Wednesday, April 23, 2014

o ya restaurant, Boston

When my dad came up last weekend to help me move out of Boston, I made an advanced reservation at o ya for two seats at the sushi bar. There aren't too many Japanese restaurants in Boston, so I'm just going to say this straight up: o ya has the best Japanese food in Massachusetts. It's fresh, it's innovative, and it's special. It's located in the middle of nowhere by South Station, but those couple of hours you spend inside will definitely transport you away from the Leather District.

My dad and I settled on the trying the 17-course chef's selection. It seemed the most "affordable" compared to ordering just a la carte or the 20+ course omakase menu. But I promise the $185 was very well spent because each dish is so intricately prepared. All the fish are paired with flavors and seasonings that makes each course unique in taste and presentation. I got a bit worn out in the middle because the sashimi marinades got a bit repetitive, but the chef's nigiri choices were all very impressive and delicious. All I had to tell my waiter was that we liked eating uni, and the following photos document what we were served. I bolded my favorites, so if you ever stop by o ya, be sure to request to try those!

Kumamoto oyster; watermelon pearls, cucumber migonette

Hamachi; spicy banana pepper mousse
Maine sea urchin; blood orange, homemade soy
Salmon; unfiltered wheat soy moromi
Kohada Japanese baby mackerel; black olive puree, shiso
Bluefin chutoro; Republic of Georgia garlic herb sauce
Fried Kumamoto oyster; yuzu kosho aioli, squid ink bubbles
Kyoto style wild morel mushrooms; garlic, soy
Iwashi; house-smoked Japanese sardine, pickled scotch bonnet, cilantro
Shima aji and Maine sea urchin; ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro
Scottish salmon; spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil
Hamachi; Viet migonette, Thai basil, shallot
Bluefin tuna tataki; smoky pickled onion, truffle oil
Shiso tempura with grilled lobster; charred tomato, ponzo aioli
Grilled shiitake and wild hedgehog mushroom sashimi; rosemary garlic oil, sesame froth, soy
Seared petit strip loin; potato confit, sea salt, white truffle oil
Foie gras; balsamic chocolate kabayaki, claudio corallo raisin cocoa pulp, sip of 8 year aged sake
White chocolate with strawberry and yuzu, milk chocolate with salted caramel

o ya restaurant 

9 East Street Place
Boston, MA

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lac d'Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France

Home sweet home

It's almost been four years since I studied abroad in the French Alps, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. How can I forget waking up in a bed and breakfast every morning and stepping out the front door to face a massive mountain on one side and a picturesque lake on the other? I just remember feeling my pupils dilate every time I walked along the edge of the road towards the bus stop; there was just so much mountain and so much lake to take in. It was somehow all sensory overload for my New York state of mind. I spent my days in class, jogging along the mountains, swimming in the frigid lake, and tanning in the high altitude while catching up on my global health readings. I was so fortunate to be matched with a family that took pride in having a sit down dinner every night, growing their own vegetables, canning their own jam, and raising their own chickens. I miss the long dinners with homegrown salad, grilled fish from the lake, liver terrine with fresh eggs, petite Suisse with chestnut mousse, homemade multi-grain bread, olive oil ratatouille, and a never ending tub of cheeses. After my daily breakfast of baguette with jams and fresh fruit, I would wait for the elusive bus toward Talloires. The short commute to the priory, aka my Tufts abroad campus, was equally as serenely scenic. Of course it makes sense that when I'm living in a French bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere that I have all my classes in an ancient monastery. Old provincial town life it really was.

Mornings at the bed and breakfast, Les Terrasses du Lac

Thanks for the lunch, host parents!

My favorite French munchie: Monster Munch

My backyard for a summer

Why, yes. That is Mont Blanc in the distance.

Picnic in the Alps

Making raclette in Chamonix


Most photographed area in Annecy, the old jail house

Just a typical day by Lac d'Annecy

In-class soiree. Globalization and Health at its best!

View of Talloires from a parapent.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peanut oil sesame ginger mushroom fried rice

Great home made fried rice takes time. It requires your patience and a whole lot of effort to put together a flawless bowlful. You want to stir-fry it in a wok on high heat so that you can feel each individual grain of rice as a single entity while eating it. Using a wok to stir-fry helps distribute the heat evenly so that every item in the wok gets equal treatment. All ingredients used should be for flavor or texture and needs to be diced small enough so that it doesn't take away from the rice. I'm telling you, it's no joke. But when you do everything right, it becomes so worth the hard work.

Peanut oil sesame mushroom ginger fried rice
2-3 cups rice, cooked and left overnight* (I happened to have a mixture of wild and white rice)
3 tbs peanut oil**
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms, resoaked*** and diced
2 tails scallion, diced
1 knob of fresh ginger, diced
10 cloves of garlic, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbs white sesame
1 tbs ponzu
1 tbs rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Place half the peanut oil on a wok on high heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and stir-fry until brown.
2. Add the other half of the peanut oil along with the garlic, ginger, and scallion.
3. Once everything is slightly browned, add the rice and stir-fry until rice is fragrant. Rice should be slightly harder to the bite, yet still retain some degree of moisture. (This should take 5-10 minutes depending on the heat of your stove top.)
4. As you are stir frying the rice, add the ponzu and rice wine on the side of wok before integrating it with the rice.
5. Mix in the two beaten eggs and keep the rice moving in the wok until the eggs are fully cooked and dispersed throughout.
6. Finally, add the sesame and make sure all ingredients are mixed evenly.
7. Remove the fried rice from the heat and add the sesame oil. Mix well.

Optional: Serve with Chiu Chow chili oil or dried seaweed strips

* Using leftover rice is key because fresh rice has too much moisture to get the right texture for fried rice. I told you making fried rice takes time! But really, people only make fried rice if you want to get rid of your leftover rice productively. But if you do decide to try using fresh rice, be prepared to be standing in front of the wok for even longer.
** I used peanut oil because it has a higher smoke point. Many Chinese kitchens use peanut oil for foods to be treated on a wok at high temperatures.
** I buy packs of fried shiitake mushrooms at Chinese supermarkets. You simply soak them in water for an hour before using them. Yup, time and effort.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Court of Two Sisters, New Orleans

The verdict is finally in -- I got matched to Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine for my dietetic internship! This is one of the final and most crucial steps to becoming a Registered Dietitian. So to celebrate, I will be posting about one of my favorite places that visited when I was last there in March during my first year of graduate school.

If you all follow my blog, you know how obsessed I am with New Orleans: the food (beignets at Cafe du Monde, po-boys and muffulettas, fried chicken at Willie Mae's), the culture, the people and all that jazz. I'm surprised I haven't written about The Court of Two Sisters yet because it was my absolute first meal in New Orleans ever, and it remains to be my favorite... along with almost every other meal I had down in Louisiana.

We went for their famous jazz brunch and were seated in their picturesque courtyard. Like everything in the French Quarter, The Court of Two Sisters gives off the aura of ageless wonder with French colonial / Creole architectural design. Compound that with the food and live music, and you're sent back to the late 19th century. It really is beautiful, captivating, and inspiring all at once.

The buffet is a generous all you can handle of hot and cold Louisiana and New Orleans Creole delicacies: boiled crawfish, spicy shrimp etouffee, creamy turtle soup, flavorful jambalaya, fresh ceviche, southern BBQ ribs, buttery corn bread, and so much more. The dessert selection is just as impressive with everything from banana fosters and bread pudding to pecan pie and king cake. Are you drooling yet?

I'm still in shock that I'm moving down to Louisiana, but I can't wait to savor all the culture. And obviously ALL the food.

The Court of Two Sisters
613 Royal Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lung Kee Wanton 龍記招牌雲吞, Hong Kong

My mom is on a flight to Hong Kong now, and I cannot be more jealous. While I'm stuck doing final projects in Beantown, she will be enjoying the warmer weather and the endless feasts of Hong Kong food. There are many things that I miss eating when I'm in America, but on the top of that list today is a bowl of wonton noodle soup. 

A bowl of wonton noodle soup is not that hard to come by in any Chinatown across the world, but having a great bowl of wonton noodle soup is surprisingly challenging. Most places don't put much thought into their wontons and put a thimble amount of pork and mushy shrimp served in overcooked limp wraps. There are many conflicting schools of thought on what the perfect wonton should be like, but I'm going to have to say the following:
1. thin slippery wrap 
2. stuffed with fresh succulent shrimp
3. served on top of thin bouncy egg noodles 
4. all in a bowl of umami (maybe msg) heavy clear broth
5. with plenty of red vinegar and Chiu Chow chili oil on the side 

Now, those are my credentials for a satisfying bowl of wonton noodle soup and like I said, there are very few places that meet all my standards. So I'm going to let you in on my favorite wonton shop in Hong Kong. It's located on Kowloon island in Tsim Sha Tsui embedded in Carnarvon Road, which is packed with bustling restaurants serving everything from Vietnamese to Turkish to Chiu Chow cuisine. Lung Kee has been around, and you know it's legit because the menu only has three entrees options: wontons, fish paste balls, and sliced beef on thin or thick noodles. They do what they do the right way and their limited choices make a killing. 

Their wontons are larger than the average size, amounting to somewhere between a ping pong ball and a golf ball. And though some people find this sacrilegious, the filling is 100% fresh meaty shrimp and no pork. For all you shrimp lovers, this is the wonton for you. You will never remember ever eating a wonton noodle soup with such bounce. Add some of their beef to your order, too. It's unbelievably tender. 27HKD a bowl may be steep for locals, but that comes out to about $4USD. That with a plate of lard laden chives... noodle nirvana. 

Lung Kee Wanton 龍記招牌雲吞
Carnarvon Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong