If you haven’t seen Kelly Choi sporting a trench coat on her show Secrets of New York, you’ve probably seen her donning skimpier attire as the host of New York Eats. She also just appeared as a judge on Iron Chef and will soon team with a liquor sponsor to publish The 25 Most Delicious Dishes in New York. What’s one of them? The moussaka at Pylos. “I’m crazy about Greek and Middle Eastern food,” Choi tells us. She doesn’t have the extravagant expense account you’d expect, and she isn’t often hungry for complimentary desserts — but still, the former Ford model managed to put away quite a bit this week.
How does a chef who never cooks ply his craft? One who rarely comes near a pan or a pot? Who neither stirs a stew nor lards a roast? Ask a sushi chef, as proper sashimi preparation is one of the most prized of gastronomical arts. And the sushi chef’s most valued tool is his knife, says chef Tadashi Ono of Matsuri: “Knife skill is very fundamental, the most important skill.” Ono uses a Masamoto yanagi (sashimi knife) that he bought in Tokyo in 1992. It was originally 30 centimeters (nearly a foot) long, but years of daily sharpening along its right side (as Tadashi is right-handed) have reduced its length by a third, but the knife is still razor sharp. “The surface of the knife is extremely important,” Ono says. “Sashimi must have a silky texture. In Japanese cooking we don’t do much to the ingredients, so they have to be presented in the very best way possible. A coarser knife would leave the fish mushy.” Masamoto knives, manufactured in Ono’s hometown of Tokyo (“We love them because they are our native product”) can be purchased at Korin Trading Company for $232, for a very good knife, or $398, for one similar to the grade Ono uses. But there is no acquiring the fifteen years of hard practice; that you have to get yourself.
The Gobbler has often expounded on the role that subjective tastes play in the enjoyment of a particular meal or restaurant. Mrs. Gobbler, for instance, likes to dine in sushi bars and tiny English tea parlors, while the Gobbler prefers giant, smoke-filled barbecue establishments and unruly burger joints. During our time wandering the sprawling landscape that is New York City fine dining, however, we have noticed that not very good restaurants, like Kobe Club (reviewed this week, and which of course, not everybody thought was so bad), tend to have certain characteristics in common. So here are a few of the Gobbler’s tips for anticipating when your dinner might really suck.