Korean Roast Beef Sandwich: Umami on a Bun

Among the problems to have, this was a good one: What to do with that tub of leftover ssamjang in the fridge?

After whipping up a batch of the sweet, spicy and garlicky Korean dipping sauce for a recent night of kalbi, the leftovers remained front and center in my fridge, nudging me to do something — anything.

Sure, marinating a few pounds of short ribs for another round of kalbi was tempting — perhaps when I have more time.

For now, however, I had other easier plans …

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White Street Sandwich Shop (Key West): A Cuban Coffee Must

First night in Key West and the locals are determined to school this food writer. The most important advice?

“The best places to get Cuban coffee are attached to laundromats.”

Sure, there’s Sandy’s — a place so well-known it’s got sleek rides pulling up all day to pick up trays of coffees to go along with giant bags of sandwiches and a fleet of delivery cars whizzing in and out as you wait 20 minutes for your order. But the one that people keep saying is the must is a little less celebrated.

Beloved as this place is, its name escapes them. “Just go to the corner of Union and White,” I am told.

And so on a sunny Saturday morning, taking a little break from my writing desk, I do …

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The Lobster Roll (Amagansett): A Hamptons Classic

It’s hard to mention visiting the Hamptons to anyone in New York City without them assuming you’ve been to the Lobster Roll.

This festive roadside shack in Amagansett has been serving up lobster rolls to year-rounders and the well-heeled beach set since 1965 — clearly, the folks there are doing something right.

After years of visiting the Hamptons, I was starting to feel it was a little remiss to not to at least try the place once. So on a recent summer weekend at the beach, chef Simpson and I decided to take a break from cooking and headed over to Amagansett …

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Cheese & Onion Sarnie: A Working Man’s High Tea

If you’ve never had high tea in Singapore, add it to your bucket list.

These feasts, often buffets, ┬átypically unfold over a few hours in posh hotels — all the better if they’re of the colonial variety such as the country’s fabled Raffles — and feature heaping tables of sweets (scones, clotted cream, jam, tiny tarts) as well as hearty servings of local savory dishes such as curry, noodles, steamed Chinese buns and more.

I always look forward to the scones, cakes and tarts — what proper post-Colonial Anglophile wouldn’t? But it’s often the dainty finger sandwiches that I covet first. Cucumber, sweet curried chicken — I can never get enough.

So when my monthly virtual lunch-group, the Let’s Lunch bunch, decided on doing high tea for October, ┬álittle sandwiches immediately went on my docket …

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Vino Rosina: The New Italian On The Block


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Years ago, I found myself creeping along the quiet streets of a swath near Baltimore's Little Italy, squinting through the darkness as I tried to find Charleston, a restaurant that had been highly recommended.

Even though this roughly eight-block area was flanked by the perennially packed and fratty Fells Point on one side and the touristy Inner Harbor on the other at the time, its streets were still largely undeveloped in the late 1990s. Charleston, a Southern-inflected French restaurant, was an early adopter in the neighborhood and once we'd located it, we were glad we went. The meal was phenomenal and it was thrilling to be at a place that felt like it was on the cusp of something larger.

The husband and I recently returned to Baltimore for a short visit and decided to trek to Charleston to take a look at the place where we'd had one of the first romantic dinners of our courtship. The restaurant, helmed by the talented Cindy Wolf in the kitchen, is still there and hopping but the area around it has since become unrecognizable. Now named Harbor East, the area has sprouted gleaming condiminium, office and hotel buildings and has become as packed with restaurants, cafes and bars as its nearby neighborhoods. (You can check out a piece I wrote for the New York Times Travel section this past weekend on Harbor East here.)

Amid the current hubbub, a new little place caught our eye: Vino Rosina, a modern Italian restaurant in the Bagby Furniture Company Building, a historic red-brick structure that used to be a factory. Outside on the street, we could hear laughter wafting out along with the intoxicating smells of oven-roasted meats. So of course, we decided to step in and give the place a whirl …

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Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Cheddar & Blue With Asian Pears & Rosemary Honey


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There's a lovely little bar near my Brooklyn home that serves the most brilliant grilled cheese sandwiches — the bread is sliced thin and grilled to crisp perfection. And the melted cheddar within is curled around slender slivers of green apples, which lend the sandwich a nice tartness that cuts through the rich cheese.

I think about that sandwich often — and it came to mind again when my Let's Lunch group, a bunch of far-flung bloggers who gather once a month for a virtual lunch date, decided on creative grilled cheese sandwiches for October.

The version I had in mind had a few twists, however …

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Kong Bak Pau: Braised Pork Belly Sandwiches


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Picnics have never been my favorite thing. Bugs, heat, grass, dirt — need I say more?

The picnics of my childhood in Singapore, however, were another thing entirely. The urge to organize one would only occasionally grip my family. But when it did, we’d find ourselves by the beach on a clear Sunday, inhaling the salty breeze as we unpacked plastic bags of food on wooden picnic tables. We’d have sandwiches and fried snacks; an uncle would fire up the beachside grill for the chicken wings we’d marinated.

So when my hungry Let’s Lunch group decided on fall picnic food for our monthly virtual lunchdate, I immediately thought of my bygone Singaporean excursions.

The perfect food for this occasion? My mother’s kong bak pau — a sandwich made up of a Chinese mantou bun filled with braised pork belly …

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Xie Xie: A Little Lost In Translation


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Working my way through the Vietnamese fish sandwich at Xie Xie, the newest addition to the New York Asian sandwich scene, a phrase kept ringing through my head: “I’m not seeing the forest for the trees.”

In this case, it was the fact that two thick layers of dill, paired with a slender portion of turmeric-seasoned fish, ended up being so overwhelming that it was hard to get a sense of the sandwich as a whole.

All you truly noticed was that you had a mouth full of dill. (And a lot of bread.)

As for the fish — which is the star of chaca la vong, the heady dill- and turmeric-scented Hanoi dish that this $8.75 sandwich was modeled and named after — that can be a little hard to detect after wading through all that dill and starch.

Which is not to say that Xie Xie isn’t worth checking out. 

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New York, Paris, San Diego, Bacon


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It began with three women — one in New York, one in Paris, one in San Diego.

Although they lived far, far apart and had never met, they had one thing in common: a deep love for bacon.

“I was just thinking how nice a BLT would be. I only have the L & T, however,” lamented Ellise in Paris.

“And I have the B but not the L and T. Come on over-we’ll combine them … ” I, the New Yorker, said.

“You know, I already bought bacon and tomatoes and was planning on a BLT soon for lunch!” said Nicole in San Diego.

And that, folks, was how our intercontinental BLT lunchdate was hatched. 

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