Oh Man.

This droolworthy photo came via email from Mark (super thanks!), who was recently in Honolulu.

Location: Alan Wong’s

Dish: “Mini Loco Moco”

Breakdown: Mochi Crusted Unagi Meat Loaf, Sunny Side Quail Egg, Wasabi Kabayaki Sauce

Quoted: “It was heavenly.”

Anyone want to send over a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Honolulu? I can leave on the spur of the moment! ;)

Happy Monday ^_^

Sushi Yasuda

Over the phone the reservationist, a gentleman, said, “we will see you on Tuesday. Mahalo Nui Loa!”

“Thank you…wait, WAIT! Mahalo Nui Loa? How do you know that?” I was surprised. That’s the first time anyone has said “Mahalo Nui Loa” to me over the phone upon making an NYC restaurant reservation.

“Of course I know Mahalo Nui Loa! How could you not?!”

And it turned out that the gentleman had lived in Honolulu for the last 21 years, only minutes away from my family’s home. Small world :)

On Tuesday, I took 3rd Avenue bus, dropping me right at 42nd, one block away from Yasuda. I entered through the glass sliding doors, just in time for the last seating. The people on either side of me at the bar, a couple, and two men, were finishing up their meal upon my arrival.

The two men wore suits, muttering hedge fund nonesense. They both declared their love for uni and an aversion to ikura. They had beer with lunch. One, the older one, was in the middle of a divorce. It’s ridiculous how much you can overhear in a restaurant when dining alone. The couple on my left were visiting from Korea – a very talkative male and his counterpart, a quiet female.

I came for the lunch prix fixe ($24), the one Su-Lin wrote about last year. It’s a swell deal considering the average price of sushi in this city. I’ve had this sushi craving for the past few weeks…a ridiculous, intense craving that has overidden any desire for doughnuts, bread pudding, and even, gasp, banana pudding.

I’ve been told there’s no better place to fulfill a sushi craving than at Yasuda. So here I was. The prix fixe starts with a choice of soup or salad. I went with the latter, studded with crunchy fish bits, ginger dressing on the side.

It was after the salad that things started to go astray, as they often do. The diners on either side of me had left, leaving me alone with Yasuda himself. Stupidly, it took me an entire ten minutes from when I first sat down to realize that I was sitting in front of Yasuda himself. And I had him all to myself.

Holy Joy.

Well, I can’t do just the prix fix, I thought. Let’s just have fun!

And so we started with sashimi, a glistening trio of Sea Bass, Kama Toro, and Tai. And then dashed on to the Orata and Hamachi. Between bites of utter bliss, I learned that Yasuda and I favoured the same bakeries in Hawai’i, including the now missed Kimuraya in Kaimuki. He has traveled to Hawai’i numerous times and was familiar with Alan Wong’s and many neighborhood spots. The words soon merged into another conversation about the very big eels on Canal Street, which turned into a creamy bite of Freshwater Eel.

Kobashira came afterwards, followed by the Wite King Salmon roll. That was the end of the prix fixe.

And now? Now what?

Yasuda looked at me with a grin, more?

I wanted more. Oh yes. I wanted that toro spotted from afar. And uni. One, two, or three. And ikura, of course!

Ok! More! Yes!

We started with the uni, which disappeared in my mouth as quite as it arrived. I silently cursed myself for not slowing savouring the bite. He saw my disappointed look and and asked if I liked it. The problem was, I liked it too much.

So I had one more.


And then he said we should move on.

So we did. I have this unbashful love for ikura, the taut texture and then the endless pop, pop explosion with each bite. We stopped at two. Though I could have easily done a dozen. Now that would be intoxicating.

Then he said I should try the Toro. And I did. And if my pocketbook was thicker, I would have been back every day of the week.

The last piece was the Oyster, chilled, slippery, cut by the lighest sprinkle of salt.

But oh yes! Dessert. Sorry, that was the real last bite, haha. Red Bean Mochi Ice Cream.

And then it was all pau, all over. I realized the restaurant was empty.

As the host slid open the door for me to exit, he said, “Mahalo Nui Loa, we will see you soon!”

Mahalo Nui Loa?

It was him! The man on the phone! I turned around, and then he smiling knowingly and said, “it’s great to see another kama’aina here.” I smiled back.

And that smile never left my face for the rest of the day.

No, no, not the day. The week. I’ve still got that smile on my face :)

Happy Friday!

Sushi Yasuda
204 East 43rd Street
NY, NY 10017
(212) 972-1001

Sugar to Make Your Heart Beat Faster

Happy Wednesday! Hope you’re having a busy and awesome day at work…here’s a short round-up of my most recent Sugar Rush posts for Serious Eats New York :)

Post Here
Where: AQ Kafe
What: Budapest Log

Post Here
Where: Simon Sips
What: Double Cream Cake

Post Here
Where: Verē Chocolate
What: Chocolate Brownies and Pump’dcorn.

Post Here
Where: Klee Brasserie
What: Kaiserschmarren

Post Here
Where: Lady M
What: Gâteau Aux Marrons

Post Here
Where: Billy’s Bakery
What: Banana Cream Pie

Post Here
Where: Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
What: Brownie Sundae

Post Here
Where: Bespoke Chocolates
What: Pretzel-Covered Sea-Salted Caramel

Post Here
Where: Murray’s Cheese
What: Tumbador Chocolates

Post Here
Where: Skyway Malaysian
What: Soy Bean Milk and Grass Jelly

OK. See you tomorrow :) Am off to make MOFFLES for dinner tonight. hehehee.

Flushing: Best North Dumpling, White Bear Dumpling, Xian Famous Foods, House of Yun Ho at Flushing Mall, Nan Xiang Soup Dumplings, Sun Mary Bakery

First, read Kathryn’s Chowhound Post here. Her post is more comprehensive than mine would have been, so I shall simply supplement with photos and a few words. My photos are listed in the same order as Kathryn’s post, so read the Chowhound post with my photos side by side, and you’ll get the full story :)

A few Sundays ago, Robyn, Kathryn, Joe, Diana, Greg and I met up in Flushing with empty stomachs and an appetite for dumplings. We found dumplings, oh yes we did, in addition to Mango Shave Ice, You Tiao and Dou Chaing, and the most fascinating Asian bakery I’ve come across in a long time.

Stop One: Best North Dumpling
Pork and Fennel Dumplings

“Aquatic Food and Leek” Dumplings – bitten.

Stop Two: White Bear Dumpling
Wontons in Hot Oil. This was hands down the most visually appealing dish we had all day…

…and easily my favourite! :)

Stop Three: Xian Famous Foods

“Liang Pi Cold Noodles”

Lamb “Face” Salad

“Lamb and Cumin Burger”

“Pork Burger”

Stop Four: House of Yun Ho at Flushing Mall
Kathryn came back with a ton of treats! Clockwise from bottom left: beef patty sandwich, shao bing, sesame seed and scallion bread, you tiao.
Hot tou chaing (soybean milk) – unsweetened

The you tiao is wrapped by a shao bing. Combined, they make a sandwich called “shāobing yóutiáo.” The carb-on-carb sandwich is dipped in hot bowl of soy bean milk. Some people like to sweeten the milk a little, but I just like it plain. There’s also a savoury version of the soy bean milk (it’s super lumpy, almost like congee).
Beef Patty Sandwich
Diana came back with not one but two bowls of ice cream!! Green Tea and Red Bean.
Behold, Mango Shave Ice. With. Plenty of condensed milk :)

Stop Five: Nan Xiang Soup Dumplings

Read Joe’s Serious Eats New York write up on Nan Xiang here. That specific post had me drooling over xiao long baos for weeks!

They may appear deflated, but blame in on the angle at which I shot the photo, and not the dumpling itself :)


Stop Six: Sun Mary Bakery

Wrapping up the fresh baked pineapple cakes.

Not only were these fresh, but they also had a little, very welcome surprise inside…

…salted egg yolks! This it the first east coast pineapple cake I’ve had with salted egg inside – I’ve found it all over parts of mainland China and LA, but never in Hawai’i or NYC.

I also picked up an (extra-flaky) dan tat…

…and a moist walnut and date cake (it’s labeled as a “Half Sugar Longan Walnut Cake” though there was definitely no longan in the cake). The “cake” is more bread-y than muffin-y, but I actually preferred it that way. And, similar to most Asian pastries this was pleasantly light on the sugar.

And that was Sunday in Flushing. ^_^

Best North Dumpling
35-08 Roosevelt Avenue
Queens, NY 11354
(917) 834-4991

White Bear Dumpling
135-02 Roosevelt Avenue #5
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 961-2322

Xi’an Famous Foods
1-28 Main St, Basement #36
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 885-7788

Flushing Mall
133-31 39 Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 888-1234

Nan Xiang Dumpling House
38-12 Prince St.
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 321-3838

Sun Mary Bakery
13357 41st Rd
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 460-8800

“Like Asian Gnocchi, Or Mini Savory Malas(s)adas”

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Oh man, next time I go home to Hawai’i, I’m headed straight for Kai Sushi in Kailua. From this week’s Honolulu Advertiser review:

“Another little gem not seen much on other local izakaya menus are potato mochi balls ($4). They’re like Asian gnocchi, or mini savory malasadas, sitting in a pool of, yes, sweet soy sauce. The light delicateness of the mochi balls could use a more subtle bath, but it’s still a must-order dish.”

Positively dreamy! :)