04/10/13 12:00pm
At $17 a box these chocolate chips aren't cheap.

At $17 a box these chocolate-covered potato chips aren’t cheap.

A couple of weeks ago after a visit to The Marrow I found myself on a block of Bleecker St. that I like to think of as the West Village’s dessert district. I wandered into Royce’, a Japanese chocolatier, which for some reason uses a superfluous apostrophe. Inside I found something that I haven’t seen in some time, chocolate-covered potato chips or as the Royce’ copywriters put it, “Potatochip Chocolate.”

After sampling onecrunchy, slightly salty, and coated with milk chocolateI gamely forked over $17 for a box. That’s right $17. Yes, they’re imported  from Hokkaido “where the climate and the clean air are ideal for making confection,” but they’re not $17 good. I know this because a week later I still have most of the original box.

I suppose if you really must have $17 chocolate chips Royce’ will gladly take your money and give you a boutiquey little shopping bag to carry home your precious cargo. Here’s what you should do instead, sample a chip or two. Then go the newstand and buy 15 or so Take 5 bars with the $17 you would have spent at Royce’. The pretzel, peanut, caramel, peanut butter, chocolate bar is the tastiest and cheapest way I know to slake a thirst for sweet-salty snacks.

Royce’, 253 Bleecker Street, 646-590-0650

03/04/13 10:13am
Lobster, squid, and crab—the sour cream and onion and BBQ of Thailand.

Lobster, squid, and crab—the sour cream and onion and BBQ of Thailand.

A while back I participated in Lay’s Do Us A Flavor, a social media campaign to create bold new flavors for the most American of snacks, the potato chip. My flavors were “Banging Bánh Mì,” and “Ghostface Killah,” the former modeled after a classic Vietnamese sandwich and the latter filled with fiery goodness of the bhut jolokia, or  ghost pepper. Sadly these two creations did not make the cut. They were edged out by Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha.

I haven’t been able to find the Do Us A Flavor finalists out my way yet, but I found something even cooler at Thai Thai Grocery: a trio of spicy seafood-flavored chips from Lay’s Thailand. I handed over $7.50 and was soon in possession of the Hot Chili Squid, Lobster Hot Plate, and Hot and Spicy Crab flavors.


02/27/13 12:25pm
A quick and easy way to get a Singapore curry la mian fix.

A quick and easy way to get a Singapore curry la mian fix.

One of my favorite Southeast Asian dishes is kari laksa, a spicy and creamy soup enriched with coconut milk, popular in Singapore and Malaysia. I like to get it at the “night market” counter at Curry Leaves in Flushing. Sometimes I don’t want to get up at 6 a.m. for noodle soup, though. That’s why I’m glad that I picked up a package of Prima Taste Singapore Curry La Mian at Old Town Asia Market.

The la mian kit contained two brown packages “(A) Curry Paste” and “(B) Curry Premix.” The instructions said to add (A) to the water first. When I saw the vibrant orange paste, I knew was in for a treat. Even uncooked it had a distinctly funky aroma of curry, shrimp paste, and other SEA aromatics like ginger and lemon grass. Envelope B contained a white powder which I soon learned was dehydrated coconut milk. After some stirring and letting it come to a boil, I added the noodles. For the last few minutes of the boil I added some prepackaged tuna fish. (more…)

01/14/13 12:19pm
If he of the horsey dance approves it's got to be good. Or does it?

If he of the horsey dance approves it’s got to be good. Or does it?

Recently while doing a food tour of downtown Flushing I did a double-take outside Good Fortune Supermarket. Staring down from a billboard was Korean pop sensation Psy, lending his celebrity to Shin Ramyun Black Premium Noodle Soup. I made a mental note of this  decidedly odd product, after all who ever heard of premium instant soup? A few days later I was back in Flushing with a head cold and bought a family pack of four for $5.99. Not such a bad deal for a product that bears the designation “black label.” When I got home I plunked down the bale of Psy-approved ramyun, took some cold medicine, and went to sleep.

The next morning I awoke still groggy from the cold medicine and decided to cook up some of the fancy-pants instant ramen, or ramyun as the Koreans call it. Inside the package was a block of dried noodles that looked no different than any other I’ve seen. There were also three packets: sul-long tang soup base, a spicy soup base, and one labeled “beef & vegetable mix.”  I was particularly intrigued by the sul-long-tang packet, which had a picture of beef marrow bones and garlic cloves.

After about five minutes the soup was ready. The first thing I noticed was a more complex aroma wafting from the steam than usually emanates from instant ramen.  Slightly fishy and beefy, it smelled like something that might have come from a Korean restaurant. The noodles themselves were springy and slurpworthy. Best of all, the broth was surprisingly tasty and full of all sorts of freeze-dried goodies, including chili pepper, garlic, mushroom, even tiny bits of beef. Speaking of beef, beef bone extract, beef extract, and beef fat figure in the ingredients.

While not as enthusiastic as Psy about this ramen, it did certainly help clear my head. And, no it did not make me want to dance around like a Korean cowboy. Want to try it and can’t get to Flushing? Just head to an Asian supermarket; most carry a full line of Nongshim noodles.