Sakagura is a restaurant you take people to when you want to impress them with your restaurant-finding skills. The Japanese eatery is located in the basement of a random office building in the East 40s, which you have to get to by descending a flight of exceptionally narrow stairs. But the food and ambiance are totally worth it. Your order: the Jewel Oke Bento. For $20 at lunchtime, you get “assorted appetizers, fried tidbits, five kinds of sashimi, grilled tidbits, mini rice balls and miso soup.” Not a bad deal at all, and what you’ll get is quite possibly the most colorful lunch plate around. A version sampled recently included shredded vegetable tempura, shiso-plum rice balls, grilled eel and duck, omelets, sashimi (tuna, salmon, amberjack, squid with shiso, and scallop), yam with a mirin-like sauce, and soup. When you don’t know what to eat, it offers you a little bit of everything.
Want to minimize the minutes you spend in the kitchen slicing and dicing and spend them on more productive activities, like, enjoying that glass of wine you just poured for yourself? Check out the story I wrote for The Daily Meal
called How to Be a Faster Home Cook
. Some are equipment focused, but others are good tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. Or if that doesn’t work, there’s always the telephone to call in a delivery order.
$1 doesn’t buy you a lot in this town, save for some discount dish detergent at the dollar store or a slice of truly crappy pizza (and less slightly crappy pizza at Percy’s Pizza). But in Flushing you can find one heck of a gastronomic delight for only $1: the Peking duck bun at the corner of 40th Road and Main Street. A soft and squishy bun cradles a nub of duck breast, a sliver of crispy skin, and a haystack of scallions. Eat it standing up in front of the stall, or munch on it as you amble across the street towards the New World Mall — just don’t be surprised if you double-back and get another one. And at $1, you sure can afford to.
While putzing around in the kitchen the other day, I realized that I didn’t have a citrus juicer or reamer. Normally this doesn’t pose much of an issue, but I was experimenting with a blood orange cocktail and needed a good amount of juice: Squeezing with my hands just wasn’t going to work. So I went through my drawers and discovered an unexpected genius juicer: a handheld ricer. Specifically, my inexpensive IKEA Idealisk potato press. Simply slice the oranges (or lemons, limes, etc.) in half, place them cut-side down in the press, and squeeze down. Voilà, easy juicing.
And should you want to make that blood orange cocktail (which you most certainly do):
Blood Orange Delight
Serves 2 (or 1 if you’re having a hard day)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
3 ounces Solerno blood orange liqueur
1 ounce Cointreau
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into a rocks glass with a single large ice cube.
So I’m late to the game on this one, but if you haven’t yet seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi, go see it now. It’s a fascinating look at Sukiyabashi Jiro, the famed sushi restaurant in Tokyo, and its 85-year-old chef, Jiro Ono. But more than an exploration into sushi making, it’s a story of family and of craftsmanship. Unlike so many restaurants today, money or even culinary innovation isn’t what drives Jiro to succeed, but rather the perfection of the art. Go see the film, and make sure you have a reservation at a sushi restaurant to follow — all the sushi porn is going to make you crave some raw fish.