Archive for us – new york – cheaper

Momofuku Ssam Bar (NYC) – Go Raw

Michelin updated its ratings last week for New York and, surprisingly, Momofuku Ko got two stars. That’s an impressive feat (congratulations David Chang) considering the restaurant is merely a year old and it is far less formal than most, if not all, two-starred restaurants. I have not eaten at Ko but I’m a true believer in Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam; if they were located in San Francisco, I would eat at one or the other weekly. For my past New York trip, a friend and I ate decided that Ssam was the way to go and we had nearly every dish on the menu 1. It was a feast served at a ridiculously low price point 2 – this restaurant is about excellent value.

The Momofuku’s are known for pork, with its infamous vegetarian-unfriendly menus, but I find the (raw) seafood dishes perform best. They are the most creative, in terms of conception, and they definitely provide the most delight. I suspect, but I don’t know, that the seafood dishes served at Noodle Bar and Ssam provided ample inspiration for what would later become Ko. I would suggest ordering a few different seafood dishes, the (delicious) ham plate, and a meat dish for the end. The food, particularly the seafood, is good enough for one Michelin star.

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Random Tidbits

Here are some quick reviews of various meals I’ve had over the last few months. I was not in blogging mode for any of the visits; thus, the short reviews. The list is roughly in order of enjoyment.

Pizzeria Mozza (LA) – I was in LA for less than 24 hours but I managed to convince my pho-loving-ten-dollars-is-enough-for-food friends that, yes, this upscale pizza place might be worth it. It probably didn’t hurt that Mario Batali’s name was attached to it. And what pizzas they were! The crust was crunchy and doughy, full of flavor. However, it was the red sauce in the prosciutto pizza that told me I needed to return – amazing stuff – used all too sparingly.

Tailor (NYC) – The opening reviews slammed the place but I found them hard to believe. Sam Mason could do no wrong at WD-50; Read the rest of this entry »

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Jean Georges (NYC) – Bombastic Fantastic

Memories can often conspire against one’s enjoyment of food. My last Jean Georges meal did not remind me of that glorious dinner six years ago. However, the pricing for lunch 1 is too cheap not to try it again. On its own terms. I changed my approach with this visit. The flavors would not be subtle; instead, they would be bombastic. I would accept that and eat the meal from that perspective. 2

The Wandering Eater recently ate at Jean Georges and her meal is similar to my report below. The dishes don’t change much so older reports can be just as reliable when planning.

The amuse bouches, Sunchoke & Cranberry, Shitake, and Salmon Belly, laid the blueprint for the meal – sharp tastes with an emphasis on textures.

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Richart (Paris, NY, SF, Barcelona, & More) – Intense Citrus

It’s easy to mistake the San Francisco Richart store for yet another shoe store in Union Square – a generic window filled with a slew of white and gray boxes evokes the necessary minimalism to sell high heels. I walked by many times without a moment’s glance before someone told me it was a chocolate store. Intrigued, I bought boxes of the Citrus and Floral chocolates. One bite and I was instantly hooked – never had I had such clean, intense flavor in a chocolate before.

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La Maison du Chocolat (NY, Paris, London) – Macarons, The New Collection

Many bloggers have been wowed by La Maison du Chocolat’s chocolates (even Salma Hayek) but seemingly few have commented on the macaroons. The macaroon debate, among the informed, seems to be Herme vs Laduree with various regional suggestions (Payard, Jin Patisserie, Boule, Bouchon) if the writer is stuck in America for the moment. La Maison du Chocolat (LMC) has a slightly stuffy Parisian image without the long tradition of, say, Laduree but their macaroons deserve to be included in the debate. In fact, on American soil, there may not be much of an argument – they reign supreme.

There’s no shortage of accolades for their chocolates – and rightfully so. But their macaroons are deserving of the same attention. The chocolate ganache filled centers, a variation on the typical macaroon, is not so much a point of distinction as it is a confidence in their chocolatier experience. It might sound overpowering but the ganache is subtle and balanced; a complement, never a deterrent, from the shell. The flavors aren’t daring ala Pierre Herme; instead, they are more traditionally paired with the chocolate center. One approach is not necessarily better than the other as long as the execution is exemplary.

La Maison du Chocolat has a more corporate feel than Pierre Herme or Laduree. There’s no cult of personality nor a century-long tradition, but expansion does have its benefits – you can buy them in the States. Eat 2 Love says they are shipped from Paris twice a week. Surprisingly, even with this delay, they keep longer than Pierre Herme or Laduree. The macaroons had their best texture on day two but were still going strong on day four – you can bring these back for friends.

So what are the flavors and how do they taste?

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