Wednesday, August 17, 2011

THE PLAZA FOOD HALL - Todd English at the Plaza Hotel

Earlier this year, I featured The Plaza Food Hall located in the lower level (basement) of The Plaza Hotel by Central Park in New York City.  Today, the good news is some of the iconic wonderful places I go to will join the Food Court.  The following will soon be in the The Plazal Food Hall:

1) Luke's Lobster  (already featured)2) La Maison du Chocolat  (mentioned) 3) Lady M Cake Boutique - specializes in the multi layered crepe cakes in different flavors (have ordered on ocassion but have not featured)  and 4) Sushi Gari.

I can't tell you how excited I am to find all of these under one roof (err... basement).  If you haven't read my experience at The Plaza Food Hall, go check it out now below:

In the beginning of this summer 2011, in search where my favorite French little pastry shop went, I delightfully discovered The Food Hall in the lower level of the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City.  I had not realized that the Plaza Hotel actually had a little shopping mall with fine food!

Entering from 58th Street takes you directly down the escalator to the shopping concourse. Behind the perfumery is Todd English's Food Hall.  The place is enormous, and you can either eat around the counters or on tables with high stools.

The menu is very good.  The atmosphere is casual and the place was totally vibrant! They have a bakery, wine bar, cheese and mini market. We decided to sit at the counter around the seafood-oyster bar area. 

On the left above were the lobsters and oysters on ice.

The Food Hall had 2 versions of Prix-fixe lunch menus with several choice for each.  You could also order ala-carte.

Pictured on the right is the oyster board menu.

A sample of the prix-fixe lunch menu which we did not have.  We chose the other side of the fixed menu not in photo.
The first course was fried oysters on special cream sauce with lemon, scallions and some capers

 Main course was arugula pizza with very thin crust and light cheese. It was healthy and delicious!
Above was the pastrami sandwich served with okra, pickles and special Todd English mayo mixture

A side dish of Parmesan cheese french fries perfectly crisp and light with minced parsley
 On the right was the petite cheesecake with berry coulis for dessert.  Just a touch of sweet to end the meal.

By the way, you can sit at any counter.  They serve the same food from the menu anywhere you are.

There is also a takeout menu.  You can check it out by going to the link below.

One West 59th Street (concourse level of The Plaza Hotel)
New York City

HOURS: Sun – Thur 11am-10pm.
Fri & Sat 11am-11pm

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Tonight, I'd like to share a healthy, quick recipe fit for dinner at home or with guests.
This is very easy.  I am also sharing the vegetable with dressing as an accompaniment - recipe to follow below.  This recipe serves 2.  Increase proportionately to entertain.

1small loin of pork (about 1lb)
2 TB dijon mustard
1 TB honey
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 cloves of peeled garlic
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 TB of olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mince the rosemary and cloves together.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and then rub and leave in the minced garlic and rosemary.  Combine the honey and dijon mustard and spread on top of the entire loin of pork.  With your hands coat the entire roast with the olive oil and roast for 15 minutes.  Let sit to cool before slicing.

Ingredients for roasting the pork loin

Roast Pork Loin - cooked

SNAP PEAS - as accompaniment:
3 cups snap peas
2 cups of cold water with ice
1 large clove of garlic (peeled)
3 TB olive oil
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 TB of Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 or 1 whole seeded and sliced serrano chilli pepper

Cook the snap peas in salted boiling water till it turns nicely green.  Immediately drain the water and add the 2 cups of cold water with ice to prevent the pease from cooking.  When cold, drain and set aside.

In mortar and pestle, mash the garlic.  Then, add the olive oil, serrano chilli pepper and salt, mashing it together.  When mashed, add the Pecornio Romano cheese and smooth in almost a paste.  In a large bowl, combine the mashed dressing with the cooked cooled snapped peas.

Slice the roast pork and serve with vegetables - snap peas and some whole wheat pasta
You can also serve this with Japanese seasoned rice for sushi slathered in the drippings from the pan.  Because it's pork loin, it is not greasy.  But the seasoned rice and the drippings add so much flavor to this simple pork loin dish.

CASA MONO - Spanish Tapas

What are tapas.  Tapas began in Spain where they serve about a quarter amount of food in little plates.  Any dish can be a tapa.  You can serve cured meats, vegetables, potatoes, fish etc... The plate size is similar to a dessert plate.

I recommend to order at least 3 - 4 plates of tapas for each person consisting of different things to be eaten with a glass of wine or sangria.  It could be your appetizer or your main dinner.

My favorite tapa place to go for tapas in New York City is Casa Mono; located between Gramercy and Union Square areas.  It's a small restaurant with a bar where you can sit mainly to eat and not necessarily just to drink.  They have little tables too.  But the maximum they can sit in a table is 6.

I love sitting at the bar facing the kitchen where I can watch my dish and other dishes prepared.  The bar area have hooks under the counter to hang your bags or coats (if short).

You will see videos of the dishea I had ordered.  Watch how these 2 people busily cook behind the counter at 3PM Sunday afternoon.  Imagine them at peak hours!

I'm seated on the counter facing the chefs prepare food.  This is my Confit Goat with Rhubarb and Basil Seeds.  He was also preparing other dishes along with it.  He took something from the cupboard below and put it on my plate where he layered a crisp circular dough for the confit of goat.

The Confit of goat is ready:

Confit Goat with Rhubarb and Basil Seeds
Below, my Quail order is being prepared.  The vegetables are prepared with a dressing where the quail will be layed on top.  The video below shows how my quail is being cooked with a heavy plate on top to keep it flat.  It took roughly 12 minutes to cook it on both sides.

Quail with Boqueron and Green Bean Salad
52 Irving Pl
(between 17th St & 18th St)
New York, NY 10003
Neighborhoods: Flatiron, Union Square, Gramercy
(212) 253-2773

Monday, August 15, 2011

ZENKICHI - Japanese cuisine Tokyo Style

I enjoy Japanese food.  It has its own unique flavor.  It is known for its sushi, hibachi (grilled) cooking and light broth one pot dishes like the well known sukiyaki and shabu-shabu. With Tokyo's population presently reaching a record of 13 million people, there is a new Japanese cuisine that is popular in Tokyo - modern Japanese food.  It's not fusion, but there are some influences from abroad.

Zenkichi opened in November 2006 by a homesick Tokyo-native. Zenkichi is a modern Japanese brasserie providing an authentic dining experience of popular Tokyo establishments.
Zenkichi is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.  It's a quick subway ride from Union Square station and the first stop in Brooklyn from Manhattan.  I've been showing Williamsburg as a Real Estate Broker so I knew where to look for the restaurant which is about 2 blocks from the station.

The restaurant is very unassuming from the outside.  Previously, I learned that when a restaurant is special in Japan, you will not see large signs.  Zenkichi is that way with a small menu from the outside.  But when you get in, you will be surprised.  I felt like a walked in the heart of Japan.  I had to take the photos below.

You can imagine yourself transported to Old Japan with modern Japanese cuisine.

I love the use of bamboo, stone, pebbles and floor lamps.

Perhaps, I appreciate the authenticity of the decor because I happen to to be a Real Estate Broker as well - so I can't help look into details that are striking.

When you get to the restaurant, there are 2 ways you can eat.  You may either order ala carte menu or try their prix-fixe version.  We tried the ala carte.

From Left to Right, we had salmon roe with fresh scallop on tasting spoons, kampachi (yellow-tail family), Anago Omelet with seawater eel , and Fluke & Konbu*
        Fluke sashimi with shiso leaf &
        salt konbu seaweed
Pictured on the right is Cold Fresh Tofu.
This silky homemade tofu is served with light dashi sauce with a little broccoli.  It's very tasty.  You should try this.  We liked the light delicate flavor.

Note:  On the left are individual private rooms for 2, 4 or 8 people.  They are like booths that separate you from the people sitting next to you to provide privacy. 

Right:   たこわさびTako Wasabi
Wasabi-cured octopus

We couldn't make up our minds which of the chicken dishes we should have.  They were both excellent.  Left-Right: Nagoya Teba Wings - crispy chicken wings with special blend of Japanese spices.  And on the right is Rocksalt Jidori - simply grilled free-range chicken enjoyed in 3 ways: by itself, with lemon, or with yuzu pepper.

Left: Grilled, Roasted & Simmered Eggplant
Grilled Nasu Dengaku
Grilled Japanese eggplant topped with house-blend white miso.  Delicious!!
Right - Grilled yellow tail collar (my favorite fish)

Above:  Camembert & Shrimp Corn Tempura.  Lightly dipped in tempura batter.

As they say, a great meal won't be complete unless you have some special drink.  The sake that paired well was Eilo Fuji Nama - Junmai Ginjo Draft.  It is very light and does not over power the food.

シーフードグラタンSeafood Gratin
Oyster, uni sea urchin, shrimp, Japanese mushrooms:
oven-grilled in béchamel sauce

The dessert was notable!  We had 
黒胡麻のフローズンチョコレートムースFrozen Black Sesame Mousse 
Chocolate-based silky frozen sesame mousse.

I'm definitely impressed with this neighborhood restaurant.  The food, service and ambiance were definitely a treat!  And the price was right.  Worth going out to eat to have a great experience.  A short walk to the park after with views of Manhattan!

Even the signs were unique. 

NOTE:  This is a good place to be with someone or dine with a small group.

77 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Neighborhood: Williamsburg - North Side
(718) 388-8985

Sunday, August 7, 2011

ZUM SCHNEIDER - Authentic German Restaurant

I have been to Zum Schneider - a German Restaurant in the East Village, a few times.  It seems that each time I return, the food gets better. This is one German Restaurant that I like here in the United States; - and believe me I've tried quite a few of them which were highly recommended. 

Zum Schneider has an A rating which you'd like to see posted on the door of a restaurant in New York City assuring you that the health department has graded it with satisfaction for following safe sanitary procedures. The atmosphere is casual and the food is quite good and fresh.  They are noted for their beer as well.  In fact they serve 12 German beers on tap.

Even I, who normally do not drink beer enjoyed a beer they had available that day.

Above is a sample of the beer they have for this summer of 2011

And below are their specials for the day menu.  We ordered quite a few choices at our table and shared it.

HAXN - The crispy pork shank is our favorite.  They serve it with red/white cabbage

The red and white cabbage on the left is the side dish that comes with the order of Haxn - the roast pork shank.  We ordered 2 of them because it's our favorite.

We are at a German Restaurant so we ordered their special spaetzel with bacon and cheese accompanied by a salad with a delicious light sweetish dressing.

The dishes we ordered
We also ordered the Veal Schnitzel which was lightly breaded. 
Not in photo:  Green cabbage w/ garlic, ginger & crispy quark-potato dumplings is another dish you have to order.  It's really delicious!

For dessert, we had the apple fritters cooked in beer batter, below.

Our beer mug or glass coasters
This would be a great place for Oktober Fest!
(Originating from Germany, Oktoberfest had turned into an enormous world-famous festival since 1960)
Cash only

Zum Schneider Restaurant & Biergarten
107 Ave C @ East 7th Street
New York City , NY 10009
Tel. (212) 598-1098 (weekdays after 4pm, weekends after 12pm)
Fax (212) 598-0431



Friday, August 5, 2011


This is a wonderful recipe that is versatile.  You can use it to serve as an entree or main course and sliced.  Or you can slice in smaller portions to serve for sandwiches or pork buns.

What is a pork bun?  In China, they are sandwiches using very soft white dough that is usually steamed or baked with filling in it - pork, or vegetable, etc...  In my past blog, I had featured a "bun" recipe using an open flat white "bread" that you can steam and then stuffed with filling of your choice like pictured below, on the right.

There are also Chinese buns where the filling is inside the dough which is completely sealed and steamed or roasted to cook.  They are called Cha Siu Bao.  The bread is made with both yeast and baking powder which makes the dough very soft with fiiner holes than a baguette or bread.
Pictured above:  Chinese steamed bun

Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, called Banh Mi has become very popular.  The usual baguette is soft inside and crackly crisp outside like a light French baguette.

To make it easier to eat this flavorful Vietnamese style sandwiches called Bahn Mi, I have used a regular "hot dog" bun or even slider sandwich bread.  This way, I can enjoy the taste without having to search for the availability of bread traditionally used for Bahn Mi.  This version will make it possible for anyone to create a Bahn Mi Asian sandwich using accessible ingredients.

For the filling, I have tried various recipes cooking pork bellies and have finally pinned down the best way to make a moist and very tasty meaty pork belly with versatile use and easy at the same time.

3 lb meaty pork belly (Make sure that you view this piece from its side so you see more meat than fat.  Just like picking the meaty bacon)
1/2 can of 7-Up
1/4 c soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
6 cloves of peeled and minced garlic
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp Five Spice Powder (found in grocery stores in a bottle)
2TB honey to brush on top or Asian BBQ sauce
*(Garnishes for sandwiches below)

Combine all the ingredients above.  Prick your pork belly about 5 times with sharp fork and put the entire meat inside in the marinade.  Marinate for 2-3 hours turning meat over once.  Transfer directly in a roasting pan on rack with water under the rack (or use a dutch oven with a rack) and cover with foil. Baste with the honey on top and bake in preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 1 hour.  Uncover and baste top with honey or Asian BBQ sauce and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and let it cool off.

Slice 1/4 inch thick and serve or use as meat for sandwiches or Bahn Mi.
Above, note the garnishes inside the sandwich and how thick or thin the slice is of the pork

TO PREPARE BAHN MI (Vietnamese Sandwiches)
You may use a nice baguette or baguette-style bread.  Otherwise, you can use hot dog buns or mini hamburger buns or sliders.

Bunch of cilantro leaves
Slivered scallions
Pickle Relish or sliced butter pickles
Cucumber slice (if available instead of cucumber pickles)
Pickled carrots (If not available, use pickled relish)
Siracha (hot sauce found in grocery stores)

If you will serve it right away, it is nice to toast the gread openned on a hot griddle first.  Otherwise, to take the sandwich out with you for a picnic or lunch for later, there is no need to heat the bread up.
Above, I have used a hot dog bun to make this Roast Pork Bahn Mi

Put mayonnaise on one side of the bread.  Squeeze siracha sauce, pickles or relish, sprigs of cilantro leaves and a slice or 2 of roast pork belly.

If you have time, you can make your own pickled carrots or purchase shredded pickled carrots from an Asian grocery store if you happen to know where to get it and use it as garnish instead of the pickles or pickle relish.

For Bread:  You may use hotdog buns if you cannot find a light French baguette.  Warm the baquette or if using hotdog buns, slice the bun and toast it flat on griddle.

You can also use the Chinese buns found in Asian markets' freezer.  Steam them first though.
Hong Kong Supermarket
157 Hester St
(between Elizabeth St & Bowery)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhoods: Little Italy, Chinatown
(212) 966-4943

GOAT STEW - My Version

Goat meat taste like lamb.  So, if you can't find goat meat, you can use lamb as substitute.
It is considered to be lower in fat and easier on the digestive system.

The following recipe is simple but flavorful.  It borrows techniques and ingredients from Spain.  I make this dish for my family and we love it!

3 lbs of goat ribs cut up in 2 inch squares
5 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 large onion, minced
5 TB of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine (or red)
1 green or red pepper seeded and sliced
1 carrot sliced thickly
6 small Yukon potatoes, peeled and cut in halves (optional)
1/2 cup of green olives
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper for seasoning to taste
First you heat up the olive oil.  Add the minced garlic and onions and saute till onions are transparent and garlic slightly brown.  Add the goat meat to brown a little.  Add the wine and tomato sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover pot and simmer for about 30 - 45 minutes.  Add the carrots, olives, potatoes and sliced peppers.  Simmer 20 minutes more and serve.