Akiko, left, and Kiwon
The other night my friend Kiwon Standen from Bar Blanc asked me if I wanted to meet and dine with her friend Akiko Katayama. For those of you who don't know Akiko, she is a food writer and regular judge on Iron Chef America. The chefs fear her for famously saying, "this is a bit too greasy for my palate!"
I'm no dummy, a chance to eat out with Food Network royalty? I immediately said "Yes!"
Akiko is based in New York but she had just flown in from a three-week trip in Japan. Despite her professed jetlag, she arrived at The Monday Room looking fresh as a daisy, dressed in a black turtleneck, wool shorts, tights and a killer pair of boots. The place was her pick, as she's good friends with its chef, Brad Farmerie. We started with some wine, of course. To the befuddlement of our Ernie Kovacs-looking sommelier, Akiko and another member of our party both rejected the first bottle of Pinot Noir that was poured, declaring it corked. Ouch! Fortunately, the second bottle met with approval, and we were off and running.
The menu of The Monday Room is made up of small plates, ideal for sharing. I thought I'd be able to get away with eating some of the less ambitious items but Akiko guided me through the world of game and entrails with a firm hand. She ordered the miso-baked bone marrow, the "Old-school" pig's terrine (scary!), the grilled Kobe beef tongue with babaganoush and the lamb empanada with tequila ketchup.
Akiko ate everything, declaring it all delicious. And for the record, she did not think anything was too greasy.