Tag Archives: szechuan

King’s Co. Imperial

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

My photos of this meal aren’t that great, because I forgot my light. My video is fine, however, because the built in video light for the phone is nice. Flash photos, not so much.

This place has a retro vibe, with a Polynesian, pu-pu platter and tiki drinks old school feel to it. The cocktails were great.

We started with crispy fried mushrooms, pork ribs and shrimp toast. All of these were good. I think the mushrooms were my favorite of the entire meal, actually.

Next up, short rib beef chow fun, dry fried string beans, and crispy Szechuan calamari. Of these, the string beans were best, with the calamari close behind. They just needed to be a bit more crispy.

There’s a lot that looked nice enough to try here, so we will most likely be back.

KINGS CO. IMPERIAL
168 1/2 Delancey St.
New York, NY 10002

Ye’s Apothecary

Ye’s Apothecary is a cool downstairs spot in the Lower East Side that serves great cocktails and some tasty Szechuan food. The Szechuan old fashioned was a great way to start the meal. It IS spicy, so beware.

Our favorite dish was “husband and wife,” which was a chilled appetizer of beef tripe and tendon in a spicy chili oil.

The egg noodles with char siu pork was also a nice dish, but I wouldn’t get it on a second trip.

The crispy squid was excellent. Slightly salty, but I didn’t mind.

With everything being so spicy, the chairman’s pork belly was a great way to sneak in a bite of sweet every so often. Only downside here was the thick rubbery external skin that sometimes still seemed to have the texture of stubble/hair on it. Otherwise really tasty and tender.

The mushroom salad was a bit misleading, as it was a hot dish. Tasty though.

YE’S APOTHECARY
119 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002

Little Pepper

We hitched a ride out to Little Pepper in Queens with another foodie couple who has been there a bunch of times. We tried a lot of shit, so I’m gonna just get right into it.

This Szechuan style pork sausage was packed with flavor and ate like dry salumi with a kick!

The sliced pork belly in chili garlic sauce was probably one of the best items of the night. That sauce was dynamite.

My favorite item of the meal, though, was the shrimp. “Prawn with chili pepper” is what to order on the menu. The lightly fried crisp batter on the outside gave this such an amazing texture. I could eat buckets.

The lotus root was a great veg item for the side, as were the string beans.

The tea smoked duck lacked smoke or tea flavor, and was a bit on the dry side. But it was really flavorful and still very tender.

The scallion fried rice doesn’t look like much, but it’s a meal in itself for sure. It’s really delicious, and it sure as fuck beats regular white rice. So get this for all your rice eating needs (to soak up the ma-po sauce).

Speaking of ma-po, their tofu dish was excellent!

Another classic done well are the dan dan noodles. Get these.

One of the more surprising dishes was the pork meatballs. These were tender, soft and gingery flavored. A little more on the sweet side when compared to some of the spicy items we tried.

Finally, the spicy and tingly cumin lamb dish was really nice. The lamb is thin sliced and tossed with tin slices of veg and onions. Really earthy and flavorful.

This place is definitely a banger. With the abundance of spots nearby in Chinatown, however, I’m not sure how often I would be back here in Queens. I do highly recommend it though.

LITTLE PEPPER
18-24 College Point Blvd
College Point, NY 11356

The Dolar Shop

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

This is easily one of the better hot pot joints I’ve tried so far. I would definitely go back!

THE DOLAR SHOP
55 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Cafe China

This place was really good! I forgot my light, and I didn’t take a lot of pics, but this Michelin starred Chinese joint really delivered the flavor! My favorite was the crispy fish filets (last pic), but over all everything was high quality. I would definitely go back for more.

CAFE CHINA
59 W 37th St
New York, NY 10018

Tsuta

Tsuta is the world’s first Michelin starred ramen joint.

It just opened this past Friday, so there was a line when my friend and I showed up to try it. We waited about 1.5hrs in the bitter cold, but once that ramen hit our lips, it was worth it.

I tried the spicy mala tonkotsu ramen, which had a nice tingly broth from the Szechuan peppercorns that are infused in it. All of their noodles are soba, which I was initially worried about because I generally prefer egg noodles with thick broth ramen. But these noodles were perfect, and they went well with the rich, spicy broth.

This was $20 for the regular sized bowl. It comes with one slice of chashu pork. I added the seasoned soft boiled egg for an additonal $4.

Our apps came out after the ramen, which wasn’t so bad considering the place was brand new and absolutely slammed. Some of my friends who also went complained of even worse problems. Of these, the chicken was probably the best, but I’d rather share a second bowl of ramen than get these again.

Next visit, I’ll have to try their signature bowls (shio and shoyu), which feature truffle oils.

TSUTA
22 Old Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Little Tong Noodle Shop

My wife and I stopped in here last week for dinner now that they are open later. I was dying to try this “Shank JB Melt.”

It’s tender beef shank, cucumber, and Beecher’s cheese curds (melty and crisp) on a flaky pancake “crepe.” Kind of like an Asian take on a Philly cheesesteak. Look at how crisp yet melty that cheese is:

This was amazing. I highly recommend this for all you midtown east folks. Perfect lunch item.

We also tried the Mala Dan Dan Mixian noodles. This is a non-soup noodle dish that has a nice spicy and tingly flavor profile to it, with ground pork, peppercorn oil, pickled celery, mustard seeds, pickled mustard greens and peanuts. We also added a tea egg for $2 and it was well worth it.

For dessert we had the rose crystal jelly with black rock syrup, basil seeds, sesame and peanuts. A really light and refreshing way to end the meal.

I definitely recommend this place to everyone, especially those who like noodles. They have nice sandwich items at the midtown location that really shine too.

LITTLE TONG NOODLE SHOP
235 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Upscale Flavored Steaks

The idea of a marinated steak is nothing new. Throw some soy sauce and garlic in a tupperware container, plop your steak in there, and a few hours later you’ve completely transformed the flavor, texture and character of your beef.

Lots of small, usually budget-friendly, run-of-the-mill restaurants that serve steaks will do this to punch up the quality and flavor of their beef. But a true steakhouse, it is often believed, won’t fuck with a quality cut of steak. Just salt and pepper is all you need.

Yet some of the best places in NYC are offering “flavored” steaks. And you will almost always see something like a coffee rubbed filet on a steakhouse menu from time to time. But let this be your guide to some of the good ones out there.

Probably the most commonly seen flavored steak is the “Cajun” steak. Typically this involves some onion, garlic, black pepper and often times something potent like cumin, paprika or cayenne pepper. These spices, when combined, can really make a steak pop and excite the taste buds.

My favorite Cajun steak is at Greenwich Steakhouse. This one comes with a little pool of oils and spiced sauce on the bottom, which I like to drag my steak though for extra pop. They’ll even throw the flavoring onto other cuts if you’d like, but the rib eyes are marinated in the stuff, so I think they might have a bit more deeply penetrating flavors.

For something less “wet” when served, go to Tuscany Steakhouse. This one is only on their lunch menu, but if you ask nice they might hook it up. Especially if you tell them I sent you. It’s excellent.

Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse also does a really nice job on their Cajun rib eye, which is a happy middle ground between Greenwich and Tuscany in terms of preparation and presentation; a little of the oil on the bottom, but still mostly a dry presentation. The great thing about this one is that the dry-aged flavor still comes though nicely.

Smith & Wollensky is thought to be the originator of the Cajun rib eye up here in NYC. In fact, Chef Victor at Greenwich Steakhouse is the one who developed the recipe at Smith & Wollensky before he struck out on his own (Greenwich Steakhouse). Greenwich is much better, in my opinion, but the two are very similar in overall style.

Harry’s offers a Cajun rib eye too, but it tastes completely different from the others up above, which all tend to have the same flavor profile. Harry’s is more earthy and peppery than the exotic spice flavors on the above cuts. Still great, just entirely different.

Another great flavored steak is the chili-rubbed rib eye. You can occasionally find this at Delmonico’s if they’re doing a tribute menu, but the man they pay homage to is Chef LoMonaco of Porter House Bar & Grill. He became well known for creating this spicy and delicious flavored rib eye.

If you’re like me, when it comes to spice, you prefer something aggressive like chili. But not so harsh that is fucks up your entire palate for the rest of the meal. I happen to love Szechuan peppercorn; that numbing heat with a slight burn. There’s just something about it.

I even tried to make a steak with those flavors a while back. But my attempt paled in comparison to the Szechuan tomahawk rib eye from The Lobster Club. This thing is aggressive, for sure, and richly flavorful. It’s tingly, it’s spicy, and it’s perfectly cooked. And when you go, bring the oily sauce home and fry up some leftover white rice with it, and top it with a fried egg or two. You won’t be disappointed.

Another big success is the pastrami rib eye from American Cut.

This baby packs a ton of flavor, so I’d probably split this as an appetizer and then focus on something more traditional as a main course. That peppery pastrami crust is absolutely bonkers, but I prefer it in small doses.

There are lots of others out there that I didn’t try yet, like the chili wagyu sirloin at Char House, or the whiskey dry-aged rib eye and lavender-rubbed porterhouse at The Beatrice Inn. I may need to win the lottery first though to afford those. I’ve heard great things, but I think the whiskey steak starts at about $1000. At least it feeds three people.

The Lobster Club

The Lobster Club is the newest venture by Major Food Group (The Grill, Parm, Carbone, The Pool, etc). What attracted me to this joint was their chili oil-, cumin- and Szechuan peppercorn- spiced tomahawk rib eye. You may recall my Szechuan strip steak recipe, where I used a similar flavor profile. Let me just admit up front that mine wasn’t as good as theirs, despite mine looking prettier and my crispy rice being fantastic.

Anyway, let me get to the meal already.

I started at the bar with a great cocktail called the Umeshu Highball: Japanese whisky, aged umeshu and sparkling water.

At the table, my wife had the Jasmine Blossom: Bourbon, plum sake, plum eau-de-vie and sherry. Garnished with a big slice of fresh ginger.

At dessert, we shared the Banana Goto: Japanese whisky, espresso, cacao and banana whipped cream. This went perfectly with our dessert, as you will see later.

The cocktails were all awesome, and I would definitely come back for a drink at the bar, for sure.

Our first course was sushi. This is an entree but we shared it as an appetizer. At $68 this is pretty hefty, but the quality was indeed top notch.

We shared the Sansho Octopus dish next. This was pricey at $28 for a single large tentacle, but it was pretty tasty, and served with some Asian style pickled radish and cucumber slices, as well as what reminded me of a chimichurri sauce on top.

Before the steak came out, they brought out this cool platter of sauces for the steak. None of them were really necessary, given the richness of the steak and the aggressiveness of the flavors, but a few of them went well. Namely, the confit garlic and the chili sauce.

The steak itself was a haymaker knockout punch of flavor. This shit is aggressive, spicy and there’s a LOT of it. You should take my 10/10 score of this with a warning: I happen to LOVE these flavors. The steak reminded me of the tingly beef noodles or the spicy cumin lamb noodles at Xian Famous. That is not everyone’s cup of tea! If you just want dry-aged beef, then go with the porterhouse here. This baby is minimally aged and it packs a wallop of interesting flavor.

The quality was great. Very tender, great cap size, edible fat. It was also cooked perfectly. If you want unique, then go for it. It’s $195 for 46oz (including the bone), and, as I said, it’s aggressively spiced. You may want to split it with three others rather than two just to give your taste buds a break.

The steak also comes with a pair of sides: blistered shishito peppers and grilled king mushrooms (my favorite kind). These were both excellent.

For dessert, we shared the Japanese Iced Coffee Kakigori. This is essentially coffee and cream flavored shave ice. A mountain of it, at that. It paired perfectly with the third cocktail I mentioned up top.

Overall this was a really good meal, but it was expensive. I probably wouldn’t go back, but I’m glad I did go. I needed to try that steak!

I came back here a second time to try the Szechuan steak again with some friends who convinced me that I should have it a second time. This time is was a bit tough. 7/10.

We also tried their porterhouse.

This, too, is pricey at $185. What I didn’t realize is that the flavor is that of sesame, in keeping with the asian theme here.

 

The flavors were nice, but again there was a texture problem. When you are paying this much for steak, they need to be perfect. 7/10.

THE LOBSTER CLUB
98 E. 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Hwa Yuan

I went to Hwa Yuan with my wife and a group of friends to celebrate Lunar/Chinese New Year. We had a massive feast, but the very first bite of the meal was the clear favorite for all of us: crispy tangy beef.

This shit was like meat candy. So good that I wanted it by the bucketful.

Next up, Peking roasted duck.

Look at this fellow up close:

Our waiter sliced it up table side:

Here’s a short video of the slicing, set to American New Year music:

I also really liked this plate of sliced mountain yam with ginger, snow peas, goji berries and wood ear mushrooms. The yams tasted like giant water chestnuts.

This plate of eggplant was really tasty too, and I typically don’t love eggplant.

This dish was called “Amazing Chicken.” I really liked the sauce, but I wish the chicken had a bit more texture on it.

This was a roasted and stewed Barramundi fish.

And this bowl of ma po tofu was perfect. Just the right amount of silky texture and numbing spice with heat.

These pea sprouts were tasty too – almost like a cross between spinach and collards, simply steamed with garlic and soy.

Get your asses down to this joint and dig in. The food is really great!

HWA YUAN
42 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002