Saturday, December 29, 2007

Etete Ethiopian Cuisine, Washington DC

I truly love trying new types of cuisine. When AH suggested Ethiopian food for dinner I jumped at it immediately. Of course the description of eating chunks of meat with my barehands was a great motivating factor haha.

Injera is sort of like a soft pancake (almost like a dosai/tosai) made from teff flour. It's fermented prior to being cooked so there's a slight sour tinge of flavor which makes this a rather acquired taste.

Besides the additional injera on the side, the base of our serving platter is made out of one huge sheet of injera. It comes with some basic gravies and the food is piled on by the server.

Each different dish is gradually piled onto the same platter.

Once everything is done, we peel off pieces of injera and proceed to eat with our barehands all the tasty morsels that's been placed on the main injera platter. Communal barehand eating; awesome.

Although all the dishes tasted pretty damn good, my personal favorite would be the grilled beef short-ribs. Grilled till they were slightly charred but still maintaining a juicy interior, these savory and spicy treats of meat-on-bone were truly delectable.

We had some fine red wine to accompany the meal and also some tej. Tej is a traditional Ethiopian wine fermented from honey and a form of hops called "gesho". Rather sweet with a slightly muddy(?) flavor, this tasted odd initially but paired well with the tart injera.

Best part about the meal is that you get to eat the plate when you're done! Well.. technically not really the plate but the layer above the plate... which is made of injera... ok.. you get the idea.

There's something so primitive and primal about eating meat with one's barehands that appeals to me so tremendously; this I felt was pure genius.

Etete, my first Ethiopian dining experience and definitely far from being my last.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cakelove, Washington DC

This little bakery along U street seemed to be garnering quite abit of popularity, so we stopped by for a look.

Apparently they specialize in cupcakes. At 3usd a pop, these are definitely at a premium compared to some that you get back in Singapore.

Nevertheless the flavors and colors did inspire us enough to buy a little box home to sample.

They turned out to be pretty tasty. The icing on top help kept them moist and buttery even though we ate them at the end of the day.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington DC

One of the "must-eats" in DC is a half-smoked from Ben's Chili Bowl. Now why do they call these hotdogs half-smokes? Some say the name came about because the hotdogs are sometimes sliced sagitally when being cooked. Apparently there are different theories about that but I didn't really care as long as they tasted good.

How much of an icon is Ben's? Well they've been here since 1958 and is part of the African American Heritage trail; nuff' said.

The first thing you see and smell when you step into this establishment are the half-smokes being cooked teasingly right by the front window.

Ben's is still family owned and run till this day. Join the line and place your order.

The side of cheese-fries here were pretty mind-blowing. Unlike the one at Shakeshack, none of these chips were soggy and they were heaps generous with the melted cheese. Salty and totally artery-clogging greasy, this hit the spot.

Lo and behold the magnificent half-smoke order with EVERYTHING on it. Coarsely minced pork and beef in an extremely snappy casing served in a soft warm hotdog bun. This is one wiener I can eat almost everyday. If I were to nitpick though, the chili could be spicier but that's all I'm going to gripe about.

I will refrain from making any crude jokes about the superimposed double phallic symbols here haha. Visit DC, drop by Ben's, period.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007 in Washington DC

Thanksgiving is pretty much an American and Canadian holiday. I'm not going to go into details on what it's about (because there's Wikipedia) but it's a holiday I appreciate due the huge amounts of food consumed. Here's a picture of at the dinner table of my gracious host, AH and family. D's spotting a new haircut but more importantly spotting an extremely hungry tummy too, which explained why he didn't take more pictures of the food he enjoyed that evening!

Round the corner of AH's neighbourhood is a cool wholesale market.

They sell everything here and I mean "EVERYTHING". What the hell is "cow something??!!?".

And living up to the wholesale name, everything here is sold huge bulks too (and look at those fantastic prices!). But AH had a whole list of restaurants lined up for this long weekend, I would have loved to throw some of those ribeyes on the barbecue. Maybe next time aye?

Since the viewing of all the meat drove us to the brink of a hunger frenzy we had to stop somewhere to break our fast.. er.. or just to have some breakfast haha.

We started with some pastries. But what's this? Pastries (read as non-meat) won't cut it for a proper brekky.

A bowl of steaming hot beef soup. Generously served with pieces of short-rib, this was exactly the thing for the cold late Autumn morn.

And of course we had to stuff ourselves with beef tacos just for the hell of it. Tender, well marinated beef chunks on a warm soft taco shell = yum.

This wholesale complex also sells kitchen equipment. Here's D with a badass giant pizza spatula. I so need my own brick oven pizza one day.

A. Litteri. Inc is famous for their cold cuts and submarine sandwiches. Alas, we were too full to have a sub.
But we did pick up a fine selection of cold cuts, a few bottles of excellent lambrusco and I got this apron!


p.s: Thanks for all the well-wishes in my previous post, I'm going to reply them personally soon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ali Baba Turkish Restaurant, Manhattan, NYC

I know I haven't been updating this blog as often as I would like to but life has been extremely hectic here. I don't know if anyone's still checking this blog out but I'll still update it periodically. Ali Baba Turkish restaurant is a pretty kick-ass joint (despite the cheesy name) for Middle-Eastern food in Manhattan.

Some warm oven-fresh breads were placed promptly after we ordered and I'm a sucker for warm soft Turkish breads.

The warm, soft and chewy breads went very well with the platter of spreads and dips that we ordered. The humus and yoghurt dip in particular were excellent.

Our hot appetizer of arnavut cigeri (fried tender veal liver) was indeed an indication of how good this meal was going to be. Fried till they were just cooked, these tender cubes of liver lightly seasoned with salt and pepper were just the thing to whet our appetites.

Since this was my first time here, I decided to get a sampler in the form of the mixed-grill because I could not make up my mind. All the meats were tasty and succulent but the donor kebab stood out in both flavor and texture.

The other main ordered was the spicy beyti kebab which consisted of minced lamb marinated with various herbs and spices including ground chili. This was pretty damn good too, I may order this the next time I'm here.

We ended the meal with a complimentary serve of baklava. Crisp but not too dry, flavorsome and not too sweet, an excellent baklava to end an excellent meal.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tasti Dlite, Manhattan, NYC

There are a few of these scattered across the city and claim in selling tasty low-fat frozen dairy products (notice how they stay away from the word "ice-cream"). Partly out of curiosity more than anything else, I decided to pop in for something.

I settled for the ice-cream cookie sandwich because I'm always of fan of ice-cream sandwiches of some sort. This came in a vanilla-chocolate twist.

Ok.. I don't know what to make of this. It's not frozen yoghurt like how they claim on their website but it definitely did not taste as rich as ice-cream. There's something about how secretive they are in regards to what actually constitutes their product which makes it hard for me to accept that they're entirely kosher (and I don't like how their name is spelt as well). Anyway, this was fun just to try out but I'll go for the real thing the next time.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Menchanko-Tei, Manhattan, NYC

It's nice to know that there are some decent ramen joints in Manhattan. Menchanko-Tei opens till midnight on the Fridays and Saturdays which makes it pretty convenient for a late dinner.

We started off with the grilled gyutan which was quite tasty but unfortunately sliced too thick. It was also slightly overcooked which made it a tad bit tough.

Their signature menchanko ramen is a soy-sauce based ramen served in a pre-heated cast iron bowl. Steaming hot broth, kept warm continuously; this was very much appreciated in the chilly Autumn weather. The ingredients also tasted fresh and even if I wasn't a fan of cabbage, the shreds here were crunchy and sweet.

Soy-sauce based ramens are nice but I was always a fan of the heartier tonkotsu (pork-bone based) ramens. Even though their Hakata ramen is not their signature dish, it was pretty delicious as well. In fact the broth came close to what I used to have at Ken's, the ingredients are pretty simple though with just a few slices of pork making up the meat.

A nice finishing touch to the meal is the draft Sapporo beer. Sure beats its canned or bottled version anytime.

With two accessible locations midtown East and West, Menchanko-Tei makes herself a rather attractive ramen joint to hit when I get those cravings.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Big Wong Restaurant, Manhattan, NYC

Nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot pork and century egg porridge for a morning feed. Accompanied by crunchy dough crullers, the smooth porridge had that delicious taste and texture that could only be achieved by the tedious and laborious effort of stirring it slowly whilst it cooks. Big Wong is located on 67 Mott Street ((212) 964-0540) in Chinatown and is opened as early as 7am.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Brooklyn, NYC

Brooklyn bridge is a pretty cool bridge to walk across for both New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Not only is the architecture rather interesting but the view of

Manhattan from it is pretty stellar as well. But the best thing really about walking the bridge is the exercise you get from it. Haha... I'm kidding!

The best thing is hitting Grimaldi's Pizzeria at 19 Old Fulton St once you cross over.

The choice of toppings here may not be massive but what they lack in quantity they make up in quality. And boy was this quality pizza. Everything tasted top notched. Even the crust was extremely delicious with a nice smoky and mildly charred taste.

These pizzas are baked to perfection in their 800degF coal-fired brick ovens. Was it worth the trek across the bridge? Hell yeah.