Sesame Buck Wheat Noodles because all the dumplings contain “Chicken Powder”
The inside of RedFarm looks like an American farm-to-table Bistro, lots of rustic wood decoration and red and white Gingham upholstery. The place also seemed to be overstaffed, there were a lot of good looking employees standing around not doing much. But RedFarm has picked up Zagat awards for Best Chinese and Best Dim Sum. although critics have referred to it as “Upper West Side Haute Chinese-American”. But accepting that, the food we had was good – Cold Sesame Noodles, Wok seared Greens Beans with Brussels Sprouts in a black bean sauce and Rice Noodles with Vegetables. The waiter told us that the plates were designed to be shared and that we should get three appetizers and two entrees – in reality this is probably way too much food because the Cold Sesame Noodle appetizer alone is big. I had the opportunity to try these dishes because, while the dumpling menu options are impressive, the dumplings were a fail. Continue reading
Mushroom and Sauerkraut Pierogi
With the closing of places like Leshko’s and Kiev over the past few years New York’s East Village is progressively losing its Eastern European flavor. With an old school diner vibe, Little Poland is one of the remaining holdouts where you can still get your stuffed cabbage. Borchst and pierogi fix. Oddly though Little Poland does not sell fried latka and the waiter gave us the stink eye when we inquired about them. My dining companions gave the stuffed cabbage excellent reviews, while I focused on the pierogi. Continue reading
The food cart
A lot of digital ink has a been dedicated to talking up the University of Pennsylvania’s food cart/truck scene, including favorable reviews of some Chinese food trucks. My walking tour of the carts and trucks found that most of the Chinese carts sold Americanized versions of Chinese food, very different from the strip of more traditionally minded Chinese food carts that have sprung up near Columbia University. One truck stood out for its name, “Real Le Anh Chinese Food” and its daily special, the Crab and Cheese dumpling. I had assumed that the prefix of “Real” meant that there was some sort of rivalry with another Le Anh cart or maybe a restaurant. But apparently the story is that Le Anh used to own two carts and sold one to a friend, adding “Real” to the name of her remaining cart in the process. The “Le Anh Chinese Food” cart is usually located just across the street. Real Le Anh Chinese Food cart sells a huge range of dishes, including a smattering of Vietnamese and Malaysian dishes. Continue reading
Sorry for missing a few posts lately, my work and travel schedule have been crazy lately. I have some new posts in the works, but I also have some more trips coming up, so the posts will may be a little less frequent this summer. Coming soon a review of a Chinese Food cart in Philly.
Pork Dried Shrimp and Cabbage Dumplings
Typically Vietnamese restaurants in New York do not serve dumplings, but Saiguette serves eight styles of dumplings. Saiguette is mainly a large busy kitchen with a small service counter and six stools at a tiny counter along the window. If you eat in, you will likely find yourself partially sitting on someone else’s lap. Surprisingly for a such a tiny place, they have a full menu of Banh Mi, Pho, Bun, Banh Hoi and other Vietnamese staples, but the vast majority of their business is take-0ut. Continue reading
My friend Mike from my college days just launched a cooking blog, “SquaredMeals.com“. He writes that his blog is a “…personal log of what I and my wife cook at home for our twin daughters, Willa and Phoebe. The name refers to both a square meal and what happened when we went from a family of two to a family of four. We try to make wholesome food prepared from scratch, and then we try to get Willa and Phoebe to eat it. It doesn’t always work out, and this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all.” The first post was for Bucatini all’Amatriciana, go check it out.
Bonito Shaving Dancing on top of Hot Takoyaki. (shot at Yakitori Taisho, in NYC)
Takoyaki are balled shaped Japanese dumplings made from a wheat flour batter filled with pieces of octopus. They are served with a Worcestershire like takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise drizzled on top and sprinkles of dried seaweed flakes and shavings of dried bonito. Good Takoyaki are served dangerously hot and the convection currents of hot air coming off the Takoyaki make the thin shavings of bonito dance and wave. The first time I saw the dance of bonito shavings I was mesmerized and that was the beginning of my love affair with Takoyaki.
A street vendor in Osaka named Endo Tomekichi is credited with inventing Takoyaki in 1935. He originally sold a batter based confection called choboyaki and began experimenting with adding additional ingredients to the batter. Inspired by Akashiyaki, he added octopus to the batter and Takoyaki were born. His street snack was a huge success and he was able to open a shop called Aizuya in the Nishinari ward of Osaka City; Aizuya still operates today. Tomekichi’s original recipe included no other ingredients, toppings, or sauces, just the batter balls with octopus filling. In 2006 Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan theme park opened the Takoyaki Museum, which sounds more like a Takoyaki food court than an actual educational institution. There is a branch of Aizuya at the “Musuem” along with four other vendors selling interpretations and variations on Tomekichi’s original dish.
I grabbed these dumplings pretty much at random out of the dumpling freezer case at H-Mart on 32nd street. The ChoripDong line of foods are distributed by Seoul Trading Inc, USA which has been in business for over 30 years (previously known as Seoul Shik Poom) distributing products from Korea, China and Southeast Asia to supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants across the US. Recent articles suggest they distribute over 2,000 different products. A google search also shows they have had a few run ins with the FDA [here, here, here, here], mainly for undeclared ingredients that are allergens.
Steamed and Pan Fried ChoripDong Dumplings
The ChoripDong Kimchi dumplings flavored with pork are excellent. Either pan fried or steamed the dumplings came out with a really juicy, flavorful filling. The cabbage kimchi filling has a medium spicy heat and satisfying crunch, while the pork flavor still comes through the kimchi heat. These dumplings are really large and if you take them right out of the freezer bag they take a long time to steam or pan fry. I recommend giving them a quick micro-wave blast to defrost them before you steam or pan-fry them.
I recently discovered that Mandoo Bar will sell you freshly made, raw dumplings, ten to an order, to take home. The dumplings are dusted with flour which absorbs the oil during pan frying, so you will need to use a bit more oil than usual to fry them. If you can pick these up before dinner and run home and cook them up, the dumplings taste super fresh. I got the seafood and the veggie dumplings both of which tasted great fried up at home. Mandoo Bar’s veggie dumplings are vegan.
Mandoo Bar Seafood Dumplings
Mandoo Bar Veggie Dumplings
Peacefood Cafe’s Shanghai Style Dumplings
Peacefood Cafe serves vegan fair that comes very close to the border that separates tasty vegan food from bad hippie food. The Boca Burger style burger comes topped with a weirdly mashed avocado and is then piled way too high with alfalfa sprouts. The Nachos seem to have been created by someone with only a passing familiarity with the dish. On the other hand the cheese cake is excellent and the dumplings are some of the best vegan dumplings I have tried. Continue reading