Tag Archives: yuzu

Wasabi Tonkotsu Ramen @ Ippudo.

11 Feb

“The wait will be roughly four and a half hours.” Said the lady with minimal expression, as if a smile could hurt every facial muscle she possessed. I could see the smily chefs down the dark tunnel leading to the dining room area, working away at producing bowls after bowls of could-only-be deliciousness. It had to be, the wait was four and a half hours long.

And so we wandered the city of New York, mainly the lower East Side. Bookstores, comic stores, the Christmas market, bars and coffee shops. Everywhere.

Not a hidden gem missed.

Four and actually fifty minutes later, we were in. In the spacious yet dimly lit room of huddled tables, leather-bound menus with too many options were passed around. The official word on the web recommended the classic Shiromaru Hakata Classic: the original Tonkotsu – ramen soaked in white, cloudy broth made of pork bones and fat. Danny claimed Akamaru to be the word – Tonkotsu topped with their secret ‘dama’, an additional sauce (the make-up depends on different restaurants) to be infused into the ramen broth.

Akamaru- Source: http://www.ippudony.com/

But I, always a sucker for Chef’s Specials, took the rebellious rout of Wasabi Tonkotsu. I may regret it later, I thought. Questioning my choice twice, thrice, four times as others took their turns to order. Yet, already in my mind’s  make-up, the idea of a rich white broth balanced by a subtle hint of the green root couldn’t possibly disappoint.

And it absolutely did not. An otherwise rich and sometimes too heavy pork broth was cleansed by the shavings of fresh wasabi roots. It was delightfuly clean without losing the body a Tonkotsu promised. The sprinkle of green onion provided an unexpected crunch, while the chashu – while thin – gave a burst of maximum pork favor. Swimming alongside was the extra-ordered onsen egg, softly poached to savor the golden yoke; no longer runny, yet still malleable – the ramen-optimal phase.

The noodles was where I brushed up on the holy grail. For the many, too many, bowls of ramen I have ingested in the San Francisco, the noodles always slurped up nicely at first but fell limp 2/3 ways down the meal. Not Ippudo’s. Perfectly springy, they became alive in my mouth like the most wonderful acrobat dancers, bouncy and full of life. For the 20 minutes it took me to finish the bowl, the noodles sustained their curves, never wavered even while I took time to admire other elements in the bowl.

It was an amazing meal. Not to say the fried shishito peppers dipped in yuzu salt – sweet, tangy, salty, mildly spicy – didn’t bring on a spring-filled surprise in a dark winter night; but the ramen stood supreme.

It was such a feel-good experience despite the near five-hour wait. A bowl of good ramen brought on this satisfaction nothing could quite compare. The only way to top this experience better may be if we were to ingest it Japanese businessmen style: standing, by the road, after way too much soju and chicken gizzard skewers.

On our way out, we passed the expressionless front-of-house again. Unphased against a group of growingly agitated men, I heard her calmly stated: “The wait will be roughly one hour. But by the time you get your table, the kitchen will be closed anyway.” I admire you, straight-shooter.

Ippudo | 65 Fourth Avenue | New York, NY 10003 | 212.388.0088

Sons and Daughters.

20 Nov

The reservation was made before Sons and Daughters received their shiny Michelin, back when it was still possible to make reservations. Naturally, I was beyond excited for this night. Yet, I was equipped only with my trusted iPhone 4 (without the S) and this nifty app called instagram, so I apologize for the photo quality here.

Tucked away in the less-touristy side of Union Square, across Nob Hill Theater, was this gem. Through a glass door was the white walls and rustic interior of wood and leather. It was an open-kitchen, facing the quietly buzzing crowd.

Sons and Daughters served in the style of 5-course tasting menu, along with amuse-bouche and bread courses in between. For each course, we have two choices to pick from. We found not names of the dishes on there, but list of ingredients it was comprised of.

Pickled Beet   Smoked Creme Fraiche   White Strawberry: a sweet beet gazpacho with cutely diced pickled beets and creme fraiche. Sat quietly aside all was a white strawberry that was pearly and pleasantly clean.

Quail egg   Malt   Yeast   Ground Cherry: the quail egg was poached with the yoke runny. Pierced with my fork it ran onto the small salad of shaved celery root and radish flowers. At the base were the ground cherries, consistency alarmingly similar to that of bacon bits. Hidden in between were green berries with miniature bursts of tangy delight.

Sea Urchin   Sea bean   Cauliflower   Dashi: my absolutely favorite dish of the night, though likely biased due to my fervent love for sea urchin – the soft, creamy taste of the ocean. In its fresh entirety, this piece of sea urchin sat amidst a vibrant purple from the cauliflower, that formed a breathtaking beauty. Squashed sea bean laid at the bottom, providing a necessary crunch; while the dash mixed to become gelatinous, taken the plate to a different level of umami.

Sea bass   Green Farro   Leek   Caviar: a nicely balanced segua between the last and the next, though a shade less memorable. The sea bass was nicely grilled with skin crisp to my taste, next to the caviar beurre blanc. Leeks, also grilled, oozed sweet autumn memories that the farro complimented.

30 dag aged New York steak   Chanterelles   Brussel sprouts   Charred onion: hearty without losing its basic elegance would be the summary of this dish. The steak was tender, juicy with just a hint of blood. The vegetables tossed in (likely) a generous dose of butter, bringing the warm flavors of foliage.

Yuzu   Pop corn   Seasame   Passion fruit: a playful finish of light yuzu custards with small sesame chips and reduced passion fruit drops so tangy my brows farrowed. And, days later, I still couldn’t get over how much the ice cream tasted like kettle corn!

It was a lovely dinner. The flavors were wonderfully balanced with such fascinating textures, this dining experience felt almost cerebral (but in a good way). Even though some dishes did stand out more than the others, and the menu left me wanting more (as all tasting menus do, I suppose), I am excited to see where this restaurant would go after its first star.

Sons and Daughters | 708 Bush Street | San Francisco, CA 94108 | 415.391.8311