HOT DOUG'S | 3324 N California Ave Chicago, IL 60618
Way overdue - I visited Hot Doug's in a couple months ago and realized that I never posted the pics! This uber famous joint always has a line out the door. We stuffed ourselves silly with duck fat fries and I extravagant dogs.
Whaaaat - the Smoked and Spicy Alligator Sausage with Cajun Shrimp Remoulade and Goat Cheese ($8). Outrageous!
OMG - the Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleu de Sel!!! After one bite I thought to myself "this is the best thing I have ever eaten." I can't believe that I'm calling a hot dog decadent but it was rich and impossible to finish. Very memorable.
Good ol' Chicago style hot dog - can we say fresh veggies galore?
I was so excited to finally visit Cacao Prieto in Red Hook Brooklyn! They distill and age a variety of liqueurs and rums made from organic Dominican sugar cane and cacao beans from their own orchards in the Dominican Republic. Sounds pretty amazing, huh? To top off the list, they also make their own chocolates, bonbons and fruit, nut and cacao spreads, jams and caramels.
Cacao Prieto also own and distill Widow Jane Whiskey which is made with pure water from the Widow Jane Mine in NY. We tried a sample at their store- I was so tempted to buy a bottle but I settled for a bar of their 72% dark chocolate instead. It was decadent and full-bodied.
If you can't make it Brooklyn, they have an online store here. Beautiful packaging BTW!
You just need a glimpse of Chomp Chow Chew to you know that izakayas and yakitori is my favorite type of meal. This tiny Japanese restaurant is without a doubt, spectacular. Tori Shin (meaning true chicken in Japanese) specializes in yakitori and offers 40 different unique chicken skewers. The skewers are are cooked over charcoal but not any old charcoal- they use special Kishu "Bichotan" which burns on a lower temperature and makes the meat crispy on the outside and juicy inside. Check out their menu here to get a greater sense of their food (with lots of pics.)
We were so tempted to order the chef's omakase because it included the "special skewers" (kidney, neck meat etc.) but I didn't think that I could eat 10 skewers! Next time I'll go super hungry ;)
The restaurant is very small, make reservations before you go!
I'm not a huge fan of liver, in general, but this skewer (right) melted in my mouth and I couldn't believe that I liked it so much. We also tried the crispy skin, tender loin with wasabi, thigh meat with yuan sauce, meatball, tail, gizzard, heart, tofu and shishitoh pepper. All were amazing...!
Although it looks beautiful, the Kuroge Wagyu with fresh wasabi was too tough
The meal wouldn't be complete without a pitcher (or two) of sapporo and the Special Oyako Don (chicken and egg over rice $15.) BTW the egg on the don was mouthwatering...literally just thinking about it made me salivate. This was definitely too much food for two people but we were celebrating and stuffed ourselves silly. I cannot wait to go back!!!
DUBPies | 211 Prospect Park West (corner of 16th St) Brooklyn, NY 11215
Yum! This handmade, Australian/New Zealand-style meat pie shop knows what they are doing. We tried the New York Shepherds Pie, topped with mashed potatoes. It hit the spot and warmed us up on a cold winter day. Plus, being 5" in diameter, it was the perfect size snack for the three people.
On a recent trip to Mitsuwa I found this in the frozen section and thought I would give it a try! I have no idea what it is called but it had an eggy consistency with minced pieces of squash inside. There wasn't an english description about how to cook it so I cooked them in udon soup. Delicious!
Its hard to find a good bialy, even in New York, but I have found the gem of them all at Kossar's. They have been handcrafting bialys, bagels and more for over 65 years (you can view photos of their process, here.) Their bialys are perfect, thin and topped with minced onions-yum! I liked that they make their goods in the store too, this shot of their interior is what you encounter right when you walk in!
BUNCH | 11 W 32nd St (between Broadway & 5th Ave) New York, NY 10001
You can't tell from this photo, but these Korean style buns are pretty big..and only $2.50 each! This take-out joint in K-Town makes it convieneant to grab-and-go. Our first mistake was that we only ordered one, devoured it and immediately went back for more. We tried the kimchi bacon (bottom and my favorite), Curry (middle) and pork (top). What I like about them most is that some of them are stuffed them with vermicelli noodles which may seem like a filler but I liked the texture. Plus the colors of the buns are pretty too! Oh, did I mention they were tasty?
Several friends have raved about the pig feet dishes at Hakata Tonton, so of course we had to check it out! The food here is described as Kyushu Japanese soul food (Kyushu is the third largest island of Japan.) Besides pork, Hakata Tonton's menu has a lot of collagen which is good for your skin too!
You must reserve your table online and still be prepared to wait (the restaurant is tiny.)
Unbelievable, the Monfish's Liver with yuzu miso sauce was delicious. It was hard to share with three people because it was tiny and we all wanted it for ourselves! Such a pretty dish.
Personally, this was my least favorite dish but my two friends enjoyed it. The Japanese Veal Liver Sashimi topped with scallions and sesame, spicy soy sauce ($9) was beyond fresh but the fragrant liver was overpotent for me.
Hands down, the Foie Gras Inari Sushi ($10) was our favorite dish of the night. Decadent and superbly rich, the foie gras melted in our mouths.
I can't find this item on their menu now but the pan-fried whole shrimp were tasty but the least memorable.
Everyone around us was ordering hot pot so we picked the Hakata Tonton Hot Pot a specialty of hakata, japan with collagen broth, tofu, dumplings, vegetables, berkshire pork belly & tonsoku (pigs feet), rice bibimbop or ramen noodle cooked with hot pot soup (min. 2 orders at $13.) It was fun to watch the vegetables cook down-hot pot is always a fun group meal. The broth was rich and we especially loved the pork. Towards the end, you can request soba to accompany the remaining broth but we were too excited and ate it all!
I loved this spicy yuzu sauce and will have to keep an eye out for it in grocery stores!