Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Keen’s Steakhouse – New York, NY

Posted: July 6, 2019 in aged beef, best aged beef, best aged steak, best dry aged beef, best dry aged steak, best porterhouse steak, best restaurants in new york, Best steakhouses, best steaks, excellent service, High hospitality standards, new york, steak, steakhouse, The World's Best Steaks, Top steaks in the world
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Keens is an institution of NYC, a piece of restaurant  history that started in the  19th century (established in 1885). Its dark wood walls are covered with a tasteful  display of  memorabilia (time-honored paintings, photos, cartoons).   This restaurant could be an incredible shooting location for a movie.

 

The avid fan of history that I am  had to find himself in this charming old world  decor, espying what could have possibly been the pipe of Roosevelt over here (thousands  of clay pipes of  patrons who dined at Keens are on display on the steakhouse’s ceiling), climbing the same stairs as Einstein over there.   Nowadays, Keens is one of NYC’s most popular steakhouses, attracting tourists, locals as well as many connoisseurs of North American steaks (as you will see below, their steaks did not « rest on their laurels »). But, with legendary places like this one, I am on my guard, always ensuring that  the lore shall never be part of the lure.

On a previous visit here, over 2 years ago, I did try their fabled slow roasted lamb loin‘s saddle  chop (aka the ”mutton chop“). It is not mutton, anymore. It  is  lamb  that they do serve nowadays. The lamb is raised in  Colorado,  some of the  most sought after lamb  in the nation. Colorado does offer to its  free-ranging sheep,  vast swathes of vegetation to feed on, thanks to the numerous mountains and hills of the state. The sourcing of this piece of  pasture raised lamb was  of high level , its subtly earthy lamb flavor  (milder than, say the flavour of lamb from New Zeland)  dazzled. Boasting an enticing color, definely tender, this  was as great as your roasted lamb loin‘s saddle  chop  will be if served to you at a top tier  steakhouse. 9/10

Then last year I dropped by with a long time genuine connoisseur of North American steakhouses and we had the porterhouse.  For anyone truely familiar with beef aging, it was easy to enjoy the great effect of the dry aging (they dry-age and butcher the meat on the premises) process that went into that piece of meat (great concentration of beef flavor). The thing about aging meats is to think about the right effect for the right meat. Oftently, you see people dry aging then wet aging their meat (perfect recipe to cancel the benefit of dry aging that meat …), dry aging meat that has fat that is so delicate that it cannot  ‘age’  well (highly marbled wagyu as in this case at Dons de la Nature, one of Tokyo’s leading steakhouses. It is the sort of fat that is way too delicate to   benefit from dry aging — I will write, later on, a detailed article on what type of fat benefits from the aging process and why), dry aging fishes that have the taste of nothing if you age them (few fishes do benefit from the dry aging process, most do not…most fishes that are aged do simply fit in the ridiculous trend of aging the flesh for the pleasure of following a trend, as stupid as that – ). Not all steakhouses do master the dry aging of meats as  obsessively well as, at, let us say, Le Divil in Perpignan, but the concentration of flavor of that porterhouse steak  at Keens revealed some serious mastery of the dry aging of their meats.   8/10

 

This is my 3rd visit here, and this time I ordered the prime rib of beef  (king’s cut – meaning that it’s bone-in),  the  medium rare doneness that I wanted was precisely achieved,  and it came charred at my request, served with au jus.  The loin end   rarely fails to be flavorful once cooked,  and yet, you realize how, in the USA, they have perfected its cooking  with no shortage of dazzling renditions of the  prime rib such as the ones you can enjoy at  establishments such as the House of Prime RibLawry‘s or   Dickie Brennan‘s  to name a few. But this prime rib at Keens was not out of place in that fierce competition, as here again, you had all the qualities of a stellar piece of North American steak (the quality of the meat really high as you would expect from a North American steakhouse of this reputation, the standing rib roast timely cooked, its delicious fat properly rendered, the seasoning competent, the steak craveable ).   8/10

 

I love Keen but I was NOT  in love with my platter of a dozen of oysters: all had their superb maritime flavour in evidence, true, but some of the oysters were served a bit too cold than expected at a restaurant serving seafood. The shucking could have been better, too.

Our sides of creamed spinach , sautéed mushrooms and cooked broccoli did not tantalize both my girlfriend and myself :  for both of us,  this preparation of their creamed spinach  did not  enhance  the taste of the spinach. And they did add a bit less cream than I would have preferred.  Still, their way of doing it is one legit classic way of cooking the creamed spinach and I am fine with that.  The broccoli,  I need them to retain a vivid fresh appearance  (I am not here to talk about cooking techniques but there’s a technique for that, there is a technique that allows your broccoli  to be nicely cooked while retaining its perfect crunch and vivid looks, a technique that is widely documented. There is no doubt that the kitchen brigade at Keens knows how to do that, but, again, their choice is to remain classic, therefore they did use a more classical approach  and that is to be respected. As for the mushrooms, they  looked and felt as if they were sautéed a bit too long  and served a bit too late,  the taste of the mushrooms not in evidence.

The crab cake of my girlfriend  featured   fresh crab flavour, the seasoning well judged. The crab came from Maryland and it is in season right now, consequently its depth of flavour was remarkable. Of her crab cake, she said that it was about “”the full taste of the crab and not a lot of filler””, which was a good thing.  7/10

Bottom line: This article of the NY Mag had its author arguing that   « The meat isn’t first class anymore, especially by the standards of today » at Keens…another one of the absurd and senseless suggestions of our so-called food journalists. A steak is first class if the quality of the meat is great, the cooking accurate, the flavours on point, the extra steps to elevate the taste of that meat making a difference (for example, my pieces of steak, here, at Keens, did benefit from the nuances that an educated palate would detect as nuances that can only come from a competently dry aged piece of quality meat). And you do all of that better than at most other steakhouses, which is the case of Keens.  You stop being first  class the day your steak costs an arm and a leg only to have the taste and feel of a generic-tasting piece of meat that you  would buy at the supermarket (the case of one so-called legendary steakhouse right here in The old Montreal …). Keens has nothing to do with an outdated steakhouse.  For his  steaks, Keens is still one of NYC’s very best. I was not in love with the sides, but again, this was (more of) a matter of preference (at the exception of the mushrooms) rather than the sides being faulty. They need to control the temperature of those oysters, though. My number 1 North American steakhouse is still Peter Luger (the one in Brooklyn) , but that takes nothing away from the superb steaks of Keens. The service and ambience at Keens are  also  great. One of my preferred chophouses in NYC. Steaks (9/10), Appetizers (7/10), Sides (6/10 ), Service (8/10 ) –  Keens steakhouse Addr: 72 West 36th St. New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-947-3636 URL: http://www.keens.com

 

 

New Yorkers, those lucky bastards! Lol. They attract the best of the best! Sushi Saito (Tokyo) is the current best sushiya in the world. Guess what… they had one of their Chefs who was ready to go working abroad, but it had to be ..guess where…in NYC, of course (Chef Shion Uino now working  at Sushi Amane at Mifune ). You remember the legendary Jiro, of Jiro Dreams? Well, that is not ‘new’ news anymore, but his apprentice  Nakazawa (one of the main characters of the movie Jiro Dreams) is ..guess where?

Examples of great Chefs attracted by New York are endless (Ferran Adria, Joel Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Rene Redzepi, Massimo Bottura, Enrique Olvera, ), with the latest being Legendary Neapolitan Pizzaiolo Gino Sorbillo.  Gino is known as one of the best Pizzaioli  of Napoli (just to give you an idea of how popular the eatery is – locals do wait, on average, one hour in front of his pizzeria to get their fix of the best pizza of  Napoli ) and he is also famous for his  feud with  the local mafia over his refusal to pay  the pizzo. The pizzeria is so popular that it quickly expanded to Milano in Northern  Italy, then now, in New York City.

I have long been fascinated by Pizze, particularly the Neapolitan Pizza. Actually, one big dream that I do have would be  to spend 3 months in Naples and review every single of their Pizza shops (a bit like what this guy did, many years ago, but I will stick to Naples, world’s ‘temple’ of the Neapolitan Pizza).  It took me a while to be prepared for this project: first, I wanted to spend years tasting all sort of Neapolitan pizze, understanding  the techniques, the ingredients, etc.

I did that for the past 20 years and do, consequently, nowadays, feel ready for the last step before visiting all the Pizza shops of Napoli:  doing an apprenticeship at 3 of the best Pizza shops of Napoli. This will not be easy, perhaps even impossible, but where there is a will, there is a way!  If that happens, the 3 shops will not be reviewed  (I am a bit ‘old school’ about this, and do have nothing against those who think otherwise — I mean we are in an era where most critics do not care about such details — but I insist on never reviewing establishments that I am familiar with), but revealed, of course  (I would like the relevant blog to feature videos of what I am learning at those shops, as well as detailed written  accounts of my journey as an apprentice pizzaiolo in Napoli) .

Regarding Sorbillo NYC, as we all came to  expect,  the food journalists  did  review it inaccurately.  In order to protect their friends of the local pizza scene, they applied themselves to diminish the importance of Sorbillo in their reviews:  they had, of course, to review pastas at a …. pizza shop. They had to. They just could not refrain from using  that cheap shot. Mind you, there is not much they could do:  they never went to Napoli and went on reviewing  this shop with their North American taste. And more importantly, everyone knows that some of the major web sites reviewing those restaurants do have the restaurateurs ‘paying to play’ on their platforms. And those web sites cannot hide it anymore (just look at their disclaimers regarding their affiliation to the restaurateurs).  Gino Sorbillo is a restaurateur who has challenged the pizzo  of the mafia back home in Italy. Needless to guess that he was not going to accept the pressure of the ‘paying to play’ online  system that is so common nowadays.

You cannot  fail to identify those who have no clue of what to expect from a Neapolitan pizza: they will complain about the crust being a bit limpy (Americans prefer a crispier crust). Well, it is the way it is done in Napoli, folks! If you want a pizza which pie is crispy, then opt for a Roman style pizza or any of  your usual  Italian-American pizze. Some will complain about the sparse burnt edges of the pizza, Lol. Others will rage against  the fact that they could not ..fold their pizza… total DELIRIUM!! Ignorance is a bliss, indeed.

But the true connoiseurs of Neapolitan pizza were not going to be fooled by all of that –

Margherita con bufala – Mozzarella Bufala, San Marzano Tomatoes, Basil, Terre Francescane Organic EVOO. What I was looking for at Sorbillo is exactly what a true connoisseur of Neapolitan pizza would look for in his Neapolitan pizza: Is the dough made with Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour (this takes educating your senses, palate, etc, for some time, but once that is done, you will know if your pizza was made with a dough of such quality) ? kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and formed by hand? Is the dough topped with raw, pureed San Marzano tomatoes from Italy? is it made in a true wood burning brick oven? Were the ingredients fresh and of quality? fior di latte made from cow’s milk or is mozzarella di Bufala? fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil? Are the ingredients all-natural and fresh? The answer to all the above raised questions was positive.

I also ordered:

Polpette Napoletano – Meatballs and tomato ragù. The meatballs simmered in the sauce as it should, the consistency ideally  moist, the hearty flavor of the sauce in evidence. The sauce was hard to improve upon, its texture and taste as perfected as you will get from a Chef that knows his Italian food to the T, and most importantly…that knows how to technically execute it flawlessly. Only someone who has no real clue about what a legit version of the polpette does smell , taste and feel like would argue against that polpette. La Nonna or any Italian who truely knows his Italian food  would certainly be very proud with what this brigade  is doing as the essence of the  traditional recipe is faithfully applied here. 8/10

Crema di Tiramisù – The mascarpone/eggs/ sweet marsala wine competently rendered mix did blend appetizingly well with a perfectly fine espresso coffee  flavor.  Well judged quantity of mascarpone so that the tiramisu retains a proper creamy texture rather than verging too much on a mousse. This was also timely chilled to let the flavors develop. One version  of the tiramisu that would certainly make any Italian who knows his Tiramisu happy, which was actually the case of an Italian family sitting  at the neighboring table and who seemed to have  enjoyed both the very same polpette I did order  and this tiramisu as items that are executed properly . 7/10

Babà Napoletano – The rum-soaked oven-baked dolce was properly executed: leavened  to its traditional soft spongy consistency (whoever baked the mini cake did not take any shortcut as it was evident that they took the time that was necessary to go through the time consuming / slow leavening process that is required to make this cake), it was not too boozy and it did express a well judged intensity of sweetness. The cake was not too light, therefore its inside was not too dry (though a tidbit dryer than I would have liked, in some parts, but I am  nitpicking here). It  had very little alcohol, and soft texture and sweetness.  The nice golden brown exterior was also achieved as it should. It was served at room temperature, which was the right thing to do. A perfectly legit version of the Babà Napoletano. 7/10

Extra points for making all the desserts, the bread (really nice for a place that is not dedicated to bread), as well as their gnocchi   on the premises! It is way more that what we came to expect from a pizza place.

Bottom line: Those truly in the know would have found the  Sorbillo’s Neapolitan pizza I was having as authentic as a Neapolitan pizza will feel, smell and taste like outside of Italy:  A properly rendered thin and soft crust, the crust bubbling up as it should be, the charred spots present, again, as it’s supposed to be. The fresh tomato sauce packed with the minerality and bright acidity that is expected in a Neapolitan pizza (I saw way too many reviewers inaccurately complaining about the bright acidity of the tomato sauce in such pizza…not trying to be rude folks, but c’mon…take some lesson, learn how such pizza is authentically made before assessing it as you really sound ridiculous with such suggestions as ”I did not like it because the tomato sauce has ….bright acidity’ ), both the technique and the ingredients are on point. Sorbillo NYC 334 Bowery, New York, NY 10012, USA  Phone: (646) 678-3392 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SorbilloNYC/ Overall food rating: 8/10 (Category – Best Neapolitan Pizza shop outside of Italy – you need to be seriously clueless about Italian cooking to give this place the low ratings that the food journalists have rated it. Any serious Italian who knows his food will agree that this is a very good Italian Pizza shop), Service : 9/10 (Attentive, friendly and yet professional)

Quality Meats NYC (Addr: 57 W 58th St, New York, NY 10019, USA Phone: +1 212-371-7777)   is a restaurant  backed by Smith & Wollensky, a steakhouse institution in NYC (that now has several branches across the US as well as abroad). It is part of a  group of restaurants that include some of the most successful eateries of NYC such as Don Angie, Smith & Wollensky, Park Avenue, etc. They do offer a contemporary take on North American familiar dishes  such as their take on the North American steaks . It  is hip and does have a social vibe. The decor features  several   elements  pertaining to the  neo rustic chic interior design, elements such as marble, wood, and stainless steel. Chandeliers and white ceramic tiles completing the decor.

I went there because not all steakhouses in NYC do offer great  bone-in rib eye steaks, my preferred cut for a steak. They do stellar Porterhouse steaks, at virtually all the great chop houses  in NYC. But rib eye steaks are either absent from their menus, or do come in meager size, and are rarely dry aged (it is pointless, for me, to splurge on wet aged meat, my palate oftently associating it with just a generic piece of steak).  On this particular occasion,  I was also looking for a steakhouse exempt from the usual  potential “”dry aged” or mixed  type of service (However great is the food, if the service has the potential to make me vomit, the food is worthless) . I heard that QM has fine  hospitality standards and that they  do  an excellent rib eye steak. I went  to find out.

My expectation was the usual expectation of any steak lover: I needed my steak to be a fully flavoured juicy slab of prime beef, exquisitely  seasoned, unleashing   a great deal of umami sensation in mouth. Did the steak meet that expectation? First, a description of the steak I did order:   a 24 oz. long-boned Black Angus Prime, dry-aged rib steak.  Aged for 40 days. My rib eye had a delicious seasoning, but it was cooked  past the requested medium rare doneness. A bit dry and tough here and there, as well. However, I will give them a second chance as this is a first rate restaurant that deserves a second chance. I surely will do that soon, with, next time, the choice of the porterhouse. I trust that this was an isolated slip as the local steakhouse experts have long praised the rib eye at QM. 5/10

Other items that I did sample here :

With my steak, I took the creamed spinach, which was tasty and   packed with enticing fresh spinach flavor. 8/10

The other side dish I did order was their popular crispy potatoes, which are blanched in duck fat, seasoned with garlic , thyme, and bay leaves and dressed at the last minute  with a hot sauce of butter seasoned with garlic , thyme, parsley, chives  and rosemary.  Great.  8/10

Bottom line: A classy restaurant. I hope I will be luckier with the steak the next time I will go back there. The sides are great.  The service, at the exception of a young lady with long straight black hair at the entrance (she seems to suffer from some serious attitude problem) was of world class mention. Definitely a place where I will return.

 

JeJu Noodle Bar, New York
Type of food: Korean Noodle
Addr: 679 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10014, United States
Phone number (646) 666-0947
URL: http://jejunoodlebar.com/

Many hard-to-please and knowledgeable Korean gastronomes seem to have been pleasantly surprised by JJNB.
It serves Korean noodle soup  , primarily (the famous instant noodles that the Koreans are familiar with, since their tender childhood, but here it is  of the  ”freshly made” type that they get specially made for them and that they  do elevate into refined dishes of their own inspiration) . Their Head Chef/owner, Chef Douglas Kim,   told the medias that he never made noodle soup before. Instead, he has enjoyed an enviable career at celebrated restaurants such as Per Se, Bouley, Nobu and Zuma before stepping out to helm his own Noodle restaurant. The Chef said to the medias that he , I quote —”’  gains  inspiration from Korean dishes but that he is doing his own interpretations of them ” – . He could not have been more explicit.

I ordered some of their most popular dishes:

So Ramyun (I did order this for a take out, therefore  I did not take its picture), made of veal broth (that is blanched, then boiled throughout an entire day ) , garnished with “Soo Yuk” brisket (brined for several days before it is cooked), scallion, pickled garlic and garlic oil.   Koreans do have a cuisine that is  rich and complex in its nuances. As an example, take their soups . Studying their soups is like discovering an exciting library of information on its own. Therefore, it is interesting to see a Chef who focuses on one specific aspect of  this  complex cuisine (if you think that  Korean cuisine is simple, then it is obvious that you are limiting your assessment of this cuisine to the meat that you went  grilling at a Kbbq and  have not cooked it yourself). With this ramyun, most South Koreans will  feel in   familiar territory with a flavor profile that will remind them of a more concentrated and refined  version of their beloved seolleongtang, an  ox bone soup  very popular in South Korea. Here, the veal replacing the ox, obviously. This Chef seems to insist on a  flavour profile that is as genuine as it gets 11,046 km away from the motherland. As genuine as it is possible to be, of course, as anyone who is truely knowledgeable about food would know that water, soil, the geographical area are just a fraction of the factors that can’t make the same dish tasting …..the same in two countries that are that distant geographically. 8/10

 

Toro Ssam Bap featured super fresh tasting Toro (fatty part of the tuna, found in the belly portion of the fish) , scrambled egg, tobiko rice, that you wrap in toasted seaweed roll, the seaweed replacing, here, the traditional leafy vegetables that Korean would use to wrap (Ssam) a piece of meat  or other filling. Combining rice and proteins rarely fails to be enjoyable and this was no exception, but what did interest me here was the different techniques involved and how successful they were (the perfect texture of the scambled eggs, the judicious seasoning, the precise cooking of the rice, etc). A distracted eye and palate would look at a dish like this and would hastily suggest that “”bah..it is just rice and raw fish”, but there was way more than that.  This came  with pickled daikon that revealed some serious pickling technique. The rice was deliciously seasoned to perfectly match  the tuna, and the scrambled eggs. I did also order some extra sea urchin that were of top quality and was another logical add-on to the dish. This was  well thought and tasted great. 8/10

 

Wagyu ramyun came with raw A4 grade miyazaki wagyu (which is 100% purebred Japanese Wagyu) that is sliced thinly, brisket, kikurage mushrooms,  enoki, chives, Baek-Kimchi (white kimchi), chared scallion oil, sesame oil and sesame. As you would have guessed it, from  its collection of ingredients, this was rich in flavor. Impressive genuine taste coming from the white kimchi element. I have been a passionate fan of Korean flavors for over 2 decades, by now, and it makes me upset  when Koreans try to please western palates by altering the genuine flavor profile of such jewel of International  cooking like the Kimchi. I was therefore impressed to see that this Chef  is  keeping the core flavors of South Korean cuisine alive. The white kimchi bringing necessary acidity, the earthy mushrooms, toasty flavors coming from the sesame as well as the rich meat flavor were nice balanced. A contemporary and luxurious take on the Korean Ramyun  that refused to leave the core Korean flavours at bay. 8/10

Mul Hwe (which I forgot to photograph as I was discussing with another diner) –  Basically,  Hwe is  sashimi (fresh raw fish or meat sliced thinly)  —here, using 4 different types of seasonal raw fishes –  that the Koreans serve with side dishes such as pickles, tempura, etc. Here, in the kitchen, they did assemble all of those elements into one ‘salad’ if you wish, made it lighter than the traditional version and elevated it with  a splash of citrus, combining ingredients such as perilla, fresno chili, red onion. 8/10

 

Gochujang Bokum (Not pictured as I ordered it  it for take out) served with marinated ragu Beef, Iceberg lettuce, Nori, Pickled mustard and rice – I am a huge fan of the Gochujang, one of the core ingredients of Korean cooking. It is red chile paste made of fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, salt, and sometimes sweeteners.  The kitchen using it to make their beef ragu in this instance. 8/10

Prices are steep but the quality is  good and the portion sizes of the soups are sufficient.

Bottom line: The Chef/owner  is obviously proud of the genuine flavours of his motherland and I appreciate that. His kitchen brigade  was also successful at  using  plenty  of ingredients that always  felt complementary.   The Noodles are freshly made (the instant noodle texture is preserved) , cooked to proper soft and chewy consistency, the flavours enjoyable and delicately balanced, the creativity is there and it is true that they are doing things their own way –as an example, the kimtchi is traditionally fermented, but here, they do brine it instead —  but never at the expense of the traditional Korean flavours where and when need be. Overall rating (Category: Korean Noodle in NYC), 8/10 for the food, 8/10 for the service. To top it off, you have the pretty Hudson river nearby.

 

I wanted to try my usual go-to Haitian eatery in Brooklyn, La Caye, but the wait was too long. Therefore, we went for Chloe’s which is another Haitian eatery in Brooklyn.

We ate:

-Lambi boucané (Grilled conch) was prepared exactly as they do it in Haiti: not tenderized, not boiled. Straight to the grill. Great grilling flavour and superb pickling technique for the onion/red pepper that was served with the lambi boucane. 7/10

-Crab cake featured plenty of fresh crab meat and was enjoyable with a batter that had proper airy crispiness (flaky and tender), the cakes holding together well. 7/10

-Tassot de cabrit (Fried goat meat – upper left corner on the previous photo) featured tender tasty goat meat (flawless marinade of the meat, they have masterfully balanced the acidity coming from the lemon element with the necessary subtle spicy kick this dish requires) 8/10

The sos pwa (bean sauce – In this instance, a red bean sauce made with shallots, garlic cloves, thyme, parsley, etc), one sauce that is simple and yet utterly delicious and beautifully textured in its prime, was, here, edible, for sure, but tired-looking and has certainly been in its prime, at some point, but not when it made its appearance at our table (the vibrant red bean flavour of the sauce was only present in our wishes).  1/10

The diri kole ak pwa  (rice with red kidney beans, flavoured with thyme/parsley/cloves – right side of the previous picture) was almost bland. I am not sure why some Haitian eateries outside of Haiti do not invest a bit more time and care in the work of the diri kole as Haitians, back home, are used to their diri kole being flavourful. Not here. Too bad, as the Haitian diri kole is usually the most flavourful  of all the  versions  of this dish found in other Caribbean cuisines. I had more flavorful diri kole  at many Haitians eateries elsewhere. However, this is an example where many food reviewers confuse personal taste with technical flaws. Not flavoring the rice is not a technical flaw, in this instance. It is the choice that the kitchen made. A choice that I do not like, but not a flaw. Overcooking the rice, burning it when it is not supposed to, etc..those are technical flaws. Theirs was technically well executed: it  was not dry and it was freshly prepared.

 

-Grilled red snapper was dry throughout, therefore had virtually no flavour 0/10

-Akra ( fritters made of Malanga — a type of root vegetable —, garlic, scallion, peppers, flour ) was freshly prepared, the texture exactly as the one of a perfectly genuine Haitian Akra, though a tad oily but this is not a gourmet restaurant that is looking after such little details and rustic Haitian cooking has the « bit oily » feature as a perfectly legit/genuine part of the Akra experience. 7/10

The pikliz – a condiment made of raw chopped vegetables such as carrots/bell peppers/cabbage that are pickled in white vinegar alongside scotch bonnet peppers and seasoned with garlic, whole cloves and onion had proper genuine taste. This pikliz was certainly great in its prime (meaning if it was timely served) but it arrived at our table with the characteristics of the lesser pikliz: its crunch was a feature of the past, its dryness a  reality of the present tense. A pikliz without crunch and texture is not what one should be looking for (in the same fashion as a slaw —as pikliz is essentially a sort of pickled spicy slaw — if it is not going to have crunch and texture, it is better not to serve it). Too bad, as it was evident that the technique to conceive that pikliz was on point (5/10).

Bottom line: An erratic performance. Not in the league of La Caye, for sure. I would still go back for the tassot de cabrit though, as well as the Akra and will try their other dishes (lambi, poulet en sauce, for example). Overall food rating: 5.5/10 (tassot de cabrit, akra and lambi boucané were good, the pickling technique generally superior, but all of that was marred by a sos pwa, some pikliz as well as a red snapper that should have never left the kitchen) Service: 6/10 (doing the basics , polite) Chloe’s restaurant Addr: 9413 Ave L, Brooklyn NY, 11236 Phone:  347-770-9051

IPPUDONYC1  Ippudo’s 博多一風堂  ( I tried the one on 65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003, USA Phone: +1 212-388-0088  ) interior is very pretty and modern looking, with a light-wood bar in the middle of the ramenya, as well as a dining room bathed in red and the same light wood tones of the bar. Clearly, we are not at a ramenya in Japan, but in Manhattan …

IPPUDONYC  I picked the akamaru modern , made of pork broth, ippudo’s secret miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage, mushrooms, scallions, garlic oil. As with any broth, what you are looking for is the depth and subtlety of its nuanced flavors. Perhaps because they want to adapt the taste of the broth to American palates, the finest bowls of ramen in North America can’t replicate the superlative work of flavors of their counterparts of Tokyo (Fuunji in Tokyo did not blow me away — just a matter of personal taste, imho, as Fuunji is a world class ramenya— but it is ages ahead of any of the finest ramen broths of ramen of New York/North America). Ippudo NYC is no exception to my latest assertion. And yet, it is certainly one of the 2 or 3 bowls of ramen that truely stand out in NYC at this moment.

Pros: One of the good  ramens of NYC/North America (fine Pork Chashu and decent flavor by North America’s finest ramen standards)…whether you like to hear this or not.

Cons: (1) Lacking of  the depth of flavors found at the Ippudo in Japan, as one who’s truely knowledgeable about food would expect from food done in two different countries who are geographically that distant (Japan Vs the  USA). Still, a good  bowl by North American ramen standards.  (2) The egg I had in my ramen seemed to have been cooked by a lazy cook…just look at the picture above!

Just remember… it (your bowl of ramen) will be WAY pricier than in Tokyo – This being NYC. But then, there is this reality check to face: are you willing to fly to Japan for a bowl of ramen? Lol…the restaurateurs have figured that out way before Adam and Eve had their first date, and that is why Ippudo can afford charging you a hefty amount of money for their bowl…they know you will have to slurp theirs, anyway! And if it is not you, someone else will certainly do.

If you have been to Tokyo and had your share of some of their best ramen there, I know what you think…And Ippudo is not even one of the best in Tokyo, and its NYC outpost is less good, I know..we know. And I had the guts to have rated world class Fuunji lower (Be careful, be VERY careful…THEY ARE NOT in the same category! And that is clearly mentioned right next to my ratings). And I did score some bowls in Mtl even higher. Yep, again NOT same category (Montreal is an Okay foodie destination, Tokyo and NYC are world class foodie destinations, so a top tier bowl of ramen in Montreal cannot be compared to a — not even a passable — bowl in those cities). So rest assured that Fuunji in Tokyo is several cuts above the rest, I am well aware of that. Very well aware! I am well aware that Fuunji in Tokyo is superior to Ippudo in both Tokyo and NYC. I am well aware that NOT one single ramenya in Montreal gets close to any remote attempt at a glimpse of the shadow of Fuunji Tokyo or any of the fine ramenyas of Tokyo. But I am also well aware about the fact that Ippudo Nyc is clearly a top tier bowl in NYC  as well as, of course, anywhere in North America. That’s all you need to know. That is all we need to know. And if you are not happy because it is not exactly as in Japan, then may be it is about time that you  realize that Manhattan is NOT situated in Japan! Ippudo 65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003, USA Phone: +1 212-388-0088 Ratings – The ramen (7/10 by North American’s ramen standards. Here, the score dragged down by the poor egg that I did get as well as the lack of depth of flavor in comparison to their Japanese branches), Service (10/10 – Courteous, attentive, service is fast but not rushed, perfect. I know some 1 Michelin star restaurants in NYC which service cannot hold a candle to the service found here), Ambience (10/10 – Lively, lots of people and yet you feel as if you still have your privacy, which is great.)

***Morgan’s bbq is touted as offering one of the finest texas style smoked briskets in nyc. Order them (the briskets) fat, not lean, as to savor your brisket in its more flavorful rendition – which is exactly what I went for. Can’t agree more about Morgan’s bbq reputation: their brisket is as enticingly smokey and tasty as your texan style brisket will get in NY. Coleslaw and potato salad were equally delicious. So did the chicken (you go to a Texan style smoke house for the briskets…yeah, I know, but my sweet half wanted to taste the smoked chicken).
Pros: briskets that would send the ones we have in Mtl to shame, though in the US..the competition is fierce, obviously. Still, some fine Texan style briskets, and not just the briskets as the smoked chicken seemed to have tantalized my girl friend’s palate, which is no light exploit as the lady is a picky eater
Cons: Not too sure if this was an isolated situation, but the brisket I was having was super salty.Because it was as tasty as it was salty, I did not make a fuss of it. I trust that was isolated….
morgans-bbqBottom line: 7/10 (categ: Texan style bbq) – Morgan’s BBQ may not be a standard bearer at what it does, but they are the next guy you are looking for when the standard bearer is not around. For the sake of comparison, our smoke houses in YUL are not there yet (in YUL, our finest texas style brisket’s taste is unidimensional – in comparison).  Morgan’s Barbecue Addr: 267 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217, United States  Phone: +1 718-622-2224  https://www.facebook.com/morgansbrooklynbarbecue/