This spectacular bureau cabinet reflects the European fascination with Japanese and Chinese luxury goods in the early eighteenth century. The bright red surfaced imitated Asian lacquer, which was made from materials not available in Europe.
The motifs evoke the people and sights of the Far East, but they reflect the limited knowledge and stereotyped views that Europeans held of these distant countries. at the time the cabinet was made, this technique of using imitation lacquer was called “Japanning.” The original owner may have displayed small Asian porcelains in the upper niches of the cabinet.
Photographed in the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA
After seeing a play on Saturday evening, Geoffrey and I walked by this Asian take-out place in the Times Square Adjacent / Theater District and I just had to stop and take a picture of their window ads, featuring a cartoon version of Psy, singer of the worldwide, viral hit “Gangam Style” from a few years back. Psy is pimping what looks like a pretty serious soup dumpling.
I couldn’t tell you if these dumplings are any good, as we did not stop to sample them. If you’re intrigued enough to try and find it, the restaurant is on the west side of 8th Avenue in the vicinity of 45th and 46th Streets. Sadly, I did not catch its name.
I found this amazing lamp on the second floor of Pear River Mart, on Broadway near Grand Street in downtown Manhattan. The price tag says $299.50, but it has 50% off sticker on it, so this is some kind of incredible bargain, if you ask me. If this seems like something you might want to own, I suggest you bring a friend with you, to help carry it to the street, because it probably weighs a few pounds.
Zengo Serves Gorgeous Food in a Gorgeous Setting (Photos By Gail, Cocktail Photos Courtesy of Burke Communications)
Foodie Fans of The Worley Gig know that one of our very favorite dining destinations is the Asian-Latin fusion restaurant, Zengo, conveniently located adjacent to Grand Central Station. While the menu is consistently delicious, Zengo is dedicated to continually changing things up. And in this case, change is good!
Every few months, Chef Richard Sandoval and his culinary team at Zengo research and develop new recipes featuring the cuisine and spirits of one Latin and one Asian country. The result is a menu of specialty plates and cocktails that showcase the flavors and techniques from each region. The featured new dishes are marked with a special “TK” symbol on the menu, noting that they are exclusive and available for a limited time. The current “Test Kitchen” menu, unveiled at Zengo in January, is dubbed “Japan to Mexico,” for which Chef Sandoval drew inspiration from the rich and flavorful street foods of Japan and Mexico to create the new Test Kitchen menu.
Recently we were invited to enjoy a Tasting of the Japan to Mexico Test Kitchen Menu and were wowed once again by the Chef’s finely honed skill at blending and accenting the flavors of these two distinct cuisines. Here’s a review of what we ate:
It’s always fun to start off a meal with a potent and refreshing cocktail and Zengo features two new ones for Japan to Mexico. The Calamansi Old-Fashioned is made with Japanese whiskey, fresh Calamansi juice (similar to Orange Juice) and Agave Bitters. Surprisingly, this tastes like a fresh Blood Orange cocktail with no overpowering Whiskey taste and not one hint of bitterness. Delicious!
Also on the cocktail menus is the Shiro Margarita blending Nigori Saki with 100% Agave Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and house-made sour mix. The Shiro Margarita is light and tart and will brighten the taste of whatever you are eating. These go down very smooth!
Next up on our selection of TK small plates was the outstanding Octopus Aguachile Tiradito: an unbelievably tender Octopus carpaccio flavored with Ginger Green Chile broth and White Soy, tossed with crisp Asian Pear and luscious, ripe Avocado and garnished with sprinkling of Nori and Sesame Seeds. This was the most delicious and visually appealing presentation of Octopus I have yet tried — and that includes the Octopus and Chickpea Salad at MP Taverna, which is just insane.
Zengo is famous for its excellent sushi and vegetarian maki rolls and they’ve come up with another excellent offering in the Achiote Shrimp Tempura Roll – a Tempura Fried Shrimp with Avocado, Jicama Chile Lemon, Charred Scallion and dressed with a light Chile Toreado Aioli. I enjoyed dipping pieces of this roll in the dressing from the Octopus dish!
Elevating Mexican Street Food are the Terikayi Pork Belly Gorditas “Sliders” – Fried Pork Belly with a sweet Teriyaki glaze, nested on a crispy Masa cake “Bun” with Oaxaca cheese, Guacamole, Caramelized Pineapple and Pickled Chiles for just a little bit of heat. If you’re a Bacon fan who’s looking to try something new and different, you’ll want to give this a try.
In the realm of hearty entrees, Zengo adds the Kabayaki Glazed Lamb Shank Barbacoa – fork-tender lamb marinated in a Ginger, Chiles and Tamarind glaze, served atop a bed of fragrant Arroz Verde and garnished with tender-crisp Pickled Carrots. The bones in this look intimidating, but the meat literally just falls away as soon as you prod it a bit with your fork. I loved the contrast of textures and flavors in this delightful dish.
And last but not least we sampled an unusual take on a traditional dessert, the Avocado Panna Cotta – Fresh Avocado Custard, served with tangy-sweet Tropical Fruit Salad and garnished an added crunch of Chocolate Cookie Crumbs. The mildly sweet true-Avocado taste of the Panna Cotta gets a kick from the chopped fruit and syrup accompaniment and the unexpected crunch of the cookie morsels add a fun texture to this not-overly-sweet ending to a fine meal.
Please note that all food photos in this post are representative of a group tasting presentation and expect the dish may look somewhat different when ordered for just one person.
Zengo is located at 622 Third Avenue (at the corner of 40th Street). Dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5:00 PM onward. Lunch is served Monday – Friday from 11:30 AM -2:30 PM. For reservations, please call 212-808-8110 or visit their website at This Link. The Mexico-Japan menu is featured through March 31st, 2013 at all Zengo locations including New York City, Denver, Santa Monica and Washington D.C.
Hey what’s up. Did you see that crazy rain storm last night here in Manhattan? It was just insane! Lisa and I safely watched the captivating Monsoon activity, including deep, swirling vortexes of water stretching up to six feet from the curb, from the cozy comfort of our storefront window table at Rickshaw Dumplings on 23rd Street, where we dined on a “Bacon Feast for 2” courtesy of Thrillist Rewards. Because, Lisa and I are all about the Bacon.
The Thrillist Bacon Feast features special items not regularly found on Rickshaw’s menu, so you can only taste these bacony delights if you subscribe to Thrillist(you can sign up at the link above) and buy the reward.
For $29, here is what you’ll get:
6 Potato & Bacon Dumplings. Richshaw’s dumplings – or at least these dumplings in particular – have a thicker skin and tasted more like pierogies than Chinatown style Chinese Dumplings, probably due to the non-traditionally Chinese potato filling. Served with a soy-sesame dipping sauce, the tasty mashed potato filling was studded with meaty, smoky bacon. Very delicious!
Bulgogi Bacon Buns and Bacon Sticky Rice
2 Bulgogi Bacon Buns. A Bulgogi is a tiny Asian meat sandwich on a soft round bun (usually a rice bun), traditionally served with a topping of picked slaw. We would like to note that Rickshaw’s Bulgogi was served on the freshest, most delicious bun! Chopped bacon accompanied the grilled beef filling, accented with an Asian BBQ sauce and finished with shredded carrots and sprouts, whose slightly tangy vinegar dressing moderated the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. Yummy!
2 Bacon n’ Sticky Rices. This may look like a tiny scoop of rice but, trust me, it was the perfect “tasting” size to accompany the other dishes. The rice was loaded with sliced fresh scallions and meaty bites of smoky bacon, for a nice mix of tastes.
2 Mini Miso Soups. This didn’t look like a mini size to me, but more like a full cup of delicious miso soup, loaded with crumbled bacon, tofu and scallions. I even put a bit of the sticky rice into the soup. Excellent!
The porky feast also includes 2 drinks, including beer, sake or a soft drink. Our choice: Rickshaw’s Watermelonade, which is just pressed watermelon juice in its own natural sweetness. Refreshing!
This offer, which is plenty for two average sized people to share, is available any time, any day at Richshaw’s Flatiron location (61 West 23rd Street, 5th & 6th, close the F Train), but only until September 30th, 2012, so you gotta act fast! The price works out to under $15 per person for good amount of food and it’s a great way to get acquainted with this vendor. Get your Bacon Feast reward now at This Link!
UPDATE: Social Eatz Has Closed For Business as of March 2013
I’m a big fan of Top Chef since I got hip to the show in its second season. I am especially enjoying this season’s “All Stars” competition, featuring favorite Cheftestants from past seasons, and am excited for the finale beginning tonight, and then wrapping up in next Wednesday’s episode (Richard Blais for the win)! Although this has never been a point of contention for me, many fans I’ve talked to like to whine about how impossible it is to fully enjoy the Top Chef viewing experience when you can’t actually taste the food. To me this is like saying you can’t possibly enjoy watching a True Blood if you are not really a vampire, which is just silly. But I guess that is reason to be grateful that most, if not all, Top Chefs also operate their own restaurants. Angelo Sosa may not have quite made it to the finals of Top Chef All Stars, but he currently has the starring role as the Chef and owner of a cool new trendy-casual restaurant called Social Eatz, which opens for business on Thursday March 10th in a midtown east neighborhood of Manhattan.
Social Eatz hosted a Media night on Tuesday evening to stir up some advance buzz, and I was lucky enough to snag an invite as the Plus One of my writer friend Anne (who was also kind enough to take all of the pictures in this post). Anne and I had a blast at Social Eatz, which has a fun vibe, comfortable decor and food that is totally off the charts. If you’ve wondered why Angelo made it to the finals of his season (before losing to Kevin. Who? Exactly) and why it was likely a no brainer for the producers to invite him back for All Stars, wonder no longer. The guy can cook his ass off.
According to its mission statement: Social Eatz reinterprets favorite NYC foods “with flavors from across Asia, including Korea, China, Vietnam, and Japan, with Top Chef All Stars’ Angelo Sosa, a self-proclaimed Asian food fanatic, at the helm. Sosa has designed a menu featuring certified organic vegetables and certified sustainable humane meat and fish ranging in categories from Soup’z, Salad’z, App’z, Sandwich’z, Taco’z, Burger’z and Sweet’z.”
We sampled delicious fare from just about every category, as detailed below:
(All Photos By Anne Raso) Tomato Soup with Thai Chile and Curry Whipped Cream. Effing delicious.
Smoked Rib with Mesquite Tamarind Sauce. Best. Rib. Ever.
“Imperialist” Hot Dog: A grilled Chicken Apple Sausage topped with Pickled Onion & Green Pepper Relish on a Potato Bun with a Side of Sake Cheese Sauce. This was my favorite thing.
Charred Bibimbap Burger with Slow Cooked Egg and Pickled Carrot and Cucumber, Served with Fries. OMG.
Chocolate Brownie with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Toffee Sauce, served with chilled Rice Milk. Thank you chocolate toffee brownie for making me so very, very fat.
We also had some tasty and very potent cocktails. Don’t skip the alcohol on your trip to Social Eatz!
Prices range between $5 for the soup and $12 dollars for the burger, so you can see it is quite affordable and an excellent value for some good eats. Or should I say “Eatz”?
Me with Angelo – He is So Hot!
Social Eatz is Located at 232 East 53rd Street, Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in Manhattan (close to the 6 train). Phone 212-207-3339, Website: www.socialeatz.com. Dress Code is Casual. Reservations are recommended.