Momosan Ramen & Sake - Morimoto in Midtown

I first met Jae Lee in late 2012 through a mutual friend while Jae was sous chef at Morimoto’s eatery called Tribeca Canvas. Before they closed a year later, I was a regular there not just because it was across the street from my office, but because I enjoyed their Japanese take on comfort food (lamb ragu buns and braised pork ribs with a side of fried rice risotto was addictingly good). Jae did a short stint at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare before landing at Lexington Brass. My next dinner with Jae was at Zuma where he fed my friend and me copious amounts of sushi, black miso cod, and a huge tray of dessert that turned us into Violet Beauregard twins.

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SSC: Steak Night

"Hey Jesse, here it is."

A plastic chinatown grocery bag landed with a hefty thud on the table next to me.

"Figured it would be safer if it was in a nondescript bag," said my friend. "Less chance of you being robbed. Enjoy."

My heartbeat increased as my Uber driver pulled up. I wasn't going to risk it by going on the subway. Safely ensconced in the backseat of a Toyota Camry, I slowly opened the bag for the first time and examined the contents.

An audible gasp escaped my lips. 

This shipment was supposed to be 6 lbs but staring back at me was 9.25 lbs of vacuum-sealed A5 Miyazaki Wagyu.

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72 hour Shootout Wrap Party

“Can I get a TC?” yelled Brad.

“Time check! 7:00pm!” I yelled, adrenaline coursing through my veins. The room we were sitting in instantly became smaller and hotter.

It was June 9 and we had 1 hour left until the deadline to submit our short film for the 10th Annual 72 Hour Film Shootout competition sponsored by The Asian American Film Lab. This is how it works: You assemble a team (director, writer, editor, DP, sound, actors, etc) and on Friday night at 8pm ET, the contest announces a theme (This year’s was “Color of My Hair”) and you have until Monday night at 8pm ET to submit a finished product. Finalists get their films shown at film festivals. My teammates and I had that weekend free and decided to enter.

“We still need music!” shouted Lawrence, the director. “Brad, go to the keyboard and just play something that fits the intro scene. Think sad. Pixar Sad.”

My team’s experience allowed us to brainstorm an idea and execute everything in the short time frame. We had all the shooting done over the weekend and now we were on the final lap of editing which usually takes the most time. Despite our collective experience, making a short film in 3 days still proved to be challenging.

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The Russian Tea Room: Pass the Borscht!

When I first moved to NYC 7 years ago, I thought Restaurant Week was the best thing ever. Every time RW rolled around, I would get excited since it was an affordable way to sample cuisines at high end places. The experience for me was carefully orchestrated like tactical warfare - countless hours poring over the list of 100+ restaurants to seek out the "best bang for the buck" in terms of menu offerings from normally expensive restaurants like Nobu. Culling the list down to the Top 5. Gauging interest from various circles of friends and coordinating their schedules was Phase 2. Phase 3 consisted of the difficult task of booking the table, a separate battle in itself.

Was the time and effort worth it? 

There were more misses than hits - let's be honest, most spots don't really care and it shows. Offerings would include a generic assortment of salad, salmon or chicken breast, and some variant of a chocolate souffle - all items that aren't even close to the standard menu. Other places would serve anemic bite-sized portions that weren't worth the $38 admission. 

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Betony - The Jewel of Midtown

It was a misty September evening in Manhattan as I sat in the plush back seat of a town car, lulled by the sounds of the windshield wipers moving steadily like a metronome. I exited the car and ducked into Betony, narrowly escaping the rain.

I was the first one to arrive, nearly 20 minutes early. After checking in with the hostess, I sat at the bar and took a look at my surroundings. Ornate carvings adorned the walls, motifs stretched across the vast ceiling. Jack, the jovial bartender with an Australian accent, nudged me and asked if "gin and I got along".

I was intrigued. “Why?” I asked.

“Well there was a mix-up with another order and we have an extra Negroni...” he winked.

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