Saturday, March 5, 2016

Asia Trip Penang

This is the first time I had been to Penang that I know of.  I was born in Singapore, my mother moved to China when she was 16 and was married in Singapore when she was 24 and moved from there when she was 27.  So i possibly could have been in Penang but I do not remember.  I was excited to have a business trip there to meet with a prospective client.  We had prepared for several weeks for our meetings and were very excited to meet with the folks that we had previously met only by phone.  Penang is an Island off the coast of Malaysia and is a state of Malaysia.  It has been a mainstay of American manufacturing since Hewlett Packard's founders established a presence in 1972.  The island is a mixture of new and old and is world renown for it's food culture.  There is a great mixture of Malay or Nyoyan, Indian and Chinese cuisines.  Our client were gracious hosts and made sure that we would really enjoy our stay and sample all the great cuisines of Penang.
Fish Curry
Indian District Penang
My colleagues and I all arrived on Sunday and decided to to enjoy a local famous Fish Curry restaurant conveniently near our Hotel in George Town call Fish Head Curry.  It was late on a Sunday evening and we were a little worried that we were the only folks in the restaurant.  We were lucky to have a colleague from Kuala Lumpur that could navigate the language and the menu.  I ordered the specialty of the house which was Fish Curry.  The Curry came in a clay pot and had large chunks of fish, beware the bones were still in the fish so you could not chomp down.  The curry was full of vegetables, potatoes and had a little heat served over some white rice and I enjoyed it with a local Tiger Beer.  One of my colleagues ordered the Fried Chicken which as described was fried but also had a great spice to it, we combined that with a bowl of seafood fried rice.  Honestly a great meal and also less than $20 for all 3 of us.

Pork Belly
The following day our client took us to Dragon I which is a small chain of Chinese Restaurants.  they are famous for their noodles which are hand made.  They made sure we did not go away hungry we had Noodles, Fried Rice, Soup Dumplings, Pork Belly, Shrimps a total feast.  This restaurant is known for their Soup Dumplings which is a dumpling with meat and a bit of soup, you have to handle it very carefully to get the explosion of goodness.

The following night we went to Batu Ferringhi a tourist haven know for its night market of random clothes accessories and everything imaginable, Rolex for $100! Ha. We went to one of the Beach Front restaurants the Golden Thai.  On a busy night this restaurant could easily seat 1000 people, it has a stage where you get a cross cultural dancing and song experience.  

I had a mission that night to leave part of my Mom in Penang a place she always told us how much she enjoyed.  The restaurant was on the beach and my friend Koushik was kind enough to take some pictures as I left a little piece of her there.
Prawns and Noodles
Mom Loved Penang
The Golden Thai is a seafood restaurant that allows you to pick out your dinner from the aquarium so they can prepare it to your order.  I thought that it would be good to get some Lobster, rarely are you in a place where food is cheap so why not take advantage of it.  I told the lady to pick one out but she was insistent on me doing it myself.  I found a nice 2KG Australian Lobster and had her weigh it and quote me the price $200 USD...What... Well how much are the Tiger Prawns $20USD we will have the Prawns.  I shared the Prawns with VF and we had some other items including Chicken with White Mango.  Overall this was a great location to eat, it was a nice breezy night at the beach and the entertainment on stage was great.
That is a Banana Leaf Plate
The third day was a great food experience our client first took us to a Southern Indian restaurant where we ate on a Banana Leaf, the food included Fried Cauliflower, Chicken Tandoori, Naan, Rice, Chicken Curry, Omelet which is kind of a crepe and a delicious Mango Yogurt Drink.  The Fried Cauliflower was hearty and almost like a big chunk of meaty protein.  Typically you would eat this food with your hands but all of us had to get back to work and did not want to have to deep cleanse.

We had a group dinner at Green Ocean which is located on the

Very Small Chickens
beach and catered more to the locals than the tourists.  Wah Bin our host for the evening had been their with her family for holiday treats, the menu was more authentic and had some things on it that I never would have tried unless we had been introduced by a local.  We started off with Chicken Satay, followed with fresh Prawns, Crab Shells stuffed with Crab, Cheese and Bread Crumbs and then baked, Noodles, Rice Baby Chickens, Thai Coconut Milk fresh out of the shell.  The highlights of the evening were the Baked Stuffed Crab Shells which were rich and had a nice fat content from the Cheese and I suspect the brains of the Crab.  The other special was the Thai Coconut milk, it was ice cold sweet and spicy it was very refreshing.
Stuff Crab Shells
On Thursday Rich our client took us to his favorite place Kapitan in the Indian district in downtown Penang.  This is definitely a locals place, it is covered but open to the outdoors fans try to keep you cool but it is 92 degrees and their is a massive Stone Tandoori Oven that provides additional heat.  there are all different cultures eating their and in the background you can here the prayers from the local Mosque over their loudspeaker.  We all order
Street Art
Tandoori Chicken plates and share a few other things including Fried Chicken.  The Chicken is served on a tin plate with sauces to dip your Naan in overall a very satisfying meal for $6.  The real charm of the place is its location and authenticity.  Rich guided us back through an area of Penang that was a combination of Chinese, Indian, Muslim all dating back to the 1800's.  Overall a very satisfying night.
Yummy Ais Kacang
Our last day in Penang our client took us to the Penang Country Club to enjoy a Pan Asian meal of Noodles, Satay Rice and a desert called Ais Kacang which is a combination of shaved ice soaked in a sweet rose water covered in Grass Jelly, Peanuts, Lychee, Red Beans, Corn, Condensed Milk and other goodies.  

Asian Food Tour Part 1 Hong Kong

Hong Kong Meat Market
To make business travel fun you have to break it up with some sight seeing and exploration of the local food culture.  I had the opportunity for a stop over in Hong Kong to break up a long flight to Penang to meet with a client.  I came to Hong Kong 16 years ago on a trip to Singapore with my dad, so I was hoping that I could thread some of those memories together to navigate my way around.  But to my surprise over a 16 year period Hong Kong had grown with bigger skyscrapers, passenger ship terminals, a ferris wheel and massive development of Kowloon.  It is amazing what the Chinese have done to develop Hong Kong into a city that mixes the new with the old.

Fried Spicy Crab
Dry Market
Recently one of my friends Robert had moved there with his sons so I had an opportunity to meet up with Robert for a couple of memorable dinners, I also had the chance to take a great food tour with Hong Kong Foodie Tours.  The first night I was there I got to celebrate Robert's birthday with his son's at Hee Kee Fried Crab.  Hee Kee is in the Wan Chai District where there are several Fried Crab restaurants.  The trip to Hee Kee was not uneventful, it was my first night there and I had just arrived and I trusted Uber to get me to the right location.  Unfortunately my first trip to Hee Kee was in Kowloon at a different location,  So I summoned Uber again and got on the right track and arrived at the restaurant about 20 minutes late.  The issue with Uber in Hong Kong is that it relies on GPS to get them to the right pick up and drop off.  Unfortunately there are many buildings that are bouncing signals so they often end up in the wrong place also the Uber drivers do not know the area as well as the taxi drivers, lesson learned, I finally arrived to see Robert and his two sons, I finally felt like I had arrived.  They had already started with some fried squid and some noodles.  At this point I had a moment to relax, I took in a deep breath and dug in.  Fried Crab is quite a cooking endeavor, first you get to pick your crab, 10 minutes later a large plate filled with wok fried crab covered in garlic, chili bean paste and scallions in a steamy mass.  Then comes the challenge of navigating your way through the claws, legs and body to get every morsel of goodness.  This is hard work, you have to crack the shell and dig out the meat then mix it with the chili garlic and scallions, then rest and start again.  
Even though it is fried I believe that it really is a 0 calorie meal after you finish working to get a few great bites.  With our meal we had some Fried Rice with Shrimps and some Bok Choy.  Overall it was a great way to finish off the night, this time I flagged a cab.
Dried Fish

Fish Bladders the new Shark Fin
Fresh Fish
The following day I decided to take to the streets, my mission was to find an alley where there were the traditional Wet Markets that specialize in produce and meats.  I left the Marriott Courtyard at 10am and realized I was on Des Voeux Road which is dedicated to the dried preserved foods.  These are called Preserved Markets in Sai Ying Pun district.  This included, Shrimps, Scallops, Abalone, Anchovies, Little Fish, Big Fish, Mushrooms, basically anything that could be dried and preserved.  There were rows and rows of these shops one after another, I was not sure who shopped there, why one chose one over another, whether people bought from them or on the phone or the Internet because they all look the same.  As I made my way to the
Dried Shrimps

Meat Market
Central District I finally found navigated over to Graham Street home of the alleys where all the outdoor wet markets are.  Each vendor has either fresh produce, pork, seafood or flowers.  What is cool about this is that you can imagine 100 years ago these people's relatives stood in the same place selling the same food items.  One funny thing I saw was that there were some Raspberries from a brand we buy in California and grown in California but they were a $1 less in China 7500 miles away.  
Great Soup
That day I noticed on a side street there were a few outdoor cart style restaurants opening up and to either side there were some more traditional indoor restaurants that were open.  Like Anthony Bourdain I took his advice and became a local, what was great I was probably the only American for 100 yards.  It was cool to be there as an observer and experience how Hong Kong working class folks ate.  I ordered Won Ton Noodle Soup, Tea and a Coke.  Everything was piping hot, I added a little Chili Oil and a drop Vinegar to my soup to spice it up, my Tea was just south of boiling and somewhat undrinkable for 15 minutes.  The soup was hearty, sweet plump mushrooms and the WonTon was stuffed with meats, the whole meal was fresh and authentic and cost less than $6USD.

It had been a long day for me I covered over 6 miles and Robert was moving into his place so we were lazy and picked a restaurant that we could walk to and coincidentally specialized in Fried Crab.  This night we did not partake in Fried Crab but we did have more Bok Choy, Fried Rice, Noodles, Char Sui and Prawns.  We dined at one of Hong Kong's famous Cantonese eateries the Under The Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant.  I have included this link on how to cook Cantonese Fried Crab this video was created by CNN.  What I like about the more informal Hong Kong eateries is that tables are mostly communal, so the idea is not to be insecure and share a table.  Privacy is over rated unless you are on a first date, last date or proposing  Many times I find you have a new adventure with who you meet.  For me it allows new photo opportunities like the plate of Conch.

Eating Tour Companions
My last day in Hong Kong I spent touring Kowloon which was short but highlighted by having a beer at the  more than 150 year old Peninsula Hotel and by going on the Hong Kong Foodie Tours.  We met in the Central District and I honestly thought the tour would be made up of other tourist like me, but i was wrong to my surprise the tour was made up with our awesome guide Yammy and three private school teachers and a student from Paris studying International business in Hong Kong, Our eating team was  Yammy, The Fays, Melissa and Mary.  This was a 3 1/2 hour tour with 7 stops and covered at least 5 miles.  
Our first stop was a Noodle Shop that was 20 feet from our tour start in a mostly unmarked door that led us downstairs into a locals restaurant here we tried Won Ton Noodle Soup, it was our shortest stop but it teed us up for a really great day.  At this store we learned how they made a new broth every day and that it took several hours also the noodles were hand made on premise.
Roast Pig
Our next stop was a Roasted Meat store what was most memorable here is that this restaurant is one of the few Roast Meat stores that roasts on site.  They roast Pig, Suckling Pig, Duck, Goose, Pigeon, Chicken, entrails you name it they roast it.  How they roast it is what is fascinating.  they have these ovens that look like space capsules that cook at 750 Degrees.  A 400 lb pig will cook perfectly in 2 hours. When we went in the kitchen it was hot, there were fires pits, pod like ovens, the floor was like ice from a combination of condensation and grease from the pig.  Watch the video and see the cook roasting a suckling pig over an open flame by hand.
Turtle Jelly
We then went to a shop that specialized in refreshments and jams that were used to refresh the body and remove toxins.  We sat down in this small cafe about 400 square feet, a worker was hand grinding sugar cane to remove the sugary syrup to chill and serve to customers.  One of the young ladies noticed a jelly like substance someone was eating and asked about it.  It turns out is it is rendered turtle shell that when processed creates a jelly like substance.  Like any adventurer I bought some for the table so we could all enjoy it.  We

honestly expected it to be awful but it tasted like warm black tea jelly a little bitter till you add a bit of honey, it was pretty good.  Now it is a little weird that it is rendered Turtle Shell but it turned out OK.  
One of the last stores we visited was a preserved fruit store.  Yammy told us that as a child her parents gave them these preserved fruits as treats or dessert.  My favorite was the Preserved Ginger, it was a little sweet but it had a nice hot spice that you tasted on the back of the tongue.  I bought 1 pack of the ginger and have already texted my buddy Robert to buy me 10 more packs.
Hong Kong is an eating adventure, it is quite affordable and the foods are amazing

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trois Mec - Los Angeles

Trois Mec These guys are an amazing team of Chefs
When the Chef or Food is special and the evening becomes an experience and you do not need Open Table to fill your restaurant every night you go to a ticketing system.  It is very efficient for the Restaurateur but a real challenge for the the customer, but as you know the Restaurateur is always right.  Trois Mec is one of a handful of restaurants in the US that have gone to the online ticketing method of reserving a table, although a pain it is part of the experience and establishes bragging rights that you got a Golden Ticket not unlike American Idle or Willy Wonka. Trois Mec which means three guys is a collaboration of Ludo Lefebvre, John Shook and Vinny Dotolo.  John and Vinny own Animal and Son of a Gun, Animal which I wrote up last year, both are very accomplished chefs.  Trois Mec is located in a small unassuming strip mall on Highland Blvd. in LA.  If you are looking for a sign you will be out of luck unless you are looking for Raffallo's Pizza thank god for Google Maps.
Our reservation was for 6pm which is the first of the evening, we got there early so we went to a restaurant next door Petit Trois for a cocktail.  Petit Trois is aptly named no more that 15 feet wide including the kitchen with eating at the counter or drinks 2 feet away on the wall table.  We got the drink of the night which was a Habanero Margarita.  Petit Trois is also a restaurant so if you do not have a Golden Ticket you should sit down and enjoy dinner there.
Chef Ludo-- He Scared Me

When the clock hit 6pm the hostess came to gather us to guide us to the seating I requested, the counter looking over the kitchen.  This is always the best seat because you are entertained by the action in the kitchen.  A big shout out to Lisa Provost for arranging the seat for us. On this night as we walked in stood Ludo, you know that French guy who instills fear into his team members on The Taste.  I immediately made my presence known by greeting him and asking him how his evening is going and asking if I can take pictures, immediately I saw that look of oh no am I going to have to deal with this guy all evening.  But no the kitchen is his office and I respect his domain and I will admit he did scare me a bit.

Trois Mec is a small restaurant with 8 seats at the counter and 4 tables for 16 additional lucky people. The counter is 3 feet from the chefs so it provides the perfect venue for expert viewing for food preparation skills.
Buckwheat Popcorn and Pistachio Tart
This is a tasting menu with approximately 8+ small plates brought throughout the evening, whatever the evening fair you get whatever wonderful meal you get.  Mind you each bite is of the utmost quality and has been curated for the evening.  If you wish to have a beverage you can buy beer or wine buy the Glass, Bottle or they will pair Wine or a Non Alcoholic beverage for each tasting.  JoAnn went with the glass of Wine and I went with the Non Alcoholic pairing.  The first several appetizers come out in rapid succession including crunchy Buckwheat Popcorn, a tiny Pistachio and Herb Tart, a Brown Egg Shell with a Yolk on the bottom and Cream on top, Crispy Tapioca Square and Custard.  I was busy taking pictures of the food, of Ludo and of his staff everything is happening so fast, stop I have to start enjoying this
Awesome Custard
and taking the experience in.  Our awesome server Leah was serving me my drinks and I felt the pressure of eating forming as sweat on my forehead.  Oh yeah Leah I almost forgot her because of my feeding frenzy.  Leah has been at Trois Mec for 1 year she and her husband moved to LA from Napa where she worked at Bouchon and he worked at The French Laundry, well that is impressive!
Egg Yolk with Creme
Back to the food the Buckwheat Popcorn needs to be eaten a few kernels at a time to get the best enjoyment of the salty crunchy taste.  The Pistachio Tart was tasty, of course I ate it wrong thinking the tart shell was ceramic and wondering when I broke it if Ludo would yell at me and put me in time out.  BTW that is when I realized I needed to slow down.  Of all the little taste starters my favorite was either the Egg Yolk covered with Creme served in a Brown Egg Shell or the Custard with a touch of Lime which had a sprinkling of something crunchy.
Before we start the next grouping I have reviewed several restaurants where Celebrity Chefs are on property but none that I have seen are as involved with their team and as serious about the food, presentation and quality as Chef Ludo.  He stood 3 feet in front of me all evening working with his team of 5 to serve 24 people, 12 dishes each or 288 plates.  Each plate was prepared in front of us, I have great respect for him, and his staff.  And that is the real reason I did not ask him another question the rest of the night until I said good night.  As a side note after we finished our first 5 plates he said well that is dinner have a great evening goodbye and then he kind of chuckled, for a fleeting moment I thought he was serious.
Cured Trout
Smoked Vegetable Voulete
Back to the food, now the serious stuff begins first main course is Cured Trout glazed with a Vinaigrette, with a Dollop of Yogurt and Ground Carrot side.  I have never eaten Trout, I caught over 100 trout this year (catch and release), the curing made the texture firm and the taste smokey when combined with the Yogurt and Carrot it was delicious, the Carrot added some sweetness.  What a great start, the pace had slowed down even though Ludo and his team were in full chef mode. Leah paired that dish with Apple Cider a great combo with the Trout.  
Second course was Smoked Vegetable Veloute with Black Truffle Chantilly.  The Veloute served as a soup base was combined with smoked vegetables that included Cauliflower and Asparagus.  The Black Truffle Chantilly did not have that pungent Truffle taste but was more earthy.  This was paired with Lemon Sage Tea, it tastes like it sounds, delicious.  
The third course is Rice, King Crab and Uni Butter, Avocado.  The Rice is fried in butter until it cakes, the cake is used as the base of the King Crab covered in Uni Butter.  So you get the Crunch of the Rice and the Uni Buttered Crab Leg with the richness of the Avocado Puree.  This was paired by a Spiced Italian Soda the only drink of the night they did not make in house.  
Update, Chef Ludo is still leading his guys, from time to time you can here them escalate as they encourage each other to put out perfect food.  
Cauliflower Porridge
Course number four was a Veal Cauliflower Porridge with Cinnamon and Dates, this one I was not paying attention to it so when I hit the date I thought this tastes kind of good but does it belong in here, but i came to my senses it was no mistake it was part of the meal.  This dish was not a favorite for my wife but I really enjoyed it the Cauliflower Porridge was creamy but had that great earthy taste a really well thought out dish.  The kind of dish you imagine you eat in France after a hard day of farming.  Along came Leah with our favorite drink of the night Mountain Shrub which is White Wine Vinegar fermented with Fir and Pine needles for 1 year then combined with 1 part simple syrup to 1 part Vinegar concoction and then carbonated.  
Dessert- Apple Butter Creme de Brie
Ah finally dessert, Apple Butter, Creme de Brie with Toasted Barley a perfect light desert to finish the night off.  the Apple butter worked well with the Creme just scenting it with Apple, this was combined with a Spice Chai Latte.  To wrap the food experience up we were given 2 Mignardises each a tiny Cream Puff and Dark Chocolate Truffle.
This was a very memorable evening of dining out, the hardest working Executive Chef in LA, an amazing group of Chefs and Sous Chefs by his side, very professional Servers and a Hostess that was on top of every detail all night.  Trois Mec is a must if you love food and the experience of watching professionals work.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kettner Exchange -- San Diego

Kettner Exchange
We are always struggling to find good restaurants in San Diego where we do not have to go downtown worry about parking and wade through the throngs of weekend partiers.  There are several good restaurants that have opened in the last several years in the Little Italy District, one of them is Kettner Exchange.  Kettner Exchange is housed in a large new contemporary building with wall to ceiling windows, steel beams and plenty use of recovered wood that lap strakes the ceiling like a boat hull, and is featured in the kitchen, bar and eating areas. In the middle of the restaurant there is a piece of artwork that gives you the feeling a tree is growing through the middle of the restaurant with the myriad of branches mimicking a Banyan Tree.  Overall this is a very cool looking restaurant.  The Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski has a great resume starting in NYC at Le Cirque , moving to Nobu Matsuhisa in Aspen and Las Vegas at Joel Rubuchon's Mansion and the Yellowtail at the Bellagio hotel.  He has taken his breadth of cuisine and brought it together at KEX.  Brian also competed on Iron Chef america in 2010.
We were meeting four others and were seated upstairs.  As you walk up the stairs take your time hold the rail and read the stairs for an inspiring uplifting message.  When upstairs you notice that there is a second bar allowing the first and second levels to stand on their own as separate dining and drinking establishments.  The person we met had brought three others who were all Vegans each of them had been to KEX and were very happy with the menu of small plates that catered to their eating needs.
Soups, Udon and Butternut, Duck Meatball
Kale Salad
To start with several of us ordered their Vegan friendly Kale Salad everyone loved the freshness of the Kale, the leaves used are not the typical chewy Kale leaf but more tender and fresh, combined with Golden Raisins, Apple, crunchy Almond slivers with a drizzle of Lemon Parmesan dressing.  I had ordered a Chicken Katsu spicy Udon Noodle soup with Radishes, it was delicious and savory.  JoAnn had the Duck Meatball sitting on Anson Mills grits with Parmesan, the dish combined the richness and fat of the duck with heirloom grits grain.  There was recently an Anthony Bourdain show on Charlotte that featured Anson Mills and how they have used originally harvested seeds to recreate non GMO grains.
These were some of the favorite dishes, Kettner Exchange changes its menu often which allows you to enjoy this beautiful restaurant and have a different food experience each time.
The service is excellent, if you ask your waiter to help you choose on a local draft beer or a great glass they will gladly bring you a sample so you can make the best choice.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Spotted Pig,The Spotted Pig The Best Burger - Greenwich Village NYC

The Spotted Pig
Whitney Museum
We had just finished a great tour of the new The Whitney Museum in the Meat Packing district and had decided to walk to the Spotted Pig.  The Spotted Pig is the hardest reservation in NYC because they do not take them, it is not a large restaurant and it is extremely popular all day and night long.  The Spotted Pig is the creation of April Bloomfield who has an extensive culinary resume including some time working with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse which has an influence on her culinary style.  This is a simple comfortable Gastro Pub establishment.  The number one menu item is a hamburger, it is a top pick by Food and Wine for best hamburger in the world and it has a Michelin Star.
Ladies Meals
The Famous Burger
The Spotted Pig is a Pub in the sense of the word, you feel you are the east side of the pond in this old eclectic setting with a variety of your Grandma's stuff on the wall and adorning the floor.  It is always got a wait but lucky for us there was a lull in the culinary traffic so we captured a table and made ourselves comfortable.  I ordered the traditional burger while the ladies ordered the Grilled Cheese and the Haddock Chowder.
The burger is a real burger almost 1 inch thick and half a pound smothered with Roquefort Cheese with Dijon Mustard and a Sweet Toasted Brioche Bun.  It is served with shoestring garlic fries combine it with a beer and you are definitely rocking a great american taste treat.  By the way it is not easy dipping your skinny fries in ketchup.
Grilled Cheese and Haddock Chowder
The Grilled Cheese is made with Filone Bread which is an Italian Bread with the consistency of a French Baguette it is smothered with meltred Fontina, Taleggio and Parmesan.  The Chowder was a traditional cram based Seafood Chowder with Haddock, Potatoes, some Shellfish and a drizzle of Olive Oil. The ladies had some wine and we settled in for an hour to escape the cool air and take in the pub atmosphere.  This is a great restaurant to go to after a tour of the Whitney or shopping in Greenwich Village.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Kat and Theo Flatiron NYC

Chef Shah of Kat and Theos
Every time we go to NYC we try a new restaurant for this trip I picked as new restaurant in the Flatiron District called Kat and Theo.  Kat and Theo is a Mediterranean inspired restaurant under the direction and influence of Executive Chef Paras Shah, Besides Chef Shah there is a strong team including Mixologist Stephen An and Pastry Chef menu Serena Chow.  The restaurant is contemporary with the bar, kitchen, and dining up front with additional dining in the back.  The walls of the restaurant are the original brick of the building and the design invites both warmth and intimacy.  Like many of my restaurant reviews the kitchen is open and provides visual stimulation and culinary skill envy as the busy chefs prepare great food.

We started our evening with a couple of drinks Metal and Dust and the Mexican Firing Squad.  The Metal and Dust is a Lager based drink with a Oaxaca and Mulato Chile infused Tequila with lime and Mole bitters, the Mexican Firing Squad includes Tequila, Grenadine too much to describe for two really tasty drinks.

Delicious Octopus
Our server Eduard was passionate about the menu and provided some guidance on what he would recommend to try.  We started with Charred Octopus, the Octopus was prepared perfectly and were as tender as a well  cooked Scallop.  It was accompanied with White Bean puree with several flash fried White Beans that added texture.  The Octopus had a slight Citrus touch and was finished with Oregano, it was a beautiful plate.
Lamb Shank
We had decided to share the Braised Lamb Shank entree this dish was perfectly done, moist and tender steeped in Mediterranean spices, sitting on a bed of Wheat Berries, Crispy Smoked Lamb Belly, Carrots, and Fig.  The Lamb was perfect in that it did not have the strong lamb taste, the Wheat Berry and Lamb Belly provided some good texture to have something to chew on.  The Fig provided a sweetness that accompanied the Lamb perfectly.  Along with the Lamb we had Fried Artichokes which were sprinkled with Reggiano Cheese Walnut and Lemon Zest, a tasty accompaniment.
Fried Artichoke

Carrot Cake Yum!!
Before the desert Chef Shah came over and we talked about his time he spent in Spain interning at the famous El Bulli and that many of the taste influences came from his time working in Spain.   The restaurant was in it's first year and it had been a great experience during the initial build and ensuing year of servicre.   We told him that the meal was perfect and asked which desert we should try, he suggested the Carrot Cake.
Two nights before we celebrated my Birthday and bought some take out deserts, Carrot Cake and Cheese Cake from Juniors on 42nd.  Juniors is no known for its small portions.  Point is that I was concerned that this Carrot Cake would be another large eating endeavor.  Fortunately for us it was a perfect desert with Espresso and White Chocolate Ice Cream with a dusting of Pistachio.
The entire meal was very enjoyable and I would recommend that you enjoy a meal at Kat and Theos.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ramen Master Class with Chef Ivan Orkin


Me and Ivan
Last week we went to NYC to get some weekend R&R and some great food.  We attended NYCWFF for our second time, the highlight event was the the Ramen Masters Class with Chef Ivan Orkin.  I have always loved Ramen since I was a kid, but what I soon found out I had always eaten Ramen lite. We lived in Hawaii and we ate a noodle creation very similar by the name of Saimin.   But  at our class we were about to learn from a master how to make a real Ramen.
Ivan's Book
My Creation
 Ivan studied Japanese Literature at University of Colorado and moved to Tokyo after graduation.  Ivan had always had a fascination with food and all things Japanese specifically Ramen.  After several years he moved back to the states with his wife, unsatisfied with his career choices he decided to chase his passion for food and enrolled at the Culinary Institute in NYC.  During school and after graduation Ivan had the opportunity to work in great kitchens and learn from some of the best chefs the secrets of the trade. He realized that a line cook's life was for a younger man, one without a family so he chose to become a 8 to 5 Executive Chef for the corporate world.  Shortly later his world collapsed, his wife passed away leaving him as a widower and a father.  Ivan spent several years going back and forth to Japan to reunite his sons grandparents with their grandson, on one trip he met his current wife.  Ivan stayed in Japan became more fascinated with Ramen and defied all odds and opened his first Ramen Shop.  If you want to learn more about his fascinating story you will have to buy his book Ivan Ramen.  Ivan now has 2 Ramen shops in Tokyo and 1 in NYC

The Ramen Master
Our day began at Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) which is across the street from the World Trade Center.  The school is in a beautiful building overlooking the Hudson River. The building is new and spacious and definitely a great place to learn about the food world. After registering we went into a cooking class room and was greeted by Ivan and his team.  There were 15 people at our class which was perfect size, which provided us all an opportunity to get hands on experience to learn how to make Ramen Chef Ivan.

Dried Fish for the Dashi
Ramen is a complicated food, when done well it takes many hours of preparation and attention to the best ingredients.  There are several components, the noodle, the fat, the Sofrito, Katsuobushi Salt, Double Soup (Chicken Soup and Dashi), the protein, the sliced scallion and the egg.  The instruction started out with a video highlighting the process for finding and preparing all the ingredients.  Ivan then went through how we could prepare these ingredients at home and then allowed us to make our first Ramen creation with personal help from Chef.  I would like to say this is a simple task but it requires a visit to your local Japanese Grocery store to get all the proper ingredients.  But I have to say the end result was delicious, I came to the conclusion that other Ramen I had eaten did not pay attention to the details that Chef Ivan had.  I have started his book so when eating Ramen next I will be on even footing with the chef to ask them how they make their Ramen.  I believe that Ivan would say there is no wrong way to make Ramen unless it is in the Microwave.
Hudson River


In years to come we will avoid the larger convention type events at NYCWFF the smaller hands on classes are a great experience and you have a chance to learn something new.  You meet great people and you get one on one assistance from a great chef.