Zenkichi is an intimate izakaya in Williamsburg with a $65 seasonal chef’s tasting menu, omakase. The faint illumination and privacy screens of the romantic booths made it hard to take pictures — but here are some that I took of our favorite courses.
pickled persimmon, monkfish, scallops
cod milt (seminal fluid) and chrysanthemum tempura
sesame tofu in dashi
These tamarind-filled candy tubes are covered in spicy, salty, tangy powder (salsa en polvo). I bought this pack of Skwinkles at an Associated in Sunnyside, Queens but MexGrocer.com is offering free shipping on orders for the next two days if you use the code “FREESHIP12” at check out.
In five minutes I was able to shove 11 baluts down my throat. I almost choked a couple of times. It seemed like the guy next to me, Wayne Algenio, (the guy who won) wasn’t even chewing them! He ate 18!
This brothless ramen bowl (mazemen) was topped with crab and miso at Yuji Ramen at Smorgasburg this weekend.
The best thing I ate were the “Jersey style” (head on) fried anchovies with smoked paprika mayonnaise at Bon Chovie.
When I realized that Caesar salad on a stick was a whole head of romaine lettuce with their own Caesar dressing, croutons, and Parmesan cheese shoved into all the nooks an crannies of the lettuce, my jaw dropped to the floor. Isn’t it amazing?!?! The “stick” was a skewer that held the paper in place around the salad. I liked eating it even more than the original salad on-the-go, the McDonald’s Salad Shaker!
Roses and thorns about Pok Pok Ny? I like to start with the thorns. There is only one tiny toilet for the entire restaurant and the wait is typically 7-8 people long. The part that bothered me is that when the employees at Pok Pok have to use the bathroom they cut in line and say to everyone, “I just need to check to make sure the bathroom is clean for you!” In line last night one employee did this and as he was walking out he was adjusting his fly, clearly having just urinated. Moments later another employee cut in front of everyone again saying, “I just need to check to make sure the bathroom is clean for you!” My friend told her, “Somebody just did that 30 seconds ago.” The employee looked embarrassed, as it was apparent that we had caught on to their system. Pok Pok: rent some Porta-Johns.
The food was good but nothing was so memorable that I would actually go to Redhook again for it. In fact there was one “Vietnamese” style catfish over vermicelli dish that was covered in dill (I wonder if it was really pak chee lao) and it reminded me of a foul Slavic dish of carp with dill.
I felt kind of swindled after my Singha slushy arrived. The server omitted the part about it basically being a bottle of beer that was left in a freezer for too long. She pointed to a fanciful battery-operated wooden barrel that twists back and forth, mixing ice and salt around the bottles to lower the temperature and turn the beer into slush.
Did I forget the roses? I think I’m just focusing on the thorns because I’m so sad I live in Queens, so far away from this amazing restaurant. It really is a special place with herbs and ingredients hard (impossible?) to find elsewhere in the city. I suppose it’s a case of sour grapes because I know I won’t be able to return for a while and taste their awesome food! PS: the staff is super friendly even though they tend to exude a certain Portlandia vibe.
Pok Pok Ny
127 Columbia St
Manty (манты) are served stuffed with seasoned lamb and onions at Café Kashkar, a Uyghur restaurant in Brighton Beach just off the eastern end of the boardwalk. Freshly chopped celery leaves and dill are sprinkled on top of each dumpling.
If you get a chance, you will love this place. The new owners have updated the menu with pictures. The only downside is that the hot guys who used to work there no longer do… and there is a mechanical bird that chirps from time to time that drove me crazy.
1141 Brighton Beach Avenue
Brooklyn NY 11235