Friday, July 30, 2010

Sundubu jigae FAIL (순두부 찌개)

What sundubu should NEVER look like:

I was disappointed.  The Korean places here in Singapore are few and far between, and I have yet to find any decent place for sullung tang, naengmyun, sundubu, and even hamul pajun—even the terrible Miss Korea restaurant in NY has better stuff!  I was excited to try this place again (my first visit for jajangmyun when they opened a few months ago wasn't bad), especially since the head chef is Korean.

When it landed on the table, I looked at it cautiously and a bit defensively, knowing that this watery mess was not sundubu.  And turns out, it tastes exactly what it looks like.

Never did I think I would see the day in which I would ask for salt at a Korean restaurant.

It was nothing more than tasteless broth with chili oil.  And let’s just say that the tofu was not “silken.”  It was marginally more edible once the waitress came back with the requested salt—I wonder why she or the chefs didn’t inquire worriedly as to why someone would even ask for salt in their sundubu.

To top it off, the dish alone cost about SGD18 (USD13 | HKD102).  Don’t expect the few tiny portions of 4-6 pieces of banchan to be refilled by the way.  You have to pay for it.

I believe this is the first time I’ve made a post for the specific purpose of pointing out an atrocious meal.  My only defense for them is that the restaurant supposedly specializes in “Korean Charcoal BBQ”.  (though that hasn’t stopped other Korean BBQ restaurants from serving decent sundubu)  I’d be more accepting if the dish was still tasty, despite its lack of authenticity.  Sadly, not the case here.

The purpose of my complaint?  I honestly want them to improve.  The location is great and I’d love to have a Korean go-to spot nearby my home.  I’m not asking for much here.  I just want it to be slightly more than edible.  If not, then for pete’s sake, just take it off the menu!  I’d be ashamed as a Korean chef to be serving such indecency!

I didn’t demand a refund or had it sent back to the kitchen—not my style to be a fussy patron unless it was truly inedible.  And it clearly wasn’t a one time mistake since Adrian’s ramen was suffering a similar fate.  When the bill came, I asked the non-Korean waitress where the chefs were from, why the sundubu tasted like funk, and then proceeded to explain what sundubu is actually supposed to be like.  Her only polite defense was the chef and his sous chef were both Korean… implying that they surely know what they’re doing. 

I just hope the waitress spoke to the kitchen afterwards.

Hansang Korean Charcoal Barbeque
20 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Food Diary: Arrival in New York

Let's start catching up on the food in New York.  Back track to the past.
June 12, 2010
2:00 pm, New York
NOMSrade: Duke, Alex Choe

Warning: It is dangerous to watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations while you're stuck on an airplane heading towards New York.  Incidentally, Anthony Bourdain was doing a New York episode and he was hitting up all of my favorite spots around town.  Arriving at John F. Kennedy airport, my brother Laijhun and good pal Alex Choe so kindly picked me up and asked if I was hungry.  "2nd Avenue Deli pronto.  I need a pastrami sandwich."

My usual go-to is pastrami on rye slathered with tangy mustard:  Perfection in a sandwich.  But I was inspired by the TV episode and decided to take it to another level with the addition of chopped liver.  Turns out, I still like it simple—the chopped liver made it all so very overwhelming.  The chopped liver was distracting me from my beloved pastrami.

The bucket of refreshingly cold, crispy pickles and pickled tomatoes was casually tossed onto the table by our jovial waitress, soon to be greedily grabbed the moment it landed (the pickles that is, not the waitress).  My usual sides were included: an order of some of the best potato pancakes in New York, potato salad, and a rootbeer.

Unable to decide, Alex  went for the gold and ordered a triple decker sandwich of pastrami, bologne and coleslaw; each layer separated by a padding of rye bread.  MADNESS!  My brother ordered The Heartattack.  More madness.  Is this how King Leonidas of Sparta ate?  “Madness? THIS IS PASTRAMI!”

2nd Avenue Deli.  Still my favorite Jewish Delicatessen for pastrami in all of New York.  See here and here for previous posts about this spot.

2nd Ave Deli
162 E 33rd St
New York, NY 10016
Tel: +1 (212) 689-9000

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sifty Fifty

Yet another iPhone app for foodies is out.  The Scoop is a free New York iPhone app by the New York Times.  Included in this app is NYTimes restaurant critic, Sam Sifton’s “current 50 favorite restaurants in New York.”  The list will be updated periodically and also includes recommended bars (“The Top Shelf”). 

I would have been more excited for an app like “Bruni’s Best” or “Frank’s Fifty” or “Reservations with Ruth.”  I’m not a big Sifton fan and if you can’t tell, I still miss Frank Bruni and Ruth Reichl big time.

A look at Sifton's current list of favorites isn’t making me any warmer towards him either:
Bar Americain
Bar Boulud
Bereket Turkish Kebab House
Blue Smoke
Cabo Rojo
Casa Lever

Casa Mono

Chez Napoleon

Del Posto


Eleven Madison Park

Fatty ’Cue

Grand Sichuan
Country Barbecue Market

Il Cantinori

Imperial Palace


Keens Steakhouse

La Caridad 78

La Grenouille


Le Bernardin

Locanda Verde



Minetta Tavern

Momofuku Ssäm Bar

N.Y. Noodletown


Pam Real Thai Food

Peking Duck House

Per Se
Prime Meats

Purple Yam

Red Cat

The River Café

Shun Lee Palace

Strip House

Sushi Yasuda



The Waverly Inn

A list of favorites all boils down to personal taste, so I won’t bash too hard on Sifton's top 50 that I mostly disagree with.  But I will bash Sifton a writer.  He isn’t magical, and yes.. magic is exactly what I expect.  ex NYT critics Reichl and Bruni, in their own styles, weave masterpieces out of each and every review.  Whether or not I end up agreeing with their conclusions, they made food critiquing an art.  They helped make the NYTimes’ Dining & Wine section the standard for restaurant critiquing in the English speaking world.


Sam Sifton isn’t terrible nor do I hate the guy.  I just get frustrated how he observes and writes like any ol’ food writer.. blogger quality even.  There are times when I feel more inspired by articles on Serious Eats than NYT’s (not that Serious Eats writers are bad--in fact, I love them!  Again, I just hold NYT to god-like standards).  I don’t like how he’s so accessible with his food and exercise journals or interactivity with readers on social networks.  Save that stuff for an autobiography or his post-restaurant critic era.  I’m old fashioned and I only want to hear about the food!  Clearly, I like to put old school NYT’s writers on pedestals. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gastronommy TV: Cookyn With Mervyn [video]

As promised, here is the full video of Cookyn With Mervyn.  The video was filmed, produced and edited by Mike Foong.  Unfortunately, there were some audio issues during the cooking process so instead of our original intention of sharing some of the recipes, we'll be telling you what the course is about instead!

See here for the original entry about Cookyn with Mervyn.

"My friends Leada and Regina invited me to a group cooking class here in Singapore: Cookyn with Mervyn.  Mervyn taught us tips, tricks and recipes for churroz, prawn cerviche, squid ink paella, chorizo & potatoes and red sangria.  SGD$90 for a full course meal with friends."

Cookyn with Mervyn
273 Thomson Road #04-01 Novena Gardens
(Lift Lobby B)
Singapore 307644

Tel: +65 9099 6231

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

MEATOPIA and other upcoming Summer NY Food Events!


The word alone seems magical.  This weekend, over 30 chefs will be gathering on Governor's Island to host one of New York's bigger BBQ festivals.  Using local produce and meat from regional farms, the festival will be supporting the local community and promoting the spirit of sustainability.  There will be tastings, live entertainment and lots of beer by Sixpoint Craft Ales (July is Mayor Bloomberg's proclaimed "Good Beer Month.")

The event is being hosted by [controversial, free loading] writer Josh Ozersky and Good Beer's Jimmy Carbone.  Chefs to look out for include Fatty 'Cue's Robbie Richter and Convivo's Michael White.  Meat suppliers include New York's favorite Pat LaFrieda Meats and Flying Pigs Farm, and part of the proceeds will go to the selected charities Just Foods and Slow Food NYC.  The event will include a BBQ competition in which attendees will get to vote on their favorite piece of flesh.

When: Sunday, July 11, 2010 (raindate July 18, 2010) / 11:30am - 4:30pm
Where: Governors Island, New York Harbour
Cost: FREE entry, but if you want to taste it will cost you anywhere between $25-$150, depending on how many tastings you're going for.
Menu: Meatopia's Menu


Queens, New York is finally getting its well-deserved spotlight this September.  Queens is home to some of the best Asian cuisine in all of New York.  As wonderful as most cuisines are in Manhattan, even Chinatown and Koreatown have nothing on Queens in terms of value for money, specialty dishes and quality.

Asian Feastival intends to show some of the best of Queens in a series of tastings, bike tours (awesome idea!), culinary lessons and book signings.  Attendees will learn where to find the best Asian farmers markets, how to understand Southeast Asian cuisine in NY, and the secrets of rice.  Chef appearances include Pichet Ong (Sweet Spot), Lee Ang Wong (Top Chef) and Eddie Huang (Baohaus). 

Asian Feastival is still constructing the rest of its program, so keep up to date with their growing list of restaurants and guest appearances on their website.

When:  September 6, 2010 / 12:00pm - 5:00pm
Where: Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel (135-20 39th Ave, Queens)
Cost: $55 advance, $60 door
Program: Asian Feastival's Schedule

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend either event, but if any of you end up attending... please update me with your experiences here on or on Gastronommy's Facebook Page!

Thanks Jenn Joo and Mrs. Won for the leads.

Moving out of New York

It has been quiet on Gastronommy and I apologize!  Sadly, an entire week was dedicated to packing up my K-town apartment and preparing my move to Singapore.  I now have one free week left in New York and I'm living it to the fullest.  Since setting foot back in JFK Airport New York, I've been doing my duty as a professional eater.  I promise updates about the past 2-3 weeks soon!  As for why I'm moving to Singapore, details to come on that once I settle down there.

The New York list includes Russ & Daughters bagel with lox, 2nd Avenue Deli's pastrami and chopped liver on rye, Shake Shack's Shack Burger and cheese fries, Schnippers' honey milkshake and sloppy joe, Korean gems in Flushing, fancy subs from No.7 Subs, Brooklyn's latin truck vendors at Red Hook Ballfields, Clinton Street Bakery's fabulous blueberry pancakes and more.

 Caracas Arepas Bar, New York

And yes, I've gained weight.  There is no way to maintain such an extravagant diet and not gain weight.  Not according to my genes anyway.  Warning: eat like this at your own risk!

In the meantime, see Gastronommy's Facebook Page for some photos of the NOMSrades I've been nomming with.  Tomorrow, I'll be filming another Gastronommy TV episode at a special location in Soho, NY.  Then followed by a late dinner at Mario Batali's Babbo.  It has been an exciting week so far.


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