January 17, 2005

Minca Ramen Factory

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 6:46 pm

Ate at this East Village ramen shop on Saturday night. I had the Charshu Ramen, a basic bowl with extra pork. There was no need for extra anything, as the soup was thick and rich and incredibly filling. I only got about halfway through my bowl before I had to stop, and I suffered from uncomfortable fullness and indigestion for the rest of the evening. So, despite the satisfying tastiness of the meal, I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Texas-Style Chili

Filed under: Food — Chris @ 6:00 pm

Made Texas-style chili this weekend for the first time. For those who aren’t chili connoisseurs, Texans prefer their chili with chunks of beef instead of ground meat and without beans or tomatoes. The end result is a very intense, rich stew of beef–not at all sweet, with a earthy, smokey flavor that comes from the chili powder and cumin. The spiciness of this recipe depends on the type of chili powder you use. I ended up with a very mild chili, because the only “pure” ancho chili powder I could find happened to be mild, and I wanted to follow the recipe closely on this first try. If I make this recipe again, I will be sure to include a mix of spicier chilis.

We accompanied this with buttermilk biscuits from the Gourmet Cookbook (a Christmas gift). This was my first attempt to make traditional biscuits and I was kind of worried, as they have a reputation for being tricky. I was surprised out how well they turned out (though I learned that you can’t cut corners by mushing stray bits of dough into a biscuit-sized lump—if the dough isn’t properly rolled out and kneaded, the separate bits won’t convincingly “fuse” in baking). The only mistake I think I made is using salted butter and not compensating by cutting down or eliminating the extra 1/2 tsp. of salt called for. The biscuits were overly salty as a result, but not inedibly so.

My overall impression is that this meal was “a bit much”. The chili had a 1/4 lb. of bacon (I might have used a bit more) and the biscuits contained a whole stick of butter (about a Tbsp. per biscuit); at the end of the meal, I once again felt overly full and maybe a little nauseous (the story of the weekend).

The bottom line: I appreciate the purity of the Texan approach, but there ain’t nothing wrong with some tomatoes and beans. And don’t get crazy about it, but pay attention to how much fat you’re putting into your meals. Sometimes things can get out of control…

January 11, 2005

Two Boots Brooklyn

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 7:10 pm

We ate at Two Boots Brooklyn the other night. A fun place, good pizza. Hilleary was put off by their sopressata, which she thought didn’t have enough flavor outside of pure pig fat (guess we won’t be trying the Lardo at Otto*). I thought it was fine. They don’t offer the specialty pies (e.g., the Larry Tate, Mr. Pink, or Newman) that are featured at their Manhattan locations (is this restaurant even related to the Manhattan locations?), but they offer most of the same ingredients, so you can build your own (except the Mr. Pink—no marinated chicken). I have tried their cajun specialties in the past and wasn’t too impressed.

* Just for the record (and some snob points), that’s “oh-toh” as in “eight” in Italian**, not “ah-toh” as in a heavy-set German man.

** The restaurant is on 8th St (and is Italian), although its address is inexplicably 1 Fifth Ave.

UPDATE: For the record, Hilleary was not merely “put off” by the sopressata, but was disgusted by it. I apologize for the error.

January 9, 2005

Sunset Park Vietnamese

Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 8:27 pm

We’ve only just discovered the pleasures of Sunset Park. We’ve been following the consensus on Chowhound, so none of this will come as news to the culinarily tuned-in…

We’ve become obsessed with the Banh Mi at Ba Xuyen (4222 8th Ave near 43rd St). These are Vietnamese sandwiches: a combination of Asian meats, carrots and other fresh crunchy vegetables (think summer roll here), fresh serrano peppers, cilantro, and a sweet, garlicy aioli, served on a baguette (made with rice flour, I think, so it’s lighter and crispier than a French baguette). You will not believe how tasty these things are or how cheap ($3-4). The meats available are kind of mysterious: pork roll (Asian, not Italian), bbq pork, pate, meat balls (again, not Italian; think Thai fish balls with pork), and shredded pork. My only complaint is that I haven’t found a meat I’m entirely happy with. (Luckily, the pleasures of the sandwich are centered on the vegetables.) A flight of fancy: the ultimate Americanized Banh Mi might be made with barbecue pulled pork (aka smoked pork butt). Maybe somebody out there is doing this already? [UPDATE: I have now tried nearly everything on the menu and the grilled pork is by far the best meat on offer. It is tender and succulent and not-at-all frightening to this American’s palate, as some of the Asian cold cuts can be. I’m still fantasizing about some nice smoked butt, but grilled pork will do in the interim.]

Today, we had lunch at Gia Lam (4810 8th Ave near 48th St). Hilleary had the Pho with “eye of round” and spring rolls. I was hedging my bets and order a combination plate with a pork chop, shredded pork, and an egg cake. The pork chop was delicious. It was a thin slice of pork with a sweet and salty glaze similar to the flavor of a Chinese spare rib. It was served atop a pile of white rice and garnished with scallions. The egg cake was mushroomy and oniony, somewhere between a quiche and a meatloaf. Next time, I will get the pork chop by itself (only $3, as I recall).


Filed under: Food, Not Tech — Chris @ 8:04 pm

Hello. My name is Christopher Conway. I am a graduate student in Computer Science at Columbia University and I live in the Park Slope/Gowanus area of Brooklyn. I will use this blog to post occassional reviews of restaurants and other things that might be of interest to some small part of the public.

I’m starting this blog for the most part to test Brad DeLong‘s method of letting Google keep track of your life. Recently, I was at a restaurant (Coco Roco on 5th Ave around 6th St in Park Slope) that I had been to a handful of times over the last few years and I realized I had forgotten what I had tried there and how it was. So from now on (at least some of the time), I am going to blog my meals and use this blog archive in place of brain cells. It is unclear whether anyone in the world but me will find this interesting.

So, for Coco Roco:

  1. I am told that I have enjoyed the chicken in the past. It is incredibly cheap ($5 for a half a bird; most entrees are two or three times that).
  2. The ceviche is uniformly excellent.
  3. The sangria is quite tasty. Not too sweet and a little light on the fruit.
  4. The “Pescados con Tacu Tacu” (or something like that) — red snapper with yucca — was pretty terrible. The fish was dry and chewy. The yucca was chalky. A side of beans and rice was the only edible thing on the plate.
  5. Inka cola tastes like bubble gum. Yuck.
  6. I must try the chocolate empanada someday. It sounds wonderful.

Speaking of empanadas, look for lady with a cart on 5th Ave around 14th or 15th St on weekends. She sells delicious fresh empanadas with chicken, beef or cheese (queso blanco) for $1. It would be a deal at twice the price.

Blog at