My birthday a month ago closed out with a fabulous dinner at Jungsik. I was so enamored by Jungsik when I first dined there in 2011 that I returned to have my birthday celebration dinner there.
The meal was incredible.
Miro and I repeated some old favorites like the Bibim and the Crispy Snapper. And thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the restaurant, we got to try quite a number of new dishes. Here are some highlights of the new dishes that made a big impression on us.
A very nice glass of champagne, a gift from the house, started off the celebratory dinner.
Amuse Bouche – Bulgogi Pizza
A wonderful savory bite, with a light kick of heat towards the end. Delightful.
Amuse Bouche – Ankimo (Monkfish Liver)
This was actually a work-in-progress dish that we received as a gift from the restaurant. I loved the creamy butteriness of the ankimo, yet it was still very light and sparkled on the tongue. This was our favorite item of all of the amuses.
Apple – Light foie gras mousse
The raspberry foie gras mousse amuse I enjoyed so much last time was transformed into a first course dish. The apple flavor was sweeter and slightly less acidic than the raspberry version. It was so smooth and creamy and lovely, we made short work of this.
Sea Urchin – Korean seaweed rice, crispy quinoa
Oh my god. I’m usually not one for dramatic theatrics and silly exaggerations, but I think my eyes might have rolled toward the back of my head at the first bite. What a perfect harmony of sweet creamy sea urchin; crisp-crunchy quinoa, umami-licious kimchi, and comforting rice! This dish, in a way, epitomizes the homey-comforting characteristics of Korean cooking that I love so much. Every bite sent a little jolt of happiness into my heart. To say that I was moved was an understatement.
Miyeok – Birthday meal
Another gift from the restaurant. The sommelier graciously presented this to our table, wishing me happy birthday. It was another hit! This shared similar comforting characteristics as the Sea Urchin dish, but was lighter and more vegetal in flavor profile (or maybe the correct description is “more sea plant-y”). Oh my, I thought this dish almost rivaled the Sea Urchin as my favorite new dish of the night. The Sea Urchin still won because I love my uni, but the Miyeok was a serious contender.
Arctic Char – Kimchi sabayon
I couldn’t resist ordering this because I love arctic char and love kimchi. I was not disappointed. Bread crumbs, sprinkled on top of the filet, provided a wonderful texture contrast. The kimchi sabayon, gentle and lovely, coated the fish in a light buttery sheen. Love love love.
Green Tea Creameux – Sweet red bean, roasted soy ice cream
A deconstructed version of… a number of various dessert items actually. The chief flavors, green tea and red bean, are classic in Asian desserts. The flavor profile may be traditional, but the technique and presentation definitely aren’t. I particularly liked the green tea ice cream. Miro said, “I don’t like green tea flavor normally, but I actually enjoyed this.” This just goes to show you how successful this dessert dish was for us.
It took us hours to finish this meal and what a spectacular dinner it was! Miro and I were dazzled, astounded, and awed throughout. Jungsik gifted us with a number of dishes and we were very grateful for the restaurant’s kindness and generosity. I want to thank the restaurant and its staff for giving me one of the most memorable birthday meals of my life.
Thank you, Jungsik, may you “live long and prosper”!
Full set of large resolution photos: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjy8zZ5M
2 Harrison Street
New York, NY 10013
Dim sum! Peking duck! The perfect foods for a celebratory birthday lunch! I requested for a table by the window and was happily accommodated with a nice 4-top for Miro and me. I love the summery green drapes in this section of the restaurant.
Shanghai Soup Dumplings
These soup dumplings were slightly larger than the ones I’d had at other restaurants in the city. Despite sagging with a generous amount of soup, the dough held together remarkably well. The soup was quite flavorful with a slight tinge of sweetness. Very good. However, I wish they hadn’t added the sugar into the dipping sauce. The dumplings were already sweet enough without the additional sugar. Just a traditional combination of vinegar and ginger would have done the job perfectly.
Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings
Very cute presentation, the dumplings had eyes. I had hoped for a more assertive snow pea leaf flavor in the filling, unfortunately, it was a bit too subtle. I normally don’t like to dunk non-soup dumpling dim sums in dipping sauces, but I actually had to use the (very delicious) house made dim sum dipping sauce to give them a kick in flavor. Despite this, the wrapper was perfectly made, giving just the right amount of resistance when meeting teeth.
Watercress Dumplings with Shrimp & Pork
Flavor-wise, Miro and I preferred these over the Shrimp & Snow Pea Leaf Dumplings. I loved the fresh, vegetal watercress taste. The fact that these contained pork might have also helped to make the dumplings delicious. The wrappers for these seemed to have contained a higher ratio of glutinous rice flour. Because we ate these last, by the time we got to them, the dumplings were stubbornly stuck to the paper lining. Forcefully ripping the dumplings off resulted in bits of the wrapper remaining behind, still stuck to the lining.
Whole Peking Duck
Quack! The star of the meal arrived. The moment I saw the state of the duck slices on the plate, I knew the restaurant had done this dish right. The fat underneath the skin was almost completely rendered off, leaving behind a super crispy skin. The skin! So many so-called peking duck specialist restaurants in the city don’t get it right. I was thrilled that Chinatown Brasserie pulled it off beautifully. When making a pancake wrap out of the duck slices, it’s important to get bits of the crispy skin along with the meat to ensure the perfect harmony of textures and flavors. I hadn’t had peking duck in quite some time and was super happy to eat such a great rendition. Watch Miro eat it below:
Don’t you wish you were here?
Finally, we ended the meal with some warm, puffy custard buns. It reminded me of eating an inside-out version of fried mini mantou buns dipped in condensed milk. There was something oddly satisfying about breaking into the plump baos with my teeth and feel the custard ooze out. Very nice.
All in all, a very satisfying and delicious meal. Chinatown Brasserie, despite being double or triple the prices of actual Chinatown restaurants, is worth it for the higher quality food and the much nicer ambiance. Stick with the dim sum and the peking duck, and you’ll have a great time.
For the full set of photos in larger resolution: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjy8rGUz
380 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10003-6933
Alain Allegretti’s new La Promenade des Anglais has been on my radar for a while. When Scoutmob offered a $20 coupon back in December, I snagged one. Last night, I dined at the restaurant for the first time with a friend. When we arrived at 6:30pm for our reservation, the dining room was already 70% full and abuzz with activities.
After placing our orders and as always, declining alcohol, a nice bread basket arrived, the breads warm and crusty. Being an olive bread fan, I, predictably, chose the olive baguette first and split it with my companion. Given the cuisine of the restaurant, the breads were served with olive oil, instead of butter.
Prosciutto and Clam Croquettes – Espelette chili oil
We started off with the most excellent Prosciutto and Clam Croquettes. At first, I tried to pick these up with my fork because I didn’t want to get my hands greasy since I was handling a camera throughout the meal. No go, the croquette was so soft and almost liquid in the center that the moment my fork pierced the crisp outer shell, the entire sphere fell apart. Despite this initial mishap, I have to say this was one of the best bites of fried bread dough I’d ever had and it turned out, this was my favorite dish of the meal. The diced clams, prosciutto, and whatever seasonings that went into the croquette were a delight on the taste buds. A perfect savory start.
Frog Legs Provençale – Garlic cream
We couldn’t resist ordering the frog dish. I haven’t eaten frogs in ages and have never had them done the French/Provençale way. While I thought the dish tasted great, the garlicky cream sauce usurped the more delicate taste of the frog legs. The frog legs became the medium for the cream sauce to shine, instead of the other way around like it should be. My friend’s comment, “You know… I couldn’t even tell this was frog.”
Provençale Fish Soup – Garlic croutons, Gruyère, classic rouille
This was where our opinions regarding the food diverged. We ordered this because the fish soup was supposed to be the chef’s signature dish, however, I was underwhelmed. First, the soup tasted under-salted. Good thing the bread here was served with salt, I took thorough liberties with it. After the soup was salted to my satisfaction, I still wasn’t wowed. The soup certainly tasted of oceany fish, but was it really worth being called a signature dish? I’m not sure. However, when I told my friend that I thought the soup bland, she looked surprised and thought it was perfectly good. So there you have it.
Ratatouille Raviolini – Chorizo tomato sauce, Manchego, zucchini blossom beignets
I did not try this dish. My dining companion said it was good.
Trofie – Heirloom tomatoes, capers, olives, lemon, ventresca tuna
Oh, this was fantastic! The pasta was perfect al dente with a great chew. The capers, olives, and the tomato sauce tasted like ocean breeze. As if that was still not oceany enough, the canned tuna belly strips, so fleshy and tasty, helped create a symphony of flavors and textures. Of course this was no ordinary canned tuna, but I was still surprised that canned tuna could be so delicious. Love.
Apple Tart – Ricotta almond gelato
The ice cream was lovely and the almond flakes delicious. Unfortunately, these were all the good things I could say about our Apple Tart. The apple slices were mostly bitter. The bitterness was not to the point of being unpleasant, but definitely tasted strange. Alas.
La Promenade des Anglais was somewhat of a mixed bag for me judging from one meal. The Prosciutto and Clam Croquettes and the Trofie were the standout dishes of the evening. I would not order the Fish Soup or the Apple Tart again. The restaurant was super busy on a Friday evening. The music choice that evening consisted mostly of pop/club dance songs. And since the restaurant was packed full, the noise level was considerable. This is not the place to go for a quiet, relaxing evening that’s for sure. However, if you want an energetic, lively restaurant to unwind for the night, La Promenade fits the bill.
La Promenade des Anglais
461 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
I’ve been meaning to try Sushiden’s chirashi (sashimi over sushi rice) for a while now. Finally got around to it tonight after work. Sushiden at 6th Avenue has a contemporary Japanese interior with wood accents and Japanese ornaments. The waitresses here wear Western-style uniforms during the lunch service, but change to yukata, tabi, geta, and all for the dinner service. Upon seating, I asked for tea and quickly placed my order. The food soon followed.
First, a small complimentary salad. You can choose either miso soup or salad if you order the chirashi.
Yay, it’s here! The chirashi came in two tiers. The larger tier consisted of cooked items over a layer of sushi rice, while the smaller tier consisted of raw fish pieces.
Fish-licious! There were eight varieties in the raw tier, three pieces each. The items were tuna, salmon, sea urchin, shrimp, scallop, mackerel, plus two fishes I didn’t recognize. Everything was delicious. I thought the shrimp was especially great.
The cooked tier consisted of denbu (pink, sugary fish powder), shiitake mushroom, crab sticks, eel, and tamago, all over a bed of warm sushi rice. I enjoyed the eel the most. I’ve always liked Sushiden’s eel. The tamago couldn’t compare to 15 East’s, but it was sufficient.
I couldn’t finish all the rice, because I needed to save room for dessert! I chose the warm red bean soup with rice cakes, because I was suffering from red bean withdrawal. The first sip made me sigh in happiness, very sweet and red bean-y. I loved the toasted rice cakes too. This was actually a pretty substantial dessert because the red bean soup was reduced to a thick consistency. I’d split it with another person next time.
What a satisfying meal that was. The chirashi at Sushiden is a very good deal and very good quality. It’s probably the most economical option on the menu. I highly recommend it for those starving times that you just want to chow down without having to bother with dainty nigiri.
123 West 49th Street
New York, NY
I haven’t been back to The Modern Bar Room in about two months. There’s been a few new items on the winter menu since my last visit. It was high time I returned for lunch today.
The Modern’s guest relations manager, Jason, had left for the soon-to-open North End Grill since my last meal at the restaurant. Despite his absence, I was still greeted familiarly and seated at what had become my usual / favorite table.
To start, a small tray of warm and crusty bread was presented along with a dish of excellent butter.
My chosen appetizer was the Alsatian Country Soup with pain d’épices, my favorite soup on the menu. In the summer, this soup contained Benton’s ham and rock shrimp, but the winter version replaced the shrimp with Nantucket Bay scallops. The soup tasted sweeter than I remembered, possibly due to the scallops, but it was just as satisfying and flavorful as last time. The pain d’épices was again a wonderful complement to the soup.
My entree was a completely new item I’ve never tried before, the Veal Cheek “Sauerbraten”. The veal cheek pieces were cooked to tender-falling-apart perfection, with a slight tang of vinegar. The parsnip puree beneath was a lovely sweet creaminess that helped to lighten the rich veal, and the wild mushrooms lent the entire dish a umami spark. Delicious.
Finally, dessert time. Again, I chose the new item on the menu, the Chestnut Sundae. The dish came in a tall glass, in alternate layers of Bailey’s ice cream, candied chestnut, caramel, and whipped cream, with two pieces of pecan biscuits on the side. I’m generally not a huge fan of whipped cream in dessert and thought the cream combined with caramel in this case made the dessert slightly too rich for my blood. Despite this, I still finished everything. I’m such a glutton.
My reservation time was quite late in the afternoon for lunch, yet the Bar Room was once again a full house, packed to the gills and abuzz with activity. May my favorite restaurant live long and prosper!
Dishes to try on the next visit: Scottish Salmon Tartare, Quail Terrine, Braised Tripe, Pistachio Dark Chocolate Dome.
The Bar Room at The Modern
9 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
I was very lucky to have caught this moment on camera. A resounding round of cheering went up all throughout the rink at the sight of the young man kneeling down before the young woman.
This was actually the second marriage proposal of the night. Ten minutes earlier, I was asked by a couple to take a picture of them in front of the giant Christmas tree, for the gentleman had just proposed five minutes prior.