Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tied Up

Monday, April 15, 2013
I had already seen the menu for InDessert, 1 East Broadway, so I stopped into Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, for a bowl of won ton soup and crispy noodles first. Tong sui, "sugar water," is a collective term for any sweet, warm soup or custard served as a dessert at the end of a meal in Cantonese cuisine, says WikiPedia. It is the focus of the menu at InDessert, in a space that has housed at least four different restaurants during my self-assigned mission. While this turnover was merited by the mediocre or worse operations conducted there, I recall how this address once housed really good Chinese restaurants, such as Goody’s when it moved from Rego Park, where my mother and I first came across it.

The premises have been completely renovated. The interior is paneled in wooden planks, painted white, hung horizontally. It gives a bright and open feel to the space. Along the right wall are 9 two-tops facing a long bench with either a white or orange metal chair opposite. The ceiling light fixtures alternate white and orange bulbs for a festive air. Another 9 two-tops with two chairs each are clustered in the front left of the restaurant. Further back on the left is the ordering and prep area manned (??) by a young woman who patiently explained some of the menu (muo muo cha cha anyone?) and offered me samples – I found black sesame paste soup not to be my cup of tea. Besides tong sui, InDessert serves smoothies, milkshakes, shaved ice, fruit bowls and French toast, but not today. I kept it simple and had mixed fruit shaved ice ($5) which contained blueberries, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, honeydew and lychee (mostly diced into small pieces) in a sweet sauce. Although water-based, as the ice melted it seemed creamy.

In contrast to the many beverage places in Chinatown, usually holes in the wall, crevices even, focusing on tea drinks, hot or cold, InDessert serves no tea or coffee, concentrating on fruit instead. That’s fine, but it occupies the space of a regular restaurant, presumably at a hefty rent given its prime location on Confucius Square. May I add that I was the only customer in the 15-20 minutes I lingered there. Under these circumstances, I think I’ll be seeing still another new enterprise at 1 East Broadway in the near future.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
We received notices this morning that the Vanity Fair/Tribeca Film Festival Reception will be held in the rotunda and on the portico of the courthouse this evening requiring staff to leave the building by side doors. This is adding up to another time when my career in show business will be frustrated. While I could probably do something to call attention to myself as, contrary to instructions, I waltz through the Hollywood crowd on my way home, but that would be contrary to the roles in which I think I would flourish – a combination of David Niven, Tommie Lee Jones and Gregory Peck. I really have to change agents.

Spring is still here and I found another new restaurant. Aux Epices, 121 Baxter Street, is about three-months old. Oh, are you poised to accuse me of losing focus by including a French restaurant? Well, Aux Epices is a Malaysian restaurant, although I failed to ask the chef-owner about the name when we chatted about the menu. The space is charming, very narrow, with a cushioned bench along the left exposed-brick wall. Eight two-tops are lined up in front of the bench with a rattan/bamboo chair at each table. The opposite wall is a pale flesh tone, that is if your flesh is toned like a northern or central European. Seven colorful photographs are displayed along the length of that wall. The floor is old-time white octagon tiles with black inserts; the ceiling is pressed tin.

I ordered two appetizers (called small plates, very small plates by me), a curry puff ($3.50) and a crispy anise duck roll ($5.50). The curry puff would be an empanada in any other setting. It was filled with potato and had little curry flavor. The duck roll was actually two cylinders, about 1" thick and 3" long, each cut in half. While nice and crispy, its flavors also were not distinctive.

The chef had a reasonable explanation for not serving roti canai, the common denominator of every other Malaysian restaurant I’ve been to. She felt that, in her very small kitchen, she could not prepare the pancake (roti) fresh to order. The rest of the menu, while not as extensive as the physically bigger restaurants, such as West New Malaysia, shows some imagination in offering chicken, shrimp, pork, salmon, seafood and noodles in varying arrangements. I’ll probably return, at least to try one of the full-size plates in a setting that I found particularly congenial.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The friendly group of Tom, Cousin Jerry, Jon, Ken, Stony Brook Steve and Michael met at Joe’s Ginger, 25 Pell Street, which allowed me, somewhat pedantically, to offer instructions on how to ingest a soup bun – nip, zzzup, bite and chew. Their soup buns ($4.95-6.95 for 8 based on contents) are exceptionally good, and we followed them with scallion pancakes ($3.25 each), which give grease a good name. For main courses we shared kung pao chicken ($11.95), beef with scallions ($12.95), eggplant with garlic sauce (meatless, $9.95), and spinach with chunks of garlic (not on the menu). We also had Shanghai fried rice ($5.95), no meat, just eggs and scallions. A few of my colleagues sampled the latest vintage of Diet Coke. All in all, a delightful lunch hour.

Thursday, April 18, 2013
This morning, for the second time this week, I started my day up in the Bronx getting unscheduled repairs to my new teeth. The fix was a bit complicated and I did not get to the courthouse until 1 PM, so I got a chicken platter from the Halal cart man and ate at my desk.

Tonight is my last of the very few Ranger games that I have been able to attend this season.

Friday, April 19, 2013
I’ve initiated the following automatic message this morning on another Internet site: "I’ve ceased using Yahoo. If you know me, you know how to reach me. Otherwise, please assist someone else trying to lose weight, or, trying to enlarge certain body parts."

My department, in order to welcome new members and celebrate promotions, held a pizza lunch ($10) in a large empty courtroom. I tried to get my money’s worth.

Last night, I went to my last Ranger game of the season and tonight I am going to my first Mets game of the season. Might you say A Man For All Seasons? On that note, have a peek at Grandpa Alan’s wardrobe.

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