The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Tenzan and cupcakes

Today I woke up to the mellifluous sound of mucus attempting to climb out of my lungs, propelled out of my breathing tube by repeated hacking and coughing (it's the 3rd class route...not that I know what 1st class is). Great for the mucus, but bad for my ability to snooze and lie down comfortably amidst convulsions. So for all the hacking and guzzling half a bottle of water resulting in the constant need to urinate, did it work? Perhaps it would've, if I had actually spat the mucus out. I guess the mucus is still inside of me, being all...mucusy and lubricating my innards.

I know you need mucus, but unlike ice cream or bunnies, it's not fun to have in excess. And while you could get to the point where an excess of ice cream or bunnies becomes unfavorable, mucus fails to possess any appealing tasty or cute characteristics. In gym class, mucus is the awkward, last guy to be chosen on the dodgeball team, sitting alone on the floor until his name is called out in disgust, not because ice cream or bunnies are better at dodgeball than he is, but because he's slimy and gross looking and nobody wants to be within a 10 foot range of him without being encapsulated in a sanitized plastic bubble.

Or something. So, on to the food!


Yesterday I met up with Liz for a game of ice hockey. I mean, fooding on the Upper West Side. I found Tenzan online and it sounded promising. It also helped that it was open, unlike many Japanese restaurants that decide you only need dinner and thus open...for dinner.

unagi don
unagi don

However, you do only need one meal at Tenzan. Their lunch portions are friggen huge! An entire colony of eel gave its life to be draped over a mountain of rice in a sunburst fashion for my lunch special that cost $10.50. I really, really wanted to finish it, and...well, I did, for the most part. I couldn't finish all the rice, but I ate all the eel. If you've never had Japanese eel before, you must try it before deciding it's gross, which is what people tend to do when I mention how much I love eel. Its taste and texture is unlike that of any other fish, in that it is almost always slathered in a special sweet sauce and the meat is very soft, almost pate-like. Would I ever steer you wrong? Would I? And if you happen to not like eel...well, I can't help you there.

katsu lunch box
katsu lunch box

Liz ordered the pork katsu lunch box, which came with salad, miso soup, shumai, a california roll, and spring rolls. I wonder, how much food would a "lunch special" include in Japan? Again, this is a crapload of food. Of course, it's very nicely presented, in a fan-shaped plate with separate compartments and paper doilies under the katsu and spring rolls to soak up oil along with two separate sauce dishes for the katsu and the shumai (or maybe it was for the spring rolls, but hey, it's sauce; you can put it on anything), but ...whoa? Whoa.

pork katsu
pork katsu closeup

Tenzan's katsu was one of the best I've ever had. The panko crust was very light, not greasy, and didn't come off the meat easily. I also tried the spring roll and sushi (ahem, there were leftovers) and those were very good. I have no complaints about the food, besides that it was a lot. Then again, I'm a small person and shouldn't be eating that much anyway. (Except I am..)

broiled eggplant
seaweed salad
seaweed salad

If we had known how large the entrees would be, we probably would've skipped appetizers. Oh well. I wanted to try the broiled eggplant since I had such good eggplant at Goodies a few weeks ago. Of course, it wasn't the same here, but it was still really good and kind of turned into eggplant pudding while scooping it with my spoon. Liz's seaweed salad seed good also, although I was a little perplexed by the cherry on top. I wonder if there's seaweed ice cream...actually, I don't want to know. I already know there's eel ice cream and other flavors featuring creatures of the sea, and that's disturbing enough.

Overall, it's definitely a good place to go, at least if you like unagi or katsu. Or that midday eating ritual called "lunch". The service is quick and friendly and while the first floor is small, there's a second floor that is...probably less so.

Before visiting Tenzan, we actually did a little cupcake hunting at Crumbs, the cupcake bakery that specializes in making behemonths of all different flavors and toppings, sometimes with fillings. These are intense cupcakes that while cute, are kind of excessive. It's not really a cute cupcake as much as a cupcake on steroids, with too much makeup. (Tell me that makes sense, somehow.)

too many cupcakes
too many cupcakes

That doesn't mean they don't taste good. I've had the Devil Dog cupcake before (my school's cafeteria carries them) and it was...alright. Enjoyable, but too large and not necessarily worth eating again. Even though they have a gazillion kinds of cupcakes and a selection of cakes and cookies I knew nothing about, I decided to give the bakery another shot by getting a "mini" cupcake.

mini raspberry cupcakes
mini raspberry cupcake

Considering how large the normal ones are, the "mini" cupcakes are about the same size as regular cupcakes at most bakeries, although maybe more expensive. I bought a lemon one (other choices are raspberry, vanilla, and chocolate) and it was alright. Nothing to write home about, but not bad either after popping it in the microwave. If you want to try these cupcakes, go for it.

sea of cupcakes
sea of cupcakes

Since Alice's Tea Cup was within eye-shot (like ear-shot, but with the sense of sight, unless you can hear cupcakes) of Tenzan, we went there after our gut-busting meal. Why? WHY? We're motivated, dammit. Being full doesn't stop one from continual feasting; that is the sign of a true insane person. Like me! And how can you resist a sea of cupcakes? That's unpossible! (I'm channeling Ralph Wiggum here; I know it's "inpossibly".)

chocolate with chocolate frosting
chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting

Liz and I eat got a vanilla and chocolate cupcake for $2.50 each. These guys are pretty hefty, somewhere in between Crumbs' normal and mini cupcakes size-wise, although far from resembling the Baskin Robbins approach to selection of cupcake flavors. Then again, how can you go wrong with chocolate or vanilla? If you don't like either flavor, you're not human. (Sorry to burst your bubble if you're a robot. Just give up already.)

chocolate cupcake
chocolate cupcake blop

After I got back to my dorm, I microwaved the slightly squished cupcake for 10 seconds to inject some life into it (electromagnetic style). It didn't warm up, but the frosting became a chocolate sauce sac, as a thin skin kept in the melted goo underneath. Thankfully, the goo didn't run out all over the cupcake, despite its light body. (Did I just describe frosting as having body? Is that allowable?) It made for an especially tasty cupcake eating experience, probably not the way Alice intended it, but whatevs. She handed its soul over to me when I relenquished my $2.50. I OWN THAT CUPCAKE, YE HEAR? YE HEEEAAAR? I OWE ALICE NOTHING. I AM SHOUTING. YEAH.

...I'll end this entry now that I've apparently gone insane. It'll put me behind, as I've eaten rather gluttonously today as well and GOD KNOWS you want to hear about that and my moaning belly. To make a long story short, my first meal was at 5 PM for no particular reason besides that I wasn't hungry after an 18 hour fast, but I ate because I figured, "Why not, 'dinner' has become a rather popular ritual in today's world." The end result was that i ate two meals in very close proximity, not really giving my stomach enough time to figure out what I was stuffing into it. A bad bad bad habit, that is. Don't do it. Stay in school and don't do drugs.


mzn / January 4, 2006 9:49 AM

When I was at my parents' house for the holidays I found a copy of Jane Grigson's Fish Cookery, published in the late 1960s in England. Grigson's four favorite sea creatures were lobster, sole, turbot, and eel. She insisted that one must buy eels live and either watch the fishmonger kill them or do it oneself at home. Made me glad that unagi comes frozen and cooked at Asian grocery stores.

I think everyone should use the word "cookery" more. Has a nice ring to it.

That's a lot of food!

Susie / January 4, 2006 1:05 PM

Whoa! Holy coincidence Batgirl! Yesterday at my cable network that shall remain nameless, they had a going away party for a chick and they served a truckload of Crumb's cupcakes. I'd never seen them before. And I didn't have one, becuase with that mountain of icing they looked totally up my alley! Seriously, although they are huge, having one wuld've only whet my appetite.

Oh and a dude who works with me said he was in a frat with one of the owners. I'm hoping to interview him.

Anywho, as always LOVE the pics and yer dish... of the cakes 'n Katsu.

Ani / January 4, 2006 2:23 PM

I loooooove Japanese food. Eel, shumai, gyoza, yumo! If you can get your hands on a sweet potatoe roll do so!!

Angela / January 17, 2006 8:25 PM

So you have been raving about Black Sesame Pocky for a while, so I got my butt downtown today (I live on the UWS) and finally bought a box. Oh my god so yummy! My tummy thanks you, and my ever increasing waist line glares menacingly at you. Thanks for your wonderful blog and all of the deliciousness it brings to my life!

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