Still Fresh On the Tastebuds (and Memory for that Matter)….

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 13 No tags Permalink 0

(Just a note: thanks for all your comments on the last few posts :) am working on responses…will get to them very soon ^-^)

I. Mitsuwa + Santoka


Sunday afternoon, pre-Abraço (see “II”), I suggested a meal of ramen to Don. He inquired as to where. I proposed Minca, just a few streets down from where we currently sat. Robyn did an awesome post on Minca last week, and I had been craving it ever since. Don paused. “Want to go to New Jersey?” he asked. And then, no less than two hours later we arrived by car at Mitsuwa, the biggest Japanese market I’ve seen on the East Coast.

Back in Hawaii, I frequented Japanese, Chinese or Korean markets much more often than ‘American’ markets. Marukai, 99 Ranch, Palama…these places must sound familiar to many of you ^_^ I’ve been a bit deprived of good Asian markets since moving to the city, so the opportunity to visit Mitsuwa left me gawking like the biggest supermarket nerd in the world.

First thought: Sensory Overload. To the right was the actual ‘market’ – rows of fresh produce, Japanese snacks, soba, ramen and rice cookers galore. Straight ahead were yards of mochi, a bakery further up, and yet another to the left. Or should we start with soft-serve in flavours of matcha and black sesame? Or maybe pause at the plastic displays of fake food, oddly comforting. But we headed straight to Santoka, obeying to the commands of our stomachs and quickly satisfied cravings with a soothing bowl of spicy miso ramen. We originally planned to order the “Toroniku (special pork) Ramen”…but they were sold out…reason enough to make a return trip :)

Two bowls of ramen, two cups of hot tea, and a window booth on a lovely day, there’s but little more one could ask for. However, my favourite ramen is still at back at Yotteko-Ya in Hawaii. That place spoiled me for all ramen to come…I swear I can still taste that fatty pork melting in my dreams far too often! Alas, there’s a new ramen place popping up in the East Village sometime soon, will definitely check it out.

We exercised round the market, post-ramen, pre-dessert, and went up and down nearly every single aisle with the exception of two. First: the international food aisle, just because we can get “international foods” elsewhere. Second: the home appliance aisle because, well, it just wasn’t an option. Bergen county has mighty funny laws!

back into the food court area…dessert time! I had my eye on the taiyaki stand since we first walked in, and when I crave something I need never to let it go until I’ve done it justice. The plan was to eat one of each: obanyaki, taiyaki, and a creamyaki. But alas. The wait was ridiculously long and we were told that only obanyakis could be had. But wait! The lady behind the counter paused. Okay. You can have taiyaki! Yay! So we ordered two and dashed to a table.

Soon enough, we headed out of the market and
One bite in. Taiyaki FAIL. Severely undercooked innards. Doughy. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. Shame cause the crust looked so promising, the taiyaki warm to the touch, straight off the pan, steam released from the first bite. But. No. FAIL.

Luckily, the day was saved when Don brought back black sesame soft serve. Black sesame, along with ginger and avocado are my favourite flavours when it comes to sweets. Avocado milkshakes, avocado picked from Kristen’s backyard in Manoa, split with a sprinkle of raw sugar, black sesame pudding, black sesame dumplings in ginger syrup, ginger in everything and anything, candied, juiced, or raw…mmhhmmmmm.

II. Abraço


Finally figured out why I was grumpy this whole week. It wasn’t due to fifteen hour workdays but alas, it was severe Abraço withdrawal! So I mended my problems and reinstated happiness by popping into Abraço three times this weekend.

Jamie started doing iced coffee last week, and goodness it is indeed a wonderful treat in the morning. Sweetened a tad, full-bodied and smooth all the way, it will be difficult to imagine drinking iced coffees anywhere else in the future. You know how some things/people/places just leave the biggest smile on your face? Abraço does that for me. I went to work right after as the happiest accountant ever on a Saturday morning, woohoo :)

Post work Saturday called for a return trip, this time with Diana and Ian. The weather was quite nice and Jamie had the windows open, making for a most picturesque setting. We sat on the outside bench, catching up on everything and anything. Iced coffee for Diana, a Cortado for Ian, while I went with a Sweet Little Thing. It honestly is called “Sweet Little Thing,” I kid you not!

Was back again on Sunday with Don and John. Iced coffee for the both of them, and an almond milk latte for myself. I ran into Kevin, the fellow whom I have to thank for introducing me to Abraço back in November. It is always rather strange/funny/pleasant when you run into people you know in this city. I tend to imagine NYC as this huge, packed, energetic place…but at the same time forget that it is composed of many small areas, communities, if you will. Most my free time is spent in the East Village, and I suppose after a while, you establish patterns and habits. Sooner or later, running into certain people on certain days becomes a part of these patterns. Last Saturday, on the way to the market, I ran into Olivia on the street, whom I just dined with the previous night. Days before that, I passed Tai on the way home from work. It always takes me by surprise and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. But I supposed that is oookay, because I like it that way, the element of surprise never gets boring.

III. Otafuku + Saint Alps


Had dinner with Shann the other night at Otafuku. We were lucky enough to get one of the bench seats right in front of the shop. The bench fits four people if you squeeze tight, but there’s always a long wait. Most of the time we take out monchings to eat at the church park right up the street on 2nd Avenue. I always get the Okominiyaki (with corn) & Yakisoba combo. Very fairly priced at $6, it’s a comforting meal that will fill you up quickly, perhaps a bit too much.

But then again, there’s always room for dessert right? We rounded the corner to Saint’s Alp to purchase warm liquids for the walk home. Green tea milk tea boba for Shann and black sesame boba for myself.

Hope the week is going well for everyone :)

Mitsuwa
595 River Road,
Edgewater, NJ 07020
(201) 941-9113

Abraço
86 East 7th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 388-9731

Otafuku
236 E 9th St
NY, NY 10003
(212) 353-8503

Saint’s Alp
39 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 598-1890

13 Comments
  • anonymous
    November 30, -0001

    wow Abraco will definately be on my list if i’m ever rich enough to pay NY a visit (of course Pinisi bakery, Momofoku, SSS banana pudding, the carrot cake n ….. will be included too) …. Kathy, you’re the best!! Hope you get out of your CRAZY work schedule soon :) You soo deserve a good break!!

  • anonymous
    March 18, 2008

    i love the green tea soft serve at mitsuwa! so tea-y! have you been to the han ah reum near fort lee? ridiculously huge.

  • anonymous
    March 18, 2008

    Hey Kathy! Glad to see that you’re squeezing as much out of your weekends as possible, given the constraints of work. I’ve been meaning to go to Abraco for a while so I’ll hopefully make it there Saturday! Oh man…it’s only Tuesday and it seems that I’ll be stuck at work today for quite some time. Enjoy your week/early countdown to the weekend! ;)

  • J. Lo
    March 19, 2008

    why all this japanese food all at once? must have been a serious craving. :) that fish-shaped pancake dessert looks like that thing at shirokiya you keep telling me about but never know the name for. is it the same thing? anyway, hope you’re surviving the work week. if it makes you feel any better, i’ve been stuck in new haven for the past two weeks doing my SECOND senior essay while everyone else is enjoying their break.

  • K & S
    March 19, 2008

    japanese markets are definitely sensory overload! everything you tried looked wonderful :)

  • k&h
    March 19, 2008

    nice reviews! I was just in new york on business, I wish I knew of these restaurants beforehand!

  • anonymous
    March 19, 2008

    Hey Kathy!That sesame soft serve looked pretty interesting! Just like the squid ink soft serve I had in Japan. Do you have any restaurant/snack recommendations for me here in Hawaii?OH! And please don’t forget to drop by Mesa Grill! I’ve been drueling over the menu online-can almost taste it :D!Keep up the awesome posts!-Lauren

  • anonymous
    March 19, 2008

    it was green tea…milk…tea…pearl…tea.i never really know how to order it but it tastes like flowers. you are on a japanese food crave, all the katsu? i hope the one you get today is crispy and fatty and delicious.-shann

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 19, 2008

    Hey Janet!Ooo, yes! I went there for the first time a few weeks ago before dinner at Mandarin Chinese Restaurant…was huge!! But we were too late to pick up any dduk…sigh, next time! ^_^Hey Cheryl!Oh man, hope you’re not at work tooooo late, enjoy Abraco whenever you go!! :)Justin!Will call you soon? Kelly & Chrissy are coming in this week…mebbbbeee hope to see you soon too? :) Yah, I’ve been eating nothing but japanese food for b,l,d the last few days…must be a sign I need to take vaction back home! ;)Hey Kat!Lucky you live where you’re surrounded by them!! =)Hey K&H!Thanks for the comment! :) Keep the restaurants in mind for your next visit to the city! ^_^Hey Lauren!Send me your email and I’ve a list of places I’ve been meaning to try back home…man, I terribly miss island food! :)Shann!ZOMG it was! We’ll go back there again one day, such a good deal! Ooo, will make changes to the drink! :) See you tonight!

  • SicklyBug & Cassaendra
    March 20, 2008

    Hi Kathy!I’ll HAVE to stop by that market! Wow! The poster of tororo made me nostalgic for ramen I ordered often (with sansai) when I would visit with friends/relatives in Japan. Too bad your taiyaki came out junky. High expectations with it being so fresh and all!The okonomiyaki+yakisoba looks like serious business!Glad all is well!- Cassaendra

  • kelly
    March 21, 2008

    Mm looks good! It’s a good thing I’ll be in NYC on Sunday. Do you work on Sundays? I feel like I’m not really going to see you cause of all your work–but you have to go home sometime right? And you’ll have time to show me a cool new restaurant yeah?

  • Yvo
    March 24, 2008

    Hehe, I’ve been to a bunch of these places and reviewed them. And the new ramen place is Ippudo, I also reviewed/previewed it recently. PS You did well; Minca isn’t that great.

  • Kathy YL Chan
    March 26, 2008

    Hey Cecilia!Yay!! Thanks for the comment! I’ve a million other places you ought to add to that list if you every come to the city! :)Hey Cassaendra!I’m always to happy to read your comments! :) Yah, a bit of Japanese food kick this week, and its stillll going on…am craving katsu like a madman!! ;)Kelly!See you again in a few more days…microwave is still on the table but will be set up soon, thankssss!! ^_^Hey Yvo!Ooo, I read your Ippudo review and it sounded so good, I went yesterday with Don (just put up the post!) Yay for better ramen in the city!! :)

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