Top-flight Hainanese chicken has landed in a neighborhood better known for bulgogi.
I first noticed Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro back in the fall. I was slightly bemused to see such Singaporean classics as chili crab and Hainanese chicken alongside seafood pasta in butter lemon sauce and kimchi fried rice with bacon and Polska kielbasa on the menu of a restaurant in the heart of a neighborhood better known for Korean food than Southeast Asian cuisine.
I forgot all about Yummy Tummy until a friend raved to me about the Hainanese chicken last month. “It’s the best in New York City,” he crowed. “They do it the right way, the skin is so supple.”
So just after New Year’s I trekked down Northern Boulevard to try the chicken and a few other dishes with a friend. The bird was lovely, silky of skin, the tender meat was full of flavor. The accompanying chili sauce and pesto were great, but the bird was better on its own. That’s because Singaporean Chef Richard Chan takes great care and pride in its preparation, starting with the fact that the fresh killed bird doesn’t get chilled until an hour-long ice bath, which is preceded by a leisurely 45-minute simmer in chicken broth whilst stuffed with ginger, garlic, and spring onion. There are also two massages involved, one with salt before cooking and another with salt and sesame oil after the ice bath. (more…)
A Weekend of Japanese Culture at LIC Flea & Food Saturday, October 5, Sunday October 6, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City
Those who missed the Hokkaido Gourmet Food Fair at Mitsuwa might want to check LIC Flea and Food this weekend as it turns Japanese thanks to Kazuko Nagao of Oconomi. Foods will include okonomiyaki and yakisoba from Oconomi,tonkotsu ramen from Chef Koji of Hakata Ton Ton, onigiri from Maid Café, and experimental Sushi by Chef Sonny.
Butcher Paper Dinner: Rooftop Crab Boil Sunday October 6, 3:00 p.m., $80 Brooklyn Grange, 37-18 Northern Blvd., Long Island City Edible Queens and the Brooklyn Grangeare holding their inaugural Butcher Paper Dinner this Sunday afternoon. And they’ll need plenty of that brown paper to line the table because the series of dinners kicks off with a crab oil by none other than Will Horowitz, the chef behind the Cajun-Southeast Asian joint, Ducks Eatery. The menu includes fresh oysters,mountains of blue crab, plenty of farm fresh veggies, as well as beer from Queens Brewery and wine from Bedell Cellars. Tunes will be spun throughout the afternoon and evening by celebrated DJ and saxophonist Neal Sugarman, co-owner of funk/soul label Daptone Records and resident of neighboring Sunnyside.
Most people go to Jazz Fest for the music. I go to Jazz Fest for the food, and there is no food I enjoy on the fairground of Jazz Fest more than an oyster po-boy. “What’s the big deal?” ask those who are less obsessed by food. “A po-boy is just a sandwich, right?” Well, not exactly. If it’s just a sandwich then it should be possible to find a well-executed po-boy anywhere in the world. The truth is the probability of finding a good oyster po-boy diminishes the further away you get from New Orleans. Even in the Big Easy, you find many mediocre po-boys but few great ones. (more…)
Canadian-Italian surf and turf by way of Long Island City.
“It came to me in a dream, this dish,” Hugue Dufour of M. Wells Dinette said of his oysters Bolognese ($8). It consists of two oysters topped with a good tablespoon or more of Bolognese sauce that have been baked momentarily and then showered with Parmesan. The first time I tried it, I found it rather odd. Perhaps it was because I consumed it immediately after a rich, sweet bowl of oatmeal and foie gras. Or perhaps it was because I accidentally mistook the sea salt that anchored the oysters to the plate for more Parmesan and ate some of it. “Aidan and I were worried someone would do that,” Dufour said. “Figures it was you.”
A few weeks later I tried the dish again this time as a starter. The Bolognese was absolutely wonderful, meaty and rich, but it completely overpowered the oyster. When it comes to oysters I’m a purist. As for Dufour’s Bolognese, I’d gladly eat two or more tablespoons of it any day of the week.
M. Wells Dinette, MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave., Long Island City, 718-786-1800
Oysters are one of nature’s perfect foods. Each briny bivalve is a self-contained serving best taken neat the better to enjoy its invigorating oceanic liquor. No sir, no mignonette or Tabasco for me. Perhaps a pint of stout, but certainly nothing on the oyster itself. At first glance the ebony elixir above looks like a wee bit of the black stuff, but it’s not beer. It’s espresso.
Yes, espresso. A single oyster and a single shot of espresso—one the very essence of the sea, the other the very essence of the coffee bean. It’s a combination partly born from taking morning coffee strong with sugar, sea salt, and cream. And partly due to one of my favorite chefs Hugue Dufour of M. Wells Dinette. Back when he was slinging high-falutin hash out of a diner there was a dish of oysters with coffee sabayon. I honestly don’t remember whether if I tried it. But it stuck in my mind.
Too full for dessert after a recent lunch of bone marrow with escargots, rabbit terrine with foie gras,and blue cheese salad my mind returned to the combination. Luckily the classroom-cum restaurant has oysters on hand as they feature in its BibiMWells. Soon I had a set-up before me. Bringing the oyster to my lips and tasting the brine while luxuriating in the aroma of the coffee was simply amazing. Is an oyster shucking barista—an ostricista—too much to ask for?