Tag Archives: asian

Fat Rice

Fat Rice is a trendy spot in Chicago that serves up some interesting and unique Asian inspired dishes, as you can see by the various menus.

We started with the special octopus salad appetizer. This was really delicious and refreshing. Beautiful plate too, I might add.

Next up was their big boy, the “Fat Rice” namesake dish (Arroz Gordo). This is like an Asian paella: a cross between a hot clay pot bibimbap and traditional Spanish paella, with both European and Asian toppers like grilled head on shrimp, char siu pork belly, molasses and fish sauce seasoned boiled egg, curry chicken thighs, languinica sausage and wood roasted beef (like BBQ).

It was delicious. A few spots could have used some improvement though. For example, the pork belly could have rendered out a bit more, and the beef could have been less dry. But over all it was a really nice dish, and I’d order it again in a heartbeat.

This place has a bakery connected to it as well, so The Cake Dealer and I tried out a bunch of their stuff.

I won’t highlight them all, but we tried an interesting tea and spice flavored snickerdoodle cookie, a very unique marshmallow and seaweed rice crispy treat thing, and a purple potato cake. In addition to sweets and interesting coffee and tea concoctions, they also serve savory baked goods, like this Chicago style hot dog pastry, which was my favorite of the bunch.

I highly recommend this spot if you’re in Chicago. They serve great food and really inventive cocktails.

FAT RICE
2957 W Diversey Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Star Noodle

Star Noodle

Best meal of the trip goes to Star Noodle. This place has been on the radar for a while, and is well-known among haoles as the place to eat near Lahaina.

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Great drinks at the bar, by the way…

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We had a lot of food, so get ready… We started with bacon and egg appetizer, which is very reminiscent of sizzling pork sisig dishes in Filipino cuisine. This shit was so fucking delicious. It had large, quality chunks of thick bacon, onions, tomatoes and a runny egg, served in a hot cast iron skillet.

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We also shared an order of “Lahaina Fried Soup,” which essentially was a dry noodle dish made with super thick chow funn noodles (again, two n’s on the chow fun in Hawaii for some reason).

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The flavors were simple – ground pork and bean sprouts. But we started adding some of the bacon in with the noodles and it was fucking amazing. If I am ever back here, I will order the bacon and egg appetizer and ask them to mix it with the Fried Lahaina Soup.

Next was the Hapa Ramen. Hapa typically refers to a person who is partially asian, so this is meant to be a partially asian or partially Japanese ramen dish?

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Whatever the case, it was excellent. The pork broth was thick and robust, with some black garlic oil mayu on top for punch. It had sweetness from the fish cake slices and bamboo shoots, savoriness from the touch of miso, and fatness from the poached egg. The noodles were cooked just right.

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Asian Popcorn

Nothing too crazy about this “recipe.” It’s just a great, simple way to take your couch potato movie nights and Netflix binge weekends to the next level.

The most basic form of this would be to just add some sesame oil and soy sauce to your melted butter, and then sprinkle generously on your popcorn with a little bit of Chinese five spice, garlic powder, salt and toasted sesame seeds (regular seeds are fine too). Add or remove ingredients as you see fit, but this general set of shit will give your snack a distinct Asian flavor profile, chock full of earthy goodness. I love it, and it beats the movie theater version by miles.

I usually make popcorn with a hot air popper and then add my seasonings, but you can simmer your kernels in the sesame oil if that’s your thing. The addition of pots and pans into my popcorn snacking is just too much clean up for my blood! Worst case, just add the additional seasonings to a bag of microwave popcorn.

If you like spicy heat, then add some chili flakes or cayenne pepper as well. Feel free to get creative with this. For example, I’m generally not a huge fan of nori, but I would imagine that those who do like it might want to crunch up some dried seaweed paper into flakes and shake that up with the mixture as well.  Shit, I may try some fish sauce and cilantro on my next batch for a Vietnamese/Thai kick.

Taco House

Nothing to brag about here. This is one of those wham-bam thank you ma’am type of Mexican food joints run by Asians. Pretty much everything is under $2. It will fill you up, but make sure you’re close to a toilet bowl after about 30 minutes, just to be safe. This stuff got me through law school, so I can’t knock it too much. I always went for the bean burritos and the guacamole with grilled chicken, because the regular tacos were just too fucking greasy. Shit you pay, shits you get.

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TACO HOUSE
178 Church St.
New York, NY 10013

Num Pang

My wife recently “brought home the bacon” a few times with some delicious sandwiches from this joint.

First was the special Ad Rock (from the Beastie Boys) sandwich, which had pastrami and all the typical SE Asian sandwich fixings. This was pretty awesome, and came with cream soda and a bag of chips:

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ad rock sandwich 2

ad rock sandwich

Then she came home tonight with a trio of hard, pipe-hittin’ niggaz that would bring even Marsellus Wallace to his knees:

Catfish: my favorite of the three, I think. Oddly enough. This was light, flavorful and really well balanced between spicy, sweet, hot, cold, soft and crunchy.

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Pork belly: my second favorite. Deliciously soft thick-cut pork belly that was braised to a jerk worthy flavor level. I took three pics of this bitch.

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Brisket: my least favorite of the three, probably because it had too much western style BBQ flavor going on. Otherwise this was a killer sandwich as well. LOTS of meat here too.

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These ain’t your typical banh mi sandwiches, but they are fucking awesome.

NUM PANG
148 W 48th St
New York, NY 10036

Tuome

I had the pleasure of being invited to another awesome food party event hosted by Tabelog. Here’s a fun shot of some of the people who run the shit here in NYC:

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This time, the location was Alphabet City Asian fusion restaurant Tuome, which is run by fellow Long Island boy-made-good, Chef Thomas Chen. It’s gotten a great deal of good press lately in the food world, and now I understand why.

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When I asked him about what inspired him to craft this sort of menu, he said, “It’s all based on things I grew up eating.” Long island is a mixed bag, at least in some parts that are closer to the five boroughs. Lots of cultural fusion happens naturally there, so it makes sense. But the execution of these concepts was spot on. I was impressed with this young dude’s skills.

Well hang on a sec… I’m getting ahead of myself. First we had some cocktails that were specially made for the night:

Fire in the Sky – sake, thai chili, yuzu.

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Tuome City Limits – sherry, kina, Chinese five spice

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East Village Blossom – brut rose, hibiscus, blood orange

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All three were fantastic, but since I have a pair of ball between my legs, I’d have to say that the Tuome City Limits was my favorite of the three. The other two were incredibly tasty as well though.

Okay now back to the food. Here’s a composed plate of all the items we sampled. Everything here is on the menu with the exception of the oxtail roll.

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First was the beet with quinoa, five spice yogurt and pumpkin seed. This was a really fresh bite of food, with a crunch texture and complex flavors to mix things up.

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Next was the chicken liver mousse spread onto milk bread and topped with NY maple. Fucking delicious. So smooth and decadent, yet light.

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Then I had the oxtail egg roll with cumin mint dipping sauce. This was one of my favorites of the night.

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There was a really delicious blue crab mac and cheese too, with karee and mascarpone. I could eat this shit all day long. In fact, I wish more steakhouses would swap king crab and lobster mac and cheese dishes out for blue claw. Them shits be better, yo.

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Next favorite of the night was the crispy fucking pork belly. Hoooolyyyyyyy shiiiiiiit was this good. Before the water pulled away I tried three. One with no sauce, and one with each of the two sauces they were serving it with. One was a mignonette style, and the other was tomato based, I think.

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The last savory item was a soon-to-be wildly famous crispy fried deviled egg with chili. This was by far the ultimate winning dish of the night. Unbelievable. So tasty. Creamy, crunchy, with a little spicy kick to it. Perfect. I apologize for the blurry photo. I was so excited that I started furiously jerking while trying to shoot the photo. Needless to say I was shaking a little.

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And finally, there was an ice cream filled beignet. It was more like a cream puff to my taste buds, but filled with ice cream and sweet red bean instead of cream filling. It definitely reminded me of some classic Asian desserts, but with a cream puff twist to it. Nicely done.

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It was a really fun night. As always, the folks at Tabelog always make us bloggers feel like kings and queens, putting us at the center of attention. They’re a great crew, and the website is truly a great resource for your dining research needs. Here’s a shot of all the bloggers with some of the Tabelog peeps:

tabelog NYC

UPDATE: Photos from the “Pig Out” meal.

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TUOME
536 E. 5th St.
New York, NY 10009

Flight

Flight is a Thai and Asian-inspired gastropub on York at 78th Street that used to be called Dresner’s until it was completely revamped. The new setup (opened in October) is really beautiful inside, with muted, modern, intimate tones of grey wood and simple, elegant yet cozy accents.

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Owners Dermot (beverage director, front of the house) and Golam (executive chef) did an amazing job with the transformation. Dermot has been in the ownership position of this location for many years, and Chef Golam has an extensive 27 year cooking career.

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We got to sit in the coolest part of the restaurant: an elevated, sidewalk-side seating area that sits about two or three feet above the sidewalk and has long floor-to-ceiling windows/doors that can be opened in the warmer weather.

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The concept of “Flight” is being able to taste many things during your time there. Aside from offering flights of wine and beer, they also offer whiskey flights, as well as food samplings like meat and seafood flights with brunch, lunch, dinner and happy hour menus. I like this idea, because whenever I am excited about a menu, there are always tons of things that I want to try but can’t because I get too full.

I was recently invited along with some other bloggers for a press dinner, where we got to sample a bunch of their signature dishes. Be warned, though, that we received small, tasting sizes of the dishes. Actual menu items are much larger portions.

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My wife plucked her two favorite wine varietals off of their extensive global wine list: a Riesling and a Viognier, which were both really great. Crisp, light, refreshing, slight sweetness and easy on the aftertaste. I tried three of the 16 craft beers that they had on tap: UFO Ginger Land Wheat, Queens Pilsner, and Kona Big Wave. My favorite of the three was the wheat beer. I’m partial to that style. They also have a bunch of bottles available as well.

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We started with some flatbreads on the table. This was similar to a pita, but more dense and much thinner. It was really nice and flavorful. It had a chewy texture as opposed to crisp, but in a way that almost reminded me of naan bread (which I love) or a thick crepe. It was served with a hummus-like dipping sauce. Very nice. I may have eaten more than my allotment for table sharing.

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Next was a seasonal soup that they were offering, made from butternut squash and apple, and garnished with some basil. This was really smooth, not too filling, which I was happy about, and slightly sweet and crisp from the apple. It had great depth.

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My favorite dish of the evening came next: Thai style coconut curry mussels. These were fucking delicious. I could eat this all day. The only negative about this dish was that I wished there was more liquid for me to drink or sop up with bread at the bottom of the bowl. So good. Spicy, light, warming, and just the right amount of seasoning.

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The Thai meatball with dried crispy shallots, sweet chili sauce and cilantro was a really great bite as well. The meatball was a little harder than I had initially expected. Asian style meatballs tend to have more of a snap to them and are more dense. The flavor was great. Spicy.

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In continuing with the Thai and Asian theme, the lump crab cake was dressed with a spicy sauce as well. The cake itself was a great texture: lots of good lump meat, and a beautiful golden brown crust. This rivaled the mussels for best dish of the night, for me.

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The wild mushroom risotto was rich and creamy (marscarpone base), but not heavy. It was dressed deftly with a white truffle oil that really brought out the earthy flavors of the mushrooms.

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The curry chicken was spicy as well, with bright lemongrass and cilantro flavors that made it herbaceous. It came with mushrooms, onions, peppers and eggplant, along with basmati rice. The only down side was that the chicken was a little dry. Perhaps thigh meat would have been better than breast meat for this.

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The final savory dish was lobster ravioli in a butternut squash sauce and topped with a butterflied shrimp. The ravioli stuffing was lobster, basil, onion and shallot, and the pasta was hand made on site by Chef Golam. The squash sauce was similar to the soup course, but a bit more spicy and savory than the apple-infused soup.

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For dessert, three different items came out. First was a brown bread ice cream that was absolutely amazing and, in my opinion, the best of the desserts. It tasted like french toast. The base was vanilla but bits of cinnamony bread were incorporated for texture. It was garnished with a sugar-dusted phyllo dough stick.

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The tiramisu was very light, also with crispy phyllo dough on top. The dish wasn’t too sweet, which is good for me, and it wasn’t soaked in rum either. Not too boozy at all. Really nice, and it is one of their best sellers. This was my wife’s favorite of the desserts.

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One of the other bloggers tried the apple tart. My wife and I didn’t get to try a bite, but it looked perfect, topped with some ice cream and the signature crisped phyllo dough for some crunch.

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That about does it! I will definitely be back here to try a meat flight! They offer a burger, a filet mignon, a NZ rack of lamb and a NY strip, so I think I’ll be in good hands. They’re even going to be starting weekly jazz nights here as well, so I’ll be looking out for that too.

FLIGHT IS CLOSED

Sik Gaek Seafood Hot Pot

Me, my wife, and some of our friends went to this pretty crazy Korean restaurant in Woodside called Sik Gaek. Good luck reading the website if you can’t read Korean. However the pics are nice under the “Delicious Table” drop down menu. They have some nice looking meats and fish.

I say “crazy” not to be judgmental of other cultures, but rather to demonstrate the purely subjective boundaries which I needed to cross to actually partake in the ingesting of food here. It’s crazy for ME, in other words. I typically eat my food cooked (with the exception of sushi, ceviche, shellfish and tartare). Not only that, but I usually eat my animals and fish AFTER they are good and dead (again, with the exception of shellfish). Also – my food usually isn’t MOVING. As you’ll see below, these western culinary conventions are thrown out the window at Sik Gaek. And that’s a good thing.

This place (the Flushing location rather than the Woodside spot we went to) was actually featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show on the Travel Channel called “No Reservations.” The show is now off the air, as he has moved to CNN with “Parts Unknown” (it’s essentially the same show). In the “No Reservations” episode clipped below, he was in the midst of doing a tour of various “hidden” Asian food and culture spots around Queens with renowned chef David Chang. Watch as he eats still-moving, live, marinated and chopped octopus:

It makes me think of a shocking scene from the Korean film Old Boy, which has one of the most fucked-up twist endings ever, and is one of the most fucked-up but excellent movies of our time. No doubt this film will garner even more attention when Spike Lee fucks it up upon the release of his remake later this year, starring Josh Brolin:

Anyway… on to the actual food that we ate. It turns out there was a huge disappointment. They were out of live octopus. So after all that babble above, I didn’t really get to test the limits of my culinary tolerances. We did enjoy some delicious food though, and some of it was still moving while it cooked in the hot pot. Check out the pics below.

First, the drinks. Two types of beer, two types of soju, and a watermelon full of vagina juice (watermelon punch):

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Almost forgot the Psy shot glass:

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Next, the starters. First up, eggs and veggies:

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Then rice cakes and tofu skin with spicy sauce, along with some pickled items and dips:

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Then we had some thick cut pork belly:

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Then we moved on to the seafood hot pot, which contained lobster, blue claw crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, razor clams, abalone, baby octopus, squid, udon noodles, bean sprouts, and cabbage. They even give you a trash bucket beside the table to throw all the shells in.

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And YES – the lobster was still moving at our table while it cooked:

Since they knew we were there for the live octopus, and we had made the reservation and tried to reserve a ‘pus for the table way in advance of getting there, they felt bad and gave us a plate of bacon wrapped mushrooms on the house:

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One of the best parts of the meal was using the broth pan to cook fried rice. Packed with flavor, and nice and crispy:

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Two more shots – one of the restaurant space, and one of a little kitchen flood:

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SIK GAEK
49-11 Roosevelt Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377

Whole Rotisserie Duck At Momofuku Ssam Bar

Check this shit out, you salivating scumbags:

Keeping in line with my recent non-steak-related commentary dealing with other delicious foods around NYC, I present to you the whole rotisserie duck at Momofuku:

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This particular dish is available at Momofuku Ssam Bar on 2nd Avenue at 13th Street. For $140 you get the duck (breast stuffed with duck sausage just under the skin and roasted) served atop a bed of jasmine rice; some chive pancakes and Bibb lettuce for wrapping; two seasonal sides (we chose the pickled veggies and kimchi, and the baby bok choy seasonal greens); and crispy shallots, cilantro, mint, Thai basil, watercress, hoisin sauce, Korean BBQ sauce and duck scallion sauce for toppings. They even bring out some duck broth made fresh at the end of the meal.

The duck is locally sourced too, for all your eco-assholes out there that actually give a shit. It’s from Crescent Duck in Aquebogue, Long Island.

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Now on with the pics. Duck off, or go duck yourself:

First, my wife ordered a Bloody Mary. Here. it’s made with rye, sake, tomato, apple, ham, and togarashi. We thought it was a little on the small side for $11, and a little sweet, but it was meaty, spicy and otherwise good. Nice ice cube in there too.

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bloody mary

Next we ordered an app of liver mousse. Delicious, light and creamy. Topped with pickled radish and some greens.

liver mousse
liver mousse

Here is one of the side items that came with the duck meal – the pickled veggie jars:

pickled veggies
pickled veggies

And the “seasonal greens” – aka baby bok choy:

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baby bok choy

Then they brought out the pre-sliced duck to show it to us:

pre-sliced duck
pre-sliced duck

Here it is all sliced up and presented nice-nice:

rotisserie duck platter
rotisserie duck platter

Here’s the lettuce and sauce collection:

Bibb + sauces
Bibb + sauces

And finally they bring out a little bowl of duck broth to finish off the meal. Very rich.

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duck broth

Here are some more pics of the duck. If you look closely you can see the layer where the duck sausage splits from the duck breast. Each little slice was like a two-in-one punch of roasty, crispy, juicy flavor. Fucking awesome.

crispy deliciousness
crispy deliciousness
served on a bed of jasmine rice
served on a bed of jasmine rice
constructing a duck ssam on a scallion pancake
constructing a duck ssam on a scallion pancake

 

And here’s one last shot – the kitchen in full swing:

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kitchen

MOMOFUKU SSAM BAR
207 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

The Great Noodle Chase

Lately I’ve been on a Japanese ramen binge, but I should also mention my decade-long hankering for Vietnamese pho as well. My wife is Vietnamese, so real-deal, authentic pho is more common in my belly than good ramen. But after having it a few times lately, I felt the need to whip up a post about the two dishes, with pics of course.

First, pho (pronounced like you are saying the word FUN but without the N, and with a tone as if you are asking a question):

For those who may not know, I’ve give a quick rundown of what this awesome shit is. Pho is a very aromatic and highly flavorful beef soup (pho bo) made with LOTS of different parts of the animal: oxtail, marrow, tripe, brisket, eye-round, processed beef balls, etc. The meats are stewed to tender perfection and then served in an almost clear consomme broth that simmered for hours with all the meats and spices like star anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and other warm, comforting flavors. The rice noodles used are long and flat, almost like a linguini. It’s topped with cilantro, chilies (optional, of course), bean sprouts, scallions, thinly sliced onion, and a wedge of lime. It’s usually accompanied with plum sauce (hoisin) and chili paste (sri racha) on the side for you to add to taste. The result is something so delicious that you will crave it every day of your life. It’s light, yet hearty. You’ll never find a broth so clear and thin with so much flavor packed in it. Most Vietnamese joints will offer it with chicken too (pho ga), but come on… really? If you are getting it, get a big bowl of the mixed beef. Although, I must say, sometimes I like to order with just the thin-sliced eye-round meat, or that and beef meatballs.

By far the most delicious bowl we ever had was in Vietnam, up in the mountains of Sapa at a resort. It should be noted that pho in Vietnam is different than here in the states. First: there’s a more robust flavor. Second: the sri racha is non-existent as it is not needed. They just utilize their abundance of fresh chili peppers. They DO have a chili paste in Vietnam, but it’s creamier and sweeter than sri racha, and probably better for dipping with fried items than mixing into soup.

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Clearly not everyone can just up and leave to the mountains of Vietnam for a bowl of soup. So if you can’t, try this bowl, from Thai Son restaurant on Baxter Street in NYC. Yes: it’s a Vietnamese food restaurant, not Thai. Definitely not as good as the one above, but at around $6 a bowl you really can’t go wrong:

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Okay now for Japanese ramen:

First, check out this little film to get a sense of what real ramen is. I’m not talking about the little fucking soup packets for $0.33 each in the supermarket, which contain so much fucking sodium that they can be used to salt the highways of a major city in a snowstorm.

The few places I’ve been to in NYC have a variety of flavors and broth bases, ranging from the more traditional pork, to chicken, to miso, to veggie. They vary based on noodle type too – wavy or straight, etc., and also toppings. Some places will serve a basic bowl with a few things in it, and charge a nominal amount for extra toppings like extra pork belly or lean pork, a boiled egg, spicy paste, extra noodles, etc. I tend to lean more toward the pork broth (tonkotsu), although I’ve had some really good chicken based and even curry based broths.

Note: there are lots of people who make it their mission to hunt down the great ramen places all over town, especially in Japan. I can’t compete with those guys… yet… My experience is very limited, but I WILL share a few of my favorite bowls so far, along with location:

Mega Ramen at Totto II in Hell’s Kitchen (51st & 10th) – no need for ordering extras on this. It’s a chicken based broth (REALLY good, by the way – not your average bullshit chicken stock). So hearty and fatty, and topped with tons of different kinds of pork meat. I refer to this one as the pork pool party. $15.

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Tondaku Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova in Chinatown (Mott Street). Different, but really good. More greenery than you would normally expect but it really works. $15. Egg was extra.

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Tondaku Ramen, also at Bassanova. Traditional tonkotsu pork ramen made with Berkshire pork. $13.

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That’s all I’ve got for you assholes right now, other than the fact that the guy from the video is the guy who opened Bassanova.

Do yourselves a favor and go for a swim in a pork pool party – your gullet will thank you. In the meantime, if anyone knows of a beef or rib eye ramen, I’d love to try it. Does it exist? If not, maybe it’s time…

UPDATE 3/15/14 – Real deal beef ramen DOES exist. I heard about some late night ramen joint in the west village called Takashi that serves up an all-beef broth ramen on Friday and Saturday nights only, from 12:00am to 2:00am. It was tough, but I ended up getting a seat for my wife and I to slurp up some of this delicious shit. We started with some beer and took in the surroundings:

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As I mentioned, it’s a beef broth, but it contains crispy beef intestines, FUCKING BRAISED KOBE BEEF BELLY!!!, a soft boiled egg, and alkaline ramen noodles. The little blob of red you see in the middle is the spicy paste that my wife got with her bowl. I prefer no spicy paste, as it masks the beef flavor too much for my liking (though I DO love very spicy foods):

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If you’re in town overnight on a weekend and are up for something bold and adventurous, give this bowl a try. The only problem is that you will need to try for a reservation on the Monday prior at 5pm. That’s when they start taking reservations. I emailed on Tuesday afternoon for my rez and they were already booked solid. They asked if I wanted to be on a waiting list in case someone cancels: I said yes. I found out on Friday at about 4:00pm that they had an opening for me and my wife at midnight. SWEET!