NYE Weekend Bites – NJ & NYC
As if you haven’t heard it a million times already, Happy New Year! No New Year resolutions for me this year. I decided resolutions are bullsh*t (c’mon, you all know it’s true), so without further ado, let’s talk food!
A lot of food was eaten this long holiday week, and it all began New Year’s Eve at Momofuku Ssäm Bar.
I was lazy this year and decided to wing it instead of making reservations. That’s how David and I ended up at Ssäm. It was surprisingly quiet on Saturday, and we were seated immediately.
For dinner, we kept it light with half a dozen briny Royal Miyagi oysters ($16), a plate of Swiss chard with XO sauce ($10) topped with a generous handful of fried shallots, and to share, a tender Whole Boneless Porgy ($39) with turnip, chopped mustard greens, hon shimeji (mushrooms), and shio kombu (seaweed). A warm seafood broth was added table-side. With the exception of a few lingering scales, I enjoyed the nose-clearing bite of the mustard greens which contrasted nicely with the overall mellowness of the fish. Dinner concluded with a Chocolate Parfait ($10) with matcha (green tea powder) and dulce de leche. While neither rich nor decadent, it was delicious in a clean, Asian dessert sort of way. It was a tasty and a relatively healthy end to an excessively indulgent year.
Light didn’t last long, however, because my next meal, and the first of 2012, was at my parents’ house. As usual, my mom cooked up a “little something,” meaning days and days worth of a lot.
There was galbi jjim (갈비찜, braised short ribs), moist and savory with a touch of sweetness,
mounds of japche (잡채, stir-fried glass/cellophane noodles) slicked with lots of sesame oil,
two kinds of homemade kimchi: kutjulee (겉절이, fresh kimchi) and kkakduki (깍두기, radish kimchi),
crunchy, nutty bindaedduk (빈대떡, mung bean pancakes), although this time it wasn’t as tasty as it could be because my mom used ground beef instead of pork because of David (damn you David and your non-pork eating ways!),
and, of course, ddukguk (떡국, rice cake soup). As I mentioned several times (here and here), it’s a Korean tradition to eat ddukguk on the first day of the year. This year’s ddukguk also included kimchi and beef dumplings. Alas, no pork again because of David. (David!!!) Still, everything was fantastic as always (thank you mommy!), and the rest of the day was spent drinking champagne, eating truffle cheese from Di Palo, and playing Dance Central (best video game ever!).
The next day, David’s cousin Alvin came into town, and wanted to go to Takashi. It was perfect because I’ve been wanting to visit also ever since The Layover: New York episode a few weeks back. Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to the hype. We tried a few of the grilled meats (galbi, tongue experience, sweet breads, first stomach) seasoned with salt, garlic, and sesame oil (Takashi’s sauce, the chef’s take on Korean BBQ marinade, was the other option), and everything except the sweetbreads was seriously over-salted. Not just salty, so salty it was practically inedible. The quality of the meats were amazing, but obviously that’s useless after the overzealous salting. Perhaps if I ever go back, I’ll opt for Takashi’s sauce instead.
The Niku-Uni, roasted seaweed and shiso topped with raw chuck flap and fresh sea urchin ($24), although a tad plain, was probably the only highlight of the night. The sea urchin tasted clean and buttery, the fresh shiso added a peppery freshness, and the seaweed was crisp. As for the raw beef, it was a bit flavorless, and I don’t believe added much except texture. It’s best to make use of the wasabi and soy sauce served on the side.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely a fun and filling weekend with friends and family. I hope yours was too, and if not, there are more weekends to come. No need to stress about a certain day or holiday. Happy eating!