I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chuko Ramen

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Though in Asia slurping is acceptable in ramen consumption, do not do it here, you kind of look like a dick and children will stare at you

Corner of Vanderbilt and Dean is Chuko. I went here for a quick lunch and though it has been opened for a while, people were constantly coming up to the door and window, just staring at it and looking into the place as if it was a zoo attraction. A couple of people did the, “eye shield” I call it and peered into the place which I do not understand why, it is not like the place is hard to see into because though small it is spacious and minimally decorated and everything was in plain sight.

Opened by former Morimoto cooks, Chuko is a ramen place. The menu is minimal they have their two choices for ramen and a number of sides/starters. For all you ramen nerds, people that read the first issue of Lucky Peach and watched Tampopo one too many times, the style of ramen that they have here is not just one style, one features a soy base based vegetarian broth and the other a miso based. I opted for the miso based ramen and you have a choice of meats either pork (Berkshire) or chicken. Mo' food after the jump!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oyster Omelet: 蚵仔煎

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Always ask for extra oysters 

Making of a big omelet...or just high cholesterol

Taiwanese food unfortunately gets muddle with Chinese food and to those that have not travelled in Taiwan extensively, it can seem like there is no difference. However that is like saying that Chinese food is all the same from Shanghai to Fuzhou. Taiwanese is has its own distinct style and dishes that are distinctly Taiwanese. The Oyster Omelet is probably the most recognized and distinct Taiwanese food there is.
The Oyster Omelet from a casual observer is a simple dish; it is an Omelet that is made with oysters, what is so hard about that? But like all the foods I talk about, it is obviously more complex than that and something that, and it able to hit so many senses and textures all in one plate. I do not know if it is just Tainan pride but again, all my relatives and people in Tainan will say with scary affirmation, that Tainan is the place to go to get the best oyster omelets. The oysters come from the South and the ones in places like Taipei, get their oysters shipped up there. I know better than to question it, it is like questioning the best barbeque in the South, and you keep your Yankee mouth shut and just agree that wherever you are.
In Tainan there is a street that is just all food stalls and they are some of Tainan and Taiwan’s greatest hits from gua bao, to wa gue and of course the oyster omelet. The omelets are made to order and I was able to take pictures of the whole process but I can guarantee that I can try to replicate it in my kitchen, but there is no way in hell I can make it taste the same. 

Step 1 Oysters
Step 2 Eggs

Step 3 Sprouts

Step 4 Taiwanese Bok Choy and slurry stuff
The omelet making process has a bit of free style action going on. Oysters, Taiwanese bok choy, sprouts get some flat griddle action and then three eggs get throw on top of it. It is not really mixed in; it is just thrown on to make a somewhat circular disk. The difference is that now, like so many other Asian or Taiwanese dishes, a slurry of starch in thrown in. the result is that it creates a pancake like structure and literally glues all the separate components together. It cooks, gets a quick flip, thrown on a plate which by the way, the whole cooking process takes maybe 2-3 minutes tops and dosed in a reddish sauce. The sauce is another great distinction between each place. The sauce like in a simple Bolognese can make or break the dish. It is a combination of sweet, salty and hint of chilies to it and everyone has a different recipe, variations and result color. I do know the majority of them have at least aged soy and ketchup (Asian kind of course) in them. 


The result is an omelet like no other that can be compared to anything found in the West. Jacque Pepin, most likely looks at this with utter confusion. However, the taste is nothing that you would expect. The sweet salty sauce is a great contradiction to the briny oysters and the crunchy bok choy. The egg imparts richness to the dish and the addition of the starch batter gives it lightness as well as a gooey interior but still has bits of crispy bits. The sauce though, is something that is magical. The country is filled with starchy, gooey, jiggly, jelly foods and this sauce makes it all taste awesome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eel Noodles in Tainan

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: eating noodles outside always taste better

In Taiwan, my trip itinerary is usually the same, spend a couple of days in Taipei and then take the high speed train down to Tainan. I do not think that there has been a time that after my Aunt picks us up at the train station that we had not gotten food, regardless of what time it is and that first stop is a bowl of eel noodles. 

Eel noodles is a popular dish which though you can get it in Taipei, it is more of a thing down south in Tainan and of course, it taste better down here. Though it is seems something as simple as just a bowl of noodles and eel it is much more than that. The eel is painstakingly deboned and stir fried and the noodles are a special kind of noodles, called yi-mein which is wheat based noodle that is characteristically chewy. The noodles are important in this dish and it is not eel noodles without this kind of noodles. It all swims in “broth” or more like starchy, sweet gravy. For future travelers, everything in Tainan is sweeter, sauces, soups you name it, it is going to be sweet. Noodles after Jump!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ode to Stinky Tofu

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Wear Laundry day clothes when eating stinky tofu

In Taiwan there are many sights and smells, however there is none like the smell of stinky tofu. It is like a fine bloomy cheese, the smell will straight up kick your ass. It will seep into every pore and the smell will linger in your mouth for the rest of the day. Heck, I had moments the next morning when i burped and I would still taste it. Yet, I will take the chance of smelling like a pair of old sweaty socks and suck it up, like a true fan and order some stinky tofu. What is stinky tofu? Basically, it is tofu that has been fermented and through the magic of fermentation, it gives it a offputting odor to say the least.

One of my favorite stinky tofu vendors is this one on Tainan. You can literally be like Toucan Sam and "follow your nose" to the tofu and with a industrial fan connected to this cart, the smell is just intense. Most vendors rock masks but as you can see, these people mean business, no masks for them and these folks just sell the tofu, that is it.
Stinky tofu is generally fried which not only makes it tasty, I mean, anything fried is good but it also deodorizes the tofu a bit. The tofu is served with a bunch of pickled cabbage on top and hot sauce on the side. Quick tip, Hot sauce is needed and should be abused.

So the question is how does it taste? Texturally, fried tofu is great, it has a great crispy exterior and the tofu is still firm yet yielding. The flavor? It sharp, sour and almost meaty yet the smell does not match its bite. It almost tastes pickled and the mixture of sour sweet pickled cabbage and hot sauce is additive. Surprisingly, it did not really have much of a sulfuric taste to it at all, at least at this vendor which good stinky tofu should not have. For first time eaters, fried stinky tofu should be the way to go and this is a great street snack and after drinking food. Fried and it being tofu, it just soaks up all that alcohol, it was made for an after drinking treat. This is the only food I think that me and vegans can get behind and I am okay with that. Oh and tangent, if you ever decide to become a vegetarian or vegan, Taiwan is the place to go, where they actually have great tasting vegetable dishes that actually taste good. 

Exhaust fan to waft its magical scent

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Phayul: Tibet Food in Queens

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: In 30 years, a Tibet food place in your neighborhood will be the new sign of gentrification 

Open Kitchen

I know absolutely nothing about the Tibet Nepal region. I know that Brad Pitt apparently spent a few years there and that if I want to ever trek the Everest region, its a hell of a flight and tickets start at a grand. Any food nerd knows that the Jackson Heights area of Queens has a growing and sizable Nepalese/Tibetian community and tasty food is to be found. One of these restaurants is Phayul Restuarant.

Thankfully, with a bit of advance reading, I knew where to find Phayul and future tip for first timers, just look up. Phayul is located on the second floor and there is not much signage to be found ground level. Also the bright person I am, I decide to trek out to Queens on one of the coldest weekends so I am not in the mood to play Lara Croft here and search for it. Even going up to the restaurant, you are going to have doubts and there is a slight shadiness to it but do not fret and look at the bright side, there is a hair salon adjacent to the restaurant so if you are not hungry, perhaps a trim might be in order.

Butter Tea

It is a small space, maybe 6 tables in all and the kitchen, which is open about the same size as the eating area and basically eating in a New York apartment. Especially in this weather, the first thing you should get, and imperative is a butter tea. Do that even before you look over the menu, because I am pretty sure the heat was not on so butter tea is a necessity and I guess fitting given Tibet/Nepal can get ridiculously cold and plus you can brag to your friends that no doubt you got an "authentic" experience. Butter tea has no herbal qualities to it and it is what it sounds like, a tea of butter. I am unsure if yak butter is used but its a buttery hot liquid that is slightly salty given it a savoriness to it and is addictive, having you craving for more. Actual food after the jump!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dan Tai Fung Redux

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: ...what can't be shoved into a soup dumpling?

Like usual, all my trips back to Taiwan involves a trip to Din Tai Fung. I am going to get some hisses for it being a "chain" but I do not care. It ain't no Crapplebees. Check my previous posts for my usual orderings at Din Tai Fung but the amount of times I have been here, there are still many dishes I have yet to try.

Mini soup dumplings kind of like pelmeni

One of this is mini soup dumplings which are a weekend and I want to say Saturday only offering. These mini dumplings are like their regular soup dumplings but miniaturized, like Honey I Shrunk the Kids kind of deal. The positives of getting this is:
1. you can down a whole soup dumpling down in one bite without destroying the roof of your mouth.
2. Miniature things are awesome and somehow taste better
3. You get a side of chicken soup

Of course any Asian knows that no meal is not complete without some kind of hot liquid. It is just a light flavorful chicken broth.

The other soup dumpling that you will not be getting anywhere else is one filled with shrimp and winter melon. The melon gives a emerald glow to the it. I attempted to take a picture of the innards but it looks like a hot mess. However, this is a special soup dumpling where the "soup" part is all from the melon. Chinese winter melon releases a lot of liquid and creates it own broth and makes for a unique soup dumpling. More after the jump!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Learn how to pronounce stracciatella

I profess my love for Neapolitan pies often and frankly, it is what I think is what pizza should be. Motorino is a standby and a place that makes one of the best in New York City. Thankfully, the Earth only swallowed up the Brooklyn location but the East Village location is still going strong. Though smaller, everything is practically the same.

Though I usually go for the meatballs, the octopus salad is a great starter though pricey. However, it is worth every penny and a must order. It looks simple enough with a mixture of tender octopus, celery (which i noticed is the natural veggie pairing) and soft fingerling potatoes the chili flakes is what gets me in this starter. The chili flakes adds that little bit of heat and brings everything together.

Simplicity is the theme here and I went with the Stracciatella. It is a white on white pie. Stracciatella covers the canvas of this pie and it is topped with basil, olive oil and sea salt. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. A food network show could not even produce such tasty greatness. The stracciatella oozes and its puree like consistency has got you almost slurping up the cheese. You can taste every part of this pie and though people are deterred by this pie because of the lack of tomatoes, I urge you to try it or the douche-y answer, I think there is a 99 cent slice place about 4 blocks away.

349 East 12th Street
New York, NY 10003


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Wasabi mayo can vastly improve many things

so...glittery, happy I do not use hallucinogenic drugs

Everybody wants to open up a place in New York from bakeries, restaurant and even hotdog stands. Japadog, which started off in Vancouver as a simple hotdog stand has slowly building up their mini Japanese hotdog empire and opened its first brick and mortar location (at least from what I can tell from the website) in New York. Japadog will most likely be described by people as being, quirky or “East meets West” or the “F” word, fusion. But it is basically if you were going to sell hotdogs in Asia or Japan, this is what it would be like. Sure you can get a regular hotdog or other various meats in tube form here, but you can also get maybe some bonito flakes, seaweed and mayo on it too.  
Love Meat...resisting urge for sexual innuendo

The Japadog store front can be best described as loud. Brightly colored and because it just opened had a tinsel covered doorway. It looked like a Japanese bonsai team decorated it or a colorblind Cher fan but hey, it does attract attention. Their most popular is their Terimayo dog and various others but I guess in the rush to open this place up, only half the menu is available and the other half was labeled as “coming soon. I went with the Oroshi dog that was comprised of a bratwurst, freshly grated daikon and a “special” soya sauce and with a side of the butter and shoyu. It took a while for my dog and fries to get to me but they were making and cooking all the stuff to order, which is okay for now but if there is a rush, you are most likely going to have to wait a while. Check out the dog after the jump!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Super Heebster @ Russ and Daughters

Om Nomz Hero note to Self: the smell of smoked salmon is the only smell that is stronger than stripper perfume, lingers over you hours afterwards

Another positive of being an early riser: heading over to Russ and Daughters before the line out the door and there so many people in there you cannot even see the counter. This is bad on a summer afternoon by the way, sweaty people + fish? Hell no.
Get to Russ and Daughters before 11 is a calm experience and allows you to linger a bit and if you get a sandwich, the benches out front are empty and you can relax a bit and down a sandwich.
There sandwiches are not cheap, and can be done up on a bagel or bialy but they stack it up like paper in a rap song and you will get your money's worth. I usually always go for the Super Heebster, not just because it sounds like delicious superhero, but it is equally tasty: whitefish and baked salmon salad, horseradish dill cream cheese (a good schmear of course) and my favorite part of this sandwich, a generous heaping of wasabi flying fish roe. I could be content with just the cream cheese and roe and half a pack of stale crackers and call it a meal. The wasabi in the roe gives it a light green tint and just enough kick to tickle the nose. I usually get it on a bialy but it can be a hit or miss on how the bialy taste. If you are not feeling lazy, do as per suggestion of Eddie Huang says and get buy up all the ingredients and buy your prefer carb of choice elsewhere and make it at home but ehh, Ess-a-bagel is too far from the Lower East.

Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St 
New York, NY 10002

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mochi Making in the Market in Tainan

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: There is always something to eat at the Market

My kind of snack

After I finished running in the morning in Tainan (which i found out is not typical, and quite dangerous) I would wander around and follow random people until I eventually and most likely reached a market. I never get tired at looking at fruit which I will normally buy and the fish and meat options which I can unfortunately not purchase. However if I learned anything from traveling and watching way too much travel television there is always something ready made and good to eat at any market.

Bag o' jelly

At this particular market, there was two floors and the upper level was quieter and had all the ready made foods you could want from a lady selling just jelly, mochi and jello-like substances. There was enough jello to make Bill Cosby start blubbering something. One of the interesting stands was a couple selling wheels of radish cakes and tofu and making fresh mochi.
Huge radish cake

Mochi, although a Japanese thing is pretty much everywhere in Asia, we love that chewy, wiggly texture. this wife was facinating as she was pinching, rolling and stuffing balls of mochi to order. A machine could not do it as precisely and artfully as she was turning them out. the mochi was stuffed and coated ground peanuts and stuffed with ground sesame and had a combination crunchy, chewy and supple. The best part is? 10 NT per mochi (1US=33NT).

Step One

Step 2

Step 3

Fin/Get in muy Belly

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

CoCo Curry

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Japanese Curry goes well with everything

I have been on a short holiday hiatus with work, baking and end of the year garbage has left me updating the blog at the bottom of the priorities list. However, the New Year is over and we are still standing, the Mayans were wrong, I have eaten my weight in gingerbread, it is time to put on the stretchy pants and get back into food blogging and with the weather so cold and actually being winter, I have been on the search for Japanese Curry Omelet rice in the city like the curry omelet rice at CoCo Curry in Taiwan.
Curry is something that is associated often with Indian food and is a turn off for many with the amount of spices that go into curries and the after effects of some curries making the porcelain throne worthy seating to do the morning crossword puzzle. However, Japanese curry is generally a lot milder, sweeter and thicker and has more gravy like consistency. Taiwan is an outlet for Japanese food and one of the more successful chains in Taiwan is CoCo Curry. Unlike chains found in the United States, the quality here is a lot better in service and food. Coco Curry as you can tell by the name specializes in Japanese curries. The curries can be eaten with rice, noodles, soups and you can do the whole build your own curry dish but here, I go straight for the curry omelet rice. 

I like curry but uhhh...Ill try this combo another time...

 Basically, curry omelet rice is a dish that consists of omelet rice that is smothered in curry. Omelet rice or omuraisu if you want to pretend to understand Japanese, is a mound of rice that is covered with a plain egg omelet like a blanket and proving that an egg on top of anything, even plain rice is just plain awesome. During my Taiwan visit, I went to CoCo Curry a couple of times allowing me to get my curry rice fix and try various types and styles.
The classic or the most simple one is the curry omelet rice that is served with either fried pieces of pork or chicken karaage. The combination of curry, rice, egg and tender fried meat makes this a great tasting meal. The curry as I stated, is mild and slightly sweet. Although I order it spicy, the spiciness is not really that strong and will not have you reaching for a glass of water. The egg omelet is cooked as I prefer and call Frenchie-style meaning that there is a slight runniness to it and adds a creaminess and richness to the dish while still maintaining a fluffiness to it. Also, in fulfilling the categories of “crazy shit Asians put in food combinations” I like the addition of cheese. And to shock the foodie Nazis and all, I am pretty sure it is good old American, singles type of cheese. The cheese is sandwiched inbetween the rice and omelet and melts ever so perfectly and there is something comforting about eating spoonfuls of curry and rice and pulling away melty cheese strands. It adds an extra bit of savory goodness. Food after the jump!