February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival). The event is held in three different locations throughout Sapporo, where a variety of snow and ice sculptures are featured. I went to the Odori location where there were, in addition to numerous smaller snow sculptures, five large snow and ice scenes. These were naturally impressive, but I would be lying if I said that the majority of my time wasn’t occupied by the many food booths that surround the festival. My first choice was nikuman, which is a Chinese style pork bun. This one was shaped like a pig and was pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever eaten. Another booth also had panda shaped buns.
Here’s piggy, preparing for the slaughtering.
Next up was Japanese fried chicken, which is called karaage in most of Japan. In Hokkaido we call it zangi. The zangi still had the skin on, were perfectly crisp, the meat tender, and the green onion sauce a really perfect accompaniment. I ended up making zangi with a green onion dipping sauce last week because the memory of this was haunting me (besides some hot oil splatter, the results were immensely satisfying). At the same booth I also got a spiced chai (they also had a butter rum chai). The chai was nice but a little too sweet for my tastes, and the cinnamon on top formed an unpleasant sort of skin.
There was also a Brazilian BBQ stand (Churrasco). I’ve had this a couple of times in NY, but I had no idea that it could taste like this. The meat was tender inside with a fantastic outer char and just packed with flavor. This is one of those things that just makes you smile to eat.
I was about to burst at this point, but I still had to get an order of takoyaki. Takoyaki are balls of savory pancake batter filled with octopus, which I am extremely partial too. These were probably the best takoyaki I’ve had. The crispy outer skin was a little thick for my taste, but the inside was incredibly creamy and even though I was full enough to explode, with a little help from my companions, I managed to polish them off.
February 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Pork buns pre-steaming filled with Chinese BBQ pork.
Filling the shui mai. Usually we make a shrimp and pork filling but this year we did lobster. Unfortunately the texture and the flavor of the lobster didn’t quite hold up to the steaming process.
Finally the potstickers. Regional Cooking of China by Margaret Gin and Alfred E. Castle is our go-to cookbook for dough and filling recipes but this year I used a recipe for pork filling from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. I was definitely apprehensive about taking a departure from what we usually do, but these were great.
February 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
First, Crif Dogs. I managed to hit up both the new location in Williamsburg and the old standby on St. Marks. Got Chihuahua dogs (bacon wrapped dog covered with avocadoes and sour cream) at both places. My usual, although sometimes I’ll go for the Jon-Jon Deragon (crif dog with a schmear of cream cheese, scallions & everything bagel seeds). Williamsburg location seems up to snuff but I had to wait for almost 40 minutes for my dog at the EV location (pretty unacceptable).
I also managed to get to the new Meatball Shop location in Williamsburg. I wasn’t too hungry so I had a couple of sliders.
I had the spicy pork ball with tomato sauce and the special, which was a Bolognese ball, with spicy meat sauce. I thought it was good, but not as spectacular as I expected based on how everyone raves about them. I have been informed that I may have orderly badly so I’ll have to give it another go.
Another first for me was Minetta Tavern where I, of course, had to sample their Black Label Burger (which is selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pommes frites). This is a seriously hyped burger and, amazingly, it does not disappoint (although it’s pricey). The meat is juicy and packed with beefy-flavor. The Mouclade (bouchot mussels, white wine, saffron, curry, crème fraîche) which my dining partner ordered, while perhaps less famous, was also enjoyable.
Somehow Bon Chon has become my last night in NY tradition. This time we went to the 5th ave location and got the usual mix, one spicy and one soy. There is something incredibly satiating about Bon Chon chicken, simultaneously sweet and crunchy. In a word, perfect. A satisfying end to a satisfying week.