The Great Noodle Tour: ANA Flight Tokyo to Shanghai

In which we may together lament the crappy way that Americans experience short haul flights.

20150425_174223 Seeing a cute Victorian home off of the Japanese highway was an odd experience, until I realized that it was Tokyo Disney. I went a long time ago (before this blog was even an idea in my mind) and would definitely go back for the day. It’s like going to an amusement park in outer space. 
20150425_191150 Whiskey and shochu tasting in the ANA business class lounge. Amazing. A damned whiskey tasting in a lounge with showers, shopping, and another sake tasting bar. All for a sub 4 hour flight.
20150425_191639 Noodle bar in that ANA lounge. It’s an extremely kick ass lounge and I highly recommend it.
20150425_201054 Cool livery outside of the airport windows. I would love to go to Thailand someday, sooner than later.  20150425_202416 Incredible business class seats on this short jaunt. Do you see those miles of leg room?
20150425_202425 Super comfortable with slippers, a pillow, individual entertainment systems, and a great recline. I could have flown in this seat for 6 hours.  20150425_213249 Mount Fuji from the airplane…exquisite and majestic. What a view! 20150425_213821 Random Japanese cracker snacks 20150425_214858 Easily the best thing that we ate on the flight.  20150425_220240 The rest of the food was very…Japanese. The western meal was okay – some tender (if salty) beef with a baked turnip, a rather fishy salmon roulade, and a very nice apricot cake. Exceptional, it wasn’t. 
20150425_220313 And the Japanese food, while beautiful, tasted uniformly of fish. And not the good kind of fish. Very thankful for the miso soup that came alongside.  20150425_222816 Plus we got to enjoy a great range of entertainment options, including some amazing documentaries on Japanese chefs. 

The food was a little weird for my tastes, but ANA is a first class experience even on a short business class flight. 

Southwest, eat your hearts out. 

The Great Noodle Tour: The Conrad Tokyo

We stayed at a phenomenal hotel in Tokyo – the Conrad Tokyo.

It’s located within walking distance of the Ginza, right above a convenient subway line, has all of the modern amenities (including a fabulous Toto washlet), several restaurants, and is beautiful. Here are a few snapshots of our time there (mostly food related): 20150420_161735 Beautiful king sized bed (not so easy to find in Japan). The rooms look exactly like they do on the website – no scary surprises here. Big, beautiful double sinked bathroom and plenty of space, even by American standards.  20150420_162356 Sitting area overlooking Tokyo’s busy buildings.  20150420_193751 Private breakfast room for our loud, large group. The rate can include breakfast, and if yours does, you will not be disappointed.  20150420_193840 Cerise, the continental restaurant that serves breakfast and the buffet is legit. Japan is often mocked as the worst Asian country for breakfasts, but the Conrad disproves that theory. A huge buffet filled with Asian dim sum, American omelettes, salad, pastries, fish, meat, and everything else you could possibly want at any time of the day or night. 
20150420_194035 The salad section was welcome after a 10 hour redeye flight.  20150420_194345 The tomatoes are sweet and jewel hued.  20150420_200253 And the bread pudding with Nutella is a good first dessert.  20150420_201204 We sadly never ordered the egg slut.  20150421_192031 But I did eat a ton of noodles with soft eggs and dim sum.  20150425_070126 One night, we actually broke our “all Asian all the time” vow and ate dinner here.  20150425_072406 The spaghetti Bolognese was the best I’ve had since…the last time that I was in Tokyo. Tokyo does the greatest Italian food outside of Greece. I feel like Italy needs to up its own game.  20150425_075339 The French pastries are, as always, sensational.  20150425_080931 A sweet goodbye note from our INCREDIBLE concierge, Ari.

A word about the staff here. The staff here is…impeccable. Leagues better than the much-lauded Park Hyatt. These concierges went above and beyond during a scary medical encounter – let’s just say that I had a bad, BAD allergic reaction after a meal. I was alone in a shopping mall and started to blow up with hives. I was scared that it would spread to my throat. Somehow, the hotel got me a cab, got me home, walked my dad down to a pharmacy, found me Japanese Benadryl, and got it to me within an hour. They closed down the front desk while this happened to take care of me. We weren’t in a suite. They don’t know that I write a blog  . They just did what was necessary to help someone far from home. It left an extraordinary impact on me. I would stay here again in a heartbeat. It’s my home away from home in Tokyo.

Now I just gotta get back there.

The Great Noodle Tour: Don Quijote, Tokyo’s Dollar Store

Now it’s time for: more wacky shopping in Japan!

20150423_201648 You could not pay me to wear this thing. I’m getting claustrophobic just looking at it.  20150423_201816 So much nail art.
20150423_202046 I mean…so much. 
20150423_202303 “Heart and the You” dry shampoo.  20150423_202434 Very scary mini toothbrush ad. 
20150423_203506 Disney-esque fake windows in the local dollar store.  20150423_204201 And real, super expensive handbags in the dollar store. 
20150423_204407 Japanese adults love Elsa.  20150423_210329 Don Quixote is the greatest dollar store on the face of the planet. You must come here for all of your personal and souvenir needs. 

Of course, there are other Japanese sights, too.
20150423_215102 Japanese mascots are unceasingly amazing.  20150423_221602 Plates inspired by one of my favorite artists, Rene Magritte.

20150424_001522 A $3,000 Hello Kitty statuette. Obvi.  20150424_001735 I want all of this fake sushi.  20150424_001804 And none of this Sanrio vomit.  20150424_001811 I especially don’t want this huge Hello Kitty chair.  20150424_002310 Leg covers so chairs dont’ scratch your apartment floor. Of course, they are adorable. 
20150424_002418 I could use “a little happiness” of me.  20150424_002907 Miranda Kerr representing a handbag line I had never even heard of. Of course, I bought one before I left the country.  20150424_054740 Oh no…IS YOUR PHONE RUNNING OUT OF BATTERY?! Don’t worry, many cabs have chargers. I love this pop cartoon because it’s exactly how I feel when my phone is almost out of juice.  20150424_202106 Banana flavored sweets and tonkatsu sandwiches reign supreme. 
20150425_005757 These socks are fancier than my wedding dress was.

Since visiting Tokyo, shopping at Target has lost a lot of its charm. I wish I could go back tomorrow. 

I Think I’m Turning Japanese

…See you on the other side of the world, readers!

I’m headed to Asia for the next two weeks and can’t wait to give you all the delicious details! Posting will be sporadic until May 4, but don’t worry  – when I come back, it will be with tales of sushi, ramen, and dumplings!

Sayonara!

Sugar and Plumm – Better than Ever!

It’s so much easier to access than that-which-shall-not-be-named (it rhymes with “hairendipity”), the food is great, and the cocktails REALLY are delicious. Don’t miss the macaron ice cream!

 

Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish is the SCHMITT!

First off, the things that I ate and drank the SECOND that Passover ended:

20150410_133006 Kouros

Our wonderful neighbors from the house I grew up in came to visit us in NYC this week. These are neighbors you dream of having next door – kids the same age as you, fences unlocked so you could always go freely between backyards, and a mom with Middle Eastern background who makes THE GREATEST food on the planet. She introduced my family to all natural fruit leather, gourmet mint tea, and these amazing meat pies. Kouros. Of course, as soon as she got off the plane, we set her straight to work and made her cook them for us. Soft, yeasty dough filled with a spiced meat and onion mixture that is curried, fragrant with cumin, and generally addictive. It tastes like home, and this is the best recipe that I can find to duplicate them. Of course, unless you are my old neighbors, who make the OG awesome kouros. In which case, I love you G family, and not JUST for the kouros. 

20150411_190833 Home brewed beer for a wedding

Ukuleles, tofu pastrami Reubens, and exposed beams…I went to a wedding this weekend that was so Brooklyn, it was almost an episode of “Girls.” It was touching, funny, hip, and incredibly stylish. It was also stocked with home brewed beer. SO cool.
20150411_102520 Holy Schmitt’s horseradish

HOLY SCHMITT…THIS STUFF IS INCREDIBLE. I love horseradish and this is, hands down, the best I have ever had. Superior to any restaurant or commercially available variety. Nose searing, earthy, almost woodsy horseradish. The beet version is sweet and the mustard version would be GREAT on a grilled cheese or roast beef sandwich.
20150411_102736 They both kicked up our classic Passover pate about a mile. I can’t wait to buy more of this stuff stat. 

See ya tomorrow!

First Nights of Passover Eats

Happy (belated!) Easter and Passover, y’all!

I am not having my seder until next weekend (best part about Passover is multiple nights to celebrate!), so here is what I enjoyed this weekend:

20150402_123531 Schwarma eggroll from Olympic Pita

Don’t worry, I had this before Passover. And it’s awesome! Spiced, tender beef inside a flaky, crunchy, old fashioned NYC style egg roll wrapper. Dip it in the creamy tahini served alongside and prepare to be in heaven. The portion is huge – one of these and a side of Moroccan carrots and you’re good to go.  20150403_191933 Cheese platter from Ardesia

No bread for me this week. But that cheese is WONDERFUL. Nutty goudas and creamy triple cremes and truffle honey…it’s a cheese lovers delight. It changes all of the time and the portion is really ample. Plus, the night that I went, there was a special bottle of wine open and they were selling glasses – how fun! I would never spend enough money to buy the bottle, but a glass – sure! I love Ardesia and don’t know why it isn’t on more “must visit” lists.  20150405_092045 Matzoh Brei at The Smith

This place can do no wrong. Gotta love a joint that knows that you can’t eat waffles and has this as a special. A bit more matzoh and less egg than I prefer, but still delicious – sweet onions, fresh herbs, cool sour cream. Highly recommended.

Now I’m off to buy all of those 75% discounted jellybeans!

Makin’ Matzoh Candy

The title says it all. I’m up to my elbows in butter and sugar, and I’ll see ya back tomorrow!

Oyster Omakase with In a Half Shell

Julie Qiu is an oyster enthusiast.

No, make that an oyster-pedia.

Oyster-tainer?

Well, she is the coolest, most interesting, passionate oyster lover I have ever met. And now – great news – her business, In a Half Shell, hosts pop ups! Yes!

Each pop up includes 6 oysters total (3 differet types), 2 wine pairings, all of her information about how the oysters are grown and how they shoudl taste and…well, I’ll just let the appisode guide you:

I can’t highly enough recommend attending one of Julie’s oyster omakase classes. I mean…she had me loving an oyster from ALABAMA!

Have an awesome weekend, all! See you on Monday!

Chopped Caesar Salad at Odeon and Other Weekend Eats

This weekend was a mish-mosh of snacks, eating out, and cooking at home. There may have been the undocumented bowl of cereal or sample of Australian cheddar cheese at Fairway (sharp and VERY good), but here are the highlights:

20150320_133916 Chopped Caesar salad at Odeon

I can’t believe that I hadn’t ever been to this Keith McNally classic. I can see why it has stood the test of time. It has a broad menu, excellent staff, and really delivers. My favorite course at lunch was this chopped Caesar. Wonderfully cheesy and savory without being too fishy. Lacy crisps of croutons, well chopped lettuce, and – thanks, Chef! – enough dressing. I would totally come here if I was in the ‘hood. 20150320_200841 BLAT with turkey

Sometimes, simple is best. From the bottom layer up:

sourdough bread

mayo (don’t be stingy here)

bacon (diced and cooked until VERY crispy)

tomatoes (sungolds are always the best, even in the winter)

butter, iceberg, or red oak lettuce (just one leaf)

2 very thin slices honey or maple roasted turkey (nothing too smoky – with the bacon, you don’t want a smoke overload)

1/2 mashed avocado, about 3 seconds away from being too ripe

mustard (honey dijon or horseradish, depending on if you want a sweet or a spicy edge)

sourdough bread

Did I mean simple? What I meant was exact precision is sometimes best. 
20150321_084353 Fake out indulgent drink

1 double expresso

1 layer of whipped cream right out of the can

Sweet, thick, frothy, bitter. So amazingly good that I can’t believe that it isn’t a “thing.”
20150321_184704 Marzullo’s rainbow cookies

The only rainbow cookies that I enjoy. These are less cookies and more cakes. Tiny, hand cut, freshly baked cakes. Layered with cherry and apricot jams. With soft, almondy, spongy layers of cake. And a thick, dark, fudgy layer of chocolate on the top and bottom layers. No gross fake cherry flavoring or stale, crunchy layers here. Wipe up that drool and get yourself some of these treasures.

And how was your weekend?