My last few days in New York were mainly spent at a work conference in Brooklyn. There were still a lot of opportunities to dine well though!

Lunch one afternoon was at Hill Country Chicken, next door to Hill Country Barbecue Market. Their fried chicken was good but not a patch on that at Pies ‘n’ Thighs. I’ve been told I should just get fried chicken at Popeyes rather than these ‘fancy’ places though!

Hill Country Fried Chicken

That night, I made my way to Chinatown where I went in search of a branch of Xi’an Famous Foods. Their famous liang pi cold skin noodles were excellent and the kind of light comfort food that was just what I needed. The slippery noodles had been tossed with a vinegary chilli sauce with lots of shredded vegetables and bits of gluten.

Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles

I also ordered a spicy cumin lamb burger, another of their popular dishes. It was quite spicy but I felt that the lamb was a bit on the dry side; I would have preferred a bit of fat in there to give it all some moistness.

Spicy Cumin Lamb Burger

The next night, I was looking for a real New York institution as I was taking a guest out (hi, A!) and Katz’s Delicatessen came to mind. I’d not tried it and we were not disappointed! That pastrami was excellent!

Pastrami

Dinner

For me, I chose a soup and half sandwich combo. For the sandwich, their pastrami reuben, with plenty of pastrami topped with sauerkraut, melted cheese and Russian dressing. It nearly defeated me.

Half a Pastrami Reuben

On the side were two pickles – a very sour dill pickle and my preferred half pickled but still very crunchy pickle.

Pickles

My matzo ball soup was just ok – its chicken broth was just good enough. I had to leave most of it.

Matzo Ball Soup

We clearly over ordered. We ordered fries and I think we only had one or two. To drink, I had my very first chocolate egg cream, that fizzy concoction of chocolate syrup, milk, seltzer and no eggs. They featured heavily in the books that I read when I was younger and it was a bit of a thrill to finally taste one (it tastes exactly as you’d expect of the sum of its parts).

Chocolate Egg Cream and Fries

Dessert was easy enough; we just crossed the street to an extremely crowded (it was Friday night) Il Laboratorio del Gelato. Their gelati do change often so not all of their 200 flavours will be available. My Greek yoghurt and lemon ginger were very refreshing and my taste of their olive oil flavour…well, tasted of exactly that!

Greek Yoghurt and Lemon Ginger

Don’t forget to get a ticket as soon as you get in there or else you’ll be waiting for ages!

For lunch the next day, I brought another old friend and colleague back to Hill Country Barbecue for a brisket sandwich. A soft potato bun attempted to sandwich together a mound of peppery chopped brisket (both lean and moist) with lots of barbecue sauce. Good stuff.

Brisket Sandwich

That night, I met up with Diana and Michele and we had dinner at Cocoron which specialises in homemade soba. Homemade soba! I’d certainly not tried that and it sounded excellent.

To start though, we split a couple of cold appetisers: spicy cucumber…

Spicy Cucumber

… and a refreshing off-menu homemade tofu.

Homemade Tofu

The soba! I chose a cold dish for that abnormally hot day; this was their sansai soba, which came with a whole myriad of vegetable toppings.

Cold Sansai Soba

I poured the dipping sauce on top, mixed it all together and slurped down the delicious and surprisingly al dente noodles.

Cold Sansai Soba

For my very last lunch in New York, prior to my evening flight, I went with a suggestion from Diana, who proffered the name of El Tenampa when I told her I had a hankering for Mexican food. I took a subway train further into Brooklyn and got out at what appeared to be quite a suburban neighbourhood. After walking a few blocks, I found El Tenampa, a Mexican shop (‘supermarket’ would be pushing it) with a cafe in the back.

I arrived just before its noon opening time and so sat waiting in the dark with a couple of Mexican families. At noon, the lights were turned on and we queued to order at the counter. When our food was ready, we’d either be shouted at or pointed at if we were watching and it was up to the counter again to pick up your food. When you’ve finished eating, it’s back up to the counter again to settle your bill.

The best and most stressful part of the whole experience was the trip to the salsa bar! What should grace the top of your tacos? There was green salsa, red salsa, radish slices, lime wedges, pickles and, rather amazingly, guacamole. Guacamole at a help-yourself salsa bar. Of course, I guac’ed up all my chosen tacos: lengua, cesina, chorizo, and pastor.

Tacos

These were some legit tacos. I also had a tamal de mole. I love tamales and this was my first filled with the classic mole poblano sauce.

Tamal de Mole

To my surprise, there was a half a chicken thigh in there too, bone and all! And this was one fine tamal.

Tamal de Mole

I’ve read good things about their cemitas and soups too. And one couple I saw had a brilliant idea: buy some of the fresh chicharrones at the front of the shop and bring it to the cafe to eat with lunch. I wish I had an El Tenampa near me!

Hill Country Chicken
Hill Country Chicken on Urbanspoon

Xi’an Famous Foods
Xi'an Famous Foods on Urbanspoon

Katz’s Delicatessen
Katz's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato on Urbanspoon

Cocoron
Cocoron on Urbanspoon

El Tenampa
El Tenampa Deli Grocery on Urbanspoon

And that’s it! That was our big trip to New York this year! As usual, all our photos can be found in this Flickr photoset.

We were starting to take things a little easier on the 4th and 5th days. First up was a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Matisse

…and its calming Sculpture Garden. I love it.

The Sculpture Garden

We could have spent all day here and we almost did; for lunch, we stayed in the museum and tried the restaurant on Level 2: Cafe 2. We were impressed with the food in the canteen-like setting (but there’s table service). The restaurants at MoMA are actually part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and they’re keeping some good company in their portfolio of restaurants.

We split an antipasti tasting consisting of three of our chosen antipasti from a list. Artichoke gratin was plenty of sliced artichokes with hot cream and cheese, perfect for dipping into with their homemade carta di musica.

Artichoke Gratin

There was also a lone meatball (excellent though so lonely) and a brilliant roasted carrot salad with almonds and maple and yoghurt.

Antipasti Tasting - Roasted Carrot Salad and Meatball

There was also a good-sized bowl of perfectly al dente rigatoni with braised pork-fennel sausage and a creamy tomato sauce.

Rigatoni with braised pork-fennel sausage

And, of course, for dessert, gelato. I’ve heard that theirs is from Il Laboratorio del Gelato though I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. Whatever the case, the chocolate, raspberry and strawberry gelati we tried were very good indeed.

Chocolate, Raspberry and Strawberry

Good stuff overall – it’s definitely a big step up from the usual museum food.

After our time at MoMA, we took a subway to the start of the High Line. This elevated park on former freight rail line wasn’t open when I was last in NYC and I relished this opportunity to see it this time.

The High Line

The High Line

Untitled

What a beautiful park – I loved the way the style of the park would change along its length! Seeing it on a weekday afternoon was excellent as it wasn’t too crowded but there’s lots of benches and it’s fantastic looking over the streets and if we had been hungry, it would have been easy to pop to Chelsea Market for a snack.

We headed back to Brooklyn for dinner. We had spotted Hill Country Barbecue on our first night and it looked like a great place for a meal; we were not disappointed. The place was huge – we were seated and drinks were brought to us but after that, you’re on your own until dessert. It’s up to you to bring your little order card to the counters to get your meats and sides.

I got us a sampling of their moist brisket, a jalapeño-cheese sausage and some ribs. This was all wrapped in brown paper and placed on a tray. They were brilliant – I loved the tender peppery brisket and the mild cheesy sausage. The ribs too had a good chew to them and I had plenty of their barbecue sauce with them.

The Meats

I liked that you had a choice of sizes for the sides and we opted for the smallest to get a variety. White shoepeg corn pudding was a surprise, all sweet and creamy corn kernels. Braised collard greens had been cooked with smokey bacon. Green bean casserole was made in the traditional American manner with a creamy mushroom sauce and crispy french fried onions. Tender cornbread was served with whipped chipotle honey butter. All were excellent.

The Sides

The start of the 5th day was excellent. Unfortunately it was also Blai’s last day in New York as his flight was late that evening so the day was tinged with sadness. but we made it a super food day, beginning with a trip to the Dough outpost in Manhattan.

Dough Doughnuts

It was doughnut heaven in there! We tried a hibiscus one…

Hibiscus

…and a mocha. Yes, for us, Dough beats Doughtnut Plant – I like their doughnut texture and taste and their glazes. Well, no more doughnuts for me for a while. Oof.

Mocha

Then our walk took us through the West Village where we came across Pasticceria Rocco on Bleecker Street. I knew we had to walk in upon seeing their pastry display in the window and their sign proclaiming the best cannoli in the city! Blai had never had cannoli and we bought a mini one for takeaway. The ricotta filling was piped into the shell to order and we had a choice of pistachios or chocolate for the ends. It was fantastic.

Cannolo

For lunch, it was back to another outpost of Luke’s Lobster at Blai’s request. We skipped the lobster rolls and went straight for the crab rolls, with, of course, more of their clam chowder.

Crab Roll Set

For dessert, it was off to Grom, the Italian chain of gelati shops. This was probably the best gelato we tasted in New York – Grom, please open in London!

Grom Gelato

After a bit more wandering and a rest back at the flat, Blai was off! I was by myself now and work was starting the next day. I was supposed to meet a New York friend for dinner but due to a number of happenings, I had to cancel it as I had an early morning.

But I still managed to get a good (and light) dinner in me at the Pok Pok Phat Thai. The small restaurant is one in Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok chain (which originated in Portland) and is next to Pok Pok NY and across the street from their Whisky Soda Lounge. The Phat Thai branch was probably the most casual and that Wednesday night, it was easy to get a seat for just me.

The tables were set with colourful tablecloths and all the proper Thai condiments were available. A nice touch was that the drinking water was infused with pandan.

Pandan Water and Condiments

I chose the simplest phat thai on the menu, without the addition of large prawns or minced pork. That’s not to say it was vegetarian – there were still dried shrimps giving lots of flavour. Excellent stuff and it hit the spot after all the rich eating the previous days.

Phat Thai

And then I was on my own in the city for work.

MoMA Cafe 2
Café 2 on Urbanspoon

Hill Country Barbecue Market
Hill Country Barbecue Market on Urbanspoon

Dough
Dough on Urbanspoon

Pasticceria Rocco
Pasticceria Rocco on Urbanspoon

Grom
Grom Gelato on Urbanspoon

Pok Pok Phat Thai
Pok Pok Phat Thai on Urbanspoon

The morning of the third day started with a visit to Lincoln Center, the arts and culture hub I missed seeing on my last trip. It’s certainly a beautiful space – lucky New Yorkers!

Metropolitan Opera House

After a bit of wandering (and a disappointing avocado toast at ‘wichcraft), we found yet another Dean & Deluca where this time we tried a peanut butter and jelly doughnut from Doughnut Plant.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Doughnut

Mmm…now I’ve heard great things about the doughnuts at Doughnut Plant, and especially about this particular doughnut, but it was just too much. The dough itself was overshadowed by too much peanut butter, too much jelly. Perhaps I chose badly.

Onwards we went to 5th Avenue, down to Rockefeller Center where the Easter decorations were still up…

Easter Bunny

… and then down to Bryant Park and the New York Public Library where my favourite reading room was closed that day! A shame, I love that place.

Bryant Park

Lunchtime! We caught the subway from there to somewhere in East Manhattan to visit Momofuku Ssam Bar for lunch. I’d visited on my last trip to NYC and I wanted to return to try their lunch menu; ok, I was mainly there for their rotisserie duck.

But first, their famous steamed buns again. I think what makes them stand out from other pork belly buns are the not one, but two thick slices of braised pork belly. Indulgent!

Steamed Buns

And that rotisserie duck! I would have liked more of it… but what we had was excellent. This is not your ordinary roast duck as in between the breast and skin was tucked some pork-based forcemeat. This is truly the mutant animal that would be welcome at my celebration table (bah to the turducken).

Rotisserie Duck over Rice with Chive Pancake

We got it with all the fixin’s available: the chive pancake above (only ok), the bowl of lettuce below (we weren’t entirely sure what to do with it and tried eating the duck ssam style), and an excellent broccoli salad with dried bluefish (below that).

Lettuce

Broccoli Salad

For dessert, we split a Thai Tea Pie, which whilst not tasting particularly strongly of Thai tea, was a delightful ice cream pie and a complex tang provided by a tamarind sauce.

Thai Tea Pie

Afterwards we walked over to Momofuku Milk Bar which had not yet opened when I was last in New York. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy any of their sweets (I tried a few over a couple days). Their cookies (compost and corn) weren’t great to me and their cake truffles were bleh (dulce de leche). Perhaps I should have tried their soft serve. Their bagel bomb (a round bagel filled with savoury cream cheese) was quite good though.

And then onwards we went to the Flatiron Building and where I spotted the city’s Eataly, that huge emporium of eateries, delis and shopping all direct from Italy.

Flatiron Building

The sunny weather necessitated a gelato and we queued up to try that at Eataly. I mean, it’s from Italy so it has to be good, right?

Gelato at Eataly

Wrong. The flavours were muted; the texture wasn’t great. Boring. Oh well, the rest of Eataly looked exciting.

We didn’t have anything planned for the rest of the afternoon but we did want to see a few more galleries at the Met so back up on the 6-train we went. It’s impossible to see everything there in only a day or two and I wish we had a whole week for its!

Later that evening, we headed back to the East Village (fast becoming my favourite place to eat in Manhattan) and while we first thought about pizza, the place we had in mind was extremely crowded. We turned the corner and headed for some American-Italian food at Parm instead.

We started with some vegetables – spicy rabe was actually pretty spicy (to our surprise) but this heat paired well with the slightly bitter greens.

Spicy Rabe

String beans oreganata were grilled until the beans were tender and will black grill marks and they were tossed with a spicy breadcrumb mixture. These were brilliant – I know I’ll try throwing green beans onto the barbecue this summer….when I get a barbecue.

String Beans Oreganata

Of course, Parm specialises in anything parmigiana, i.e. anything topped with red sauce and cheese and it’s all melted together in the oven. We had a couple of small sandwiches.

The chicken parm roll was breaded chicken with tomato sauce and melting cheese in a soft bun.

Chicken Parm Roll

Inside the Chicken Parm Roll

Eggplant parm (that’s aubergine if you’re not familiar with the Americanism) was silky slices of eggplant layered with the sauce and cheese. Both parms were excellent.

Eggplant Parm Roll

Inside the Eggplant Parm Roll

After dinner, we ended up walking past the pizzeria again and this time it was empty. And open (ok, it was still very early in the evening). And that meant getting a slice. This was Prince Street Pizza, a tiny place that sells pizza by the slice – we were there for their square slice with spicy salami. As recommended by Serious Eats, I asked for our slice to be extra crispy, meaning that it just spends a bit more time in the oven during reheating.

Square Slice

A most excellent Sicilian slice this was – and we loved the crispy base.

To make up for our crappy gelato earlier in the day, we walked around the corner from the pizzeria to AB Biagi‘s yet again! Here’s strawberry and a vegan almond. What made it vegan? Almond milk! It was fantastic.

At AB Biagi's again!

It was a good end to the day!

Doughnut Plant
Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Ssam Bar
Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Parm
Parm on Urbanspoon

Prince Street Pizza
Prince St. Pizza on Urbanspoon

The second day saw us wake up again stupidly early but that meant we could get to Russ & Daughters Cafe before 9am on Sunday for breakfast (no bookings are taken). There we were served by a very serious young man who declared that everything we selected was a “good choice”.

Coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice were necessary to get our internal engines going.

Coffee and Orange Juice

Are kasha varnishkas a typical breakfast food? Probably not but when topped with a poached egg, it sure felt like one. This Jewish-Ashkenazi dish of buckwheat and pasta and caramelised onions was supremely comforting with its butter and possible schmaltz.

Kasha Varnishkas

We also split a Classic Board – Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion, capers – all served with an everything bagel (“Good choice!”). The salmon was excellent and I loved their bagel.

The Classic Board

By the time we left, the place was packed and people had started queuing for a table. Yeah, get there early.

A short stroll away was Economy Candy, the legendary candy shop that’s been going since 1937.

Inside Economy Candy

What a fun place this is! The proprietor asked Blai if he was taking me on a first date there (apparently that’s common) but when I explained that we’re not from around there, he quipped, “I could tell – you’re here early!” True that! It wasn’t even 10am then! We ended up leaving there laden down with goodies.

We then caught another 6-train up to the upper east side (we got very familiar with that subway line) and spent the rest of the morning at the Frick Collection. If you get there between 11am and 1pm on Sundays, it’s pay what you like. It’s a fine little collection that’s definitely worth seeing!

Untitled

For lunch, we headed to the branch of Luke’s Lobster that’s nearby. We split a lobster roll, …

Lobster Roll

…a crab roll, …

Crab Roll

… and a side of their Boston clam chowder.

Clam Chowder

It was fantastic. Those buttery toasted rolls were chock full of shellfish with just a tiny bit of mayo and a sprinkle of something heavy on celery salt. Fabulous. I’d never seen Blai so enthusiastic – he demanded, demanded!, that we return on his last day in the city. Seriously, I can count on one hand the number of times he’s demanded some particular dish and this was almost shocking! But they are worth the enthusiasm!

And then it was onwards to the Guggenheim. While the building was quite spectacular, as was most of their permanent collection, we were disappointed that one main gallery was closed and that most of the space was dedicated to a major exhibition by On Kawara. Now, Kawara’s work is interesting as a concept but seeing a lot of it there (and it’s quite repetitive) got tiring after a while.

Untitled

After our time at the Guggenheim, the warm weather had us thinking about gelato and we took the subway back down to the East Village and headed to A.B. Biagi, which I’d heard had some excellent stuff. The shop was much smaller than I expected (there were only three seats inside) and the menu was equally tiny (maybe about 5 flavours that afternoon) but what we tried (lemon sorbet, chocolate and pistachio) were all excellent.

Gelato - Lemon, Chocolate and Pistachio

Somewhere in between gelato and dinner was another subway ride down to Battery Park to bask in the sun and peer out at the Statue of Liberty and a long walk back to the subway as a few stations were closed around Wall Street due to filming of some movie. Ah, New York!

Dinner that night was back near Chinatown on Canal Street at Pies ‘n’ Thighs.

Three pieces of fried chicken made up their Fried Chicken Box and on the side, we had a lovely refreshing green salad. The chicken was excellent – moist on the inside, seasoned goodness on the outside. Oops, I think a piece of chicken was already missing from the plate when I took this photo.

Fried Chicken Box with Green Salad

And there was a biscuit on the side. I miss biscuits so.

Biscuit

We also split a chicken biscuit. This chicken breast had been coated in a crumb coating and was slapped between a biscuit with lashings of honey butter and hot sauce. Mmm… honey butter and hot sauce. Excellent stuff.

Chicken Biscuit

We couldn’t leave without a slice of pie! Here’s their apple pie a la mode, which was just ok. The crust could have been flakier and the apples cooked a little longer.

Apple Pie a la Mode

And that was our second full day in the city. When I look back at it, butter seems to have been the running theme throughout the meals.

Russ & Daughters Cafe
Russ & Daughters Cafe on Urbanspoon

Luke’s Lobster
Luke's Lobster on Urbanspoon

A.B. Biagi
A.B. Biagi on Urbanspoon

Pies ‘n’ Thighs
Pies-n-Thighs on Urbanspoon

Alright, this is the final post on New York! To sum up the trip, I had a fabulous time and ate like a queen, even when eating cheaply!

One afternoon, before a solo trip to the Met, I stopped in at Gray’s Papaya and ordered their Recession Special ($3.50): two hotdogs, one with sauerkraut, one with onions, and a papaya drink. Yummy! I do love a good hot dog and these beefy ones really hit the spot that day. The papaya drink was only so-so but that’s probably just me (I recently also tried some papaya juice and I didn’t like it. I prefer to just eat the fruit.).

Gray's Papaya Hot Dogs

Another morning, we headed for East Houston and ended up at Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery. As a first-time knish eater, the man there recommended a spinach knish ($3.00) and heated one up for me (Mirna had the same). He handed over our knishes in small white paper bags – it must have weighed at least half a pound and was the size of both of my fists combined!

A Spinach Knish

For other knish newbies, a knish is a ball of seasoned mashed potatoes wrapped in a layer of pastry and baked. It’s heavy and starchy and carby and delicious, especially with lots of mustard!

Later that same day, we were in Chinatown and I searched for one of the cheap dumpling joints I’d heard so much about. We found Tasty Dumpling where 5 pork and chive dumplings can be had for only $1.25. I poured on some black vinegar and some spicy chili vinegar and then took them, along with a bottle of fresh soya bean milk, to the park opposite, where lots of Chinese men play chess!

Pork and Chive Dumplings

Dumpling Innards

The skins may have been a little thick but they were pleasantly chewy and the filling was tasty. Cheap dumplings can’t be beat!

The last notable eat was General Tso’s Chicken eaten at a cheap Chinese restaurant connected to our hotel. It was a combination plate with pork fried rice and an egg roll all for under $7.

General Tso's Chicken

Gosh, have you ever seen fried rice that’s that yellow?! The accompanying rice and egg roll were nothing to shout about but General Tso, what lovely chicken you make! Deep fried battered chicken tossed in a sweet and sour and spicy sauce – delicious and oh so not good for us! General Tso’s chicken is available at just about any Chinese restaurant in the States so I won’t provide the address of this one!

I had such fun in New York – I’m definitely going to plan a trip back in the future! To see all my New York photos (including the non-food ones!), c’mon over to my New York Flickr photoset.

Gray’s Papaya
402 Sixth Avenue at 8th Street
New York, NY
(there are two other locations)

Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery
137 East Houston Street
Between 1st & 2nd The Lower East Side
New York, NY

Tasty Dumpling
54 Mulberry St
New York, NY

From a recommendation from a reader (hi newmi!), we ventured out to Madison Square Park (only a few blocks from our second hotel) one night to eat at the Shake Shack. It was already past 9pm and so we thought we’d we able to eat quite soon but what greeted us was a long line, snaking it’s way down the path and around all the tables! And the line stayed that long by the time we got to the head of the queue, about 45 minutes later.

Shake Shack

I ordered a Shackburger, French fries, and a regular Arnold Palmer to drink (half lemonade and half iced tea). I was given a pager and I went to find a place to sit. My pager buzzed about 10 minutes later and I went up to collect my box of food.

My Dinner

Mirna’s pager took a lot longer to buzz and then she took even longer to pick up her food. It turned out that they had just forgotten to set off her pager and so her food had been sitting there getting cold. They proceeded to cook her another burger (also a Shackburger) but her cheese fries were already soggy and beyond redemption. Well, we ended up splitting the first lukewarm burger, pushing us into very full territory and without any stomach space to try their famous frozen custard.

The first thing that came to my mind when I took a look at my burger was butter! The burger reeked of butter – it’s a butterburger, not a Shackburger. But the burger itself? It was very good, definitely not the best I’ve eaten, but not to be sniffed at. The fries were crisp and crinkle cut and were most likely from frozen. I have nothing against that – they were nice fries. The cheese fries were topped with an extremely rich cheese sauce (their menu says its a mixture of cheddar and American cheese) and would have been nicer had they been hotter and the fries crisper. If/when I’m next in New York, I’m going to try their frozen custard!

You know, I thought sitting in the park would be great, all fresh air and bbq party atmosphere. What I’d forgotten about were the um… critters. We sat at a table with some plants and midway through our meal, we saw and heard something rustling underneath all the foliage. A mouse emerged and shot between my legs (yes, I’m not too proud to admit that I squealed like a girl) and then proceeded to make a tour under all the other tables. Eeks!

Shake Shack
Madison Square Park, SE corner
enter at Madison Ave and 23rd St.
New York, NY

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

Thanks to a recommendation from Don, we headed to Sushi Yasuda for lunch one day. Reviews online seem to indicate that it’s quite difficult to get a reservation there but I managed to book a place for two at the counter for lunch on a Thursday only a week beforehand. I chose for us to sit at the sushi counter – and I highly recommend the same for you if you visit! We were the second group there for lunch and were seated in front of the first sushi chef of a row of them.

We chose to go with the sushi pre fixe menu ($22.50), which came with a soup or salad to start. This would give us five pieces of nigiri sushi and two maki sushi rolls all from a particular list. Each menu item had its own list. There is also the option to order by the piece or even to have an omakase meal, but we wished to walk out of there with our wallets intact. When we had made our selections (ticking off boxes on a little piece of paper), our counter space was set as such:

The Setup at the Sushi Counter

That leaf is a Hawaiian ti leaf and is where our sushi would be placed by the chef in front of us.

My lunch came with either a soup or salad and I chose the latter. What arrived was this small bowl of greens, beans and tomatoes with crispy, dried baby jako sardine. If you’re familiar with Malaysian food, you’ll know what I mean when I say they’re like smaller fried ikan bilis!

Salad

My five pieces of nigiri were the following: Spanish mackerel, freshwater eel, striped bass, egg custard, egg. I was very curious about the egg versus egg custard and the chef brought both out for me to see, explaining that while the egg custard is common in Japan, it’s less common outside it, and that Japanese people above a certain age tend to be very very picky about their egg sushi and then he suggested that I try both. So I ticked them both off on my sheet.

I was trying not to take photos and instead just sit back and enjoy but I couldn’t help it when such beautiful pieces were placed before me! This was my egg nigiri (huge and so the chef sliced it into two for me) and the freshwater eel. No other photos of the nigiri but a little soy sauce is already painted onto each perfectly sized piece and so it’s all ready to pop into your mouth.

Egg and Eel Nigiri Sushi

This was the best sushi I’ve ever had (ok, so I haven’t travelled to Japan yet). Honestly, the rice was the best part, still warm and so well seasoned. The fish was extremely fresh and the eel soft and flavourful. And the two eggs? The egg custard had been cooked with fish stock and other various ingredients and was smooth and almost creamy and utterly delicious and the egg was, apart from being a massive slab, slightly sweet omelette and was delightful upon the rice.

For my maki rolls, I chose tuna and salmon skin. When these were being made, the chef’s knife slicing them into pieces made wonderful crunching sounds thanks to the amazingly crisp nori.

Maki Sushi

The nori did turn out to be incredibly crisp and a wonderful contrast to the rice inside. The tuna was a white tuna and again was soft and fresh and the salmon skin was freshly fried and also quite crisp and salty. Delicious with a little dab of their homemade soy sauce.

While we were eating our sushi, our chef would chat with us and give us information about the sushi we were eating as well as about other pieces that were being made for the people around us. This was in stark contrast to the other sushi chefs who seemed to be the strong silent types made sushi for their customers at the counter but also for those seated at the tables. After his talking about it, we were seduced by a large box of sea urchin roe that was brought out for uni nigiri for a woman next to us. And so, to end our lunch, we each chose a piece of uni nigiri ($5) from the a la carte menu. It was topped with large flakes of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Again, fresh and salty and its texture was silky and sigh… it was a good ending.

Oh, and our sushi chef? He turned out to be Chef Yasuda himself.

The Man Himself

Sushi Yasuda
204 E. 43rd Street
New York, NY

Sushi Yasuda on Urbanspoon

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