Category Archives: meetings

Sik Gaek 10.01.2011

A long overdue update that spans the summer, Eatclub has been too busy to blog.  Much like starving during a car ride en route to the eating destination only to get there and overeat; chew on the next few paragraphs mindfully. New World Mall can be called the new and improved Flushing mall; clean and modern, NWM is all asian business upstairs and far east party downstairs. The beats pump out from Lan Zhou every minute; literally the pounding of the hand made noodle dough resonates throughout the food court, magnetically funneling noodle lovers from Jersey and beyond.

Hand pulled noodles pulling in customers

Vegetable noodle soup with added pickled cabbage, hot sauce, and vinegar.

A good Korean seafood pancake for $5.

Sik Gaek
40-01 149th Pl.
Flushing, NY 11354

Don’t let the name fool you, Sik Gaek (sounds like Shik-Gehk) is a seafood restaurant named after a Korean manga and movie of the same name.  History lesson aside, Sik Gaek is a much like a boisterous restaurant typical of what you would find in Seoul.  Any food shyness must be left behind as you dive into a giant pot of various creatures from the sea swimming in a spicy broth all the while toasting korean beer and fermented rice brew.

Gather 4 seafood lovers and order the haemool jung gol (seafood hot pot) filled with:  lobster, clams, crab, sea snail, abalone, mussels, octopus, squid, razor clams, udon noodles, rice cakes, and sprouts.  Phew, not for the faint of stomach.  All the ingredients were super fresh and some were still alive.

A spicy steaming bowl of unkosherness.
How to order the way a Korean would:
1.   Order both OB beer and makkoli by the bottle (impress others with your Korean drinking ettiqutte).
2.   Drink and repeat step 1.  Also, order food if you wish.
3.   Get the seafood hot pot, and request the squid be served live.
4.  Ask for a hot pot stir fry with the leftovers and rice.
5.  Repeat step 1.

Can you spot the 4 Koreans in this pic?


Totto Ramen – 06.18.2011

Totto Ramen
366 West 52nd St.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and somewhere a cauldron of pork broth was whistling.  I awoke that morning with a feeling that it was going to be a good day.  Little did I know I would experience a life changing food moment.

Seared tuna with soy ginger bonito wasabi dressing.

Totto Ramen follows the typical NYC ramen restaurant format: few tables, bar seating, and open kitchen.  This dimly lit below street level ramenya looks unremarkable with its chalk board specials and hand written menu highlights adorning the walls.  But, if a restaurant is selling hot soup on a hot June afternoon and has a wait, I suggest you get in line.

Miso ramen.  Me so hungry.

Totto may have the best ramen in New York City.  Lofty words I know.  The miso ramen is on par with my current favorite, Minca, and depending on my mood, it may indeed be #1.  The menu describes it:

The finest Koji Miso and ground pork in a scoop atop slightly wavy noodles in original Paitan soup.  Topped with a seasoned hardboiled egg, scallion, bean sprouts, onion and char sui pork.

Wavy noodles are where it’s at.

Totto nailed all three  aspects of the ramen trinity:  soup, noodle, and topping.   While Minca has a knock your socks off don’t bring home to mama kind of miso broth, Totto has a respectable and multi-layered flavor that your parents would well approve of.  The ramen is so good you may think of how you can propose to it.  (Though it will never work out because of the cultural differences).  How could you resist the wavy noodles; cooked to chewy perfection and abundantly swirling the bowl with every scoop.  They hypnotize you with their undulations above and below the rich, and flavorful broth.  Finally, the toppings.  Straightforward blend of sprouts and green onion supporting the star of the show:  the roast pork.  You get 2 richly cut portions of roasted pork, feathered with slight char and containing the stratified layers of flesh, fat, and cartilage.  Pork perfection.  I can’t describe it any other way and undoubtedly the best char sui I’ve ever eaten.  Kuboya comes close in flavor but lacks in portion size.  With Totto and Minca straddling both sides of the island, always being within walking distance of a great ramen bar is one step closer to NY reality.

Char sui is Japanese for “I’ve died and gone to pork heaven”

The #1 miso ramen in NYC!  or  The #1 miso ramen in NYC?
This is what a ramen restaurant should look and feel like.  (cough) Ahem. Ippudo.
Fast friendly staff.

If I had to be critical, the hardboiled egg.  Not horrible, but I am a fan of gelled creamy yolk.

Small place so the wait gets loco after 5pm.

-bru, Chief Ramen Officer

Eatclub left with round bellies wanting to maintain the food buzz.  When you want to go on an all-out eating bender, a Saturday afternoon in the city is like no other.

Wafels & Dinges
Riverside Park

Waffle, speculoos, and ice cream = an innocent looking but powerful dessert.

Face to the water, back to the highway

Pier 1 Cafe
West 70th St. and Hudson River

Go there for the great Hudson views and plentiful patio seating.  Stay a while with friends and enjoy the great brew selection (Coney Island Lager) and mango pina coladas.  Skip the burger but try the other dishes of their surprisingly refined fare.

A light liquid lunch

26 St. Mark’s Place

Bubble milk tea and basil popcorn chicken.  Yes, those are real authentic foods from the same culture (Taiwan).

25 St. Mark’s Place

A St. Mark’s must visit for Japanese tapas/drinking bar.  Raucous with equally audacious choice of decor, they serve inexpensive Japanese drafts and some crazy menu items.  Good times are always had here.

111 Macdougal St.
(3rd and Bleeker)

Artichoke slice needs a hearty Coke

The pizza surprise in the village. $4.50 gets you a monstrous artichoke slice that will stop you in your tracks and make your pupils dilate.  Very good.

119 Macdougal St.

Freshest and tastiest.  Fuggediboutit.

Best falafel in the city.  That evening, it was also the HOTTEST.

Midtown Lunch 5th Birthday – 06.11.2011

From one food blog to another:
Happy 5th birthday Midtown Lunch!
I know it is hard eating in the shadow of the mighty juggernaut that is EatClub but hang in there, one day you will make it (whimper).

Eatclub spent the day celebrating, but mostly eating, with ML.  They organized a slew of vendors for an AYCE and AYCD ‘fest.  It was hard keeping up with fellow eaters as we devoured the best portable food Midtown had to offer while pretending to give competent reviews of taste, quality, etc.  We ate and drank our hearts out.

Certe’s lobster sausage sandwich with fingerling potato salad.  Oh you fancy huh?

Grilled roast beef from Tri-tip grill.

A tomato basil slice from Eddie’s Pizza cart

Ginger slush with mint courtesy of Kelvin

Ma Peche.  Bahn mi?  Oh my!

Lamb pita exquisitely cut on the bias.  Kwik Gourmet indeed!

Wafels & Dinges signature wafel

Biryani Cart’s Chicken Kati roll.

The master himself, Mr. Rahman from Kwik gourmet poses with yours truly

We enjoyed the opportunity to hit up carts that were Vendy award notables as well as venues that are open only during the day in midtown. All in one spot and all you can eat of course.  Some of the newer faces on the scene were knockouts.  Wafels & Dinges (pronounced ding + like the name “Gus”) had a delicious Belgian waffle topped with whipped cream and their homemade gingerbread sauce, Speculoo.  Dense and savory sweet with a crisp exoskeleton of caramelization, this small waffle satisfied like it were twice its size.  I predict Kelvin Slush as the beverage to watch this summer as they put a unique twist on the tried and true slushie.  Personally, it will replace the Korean frozen yogurt phenomenon going on, as my dessert of choice in NYC.  I’ll have the ginger slush with mint please.

The mexican truck, El Rey del Sabor was a let down.  The chicken, pork, and beef fillings were all bland with the only good thing being the actually hot salsa.  Super taco truck on UES is infinitely better.  Time to get another mint slush.  Biryani Cart offered a chicken kati roll that was mildly spicy but with almost too intense curry flavor.   Add to that a sweet and greasy paratha wrapper and this tiny roll is almost too intense to handle.  For me it was just too much going on.  Sip more of that slush to cleanse the palette.

Tri-tip grill presented their roast beef on a simple potato roll which was a carnivore’s dream come true.  Charred beef flavor was prominent and the time spent roasting all night paid off for the 3 dudes running the booth.  Congrats on a simple and well crafted sliced roast beef sandwich.  Time to refill that slushie.  Certe had a lobster sausage sandwich was as inventive as it was delicate.  Served on a crusty roll, the “sausage” was light and flavorful as well as alluring to the eyes.  Bonus points for charring grill marks and proportionately downsized shredded toppings.  Sip the slushie before it melts too fast.  Ma Peche showcased their version of a bahn mi with marinated lamb in a chewy dense baguette.  Intensely spiced and juicy, it was an interesting take on the classic viet sandwich.

It was my running favorite until I tried Kwik Gourmet’s lamb pita.  The humble cart with no line and stocked with 2 fully dressed chefs hurriedly prepping does not call much attention to itself.  After all, one passes by a cart selling some variation of lamb and pita on most every street in Manhattan.  They were the best cart there and I know I had to take a picture with lamb guru Rahman.  The run of the mill looking pita has in it the best cart cooked lamb ever.  Generous portions of marinated real lamb chunks in a warm supple pita with a rich yogurt sauce, it was better than the slushie I was habitually sipping.  And that says a lot.

[vimeo 25004256]

DJ Slushy Jeffy and standing behind the Fresh Prince of Pway

Go Go Curry – 05.05.2011

Happy Curry de Mayo GO! GO! Curry!

Queens Crawl – 03.19.2011

Eatclub spent the afternoon exploring the Flushing neighborhood of Queens and ate ’til we could eat no more.  Read on below.

Hanyang Supermarket
150-51 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, NY

Pho Vietnamese Restaurant
3802 Prince Street
Flushing, NY

Flushing Mall
133-31 39th Avenue
Flushing, NY

Geo Si Gi
15228 Northern Boulevard
Flushing, NY

Eatclub hit the pavement for some food R&D in the asian melting pot that is Flushing, Queens.  It’s no wonder the aliens from MIB parked their spaceships here, the aliens from China park their Camrys here too.

Hanyang Supermarket has a small food court.

Hanyang is actually a Korean supermarket but they have a small cafe in the back that serves typical Korean snacks.  The corndog is fried up fresh and is extra crispy with a corn-panko coating.  Soondae is a rice and noodle blood sausage and is excellent here.  I actually don’t like soondae but Hanyang’s version changed my mind.  The dukbuki tastes just like the ones served in Korean night markets, extra peppery chili sauce with tender rice cakes.  Definitely order all of these.

Marvelously crusty corn dog.  Order 1 at a time but why would you?

Korean street food:  soon-dae (blood and rice sausage) and duk-bu-ki (spicy rice cake).

Vietnamese restuarant called Vietnamese Restaurant.  Go figure.

We stopped by this restaurant for a snack but ended up eating an entire meal.  The food was that good.

A steaming bowl of curry beef stew.

Vietnamese grilled pork and egg rolls.

Vietnamese grilled chicken over rice.

Sophia’s furiously fast chopstick skills.  Woo-pah!

While not my first review of Flushing Mall, this was the first time I sampled their shaved ice.  It’s not super authentic or very delicious but what it lacks in freshness it makes up for in sheer sweetness.  It is crazy sweet, especially the faux fruit toppings.

Shaved ice with grass jelly, red bean, taro, and condensed milk.

Shaved ice with mango, passion fruit, jellies, and condensed milk.  Sweeter than pure sugar!

This is your face reacting to sweetness overload.

Geo Si Gi means:  caveman chasing wild boar with hatchet. (not really).

Braised pork neck bone.  How tasty does that sound?  Not very, but I don’t care, you must eat this if you like pork that is spicy, tender, and asian.  You get generous chunks of pork neck bones slowed stewed in a spicy broth with plenty of veggies and kimchi.  I could not eat this stew fast enough.  Literally, the tantalizing neck bones tease you as you slowly wriggle out each morsel of soft meat from every crevice.  Oh, and don’t be shy about using the vinegar dipping sauce, it ramps up the flavor to new heights.  At the end of the meal, ask the server to make fried rice with the left over broth, he will cook it for you right at the table before your eyes.

Gamjatang, spicy korean soup with aged kimchi and pork neck bones.

This mustard/vinegar dipping sauce is a MUST!

Fried rice made from leftovers of pork soup?  It’s true (watch the video).

Zen Restaurant – 03.03.2011

Zen Restaurant
31 St. Marks Place
New York, NY

Zen is located in the heart of St. Marks amongst the multitude of asian eateries; and much like the people, all the storefronts look the same:  yellow and foreign.  Step into Zen and you will be transported to a no frills NYC-style Japanese joint.  A dime a dozen or a yen a dozen rather.

A pitcher of Kirin draft will set you back $12, not too shabby.

Zen’s signature Tonkotsu Ramen ($8.50).

Another noodle waterfall.

Ramen is the reason Eatclub meets and ramen is what we ordered.  The waitress recommended the Tonkotsu ramen:  original garlic salt flavored noodle soup with meat, mushroom, egg, and baby bamboo (shinachiku).  Eatclub has eaten enough ramen to be critical and to be brief, this ramen was slightly above average.  The noodles were wavy and chewy, the best thing going for this dish.  The meat (charsui) was average, the egg was overcooked with a greenish tinge, and sadly the broth let me down.  Perhaps it was the garlic salt base but a ramen called “tonkotsu” has to deliver in-your-face porkiness.  Instead the soup was thin and bland, especially when compared to more complex blends such as the broths at Ippudo and Kuboya.  However, if I ever had a hankering for ramen in the East Village, I would consider going back to Zen, especially with good company and a thirst for Japanese brew.

Noodles and beer. In that order.

Signature ramen’s soup was just meh.

The storefront, it looks like a bad 3-D Japanese/English ransom note.

– ramen boy

An extra seat is available single ladies.

Zinburger – 12.22.10

Promenade Shops at Clifton
850 State Route 3, #105
Clifton, NJ 07012

We had the zinburger.

The burgers come with mayonnaise which makes the burger soggy. Wanted to get the experience of the meat. The zinfindel cooked onions were really flavorful. The medium rare was not rare enough, but the medium-well was perfect.

The buns should be toasted. We forgot that we had manchego cheese, the mayonnaise was so over whelming. It’s a lot of burger, come hungry.

Lauren had the Simple burger – she also would have preferred her buns toasted, thought the hamburger was a little soggy, but she liked the flavor of it and gave it one thumb up.

The zucchini fries – are awesome, but maybe a little less sea salt.

Truffle fries – weren’t too much of a hit.

Service was excellent. Very attentive. Although maybe too attentive?

The ambiance was awesome – a lot bigger than what we thought from the outside. It’s attached to a shopping center.

Wines – we came on wednesday which gave us half price bottles of wine.
Russian jack pinot noir, very good, tasty drinkable wine

This completes our round of boutique montclair burger joints.