A La Turka

My husband and I have just returned from enjoying this month’s Foreign Food Night at A La Turka on the Upper East Side.  This month was my husband’s turn to choose which cuisine we would explore and he chose Turkish.  We used to live in the same neighborhood as A La Turka and we always said we’d like to try it sometime but never got around to it.  It was nice to get back to the old neighborhood and after the meal we just had, I think we’ll be doing it more often…

We arrived in a deluge of rain thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Hanna.  We almost thought of postponing Foreign Food Night until tomorrow night but we were feeling particularly adventuresome and set out to enjoy our evening.  As soon as we entered the restaurant, we could smell the heavenly aroma of grilled meats.  My mouth started watering and my stomach started growling.  We were sat at the front window, per our request, and perused the menu, taking note of the soulful music in the background.  As soon as we ordered, we were brought a basket of soft, warm flatbread with 3 dipping sauces (chili sauce, yogurt sauce with cucumber and dill, and flavored olive oil).

We shared a couple of hot appetizers – Sigara Boregi: pan-fried phyllo scrolls stuffed with feat cheese and dill; and Spicy Cigars: pan-fried phyllo scrolls stuffed with ground lamb with a garlicky yogurt sauce.  Both appetizers were out-of-this-world good!

With appetizers as good as these, our appetites were properly whetted and ready for our entrees.  My husband had the Beyti Kebab: hand chopped ground lamb seasoned with garlic, red pepper and parsley.  He L-O-V-E-D it!  I had the Fresh Turkish Okra with Lamb: baby okra cooked with tomatoes and onions served with rice.  Oh my… the lamb was so incredibly tender, I was in rapture.

For dessert, my husband had Baklava.  He can not see Baklava on a menu and not order it.  I ordered the rice pudding, which is my new comfort food dessert of choice.  It was so rich and creamy I would love to have some of it while sitting in front of a fireplace in my pajamas.  But, I digress.  Needless to say, we both enjoyed our desserts very much.  I do apologize, we did not take photos of our desserts as I, acting like a deranged woman who must have her dessert NOW, dug into my rice pudding before my husband could grab the camera.  So sorry.

As far as service is concerned, we were delighted by the wait staff that served us.  Everyone was exceedingly friendly and knowledgeable.

I must point out that we had to use our point-and-shoot camera this evening as our new digital SLR is simply too large to discreetly take photos in a restaurant.  Still, I think the photos turned out nicely.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Yes, you read correctly, I have awarded this restaurant 5 TC’s.  The first 5 I have given since starting this blog!  That is high praise indeed.  I implore you to try this restaurant soon.  We were so thrilled with our meal and I want you to experience it for yourself!

Lederhosen

As you may recall, this past weekend was Foreign Food Night and it was my turn to choose which cuisine we would enjoy – – I chose German. Based on a recommendation from a friend of mine, we went to Lederhosen in the Village. The restaurant is located in the middle of a quiet block on Grove Street. We could have easily missed the place except for a small chalk board on the sidewalk. We were led to our table by a very nice, very smiley woman. Our table was in the back of the restaurant in a windowless room that had been painted to look as though we were sitting in the middle of a sunny bier garten (beer garden) in Germany. As such, we started our evening with a round of biers (beers). I ordered one my favorite beers, a hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer. My husband ordered a Hofbrau, a beer that reminds him of the time he went to Oktoberfest when he was studying abroad.

We shared a couple of appetizers, German potato salad and potato pancakes (our server’s recommendation). The potato salad had good flavor with lots of chopped pickle, mustard and dill. It was served cold although I am used to warm German salad. The potato pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream, were also good if a bit greasy.

My husband’s entree was a wurst platter with 3 wursts of his choice (bratwurst, bauerwurst, and a weinerwurst) and included an assortment of vegetable salads, red and white sauerkrauts and German fried potatoes. He liked his meal although he said it was nothing particularly special. My entree was a wiener schnitzel, a breaded and pan-fried veal cutlet. It was served with the same side dishes as my husband’s entree. The schnitzel was okay. I can’t say for sure if it was me, as I am not much of a meat eater, or the schnitzel, but I was underwhelmed by this dish. It seemed to lack any seasoning and was therefore very bland.

The service was very friendly and efficient.

While we weren’t blown away by the food, I would return to this restaurant. It is a great place for groups as they have picnic tables that fit 8 adults comfortably. It seems like a fun place to drink and have a nice time with your friends.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Foreign Food Night

You may have noticed that my husband and I skipped Foreign Food Night for July. I forgot to address this earlier (sorry), but we skipped it because the first weekend of the month was the 4th of July weekend and we were in Philadelphia visiting friends. The only foreign thing I tasted there was a really great Shiraz from Australia (yum)! So, we are going to pick back up in August. This time it’s my turn to choose which restaurant (remember my husband chose Nam last time)…

I have been trying to figure out what type of cuisine to choose for the last few days and I am leaning toward German. I don’t know why, exactly. German food, to me, seems to be a lot of sausage and meat and I am not much of a meat eater. Still, something is pulling me in that direction. I Googled “authentic German restaurant NYC” and came up with Zum Stammtisch, a restaurant in Glendale, Queens that appears to be inaccessible by subway. A friend of mine has recommended Lederhosen in the Village, so that’s a possibility. The menu at Zum Schneider in the East Village looks good but they seem to get mixed reviews.

Do any of my NYC readers have any suggestions on where to go to get my German food fix? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated….

Nam

As I mentioned yesterday, my husband and I went to Nam for Foreign Food Night. I must say, this month’s Foreign Food Night was a success. Nam is a lovely space in Tribeca with the most gracious service you could ever hope for. They are quick to refill your water glass, capable of answering any questions you may ask regarding the menu and their timing of courses could not be better.

We ordered 2 appetizers to share:

Grilled Lemongrass Beef Rolls

Rolls of grilled lemongrass beef with basil and bean sprouts wrapped in fresh rice paper served with a peanut dipping sauce. The grilled flavor of the tender, thinly sliced beef was delicious and the fresh basil added such a bright flavor while the peanut sauce lent an earthy aspect that we really enjoyed.

Steamed Mushroom Raviolis

The second appetizer was a steamed “ravioli” filled with mushrooms and topped with fried shallots, fresh basil and a lime broth. This dish had good flavor but was a bit difficult to serve and eat. The ravioli pasta was a limp rice paper and the filling fell out when we tried to distribute each ravioli to our plates. Once we got the raviolis in place, they were difficult to handle with our chopsticks. Problems aside, the dish was very tasty.

Crispy Red Snapper

My entree was a fillet of crispy red snapper in a chili lime sauce. Delicious! The skin of the fish was perfectly crispy and the flesh was moist and flaky. The chili lime sauce was out of this world and was soaked up nicely by a side of sticky rice.

Five-Spice Grilled Beef Wraps

My husband ordered one of the daily specials: 5-spice marinated grilled beef served with angel hair rice noodles, crunchy peanuts, mint, cilantro, lettuce leaves for wrapping and a chili lime sauce for dipping. He said it had excellent flavor and he really enjoyed the crunchiness provided by the peanuts as well as the fresh flavors of the herbs.

Coconut Panna Cotta

For dessert, I ordered the coconut panna cotta served with tapioca and a sesame tuille. I would have to say this dessert was only okay. The panna cotta had nearly no coconut flavor and an odd, lumpy texture. Additionally, the tapioca seemed a bit out of place in this dish. The sesame tuille was obviously affected by yesterday’s humidity as it was far from crisp.

Chocolate Mousse with Orange Sauce

My husband’s dessert, on the other hand, was great. He chose the chocolate mousse with orange sauce. It had intense chocolate flavor yet was light as a feather. The orange sauce complemented the mousse well as orange and chocolate do tend to make a delightful duo.

Overall, the night was wonderful and I would definitely recommend Nam to a friend.

My rating (out of a possible 5):

Foreign Food Night

Tonight is Foreign Food Night for the Chin family (my husband and I). “What is Foreign Food Night?” you may be wondering? It is an event that my husband and I enjoy on the first full weekend of each month, usually on Saturday. It is the evening that we, okay mostly I, look forward to all month long. Each month we take turns choosing a new ethnic restaurant to try. Not only must the restaurant be new to us, but the ethnicity can not be repeated for the use of any other Foreign Food Night. Additionally, the ethnicity must be more exotic than Chinese and Italian. So far, we have enjoyed Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese, Peruvian, Greek, actually the list goes on and on.  Foreign Food Night is an excellent way to explore all the ethnic culinary delights New York City has to offer.

Tonight, we will be dining at Nam, a Vietnamese restaurant in Tribeca. This restaurant was recommended to me by Sandra Gluck, Food Editor at Everyday Food magazine. Please stay tuned for the review…