ZenFoodster Eats

Mar 3, 2009

Tonkatsu Tenders - Katsuhama

  • 11 E. 47th St. (bet. 5th & Madison Aves.)

Katsu-hama has the best tonkatsu & Jap curry dishes in NYC! Fresh, perfectly crisped breaded pork tenderloin in a sweet & tangy sauce--*hint* grind the sesame 1st w/ the pestle & mortar. then, pour the sauce--served w/ AYCE miso soup, pickled veggies, & the cabbage, w/ the BEST ginger-sesame dressing ever (i use the WHOLE bottle!!!). Flush it down w/ their $5 soju cocktails (plum, peach, & a couple of others i haven't tried yet). The food is as authentic as their clientele--mostly all Japanese diners. Never mind the drab, white walls & cramped seating. It's all worth it!

Nov 25, 2008

Non-authentic Vietnamese at its best - Saigon Grill

The biggest & best in decor of the 3, this near-NYU offshoot also boasts a great bar area! As a regular since Day 1 @ the uptown joint which is now temporarily closed, I haven’t currently frequented here as much as usual..due to absurd increases in prices catered to making money off the “gweilo”-white folk (while we asians know that there’s much cheaper, authentic vietnamese in C-town), long waits, and recent picket lines formed by mistreated staff. However, here are the pros to go...Besides the Spring Roll (“Cha Gio”), a MUST TRY genuine-tasting item, the other non-authentic Vietnamese dishes are packed with flavor - Shrimp Summer Roll, Sugar Cane Shrimp, Fried Calamari, Curry Chicken or Shrimp, *Special faves to note: any of the soups or “Pho’s” are divine & the Grilled Porkchops & Filet Mignon Cubes (“Bo Luc Lac”) are so perfectly cooked that they alone will keep you going back for more. Don’t forget to savor each bite with a lil’ bit of the cuisine’s staple sauce (“Nuoc Cham”) & one of their tasty cocktails to wash it all down.

Saucy specialties and a scene at Congee Village

Congee ("jook" in Cantonese) was served to me in my childhood by my mother when I was sick. This comfort food, eaten centuries by Chinese peasants & noblemen alike, is believed to contain therapeutic qualities strong enough to foil the most foul of ailments. Known for its "jook," Congee Village serves up every variety that remedies any hungry stomach. Yet, in my inaugural visit there, I was enticed to order some of the Village's other specialty dishes. I was surprised to find fried bread ("man-tao") on the menu & enjoyed 6 scrumptious pieces served up with sweet & milky syrup. And what a deal! We ordered the Spicy Salted Crab in Special Sauce, at $10.95, which came with 4 small crabs in a heavenly garlic & dry shrimp sauce. We were equally delighted by the Sautéed Clams with Black Bean Sauce, packed full of flavor to make anyone order another bowl of congee as an accompaniment. The Flounder Fillet in Two Tastes, however, was a half disappointment. The fish itself was fresh & delicious, as items denoted "M.P." should be. The sautéed half of the dish was very clean & light (ching), much like most, Guangdong Cantonese dishes. It was tossed with pea pods & small mushrooms, mixed with a subtly gingery and garlicky white sauce. The fried portion, however, was covered by a batter that was too thick to complement a fish as delicate and mild as fresh flounder -- it was too much like fish n' chips. This part of the dish was a turn-off to me, though my Caucasian (gweilo) dining partner liked it. The woodland village decor is cheap but does the trick of setting the scene…a vast array of local Chinese, tourists, daters, & hipsters alike make it a long wait. However, a few of the ridiculously low-priced cocktails and the great, authentic food to come will take your mind off of it!

Un-Heavenly Chinese Delivery - Heavenly Bamboo Pavillion

On our 1st order, the food & service were good & came promptly- veggie dumplings, chicken with fang sauce app., string beans, & chicken w/ anchovy fried rice. They managed to cook what seemed like authentic Cantonese food. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm turned into total disappointment on my 2nd delivery order. The guy took my order in a very unprofessional manner- he swore in Cantonese (I am Chinese myself). When the food arrived, the seafood chow fun had only 3 pieces of TINY shrimp & a couple THIN slivers of calamari. Chicken wings app. was overly fried & meat was hard & dry. Hot & sour soup had so much MSG in it that I tasted the powder. On top of that, my order of turnip short cakes were missing. When I called, the same rude guy told me they would deliver it. I called 3x over two hours. They never came. I gave them a 3rd chance - when ordering, I reminded the same, rude employee that they owed me a turnip short cakes and he said he would give me a soup or roll instead. The value of these substitutes are less than what I had paid & I insisted that he give us what we ordered last, which he finally agreed after a lot of arguing. This time we ordered Vegetarian General Tso's Chicken and Shrimp w/ Broccoli in Garlic Sauce - food was very oily (even though I asked for less oil) and ingredients: shrimp, tofu, veggies all had a rotten taste to them. My disappointment turned to disgust. Not another chance!