Thursday, April 21, 2011

Four Seasons

Restaurant Info:
Four Seasons
404 Eddy Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

We recently ate at Four Seasons. Tricia's parents were in town, so we took them along. Four Seasons is a Korean place that Trish and I actually go to fairly frequently. It is one of 3 Korean restaurants in Collegetown (along with Koko's and Dasan-J), and it is our favorite of the lot. The dining area is a small space, and it is nothing fancy at all - just your typical college neighborhood eatery type of decor.

 We love to get appetizers when we go out, and on this past visit, we ordered the kimchi pancake and the fried calamari. The kimchi pancake is fried until crisp on the outside (but soft through the depth), and of course has lots of spicy kim chi in it. The calamari is battered in tempura and then served with a sweetish dipping sauce. This was in addition to the bowls of miso soup and the traditional Korean snack items that you get automatically with dinner. 

Tempura Fried Calamari
Kim Chi Pancake
Fish Strips (one of the snacks)
For entrees, both Tricia and her mom tried the dolsot bi bim bap - a rice dish served in a hot stone vessel with beef and fresh vegetable and a fried egg on top. The best part of this dish was that it was served in a smoldering stone bowl which allowed the rice to cook and even crisp up. Tricia's dad on the other hand went for noodles and ordered japchae. Japchae is a dish made with noodles that are made from sweet potato flour and served with meat and freshly cooked vegetables in a sauce that has strong sesame flavors. When cooked, these noodles are almost transparent and not starchy at all. Siddharth wanted to have some spice (as always!), and opted for the ojingoh dolsot bi bim bap, which is also a sizzling hot rice dish in a stone pot, except cooked with fried squid and lots of Korean red chili paste (Korean chili is spicy, but it is always mixed with sugar, giving a very distinctive sweet and hot taste).

Our review is below:

 [from left to right: Dolsot Bi Bim Bap, Japchae, Ojingoh Dolsot Bi Bim Bap]

Lemon Sparkler

This is a refreshing drink that can be enjoyed with brunch and is nice way to enjoy the summer sun. Here are the ingredients:

- Juice of 2 Lemons
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 2 shots of mid-range vodka (e.g. Smirnoff, Skyy, etc.)
- 1 bottle of Asti Spumante (~$8-12 at your local wine store)
- Around 300 mL of Limoncello (from Italy, use a brand such as Pallini) [this is a little less than 1/2 the bottle]

Dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice. Add vodka, stirring to mix. Next add the limoncello and top with ice. Finish by adding the Asti (it's a very sweet sparkling wine) to provide the bubbles. Garnish with some lemon slices and serve in flutes. Cheers.

Note: Italian sparklers work nicely in this drink because they are cheaper and lighter than French Champagne. You can substitute Prosecco, another Italian sparkling wine for Asti if you'd like. Prosecco is dry, unlike the sweet Asti, so if you do use Prosecco, you can double the amount of sugar added.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Crispy Cantonese-inspired Noodles

India and China. Two ancient Eastern civilizations. Two emerging world economies. In the context of The World Tasters: two of the most famous culinary traditions on the planet and... the cultural heritage of Siddharth and Tricia (respectively)! As modern foodies, the two of us are lucky to come from some of the places that started perfecting the art of cooking millennia ago. We're also lucky that both of us like to try both Indian and Chinese cuisine. In this recipe, I (Siddharth) try my hand at crossing the aisle and making Chinese-inspired food. I maintain that it is "inspired" and not "authentic," but I try my best to keep the spirit of Chinese cuisine alive in my dishes. See comments below to check what Tricia thought of it! Maybe someday, I'll get Trish to try doing Indian food...

In any case, this is my recipe for crispy noodles. It took me a while to figure out how to make crispy noodles, so hopefully this can help those of you interested in doing at home too. The Cantonese-inspired part comes from the fact that I use hoisin sauce (a sweet sauce that is favored in Cantonese cooking) and Hong Kong-style pan fried noodles (Chow Mein).

Tricia's Magic Bars

Magic bars are composed of 4-6 layers of goodness. The most common type of Magic bars consist of a graham cracker crumb base followed by layers of coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. Here is a modified recipe that consisted of all the sweets that Siddharth and I like. This is a VERY simple and easy recipe that pretty much anyone can do because it does not require any preparation (no cooking, no measuring, or extensive mixing). It is all about what you use for your layers- the order of the layers doesn't even make a difference (except the coconut and nuts layer which I will discuss later). You can also add more than 6 layers if you desire, then it would be almost a sweet lasagna!

CT Bento Cafe - boxes and boba galore

CT Bento Cafe

Restaurant info:
335 Elmira Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850


This restaurant had its grand opening a few weeks ago, taking the place of Smart Monkey Cafe. The restaurant is quite big, holding about 20 tables and a take out counter as well. Siddharth and I wanted to try it because we love Japanese food and especially bubble tea, which this cafe does as well. Unfortunately Bento Cafe hasn't advertised too much so when we arrived for a very early dinner (5:30pm) it was completely empty. I'm sure during the summer and during proper meal times, the restaurant will be filled.