All posts by Johnny Prime

Smashed

Smashed is a new smash burger joint on the lower east side. They just opened four days ago. My wife and I stopped by to try a few items out. We went with the classic double and the blue cheese and bacon burger.

I was blown away by the flavors and the quality. This joint uses fresh beef, and they grind their own burgers in house.

The burgers were perfect in every way. Great toast on the bun, perfect crisp on the patty, great melt on the cheeses, nicely prepared griddled onions, and a killer, unique sauce that really puts the “special” back in “special sauce,” because these days everyone is really just using thousand island dressing. That’s lame.

I preferred the classic double, since the meat really shines there. I can’t wait to go back and try their rendition of a smashed Big Mac.

And the fries? Excellent as well. But I’m looking to try their smashed potatoes on my next trip.

SMASHED
177 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002

Myers of Keswick

At the conclusion of a short British food tour, my friends and I wandered into Myers of Keswick. This place is a grocery store of sorts, that specializes in British imports of all types. Canned foods, dry foods, soft drinks, candy, etc. But they also have a gorgeous deli case with fresh foods, and they’re known for their meat pies.

First we broke into the steak & ale pie, which was my favorite of the two we tasted on site.

Absolutely perfect, buttery, flakey crust. Deliciously tender, juicy beef and gravy inside. Awesome.

Next up was the curry lamb pie. This was beautiful.

It, too, was masterful, with great spices and flavors.

For dessert, a scone with clotted cream and jam. So British! It actually reminded me of the creamed cheese and jelly sandwiches that I used to eat as a kid, only much better.

I really enjoyed this stuff. I even took a pork pie home to heat up later on.

MYERS OF KESWICK
634 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

Dame

My buddy Nick took me on a little British food tour in the West Village that started off at Dame, a relatively new pop-up style joint that only offers their incredible fish & chips on Fridays and Saturdays. Take a look at this perfection:

They also sell wines and other nice provisions.

But I have to say, these were the best fish & chips I’ve ever had. Really light and crisp outside with nooks and crannies galore in the fried batter. Tender and juicy inside, hot and steamy. Really great quality fresh fish, filleted and cleaned on site – no bagged or frozen bullshit. And absolutely perfect thick, crispy fries… I mean CHIPS.

Make your way over here for this special treat. You won’t be disappointed.

DAME
85 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012

Zazzy’s Pizza

In our exploration of all the great pizza joints here on the lower east side, my wife and I came across Zazzy’s. Their Instagram page had me salivating, so when my wife had a $10 off coupon from one of the food delivery services, we figured it was a good time to try it.

We went with the pepperoni Sicilian pie.

A thing of beauty. The crust was puffy and light, but crisped up nicely on the bottom without being burnt like so many others. The roni cups were thin and lean, with no oozing puddles of spicy grease. They were just right.

I really can’t wait to try more stuff from this place, especially since the menu is expanding. I know all of their ingredients are imported from Naples, with tomatoes coming from the foot of Vesuvius. I’m all in on this joint. And they’re already opening more locations throughout the city.

ZAZZY’S PIZZA
173 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Wagyu Social

I recently got delivery from Wagyu Social and it was a really fun experience. Everything came nicely packaged in round boxes, no spillage, still hot and crispy, and everything neatly organized.

This place is doing some high end burgers that range from $35 for hybrid wagyu burgers to $85 for 100% A5 Japanese wagyu burgers. They even have some sushi items too.

I tried the curry burger and the high roller. The curry burger is a wagyu/angus blend that comes with a delicious sauce for dipping, and it even pairs well with the crispy shoestring fries.

I also tried the high roller, which is their 100% Japanese A5 burger that’s topped with foie gras and truffle sauce. Total decadence!

I think I liked the curry burger best. It was a totally unique burger, and the flavors worked great. Give it a shot!

WAGYU SOCIAL
238 E 53rd St 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10022

Emilio’s Ballato

This old school Italian joint is known for having some great parms, whether it’s chicken, veal, eggplant or whatever. Of the three I tried, the veal with vodka sauce, peas and prosciutto took home the win and beat out both the standard chicken and veal varieties.

The meal began with an awesome platter of antipasto (probably the best I’ve had) meatballs, and baked clams oreganata.

We tried three different pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara, and linguine with clams. Of these, I will throw down with the carbonara every time.

The star of the mains, however, was not the veal parm, but, rather, a special double cut pork chop that was prepared with vinegar cherry peppers. Awesome, and cooked perfectly. The photo doesn’t do it justice.

This is definitely a place you’ll want to go to repeatedly to take advantage of both the great regular menu items as well as the daily specials.

Emilio’s Ballato
55 E. Houston St
New York, NY 10012

What is Wagyu Beef?

Most people usually associate the word Wagyu with insanely jacked-up prices, so high that they make your asshole pucker up tighter than a virgin’s snatch on prom night. Well here’s a quick low-down on the delicious shit:

Wagyu is a compound word of sorts. Wa means Japan, and gyu means beef. Hence, beef that hails from Japan. In the beef world it’s a term used when referring to four Japanese breeds of cattle that are genetically predisposed to intense marbling in their muscles. The four breeds of cattle are Black, Brown/Red, Polled and Shorthorn.

Until recently, Japanese beef was not imported into the United States, so any time you saw Wagyu on a restaurant menu, it was either a lie or an incomplete description. It was most likely beef from either an Australian or American hybrid Wagyu cross-breed animal.

Hybrid beef isn’t something that should be frowned upon. Many of the Wagyu cross-breeding programs produce excellent, highly marbled beef that strikes a nice balance between the traditional, robustly beefy flavors of the United States and that buttery-soft, intensely marbled Japanese stuff (which eats more like foie gras or some other protein, different from what we usually think of when we eat beef).

Lots of people get their panties in a bunch when you call the cross-bred stuff Wagyu, even at levels of full blood and purebred. They tend to confuse the literal translation of the word Wagyu (Japan beef) with the breed of cattle that the word represents.

The Wagyu breed is not and should not be region specific. Just as Angus did not cease to be Angus when it was imported from Scotland to the United States in the 1800’s, Wagyu does not cease to be Wagyu when it moves abroad. Both breeds are named for the locations where they originated.

In fact, almost every major European cattle breed was named after the location where it originated. Does that mean the ones that are raised in America should be called something else? No! We don’t call a German Shepherd an American Shepherd just because the breeder operates in New York. We don’t do that even when the animal isn’t purebred! So why treat Wagyu differently? It’s stupid.

On the flip side, the Wagyu breeds should not be confused or conflated with something like Kobe beef, which has some strict parameters to its regional product branding. That’s right, it’s a brand.

 

Kobe Beef

What exactly is Kobe beef? The easiest way to think about Kobe beef is to liken it to Champagne. To be called Champagne, the bottle has to be from the Champagne region of France, otherwise it’s just “sparkling wine.” The same logic applies to Kobe beef.

Under Japanese law, Kobe beef is a very specific product from a specific place, from one breed of cattle, with very strict rules. Kobe derives from a strain of the Japanese Black breed of Wagyu cattle known as Tajima. It’s said that the cattle are hand-fed using high-energy feed, including beer and beer mash, to ensure tenderness and high fat content. Basically, they’re grain-fed. The cattle are also apparently hand-massaged to reduce stress. I guess it’s only fair to pamper these beautiful beasts if we’re going to slice them up and grill them!

Note that real Kobe beef is typically not readily or easily available in the United States, so if you see it on a menu, understand that it may likely be a knock off (though probably still very good) from a place other than the Kobe region of Japan. As of the time of this book writing, there are only about nine places on America’s east coast that sell legit Kobe beef.

Other Regions of Japan

Several other regions of Japan have also branded themselves as beef specialty production zones similar to Kobe. Miyazaki produces some excellent beef, and beef from this prefecture is more commonly seen at high-end steakhouses and Japanese restaurants here in the United States. Matsusaka in Mie, Japan and Hida in Gifu, Japan are other areas that produce similarly outstanding beef. Both of them are harvesting Japanese black breeds of Wagyu, and holding the final product to rigorous quality standards.

Even Hokkaido has set itself apart with what is called “Snow Beef.” This product from the cold region of Hokkaido is said to be a unique expression of beef with intense flavor that can only be created in this rare environment. It’s said that the mountainous climate causes extra fat to develop in the animals, and that the cold weather lowers the melting point of their fat. This supposedly creates sweetness in the meat. I’ve tasted this stuff. It’s great, but I don’t know how much of that copy I believe. The purveyors from Japan are masterful at marketing their products.

Japanese Beef Marketing

People who love Japanese beef also love to talk about how the animals are given beer. “Drunk happy cows,” they say. They’re not drunk. They’re fed beer mash, which is likely just a waste byproduct from Japan’s booming beer-making businesses. We do the same here in the United States with whiskey mash byproducts.

Some producers in Japan are incorporating olives into the feed, and it makes for some deliciously enticing marketing campaigns. This is similar to how many United States beef producers incorporate different foodstuffs into their cattle feed depending on their localized and regional agriculture markets (almonds in California, sunflower seeds in New York, etc.). The Japanese are adept at marketing these feeding programs, and we could learn a thing or two from them.

Meat lovers here in the United States would go nuts for “almond-fed beef.” They’d be drunk with excitement for “whiskey beef.” Just imagine the wine pairings that could be had with beef that was fed different crushed wine grape varietal byproducts, which would’ve otherwise been discarded as waste from a winery’s pressing operation.

In reality, the United States and Japan’s feeding programs aren’t all that different. The animals eat grass, grain and a smattering of additional fermentation, distillation and industrial byproducts. The difference is really in the animals’ genetics when it comes to how much intramuscular fat they can develop.

I really don’t give a fuck where the meat is from, to be honest. If it looks like this, I’m salivating.

That’s probably about BMS 12, aka ultra-high prime.

Tuo Cutlery + Valentine’s Day Steak

Meat maniacs! I recently got my hands on some sexy knives from Tuo Cutlery. Check out this quick video to see which blades got:

My first use of these was with a thick bone in rib eye from Babylon Village Meat Market. Since it was close to Valentine’s day, I figured I would make a heart-shaped steak presentation. But instead of just butterflying a boneless rib eye and making a heart, like everyone does, I wanted to play around with something on the bone and make it a pretty pink roast rather than an ugly brown monstrosity.

Here’s what I did:

The knives made it easy to accomplish this goal. After opening the thick vac seal plastic with my kitchen shears, I used the sharp and versatile paring knife to score or “scruff” the steak, making use of an Adam Perry Lang technique for obtaining more surface area for a better Maillard reaction crust on the seared sides. After searing and roasting to completion, I split the rib eye down the center along the bone, using the long carving knife to make two halves. That thing is meant for massive roasts and raw butchery work, so it was a little bit overkill. Fun though. Lucky for me, the bone favored one side of the cut, so I was able to leave it attached to one half of the heart. Opening this up to reveal the medium rare center created the pink heart shape that I wanted. But since I was sharing this with my wife, I used the nimble boning knife to slice one side up.

Anyway that’s it! The knives were great, as was the meal!

Golden Packing

My friend’s family has been in the meat business for a century. His great grandfather started a company called Golden Packing in 1920, and my friend just re-established the family business in 2020. He got his start learning about and cutting meat, and then later was in sales with various operations. Now he runs his own show, having started his own operation exactly 100 years after his great grandfather did the very same thing. So cool.

His 21st century Golden Packing is even operating in a space that’s literally across the street from their original location in NYC’s meatpacking district on Little West 12th Street. One of the last few remaining meat packing businesses in the area. That’s something special.

He gave me a quick tour of the facility, and we even tasted some burgers and dry-aged steaks that we cooked in the office upstairs. Check out this video of the dry aging room, which is just across from the office:

This place was amazing. The smell of that room permeated through my mask and filled it with a mouth watering blue cheese aroma. I was salivating while taking these pics and videos. If I was in that office it would be hard to keep me from wandering off and just hanging out in the aging room.

Check out the progression on these aged short loin anterior ends. It goes from one day, to five days, to nearly three months.

And that same middle pic, just a week or so later:

Here’s a look at how burgers are made:

I actually made those! Chuck gets cut up into pieces and then turned into ground beef via these machines.

Anyway if you’ve been following along on Instagram, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting some butcher and packing type pics and videos lately. That’s because I’m “interning” here at Golden Packing, learning the business!

That’s right. I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is, and stepping into this glorious world. Here are some more shots of the day to day:

It’s a lot of fun. I’m learning so much, and somehow I find it exciting to wake up at 3:30am when I’m going to this new “office.”

Filets:

Rib eyes:

Short loins:

Skirts:

Even lamb:

Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to sample the wares, as you might imagine. For example, I’ve never touched anything as tender as these bone in veal tenderloins:

The skirt steaks are killer. Here’s an easy preparation I did with them to make fajita pitas:

Here’s my treatment of their porterhouse:

What a tasty beauty.

And also their bone-in tenderloin. This was fun!

Really great product, and it’s no wonder that they service so many of the city’s best steakhouses. They DO offer steams for home delivery as well, but the main bread and butter is their restaurant clientele.

Johnny Prime’s Wagyu Chop Shop Alert!!!

Johnny Prime’s Chop Shop Alert!!!

I’ve got access to some really wild stuff through a Wagyu supplier that I recently became friends with. His insane prices are really hard to beat! And the quality is off the charts – especially the Japanese, Joshu and Olive Wagyu stuff! See below for ordering instructions and this month’s price list. These are NOT available in my e-shop, because we are going directly through the supplier (hence the great pricing).

INSTRUCTIONS

Email me at johnny@johnnyprimesteaks.com listing your name, address, cell phone number and your order. My supplier will be in touch soon after to process the order and take payment. Everything is shipped fresh/not frozen, via FedEx two-day (order enough and shipping is free). There are no limits or minimum order quantities for the list below. LET’S GO!!!

FEBRUARY PRICE LIST

Aussie Wagyu – Sirloin BMS 6/7 8oz – $10ea
Aussie Wagyu – Sirloin BMS 9+ 8oz – $15ea
Aussie Wagyu – Rib Eye BMS 6/7 15-16oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – Rib Eye BMS 8/9 15-16oz – $65ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 6/7 15-16oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 8/9 15-16oz – $60ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 9+ 15-16oz – $70ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 11 15-16oz – $85ea
Aussie Wagyu – NY Strip BMS 12 15-16oz – $95ea
Aussie Wagyu – Filet BMS 8/9 8oz – $55ea
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 4/5 – $19.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 6/7 – $27.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Whole Picanha BMS 8/9 – $32/95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Tomahawk BMS 6/7 32oz – $80ea
Aussie Wagyu – Short Rib Tomahawk 16oz – $35ea
Aussie Wagyu – Denver BMS 8/9 8oz – $40ea
Aussie Wagyu – Brisket BMS 8/9+ Purebred – $12.95/lb
Aussie Wagyu – Teres Major Petite Tender BMS 8/9+ 14-16oz – $20ea
Aussie Wagyu – Ground Beef 1lb – $10/pack
Aussie Wagyu – Burger Patties 1lb – $10/pack

Japanese A5 – Rib Eye BMS 8/9 Kagoshima 15-16oz – $99ea
Japanese A5 – Rib Eye BMS 9/10 15-16oz – $120ea
Japanese A5 – NY Strip BMS 9/10 15-16oz – $120ea
Japanese A5 – NY Strip End Steaks 15-16oz – $80ea
Japanese A5 – Filet BMS 9/10 8oz – $125ea
Japanese A5 – Filet 16oz Portioned – $150/lb
Japanese A5 – Filet End Pieces – $100/lb
Japanese A5 – Fajita 8oz – $45ea
Japanese A5 – Picanha 14-15oz – $95ea
Japanese A5 – Top Sirloin 8oz – $45ea
Japanese A5 – Sliced Chuck Roll 8oz – $40ea
Japanese A5 – Ground Beef 1lb – $35/pack

Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Rib Eye BMS 9/10 – $130/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Rib Eye BMS 11/12 – $150/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma NY Strip BMS 9/10 – $130/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma NY Strip BMS 11/12 – $150/lb
Joshu Wagyu – Gunma Filet BMS 11/12 8oz – $150ea

Olive Wagyu – Western Griller 8oz – $15ea
Olive Wagyu – NY Strip 15-16oz – $130ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Rib Eye 15-16oz – $130ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Fajita 8oz – $15ea
Olive Wagyu – Denver 8oz – $65ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Flat Iron 8oz – $45ea (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Rib Cap Lifter/Deckle – $25/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Top Sirloin Baseball 8oz – $20ea
Olive Wagyu – Flank – $25/lb
Olive Wagyu – Cheek – $25/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Ground Beef 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Burgers 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Sliders 1lb – $18/pack
Olive Wagyu – Smoked Sausage 1lb – $15/pack
Olive Wagyu – Brisket – $24.95/lb (SOLD OUT)
Olive Wagyu – Cooking Fat – 24oz – $20ea

Bison Short Ribs – 16-18oz – $20ea

Foie Gras – $70/lb