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On Restaurants: Trip to India and Brazil…in NY

Our culinary explorations have been quite successful as of lately. Diesel and I have continued our non-systematic quest of the good (albeit weird at times), the original, and the new in the NY food universe (yes, when it comes to NY, the point of reference is not just the world, but the universe). Our latest visits:

Momofuku

*Met our friend Heidi from Seattle at the Momofuku Ssäm hotspot (as oppposed to the noodle one). The 30-minute wait worked up our appetite.

*Setting: Communal tables, where the guys next to us offered us their short ribs dish. They also invited us to go to the Wu Tang Clan show. Gotta give it to them NY guys, plus we got free food. Pay it forward: we shared our brussel sprouts with another couple.

*Menu: 1) Brussel sprouts, a yummy original, sautéed in fish sauce, chili flakes and peppered with crunchy sesame seeds, scallions and seaweed, 2) Whipped tofu with sea urchin, an interesting and tasty choice. 3) Pork buns, the restaurant’s specialty.

Notes: Since I’m looking at NY as an extended trip (while I travel there are no dietary restrictions including the consumption of red meat and pork), I was more than happy to try them, and as Diesel put it, it was greasy pork goodness. Incidentally, Diesel met David Chang, Momofuku’s onwer. He is an FCI alum and was there as a board member evaluating the students’ final exam.

Rating: ***

Banjara

*Setting: Acting as the portal to Little India, Banjara prides itself in its homemade curries. With several tables crammed together, the focus was on the delicious food and efficient service.

*Menu: 1) Garlic nan with dips and a delectable Indian crepe filled with potatoes, onions and nuts (dhakshin se shuru), 2) Spicy lamb in a creamy yogurt sauce (pasanda lamb) and creamed lentils (makhan wala dal).

Next: Everything was delicious and we will definitely be back, as their version of lamb pot pie came highly recommended. As it turns out, 10best.com voted Banjara one of the city’s top 10 Indian spots.

Rating: ***

Chickie Pig’s

*Setting: Literally across the street. Narrow space with warm orange-colored walls. Family-owned and run. Husband, aka pizza maker. Wife, aka line cook, hostess, waitress, bus boy. Mother-in-law, aka line cook. Son, aka waiter, bus boy. Daughter, aka waitress. Random Mexican guy, aka cook.

*Menu: 1) Virgin pie (marinara and romano), 2) Fig pie. Pretty good, the brick oven-cooked thin crust gets bonus points.

*Notes: After chatting a bit with the waitress, I detected a hint of Brazilian accent. I whispered to Diesel: “She’s Brazilian.” Tactlessly, he practically attacked the daughter with the question: “Are you Brazilian?,” which yielded a hesitant “Half” response. More chatting ensued in the middle of the craziness of running a packed restaurant, but the owner, Elisabete from Rio, was cool enough to bring me back to the kitchen to introduce me to her mom, who marveled in my Asianness as she exclaimed how good it was to meet a fellow Brazilian, and even more so being the little Chinese kind. We’ll definitely go hang out with them again. Elisabete also gave me hope that one day, Diesel WILL be able to speak Portuguese, just like her American husband.

Rating: **

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One Response

  1. […] going to the Momofuku Noodle Bar. Just like it’s Ssam counterpart, which I had been to with Heidi, this place is a must for great reinterpretations of old Chinese classics. I had the veggie ramen, […]

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