Murasaki: Ramen to Warm the Soul

MurasakiOne of my favorite parts of living in Buenos Aires lies within its endless galerías, long, narrow little centers that usually boast a wide array of shops: electricians, watch repairmen, random specialty stores packed to the gills and lacking completely in natural light. They offer a taste of adventure in this urban jungle, concealing gems that only the most brave of conocedores are fortunate enough to know about. For the explorers of the culinary variety, these galerías often are home to miniature restaurants or cafés as well.

Galería Larreta sits right on calle Florida, at the start of the pedestrian street best known for its leather hawkers and currency exchange shops. It was apparently the center of the go-go movement in the 60s and boasts a massive marble mural (try to say that five times fast) by artist Luis Seoane.

Bypass the shops and head straight back to Murasaki, a Japanese restaurant that serves not only fresh sushi, but also steaming bowls of magical ramen that will warm your heart and soul. Now, the cult of ramen isn’t necessarily news here, but discovering hidden treasures tucked among the porteño landscape always renews one’s faith in what this city has to offer.

If you’re looking for something BBB (bueno, bonito, barato), you’ve come to the right place. Sushi can be ordered individually, letting you choose from a range of sashimi, nigiri, rolls and temaki. The menu also offers up classics such as gyozas, yakitori, and tempura, but the star here is the ramen/udon section. Splurge a little for the fresh ramen and go to town – you can order broth with either a miso or pork base; both are delicious but I think the pork edges out the miso by a hair.

The egg yolk wasn’t as runny as I would have liked, but I think they assumed I would be put off by it (um, wrong, but I’ll let it slide). Be sure to jack up your broth with all of the spicy add-ons the waitress brings to the table – it really takes things up a notch.

Slurp up the rameny goodness and enjoy this pause in your busy day. Since you’re basically sitting inside a miniature labyrinth, no one will find you at your new hiding spot. Come to think of it, if you’re a) having an affair, b) hiding from your friends/boss/real life responsibilities, or c) a hermit, you’ll like Murasaki even more.

For those who might enjoy a little more social exposure, there’s another location a few blocks away at Viamonte 500.

Gyoza at Murasaki

Murasaki
Florida 971, local 32 – Galería Larreta
4314-6866
Open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm
Open Sat 9am-4pm

 

 

 

Back to Basics: Retro Comeback in Microcentro

Food trends are cyclical, and Buenos Aires is a perfect microcosm of (nearly) every fad and movement under the sun. Riding the current wave of nostalgia that’s making the rounds, we’re heading back to childhood summer barbecue classics: hot dogs and hamburgers. Yep, a healthy slice of good old Americana is being served up right in the heart of downtown BA.

Palermo obviously has its share of the goods with Burger Joint and Dean & Denny’s (I cannot get beyond that awful mash-up of two US chains, it’s just too much) slinging meat patties like it’s nobody’s business, but we’re going to focus on DOGG and 180 Burger Bar because I said so. Actually, it’s because I work just a few blocks away from both places and am thrilled that I can sit at my desk after lunch with burger grease still on my hands.

DOGGYou don’t have to walk very far in Buenos Aires to find a garden variety pancho, but they’re almost always of the boiled sort, served on wimpy bread and with only papas pay or salsa golf as a topping. Praise be to the wiener gods, DOGG is the answer to all of your hot dog prayers.  The dogs are made of 100% Angus Aberdeen beef, using a classic/”secret” Brooklyn recipe, are grilled up and served on fresh-made homemade buns. It’s already evident that this is a superior base with which to start, so the toppings and sauces are literally the icing on the (meaty) cake. Imagine staring at an array of magic, ripe for the choosing: cheddar cheese, green onions, chili, guacamole, pancetta, sauerkraut, homemade pickles, BBQ sauce… I’ll give you a minute to wipe the drool off your chin now.

Source: DOGG

Source: DOGG

Everything is made to order, so once you’ve gotten your lunch, try to grab a seat at the communal table and take in the hipster atmosphere. Exposed brick, big chalkboards, subway tiles, and a rack of random hot sauces (muled in by friends and family, no doubt) add to the onda. Lunchtime is expectedly busy, with the line spilling out the door, but it moves quickly. Service is friendly; you can tell the hot dog dudes are happy to be living the wiener dream and spreading the love.

There are other options on the menu if you aren’t digging a phallic almuerzo for some reason. Wraps, sandwiches and salads are all quite good, though you’d be a dope to visit DOGG and not partake in the main event.

Some Fridays there’s even a DOGG happy hour for the after-office crowd. Though the area is usually known for sweaty underground boliches and pseudo-Irish pubs, this is a solid option if you’re not ready to head home from a long week without making a stopover for a laid-back tipple.

180 Burger BarWalk just a few blocks from DOGG and you’ll pass 180 Burger Bar, a tiny spot filled with big beefy surprises. It’s next door to Baking BA, which makes a pretty badass cinnamon roll (They used to make English muffin breakfast sandwiches too, which was great for my hungover suffering, but stopped without warning. I’m still not over that heartbreak), and pumps out a mean hamburguesa for the hungry downtown warriors. If you ever made the mistake of eating at McDonald’s before, you’ll realize that this is most certainly a camino de ida.

The propuesta is straightforward, no bullshit: Build-your-own burger, with a happy array of homemade rolls, sauces, and toppings. Choose your bread: sunflower, Viena, or organo, Burger: beef or quinoa (for the hippies), and Sauce: salsa brava, chimichurri mayo, BBQ, tzatziki, or Dijon/mayo. The standard comes with lettuce, tomato and pickles, with special toppings as extra. Mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, fried egg, pancetta, and grilled onions – they can all be yours for a few pesos more. I like to go with cheddar and onion, but you can’t really make a wrong move.

Source: 180 Burger Bar

Source: 180 Burger Bar

All you need to do is hover by the counter like a creep and wait; even when the place is packed, your made-to-order juicy burger of love will be ready within ten minutes. If you were smart (or stupid, depending on how you choose to look at life), you ordered the papas fritas and made it a combo. Nice move, sport.

There’s plenty of seating available inside, but it can get a little stuffy (you might not want to smell like a smoke-fest once you’re done). Taking your goodies to go is probably the best bet, and you can be sure that your food will still be warm and perfect when you reach your final destination.

Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for the experience you’re about to have. The burger itself is nice and big – this is a two-hand job (?). It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a burger: grilled up on the outside, juicy on the inside, nestled between fresh toppings, flavorful sauce and a nicely toasted roll. With the papas, you’ve got yourself a feast fit for a king. Really though, it’s surprisingly a lot of food. Tread lightly if you have somewhere important to be afterward. Full disclosure: I spent the rest of my day in a blissed out stupor, daydreaming of all things meat.

The verdict? Throwback looks good in la City. The classics never go out of style, and when they’re reimagined with a twist to keep them current, you can’t go wrong. DOGG and 180 Burger Bar are bringing much-needed zest to the downtown scene, which is overrun with sub-par milanesas and carb-tastic tartas. Both offer delicious, fresh food, homemade with love, at reasonable prices. Why would you ever want to go back to Big Macs and superpanchos once you’ve tried the real thing?

Welcome to the neighborhood, dudes. It’s (very) nice to have you.

DOGG
San Martín 657, Microcentro
4313-9735
Monday/Tuesday, 10AM-5PM
Wednesday-Friday, 10AM-9PM
Delivery

180 Burger Bar
Suipacha 749, Microcentro
4328-7189
Lunch, Monday-Friday: 12-4PM
Cash only

Happy Diwali!

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Happy Diwali to you! If you’re not sure what Diwali is (tsk, tsk), shame on you. Now head over to this Wikipedia link and read up. Let’s celebrate the Hindu Festival of Lights by talking about my favorite food of all time, shall we?

I’ve been an Indian food lover since I was 8 or so. I have fond memories of drinking lassis at Haandi, our local restaurant, and stuffing my face on jingha masala. Yum city. Moving to Buenos Aires was a challenge at first as I couldn’t seem to find Indian food anywhere. Luckily there is a pretty good representation now and several restaurants from which to choose. There’s even an Indian grocery store tucked away in Belgrano. Win!

Here is a shortlist of great spots for a curry fix in Buenos Aires:

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