Saturday, January 30, 2010

Yeh's Bakery and Pho Hoang

I was in Flushing for an interview last Thursday and got a bite to eat before and after.

I didn't think to plan ahead and was just trying to get to the interview on time. Google maps had Yeh's Bakery landmarked so I gave it a try.

Yelp reviews seemed to suggest that their green tea cake was good, but it was 8 am, so I got a corn pastry concoction instead. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure if my reasoning made any sense.

Anyway, it was good. A bit greasy, but very tasty. I would eat it again for breakfast.

One of the residents suggested either going to Corner 28 or Pho Hoang for an early dinner.

I decided to walk up Main St and was happy I did after passing this neoclassical post office. I'm a big fan of neoclassical post offices. This one reminded me of the one in Williamstown.

I stopped by Corner 28, but I just wasn't in the mood for it. Just seemed too meaty and starchy. So I got Pho.

This was an average Pho, but I liked it. What I love about Pho is that it is hot and refreshing. It is able to achieve two seemingly contradictory characteristics. This one was no exception.

One more interview to go.

Yeh's Bakery
57-25 Main St (btn 57th Rd and 58th Ave)
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 939-1688

Pho Hoang
41-01 Kissena Boulevard (near Main St)
Flushing, NY 11355

New York Hot Dog & Coffee

Mabel and I took my parents to see Carmen last Wednesday. But I needed to find us something quick to eat beforehand.

So I got some wraps from New York Hot Dog & Coffee.

I got kimchi-bulgogi with rice wraps (ssam) which didn't have the hot dog.

They were very good.

I have to admit, I remember seeing this place under construction in 2008 and thinking that there's no way they were going to survive. They seemed really deserted the first several months, but it looks like they've developed a following and are doing pretty well. Also, it probably doesn't hurt that they're part of a big Korean chain.

I think their bulgogi topped hot dog is okay, but it just doesn't do it for me. Something about mixing the two meats doesn't feel right. But I really do like their ssam and am planning on coming back regularly for more.

New York Hot Dog & Coffee
245 Bleecker St (btn Carmine and Leroy St)
New York, NY 10014
(917) 388-3742

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Corner Bistro

The Corner Bistro. Most belovéd burger joint in New York City. It is packed to the brim at night, but it is a great place to go for a weekday lunch.

I haven't had a burger since my visit to the doctor (literally on the day I saw my doctor), and that was about 2 weeks ago, so I figured I was due for a burger. There are two important quotes/principles that I expect will keep me compliant with my Michael Pollan diet. The first is "Everything in moderation, including moderation" which I read in his book, Food Rules. The other is: Sin boldly!

The last time I was able to come here for lunch was a little over a year ago when I was writing my thesis. In the afternoons it's relatively quiet, the sun is coming in through the windows, and you're sitting with your burger, fries, and McSorley's while the regulars drink their day away at the bar.

I tried to snap this photo to capture that sense of things.

I don't think it conveys that sense, mostly because of my photographic skills, but also because it's even emptier than I remember it and the light's not quite right.

Also, upon closer inspection of the photograph I noticed this guy leering at me.

Bike Snob would characterize this gentleman as nonplussed.

For my meal I ordered the Bistro Burger, fries, and a McSorley's.

When I first moved to New York, I had the impression that Corner Bistro had the best burger. But the times I went the burger tended to be a bit crumbly. Well, today the burger tasted fantastic. I don't know if it's the way they cooked it, the quality of the meat, my mood, or the fact that I haven't had a burger for a while, but it was awesome. Everything came together just right. The fries were done just okay, but they tasted great because I haven't had fries in a really long time (really long time when talking about fries for me is 2 weeks). And I think McSorley's beer is great, especially when it's only $2.50.

Corner Bistro
331 W 4th St (at Jane St)
New York, NY 10014

Joe's Shanghai vs. Joe's Ginger, the line

Last Saturday Mabel I went to Joe's Ginger with some of her Anesthesia collegues. I knew the line at Joe's Shanghai was going to be long at 8 pm, but this was ludicrous.

Compare that to the scene at Joe's Ginger.

I think we have a winner.

We were able to make a reservation for 16 people and they accommodated us well even considering that half the group was 30 minutes late and the last couple got there like 45 minutes late. I was initially envisioning a small, quick dinner, but I guess no one could resist the draw to soup dumplings, or something. Anyway, the more the merrier!

I don't know if I'll ever have the pleasure of ordering 16 orders of soup dumplings again. Our main waiter spoke very minimal English and was a little nervous about getting things right.

In the end, everything worked out. Mabel and I learned a while ago that we like eating 3 orders between the two of us. I think that's a little on the high side compared to the rest of this cohort, because I ate a lot more than that.

For some reason, I liked this bill.

Although it was all Chinese to me. Turned out to be $17 per person which included 14 beers. Can't complain about that.

Joe's Ginger
25 Pell St
New York, NY 10013

Monday, January 25, 2010

La Maison du Chocolat Midtown

I stopped by La Maison du Chocolat after an interview today to pick up some thank you macarons.

Mabel and I were locked out of our building Saturday night (what are the chances that both of us would forget our keys?) and none of the people who held our spares were in. So we had to buzz and wake up our next door neighbor, crawl out their window onto the fire escape, and then break into our apartment.

So I made my way in the rain to the Rockefeller Center location. A great feature of the LMC in midtown is that you don't have to go outside from the subway to get to it, which was a nice bonus on this very, very rainy day.

They were giving out sample chocolates! Since I made the trip, I figured I should get something for ourselves, so I got an extra box of macarons and also this cookie thing.

I figured for $5.50 it better be awesome.

It's called a Bouchee Florentin and it's pretty good. Crunchy and toasty with a lingering flavor of orange peel, but I'd much rather be eating a Levain cookie for that kind of money.

La Maison du Chocolat (Midtown)
30 Rockefeller Plz (49th St, btn 5th and 6th Ave)
New York, NY 10112

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mamoun's Falafel and Third Rail Coffee

I really wanted to eat a burger or pizza for lunch today, but I pigged out on pork soup dumplings last night at Joe's Ginger and I'm roasting a leg of lamb tonight, so I figured falafel would be a good compromise. Is falafel bad for you? I can't tell by just looking at the nutritional information on it. You could go either way, but it's real food, mostly vegetables, and a reasonable serving size.

We ordered Taim a few days ago so Mabel could see what all the fuss was about. She thinks Sam's Falafel is better, so I figured that I'd go see for myself.

On my walk over I saw that Red Mango had closed!

Oh no! I really like Red Mango. We're Pinkberry fans too, but I started noticing that I always get dyspeptic after eating Pinkberry. Not so with Red Mango, and now it's gone! I don't know what happened, but I guess it never got as popular as Pinkberry. It did get some minimal hype back in 2008 but I guess it was not enough.

That was depressing, but on to Sam's. As I was walking up Thompson, I remembered that it's Sunday and I realized that Sam's was going to be closed. This happened the last time I tried to go. Drat!

So I settled on Mamoun's. On my way to Mamoun's, I saw a place called Third Rail Coffee.

I ran out of coffee at home, so I hadn't had my cup of coffee yet. So I stopped by. A pretty good cup of coffee, on the strong, somewhat peppery side of things. Their House Blend is from Intelligentsia Coffee which is a roaster based in Chicago, and I picked up some of those beans to take home with me.

I finally got my lunch at Mamoun's.

It's awfully difficult to take a picture with an iPhone with only one free hand.

It was only $2.50 for a falafel. I forgot how ridiculously cheap it was. And it was made faster than I could put the change in my pocket. It tasted very good. The texture of the falafel was excellent. It is in a different class from Taim, but it is a respectable falafel nonetheless and certainly a great value.

Red Mango (CLOSED!)
182 Bleecker St (btn Macdougal St and Sullivan St)
New York, NY 10012

Third Rail Coffee
240 Sullivan St (near W 3rd St)
New York, NY 10012

The Original Mamoun's
119 MacDougal St (near W 3rd St)
New York, NY 10012

Penn food trucks

I was at a UPenn interview at the end of the week and ran across a gauntlet of food trucks.

They lined both sides of Spruce St for a block between 36th and 37th St. I'd forgotten about these carts. I used to get cheesesteaks and roast beef sandwiches here when I did lab work at Penn in the summer of 2000.

Someone has set up an awesome website mapping and rating all of the trucks in the area at

I ended up getting a bowl of fruit.

Lots of food trucks
Spruce St between 36th and 37th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Orleans 2009

The American Society of Anesthesiologists annual convention was in New Orleans last year in October. A bunch of us from NYU went together. We really enjoyed the trade fair, where we got to see all sorts of new and fancy anesthesia equipment. It felt nerdy, but it was a lot of fun. Abbott Laboratories had a giant inflatable sevoflurane bottle.

It took me a while to convince my friends to take a picture with me.

We had some good eating in New Orleans. We ate at Cochon, which features Cajun cuisine.

Everything we ordered was delicious. I tried alligator for the first time (Jason O. is right - tastes like chicken). The BBQ oysters were really good, too.

We also went to August, a fancier restaurant. Here are a bunch of us fancypants.

The restaurant seemed like it was in a building that used to be a house. Our table was in a room that looked like someone's old library. It was nice. Fleurise loved the ambiance.

I had to order the foie gras done three ways.

There were seven of us. In addition to the good food, August graciously agreed to split the bill for us seven ways. Incredible!

930 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 588-2123

Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130-2408
(504) 299-9777

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I had lunch at Taim today.

Serious Eats reports this place as having the best falafel in New York.

Mabel and I got falafel platters here about a year ago. I remember it being very good, but not ridiculously good. Then we forgot about the place until it came up in conversation over dinner with Crystal's friends last night.

So I stopped by this morning and got a falafel sandwich.

It was really good. I like the sandwich way better than the platter. I got it with whole wheat pita and green falafel. The bread is super fresh, the falafel is super green, and everything's extremely satisfying and wholesome-feeling. It doesn't supplant my good memories of L'As du Fallafel, but it definitely is my favorite falafel on this side of the Atlantic.

While I was eating, someone put a stuffed Top Cat on the bicycle next to mine.

I'm not sure what to make of it.

222 Waverly Place (near 7th Ave and Perry St)
New York, NY 10014

Monday, January 18, 2010

Money, honey

Mabel went to prepare sliced bananas with honey this morning only to find that our opened jar of honey had crystallized.

About a year ago I asked Mabel to pick up some money on the way home. She came back with a bottle of honey. So we had some non-crystallized honey on hand today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chinatown and Little Italy, January 17, 2010

I had my heart set on going to Jackson Heights today, but it was forecast to rain so we changed the plan to chicken soup at the Mee Sum Coffee Shop and a rice ball from Alleva Dairy.

We took the D to Grand Street and made our way to the Mee Sum Coffee Shop.

I've already written about the Mee Sum Coffee Shop, but to summarize, it's one of my favorite places for chicken noodle soup. It's cheap and chickeny, although not at chickeny as I first remember it (probably more to do with my recollection than anything else). They dry salt their chicken.

Mabel forgot about the generous portion size, and I'm always surprised by the price. Today it was $3.75 per bowl of salted chicken noodle soup.

I noticed that they don't actually have a coffee machine. They brew using metal funnels.

They started selling Chinese tamales, so I bought one. It reminded me of the closing of the May May Bakery across the street a couple years ago.

We wended our way across Pell, down Mott, and then across Mosco where we saw some interesting road work going on.

Looks kind of miserable doing that in the rain. I don't think they have a good union contract.

We made our way up Mulberry where this dog regarded us.

Then arrived at Tasty Dumpling.

That hotel building to the right wasn't there 3 years ago. Even though the neighbors have changed, the price has stayed at $8 for 50 frozen dumplings. We picked up 100 for our freezer. Another thing that hasn't changed is the gambling in the park across the street.

We continued up Mulberry untill we got to Alleva Dairy at Grand Street.

David R. told Mabel that we need to try their rice ball.

He also claims that the smoked mozzarella is the best in the land.

The mozzarella was way larger than we could hope to eat, but they happily cut it in half for us (still a lot for just the two of us). They microwaved the rice ball for us and we ate it right in the store.

It was really good. Mabel says, "You could taste the cheese but couldn't see it. That was pretty cool." I thought it was kind of chewy and nicely gummy, and satisfying. It was the best Italian rice ball I've ever had although the only other ones I've tried are from Faicco's. But I could believe that they are the best in the city. (Mabel's note: There was a lot of stuff mixed into the rice ball making it pretty tasty.)

When we got back home, we tried their mozzarella.

It was good, but not as evocative as Joe's Dairy's smoked mozzarella. The smokiness was there, but the texture was not as good as it could have been. I think it was because it wasn't as fresh as Joe's, being a Sunday and all. Of course, Joe's is closed on Sundays so they don't sell anything but fresh mozzarella. Mabel and I bought 2 big pieces of smoked Joe's mozzarella last Christmas and let it sit for a few days in my parents' fridge before eating it. It wasn't nearly as good either. So, not a fair comparison today. We'll have to come back during a weekday.

Anyway, after leaving Alleva we walked down Grand Street, on our way to the subway, debating whether or not to pick up some roast meats from Deluxe Food Market when we ran across this shop.

They were selling fresh tofu! We asked for a small container of it.

When we got back home it was still warm. Topped with a little soy sauce and vinegar, it was tasty.

Not as sublime as the tofu from En, but for $1 it was very good. I wouldn't make a special trip for it, but it was nice being able to buy tofu from a place that actually makes it themselves.

Just before hopping back on the subway we stopped by Ocean Star Market to pick up little bananas.

I don't think I've ever bought seafood here, only produce, and usually at the last minute like today.

So we didn't get to do Jackson Heights today, and the rain was kind of miserable, but Mabel deemed it "a highly successful venture" and I agree.

Mee Sum Coffee Shop
26 Pell St (between Mott and Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013

Tasty Dumpling
54 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013

Alleva Dairy
188 Grand Street (at Mulberry)
New York, NY 10013

Tung Woo Co.
230 Grand St (btn Elizabeth and Bowery)
New York, NY 10079

Ocean Star Market Corp
250 Grand St (at Chrystie St)
New York, NY 10002

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Alici anchovies and green beans with rice

I started making this dish for lunch this past week.

I use Alici anchovies bought from Murray's, blanched green beans, and rice. These are my favorite white anchovies. I like them better than any I've eaten from Citarella, even from the ones made in house at Lupa and Otto (all of which can sometimes feel a bit slimy). The Murray's description says that they are from Italy and marinaded in vinegar and herbs.

The first time I ever had non-canned anchovies like these was when I visited San Sebastian in 2002. They appeared on various kinds of pintxos. I never thought I'd get a chance to eat them again, at least in the US, until I just happened to find them a few years after arriving in New York.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dry Sausage

I needed a way to avoid eating lunch at the Au Bon Pain at Bellevue (the ones who ousted our beloved Towers Cafe). I knew I couldn't do pasta and sauce anymore (both storebought for convenience and cheapness) - I did that my whole first year of anesthesia residency and seriously needed a break from the combo. After I spied some leftover dry sausage in the fridge, I tried cubing it and adding it to some rice and a random veggie. It was surprisingly good! After the sausage is warmed up in the microwave, it ends up tasting kind of like fancy spam. The sausage is even better fried - you don't even need to add oil because the sausage is oily enough on its own. Am I allowed to fry dry sausage?

I got excited about my new idea, and got a little carried away the next time I went grocery shopping.

I had already bought two dry sausages at Murray's, but then when I went to Citarella, I saw the sopressata, and I remembered Rufino telling me that that was his favorite type. So I bought that, too. Dave then told me that Faico's has their own famous handmade sausage. Drat. I guess I'll get to it eventually.

Citarella West Village and the switch to brown rice

The Citarella in the West Village is the closest good supermarket in our neighborhood. I like Citarella in general. They have the best seafood and service is great.

At their deli/appetizing counter, I saw grilled artichoke hearts which I had never noticed before. I bought two and the guy gave me an extra one for free!

I quartered them and tossed with lemon and olive oil. They were delicious.

Mabel couldn't believe that you could just buy them. No pile of discarded artichoke parts. No need to fire up the grill to grill them. The thought of making artichokes from scratch is now like the thought of making french fries from scratch.

I also got 2 stone crab claws and some fresh Spanish mackerel fillets.

We saw stone crab claws advertised all over in Fort Lauderdale, but they were so expensive we didn't get them while we were down there. We've never had these before, but they were really nice and fun to eat.

Mabel thought it was really cool that the claws are strong enough to break through oyster shells. But she was a bit horrified by the harvesting of the claws.
Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s). To be kept, claws must be 2.75 inches (70 mm) long, measured from the tips of the immovable finger to the first joint. If both claws are legal size they may both be taken. Studies by the state of Florida have shown that removing both claws do not harm the Stone Crab in any way when removed properly. In fact numerous studies have shown that by removing both claws Stone Crabs are forced to eat sea grass which has been proven to be more healthy for their diet and regenerate their claws faster ... ( from Wikipedia)

So they lose both claws, but at least they're eating better. I'm not sure how to think about that. All I know is that if I were an oyster I'd be glad.

Mackerel is simpler. It's one of our favorite fishes, and I'm still not sure why it hasn't caught on. I most closely associate scombroid food poisoning with mackerel (and bluefish), but I don't think most other people do. So I'll put in a prediction: mackerel will be the trendy fish of 2012. It's got everything. It's got to be really fresh when it's sold fresh, it's flavorful, it's supposed to be healthy, and eating it is somewhat environmentally sensitive because it's so plentiful.

I decided to change things up a bit and poached it according to an excellent Asianesqe Mark Bittman recipe.

Turned out well, and as a bonus our apartment is not smoky. As you can see, the rice is brown. I picked up Nishiki brand brown rice today.

This trial of brown rice marks a great shift in our diet. Mabel went through a phase years ago when she tried to switch to brown rice but just didn't like it. She refused to try it again, that is, until I made a dinner with lots of other good stuff to weaken her defenses. Aren't I diabolical? It turns out that she never tried the Nishiki brand (which is what we sometimes buy for white rice), and she likes it. I like it too. I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, but this brown rice tastes like pleasantly al dente white rice. We're not planning on giving up white rice at all, just hoping that we can make more use of brown rice.

424 6th Ave (at W 9th St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 874-0383