Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

A New York City 3 Michelin stars restaurants list would have been perfect for my blog should i have had things my way. That's if i had all that tummy space, time and money to experience it all. Last trip was meant for Daniel, Le Bernadin and Jean Georges (which we cancelled because we were shopping boo). Out of the 2, i was more impressed with Le Bernadin for their stellar execution of everything fish. They even made this un-fish fan (fish hater seems too harsh) change her mind about having fish as a proper meal (though i still maintain that fish is not meat).
I'm not a food snob in the sense that i don't blindly believe/follow the stars; the food should always precede the reputation. At Le Bernadin, Chef Eric Ripert recognizes and respects that. The use of subtle textures and flavors and sourcing of the freshest ingredients all contribute to the award winning meals that are served at this NYC seafood establishment.
We had the 3 course lunch which cost a mere US$72. This is why i love fine dining overseas at  because it's so much higher in quality and way easier on the pockets. The menu selection is extensive and we had a hard time just picking a starter from the Almost Raw or Barely Touched section. 

We started with the generously portioned Amuse Bouche of Salmon spread, which is the usual salmon mayonnaise but tasted so much better than what anyone could possibly make at home due to the freshness and condiments used.
The Almost Raw Tuna was a layered plate of thinly pounded Yellowfin Tuna, Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette, served simply with shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil. The individual flavors could be tasted separately but they worked extremely well on the whole. The tuna took on an almost beef like taste as a result and the thin baguette gave the dish its surprisingly factor with its wafer like crunch. Love this one.
The Barely Touched Scallop was a new creation, created a month before we arrived. The cute pearly Nantucket Bay Scallops were really sweet and when done carpaccio style with the Finger-Lime, Lemongrass and Lime-Shiso Broth, the dish was a breath of fresh air in the dreary winter. 
The Poached Skate was fantastic with a nice bounciness to the meat. I love eating it along the grain as there's hardly any need to use the knife. Food eating quirks. The Brussels Sprouts-Bacon Mignonette gave the mild illusion of a meat dish without the heaviness.
I love the oiliness and fattiness of a good fillet of Cod. The meat is firm and substantial but still maintained its moisture after undergoing the wrath of the oven. The silky texture tofu strip with sea bean salad and octopus wouldn't have been out of place at a Chinese restaurant so it comes as a surprise that it appeared on a French plate. The dish would have been perfect if were left untouched by the cumin-red wine sauce. I liked the sweetness of the red wine reduction but the cumin added that touch of exoticism that's better left in the Mediterranean.
A good meal should always end on a sweet note and my Coffee dessert was quite perfect. It looks simple and plain with the Caramel Crémeux, Mascarpone Mousse and Coffee Ice Cream but the astronaut-ice cream-ish chocolate pops that almost evaporate upon contact with your tongue make it a pretty cool dish. Plus it's chocolate. How can anyone not love chocolate?
The Black Forest was a little more interesting with the varied flavors of sweet and sour. Special mention to the Belgian Kriek Beer Sorbet which got S really excited. Interesting characters on this plate; Mr. Dark Chocolate Cremeux was a smooth fellow while Ms.Vanilla Kirsch Bavaroise hid a dark skeleton in her closer- a brandy-soaked cherry. Despite the differences, cherries, chocolate and vanilla will always be the perfect love affair. 
Should you have more time and cash to spare, please please please do the Chef Tasting menu ($147). I don't think anyone will regret that.

Le Bernadin
155 W 51st St.
New York, 10019
Tel: +1 212 554 1515
'Chicken Rice' is a must eat street food dish in New York even if you're not a street food fan. It is known by many names; some call it the ‘Platter’, some know it as ‘Chicken & Rice’ or the ‘Gyro Spot. Whatever it is, i'll gladly ditch my Michelin stars just so that i have space for my favorite 'Chicken Rice' in the city. And the only one you should eat at is The Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th in Mid Town (the original).

It's not really chicken rice per se, and certainly not the Hainanese or Singaporean Chicken rice that we are familiar with. This is the American Halal food cart sort. Check it out for yourself.
Now doesn't that look gorgeous? The fluffy long grained Basmati rice can be topped with the plainly seasoned grilled chicken and/or the must have heavily flavored lamb loaf bits. Part of the secret to this delicious meal is in the white sauce which is creamy and really helps in neutralizing the crazy hot sauce that they have. Go easy on the hot sauce, it's FIERCE. The pita and lettuce also help to cool the heat.

For $6, you get a huge tray of rice with meat. S and i would usually shared a tray and even so we can never finish it all at once. The convenient packaging makes it easy for us to pack it back as supper. The gyro is much tastier than the chicken, which tends to be a little dry. The picky me can never decide if i only wanna do gyro alone so it's always mixed for us.
Make sure that you get it from The Halal Guys because there are other food carts that pretend to be them. So here is how you make sure you get the right one. 1. The Halal Guys currently brand their bags, shirts, and carts with the slogan "We Are Different." 2. Their to-go bags are yellow 3. Their logo features a gyro log on a spit (as shown above).
Check out the video to see for yourself how popular The Halal Guys are. Trust me when i say this is THE STREET FOOD of New York City. Eat it like the locals do here. It's just next to Hilton in Mid Town and they now have a few carts all in the same area.

The Halal Guys
53rd St & 6th Ave “Original Location” (in front of Hilton) / 7pm to 4am
53rd St & 6th Ave (across 6th Ave from above location) /10am to 5am
53rd St & 7th Ave / 10am to 5am
Nobu New York is one of the best known restaurants in the Big Apple and depending on which list you refer to, it is among the top 40 eating spots. However, given all the media attention and hype that this flagship  restaurant of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa has generated since 1994, i found that new style (or innovative if you insist) Japanese food here hardly lived to its reputation. I mean.. it wasn't bad but it wasn't mind blowing as i expected it to be. And i would expect it to be fantastic given its perennial popularity and how reservations needed to be made way in advance. Thankfully our concierge gets us top tables even at short notice if not i would be damn annoyed.
The interior is inspired by the Japanese countryside and warm wooden tones and stone textures were employed to create a relaxing atmosphere for dining.

The Lunch Omakase is very reasonably priced at US$65/75 and that allows you a taste of their signature dishes. We did that and added 2 other dishes for sharing between the 2 of us and we were quite full at the end. A la carte prices are listed for your reference.
The Omakase started with the Bigeye & Bluefin Toro Tartar with Caviar ($32) which was a rather refreshing dish due to the wasabi sauce that it sat on top of. The dish is eaten with a little spoon and you'll definitely get some spicy sauce that is guaranteed to clear any congested nose. Interesting presentation.
Next was the Yellowtail Sashimi Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing ($24). This dressing was created by Nobu to make sashimi more appealing to the salad eating Americans. The base was a light vinegar soy with hints of sesame oil and caramelized onions.The fish was so so but it was lifting on the whole with the shredded daikon, pumpkin and cucumber.

Rock Shrimp Tempura with creamy spicy sauce ($21) is one of my favorite dishes at Nobu. I loved the crunchy and light batter which coats the bouncy shrimp bites. This is a snack that i'll always order even if i dine at Nobu all the time. I love it as much as i do Sushi Tei's Hanasaki Ika Tempura (a little insulting but that's pretty good too).
The perfection that is the Black Cod with Miso ($32) was every bit that i have imagined and better. This is a dish that many chefs replicate around the world but Nobu still does it the best. The fish is marinated in the sake-miso sauce for 2-3 days before baking to give it sweetness. I must say this is THE perfect match for the plump fish fillet.
The thing that Nobu does terribly is sushi and sashimi. My assorted sushi was so bad i couldn't bear to finish it. The rice was lacking in flavor and didn't hold well due to its dryness. The fish didn't taste particularly fresh and the texture was just off.
Our side order of the Nobu Special Donburi Chirashi ($34) was also too meh for me to wanna describe it. My regular sushi places in Singapore do better chirashi than Nobu. I kid you not.
The Anago Eel ($6.5) fared a little better with its slightly creamy but powdery texture. Of course I've had better ones in Tsukiji but this was bearable.
Our meal ended with the plain Bento Box ($12) which is a warm Valrhona chocolate soufflé cake with shiso syrup, white chocolate sauce and green tea ice cream. Little thought went into this one. The cake wasn't all that molten and the green tea ice cream lacked the intensity of the matcha.

If you do go to Nobu, just stick to their signature dishes and NEVER do their sushi and sashimi. Overall it's an a-ok experience. Just a little disappointing because i was expecting the wow factor.
Nobu New York
105 Hudson Street (at the corner of Franklin)
Tel: +1 212 219 0500
Mon - Fri: 11.45am - 2.15pm
Daily Dinner: 5.45 - 10.15pm
Ippudo is a well known brand for its Tonkotsu (pork based) Hakata ramen from the Fukuoka region. Since its humble beginning in 1985 with a small counter seating of 10, Ippudo has expanded to 43 shops throughout Japan, with outlets in New York, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
Ippudo NY is Shigemi Kawahara's first overseas venture and probably the best overseas outlet. 2 hour queues are the norm at this no-reservations restaurant and even in the bone chilling winter. The Singapore pales in comparison to the rich and flavorful broths over here at the 4th Ave branch in NYC.
We were ravenous after that terribly long queue and proceeded to order immediately after being seated. Start with the appetizers, which are no way less attractive than the ramen. Hot favorites include the Hirata Buns- a slab of braised pork belly (of course) or chicken sandwiched between Ippudo's original spicy buns sauce and mayo (2pcs, US$9).
I highly recommend the fried Chickens Wings (3pcs, $7) which were marvelously crisped on the outside andglazed with Ippudo special black pepper sauce that is umm umami.
The Tofu and Nasu Agedashi ($10) was satisfying as well though the tofu wasn't the silkiest. I like that the dashi broth isn't too bland like how some restaurants serve it. Honestly if i wanted something lighter i would order chilled tofu instead of fried ones don't you think? The scallions and wasabi provided a refreshing dimension and i loved the eggplant tempura that is served as well.
My choice of ramen was the Akamaru Modern ($15). This is the original silky "Tonkotsu" (pork) soup noodles topped with Ippudo's secret "Umami Dama" miso paste, pork chashu, cabage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. And boy, that had me slurping non stop for the next couple of minutes. The flavors are rich and creamy without being heavy, which is what a good Tonkotsu ramen should be. Noodles may be a little on the softer side but not overly soggy. Your liking really depends on your preference.
I'm not too big a fan of the Karaka Miso Ramen ($16). The soybean based Tonkotsu soup with the Ippudo special blend of hot spices would have been fine but once that bolus of ginger paste was happily stirred in by S (who isn't even a ginger fan), the soup tasted like the Singapore Chicken Rice Chili sauce. Too much ginger spoiled the broth.

Top up your ramen with the delectable toppings. You gotta have the Nitamago (Seasoned boiled egg with running yolk, $2), Kakuni (braised pork belly, $4) a melt in your mouth stewed fatty pork and b ($3).
Is it Ippudo NY worth the queue? Definitely. Absolutely delicious ramen that even chefs are willing to queue for on their free nights. I should be eating there just as you read this. ;)

Ippudo NY
65 Fourth Avenue (Between 9th and 10th Street)
New York, NY 10003
Tel: +1 212 388 0088
Mon - Thu: 11am - 3.30pm, 3- 11.30pm
Fri - Sat : 11am - 3.30pm, 5pm - 12.30am
Sun: 11 am - 10.30pm
2012 has been a good year for me. It's been a year since i started this blog and i'm grateful for all the people i've met and all the opportunities that have come my way. So thank you yall! 2012 was the best year of eating and traveling for me. I doubt it could be trumped once i start on my new job. A recount of all the places i visited this year: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok (check out my best view in BKK post), Genting (with the Nuffies), Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Bali (luxing at Alilas Soori), Hong Kong, Kyoto and Osaka.  

So, to end off my year with a big bang, i'm off The Big Apple and Cuba. Ta da!! The 2 cannot be more opposite. 2 seasons, 2 vastly different countries, a mishmash of cultures, worlds apart in technological link up (oh how will i survive Cuba without Internet) among a million other things.
Credits: Whatyourbucketlist
I cannot tell you how hard it was for this trip to materialize. There was little information from this region's travelers (ICA tells me few Singaporeans go to Cuba) and the troublesome VISA application (we don't have a Cuban embassy in Singapore). But the stars aligned for us and now it's one more place off my bucket list of places to go before i die! :))
I'll be backpacking for the first time in my life and taking the public transport from city to city in Cuba. (Only in Cuba. My Balenciaga and BaoBao will be put to good use in NYC). We usually drive but it's not advised due to the poor road conditions. Anyway, don't expect your regular backpacking with me, I believe i have a planned outfit for every day of the 2 weeks that i'll be there. Heh. That will definitely be a funny story to tell (probably from S's point) so watch this space. 
Hit me with all the passionate salsa dancing, neat Cuban rum and refreshing mojitos and Cuban cigar. I'm ready for it. 

If Cuba were all torture (i highly doubt that), the reward of the Upper East Side (no less) and Fifth Avenue would certainly cheer me up come Christmas. That's when i would unleash the starving monster in me and visit all the fabulous restaurants in New York City. They include Daniel, Momofuku, Le Bernardin, Stanton Social, Balthazar and Babbo among the many others that i'm gonna check out. You guys will be in for a treat.

Don't worry, the blog won't be dead. I've been working very hard to schedule regular posts over the next 3 weeks so you guys won't starve while i'm gone. 

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See you folks! And have a Merry Holidays!