Tsurutontan

We wanted to show our love for noodles with a special feature on a restaurant that does the udon variety very well. What exactly is udon? Udon noodles are thick wheat flour noodles that originated in China and were introduced to the Japanese over 1200 years ago.

With the short history lesson aside, let’s introduce you to TsuruTonTan. Originally from Kagawa prefecture in Japan, TsuruTonTan opened its doors in 1979 to the city of Shikoku, offering authentic, handmade udon noodles. The restaurant is known for its extensive research on different types of udon throughout Japan and its particular focus on finding the best bowls for its presentation.

The name TsuruTonTan represents the following: “tsuru” is the sound of slurping noodles, “ton” is the sound of kneading and shaping udon, and “tan” is the sound of cutting the udon. The menu represents Japanese classics, as well as more innovative dishes. Each bowl of noodles comes in a beautifully super-sized bowl, black for the warm noodles and mint green glazed for the cold noodles. Located where the original Union Square Cafe used to be, TsuruTonTan offers an upscale atmosphere with its dimmed lights, high ceilings, and wooden interiors. We headed over to the restaurant with friends on a Monday night (making reservations is always a nice way to avoid wait time). For appetizers, we ordered Edamame ($6), Crispy Corn Kakiage ($8), and Soy Garlic Fried Tatsuta Chicken ($12). We loved the crispy corn that were fried into little corn chips. For main dishes I ordered the Mentaiko Caviar Udon ($17) and Naomi ordered the Tsurutontan Deluxe ($24). Although slightly on the salty side, the cold mentaiko caviar noodles were perfectly chewy with a hint of spiciness. The deluxe bowl was a warm version with a variety of tempura vegetables and shrimp, as well as thin beef slices, chicken and an egg dropped. The noodles were again, super chewy, and the broth, a heart-warming bonito base.

Some honorable mentions include the Tsuruton Créme Deluxe ($24) for those looking for a rich meal and the US Wagyu Shabu Udon ($21) for all truffle and beef lovers. All in all, TsuruTonTan is a great way to enjoy authentic Japanese udon noodles, whether it’s your first time or if you’re a long time lover.

Tsurutontan
21 E 16th St, New York, NY 10003
www.tsurutontan.com

365日

365日 (365 Days) is a high-end bakery located on the west side of Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan. Spearheaded by chef Sugitaki Shigetada, 365日 focuses on creating small-sized pastries, allowing the customer to enjoy not just one but a few – without getting full on one entree.

Featuring a beautiful wood-themed interior, this stylish bakery also carries a series of condiments like jam, nut butters, and syrups you can enjoy with their bread. We headed over just before the lunch crowd hit and selected 3 items. The first was a curry-stuffed bread which featured just the right ratio of paste and lightly fried dough, following a crostini topped with crispy kale covered in melted cheese. The star of the show (pictured) was a citrus custard filled bread, encrusted with crunchy white chocolate balls. If you’re a foodie looking to enjoy a variety of high-quality, unique Japanese-style pastries while still leaving room for more delicious eats around Tokyo, head over to 365日.

365日
1-6-12 Tomigaya, Shibuya 151-0063, Tokyo Japan
365日 facebook page

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