Events, Homemade

Summer Entertaining the Asian Way

How Summer should be…

Asian cuisine is such a broad topic as Asia is one of the largest seven continents.  It is a popular choice of cuisine and widely eaten by Americans.  Just count how many fast food Chinese restaurants there are in the country or how many Spice Thai there are in Manhattan alone.  Yet I feel Asian cuisine is not given enough credit when it comes to educating readers and viewers.  Food Network even cut out the only Asian cuisine show with Ming Tsai.  In many food publications  Asian-American families are not featured enough or even ever featured in sharing how we celebrate seasonal gatherings.

If anyone who knows how to entertain on a hot summer day in July is my Uncle Tim.  His barbques are more than your average burgers and hot dogs but to recognize our American-ess there is pre-brought burgers from Bubba’s and Nathan’s beef frank hot dogs, in which I am not too wild about.  Nonetheless Uncle Tim emphasizes our Chinese heritage and throws in plenty of Asian flavors into his grill.  Uncle Tim is a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business and has multiple restaurants in the Tri-state area.  If you happen to be in town, stop by at his first born, House of Yeung in Flemington, NJ, the white rice is delicious as it is glazed in vegetable oil.  His family gatherings starts from the minute you enter his house in suburban Flemington, New Jersey.  It starts off with cocktail hour,  with chilled Corona and lime.  More than ordinary hors d’eouvres there are dishes of home cooked fried rice, chow fun, store brought sushi, salad and corn on the cob.  The amount of food feels like it was the actual party when the party really just had started.  Sunset came along and the fire on the grill heated.  Other than burgers and hot dogs,  if any proteins Chinese loves is seafood!  There was grilled tilapia, and what really stood out for the evening was Uncle Tim’s marinated coconut curry shrimps with green peppers and onions, delicious!

From suburban Flemington, New Jersey to the metropolis New York City.  Aunt Yi Mei hosts the most extravagant summer gatherings.  The location is spectacular with Battery Park and Hudson River as the playground, there are plenty of sports activities to do and much  needed to burn off all the calories gained.  Aunt Yi Mei was a former head chef in a Long Island Chinese restaurant and is best known for her marinated cuttlefish.  For the gathering she used Taipan Bakery as a caterer.  Taipan Bakery is better known for their baked goods and cakes.  As of the catering it is Asian fusion with enormous portions of fried rice, beef bolognese pasta, fingered size sandwiches, ham wrapped asparagus, corn in mayonnaise, sushi, and fruit tarts.  In addition, Aunt Yi Mei prepared a few home cooked dishes this included surf and turf ( Tbone steak and lobsters) and shrimps.  She always out does it.

The Asian culture is one of the most family oriented and it is important to continue that tradition regardless how time consumed our society has become with all things plugged habits. Summer is probably my least favorite season of the year with the sticky, humidity and hot weather but cook something refreshing and gather family and/ or friends and you’ll be in good company in life.

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New York City Eats

Ippudo, At Last

Ippudo Shiromaru Hakata Classic

Who said third times the charm?   My fifth and final attempt at Ippudo, Japanese Ramen restaurant on the East Village called success!

I have been wanting to try Ippudo for the longest and the wait would always be outrageously long during evening hours.  The strategy to getting a table at Ippudo is to dine during lunch on weekdays or go solo during evenings. Part of the fun is to eat with a friend of course, so I met up with my friend Hiroko who is happily 4 months pregnant for lunch at Ippudo. According to Hiroko Ippudo is New York City’s best ramen! As a native and pure blood Japanese, I trusted her and I cannot agree more.

Consecutive day in a row with temperature in New York City in the upper 90s to 100 F was the perfect weather to slurp on a bowl of ramen, I promise.  The air conditioner was blasting and making pass the reservation desk without waiting at all was exciting.  It was a moment of victory.  The lunch hours are much more slow in comparison to dinner but the servers were energized greeting いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase) meaning welcome!  The decor of Ippudo is modern Japanese elegance.  From lighting to the layout of the tables Ippudo imports the Japanese comfort food to comfortable atmosphere to relax for a lunch or dinner meal.

The menu and description all read delicious.  Being it was my first time at Ippudo, I ordered the Shiromaru Hakata Classic bowl ramen ($13).  With $3 more I pigged out on the lunch set which I selected the Fried chicken over rice with salad.  Hiroko had the same ramen with the choice of Mentaiko (Spicy Cod Roe) over rice.  In the Shiromaru Hakata Classic Bowl ramen was slices of simmered berkshire pork, kikurage (wood ear mushroom), red pickled ginger, menma (bamboo shoots), 1/2 hard boiled egg, sesame & scallions submerged in a savory pork broth.  The texture of the noodle is definitely very distinctive and unusual.  Thin and al dente. The condiments of kikurage, menma, ginger, etc. are quite commonly used in even Chinese bowl of noodles and is frequently used in my dad’s homemade noodle soups but the way the condiments are cut and the presentation at Ippudo absolutely knocks your socks off!

いただきます!  Slurp, Slurp

The meal ended with a cup of roasted genmai cha (brown rice tea).  The desire to try Ippudo since its opening in 2007  has finally come true.  With the last 4 failed attempts in getting a table at Ippudo, my expectations have constantly built and Ippudo did not disappoint one bit and has met my highest expectations.

Address:

Ippudo /// 65 4th Avenue New York, NY 10003

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Beyond 5 Boroughs Travel

All About ME

portland, maine

Home of lobster rolls, whoopie pies, lighthouses and LL Beans, Maine, ME is the state for those who are nature loving and foodies who are seeking for a fresh taste of the Atlantic.

This July 4th weekend my family and I decided to hit the road on the interstate 95 to see what Maine has to offer.  It was the first vacation with my sister-in-law’s family, the marriage of the Chan’s and the Yeung’s since 2006.  With ten adults and my 5 months old niece baby Audrey on the road for nearly 72 hours on a not for hire van was what would seem to be a scene from Little Miss Sunshine.

July 3, 2010 (Day 1 Portland, ME):

Maine located at the very end of the Northeast of America and approximately 6 hours drive from New York City.  Our first stop was the oldest lighthouse in Maine, Portland Head Lighthouse.  Before visiting the lighthouse, we made a lunch stop at a Thai restaurant we randomly pulled up to the parking lot of, Pom’s Thai Taste. Sticking to our Asian roots and a cuisine familiar to our taste palette or at least for our parents.  We entered to what seemed to be someone’s home and our experience at Pom’s Thai Taste was exactly that, home style Thai cooking and friendly hospitality.  The decor was an essence of Thailand with shrines honoring the ancestors and a description plaque which I found it cute making the restaurant feel like a tourist attraction.  Being recently unemployed and somewhat still reminiscing the workdays during lunch hours where my coworkers and I frequent Thai Chai Yo in Chelsea, I ordered what I usually ordered the Paad Khee- Mao (Drunken Noodle)  with Fried Tofu except it is Pom’s version.  The English translation is misleading, don’t worry mom it’s non alcohol.  Paad Khee-Mao is a noodle dish with the use of the flat rice noodle. The spiciness and the fragrance of the basil was aromatic.  The noodle dish was a bit salty but the texture of the noodle was al dente which is a plus. Along with the Paad Khee-Mao, I had to order a Thai iced tea and there was free refills!  — that’s very rare in the city.  Follow Pom’s Thai Taste on Facebook (cute!), apparently their really big on complimentary giveaways.

Portland, is the city of Maine and it the port of commerce for seafood.  It resembles a lot like South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan or Pike Street Market in Seattle, WA with boutique shops and a good variety of gourmet restaurants.  We sailed out to tour Portland and I spotted a lot of fishermen in action, some puffins and seals, lighthouses, and very colorful buoys.  For the evening we had a lobster dinner near our hotel, Newick’s Lobster House. Without any research, we took a gamble and it was worth every penny.  On the menu, anything lobster was priced as “market priced.”  Being it is in season and lobsters are high in demand in the months of late May through August, Newick’s Lobster House had reasonable family friendly priced menu with  a variety of choices even catered to my mom who is a vegetarian. I’m not big on lobsters but as a delicacy of Maine it’s a must!  We ordered a fried calamari to share and I shared with my sister a seafood chowder, a steamed lobster with melted butter with coleslaw baked potato on the side and a strawberry vinaigrette coconut shrimp salad.  –yeah we pigged out!   The lobster was prepared simply steamed and was very easy to eat without the use of the lobster cracker.  The lobster meat was juicy and tender and really did not require any butter.  The strawberry vinaigrette coconut shrimp salad was outstanding!  The strawberry was fresh and vibrant in color with the contrast of the greens and the coconut shrimps gave the dish an Asian flare.

July 4th, 2010 (Day 2 Bar Harbor, ME)

3 hours from Portland was a small town with a lot of character, Bar Harbor, Maine.  A followup to the lobster feast, we stopped by at a lobster shack, The Docksider Restaurant for a lobster roll.  The lobster roll is getting attention here at the Big Apple as the next burger, hot dog, sandwich, so I was curious what the hype is all about.  The lobster roll is essentially lobster meat on a hot dog bun or at The Docksider Restaurant served on a toasted buttered slice of white bread.  The way the lobster was prepared, it was cooked in an outdoor brick well with a wooden lid cover in what looked like a lobster hot spring.  It was on the more expensive side for $17.99.  Finally, the anticipation is over the lobster rolls were in styrofoam containers literally the size of a hot dog.  The lobster meat was disappointingly unseasoned and dried and the white bread tasted like yeasty Wonder bread.  The Docksider Restaurant’s lobster roll is overly priced and the quality disappoints Maine as the lobster state. Wish we had gone to Red Eat’s!

Maine is not all about the lobsters but it is a huge outdoor, hiking, biking state.  It is named top 3 biker states of America.  A nice find was the Acadia National Park.  It has over 48,000 acres with spectacular ocean views on the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  We then head to Bar Harbor for a tour of the local shops with many that are hiking gear related and for dinner at the Portside Grill. Being lobster out, I ordered a portabello napoleon, a portabello mushroom, with a tomato, fresh mozzarella, spinach, pesto in a pastry puff top with a blueberry lemonade which tasted like blue jello.  The blueberry a la mode pie was a winner across our table.

Fireworks!

July 5, 2010 (Day 3, Kittery, ME –> HOME!)

The next morning we ate breakfast that gradually turned into lunch at The Old Country Buffet. This is the reason why America are obese and are demanding health insurance.  Sure for $4.99 per person for breakfast is an amazing deal but the quality  of the food is heart burn, cholesterol, to a stroke.  It’s disgusting.  Finally, we end the our three day Chan- Yeung family vacation with a shopping spree at an outlet in Kittery, ME.

Click here for more photos on Maine!

Addresses:

Pom’s Thai Taste ///571 Congress Street Portland, ME 04101

Newick’s Lobster House /// 200 Gorham Rd. South Portland, ME

The Docksider Restaurant /// 14 Sea Street Northeast Harbor, ME

PortSide Grill /// 38 Cottage Street Downtown Bar Harbor, ME

The Old Country Buffet /// 517 Maine Mall – South Portland, ME 04106


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