Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Killer Dumplings at Tanxia Wang Fu Zhou Cuisine

I'm back.

Like I said in my brief post repping for Real Cheap Eats, the past month and a half was spent almost exclusively preparing for (and ultimately losing) a trial. That's over now, and I've returned with one of the choicest pieces of Chinatown knowledge I've acquired in ages. Tanxia Wang Fu Zhou Cuisine is on Eldrigde, just south of well known hand-pulled noodle spot Sheng Wang, serving a succinct menu of Fujian classics.

The dumplings here are the main draw, and they're brought steaming on styrofoam plates almost as soon as you've snagged a seat (sometimes before you've even finished ordering). The waitresses speak barely any English, but you can always point at the menu along the long, constantly crowded wall. It's a busy spot, but turnover is high, so you're likely to find a seat soon enough.

Back to the dumplings. They're filled with copious greens mixed in loosely amidst slightly sweet, ground pork. With just a bit of grease–enough to coat your mouth, alerting you to the presence of fatty pork juice–these dumpling don't easily wear out their welcome. The dumpling skin (likely a commercial wrapper), is just thin enough and more than up to the task.

At just $9 for a bag of 50, it's worth bringing some home. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Real Cheap Eats Winter Edition 2012

Once again I find myself apologizing for not updating the blog. This time I have a very good excuse-- I've been preparing for trial the last few weeks and have not had a single waking moment of free time (ok, that's a slight exaggeration, I may have had a moment or two last Thursday).

Anyway, for those who haven't already been subjected to our relentless barrage on the social medias, I'd like to point you to the Real Cheap Eats Winter Edition 2012. It's pretty freaking great (no bias). And, if you like Real Cheap Eats and would really like to help us out, please fill out our user survey, which will help us build the best damn mobile app in the universe (yes, even better than Shazam).


Friday, December 30, 2011

Second Annual Obligatory-Later-than-Usual Best of the Year List: 2011

Hey you guys... it's me, Noah. It was sort of a big year here at Law & Food (emphasis on "sort of"). I haven't had much to write about in the past few weeks (on top of being extremely busy and due to the fact that I'm currently in France), but as a food blogger, it seems necessary to somehow wrap up "2011 in Food" in a nice little package. So without any further introduction, here's my favorite eats of the year broken down into completely arbitrary categories.

Favorite new restaurantDo or Dine. In a year where I was bored and jaded by the high-end, Do or Dine snuck in through the back door, crashing the party. Where else could you find a try-anything-experimental-vibe while still experiencing a backbone of excellent service, inventive drunk food and creative dishes (like the now infamous foie gras doughnut)? Right now, these guys are the kings of Bed Stuy "fine diving." The picture of "A Fish and Some Chips" is from the pre-Roehawk version (check this one out on Serious Eats).

Best Sandwich: The chicken liver and bacon sandwich at Post Office in Williamsburg. The only reason I haven't written about Post Office yet is because it's nearly impossible to get a good picture in the dim light of this small bar on Havemeyer right near the BQE (OK, and I'm lazy). Picture an American riff on a banh mi. Thick, smoky bacon plays backup to funky chunks of chicken liver, while pickled cucumber, carrot and shallot with frisee mixed with a green apple vinaigrette balances the caloric onslaught. A slightly spicy mayo and crusty baguette completes the effect and you realize that this sandwich is much more than a mere riff.

Best Pizza: Shockingly, my two favorite pies this year were both eaten outside of New York City. Zuppardi's clam pie in West Haven, Connecticut was a revelation of freshly shucked clams on a cold, snowy day. The sausage pie was nearly as good. Almost as good was a pie I ate earlier this year at Star Tavern in New Jersey which proved to be the pinnacle of the bar pie form. Also, for a NYC rec: Best Pizza, Best Pizza, Best Pizza.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Swear I'll Stop Writing About Georgian Food After This Post: Brick Oven Bread

I know you're all probably tired of hearing about Georgian food by now, but wandering along Brighton Beach a few weeks ago, my friends and I came across "Brick Oven Bread," a Georgian bakery on a residential block, just east of Coney island Avenue.

Photo courtesy of Robyn Lee

Completely and utterly full from a long day of butter and cream-filled Russian treats, we decided to simply note the location before vowing to return as soon as humanly possible. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving and preparation for a trial got in the way, but I was finally able to return with my friend Lizzie and two colleagues of hers visiting from London.

As we walked inside, Lizzie's friends started asking about Georgia and Georgian food. "That's where Stalin was from," I said, summing up about 50% of my Georgian knowledge.

"Stalin?" He replied. "He was a bit of a tinker, wasn't he?"

Take what you will from that, but a "tinker" was described to me as a "cheeky fellow."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm a Food Blogger and I Ate a Sandwich!

Sorry for the sarcasm, but I haven't had anything interesting to say lately. That said, I'd like to announce that the other night, at Jodough, the new sandwich shop and second restaurant from chef and owner Joe Dobias, I ate a sandwich. I know, I know, this was a very important occasion, wholly worth writing about. I probably would have just gone on with my life, keeping my new-found sandwich wisdom to myself, had I not experienced a few minor irritations with, what on the whole was a good sandwich.

It was pouring outside when I walked into JoeDough, Dobias was cooking in back and a woman took orders at the long counter up front. Being a conflicted Jew myself, it seemed natural to order the "Conflicted Jew" sandwich which comes with chicken liver, bacon and onions on challah. However, I'd gorged on my grandmother's chopped liver over the Thanksgiving weekend, and was feeling momentarily less conflicted. Instead I went with the "L.E.S. French Dip," which comes with griddled tongue, a horseradish mayo and au jus (menu here).

I asked for a glass of ice water and the counterwoman replied, "we can't really give you water if we're selling it." Touché, I guess. Also be aware that it's cash only, and all sandwiches are $10 including tax, which makes me wonder what the value proposition is with the "Wedge Sandwich" of iceberg lettuce and blue cheese dressing. Someone else is going to have to order that to find out. (Just found a picture here. Doesn't seem worth it, does it?)

Anyway, after a few minutes my sandwich was complete and ready to be devoured. Alongside the sandwich, the au jus sat steaming in a tall, narrow "We are Happy to Serve You" cup. Not an ideal jus delivery system. The realization that I couldn't actually dip my french dip hit me hard, so I resorted to more drastic means. First, I tried to simply pour the jus over the sandwich, but this did little, as the salty jus simply flowed out the ass-end and onto my tray. Then I hit on a better idea, I'd take a mouthful of jus before taking a bite of the sandwich, ideally injecting the jus into the bread intra-orally. This worked slightly better, but was awkward as hell. It would help if the sandwich, served on a brioche-like roll, was cut in half (or better yet, served on a long baguette or roll like the classic French Dip), because once I was actually able to dip the bread, I got some excellent bites.

Regardless, I enjoyed the sandwich. The griddled tongue and horseradish sauce raised the obvious comparison to an Arby's roast beef sandwich, but the quality of the ingredients made it far superior. Being a tongue lover, I could appreciate the meaty bite of the sandwich versus the weak, almost paste-like consistency of a crappy Arby's roast beef. All that's needed for sandwich nirvana are a few minor adjustments. Seeing as they've only been open a few weeks, hopefully Dobias is still toying around with sandwich components and will hear my jus problems.

Joe Dough
135 First Avenue (btwn St. Marks and 9th St.)
New York, NY 10003 (212) 780-9222
Joedough on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Georgian Food at Mtskheta Cafe

Once again I've found myself overly complacent. Mtskheta Cafe, a new Georgian restaurant near the end of the D train in South Brooklyn (in what may or may not be Bensonhurst) blasted onto my radar with a review in New York Magazine of all places. A scouting trip with Jared Cohee of Eating the World in NYC that same day confirmed that I should probably return.

That Friday, we showed up with a large group for a birthday party where we ordered much of the menu (and also had much to drink). Then, I sat on my post. Subsequent write-ups by Jared, Wilfrid of At the Sign of the Pink Pig and Dave Cook at Eaten in Translation showed that I really had a lot to add to the conversation.... Regardless (I've sold this quite well, I'm sure), I'll add what I can (having been to a lot of Georgian restaurants in the city, I believe my self-proclaimed expertise means my voice should be heard).

At the first meal with Jared, we decided to keep our order lean and mean with kupati, khachapouri and a Georgian salad. Also, the all-Russian menu was daunting, so we just named a few dishes to try. Our young, English-speaking waiter pushed the garlic chicken, but we'd already ordered too much. This type of food requires alcohol. I was unprepared, but ran to the Rite Aid down the street, where the best of a bad selection was Heineken tall boys. Those would do.

I returned to chewy lavash bread and soon our khachapouri arrived. It was buttery, almost like movie theater popcorn and overflowing with cheese, but otherwise unremarkable. Stick with Pirosmani or Georgian Bread for khachapouri.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ill-Timed Roadtrips: New Haven, Connecticut

Occasionally, despite overwhelming outward confidence, I can be a little too bold for the sake of a good meal. For a week we had planned a short day trip to New Haven, but the forecast incomprehensibly predicted snow. "Snow?" I scoffed. If Hurricane Irene was overrated, then certainly this snowfall would, at most, consist of a few flurries falling on overeager weathermen.

Not so. Amidst the pouring rain, we picked up our rental car, which was armed with suspiciously weak headlights, for what was supposed to be a fairly short drive. I'll avoid describing our first stop, Cannelle Patisserie, for the sake of narrative consistency. Suffice to say, everything I tried out of the $30 worth of pastries Melissa and Emily purchased was pretty damn good.

By this time, the freezing rain had turned into heavy snow as we headed north on I 95. As the self-designated driver, I was determined to show off my hardcore driving skills, but before we reached New Haven, I had to pee. Also, we needed gas.

Luckily, Colony Grill in Stamford was only an exit away. Stepping out of the car, I sunk to my ankles in slush. We scattered and ran inside, sliding into a long booth, hoping in vain to dry off. The bar style pizzas here are only $8.50, plus $1.50 a topping. Resolved to pace ourselves, we ordered one pie with hot oil, which is the draw.

True to its reputation, the hot oil had a slow burn, but the ripper did not. It had a quick, intense burn. The thin crust was nice, but not better than Star Tavern, the gold standard in bar pizza. Good pizza, but I'd probably hyped it up a bit too much in my mind. Slightly disappointed, we trudged out of the bar and sprinted to the car, continuing our journey.

Colony Grill
172 Myrtle Avenue
Stamford, CT 06902
(203) 359-2184

Monday, October 24, 2011

Change Up

You've probably noticed that we've been posting less frequently lately. I owe you an explanation. Most significantly, editing Real Cheap Eats has taken up a lot of my time, and I'll be doing some type of weekly contribution to their new blog. Work has also picked up significantly (and that's what pays the bills and allows me to eat all this food).

So what's going to happen with Law & Food? First, Steve will not be posting anymore. According to him, he's taking an "indefinite hiatus," which, knowing him, will likely last forever. However, he will continue to post photos of his meals, making the rest of us jealous. You can find those photos here. Of course, all the shitty pictures on our Flickr page are mine.

The plan now is for one post a week. This post will probably not be a straight restaurant review, but something a little broader-- I'm going to keep it loose. Though, if I do eat something worth writing about, it will be here. There will also likely be more cooking posts, since my new apartment has a pretty sweet kitchen, and I've been cooking a lot more. My previous apartment had the worst kitchen I've ever cooked in, perhaps only second to the summer apartment I had in Bushwick, where I owned a broken microwave and had to turn the gas on each time I cooked (unless I wanted to blow up the building). Cooking posts have always been a lot of fun to write, and I like to think that I've got some skills (and creativity) to show people a thing or two. 

Music Monday's are out. I know how disappointing this is to everyone who loves them. If the five of you who are interested in obscure reggae still want to hear what I've been listening to, I'll continue posting music links on Twitter. There's also a podcast that will be coming soon, although that will likely be on a different site. Of course, I'll link it here when it drops.

Until then, I hope you stick around to see what's in the works. I'm excited for the change and I hope you are too.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Much Magic Fruit

2008 was the Year of Miracle Fruit. Its popularity briefly exploded after a New York Times article (at least in my dim recollection-- I'd thought this was in 2009) about "flavor tripping" parties. Those two words together proved irresistible to me, and I was determined to try this miracle fruit, which briefly re-wires your taste buds, making sour foods taste sweet. However, after a few weeks of searching, as usual, I moved on to another fad because anything can hold my attention only for so long.

Eventually, I'd all but forgotten about miracle fruit. But just this week, out of nowhere, I was offered a magic ticket to a Google sponsored event at the Counting Room in Williamsburg and an even more magical pill-- a concentrated extract of the berry.

So... should I grind it up and snort it? Maybe I could snort lemons afterwards and see if it tasted delicious. Smoke it? Inject it? No... just roll it around on your tongue. Oh, ok... I can do that.

For some reason, all I could think of was "Magic Bus."

The taste was mildly sweet and a little fruity, but mostly chalky. I let it coat my mouth before it eventually dissolved and immediately ordered beers and a shot of tequila. The cheap tequila (I'm thinking El Toro, a classic of my college years) is allegedly supposed to taste like Patron. If so, I asked myself, does Patron taste like the nectar of the gods when full-on tripping off of miracle berries? I never got that far, as I was soon distracted by other things (not that this is some kind of theme with me).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Real Cheap Excuses

One of the main reasons I haven't been posting much is that I've been doing a lot of behind the scenes work on Real Cheap Eats, which I edit along with James Boo of The Eaten Path.

Today, that extra work has paid off in the form of the Real Cheap Eats 2011 Fall Edition. Not only are there over 50 new entries from food bloggers throughout the city, but we've improved mobile performance, added a blog and included a "$5 or Less" tag for the really cheap bastards who consider $10 a splurge. Check it out!