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

Los Tacos No. 1

The origin of the taco is mostly unbeknownst to mankind, but one theory persists. According to the Smithsonian, the taco is believed to have originated from the 18th century silver mines of Mexico. “[T]he word “taco” referred to the little charges [the miners] would use to excavate the ore. These were pieces of paper that they would wrap around gunpowder and insert into the holes they carved in the rock face.” Since then, the taco has made its way to the US—first through the migrants who came to work on the railroads and in the mines—and soon the ingredients were adapted to what was available locally such as lettuce and minced meat. Today, tacos are everywhere. From Taco Bell to Chipotle and fancified versions at high-end restaurants, the taco continues to win over the hearts of any who chance upon it. I mean, how many people do you know who absolutely hate tacos?

To celebrate our love for this wrapped delicacy, we headed over to Los Tacos No. 1 located in Chelsea Market. According to their website, Los Tacos No. 1 was founded by three close friends from Tijuana, Mexico, and Brawley, California whose goal was to bring the authentic taco to the East Coast. Right next to the spice shop in the middle of Chelsea Market, this small taco place is usually packed. When we arrived one evening, there was already a line forming with people fresh out of work looking for a quick bite before heading out. Luckily, the line moved fairly quickly and we soon found ourselves ordering the carne asada and chicken tacos, along with the especial quesadilla and a sweet hibiscus drink called Jamaica. Ordering is easy, but to actually get your food, you need to be quick and push your way through the throng of customers, either waiting for their food or eating at the counter, to hand your ticket to the cooks. Once our dishes arrived we quickly piled on some pico de gallo, spicy sauce and grabbed a few lime wedges and headed over to an empty corner. There are two options for the tortillas, flour and corn. We somehow ended up with corn (make sure to specify!), which and had a nice yellow hue with a slightly chunky texture. Our favorite was the carne asada taco which was filled with perfectly seasoned meat, green sauce, and fresh pico de gallo. All this was devoured in minutes. Yes, it was that good, but also the tacos were small, making us wish we had ordered a bit more. Next time!

Los Tacos No. 1
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave
New York, NY
www.lostacos1.com

Chikarashi

Yes, they’ve been in existence in the West Coast for some time now, but poké bowls are having a serious moment in New York right now. It’s finally summer and all people want to eat in this heat are something refreshing, poké bowls are the perfect dish for cravings like this.

Opened just in the past month, Chikarashi located on Canal Street between Centre and Baxter Street is one of the newer additions to the growing Hawaiian-inspired restaurants across town. Chef Michael Jong Lim has refined his culinary skills at multiple Michelin-starred kitchens of Masa, Aldea, and Aureole. Their carefully curated menu includes three kinds of fish, salmon, tuna (both regular and toro), and fluke, which are freshly delivered whole everyday. After a thorough explanation of the menu, Naomi decided to get the Goma Shoyu Tuna, a delicious mix of bluefin tuna, goma shoyu (sesame seed soy sauce), chili oil, nori (seaweed), hijiki (sea vegetable), avocado, and garlic chips. I went with the Ponzu Salmon, which included buttery Scottish salmon, wasabi ponzu, strips of shiso, avocado, tobiko (flying fish roe), and shichimi (Japanese seven spice mix). Each bowl speaks to the fusion concept of Hawaiian style poké, Japanese chirashi, along with Korean and Chinese flavors. The sesame seeds and chili oil in the Goma Shoyu Tuna give that Korean and Chinese flair, while the nori and hijiki layer up on the Japanese component of the dish. On the other hand, the Ponzu Salmon, our favorite out of the two, came with refreshing citrus flavors from the ponzu, and the tobiko added a unique crunchy texture. If you are feeling a bit more on the decadent side, you can also switch out your standard tuna with some toro (fatty tuna) for an extra dollar. Finally, after our meal, we got two of their sherbert-like soft serve of pineapple and lemon, finishing our meal with the perfect treat for a hot summer day.

Chikarashi also offers takeout, making it a perfect to-go spot if you work in the SoHo/Chinatown area. We have a feeling we’ll be dropping by for lunch often!

Chikarashi
227 Canal St, New York, NY 10013
(646) 649-5965
chikarashi.com

Pintrill x Shake Shack

You may or may not have heard by now, but Pintrill has teamed up with Shake Shack to bring some super cute pins to their already extensive roster. To commemorate this exciting collaboration, a release party was held at on May 24th at the Shake Shack on 1 Old Fulton Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn. There was of course the burger joint’s amazing menu items, (Naomi got the Shack Burger and I got the Shack Stack) but there was also a special dessert that we all were looking forward to. In honor of Pintrill, Shake Shack created a custom Concrete consisting of their chocolate custard ice cream, gooey caramel, and bits of honeycomb all swirled together to form a deliciously sweet and crunchy treat. If you didn’t know, Pintrill’s colors are black and gold, hence the chocolate ice cream with the golden honeycomb. Close enough!

Check out Pintrill’s Shake Shack pins here and make sure to stop by any of the Shake Shack location for some amazing burgers.

Shake Shack Dumbo
1 Old Fulton St
(347) 435-2676
Click here for more locations

Cardamom Coffee

Hampton Chutney Co.

Native to India, the Middle East, and Scandinavia, cardamom is one of the most expensive spices to date after saffron and vanilla (the harvesting process requires that each pod be hand picked, hence the high price).  It’s aromatic, strong in taste and can be used in savory dishes, but most commonly used forms include flavorings in pastries, teas, and coffee. For all those pumpkin spice or cinnamon lovers, this one’s for you.

We’d like to divulge a little gem of a drink that’s served at Hampton Chutney. Widely known for their renditions of dosas, a South Indian specialty of fermented crepes made from rice batter and black lentils, the Indian restaurant happens to also offer a delicious cardamom coffee. Served both warm and iced, this sweet aromatic beverage is the perfect little treat or afternoon pick-me-up. Who said that spiced coffee is only a fall thing? Enjoy a cup at one of their three locations in Soho, the Upper West Side, or the Hamptons this summer.

Hampton Chutney Co.
143 Grand St, New York, NY 10013