Zenkichi

Every once in a while, the Boyfriend and I revisit Zenkichi for some quality food and great ambiance. After several times at Zenkichi, I have to admit that the second floor booths are my favorite. The second floor has two kinds of booths for parties of two – a bigger booth that can fit up to four and a smaller corner booth that fits two snugly. The second floor booths are more private and provide a more intimate feel.

Usually, if you’re a repeat customer, they give you a little dish to nibble on compliments of the chef. We’ve had different types of fish given to us before – this time we were presented with steamed eggplant in broth. I love how they do this – it’s often not much but it’s a great way to show appreciation to repeat customers.

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As always, we started off with their Cold Fresh Tofu in a light dashi sauce ($7.95). We’ve tried many cold tofus at many Japanese restaurants but we both think that Zenkichi’s tofu is the best. It’s very smooth and light. I love how we get to assemble it ourselves – adjusting the amount of each topping we want with our tofu.

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They had a special March 2014 menu so we opted to try a few items off of that list instead of continuing our progress on their regular menu. First up was the Fluke Fin Sashimi ($6.95), served with monkfish liver and yuzu sauce for dipping. The fluke fin was very fresh and sweet but the best part was definitely the dipping sauce. We’re both a big fan of monkfish liver so we really enjoyed the sauce. It was really creamy and saltiness really contradicted the sweetness of the sashimi.

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Next up was the Steamed Red Snapper ($8.95), served with a traditional broth that had a hint of plum and rice cracker. The snapper was so sweet and tasted super fresh. You can just taste the sea! The traditional broth was also very good – it was very flavorful but also very light at the same time. I ended up drinking the rest of the broth after we finished the snapper!

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Since one of the items on the new menu wasn’t available that day, we opted to try something new on the old menu before went back to the oldie-but-goodies. We’re heard a lot about their Grilled Black Cod ($17.95) with a Kyoto miso marinade. Their Black Cod is probably one of their most expensive items on the menu but it’s definitely worth it. The portion size is pretty big – you get two large pieces of cod. I don’t think it’s better than the Black Miso Cod at Nobu, but I think it comes pretty close. It’s very soft and super sweet. It almost melts in your mouth!

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I’ve written about our next dish before and we ordered it again this time because it’s one of the best deals on the menu. Their Grilled Fish of the Day ($13.95) is a great deal because the portion size is super large. We had the choice between Salmon or Yellowtail and we went with the Yellowtail. Just like last time, we had two big pieces of Yellowtail collar, one of the most smooth and soft parts of the fish. It’s a bit of work getting all the bones out of the fish but the end result so sweet and delicious!

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Zenkichi has been a solid restaurant for the both of us since our first visit. It’s probably the one restaurant we’ve been back to the most as a couple. And for as long as they stay in business, they’ll continue to get our business. The service is always super attentive and the food has never failed. It’s the perfect place for date nights!

Murray’s Cheese Bar

When I told the Boyfriend that I was craving something cheesy, he came up with Murray’s Cheese Bar, which is located down the block from their larger cheese store. Everything on their menu has at least one type of cheese in it and they also do cheese plates. It’s practically every cheese lover’s dream! There were so many options to choose from that we had trouble making our decisions. Luckily our waiter was very knowledgable and was able to give us some recommendations, which split between the two of us.

We started off with the Burrata ($14.00), which is cream-filled fresh mozzarella with olive oil and sea salt served with toasted bread. This was easily my favorite dish of the day – mozzarella is pretty much my favorite cheese, despite it’s more subtle flavors. The mozzarella was very fresh and the cream and sea salt really gave it so much flavor! I definitely recommend this dish.

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We then split the Buffalo Cheese Curls ($10.00), which are Wisconsin Cheddar curds tossed in a buffalo sauce and served with Blue River Blue Cheese dressing. One of my favorite snacks are buffalo chicken bites so this was a good one for me. The buffalo sauce was just a bit spicy and the blue cheese dressing was very tangy. The dish looks small but it really fills you up!

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I was primarily responsible for the Mac & Cheese (&12.00), which features their special blend of four cheeses topped with breadcrumbs. I thoroughly enjoyed the mac and cheese – it was creamy and gooey. In fact, it even tastes better the next day when all the cheese sauce has soaked through the pasta! It’s not the best mac and cheese that I’ve had (that goes to Bleecher’s in Flatiron) but it’s pretty darn good.

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The Boyfriend was primarily responsible for finishing the Cheeseburger ($17.00), which features Ottomanelli Brother’s grass-fed beef on a brioche bun with rarebit cheddar cheese sauce. The unique fact about this burger is that the cheese sauce comes in a pitcher and you pour it onto your burger yourself. You get to choose how much cheese you want to use. The burger was delicious without the cheese but it tasted completely different with the cheese. The burger also comes with fries, which I ended up dipping into the cheese sauce. I’m a huge fan of cheese fries!!

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Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Murray’s. Our waiter was very nice and helpful. He ensured that our dishes came out almost one at a time so we could have time to enjoy each one without being too overwhelmed with plates on the table. His recommendations were extremely on point and we enjoyed everything he suggested. I definitely want to be back to try their other dishes – especially the cheese melt with tomato soup!

Momofuku Noodle Bar

The Boyfriend and I were wandering around the East Village after making a pitstop at an iPhone repair shop. We had no idea where to eat for lunch – until we stumbled onto Momofuku Noodle Bar. We’ve heard about the insane wait times during dinner so we thought, ‘hey, why not try it now?’ We were seated right away after walking in at about 1:00pm. We opted to sit at the bar (their tables have hooks for your bags!) instead of a table. This way, we could watch all the chefs making the food!

We started off with their Pork Buns ($10.00), which aren’t on the menu but written on the blackboards along the walls of the restaurant. They come two to an order and were absolutely delicious. I love that they use hoisin sauce instead of spicy mayo – when it comes to buns, I prefer hoisin sauce. The pork belly was super tender and practically melted in my mouth. Based on personal preference (hoisin sauce!), I have to say this is the best pork bun I’ve had.

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I went with the Momofuku Ramen, which has pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg. First off, I absolutely loved the poached egg. It’s different from other ramen places, who serves soft-boiled eggs with their ramen. The ramen noodles themselves were very good – very bouncy and chewy. However, I felt that the broth itself wasn’t as good as many other ramen restaurants. It was nice but not as flavorful as I’m used to.

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The Boyfriend opted for the Spicy Miso Ramen, which is served with smoked chicken, swiss chard and sesame. I didn’t try his since I’m not that big of a fan of spicy ramen but he said it was quite good.

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For dessert, we went with Lucky Charms Soft Serve, which I had no idea even existed until our waiter told us the flavor of the day. It was so good! It tastes like the milk that’s left after you finish your bowl of Lucky Charms. I loved it!

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Service was quick and attentive. My water glass was never half empty and our dishes were always cleared in a timely manner. I think next time I might pass on the ramen and just get two orders of the pork buns for myself!