Sunday, December 20, 2009


Nopa reminds me of a first date, where you go in expecting ho hum, but come out a little enamored. The entrance is no more than an inconspicuous black door, with nothing that bears semblance to a restaurant sign. The only hint that this may be somewhere to grab a bite to eat was the large window pane filled with ambient lighting.

You know it's "the hang out spot" when you walk in hearing clinking of glasses and the buzz of conversations from nearby tables. The menu is short and has some of my all time favorites, such as mussels, squab pâté, and fish stew. The pâté was creamy, paired with perfectly toasted crostitinis that can be enjoyed by itself.

The mussels, like most mussels paired with white, garlic and toasted croutons to soak in the broth, was pure delight. There wasn't a single mussel that didn't scream "fresh".

Although the fish stew was the perfect end to a meal, it's main character seemed to be mussels, which bore striking likeness to the mussel dish we just devoured.
Nopa is a place where one can enjoy simple dishes, perfectly executed, devoid of the the "fusion plague" of east meets west. This is where the food is the star, not the chef.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mentaiko (fish roe) Pasta

Today's trip to Nijiya proved fruitful, with fresh ikura (salmon roe) and pink mentaiko, the possibilities are endless. I decided to concoct my own version of the Mentaiko Pasta found at Curry House.

Ikura for garnish
1 pack of mentaiko
2 cups of white mushrooms (sliced)
Chopped green onions for garnish
JAPANESE mayo 3 tablespoons
Alfalfa sprouts (optional)

Why Japanese mayo instead of American?
Kewpie is creamier, saltier and much more addictive than its foreign counterpart, Miracle Whip. Kewpie is like my best friend, I use it in salads, sandwiches, veggie dips, you name it. Although Kewpie isn't the headliner in this pasta, but being a cohesive is just as pivotal. Without Kewpie, this dish would be a lackluster hodgepodge of ingredients.

I premixed the mentaiko and mayonaise, being careful to peel off the sac that encloses the roe.

I boiled the mushrooms with the spaghetti, being the sloth that I am. But the mushrooms should be thrown in as the spaghetti is finished cooking, or else you'll end up with a mushroom soup. Toss the spaghetti with the mentaiko mixture and garnish with green onions, ikura, and alfalfa sprouts and voilà, pairs nicely with a glass of Riesling.