Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York

Momofuku is an institution in New York, founded by David Chang and serves modern pan Asian food through its numerous outlets in different guises. We visited Momofuku Ssäm Bar in the East Village after a long days shopping at Woodbury Common. Not knowing the neighbourhood we froze as we approached a queue of some thirty people and breathed a sigh of relief when we realised it was for Momofuku Milk Bar across the road which serves its famed cereal flavoured milk and crack pie.

However the wait for two at the Ssäm Bar on a busy Friday night was forty five minutes and we headed next door its bar, Booker and Dax, for some cocktails. After some fine cocktails we headed back and where immediately seated. We can recommend the Son of a Peach and Tropical Thunder cocktails, the attention to detail from the bartender was amazing and he remade one of the drinks twice as he wasn’t fully happy with them for some reason, rather than serving a substandard drink.


We started with Washburn Island Oysters with plum mignonette, for oyster lovers like us the variety of oysters available in New York is astounding and these were among our favourites from the trip.


Striped bass with plum, ginger and cilantro provided us with another light and fresh appetiser before the forthcoming meat dishes.


Perhaps the most famous Momofuku dish is the pork belly steam buns with hoisin, cucumber and scallion. I was happy to see the thick layer of fat around the pork which simply melted in the mouth and works so well with the fluffy bun. A must try for anyone visiting the city.


For mains we chose garlic roasted quail with watermelon radish, black garlic and watercress and roasted Long Island duck with lentils, carrot and prune. The black garlic with the quail was slightly overpowering but overall the cooking of the quail and duck was superb and the flavours generally worked well.



No fuss service with a diverse clientele of suit laden workers blending in with the jeans and tees crowd, it’s all about the food here.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 10 October 2014

Per Se, New York

Per Se was one of our highlight meals during our trip to New York. Needing no introduction this 3 Michelin starred juggernaut has consistency sat amongst the top restaurants of the Big Apple, as well as holding fort in the world’s top 50 restaurants at number 30 in the latest list. Located within the Time Warner building a dedicated escalator transports patrons to the entrance with the famed big blue doors. We visited on a mild Sunday evening, liberated from the usual Sunday night doom of an impending Monday in work.


After a short wait in the Salon bar area we were led to our table on the higher level of the split level dining room. A big fireplace with a roaring fire dominated the dimly lit room. Service is slick as one would expect and presented with a choice of vegetarian or the normal tasting menu there was only going to be one winner. The normal menu includes optional supplements for some dishes which soon pushes the price upwards from the standard tasting menu price of $310 per person.

The first of the amuse bouches were Gruyere cheese gougeres followed by a sensational salmon cornet with red onion creme-fraich.


The first course was oysters & pearls - "Sabayon" of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Sterling White sturgeon caviar.


For the next course I stuck with the standard melon "gazpacho" - Eckerton Hill Farm’s tomatoes, Aji Dulce peppers, yellow squash and flowering basil whilst Mrs Nom had the supplement dish of "Terrine " of Hudson Valley moulard duck foie gras - yogurt "gelée," Granny Smith apples, petite radishes, candied walnuts and huckleberry coulis served with toasted brioche. The melon gazpacho was packed full of flavour incorporating a kick from the pepper and basil. The foie gras was served with a variety of salts to enhance the flavour along with a delectable brioche that was replenished a couple of times.





Crispy skin Mediterranean lubina - "Tabouleh," pearl barley, black Cerignola olives, Persian cucumbers and toasted sesame za’atar.


Maine Sea scallops - "ragoût" of corn kernels, bok choy, fairy tale eggplant, black trumpet mushrooms, mizuna and yuzu moromi.


Four Story Hill Farm’s Porchetta - bean salad, "gribiche" and whole grain mustard sauce.


Elysian Fields Farm’s Carre D’Agneau  - "Chou-Fleur Rôti en Cocotte," Autumn royal grapes, endive, mâche and ruby beet butter. The final meat course and a new to us but likeable combination of exquisitely cooked lamb and beet sauce.


Maplebrook Farms "Burratini " - Hadley Orchards’ medjool dates, French Laundry Garden fennel, Acacia honey and aged sherry vinegar. By now we were struggling with this cheese course but we knew we had a whole medley of desserts to come.


The first of a trio of desserts was a berry parfait followed by a take on S’mores and a chocolate tart. By now we were in a food coma and cannot recall the full details.




The rest of the desserts flowed quickly with the signature coffee and donuts, cinnamon sugared brioche doughnuts with cappuccino semifreddo. An enticing box full of whote, milk and dark chocolates were presented as each one of the numerous selection was described in depth. We settled for a few before the final petit fours were presented in a large round tin containing nougats, macaroons and truffles.





There was no way we could fit it all in and ended up taking the chocolates and petit fours away with us, all neatly packed away with bows and all. An additional gift of chocolate shortbreads was also in our goodie bag to go which made for a sweet breakfast the next morning, some of the finest shortbread we have had.




A meal full of highlights but not all courses delivered the same punch such as the lubina and the dessert courses were surprisingly simple but still enjoyable. For a fine dining experience in New York we can see why Per Se is so highly regarded.

Per Se on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Ippudo (Westside), New York

We were looking for an early dinner and originally planned on visiting Totto Ramen on 52nd St to find we had half an hour to kill before they opened at 5.30pm. Walking around the block we stumbled upon Ippudo which opened a touch earlier and unanimously declared that Totto can wait for another day! We have visited a branch of Ippudo in Hong Kong and were suitably impressed.

The Westside branch in New York is dominated by a ramen bar with space down the middle for staff and a separate room for larger parties. Not long after we were seated at the ramen bar a queue began to form. 


We ordered an appetiser from the specials menu, Kamo tataki, miso marinated duck breast with grilled negi, yellow bell pepper and a citrus miso glaze. The duck was well marinated with the miso flavour penetrating through the meat.


For the ramen I choose the Shiromaru Hakata classic, with a tonkotsu pork broth, thin noodles topped with pork loin chashi, sesame kikurage mushrooms, menma, red pickled ginger and scallions. The pork broth was packed full of flavour without being too rich, the ramen was cooked just as I like it with a lot of bite. 


Mrs Nom chose the Akamaru Modern, a variation of the classic pork broth, thin noodles topped with umami dama miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil.



Additional servings of noodles were available for $2 but we just the one serving was enough for us and we finished with a selection of light sorbets and ice cream. The best of the bunch being a sublime Earl Grey tea ice cream and a blueberry sorbet. Mrs Nom loved them so much that the couple opposite us must of noticed and ordered the same!


The Ippudo brand has recently opened its first restaurant in London and if the quality is to go by from its international branches it is sure to be amongst the favourites for ramen fanatics.



Ippudo Westside on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ichimura at Brushstroke, New York

Trying an omakase sushi meal has been high up on my agenda for a while. Having given up on trying to secure seats at Sushi Tetsu in London and Sushi Nakazawa in New York due to the demand  I was excited to find out that Mrs Nom managed to book us into Ichimura at Brushstroke during our NYC trip. In what was to be my first ever evening meal in the busy metropolis and what a fine one it was. Ichimura is located in the former bar area of Japanese restaurant Brushstroke, both held one Michelin star during our visit but Ichimura has since been awarded a second star in the 2015 Michelin guide for New York City.

Due to the small sushi bar setting seatings are limited to two per night at 6pm and 9pm. There were nine diners during our sitting and after after a short wait for the first set of diners to depart we were luckily plonked right in front of Master Ichimura, ideal seats to watch the master at work. 


Master Ichimura was very softly spoken asking us if we had any allergies as we took our seats, with a permanent friendly and smiley demeanour that lasted through the whole meal all of the diners including us couldn’t help but feel charmed by the Master. Below is a summary what we experienced during our sitting. Starting with an appetiser plate followed by sashimi and chawanmushi before the endless nigiri selection featuring some very fine fresh fish. Our descriptions wouldn't do the fish justice so we will let the pictures do the talking. Each piece was expertly cut exuding natural oils and served at the right temperature before melting in the mouth. Freshly grated wasabi and the level of soy was decided by Master Ichimura and he got it spot on each time.

Appetiser plate

Sashimi plate - chu-toro, mmberjack, striped sea bass, octopus, abalone, red snapper

Chawanmushi - steamed egg with Dungeness crab and truffle 

Sea bream

Isaki

Striped sea bass susuki

Kinmedai  - Golden eye snapper

Aji horse mackerel

Bonito

Serra Spanish mackerel

Amberjack

Herring

Shima-Aji - Striped jack fish

Red sea snapper

Sea urchin – Nagano and Hoikkido

Sea shrimp

Chu-toro, medium fatty tuna

Ikura – salmon roe

O-toro, fatty tuna belly

Grilled sea bream & Myoga plum sauce

For us the double layer chu-toro and o-toro nigiri along with the sea urchin were the best pieces of the night, but in truth all of the other fish we sampled were extraordinary. The meal has set a whole new benchmark for us when it comes to sushi, it may only be topped by visiting Japan, hopefully sooner than later. At $180 a head before drinks and at around £170 each with moderate sake it is certainly priced at the high end but for the quality of the fish it is a price worth paying.

Ichimura at Brushstroke on Urbanspoon