Monday, September 16, 2013
If your search for ethnic kitsch is not entirely satisfied in Chinatown, try the Feast of San Gennaro, now in its annual run on Mulberry Street, north of Canal Street. These days, the Feast is about as authentically Italian as I am. Most of the T-shirts, pastries, games of chance and trinkets offered might as easily be encountered in Little Rock as in Little Italy. However, if you want to get out of the house, eat in Chinatown, and cross Canal Street for dessert.
Maid Cafe ❤ NY, 150 Centre Street, has taken the place of the first joint that I visited in this (ad)venture, in January 2010. In between a couple of beverage places operated, and Maid Cafe focuses on beverages and desserts, including a do-it-yourself frozen yogurt station. However, it also offers a few food items, so I was able to sit down at one of the two little round tables (in addition to the two small rectangular tables and the long rectangular table, seating 12) for lunch. I had Japanese curry with rice ($6), topped by a chicken cutlet (add $1.95), coated with panko, Japanese bread crumbs, and deep-fried, yet nearly greaseless. I also had watermelon-flavored Japanese shaved ice ($2.95) as dessert. Everything was very good, the thick, brown curry sauce having a subtle kick to it. The shaved ice was a bit coarser than the Taiwanese shaved ice that I’ve had in the past, but the watermelon syrup was not icky-sweet.
While the premises have been entirely renovated since it was Wah Kee Chinese restaurant, most notable about Maid Cafe are the four waitresses, who also prepare the food. The young women are dressed in frilly pink and white maid (serving girl) costumes, that evoke the opening scenes of a porno flick. While the outfits don’t show much skin, as at Hooters, a slight aura of Victorian depravity permeates the enterprise.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
When I worked one block from Sushi of Gari, 130 West Broadway, the space was strictly a take-out business offering excellent baked goods and some prepared foods by David Bouley, one of New York’s preeminent chef-restauranteurs. Now, it is a very understated, high end sushiteria, if you will, actually, one of four locations in Manhattan. The room is small, decorated simply with a lot of natural, light-toned wood. There were 15 two-tops arranged for 2 or 4 occupants on very dark brown leather chairs. There is a second floor, which I did not see, but likely similar in size and layout.
The menu also is also relatively simple, leaving the gravitas to the pricing. The simplest sushi lunch is $29. I went for the omakase (chef’s choice) sushi lunch ($50). This consisted of one piece each of Japanese red snapper with wasabi oil, salmon with tomato, kanpachi (yellow tail) with jalapeño, king fish with mushroom, medium fatty tuna with ponzu (a tangy citrus-based sauce, research tells me), tuna with (whipped) tofu, bonito with ginger/garlic, (deliciously roasted) black cod with miso/garlic. Plus, one salmon cucumber roll, cut into six pieces. Green tea was no extra charge. The quality was superb and I almost can’t complain about the cost even though I didn’t leave full. If they only had a Clean-Plate-Club, offering seconds for good boys and girls.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Grandpa Alan’s Who Said It? game
“It was such a bad idea, but so awesome at the same time.”
A - Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, about using poison gas on his own people.
B - Dale Neuringer, an intern at Bustle, a web site aimed at young women, about having 15 piercings done at once.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
There’s a new leading duck in town. New Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, 50 Mott Street, presented me with the best Peking duck that I’ve yet had in Chinatown ($22 for a half duck). It came with four 8" pancakes, a smoky hoisin sauce and more than enough slivers of cucumber and scallion. The meat was nearly fat-free and the crispy skin separated and scraped of its fat. There was enough duck to fill the four pancakes, with a leg and the tip of a wing on the side, but no sign of the carcass.
The restaurant was busy; its strategic position at the corner of Mott Street and Bayard Street attracts tourists and locals as well. Service was efficient, but no effort was made to serve me, so I had to roll my own. Maybe my look of studied competence was sufficient to have me left alone.