Tag: sushi

Amber Asian Bistro

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 | All Things, Eats

After 46 meatless days, I indulged in a carnivore’s combination of lamb and ham at J and J’s Easter brunch. Quiche, too, a baby spinach salad, a glazed lemon cake (my contribution), and a delightful apple strudel from Andre’s Hungarian Pastry Shop. In 2005, New York director/screenwriter Nora Ephron wrote a mouth-watering valentine to the bakery’s cabbage strudel, which I’ve not forgotten to this day.

Perhaps it was a shock to the vegetarian system, but my stomach felt… well, not-so-great after eating all that meat. Maybe psychosomatic, but maybe not. (Good thing I didn’t enact my original “Easter porterhouse” plan. ) Looking then to ease into my regular diet, by evening, I was back to eating fish.

B and I ended up at Amber Asian Bistro — an offshoot of a well-liked UES Asian fusion restaurant that recently opened in the old Aegean Restaurant space on the corner of Columbus and 70th Street. The place has been swanked up a bit since its neighborhood Greek restaurant days with the addition of a lounge area, back bar, lots of dark wood and a hip lighting scheme. Judging from the crowds, Amber is off to a solidly popular start, giving Tenzan some healthy competition.

Wasabi Shumai — mushy, and a bit of a miss for me:

Amber dumplings

There were a couple of intriguing-sounding “Amber Style Ceviches” on the menu, one of which touted an “e.v.o.o lemon-lime dressing.” Yes, it actually said “e.v.o.o.”; I could not order it on principle.

I was satisfied with my rolls, but most notable was the nigiri: the pieces of fish were fresh and prettily presented, but disconcertingly big… bigger even than the oversized “American-style” slabs at Yama. I’ll be interested to hear what the sushi purists will have to say about this one.

Amber rolls

Amber Sushi

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Family feasting

Saturday, February 9th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Family

More Chinese New Year feasting. A few suggestions had been bandied about for tonight’s dinner — Flushing’s Ocean Jewels, or perhaps Imperial Palace — but with Dad setting the agenda, it came as no surprise when we ended up at East Manor in Elmhurst. (Oh, he loves his buffet!) Well, at least I knew then that there would be plenty of pescetarian options.

Our last dinner here was Mom’s 60th birthday banquet when I was nearly done in by the concept of the “intercalary month.”

East Manor

We arrived early to beat the Chinese New Year’s weekend dinner rush — a strategy which worked in our favor: an hour later, and it was an entirely different scene at the restaurant.

East Manor

Below, seafood for the huoguo, literally: “fire pot” — a popular cold weather dish sometimes referred to as “Chinese fondue,” though the similarity to traditional Swiss fondue is only tangential. Instead of melted cheese and wine, the pot is filled with simmering, savory broth; instead of chunks of bread for dipping, there is an array of raw meats, seafood, vegetables, tofu… pretty much an endless variety of items to be cooked in the hot soup, fished out with wire ladles, and dipped into sauces afterwards. At the end of the meal, the delicious soup base makes for a wonderful finish — usually accompanied, inevitably, by the errant piece of rubbery shrimp, which you’ve neglected to fish out before it’s been boiled beyond recognition.

I’ve always known this mollusk as a “razor clam,” but it’s more properly called the Atlantic jackknife clam:

Razor Clams

Oysters to bring in more good things for the new year. (These I ate raw, with a squeeze of lemon juice — is there any better way? )

Raw Oysters

…and despite all the hoopla over new data on the high mercury levels in tuna sushi, I could not resist:


Flickr preview: The Harlem Globetrotters at Izod Center (February 16, 2008).

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No sushi on Sundays

Sunday, January 13th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Sports

We had narrowed down our choices for sushi dinner tonight to a handful of places that were new to both of us. Ushi Wakamaru on Houston Street seemed promising, but after reading that the place was newly reopened after renovations that coincided with being closed down by the Department of Health in September, well… we reconsidered. (Though in retrospect, perhaps we should have reasoned: when is a restaurant more meticulously clean than after getting shuttered?)

Inase on the Upper East Side does not open on Sundays, nor does midtown’s Sushi Yasuda, which left us with Shimizu in Hell’s Kitchen. Except not quite, as we discovered upon our arrival on 51st Street: that restaurant is closed on Sundays as well.

Clearly, we were not meant to dine on sushi tonight. Down the block at the House of Brews we reassessed our options, and briefly caught part of what would be the Giants’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys, 21-17, that would send the team to the frozen tundra of Green Bay for next Sunday’s NFC title game. (Thanks, “Jessica”!)

We ended up at Uncle Nick’s Greek Cuisine a block away, on Ninth Avenue.

Uncle Nick’s

I’ve read gripes that “Astoria is better,” but all in all, Uncle Nick’s is a solid choice for simple Greek fare, a casual and more reasonably priced alternative to the other mid-to-upscale Greek restaurants in the neighborhood (Estiatorio Milos, Molyvos).

My favorite part of the meal — aside from the company, of course — was the “Four Combo Dip” platter: scoops of tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic dip), scordalia (potato and garlic dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip) and tarama (a fluffy, tangy fish roe dip), served with wedges of warm, grilled pita. I’d come back just for this.

4 Combo Dips

Cretan Keftedakia (fried Cretan spiced meatballs):

Cretan Keftedakia

Pastitsio (oven-baked macaroni, spiced chopped sirloin, and whipped potatoes, layered with Béchamel sauce) — like a Greek lasagna, or Shepherd’s pie.


And one of tonight’s specials: the Shrimp Santorini (large, white shrimp, smothered with fresh tomatoes garlic and feta). After seeing the waiter bring out my dish, a man at the adjacent table ordered the same.

Shrimp Santorini

Back at home after dinner, we took advantage of my free month of HBO, catching the umpteenth cable broadcast of The Devil Wears Prada, a film which until that night I’d not seen in its entirety. Fabulous outfits, and all around great fun.

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