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Places To Eat

A Taste of Traditional Japan in NYC

The MTC Kitchen, located only a stone's throw from Grand Central Terminal at 711 3rd Ave, will be featuring some unique Japanese delicacies, sweets, and traditional crafts from Ishikawa Prefecture.
A Taste of Ishikawa Prefecture in New York runs from October 14 through November 1st, 2013, highlights unique goods from the scenic region which overlooks the Sea of Japan, such as lacquerware bento boxes (bring you lunch to work in style), Warosoku candles, Kutani sake glasses and glassware, sake carafes, and soup bowls, all perfect for giving your drab kitchen a touch of traditional Japanese beauty. Not to mention that during the fair, all products from Ishikawa will have discounts up to 20% off.

For those of you that are a little hungry, after 2PM each day of the fair, specialty dishes from Ishikawa will be presented for tasting, like broiled mackerel, eel, ishiri-shoyu (a regionally exclusive fish-sauce with a strong umami flavor), Kaga Miso (a miso paste rich in color which has a rustic flavor that's great for soups), fried tofu, traditional sweets, and more.

Come to MTC Kitchen to get a taste of Ishikawa's traditional wares and flavors!

A Taste of Ishikawa Prefecture in New York
October 14 - November 1, 2013

MTC Kitchen
711 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10017

Miya's Sushi: Chi Chi Sushi, Guilt-Free

Raw fish, the former cat food staple, is conquering the world. China, India, Latin America -- consumers across exploding markets want their bluefin tuna, and they want it now. With dire implications for our oceans.

If Japan doesn't have a solution, Connecticut does. Two-and-a-half hours from Manhattan as the toro swims, a New Havensushiflower restaurant is serving up variations on the traditional Japanese cuisine in a tasty fix dubbed "sustainable sushi." Miya's Sushi (68 Howe Street, 203-777-9760) is not only green, it's affairs seem quite rosy.

Just ask the customers awaiting a free table. In April 2010, Fish2Fork ranked Miya's one of the ten most sustainable seafood establishments in the country. Open the novella-length menu and see why.

There's Bad Tempered Geisha Boy Roll, "specifically invented for men who love big muscles. plump New Zealand green mussels with Thai pepper & scallions." Kosher- and halal-keepers will appreciate "Kiss the Smiling Piggie Roll," which comes with the qualification, "this roll contains no meat or pork. sweet potato, mango chutney & pine nuts."

And patrons minding their ph levels can chase it all down with Ultraviolet Kisses, described as, "ocean-salty, homegrown red agedPan-fried Calico Bass and Sunfish shiso and sour plum sake."

Just don´t expect to find typical sushi basics like big eye tuna, yellowfin, red snapper or octopus. Chef and co-owner Bun Lai prefers the likes of catfish grown in confined ponds that don't "cross-contaminate other species or destroy the aquatic ecosystem around it, as salmon and eel farming does."

The prize-winning eco-activist came to the restaurant roughly a decade ago. It took some doing for the eco flavor to catch on. In
2004, when Lai first fileted the menu of seafood farmed or caught unsustainably, peeved clients allegedly took their business elsewhere. Luckily he had an in with the owner, Yoshiko Lai, a Japanese nutritionist who established Miya's Sushi in 1982 -- and who happens to be his mother.

Now he's optimistic about the emerging cadres of consumers who "care enough about our planet to change the way they eat." Even
the diehards are beginning to develop a taste for Miya's upscale sushi that "quenches people's thirst for exotic ingredients without depleting the oceans," as Lai recently explained during a rare lull in his demanding schedule.

Q: How does Miya's Sushi differ from your average sushi joint?

BL: The seafood at 99 percent of restaurants is farmed with a whole lot of pesticides and antibiotics. If you're talking about shrimp or salmon, chances are it's farmed, cause it's cheap. Tuna is usually preserved with carbon monoxide, so you don´t know how old it is.

Q: So you get what you pay for...

BL: Most of the seafood that we consume cheaply comes from foreign sources and we don't bother regulating it. The FDA checks salmon farmingless than 1 percent of foreign seafood. Of that, almost 90 percent fails inspection for chemicals that are banned in this country, and
 we're loose on what chemicals we allow.

Q: Like?

BL: You'll find fungicide so seafood like salmon can keep growing in incredibly dirty water. They're completely sick. Pesticides are used to lessen the impact of sea lice that are eating away at farmed salmon. The sea lice are attacking them because these are fish that are not supposed to be pent up; otherwise they're in the open sea.

Q: Farmed seafood sounds like the new tobacco. Which fish should get the surgeon general's warning?

BL: Tilapia is as bad as it gets. But the salmon that's generally available is hardly the health wonder you might think. It's high in Omega-6 fatty acids and implicated in heart disease. The American Heart Association tells people to eat salmon, but farmed salmon is high in saturated fats, which is actually bad for your heart. The salmon isn't eating its natural diet of wild fish, so you´re essentially eating bacon.

Q: How challenging is it to serve only sustainably produced and fished seafood?

BL: Very. Our seafood selection isn't that big. We run out all the time since (the Bridgeport Agriculture School) can't provide thatBunLaiWater much. Customers ask us, "How come you keep running out? You can find it anywhere!"

Q: Miya's is among a rising tide of farm-to-table restaurants that supply their own ingredients. How and what on your menu is homegrown?

BL: We have fishing ponds and boats on the Thimble Islands not from the restaurant. Half of the staff is scuba certified -- and I'm a "free diver" -- I hold my breath and go down as far as 25 feet. [We collect] all sorts of sea life that wouldn't normally be eaten: spider crabs, sea robins (which are considered "trash fish"), snapper and bluefish, which are incredibly abundant, atypical and absolutely delicious. We also dive for clams and oysters. And the seaweed we put in our miso soup, we dive for.

Q: What are today's specials?

BL: We have cow nose ray from the Chesapeake Bay. It's a fish that's causing a tremendous amount of damage in the Bay because of overfishing of sharks. And it´s totally delicious.

Q: So eating it is actually a needed service. What else should customers order to be good environmentalists?

BL: Silver carp is an invasive species in 18 states and it's threatening to make its way into the Great Lakes. No one eats it in theNigiri with Brined and Smoked Locally Caught Shiners Low in PCBs States, but it has more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon and much lower PCB levels because it's an herbivore. Tiny dogfish is another good choice. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has put it on a list of species that we absolutely should be eating because they could potentially decimate other species of native fish.

Q: Seafood aside, what gives Miya's a nutritional edge over stock sushi?

BL: The misconception about sushi is that it's healthy. Traditional sushi is made with white rice, so the nutrients are taken away from it. It´s like eating Wonder bread. It´s also sweetened with white sugar; a year ago I looked at the ingredients that Whole Foods is using for sushi, and its was corn syrup. So you're basically eating soda. Our rice is unsweetened. We also use locally grown ginger that's pickled in local maple syrup. You won´t find any sugar-sweetened, pink-dyed ginger here.

Q: Half of your sushi menu is vegetarian. Why?

BL: We have a billion people starving in the world today, and the way we're going to feed a hungry planet is not by feeding them animals. Animal farming is not the most efficient way of providing nutrients that humans need; plant-based food is. There's a direct link between the over-consumption of animals and cancer and heart disease. When we choose animals, we should be eating smaller animals and higher-quality flesh that have been raised or hunted in an ethical way.

We're not supposed to be consuming all-you-can-eat shrimp. Most of us today will die of lifestyle-related diseases that have to do with our diet. The irony is that there are so many people who are hungry in this world and we in the U.S. are dying from too muchsushi food.

Q: What's the outlook for sustainable seafood?

BL: The biggest change is that Walmart has stopped carrying red-listed seafood -- Monterey Bay Aquarium has coded seafood red, yellow and green. Blue Ocean also has a great list. Target got rid of farmed salmon. When the biggest retailers get involved, it helps the oceans because it educates the average person in a way that Miya's can never do.

Q: Do you still get flak from traditional sushi eaters?

BL: People will still walk out every day. The flip side is that we have lines out the door practically every night.

Q: What's it like working with your mother?

BL: Mom is still boss and as always I don't listen to her.


Chef Einat Admony Incarnates Balaboosta

Einat Admony

Einat Admony is as cheerful and welcoming as her Manhattan trattoriaBalaboosta. The name means "perfect housewife" or "gracious hostess" in Yiddish.

You'd think she'd have agitas. With Taïm Nolita soon opening next door (Corner of Mulberry and Spring Streets) and a tapas restaurant in the works, the Israeli-born chef, restauranteur and adoring mother of two should indeed be dining on her nails. Ask her the reason for her zen and she'll introduce you to her husband, co-chef and co-restauranteur, Stefan NafzigerBalaboosta

Admony has added reasons to be chill. Taïm Falafel & Smoothie Bar is among them.The couple's original West Village watering hole (and accompanying truck) draws long lines no less for its gluten-free chickpea and pita staple than for its tantalizing fruit drinks. With flavors like strawberry/raspberry/basil and a non-alcoholic version of piña colada among the repertoire, how patrons quench their thirst can pose quite a dilemma.

The twinkly-eyed brunette developed her passion for feeding legions of guests in her Iranian mother's kitchen. Admony's youthful and seasoned culinary adventures will spice up her debut cookbook, The Balaboosta Way, due out in Fall 2013.

How she has time to write remains a mystery, but one recent summer day -- before the lunch crowd filled Balaboosta -- she also managed to squeeze in a leisurely interview. Read on below, but you’ll have to visit her Mediterranean eatery for an appreciation
of the treats that followed our chat.

Q: How did you get started in New York?Einat

EA: I came in 1999 with my first husband and stayed for three and a half years. I worked at Tabla and Danube and other restaurants, and was always going around to Indian and Spanish and all kinds of places -- anything other than strict French cuisine. Then we went back to Israel and got married and divorced.

I came back here and got married to Stefan pretty fast. We had met when we were both working at Bouley during my first stay and right away had a very spiritual connection. Still I married my first husband but my he left me after two months in Israel. Good stuff. (Laughs.)

TaimFalafelQ: Great stuff!

EA: Really...You know, some women would moan, "Ooooh!" But it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, because otherwise I would probably be stuck in Israel, in the shadow of some big chef and have five kids, be miserable and have a husband who cheated on me all the time.

Q: "Ha-kol le-tova." (Hebrew for "Everything works out for the best.")

EA: Ha-kol le-tova. It's amazing. After three days Stef and I knew we were going to be together forever. It's been ten years. We have a real love story. We opened Taïm seven years ago. It's become an institution in New York City. The first year nobody knew
about us and we almost closed. Then one day the editor of New York magazine passed by and she was fascinated by the food. Then it was article after article.

We've been in probably every newspaper and magazine as the best falafel in the City. Then we went to The Food Network and "Throwdown with Bobby Flay." So it's nice. And two years ago I had the opportunity to open [Balaboosta].

Q: How do you do it with two kids?

balaboosta vitrine

EA: You do it. I actually think they're my biggest achievement. Years ago I used to meet a lot of women around their 30s who'd say they'd never have kids because "they're going to ruin my career."

Today I look around and I don't see them in the industry. They've disappeared. I'm still here with two kids and businesses. I come from a country where there's a lot of pressure to have a family. Besides the pressure I like kids and I have an amazing family. After my oldest child was five I was ready for something new. I no longer had a challenge at Taïm. There were recipes and people who could implement them. I need to cook, do specials every day, be creative. So I opened this one.

schnitzel

Q: And the concept here is...

EA: The concept is like the name. It's a chef-driven place with atmosphere and service like a Balaboosta. And we get write-ups like that: "It seems like she invited you to her house and told her family to treat you really nice and kind."

It's really important to me that the atmosphere isn't that of a screaming chef who everybody's scared of. And with the food -- I don't say everything is organic and crazy; it's not that there's no fried food -- but it's very healthy and balanced.

Q: You're a world traveler. Which countries and cultures have inspired the menu?

EA: For lunch I wanted to do a little bit more authentic ethnic food, because it's hard to present that in an amazing way, and in theevening I want more presentation and more refined food. 

cauliflower

For example, for lunch I make khamusta, which is meatballs that have some molina, and a sour soup that's made with fava bean, celery and Swiss chard -- it's really good.

Q: Is that what you'd recommend for lunch?

EA: Yeah, but my favorite is between schnitzel (chicken cutlet) and Moroccan fish. I make schnitzel with cornflakes and it's very crunchy. Delicious.

Q: And for dinner, what shouldn't one miss?

EA: Cauliflower, fried olives, if you like fish, branzino, which is grilled Israeli style with a marinade of parsley, garlic, thyme. The cauliflower is mixed with four different kinds of peppercorn -- Szechuan, pink, white and black -- and a little bit of flour, and it's very crispy. It comes with a dressing of currants and pine nuts and parsley. People love it. No tahini. I try to take it in a little different direction. I use a lot of tahini and yogurt, obviously, but I think the food here is unique.

Kanafeh

I have so much experience with different cultures that you can feel it. This is not strictly Israeli -- oh, babaghanush -- no, no! Yesterday I did a pasta from fava beans, served with short rib and fresh chickpeas and fava bean inside. It's Middle Eastern fetuccini. My pasta on the menu right now is made with fresh beets -- it's red, red, red -- cut by hand in long pieces and sauteed with spinach, shallots, capers and ricotta and parmesan herb bread crumbs on top. So the food is not typical.

Q: What's your favorite dessert here?

EA: The kanafeh (Arab pastry flavored with rose water). I put sugar, honey and berries and mix them all. Then I cook it with a little bit of orange peel and rose water and a piece of cinnamon stick and cardamon, and I put b

Admony Family

erries to give the sauce some color.

Then I put pistachio ice cream and shredded halva. People go crazy. I love this dessert. It's sweet but it's not overwhelming since the cake itself is like a cheese cake. It's with ricotta and a little bit of semolina with milk.

Q: Sounds like something kids would also like. Are your kids sophisticated eaters?

EA: My son Liam is my taster. Both of my kids always cook with me.

Q: What keeps you up at night; what are your worries?

EA: I don't have worries. I have a husband. He's worried!

Balaboosta
14 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012
212-966-7366
http://balaboostanyc.com/

Taïm Falafel & Smoothie Bar
222 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
212-691-1287
http://www.taimfalafel.com/

Singapura - The Alternative to Indian Curry Houses

singapura-logoHere in Manhattan, there’s a new kid in town.

In the Murray Hill area (affectionately known as Curry Hill -- on Lexington Avenue between 26th St. and 29th St.), Singapura is great alternative to the standby Indian curry houses. 

Singapura offers foodies an introduction to Nonya (or Peranakan) cuisine, which is a unique blend of Chinese, Malay and other influences (such as Thai, Indonesian and Indian). A true traveler knows that Singapore is known for two things -- its shopping and amazing cuisine. No where else would a true foodie eschew star chef-run restaurants to line up en masse at hawker stands before the daily special runs out. 

NYC has come come a long way from the days of cheap dogs and pretzel vending carts. However, Singapore has had a long tradition of serving the best food in these government-regulated hawker food stands. 

Singapore (derived from the Malay word Singapore) is a true blending of different cultures -- Chinese, Malay, Indian and English, with each being officially recognized. As well, the variety of food representing different ethnicities is seen by the government as a symbol of its multiculturalism. 

Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients and wok cooking techniques with spices used by the Malay/Indonesian community. The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. There are regional variations in Nonya cooking, however the standby dishes are clearly present in Singapura's menu. 

The smallish interior of Singapura offers a cozy alternative to the hustle and bustle outside, and harkens back to a time gone by. The earth-toned/ wood panelling interior with hanging lotus blossom lamps with abacuses (abaci) now reused as hanging frames in lieu of pictures, is not what you'd find in a typical Chinese restaurant. Even the chairs are chosen with care -- they are laden with mounted brass lion head door knockers (perhaps in reference to Singapore's moniker as "The Lion City-State?”). 

The meal brought me back to my days as a tourist in Singapore. I salivated over the menu and was not disappointed. The meal started off with Roti Canai (a flaky pancake served with a potato curry), Laksa Noodle Soup (a spicy noodle soup dish) and Tamarind Shrimp (grilled shrimp which came with a variety of sauces). The main meal consisted of Malay Fish Curry (Tilapia), Devil's Curry (a spicy chicken dish) and Lamb Rendang. The first two curry dishes were absolutely wonderful, however the lamb curry was lacking a bit on the sauce. 

Singapura's dessert menu was rather minimal -- only two options were available: Mango Sticky Rice and Fried Banana. My guest and I tried both but perhaps we were so full from the main meal that we weren't really that impressed with the dessert choices. 

Overall, Singapura is a delight. I like being able to have Singaporean food without having to trudge all the way down to Chinatown. The interior is delightful and the cuisines extremely well-affordable. Staff was extremely helpful and accommodating, and the food not as intimidating spicy as one would think.

Though it just recently opened in April 2012, Singapura is here to stay. 

Singapura
106 Lexington Ave. (at E. 27th St.)
New York, NY 10016
212-684-6842

singapuranyc.com

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