To my left is an Australian couple asking for advice for their upcoming USA road trip. To my right are two young teachers from New Jersey who have traveled to more off beat places than most. And in front of me is the most delicious Hokkaido style Nabe I’ve ever tasted.
I have to admit I was bit apprehensive about throwing myself into a dinner with a bunch of strangers in a random Williamsburg apartment. I’m always doing dinners like this on the road but in my hometown it just feels kind of strange.
Although I did feel a bit awkward at first, it quickly turned into one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in New York.
Ai and Matt are their names. They’re a young couple with a bohemian style flat who deeply enjoy sharing their home and food with anyone looking for a true local experience.
Matt is a graphic artist/cartoonist but when dinners on, he transforms into a witty and affable host.
Ai is from Hokkaido, the northern most island in Japan. She’s one of the coolest Japanese girls I’ve ever met. Plus she’s one incredible chef.
Together they create a unique dinning experience. While Matt is sparking interesting conversation, Ai is cooking away before your eyes, serving dish after dish of her health conscious Japanese soul food.
This night was Nabe night. The meal began with some homemade Kambucha that complimented a refreshing Watermelon radish salad.
Next up, two huge hot pots of Nabe! Unlike traditional Nabe from Kyushu, this Nabe had a miso based broth, and was filled with chrythanthems, fish balls, mushrooms, tofu and big chunks of fatty salmon that were cooked with just the right amount of tenderness.
Then Ai decided to add some Udon to the pot and things got even more filling and delicious.
Finally dinner ended with a delicate serving of Yuzu(lemony-orange) peel laced frozen yogurt.
If I we’re going to live in Brooklyn it would be here. This place epitomizes the high ceiling lofty style apartment that you think of when you think of Williamsburg. There were 20 bicycles behind a large drop down projection screen, a thousand different glass jars lining the shelves, and cool signs and art peppering the walls.
Anyone who goes to a dinner like this is going to be cool, and the people at this dinner definitely were. I ended up talking with the young teachers about riding the Bamboo train Cambodia for most of the time. I also gave the Australians a few unorthodox road trip tips. It was great hanging out with them and it reminded me of being in a really cool hostel.
How I Found Ai and Matt
I learned about Ai and Matt’s Japanese dinners through a site called Eatwith.com. It seems like they’re just starting out but they have a pretty large selection of dinners all over the world. I think it’s a really cool idea and something that I would definitely do again, especially with Ai.