeks ago, but I was too broke, so got the Erivan stuff instead. Easier on the wallet at $2.50 for one of these bigger tubs. And it’s really runny, no thickeners, so it’s not so heavy. I love it! This is my second tub in two weeks.

Fridge Lifeline: one week.

I picked up these little packets of Otokomae “Johnny” tofu when I went to Mitsuwa a month ago. So creamy, milky and delicious- and love that picture of “Johnny” on the front. I haven’t eaten this one cause it’s too cold out for cold tofu (don’t waste this by cooking it!). I hear that they sell this at Sunrise market in Manhattan, so get on it!

Fridge Lifeline: Another month?

Kyotofu (NYC)

December 29, 2007

Sis diagnosed herself as having pre-diabetes so we decided to go to a dessert place, of course. Kyotofu had been NY Mag’s pick for cupcakes so we headed uptown to 9th Ave and 49th St. I liked the look of the front of the restaurant, very cutesy and white and homey. But the back area was kind of cheeseball with white huge cushions along the walls. We decided on the Kaiseki prix-fixe with sake pairing. But I wanted to try the savoury dishes first.

This clay pot was brought out with soy milk. The very cute waitress explained that after she added the starter, we would have to let it heat for 20 minutes. For some reason the carrot pickles tasted like ACETONE NAIL POLISH.

Very soft tofu with a gentle taste. Sprinkled with wasabi powder, it was mild yet kind of rich. But I think I was slightly allergic to it because my ears started feeling itchy and my sister too!

These were “Chicken tsukune sliders.” I have never eaten a real, beef hamburger before but I love all things faking burger-ness. These were half dollar sized bites of plainness. BLAH.

“First course” was a sweet dessert tofu with black sugar syrup. Just lightly sweet enough and tasted slightly of almonds, this was so nice! This was my fave.

Second was a trio of small bites. Tofu cheesecake on the left with vanilla creme on top. Some kind of nut (?) ice cream with caramel and toasted, crunchy grains. Chocolate cake with berry sauce. The cheesecake was strangely too sour but some bites tasted fine. The crust tasted of sesame which is always nice with tofu. The ice cream was creamy but a bit too hard, although nice with the contrasty crunchiness of the grains…the caramel was way too sweet. The chocolate cake was just blah but I don’t like chocolate cake in general. The sake they served with this was a “dessert sake” and was way too sweet! I don’t really want to drink sugar while eating sugar. That’s gross.

Chocolate covered ginger, green tea choco, yokan. First two were run-of-the-mill, yokan was very very bland and had a more jello-like consistency than I am used to. The sake pairing was 1 glass (very FULL glass) per course, and for the small portions I think it was too much. But the price is very good and the afternoon menu is even cheaper. Overall, Kyotofu is a very feminine, cute and nice place to go to with a couple of your girlfriends. The dishes with tofu were better than the dishes without, and the sweet was much better than the savory. But maybe that goes without saying….

A couple of mini cupcakes to end your dinner. Actually, I totally wanted to go eat french fries.

705 9th Ave (btwn. 48th & 49th Street)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 974-6012

Umamiventure: Ocean Jewel Restaurant

June 8, 2007

A few weeks ago, we ventured on our first official Umami Mart field trip, which I hope we can organize once a month. The idea is to get people in the area, UM contributors and local eaters, to travel far and wide (an outer borough, OH MY!) for infamous eats.

In the five years I have lived in NY, I had never gone to Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, so a dim sum adventure seemed like the perfect choice. After some hard-core research, I finally decided on Ocean Jewel Restaurant, a place highly recommended to me by my co-worker Wayne, who grew up on the streets of Flushing. Nothing more real than word of mouth, wouldn’t you say?

With my fellow UMers, Troy Division and Tmonkey in tow (Hamamama, my Queensgirl, couldn’t make it), we set out for what was to be an awesome experience, from start to finish. Take my word for it when I say that the Flushing Chinatown is FAR superior to its Manhattan cousin: it is more spacious; less inundated with people, hence it is actually bearable; and the dim sum was the best I have had in all of NYC (In Manhattan, I generally go to Sweet ‘n Tart and Ping’s on Mott and Golden Bridge on the Bowery).

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves– let the droolfest begin!

About every 15 minutes, several little vans like this leave from Confucius Plaza in Manhattan Chinatown, whizzes you over the Williamsburg Bridge, speeds its way down the BQE and drops you off in Flushing in about a half hour. The best part? It’s only $2.50!!! There is no excuse NOT to go to Flushing!

Ocean Jewel is located in the heart of “downtown” Flushing. Right around the corner from the 7 train, and the little shuttle stop.

The restaurant is in a typical banquet hall style so it’s pretty huge. But despite it’s size, it was not so rowdy, well lit, the servers were all very friendly, we got our own table (I was fully expecting to share with strangers since there were only 3 of us, but they gave us our own!), and all very clean (I’m not such a stickler about “dirty”, but the cleanliness was a noticeable trait).

Such cute little critters. Now GET IN MY BELLY!

Allow me to start with my MUST HAVE dim sum item of all time, the siu mai. Steamed pork dumplings (sometimes they have shrimp in them or a scallop, but these didn’t) topped with roe. For me, these are the deciding factor of how good a dim sum place is, and on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the best), I give these a 5! Seriously, they were perfectly salted, perfectly steamed, simple and not overloaded with other stuff. They were excellent.

Pan fried turnip cake- I love these. Packed with bits of carrots and chinese sausage, the turnip has a smooth potatoey texture, which mushes in your mouth wonderfully.

The three of us talked about how the best part of dim sum is getting to order random things on a whim- it’s always an adventure! Troy sporadically pointed to these steamed buns, with absolutely no idea of what was inside. We were delighted to find sweet egg custard inside. GENIUS! It was the perfect combination of creamy and fluffy. From now on, I will be ordering them every time. Good call Troy!
I always order shrimp or beef filled rice rolls (you know the one drizzled with special soy sauce that comes on a plate?), but when I cut into these, they were filled with all kinds of other goodness. Bamboo shoots, ground beef, carrots, oozing in some special sauce (I think I remember some vinegar bite). I had never had anything like it, it was truly yummy.
You can always tell how good a dim sum place is by their hot chili sauce (much like how I rate other restaurants by their butter). This stuff was spicy, but the sesame oil undercut the heat, so it wasn’t crazy or anything. EXCELLENT!
Ah, the beloved char siu bao– tangy, sweet bbq pork nestled inside fluffy white doughy goodness. Tmonkey flipped out upon his first bite- he thought it was the best thing ever. Like the siu mai, these are pretty standard, but when it’s special, you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot.
Another Troy selection- and it was another good one (he has just the right dim sum instinct- you just have to aimlessly point and go with it). These were fried shrimp cakes– really satisfied that craving for something deep fried. I get those cravings pretty often.

This is something I’ve only started getting recently, warm tofu seeped in sugar water. Really comforting and simple, a good palette cleanser and dessert (along with the egg tarts, of course!).

Some of my favorites– shrimp and chinese chive filled dumplings in a transparent see-through skin. They usually come as round balls, but these were gyoza style. Mmmm…
Shrimp cake filled eggplant, in black bean sauce. I LOVE eggplant- pair it with shrimp, and you can’t go wrong.
Another dish I had never had before- these were basically the siu mai without the skin. They never did come around with my other favorite, steamed pork ribs, so these satisfied that void. Fantastic creation!

Har gow are little shrimp filled jewel pieces. Ain’t she a beaut? And these had something magical inside along with the shrimp (they are usually just shrimp)– celery! GENIUS! Now, I really am not a fan of celery (it’s one of two things that I never eat voluntarily), but they added just the perfect crunch with the shrimp. Oh so delightful.

So there it is, our meal in pictures– Ocean Jewel was fantastic, Wayne was spot on. Dim sum is perfect for big groups (you would have a tough time getting the bill to go over $15 per person), and for when you have a hangover. I’m serious, there is nothing like a Tsing Tao and a char siu bao to make the night before go away. The next time you NYers are planning on dim sum, I HIGHLY recommend skipping out on Manhattan, and taking the 7 or the convenient shuttle to Flushing. It’s so easy and a great excuse to explore!

Side note: My parents and I went to this great place for dim sum in Cupertino, CA, last weekend (I was hungover! I could eat dim sum every weekend, no joke), called Dynasty. Inside Vallco Fashion Mall! The only reason I went there is because my absolute favorite dim sum joint in the area, Canton Delights, has closed for good!!! I was horribly upset. RIP, Canton Delights. Anyway, I recommend Dynasty to all you Bay Area folks.


Ocean Jewel Seafood Restaurant
13330 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 359-8600

7 train to Main Street (end of the line)

If you would like to join us on future Umamiventures, please contact us!


June 1, 2007

I could eat tofu every day of the year and not get tired of it. I would drive a car made of tofu or take a tofu train. I would sleep on a tofu mattress. Silken, soft, firm, you name it, I’ll eat it.

Last night, I made Martha’s sesame seed-encrusted tofu with a spicy peanut dipping sauce (peanut butter mixed with Asian chili garlic sauce), baked red pepper slivers and spinach tossed with sesame seeds in a soy-mirin sauce.

Here it is in all its glory:

$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 13 & 14

April 6, 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
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 8, 9 & 10
$100/ 2 Weeks/ NYC: Day 11 & 12

Here it is, the final push– my final two days. Will I make it? Read on, my friend, read on.

Wednesday 4/4
Total Spent: $8

LUNCH–> $0
Fumiko and Kayoko Lunch Club. I have leftover Thai string beans and Nasi Goreng from the day before. Fumi brought this delicious stewed squid that Jorge made, Provencal style with just onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh chile peppers. Squid is SO good! It’s a seafood that is so often overlooked, but you can do such great things with it. And what’s more, is it’s cheap!

I had a horrible day at work, but Fumiko lured me to her place for dinner by telling me she’s making mine and Jorge’s favorite dish: Pitan Tofu Salad. More on that in a sec.

I don’t want to come over empty handed, so i bought a bottle of this Cabernet from Spain on the way to their place. At $8, it wasn’t very good–even though it had a big deep dent on the bottom of the bottle, and it was 13.5% alcohol, which is how W(h)ine-o has suggested we choose our wine–but at that price, I’ll take what I can get.

Ok, so this salad. It is just delightful. She got the recipe from Harumi Kurihara, who is basically the Martha Stewart of Japan. A true housewife guru who Fumiko and I model ourselves after. BAH!

Here is what you need for the Pitan Tofu Salad (apologies if I botch the spelling of the Chinese words, this is just how I know to say it in Japanese):
– 1 Pitan, which in Chinese is a “1000 year old egg”. It is essentially a preserved duck egg, which turns black over time (is my guess). They are delicious, really, and can be bought by the half dozen in Chinatown. Gotta love Chinatown.

– Soft fresh tofu

– Green onions, chopped

Zasai, or preserved Chinese pickled cabbage, also can get in Chinatown

– Shaved ginger and sesame seeds to your liking

Literally, all you need to do is chop all of the above into bite size pieces, and drizzle some soy sauce on top. That’s it. It’s easy peasy and a real crowd pleaser. At least this crowd. Thanks Fumi and Jorge for yet another wonderful dinner. xx.


Thursday 4/5

Total Spent: $3

So I’m totally sick, and thought that I should get a vitamin packed veggie/ fruit drink on my way into work to cure me. I work in Midtown Manhattan, and dude, this juice bar place charged me $3 for this tiny tiny cup of carrot/ apple/ orange juice. CRAZY!!! Look at this cup! It was all over after 3 sips! New York makes me so mad…

LUNCH–> $0
My biggest supporter, Dawn, at work wanted to celebrate her birthday and the last day of my $100/ 2 weeks with a special lunch with the rest of our department. Isn’t she the best??

There are about 7 of us total in the Film and Performing Arts department at my work, and we try to all get together for a potluck lunch once in a while, where we all contribute something. For this, Dawn brought salad and quiche, Yoko brought curry, Mari brought this delish mushroom concoction that we topped on pieces of baguette, and I brought rice. These lunches are a lot of fun when we actually get our act together and do it. Troy Division told me that he does this with his department at BAM too. Eating really does bring people together!

Mari’s husband’s heavenly mushroom medley:
– 3 kinds of mushrooms, sliced (I need to double check with her what exactly they were, but I’m gonna guess they were portobello, shiitake and something else)

– anchovies

– garlic

– fresh thyme

– lots of olive oil

Add salt, mix it all together and let it sit for one night. This stuff was SO GOOD, and it sounded very easy to make. The olive oil was infused with the taste of mushrooms and thyme and garlic– the oil soaked bread was the best part. YUMMY. I will check with Mari about the exact recipe, and get back to you about it.

Dawn bought a bacon quiche and asparagus quiche at Whole Foods that was VERY GOOD. Really rich and decadent, the pastry was flakey and buttery. Just as a quiche should be. The bacon was perfectly salty and the asparagus quiche really tasted asparagus-y. Excellent.

I could not have dreamed of a more fitting way to celebrate the end of my $100/ 2 Weeks– food that emphasizes fresh ingredients and highlights various tastes and cultures, with the people who I see most often in my daily life, sitting in our romantic work kitchen. Thank you everyone!!!

I was still feeling sick, so I just hurried home so I could rest up. I just boiled some soba noodles and had hot soup. It’s really my ultimate comfort food, and I am happy to report that it was my final supper for my $100/2 weeks/ NYC!

Drumroll please…

$8 + $3 + $84.25 (Day 1-12 total) = $95.25

$100 – $95.25= $4.75

WOO-HOO!!!! I made it with almost $5 leftover!!!! WOW! I’m speechless… it’s been one hell of a ride…


Yuba County

March 26, 2007

Over the weekend, I spent some time in Nikko which is about three hours away from Tokyo. Most people go for the gaudy shrines – wooden and painted in bright red and gold reflecting Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu’s glory. Anyhow, the weather wasn’t very agreeable – so there was nothing else to do except…EAT!

Turns out, this place is famous for yuba or tofu skin. No complaints here as this is one of my favorite foods – and within the top 5 things I miss the most when in the States.

-yoko in tokyo

Pictured top right Yuba soba – buckwheat noodles with two types of yuba – in a roll and in flat layers. Absolutely delicious as the noodles were also handmade at this shop. 700yen (about $6)!

Pictured below Yuba shabu shabu – yuba hot pot. Throw in yuba and veggies into a clay pot full of soy milk – absolutely wonderful. 2,500yen (about $20+).


March 12, 2007

Anybody been to Kyotofu? Same people who did Chikalicious.

“Like its precursors, ChikaLicious and Room4Dessert, Kyotofu endeavors to turn the meal’s last course into a dedicated evening outing, accessorized with fruity cocktails and wrapped up in a sleekly designed, date-friendly package. And with its focus on the flavors of Japan and the gracefully subtle incorporation of soy into eleven out of the fifteen items on its short menu, Kyotofu is making its own distinctive mark on an increasingly crowded postprandial market.” (New York Mag)