Saturday, January 1, 2011

Healthy meal ushers in the new year

Gimchi, a very common side dish in KoreaImage via Wikipedi
Cabbage kimchi is one of the side dishes at So Gong Dong in Palisades Park.

We welcomed the new year with a healthy, non-meat meal of tofu, vegetables, rice and seafood on Friday night in Palisades Park. My 13-year-old son, who suggested at the end of February 2010 we all stop eating meat, long ago fell off the wagon, and he ordered beef, too.

We've been climbing the stairs to So Gong Dong, a second-floor soft-tofu house, about 10 times a year for belly busting portions of Korean comfort food, and my son has crowned it his favorite restaurant. After we stopped eating meat, our visits increased.

Strictly speaking, soft-tofu stew is not a vegetarian meal, because the broth is made from boiling beef bones. But you can order it with seafood, mushrooms or kimchi, and ask for it "not spicy" to "more spicy." My son ordered his with pork.

You also get side dishes of cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, bean sprouts and spicy, raw squid. You can add a raw egg and then eat the soft-boiled yolk with the rice -- a terrific combination. All of this costs $10, including tax.

We also ordered a rice-flour seafood pancake for me ($9.99) and for my son, thin-sliced prime beef cooked with onions and cabbage ($14.99). I drank hot tea and small glasses of a sweet-potato liquor called soju that I brought from home.

A soft-tofu restaurant on Main Street in Fort Lee apparently is now operated by the same owner, because I noticed the receipt I got Friday night lists the one in Pal Park as "So Gong Dong II." The restaurant stays open until the wee hours. 

So Gong Dong II, 118 Broad Ave., Second Floor, 
Palisades Park. BYO, open seven days for lunch and dinner.

Breakfast salads

For years, I'd eat a sandwich for breakfast -- open-face, traditional or with Syrian pocket bread. The main ingredient was fish: smoked wild lox or sardines or canned tuna-salmon-sardine salad. I spread the bread with homemade soft yogurt cheese, pesto or hummus, and add sliced tomato, za'atar thyme mixture, sliced cheese and organic salad greens.

Now that I've lost 15 pounds by cutting down on bread and pizza, and visiting a gym five days a week, I've deconstructed the sandwich, eliminating the bread and assembling a salad for breakfast that has many of the same ingredients, including Earthbound Farm organic spring mix ($4.49 a pound at Costco). 

I've also added sun-dried tomatoes in oil, yogurt-cheese balls or a simple egg-white omelet. 

Good stuff for sale

I was looking for antibiotic-free Readington Farms chicken for my son on Friday in the ShopRite in Rochelle Park. ShopRite always seems to have a big sale on crappy Perdue chicken, but discounts for Readington Farms poultry are rare.

However, I saw a sign for Readington Farms leg quarters at 99 cents a pound, but couldn't find any on the shelf. Readington Farms drumsticks were $1.89 a pound and wings were $2.89 a pound. (Does anyone know why chicken wings, whether from Readington Farms or Murray's, cost more than other parts?)

I pushed open the door to the meat room and asked an employee if there were any more leg quarters. He seem displeased that I opened the door and interrupted his work day, and barked that whatever was on the shelf is what the store had. Happy New Year to you, too.

I also saw Readington Farms turkeys, and like the chickens, they are raised on a vegetarian diet without animal by-products or antibiotics.

Jenny-brand Kalamata figs from Greece have reappeared at ShopRite, but they are $3.99 for 14 ounces. I believe they were only $2.99 last year.

New bread at Costco

We love Costco's Kirkland-brand, 100% whole-grain bread, made with seeds and flax. And two loaves are only $3.99. But this week, I found a two-loaf package of Kirkland-brand organic whole wheat bread, which I've never seen before. It's more expensive, though, at $5.39 for two loaves.

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  1. Although they possess less meat than thighs or drumsticks, wings are more expensive simply because of supply and demand. Wings are in great demand because of all the Wings places that sell nothing but. Not to mention it's football season and everybody needs wings for their tailgate parties. And who goes to Hooters because of the thighs. Wait a second, I take that last explanation back.

  2. You're just winging it. They're expensive outside football season, too.

  3. No, I'm serious. Football season is just a blip. There was an article all over the Internet a few months ago about a shortage of wings because of the explosion of wing joints and franchises. Actually it was around last Super Bowl, and this year's Super Bowl is in about a month, so the distributors are probably stocking their freezers. Perdue and Cargill scientists are working frantically to make genetically modified chickens with four wings even. Okay, I made that last part up. But I'm serious about the shortage.

  4. Have you tried the organic tofu stew house in Ridgewood (88 Godwin Ave) or the Hot Pot Healthy Asian Fusion place in Hackensack (60 River St.)?

  5. Yes, I have been to the Ridgewood organic soft tofu house. It's near Whole Foods Market.

    I liked the stew and side dishes, but they didn't make it as spicy as I wanted. I'd go back there, though.

    The Hackensack place is near the old Record headquarters, but I've never been there. It's a tough location for a restaurant, and it closed, then opened again.

    I like the atmosphere in Palisades Park and all the choice it has to offer.


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