Tag Archives: garlic

Le Bernardin

3 Jun

It’s been months since I last posted, but I did not have much to live for let alone write for.  Recently, Blister, the doctor, recommended that I eliminate all seafood, dairy, gluten, fruit, and nuts from my diet due to my severe allergies.  For weeks, I suffered.  After a recent visit to my allergist, she finally set me free and advised that elimination diets create super allergies.  Yes, Avengers allergies.  Blister the saboteur.  When I informed her of my allergist’s medical opinion, she just laughed and said, “I helped you lose five pounds, didn’t I?”  Blister, the cause of my demise and BDD.

Due to my unreasonable diet, the thought of writing about food killed me.  Now that I can eat again, let’s discuss New York.  Years ago during my freshman year in college, I went to New York to visit some friends.  It was my first trip to New York as an adult, and I was excited.  A bag, a bus ticket, a few girlfriends, and a lot of spontaneity led us to a weekend in New York.  As soon as we arrived, we realized spontaneity was slightly overrated.  There were three 18 year old girls without accommodations in a big, scary city.  In our minds, the nights would be full of so much partying that making reservations of any kind seemed futile.  But once the parties , after parties, and after after parties were over, we were homeless with no where to go.  Luckily, a friend who resided in the NYU dorms, snuck us in to the study rooms where we slept like squatters.  We slept under the desks and used the chairs as camouflage. We lacked blankets, showers, and pajamas, and used our one bag filled with hoochie mama disposable tops as a make-shift pillow.

Fast-forward 13 years.  Still filled with the same excitement and girlfriends in tote, we were on our way to New York City again.  This time, we had hotel reservations at … the Waldorf Astoria.  As we walked to our room, I noticed this.

Ooooooh sheeit.

The foyer.

The living room.

The view from the living room.

The formal dining room.

The kitchen.

The master bedroom.

The second bedroom.

The third bedroom.

As I walked around this palace fit for a Zamunda King, I imagined how many homeless 18 year old girls could sleep in this place.   Like Papi Chula said, “Sisters are doin’ it for themselves.”  And we were.  Not only did we have showers, but we had an unlimited supply of Ferragamo shampoo, conditioner, and soap.  As hard as it was to leave this mansion, we had to go to Le Bernardin for Blister’s birthday dinner especially since a significant deposit was required just to secure the reservation.

Amuse bouche

I’m not usually a fan of sea urchin, but as of late I have grown fond of it. I’m especially fond of it when it’s topped with salty caviar, a wonderful way to wake the taste buds.

Caviar-Wagyu

For my “Almost Raw” starter, the blend of Nebraska wagyu beef and langoustine topped with a generous layer of caviar was worth the $45 supplemental charge.  The pepper Vodka crème fraîche fills in the chewy bites of tartare for a creamy well-rounded bite.  Instead of layering the tartare on the provided “Ruffles” potato chips, I preferred smothering the delicious blend on the warm bread that regularly circulated throughout the night.

Because Blister and I are geniuses, we ordered different dishes and shared them to try more of the items offered by the silver fox Eric Ripert. She ordered the tuna– layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras, toasted baguette, chives, and olive oil.

The tuna was a vibrant orange and beautiful to look at, but it was mediocre in taste.  It tasted like tuna and the foie gras had a pasty consistency that did not seduce me like foie gras usually does.  The wagyu kicked the tuna’s ass.

I ordered the langoustine for the “Barely Touched” second course.

The langoustine was perfectly seared and succulent.  I always face a dilemma when it comes to fleshy shellfish.  On one hand, I want to pop the entire morsel of succulent meat into my mouth.  On the other hand, it’s so delicious that it should be slowly savored.  Lucky for me, Mr. Ripert gave me two.  One to slowly savor with small bites and the other to completely devour with my eyes closed.

I also enjoyed Miggy’s Sea Medley.

A beautiful display of the ocean’s gifts in one small little package, but the best part of this national treasure is the smoked bonito broth.  It is the perfect warm temperature touched with a hint of uni and caviar.  When I die, I imagine God welcoming me into the gates of heaven with a cup of this smoked bonito broth.

For my third “Lightly Cooked” dish, I asked the waiter for the fish that the contestants on Top Chef had to replicate seasons ago.  The waiter had no idea what episode I was talking about and brought other waiters for further investigation.  They caucused and agreed it was Mr. Ripert’s striped bass.

The top layer of skin was not crispy enough.  After watching that Top Chef episode, I was expecting a  super crispy and flaky top layer.  The fish itself was perfectly cooked, but I did not like the black-garlic Persian lemon sauce.  It had a sharp bitter flavor that I could not identify but it tasted like star-anise’s cousin.  I would have enjoyed this dish more if the black-garlic sauce was substituted with the smoked bonito broth.  In fact, just pour that broth over everything.

For dessert, I ordered the apple-cinnamon which consisted of cinnamon caramel cream, green apple foam, candied walnut, and red wine caramel.

I took off its hat and found this:

It tasted like a modern apple pie.  The “hat” was crunchy and light, and the sauces swirled to make the most perfect bite of apple pie.  Even though I hate foam, it really worked in this sweet treat.  Ending this three-hour meal with apple pie and a hot cappuccino was the cherry on top.  Of course, I had to instruct the waiter to add the splenda before the cappuccino foam … a first for the barista according to the waiter.  I hate when the splenda gets caught in the foam and not in the cappuccino.

I was so full that I could not even touch the after dinner freebies.

I understand why Le Bernardin is ranked 19th best restaurant in the world.  It is definitely two whole Michelin stars greater and better than Providence and Melisse.  Although I no longer will rank restaurants on vacation due to my tendency to love everything because I’m on vacation, anyone who enjoys seafood should pay the proper deposit, make a reservation, and enjoy.

Blister loved her birthday dinner, company, and conversations of placenta, daddy dicks, and your usual girl talk.

Le Bernardin
The Equitable Building
155 W 51st St
New York, NY

 

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Thanksgiving 2011

8 Dec

The day to give thanks comes once a year.  Bubby and Blister’s favorite holiday.  Of course it’s their favorite.  Recently, I had an epiphany that Bubby is the male version of Blister.  They are alike in so many ways that it hit me like a ton of bricks, and when I told Bubby how similar he is to Blister, he said, “I’ve been telling you that.”  Apparently Bubby and Blister already knew how alike they are but I was clearly in denial.  But it makes sense.  The Twinsies are super logical people, have an undying love for Almond Joy and strong interest in Greek mythology, share a keen eye for scams and gimmicks, drag me to watch action movies that seem horrible but actually are entertaining, and declare Thanksgiving to be their favorite holiday because it’s all about eating.  Weird.

This Thanksgiving, I decided to use the Williams-Sonoma turkey brine and Whole Foods spice rub because I pre-ordered an organic, free-range $60 turkey.  It would have been an $80 dollar bird but Bubby’s family was in Hong Kong.  $60 for a bird seems outrageous.  That bird better be the juiciest bird, do a little dance, and pop out a cornish game hen from its loins for $60.  It didn’t dance or give birth to a hen, but it was juicy, especially the white meat.  I’m not a fan of white meat, but it was actually tasty.  To ensure the moistness of the bird, I used Alton Brown’s brining and roasting techniques.  Although the meat was moist, Bubby said he can taste the star anise from the brine — a taste we cannot appreciate.  Next year, I may use a different brine and different rub but will definitely buy that expensive ass bird.  Even though the flavor was not exponentially better than a hormone-filled turkey, it made me eat white meat which is priceless.

Turks

Turks’s brine – looks gross

Turks with a tan and creamed corn as his backup dancer.

El Ninja’s “I only eat fish” option.

Cornbread stuffing with Italian sausage and hard-boiled eggs.  Unfortunately, it was a little dry this year because my brand new oven was just too strong.

Macaroni and cheese with like 5 different types of cheese.  This may be my last year making macaroni and cheese.

Green beans with garlic and pancetta.  Make note of the bowl of jalapenos because we are Korean.

Blister’s garlic mashed potatoes.  Blister is responsible for making the mashed potatoes every year.  There was so much mashed potatoes left over that I made Bubby some “potatee balls” which is Sheppard’s pie inside a ball of mashed potatoes baked and rolled in panko crumbs.

The spread.

Before diving into our meal, each family member had to say two things they are grateful for this  year.  I said I was grateful for my husband and having my family all live in LA.  Bubby said he was grateful for his wife and everyone’s good health.  And then after that, the entire family copied our answers.  Thankful for health, the new addition to our family, and living close to each other.  El Ninja gave the meal 4 slow claps but acknowledged that if he had the turkey it would have been 5.

While in my turkey stupor, Blister pre-purchased tickets to see The Immortals.  It’s a family tradition to watch a movie on Thanksgiving — a family tradition I despise.  Last year she made me see Harry Potter.  I don’t mind watching a movie but after a hard day of cooking, I really just want to eat another plate of turkey and pass out.  She physically dressed me in yoga pants, uggs, beanie, and an ugly sweater, I was forced to go.  The movie was actually good, and Henry Cavill was as sweet as a slice of pumpkin pie.  Yum-my.

Newport Tan Cang Seafood

16 Nov

The holiday season is near.  I love this time of year.  Thanksgiving (the holiday that started this blog), Christmas, New Years, Bubby’s birthday, El Ninja’s birthday, and my mom’s birthday.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend my firm holiday party this year because it’s Bubby’s birthday.  I guess it’s not a bad thing especially since last year’s holiday party was a disaster.  Here was the conversation:

Me: Hey!
Sweetest Assistant Ever: Hi!
Me: Is that your husband?
SAE: Noooo……….she’s my cousin.
Me: …


Me: I’m so sorry, I’m really drunk.

I really wasn’t drunk, but I felt awful.  The entire night her manly cousin shot imaginary darts at me with her eyes.  It was the worst ever.  At least I won’t have to run into her cousin this year.  My big mouth.  It’s evil yet so good when it comes to eating.

This year for El Ninja’s birthday, he wanted to go to Newport Seafood.  We usually go to Newport for my dad’s birthday, he loves the lobster.  El Ninja enjoyed the whole fried fish, and now that he’s a pescatarian, it was an obvious choice.  What wasn’t so obvious was my parents birthday invitation to a complete stranger.  She’s not a complete stranger since she’s in the same English class as my dad, but she’s a complete stranger to our family.  My parents thought it would be completely normal and sane to bring my brother a blind date to HIS birthday dinner! What the what?!  Yes, my Korean parents brought this poor little girl who barely speaks English to meet my brother on his birthday and to have the entire family present for their first blind date.  Blister and I couldn’t help but wonder how trusting this girl is to accompany random people in a strange country to a restaurant.  What if we decided to kill her as a family sacrifice? [LADIES: When traveling, please do not get into strangers’ cars and have dinners with their crazy families even if the meal is free.]   To make matters worse, the poor girl sat in between my parents volleying each parent’s conversation as her head went right to left in a Linda Blair-like fashion.  Even if my brother expressed any type of interest, he wouldn’t have been able to get a word in edgewise.  Bubby whispered, “Your father is a horrible wingman.”

Besides the awkward moments provided by my loving parents, the food was good as always.

Lobster

What makes this lobster dish so special is the roe.

It’s chewy and soft and scrumptious.  The lobster is tossed with perfect amounts of spice, garlic, scallions.  Perfection.

Fish

The house fish in garlic chili sauce is a new family staple.   You can definitely taste the Vietnamese fish sauce, ginger, hot pepper, fried basil, and garlic in the sauce.  The fish is deep fried, so everything is edible.  I particularly enjoy the fried fish cheeks.  I definitely want to recreate this sauce at home and pour it on everything.

Pea sprouts

Another staple.  I love these tasty sprouts. They aren’t overly sauteed where the greens lose their crunch.  It’s such a delicious vegetable and severely underrated.

Beef Cubes

I don’t know why we continue to order this dish, but the salt and lime dipping sauce is my favorite.  This is a typical dish you can find at any Chinese or Vietnamese restaurant.

The new additions: Fried tofu, calamari, and pan fried noodles

This is one of my favorite dishes.  The fried tofu is fresh out of the fryer and super hot that it burned the roof of my mouth.  But it’s worth the third degree burn.  The tofu is soft and fleshy on the inside and the crispy coating is perfect, not too thick.  Bubby and I had a ten minute conversation on whether we thought the tofu was fried or breaded then fried.  The discussion remains open.  Regardless, I love this dish and the perfect soy dipping sauce.

The calamari had the same salt/lime dipping sauce I enjoy with my beef cubes.  Blister advised that I not order this dish, but I did anyway.  She was right, it was uneventful.

I took one bite of this dish and said, “Niet!”  I think Bubby enjoyed this dish, he loves him some noodies.

For the lobster, the fish, the pea sprouts, and tofu, I give Newport Seafood a perfect score.  It is a family tradition and will always be the best renovated Marie Callender ever.

Newport Tan Cang Seafood
518 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA

Masan

6 Jul

I’ve been on this ridiculous wedding diet.  Blister was like, “You’re the only bride I know who is pigging out before her wedding.  Usually, brides want to look their best, not their fattest.”  And because of this, I’ve been going to wedding boot camp of four straight days of hell at Pure Barre.  More like Pure Hell.  It’s intense ballet, yoga, and pilates which definitely has reshaped my muscles.  But it’s so hard that the thought of eating food makes me feel horrible because it’s never worth the pain I feel in Pure Barre.  Well, some foods are worth the pain, but not all.  I have 4 weeks left of this intensive strength training, and then I’m back on the fat wagon.  Also, I want to look my best for my husband-to-be during our honeymoon in Barbados.  I told Bubby that my body will be at its ultimate peak during Barbados and after that, it’s downhill with post-pregnancy stretch marks, fat rolls, and flabby skin.  He seemed sad.

Although I’m not dining anywhere new until after our wedding, we have been to several restaurants that I need to post an update for, including Masan.  I’ve heard of Masan several times before, the restaurant where you can order san nakji (live octopus).  I’ve always wanted to try san nakji ever since I watched the movie, “Old Boy.”  While others in the movie theater squirmed with disgust, I whispered to Bubby, “That looks delicious.”

I gathered my family members, eaters of live things, and headed to Masan.  Masan is on the edge of Koreatown, closer to downtown.  It’s not the best neighborhood and the only available parking is valet.  Once you walk in, you’re greeted by fish tanks, drunk Korean men with red faces, and empty green bottles once filled with soju.  The decor is sketchy, and if you’re not Korean you might want to call your Korean friend to come with.  The front of the restaurant was moderately packed for a Friday night, and the hostess escorted us to the back of the restaurant.  The smell of questionable fish and the sight of the cluttered kitchen were not appetizing but required to endure as we made our way to the back room.  These back rooms make me suspicious … I think I’ve seen too many mafia movies but my dukes were up, ready to swing.  We were the only ones in the back room.  Now if I wasn’t Korean, I’d think this is some Rosa Parks shit.  But I genuinely feel they didn’t have an available table for 5 in the front of the restaurant.

Masan actually serves a variety of live underwater deliciousness.  Live shrimp, live uni, live sea cucumbers.  We opted for the family plan including sashimi, sea cucumbers, steamed monk fish, spicy fish stew, and more.

The sea cucumbers.

This looks more disgusting than how it tastes.  Yes, it looks like black phlegm hacked from the lungs of a chronic cigarette smoker, but it’s really good.  It has this interesting crunchy texture that you can’t really place.  Maybe like crunching on the cartilage off a chicken bone.  But it was my favorite of the night.

The live octopus.

The live octopus was anti-climactic.  It was nothing like the movie Old Boy.  Sure the tentacles moved around and stuck to your inner cheeks, but I wanted a fight.  I wanted these bad boys to fight without mercy.  I should have thrown several of these tentacles on my face just to reenact the famous scene.

Suckers with suckers.

A clam???

I’m not sure what this was, I believe it’s some kind of clam.  Blister, do you remember?  They were chewy, nothing special obviously.  I can’t even remember what it is.

Sea squirts.

First of all, the name of these things is disgusting.  Sea squirt.  Barf.  The waitress gave us these squirts as “service.”  In Korean, “service” means on the house.  So when these squirts landed on our table, squirts from Korea mind  you, my dad’s eyeballs popped out of his head as he popped these bad boys into his mouth.  Now the eyeballs were in the back of his head.  Homeboy was in heaven.  These bad boys are disgusting.  They taste like dishwater.  No.  The water from your spa pedicure after the lady grates the cheese off the bottom of your feet.  That water.

Steamed monk fish.

Masan is known for their aggu jjim, steamed monk fish, and rightfully so.  My mom makes a killer aggu jjim, but Masan’s was good, too.  The fish was soft and tender and super spicy just like it should be.  The best aggu jjim I ever had was in New York.  During college, my aunt would order it from the local Korean restaurant and magically, aggu jjim appeared at her front door.  Hot, spicy, tender, delicious.  Damn, I used to kill some good aggu jjim up in New York.  I miss it.  Masan’s aggu jjim is not even competition for New York’s, but it was good.

Fish stew.

So remember that spa pedicure water?  Throw some red pepper flakes in it, and you’ll get this fish stew.  This is the worst fish stew.  It was way too watery and the fish and spices didn’t have enough time to percolate to get that fishy aroma.  That sounds gross.  But it was elementary.  So elementary.

Fresh sashimi.

The sashimi was not fresh and not worth the price.  El Ninja’s sashimi is way better.  He buys a live flounder from the market and slices and dices that bad boy and serves it fresh.  Really good and way better than Masan’s.  It wasn’t even sliced properly. Look at those jagged edges.  No good.

Here are some of the side dishes served.

 Squid salad with red pepper/vinegar sauce

 Mung bean jelly with soy sauce and scallions

 Deep fried salmon bones — crunchy and delicious

 Roasted garlic — mm mm good.  I recently found out that microwaved garlic is really good, too.

 Egg — a Korean staple

I expected more from Masan and was seriously disappointed.  The sea cucumber and aggu jjim were the only items I would recommend.  Two sarcastic slow claps.

Masan
2851 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

Natraj

15 Mar

For a long time I couldn’t enjoy Indian food because I got really sick in college after bad Indian food.  5 years later, Bubby convinced me to give it a second chance because he loves Indian food.  I couldn’t disappoint him and his love for food, so I agreed.  We went to Naan n’ Curry in the bay area and I slowly fell back in love with Indian food.  When we had to move to LA, I was heart broken not knowing where I could find a good Indian restaurant.  I asked my Indian friends and they all responded with, “Not in LA.”  Great.

One day on a random date night, Bubby suggested we try Natraj in Long Beach.  A small restaurant owned by an Indian family where the young daughters wait tables and the mother and father ask if everything is ok.  And it is.

The chutneys: mango, tamarind, and cilantro (Thanks, Nibs for your Indian insight.)

I love the chutneys, so sweet, spicy, salty.  Bubby doesn’t touch this because he doesn’t believe in wasting stomach space.

Our dishes.

Fish curry

Chicken tikka masala

Saag paneer

Rice

Yogurt

I forgot to take pictures of the garlic naan.  Bubby ate it too fast.  Damn his fast fingers.

I requested all of the dishes to be made spicy (Sorry, Bubs), and they were deliciously spicy.  I wasn’t too fond of the fish curry, I prefer ordering the chicken tandoori but couldn’t because I’m on this stupid no meat diet which is going to end in 2 seconds.  I couldn’t even enjoy my favorite dish, chicken tikka masala.  I could only sop up the sauces with my naan and rice.  But for a fake vegetarian like me, Indian food is a really good option.  Each dish is so flavorful and rich in spices.  The cheese cubes in the saag paneer had the consistency of firm tofu with a subtle hint of cheese flavor.  Bubby downed the spice with a nice cold Indian beer.

I can’t wait to visit India –a trip that must take place before I have children.  I would love to go with Blister and Dr. Hay-hay-hay.  She’s been several times and would be the perfect tour guide while Blister will bring her travel luck.  Travel luck?  Yeah, Blister has travel luck.  She loves to travel and whenever I travel with her something great happens.  It could be an upgrade from a regular hotel room to a suite, free drinks, cut lines, or making a flight at the last minute.  One time when Blister, Mexicunnie, Pelota, and I were in Brazil, we almost got kidnapped by a crazy cab driver.  The four of us took a ferry back to Rio and needed to catch a cab.  An aggressive cab driver wanted us to take his cab desperately.  Blister looked at him and said we should take another cab and forced us all into the back seat.  The aggressive cab driver began to yell at our current driver for stealing his customers.  He then grabbed a weapon from his glove compartment and we yelled at our driver to book it.  As we drove away, the aggressive driver chased our cab for a solid 2 blocks.  The four of us, including our driver, were yelling and screaming to drive faster because the crazy man was close behind.   Our driver called the police as we luckily escaped.  Had it not been for Blister’s travel luck and animosity towards aggressive men barking orders at her, we could have been four bodies without vital organs.  I can’t wait to go to India though.

Natraj gets 4 claps.

Natraj
5262 E 2nd St
Long Beach, CA