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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Yuzu Pepper Paste

Yuzu pepper paste is a Japanese condiment that’s spicy and salty, with the citrus flavor of yuzu. In Japanese, it’s called Yuzu Koshou. There are two varieties: green, from green chile peppers and green yuzus, and red, from red peppers and yellow yuzus. A little goes a long way, and it’s great as a rub for chicken, fish, or meat. Look for it in Japanese markets.

Board Links: yuzu pepper paste

Fast Homemade Mozzarella

With a gallon of good whole milk, a microwave, and a couple of specialty ingredients, you can make your own fresh mozzarella in half an hour! It’s not difficult, say hounds, and, with a bit of practice, you can get the texture just the way you like it. You’ll also have the option of customizing with additions like fresh basil or sun-dried tomatoes. (Read the recipe along with a step-by-step tutorial.)

In addition to non-ultra-pasteurized milk, you’ll need citric acid and rennet. You can order supplies at, or buy in stores.

Citric acid is often available at stores selling home brewing supplies and sometimes at Middle Eastern markets. You may find rennet tablets sold under the brand name Junket alongside pudding and Jell-O mixes in the supermarket (make sure to buy plain rennet tablets, not the mix). Chowhounds have reported finding liquid rennet sold refrigerated at Whole Foods.

Board Links: 30 minute microwave mozzarella?
Citric acid, Rennet, etc… what kind of stores carry these, typically? Also, possible substitutes?

Traditional Waffle Irons

Traditional flat waffle irons are the exception these days, with thick Belgian waffles commanding prime breakfast real estate. Chowhounds endorse several irons that yield old-fashioned thin waffles.

Cuisinart makes three models garnering thumbs-up for ease of use and even heating. The Round Classic waffle iron and Heart-Shaped waffle iron (which produces a roundish flower that comes apart into 5 hearts!) cost around $30, and both store horizontally so they don’t take up much space. The 6-square iron is a larger, heavier model that makes a lot at once–great for serving a bunch of people or making batches for freezing.

Allstonian has been very happy with VillaWare’s Classic Heart Waffle Iron, which has a light and sounds a tone to let you know your waffle’s ready.

Board Links: Need a Waffle Iron Rec

Casual Seafood Spots Around Long Island

Montauk’s newish MTK Cafe is looking shipshape, says coll, who reports a fantastic lobster roll and other decent chow–salads, panini, burgers, wraps, and more.

Elsewhere in town, the Inlet Cafe is a dependable spot for fresh seafood–it draws on the catch brought ashore at the nearby dock–and unbeatable views of Montauk Harbor.

At Fort Pond, you’ll find solid fish-shack fare at the Lakeside, the longtime nightspot whose casual seafood cafe is now in its second season. The waterfront deck is the perfect place to relax with a beer or a mojito and a platter of delicious fried clam bellies. “This will be one of my new favorite places to hang out,” says coll.

In Amagansett, the Lobster Roll–better known as Lunch, for its big blue sign–remains a Hamptons perennial for chowder, grilled seafood, and fish and chips, as well as its signature specialty. “I have moved out of state but would go back just to have lunch there,” swears pdxgirl. A second location in Riverhead is also good, if less atmospheric.

On the North Fork, there’s a standout lobster roll at Orient by the Sea, a casual joint overlooking Gardiner’s Bay. “The lobster salad was as good as I’ve had,” reports coll, who faults only the untoasted bun.

Closer to the city, Strudel recommends Babylon Fish and Clam as a great stop after a day on the beach at Robert Moses State Park.

Farther west along the South Shore, the Point Lookout Clam Bar serves nice chowder and bisque, as well as fried and grilled seafood, says stuartlafonda.

Others recommend Jordan Lobster Farms in Island Park, Bigelow’s in Rockville Centre (go for fried belly clams, urges byrd), and Peter’s Clam House in Island Park.

MTK Cafe [Suffolk County]
779 Main St., between the Plaza and Edison St., Montauk, NY

Inlet Cafe [Suffolk County]
500 W. Lake Dr., at Gosman’s Dock, Montauk, NY

The Lakeside [Suffolk County]
183 S. Edgemere St., near Emerson Ave., Montauk, NY 11954

Lobster Roll Restaurant [Suffolk County]
a.k.a. Lunch
1980 Montauk Hwy. E., Amagansett, NY 11930

Lobster Roll Restaurant [Suffolk County]
3225 Sound Ave., between Horton and Roanoke Aves., Riverhead, NY

Orient by the Sea Restaurant and Marina [Suffolk County]
Main Rd., next to Cross Sound Ferry, Orient, NY

Babylon Fish and Clam [Suffolk County]
458 Fire Island Ave., near Yacht Club Rd., Babylon, NY

Point Lookout Clam Bar [Nassau County]
99 Bayside Dr., between Hewlett and Inwood Aves., Point Lookout, NY

Jordan Lobster Farms [Nassau County]
1 Pettit Pl., near Long Beach Rd., Island Park, NY

Bigelow’s New England Fried Clams [Nassau County]
79 N Long Beach Rd., at Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre, NY

Peter’s Clam House [Nassau County]
600 Long Beach Rd., near Austin Blvd., Island Park, NY

Board Links: Lobster Rolls ?
Jones Beach
Lobster Rolls and great seafood in the Montauk area.
farmstands and lunch on Long Island? [Moved from Outer Boroughs Board]
Lakeside in Montauk DOES have home made fried clam bellies…..and Almondito review

You Say Farine, I Say Flour

Learn the difference between French and American flour and ways you can substitute for the real thing. READ MORE

Hong Kong-Style Curry Squid and Other Chinatown Bites

One of Chinatown’s better street vendors dishes up curry squid and other satisfying Hong Kong-style chow, reports HLing. Her squid ($3 for a good-sized container) is agreeably chewy and comes in thin but rich curry sauce with decent chile kick. The ever-changing lineup might also include fish balls, cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), daikon radish with pork skin, or chow mei fun (pan-fried vermicelli). There’s no English menu; non-Chinese readers can point and ask. Look for her silver cart during the day on Grand near Bowery.

As long as we’re talking portable Chinese bites, several hounds remind us that May May on Pell Street is a favored source for zong zi. These are the southern Chinese “tamales” (as the English sign says) of rice with seasoned pork, mushroom, preserved egg, peanuts, or other stuff, all wrapped in banana leaf. “Very easy to steam and eat,” notes shirlotta, “a yummy meal in a leaf!” Frozen dumplings are good bets, too.

Deluxe Food Market, the block-long one-stop Chinese grocery that stretches from Elizabeth to Mott, also makes fine zong zi, says ary. They’re near the register in the prepared-food area.

Egg Custard King Cafe has opened a second shop at Grand and Forsyth, peddling its signature tarts in many colors. The popular egg white variety is wonderfully light. Other fillings include brightly colored fruit flavors–strawberry, banana, mango, and more–that hounds either love or hate. Chandavkl is partial to the light green honeydew model.

Street vendor [Chinatown]
Grand St. just east of Bowery, outside First American International Bank, Manhattan

May May Gourmet Chinese Bakery [Chinatown]
35 Pell St., between Mott and Doyers, Manhattan,

Deluxe Food Market [Chinatown]
79 Elizabeth St., between Hester and Grand Sts., Manhattan

Egg Custard King Cafe [Chinatown]
271 Grand St., at Forsyth, Manhattan

Egg Custard King Cafe [Chinatown]
formerly Sweet N Tart Cafe
76 Mott St., between Canal and Bayard, Manhattan

Board Links: Looking for other snacks near Dumpling House in Chinatown
Chinese sticky rice in banana leaf–Chiong
Chinese sticky rice in banana leaf–Chiong
1) 2nd location for the curry squid cart…2)venison jerky

New Arrivals in SGV

Mr. Lee has opened a Monterey Park branch for their Vietnamese sandwiches (we believe the report is for Mr. Baguette, per info below), and sickman reports the roast beef banh mi and baguette are great as usual.

When it comes to banh mi, Professor Salt is fond of Banh Mi Cho Cu, adding that most of the top banh mi shops are great at something (bread, iced coffee, desserts) but not everything. Top Baguette, Mr. Baguette, and Banh Mi Che Cali are all good to try.

And coming soon to Valley Boulevard–Beard Papa! In the same shopping mall as Mei Long Village. Soup dumplings and pork pump, then cream puffs. Mmmmm…

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
400 S. Atlantic Blvd., at Harding, Monterey Park

Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery [Little Saigon]
14520 Magnolia St. # B, at Hazard, Westminster

Top Baguette [Little Saigon]
9062 Bolsa Ave., at Magnolia, Westminster

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
8702 Valley Blvd., between San Gabriel and Rosemead, Rosemead

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
15551 Brookhurst St., at McFadden, Westminster

Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
13838 Brookhurst St., at Westminster, Garden Grove

Banh Mi Che Cali [San Gabriel Valley]
8450 Valley Blvd., Walnut Grove, Rosemead

Mei Long Village Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
301 W. Valley Blvd., between S Del Mar and S New Aves., San Gabriel

Board Links: New Mr. Baguette opened today in Monterey Park
Beard Pappa coming to Valley Blvd.

Wrapping Up the Farmers’ Market Tour

Dommy has finally finished writing up some hounds’ (sort of) recent tour of the 3rd and Fairfax Farmers’ Market (see link at end for earlier posts):

There are a bunch of bakery stands at the market, but T&Y stands out for its beautiful loaves of rye and other hearty Eastern European breads. Challah is gorgeous, not too soft, and probably would make great French toast…if it lasted that long at home.

Magee’s makes their own peanut butter ($5.50 for a small container), churning it expertly so it never separates. The nut flavor is in-tense! No salt, though…BYO.

Littlejohn’s is one of the reasons the Farmers’ Market is considered one of the city’s most chowish destinations. There’s no better fresh toffee around. Unfortunately, the chocolate that covers it isn’t as high in quality. Pralines are good for some, but oh-so -sweet. English toffee, $16.95/lb. Pralines, $2.35 each.

If you feel the need for picnic fixings while wandering in the Grove of commerce, head to Monsieur Marcel. OK, it’s overpriced, but you can get good cheese ($10-24/lb) and good olives–barely ripe tiny ones, big green ones stuffed with almonds, and shrively oil-cured ones that melt in your mouth ($9/lb). Skip the bready, gummy baguette and get some crackers to go with that cheese.

Bob’s is often named as a doughnut fave, but Dommy found the fried hunks o’dough disappointing. The lauded apple fritters, she says, have hardly any apple and taste fairly standard. Glazed, jelly, and bar doughnuts are Krispy Kreme-esque, light and fluffy. If you like that kind of thing. As for their crumb doughnut, it’s nothing compared to the version Sepulveda and Centinela, she says.

Tbilisi and Yerevan Bakery [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St., at Fairfax, Los Angeles

Magee’s [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 624, Los Angeles

Littlejohn’s English Toffee [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 432, Los Angeles

Mr Marcel Gourmet Market [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 236, Los Angeles

Bob’s Coffee & Donuts [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 450, Los Angeles

Board Links: Doing the Farmer’s Market–ALLOF IT!! Pt. 4: Magee’s Nuts, Bob’s, Mr. Marcel, Little Johns and the PROOF!

Cafe Fanny Changes – Perfect Ice Cream and Sorbet

Cafe Fanny has acquired a new pastry chef–and their desserts have drastically improved.

rworange had a few less-than-delicious scoops under their old dessert regime. The new pastry chef has changed everything–the ice creams are truly stunning. Caramel ice cream is smooth and creamy, with an intense caramel taste. It inhabits the soul of the caramel. It is highly, highly recommended.

The mango sorbet is magnificent, especially its silky smooth texture. It’s like an elegant ganache, only full of tart mango.

$5 a scoop, though…

Cafe Fanny [East Bay]
1603 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley

Board Links: Oh MY !!!–Cafe Fanny–Organic Caramel Ice Cream & Mango Sorbet–They got it right … really, really right

Hot Cocoa Hotties

Hot Cocoa Hotties

We like our chocolate rich and a little bitter. Hold the marshmallows. READ MORE