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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Eating Out + Eating In: At Rosa Mexicano, BCD Tofu House, why I 'cook ahead,' more

VIVA MEXICO! A delicious pan-seared Striped Bass Filet with crisped skin and Roasted Asparagus, above, and crunchy Wild Jumbo Shrimp swimming in a spicy green salsa, below, were two of our entrees from a fixed-price New Year's Eve menu at Rosa Mexicano. The fine-dining restaurant in Hackensack makes just about everything from scratch.
Veracruz-style Alambre de Camarones are Wild Jumbo Shrimp, which were marinated in garlic vinaigrette, and grilled with onions and serrano chiles. They were served with achiote rice, and salsa verde picante.


-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

I have a special place in my heart for Rosa Mexicano, the Mexican restaurant that is approaching its 10th anniversary in Hackensack's premier shopping center.

When the fine-dining restaurant first opened, I attended demonstrations by the chef, who showed how salsas, moles, tortillas and other items were made from scratch.

A complimentary Mexican breakfast usually was served.

On New Year's Eve, three of us had a special four-course dinner there ($44 each), and I still think the two-tiered dining room -- decorated with wood carvings, textiles and folk masks -- is one of the most beautiful around.

Our delicious dinner showed once again that Rosa Mexicano, which serves food that reflects the sophistication of authentic Mexican cuisine, could never be confused with a typical mall restaurant.


The four-course, $44-per-person menu included Rosa Mexicano's signature Guacamole, made "spicy" in a molcajete at our tableside, above and below, with avocado, jalapeno, tomato, onion and cilantro.
Although only one avocado is used, the guacamole was thick and chunky. I like to eat mine in one of the restaurant's handmade corn tortillas.
Our appetizers were Flautas de Pollo or crispy corn tortillas filled with shredded chicken in a chili sauce, above, and vegetarian Empanadas stuffed with Huitlacoche or corn truffles, below.
The restaurant's handmade corn tortillas come to the table still warm, and prove addictive.
I toasted the new year with a bottle of Negra Modelo ($7), one of Mexico's great dark beers.
Our son's entree was a Grilled Skirt Steak marinated in guajillo chiles and tequila.
We shared one of the desserts, Churros, above, but couldn't finish them. And the huge slice of Tres Leches Cake (for two) we took home languished in the fridge for a couple of days before I threw it out.
The dining room was packed on Sunday evening, but the food and service were as good as always, and our waiter quickly replaced my cup of coffee, which I complained was lukewarm.
AT BCD TOFU HOUSE: I once read that the red-pepper powder and flakes used so widely in Korean cuisine originally came from sun-dried chili peppers grown in Mexico, but whether that is true or not, another one of our favorite restaurants is BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee. A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a winter special, Oyster Rice with whole soybeans and a small Soft Tofu Soup with Seafood ($17.99, plus $1 for seafood tofu soup). I poached my egg yolk in the bubbling tofu soup, and ate it over the Oyster Rice, above.
When a server at the Korean restaurant set down my rice, oysters and soybeans, he also put down an hourglass timer, and told me to wait five minutes for the dish to finish cooking in the covered stone bowl.
A small whole croaker, dipped in batter and fried; cabbage kimchi and other side dishes are included with the meal, and if you finish them, they'll be replenished on request (but not the small fried fish).

Details

Rosa Mexicano is in The Shops at Riverside, formerly Riverside Square, in Hackensack. Website: Viva Mexico!

BCD Tofu House, 1640 Schlosser St., Fort Lee; 1-201-944-2340. Website: Some Like It Hot


COOKING AHEAD: Preparing food in large quantities is what I like to call "cooking ahead." That means leftovers are available for several other meals, cutting down on the time I need to spend slaving over a hot stove. Above, a dinner of leftovers -- a wedge of sweet-potato frittata, cod, and oven-baked scallops and lobster tail -- was ready in minutes. See how-to videos: VICTOR'S HEALTHY KITCHEN
A pound of organic whole wheat fusilli prepared in a red sauce with sardines and anchovies provided plenty of leftovers, including this breakfast topped with an egg-white omelet stuffed with smoked wild salmon and pesto.
This breakfast of cabbage with salted codfish helped me weather today's snowstorm. Leftover organic quinoa and sauteed organic spinach completed the meal.
PRE CAN CAN SALE: In a preview of the winter Can Can Sale,  which starts on Sunday, 12-ounce and 16-ounce boxes of Ronzoni Whole Grain Pasta (whole wheat) were only 59 cents each with a store card on Tuesday at ShopRite, Forest Avenue and Route 4, Paramus.
Twenty-four ounce jars of Botticelli Pasta Sauce from Italy were $1.99 each, a discount of $2. They contain no added sugar.
In a search for yogurt that has less sugar, I stopped at this display of Dannon Activa, sold in packs of four 4-ounce cups. Normally $2.85, they were reduced to $1.99, but you could save another 50 cents per 4-pack, if you bought 5 or 20 cups. I grabbed two 4-packs, and raced for the checkout counter.