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Friday, November 29, 2002, 7:22PM


For breakfast in Korea I should have been more adventurous, but I was starting to lose steam. The first morning I went to the hotel buffet - Terrace. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I was weak. Maybe I was lazy. The variety called to me. It was... well... a hotel buffet. A nice one. But in retrospect, I should have skipped it.

The Paris Grill is a restaurant also in the hotel. It's gotten some good mentions despite its location. But that was for dinner. I needed breakfast and I wasn't going back to the buffet. And at the Paris Grill I had a surprisingly delicious breakfast. The hotel restaurant shallowness was still not countered by the 1920's style murals of Parisians on the walls, but who cared. The basket of various rolls and croissants was good. Not as good as some of the random hole-in-the-wall French bakeries that are found all over Japan, but still good. But the crepe with mushrooms and tomato confit was absolutely great. Delicate. Flavorful. All around yummy. Next time I'll try local breakfast, but in a pinch, the Paris Grill was good. I wonder how their dinner is.

How could you not love a holiday that includes potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts?

 

Thursday, November 28, 2002, 12:02AM


06-cooking.jpgA week ago Monday night was my last night in Asia. I didn't intend to waste it. Korean co-workers recommended I eat at Mudungsan in Seoul. The first food-related thing people usually think of when Korea is mentioned is "Korean Barbecue". Bul Gogi, Chicken Gui, it's all good! Since I speak no Korean I was reduced to getting directions written down by the hotel staff which I would hand to the cab drivers. It felt like fate was conspiring to not have me go to Mudungsan. Since I was visiting a different part of the city before dinner the concierge at the hotel was pushing me to go to a restaurant closer to that area. She told me there were many authentic Korean restaurants there. "But I want to go to the best one", I responded. She kind of sheepishly looked down and said, "well, it is the best". With that settled I was off for my afternoon in Seoul. When I arrived later in the evening the restaurant looked closed. I trundled on anyway. My lucky day they were just opening up. Their business card claims "The Best Raw Beef Korea Barbecue House". I can't claim that I've been to every Korean barbecue house in the world, but I have to say this was definitely the best I've ever been to. (The business card also promised "Cleanliness Kindness Taste". I can't argue with that eithe.) The cartoon steer that served as the mascot for the restaurant gave a hint of what was to come. Typically I order Bul Gogi. The beef is marinated in a sauce and then grilled. But I was told to order the sliced beef so that's what I went for. The English on the menu referred to it as "Sirloin of Beef". I think. Nobody's English was very good (and my Korean was worse) so I was never 100% sure. Immediately the kitchen sent a dizzying array of small salads my way. Mostly pickled or marinated items: sliced onions in a soy based sauce (might also have some vinegar and maybe some fish sauce even, but I wasn't sure), several variations of kim chi - scallion, radish, cabbage, and pickled cucumbers. Also came a plate of raw steak as well as steamed rice and some additional condiments: hot and spicy chili sauce, sliced jalapenos, raw halved garlic cloves, a mixture of salt and pepper and sesame oil, a pile of shiso leaves and red leaf lettuce leaves. Each table has a grill in the center. The waitress came by, lifted my grill with tongs and deposited a container with hot coals (which they heat in a stove outside the front of the restaurant) in a hole in the middle of the table and then replaced the grill above the coals. Then with tongs she laid some of the steak on the grill where it started cooking up. At first I was worried that all her ministrations were only for me as the only foreigner in the place. And I think I did get more than my fair share of ministrations, but I noticed that the waitresses made it their business to worry over everyone's grill situation. The numerous families that started pouring into the restaurant by this time gave it a real homey feeling. With each wave of steak I would cook they would replace the used grill with a clean one. They also taught me how to construct my meal. The whole theme of building your meal was consistent from the Hwe Dup Bap I ate the night before. Maybe it's a Korean thing. I'll have to investigate. Basically, I took a slice of grilled steak, dragged it through the sesame/salt/pepper mixture, put it on a lettuce leaf, topped it with chili sauce, marinated onions, garlic clove, and various salads. Close the lettuce leaf around the entire project and chomp. I'd never had it like this and it was fantastic. Not necessarily the meal you want on a first date, but it was unbelievably simple and good. The freshness of the ingredients, the immediacy of cooking the meat at the table, and the strong flavors of the salads was an exciting combination. And it just kept coming. There was a dish with these paper thin slices of radish (I think) that were circular and 3 inches in diameter floating in a lime green liquid. It looked like key lime kimchi. But it was just yummy - more wrapping material. Korean miso soup came. Basically hot and spicy miso soup. Yum. I ordered it even though it was too much food just to make sure I tried as much as I could. I also ordered a rice porridge item. Basically rice "from the bottom of the kettle" in "hot" water. It was weird. I liked the slightly burnt rice as it was crunch on the edges but floating it in lukewarm water was not my idea of appetizing. Then came more variations of kim chi. Endless variations of kim chi. Any time one of my existing salad items got even remotely low the waitress would get me a refill. I think their pay was docked if I ever saw plate. At a nearby table I saw them get their garlic cloves in a small metal dish, pour some sesame oil sauce into the container, and then place it on the grill to cook. I wish I'd gotten that. Next time. At one point I also got a series of mushroom caps, each filled with a small amount of water. At first I thought this was to keep them from drying out on the grill. I took a mushroom, poured out the water and was about to eat it when a waitress ran over to me to show me that the water was supposed to be part of the experience once seasoned properly with some spices or sauce. Like a mini-soup. Neat! More salads came, rice with barley in it, small pieces of nori. Everything was either a container/wrap or something to be contained/wrapped. The combinations were numerous and all were delicious. My time in Korea was short, but re-inspired my to find some really good Korean food at home. And I'm sure I only scratched the surface of what Korea had to offer from a food perspective.

 

Wednesday, November 27, 2002, 12:19AM


There's a chain of bakeries across Asia called Lord Stow's Bakery. I believe their headquarters are on the island of Macau. On their business card they claim to be the "creator of the Egg Tart now famous throughout Asia". "Andrew's Egg Tart" specifically. What's an egg tart? A little flakey cup filled with an eggy custardy filling. The whole thing is baked and sweet. Yummy. Definitely try one if you see one of these grab a snack.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2002, 11:41PM


Normally I eschew the restaurants at hotels. Obviously there are exceptions but it's not a bad rule. One of my favorite Korean dishes is Hwe Dup Bap. I've mentioned this in the past. From what I can tell, it's not really hardcore authentic Korean as it's a variation on a Japanese dish. I've heard it referred to as Korean Sashimi. I think of it as a Korean variation on Chirashi-zushi (scroll down) or a fishy version of Bibim-bap. A couple of folks I work with are from Korea and gave me great advice on where to eat while I was in Seoul. They suggested I go to the Akasaka Japanese Restaurant at the Seoul Hyatt to get Hwe Dup Bap. To be honest, I was nervous. The combination of the restaurant being in my hotel, and the restaurant being Japanese made me nervous. That said I tried it. The restaurant was nicely designed, but a bit sterile. Kind of typical for a hotel restaurant. I ordered some shrimp tempura and the fish dish. The tempura was yummy, but then came the Hwe Dup Bap. It was gorgeous. The waitress wanted to mix it up for me, but I didn't let her. I think they thought the wacky American didn't know what he was doing. Little did they know... Out came the following ingredients in discreet piles on various plates: chopped up raw tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and snapper, parsley, shiso, nori, cucumbers, raw thin garlic slices, lettuce, sesame oil, chili sauce, daikon strips shaped like noodles, and slices of green chili peppers. Also delivered was a bowl of steamed white rice. The trick is to mix the fish, the vegetables, and the sauce with the rice and eat up. I have to admit, the dish was fantastic. Really very good. I loved the selection of ingredients they brought to the dish - the broadest I'd seen to date. It was a construction project, and a delicious one at that. I like "do-it-yourself". Dessert included red bean agar, pear, and cantaloupe. Definitely a good experience. I wonder how much better a dish with all raw ingredients can get. Maybe it could.

 

Monday, November 25, 2002, 11:59PM


After a great week in Tokyo I really wanted to visit another country in Asia. Since I'd never been anywhere but Japan and I don't get to go that often I decided to take a detour on the way home. The shortest hop from Tokyo is Seoul, Korea. Not having any idea what to expect I flew to Seoul on Sunday morning. Seoul was super different than Tokyo and really reminded me of an city in the U.S. Since much of the buildings were built since the war, they were particularly modern. The unbelievable presence of American fast-food franchises added to the impression as well. Why are there a zillion Dunkin Donuts in Seoul but I can't find even one in Seattle? Anyway, Sunday was the right day to go to the Insa Dong area of Seoul. They close off the streets and have sort of an artsy area with lots of outdoor food stalls, and antiques, etc. The interesting thing was that each of the food stalls had some variation on a batter filled with various items. In each case the battered item was deep fried or pressed in a sandwich-maker type of device. One in particular made fish-shaped battered items filled with a sweet filling - I think it was Hotteok. I tried what can only be described as a Korean corndog. It was a hotdog wrapped in a sort of batterey mixture filled with carrots, corn, onions, and who knows what else. The entire affair was deep-fried for about 90 seconds and served on a stick. After mustard and ketchup were applied it was delicious. There were also plenty of stalls selling roasted chestnuts. I kind of missed an opportunity in that a cool/funky restaurant - Parksee Moolko on Jebee.  This place has been mentioned in the New York Times (free registration required) and on Epicurious. Aside from the funky decor the coolest part was watching them create these huge pancakey/battered items filled with vegetables and other yummy items being prepared in the window that looks out onto the alley where the restaurant is located. I should have eaten there, but I didn't get a chance. Definitely next time.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2002, 11:14PM


20-chicken on display.jpgLast Saturday night was my last night in Tokyo. I had a couple of great meals but was eager to make the most of my time. I had high expectations for my last meal. On the advice of a variety of sites and friends I went to eat at a robatayaki restaurant. before I even arrived in Japan I had an initial disappointment as it was explained to me that there were no robots involved in robatayaki. But despite that I pushed on. (Don't laugh, it could happen.)  It's essentially another variation on the meat-on-skewers theme. Sounds good to me. Inakaya - now with two locations in Tokyo's Roppongi area - is the place to eat it. It's not just the food... they put on a show. Some people may think that the "show" is a bit of a nod towards tourists, but it didn't bother me at all. I would be a regular there even if I lived in Tokyo. Here's the layout: essentially there are two chefs kneeling on cushions with their backs against one wall of this relatively small dining room. In front of them are 3 foot wide wooden block cutting boards. In front of those is a grill with live hot coals underneath that spans the width in front of them. In front of that is a surface filled with piles of fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables. On three sides of this rectangle of activity and food framing this entire affair in a "U" shape is a wooden bar with stools all around. Other than the kitchen... that's the restaurant.  There's also a bench against the back wall. A place for customers to wait when the restaurant is extremely busy. Here's the drill: I placed my order with one of the waiters who constantly patrol the perimeter behind the customers.  I do this by pointing to the various piles of raw food sitting in the center of the entire affair. He then makes a big ceremony of calling it out to the chefs (who don't bother writing it down) for the whole restaurant to hear. They repeat it back in a big show, super excited about my order. When the food is ready one of the chefs will plate it and put it on a paddle they keep handy. Then the chef will lean across the entire array of cutting board/grill/food to deliver the food on the paddle to the customer. These paddles with food on them are heavy! While the chefs started preparing my food, I was served a delicious and delicate order of shrimp tempura and vegetable chips (I think a root of some kind)  to get things started. Next up was two skewers of grilled chicken - one with a "barbecue" sauce and one with "salt". The barbecue sauce was pretty typical yakitori type sauce. The skewer grilled with salt was incredible - delicious and bursting with flavor. Next was grilled asparagus, also with salt. Also fantastic. The grilled onion was great too. I also ordered some toro sashimi (served with fresh wasabi of course) which was really good to eat between the grilled items. Then came the grilled steak cubes. These were beautifully marbled pieces of meat that grilled up beautifully. They were served with soy sauce, some wasabi, and a little pile of garlic that I mixed together to marinate the meat before I wrapped it in a lettuce leaf, added a little grilled onion, and ate it.  What's better than this? Not much! A little melon for dessert was a nice way to finish off. I was about to pay my bill and head out, but one of the waiters told me to wait a couple of minutes as they were about to do the "changing of the guards". Sure enough, a couple of minutes later there was a bunch of loud announcements and a big show made of the two chefs leaving their stations and being replaced by two of the waiters. Totally cool. The waiters and chefs were interchangeable. Totally efficient - of course! So why do I love Inakaya? The food or the shtick? It doesn't matter. I loved the whole thing. And to be clear, the food was absolutely delicious. The environment made it all the more fun though. All the way to the waiter who saw me on my way and wouldn't leave the front of the restaurant facing me and wishing me well until I was all the way down the block and around the corner. There are two Inakaya's in Tokyo - the west shop (where I ate) and the east shop.  I doubt there's much difference though I was told that the west version was recently remodeled. Don't miss at least one of them when you're in Tokyo.

There is a bakery in Roppongi called Almond. Apparently this is a famous bakery in Tokyo (with many locations). It was the end of the day and I figured what the hell. The selection of pastries was beautiful and plentiful of course with fancy frosted items, and everything delicately arranged in its own individual package (each slice). The desserts look like they're out of a movie (this is pretty typical for a Tokyo bakery). I had a strawberry cream puff pastry item. Certainly decent, but nothing that blew me away. Well, I had to try.

 

Friday, November 22, 2002, 11:59PM


Out of curiosity I checked to see if Tokyo had any Israeli food. And in fact they had two restaurants. I chose Shamaim (translation: sky). It bills itself as an "Israeli Restaurant and Pub". It was a weird little place. I was there in the early afternoon so it was empty. But for relatively cheap they gave me a falafel spread including a quite nice set of 4 salads (cabbage, onions, mushrooms, etc.). The matbucha was yummy. I wondered since it was so empty how business was. Apparently they're pretty full of non-Japanese every night with many folks coming to drink as much as they come to eat. On the last Friday of each month there's live belly dancing. There's also an all you can eat special for about $20. Definitely worth a visit if you're in Tokyo for an extended stay and miss Israeli food.

 

Wednesday, November 20, 2002, 11:44PM


In the lifespan of the Iron Chef television show there were a total of 7 Iron Chefs. 4 active when the show ended and 3 (2 Japanese and 1 French) who had retired. Until last Friday night I had eaten at the restaurants of all but 2. And the second Japanese Iron Chef - Nakamura Koumei - was said to be the weakest of the bunch. So that leaves Yutake Ishinabe - the original French Iron Chef. Given that our meal at La Rochelle was one of the best meals I've ever had I was nervous about going to Ishinabe-san's restaurant for fear of being disappointed. Luckily it was a great experience due in no small part to Jean-Luc the Maitre'd hotel. But more on him later. It was a big pain finding Queen Alice Guesthouse as it's buried deep in the Minato-ku area of Tokyo. It's in a small house decorated with a ton of interesting Mexican art including this incredibly odd pear head sitting in a cabinet under glass. (I know it's hard to understand without photos, but their coming as soon as I get a few free minutes. Hopefully this weekend.) Jean Luc was the French maitre'd archetype. He explained a lot of things including the fact that the Iron Chef himself had stopped doing the daily cooking long ago as he had been busy opening other restaurants - 25 of them to be specific. We'd later find out he was filling them not just with great food but with pretty cool (and expensive) art from artists like Bottero and Cottavoz. Jean Luc took us on a tour of two nearby restaurants also owned by Ishinabe - one was (also) called Queen Alice (hardcore French - no Japanese influence) and the W billed as a "champagne bar". At the second Queen Alice we got to say hi to the chef who trained under Paul Bocuse himself according to Jean-Luc. "Queen Alice" appears to be the name given to many of Ishinabe's restaurants. There was also an invitation to dinner at the white house with original art by Chagall. Luckily our chef Sazaki-san was on the job who we got to thank in person later. The overall food was clearly French but with great use of Japanese ingredients and Japanese sensibilities - attention to detail. Dinner was 5 courses not including dessert. Things started off with cold appetizers - a choice of Seafood Salad, Gelee de fruits de mer, Tuna Carpaccio with Avocados, Smoked Lobster Salad with Foie Gras, and Eggs with Caviar. I had the Carpaccio of course. It was drizzled with a mayonnaise mixture and absolutely delicious. Reminded me of the tuna sashimi pizza we had at Morimoto. Yummy! Next up satueed foie gras or a grilled scallop. I had the foie gras. Meat flavored butter. : ) I tried the scallop too. Also good. Next up was the soup course. I had the hot one - a consomme with mushrooms - Soupe de champignon a la Royale. Really beautiful, clear, and tasty. Fish course was next. I think this was the highlight for me - I got the poisson du jour - a cut of turbot topped with chopped chestnuts. There is something about this combination that was magical. I think it's both the contrast in textures as well as the how the flavor of the fish manages to complement and surpass the nuts (counter-intuitive). Whatever it was, it was amazing. The lobster dish was no slouch either. Finally for the meat dish it was  the Filet de Boeuf Grille au Raifort Japonais. Japanese horseradish being of course - wasabi (they actually grow the real thing in Oregon, and you can buy it here). Melt in your mouth texture, and delicious flavor. Chocolate cake with ice cream was my dessert - rich, smooth, deeply chocolaty, great. We drank 3 bottles of wine - a 1993 Chateau Gruaud Larose, the house bordeaux (a white label product of France - terrible), and finished off with a 1993 Chateau l'Evangile Pomerol - really excellent. All in all a really wonderful dinner. Jean Luc's attentiveness was no small part of this. Get there soon as he also mentioned that the restaurant may close next year as Ishinabe may be winding up his career. One last Iron Chef restaurant left for me to try. (Oh yeah... why "Queen Alice"? Jean Luc thought it was an Alice in Wonderland allusion.)

 

Monday, November 18, 2002, 9:14PM


Just as the top floors of many of Tokyo's best department stores are filled with awesome restaurants, the basements are filled with fancy supermarkets/food courts. The basement of Takashimaya Times Square is a stellar example of this. One quarter of the basement is a high end supermarket. But the rest is a series of 30-40 food "islands". Each is a standalone merchant of some type of food. Selections include french bakeries, an Italian cafe, tempura, yakitori, sushi, dim sum, gyoza, prepared salads, desserts, chocolatiers, and more. The experience is exhilarating and overwhelming.  From 10am each morning, the basement is open for you to peruse. I typically move from one stall to another collecting various yummy items until I sit down and have my meal. This last one consisted of 5 gorgeously perfect shrimp dumplings and a small bowl lined with rice and topped with shredded tamago and chopped maguro. So simple. So delicious. I could eat here every day. I've also mentioned it before in one of my original write-ups from Japan from December 2001.

 

Sunday, November 17, 2002, 6:24PM


The best Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life was at Akasaka Shisen Hanten, one of Iron Chef Chin Kenichi’s restaurants in Tokyo. But this trip I tried two Chinese restaurants new to me. Glad I did, but I miss Chin-san’s food. The Xenlon China Grill is located on the 19th floor (which is the bottom floor) of the Hotel Century Southern Tower in the Century Southern Tower (an office building for the first 18 floors) a stone’s throw from Shinjuku train station. We were a private party of about 30 people. And the restaurant was kind of cool with its industrial modern refined décor. It looked like a high end Klingon (pardon the nerdy reference) restaurant with an open kitchen. A steel dragon hung near and facing the curved door entrance that opened like Star Trek doors – automatically splitting from the middle when you approached. But the food did not get me particularly excited. The center of gravity of the food was like a Japanese take (refined, emphasis on presentation, delicate) on high end Chinese ingredients and recipes. To be fair, I just might not be into this brand of Chinese food, and the Japanese sensibilities applied to it weren’t enough to rescue it for me. The shark fin soup was a little too phlegmy for me to enjoy personally. It being served hotter would have helped. Though the incredible gold colored individual tureen it was served in was gorgeous to look at. The mushroom and eggplant in brown sauce was as appetizing as it sounds. There was an interesting dish which consisted of a ground shrimp ball in a sweet and sour bright orange sauce perched atop a curled vegetable root that looked like a cob of corn if the niblets had been cut off with a knife and tasted like a bamboo shoot. I know it wasn’t corn or bamboo, but I never found out what it was. The rice porridge (translated by the waitstaff as “gruel”) was boring (and lukewarm) though the tiny piece of mushroom resting at the center of the dish had one of the foulest flavors I’ve ever willingly tasted. It tasted like the inside of an ear (I would imagine). There was one standout. In the middle of the meal they delivered a platter of puffed shrimp chips and little (what I can best describe as) unsealed raviolis. They were little circles of the soft bun that accompanies peking duck folded into half moons with lovely edging. Their sides were adorned with pressed carrots and parsley giving them gorgeous flecks of color. Inside, a small amount of peking duck (with the skin), hoisin sauce, and green onion. I could have eaten 50 of these. They tasted as good as they looked – and they looked like art. Maybe you can get a bag of these to go from Xenlon.

A couple of months ago I read about a series of high end Chinese restaurants in Wine SpectatorFook Lam Moon. With two branches in Tokyo (others in Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Osaka) I added them to my list of places to eat on this trip. The experience was – as best as I can describe – odd. I can’t imagine I made it any easier being a lone white guy showing up in a high end Chinese restaurant in the super expensive Ginza area of Tokyo with my backpack. But what can you do. The waitstaff couldn’t have been more friendly, polite, or doting, but it was difficult for them to hide the fact that they found my presence a little weird. The truth is that being alone at this place made it difficult to properly evaluate the experience. Just about every dish on the menu was for a minimum of 2 people. But I trundled on anyway. Since I read about Fook Lam Moon in Wine Spectator I figured I better order some wine. But being alone I couldn’t finish a bottle on my own so I ordered a glass of the house red. It came within a few minutes ice cold. I admit to knowing just enough about wine to be dangerous, so this was pretty new to me. I was pretty sure that I’d never heard of serving red wine cold unless it came from a cardboard box and had a spigot. (At least there weren’t ice cubes in the glass.) A friend later told me that there’s some areas in Europe that will serve red wine cold (Pinots) typically to try and mask their poor quality. Anyway, I was too weirded out to send it back, but I wasn’t psyched. The menu was gorgeously designed and laid out with a dizzying array of dishes. Especially adventurous were the entire pages dedicated to very high end Chinese main ingredients – Shark Fin, Bird's Nest, and the like. There was also a section focused on frog and pigeon. I took a more conservative route starting off with an egg and minced chicken soup. I tried to order a chicken dish I’d never heard of, but the waitress pushed me to get the diced chicken with cashews as my original choice was an entire half chicken. Then I saw the only item on the menu for 1 person – Steak Filet Chinese Style. I placed my order. The soup came. It was obviously well executed as the texture was silky, and the flavor subtle but fanning out. However, the soup didn’t blow me away. Then came my chicken with cashew nuts. The amount was miniscule compared to an American portion (remember that the menu specified it being for 2 people) and the price was about $25. But the chicken was quite good. The flavor was very light. The pieces of chicken were among the most tender I’ve ever eaten. The dish glistened with the oil it was cooked in but was never greasy. In fact when I ate the last piece there was nothing left on the plate – not the usual puddle of sauce left over. Finally came my “steak.” I really had no idea what to expect. I sort of did with the previous items as they were similar to other dishes I’ve had before – but what does it mean to get a steak Chinese style. Also it was only about $8 and for 1 person so I was really without a clue as to what it would be. Steak is usually more expensive. What arrived was a thin round cut of meat about 2.5 inches in diameter sitting in a bright brown and red (almost purple) sauce. A fork and knife accompanied the dish. I don’t think this was out of deference to my “gaijin-ness”, but a standard accompaniment to an item that simply can’t be eaten with chopsticks. I cut my first piece of steak and was incredibly pleasantly surprised. It was delicious. The meat was so incredibly soft and juicy I had to check twice to make sure it wasn’t ground beef. It was so tender, it literally broke apart when I put my fork in it. The sauce was delicious. A sort of barbecue sweet and sour with some sort of wine vinegar powering it. Really the dish was fantastic. All in all I had a progressively better meal, but I can’t say that on my own I really got a sense of the best that Fook Lam Moon can do. I would definitely go back with a large and adventurous group so we could really put the kitchen through its paces and give myself a chance to experience a wider spectrum of the menu.

 

Sunday, November 17, 2002, 3:40PM


As I’ve mentioned before, it was a struggle to try and eat at restaurants I’ve never been to since the ones I’ve been to before have been so good. At certain points during the week I just didn’t have time to get all the way to an establishment on my prospective list, so convenience was required. And rather than risk a merely great lunch, I went to a sure thing. One of these is Tsukiji Tamasushi. The top floors of a department store being filled with restaurants is pretty common across Tokyo (basement as well, but more on that later). Takashimaya Times Square has the 12th, 13th, and 14th floors filled with a broad range of roughly 20-30 eateries – “Restaurants Park”. One of these is a sushi place with the requisite plastic sushi in a window out in front of the establishment. This plastic sushi is all hand rolls. The sushi hand roll – “Temaki” – is for some reason extra wonderful to me. Like the combination of some of the best aspects of an ice cream cone and sushi. I’ve been to this place before, and the window advertising is still on the money – they have the best sushi hand rolls I have ever had in my life. Their ngiri and maki sushi are great too, but there’s something about the hand rolls that makes them out of this world. Unlike the typical ones I’ve eaten in the states, these are almost understated, with less rice (and yes) less fish than others. The cone is also narrower than I’m used to with the top centimeter or more sitting empty making your first bite consist mostly of seaweed – nori. And this I think is the secret. Their nori is perfectly (but not overly) crisp and toasty. Something about it makes the entire understated hand roll absolutely perfect. I had about 6 of them for lunch. I also had some ngiri sushi but that was a mistake, as although it was good, it took room in my stomach away from the handrolls. Couple of notes – “Tsukiji” is the name of the huge and wonderful fish market in Tokyo (that’s a whole different story – make sure to visit at about 4:30am if you’re in town). I was at the Shinjuku branch of Tsukiji Tamasushi, but they have others in Ginza, Daiba, Chiba, and Knsi-Cho.

 

Friday, November 15, 2002, 5:24PM


Breakfast has been weird. I'm essentially doing my best to save room for lunch and dinner where I'll get to try cool new restaurants. On Tuesday morning we tried Japanese breakfast at Omborato - a Japanese restaurant at the Century Hyatt in Tokyo. I can't tell whether I'm not into Japanese breakfast or I'm not into Omborato. Either way it left me cold. The miso soup that came with the set meal was ok. The rice was good. There were some other little tofu items that seemed ok. I ordered a "Japanese style" poached egg, and basically got this cold pretty close to raw egg mixed in with some liquid. Glad I tried it so I can check it off the list, and probably not do it again.

Of course, then there's the other end of the spectrum - the enormous number of small French style bakeries. I don't know what it is about Japan but they seem to have an incredible talent for French baking. Delicate concoctions with chocolate and butter, and lots of little yummy items with pork products stuffed gently somewhere in the middle of a lighter than light (butterier than butter) croissant. (Is "butterier" a word???) I'm not really sure there's a point in recommending any particular French bakery in Tokyo as they all seem to be pretty fantastic. For posterity - the one at my hotel at which I got a tasty and perfect ham croissant today is called Cent Deux. If one stands out above the rest I'll make sure to list it. Typically you can eyeball it and see how delicate and perfect the baked goods look. Odds are very good that the food tastes as amazing as it looks.

 

Thursday, November 14, 2002, 11:04PM


Tuesday night found me off to my first pre-planned dinner. I spent time before the trip to Japan figuring out a plan of attack. Basically did a bunch of web surfing to find a list of Tokyo restaurants that looked promising. Given how much I love some of the restaurants I've been to on previous trips it took quite a bit of willpower to not just repeat all my favorite spots of the past. But I figure I need to take advantage of the opportunity to try new things. So this evening I went to Moti. This restaurant was recommended by two sites about restaurants in Tokyo - Invitation Tokyo and Frank's Dining out in Tokyo. Tokyo Journal writes well of it too. My expectations were heightened when the concierge at the Century Hyatt in Tokyo told me that she had Indian guests tell her that Moti was better and more authentic than the places she had been recommending. With high hopes I went to Roppongi to eat at Moti. The restaurant was on the third floor of a building (of course) with an elevator opening directly into the foyer of the restaurant. Dinner started off with pappadum and raita. The super friendly maitre'd recommended the Barbecue Set for Two as an appetizer. It had Fish Tikka, Special Punjabi (chicken) Tikka, Sheek Kabobs (mutton), and Tandoori Prawns. What a huge start to the meal. Each item was absolutely delicious and almost vibrant. It's like each item held as much spice and flavor as it could without crossing to the point where it was overseasoned. It was incredibly savory. (Mouth is watering as I write.) The excellent Raita helped balance things out. It was at this point in the meal where I continue the tradition of embarassing myself at Indian restaurants across the globe by asking for Onion Chutney (unlike the link, I make mine with lemon juice, and add a bit of tomato paste as well, but you get the basic idea). And just as happens every time, the waiter looks at me like I'm from another planet. I learned to love Indian food (delicious and cheap) in college. My favorite place ended up being Little India. They had onion chutney on every table and even taught me how to make it. Are they from a different part of India than every other Indian restaurant I've eaten at? As you can see from the link above I've found recipes for onion chutney that seem to come from natives of India. Yet whenever I insist that there is such a thing to waiters at Indian restaurants they act like I'm crazy. Despite that Moti was off to a great start. And to try and make up for the lack of the chutney, Khan brought me some mint chutney (which is great even though i'm not a huge mint fan) as well as some Kuchumber - cucumber, onion, carrot salad with vinegar - I ate it up. After that we got both Garlic Nan - delicious and fluffy, and Onion Kulcha - which looked like a small deep fried quesadilla. Despite the weird description - trust me, the onion bread was incredible. The onions were soft and delicious and tightly packed into the bread. Main courses included Prawn Chili Balls - spicy and tasty, and butter chicken. The butter chicken was the only item I was disappointed in. One their fault, one maybe not. The chicken was a bit dry. I've had butter chicken where not only the sauce lives up to its moniker. This wasn't it. The other issue was that the subtlety of the butter chicken had a difficult time standing up against all the other incredibly robust and present flavors in all the other dishes. The flavor of the sauce was very good, but the whole dish wasn't in the class of everything else which in my opinion were first rate. Bottom line: don't miss Moti. It's fantastic. (Note: there are several locations that are said to be pretty consistent. I was at the one in Roppongi.)

 

Thursday, November 14, 2002, 1:41PM


As if dinner in Chicago weren't enough, I'm now in Japan for a bit. I love Tokyo. Everything about it. The people, the buildings, the culture, the language - the 80,000 restaurants. Monday night I got into town and despite exhaustion from the flight I couldn't miss an opportunity. I'm staying in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo which at it's center has an enormous train station (I think the biggest in the world). Part of how Tokyo (and Japan for that matter) contain so many restaurants in a country where space is at a huge premium is things are piled on top of each other (not uncommon to go to a restaurant on the 7th floor of a building), and tiny alleys with tiny little restaurants mushed in next to each other. Each containing no more than 7 or 8 seats a a bar with a tiny area for cooking. It was just such an alley I found on Thursday night. This particular one is located on "Omoide Yokocyo" - roughly translated as "Memory Lane" (no kidding) which is just to the left if you're facing the curving front of the Odakyu department store. If you're wandering around Shinjuku this is right next to where the central bus station area is. The alley (which may or may not have a name) is obvious from the fact that it has roughly 25 tiny restaurants lining both sides. Most of these serve some form of yakitori.  I don't know how I picked the one I did (roughly the 4th one down on the left) but I don't think it matters much. If I had a few weeks here I'd try the all. I had some chicken, some green onion, and some pork. The skewers were cooked on a small grill sitting on the counter right next to where we were eating. They had a yummy soy based sauce on them. They were hot, tender, juicy, fresh, and scrumptious. Followed it with a tall Asahi beer. As good as it was, it still didn't match the yakitori I had in Kyoto last year. (I'll need to find the name of that place next time I get to go there.) But that's what it's like here. The bar is just higher. There's so much good food here. I think I'm overwhelmed.

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2002, 4:41PM


A few months ago Lauren somehow lucked into a reservation at the kitchen table at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago. I should just say right off the bat that this was one of the best food experiences I’ve ever had. It may seem weird to start off talking about something other than the food, but the fact that we ate in the kitchen added something to the experience that was remarkable. I imagined that we’d be tucked in an alcove somewhere in the kitchen off to the side. The reality was that not only were we in the kitchen proper, we were in such a central location that we were pretty much “in the way”. And if with only four of us it was bad I couldn’t imagine what it was like with six people (which they say they can accommodate). Despite our incredible location and being right in the thick of the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, the staff not only didn’t make us feel like we were in the way, but they used our proximity to deliver incredible service. If one of us wanted to get up from our place it didn't matter who was nearby, they would rush over to move our chair for us. While a small example it's representative of the overall service team effort around fantastic service. Our server Kirk was super patient and great with us. He had only been there for a month but he definitely had his act together. On to the food! Thigns started with a four course bento box. It contained: Terrine of Skate Wing with shellfish (mussel, crab, oyster), Nantucket Bay Scallops with Curried Carrots (one person got their scallop as tempura instead of raw), Spicy Braised Kombu with Yuzu, and  Brandade with Iranian Osetra Caviar and Creme Fraiche, They were each amazing in their own way. Most of all the delicate nature of the various elements and how perfectly they balanced was amazing. The number of ingredients that went into the entire bento box was not small. Definitely a good start to dinner. Things progressed with Warm Organic Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Vidalia Onions. The name doesn't tell the whole story as  there were 4-5 different kinds of potatoes each prepared slightly differently (including delicious tiny cubes of purple potatoes with all the purple gone) as well as the fact that the potatoes were almost hidden from view by the tons of white truffle shavings layered on top of the dish. Don't think for a moment that it wasn't incredible cool to watch one of the chefs put the final touches on the dish 4 feet from our table. Ever wonder when your next course is coming? Not an issue when you're at the kitchen table. The meal continued with Steamed Turbot with Olive-Leek Sauce. Sometimes people use the word "subtle" to generously describe something that's without flavor. This dish was subtle and delicate but incredibly flavorful. Gentle almost. At this point in the meal we were enjoying ourselves, but at this point the meal shifted into high gear. Next up was European Daurade with Pineapple and Water Chestnut Vinaigrette. It was the same sauce Lauren had on her previous vegetarian entree and it was fantastic. the sweet of the pineapple plus the crunch of the minced water chestnut and the vinegar was fantastic. The plates were clean (I mean spotless) when they went to the dishwasher (who was standing 4 feet from us). If that wasn't enough Debbie and Alex in particular got very excited about the Canadian Foie Gras with Chestnut and Apricot "Cake". All night we were comparing Charlie Trotter's with our experience at the French Laundry since they're both in the same stratospheric league of food experience. French Laundry didn't serve us Foie Gras. Trotter's did. Points for Trotter. It may not be fair to judge based on whether one ingredient made it onto the menu, but Debbie pretty fundamentally disagrees. Not only was it on the menu but it was delicious. I haven't always been a foie gras fan, but one day alex described it as "meat flavored butter" and my outlook changed. The Chestnut and Apricot Cake was cool as it was this mix of the ingredients surrounded by very thin shavings of what I think was a carrot. Almost a reconstructed carrot with a new filling of Chestnut and Apricot. If it weren't for the anise (not my thing) I would have really liked it. Things kept getting better as next we had Arkansas Rabbit with Delicata Squash. The rabbit was served as these one inch diameter cylinders standing on end across the plate with the rest of the ingredients around them. Incredibly tender and flavorful. Next was Whole Roasted Pigeon with Risotto and Alba White Truffle. OK. First of all there was more truffle - points! Second, if you had told me I was eating steak I wouldn't have known any different. The meat was so incredible juicy and rich and flavorful. I was blown away. This squab "steak" was followed by Grilled Organic Texas Axis Venison Loin with Black Trumpet Mushrooms - also great, though not quite as differentiated as the previous 3 items. It also could be that we were so blown away by the previous items that this was just gravy and we needed more of a break before tasting this. Then came the cheese service.There was a delicious soft french cheese at the heart of it (I need to find the name of it) as well as these tiny delicate shavings of gruyere which were shockingly delicious. One of our party couldn't have unpasteurized cheese. We forgot to mention it. At the last minute came an incredible dish of 3 unique fruit based desserts including one with a pepper tuile that was delicious. I tried some with my cheese and it was a really great combo. This level of flexibility (last minute dessert course, the vegetarian course, etc.) is so surprisingly wonderful and yet should be part of every great restaurant. Others take note. A series of sorbets followed - Monstera, Coconut, Cactus Pear, Jackfruit, and Soursop. The dish was colorful and came with Rambutans. I liked the soursop but not any of the other flavors. Alex ate them all. You might think we had peaked and were past the summit of the meal, but then came the Hazelnut and Cranberry Financier with Maple Emulsion and Ginger sauce. I don't think I can explain how delicious this thing was. It was flaky, tender, juicy, sweet, sour, crumbly all at once. Most of all it was great. One of the best desserts I have ever had. On the side was a yummy Vanilla Panna Cotta with Huckleberry Gelee. After that was Chocolate-Coffee Tuile with Chicory Sauce. I'm not a coffee guy, but Alex and Lauren loved it. And finally a series of little chocolates and cookies. Wine was excellent too. One of theirs and one of Alex'. Theirs was the 1999 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon that they were serving by the glass. It's relatively cheap (~$40 a bottle at retail) and big and well rounded. Really good. I'm getting some for home. But this was just the warmup. Alex brought a bottle of 1985 Leoville Las Cases. Was cool to taste the difference between the young cab and the one that's had some time. As Alex said, the highs were higher in the Chappellet, but the Las Cases was more focused and integrated and ultimately more consistent. So what's the bottom line? Charlie Trotter's was a fantastic dining experience. Highly recommended. Although we kept trying to compare it to French Laundry it's a difficult comparison to make. We never did get into the French Laundry kitchen - by the time we were done they said it was too late. Kind of a bummer. At Charlie Trotter's we ate in the kitchen - we were right in the middle of the action. Trotter himself did come in at one point. You could feel the entire demeanor of this already very professional kitchen change completely and get even more focused. He was the center of the storm. He then stopped by me to mock-chastize me for not yet diving into my foie gras (I was futzing with my camera). He promised to come back for a picture, but we didn't see him again. The food (the most important thing) was fantastic at Trotter's. But the food at French Laundry was somehow more refined. The same was true of the service. Bottom line, this is olympic-like level competition and differences are a matter of fractions of a second. The fact that we were in the kitchen may have made Trotter's even more memorable in the end. If you can get that reservation - don't think, just book it. One more note: I have a ton of pictures of all the food listed above and scenes from the kitchen, but it will take me a week or two to get them up on the site. I promise they'll be up soon.

 

Friday, November 8, 2002 - 11:57PM


Every year, Larry's Market - the Seattle area fancy supermarket chain - puts on a "gourmet food and cooking show". I love trade shows. There was the usual assortment of lame stuff, but there were also a bunch of highlights and tons and tons of free food samples. Yummy.

Sandstone Farms had a selection of pickled items including pickled garlic cloves and two variations of pickled mushrooms (crimini and button). They were pretty good in terms of flavor, but the best part was that they had a spicy kick to them.

Judy Fu of Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon had a booth again this year. Many people think this is one of the best Chinese restaurants in Seattle. We went a year or two ago and I was kind of disappointed. I think I was looking for more classic Cantonese or Szechwan and what I found was a very homey dumpling restaurant. Maybe we should give it a second chance. I have to admit the dumplings they were giving away today were dee-licious. They also have a sauce business.

Chez Jane (located nearby in Sammamish, WA) makes a series of garlic spreads. My favorite to date has been Lebanese Breeze from Garlic Garden. It's just this undiluted garlic spread... no cream cheese, sour cream, or mayo. Just garlic goodness. Up until today that was my clear favorite. But Chez Jane had me try their variation today. It was pretty good as well. Though I didn't get to try the super garlicky version they have. It's sitting in my kitchen now, hopefully I'll get a moment to try it in a few days. Chez Jane also had variations with basil mixed in and the like, but that wasn't for me. One clear difference between the two is that Jane's is pasteurized and therefore doesn't require refrigeration before opening. You should decide whether that makes a difference in which one you like best.

I had a great surprise when I tried cottage cheese pancakes from Heidi's Cottage Classics. Heidi who hails from Idaho has a series of pancake mixes that she was pitching at the show. My all-time favorite pancakes to date had been the Swedish variety, but these were just fantastic. The cottage cheese somehow gave the pancake this neat non-uniform texture as well as made them light and airy. I know it sounds weird, but try it. Heidi served hers with a bit of strawberry jam on top. Yummy!

Who knew that New Zealand was incredibly proud of its own home grown avocado oil. Being annoyed by all the super subtle domestic and European olive oils (I prefer my olive oil produced by Arabs or Israelis - strong) I was not optimistic about the avocado oil. And although it was definitely subtle, the flavor grew in my mouth over time and was really quite nice. New Zealand Imports, Inc. imports the stuff.

Tom Douglas the owner/chef at one of my favorite Seattle restaurants Dahlia Lounge was there today as well selling his rubs as well as his sauces. The salmon and steak they were handing out were the best samples I tasted at the whole event. I meant to ask him (but forgot) what his favorite restaurant was in Seattle that wasn't one of his own. Next time.

And finally, I got to meet another owner/chef - John Howie. He's a Seattle chef who recently opened his own restaurant - Seastar - with its own raw bar. In addition to his restaurant he has another business - Plank Cooking. I should have known better but I asked him how hard it was managing both businesses - the restaurant and the mail-order. He kind of looked at me funny as if to wonder how I could even ask such a dumb question. It was clear this guy was working very very hard. And that's how he managed it. It was also kind of humorous because this physically big and serious chef had a huge picture of him and Martha Stewart from his appearance on her program. A small TV ran a video of his appearance. If I had ever appeared on Martha Stewart I would do the same thing. I need to go try Seastar soon. I hope it's as good as I suspect so that we can have a great restaurant to go to on the eastside of Seattle.

 

Wednesday, November 6, 2002 - 12:57PM


Dinner last night at Pho Bac. Victor and I appear to be resuming our hunt for quality Vietnamese food around Seattle. Incredibly odd decor... shiny faux mrble floor tiles, with weird stamped circular imprints of black and red paint all over the walls and ceiling. It was like a Martha Stewart project gone wrong. I would care less about the decor if the food had been good enough to distract. Unfortunately it wasn't. Everything was decent, just not particularly great. The Pho had good flavor, the fresh rolls (goi cuon) had three shrimps each (better than the single shrimp at Cafe Hue), and we even tried this fried shrimp cake wrapped in tofu skin which was interesting. Victor's chicken seemed a little dry. This was another case of the restaurant being pretty much empty. I can't tell whether it's fair to judge a place when it's empty - without distractions maybe they can do their best, or not - when there isn't a decent crowd they aren't in the swing of things. Ultimately I guess if they're open they should be able to do their best. It's odd, but Papaya is still the best Vietnamese we've had in Seattle to date.

 

Monday, November 4, 2002 - 10:19PM


Lunch today at Rikki Rikki in Kirkland, Washington. Sushi restaurant and they also have a salad dressing business on the side. For decent sushi lunch on the eastside of Seattle they are a no brainer. The fish is fresh and plentiful. If I had one complaint it's that the waiter didn't really understand many of the sushi items I was ordering because I did not items exactly as they were stated on the menu. You'd think that the waiters could have the most basic education on the various kinds of sushi. This seems like a pattern, even at some of the best sushi restaurants. But anyway, as the food is quite good, this is more of a nit. The shrimp tempura was ok. It didn't approach the perfection I've had elsewhere - perfectly light and golden tempura with juicy shrimp and vegetables cradled in the center. The contents almost don't touch the deep fried tempura batter that encases it. Enough musing on tempura.

 

Sunday, November 3, 2002 - 10:43PM


Cool web site all about spices. Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages. He has 117 different plants listed in pretty cool detail. Includes spices as different as Vietnamese cinnamon and Myrtle. Definite emphasis on the scientific aspects of the plants as well. Neat.

The New York Times (free registration required) has an article  about the recently revived wine region of Campania in the south of Italy.

Now is the time of Diwali, the Indian festival of Lights. There's a story about a ruler who was once served  56 dishes for this festival. That's my kind of holiday. The San Jose Mercury news writes about a Palo Alto woman who does her best to recreate the Diwali food experience described in the story.

We were going to make Asian thanksgiving, but most people wanted the traditional fare. We'll hold off on the Asian version, but there's still opportunity for fun. Leslie is going to deep fry a turkey (like we did last year) but is going to infuse it with some type of flavor before the deep frying. Maybe she'll do it cajun style. I'm thinking of bringing something out of the French Laundry cookbook. Maybe the salmon cornets. Speaking of the French Laundry, the Los Angeles Times had a regular column by Thomas Keller and Michael Ruhlman. It included recipes for Cauliflower "Panna Cotta" with Beluga Caviar, "Confit" of moulard duck foie gras with a compote of Granny Smith apples and black pepper Gastrique, Risotto, and Byaldi. They also recently had yet another French Laundry article. Apparently Keller is building a bakery and eventually wants to build a 20 room inn on the premises. Cool!

One last bit of fun. The Los Angeles Times (free registration required) talks about a book that's got the various wineries in Napa peeved - The Far Side of Eden: The Ongoing Saga of Napa Valley by James Conaway.

 

Saturday, November 2, 2002 - 10:49PM


Last night we went to dinner at El Gaucho. Always a great atmosphere and reliably great steaks. They have a pretty simple formula. It doesn't rate high on some people's scales in terms of creativity, but if you want equal parts hip/dark/jazzy atmosphere, great red meat (along with a bunch of other delicious things like the Caesar they make at the table, the tuna tartare, the Wicked Shrimp - spicy, and don't forget the kickass garlic bread), great service, and a deep wine list, then you will love El Gaucho like I do. We drank the restaurant's last bottle of 1992 Kalin Cellars Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon, and Alex generously brought a bottle of Dalle Valle Cabernet Sauvignon. It was incredibly smooth but almost sparkly on your tongue on the way down. Yummy.

Also got some cool presents. Chris and Leslie got me a beautiful cutting board and a series of great cookbooks from China. Book one in the Chinese/English series - Han Fang Shi Liao - includes recipes for things like "Jigu Grass, Sweet Jujube, and Chinese Francolin Soup" and "Pig's Lung Stewed with Longan Leave and Sweet Date". Really neat and only available in China. Alex and Lauren got me The Professional Chef - the 7th Edition of the Culinary Institute of America's bible. Very very cool. I'm scared to try it.


 

     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

   

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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