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

Food Forever and Biodiversity

In September, we were invited to Food Forever’s event, hosted by Google, to experience and learn about their biodiversity campaign. According to their website, Food Forever is an initiative that rallies prominent individuals and organizations to raise awareness on the importance of biodiversity. This group includes leaders from governments, businesses, civil society and academia, and together, seek to communicate the urgency of conserving crop and livestock diversity, so by 2020, the idea of ending world hunger is not just a goal, but actual reality.

At the Food Forever event, chefs were challenged to create futuristic dishes featuring unusual plants. This selection, including ingredients like moringa and Bambara groundnut, are currently on the margins of the US culinary mainstream, meaning we are beginning to or will most likely be seeing them in our grocery stores soon! We wanted to share with you below some of our favorite dishes from the event, as well as new and delicious edible species we encountered.

  1. Chapulines Chochoyotes with Ulluco and Garlic Broth, Salsa Macha and Tomatillo by Chef Ray Garcia
    This flavorful soup was both bold and sophisticated. The surprise ingredient was chapulines, a species of grasshoppers mostly eaten in areas of Mexico. Many guests, including ourselves, were hesitant to try this dish, but the chapulines were successfully transformed into the form of little crispy chochoyotes (dumplings), immersed in a beautiful garlic and tomatillo broth.
  2. Jackfruit Frankie with Amaranth by Chef Floyd Cardoz
    This dish was a mini wrap stuffed with jackfruit, cabbage, cilantro, onion, and fragrant spices like ginger, cumin, clove, cinnamon, dried chili, paprika and tumeric. We loved the amaranth sauce it came with, which incorporated apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar. This ancient grain reminded us a lot of quinoa and gave the sauce thickness, as well as texture
  3. Mah-ze-dahr by Chef Umber Ahmad
    This cupcake has to be our favorite! Made from the wonderful and rich date this decadent treat featured hints of apple cider vinegar and cardamom, with a base of all purpose flour and kernza flour. A light whipped cream made from just heavy cream and granulated sugar was the perfect complement.

To learn more about Food Forever and the importance of biodiversity visit www.food4ever.org and follow them on instagram at foodforever2020 to keep up to date on their upcoming efforts.

Bar Pa Tea

Happy first week of spring and here’s a favorite from We8that to kick off the warm weather to come!

We found a place in Nolita that specializes in oolong tea flavored treats that we think we’ll be frequenting regularly during the upcoming months. Bar Pa Tea is a bubble tea place that strives to create more healthful alternatives to the beverage without compromising its original taste. This bubble tea shop offers a variety of tea flavors, but their true signatures include the oolong bubble tea and oolong soft serve. Like many tea places, you can customize the sugar levels. Just note that “not too sweet” is more like zero sweetness, so we recommend going up a notch. Although the bubble tea was very good, we had to give our biggest approval to the oolong soft serve. Sweetness of the base doesn’t overpower this cold treat. The flavor is elegantly floral, a little bit toasty with a hint of bitterness.

Growing up, oolong tea was a staple at our house, we always had a big bottle or two stocked in our fridge. For those unfamiliar with oolong, it’s a traditional Chinese tea with a wide range of flavors depending on the process of production: floral, grassy, sweet or toasty. And for those interested in the nutritional and health benefits, oolong is rich in antioxidants and also contains a variety of essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, copper, vitamin A, B, C, E, and K. Which all translates to benefits like decreasing inflammation in the body, lowers the risk of heart disease, and can aid metabolism.

Make sure to give some love to Bar Pa Tea over the spring and summer and stay tuned for more warm-weather eats!

Bar Pa Tea
85 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10012
https://www.barpatea.com/

Ellary’s Greens

Update: Sadly Ellery’s Greens on Carmine has closed, but their second location on Randall’s Island is open, serving healthy to-go options – 1 Randall’s Island, New York, NY 10035

We’re back and we’re starting off the new year right with a healthy pick. There’s nothing wrong with a burger here and there, but it’s always nice to reset and recharge with food that’s good for your body. With more and more options popping up on the streets of New York these days, healthy’s reputation is changing from tasteless and boring to indulgent and wholesome. Case in point, Ellary’s Greens in New York’s Greenwich Village. Right on Carmine Street between Bleecker and Bedford, this organic restaurant offers a variety of healthy dishes and drinks that make use of locally sourced produce.

Founded by Leith Hill, Ellary’s Greens was named in memory of Hill’s grandmother and great-grandmother, and to keep their love of connection through food alive. Dishes on the menu offer nourishment you can trust and quality you can depend on. On our particular visit, we tried a few plates that would be perfect for the freezing temperatures that are hitting the East Coast right now. We ordered one of the restaurant’s favorite, Green Thai Tofu Curry (pictured, $16), Pan-Seared Salmon ($21), and Kale Mac & Cheese (pictured, $11). If you want something light but well-rounded, the salmon is a great choice. Along with the fish, the dish comes with sautéed swiss chard, cremini mushrooms, pine nuts, and pine vinaigrette. All in all, a delicious combination. But if you want something a bit more hearty and indulgent, the curry and mac & cheese are the way to go. We were pleasantly surprised by the deep green curry flavor and refreshing kick of ginger that accompanied every bite. The curry includes seasonal vegetables, ginger, and coconut milk, served with brown rice on the side. The mac and cheese, was light and the kale added a refreshing touch to the dish.

Make sure to also check out their fresh juices, smoothies, and kombucha for an extra immune booster this winter season.

Ellary’s Greens
1 Randall’s Island, New York, NY 10035
www.ellarysgreens.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