Friday, December 25, 2009

Cafe Zaiya: It's Been Awhile

Post Thanksgiving mega feast, I've been craving Asian foods badly. I wanted foods that are completely different in tastes. I was sick of the heavy cream, butter, and roasting. I wanted soy sauce and the like. So one random day, I had to lunch. I ventured out to the go to place for Asian food: Cafe Zaiya. It's been a really long time since I last went to this place. They've changed the layout of the store a little bit. And it actually helps with the lines and crowding. They also are taking online orders now. But I always like to go and look for something. I definitely eat with my eyes. This time around, I was looking for something different from my usual Unagi Donburi (roasted eel over rice) and Onigri (rice ball). I found some other rice bowls. I almost picked a beef rice bowl but instead I was drawn to a Oyako Donburi (chicken and egg over rice bowl - $5.95). It looked super Asian to me and it was exactly what I wanted. While on line to pay, I passed by some hand rolls. I spied an eel roll ($3) and picked that up too. Back at my desk, I inspected my lunch. The hand roll was similar to the rice balls where the seaweed was packed separately. That insured that the seaweed wouldn't get soggy. I opened up the package and laid out my seaweed. Next, I took my rice log stuffed with roasted eel and wrapped it while rolling. A nice little package of goodness. The eel was tender and very flavorful. The rice was just right. And the seaweed was crispy. This was just what I needed. Next, my rice bowl. A bites in and I knew that this was super Asian flavored. It brought me back to times of my childhood. The flavors were so familiar. So much so that I don't think someone who is not Asian would appreciate this. I don't know ingredients flavored the meat and eggs but it was distinct enough. The chicken was overcooked. And there was only a little bit of eggs. I wish it was done better but I wasn't complaining. I got what I wanted the most: to enjoy those Asian flavors. Next time, I won't pick this donburi again. Maybe the beef bowl will do better. Oh and more thing, I think the portions have shrunk. The rice bowls definitely seem smaller. Cafe Zaiya 18 East 41 Street New York, NY 10036 (212) 779-0600

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