March 29, 2013


I met a friend for Japanese Tea at Cha An in the East Village. The tea parlor has been there for years and I've wanted to try it for as long. We met at 3, a 'proper' hour for tea, and climbed the narrow steps to the second floor. The place is tiny and dark, with windows on the street side only that let in subdued light. But the setting is cozy enough, done in dark woods, with banquettes along the walls and bamboo screens, if, sadly, a bit frayed around the edges and in need of sprucing up. On the menu is a choice of lunch 'sets,' and an afternoon tea set (with, of all things, bagels).There are other savory choices and desserts, and a good selection of teas. We had the Chef's Dessert Assortmenta flan, a cream puff and ice cream with a tuille— and O-cha, or green tea—a Sencha and a Kabusecha (a kind of Gyokuro).* I can't accurately describe the desserts since our waitress (not Japanese) was not around to ask once she set the tray down. But, before I start to sound like a resentful entry on YELP have a look at the pics—short work was happily made of all.

Cha An Lunch Set with Tea.
'Chef's Choice Dessert Assortment,' with Kabusecha (in front) and Sencha.
Sampling the Goods.
And... a sign, at the bus-stop on my way home.

'Bubble tea!!!' 3rd Ave, East Village.

*Here's a website that sells green teas and can tell you all you need to know:

March 2, 2013

BRYANT PARK: Hot and spicy Malaysian food

February, and another awfully cold day, but the sun was shining brightly and the food was hot and spicy at the Malaysian Winter Market, a two day event that took place under heated tents at Bryant Park. I headed there on day one intent on locating Auria (of Auria's Malaysian Kitchen) since a FB friend had been posting mouth watering pics of her dishes for some time. I wound up waiting on line for 45 minutes to get a taste of  her spicy crab sliders, possibly the most sought after chow, and definitely the longest line. A Dr's appointment uptown necessitated a hasty retreat and I wound up racing across 42nd st. in the bitter cold, to catch the bus, all the while shoveling sliders into my mouth—sorry, not a pleasant description, but hey, they were worth it.

Admittedly, I can't say I'd ever had Malaysian food, but the next day I returned with my friend Sara in tow, and  got to sample more of what was offered. I made my way around the tent snapping away as best as I could given the crowded and hectic scene, and even managed to catch a demo by David Talde, chef-owner of the hot ticket Talde's in Park Slope Brooklyn, preparing his take on a traditional Malaysian shaved-ice dessert topped with, distinctly American, Cap'n Crunch cereal—hmm?

This post is a stretch even by my recent inclusive standards, but we did end the tasting glut with a cup of very good, very sweet, and new to me, Tamarind tea, and an odd little gelatinous donut pastry, from Laut—that's Sara sipping 'a cup,' below. For other of the restaurants and participants at the market see: 

Auria, of Auria's Malaysian Kitchen kiosk.
'The' line for Spicy Crab, and Beef Sliders.
David Talde demonstrates his shaved ice and Cap'n Crunch Sundae.
Lunch break. Sampling the Goods.
and... Tamarind Tea from Laut.