Category Archives: Midtown East

42 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Felidia’s Chicken “Noodle” Soup: One of the Best Chicken Noodle Soups

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Far from boring.

“This is the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.”  That’s what JM said after having some of Felidia’s Chicken Soup ($15).

Zuppa Di Zucca – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – was the one featured on the list, but they didn’t have it on the menu.  I had definitely groaned in my head when the waiter told us what the soup du jour was because I was pretty tired of the same old chicken noodle soup that cost too much and was nothing special.  In fact, I didn’t even think you could really make this type of soup unique.  Well, Felidia (celeb chef, Lidia Bastianich’s, resto) proved me wrong.

Felidia's Chicken Soup

mmm, chicken

At first you see ingredients just like any other chicken soup – shreds of fresh chicken, carrots and leeks (I don’t believe I saw celery).  Then you taste the broth, which was one of the more flavorful ones out there.  But what separated this one from all the other ones

The bestest "noodle" out there

were the “noodles.”  This was no ordinary white pasta.  Instead, it was bread rolled up into dough with some cheese.  Homemade, omg-give-me-more-of-this awesomeness.  It added a whole new dimension to typical chicken soup.

But, again, it always comes back to what you’re getting for the money.  Were these noodles worth $15?  Probably not.  If it were $10 a bowl, maybe.

PS – Looks like they have the Zuppa Di Zucca as part of their Pre-Theatre Menu for $45 per person, during certain days/times, and by reservation only.

Felidia
243 E. 58th Street
New York, NY10022
212.758.1479
http://www.felidia-nyc.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


26 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Artisanal’s French Onion Soup: Let’s Cut to the Cheese, It’s Grrreat!

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  A crock full of (good) sh*t.

MS, ND, JM, CD, TSH and I clogged up our arteries at Artisanal just a few days after Thanksgiving.  Luckily, I actually missed turkey dinner this time around, otherwise I would’ve felt extra guilty.

Artisanal's French Onion Soup - Nice crispy layer

According to New York magazine, this French Onion Soup ($12.50) incorporated not just one, but three different cheeses – Gruyere, Emmental (wha?) and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I’m not sure if using three versus one made it a winner, but I am sure that I enjoyed the cheesiness.  It was like eating a savory crème brulée – burnt, crisp layer atop a decadent creamy one.  Take a chunk of that; add some sweet, melt-in-your-mouth onions; pair it with a full-bodied, golden broth, and you’ve got a spoonful of premium soup that will make you say, “Oui oui!”

Um, yes, I ate AALLL the cheese...

I will admit that I was talking about the heaviness of the cheese as I was eating it since you really had to dig through to get to the broth.  But then ND, a French Onion Soup maven, taught me that I should actually swirl the cheese in the broth to let it melt a little, and I’ll probably have a smoother experience.  Good tip!  Anyone else have a specific method?

Please note:  I’m not usually this cheesy (or am I?),  but it was hard to resist with this post. ;op

Artisanal Fromagerie and Bistro
2 Park Avenue (at 32nd Street)
New York, NY 10016
212.725.8585
http://www.artisanalbistro.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


Off the Beaten Path: East/West Ramen Fest – 5 More You May or May Not Want to Try

Ramen.  I clearly eat a lot of it.  Here are reviews of five more bowls – one in LA and four others from two new sister restaurants in NYC headed up by the well-known, Chef Hideto Kawahara.  If I die while eating ramen, I’ll be dying a happy woman.

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DAIKOKUYA LITTLE TOKYO (Los Angeles)

Daikokuya's Daikoku Ramen (photo courtesy of website since mine's stuck on home laptop)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I didn’t dislike it, but I can do without it.

My last four visits to LA, I asked JM to take me to Daikokuya since I had heard so much about it.  The first three times we tried going, we either didn’t want to wait (consider an hour wait at least) or couldn’t get in since they weren’t taking anymore names before closing.  The ever-present lines at this restaurant remind me of Ippudo in Manhattan.  The fourth time, we decided to be patient and stick it out.  Luckily for us, a lot of people played our previous roles and skipped out, seeking another time that wouldn’t test their patience (good luck with that, folks!).  So, instead of waiting maybe two hours, we stood restlessly outside for an hour and ate dinner around 10:00 pm.

I went a little nuts and ordered the Combo Meal ($11.50) with Daikoku Ramen and a bowl of fried rice.  If you order a la carte, it’ll cost you $8.50 and $7.50 respectively.  Here’s when I wish I had a much bigger body because the portion sizes were more than I could handle.  I wonder if I could’ve requested the half portion of ramen with the combo meal…

Chopped fresh scallions, raw bean sprouts, menma, sesame seeds, curly noodles, three kurobuta (“Black Hog” which is as prized as Kobe beef) pork belly chashu slices, and a perfectly cooked melt-in-your-mouth whole marinated boiled egg floated (seriously THE BEST EGG ever) within and on top of a milky cloud of tonkotsu and soy sauce broth.  I had also requested the richer, kotteri flavor broth which used additional soup extracted from the back fat (according to their menu).  I can’t say if it made a difference since I’ve never had the original version.

All in all, I really didn’t have anything bad to say about it.  I just didn’t experience anything that made me want to go back and wait in line again.  I’d rather quickly grab a seat at another Japanese restaurant across the street and gobble down their super soothing udon noodles in a hot pot.

Daikokuya Little Tokyo
327 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680
http://www.daikoku-ten.com/LTmnu09a.html

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HIDECHAN (New York City)

Hidechan Spicy Miso Ramen

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  How can a chef be so inconsistent?  The ramen here is one of the worst I’ve had in the city and in no way compares to the deliciousness at its sister ramen joint, Totto Ramen (below).

My brother and sister-in-law took me to the new Hidechan in midtown east since they had been wanting to try it (and they know about my souper journey).  The whole experience turned into one big nightmare because 1) the ramen was a big disappointment and 2) immediately after we sat down, my brother (he’s older) decided he would ask me if JM was going to propose to me anytime soon.  Imagine the look of horror on my face.  I was nearly speechless.  I expected those words to come out of my dad’s mouth, but surely not his.  I’m not getting THAT old, am I?  Ok, maybe I’d been wondering the same thing from time to time, but, sheesh, no need for the added pressure from my own bro.  He’s supposed to be the chill one to tell me it’s all good, and there’s no rush…right?

After this awkward moment, I was hoping that Hidechan noodles would soothe my pounding heart.  They didn’t.  The Hakata Spicy Miso Ramen ($10.50) came with straight, thin noodles that were way too soft for my taste.  It wasn’t until after we ordered that we noticed a tiny little piece of paper taped to the table’s chopsticks container that said we could specify how we wanted the noodles cooked and how rich we wanted the broth.  Sucks that we saw that too late, and the waiter never asked us.  If he did, I would’ve ordered my noodles al dente, not soft and mushy, and my tonkotsu broth rich, not super light and underwhelming like they made it.  I was also unsure about the spicy miso paste.  The medium-sized scoop sitting on top of the bowl was mushed together with a bunch of ground beef (or pork?).  It almost seemed too beefy and was definitely not spicy.  I’ve never had spicy miso served this way.  Is this typical?  Anyway, last little note, if you order a boiled egg to accompany the bowl’s standard kikurage, scallions and bean sprouts (with the crazily, tooth-hurtin’ yellow heads), add $1.  But I would really think twice about spending even a dollar here.

Hidechan
248 E. 52nd Street (near 2nd Avenue)
New York, NY 10022
212-813-1800

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TOTTO RAMEN (New York City)

MY OVERALL TASTEFUL OPINION:  NO MSG automatically gives this restaurant a leg up on any in the city, but each ramen “flavor” has varying degrees of yumminess.

This past month my work lunches have been TOTTO-lly filled with ramen (yes, yes, very corny.  The man is rubbing off on me, to my dismay).  After my very first time, I went back for more two days later…and two more times after that…and I’ll be back again next week.  So, yes, I think it’s safe to safe that this has miraculously taken over Ippudo’s #1 spot on my list of NYC ramen houses.  Aside from the thankful NO MSG policy, you never have to wait too long, even when it seems like the sidewalk is packed with newbies and fans.  I’ve tried three out of the six noodle soup varieties already, and here are my thoughts starting from my least favorite.

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Vegetarian Ramen ($11)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION: I’ll stick with the good ol’ meaty versions.

Totto Vegetarian Ramen (observe the wooden pedestal in right photo)

Even though this is vegetarian, this is the second most expensive one on the list.  Most likely, it’s because they use organic noodles and other expensive items.  But I did in fact wonder if the extra costs also came from the fancy presentation – your cute round white bowl is, oddly, placed atop a wooden pedestal.  Sometimes vegetarian food does need some sprucing up to make up for a lack of meaty goodness, and meaty goodness is what I missed.

I’m no crazy carnivore.  I love my veggies.  I need my veggies.  But, for some reason, I was depressed while eating this.  I couldn’t get used to the seaweed and shiitake mushroom broth (which also had “peppery Yuzu paste,” sesame oil and a squeeze of fresh lime), even though those ingredients are some of my favorites.  Yuzu always piques my interest when I see it on the menu, but maybe I only like it in my cocktails or on cold raw fish.  The thin, soba-like noodles were a tad too soft, and I wish the raw chopped onions were softer and more cooked (only ’cause my stomach can’t handle raw onions).  The sprinkle of dry seaweed on top expanded nicely in the hot broth and intermingled with the random mix of cooked vegetables – cauliflower, zucchini, slice of red pepper, and corn.  While they were cooked to perfection, they were lacking some kind of sauce.  Think raw vegetables with no dip.  The only thing that made me happy were the slices of seasoned avocado.  I’ve never tasted avocado like this.  It tasted just like my favorite Chinese jar of fermented tofu.  I’m sure none of you know what that is (and it sounds disgusting), but it makes this lil chicky very happy.

Even though I didn’t care for this, vegetarians might.  I heard that a vegetarian friend of mine liked it.  I guess you can’t really find non-meat options on ramen menus, so Totto is smart for including this on theirs.  I do find intelligence sexy…

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Miso Ramen ($10.25)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Much better than its sister’s Spicy Miso version.

Totto Miso Ramen with Side of Spicy Menma

The highlight of this dish was the curly, thicker al dente noodles.  No other ramen spot that I know of serves this kind.  And, just like men appreciate women with meat on their bones, I sometimes like more meat on my noodles.  Mmm.  The two slices of pork came a tad thin and tough.  I’m not sure if they torched the meat too long that day (yes, you can watch them torching the pans of sliced pork), or if they just use a different style for this bowl.  Whatever it was, I didn’t prefer the toughness.  Like its counterpart, Hidechan, you had to mix in a scoop of miso paste and ground pork with the chicken paitan broth, but somehow this tasted a lot better.  It must have to do with the more flavorful broth.  So what about the accoutrements?  You get the typical half egg, scallions and bean sprouts, of course, with the apparently typical Totto addition of raw chopped onions.  I ordered a side of spicy menma (add $1), and will never order it again.  It was unusually salty and just not good.  I overheard two women’s reactions to the non-spicy menma, too, and they also complained about the saltiness.  Sans additional menma, I think I could order this again, especially if they let me get extra miso on the side.

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Chicken Paitan Ramen ($9.25) + Whole Broiled Egg ($1)

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  I might be eating this once a week…at least.

Totto's Chicken Paitan Ramen

The menu’s description: “These straight homemade noodles are cooked al dente style in a whole chicken and premium soy sauce based soup topped with scallion, onion, char siu pork, and a nori.”  You can see the ginormous pot of soup boiling with whole chickens (poor chickens), and you sorta want to dive in and bathe in it (or is that just me?).  But if I can’t bathe in it, then I’ll ingest it.  I’d be even happier if they canned all this richness so that I could slurp it at home, especially when I’m sick.  The torched pork slices were super tender, and they were joined by morsels of seasoned pork chunks that took me to another world.  Sure, this is a pretty plain bowl of ramen: a minimal variety of garnishes that are mostly a mute beige color leave the eye somewhat forlorn.  A friend who recently tried it said it was like a really great chicken noodle soup and was not impressed.  But, leaving out the vegetarians, who doesn’t like chicken noodle soup?  And who wouldn’t want one that’s pretty mind-blowing?  Personally, I think that if you can take the simple and minimalist approach, without the help of flavor enhancers, and still make foodies obsessed, then you’ve got a winner.

Totto Ramen
366 W. 52nd St. (btwn 8th and 9th Aves)
New York, NY 10019
212.582.0052
http://tottoramen.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


19 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Oyster Pan Roast at Oyster Bar: A Hot Mess

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  One of the grossest things I’ve had to eat in my life.

I went to Grand Central’s Oyster Bar for lunch with C at the end of June, and the Oyster Pan Roast that I had to try has stuck in my memory ever since…because it was that disgusting.  I generally stay away from heavy cream-based soups since I try to eat as healthy as possible, so I wasn’t looking forward to this pan roast at all.

I did some quick research just now on the recipe, and apparently, Oyster Bar has been famous for this soup since the early 1900s.  From one blog, I discovered how the recipe has changed over the years from 1949 to 1999.  The ingredients have pretty much remained the same, but the preparation instructions seem to have gotten longer.  You can check it out for yourself on the blog.

Then, I found yet another blog called Seduction Meals which featured the pan roast on September 29, 2009 and included a photo and recipe from Oyster Bar’s cookbook.  Here are the ingredients for one serving since the restaurant makes each order individually:

8 freshly opened oysters
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) of sweet butter
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup oyster liquor, also called liquid (the juice inside the oyster)
1/2 tsp paprika
dash celery salt
1 oz of clam juice
1/2 cup cream
1 slice of dry toast (I used peasant bread)

Can you feel a heart attack coming on yet?  Well, I knew if I finished the entire bowl I would’ve had a heart attack right then and there.  Luckily for me, I was so grossed out from the taste (of mostly Worcestershire sauce) and the presentation that I only had two little sips of the soup and then wasted the rest of my $10.75.  Although maybe I didn’t really waste my money since the cost of this atrocity probably came from the eight fresh oysters that died in the bowl of fat, and I did manage to eat all of the oysters.

Let’s go back to the presentation for a second.  Here’s the photo from the cookbook (or at least from the Seduction Meals blog):

Grand Central Oyster Bar's Oyster Pan Roast from Their Cookbook

Here’s what I got at the actual restaurant:

The Oyster Pan Roast I received at Grand Central's Oyster Bar

Where’s the piece of toast, you ask?  And where are all the other tiny oysters?  Oh, they’re down there somewhere…drowning in this hot mess.  Have you ever lost the words to describe how you’re feeling?   Well this image describes how I was feeling this past week – sad, disgusted and heavy-hearted that a friend of mine passed away.

Are you so depressed and turned off now that you’ll never go to Oyster Bar for some pan roast?  Well, good, that means I’ve done my job.  Now cheer up because this experience shouldn’t prevent us from trying more soups and sharing good conversation and a few laughs over a heart-warming bowl of something better.  That’s what my friend would’ve wanted – for us to keep laughing and living.  RIP Dan Cho.

Grand Central Oyster Bar
Grand Central Terminal
New York, NY 10017
(212) 490-6650
www.oysterbarny.com

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


Gettin’ Down to the Bottom of the Bowl: Ramen

Behold the new series called “Gettin’ Down to the Bottom of the Bowl!”  These are dedicated to classes I’m taking about certain style of soups (can’t say that I’ll actually be taking many of these) or any informational posts that go beyond the taste and ingredients of a soup (i.e. the history of where it came from).  I might just be taking stuff from Wikipedia.  Who knows.  This series stems from a ramen class I took a few weeks ago at the Japanese Culinary Center.  Basically, I and a few friends – T, L, JF, JF’s gf, JF’s friend – paid $40 and dedicated two hours to listening to a Japanese chef talk about the fine details of ramen and then stuffing our faces with three different bowls of noodles.

Upon entering and getting your name checked off the list, you’re handed a few pieces of paper stapled together.  I don’t think I’ve been handed class materials filled with pictures and charts since I graduated college ten years ago.  My brain wasn’t sure how to process it.  Luckily I wasn’t being graded, and I’m going to find out right now if I even understand the notes I scribbled all over the paper.  I’m definitely not as organized in my note-taking as I used to be.

In any case, first observation – the paper was stapled on the upper right hand side.  How authentic!  Certainly not in some fake Japanese joint.  No way, Jose.

You then chose which high-top table (no seats) you wanted to join.  About six people fit to a table.  And, while you were standing there listening to the chef explain the intricacies of ramen, you found your head turning right a few times to stare longingly at the mis en place for the noodles you were going to taste later.  Way to make your students lose focus.  Such a tease.

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So what did I* learn?  Here’s a little Q&A:

Where did ramen originate from?
China…of course.  ;op  In Chinese, we call it “la mien.”

What is the “definition” of ramen?
Soup + noodle = ramen

How many varieties of ramen are there in Japan?
3000-ish, but I’m not really sure anyone can put an exact number on it.  The high number is due to the fact that practically every little region has its own version.  And, according to Wikipedia, ramen with the same name can even have nuances from different vendors that propagate even more variations.

Some specifics on varieties of ramen that coincide with varieties of sake made in different regions.
Closer to shores of Japan –> More seafood-based ramen and crisper, cleaner sake
More inland –> More pork- and chicken-based ramen and bolder sake
More north –> More miso-based, fermented flavors and I have no idea about the sake

What is the soup made of? (Note: I’m taking this from Wikipedia since the sheet of paper is confusing.)
“Ramen soup is generally made from stock based on chicken or pork, combined with a variety of ingredients such as kombu (kelp), katsuobushi (skipjack tuna flakes), niboshi (dried baby sardines), beef bones, shiitake, and onions, and then flavored with salt, miso, or soy sauce.  Other styles that have emerged later on include curry ramen and other flavors.

The resulting combination is generally divided into four categories (although new and original variations often make this categorisation less clear-cut):”  Shio (“salt”), Tonkotsu (“pork bone”), Shoyu (lots of soy sauce), and Miso.  More on the latter three later.

What types of noodles are there?
They vary in texture, absorbability and shape.  There’s thick/thin, straight/wavy, water-added/less water-added, aged and flat.  We got to squeeze and smell some curly, raw noodles, and they were hard to break.  When you squeeze, it apparently creates the release of glutens, increasing the elasticity of the noodles (did I get this right? not sure).

Ramen noodles have a gauge number much like what you see with Italian pasta in the grocery stores.  The number is determined by how many 3cm widths you can cut.  The bigger the number, the thinner the noodle.

What is the unique ingredient that gives the noodles the “al dente” quality?
Sodium bicarbonate, which has a pronounced smell when uncooked (I did smell it when we passed the raw noodles around.).  It helps to keep the noodles firm even when in broth for a while.

So how long should you cook the noodles for?
Boil in water for two minutes in a separate pot, without salt, until 80-90% cooked.  Once you pour broth over them, the broth will finish the cooking process.

If you buy fresh raw noodles, do you have to cook it right away?
No.  If you actually “age” the noodles in the fridge for two weeks – covered (to not absorb other odors) but not air tight – it will create a better texture and enhance the flavor.  But, of course, if you see mold, toss out!  I’m sure you don’t want that kind of “enhanced” flavor…although you could possibly make that into your own special variation of ramen. ;o)

I bought a certain type of noodle.  Now what broth do I pair it with?  (Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand the diagram and can’t tell where straight vs. curly noodles fit in this.)
Soft, thin noodles –> Light soup
Soft, thick noodles –> Light, rich soup
Hard, thin noodles –> Tonkotsu soup
Hard, thick noodles –> Heavy, rich soup

How should I serve the noodles?
Piping hot.  It’s considered shameful if the bowl is not served hot.

It’s time to eat, and you hear people slurping really loudly when they eat ramen.  It seems like bad etiquette, right?  Why do they do that?
Slurping enhances the retro-nasal olfaction, which opens up the aromas.  So some people do this for a better ramen experience.  Of course, for some people, slurping is just slurping, and not something more sophisticated.  As for me, I can’t even slurp.  I tried.  I don’t like sucking in extra air for reasons I shall not say out loud.  So I guess I’m an average Yoshi (my name at a certain Starbucks), neither sophisticated nor bad-mannered.  Whether I can slurp or not, ramen still tastes super delicious to me!

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Now let’s get to the types of ramen we actually ate during class.  They pre-made everything for us and set up stations.  First, we picked up the actual bowls of noodles in one section of the room.  Three types = three lines.

Then, we went to the broth station to get the correct broth.

After the broth, we went to the “gu” (ingredient) station and added the appropriate stuff for the type of ramen you were eating (Hakata/Tonkotsu, Sapporo/Miso or Tokyo/Shoyu).

And we finally got to eat what we so beautifully, or not so beautifully, put together…one big bowl at a time…

Hakata Ramen (Tonkotsu Ramen)

HAKATA RAMEN (TONKOTSU RAMEN)
It’s a specialty of Kyushu, the southern part of Japan.  The rich broth is made from pork bone (“tonkotsu”), which is boiled under high heat.  The umami (or “savoriness” in English, “good taste/flavor” in Japanese) stems from the inosinic acid (used as flavor enhancer and important in metabolism) and emulsified fat.  Made with thin, firm, low moisture, straight noodles.  Common ingredients are: charshu (pork), kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), naruto (??), and beni shoga (sweet and sour red ginger).  [Um, re: photo, is that kamaboko (fish cake) supposed to be in there?  It’s not in the list of gu I just typed up.  Imposter!]  My favorite ramen spot in Manhattan that serves this style is Ippudo.

Sapporo Ramen (Miso Ramen)

SAPPORO RAMEN (MISO RAMEN)
Sapporo ramen originated in none other than Sapporo, Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan.  It’s made with a pork and chicken stock mixed with Shinshu miso (golden yellow miso that is salty but mild and versatile).  Let’s talk about miso for a sec…

There are two types of miso:  red (aka) and white (shiro).  Red takes six to nine months to produce, but white only takes two to three months, so white is typically used because it’s faster to make.  If you blend red and white miso, you create Awase miso.  Supposedly, the red gives umami and the white is more palatable.  Huh?

…now back to Sapporo ramen…it has a hearty, rich, nutty flavor, and it’s not oily because of miso’s “absorbability” to oil.  The broth pairs with high moisture, medium thick, wavy noodles to catch the “essence” better.  Ingredients include: charshu, corn, butter (Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products, so they put butter in everything; the butter goes well with the corn), sauteed bean sprouts, menma (bamboo braised in sake, mirin, soy sauce; my fave!), raw scallions, kamaboko.

Tokyo Ramen (Shoyu Ramen)

TOKYO RAMEN (SHOYU RAMEN)
Other common names for this type of ramen are “Shinasoba” or “Chukasoba.”  The clean, light broth is made from chicken and pork bones that are simmered in medium heat with soy sauce added.  Since it’s light, it’s considered good for the spring and summer.  By the way, there are 200 microbreweries that make soy sauce.  Yup, that’s right, microbreweries don’t just apply to beer!  Common ingredients are:  charshu, nori (seaweed), menma, kamaboko, tomago (egg), raw scallions, and sometimes bonito (dried fish flakes).

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*BURP*

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As you may have guessed, we were stuffed after having three bowls of ramen.  I think I satisfied any ramen craving for a long time after that.  So, even though we received an email with recipes to make all three types a couple of days after class, I have had no desire to look at them.  I don’t know if I ever will either, since I think, for me, great ramen is something I’ll always purchase at a restaurant, not something I’ll make on my own.  Even so, I’m still not sharing the goods with you, because I paid a relatively hefty $40 for this class.  Gotta save a little somethin’ special for myself!

Alas, that’s all I have to say.  I do hope you’re full of knowledge and will soon be full of satisfying ramen.

*Others may have learned more or less.  So this is by no means an account of EVERYTHING we learned in the class.  Did I need to include this footnote?  Probably not.

Japanese Culinary Center
711 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
http://www.japaneseculinarycenter.com


13 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Triple the Comfort, Triple the Pleasure

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  It sounds gross, but it tastes so good.  Try it!!

Sip Sak's Hot Yogurt Soup

The Man was in town this weekend, so I had to take him with me to try another soup.  I took him to Sip Sak, a Turkish restaurant in midtown east, since it was right across the street from the bday bash we had to be at later on.  I was really, really, really, really, really not looking forward to trying this Hot Yogurt Soup ($6).  Hot and yogurt just didn’t seem to go together.

The Man was going to order a bowl for himself, but I told him that I probably wouldn’t like it and would just give him the rest of mine.  Oh boy, was I wrong!

Before I tried it, my nose caught wind of the delicious mac and cheese scent, which made my eyes perk in excitement, which made me eager to dig in.  Ladies first, so I got the first taste.  Ummm, I need to go heat up some yogurt now and add a bit of mint and butter.  Somehow the three ingredients gave it a hint of citrus flavor.  Refreshing creaminess, could it be?  I’m sure I ingested a whole vat of fat, but that’s what I’m guessing makes it tasty.  Here’s what I recommend:  If you get your wisdom teeth pulled out and have an annoying craving for mac and cheese, then have some of this.  You won’t get the nice pasta chewiness, but I’m pretty sure it’ll hold you off until you can chew.  Maybe this could also compare to a light, watered down cheese fondue.  I mean, we did dip our bread into the bowl a few times.  Gotta soak up every last drop!

Being the generous girlfriend I am, I gave the Man the last few bits, even though I really wanted the rest of it.  It was the least I could do since I already lied to him about only taking a couple spoonfuls.  I think we both wanted to order a second bowl that we could enjoy alone, especially when our entrees weren’t satisfying.  Sometimes, things just aren’t meant for sharing, and we all need a little independence. 🙂

Needless to say, this was a shockingly lovely experience.  It’s hard not to feel incredibly satisfied and happy when you have the comforts of “mac and cheese,” soup and your Man by your side.

Sip Sak
928 Second Avenue
New York, NY
(212) 583-1900

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


9 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Castration Makes It All Better: Teodora’s Cappalletti In Brodo Di Cappone…and a bit about myself

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Need something to calm you down?  Drink/Eat this.  It’s not your grandmother’s chicken soup.  It’s better.

Last Thursday, my daily lunch partner in crime, C, had to run errands, so I decided to take the opportunity to go to Teodora to try their Cappalletti In Brodo Di Cappone ($13.50).  What is this you ask?  Teodora’s menu says, “homemade dumplings, filled with veal and parmesan cheese, in capon broth.”  Not knowing what capon broth was, I googled it before going.  I feel like there needs to be a pause here ’cause it’s rather interesting…

…it’s broth.  made from meat.  from castrated roosters!  Yes, CASTRATED roosters.  Why?  I have no clue.  But it was kind of the perfect thing for me that day because that morning I really wanted to castrate a friend for seemingly cracking some joke, a bit out of nowhere, about my name.  I’ll bop his head when I see him, but he hit a nerve and I didn’t get it at all.  More on that later.  Right now, let’s talk about the soup.

I walked into Teodora, a super cute, very homey restaurant.  I sat down at the bar and ordered the soup with a glass of wine.

Teodora's Cappelletti In Brodo Di Cappone

The broth was a beautiful, rich, golden hue.  The mini dumplings floated inside, and freshly-grated parmesan cheese and fresh-cracked black pepper topped it all.  The bowl looked so simple that you could only assume the flavors were simple, too.  But, instead, the broth was joyously intense and the meatiness from the veal burst into your mouth with every bite of an al-dente dumpling.  Whatever it is about castrating a rooster that produces a much better broth, I’m all for it.  I could’ve eaten three bowls.  It soothed me…for various reasons.  I mean, I wanted to castrate someone, and then I ate a soup made from a castrated animal.  You feel me?  Maybe not.

Teodora Logo

Before I left, I picked up a business card and noticed that their

logo is a crown with dashes around it like a sunburst to give it that “brilliant” look.  It made me wonder why they used that since I didn’t think it was a translation of “Teodora.”  The only thing I could come up with was that the logo represented their prized soup since it was created by cutting off the crown jewels of the main ingredient. 🙂

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A Bit About Myself

Back to my story from that morning.  It got me thinking about my name again, especially since I came across this quote from a book I’m reading: “Only by knowing ourselves can we truly understand others–and knowing from where you come is an important part of knowing who you are.”*

I’m Chinese-American.  My English name was derived from my Chinese name.  My parents decided to do that for both me and my brother when we were born.  “Ja-Shin” means happy, beautiful, Spring-like.

When I was in third or fourth grade, I remember sitting with my mom on a small chair, looking through the newspaper together.  She came across the name “Josephine,” and asked if I wanted to change my name to something more “American.”  I thought it was the oddest question because “Ja-Shin” had already become my identity.  But I know that my mom only wanted to make sure that I felt like I fit in…so I could have an easier life.  I didn’t even think about it when she asked, and answered, “No.”  She said I could think about it some more, but I never got back to her with a different answer.

My mom was right, though.  I’ve been made fun of before, whether it had to do with my name or the way I look.  I look and “sound” foreign, but I’m American and speak perfect English (unless I’ve had too much to drink or something).  For some strange reason, people still think that it gives them the right to make nasty remarks.  “Chink!”

It also makes employers think twice about my candidacy for a job.  I did a little experiment a few years ago where I changed the name on my resume and in my email: I included just my first initial, plus my last name, instead of my full name.  The response level from potential employers increased immediately – I actually received responses.  You’d think that I’d keep it that way, but I changed it back right after I came to that realization.  If someone was going to deny me because of the way my name looked, then it was someone I’d never want to work for.

So, who am I and where did I come from?

I was born and raised in New Jersey (South Jersey), graduated Cum Laude from UPenn ten years ago and am currently an Events Director.  Without going into the details, my upbringing has most definitely shaped a lot of who I am today.  It’s given me both the right tools and ambition that have made me successful.  Even with the occasional self-doubt, I’m still somehow capable of putting myself out there.  Whatever the reason, it’s helped build solid relationships and opened interesting doors, and I really am living out a super journey.  When I’m happy, I’m really happy.  When I’m sad, I’m really sad.  I might be petite, Asian and female, but I’m not afraid to speak up and stand up for myself.  It took a while before I found my voice, but I eventually found it.  And now you might not be able to shut me up.  (Good luck!)  I can say with confidence that I’m probably one of the more thoughtful and loyal people you’ll meet, and that’s partially because I’m extremely passionate about the people I’m close to.  But I also like to treat people the way that I’d want to be treated, so I try to be thoughtful in my actions…no matter whom I’m dealing with.  I’m an analytical person and very introspective, so, for the most part, I know exactly what my faults are.  And I do have them – many of them.  (But why would I tell you what those are?)  The challenge might be whether or not I want to change those faults.  A lot of times, I analyze others, too, and I’m usually spot-on.  (There’s proof!)  At the end of the day, I will do anything for my family and friends, but my closest friends also know that, if you f— up, I will castrate you on the spot.  Maybe if you give me some of Teodora’s capon broth, I’ll forget about it. 😉

*From The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!