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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Broadway Seafood Restaurant

During a post- Chao Thai stroll in Elmhurst one evening, we happened to pass New Broadway Seafood Restaurant. My friend Elizabeth--who, at one time, lived halfway around the world--immediately recognized it as a Hong Kong style restaurant, which aren't so very common in NYC). We popped in to make a few inquiries, and, sure enough, she was right. Unfortunately, one of the queries elicited incorrect information as to how late they serve dim sum, resulting in an aborted dim sum mission the next day. It was quite a while before I got over my irritation sufficiently to try again, but I'm glad I did: New Broadway, while not quite on the level of the best places in Flushing, serves better dim sum than any place I've found in Manhattan. And the trip from Manhattan is a good 20 minutes shorter than the trip to Flushing.

The restaurant is spacious, but not huge, and there's a nice, bustling bunch of Chinese locals during lunchtime. (Curiously, on both occasions, I was one of two non-Asian diners in the place.) It seems to me that their steady stream of patrons--without the carnival-like atmosphere of some of the larger dim sum houses--makes it possible to regulate more effectively how the items come out of the kitchen. Nothing tasted like it had been sitting around too long, and the all of the fried and baked items were still warm.

They have most all of the standard offerings, and I got to try all of my favorites. And all of them were just a little bit different than what I was used to, presumably because this is a Hong Kong and not a straight-up Cantonese restaurant. It seems that meat is emphasized a bit more than seafood here--which is just fine by me! My number one favorite dim sum item, lo mai gai (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf and steamed), had no egg yolk, dried scallop, or, as far as I could tell, chicken... just meat!

While I like those missing ingredients, I can't say I really missed them. The filling was a delicious combination of ground and shredded meat, mushroom, and each one had a cube of roast pork and a piece of Chinese sausage. (This recipe seems to have changed recently. They're still pretty good.)

Haam sui gau, delightful deep-fried sweet rice flour dumplings filled with pork and vegetables (well, mostly pork), were still warm from the fryer.

The taro dumplings (wu gok) were likewise still warm--heavy on the ground pork filling and light on the shrimp and mushrooms (not complaining here, just different than what I'm used to). Char siu sou, those triangular, baked flaky pastry roast pork pies, were everything they should be. Pork shiu mai, which so often taste like they've been sitting in the steamer for six hours--and perhaps they have--were served with all flavors fresh and intact. There are a couple in the background, with beef chee cheong fun (steamed rice roll) in the foreground:

So often, chee cheong fun are somewhat leaden and taste-free. Not these. Flavorful, and almost light.

Turnip cake (lo bak go), another special favorite of mine, was the only offering I was less than enthusiastic about. The texture was rather heavier--and, therefore, gummier-- than I'm accustomed to. Still, because of the larger-than-average dose of ground pork it contained, the flavor was great.

The printed menu contains some intriguing items... one of these days, perhaps I'll make it there for dinner.

New Broadway Seafood Restaurant
83-17 Broadway, Elmhurst, NY 11373
(G, R, or V train to Elmhurst Ave., south on Broadway)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Au Pied de Cochon

I haven't been to any NYC restaurants lately the have inspired me enough to blog about them, but a conversation a few days ago reminded me of an incredible meal I had during a trip to Montreal a couple of years ago. A singer I work with was singing with the Montreal Symphony, so it was the perfect excuse to go (even if it was February and f#$%ing FREEZING!). Even better than my singer's beautiful performance was getting to see a dear friend I hadn't seen in years: Kathy, my old chamber music partner who now plays in the Montreal Symphony. She loves a great food experience as much as I do, so it was a given: we had to go to Au Pied de Cochon.

This isn't the sort of place I normally blog about... for one thing, it's much more expensive than just about any restaurant you'll see here. It is also justly famous--trust me when I tell you to save your pennies and go. There is a positively infectious joy in what they do and what they serve, and what they serve is REAL food, unlike any you'll eat anywhere else.

Perhaps their most famous dish is "Duck in a Can". We didn't order it, and I'm still kicking myself (even though I wouldn't have traded in anything that we did order, and it was PLENTY of food). There are many descriptions and photos of it elsewhere on the internet, but briefly, it's duck breast, foie gras, cabbage, thyme, and jus de viande, cooked in a sealed can and brought to the table that way. The waiter whips out a can opener, opens up the can and dumps it out on the plate! This presentation pretty much sums up the essence of the restaurant: the best ingredients prepared with serious skill, enjoyed with a maximum of relaxation and fun. Foie gras shows up in practically everything... maple syrup, almost as often.

We started with the plogue à Champlain appetizer, which is a buckwheat crepe with bacon, sliced potato, cheddar cheese and foie gras, with a sauce of jus de viande and maple syrup (!)--it was sensational, and set the tone for the rest of the meal. Main course was pied de cochon (how could we not order the namesake dish?). It wasn't just the pig's foot, but the whole shank, run under the broiler and served on a huge oval platter with a saute of probably a half dozen vegetables, mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and cheese curds (a kind of mashed poutine!) and a cream gravy. The whole delicious mess was topped with a couple of slices of seared foie gras. A Morgon Vieilles Vignes red was, for me, the perfect accompaniment. (There are some really serious wines on their list, but, of course, as poor, starving musicians--well, maybe not quite starving after that meal--we couldn't possibly afford them.)

The meal was capped by the best dessert I've had in ages, the pouding chômeur, a baked pudding of cake in the center surrounded by a bubbling maple syrup and butter sauce.

The whole meal was totally over the top--sort of a riot of flavors, none of which seem like they should work together, but somehow do. And I can't wait for another excuse to go to Montreal so I can eat there again.

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est., Montréal, QC
There is a wonderful blog account of a visit, with pictures, here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều

I went to Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều for the first time this evening after hearing about it from Michael and Elizabeth for weeks. Hands down the best Vietnamese food I have tried so far in NYC. (Ed.: As of June, 2013, it's still the best Vietnamese food I've found in NYC.)

Run by Vietnamese (as opposed to the usual-for-NYC Chinese), and full of Vietnamese patrons, the menu sticks to the basics: simple appetizers, soups, and grilled meats over rice or rice vermicelli. Everything we tried was top-notch: the fried spring rolls (chả giò) are the best I've had in years:

The barbecued pork over rice vermicelli (bún thiṭ nứơng) reminded me what great Vietnamese barbecued pork tastes like--it had been a long time. Best phở I've had in ages, too... it made me realize that most Vietnamese restaurants in New York tend to overcook both their rice noodles and the sundry meat products in the soup.

For a really warming dish, they serve a beef stew with either phở noodles or thin egg noodles (). It's marvelous: the chunks of beef are ALL tender, down to the very last one, and it has a rich flavor where all its individual components are somehow clear, almost light...I don't know how they do it. This is the mì bò kho:

With winter approaching, I have a feeling I'll be visiting this place quite a bit in the coming months.

Cơm Tấm Ninh Kiều
2641 Jerome Ave., Bronx 10468

(4 train to Kingsbridge Rd., then 1 block south)