Barano

New York City is filled with delicious Italian cuisine that many have come to call their comfort food. The large selection can be quite overwhelming, so when you do find a favorite place, it’s one that you’ll keep coming back to. That one restaurant for us is Barano in South Williamsburg. Barano feels high end but still approachable, polished but manages to hit that comfort-food level. It’s a surprisingly all-encompassing restaurant that’s perfect for family dinners, date night, and even Sunday brunch.

Wednesday nights seemed to be one of their quiet nights, where even at 7pm, the restaurant stayed half-full with just the right amount of chatter (perfect time to go if you’re looking for a quiet place to dine!). We were seated at a dimly lit corner with a full view of the beautiful, dark-wood furnished interior. That night our appetite took the better of us, and we decided to order quite a spread: antipasto consisting of both salted and smoked mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto, meatballs made from 21-day dry-aged beef with herb ricotta, bucatini with wood-roasted maitake mushroom, brown, butter, basil pesto, and bottarga, and finally, a zucchini pizza garnished with beautiful zucchini blossoms. Our favorites were the smoked mozzarella brought out in a beautiful glass dome lid, where upon lifting it, the smoke dissipated leaving a beautiful aroma behind. The meatballs were light and fluffy, doused in a delightful sauce. And last but not least, the bucatini made with mushrooms was the perfect dish to start off the fall season, it’s earthy taste combined with the tangy pesto and handmade noodles made for a one-of-a-kind plate.

Barano
26 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249
www.baranobk.com

Divya’s Kitchen

We love our burgers and pizzas, but it’s also important to listen to your body, nourish, and care for it, because after all, we only have one body. Not to say that burgers and pizzas can’t be healthy! We found a place that transforms comfort food staples into well-balanced, health-filled meals that will allow you to indulge, but also feel good while doing so.

Divya’s Kitchen on 1st Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street is a restaurant rooted in the tradition of Shaka Vansiya Ayuvreda. Ayurveda is the ancient system of medicine from India (ayur = life, veda = science of knowledge) that emphasizes the importance of balance. Some of the core Ayurvedic diet principles consists of eating colorful and flavorful foods that hit six tastes: sweet, salty, sour pungent, bitter, and astringent. By ingesting the color of the rainbow and different tastes, your body gets the full healing benefits that help to restore and build a healthy self. For the complete run down on Ayurveda and the specifics of the diet, head over to The Chopra Center.

Not only does Divya’s kitchen offer healthy options, but everything is made from scratch, from their cheese to the almond milk. Chef Divya Alter focuses on seasonal foods, changing up the menu three times a year to incorporate fruits and vegetables that are truly in season. Another important component that Chef Divya emphasizes is the idea of calm. You won’t find any spicy dishes on the menu, and the mostly beige and off-white interior cast in a warm, glowing light brings a sense of ease and comfort to the dining experience. We certainly had a cozy dining experience where we ordered everything from Avocado Dip ($8), Creamy Vegetable Soup ($8), Spinach-Cheese Cutlets ($8), Summer Bowl ($16), and Lasagna ($22). Some of our favorites included the Creamy Vegetable Soup made from taro root, celery, and zucchini (who knew vegan soup could be so creamy!) and the Lasagna consisting of almond milk béchamel, broccoli carrots, spinach, mozzarella and basil-parsley pesto. The layers of white sauce melted into the broccoli and carrots creating a flavorful harmony of ingredients.

Divya’s Kitchen
25 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
www.divyaskitchen.com

Tim Ho Wan with Bettina Chin

Dubbed the “cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant” in the world, Tim Ho Wan is a Hong Kong-based dim sum restaurant by Chef Mark Gui Pui and Leung Fai Keung that’s been making waves since appearing in the 2010 Hong Kong and Macau Guides. Now with over 45 locations around the world, Tim Ho Wan has settled in Astor Place, opening it’s doors to New Yorkers on December 2016. Eight months later, it’s still generating a line that goes out the door, a testament to its world renowned dim sum dishes.

We got a chance to dine at Tim Ho Wan with a few friends this week, including our good friend and dim sum lover Bettina Cho, who was gracious enough to tune us in on some of her food favorites (see interview below!) Unlike the traditional dim sum restaurants in Hong Kong where dishes make their way around the restaurant in push carts, Tim Ho Wan offers a different experience: waiters deliver each order to you directly from the kitchen (like most restaurants in town). We ordered a good variety of dim sum staples, but one of our favorites, the dish that we both drooled over, were the pork buns. The outside reminded us of our favorite Japanese “melon pan” with a crispy outside and an inside filled with sweet, savory BBQ pork. No to mention the ratio of bread to pork was perfection.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Born and raised here in the States (technically, New Jersey). A 35-year-old, Chinese-American woman who loves music, the arts, and a good mystery. My entire world is packaged into a perfect 21-month-old boy named Beckett (my son). I’m the Director of Special Projects and Legal Affairs at Opening Ceremony; I oversee all collaborations, produce our fashion shows, and serve as in-house counsel.

What was your first dim sum memory?
I’ve been eating dim sum since I was old enough to eat solid foods! It has been always a family affair and a reason for all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents (although they’ve since passed) to spend time together.

What’s your all-time favorite dim sum dish?
This is hard. It used to be pan-fried turnip cake because I’ve loved that dish for the longest time, but I think since venturing to Hong Kong as an adult, I really have come to love this pastry called pineapple pork buns, where the topping is deliciously sweet and crusty (looks like the skin of a pineapple, but there’s no pineapple in it) and the bun is filled with succulent roast pork.

What was your favorite dim sum dish at Tim Ho Wan?
This seems so plain, but the sautéed lettuce was particularly delicious!

What’s your go-to restaurant in NYC?
Mission Chinese Food. It’s just consistently good and a favorite among my friends.

What’s your next food destination?
I’m heading to Shanghai in about 2 days and I’m super excited to eat there. I’ve heard so many amazing things about the local cuisine. If anyone has recommendations, please send my way!

What’s your spirit food?
Kraft’s Mac and Cheese. A staple throughout my life. No matter how bougie I’d ever become, I can’t ever forget my roots.😆

Tim Ho Wan
85 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-2800

timhowanusa.com

Bep Ga

There’s plenty of Vietnamese restaurants nestled in Manhattan’s Chinatown but how many of them specialize in just chicken? Apparently Bep Ga does because their four-dish menu consists of all chicken dishes: Hoi An (Chicken Rice), Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup), Pho Ga Kho (Pho Chicken Noodle Salad), and Goi Ga (Chicken Salad). It’s a small menu that leave no room for indecision—just order everything!

We headed over to Bep Ga on a scorching hot evening. Upon entering, we were greeted with a jungle of plants flourishing on a teal windowsill, along with baby pink walls and ceilings. We ordered the Pho Ga, Hoi An, Goi Ga, and the sparkling lemonade, seated ourselves at the table by the window with the fan (one out of two tables, yes, seating is very limited!). The Pho Ga made us instantly forget that it wasn’t beef based. The broth was deep in flavor and had a rich sweetness that melded perfectly with the cuts of light chicken breast, crunchy bean sprouts, and aromatic herbs. The Hoi An, a beautiful plate of tumeric-tinted chicken rice, slices of chicken breast, crunchy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes were doused in ginger chicken broth and topped with herbs and garlic chips. And one of our all-time favorite dishes from the night, the Pho Ga Kho. This fresh Vietnamese chicken salad consisted of chicken breast, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, and herbs tossed in a tangy dressing of ginger, lime, and fish sauce. Astoundingly crunchy and refreshing in the hot summer heat. And if you think that eating a bowl of piping hot pho is not a summer thing, then you should know that consuming spicy or hot dishes can actually cool you down!

Bep Ga
70 Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

Bar Moga

This week, we bring to you Bar Moga, an establishment channeling 1920s Japan and a place that also strives to benefit nonprofit organizations. Short for “Modern Girl” in Japanese, a term from the 1920s describing Japanese women who followed a Western lifestyle, Bar Moga is a cocktail bar and restaurant bordering the West Village. The owners have made it a point to celebrate women, and according to the New Yorker, “[t]he menu features female-produced wines from around the world and cocktails devised by Becky Mcfalls-Schwartz and Natasha Torres, veterans of the New York mixology scene.” Also good to note, a portion of the sales from the bar’s signature cocktail (the Moga) go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the A.C.L.U.

Another fascinating feature on the menu is their spread of appetizers and main course dishes. Going along with the theme of Westernized Japan, Bar Moga serves Japanese yoshokuor “Western food,” which consists of dishes like omurice, ebi fry, doria, hamburger steak, and more. Many of you might be familiar with these classic dishes, but do you know how they came about?

Yoshoku was born during Japan’s Meiji Restoration period, right after the country was forced to open it’s doors to the world by the Black Ships in 1854. During that time, the newly opened country sent their people over to Europe and America to learn about the Western industry, weapons, and law. Among the ideology and goods brought back was Western food. According to an articleby the New York Times that explains yoshoku in great detail, “Shocked to discover how much shorter they were than Westerners, Japanese determined that they would catch up…physically, by eating their food.” These dishes that were imported into Japan were recreated to fit the local taste buds, and gradually made their way into the country’s cuisine, establishing themselves as distinctly Japanese dishes.

You might have seen those YouTube videos of an omurice being sliced open, unfolding itself into a perfectly cooked yellow blanket covering seasoned rice, then doused in a rich demi glace sauce. Well, Bar Moga has exactly that! It’s a delicious recreation of the omurice and we, especially Naomi because it’s her favorite, couldn’t be more excited that we get to taste a piece of home right here in NYC. We also highly recommend the ebi fry!

Bar Moga
128 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012
(929) 399-5853
www.barmoga.com