Friday, 17 July 2009

A stretch of France in New York

A French corner in NY

How strange, I found this little bit of france, with all the important details, like the 'tabac' sign, the names, New York, it's quite distcrete really. And the spookiest of all is that just around the corner, there is a huge Newcastle Brown ale sign. it was like a micro jump in my own world, between France and Britain...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Jing Fong Restaurant in Elizabeth Street, NY

Jing Fong Restaurant
This restaurant was the only one we chose with the travel guide, my travel companion: I usually have a good flair and we don't rely on travel guides for food. I had a bit of a bad feeling in the entrance as there was an escalator, for some reason an escalator in the entrance of restaurant sounds wrong (you need the exercise when you come out!) Anyway, inside the restaurant, the space was huge, seemingly the place is used for big family events. The dishes were similar to those I can get in the UK, only they were presented differently on the menu, with complicated formula. The waiters found it difficult to understand us as their English was not too good, although I don't find this an issue. A glance in the room told me that nobody amongst the customers was chinese. Huh ho... The place was well lit at least..

Jing Fong RestaurantJing Fong Restaurant
Anyway, we order some duck tongues: We’d expected the tongues to be pan fried but they came in a thick batter which spoiled it a bit for us.
Duck tongues
My companion ordered hairy taro balls which she liked although they weren't the best she'd ever eaten. I am not very much into deep fried so again that was a bit heavy for me.
Hairy taro balls
Then we got the steamed scallop dumpling I'd order which were rather nice and fresh.
Scallop dumplings and duck tongues
Of course I'd asked the waiter if they had Xiao long bao, and they did! They were ok, but definitely not freshly made, and the dough was to thick, with not enough soup inside.
Xiao long bao
The shark fin dumplings were quite interesting, i'd never seen them made that way. Not my favorite, but good.
Shark fin dumplings
There was no egg tarts for dessert (ohhhhh noooo!) so I ordered the only dessert that seemed healthy enough, which turned out to be coconut jelly with canned fruits, not very exciting really.

Coconut jelly dessert

I suppose the fun bit came at the end since in Britain, we rarely get a fortune cookie at the end of the meal; orange quarter and mini desserts during the new year, but no cookie indeed, for it's an american invention. I must say I rather like it (the message, not the biscuit!)

Fortune cookie

It was interesting to note that in American restaurants, you don't need to order water, tea, they are brought to the table automatically as part of the service. The odd bit come with the bill, as you never know what you will have to pay: you have to calculate the tax on top then the service from 15-20% upwards. I don't like counting so I found that rather painful, and remain attached to the European way where everything is included and you don't have to worry about it. Also, the dollars come in small bills so you have to put plenty of them!

Fortune cookieThe dollar bill

So the verdict: we should have followed our instinct and gone to the little restaurant at the corner of Elisabeth and Pell Street with all the pigs heads and ducks hanging in the window which emitted such a gorgeous smell. The standard in Manchester Chinese restaurants is rather high as I discovered when I went to HongKong, so I am a bit demanding. However, we don't have any Vietnamese restaurant and I was very pleased to find many of them in New York, even though they -again - tasted different frrom the ones in France. The other funny thing is New York is that when you come out of restaurants in the evenings, the pavement is full of bin bags! which conforted us in our thoughts we hadn't expressed them till then: the meal had been a bit rubbish really... (it might well be a British expression hum...).
Jing Fong Restaurant
But well, that was the only failed food experience in NY, the rest was awesome, I just wanted say like everywhere else, after all, it's a lot down to how one choses the restaurant. And our lesson that night was: do not believe the travel guides for food!!

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Katz Delicatessen, New York

At the Katz cafe
The Katz Cafe is what you call an institution. Only mentionned slightly in the guides, I think it would deserve a bit more. The great atmosphere of this cafe that hasn't changed for years and years and years...., the democratic feeling (whoever you are you will be served when your time has come) - and that's also where a famous scene of 'When Harry met Sally' was filmed. (We actually first sat just behind the table it was filmed at... took me a minute to see the sign hanging from the ceiling).
Anyway. The place definitely has an American feel about it, something not European at all, and lots of references to the past. The waiter below is quite an interesting character too.
At the Katz cafe
The whole place feels like it's a blast from the past. The whole walls are covered with photos of people who ate there (not that I would recognise anyone ... Note the neon above the counter:’send a salami to your boy in the army’
At the Katz cafe

BUT this is not why you should go: you should go because they have THE BEST PASTRAMI on the whole planet. I had no idea that pastrami (never had it hot nor with these big gherkins either!) could be that good. I was surprised by the bread as well, very good bread, similar to the polish bread we get in Europe. Go onto the Katz it contains some very good bits of info about the place and its history.
Like Katie K commented on my previous post, a lot of the first immigrants were Yiddish, which explains that I relate the food served to North Eastern Europe, the big gherkins for example were very popular there as seen in the film 'Goodbye Lenin'. The menu still contains some words of yiddish too. I really loved the way the deli had kept the historical details all along.
At the Katz cafe
At the Katz cafeAt the Katz cafe

The system was a bit odd, they give you a ticket in the entrance, which you must give back in the entrance, whether you have consummed or not. Only some tables are served by a waiter, and the other tables are for people who want to order their food at the different counters.
At the Katz cafeAt the Katz cafe
At the Katz cafe
Voila! Hope you enjoyed the cafe as much as I have, or if you haven't, pay it a visit!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hong Kong Markets - Wanchai meats

Poultry stall (by Christ tell)
Imagine: you are a chicken in Wanchai market. Absolute horror. You are in a cage and see the different stages of your future. ouch! Humm, unfortunately, you don't know that you will be cooked in fantastic dishes....
Waiting to be slaughtered (by Christ tell)Poultry in all its states (by Christ tell)

Anyway, Wanchai market was superb for meat and fish too, even though I'd say the real show goes for fish and shelfish, fresh, superfresh, varied...
Seafood shop (by Christ tell)
Parrot fishes (by Christ tell)Varied fishes (by Christ tell)Eels (by Christ tell)
Fishmonger stall (by Christ tell)
Fishmonger (by Christ tell)
Seafood (by Christ tell)fresh seafood (by Christ tell)
Indoor market (by Christ tell)

And the cute froggies, on top of each other, waiting for their fate!
Frogs (by Christ tell)
I must admit, I felt for the poor turtoises. These guys are getting rare and because maybe I'd never seen a cut one before, they seemed incredibly vulnerable under their shells... But let's be fair, a life is a life and I should not make a difference: the life of a cow, an insect or any living being (I include plants in there!) is as worthy as that of a tortoise.....
Turtle for sale (by Christ tell)Giant Turtle (by Christ tell)
And at last the meats, again a large variety - and offals - available. I've always wondered and still wondered how it can exist in the heat. But it does and seems to do well....
Indoor market (by Christ tell)Poultry (by Christ tell)
Meat stall (by Christ tell)Beef (by Christ tell)Offals (by Christ tell)
Eggs, all sorts, preserved and fresh (by Christ tell)

I hope you enjoyed this walk through Wanchai Markets with me as much as I did myself!

Now follow me, let's have a meal at the Market Dai pai Dong!
Dai pai dong (Street restaurant) (by Christ tell)Dai pai dong (Street restaurant) (by Christ tell)