Iron chef Morimoto

Yesterday, my friend Michael treated me to an amazing lunch at Morimoto, located at the Chelsea Market in New York City.  It is owned by Masaharu Morimoto, best known as the third Iron Chef on the Japanese TV cooking show Iron Chef, and an Iron Chef on its spinoff, Iron Chef America. Morimoto is known for upscale Japanese fusion cuisine, fresh sushi and a unique presentation style.

The restaurant had a very upbeat and modern atmosphere, with contemporary style decor. I can see it as a happening place in the evenings and late nights. There is a huge bar downstairs with sleek lighting and a wall made entirely of lit bottles. Even the bathroom are worth a visit to. The stalls have a three dimensional affect making you feel like you are outdoors in the midst of autumn.

We ordered non alcoholic beverage – ginger lemonade that came cocktail style. It was quite flavorful, but a little too sweet. A shot of tequila with it would make a perfect evening drink.

Our waiter highly recommended a toro tartar for appetizer. It was carved on a wooden board, served with caviar in a bowl of ice. It came with a variety of condiments (wasabi, soy beans, etc) some of which I could not recognize, but went well together.  The toro simply melted in my mouth.

Michael ordered the roasted black cod bento box. It came with miso soup, mixed greens, tempura and sushi.

I had the buri bop rice bowl. It was an interesting combination of raw yellowtail, steamed rice, raw egg, carrots and  seaweed, served in a hot stone bowl. The waiter mixed all the ingredients and cooked the fish on the side of the hot bowl, topping it with a soy ginger sauce. The table side preperation was unexpected. I liked the delicate flavors of each of the componenets of the dish.

For dessert, we were served a fruity panna cotta that was light and had strong tropical flavors (passion fruit I think). It was delicious! Morimoto has a number of traditional Japanese dishes on its menu, but also remains true to it’s fusion reputation. Along with sushi, rice bowls you will also find buffalo mozzarella, carpaccio and steaks.

Morimoto
88 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 989-9993

Lucky fish

If you are a regular patron of sushi, keep your past notions and experiences aside when you come to dine at Uchiko. The restaurant describes itself as “contemporary Japanese dining” but I say it’s an entirely new cuisine waiting to be discovered.

2011 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Southwest, Tyson Cole has married the finest ingredients from around the global to create a mouth-watering taste retreat in the heart of Austin. When my friend, Dianna and I pulled some strings to get last minute reservations at this popular eatery, we were in for an experience of a lifetime!

While waiting at the bar, I noticed they had an extensive list of sake and a few good wines. However, I was disappointed there weren’t any cocktails. Perhaps it’s not suitable to have a cocktail in a traditional Japanese farmhouse (that description lost me). The ambiance appeared to be more of contemporary and hip, than a farmhouse. Dark wooden panels and subdued lighting made it perfect for a date night, even though we were two girlfriends enjoying a gastronomical night out.

Our wonderful waiter, a young gentleman from Croatia suggested we order 5-6 plates to share. Each dish was handcrafted and took a while to prepare, especially when they were so busy on the Saturday night we were there. The menu is divided into different sections and we decided to try something from each of them. There are also specials offered that change daily.

We tried yokai berri from the cold tastings. It was the perfect blend of melt-in-your-mouth Atlantic salmon with crisp dinosaur kale, sweet Asian pear and yuzu sauce. We  devoured as we watched our neighbors playing with their order of the hot rock (sear it your­self wagyu beef served on a sizzling Japanese river rock.) An attention grabber for sure!

The tempura nasu were perfectly battered and fried circles of Japanese eggplant served with a sweet chili sauce. I could eat an entire bowl of these and still be wanting more! From their cooked menu, we had the suzuki yaki, pan fried scrumptious pieces of grilled Mediter­ranean sea bass in a bed of cherry tomatoes and tarragon. It came close to a seafood dish you would find at an American seafood restaurant. Note to self – don’t order cooked fish at a sushi place. 

The sushi rolls were perhaps the most disappointing section of the menu. We didn’t quote enjoy our selections of p-38 (Japanese yellow­tail, avocado, yuzu kosho, grilled negi, cilantro) or the crunchy tuna.  Our charming waiter brought us complimentary pieces of madai, a good luck charm traditionally served at festivals and special occasions in Japan.

Needless to say, every single item we had was number one in terms of quality, creativity and freshness. Uchiko swears by sourcing only sustainable and responsibly fished ingredients, which clearly reflects in the taste. Each piece of fish is given individual attention, making sure it is sliced and served to reflect the most optimal texture and flavor. You are a lucky fish to be served here…

What made my evening was the fried milk dessert. It was a piece of art that I hated to destroy but couldn’t resist it’s rapture in my mouth. Deep fried frozen custard was served with iced milk sherbet and thin layers of toasted chocolate. Dianna watched me as I finished the last crumbs. Yummm!!!

Fun things to do during the summer holidays

It’s summer time already. The temperature is rising, the economy is still tight and the kids are out of school. It’s time to go to the pool, watch movies and have sleep-overs. But after a few days, you will get tired of all that. If you are scratching your heads on how to keep yourself and your kids entertained this summer without breaking your budget, I have a few ideas for you that involve food, travel and volunteerism.

Go

Plan a road trip to a nearby destination. Pack everyone into your car and head to a lake or beach. Rent a summer home for the week where you can cook your own food and play games. Even if you don’t have anything planned, here are some ideas for last minute trips.

Travel exchange programs are also a great way to stay for free in another city, or even country. Families can exchange homes, stay on farms, or be guests at no charge.

If you have decided to stay put this summer, you are in for a staycation. Which means you can be a tourist in your city and plan to do activities that you would otherwise do while travelling. Lodging and travel costs excluded of course.

Eat

Take a break from the regular summer camps and enrolls in a cooking camp. Learn to be a Food Network star or improve your awareness of food and nutrition. Kids and teens would also learn to work in teams and cooperate with one another.

Cooking with family at home can also be a lot of fun. Get the kids together for a fun day of making pasta, gelato, sushi or chocolate from scratch. It can be a rewarding learning experience that will bring the family together.

Give

There is no shortage of volunteering opportunities in every city. Enroll in a project or associate yourself with a cause. Make it a daily/ weekly schedule to visit an old home, children’s hospital or women’s shelter. Some of these can be quite entertaining as well, such as leading arts and crafts, sporting activities for other kids. Many charities are looking for interns during the summer who can help them with day-to-day administrative things, organizing events, etc.

By the end of summer, you would have used your time effectively to impact the lives of people and feel good about yourself.

If you have any ideas of your own to share, please leave a comment below.

Sushi with Suchi

Making Sushi is actually not as complicated as one might think. I learned to make Sushi in the Dominical Republic, out of all places! One afternoon I signed up for the class along with a few global trotters who were vacationing at the beach and wanted to invigorate their desires for learning a new skill.

The chef at an Asian restaurant gave us a brief demonstration, then let us make our own Sushi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the essentials…

You need the right tools – A rolling mat, wooden bowl, stainless steel Sushi knife,

Stock your cabinet – Sushi rice, Wasabi, Black Sesame, Soy Sauce, Ponzu Sauce, Vinegar

Get the cut right – Fresh sushi grade fish, Avocado, Cucumbers – all should be cut finely

Roll it up – Nori sheets, A bowl of water

Prep Work…

Cook the sushi rice (always short grain) with water, rice vinegar, salt and sugar

Slice the fish finely

Chop the vegetables according to the recipe

Step by Step instructions…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to make Sushi in the Caribbean

1.    Lay the Nori on the rolling mat with the rough side facing upwards.

2.   Wet your hands and make about a handful of rice into a ball. It’s important to keep your hands wet while working with sushi rice because it is sticky. When you work with the nori though, you should keep them as dry as you can.

3.   Gently put the rice ball in the middle of the nori sheet, and start spreading it equally on the nori, creating a layer of rice covering almost the entire sheet except the upper margin of about 2 cm that should be kept uncovered. Be careful not to compress the rice, but merely spread it over the nori.

4.   Place a slice of fish on the edge of the nori, along with 1-3 pre-cut slices of vegetable.

5.   Using the closer edge of the rolling mat, close on the filling with the nori making a rectangular shaped hill and tighten it from above.

6.   Continue rolling in the rectangular hill steps, keeping it tight with every move until you reach the end of the nori. Put pressure on the roll from all three sides at all time, especially on stops to allow it to roll tightly.

7.   Use a wet, sharp knife to cut the roll in to little sushi 6-8 units per roll.

These are the basics of Sushi-making. Once you know the concept you can mix-and-match the fish with the vegetables to make any recipe.