Best [eats] of 2010

2010 was a glorious year in food and travel for me. I am very fortunate [and forever indebted to those who made it possible] to have experienced all the delicious journeys I did. Here’s a look back:

The tastiest, crispiest-skinned pork chop:

Restaurant Martín, Shanghai

The freshest ikura (with edamame soy beneath):

Urasawa, Beverly Hills, CA

Best intermezzo (passion fruit custard, XO rum granité, coconut foam):

Joël Robuchon, NYC

The best taste-bud-numbing spicy (lazi ji 辣子):

Chuan Ban川办餐厅, Beijing

Favorite ‘cold’ dish veggie-seafood medley (dashi jelly with sea bean, bell pepper, zuchini, tako, white fish):

Sugawara, Tokyo

Best shaved-ice, a.k.a. mountain of ice with various bean and gelatinous toppings:

Bellagio鹿港小镇, Shanghai

Best gelato (or in this case, lemon sorbet):

Grom, Paris

Best drinks (my favorites include: 1919, French 75, Old Cuban, Sazerac…just to name a few):

Drink, Boston

The ultimate naan bing (okay this was actually 2009 but I’m still remembering it!):

Tian Shan Mountain 天山, Xinjiang 新疆

The best banh-mi sandwich [aptly hidden inside a convenience store on Larkin Street]. Don’t forget the jalapeños!

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco

El mejor jamón [bellota]. Que rico:

Bar La Cepa, San Sebastián

Crispiest sea-bass [with safffron emulsion]:

The French Laundry, Yountville

The coolest gougère [pillow]:

Meadowood, St. Helena

Best cheese course (chevre, roquette, pain et miel confiture):

Une Table au Sud, Marseille

Favorite dessert [an ode to Alex Stupak] (vanilla-mango ice cream, yuzu, spruce):

WD~50, NYC

Best ma soy (house soy sauce), anago and bonito [an ode to Yasuda-San] :

Sushi Yasuda, NYC

Best pasta (Fresh cut semolina spaghetti, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, basil):

Marea, NYC

Tastiest post-dessert treat (Olive oil ganache):

Spring, Paris

Best offal (Tête, langue et cervelle  de veau croustillante, pommes vapeur et sauce gribiche aka crispy head, tongue and brain of veal with boiled potatoes and gribiche sauce):

Café Constant, Paris

The juiciest, most tender pork bun (“Chairman Bao” with Berkshire pork, haus relish, Taiwanese red sugar, crushed peanut, cilantro):

BaoHaus, NYC

The tastiest non-standalone-uni dish (Santa Barbara uni with black soy bean yuba in shiitake broth):

Soto, NYC

The ultimate beef [flap meat] roasted over an open pit (Annual Portuguese American festival held in August):

Portuguese American Recreation, Woburn

The best chocolate tart (smooth, velvety, deep):

Les Cocottes, Paris



Stay tuned…

Happy New Year!

Family, friends, food and great fun. The pictures say it all. Here’s a look at Christmas 2010:

Not exactly the typical Christmas dessert, but who can say no to strawberries?


The beggar:


Looking at you looking at me:

Dad and Grandma

Grandma did not get run over by a reindeer:


Cousins reenacting a goofy childhood photo:


Then I headed to New Jersey for some food, babies and new year’s eve festivities:


These boys are so well-behaved at such a young age:


Chinese speaking French on NYE:


The boy likes chocolate mousse [faite sans balance! olalalala…c’est illégale!]:

Wear it

Mats’ secret to being the ‘favorite’ parent:

Olly and Papa

Then I headed to NYC. Well, more like Brooklyn:

Marcy Ave

The trip to NY’s most populous burrough was all for this:

Fatty ‘Cue

I’d been meaning to check out Fatty Cue after all the press it’s been receiving this year. If people in ‘the industry’ [as we call ourselves] like it, it’s usually good, right? In this case, yes. Finger-lickin’, lip-smackin’, “BBQ.” More like Asianified-BBQ but de-rish nonetheless. We had the pork ribs [pictured above], lamb ribs, Pork loin and Porkslap beer (because they threw a party the night before and ran out of Beer Lao. Booo). I prefer either of the ribs–stronger flavors, great seasoning and texture. Seating is tight, portions are small and come on cheap-o Chinatown plates, but if you’re hankering to snack on some meat with Southeast flavors and you’re in the ‘hood, head on over. I also love their assertiveness with the spicy fish sauce and thai chili. Bangin’. Restaurants usually shy from [real] spice.

As I said, this was a meaty snack. Keep in mind it was 20 degrees F outside, aka perfect ramen weather!

Ramen Totto

I waited patiently in line for 20 min or so for a steaming hot bowl of spicy ramen. I tried the Totto Spicy Ramen as well as the Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen (the first two items on the menu). Both delicious. Compared to Ippudo, the noodles are a bit thinner but maintain their QQ. The broth was rich, deep and chicken-y, without MSG and without the after-mouth-feel of thick and nappy. Know what I mean, ramen lovers? Sometimes you get that Ippudo (that other red-and-black-themed ramen joint), on an off-day I suppose. Oh and having been in Europe for the past month and a half, I must say the spicy bamboo shoot side is quite spicy! (deserving of its 5 chilis on their chili-meter on the menu) Hmm…perhaps I should try it again after living in China for a month and a half.  I bet it would be ‘mildly spicy.’

For dinner I had quail at Café Boulud. Perfectly-cooked-pink. The waiter claimed it was not sous-vide but I still don’t believe him.

Quail with truffles, potato emulsion, spinach, pearl onions

My first NYC food truck experience. Waffles remind me of snowboarding and eating chocolate-drizzled waffles at the bottom of the slope at a Waffle Haus because waiting in a long line of skiers and snowboarders is not as fun as eating a hot, chocolatey waffle when you’re super cold and need to recharge. They also remind me of the gofre vendors in Madrid that sell waffles in the subway stations. The aroma of gofres after disembarking a crowded Madrid metro car > over-perfumation of Spaniards on metro.

Waffles and Dinges

The best [and so far, only] yakitori joint I’ve tried in NYC.  It’s not Toriki, but hey, we’re not in Tokyo. And it’s still freaking good! Try the soft bone, chicken skin and giblets!

Soba Totto

Chase that with a bowl of hot or cold soba.  The tempura was warm and crispy, although my slice of fried lotus root was sliced too thick, therefore it was difficult to chew.  Other than that, the soba noodles were the right amount of QQ, the broth smoky and full of bonito-goodness without being too salty. It’s different from Soba-Koh; the noodles are a bit thinner but they’re QQ nonetheless so pas du problem.  I’m definitely coming back for more!


More to come…

Happy 2011!

El Día de Santo Tomás

Lucky for me, I happened to be in town for one of the most festive holidays of the year, El Día de Santo Tomás, a [long] day dedicated to eating, drinking and rejoicing. We kicked off  with pintxos, pintxos y más pintxos. Here is a photo of my beverage of choice here, Txakolí [taken from last night when I celebrated the eve with Marti and yes, por su puesto, with more pintxos].


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