Thursday, July 14, 2011

Around the World, Northern Chinese Style Dumplings, Korean Gamjatang and Hotpots, and Ramendeux

UPDATE 7/26/2011: The Fisherman and I returned for gamtajang, so I have more pictures to share!

Well, I promised more, and more you shall receive. This will be a span of different Asian dishes, but worry not, this is only the tip of the iceberg...Full disclosure, my memory escaped me for the names of the gamtajang place, and one of the ramen spots. After consulting with The Fisherman, the puzzle is solved. I try to get all the info on the places where I go so hopefully you'll check it out. I hope you do.

First is a local spot that I found, and The Fisherman approved, Lao Kou Wei, Formerly Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House, on Whitney Ave. Then onto my first experience in Korean cuisine, gamtajang, or pork bone soup at Jeun Ku Korean restaurant. Apparently it's so underground, I can't find any info on it (40-11 150th St in Flushing, ZIP 11354) Next is our first experience at Sik Gaek, also in Flushing, for octopus (and seafood extravaganza!!) hot pot. The last two are ramen spots Ramen Setagaya in the East Village, and the fairly well known Ippudo.

So, about Lao Kou Wei, it's along Whitney Ave in Elmhurst, and I've always walked past it. Before meeting The Fisherman, my knowledge of Asian cuisine was very rudimentary. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive walking into a place with very little in English, being out of my element, to say the least. But after reading about it, I decided to take the plunge and order. It's becoming more popular, so I do see more non-Chinese and non-Asians in there, but I'm glad I went to check it out.

At $1.25 for 5 dumplings (pork and scallion), you can get very full for very little money, which The Fisherman and I do more often than I care to admit. When we're hungry, low on cash and don't want to whip something up, it's one the local contenders (there's also the halal cart guy, but that's another post).

This time we really splurged and got scallion pancakes too. They are one of those things I've tried and loved! Also, a word of advice for the dumplings, always get fried, and get both the vinegar sauce and the chili oil. The vinegar cuts the richness of eating porky, crispy fried goodness (a generally good rule when dealing with fried foods), and the hot chili oil is just damn good! Now I've mentioned it's newer relative in the restaurant world, Lao Bei Fang, which has pretty good dumplings, but not the same caliber as Lao Kou Wei. Go to Lao Bei Fang for noodle soup, Lao Kou Wei for dumplings. Heck, you could go to both if you'd like.

Next is Jeun Ku Korean restaurant, and their pork bone soup. I'm not gonna lie, the accoutrement to Korean food always intrigues me, especially kimchi! What can I say except, this was my first time eating something like this, it was spicy, and delicious!

Next, another pretty happenin' spot, Sik Gaek. Apparently the stuff to get is the octopus hotpot. And got it we did.

 Are you ready to eat? It's like a battle cry!

We get to play with frying eggs as we wait. I don't quite get it, but okay. I managed to flip it using a plate since I didn't want anyone with egg on their face *rim shot*

 Live octopus with lettuce, jalapeño, raw garlic, hot sauce, and sesame oil (OMG I LOVE sesame oil). Can't be trusted around it.

 Rice cakes (I was thinking those styrofoam coasters), chewy, almost Play-D'oh-y. An interesting texture. I liked the hot sauce, it was a bit ketchupy, which I didn't love.

The pièce de résistance, the hot pot. I feel like we ate the ocean.

Me being a 13 year old. Haha see food!

Next we head next door to Japan, and specifically, ramen. A slight caveat: we've tried going to Ippudo THREE times: New Years Eve Day, the weekend before Valentine's Day, and finally we got in on a random Tuesday afternoon. Valentine's Day weekend, after being slighted by Ippudo, we wandered the East Village determined to get ramen, come hell or high water. Then we came across another ramen place, Ramen Setagaya.

 We started off with raw octopus in a wasabi sauce. Really good.

Then got some fried oysters. I didn't love these, waaay too greasy.

 Cute sushi people. If they had those in a kid's meal I'd be all over that.

 The Fisherman happy about getting his ramen on. Or, maybe the noodles are hot...

 The Fisherman's tonkotsu ramen.

My spicy miso ramen. I always like a kick.

Next, the infamous Ippudo.

 That's how many bowls they needed when we ordered!! Kidding, kidding...

 Table at the bar made of instant ramen noodle slabs (I wonder if it would work as a natural insulation)

 Cod roe on rice. Nice, but not as nice as...

The eel, it was really good! I liked this too.

 My miso ramen (Soy bean paste flavored noodle in the original "Tonkotus" based soup with pork chashu, cabbage, spinach, menma, ginger, and scallions).

The Fisherman’s Shiromaru Hakata Classic (The original "Tonkotsu" noodle soup topped with pork loin chashu, kikurage, menma, red pickeled ginger, sesame, and scallions)

I will say, the pork piece was soooo good. Melt in your mouth porkilicious.

 The Fisherman enjoying his noodle party!

Me too. We determined that, for what we paid ($17 each because we got the rice bowl), it wasn't worth it. It was good, but not $34 good. And for lunch no less!

I think that covers our mini tour of Asian tasties. Next we shall go on a trip that highlights Americana, in the form of burgers in Forest Hills (Cheeburgers, in fact), a day trip to Philly for cheesesteak and roast pork sandwiches, a soul fool smashup known as chicken and waffles, and perhaps a surprise...

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