Happy Pudding Mahakara

Depending on where you’re from, pudding can be a savory dish or a sweet dish, a velvety smooth custard or a rice-based chunky concoction. Pudding, specifically the custard variety, happens to be a popular dessert in Japan. On one of our first stops in the quiet and very stylish neighborhood of Nakameguro, we dropped by Happy Pudding, a small shop on a peaceful street corner that specializes in making pudding in jars. Every jar makes use of fresh eggs from the southern prefecture of Hyogo to produce, in our opinion, one of the most delicious puddings we’ve ever tasted. Every morning small jars are filled with Happy Pudding’s delicious flavors that range from classic custard to seasonal delights like chestnut and pumpkin. On this particular visit, we chose the classic “Happy” and the limited edition “Pumpkin”. We sat down on the benches outside to enjoy the crisp fall air and the beautiful view of Nakameguro’s signature tree-lined river, along with our jars of perfectly velvety pudding. Not too sweet and certainly not bland, Happy Pudding makes for a nice quick bite of dessert or a gift to pick up for family and friends.

Happy Pudding Mahakara
Tōkyō-to, Meguro-ku, Aobadai, 1 Chome−17−5, Maison Aoba
http://www.happypudding.com (in Japanese)

Madhufalla & Green Hill Tea

Holiday season, which means indulging in bountiful meals of turkey, stuffing, pies, and alcoholic beverages, also means flu season. While we enjoy the company of friends and family and also delicious food, we want to stay healthy for the occasion. Enter: juicing and smoothies. This phenomenon, or shall we say, lifestyle, has been around since the 1970s, but has really started to flourish and establish its roots in mainstream society just in the past couple of years. Documentaries like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead enlighten viewers to the healing properties of fruits and vegetables, and how it can really transform the health and well being of an individual for the better. It’s not just during spring and summer that we should enjoy these beverages, if anything, winter time is probably when we need it the most! So this time around, we wanted to introduce you to one of our local favorites, Madhufalla.

Located right in New York City’s downtown Nolita, Madhufalla is a juice, smoothie, and health food store owned by Jerry Karma. It’s not a Juice Generation or Juice Press, but that’s part of Madhufalla’s charm. When you enter, you’re confronted with a wall of options, from classics like a green smoothie consisting of kale, pineapple and banana to “Super Special” editions like Rasta Punch and Magic Smoothie packed with superfood ingredients, this one’s a place you won’t get tired of. Naomi ordered the Raw Super and I got the Miracle Greens. The Raw Super is made from banana, blueberry, acai, maca, and hemp, very berry and very nutty. (Did you know maca is a South American root that is said to help enhance your energy, stamina, and memory?) Meanwhile, my Miracle Greens included spirulina (high in minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties), dandelion greens (super detoxifying and great for acne prone skin!), celery, and banana.This rich green smoothie is on the bitter side but if you like something that tastes “healthy,” which some people including myself do, then you will love this.

We can’t wait to go back and try everything! You should too 😉

Madhufalla & Green Hill Tea
183 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013

Bar B

Japanese-Italian food, also known as Itameshi (Italian food), is a particular sub-cuisine within Japan, which features unusual twists on classic Italian staples like pasta, pizza, and risotto. Its origins date as far back as the 1920s, when spaghetti first appeared in Japanese restaurants, along with ‘red sauce’ popularized in the 1940s by Italian-American GIs after the war. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Italian cuisine really took off in Japan as a more”friendly, cheap, and cheerful” option compared to French food.

There aren’t as many Japanese-Italian food joints in New York compared to the booming ramen scene, but among the few in the city, Basta Pasta rings a superior note. In 1985, restaurateur Toshi Suzuki opened the original Basta Pasta in Tokyo, and five years later, in New York, located in the Chelsea neighborhood. His New York success has allowed him to undertake creative new ventures like Bar B, an Italian standing wine bar, inspired by small plate bars in Spain and Italy.

Open the menu and you’ll find Italian classics with Basta Pasta’s signature twist, a selection of carefully curated Italian wine (displayed neatly along the walls), and authentic Italian espresso. Naomi and I headed over on a Thursday night for some wine, delicious eats, and good conversations with friends. We started out with a cheese plate, a beautiful range of both hard and soft cheeses paired perfectly with small baguette slices. Our main dishes included Bar B’s seasonal creamy mushroom risotto, as well as their signature Fusilli, a cheesy concoction of finely diced prosciutto and porcini mushrooms. For the more carnivorous variety, we hear the house marinated skirt steak with potato salad is a standout!

If you don’t mind standing, Bar B is the perfect place to grab a bite or share a few glasses of wine with a friend or two. You’re sure to enjoy the soft lighting and cozy European atmosphere.

Bar B
84 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011
www.barbnyc.com

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