Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tofu House (CLOSED)

Every table at Tofu House on Korean Way is an oasis of food. Ironically enough, the only portion of the menu that included tofu was the soup.

I went with my friend Edna, an online food critic for, and we ordered so much food, I thought I would pop. Typically, all Korean meals start with 2-12 banchan, or side dishes, that vary from over 100 types of kimchi, pickled cabbage/garlic/squid to steamed tofu. It was difficult not to fill up on sides especially when the kimchi at Tofu House is easily the tastiest I've ever had. In Korea, the meal is the kimchi and rice. Everything else is built around it.

Let me take you on our odyssey...........appetizers of homemade steamed dumplings and Kimichi Tofu Soup. Dumplings = average and we really messed up their staple dish of Tofu soup. The restaurant serves soup with a raw egg which you are apparently supposed to crack into the soup, although I couldn't really imagine since the tofu was mushy and bland. The thought of adding an egg, well, wasn't exactly the picture of perfection. However, whilst watching Bourdain this weekend touring New Jersey and hitting up a Korean joint, I learned the egg actually cooks the soup! WHA?!!?!?

We had to get Korean BBQ and in this case, Bul Go Gi, prime beef marinated with a special sauce. It was brought out on a sizzling skillet served with onions. Overall, the beef was tasty being brought on by the sauce, but could have been cut a touch thicker.

This brings us to the two dishes which were polar opposites for me. The Hwe Neng Myun or cold, spicy vermicelli with puffer fish and kimchi (photo-RT). When Edna ordered this dish, the waitress looked at us with crazy eyes, then proceeded to say, 'You don't want this.' Edna says, 'Oh yes, yes we do'. I had a pretty good idea of what we were in for, but would say this is a dish best best left for Korean culture only because most Americans would find it unpalatable. The noodles were slimy and sweet; the puffer fish (blowfish) was not that of sushi-grade, rather hard and crunchy. You are eating the spine, not the meat, of the fish. So, if the fact that they are highly toxic to humans doesn't dissuade you, eating the spine definitely should.

The Yook Swe Bi Bim Bob was our fav! I could come back and eat just this dish every week in the summer. (photo-LT) It is marinated raw strips of beef sitting atop vegetables and rice with sesame oil drizzle and egg yolk. The dish was mouthwatering - a perfect balance of seasoning between the chilies, sesame and scallion.

Tofu House 17 West 32nd Street NY, NY (212) 967-1900

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bleh Bill's

Rule #1 - only try a spot after six months being open, however, I was so excited about all the positive press this place had been receiving (plus the fact that it's a block from my apartment). I was marginally impressed.

The actual dining area is no frills - 50's style tables with checkered table clothes and chalkboards. The staff was attentive enough, perhaps a little too attentive, but it was the first day. We ordered a Bill's classic with American, The Sunset and Vine with special sauce, topping of chili for the S&V, fries and onion rings. Lemme tell you, the fries and onion rings are incredible, but his note-worthy dish, the burger fell very short of one of New York's best. While the thin meat, not to be compared to that of Corner Bistro or Shake Shack, was tasty and spilled way outside the bun, completely drenched the bun! Anyone who knows me, knows I would want my last meal on earth to be a burger and fries. This burger wasn't fun to eat despite the meaty taste you think would be non-existent in such a thin patty. You have to love the variety of condiments on each table, 2 types of mustard - FRENCH'S!!!! and Guldan's, Heinz ketchup, hot sauce. Love the choices. The chili was definitely from a can and the special sauce on the S&V was nothing more than Thousand Island without the relish.

I'm willing to give it another go, especially for the money, but six months from now.

Bill's Bar & Burger 22 Ninth Avenue at 13th Street

Mi cerveza favorita es Modelo Especial A Fork in the Road: El Paraiso (DC)

Our final stop on the walking and biking tour was El Paraiso. According to Paulette, the two most popular types of cuisine in DC are El Salvadorian and Ethiopian...what a bizarre combination! We stopped here for a snack and it was love at first bite.

There's nothing I love more than small bites with a cerveza to wash it down. Paulette traveled El Salvador and Nicaragua for a few months, therefore, anything she suggested, I was gonna try. We split pupusas revueltas con queso (small thick tortillas stuffed with mozzarella cheese and pork or just cheese served with cabbage) and platanos fritos (fried plantains served with sour cream and beans).

I had a pork/cheese and plain 'ole cheese and I must say I enjoyed the plain cheese much, much more. Don't forget to shake Tapatio hot sauce on these!

The restaurant decor is nothing special sans the murals and soccer games as 'music'; but the women are sweet and speak mostly Spanish, so having P there was key :-)

Next time I head to DC, I'm eating a full meal here: El Paraiso 3908 14th Street NW
No reservations needed