Friday, February 04, 2011

Finally Real Sushi in W'burg

The rents are uncontrollably high. Unattractive condos keep filling up the community. For better or worse, Williamsburg invites new habitants and businesses. Some are not welcome. Some make us never wanna leave here:

The recent arrival of Japanese grocery store Midoriya brought a huge smile on my face. The price setting is a bit higher than stores in East Village, Product lines are still minimal. But it's not worth a complaint. I get to rent and watch Japanese shows, too!

Until recently, Zenkichi used to be our favorite Japanese place, who unfortunately don't allow any child under 4. Samurai Mama is a nice place for lunch and good udon noodle (baby-stroller friendly). And finally, an authentic Japanese sushi spot tapped into the hood, just two blocks from our apartment.

One or Eight ("Ichi ka Bachika" means hit or miss, all or nothing) converted a huge industrial loft space into a modern, clean and yet welcoming restaurant with a bright white interior (with a stylish touch unlike clean-cut, super Japanese Yasuda sushi). We were early enough to sit on the sushi bar with a stroller tucked in on the side. They say kids are running around especially on Sundays.

It's always good to have sushi prepared one piece at a time by the chef himself. Kazu, one of the owners and chef, serves each piece at a perfect timing. It's got the same caliber as Azabu and Yasuda, in my humble opinion, but more laid-back and relaxed environment. We spent around $300 for two of us with a few appetizers and 15 pieces or so amazing sushi, couple beer, martini, sake in carraf. It's a great deal for all we had.

Recommendation: Shrimp and cresson gyoza dumpling for an appetizer. Fresh oysters. Omakase sushi.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer beef

July 4th has been a quite a tradition for us to invoice our friends and make nice grills. But last couple years, especially with the little addition to our family, it's been hard to host a big party. So this year, we treated ourselves with MCH signature chili rubbed beef tenderloin—which we once made but the guests devoured it all before we had any slice...

MCH Chipotle Chili Rubbed Beef Tenderloin
Inspired by the recipe on NY TIMES

Beef Tenderloin
Salt, Pepper

*Chili Paste
Chipotle chili (dried)
Cayenne or chili pepper
Dijon mustard
Black pepper
Oil oil

In food processor, mix all the paste ingredients. We normally grind the dried chili and spices in coffee bean grinder and mix with other wet ingredients. No need for food processor. You can use food processor and make lots of paste and store for future use.

Tie the tenderloin with string. NICELY salt the meat. Sear the surface of meat on the pan, to nice and brown. Put in 450 F oven for 12 minutes. Cool the loin to room temp. Rub the chipotle paste all over. Back in the oven for 5 min. Cover with aluminum foil and chill in room temp or refrige. You can prepare a day in advance and let it rest in refrige over night.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Indoor Hanami

It's the second time we are doing this indoor Hanami (cherry blossom viewing luncheon). Our friend Akiko cooked all the delish Japanese food. As Spring visited NY earlier than usual, we didn't have any cherry blossom to view, but the pickled plum rice added nice subtle pink of cherry blossom to the table. My favorite was ginger vinaigrette cucumber and miso flavored eggplant.

While the Baby is Sleeping...

Leaving the new born T to his grandma, we treated ourselves to a sushi dinner at Azabu. MCH hasn't had decent sushi for 2 years. I abstained from raw fish for the whole 9 months. It was time to indulge... We got Omakase course menu.
Oyster form Washington. Big and full of flavor. Can't be happier.

I could have had a huge plate of sashimi. Lean tuna (akami), kobu-cured flounder (hirame), fresh Spanish mackerel (saba), abalone (awabi), sweet shrimp (amaebi), and sea urchin (uni). Usually, Spanish mackerel is lightly cured in vinegar (like cevice), so it's rare to find Spanish mackerel fresh enough to be served simply raw.

Grilled dish (yaki-mono) was miso marinated red snapper.

Firefly squid (hotaru-ika) with miso vinaigrette. Some may hate the idea of biting a whole squid even if it's so tiny. If that doesn't bother you, you get to enjoy the indescribable flavor similar to crab butter.

For got what this fish was. I think some kind of sea bream . The skin doesn't bother you at all.

Finally sea urchin sushi. For a lady, they make 1 piece into 2 mini bites like this. We had many more pieces of sushi along this and finished with miso soup (We have soup on the side of or after the meal) and dessert. If you sit at the counter, you are offered 1 free piece of sushi—whatever you like!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Shower

In response to my friends' request, I finally did my baby shower, 2 weeks before my due date. Thankfully, the baby was still inside of me. Our good friend offered their beautiful apartment in downtown NY. The theme, if name any, is a high tea party. We made tea sandwich (cream cheese & cucumber / curry flavored egg sandwich). I selected six kinds of loose tea for the guests to make their own cup of tea. Our generous friends also contributed a fine selection of wine.

I got 2 handsome sidekicks Rubin and August (the host family's sons) for the gift opening.

There was no games like a traditional shower. Instead, we asked the guests to do drawings on the onesies. I can't wait to have my baby wear each one of them : )

Dressler Dinner

Our dear friends The Emmings treated us to the dinner. One of our favorite restaurants in the hood, Dressler, is a charming establishment when you care for a nice dinning for a special occasion. Their menu is well balanced with veggie, meat and seafood in season. They now offer a 5-course tasting dinner—absolutely a great option to enjoy small (yet definitely filling) portion of appetizer, main dish, and dessert.

Artichoke heart salad with arugula was so good that I finished before taking a photo! My appetizer: Fresh squash ravioli with wild mushroom in parmesan sauce. This probably was my favorite of the night. Two large ravioli in light white wine sauce with just right saltiness of cheese compliments the sweetness of squash.

Seared salmon was a nice portion of lightly seasoned salmon on the bed of veggie puree. I like their simple, delicate style of cooking seafood.

Pork belly was phenomenon. It melts in your mouth. At this point, my oven with a bun was getting really full. I somehow managed to finish the whole course thanks to their perfect timing of brining each dish.

You probably make no mistake choosing a dish here. I personally like seafood since meat could be a bit heavy., and their appetizers are awesome. You can enjoy the dishes at the bar counter. Having a few appetizer dishes with nice glasses of wine or special cocktails is highly recommended.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Baby Tora

1-yr-old baby Tora, a son of my great friend, visited our W'burg apartment. Our shiny magazine rack got his attention. He seemed to want to get inside. I'd be happy if my baby loves to stay in magazine rack for hours...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of Year Noodle

Traditionally, people in Japan eat noodles (buckwheat noodle called Soba) on the New Year's Eve. It's a wish for longer, healthy life. You can have soba noodle in hot broth soup or cold with dipping sauce. Soba is super healthy with fiber, rutin, protein and polyphenol. I ordered fresh soba noodle from a restaurant in East Village (Sobaya). Fresh noodle, just like pasta, cooks in a minute. This year, we had it with tempura and some Japanese shimeji mushroom. If you could get yuzu citrus, its zest would add incredible flavor to the soup.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shachis - Venezuelan Arepa Joint

While Caracas and Arepa Arepa attracts W'burg hipsters by their casual, cute dining environments, Shachis Restaurant on South 4 and Havameyer (right under the BQE crossing) might satisfy real foodies in its family-owned, laid-back atmosphere. Unless you look for the name and have exact location, you could easily pass by this joint. Nothing fancy but clean, and lovely place.

The complimentary crispy fried plantain chips with original green salsa sauce hit my spot. Be careful; this is addictive. We started with Guacamole and chips: As good as their fresh guaca is the chips—really thin chips unlike regular tortillas. For non-alcohol drinkers, their homemade slushy juice (guava, passion fruit, pineapple, mango, etc.) for $3 in a large glass is recommended.

Then we took recommendation from NY Times review and had 2 arepas (venezuelan sandwich)—Reina Pepiada (chicken, potato and avocado); fresh and light but filling, and Pabellon (shredded beef, sweet plantain, beens and cheese); very rich and heavy, which alone makes a dinner.

Not knowing their arepas are so rich and filling, we ordered an entree as well. Arrozo con Pollo. It's like a stir fried rice with chicken, veggie and chorizo. We decided to savor aprea and take the rice home. The owner was right: We were ordering too much food.

They have less than 15 seats and it was pretty busy for Tuesday night. We didn't wait for the food but the service could be a bit slow, to the acceptable range. So go there relaxed. It's definitely a good place to pick up couple arepas to go.

197 Havemeyer Street
Brooklyn, NY11211
Phone (718)388-8884

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Le Labo

This is a new exciting addition to my life: Le Labo. I started working at the high-end, niche perfume store as Store Manager. Founded by two creative French guys, Le Labo has so many fans worldwide. I'm at the headquarter store on Elizabeth Street between Houston and Prince. Interior to packaging, it's very simple and minimal. I'm very happy to work in a creative atmosphere.

Here at Le Labo, we provide the perfume of your choice made freshly on order. Each of the 12 scents is so unique and addictive. I also love their candles! The packaging is simple and minimal that fits anybody's taste: You wouldn't want to use an overly gender-specific bottle even if you liked the smell. We do not custom-make perfume. Why? Because creating a good perfume to meet someone's expectation takes a long process and time. The magic doesn't happen in a minute. We do trust and respect the top perfumers in the world who have created our perfume lines. We do, however, do the last step of formulation by mixing the alcohol and scent oil and personalize each label.

Enough with sales talk. Not really. But stop by and spray as much as you like!

Le Labo
233 Elizabeth Street, NYC
Daily: 11am - 7pm (I'm off on Wed and Thurs)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Williamsburg Flea Market

I finally set up a little shop at a flea market to sell my potteries. One of the sunniest Sunday in July, Little Miko's Ceramics started a business in this new Williamsburg Flea Market.

Next to me, this lovely jewelry designer's shop with inspiring display was always busy. She actually liked one of my mini-dishes and bought them to use as a display element. So nice to have my piece be part of such a cute store! My dear husband bought me this beautiful, unique necklace. (24 karas by Elizabeth Karas)

Asian Pork Chop

HUGE pork chop from a great butcher shop in Hell's Kitchen. Marinated in Asian seasoning of soy sauce, fish sauce, chili, garlic, ginger, scallion. The side of Italian beans salad with basil and fresh mint surprisingly worked really nicely with this Asian meat dish.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kimono Gallery in Wabasha, MN

My mother-in-law introduced this interesting gallery that displays Japanese vintage kimono (kee-mo-no). The Wind Whisper West gallery is in a little town of Wabasha, 2-hour drive away from the Twin Cities along Mississippi river. Who would imagine you could find over 3,000 antique kimono from Japan. Richard, the owner, was stationed in Japan during WWII. He then became an art dealer, and in the last five years he's been collecting old kimono from Japan. Why in Washaba? Because his wife (who by the way is not from Japan) and her family are from this town. He was very interesting and told me lots of stories to the unusual Japanese visitor.

I was unable to take many photos due to the gallery's policy. But Richard let me take a few of my favorite piece. Most of the pieces displayed here are wedding kimono. Some with a very rare design and print, some are the work of famous Japanese designers like Hanae Mori and Yoji Yamamoto.

This kimono uses the color palette inspired by Shintoism. Bright yet subtle color scheme is marvelously placed in such charming details.

On the way home, we had a lunch at the Harbor View Cafe in the town of Pepin, WI. They were very nice and welcoming even though it was just the time they were closing.

A charming interior.

I ordered the catfish with hot salsa. It was really good. But a bit too much flavor in sauce—against my expectation for a light fish meal.

Braised Pork Shank was excellent.

Wind Whipser West - Kimono Gallery

July 4 in Minnesota

We were invited to the annual July 4 party hosted by Mr. & Mrs. Emmings, good friends of my husband's parents. They have a fabulous house right by a lake. The party has a great reputation for a wonderful meal, not to mention the fun group of people.

This year, it was all about paella. The chef from a local restaurant cooked outside—semi outdoor cooking class.

After waiting for over an hour, a huge, heavy dish was carried down to the shore.

Chicken, clams, crawfish, squid, shrimp, mussels... Thanks to my impeccable skill with eating every part of fish, I probably enjoyed this meal more than anyone.

The meal culminates to the famous Judy's flag cake and homemade ice cream: coffee, lemon buttermilk, strawberry rhubarb.

A lovely July 4 weekend had a perfect weather for paddling, too. Almost a ritual activity for summer in Minnesota.


The two fledgling Japanese restaurants seem to have embarked on a tough challenge of appealing epicurean Williamsburg residences. The only place in this hood for good/decent Japanese dining experience is Zenkichi—except for their prices. So I was quite excited about these newcomers with reasonable pricing. According to my friends, 'qoo' that opened first is not worth trying; poor in both quality and experience. Then comes Suiren. My husband got a flyer and he mentioned the owner was a nice person. After reading good reviews online, I tried Suiren with a few Japanese friends.

Verdict: Unless with a major improvement, I'd never go back.
Reason: The food is a not really good. Although friendly, the waiters don't offer a through service. Almost no Japanese staff here. I have no problem with that alone, but their knowledge of Japanese food/dishes was so poor that we, Japanese, felt awkward and unsatisfied. If they introduce a Japanese culture, I'd like it to be done properly, with a good service Japanese are known for.

As soon as we got there, they told us they had no liquor license. There was no liquor store nearby. I wish they told me that when I called. Our friend managed to pick up some drinks. The waiter served our wine in a tiny glass. With less than a few sips, the glasses went empty. She didn't seem to come back for refills, so we asked for bigger glasses. It wasn't even busy at all... She was probably unfamiliar with this business.

We initially ordered Chicken Nanbam but it was out. I got a bit annoyed by this friendly-yet-inadequate service and asked her what else they didn't have; they were also out of a few other items. Hummm....

Grilled Little Neck Clam
As we were four people, we asked if they could make it 4 pieces instead of 3 on the menu. She checked with the chef and the answer was NO. A bit inflexible, I thought . The clam wasn't fresh. Fishy. Lukewarm. Disappointment.

Eggplant with Miso Paste
It should be so hard to make this dish bad. And they did it. They used Chinese eggplant with really tough skin. Miso paste was overly sweet. I can make a better one.

At this point, it was apparent that this place wasn't owned by a Japanese. Weird as the website was in EN and JP.

Black Edamame
One of the few things we enjoyed. Finally a nice and hot dish.

Iceberg Lettuce Salad
Another so-so dish. Grilled on the surface, served with caesar dressing.

They were surprisingly ok. Two flavors: Soy sauce flavor with duck meat, and Miso flavor with veggies. Neither was good on its own. The broth was not rich—no complexity like at Ippudo. Miso version tasted so much of butter, probably a gimmick to add richness. We enjoyed it by blending two flavors.

Yuzu Cream Cheese Cake: It wasn't bad. But the yuzu flavor and cream cheese were not in harmony.
Japanese Pancake with Green Tea Ice Cream: The dough was too tough and the ice cream melted completely. Not something you want to pay for.

I hope they will get better soon.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Lovin' It!

My new hair salon uses Malin+Goetz's shampoo. According to the stylist, many of organic products are not moisturizing enough for Asian hairs—but Malin+Goetz is an exception. So I walked in to miomia, a cosmetic/body care store who carries their products. Among tons of hair products, the owner and my friend Katie actually recommended me this series called CUTLER, which she loves and uses herself. They are cheaper than Malin+Goetz and very hydrating. I've never found shampoo with such long-lasting scent. It is indeed very hydrating, too. I use the intensive conditioner and extra gentle shampoo, which smells a bit stronger than the regular ones. My relative who was staying with us noticed the smell after I took a shower, fell in love with the scent and became a fan of CUTLER. I highly recommend this product, especially to Asian girls with thick, dry hair.

Another favorite of mine from this store is the Marvis toothpaste. Read the post on this.

Visit miomia online shop

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Cocktail

Waiting for a table to grab a burger at Peter Luger, we perked ourselves up with some summery drinks at Dressler, one of our favorite restaurants in NY and a perfect spot for a fun, romantic date. I got a classic Bloody Mary. My friends tried a new cocktail called the Mutt, a new creation of Isaac, the bartender who is in the shot. It's made with Sauza, Budweiser, black pepper and lime. If you like Michelada, you would like this drink with a twist.

Eccentric object

So real that a walking dog tried to jump on. Stuffed coyote for $300 sold on a street in Williamsburg.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homey Japanese Restaurant

I want to keep this a secret so this hidden spot won't be much harder to get a reservation. So here's a little sneak peak for ya. This new Japanese restaurant is very small, seats for only 30 or so. One of the best thing about this spot is its space. They have a small Japanese garden inside. With modern furniture and a few crafts by Japanese artists, the owner/chef hopes this to be his own house in which he entertains his guests (customers).

As per my friends' recommendation, we had the course. This course is incredibly reasonable. Almost too much food. First dish was veggie salad with bagna càuda. The sauce was a bit too loose  and hard to eat. But the taste is amazing. Some Japanese daikon radish, endive, beets...

We also ordered a few dishes from the menu. Their house-smoked meat was simply fantastic. Each meat is smoked slightly differently. See the duck with yummy fat? 

Baked seasonal fish and vegetable. It's a whole fish for two people. Thanks to my skill with chopsticks, I ate everything but bones. 

One of the main dishes is this mini Wagyu burger with sun dried tomato and caramelized onion. It was good. I wish they cooked it close to rare. At this point, we were so stuffed. 

This place, for now, is BYOB, which is AWESOME. The staff (hostesses) are very kind and nice. The owner/chef comes out to the dining room to greet every guest, like we are his friends. If you want to experience this place, it might be hard to do unless you walk in there. The numbers on review and websites are not really working. The best bet is "Be friends with Miko!" like my friend hooked me up.