Tag Archives: mochi

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Winter is No Match for Sakuramen

The restorative and soothing properties of soup cannot be overstated, particularly on a cold, winter night.  Soup warms you from the inside — something layers of clothing can’t do. And on the most basic level it’s comforting, harkening back to when you were sick as a kid and a warm bowl of soup made you feel better.

On a recent bitingly chilly night, my friend Claudia and I found the perfect antidote to the cold: a steaming bowl of ramen.

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Down the stairs into Sakuramen’s tight dining space. A table full of Asians at the front, a good sign. (It’s okay, as a fellow Asian I’m allowed to make those observations.)

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To kick things off, spicy pork buns.

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My mouth is watering as I type this. Soft, steamed buns — like baozi buns, but flat — filled with spicy pork and shredded scallion. Fold it up like a taco and eat.

Then, ramen time.

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This was the chosun, a Korean-inspired bowl of bulgogi beef, roasted kimchi, nori, scallions, egg and thin ramen noodles.

Nope, these aren’t the ramen noodles you subsisted on in college — you know, the ones you cracked in half and doused with a seasoning packet. These noodles had character and bite. Each area of the bowl was like a hidden surprise, balanced out with the flavorful broth. I settled in to a rhythm of slurp, chew, slurp, chew, until it was all gone.  I felt warm and invigorated. Cold weather? What cold weather?

The final bit of comfort, green tea mochi. Usually they’re served without accompaniments, but these came on a plate with a drizzle of chocolate, blueberries and a cookie wafer. Nice.

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To have not one, but two ramen restaurants, plus a Pho 14, so close by?  Thank you, Asian food gods.

Sakuramen
2441 18th St. NW
Washington, DC
202-656-5285

Do I Have to Drive to Jersey for a Mochi?

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned mochi, but I’m afraid I must bring them up once more. See, an enormous Korean supermarket called H Mart recently opened near my parents’ house outside Boston — it’s such a mob scene that they have cops directing traffic, and you have to circle around the parking lot to find a spot… again, for a Korean supermarket.  Never seen anything like it.

This H Mart carries the best store-bought mochi ice cream I’ve eaten yet, from the Korean brand, Choripdong.

I just can’t get on board with the Trader Joe’s version, and have stayed away from Maeda-En ever since eating a horrid batch of green teas that were practically inedible — the rice cake was like rubber.

But the Choripdong mochi are the real deal: high-quality, smooth ice cream and a rice cake with the perfect bite and chew.

I checked H Mart’s website and they do have locations in Queens, Long Island and Jersey, but that’s a bit of a haul, even for a mochi.  Have you ever seen this Choripdong brand in any of our Asian grocery stores?  If you have, I’d love to know where!

Making Mochi: Don’t Try This at Home

My sister Jen sent me a mochi ice cream recipe recently; it seemed relatively simple, so I picked up some rice flour and green tea ice cream, and set out to make the mochi to end all mochis. As it turns out, I’ve got zero aptitude for this culinary endeavor.

The first part of the recipe was making the dough.  That was easy enough.

Here’s where it got difficult.  These are the actual instructions:

  1. Place plastic wrap over a cutting board. Dust generously with corn flour (this is a must).
  2. Wait for dough to cool. Place onto board and divide into 10 pieces.
  3. Flatten dough with your palm.
  4. Wrap each piece of dough around an ice cream ball and refreeze in an airtight container.

Here’s how the instructions SHOULD have read:

1.  “Hahaha, even though you dusted the cutting board with corn flour, the dough will still stick!  Try to solve problem by throwing even more corn flour on dough. Keep doing this until you form a sticky ball of dough/corn flour goop.”

2.  “The dough will not divide into 10 pieces.  Instead, it will divide all over your hand.”

3.  “Abandon plan to flatten dough with palm. Place wax paper over dough and pound with meat mallet. Momentarily bask in your brilliance. Then lament your stupidity after realizing the wax paper and dough are stuck together. Swear profusely.”

4) “Place scoops of green tea ice cream in middle of misshapen, bizarro dough. Wrap dough around ice cream. Discover dough pieces are much too small and watch ice cream ooze out the sides. Look on in horror as ice cream begins to melt.  Recommence profanity.”

The final step:

5) “Give up. You’re hopeless.”

Get Your Sushi On at Murasaki

I searched long and hard for a good Japanese restaurant to go to with the restaurant meetup. Some places were too pricey, others were too small for a group, and a few just looked tired (“tired” and “raw fish” are never words you want to hear together).   Murasaki in Nyack seemed like the perfect choice— at seven months old it’s still somewhat new and striving to impress; plus it doesn’t have the trendy vibe of its neighbor down the street, Wasabi.   Safe to say it was a success; practically everyone ordered sushi, some for the first time (go Karen!).  

I started with the grilled eggplant glazed with miso— oh man was it good.  The mirin and miso glaze gave it a slightly sweet/salty flavor and the chunks of scored eggplant were creamy and tender.   Maybe a bit greasy overall, but I really enjoyed it. 

The sushi rolls (spicy tuna on the left, eel and shrimp on the right) were also extremely well made and great to look at.  The texture of the rice was just right— it had a nice bite and I liked the little pieces of scallion sprinkled in.

Check out this mochi— now that’s a dessert.  Of course I had to get one.   Josh, who was sitting across from me, got one too, although his was accidental (he thought he was ordering just green tea ice cream).  After tasting the mochi, I think he’s now a disciple.  

Excellent meal.  I still want to try the food at Wasabi, but if it’s full, I’ll happily go back to Murasaki.

GRADE: A-

Murasaki
138 Main St.
Nyack, NY 10960
845-358-3222 

A Taste of Chinatown in White Plains

Every once in a while, my stomach starts clamoring for a certain food, and it doesn’t stop until it’s satisfied (Is this what pregnant women go through?).  Often the craving’s for a particular Chinese dish; there must be something ingrained in my Chinese DNA (mom would be proud).   When I get these cravings, I run off to Kam Sen Foods to buy the proper ingredients.   Now, calling Kam Sen a “food find” is a bit of a stretch, since it’s a 20,000 sq ft supermarket in the middle of White Plains. But I’m always surprised how many people have never heard of it when they ask me where to buy Asian groceries in Westchester.

(Note: I just bought a new camera and was planning on taking some nice pics of the store.  But then I noticed the employees eyeing me suspiciously — apparently not a lot of people come in and take pictures of roast pork — so I ended up whipping the camera out quickly and grabbing pics where I could.  Not much art here.)

Kam Sen’s on the ground floor of the exceedingly drab White Plains Mall, home to the beloved Dept. of Motor Vehicles.  Next time you’re in line at the DMV losing an hour of your life, look over to the right and you’ll notice Kam Sen:

Shopping here is a bit like being in Chinatown — you see mostly Asian faces and hear lots of people speaking Chinese.  Be prepared to spend some time.  Seriously.  The variety of items can be overwhelming, especially for the newbie; I love taking friends to Kam Sen for the first time because their eyes bug out of their heads.  On one side of the store you’ll find the produce section, with some familiar and not-so-familiar fruits and vegetables:

There are housewares and appliances, large jars of tea, refrigerators with fresh noodles and tofu, aisles of dried products and dried noodles, and my favorite, a mind-boggling aisle full of oils, sauces and crazy canned goods (you’re not likely to see canned quail eggs at Stop & Shop):

On the other side of the store is the meat section — everything is nicely presented and prices are great (pork loin was $3.19/lb today!).  You’ll recognize most cuts of meat, although I’m guessing oxtail and pig’s feet might be a new one.  The huge cases of refrigerators/freezers have an array of dumplings, dim sum products and desserts (aargh, still no good mochi!), Then there’s the seafood section, with its incredible selection of fish, shrimp, shellfish and crabs/lobsters in tanks:

Finally, up front you’ll find the bakery and prepared foods, like freshly made sushi and hot entrees.  The best part are the rows of glistening whole Peking ducks and juicy roast pork:

It’s really a great store and it’s right in our backyard.  So that’s my spiel.  The next time you need soy sauce or sesame oil, don’t get that lame, watery stuff at the local supermarket.   Take a drive to White Plains and check out Kam Sen.  Just prepare to linger for a while.

Kam Sen Foods
22 Barker Ave.
White Plains, NY 10601
914-428-4500