The idea of using parathas instead of tortillas to make tacos came via a restaurant I passed while wandering around New York City. The place was called Goa Taco and the name was intriguing enough for me to note it down in my phone; however, it was only a couple weeks ago that I went through said notes and finally looked up their website. Yeah, there were tacos, but their shells were using flaky Indian flatbreads – parathas. Their fillings weren’t limited to Indian or Mexican ones either; anything went, really!

My thoughts turned to this idea on the weekend, when I needed to come up with some kind of brunch with what we had in our cupboards and fridge. It turns out sweet potatoes keep very well in my cupboards. While onions and regular potatoes tend to sprout faster than I can cook with them, the sweet potatoes are still firm and delicious; I now keep a few in my cupboards for days like this. And we always keep a packet of frozen parathas in the freezer. Oh yes, and that bottle of salsa verde (the Mexican kind made with tomatillos) needed using up. Yes, we had brunch!

Not too many leaves were required as they were mainly garnish in my first paratha taco! Definitely gonna blog this one soon.

Sweet Potato Paratha Tacos
serves 2 as a light brunch

2 small sweet potatoes or 1 large, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and smoked paprika
4 frozen roti paratha
Salsa verde
A handful of salad leaves
A large handful of grated cheese (I think mine was a Lancashire)
A handful of toasted seeds
A bit of fresh coriander

Fry the sweet potato slices with a little oil in a frying pan with a little heat. They should be soft in just a few minutes – let them colour a little. When they come out of the pan, dust them with a little salt and smoked paprika. In the same pan, cook the roti paratha according to package instructions. When they’re cooked, fold them in half and distribute the sweet potatoes between them. Dollop on the salsa verde and chuck in some salad leaves, grated cheese, toasted seeds and fresh coriander. Devour.

I had been Googling for places to eat in Boston and I gotta say, Boston is one major foodie city. I was there with colleagues for work and in just one week, I managed to eat very very well and very very easily (I made bookings for almost everything only 1-2 days prior). High on my list was Myers+Chang, a restaurant owned by Christopher Myers and Joanne Chang (the latter is also the pastry chef and owner of the very popular Flour Bakery) featuring an Asian fusion menu. I was intrigued. And on Mondays and Tuesdays, they have a Cheap Date Night offer – set menus for two for $45. Budget menu? Excellent! Five colleagues and I were game.

The place (in South Boston) is a bit of a walk from the closest metro station and it being Monday night, the streets were empty – a huge contrast from the hip hop music blasting through the packed restaurant. Between the six of us, we ordered one of each of the three available Cheap Date Night menus. Everything came out at once, necessitating the addition of another table, but I’ll break them down here.

The “Bro Date”

Their Green Papaya Slaw, chilis, peanuts, fish sauce had a good chilli heat that was unexpected. Though it’s “fusion” cuisine, the seasonings haven’t been dumbed down.

Green Papaya Slaw

We had no idea what to expect with the Crispy Arctic Char Roll, nori, hot Chinese mustard but what arrived was fantastic. It’s a whole piece of arctic char wrapped in a spring roll wrapper and fried – gorgeous.

Crispy Arctic Char Roll

Of course, the Grilled Pork Belly Porchetta, shiitake, black vinegar, soft egg was one of my favourites! You can’t go wrong with tender pork belly and a soft boiled egg!

Grilled Pork Belly Porchetta

Spicy Silky Tofu, peppered pork, scallions, kimchee was pretty good, though perhaps lacking in spice.

Spicy Silky Tofu

The “Girls Night Out”

The Fresh Rolls, herbs, lettuce, tofu, chili peanut sauce were very much like the Vietnamese summer rolls.

Fresh Rolls

I love anything to do with roasted or fried cauliflower so the Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Bites, pickled shallots, fresh mint, toasted rice was right up my street.

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Bites

A particular favourite of the table was the Kale and Sungold Salad, Korean chili vinaigrette, crispy shallots. Kale salad! I mean, really! It’s excellent!

Kale and Sungold Salad

The only slight dud in this menu was the Black Pepper Shanghai Noodles, tofu, shiitakes, peanuts, cilantro which I found a bit dull. Oh well, they’re fine as a filler-upper but I think there are other more exciting-sounding noodle or rice dishes on their regular dinner menu that might work here.

Black Pepper Shanghai Noodles

The “It’s Complicated”

Their Island Creek Oysters, yuzu snow were utterly fantastic – very fresh and set off with the slightly sweet and highly aromatic yuzu snow.

Island Creek Oysters

These grilled Peel and Eat Szechuan Shrimp, caramelized lemon, mouth numbing pepper were also excellent, with a kind of fusion Sichuan sambal thing going on on top.

Peel and Eat Szechuan Shrimp

I also enjoyed the Stuffed Rainbow Trout with Coconut Rice, tomato ginger jam, Penang spice – why haven’t I paired rainbow trout with sambal? It’s fantastic!

Stuffed Rainbow Trout with Coconut Rice

The Hakka Eggplant was very good, being all soft and silky, but the seasoning on it seemed a bit muted to me.

Hakka Eggplant

For six, this was just the right amount of food, leaving a little space for dessert (I was looking forward to trying Joanne Chang’s creations). It was a little difficult to split some of the items and I reckon it’s easier to split things between four rather than six. It’s clear though that these Date Night menus are well designed for two.

A Silky Chocolate Mousse, black and white sesame brittle, tamarind caramel was certainly very rich and very popular with our table.

Silky Chocolate Mousse

The Frozen Vanilla Bean Parfait, fresh orange granita was a cute play on the orange creamsicles I grew up with. And it was certainly superior to the creamsicles I grew up with.

Frozen Vanilla Bean Parfait

My favourite was the Lemon-Ginger Mousse Coupe, homemade fortune cookie and yes, there was a message inside the fortune cookie! I normally hate cheap fortune cookies but this homemade version, with lots of ginger in the batter, was outstanding, all buttery and crisp.

Lemon-Ginger Mousse Coupe

This is the kind of food I love – it may not be entirely “authentically” Asian but it tastes good and that’s what matters. I’m just upset I never had a chance to eat off their a la carte menu! There are so many things on their menu I want to eat: Korean bbq sloppy joe, fried chicken and ginger waffle, beef and broccoli chow fun…

Anyway, reservations are imperative for Cheap Date Nights.

Myers+Chang
1145 Washington St
Boston, MA
USA

Myers + Chang on Urbanspoon

Korean/Mexican fusion! That’s the basis behind Kimchinary, started by Hanna Soderlund as a street food stand, and which has currently popped up at the back in The Catch Bar in Shoreditch. If you’ve been following this trend for a while (as I have – I love both cuisines), you’ll know that it’s been around in the States for a while now and Kimchinary is not the only place here in London that’s explored Korean fusion like this. However, it’s possibly one of the most talked about in the city as its menu is quite novel and exciting.

Anyway, by invitation, a friend and I headed to The Catch Bar for the launch night of the Kimchinary popup.

Kimchinary

That night, we had the opportunity to try a number of the tacos on offer (the menu may change since we visited). Tacos are priced at £6 for two and all come on freshly made corn tortillas (excellent!).

Buttermilk fried squid – Pickled pineapple relish, kimchi guac, herb salad – was delicious. The squid was fried to perfection and the accompaniments were excellent with it. I would have liked a bit more heat though – maybe a bit more heat in the kimchi guac or some hot sauce on the side.

Buttermilk fried squid - Pickled pineapple relish, kimchi guac, herb salad

To my surprise, the Braised cavolo nero – Soy pickled enoki, kimchi puree, queso fresco – was one of my favourites that night. There was some great contrast between the ‘green’ cavolo nero, silky mushrooms, tangy cheese. It was very well balanced.

Braised cavolo nero - Soy pickled enoki, kimchi puree, queso fresco

Corn flake chicken thigh – Doenjang buttered corn, potato salad, crispy chicken skin – was promising but needed a bit of kimchi to give it all a kick up the backside. There was a bit too much salt and something sour like lime was required to balance out the oily and creamy.

Corn flake chicken thigh - Doenjang buttered corn, potato salad, crispy chicken skin

“Bulgogi” ox cheek & tongue – Radish kimchi, blackened spring onion, horseradish – the bulgogi beef was delicious and the horseradish did give it all a great kick. I only wished there was more kimchi. Well, to be honest, I absolutely adore kimchi so I’d like lots of it all the time!

"Bulgogi" ox cheek & tongue - Radish kimchi, blackened spring onion, horseradish

The only non-taco we tried that night was the Dukbokki – Rainbow chard, crispy shallots (£4) – and this was my favourite thing to eat that evening. The sticky rice cakes had been deep fried, with a great crust, and then coated with a spicy sweet sticky sauce. Silky strands of chard and crispy shallots and coriander and sesame seeds completed the delectable bowlful.

Dukbokki - Rainbow chard, crispy shallots

Overall, the little bites need a bit more heat and a squeeze of lime here and there but they’re fine little treats otherwise, especially with drinks; I’m sure everything will be ironed out with time. Service at The Catch Bar, however, needs improving. But then I realise that this is a bar, not a restaurant, so I guess that’s ok. Kind of.

Thanks again to Hanna for the invitation! Kimchinary will be at The Catch Bar for three months from January 17.

Kimchinary at The Catch Bar
22 Kingsland Road
Shoreditch
London E2 8DA

I first heard of Can Kenji over on gourmet traveller and immediately looked into it; to my surprise and to Blai’s also, it was situated only about a 10 minute stroll from Blai’s parents’ flat and we (I, Blai and Blai’s mother) found ourselves strolling over to try their Japanese-Spanish/Catalan fusion food for dinner one night. It was no surprise that it was a tiny unassuming place that they must have walked by many times before without realising there was a restaurant there. I myself would never have looked into dining at a fusion restaurant but it’s got a few excellent reviews online and our need to book a few days in advance confirmed its popularity.

Their menu was full of things you want to eat and we set about selecting what we thought was a nice little range. We started with an Assortit de sushi, sharing by somehow choosing the bits that pleased us most. The tuna maki rolls were made with tuna belly which melted in the mouth; the fish we had at Can Kenji was all beautifully fresh.

Assortit de sushi

A Tataki de bonítol amb salmorejo was topped with fried garlic chips, enhancing the garlic already in the cold tomato and bread soup. This dish made fusion proud, the thick slices of seared fish and the sweet yet acidic soup together making for a happy mouthful.

Tataki de bonítol amb salmorejo

I was originally skeptical about the combination of cheese and prawns in the Broqueta de llagostí, espàrrecs, tomàquet sec i formatge Idiazábal (skewer of prawn, asparagus, sun dried tomato and Idiazábal cheese) but again, to my surprise, they were fabulous.

Broqueta de llagostí, espàrrecs, tomàquet sec i formatge Idiazábal

Less impressive were the Mandonguilles de xiitake i llagostins arrebossats (battered shiitake and prawn meatballs). They were the letdown of the night as the battered prawn stuffed mushrooms soaked up the dashi broth in which they sat and became soggy lumps that fell apart at the touch of a chopstick. They were tasty but could have improved in texture.

Mandonguilles de xiitake i llagostins arrebossats

This was made up for by the Hamburguesa Can Kenji. What I initially mistook for melted cheese turned out to be a fried egg, its oozing yolk gooing all over the tender beef patty. Covered in beefy, oniony gravy, the Japanese style hamburger was served with a cold potato puree and a dressed salad. I could have just eaten this with rice…. and you can for lunch as it’s on their menú del dia. Optional at dinner time is topping the patty with a slice of foie gras. (Does any place in London serve these Japanese style hamburgers? I know they are quite popular in Japan.)

Hamburguesa Can Kenji

Oozing Egg Yolk

We’d left plenty of room for desserts and chose three to share between us all. A Pan cake Japonés “Dorayaki” de Xocolata (yup, a chocolate dorayaki!) was two homemade pancakes sandwiching a rich chocolate filling; the traditional version with red bean paste was also available if you need to stick to the classics.

Pan cake Japonés “Dorayaki” de Xocolata

The Flam de boniato (sweet potato flan) was silky smooth and gorgeous. I love the use of those orange sweet potatoes in desserts.

Flam de boniato

Absolutely delicious, and the most interesting, was the Gelatina de fruita amb shiratama, a bowl of crushed up jelly and fruit topped with chewy boiled sticky rice cakes and a brown sugar syrup. Their desserts were definitely worth ordering.

Gelatina de fruita amb shiratama

It was quite the bargain too – with green tea for us all, our meal at Can Kenji came to a little over €50. I’d love to return for lunch and I believe Blai’s mother will definitely be back for it – they offer both a bargainous menú del dia and even a small tasting menu then. We were warned that reservations were even necessary then, so yes, do book ahead if you’d like to dine there.

Can Kenji
Rosselló 325
Barcelona
Spain

It was my first night in New York and I managed to eat at Momofuku Ssam Bar: what an excellent start to the trip! I’d arranged to meet Don (Cocktailian on Flickr) and Robyn (roboppy on Flickr and TGWAE) that night and had brought along a few of my colleagues too. Altogether there were six of us and that meant lots of stomachs to hold lots of food and we could try a good chunk of the menu.

We left Don to the ordering, he being a regular there. Quite a few dishes were marked and I did start to worry that we’d never finish them all but somehow we did clean all the plates. I should mention here that it was my first time meeting Don and he’s just a wealth of knowledge on the food scene in New York; he also recommended an amazing sushi restaurant to us but that’s for another blog post. And Robyn is just so cool and nice and pretty awesome all around – I’d met her before when she came to London for a short visit. We’d all known each other through our Flickr photostreams.

Did I mention there were a lot of dishes? This is what came out to our table.

Diver sea scallops – pickled cherries, lemon
These were incredibly fresh and the lemon came in the form of a puree or creme under the scallops. Delicious.

Diver Sea Scallops

Cured hamachi – edamame, horseradish, pea leaves
The black-greenish stuff on top of the hamachi is furikake, Japanese sprinkles normally put on rice. It was great textural contrast to the hamachi (yellowtail).

Cured Hamachi

Sliced Long Island fluke – yuzu kosho, peaches
Uh oh. I’m going to have to admit that I can’t remember much of this one other than the fish was very fresh and in a fruity sauce?

Sliced Long Island Fluke

Seasonal pickles
I insisted on these as I’m a big pickle fan! There was kimchi, daikon, carrot, Asian pear, cucumber, ramps, mushrooms, beetroot, etc. I was quite a pig on these, wanting to try at least one of each type – and I loved them all. It seems I like any pickled vegetal matter.

Seasonal Pickles

Ossabaw lardo – pickled carrots
We all got a lesson that day on the Ossabaw pig (quick story: feral pigs living on an island and they have some special biochemical system so they’re popular with medical research – and with eaters it seems!). These thin slices of cured lard melted in the mouth.

Ossabaw Lardo

Eckerton Hill Farm’s tomato salad – fried tofu, opal basil
Gorgeous tomatoes. And it was some fantastic, crispy fried tofu; I like the idea of using tofu instead of bread croutons.

Eckerton Hill Farm's Tomato Salad

Steamed buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions
Oh my goodness. This is a Ssam Bar classic and I can see why. Don told us that the pork belly was first cooked sous vide which gives it its melt in the mouth consistency. The bread too is soft and steamed and it all goes down quite easily. I was savouring mine, taking itty bitty bites to make it last longer! I want this now!

Steamed Buns

Inside a Steamed Bun

Meacham country ham (Sturgis, Kentucky), Benton’s Smokey Mountain country ham (Madisonville, Tennessee)
See the sauce on the side? I thought it was mustard at first but nope, it’s red-eye gravy. That’s a gravy made with coffee (geddit? red-eye?). The smokiness of the ham and the caffeinated gravy did go well together – and yup, it was some mighty fine ham. (The bread was freaking good and Don told us that it was from the Sullivan Street Bakery.)

Meacham Country Ham

Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Ham

Bahn mi – ham and chicken liver terrine sandwich
Another classic. The filling was really lovely but I wish the bread was the more usual light white bread used in these Vietnamese sandwiches. That said, the bread used here was really very good otherwise and again from the Sullivan Street Bakery.

Banh Mi

Roasted stone bass – Jersey corn, chantarelles, pancetta, lima beans
Fresh fish and it wasn’t nice but not something I would crave. But that’s just me.

Roasted Stone Bass

Bev Eggleston’s pork shoulder steak – zucchini, buttermilk dressing
Oh, this was one of my favourites that night. I really can’t turn down a good pork dish.

Bev Eggleston's Pork Shoulder Steak

Spicy pork sausage and rice cakes – Chinese broccoli, crispy shallots
This one was quite spicy with a few chilies and some Sichuan peppercorns within. The rice cakes were Korean deok and were fried – so slightly crisp outsides and heavy, chewy innards. I liked this dish!

Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes

Crispy pig’s head torchon (Newman’s Farm, MO) – sucrine, sugar plums
One in the party described this as “better than sex!”; I don’t think I’d go that far but it sure was good! My first bite was ok – quite meaty as I must’ve got a bit of cheek. The second bite burst into my mouth – amazing fatty goodness! If you’re wondering what sucrine is, as we all were, it’s the type of lettuce.

Crispy Pig's Head Torchon

Sichuan beef tendon – green mango, peanuts
Oooh, it seems I like tendon! When sliced thinly, it’s soft but with a gelatin feel.

Sichuan Beef Tendon

Crispy lamb belly and roasted loin (Four Story Hill Farms, PA) – cippolinis, violet mustard
The belly was soft and the loin tender and I preferred the flavour of the latter. I couldn’t discern the violet in the mustard.

Crispy Lamb Belly & Roasted Loin

Then all those were gone. We were all pretty full but still Don went ahead and ordered one each of the desserts!

Chocolate hazelnut croustillant – nectarine, cherry
Oooh, I do like chocolates with that crispy nutty fillling. But this wasn’t just a chocolate – it was like an oversized chocolate! It might seem like a small dessert but a little goes a long way.

Chocolate Hazelnut Croustillant

Tristar strawberry shortcake – corn, Kendall Farm’s creme fraiche
What I wasn’t expecting was the fresh kernels of corn in there! Nice twist on the classic.

Tristar Strawberry Shortcake

Blondie pie – cashews
This seemed to go down well at the table – strangely enough, I can’t remember much of this one as I only had one bite.

Blondie Pie

And the cost of all this decadence? $40 a head and that’s for all the food and a drink each to start. Further drinks can add up though and I have to thank Don for all the rest!

So, my other opinions. I loved the food and I loved the company but I didn’t love the loud music and dark room. It’s a little annoying having to shout at your companions to be heard and having to look very hard at the dish on the table to see each ingredient. And the waitstaff did have a habit of showing up all at once and talking over each other so some of the details of the dishes did get lost. But we’re really there for the food, no?

Thanks again, Don and Robyn! We’ll go back next time I’m in New York, won’t we?!

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Ave., corner of 13th and 2nd
New York, NY

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon