Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sushi Seki

I've been a fan of Sushi of Gari for a while, Seki is a protege of Gari-san, hence the style is very similar. I haven't been to Sushi Seki until a few weeks ago (apologies in advance if the descriptions aren't clear, I had a difficult time understand the server).

I went with three other friends and we did the chef's tasting menu (omakase). We started a trio of tuna, fluke & salmon. All three were very simply-prepared, I was a bit disappointed because I was expecting a very avant-garde sushi experience since I am familiar with Sushi of Gari's menu, and I thought what we got was rather "safe".

Things took a turn for the better with the salmon with avocado & seaweed. The crispy seaweed on top gave it a great contrast to the texture.

The next piece of sushi made me want to scream in ecstacy. It was sauteed buttered whitefish. Holy sushi-o-la, the fish had a really fragrant smokey taste to it, and it disintegrated in my mouth. It was buttery, warm, soft and definitely not something I've had in Gari.

The next piece was also excellent, it was tuna with sauteed onions. The onions really gave it a kick to the flavor, great combination.

Then came the oysters handroll, the oyster tempura was excellent.

Feeling like we still had space in the stomach, we asked for more pieces. They gave us uni, torched toro & seared eel with avocado. Again, loved the oysters the most, the creamy sauce was a big plus.

Lastly, they gave us the yummy sauteed whitefish again, toro & mackarel. I am not a big fan of mackerel because it's quite fishy, and they said the toro was hagashi toro and was rather rare.

We ended with three desserts, I especially loved the mochi. The ice cream tempura I thought was quite subpar because the crispy skin wasn't that crispy.

So Gari vs. Seki? What's the verdict? I still prefer Sushi of Gari. I think the sushi I had in Gari were slightly more creative, most pieces I had in Gari had sharper contrasts in terms of taste & texture. I think Sushi Seki is equally good in terms of food quality but might have err on the safe side in terms of creativity. I am sure I have some friends who would disagree, I think the vote is rather split down the middle. Well, when in doubt, try both! :D

Address: Sushi of Seki, 1143 1st Ave (between 62nd St & 63rd St), New York, NY 10021

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vanessa's Dumplings

What: Sesame pancake with stewed pork belly (My TV dinner).
Where: Vanessa's Dumplings
How much: $2

Yup, no need to rub your eyes, you read it correctly. $2 dinner, that's the "luxury" I enjoy. Vanessa's Dumplings has a cult following, this restaurant is very bare, slightly dingy but consistently busy. 4-5 Chinese ladies run around trying to take your order and prepare your food in the open kitchen. The menu is pretty extensive, from various dumplings to noodle soups, but the favorite here seems to be the sesame pancake. You can choose either pork/vegetables/beef/fish in your pancake sandwich. I went with pork for my TV dinner. The pancake was just freshly made so it was warm and slightly crispy on the outside (love it!). The pork was stewed in the rice cooker with black soy sauce so it's flavorful and it's definitely the fatty pork belly type, the sandwich also came with cucumber, pickled carrots & cilantro. I'll try the other variations next time and report back!

Address: 118 Eldridge Street, New York NY 10002 (between Grand Street and Broome Street).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Theeeeee Yankees WINNNNNN

I'm gloating because the Yankees won the 2009 World Series. I thinks some of my friends are surprised that I am such a big fan. OK, fine, I'm not really that big a fan, but I'm excited when they make it into the post-season.

Baseball wasn't something I grew up with, I only learned to understand baseball in 2002 after I moved to New York, and I learned baseball watching the Yankees so it's only natural that I like the Yankees. Baseball appeals to the inner geek in me, I like numbers and baseball is all about numbers & statistics. In 2003, I went to the games more times than I could remember, I even watched the World Series in the Yankee stadium, and I remembered that stupid kid Josh Beckett that crushed my hope *digging fingers into my mousepad*. Then came 2004, ok I'll just stop there before I develop Tourette syndrome.

There's a point to this post, which is, it's amazing how an event/a victory/a tragedy can unite people ever so briefly - 9/11, Yankees winning the World Series, free concert in the park. It's about the camaraderie, the sense of pride, the mushy "I love NY" feeling. The parade was great, although I mostly saw other fans & a few glimpses of the float. But it was still fun, especially when you see people who would do anything to celebreate the champions (climbing on top of a dump truck/tree/building).