The Food Maven Diary
Upcoming Appearances, New Ramen Restaurant
Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote. As you know I have been out and about promoting "Jewish Home Cooking." I have met many of you in my travels, and I have to say that this part is the most gratifying - knowing there are so many truly wonderful people who care about what I am doing. And say that they miss me on the radio! (If you do, listen on Monday mornings, after 11 a.m., at www.robinhoodradio.com. That's the 20-minute podcast of my segment that airs live at 7:40 a.m. in the northwest corner of Connecticut.) I have to say that I never tire of being missed. However, I am tired of schlepping around the metro area. It's exhilarating, but exhausting, which is why I haven't taken the time to write.
My next appearance is this Wednesday, April 23, at the Port Washington Public Library. Then on Thursday evening I will be at the Holmdel Barnes & Noble store. Please check my appearance schedule on this site for the details. They are both free events.
As all this activity has sometimes precluded cooking and eating at home, and I have eaten out a few times in Manhattan in recent weeks.
For instance, I had dinner with David Rosengarten last week at a new Japanese ramen restaurant called IPPUDO NY, at 65 Fourth Ave., which is just north of Astor Place.
It looked like every Japanese New Yorker under 30 was there. It is an extremely stylish place, with a bar as you enter that features a sculpture of a variety of Japanese bowls glued to big red squares, nine bowls to the square. Very decorative. Very clever.
Inside, glass and different wall surfaces are a little disorienting at first, but we easily cozied down next to each other, David and I, at a broad wooden communal table - meaning, unless you are a large party yourself, count on eating with strangers.
Everyone was there for the same reason: The parent restaurant in Tokyo is very famous. David ate there last year and couldn't wait to try the New York outpost. We waited about 45 minutes for our table, on little leather cube stools in the bar. The place is mobbed even without a word yet in a magazine or newspaper. According to the receptionist, when they open at 5 p.m. there is already a line waiting to get in. Lunch, less popular so far, is from 11:30 a.m. to 3 or 3:30 p.m. She said there's no wait then.
I loved what we ate, even if I wouldn't rush back for the appetizers. The hot sushi roll, the only sushi on the menu, filled with pork fat and egg custard, was neither as rich nor as interesting as it sounds. The fried chicken nuggets in a tangle of green leaves and julienne vegetables were superb; hot, crisp, succulent, and well seasoned. I could eat a lot of those. The cubes of grilled bacon were great, melt in the mouth stuff with a little punch from a drizzle of thick, dark sweet-acid sauce. Five shrimp draped with mayonnaise sauce on a long tray were truly as exquisite as they were presented. They reminded both David and me of fashionable Hong Kong-style Cantonese.
Indeed, the main event, fresh ramen, are the Japanese first cousin to Chinese lo mein. It's not the instantly reconstituted stuff that comes in packages. Here the noodles come in big bowls of luscious broth with varying degrees of spicing and condiments. Don't fail to ask for the bowl of garlic and the garlic press to crush whole cloves into your broth yourself. There is also a sort of kim-chi type paste. That's good, too.
The ramen soups cost only $12 to $14. If you came just for them and drank a little - the Japanese spirits list is very intriguing, and David says quite complete -- you could get out for about $35 a person. With all our appetizers, and three drinks for two, our bill came to $55 a person.