Another Look at Koi

While reviewing  the Trump SoHo, I realized that I have been back to Koi uptown multiple times but had not re-reviewd it for years.

Let’s take another quick look, shall we?

20140325_174251Spicy tuna on crispy rice

This never fails me. The rice is always crispy without and chewy within, with soft, fatty tuna atop. It’s pleasantly salty and a little buttery from the tuna. The kicker is that crisp, cold jalapeno that is mild at first with a heat that creeps up on you. Consistent and magnificent.
20140325_174756Spicy and creamy shrimp tempura

So much better than Lure’s that it blows my mind. Tender, clean tasting shrimp in a crackling, thin coating and a sauce that is part hot sauce, part sweet Kewpie mayonnaise, and part crack cocaine. It’s really that good. Piping hot and a large portion. This is enough for a main meal for any appetite. It’s also a great way to get non-seafood eaters to eat shellfish. It’s crispy, mild, and covered in hot sauce…what other endorsements do you need?
20140325_175400Shrimp chili roll

This is just damned good fusion sushi. It ain’t Nakazawa, but then, nothing is. This shrimp is wonderfully fresh and free of any off, iodine-y taste. It’s sweet and snappy atop the crispy shrimp tempura and creamy avocado roll. The sweet chili sauce is a tangy, zippy accompaniment that does nothing for its authenticity but loads for its flavor.
20140325_185125Rice pudding brulee

Why didn’t I think of this? Sweet, rich coconut milk rice pudding under a sweet, thin sheath of crunchy sugar. Um, ideal.

This restaurant is a winner. Yeah, it’s overpriced, but it’s chic, it’s delicious, and it’s reliable. It’s a great gals night or out-of-towners rendezvous and that crispy spicy tuna is the best in the city.

So glad I took it for another spin around the blog.

Morimoto – Sensational the Second Time Around

I haven’t been to Morimoto in years. When I went back recently, I almost wept.

How much time I have wasted! How quickly I forgot how delicious the food is!

For a quick description of the ultra modern, dreamy interior, check out my previous review.

And yes, have a laugh at my expense…if I’m not a great blogger now, I was an ABYSMAL one then!

Now, onto the good stuff!

IMG950637Morimotini with wasabi vodka and cucumbers

A drink worth mentioning. Not too spicy, but with a very slight nasal-clearing aroma that comes off as clean and crisp. It’s almost like a salad – it is light, fresh, and really stimulates the appetite. The alcoholic tang is really tempered by that slight wasabi kick.  It’s easy to drink this too quickly…be careful with this one!

IMG950638Yuburatta with black truffles and dashi

This delightful play on burrata is actually better than it even sounds. Homemade creamy, smooth ricotta is wrapped in tissue thin yuba skin. When you break it, it indeed resembles burrata both in texture and rich taste. It’s soaked in a salty, savory dashi broth and topped with truffle shavings. Spread on chargrilled sourdough bread, it is UMAMI (in capital letters). It’s so intensely savory from the broth – it really enlivens the cheese and helps the milky, clean flavors shine true. And those truffles almost take it over the top but not quite – it takes the flavors right to the brink of being overpowering without overstepping its bounds. This is a must order.
IMG950639Yosedofu

Some tableside magic that should make Benihana hang its  head in shame.

Did I just really mention Benihana in the same post as one on Morimoto? I really am FRITOS and foie.

Imagine a 140F bowl brought to your table, filled with soy milk. Imagine a server pouring a few ingredients in there, stirring it, then leaving it in the center of the table with strict instructions to leave it alone. Touch it at the risk of losing a layer of skin and being rebuked by your server.

When the server returns…
IMG950640The soymilk has transformed into silken tofu! It is cut with a spoon and served with a mushroom broth, dashi soy, and crisped rice.
IMG950642 Transportive. Very light but intricate in flavor and texture. Soft, crispy, silken, meaty…the mushrooms provide heft and earthiness and the pops of crisped rice are unexpected and fun. That tofu is otherworldly. It’s soft but not mushy, with a cloudlike mouthfeel. The broth is very full bodied – meaty, somehow, and savory but not at all heavy or muddy. It’s a clear, clean midcourse…and it beats the hell out of sorbet as a palate cleanser!IMG950643 Miso glazed bone marrow with ikura and chimichurri

The standout dish of the night. In fact, a destination worthy dish. This is unbelievable – by FAR the best marrow that I have eaten in a restaurant ever. Sorry, Ai Fiori. You have officially been displaced. This shows me what marrow can become when it surrounds itself with good influences. The marrow is unctuous and smooth but not totally liquid – it spreads like liquid gold on the thick bread. It is laquered with garlicky, herby chimichurri and salty, briny pops of sake cured salmon roe. It’s a little spicy from the miso glaze, a little floral from the chimichurri, and soft and decadent all on its own. Creamy, zesty, garlicky, and salty…it’s indulgent and it’s perfect to share. It would be far to decadent to enjoy alone but as part of a suite of shared dishes…it’s unbeatable. IMG950644Foie gras and eel with Meyer lemon gelee and Asian pear

Decadent and rich. Well seared foie with a crunchy exterior and a still pink, soft interior. The bbq eel is sweet and fatty – it really doesn’t taste fishy – it’s the prime rib of the seafood world. However, next to the foie, it does taste brinier and actually leaner. Of course, next to foie, anything seems like a diet food. The teriyaki glaze is sweet, the Meyer lemon gelle is sour, and the entire dish – minus the sour Asian pears – is unique and delicious.

There were no missteps in this meal – not one. From the excellent service to the hip but welcoming decor to the truly memorable food, it is a night out to remember. Who cares if it’s old hat by now? Who cares if the sushi isn’t the main draw? What matters it that the food – especially that bone marrow – is not only commendable but destination worthy. It isn’t a cheap night, but it is well, well worth the money.

Even the second time around.

Why You May Wear Jeans at Asiate

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental in the Time Warner Center isn’t the type of place you should wear jeans.

But you can.

That’s because the staff is so well trained that you will never know that you look hopelessly out of place. The only reason that they exist is to make you feel like the most important diner they have ever had the pleasure-  nay, privilege – of serving.

It probably sounds over the top.

But this was some excellent service.

Asiate serves Asian inspired seasonal food in an absolutely beautiful dining room with the best views of Central Park on the planet. Really, it’s just a solid wall of plate glass and there you are, 60 floors above one of the world’s iconic views. The decor is zen but by no means minimalist. It’s very chic and high end.

And so is the food.

IMG_20131031_123112_099Gougeres

Light, cheesy gougeres are flecked with bits of garlicky parsley pesto. It’s the sort of unexpected touch that is found everywhere in the restaurant – it takes something classic, and then puts an elegant twist on it that makes the dish memorable IMG_20131031_124427_909 Amuse bouche

A mild yellowtail sashimi topped with crispy potato chips. Light, playful, and savory. It’s an excellent start to any meal. IMG_20131031_125325_745Squash soup

This is an example of the flawless service at Asiate. I ordered only a main course but the rest of my party ordered a starter and a main. The chef sent this out, not knowing that I would be reviewing the place, but only that I should have the same number of courses as my tablemates. Pure class. And this soup is excellent – not too thick or gloopy but with a rich, sweet, earthy squash taste. The addition of roasted pumpkin seeds is a nutty, salty, pleasingly crunchy textural component. It’s warming and comforting – the perfect cold weather snack.
IMG_20131031_131753_808 Tuna nicoise salad

The tuna nicoise to end all tuna nicoises. Delicate tuna poached until it’s still pink on the inside and flaky but not at all dry or fishy on the outside. It’s in a very light, creamy dressing and layered with rich hard-boiled egg yolks, crisp frisee, juicy tomatoes, and a few briny kalamata olives. It’s a very standard nicoise salad, ingredient wise, bu the preparation really sets it apart. Each tomato is perfectly split, the yolks are finely crumbled, and the presentation is classic and beautiful. The tastes are clean and although familiar, are likely to be far finer than most you have already tasted.
IMG_20131031_140036_553Cheese plate

And a rather mammoth one, at that! This dessert easily feeds 2 people as a light meal and comes loaded with hard, soft, stinky, delicate, gooey, and tangy cheeses. Add to that the excellent house baked raisin nut bread, some salted nuts, and a whole orchard of fruit and..well…

You’re in business.

Asiate isn’t a cheap meal. It’s rather buttoned up and fancy and you will pay for it. But it’s equally suited to a business lunch or a romantic date. That’s not just because the food is excellent. It’s because the staff is. You will be neither hounded nor ignored. They will know if you want a table overlooking the park or a quiet semi-private banquette. They are there to ensure your comfort and happiness.

Even if you walk in wearing jeans.

Purple Yam – Comfortable, Craveable Lumpia

I wish there was a really great Asian restaurant in our neighborhood.

 You know the type…when you just walk in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and can sit down to Thai soup or Korean buns.

Where you can order in and they know your apartment number because they come so often.

Where you can still go on a casual friends date because it’s nice enough.

A place like Purple Yam

I went here with a girlfriend because it is a stone’s throw away from her apartment. It was a cold night and the vibe inside was warm, friendly, and welcoming. It’s casual and Ikea-sleek, and the excellent service was apparent from the moment we sat down.

IMG_20131107_193044_015Mussels in Thai coconut curry

Just what you want on a blustery night. Plump, sweet mussels in an aromatic coconut broth. the curry flavor is very light, and while it is highly seasoned with cilantro, lemongrass, and scallions, it is not overly garlicky or spicy. The tender red peppers strewn through the broth are only lightly cooked, so they retain their sweet snap. This is perfect for someone who likes the taste of coconut and is mild enough for someone who is scared of curry – it’s a great intro dish.
IMG_20131107_193949_888Lumpia Shanghai

I LOVE these Filipino eggrolls – they are like uber-large spring rolls! Crisp, shattering wrappers surrounding ground pork, shredded vegetables, and springy noodles. Dip them in the sweet and tangy pineapple dipping sauce and prepare to be in fried food heaven. These are light, greaseless, and come in a very generous portion. I can’t recommend these enough – I’m still dreaming of them, actually!
IMG_20131107_195142_061Market greens in Thai green curry

It’s Brooklyn, so there was going to be at least one hipster-local-seasonal dish. This is very good, but I can’t put my finger on why. The bok choy, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and other vegetables are tender but still have a fresh, verdant bite. The curry is, like with the mussels, mild and creamy. It’s light but the sauce is rich. Eating it with some of the accompanying sticky rice is just so comforting and tasty. I wouldn’t go back especially for this dish, but I would be happy to eat it again.
IMG_20131107_195614_917Pork buns

The one item that was lackluster. Pulled pork with some Asian spices in a steamed bun. Okay but not great – nowhere near the best I have had.

Purple Yam is just a great neighborhood joint. The prices are VERY reasonable, the service and atmosphere are lovely, and the service is great.

It’s just the kind of joint I wish we had in our neck of the woods. 

Purple Yam on Urbanspoon

Mad Square Eats – Bring Your Stretchy Pants

After many years of letting this semi-annual event pass me by, I finally dragged myself to Madison Square Eats

And then I had to roll myself home.

This foodie haven consists of various restaurants, carts, and food purveyors who gather near Madison Square Park for a month each season to stuff you with all the goodies your blood pressure can handle. We went on a Tuesday night and it was relatively crowded, so leave the Saturday nights to chumps and go there early in the morning if you must make this trip a weekend one. However, that night, the crowds were manageable. We even managed to score a small table (by watching its dawdling inhabitants like hawks).

And the food. Was. Great!

Roberta’s

IMG_20131001_200837_109First and foremost, we visited this station because, really…how could we not? Roberta’s is known for its pizza, and it really delivers. Thin, supple crust with an earthy, deep char that makes even a  vegetarian pie taste meaty and satisfying. IMG_20131001_200827_219 I must be the only person on the planet who does not love the Bee sting – the sauce is sensational – really spicy – but the honey is just too prevalent for my tastes. I’m not a fan. The special Supe Lace pizza, above, however, is dynamite. I can’t get over the crust – its’ just masterful. The sauce is bright and so vibrant that it’s practically alive, (in a good way, not a creepy way) and the cheese is both plentiful and tasty, but really…it’s the crust that takes the cake. It’s so delicious that I am literally dreaming of it. No matter how long this line is stand on it.

And get two pies at least.

I mean, we’re not fooling around here.

IMG_20131001_194554_374

Delaney BBQ taco stand.

So delicious that I ACTUALLY almost cried. That freakin awesome.

IMG_20131001_194820_056Their brisket is just so good. Tender, juicy, and really well seasoned – salt and pepper in every bite. It has a satisfying steak-like chew and it’s expertly  hand chopped. But the best part here are the accouterments. The soft, pliant tortilla, the acidic onions, the sharp cheese melting int he warmth and that chile sauce.

Be still, my heart.

That. Chile. SAUCE. Seriously wonderful. It isn’t hot at all, just heartily spiced with roasted chiles, cumin, and garlic. It reminds me of Taco Bell in the best way possible (is there a bad way to remind one of Tco Bell?)

I wolfed it down.

Trust me, you will, too.

IMG_20131001_194127_394

Vinh Dog at AsiaDog

IMG_20131001_194154_190This banh mi style dog is da BOMB mi.

Yes, I went there. It’s my blog, so I can do stuff like that.

Anyway, AsiaDog is really great! The hot dogs are juicy and not too salty, with an audible “snap” as you bite into them. The buns are well buttered ant toasted, adding to the taste and texture of the dish instead of just being a supporting player. At first, the cold, crisp vegetables are a little odd, temperature wise, next to the dog, but by the third bite, you will be hooked. They could have a heavier hadn with the pate but a little squirt of sriracha and mustard helps bring the umami flavor home. I would totally go back to Asia Dog and highly recommend it!They were also extremely fast in delivering your food.

I didn’t’ even get to half  of the eats that I tasted or half of the food that was offered! Brig some cash and bring some stretchy pants – and don’t wait as long as I did to get to Mad Square Eats!



 

Experience Indonesia at Tempoe Doeloe

I know that European Imperialism gets a bad rap. Manifest destiny and all that jazz, you know the drill.

However…putting aside all social responsibility and serious discussion…

It led to some pretty banging food in other parts of the world. Think afternoon tea in Hong Kong. Indian food in London. And - one of my favorites – Indonesian food in Amsterdam.

During the time that the Dutch occupied Indonesia, these cheese-centric Europeans learned how to makes some of my favorite Asian food.

Indonesian food’s intricate spices and layers of texture remind me of other favorite Asian foods of mine, especially Thai and Indian. If you like garlic, coconut, and layers of flavor, you will totally be into Indonesian food.

Oh yeah, and if you order rijsttafel, you also get to try it all. Because this traditional “rice table” means that you get 18 dishes delivered to your table.

That’s right…it’s a buffet at your seat.

My dream.

amsterdam day 2 123Tempoe Doeloe is one one of Amsterdam’s most highly regarded Indonesian restaurants. It is a small, very crowded restaurant that is decorated with a few mirrors, some colonial Indonesian furniture, and so many tables that you will become best friends with your neighbors whether you want to or not. amsterdam day 2 125

Where the magic happens. amsterdam day 2 126

Don’t even look at the menu. Go for the biggest rijstaffel that they have. You want to try it all.

amsterdam day 2 127

These tabletop burners are brought to your table to keep the many small dishes warm. As your stomach starts grumbling, you are brought some tender pork satay swathed in a nutty, tangy peanut sauce. It’s tender and savory – like Indonesia’s answer to hot wings. Just be sure to save some room for… amsterdam day 2 129Coconut turmeric ricCreamy and strewn with crispy fried shallots. The perfect accompaniment for the many fiery, creamy sauces that are to come.

amsterdam day 2 131Though you are advised to eat the trays from mild to spicy, let’s start with the medium spicy tray. The small ramekins are filled with shrimp in a garlicky butter sauce, tofu in a coconut chile stew, and green beans cooked with yet more garlic, red peppers, and fragrant lemongrass. The beef in the back is crisp and on the sweeter side, while the chicken has a more fiery taste. The spices in Indonesian food are lip-tingling and zesty, so be sure that you can handle the heat. 
amsterdam day 2 132 The mild buffet is tasty too, from the coriander-spiked beef stew to the warm cabbage salad. The warm cucumber in its vinaigrette is a little weird, but hey…when in Indonesia, right? These dishes are all great for kids or adults who are adventurous but don’t love super spicy or garlicky food. They are similar to Thai food but with way less fish sauce or salty flavors. amsterdam day 2 133Whoa, Nelly. It’s getting hot in here. From pretty hot to the absolutely fiery and fearsome  daging rendang, this plate is not for criers. This is for people who love the slow burn from your tongue to your forehead. Who relish dabbing heir heads with napkins. Nothing here is as punishing as phaal, but it gets pretty darned close. However, the subtle nuances of flavors like coconut, cilantro, and caramelized onions to shine through.

amsterdam day 2 134That daging rendang is a beast, though. It doesn’t taste hot, then as you continue to take bites, you realize that your lips have slightly swelled. That your temples are sweating. And that your ears have the faintest ringing sound echoing through them The tender beef is wonderful and earthy in that spicy, faintly sweet coconut and chile paste. And yes, your lips will be stained red for the next 24 hours.

But what you take away from this meal isn’t just heartburn, a rather sizeable bill, and the memory of a great meal. It’s the experience of eating a food that is rarely seen in this country. It’s the realization that there is a whole new cuisine that you want to explore. It’s Amsterdam’s history in the tastiest way possible. 

Crispy Sesame Green Beans

These may be the best thing to grace my table since Animal Style grilled cheese.

Yes, I took it there.

This dish is crispy and salty and crunchy and AWESOME.

Basically just dehydrated green beans, these have minimal fat and salt but SO MUCH flavor and incredible texture. Though you can certainly flavor them any way you want, they are a fresh and unique side dish for an Asian meal.

These are soon to become your pseudo-Asian obsession.

Crispy Sesame Green Beans

2013-06-26 asian din1Ingredients:

3/4 lb. of trimmed green or wax beans

2 tsp. vegetable oil

dash of sesame oil

1 tsp.soy sauce

sesame seeds (optional garnish)
asian din 0181. Preheat oven to 450F and spread beans out in a single layer on a tinfoiled baking sheet. Roll the beans in oil to distribute evenly, then pop in the preheated oven.

asian din 0272. Cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 for 15 minutes, then turn the heat of and leave the beans in the hot oven for an hour. If you open the oven to check on them, be aware that smoke will billow out like there is no tomorrow. Your fire alarm will go off repeatedly and you may have to introduce yourself to your neighbor as “that girl who likes to fill the apartment with smoke signals.”

asian din 0293. In an hour, take out the beans, drain them, then toss them in the sesame and soy and top with sesame seeds.

asian din 0304. Serve.

Addictive is the only way to describe these. Crispy. Light. Pleasantly salty. Faintly nutty. Almost like french fries, but – hello! – these are so good for you! I have had great luck getting veggie haters to eat these by the handful and I rarely have any left over.

Actually, these might be great served with those animal style girlled cheeses.

Could they be good smothered in Russian dressing?

Only one way to find out…

Pineapple Fried Rice

This is just the very best fried rice on the planet.

Oh, sorry…was there supposed to be an intro there?

You know, some cute anecdote? A meaningful quote?

Well, sorry. You lost out on that one.

But in return, you get the creamiest, tastiest fried rice ever.

Pineapple Fried Rice

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces

2.5 cups leftover cooked rice (MUST be cold)

4eggs, beaten

3 carrots, diced

1 heart of celery bunch, diced

1 onion, diced and divided in half

4 oz. fresh or canned pineapple, cut into bite size chunks

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped

2 serrano chiles, diced

4 oz. sugar snap peas, chopped

1 handful spinach or microgreens, washed

1 bunch scallions, chopped

3 tbsp. canola oil

1/4 cup soy sauce, plus more for seasoning

1 tbsp. each rice wine vinegar and sugar

2 tbsp. Chinese 5 spice

dash of sesame oil

1. Combine the chicken, soy half of the cilantro, and half of the onion in a zip-top bag. Shake it around so the marinade gets distributed, then let it marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, sautee the rest of the onions, carrots, and celery with the canola oil over high heat. You want to sort of sautee-fry them.

3. After about 10 minutes, or when they have just started to become translucent, add the 5 spice.

Continue to cook for another 15 minutes, or until the veggies are all very soft and browned in some places.

4. Add the snap peas and…

the chicken. Be sure to toss in all the marinade, too.

5. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the largest piece of chicken has only clear juices when pierced.

6. Now, add the pineapple and the chiles, and cook for only a few seconds, just to get the pineapple heated through.

7. Add the rice. Move it around quickly, breaking it up as you go, soaking up the marinade. Also, add the rice wine vinegar.

8. Turn the heat down VERY low and add the beaten eggs. Swirl them around the pan with the rice until the eggs have thickened and solidified. Add the microgreens and cilantro , stir until they wilt, and then taste the rice for seasonings.

9. Top with sesame oil and scallions and serve.

This is just the best. It’s so creamy that it’s like risotto – the secret is adding the beaten egg at the end and stirring it to create a silky, creamy texture. The pineapple is sweet and the carrots are delightfully tender-crunchy from sautee/frying them. Be sure to add enough soy when you season it – this is a ton of rice, and it really soaks up that flavor. The chicken is juicy and spicy, and the greens at the end really add a nice vegetal component.

I’m not Chinese, Thai, or Japanese.

But yes, I do call this wonderful, creamy, flavorful rice the best fried rice ever.

No anecdote required

 

Asian Avocado and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches and iPad2 Giveaway!

I’ll admit it – I love traditional Superbowl party food.

I love chili as much as the next gal. I can eat a hoagie with the best of them, and I have been known to down enough wings to require a gallon of blue cheese dressing and a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

But sometimes, just occasionally, I dream of a Superbowl where I don’t have to unbutton the top of my jeans, or where I’m not totally covered in BBQ sauce by the first commercial break. That’s pretty much where the inspiration for these tea sandwiches came from. I needed to know that there would be something in this year’s Superbowl fare that would be a little break from the fried mozzarella sticks but that would still be hearty and tasty enough to tempt all the people at the party who believe that anything that doesn’t include red meat is blasphemous.

If you can get your hands on some hot smoked salmon, be sure to use some here. It is tender but with good heft and a truly smoky taste that compliments the buttery avocado. If not, don’t worry – regular smoked salmon or lox works great, too. And don’t skimp on the ponzu – this citrusy, salty, sauce totally elevates the dish and drives home the Asian flavors.

Asian Avocado and Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

 Ingredients:

1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced and crusts cut off
2 avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, and diced
1.5. ponzu sauce
1/3 cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped
1 tsp. sambal olek or Asian chile sauce
1 lb. hot or cold smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
3 scallions, diced

1. Combine the cream cheese, scallions, and cilantro. Set aside.

2. Combine the avocados, ponzu, and sambal olek. Taste for flavors – you may need more ponzu for salt or sambal olek for heat. Remember, though, the smoked salmon is salty, so you won’t want to overdo it here.

3. Spread the cream cheese on one slice of bread.

4. Layer the salmon on top…

5. Followed by the avocado.

6. Top with the other slice of bread, cut sandwich in half, and serve.

This sandwich is so good it may just make you forget that the team you hate just made a touchdown. Sourdough bread adds a tang that echoes the tart ponzu sauce. The herbed cream cheese provides a smooth, rich counterpart to the meaty smoked salmon and the fiery sambal olek. And the avocados are really the crowning touch to this sandwich. They are so buttery, so luxurious, so undeniably craveable that they will have you licking your fingers and tucking into another sandwich in no time.

Of course, I happen to be working with Avocados from Mexico , which is where this sponsored post originated. And, lucky for you…they are hosting an incredible giveaway!

If you enter the Game Day Package Sweepstakes, you are eligible to win one of six prize packages, each including…

16 GB iPad2 and a $100 gift card compliments of AFM
5-speed hand blender from KitchenAid
Cloth tortilla warmer, lemon/lime squeezer, and tortilla press from IMUSA
Signed Muy Bueno Cookbook

Just enter to win via Fritos and Foie Gras on the Avocados from Mexico website, using this link! It is valid until 11:59 PM, Sunday, February 3.

For another opportunity to win, check out Muy Bueno Cookbook and enter via her link. Only entries made on the Avocados From Mexico site via the listed link are eligible for this totally awesome giveaway, so be sure to enter through there!

The winner of my Sweepstakes package will be announced by 9 AM the morning after Superbowl Sunday. Unlike most giveaways on this blog, you can’t comment here as an entry, you must use the provided link. Also, only residents of the US are eligible to enter.

It’s avocados…it’s a giveaway…it’s a way to avoid total gastric reflux this Superbowl Sunday. If this doesn’t sound swell, I just don’t know what does.

Except of course, eating another one of these insanely tasty sandwiches.

Disclaimer: This sponsored post is part of the Avocados from Mexico – Game Day Sweepstakes. This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Momofuku Noodle Bar – Unique Ramen and Rockin Buns

It’s hard to have a restaurant in NYC that is cool and relevant for even a minute. If you have one for years? Along with an ever expanding empire, a name in the media, and a highly acclaimed magazine? Well then, you are probably David Chang. The man behind the Momofuku has several restaurants, all of which are still so cool that you will have to wait a minimum of 25 minutes, no matter what time of day you walk in. Don’t expect his restaurants to be traditional, but do expect them to be delicious and very inventive.

Case in point: Momofuku Noodle Bar.

This long, light East Village restaurant is always packed, but the tables turn quickly. Expect to be jostled as you wait for your seat (don’t forget to put in your name with the host), and then consider yourself lucky if you get a booth. Most of us are sat at a long, high communal table with stools without backs. Just FYI.

Brisket buns with horseradish mayo, pickled red onions, cucumber, and lettuce

Having already tried the famous pork buns, I went with the brisket buns this time. Wow. Really, really awesome. Very tender brisket, with a melting layer of fat, smoky as if it was on the BBQ, but soft as if it were cooked the Jewish way. Layered on a soft, sticky bun with cool veggies and creamy, hot horseradish mayo, this really hits the spot. It also prepares you for the rest of the meal – not traditional, not totally Korean OR Japanese OR anything else…just totally Chang. 

Chilled spicy noodles with sichuan sausage, spinach,a nd candied cashews

Stop the presses. This may be my new favorite noodle dish in NYC. 

The noodles are incredibly springy and al dente, with just enough give to absorb the mouth numbing, lip tingling, nose running house made chili oil. The sausage is hot and juicy, filled with Sichuan spices that are warming and aromatic. The spinach soaks up more of that delicious chili oil and even the cashews – not my favorite nut – were a welcome crunchy, sweet note. The portion is extremely generous and the flavor is well balanced. I really can’t say enough about it.

Mint Chocolate Cake Truffles

Not my favorite cake truffles, as they are a bit aggressive in the mint department, but still tasty enough to gobble down whole.

A lunch here will cost you about $20, but I am shocked to say that it’s worth it. The ingredients are high end, the food is really unexpected, and it is so tasty. I am craving those noodles as I write this and can’t think of another ramen in town that is more unique or better balanced in terms of flavor. Add to that excellent, fast service, and you have a restaurant that will absolutely last the test of time.

Actually, it already has.