Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HowfreshEats Stacks (Potato) Chips Like Hebrews Vol. 9- Top Potato Edition.

DJ Chuck Chillout & Kool CHIP - Gimme Minze

Ooooooh. Let the track knock. "Yo Chip, go bust a line or 2..."

It's been a while since I last opined about the potato. A lot has changed. If you recall, the OG Lay's Kettle Cooked was my numero uno. It's been a year plus and feelings change. Those commitment issues keep rearing their ugly head. Had to kick that bird to the curb. No wifey trifey activity, just complacency. Like Killa says, you got that old head. There's new head out there. Her name is CC. Fresh off the Hyannis sand, rocking a Polo cable knit sweater over the oxford (all in pastel hues), J Crew khaki skirt, and some Tory Burch sandals. Who would have thought. Met her at a wedding. She liked my swag, thought I was Puerto Rican at first. Killed it with the white leather loafers. All she kept saying was "call me Papas Sexy." I lied, told her I was. Pulled the Dru Ha- "I always get the potato cause I tell them that I'm Spanish." Ultimately I fessed up. We're still rocking.

7 bags this time. 3 aren't kettle cooked. It disgusts me too. 2 of those 3 are classics as I'm sure many of you would agree. Trying to lock down some North Fork Chips for the blockbuster volume 10.

Now this saddens me greatly. What you see above was intended to be volume 9. Unfortunately, for matters I prefer not to discuss, I wasn't able to execute. Route 11 chips? Who even heard of those? Peep the Utz Mystic with the double masted schooner in the background. WHAT?!? Down the drain. I could have lied. Posted on false pretense, but that's not how the H doooos. The truth is eating a bowl's worth of stale spuds didn't sound too appealing. More than that, I wouldn't have been able to fairly assess the intended chip experience. Never again.

For this post I included all pertinent info on top- size of bag, price and sodium. New to this? Peep the previous 8 "Stacks (Potato) Chips..." installments here: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3, Vol. 4, Vol. 5, Vol. 6, Vol. 7 and Vol. 8.

Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Original
9oz./ $3.49./ 5% sodium.

What more is there to say? I believe it was all said up top. My main squeeze. Peep the packaging. A lighthouse. I love lighthouses. Edward Hopper steez. I'm a sucker for anything nautical. A necessity in the chip crate. All mid-sized chips with a great crunch. A bit lighter than Lay's kettle cooked, we going svelte in the uno uno. Pale yellow. The perfect mix of salt and sweetness of the potato. Mild flavors that keep you coming back for more. Addictive. Can dead a bag in one sitting. These really are phenomenal.

Archer Farms Traditional Kettle Cooked
8 oz./ 2 for $5 (only available at Target)/ 7% sodium.

A good chip with a strong crunch. Turned off by the excessive amount of folded chips. Let the potatoes stretch before you bag them. Not too salty and has a bland finish. Flavors just fall off, so you keep popping them in your mouth to feel the high. Colors vary with some chips having dark streaks but primarily golden yellow.

Deep River Snacks Rosemary & Olive Oil Kettle Cooked
5 oz./ $2.29/ 7% sodium.

Where's the romaine lettuce because these are croutons. Heavy crunch similar to them too. Shouldn't be surprised based on the flavor. Strong garlic finish. I forget why I copped. Probably just to pad the numbers. Deep River makes a quality thick, crunchy chip. Herbs are visible. Another victim of too many folded chips. Golden hued. Too many ingredients for me.

Archer Farms Macaroni & Cheese Thick Cut Crinkle

8 oz./ 2 for $5 (only available at Target)/ 10% sodium.

Was fiending for some macaroni and cheese when I saw these. Amazing how that works. Not a kettle cooked chip. Thick crinkle cut, a style I'm not a fan of. One handful and you've had enough. Rich. Wouldn't get again. OD on ingredients. Orangish yellow.

Original Lantchips Scandinavian Style Chip
Free with plate of Swedish Meatballs at Ikea.

Apparently I kept these around too long because when I opened the bag these tasted like shit. I blame myself for not respecting the laws of perishability. These get a mulligan. Next time I'm looking for Billy shelves I'll make sure to cop some chips and lingonberry soda. Nice color. Golden with brown ends.

Lay's Classic Chip
11 oz./ $3.99/ 7% sodium.

"Yo How- you ain't breaking new ground with these!" I know. I know. I know. But sometimes you got to stray from the plan of action. I pride myself on kettle style exclusivity but these chips are damn good. My favorite non-kettler. The bag helps too. Yellow is attractive and appealing. Market studies say so. The bag is big and easy to dip into. The chip count decreases with the quickness. Being a picnic chip, if I was in the Cloisters with a group of people on a sunny day eating a sandwich purchased from the Doowop Deli on 207th St., I would have these by my side. Large enough to split amongst a group, small, salty and a nice crunch. A bit too greasy though. Paler side of yellow.

Lay's Lightly Salted Chip
10.5 oz./ $3.99/ 4% sodium.

Same as above, just more sensitive to the needs of the high blood pressure posse. Fairly addictive. Late addition, not part of group photo.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ayo I'm Hungry, Gotta Get My Grub on At Totto...- Totto Ramen

The Beatnuts- Watch Out Now

Cue the flutes please. Good looks Herbie.

If you live north of 42nd St. and enjoy a tasty, hearty bowl of ramen then it is time to party. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!! We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn, Burn motherfucker! Burn! HOLD UP! WAIT A MINUTE! What's your Zodiac sign?!?! Capri... Wait, that's wrong.

Finally we have a pioneer willing to brave the rugged terrain north of 14th Street and sling the Japanese half soup/half amazing. Shit is crazy up there. Super tall buildings, men in suits, and tourists, those pesky tourists. His name is Ryuichi “Bobby” Munekata, sole controller of a mini empire of Japanese establishments in the midtown region specializing in yakitori. It was Mr. Munekata who was responsible for the chicken sashimi craze several years back. It didn't go over too well with the locals.

2 trips in and I'm about to say some crazy shit. You ready? Totto Ramen is the best ramen in New York City. There, I said it. Ippudo was being fed grapes on the throne while getting a manicure, unbeknownst to this uptown newcomer. This is said with great aplomb, having done the proper research. Ippudo, Momofuku Noodle Bar, Minca, Rai Rai Ken, Setagaya and others were visited, enduring football field lengths of noodles and gallons of broth. I'm not alone in this belief either. The resident ramen expert here at Howfresheats, Ramen Noodle Nico, fresh off a trip to Japan, warned me that Totto was next level before I even stepped foot in the sunken dining room on 52nd St. And I trsut him. Why? He's Asian, super Asian in fact. Filipino by way of Hong Kong, whose fam resides in Singapore, and his boss is Chinese.

Unlike the majority of ramen spots in NYC, Totto employs a chicken-based broth, straying from the typical pork bone tonkotsu version. This in itself creates a completely different dynamic. I was raised on chicken fat, good old schmaltz. Not the case with pork, which at times can be pungent and overbearing. Kosher ramen? Not exactly. The Totto Chicken Paitan Ramen ($9.25) broth gleams, silky yet rich, layered with flavor. Salty with strong hints of garlic that won't allow you to put down the spoon. It's really that good. Wavy, al dente noodles with a likeness to spaghetti, bathe in the broth alongside pork served 2 ways: sliced with a char from a blowtorch and shredded. Scallions sliced the long way and a sheet of nori are the final components of the dish. Delicious.

If you want a little kick (I refuse to make a karate reference) go with the Totto Spicy Ramen ($10.25). Rayu (spicy chili oil) and a spicy sesame oil are added to the original to turn up the heat. Very bearable. Has 2 chili peppers on the menu as opposed to the Extreme Spicy Ramen which brags 9 peppers. Nothing about that sounds remotely enjoyable. NOTHING. For texture, toasted garlic slivers and bean sprouts are added.

This dish still boggles my mentals. $4.50 for 3 large slices of lightly seared ahi tuna sitting atop several slivers of marinated avocado. Did I really just type $4.50? Yes I did. This is a special taped to the bar and the walls. Toasted garlic tops it for a little crunch and a pureed garlic sauce is on the side. The soy marinated avocado provides a tang that pairs so well with the fresh, clean tuna. I'm almost more tempted to go back for this than the ramen.

The spot is small. And be prepared to wait. My first time was an aberration. X-mas eve b-day dinner on the dolo and the place was empty. I know, I know. Who lets the birthday boy eat alone? There are approximately 10 stools at the bar though I prefer calling them front row seats. You get to see the ramen wizards at work. Tables are in the back- two 4 seaters and a 2 seater. The wait can be tough. Put your name on the hanging clipboard by the door and pray. The last trip was close to an hour wait. Miserable. The seasonal plastic waiting area helps keep out the cold but a chill still permeates.

Behind the ramen bar one of the chefs sears the pork with a small blowtorch. It's like a circus over there. Knife swallowing towards the back.

The magic cauldrons. Dare not look inside or else.

In all efforts to prevent being labeled partial to the West Side, Mr. Munekata opened a sister ramen establishment, Hide-Chan Ramen, way down the same street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. It resides on the second floor, replacing one of his previous restaurants. It's swine-time over there, specializing in the tonkotsu broth. It is next-up on the hit list. Review coming soon.

Totto Ramen
366 W. 52nd St. bet. 8th & 9th Aves. closer to 9th
New York, NY 10019
Mon - Fri 12pm - 12am
Sat - Sun 5pm - 11pm

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011- Vroom! Vroom! Start it Up!! - Momofuku Noodle & Milk Bars

Start It Up- Lloyd Banks ft. Kanye West, Fabolous, and Swizz Beatz

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2011. Put that volume on max, close your eyes, and envision Greenhouse on a Tuesday night with scantily clad ladies transporting sparkling bottles. Now we're rocking. As you read this I'm doing the motorcycle dance with one hand on the throttle, typing with the other. Vroom vrooming in my drawers. Going in circles though. Simple physics. Think about it.

Sparking the year on a sweet note, taking a page from my Jewish upbringing. Apples and honey spark Rosh Hashonah and in a secular world we do it this way. Red Velvet, Horchata, Old Fashioned Donut, and Cereal Milk softserve with a cornflake, marshmallow and chocolate chip cookie and a slice of the Grasshopper pie (think minty chocolate cheesecake with marshmallows), all courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar. As the old adage goes, you get more with sugar than spice.

It's a shame I haven't expounded about my many trips to Momo Milk yet. The research has manifested itself in almost a 2 stone increase on the scale. And it was within these walls that a very special title was bestowed upon my crew and me by the always cheery Miss Info:

I'm finally getting over that barb, but it was tough. Had me second guessing every photograph I took thereafter. Main lesson learned, don't hang out with people that wear Bang Bros. or "I Fisted Hilary Scott" shirts, even if they are on Millionaire Match Maker. Creepy Dave "So what's your story???" steez.

I won't go into depth about my many visits, I'll just leave you with one piece of advice, GO THERE. Red velvet, along with horchata, was brought back for their anniversary and will be leaving the building January 12th. It's short notice, only 2 days left, but try to make it. Then go back on the 13th and bug them to make it a permanent flavor like cereal milk. Also get a compost cookie.

Prior to the sugar bowl, Momofuku Noodle Bar provided the savory sustenance. I like to keep it consistent. As usual Ippudo was packed to the hilt and after a little East Village wandering, it was decided that the second best ramen was there. I do not care for the $16 price tag, but they make a good bowl. The broth is clearer than most other ramen slingers, but the poached egg's runny yolk creates the creamier broth we have grown accustomed to. Extremely heavy on the pork, using a healthy slab of pork belly along with some shredded pork shoulder. 2 slices of fish cake, a generous amount of chives and sliced bamboo round out the party.

This is 2011. Momo pork buns? I'm off that. Garcon, the healthy option my friend. Squares of shrimp terrine sitting in the pillowy white dough (2 for $10). A little lettuce and sauce some say reminds them of a Big Mac. Texturally on point (has that snap), salty and enjoyable without the guilt. Unless the shrimp are from Asian bodies of water. Then I'm freaking out. However I doubt Chang would do that based on his locavore/sustainable ethos. See below for the block of shrimp.

Tamales were listed on the specials board so we got the trio including kimchi pork, chicken mole verde and jalapeno queso (3 for $8). Don't love tamales and didn't love these. Maybe it's the masa, maybe it's the wrapping leaf. Can't call it.

Finally got my first post up in 2011. Here's hoping it's not the last! La Chaim!!!

Momofuku Milk Bar
207 2nd Ave. on 13th St.
7 days a week: 9am - 12am
15 W. 56th St. bet. 5th & 6th Aves. (The Chambers Hotel)
7 days a week: 8am - 12am

Momofuku Noodle Bar

171 1st Ave. bet 10th & 11th Sts.
Mon – Fri: 12pm – 4:30pm
Sat - Sun: 12pm – 4pm

Sun – Thurs: 5:30pm – 11pm
Fri - Sat: 5:30pm – 2am

NO RESERVATIONS unless eating Fried Chicken Meal.
MAJORITY OF TIME THERE IS A WAIT, especially during prime dining times.