Sake Gumi
With another year (about to be) behind us, I've asked Umami Mart contributors to disclose their Top 5 of 2008. A special thanks to all of UM's contributors, readers and commenters, for keeping up with all the food haps throughout the year. You all keep UM alive, and I love you for that.

Here's hoping that 2009 will be a year of innovative, comforting and brilliant eats that you will still be drooling about a year from now. Check out last year's roundup here.

Happy New Year!!!



1. BY FAR! lunch at Interlude in Melbourne, Australia. This was perhaps one of the best meals I've ever had.

2. One last veggie burger on a giant english muffin at the late Florent.

3. Champagne with Mel brooks at Adour Alain Ducasse. They also had fantastic french macaroons.

4. Dinner at the Bonjin Diner

5. Hot Pickle and Cheese Sandwich at Wintermarket (by New Amsterdam Public) last January



1. Taste-testing at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. Highlight: Carmela Ice Cream Stand. Imagine the flavors of Doughnut Plant in the form of ice cream & sorbet. I tried to convince myself I was eating sorbet, but I think it really was ice cream.

2. Tie: A fast, yet delicious, meal at the Shabu-Shabu House, Little Tokyo in L.A. We waited in line longer than than we actually sat down. Plus Blood pudding & eggs over easy at Balthazar.

3. Tie: Sushi at Kamui Den, this great little Japanese place on Avenue A, near 14th Street, NYC. Plus Homemade hash browns at this yummy cafe in Culver City, CA. Great decor, the name escapes me....

4. Virgin cocktails at the Hudson River Cafe, Harlem.

5. Out of the blue, finding the Magnolia Bakery on the Upper West Side on a cold and snowy night.



1. San Pedro Fish Market: This gets the top spot, because it’s the first and only food experience I’ve posted about on Umami. Oysters, scallops, lobster, crab, calamari, shrimp, cod, beer, etc. It may not be as pretty as Fisherman’s wharf, but it’s way yummier.

2. Lucques Cassoulet Night/Lucques Rib Fest/Lucques New Year’s Eve: Lucques is my fave restaurant in LA (so far) and they do themed nights every so often. In 2008, I’ll have hit up three of them: cassoulet night, the rib fest, and their Moulin Rouge themed New Year’s Eve. I’m hoping after the 31st, the Moulin Rouge prix fixe will take the top spot on my list.

Anyway, the cassoulet was amazing, but what made it even better was desert: warm buckwheat crêpes with armagnac prunes, crème legère and toasted almonds. I don’t even know what armagnac prunes are, but they taste good. The best part of the ribs was the watermelon salad and the Johnny Knoxville sighting at the bar. We weren’t sure it was him at first, but the belt that said Knoxville kind of gave him away.

3. M Shanghai Bistro in Williamsburg: Bryon and I were in NY in April and as always it was FREEZING. After a long day of trekking all through Manhattan, we hopped in a cab (I know, but the L train sucks sometimes and we live in LA now) and headed straight to M. It’s the best comfort Chinese food on a cold day in NY. Especially the juicy buns and the sauteed morning glory.

4. Fin Fish in Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort: One may not always connect Reno to delicious food, but Fin Fish at the Grand Sierra Resort was amazing. Maybe it was the company (myself, my sister, three of my girl cousins), the good service, or the fact that my uncle footed the bill all the way from San Jose, but it was a meal I will never forget. Dirty martinis, scallops, roasted corn = hell yes. For those looking for a cheaper and smokier alternative, I recommend the Awful, Awful Burger at the Nugget.

5. Little Dom’s: I’ve lived in Silverlake for three years now and didn’t discover Little Dom’s till two months ago just in the neighboring hood of Los Feliz. Great ambiance, good wine and martinis, but the appetizers here are the best. Thanks to Anne and Ben for introducing Bryon and I to the rice balls. The grilled Artichoke is also delicious. They could use more items on the menu in general, but just get an extra order of rice balls to make up for it.

Runner ups: Domino’s thin crust pizza with tomatoes and bacon, LaMill cafe’s Pork Belly sandwich, Iced Soy Lattes at Intelligentsia, Extra dirty martinis and French fries with gorgonzola sauce.



1. Last night at Pie's & Thighs in Williamsburg. Even still- FUCK THE DOH!!!

2. Baking bread for the break-ups. Since this post, one of the couples I baked for got back together. Hoorah!

3. Peaceful alone-time at my favorite NYC bar, Hotel del Mano.

4. Our crazy 5-part banh mi Umamiventure in South Brooklyn, ending with beers and tortas, overlooking Manhattan from Sunset Park.

5. Traditional Kyoto cuisine overlooking the city on a crisp autumn day.

Runners-up: Le Bernardin lunch (post coming); discovering the culinary wonders of Silverlake; pho at Thai Son (I crave this all the time); Matthew Weingarten at the JBH; BABBOBABBOBABBO (I'm a major fan- it was one of my last NYC suppers).

I moved out of NYC in the end of October this year to the Bay Area, and while I'm excited to explore a new city full of its own food history and cultures, I'm quite devastated that I've left the comfort of knowing where to get an excellent bowl of pho, or knowing exactly where to go to eat when I'm on the corner of this street and that avenue. Developing a food relationship with your city is extremely important to me, but takes time to cultivate.

NYC, I will miss you dearly; Bay Area, I'm coming to eat you!!!


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