Category Archives: Food and Drink

Hungry City: Rice Balls, Subtle and Showy Alike, at Omusubi Gonbei

Still, I preferred less showy ingredients: takana, pickled mustard greens with a faint, grounding bitterness; umeboshi, salty-sour pickled plum whose residual sweetness fights through; mentaiko (pollock roe), briny and close to cream.

Jako, dark-eyed glassine baby sardines, bodies ossified, taste like shattered deep-sea bacon. They’re threaded through a rice ball framed by shiso leaves, lending a green scent and hint of menthol.

A shrimp locked in tempura batter flares its tail, the nori draped around the rice like a tuxedo vest. The idea is smartly reprised with a fried oyster, another innovation for the American audience. Spam, a nod to the Hawaiian version of omusubi, is slapped over tamago, omelet laced with sugar and mirin: the classic death match — and love match — of salty and sweet.

Also on offer are miniature buckets ($ 3.50 each) of karaage, fried chicken in boneless pieces, all dark thigh, the meat rich from a bath in soy sauce. The crust softens a little as it sits, but still has fervor, its nubbly coat infiltrated by ginger, garlic and seasonings that the manager very kindly, very firmly refused to name.

Omusubi Gonbei is stationed right inside the entrance to Katagiri, which opened in 1907 as one of the first Japanese markets in the United States. (The original shop still stands on East 59th Street.) Venture deeper, and the missed opportunities multiply: bento boxes, sushi, steam rising from bowls of ramen.

No regrets. Just a promise to come back. NYT > Food

Momofuku Seiobo Champions Caribbean Food With Australia’s Bounty

The apex of the meal comes when servers present a pot holding live marron. A few minutes later, the shellfish are back again, split open and smothered in a bright, delicately spicy sofrito.

There is no way to approach the dish without making a glorious mess, while scooping the tender flesh awash in sticky sauce and just the right touch of stank from the roe and head of the spindly beasts.

This is the kind of food that requires full abandon. (Wet towels are provided.)

A pumpkin tart with burnt coconut sable, spiced pumpkin and pumpkin seed panna cotta. Credit Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Mr. Carmichael is presenting a beautifully considered tribute to his birthplace, with all the thought and care and honor of fine dining, and all the fun of Momofuku. Many diners are likely to find the experience quite moving as well, particularly those with a personal connection to the history and culture upon which the chef’s long-ago thesis was based.

That audience is primarily elsewhere, and I can’t help but think how much America might benefit from this profoundly pleasurable expression of African and Caribbean foodways.

That this incarnation of Momofuku Seiobo exists in Australia makes us a lucky country indeed.

Do you have a suggestion for Besha Rodell? The New York Times’s Australia bureau would love to hear from you: nytaustralia@nytimes.com, or join the discussion in the NYT Australia Facebook group. Read about the Australia Fare column here.

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Recommended Dishes Prix fixe menu; For the bar menu: fried chicken sandwich; plantain tostada with ceviche; busted roti; bbq eggplant.

Drinks and Wine Fantastic wine list, good cocktails. Pairings and reduced pairings are available with the prix fixe menu, as well as a creative non-alcoholic pairing.

Price $ $ $ $ (very expensive)

Open Monday to Saturday for dinner.

Reservations Accepted, and vital for the dining room. Reservations are not accepted for the five bar seats.

Wheelchair Access The dining room is wheelchair accessible. The bathroom is through the kitchen but is accessible; no handrails. NYT > Food