Sing Kee – Beef Short Ribs in a Pumpkin

Instagram Post 7/19/2018

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It’s described as a “Top Pick” on the menu at Sing Kee, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown, so we obligingly picked it as one of our Cantonese banquet choices. Beef Short Ribs in a Pumpkin was a study in tenderness, both the meat and the squash, lounging in a mild curry gravy. The presentation was appealing as well: sliced into wedges, it fell open, looking like chunky flower petals encircling a beefy nucleus.

(🤔 “Short Ribs in a Pumpkin.” You could Sing it in the Key of “Three Coins in the Fountain.” 😉)
 
 

Seamore’s

Instagram Post 7/18/2018

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A birthday celebration with friends found us at Seamore’s in Manhattan where it’s all about seafood from fish tacos and sandwiches to “The Reel Deal”, the popular option we all went for. Here’s how it works: Select your fish from the rotating list of “Daily Landings” – whatever is fresh from a field of over two dozen; decide on your sauce (with choices like charred scallion, lemongrass ají, and miso brown butter); and choose three sides. Here’s tilefish with red curry sauce accompanied by mac & cheese, creamy farro, and the unusual and tasty yellow beets with ricotta salata: they pay as much attention to their side dishes as they do to their fish. (And yes, you can get a burger there, but really…why?)

The second photo shows a platter of Curry Mussels in coconut milk with charred bread for essential dipping.

Seamore’s is located in Chelsea at 161 8th Ave and currently boasts five additional locations in the city.

(Not quite so “ethnic” this time, I know, but tasty nonetheless! 😉)
 
 

Khao Nom – Desserts

Instagram Post 7/17/2018

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Khao Nom has been the prime destination for Thai desserts since it opened in October 2017. Located at 76-20 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, just around the corner from its sister Khao Kang the amazing Thai steamtable restaurant, they offer an impressive array of sweets and not-so-sweets that are certain to tempt you, particularly after a fiery Thai meal at either venue.

The Pandan Tart Cake was crowned with merengue and was as delicious as it was beautiful. Incidentally, pandan (screwpine in English and green in color) is one of those magical flavors that has a knack for combining synergistically with other ingredients and is a welcome addition to many Southeast Asian desserts. (For example, pandan and coconut love each other just as chocolate and nuts do.)

Egg Yolk Cake, aka Foy Thong Cake (foy = thread; thong = gold), features the popular sweetened egg yolk strands that figure into many Thai desserts. The tower was anchored with pandan cake and whipped cream.
 
 

Lagman House – Part 1

Instagram Post 7/16/2018

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The recently opened Lagman House at 2612 East 14th Street in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, is New York’s first restaurant to feature Dungan cuisine. “Dungan” refers not to a geographical region but rather a Muslim ethnic group that settled in western China in “the Stans” bordering Russia. The language is an offshoot of Mandarin Chinese and is spelled in Cyrillic; if you can speak “menu Chinese” and read a little Russian, you’ve got it knocked, but it’s all there in English as well.

This was our first visit of many to come for sure; it’s one of those restaurants that compels me to eat my way through the menu, item by item. So here’s the first contact report:

Beshbarmak – often referred to as the national dish of Kyrgyzstan: thick, hand rolled dough cooked in broth and topped with meat. The menu indicated that it could be ordered with either lamb (which would have been my choice) or beef but we were told that since there wasn’t enough call for lamb, they no longer offered it. If necessary, I will single-handedly bring in enough lamb-lovers so that it will take its rightful place on the table! In the meantime, this is absolutely a must-do dish when you come – even with beef, shown here.

Dungan Style Salad – carrot and radish in a tangy dressing. Our extremely helpful waiter told us we could just eat it straight or mix it in with the noodle dishes for a little extra kick. We did both.

Classic Lagman – Hand pulled noodles topped with fried beef and onions. Note the Chinese linguistic influence: lo mein -> lagman. Delicious. Insiders’ tip: when the menu describes something as “fried”, it means stir-fried, not deep fried. Also, they brought out the noodles pre-cut since they might prove unmanageably long if they hadn’t. On my next visit, I’m considering requesting uncut noodles; I’m betting we can deal with them or at least have fun trying! (Just a thought for you Instagram noodle lifters 😉!)

Dapan Ji – handmade noodles topped with “fried” chicken, potatoes, and spicy pepper. Ever had Chinese “Big Tray Chicken”, dapanji? There’s that language connection again. I think these noodles were a bit thinner than those in the beshbarmak and shaped more like the flat noodles you’re familiar with.

And we didn’t even begin to crack the menu. More to come!
 
 

La Roja de Todos

Instagram Post 7/15/2018

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Our light lunch in Corona, Queens at La Roja de Todos, 108-02 Northern Blvd, consisted of Ceviche de Pescado and a pair of empanadas.

[1] Chilean 🇨🇱 style empanadas are baked and, as you can gather from the photo, are made from a soft, doughy pouch that swaddles the fillings. Our Empanada de Pino, in traditional Chilean fashion, featured beef, onions, raisins and black olives, and was enhanced by pebre, their housemade hot sauce; the Empanada de Marisco (not shown) was its mixed seafood sibling, redolent of the sea.

[2] The fish 🐟 used in the ceviche de pescado came from the flounder/fluke school – I would have preferred one with a little more character: not bad, but it didn’t quite set the hook. 🎣
 
 

Lahi – Bicol Express

Instagram Post 7/13/2018

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Here’s Lahi’s version of another Filipino classic, and one of my favorites, Bicol Express. Crispy pork belly stewed in coconut milk infused with shrimp paste and laden with green chilies. Named for the Bicol Express, a passenger train that ran from Manila to the Bicol region in the Philippines, I guess you could think of this dish that’s both creamy and spicy as running from one terminus on the flavor route to another.

More dishes from Lahi, 51-24 Van Loon St in Elmhurst, Queens, to follow.
 
 

Sing Kee – House Special T-Bone Steak

Instagram Post 7/12/2018

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Another scene from our Cantonese banquet at Sing Kee, 42 Bowery in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I had heard about their battered, fried, House Special T-Bone Steak from a reliable source so I was totally down with trying it. Insiders’ tip: In order to determine your preference for degree of doneness, they don’t use terms like rare, medium, or well done; rather it’s expressed in terms of percentage. I discovered this when our waiter asked how we wanted it done. As we looked at each other, stumped for a decision, he offered, “17%? 25%?” I think our final vote was, “Um, yeah.”
 
 

Claro

Instagram Post 7/7/2018

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The Spanish word claro carries many meanings from “clear” to “sure!” and among those definitions is “distinct”. Perhaps that one best describes Claro, 284 Third Ave in Gowanus, in that it’s not your typical Brooklyn Mexican restaurant. Attention to its Oaxacan roots is evident not only in their distinctive spin on the cuisine but also from the clay dinnerware to the décor. Claro’s reputation is as much about its aura as it is about the food, and although we weren’t blown away by any flavor bombs, the freshness and quality of the ingredients were evident as we enjoyed the boon of ideal weather in the charming backyard.

[1] Yellowfin Tostada – tuna marinated in a pasilla oaxaqueña sauce with avocado, orange, and chicharrónes

[2] Barbacoa Tacos – beef cheeks and garlic scapes

[3] Pork Memela – made with heritage pork ribs in a sauce of chile de arbol, topped with fresh crumbled farmer cheese

[4] Mole Negro – meltingly tender short ribs with grilled Mexican green onions and potatoes

Portions are a little on the short side; upscale to be sure, what you see here is exactly what we ordered plus a single drink for each of us – total for our party of four including tax and tip was about $190.
 
 

Khao Nom – Pak Moo Noodle Soup

Instagram Post 7/6/2018

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I’ve sung the praises of Khao Nom, 76-20 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst before, and I’ll do an encore for sure, but a brief reprise for now: we had already decided on our order when we noticed someone at a nearby table enjoying a bowl of soup. Fresh rice noodle dumplings, pork rib, pork loaf, ground pork and oh, that perfectly cooked egg grabbed our attention. Upon merely seeing it, we unanimously agreed that we had to have it, so Pak Moo Noodle Soup was added to our order and it did not disappoint. Even the broth was amazing: more flavorful, complex, and richer than I anticipated.

I’ll feature their celebrated desserts in an upcoming post.
 
 

Fan Fried Rice Bar

Instagram Post 7/6/2018

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A relative newcomer (about three months) to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and certainly a welcome one is Fan Fried Rice Bar at 525 DeKalb Ave. A cozy, sunny spot with only a few tables, they offer a number of Taiwanese delicacies like Popcorn Chicken, Fried Bone-In Pork Chop, Taiwanese Sausage, and Mushroom Mapo Tofu, but the real focus is on their novel fried rice variations.

[1] Numb Numb Pastrami Fried Rice with chili paste, scallions, pastrami, onions and peanuts. I get a pronounced Szechuan málà peppercorn hit delivered with a lot of char (as opposed to wok hei); the pastrami itself is salty, moist, and a little smoky, but unlike the deli style pastrami you might expect from the name. Definitely good eats.

[2] Breakfast Fried Rice is good any time of day with tasty thick cut bacon, eggs, peas and carrots, and everything-bagel seasoning. No numbing peppercorns in this one, but plenty of salt, intensified by the toss of potato chips atop.

And yes, I’m a fan of the Fan. 😉