We love connecting with female entrepreneurs and local business owners to see what they’re up to, so we’re thrilled to introduce you guys to Ivy Tsang. Ivy is the amazing co-founder of Nickel & Diner, one of our favorite restaurants here in NYC that combines classic diner-inspired dishes with fresh local produce. She’s also the co-founder of Chikarashi, a fast-casual Hawaiian restaurant with influences of Japanese Chirashi. We met up with Ivy to ask her what she eats to fuel her through her busy business days, and here’s what she told us:
I love discovering new places and learning about other cultures through food. After living in Hong Kong and here in the US, I’ve learned that food helps bring people together and it’s important to have an open mind when trying new cuisine. In terms of my own diet, I’m not too picky. I enjoy a good slice of pizza at Prince Street as much as the raw liver dish at Takashi! I pretty much have no boundaries when trying new things, so when my partners and I wanted to open the restaurants, we brainstormed about what would be exciting and also delicious. A New American Diner that uses Chinese ingredients? A Hawaiian restaurant that takes influences from Korean and Japanese cuisine? Why not!
Here’s what my typical day of eating looks like:
I always start off my mornings with a full glass of warm water with lemon juice to cleanse the palette. This method was sworn to me by my aunt and was said to rid the body of impurities. It’s super refreshing. Then, I head to Nickel & Diner to start my day with a cup of Matcha Soy latte. Alex, our barista, likes to make cute matcha art and it always brightens my morning.
My breakfast usually happens around 11am. I’m not a big fan of kale, but when it’s mixed in with all other greens, such as green beans and lentils, it’s amazing. The dish I’m referring to is the kale cashew bowl from Nickel & Diner and it’s my favorite. There’s a beautiful runny egg on top, which makes for the best breakfast. I love runny eggs because it helps bring all the other flavors together in a dish.
I head over to Chikarashi and help out during lunch rush, so I usually don’t get to sit down for lunch until around 3PM. I love a good poke bowl. I usually choose between the Goma Shoyu tuna, ponzu salmon and the Tofu bowl (vegan option) with the half rice and half salad option. I’m not a fan of just salad and usually need a little protein and some carbs to give me energy. The fresh fish is tossed in a medley of Asian greens and is bursting with flavor. Home cooked Japanese cuisine is my favorite and Chikarashi falls into that category. Chef Michael Lim knows I love Yamaimo, which is a Japanese mountain yam, so he usually puts some in my bowl along with all the other condiments. I also eat a lot of Natto, which is Japanese fermented soy beans and I put some in my poke bowl as well. Most people would run away from the stench and the sticky consistency but this super food is packed with vitamins, supports digestion, and has a ton of health benefits. I swear by it.
Running between both restaurants gets to be quite the workout, so during the afternoon, I need something to snack on, and I like to treat myself to a little Dole Whip from Chikarashi. It’s a Hawaiian soft serve usually found on the West Coast. I can’t tolerate dairy, so this is perfect for me because its dairy free, gluten free and has a fruity pineapple flavor made from coconut oil. It’s practically good for you!
For dinner, I like to unwind at home by making a home cooked meal for the two of us. Cooking is my therapy and I like to take my time cooking with a nice glass of scotch. I usually stir fry a mixture of Asian greens such as Napa cabbage, mini bok choy and Chinese broccoli with ginger and garlic. Another thing I like to make which is more time consuming is a Hainanese chicken rice, which is steamed silky chicken over savory rice, I can make it with my pressure cooker during the morning and it’ll be ready by night. Then, I finish my meal with a nice cup of Hojicha, which is a Japanese roasted green tea.