The "well-being" or "wellbing" (웰빙) movement is an enormous economic and cultural trend in South Korea. When it's applied to food, the core idea is to opt for healthful, fresh, organic (유기농) choices and enjoy them in style and leisure whenever possible. Meat, vegetables, fruit, candy, rice cakes, you name it. (American beef? No thanks!)
A few English-sounding words seem especially well-suited to this "wellbing" concept. For example, 럭셜 "luxual," 슬로비 "slowbie," as in, "That slowbie looks amazingly luxual savoring his wellbing Kraze burger (크라제버거)!"
Kraze Burger, Korea's confident answer to MOS burger (モスバーガー), may not be the undisputed king of wellbeing burgers, however. Any number of humble regional burgers might welcome the chance to vie for that title.
Contestant #1... from Jeju, 30cm, HERB BURGER... and contestant #2...
Who can object to generous portions of homey comfort food? Gnudi, no less. Meaning "nude" in a Tuscan dialect, I'm told, pronounced "nudie". Nude, because it's unrobed of its usual pasta covering.
Made famous at Spotted Pig (served with brown butter and sage, pictured right), gnudi at Mia Dona is served with truffle butter sauce, mushrooms, crispy speck and sage (pictured below). It was early in the evening at Mia Dona, but it was still odd to see the rail car-narrow room partially empty. Recession, I know. The long hall is divided up smartly into three distinct spaces, however, and the inner and middle sections were actually all seated, so it didn't look as desolate as my photo might suggest.
(photos also courtesy of roboppy, MidtownLunch)
Michael Psilakis, formerly of Onera ("Dreams", Όνειρα) on the Upper West Side, has been offering diners a somewhat unfamiliar concept of high-end Greek fare in the form of Anthos ("Flower", Άνθος) in Midtown West.
I had high hopes for this Greek restaurant, since I adore Greek food. In summary, it is sad to report that food here is no more special than the more reasonably priced casual fare at its cozy (Italian) sister restaurant Mia Dona. However, you'll be all right as long as you remember that "Greek fine dining" is still an oxymoron. Also, be prepared not to be disappointed if they've run out of the braised lamb shank.
And my choice of wine soured the meal as well. I am really not a picky drinker, but the Greek wines, Roditis/Moschifilero, Skouras, Peleponnese, 2007, "bright wine distinguished by its floral characteristics," and Negoska, Angels peak, Macedonia 2006, "rose wine with undertones of strawberry," were downright... awful.
Warning: for you foodie people in the know, there's nothing new here. This is
1) a public service announcement mostly for the folks on the East Coast
2) recession food idea #1
Have you ever declined something potentially good precisely because it was too cheap?
For instance, you've looked down your nose at humble bánh mì/bánh mỳ sandwiches because they cost a mere 2 bucks?
Hygiene issues? Have you ever read a headline, "Man dies from bahn mi poisoning"?
When your wallet feels light, you'd still rather do a Subway sandwich? (Bleh.) You poor souls, please do try Lee's Sandwiches. It's a chain, a sanitized and modernized version of mom-and-pop-hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese shops.
Mind you, these are not as good as the real mom-and-pop-hole-in-the-wall stuff, some of which taste as good as anything anywhere costing ten times more. Still, a sandwich here is at least as good as one from Togo's at half the price.
Pictures are from a light dinner at Lee's in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. Read the numbers on the receipt. (Cream puffs are on another receipt, not pictured. And please excuse my bite. I had to try my dessert first.)
I don't feel poor yet (knocking on that wooden table!) but there's something wonderfully satisfying about a good cheap meal.
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