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Go!Go!Curry!

No, I’m not screaming at you. That’s the name. A bunch of us at work devoured some delicious Go!Go!Curry! the other day. Below, say hello to the “home run” – sausage, pork or chicken, shrimp and egg. Kudos all around to this delicious treat. It clearly wasn’t the healthiest thing I could have eaten for lunch, but shout out to Andrea for the tip! Go go there today!

Go!Go!Curry! Home Run

Go!Go!Curry! Menu

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Authentic Japanese Cuisine in Midtown Manhattan

Jukai – 237 East 53rd Street, Manhattan, New York City

My friends at Tabelog hosted a blogger event earlier this week at Jukai, a Japanese restaurant looking to bring authentic Japanese cuisine to New York City.

According to the chef at Jukai, their menu combines Japanese tapas with Kaiseki-style dishes, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. Jukai also incorporates some Western European styles into its dishes as well to help appeal to the broader New York City diners.

Jukai

Jukai

Jukai sits below street level in a small, dimly lit space. The restaurant has a handful of tables, lit with pin spots, and a central bar/food prep area. Aside from the pin spots, candles provide the majority of light.

Jukai NYC Food

Food Galore

There certainly was no shortage of food for us! We had the opportunity to sample a number of different dishes ranging from Spanish mackerel with ground radish to broiled salmon marinated with sake to beef carpaccio to shabu shabu.

Salmon Marinated With Sake

Salmon Marinated With Sake

The salmon tasted like it just came off the grill. However, that grill flavor was the all of the flavor it had. It was pretty bland. PS – that pepper was definitely spicy so beware!

Spanish Mackerel With Ground Radish

Spanish Mackerel With Ground Radish

The mackerel was delicious. The presentation was very nice, with the fish in the center of a large plate, being an attention hog. I didn’t get a lot of the ground radish flavor but that’s fine by me since the fish was where it was at.

Pacific Coast Oyster

Pacific Coast Oyster

I’m not an oyster guy but I just had to take a picture of these big boys. The Pacific Coast oysters Jukai served  up were ENORMOUS. I’ve never seen oysters this big before. I didn’t sample any but from the rounds and rounds they kept going through, I have a feeling people liked them.

Shabu Shabu

Shabu Shabu

One of the highlights of the night was the shabu shabu. I was clueless as to what this was but it’s the perfect winter meal. Shabu shabu is a Japanese dish where thinly sliced beef and vegetables are cooked in water. The dish is normally served with a dipping sauce as well. This was delicious! I loved it and ended up scarfing down two bowls. The sauce didn’t make this as sweet as I thought it was going to be. Instead, it was much more of a savory dish.

White Sesame Blancmange

Delicious Desserts

And what meal is complete without dessert? Jukai came at us with some unique options – and black tea panna cotta. I could have eaten these for days. The black tea panna cotta tasted exactly like I was eating black tea. The white sesame blancmange confused me a bit, tasting like peanut butter, but who was I to complain?

Jukia means happiness and I must say that after leaving this event, I had a smile on my face! The highlights of the night were the shabu shabu and both desserts – white sesame blancmange and black tea panna cotta.

If you’re looking for some authentic Japanese cuisine in an unexpected midtown location, Jukai may be just the spot for you. Based on what I tasted, I’d head back for some of that shabu shabu and even recommend Jukai to anyone simply looking for some tasty and unique desserts in the area.

A quick note about Tabelog, the event organizer. Tabelog is a website for foodies, designed by foodies. The site is the number one restaurant and review website in Japan and recently set its sights on the United States, launching a US version in New York City. The website is very visual, with big photos doing the talking. They’re also dedicated to bringing together the food blogger community – something I can definitely get behind. Next time you’re looking for a restaurant, check them out! 

Jukai on Urbanspoon

SakaMai Serves Up Delicious Food for Tabelog Awards

Japan’s largest restaurant review website, “Tabeloglaunched a U.S. version this past April, starting things off in New York City. The site aims to bring high quality reviews of restaurants in the Big Apple to food lovers, enlisting the help of top food bloggers, critics, and industry experts across the five boroughs.

Tabelog Logo

What’s awesome about Tabelog is they’re looking to unite the food blogger community through various tools and awards – the first of these being the Official Food Blogger Restaurant Awards. This fall’s edition just ended and the results are out:

SakeMai Owner and Chef

To announce the winners, Tabelog hosted an awesome meet and greet for the judge’s panel at the new Japanese restaurant and sake lounge, SakaMai. The night was complete with some excellent food from Chef Takanori Akiyama and the 2012 world champion mixologist Shingo Gokan dazzling us with his famous drink creations.

Tsukune Slider
Tsukune Slider

The chef at SakaMai creates some delicious dishes with a Japanese foundation while at the same time infusing Western flavor/flair because of the restaurant’s location in New York City. The Tsukune Sliders were chicken meatball, foie gras, caramelized onion, butterhead lettuce and harissa aioli. 

Secreto Iberico Pork
Secreto Iberico Pork

Secreto Iberico Pork was served on a bed of kogashi shoyu and topped with farro salad.

Filet Mignon Tartare
Filet Mignon Tartare

Filet mignon tartare was topped with a crushed poached egg, sea urchin and a ball of wasabi mascarpone, all alongside a crunchy piece of brioche toast.

Croquette
Croquette

One of my favorite dishes of the night – a fried ball of lobster, lardo iberico and sansho pepper.

The owners of SakaMai – young professionals (designer and finance background) – decided to develop and open this restaurant on a whim. Judging from the food they showed off at this event, they’re well on their way to delivering a Lower East Side sake lounge with food fit for an uptown crowd – a combination for success.

Ippudo

Restaurant: Ippudo – 65 4th Avenue, Manhattan, New York

I’m probably one of the few people that went to college and stayed away from ramen. Ippudo, constantly crowded, often with hour-long waits, was the perfect place to change that.

Atmosphere

Ippudo can best be described as an experience. The staff is high-energy and yells out in Japanese to greet diners every time they’re brought into the dining room. (I’m assuming they’re saying ‘hi’.) Along one side, an open kitchen displays numerous ramen chefs churning out bowl after bowl while waiters and waitresses scurry around the restaurant. The dining area is decked out in dark wood and features communal as well as private seating. It can best be described as extremely organized chaos. 

This is all assuming you can get a seat. The wait at Ippudo can stretch into the 3+ hour range on weekends.

Bar at Ippudo
There’s ramen everywhere at Ippudo!

Food

I had no idea what to expect at Ippudo. As someone new to the world of ramen, the menu is a little overwhelming. I ended up settling on:

  • Hirata buns with pork: steamed buns filled with your choice of either pork, chicken, or eggplant & eringi mushrooms served with Ippudo’s original spicy buns sauce (you know them as pork buns)
  • Akamaru Modern: the original silky “Tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil (I added a poached egg and braised pork belly to this)

I’d heard rumors about how good Ippudo was and those rumors were dead on. Two pork buns came out as the appetizer. A good-sized pork belly was nestled in between a freshly steamed, doughy bun. It was a little bit spicy and came with iceberg lettuce. 

Akamaru Modern at Ippudo
Akamaru Modern with a poached egg and braised pork belly

I had no idea what to expect with the ramen. I was greeted with an enormous bowl of a steaming hot concoction. I quickly dove in and was met with a very rich, flavorful broth filled with lots of noodles and an ample amount of pork belly. Man was this good! The pork belly was by far my favorite part. It literally dissolved as a I tried to get it into my mouth. As I looked around, everyone else was closely huddled over their bowls, a clear sign Ippudo does things right. I tend to engulf food extremely quickly but at Ippudo I was met with chopsticks, and this forced me to take my time and taste all the unique flavors of the ramen – there’s a lot of stuff in there!

Service

The waiters, waitresses and chefs all yell to greet you when you walk into the main dining area. Enough said. The service was attentive and quick. You may be met with a long wait just to get into Ippudo, but the host/hostess is friendly and on top of the ever-growing wait list. 

Value

The pork buns ($9) and ramen ($21 with my additions) is more pricey than I expected. You’re not breaking the bank here, but it’s clear Ippudo knows the clientele is going to keep coming back regardless of pricing.

The Verdict

For my first venture into the world of ramen, Ippudo was a solid start. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but if this is the standard, sign me up for some more. I definitely will be going back to Ippudo (and getting there early so I don’t have to wait) and I suggest you do the same.

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

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