Monday, September 16, 2019

NoNoNo New York

There is far more to Japanese food than sushi, but it's hard to find a restaurant that offers more than seaweed salad and tempura in addition to the usual raw fish favorites. At least in Baltimore. But in New York, one can dine at an izakaya--a Japanese style pub--or at a restaurant that specialize in one or more specific dishes, like yakitori or ramen. NoNoNo, on the edge of Manhattan's Koreatown, is one of those places, with a menu of yakitori, or various chicken bits on skewers, plus noodle dishes and various other delights.

I wanted to dine at NoNoNo last December, but didn't have the forethought to make a reservation. This time around, I did, and so we feasted. We enjoyed some dishes more than others.

I am a fan of chawanmushi, an egg custard made with dashi broth rather than eggs, studded with savory bits and bobs, usually a shrimp or two. NoNoNo's version can be had plain, or for a small upcharge, topped with salmon roe, snow crab, and uni. Unfortunately, they were out of uni, and the snow crab was a disappointing small spoonful of shredded meat, but the overall portion of custard was large and, I thought, quite good.

The yakitori on offer includes everything from thigh and breast to skin, gizzard, even back cartilage (a favorite of mine). But we bucked the trend and went for beef skewers, instead--short rib with onion and skirt steak with shishito peppers. In both cases, the meat was flavorful and juicy, with the expected pleasant chew.

A skewered soft egg wrapped in bacon and topped with truffle salt made for another lovely mouthful or two.

We also tried the duck nanban, or deep fried duck topped with egg salad. The egg salad seemed more like mayonnaise with bits of white onion in it, and I felt it was a strange topping for the duck. I've seen too many food competition chefs get dinged for putting a wet sauce on a crisp piece of protein to think this is a good idea. But even the pieces of duck that escaped the sauce were a bit on the soggy and chewy side. Not my favorite dish.

Because our meal was going to be meat-forward, we ordered the grilled romaine, which was much like a Caesar salad. A very good Caesar salad.

We also ordered the deep fried grilled mushrooms with a very garlicky basil and scallop filling. I'd love the filling tossed with pasta. Those mushrooms were a challenge to pick up with chopsticks, by the way. Slippery devils they were.

Then there was the grilled salmon belly topped with shaved radish and salmon roe. I was hoping for a fatty and lush texture, but the meat was a tad overcooked.

Finally, we had the cold sukiyaki udon, which may have been my favorite dish of the evening. Fat slippery udon noodles swam in a tasty broth topped with various mushrooms, slices of beef, tofu, scallions, and a goodly hit of wasabi.

I'm not sure if we ordered badly, or what. The beef dishes were excellent, but some of the others had issues. There was still plenty more interesting items on the menu to explore, and I think we may have made a mistake in overlooking the chicken skewers. There are plenty of other restaurants in NY in which to dine, so we probably won't be revisiting NoNoNo in the future. Still, I'm glad I was able to satisfy my curiosity.

Check out the online menu and be intrigued yourself. Prices per dish are all pretty inexpensive, but if you order as much as we did, your meal won't be cheap.

NoNoNo
118 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016
https://www.nonononyc.com/

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Flashback Friday - Spice and Dice

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on August 9, 2011.

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We Minxes love Thai food and ever since the demise of our regular haunt, Bangkok Place, we're always on the lookout for a new favorite. While we really enjoyed a meal at Bangkok Garden, being in Columbia makes it a bit of a haul and not exactly good for any spur-of-the-moment meal decisions. Recently, Mr Minx received a coupon for a place called Spice & Dice, located in a nondescript office park on Joppa Road about halfway between Goucher and Loch Raven Boulevards. That's not far from us, so we made a point to have dinner there one recent Tuesday evening. 

Spice & Dice has a bright and happy interior that, sans tables, would work well as a daycare center. Ignore, however, the many colors and patterns on the walls and concentrate instead on the menu which has a large selection of appetizers, plus curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes. On our first trip, we sampled the fish cakes and the chicken laab from the appetizer section, plus the gingery chicken ped king and the vibrantly-spiced duck with basil sauce, all washed down with generously-sized glasses of sweet and milky Thai iced tea. After that successful experience, we vowed to visit again soon, this time with camera in tow.

A few weeks later, we met my father and brother for dinner at Spice & Dice. After taking some time perusing the many interesting menu options, Dad opted for the jasmine rice soup followed by pad thai with pork. The soup was outstanding, its light broth tangy with lemongrass and full of tender chicken. The pad thai was a fine rendition of the ubiquitous noodle dish, served with an extra helping of crushed peanuts on the side.

Jasmine Rice Soup
Pad Thai with Pork
We also sampled two appetizers, the chicken teriyaki dumplings and fried calamari. The dumplings were drizzled with an unfortunately goopy sweet sauce that did nothing for them and were otherwise forgettable. The calamari was slightly chewy, as it often is when served in the diamond-scored-rectangular chunks that tend to be typical of Asian restaurants, but was otherwise tasty, particularly when dipped in the lightly spicy pink mayo-based sauce.

Chicken Teriyaki Dumplings - pretty but meh.
Happy Calamari
As fans of Thai basil, my brother and I both ordered dishes that featured that ingredient. Or so we thought. His chicken with basil dish displayed no evidence of that herb's presence, but otherwise had a lively garlic flavor.

Chicken in Basil Sauce
My dish, shrimp with eggplant, contained a decent amount of basil leaves in a sweet-ish sauce that had partly been absorbed by the chunks of bright purple Asian eggplant. It was a bit inconvenient to eat the tail-on shrimp, but otherwise I happily hoovered up this dish, lusciously-sauced romaine leaves and all.

Eggplant and Shrimp with Basil
Mr Minx opted for the jungle curry, a preparation that contains none of the coconut milk present in other Thai curries. It had a very distinctive and unusual herbal flavor, predominately galangal and ginger, and was quite unlike any other Thai dish we've tried.

Jungle Curry with Pork
Some of the dishes at Spice & Dice are a bit on the sweet side - probably a nod to American palates - and the teriyaki dumplings were nothing special, but everything else was quite delicious.

While the decor was busy, the restaurant was not. I hope more people find this cute spot and stop by for a meal so it'll stay around long enough for us to become regulars.

Spice and Dice Thai Restaurant
1220 E Joppa Rd #108
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 494-8777

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Dining in New York, August 2019, Part 1

Mr Minx wanted to see an exhibition of old Batman comic art at the Society of Illustrators in New York, so we made a long weekend out of it. Blessed with magically cool late-August weather, we enjoyed our wanderings even more than usual.

Our first trip after dumping our luggage at our hotel was to Rip's Malt Shop. Some of you may know that I am a graphic designer, but you probably don't know that I designed Rip's logo and menu. Their original Brooklyn location is a bit of a palaver to get to, but their new Manhattan location is a short subway ride away from our regular Midtown base camp. After I snapped some pics of their snazzy neon sign, we sat down to enjoy some vegan comfort food. I had the Chicago dog, topped with tomato, neon green relish, sport peppers, diced onion, celery salt, mustard, and a pickle spear (with another on the side). It was a pretty reasonable facsimile of a meat hot dog.

Mr Minx had the Rip's Burger, a vegan patty topped with chili, cheese, bacon, special sauce, and cole slaw. It, too, was tasty, but not as convincing a replica to my taste buds. I'm not crazy about meat substitutes, and never sought them out in my brief time as a vegetarian. YMMV, of course.

After Rip's, we wandered up to Dough for some giant-ass doughnuts. We tried the Cafe au Lait, "inspired by a classic coffee cake made with a roasted coffee glaze and crunchy pecan topping," and a blueberry one with an oaty crumb topping. They were pretty good, but maybe too big? If there's such a thing as a donut that is too large, that is. And they were super fluffy as well, more the texture of coffee cake than a donut. The flavors of the glazes could have had more oomph, too. I dunno. I wanted to be more impressed than I was.

After dinner at NoNoNo (post coming soon), we hit up the Spot Dessert Bar in K-town for dessert. The Milky Puff sounded best to us: warm puff pastry, brulee bananas, white chocolate honey comb, corn flakes, and condensed milk ice cream. It was pretty good. The puff pastry was cooked nicely, and the chocolate honeycomb was a fun novelty that we had seen made on a recent episode of the Food Network's Worst Bakers in America. (The trick is to spread melted chocolate over bubble wrap. When it hardens and is peeled off, the result looks a bit like honeycomb. Cool, huh?) I wanted more bananas though, and didn't see the need for cornflakes when the puff pastry had a similar texture.

I know my reactions to these items are pretty meh, but they failed to excite me. We did eat a lot more on our trip, and much of it tasted great, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out these sites.

Rip's Malt Shop
48 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10012
https://www.ripsmaltshop.com/

Dough
14 W 19th Street @ 5th Ave
New York, NY 10011
https://www.doughdoughnuts.com/

Spot Dessert Bar
11 W 32nd St, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10001
https://www.spotdessertbar.com

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Flashback Friday - Figckles

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This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on August 23, 2011.

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Recently, I picked up some fresh figs at the supermarket, and while I adore figs, I can never seem to get them all eaten before they start to spoil. In order to preserve them for a bit longer than the two days they're usually good for, I made a quick batch of pickles, based on the pickled cherry recipe mentioned here last week.

They turned out great, and worked really well as a sweet element to round out the flavors of a chicken salad sandwich. Granted, the sandwich was a little on the exotic side.

Figckles

3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons fig or apple cider vinegar
1 branch fresh rosemary
six fresh figs, cut into halves

Bring brown sugar, vinegar, and rosemary to a boil. Add figs and cook about 5 minutes, using a spoon to baste figs with liquid. Remove from heat and pour figs and liquid into a glass container with a lid. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Eat within one week.

Chicken Salad Banh Mi

2 - 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro
2 cups cooked chicken, cut or torn into chunks
2 scallions, white and some green part finely chopped
lime juice
salt and pepper 
Thai basil leaves
1 tomato, sliced
figckles
1 baguette, cut into 6" - 8" lengths

In large bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, Sriracha, lemongrass paste, and cilantro. Stir in chicken and scallions. If mixture is too stiff, add more mayo. Add lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Arrange 2-3 tomato slices on a baguette. Top with chicken salad and figckles. Serves 2-3.


* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

Posted on Minxeats.com.