Category Archives: French

DB Bistro Moderne

To celebrate my birthday this year, my wife took me to DB to try their famed burger. Check out a video here, from the man himself, Daniel Boulud:

I know what you’re thinking… I know, I know… NO CHEESE! and SUPER THICK! As you guys have probably figured out from reading my other burger reviews, I am a simple man when it comes to burgers. Potato bun, a few basic crunch-element toppings, a not-so-thick patty, and good old fashioned American cheese. That being the case, you’d think I would absolutely despise this burger. I loved it, and I think the reason is because I think of it as something other than a burger. This is an entree, not a sandwich. It’s a huge meatball between two pieces of onion, parmesan and potato bread. I ate half with my hands, and the other half with a fork and knife. The side and shape are just unwieldy for a hand-held sandwich. And the lack of cheese was not really an issue, given how juicy, tender and full of flavor all the other elements were in this burger.

Anyway take a look at this fucker. It comes pre-sliced. Inside is foie gras and braised short rib.



If it weren’t so freaking tasty, I would be pissed at this burger, similar to the way I felt about the black label burger at Minetta Tavern that is typically served sans cheese.

The french fries were good. Not the best I’ve had. Could have been a bit m ore crisp, but they were seasoned correctly.


Let’s back up now. We started with some cocktails and table bread, which had an assortment of pretzel bread, olive bread and dinner rolls.



There was even an amuse, which was a parmesan crisp with goat cheese and chives.


The charcuterie plate was delicious. There were four different types of meats: head cheese, pate and two sausages, served with a trio of sherry mustard, dijon mustard, and whole grain. I think my favorite meat was the pate, and my favorite mustard was the sherry.






My wife had the duck confit. It was a nice portion size, and nicely cooked. I think the skin could have gone a bit more crispy, but overall the dish was excellent. It had a really deep spice that was reminiscent of five spice with an added zing of cumin.


For dessert we shared this lychee mousse with raspberries. It was really light and refreshing, and little bits of soft spongecake throughout. There was also some freeze-dried berries on top too that were really tart – they added a nice pop to this item.


Last was a petite fours place. I didn’t really care for these, but the little sugary jelly think on the end was super soft and tasted like apricot.


City Club Hotel
55 W. 44th St.
New York, NY 10036

La Sirene

What’s more diddy than P-Diddy? Didier:


I guess I should say WHO is more diddy than P-Diddy. Okay you’re probably confused…

Didier is the owner, chef and manager of three excellent NYC French restaurants. I’ve written a rave review of Le Village from a previous press meal, and now I’m writing one for La Sirene, the popular classical French joint on Broome Street, just east of Varick at the lower edge of Soho.

Anyway, Didier is an intense, animated guy who is really passionate about his food. Everything he serves is of superior quality and taste, and made right there in-house. After eating at two of his restaurants, I can safely say that there is nothing that the man can’t execute with flawless precision. Every app, entree and dessert I’ve tasted has ranged from far above average to excellent, with one or two “best I’ve ever had” things in there as well.

Didier focuses his energy on classic French dishes, made from family recipes that he has been honing for upwards of 30 years. Some of these dishes are so labor intensive that you wonder how the hell he could be cranking them out seven days a week. Even some of the sauces take days to prepare, all from scratch – from roasted bone stock, reduced with wine, and distilled into just a few ounces of absolute heaven in a bowl.

Other French places I have been to will have something like coq au vin or cassoulet on the menu, yet every time you go in and ask for it, they are somehow not able to make it for you. They’re “out” of cassoulet. And other French joints only serve those crazy, impossible dishes one day a week. “Monday Dinner Special: Coq au Vin.” Not served any other day of the week. This is not the case at La Sirene. Didier cranks these fucks out like a machine, and they are all amazing, and available every damn day for hundreds of diners. That is quite impressive, to say the least.

So let’s get right down to business, shall we?

La Sirene recently acquired a liquor license (it used to be solely BYOB), so we started with some Spanish wine: Temperanillo (red) and Airen (white). Both were smooth, but I tend to gravitate toward red in general.


The table bread is all made in-house, and is a rustic farmhouse style with a crusty outside and a soft, fluffy, absorbent inside that’s excellent for dipping into the sauces that come with the mussels.


While I got to taste a little bit of everything that each of the five press diners ate, I will try to just focus on the items that my wife and I ordered – really because I ate more of those items than the others.

First was the sauteed baby octopus. This was simply tossed with garlic, parsley, tomato, olive oil and mushrooms, and served warm on a bed of mixed greens. The ‘pus was perfectly cooked. Nice and tender, with great flavors. Although one doesn’t exactly associate this sort of dish with classic French cuisine (it sounds more Mediterranean / Greek-Italian), it was a definite crowd pleaser. Everyone liked it.


My wife had the Creole mussels, which were served in a creamy tomato and chorizo broth with herbs. We liked this a whole lot better than the other mussel dish we tried, which was “Rochelaises” style, with curry and apples. The chorizo just goes so well with shellfish, and I was sopping up that amazing sauce with bread for a while after the mussels were fully devoured.


When in France, do as the French do: Eat snails. These little shits were so damned tasty. Buttery, garlicky, herby and tender. I could easily put down three dozen of these like nothing. Didier’s escargot is a must-try, and the best version of the dish that I’ve ever had.


The entrees were spectacular. Until this meal, I had never tried cassoulet. I think I might have just spoiled myself with this first. My expectations and standards on future cassoulet meals are now way too high, thanks to Didier. It’s like having a rib eye at Del Frisco’s for the first steak of your life. While I have nothing to which to compare Didier’s cassoulet, I can safely say that it is amazing. Behold, my new favorite French dish:


It was so hearty and packed with flavor. So many different types of meat were happily co-mingling in this rustic dish. It was like a dream-come-true. Inside was a delicious potpourri of cannellini beans, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, duck confit, slab bacon and pork sausage, all braised with duck fat, white wine stock and foie gras jus. Come on… And on top was an array of homemade bread crumbs that were broiled to crispy perfection, so that every bite of this dish had texture versatility as well as flavor variety.

It was difficult to pull myself away from that cassolet. It was my wife’s dish. I, of course, had steak. At first I was conflicted: should I order the hanger steak, one of Didier’s signature items, or the “Tournedos Rossini,” a signature filet mignon item? BOTH STEAK and BOTH SIGNATURE DISHES! It was like Sophie’s Choice for me, except, unlike Sophie, (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t have to hand one of my children over to the Nazis to save mine and my other child’s lives.

Okay, so after much back-and-forth, I quietly resolved that I would just come back again soon for the hanger steak. I ordered the “Tournedos Rossini,” which is filet mignon, topped with fois gras, truffles and a shallot/port wine reduction sauce.


This was nothing short of decadent. The fois gras added that much needed fat element back into the cut of tenderloin. So good. And it was expertly cooked to medium rare as well.


I was thoroughly impressed. For a non-steakhouse, this place does an excellent job with the world’s most prized and sought-after beef cut. Bravo!

Our entrees were served with a nice side plate of veggies. Celery with breadcrumbs and garlic (my favorite of the four), butternut squash, green beans (really fucking delicious, by the way – how on earth does one make green beans so damned good), and carrot puree. This plate comes with each entree, but sometimes Didier will mix up the contents depending on what’s fresh and in season.


Dessert is such a treat when you’re at a place that really knows what the fuck they’re doing in the kitchen. La Sirene is one of those places. We tried five different desserts, and I made damn sure to take nice photos of each and every one, because they were all stellar.

I’ll start with the chantilly here. Essentially this was a cream puff item: puff pastry filled with vanilla whipped cream. Simple, elegant, light – and a cool, refreshing way to end a meal.


The steakhouse man in me will always look for a creme brulee of some kind. The one offered here is a banana brulee. Custard with banana and cookie in it. Really delicious and perfectly executed, with generous chunks of very ripe and sweet bananas inside.


This strawberry tart was actually my favorite dessert of the five. The tart crust itself was flakey, buttery and light. It was sweet, yet slightly savory, to counter-balance against the sweet strawberries, whipped cream and custard that was on top. A real winner for me. I wish I was able to eat more of this.


My order was the profiteroles. These were essentially the same as the chantilly cream puffs, except filled with vanilla ice cream and draped in melty chocolate. Fucking awesome. And the whipped cream added that lightness that I wanted at dessert time, in addition to the sweetness.


My wife ordered the chocolate lava cake. This was a sight to see. It comes served on a long plate consisting of three items: whipped cream, the cake itself and vanilla ice cream. See below:

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But when you cut into this baby, that ooey-gooey melty chocolate lava just oozes out of the center.


I’m usually not a big chocolate-on-top-of-chocolate fan at dessert time, but this was a really great dish with a stunning presentation.

I think that about wraps it up. I look forward to coming back to try the other signature beef dish, the hanger steak, and I eventually plan to try out Didier’s third dining establishment, the fondue joint next door called Taureau. So far Didier is two for two with La Sirene and Le Village. Essentially he has taken victories at the Derby and Preakness, and I am interested to see if he will score the Triple Crown at Belmont. See what I did there? That’s a horse racing metaphor, because the Belmont Stakes are just a few weeks away, and we have a potential Triple Crown winner on our hands this year.

558 Broome St.
New York, NY 10013


My wife and I stopped into Kingside for a quick meal because it looked amazing inside, and we had heard good things about the burger.




So let me get right down to business here about the burger:


As you can see, there is no lettuce, but there was a crunch element from this vinegary pickled and minced veggies giardiniera relish. Check it out below (hint: it’s not the white or red one):


Not my go-to for a burger topping, but it at least satisfied the need for crunch. It had a hard/crusty bun, which is a big mark for the negative column, but it wasn’t unwieldy or painful. It was similar to The Breslin in texture, and for this particular burger, I think, it sorta worked. There wasn’t enough cheese. Another melty slice would have been ideal. But the soppressata was a nice touch on top. I wish the patty was flatter and wider, or just larger/wider in general, to make for better coverage of the bun. Essentially the bun was too big, and there was excess bread. It was cooked to a nice medium, which is how I ordered.


As for the other stuff we tried: we had a way overpriced octopus app. One tentacle for $19, it tasted like tunafish, and didn’t have that charred snap on the outer portions. Otherwise it had a great soft texture inside, and serving with the hearts of palm was unique.


My wife’s order of mussels and fries were good, in a cream based sauce, but not the best we’ve had. The mussels were, for the most part, meaty and large, which was nice.


The fries here are amazing. They’re super crispy and perfectly cooked, just a little over salted perhaps.


The bread at this joint is nice too. Warm, toasty sesame Italian bread sliced and plated beside some warm tomato sauce with garlic herbs and olive oil swimming within:


But overall this place is just too overpriced. My burger was $22 with fries, that octo app was $19, and my wife dropped about $6 for about 8-10oz glass of iced tea that was filled with ice. Total rip for that. To sum up: skip the apps, get extra bread, and be ready for a few pet peeves on an otherwise tasty burger.

Viceroy Hotel New York
124 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

Cafe Tallulah


My wife had a deal for this joint that got us a shared app, two entrees and a shared dessert, with a cocktail each, for something like $50. Not a bad deal.


We started with a pair of pink colored pussy cocktails. Mine was called “The Pink Panther” and had gin, agave, absinthe, pink peppercorns, and ginger.


We shared a charcuterie plate, which was really nice. The best part was by far the pate:


For my entree, I had the lamb shank with polenta. This was pretty good, but lacked a little seasoning. It was missing punch, and there wasn’t much meat on the bone.


My wife had the winning dish; duck l’orange. The skin was perfectly crisp, and the orange wasn’t overpowering. This was a big portion size too.


Service was extremely slow for some reason, but eventually our dessert came out. We had the apple crisp with creme fraiche ice cream. The ice cream was incredible. I’ve had better apple crisp. Maybe it needed more brown sugar in the mix.


I’d definitely come back for their $1 oyster happy hour deal, which is pretty much every day in the after-work hours. BUT, on Mondays the oysters are a buck all night long. And the bar is incredibly big and beautiful here.


240 Columbus Ave.
New York, NY 10023

Le District

Le District is a pretty cool French food hall type of joint down in Battery Park City, beneath Hudson Eats. The place is broken down by what they sell in each area, such as cheeses, meats, crepes, etc. Check it out:

























Ponty Bistro

My wife and I were invited to this joint on 3rd Avenue and 19th Street for a press dinner.


“Ponty” is named for a major avenue in Senegal, the country from which chef and owner Cisse originally hails.


Cisse is a French-trained chef, but he has integrated African and global flavors into his dishes to make for an interesting and modern fusion restaurant.

The ambiance here is very bistro, with classic seating, high ceilings and tile floors. But the pale yellow walls are decorated with African wood sculptures to play on the fusion aspect of the place, and African, Latin and other world music plays in the sound system.





It’s been open since November of 2008. Since then Cisse has enticed a large list of regulars to keep coming back in. We saw him greet several tables of diners by name, always friendly and inviting. He’s expanding too: His cousin runs the larger Harlem location that just opened in August of 2014.

Ponty offers a variety of prix fixe lunches and dinners for very reasonable prices ($19-$25). Although they only have one African wine on the menu, the list does include some very nice wines from around the globe.


They do have a nice African lager though: Tusker. I’ve had this before, so I knew I’d be pleased with it.


In addition to the various prix fixe menus, they also offer half price martinis and daily specials.



From the look of the menu, it seemed like martinis were sort of their specialty. So my wife and I tried the bissap (hibiscus), fresh ginger and “French” martinis (pineapple and fruit based – not sure why). I think my favorite was the ginger martini. It had a nice fresh spice-bite to it (on the left below).



The full menu is a pretty impressive (there is a steak presence!), and when you start to read it you’ll think to yourself, “Holy shit, there is a LOT of stuff on here, and the flavors are definitely not just French or African,” and you’ll be absolutely correct.


Chef Cisse was a very early contestant and finalist on the Food Network show “Chopped,” which pits four chef contestants against a “mystery basket” filled with the most random and strange ingredients you can possibly think of.  The idea is to test the mettle of the chefs to see if they can still make good dishes with unplanned ingredients. Given this, one can easily understand why the menu is so diverse: The man is extremely versatile. He can cook ANYTHING, and he can cook it really fucking well. And that level of quality extends across the entire menu. He is incredibly consistent.

This joint was PACKED for a Tuesday. I noticed that there was only one waiter for eight or nine tables of guests. Some of the nearby diners were actually getting restless with slow service near the end of their meals. Even my martini order was forgotten for a while, and I was at the press dinner table! It must be tough to know when it will be busy for a place like this; you don’t want to be overstaffed, because then, as a business, you’re wasting money. You can’t really fault them for it, but one more waiter would have solved the problem for sure without breaking the bank too much. And with take-out and delivery orders coming in too (there were lots of bags going out the door), Cisse must have been swamped back in the kitchen, working his ass off. Hats off to his work ethic.

Okay let me get to the fucking food already. Presentation here is clean and simple, with a slightly refined elegance. Each dish you’ll see is very different from the last. The menu is very global – not just French and African. Essentially it is modern global food that’s inspired by French and African cuisine flavors and techniques. I can say confidently that portion sizes on the regular menu are quite large, based on seeing what other people ordered nearby.

Here’s the list of what we had (ignore the address info on top):


These first two items are not on the regular menu. They were specials listed on the board outside (pictured above).

First was a rich, filling, and velvety-smooth lobster bisque with caviar. Onion, celery and carrots were minced into this roux-like soup base with perfectly cooked lobster meat.  You could smell the aromatic truffle and cracked pepper when you leaned over the bowl, but their flavors were not overpowering at all. Mine came five minutes later that the rest of the group, so I got more than the others (yes!).


Next was the green bean and artichoke salad, which was topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and dressed with a light truffle vinaigrette. Again there was smart and restrained use of the truffle; aromatic but not overpowering. This was a very light and fresh salad, and, surprisingly, my favorite dish of the night.


This scallop dish with beets and asparagus was really interesting. By the way: beets are back! I hated them as a kid. One of my sisters always loved them though. I never understood why. Now I’m seeing them everywhere, on so many menus around the city. Chefs are nailing them now, preparing them in such great and innovative ways, as Cisse did. So now I’m in for beets! The asparagus was tasty as well here. But the star of the plate, the scallop, was cooked absolutely perfectly. It was caramelized on the outside with a nice savory and sweet glaze that made it meaty and satisfying. The sauce you see is an orange marmalade that tasted like a creamsicle. Very different on a dish like this. But it made for a good mix of sweet and savory. I didn’t think beets or an orange creamsicle sauce would work with scallops, but I found myself really liking this dish. Definitely fusion and not classic. The regular sized portion comes with five scallops, by the way.


This tagine (middle eastern and north African cooking vessel) chicken dish had a nice curry smell with a bold spicy flavor. The chicken was soft; nicely executed. It was plated with couscous. The mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion combo) showed up again here. It is classically French, but the rest of the dish is decidedly north African. The couscous was really good with the curry sauce. It had yellow raisins nestled within, to balance out the spicy curry with some pops of sweetness. The couscous also featured corn, peppers, carrots and zucchini as well – all finely diced.


This hanger steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was really tender, too. I was a little concerned that we weren’t given steak knives for this course, but it turns out the butter knife was just fine. It was THAT tender. Needless to say, this meat man was pleased. All aspects of this dish were done-up exactly how they should be prepared, and all things tasted exactly how they should taste. A classic wine sauce, sautéed spinach and creamy mashed potato. We returned here to a more classic approach to the dish, as opposed to a fusion or African inspiration. These are tried and true accompaniments to this delicious piece of beef, and Cisse nailed the execution. Sorry the spinach is hiding behind the beef in these photos. I was excited to dig in!

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For dessert we tried the tiramisu and creme brulee. There was a good amount of orange zest to add a citrus flavor to the creme brulee. This took me back to the earlier “orange marmalade” creamsicle sauce that came with the scallop dish. Orange zest + creamy egg custard = creamsicle for dessert. The custard was nicely handled. It was creamy, smooth and not eggy. There was a good texture and nice crisp on the sugar without going too bitter.


The tiramisu was soft and smooth. There was a nice hint of coffee as well. The ricotta was light, and the cake was not too boozy. I preferred this to the creme brulee. Really nice.


I’m glad to see that Ponty is expanding into Harlem. I’d like to get up there and try that location out, and I hope some of you readers will try one or both places as well.

218 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10003


This review is for the Williamsburg location of Fushimi (there are two others – one in Bay Ridge, and one in Staten Island). I was recently invited here for a complimentary press dinner.

First, a little bit about the joint: Fushimi is a Japanese and French fusion restaurant that focuses on traditional Japanese items but with a French twist. Why, you ask?

Chef Chul Kee Ko’s parents had a Japanese restaurant in Seoul, where he spent a lot of time absorbing traditional Japanese food culture and techniques. But as a young man the intrigue of other cuisines ended up drawing him to a culinary school in Vancouver to further study his passion for French food. There, he worked his way up through several French restaurants before deciding it was time to honor his roots with a renewed focus on Asian cuisines. After honing his craft at such places as Buddha Bar, and with chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the fusion of the two food cultures was only natural when Ko came to New York to strike out on his own with Fushimi.

The ambiance at Fushimi is trendy and luxurious, with a purpose to be part of the nightlife scene as the evening progresses. That’s not really my speed, but as long as I can see my food and the music isn’t too loud, it’s all good with me – and it wasn’t loud or dark. We were there until about 9:45pm and I never felt like it was getting too loud, dim, or clubby. I certainly don’t mind if a business wants to cater to a lounge crowd as the evening transforms into night: Actually it’s probably a good idea given the vibrant neighborhood it’s in. And there’s plenty of room for them to do this, between the massive front bar and lounge area, the spacious booth and street-side table seating, and the rear sushi bar.











There are some really interesting and modern fixtures and decorations throughout, with an amazing tunnel that leads back to an opulent bathroom area:









Their logo can be seen everywhere, even in large format on the side of the building. Brand recognition:


Chef Ko selects fresh ingredients daily and, as a result, the menu has a seasonal aspect to it. They offer a variety of dining options (lunch, brunch, dinner, early dinner, specials, parties, etc). Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese. Kaiseki is a multiple-course meal. We had Omakase Kaiseki, which you can figure out (if you are any degree sharper than a dull spoon) means that we left the contents of a multiple-course meal up to the chef. We simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the food without having to do much thinking about the menu. Here’s what we had:

fushimi menu

We started with some drinks. I had an awesome cucumber passion martini that was going down like a refreshing sports drink. I could very easily slam these all night.


My wife had the sake sangria drink, which had bits of apple, strawberry, blueberry and orange within. It was like a boozy fruit salad:


Now on to the food:

First was an amuse bouche of portobello mushroom veloute and a crispy risotto ball. The ball was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was tasty and flavorful, with a hint of cheese flavor that kept it moist. The soup was really creamy and smooth: think of the best cream of mushroom soup you’ve ever had, only without the bits of mushroom in it.




Next up was this kickass wooden tray of assorted appetizers. I loved this because I got to try a bunch of really nice items in one shot.


There was yuzu gelee with yellow tomato inside. A really nice pop of sweet and sour in one shot.


I usually don’t like eel very much, but this freshwater variety was light, mild and perfectly prepared. It really shined with some cured peppercorns on top. I think it was probably my favorite from the appetizer box.


A close second, though, was this thinly sliced scallop with wasabi and shaved radish. So clean and nicely textured.


This salad contains four different varieties of seaweed from Okinawa. Also very light, but brined with the flavor of the sea.


The next compartment was fresh raw sea urchin atop a jumbo shrimp tartare. This was really nice as well, and vied for second place neck and neck with the sliced scallop. The uni was top quality shit, and the shrimp was super smooth as well. Everything worked, and the nori slices gave it some flavor and seasoning.


Last of the appetizer box was the mixed veggies. Semi-raw string bean, carrot, and multi-colored cauliflower served with a sweet glaze. These were great and refreshing.


As you can tell by now the plating at this joint is immaculate and beautiful. By now I was really excited to see how the rest of the meal was going to look. I pretty much already knew it would taste amazing after that last course. But I didn’t realize HOW good until I took a bite of this Chilean sea bass.


This was honestly one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten, and probably our favorite dish of the evening. Lucky for everyone else, this is a very popular dish at the restaurant. I can see why. The top of the meat was crisp and flavorful, and the lower portion was so soft, flaky and moist. Perfect execution. The garnishes of roasted heirloom cherry tomato (sweet), pickled red onion  (sour), and black sesame ponzu puree (bitter and savory) all made for a really complex and well-balanced dish that was ultimately the exact amount of simplicity as well. Chef Ko really knows how to feature his ingredients in a way that makes them stand out as special.

Next was tuna tartare with seaweed paste, onion creme fraiche and salmon roe. I’m not as big a fan of seaweed flavors as other folks, so I felt this dish would have been better without it. However I do appreciate the seasoning added by the paste.  The tartare itself was great quality, same with the roe. I really liked the thick, sweet and savory ponzu sauce, along with the creme fraiche, so I wanted a bit more of that with each bite. The tartare was served with some crispy sliced bread as well.



This chawanmushi was amazing:


It was served in a covered bowl (beside a small vase of flowers) and then revealed table-side, so you get to smell that great waft of egg and mushroom in a nice blast of steam.



Look at the texture – like silken tofu, it was perfectly smooth and velvety. The shiitake mushroom flavor gave it a meaty quality as well. Earthy. Inside were some generous chunks of lobster and shrimp as well, which gave it a slight briney flavor. So good on a cold night.


As a beef connoisseur, I was impressed by this next course. Filet Mignon with braised orange carrot confit (cooked for three hours in olive oil and orange juice, and then seasoned with cumin), asparagus tips, fig, and crispy fried potatoes. There was a port reduction sauce on top of a small puree of carrot as well, and some black garlic on the potatoes. Even a thinly shaved curl of asparagus as garnish, and a roasted tomato.


At first glance you may think that there is too much going on here in this dish, but everything works really well together. Although this was a relatively sweet dish, the sweet of the carrot, port sauce and tomato are offset by the bitter of the cumin and garlic. The potato and asparagus gave it a nice texture of crunch, and the port wine sauce added some moisture and a little bit of pungent pop as well. As for the meat: cooked to a perfect medium rare with a peppered edge. Amazing.


Next was some assorted tempura, served beautifully in a bamboo basket with some fried noodles as garnish.



The basket included a macadamia-coconut crusted shrimp, green bean, shiso leaf and mixed veggie (squash/zucchini/sweet potato) items. The batter was light and crispy. No grease at all. There was a light soy-based dipping sauce and a small bowl of shaved salt for finishing. My favorite was the shrimp here – it was meaty and big, and expertly fried, unlike those monstrosity “Hawaiian shrimp” items you get at places like Applebee’s.


Next we had some very lightly flavored brown rice green tea from a teapot that looked like a winking tiger or bear face when looking from top view. What animal do you see?



Next was the sashimi course. This was a bit tough to photograph because of the glowing blue ice cube that was buried under the ice, but the plating was gorgeous. The fresh wasabi served with this was potent, and lots of little things placed on the ice were edible for balancing the flavors, like the kumquat to get some sweetness, or the shiso leaf for some green peppery punch, and of course the ginger for cleansing the palette.

There was a nicely dressed and fresh Kumomoto oyster sitting upon a little pillar made of ice, with scallions and sweet vinegar sauce.


There was this yellow tail belly, which was super smooth and delicious:


My favorite was the king salmon. So soft and flavorful. Beautiful color too:


And a cured tuna with seared edges, peach sauce and Maui onion, then topped with some peppery micro greens.


The last savory course of the evening was this delicious bowl of mixed seafood with a really tasty cajun lobster cream sauce. It reminded me of the food we had in New Orleans.


I feel like each item worked better individually, that the dish didn’t really come together as a whole. But the execution on every item was pretty much perfect, with the small exception of the lobster tail meat. The claw meat was fine, but the tail was just a bit overcooked. Everything else was insanely delicious though, from the sauce to the edible flowers to the sweet corn and even the crispy cheese chip.

Check out this fried, stuffed squash blossom, stuffed with lobster meat, cabbage and ginger. This reminded me of a southeast Asian style egg roll:



The scallop was something similar to what you’d find on a top rated Italian restaurant’s menu. It was buttery and perfect.


And the uni was smooth and fresh. I never thought I’d like it warm like this, but it was so delicate and good.


Perhaps if the ingredients were a bit more integrated, like in a soup or rice dish, this wouldn’t have felt disjointed. But that is a minor point about an otherwise amazing dish. I really loved it.

We tried two desserts. First was a caramel flan that was topped with grapefruit, pineapple and raspberry sorbet.


I felt like we didn’t need the fruit, but the sorbet seemed to work nicely with the creamy and silky flan.

This bowl of green tea ice cream with sweet red beans on top was delicious.


I think it may have been a bigger success with some chocolate crunchies or even candied coffee grinds instead of the lemon macaron, which sort of crumbled apart like cake when I bit into it. There was also some citrus from the blueberries and strawberries, but the yuzu gelee took it a little over the top for that flavor element. I know chocolate crunch, fresh strawberry and ice cream sounds a bit boring, but my taste buds were slightly confused by the sour elements. It certainly was interesting though, and the ice cream itself was texturally perfect.

I compliment Chef Ko for his inventive menu items. As you can tell, the plating at this place is really amazing; something to behold. Pictures don’t do the meal justice. You really have to just get over here and see/taste for yourself. There’s definitely something magical happening here at Fushimi. This is probably the best omakase kaiseki I’ve had – it easily beats out Megu, Ninja and other trendy, expensive places that I’ve been to.

475 Driggs Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Le Village


Le Village is a small French bistro where I recently had the opportunity to dine for a press dinner. It’s been open for about a year, on 7th Street near Avenue A, and serves up some really great classical French dishes. It opens for dinner only, all days except Tuesday, and the best part – it is BYOB with no corkage fee! One thing that some of you diners out there may be glad to hear: the menu is very diet-restriction friendly, as it offers many gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes that are incredibly good, filling and satisfying; a rare trio of traits in that world of dieting.

The animated and extremely personable chef/owner Didier also runs two other locations across town on Broome Street (La Sirene, another French place, and Taureau, a fondue joint). He’s truly passionate about food, and his spirit shines through the dishes as well. They’re innovative, exciting, energetic and fun, just like he is.

As he spoke with us, I got the sense that he has very high standards in what he serves. My suspicions were confirmed when he explained the rationale for 86’ing the burger that used to be on the menu: it wasn’t perfect in his eyes (and his girlfriend didn’t like it very much either). I can respect that: Don’t serve it unless you are 100% confident that it’s you’re best version of that item. Not only does he treat his food with great respect, but he treats his staff with great respect as well. It seems that he also applies his highly selective attitude in choosing who he has working for him. Everyone who served us and waited on us was amazing, particularly Benjamin.

Didier’s perfectionist view on food translates to a perfect meal. I’m dead serious. Just about everything I ate was the best version of that particular item I’ve ever had.

For example, the French onion soup that we started with: absolutely amazing. By far the best I’ve ever had. Imagine, if you will, your Thanksgiving turkey stuffing floating atop a steaming bowl of thick, hot, velvety onion soup before being topped with a generous-but-not-massive amount of crispy-yet-melty cheese. Unbelievable. And after you let this beast cool down, the soup only gets better and better. Your taste buds sense all sorts of deep and rich flavors when the heat settles down. I can’t even fucking remember the last time I actually WANTED French onion soup, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Didier took it to the next level, made it exciting. Amazing part about this: if you want, it can be made gluten free and fucking vegan, with ZERO GODDAMN CARBS!


Another example of bests: the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. Want to have your mind blown into thousands of bloody little brain bits? They were served with strawberries. Fucking… FUCKING… STRAWBERRIES, MAN – YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY! Perfectly caramelized and crisped, the sprouts were offset with a little bit of zing and sweet pop from the strawberries. It’s an unexpected match made in heaven, that, again, demonstrates Didier’s facility with food.


Okay I’ll hit you with another best. The best Coq au Vin that I’ve ever tasted. Preparations for this dish start a week in advance at Le Village, as the chickensies bathe in wine. When finally served, what you have is a delicious, home-style yet refined stew of unbelievably deep flavor. The meat is so tender, the “gravy” so soulful and satisfying. This is where you go to learn what this classic French dish is all about, what it should actually taste like. Not only is Didier innovative, but he can really rock the shit outta the classics as well.


Okay let’s get to the other menu items we sampled. We tried these miniature ravioli. The earthy aroma and truffle flavoring really made for a unique appetizer. I could easily devour an entire bowl of these.


We’re in a fucking French restaurant, for God’s sake. Of course there is an excellent foie gras pate of sorts, with a slice of truffle right on top! Oui!


These baked gnocchi au gratin were light as pillows despite their creamy, truffled Mornay and Swiss cheddar sauce. It’s very rare to find a chef with a hand skilled at NOT making dense, heavy gnocchi, especially in a cream + cheese base. These were fantastic, and definitely a recommended item.


Finally, the seared duck breast with green beans and sweet potato was served with a unique and hearty unsweetened chocolate sauce, and garnished with pistachio nuts and red beeper coulis. Perfectly cooked, juicy, and delicious. This satisfied my meat needs for sure. And I am really excited to hit Didier’s other restaurant across town. Apparently the hanger steak there is pretty outstanding.


My favorite of the three desserts we tried was the banana brûlée. The banana pudding was rich and creamy, and beneath the cracked surface of the brûlée sugar was some banana and wafer for texture.


The lava cake was good as well, but since I am married to The Cake Dealer, I am admittedly spoiled when it comes to all-things-cake. Her cake is still my favorite.


Finally, we tried the tart. This was nice and light, very refreshing.


You should definitely check this place out if you get a chance. All the menu prices are incredibly reasonable, and you save money on booze by being able to bring in your own wine or beer for no corkage/opening fees. Get on it!

UPDATE 2/23/17

The duck rillette was very nicely crafted. It tasted authentic and home made.

While the baked mussels app was a bit small in terms of portion size (only 5), it delivered big on flavor. These reminded me of escargot in their preparation. I just wish they had rinsed the mussels better before cooking, as several of them had some sand or grain in them.

My wife got the baked aged goat cheese tart for her entree. Very different and unique.

I, of course, had steak. This was a butter poached hanger steak. It had a great flavor to it, imparted from the poaching process, and the meat itself was incredibly tender. 8/10.

127 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10009



A waiter named Jeremy over at Capital Grille (midtown west) recommended this place when we got to chatting about the city’s best burgers. He certainly knew his food shit, so I was excited to finally get here to try the burger. The same owners are involved with Bar Sardine, which also slings an excellent burger, so I knew I’d be in good hands at the very least.

Jeremy’s suggestion was a good one! This baby, although slapped between two buttery pieces of sourdough toast (as opposed to on a proper bun), was packed with great flavor. The meat is dry aged beef, and it was seared to a perfect temperature: pink center, good crust all around to lock in the juices, and well seasoned. Above and beneath the patty is a bernaise cheese spinach and pickled onions, respectively. Loved every bite. The bernaise cheese brought a little funk to the party (with a nice nod to steakhouse “creamed spinach,” I might add), and the pickled onion was a great twist on the much needed acid. The fried were natural cut, nice and crispy, and well seasoned with herbs and sea salt. Take a look at this shit:



 UPDATE AS OF 8/25/15

My wife and I stopped in for a quick dinner after a Tabelog event nearby. We kept it pretty basic. First was a nice snack of fresh radishes with country bread, whipped butter and salt flakes. The radishes were actually pretty spicy and had a great pop to them.


My wife had the mussels. Many of them were pretty small inside the shell. I don’t like them too big, but I also don’t like them too small. The broth had some fresh herb notes to it, like maybe tarragon. I’ve had better mussels elsewhere, but that’s not to say that these were bad by any means.


I ordered the hanger steak frites. It was perfectly cooked to medium rare and had a good sear on the outside. The sauce with it was garlicky and gave it pop. The texture of the meat was slightly off. It reminded me of some of the odd meats my wife and I used to get in Mexico from the resorts. Almost like it was over tenderized using an MSG type of product. I’m sure that’s not what was done here, but it just had that feel to it. Otherwise I liked it. I’d say its about a 7 out of 10, possibly an 8.



158 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Ca Va

My wife is friends with Mark Hannon, who is the chef over at Ca Va. We came in initially to try out restaurant week, but Mark had something else in store for us. Something amazing.


Mark grew up with a chef for a dad, so it only seemed natural for him to follow in his footsteps. He spent some time running kitchens at some of Thailand’s nicest hotels, and he got close with Todd English over the course of about a decade of working for him. He married an Australian chef, and is now back here in NYC, where he was essentially given free reign over the contents of the Ca Va menu (aside from a few things that needed to stay on or be done a certain way). Since taking the helm at Ca Va in the last moth or so, reviews and diners’ reactions have changed in a significantly positive way. When you see what I have to say below you’ll understand why.

First we ordered a couple of cocktails that were really nicely prepared.


Then, before we knew it, this really cool stand of deviled eggs with caviar and winter truffle came out. It was delicious. Creamy, earthy – a perfect way to start the meal.




Next was escargot with fried sea beans, some interesting purees, stuffed snail shells and crisp ham. The crispy ham was a great way to add a little salt into the dish, and the snails were perfect – soft, tender, buttery.



Next was grilled octopus with cannelini beans, chorizo and dehydrated olive powder. We’ve been having a lot of grilled octopus lately, and this dish sits among the best of them. So tender and juicy. I cleaned this plate off so well it was shining like a mirror when I was done.


Next came kale salad with goat cheese mousse, fava beans, dehydrated prosciutto, radish and snow peas. The big star here was the potato chip-like dehydrated prosciutto. Instantly my mind was imagining bags upon bags of them being consumed while watching movies at home on the couch. Fucking delightful.


Then came a scallop dish. It was seared perfectly and garnished with a trail of mushroom dirt (mushroom, shallot, almond flour, dextrose, garlic) and truffles, topped with caviar, and sitting atop asparagus and braised pulled oxtail. Holy shit. This was insane! This represents the best scallop I’ve ever eaten. Mark blew it out of the water.


Next was, by far, the most interesting plate of food of the night and possibly of the year. Duck breast and seared fois gras with toasted marshmallows, chocolate sauce, peanuts, cinnamon, huckleberries and roasted kale sprouts. It was savory yet sweet, but not too sweet, which is what you might expect when you see the stuff listed above. Combining the elements with the duck really made for some taste bud-awakening flavors.


Oh yeah baby – here it comes. Aged New York strip with tangy mustard potato salad and bone marrow powder, drizzled with a bone marrow bordelaise. Let’s just say that the meat man went home a very happy dude. Perfectly cooked to medium rare, sliced and plated beautifully, TONS of flavor and juiciness.


The first dessert was a bread pudding. I have a pic of the ingredients here but I was embarrassed about whipping out the cell phone camera to shoot the plate because Mark was sitting and chatting with us as we ate this course. I would’ve felt like a d-bag sticking my camera in his food instead of just eating it. It was great. Lots of times the texture of bread pudding isn’t right. Either the soak doesn’t hit all the bread and you get some bricks in there, or you are really just eating it for the sauces and toppings. This bread pudding was different. I usually don’t like white chocolate but I loved every bite of it here. The bread pudding itself was very silky and smooth, with really nice texture.


Last came a little plate of cookies and chocolates. The cookies were great, made in-house. The chocolates were pretty good too, nice and rich, but not made in-house.


Jordan, our waiter, was really great. We made sure to give him a good tip seeing as though he had to deal with us for about three hours.

310 W. 44th St.
New York, NY 10036