New York City

What to Eat in NYC – The Ethnic Plays

Taim falafelContinuing the What to Eat in NYC miniseries.  Part 1 is here.  Ethnic food is a big part of our daily diet hence it requires its own page.  What should you target in NYC of course depends on where you are coming from, but these are generally what the areas NYC excels at…

Eat Thai – NYC has a thriving Thai food scene, and for reasons unknown to me the area known as Hell’s Kitchen is leading the Pad pack.  New Thai restaurants keep opening and existing ones keep multiplying right next to each other.  Yum Yum 1,2,3 all on the same block, and Wondee Siam with its three locations is another example.  But my favorites are Pure Thai Cookhouse with its vibrant menu, and fun vibe, and Larb Ubol specializing in Isan (North Thailand) cooking.  Lately however I’ve been cheating on those two with an old timer, Pam Real Thai.  Outside of HK, you got the great Somtum Der in East Village, and the popular Uncle Boons not too far.  Zabb Elee is another excellent Isan, and if you can somehow make it to Pok Pok in Brooklyn, you are in for a treat.  While not exactly Thai, the Laos inspired Khe-Yo is quite unique in itself and deserves a mention

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Eat Indian – We eat a lot of Indian food, and the scene overall is fairly competitive.  Between Curry Hill and Curry Row in the East Village alone you have a slew of very good options.  In the East Village, guidebooks and TV shows may direct you to the Gimmicky Bricklane Curry House, but I suggest heading to Malai Marke around the corner.  In Curry Hill you have Chote Nawab, the vegetarian Vatan, and the southern flavors of Kokum and Anjappar.  Moving uptown, Moti Mahal Delux is part of a worldwide chain known for their butter chicken, and newcomer Awadh across in the west.  But if you are mesmerized by the Times Square lights and cant leave, Basara on 9th may do the trick

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

Moti Mahal Cauliflower

 

Eat Middle Eastern -Middle Eastern plays a big part in our Mediterranean diet.  You got a few mini empires fighting for the top rights.  Einat Admony with Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat and Taim is perhaps the biggest Israeli name at the moment.  While Taboon continues to be a strong option in midtown, especially now with its original chef coming back.  Baby sister Taboonette dishes out unique healthy[ier] street food in Union Square.  Modern Lebanese hot spot Ilili has been around for some time now.  Gazala showcases her Druze specialties in two location, Gazala’s and Gazala’s Place.  And Zizi Limona in Williamsburg is a product of three veterans who know how to treat the classics well.  Speaking of which…

Bar Bolonat - Creme Brulee

Bar Bolonat – Creme Brulee

Eat Falafel – While visitors seek that perfect New York Cheesecake, keep in mind that we New Yorkers argue more on who has the best Falafel.  Is it Taim  in the village?  Is it Azuri in midtown where watching Ezra make it is like watching Picasso paint.  Or is it the nostalgically cheap Mamoun’s.  None of the above.  Top marks go to Nish Nush which is yet to be discovered by many locals, and those who did will certainty not appreciate me touting it.  But the others, especially Taim’s marvelous platter, and Azuri’s sandwich and Shawarma will do you just fine.

Nish Nush - Falafel

Eat Ramen – We are in the midst of a ramen revolution in NYC, and I dont hear anyone complaining.  Except for Mrs Z perhaps who wants to go to Ippudo now on a regular basis including Jewish holidays.  In Hell’s Kitchen alone you can feel that craze.  Even former none ramen establishments are joining the fun.  The delicious Akamaru Modern at Ippudo is leading the pack, while the Spicy Ramen at Totto is not far behind.  Ivan Ramen in Gotham West is another option, though I would be tempted to get the Smoked Salmon Donburi, formerly known as Smoked Whitefish Donburi instead.  But to get a fuller taste of the Ivan without sounding too dirty, one must go to the downtown location.  One option that gets overlooked by many is Bassanova in Chinatown with its fiery and unusual Green Curry Ramen.  And while you ate it, give the lemon and pepper Ramen a shot as well.

Ippudo - Akamaru Modern

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern

Eat Chinese – Some folks familiar with the Chinese scene here, may be asking themselves at this point, how is this guy going to cover our entire Chinese arsenal in one paragraph.  I cant, and I wont, but I’ll offer a small glimpse just like with the rest.  Some of the best Chinese Food is offered outside of our many Chinatowns, like the Szechuan Gourmet empire (I frequent the one on 56th st).  A recent discovery for me is Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns and their addictive Shanghai style soup dumplings.  Talking of which, Prosperity Dumplings is perhaps the biggest value in town, and that’s saying a lot.  Mission Chinese Food is the hottest Chinese play in the city right now, and may even be when you read this a year from now.  Han Dynasty, a Philly chain is doing a lot of things right seems like.  And do check out at least one of our Chinatowns.  Dim Sum in Golden Unicorn, or if you feel adventurous, East Harbor Seafood Palace in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, followed by cruising along tourist free zone 8th ave.

Gourmet Szechuan 56 - Shredded beef

Gourmet Szechuan 56 – Shredded beef

Eat Mexican – Lower your eyebrows and listen up.  The notion that there’s no decent Mexican in NYC is sooooo 2013.  In the last few years a slew of exciting young chefs like Alex Stupak has given us some very cool options.  Stupak perhaps is leading the rat pack with the Empellon empire… Empellon Cocina is the flagship, Empellon Taqueria is the high end Taqueria, while the new Empellon Al Pastor is the more basic Taqueria highlighting the namesake Al Pastor.  Other options include Tehuitzingo, the fine taqueria in Hell’s Kitchen and its bigger neighbor Tulcingo Del Valle.  Visitors flock to the more polished and Toloache practically in Times Square, and while I don’t have any quarrels with it (I recommended it myself), I tend to feel more at home in the previous two.  Los Tacos #1 at the Chelsea Market is another great option if you can brave the crowds, though I would opt for something more along the lines of Otto’s Tacos which is in the process of opening a branch in Hell’s Kitchen.  Another one to consider is Mission Cantina, home to the best Burrito in NYC, not surprisingly coming from the Mission neighborhood in SF

Mission Cantina Tacos

Mission Cantina Tacos

Eat Eastern European – Perhaps this is more for the Coney Island bound tourists who should keep in mind that there’s much more to downtown Brooklyn than a Hot Dog.  The area adjacent known as Brighton Beach is loaded with all sorts of great Uzbek, Russian, Georgian and even Uzbek/Korean delights.  Consider Cafe Glechik on Coney Island Ave, sort of a Russian institution in the area.  Or perhaps Tone Cafe, aka Georgian Bread for the great Adjaruli Khatchapuri.  Uzbek/Uyghur specialty Kashkar Cafe is an absolute gem, and one of my favorite restaurants in whole of Brooklyn.  For a livelier Uzbek filled with Russians on a daily basis there’s Cafe Nargis a few blocks north on Coney Island ave.  Cant leave Manhattan but still want a small taste?  Veselka, Oda House, and Uncle Vanya in midtown should be able to take good care of you.  Unless you are a vegeterian

Kashkar Cafe - Geiro Lagman

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman

Eat Tapas – Basque, other Spanish, Mediterranean tapas galore all over.  In Chelsea alone you can Patata Brava to your heart’s delight, starting with tiny Tia Pol and ending with Toro near the Chelsea Market.  In the East Village you have the fun Cata, and lately I’ve been itching to go back to her sister AltaTertulia has its fans in the West Village, while I’ve been enjoying its sister El Colmado in Gotham West Market lately.  Many locals are in love with Casa Mono, but I need a bit more convincing.  And watch out for newly opened Espoleta, some big names behind this project

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Casa Mono Razor Clams

Eat Miscellaneous – Do you honestly need more ideas?  I didnt think so.  But all of this is just scratching the surface of what the greatest food city in the world has to offer.  In Staten Island for example, you can take advantage of the large Sri Lankan community by trying the museum-like Lakruwana, San Rasa or New Asha.  Vietnamese food, while still lagging behind other cities, is getting better.  Try Co Ba and Co Ba 53.  How about some Korean like Danji, Jungsik, HIT Korean Deli or Food Gallery 32Filipino inspired?  We got plenty of that too.. Lumpia Snack Shack, and Maharlika are just some

Overwhelmed?  Join the club.  I only live here.

Jungsik Steak

Jungsik Steak

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

What to Eat in New York City

 

Best Pizza

Best Pizza

Oh no you didn’t…  Oh, yes I did!  A post on.. well.. everything.  I’m not writing about pizza or Indian food, or where to get the best Cheesecake, this is a post on everything.  A one time stop for the confused visitor that knows only what he reads in his guide book, and Trip Advisor ranking.  In other words, just a tad smarter than Klauss.  I have news for you Mr visitor.  We New Yorkers don’t eat Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders.  Well, the last one on occasion, but having the word “Manhattan” in it should not automatically qualify it for the guidebooks.

A month ago at our company we had visitors from Minnesota.  When we ordered food for lunch, there was a moment that shook me a little.  One member of the Minnesota gang pointed to something and said “What’s that”.  To which I replied “this my friend, is a Falafel”.  Locals eat more falafels than Cheesecakes, Knishes, and Manhattan Clam Chowders combined in NYC, but you would never guess by just reading the guidebook.  Let me help set you straight

I will try my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, and update as often as I can.  Something to chew on before I leave for yet another trip to Turks (lobsta calling my name).  But there’s a chance I may forget a few things, so I would appreciate some help via comments if that indeed happens.  Its essentially a guide to help you understand what you should be targeting in NYC.  Here we go…

Eat Pizza – Yes, we eat a lot of pizza.  Every block where I live has these 3 essentials.  Pizza, Bagels, and a pharmacy to help you cope with all that pizza and bagels.  There’s great pizza everywhere in NYC and I’m not going to even attempt to name all the best spots, but here are a few

Merilu (2)

Merilu

   Slice – You have the usual suspects like Joe’s on Carmines and Di Fara in Brooklyn, but the truth is that there are plenty of solid slices out there and the 50th best slice is not really that far behind the 2nd best slice taste wise.  Consider Sacco in Hell’s Kitchen, Prince Street Pizza, Best Pizza” in Williamsburg might very well be best with their wood burning oven slice, and for something a bit different and not very New Yorky consider the thin squares at Merilu.  BTW, for those Di Fara bound, the pilgrimage may cost you half a day of travel and waiting for quite a while for your slice.  Not worth it if yo ask me, but if you must…

   Pies – While the guide books will guide you across the bridge and make you stand for 30-90 bone chilling minutes on a long line (and fail to tell you that the real Grimaldi is actually next door dishing them out at Juliana’s), you can get similar or better quality all over the city.  Consider Capizzi in midtown, where you will not find any long waits whatsoever.  Or how about the thin vodka pies at Rubirosa, an offshoot of the great Joe and Pat’s in Staten Island.  For your fancy Neapolitan pies there are a lot of great options and I strongly suggest to try at least one.  Consider Motorino, Don Antonio, Keste, Paulie Gees, and Roberta’s at a food festival near you (if you cant Bushwick it).  You can even get a decent pie in Eataly.  Also consider the Neapolitan archenemy, the mighty Roman pie at Marta.  Well, its not very mighty with its matzoh like thickness, but its quite delicious, not to mention everything else Marta offers.  You can have a great meal here without even touching the pies

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Eat Burgers – As with pizza this is a very difficult topic to cover as there are so many choices, and so many kinds.  You are not only dealing with a plethora of Burger joints but you also have them on just about every French/Italian/American, you name it menu and everyone trying to outdo each other.  For your fast food smallish burger, yes, I suppose Shake Shack will do, and the pain that comes with it (long lines, fighting an old lady for a seat).  But head to Gotham West Market, and you can find another solid burger at Genuine Roadside where you’ll find no lines, and no old ladies to fight.  Try the terrific Chicken Sandwich too while you at it.  For the middle of the road, regular burger try Corner Bistro, Island Burger and Shakes and the rest of my Hell’s Kitchen picks I outline here

Dutch - Burger

Dutch – Burger

For the fancier stuff, Minetta Tavern’s Black Label is still the king, as one of a few burgers out there where the meat is so good, you can get it practically naked.  Meaning the burger!  Also consider Minetta’s sister Cherche Midi’s much hyped burger these days.  Bowery Meat Company uses the same supplier for its excellent patty (though I wish the fries would have been better).  Other solid players include the Breslin’s terrific Lamb Burger, Bar Sardine’s popular Fedora burger, The Gender’s burger with beef aioli, and the Spotted Pig with its addictive fries.  But if you’d point a gun at my head and make me choose one, I would ask you to please put the gun down, then proceed to kick your ass and call the cops.  Once you are out, I would direct you to the NoMad Bar where you’ll find the best combination of quality burger, fries, and ease of getting a table (No reservations tho)

Spotted Pig Burger

Spotted Pig Burger


Eat Bagels, Lux
 – No shortage of great bagels all over town.  With Absolute Bagel, Pick-a-Bagel in midtown, Ess-a-Bagel, and Murrays you pretty much have all the corners covered.  And while Russ & Daughters doesn’t bake their own, their Brooklyn Supplier is as old school and solid as they come.  R&D is an icon, and so very touristy for good reason.  But once you experience it, consider something like Shelsky’s in Brooklyn, or Nordic Preserves in Essex Market, for much of the quality and none of the pain.

Russ and Daughters lox

Russ and Daughters lox

Eat Italian – In NYC, one should take advantage of our Italian dining. Even Italians coming from Italy do so, and appreciate the wide array that NYC has to offer.  From the amazing seafood of Marea, to simple neighborhood spots like Da Andrea.  Consider Mercato and its southern Italian fare (real southern, not Brooklyn southern), or perhaps Bat Pitti in the village.  How about All’onda, and Piora for some Asian influence.  Or a taste of Emilia Romagna in Osteria Morini or Salumeria RossiMarta can certainly enter the discussion, and its sister Maialino is perhaps my favorite of all.  If you need to choose one, thats the one.  Or consider Scarpetta whose menu includes many popular staples.  Babbo is possibly entering icon territory, Del Posto may be already there among the high ends, while the inventive Lincoln remains under everyone’s radar.  In NYC we also have the classic New York Italian, aka red sauce American Italian cuisine that one may try.  The Guide Books will direct you to the Theater District and Little Italy, but for proper tasting consider something like Rubirosa or Carbone

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Lincoln Strozzapreti

Eat American – This is another big topic.  The one place that always comes to mind where you can get that old quintessential NY feel is Minetta Tavern.  Eleven Madison Park light, The NoMad is another solid choice with its celebrated Chicken for two.  In Midtown consider Betony, runner up for James Beard’s Best New Restaurant award last year.  Louro is a dependable neighborhood joint with rotating menus, and theme dinners on Mondays.  Consider the Dutch and its terrific fried chicken and more, which brings us to Root and Bone where the bird reigns over a solid southern inspired menu.  The veggies reign supreme at Narcissa, and the Marshal is not only extremely veg friendly, but covers all the classics well.  For something different consider the winter game festival at Henry’s End.

You also have a slew of Asian inspired American like the inspiring Annisa, and the David Chang’s empire, especially Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Ma Peche.  Consider a visit to newcomer Tuome, featuring a young chef with an attitude.

NoMad Chicken

NoMad Chicken

Dicksons pastrami

Dicksons pastrami

Eat Pastrami – Yes, yes go to Katz’s.  That’s not a tourist trap, but the real deal.  In Midtown, Carnegie Deli keeps chugging along, while Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop in Flatironhas been raising New York’s cholesterol since 1929.  Try perhaps the Montreal Jewish style pastrami at Mile End.  Or for something completely different, consider the pastrami sandwich at Dickson’s the great meat purveyor in Chelsea Market where the pastrami is more marbled and comes with a smear of apricot chutney or however they do it that day.  Yummo!

Eat Steak – Visitors come to NYC looking to eat steak in something called a “Steakhouse”.  It’s one of the most common questions on Trip Advisor… what is the Best Steakhouse.  Well, you do have the icons like Keen’s, and Peter Luger that folks will no doubt pick over Wolfgang’s which started by an employee that worked for Luger for 40 years and offers a similar Porterhouse.  But the beauty of NYC steaks is that just like burgers, you can get great steak anywhere pretty much including in modern “I cant believe this is not a steakhouse” steakhouse.  Consider the Bowery Steak at Bowery Meat Company, which consists of the Ribeye cap (the best part of the ribeye).  The Minetta Tavern Cote de Boeuf is perhaps the most celebrated cut in Manhattan.  Though for us, that honor would go to the Costata Tomahawk Ribeye which like the Cote de Boeauf, can feed a small Armenian village.

Costata - Ribeye

Costata Ribeye

Eat French – Classic french, new and old are still plentiful in the city.  You got the usual haute suspects with Per Se, Le Bernardin, Jean-Georges, Bouley, Daniel (who am I missing.  I dont want to upset anyone and get hate mail).  Then you have the bistro fair like Balthazar, and yes even Minetta Tavern which I’m adding to just about every category here (they even have a take on the Italian Carbonara, called Pasta Za Za).  Consider Benoit in Midtown, and Chez Napoleon may be as old school as it gets.  For something different however, consider Le Philosophe for a fresh take on old classic

Le Philosophe - tournedos rossini

Le Philosophe – tournedos rossini

Eat BBQ – A few years ago, the proper recommendation would be to skip BBQ in NYC.  But time, they are a changing.  In midtown if you must, head west to Daisy May’s BBQ USA, in case you forget what country you are in.  In Brooklyn you have Fette Sau and BrisketTown which also sells its sick brisket on the High Line in the warmer months.  But the mightiest of all might very well be Mighty Quinn’s which you can enjoy in both West and East village, among other more remote locations.  For the “I cant believe this is not BBQ” experience that almost no one talks about, consider Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in the Lower East Side.

Eat Ethnic – Need to take a break.  More to come after these words from our sponsors…  Are your menopause changes causing bleeding, irritation, pain during sexual intercourse?  Try Premarin, a Virginal Cream you can count on.

Ok, I have a confession.  This was not a real commercial!  But, I do need to take a break, as my arm is tired and I already used all the adjectives known to me on one page

The ethnic plays will have their own page when the time comes.  Stay tuned…

Mighty Quinn's Brisket

Mighty Quinn’s Brisket

 

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Tuome, Can You Hear Me

Tuome SkateI had the entire conversation rehearsed in my head while sitting in the car waiting for our table.  The smiling dude from Tuome said we came too early and that our table wasn’t ready, but the good news was we could wait by the bar.  Memorandum to restaurant owners of NYC:  If the tiny little bar of yours is completely full with no standing room allowed whatsoever, don’t point to it and say you can wait by the bar.  You look like an ass.  I said we’ll wait in the car (freezing conditions btw), while staring at the two empty drafty tables by the entrance making him aware that I see those tables and he better not give them to us when the time comes.  Reminiscing about a certain Yemeni cafe in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where we froze to death, and they built a museum around us.  When we finally got the callback, we were offered a choice of a drafty table, or not drafty one in the center of the room.  Hmm.. let me go back to the car and think about this one a little bit.  OK, I’ll take the nice and warm one in the middle of the room.  Close call, but we are off to a fantastic start.

TuomeThe front room is rather small, rustic, and quite East Villagy.  Tables very close together which can be a good thing (more on that later).  When someone walks behind you, you bounce a little like that bouncy at the Museum of Sex.  The only other room I explored was the tiny unisex bathroom.  It was one of those cold, pee every 2 hour days in NYC which brings yet another tip.  Before watching a Russian movie like ‘Leviathan’, going an hour before is way too soon.  You need to visit the bathroom right before the movie, as the concept of editing still hasnt made it to mother Russia.

Where was I, oh yes, Tuome.  Or “Toe Me” as Thomas Chen’s parents used to pronounce “Tommy”.  Formerly with Eleven Madison Park and Commerce, this is Toe Me’s first crack at managing one.  The American menu is interesting, playful, and full of Asian influences.  Annisa light if you will.  Unlike Annisa and the momofukus out there however, there’s a clear sweet tone in some of the dishes.  And the playfulness in a way backfires a little while showing some immaturity (“Pig Out” for 2 can easily be pork dish for 1, table side “espuma” squirting).  But, at the end of the day, the outcome was quite positive.

Chicken Liver – Good, Very good actually according to liver freak mrs Z.  Silky smooth, looking like a plate of hummus with a pool of olive oil in the middle.  Except in this case its Maple syrup which added much sweetness but an enjoyable dish nonetheless

Tuome Deviled EggsDeviled Egg – Nothing like any deviled eggs I’ve had in my young Deviled Eggs career.  Three eggs, breaded and fried, with a nice dollop of chili-garlic sauce that made all the difference.  Just a great combination of textures and nice deep lasting flavors.  Perhaps the dish of the night

Octopus – This is an excellent puss.  One tentacle, surrounded by porky XO sauce on one side while waiter squirts “Espuma” (fancy for foam) on the other.  Doubt East Villagers are impressed by table side squirting any more.  Maybe a better fit for Theater District where you can even get away with “Espuma”.  The leg was nicely cooked, not too mushy or too hard, and the XO sauce I couldnt get enough of.  Reminiscent of the All’onda XO with Soppressata.  The only thing is I wished the leg was a bit bigger, like Portuguese octopus I see on occasion.  A few bites of the meaty part and you are left with a long slightly overcooked skinny dude.  Great dish still.Tuome Octopus

Next was a welcomed wait after all three small plates came at the same time 10 minutes after we sat down. Proper pacing of the dishes seems like a rarity these days.

Short Rib – Another exceptional dish.  Extremely tender and juicy, with a sweet glaze and more sweetness from the sweet potato puree.  Very good dish, but felt all too familiar.  Unlike the other dishes, nothing out of the ordinary here but I’d order it again.  Its just that the city is suddenly loaded with exceptional short rib and beef cheek plates

Skate (top) – Good, really good according to Mrs Z.  Nice size, lightly fried, with cauliflower bits and Marcona Almonds.  Good flavor though got a little boring toward the end.Tuome short Rib

Brussels Sprouts – Outstanding side.  One of the better ones we’ve had in NYC.  Mixed with more of that Pork XO, with raisins and grapes providing a nice balance

Rice – Yet another great side.  Sticky rice with sweet Chinese sausage (a bit too sweet), duck fat packed inside Lotus leaves.  Another dish where most of the excitement came from the initial touches, but I would certainly order again.  This is one of those places where sides require special attention.  The Corn looked good as well

Pig Out for two – This is their specialty but with just the two of us we opted to try more of the menu and sides instead of being in the mercy of one dish.  The gimmick seems to work for them, but as a customer I dont see a reason why they cant evenly divide the 10 pork belly squares by 2 and offer individual sizes.  So the brilliant plan was to get friendly with the neighbors and try theirs.  We half succeeded… jokingly offered any help if they required and even gave some advice on visiting Iceland, but no {porky} dice.

Chinese Beignets – Dessert is not a strong suit here.  This is at the moment the only option and if it continues than perhaps some help from Anita Lo may be required to perfect these Beignets.  However, this wasnt nearly a complete loss as the three condiments provided especially the ice cream with red bean paste saved the moment.

For such a young chef who started out as an accountant, Tommy is doing a lot of things right.  I’ll be back (if I’m still welcomed)

Tuome
536 East 5th Street
$$$
Recommended Dishes: A rare all of the aboveTuome Liver Tuome Rice Tuome - Brussels Sprouts Tuome Beignets

 

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Your Typical Village Food Tour

BrigadeiroWe are well into January, mucus season here in snowy New York City.  Its also the beginning of the end of resolution season, where we start to forget about all the resolutions of the new year.  Normally the end of resolution season coincides with Cassoulet Week which starts on January 10th, but with the news of obesity rates going up, resolution season has been extended a few more days.  This is after all the season where we ask ourselves that all important question, “Did I gain weight, or am I just bloated”.  Well, you’ve been bloated for 4 weeks, hence its time to take a break.  Reflect, relax, hibernate, and come up with a sensitive plan for this new year.  Food, travel, what else is there to plan.  Maybe babies.  Food, travel, and babies.

I personally haven’t eaten anything noteworthy for almost a month, and my left leg is starting to shake.  Actually its my left thigh really, my Culatello.  So instead of featuring one player today, lets grab our selfie sticks and take a walk in one of the best eating areas in the country, West Village, for a little food tour.  Part of it is in Greenwich Village actually, but for the purpose of this blog its West or East, so if its not East, its West, Kapish?  Lets eat..

Taboonette

Taboonette – Lets start the walk in Union Square.  Close your eyes while crossing 14th st and Mazal Tov, you made it to the village.  On 13th st, you have tiny but deadly Taboonette which can be described in 3 different ways.  A pocket food place, fancy street food, or Middleterranean (Middle eastern with Mediterranean touch) hole in the wall.  Contrary to what it may say on its site, No Falafel For You in this baby Taboon.  But its time to try something new anyway, like the Sabich (with a jewish spitting on your phone ch), a pita sandwich of fried eggplant, hard boiled eggs, Tehini and more, invented in Ramat Gan Israel.  More Israeli veg options like the Kruvit, (roasted cauliflower) fill the menu, or try some of the platters like the Chicken Sawarma (below) or the “Kebab” which is more like hefty delicious Lamb cutlets.

Taboonette Shawarma

AmorinoAmorino – We are breaking all the rules here on EWZ and heading straight to Ice Cream for stop #2.  Normally I start my Gelato relationship with Nocciola and this was love at first Nocciola.  Every cone filling is done with a lot of love and to prove that love they shape it like a flower.  Or perhaps the dude took a fancy to me.  Since then I also discovered the sick Amareno flavor, but only because the Nocciola has been absent.  The ingredients here are top notch, as you taste every fruit and every nut.  A chain in Europe, but quite possibly the best Gelato in NYC at the moment.  At this point a walk in Washington Square Park is in order to kill some calories, or you can head straight west to the next pit stop.  I wanted to recommend Forbes Galleries but I just noticed they are permanently closed

Lumpia Shack Snack Bar - You know what they call a food tour without Lumpia?  A food tour without Lumpia!  These are Vietnamese inspired spring rolls and this Smorgasburg veteran is a good place to try them.  Try all three kinds and guess which is my favorite (hint: its the truffled mushroom).  And while you ate it don’t leave without trying the garlic chips made from tapioca starch infused with tamarind powder.  Yes I said “ate it” on purpose.

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Bar Sardine – Time to share a not so average burger.  The $10 Fedora burger is generating some buzz and for good reason.  A well crafted creation featuring smoked cheddar, sweet barbecue mayo, cucumbers, and a shoestring fries loaded inside the burger to give it that crunchy bite.  Fries on the side are an extra $7, but if you really want to try something else, go for the Octopus Hushpuppies.

Bar Sardine BurgerEmpellon Taqueria – I wasnt about to include this one but its practically across the street from Bar Sardine.  The Beer Braised Pork Tongue Taco will run you at $7 a pop but its arguably New York’s best taco.  Just like Bar Sardine you can sit at the bar and be in and out in no time.

Percy Pizza – An exception to the rule, a dollar slice that doesn’t suck.  Very popular with university students, and underpaid professors.  You can go to the more famous Joe’s nearby for a $2.50 slice, but for a dollar slice this is as good as it gets and the smaller size is perfect for this itinerary.Percy Pizza

Brigadeiro Bakery – We end our tour in this spanking new hidden gem where I almost got arrested.  Mariana 1 and Mariana 2 were selling their Brazilian Truffles (Brigadeiros) from a basement in a restaurant around the corner until they finally found this spot.  And according to the feminine inner Ziggy, this little shop is adorable.  Fantastic spiced hot chocolate, and a wide range of freshly baked Brigadeiro.  I’m partial to the bright ones over the chocolate, but try as many as you can.  Last time I left with the feeling that I forgot something until I finally remembered 5 blocks later..Paying!  Yes, I went back, ask Mariana 2.

Brigadeiro2 Brigadeiro Bakery

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Restaurant Week is Over. Here’s What You Missed

Ziggy:

Reblogging a post from last year around this time in preparation for Restaurant Week 2015….

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

photo (7)1) A Slew of participants.  None of which are the hottest/trendiest places at the moment.  Mostly establishments that can use more bodies during Monday-Friday.

2) Menus designed for restaurant week.  A $25 lunch menu that normally includes a minuscule or none inspiring appetizer like the ever so trendy kale soup.  A main entree that is either off the regular menu, a smaller version of the regular menu item, or a new cheap invention.  You certainly did not miss the signature dishes, or the dishes that truly define the participant establishments

3) Dessert.  Seriously, who orders dessert during lunch anymore in NYC other than the business lunchers or “Ladies Who Lunch”.  At the end of the day, once you calculate all you had versus what the regular menu offers, you wind up with a free dessert

4) Cold Service.  Yes this will vary from place to place and certainly debatable I…

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Houston Street, We Have a Problem!

161A Note from the Editor:

In the summer, during my much anticipated staycation, there was a moment on the High Line that is etched in my mind.  We found ourselves almost paralyzed, stuck in rush hour Sunday afternoon traffic behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was like a zoo!  We’ve seen our share of tourists at the High Line before but not to this degree, and with characters no less.  We needed to get out of there and we had to do it fast, after a bite of the Delaney Brisket of course.  A trip to the storied High Line coupled with braving the crowds of the Chelsea Market is now firmly on the tourists path.  Great for NYC, and all those Chelsea eateries that must be thriving just about now, right?  Not exactly.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if my knowledge of Hell’s Kitchen extends to Real Estate, for the purpose of finding a new home for La Lunchonette, a long time Chelsea institution.  In what seems like a daily occurrence of businesses closing its doors, La Lunchonette is just another one to bite the dust of rising rents.  Culprit in this case:  The High Line.  The park, along with new zoning permits attracting Real Estate developers who now see a lot of green in West Chelsea, and I’m not talking about the plants along the High Line that no one looks at anyway.  Current building owners succumb to offers they can’t refuse, essentially forced to evict their tenants in many cases.  According to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, the High Line is the cause of La Lunchonette’s demise, and presumably, many more will follow.

I guess we are done with gentrifying the island and now focusing on hyper gentrification?  I’m not pretending to know anything about economics or real estate.  I’m just a poor software developer who wants to have a f*** bagel or matzoh whenever I choose to, or whenever Jewish holiday dictates.  Excuse my Yiddish there.  Oh did I mention Streit’s Matzo Factory is closing soon and so is the original Ess-a-Bagel to make room for Bank of America and you guessed it.. a bagel shop.  How can anyone afford to run a business or live in NYC anymore.

The Union Square Area alone is one giant “For Rent” sign, led by Union Square Cafe which is forced to move after its lease is up.  Restaurants are getting squeezed left and right from 57th street to Houston Street.  In Hell’s Kitchen the action is slowly shifting to the West.  A Mexican restaurant owner recently told me he couldn’t afford being on 8th ave anymore and had to move all the way to 10th.  Meanwhile downtown, Brigadeiro Bakery finally found affordable space in Soho after selling their Brazilian Truffles from a Basement nearby for years.  Do you have a Bodega (Mexican deli) near you nowadays?  Bodegas are closing all over or forced to transform and unbodega themselves.

So whats in store for 2015 and beyond.  Brace yourself for more Bank of America, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, and Eataly which plans to open two more stores in NYC in the future.  While I love Eataly as much as the next guy (I spent 3 hours there last Sunday), I need more Eatalys like I need a pimple on my ass.  This expression never made much sense to me, until recently when I finally got one.  Those things can be truly annoying.  Anyway, I cant help but wonder how many more small mom and pops will close as a result of two more Eatalys.  Places like Di Palo’s, where you get a much more personal service, need to cherished like we cherish our kids.

But is it time to panic?  Yes!  I suppose 2014 also saw many new restaurants open, and I believe I even saw “Record Year” being proclaimed somewhere out there.  But with that I also noticed that my spending has increased, so no doubt I’m paying for the rent hikes as well.  How many of the new openings are truly affordable, with entrees below $20.  For every Lumpia Shack there seemed to be 10 Batards opening last year.  In Hell’s Kitchen new business owners used to find refuge on 9th ave, but now they find it on side streets where foot traffic is much lighter, or 10th ave where traffic is even worse.  Whenever I walk to Inti, a Peruvian gem on 10th where the Rotisserie chicken rivals anyone’s, I always wonder how they are still in business.  My co-worker believes they have a healthy delivery business

I still believe NYC is the greatest food city in the world, don’t get me wrong.  And the options I have in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens are limitless.  But I’m a little worried about the direction.  Perhaps the worry is for nothing and I should stick to writing about food.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, avoid the High Line

Ziggy

Editor in Chief

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, Queens, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Trucks, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

HKSG Update – 3 in, 1 out

Pam Real OxtailNot the most exciting update to the Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide, but an update nonetheless.  I keep trying new places, and looking for hidden gems which turn out to be just hidden… Puff Cha, B-Side, all sorts of new Mexican, and Puff Cha Ramen formerly known as Puff Cha (little identity crisis, that’s all.  We all go through that at some point).

While some of you were standing outside of Pure Thai, patiently waiting for a table, I’ve been cheating with Pam for the past three months.  A much more approachable Pam Real Thai joins the list even though the list already includes two Thais.  I explain why there.

Two bars that happened to offer some tasty treats join the list, Brickyard and Shorty’s.  I didn’t have any bars in there, and I see plenty of site traffic coming from Ireland lately.  Just trying to keep my audience happy, and well fed.

I’m removing Annabel from the list after a recent visit.  Shared two pies with a friend and after I left it felt like I just ate an entire loaf of bread.  I liked it just enough after the initial visit but I think I added it prematurely.  I almost replaced it with Tavola, but I’m not totally in love with it either

Stay Hungry!

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC – Top 10 Dishes of 2014

Lincoln StrozzapretiBowery Steak at Bowery Meat Company.  Normally in the food blogging universe, when a steak is compared to a Hockey puck, its usually in order to describe a poorly cooked piece of meat.  But in this case, its the odd looking Hockey puck shaped perfection sitting on top of creamy whipped potato puree, and topped with a little bit of Chimichurri.  One little touch of that thing with your fork or a prolong stare breaks the spiral roll of ribeye cap, aka the more flavorful part of the ribeye.  A most noble cut, generated by none other than the legendary Pat LaFrieda of course.  Don’t believe me?  Ask fellow meat lover Justin Bieber who was spotted there a day after yours truly and his family.  “Way to go dad, always picking the wrong days”

Bowery Meat Company Bowery Steak

Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – I’m starting to believe this soup has special healing powers.  Whether you are suffering from Flu like symptoms, Depression, Frontal Baldness, Cholera, try the soup and see a doctor.  Best to have the soup solo, as it will clear up both your nostrils and allow free grazing of the two giant oxtail bones in a way that should leave no witnesses.  Its spicy, complex, addictive and just about my favorite soup in NYC at the moment.  Which really means America!

Pam Real Oxtail

Patate Alla Carbonara at Marta – The White pizza section to me is like the pet isle in the supermarket.  I only get there by accident or under some form of influence.  My wife found me there once and though I was having an affair.  These days the only way for me to cheat on the reds is with this Bianca, featuring Guanciale, Pecorino and egg “juice” poured ever so slowly all over the pie.  It took a few initial incarnations (started as “Gricia” with an egg in the middle) until this thing was perfected by Nick Anderer who perfected so many things at Maialino.  Its Roman style pizza which means Matsoh like cracker thin (especially at the edges), but it holds its own nicely throughout so knife needed.

Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Lobster Roll at The Grand Banks.  This place rocked!  Literally!  In fact we almost left upon entering this Schooner (a ship for the German readers) parked on Pier 25 in the warmer months.  But the food obsessed that we are, we braved it out and stayed for the main event.  A Maine style Lobster Roll (cold) using the meatiest and clawiest parts of the lobster, with tarragon mayonnaise and cucumbers which isnt very “Mainely” I know, but serve as barriers between meat and bun.  Very often lobster rolls lose its luster due to a soggy bun, but here the cucumbers keep it fresh and dont deter from the taste.  The roll which comes with well seasoned potato chips (no frier on board) is not exactly a value play at $25, but you gotta pay up for the good stuff mon.  Especially on the island I call Manhattan

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BBQ Squid at Annisa – Stunner!  Actually the first word that comes to mind is “gorgeous” but its hard even for the feminine inner Ziggy to say the G word these days.  When was the last time you heard a straight man say something is gorgeous.  And adding the F word just makes it sound awkward.  But this dish is not only attractive to look at, but got the flavors to match.  Marinaded, perfectly grilled Squid with fried tentacles, mint, and fresh peanuts boiled to match the texture of the tender Edameme.  Add Hoisin sauce for some sweetness and tanginess and the formula is complete.  I hope it never leaves the menu.  Anita Lo are you reading?

Annisa Squid

Carrot Wellington at Narcissa – A rarity.  A meal where the veggie dishes outperform the meats and fish.  Even the beet dish here made me question everything I knew about beets and seek Borscht the next day.  I never seek Borscht.  The carrots are cured, roasted and simply shine in those puff pastries.  They are tender and rich enough that you wont miss the meat.  And the accompanied veggies especially the earthy Bluefoot mushrooms complimented nicely.  Along with Piora’s carrots, perhaps the carrot dish to beat.  If you are having commitment issues, you can always share it as a middle course.

Narcissa - Carrot Wellington

Strozzapreti Con Aragosta at Lincoln (Top).   Orange is the new crack!  Possibly the most ingenious pasta dish I ever had.  First of all its looks gorgeous sensational, and you smell the sea as soon as it arrives.  Smell it!  Its an important aspect of any meal.  The Strozzapreti (invented I suppose when someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being slowly strangled) is made with lobster coral, the female egg sac, to bring that bright sexy orange prison look.  Sweet lobster chunks are added to the mix along with Tarragon and a delicate citrusy sauce.  But the best part and what puts this thing over the top was the shockingly flavorful lobster and scallop “sausage” bits which had the texture of chicken skin nut tasted nothing like it.  As of this writing the dish is not on the menu, so write to your local congressman

Scrambled Eggs at Gato.  I’m quite the sucker for nicely executed egg dishes, and this one topped a year filled with good ones (Casa Mono comes to mind).  Almond Romesco (spanish red pepper sauce), Boucheron cheese, and fluffiness levels that I’ve yet to produce no matter how hard I try.  I Google the heck out of how to make my scrambled eggs this fluffy, and it looks like Boucheron may be the answer.  Bobby Flay got something nice going there, but dont tell him that, or mention this pick.  We dont want success to get to his head.

Gato - eggs

Zabzi Tagine at Bar Bolonat – I attacked this mini Tagine on more than one occasion in 2014.  But I confess that the first time, closer to the Bar Bolonat debut was the best rendition.  Homemade couscous, aromatic fresh herbs, and short rib or beef cheek (it changes from time to time) so tender and flavor packed, even the Goyim foodies can appreciate this modern Israeli delight.  Get this, the kibbeh, Creme Brulee, and any of the other “Best of 2014″ dishes circulating the web.  Einat Admony got herself another winner.

Bar Bolonat - Zabzi Tagine

Fried Chicken at Root and Bone – Last year it was the Ma Peche Habanero, this year its R&B singing the chicken song.  Choon!  The bird is brined in sweet tea, onions and garlic for 24 hours, and finished with a dusting of dehydrated lemon powder to add that nice zesty tone.  Perfectly crisped skin, and juiciness levels I havent seen since college.  Great dish and a great menu that features all sorts of goodies like Sticky Toffee Pudding with whiskey sauce and beer flavored ice cream.

root and bone chicken

Special Mentions:

Burger at the NoMad Bar
Marinated Pork at Somtum Der
Falafel plate at Zizi Limona
Agnolotti at All’onda
Chicken Burrito at Missions Cantina
Beer Braised Pork Tongue Tacos at Empellon Taqueria
Octopus at Marea
Kimchi Fried Rice at Louro
Tofu at Dunji
Samsa at Nargis Cafe
Elk Chops at Henry’s End
Carrots at Piora
Green Curry Ramen at Bassanova
Dirty rice at Ivan Ramen
Cha Ca La Vong at Pok Pok Brooklyn
Oxtail and Bone Marrow Fried Rice at Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill

Categories: East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bowery Meat Company – A Croatian Seafood Delight

Bowery Meat Company Bowery SteakJust dont call it a steakhouse.  The brainchildren behind this meat project, John McDonald, Josh Capon, and Paul DiBari dont like that, and for good reason really.  “Steakhouse” is stale, uncool, touristy and boring in today’s NYC.  You cant hep but get the feeling that traditional steakhouses not named Peter Luger still exist for tourists and older generation New Yorkers.  I cant recall the last time my friends said “hey how about bowling and steakhouse”.  But my father in law does ask on occasion, only to get that painful reminder again that he cant eat raw meat.  I predict that just like with the demise of Jewish Delis the steakhouse will eventually be replaced with places like Costata, Minetta Tavern and Bowery Meat Company.  These are full menu, modern steakhouses with each having its little niche (eg. crudo, pasta, burgers, oysters) in addition to great steak

Even Yelp is confused, giving BMC the cafeteria “Salad, Italian, Seafood” tag.  As in “Hey what do you want to eat today.  Sushi, Russian, or ‘Salad Italian Seafood'”.  I suppose BMC is more about “Salad, Italian, Seafood” than “Croatian” as the title suggests.  But only the savvies of the foodie travelers understand the role Croatians played in the evolution of Oyster fishing, and the invention of the Charbroiled Oyster by the legendary Drago’s in New Orleans.  The same Drago’s oyster was the influence behind the Charbroiled little ones at BMC, though I’m leaning toward the cheeseless version at Felix’s myself.  If there’s one complaint about this “I cant believe this is not a steakhouse” meat company is the excess of cheese and in some cases salt.  At some point it felt like one of those Borat “And what is this?  its cheese” episodes.  But yet, I would still put BMC on top of any steak seeker list today.  And there was absolutely nothing wrong about the soon to be famous Steak I highlight below.

Bowery Meat Company PolentaBowery Steak Meat has quite a few nice pluses, starting with the pre-meal freebies that you wont get anywhere else.  Rosemary Focaccia with what looked like small Finocchiona slices was gone before I could take a picture.  And to top that, some schweddy balls in the form of oxtail arancini were quite good.  They can easily charge for this stuff, but they dont.  Others should note.  Even free bread these days has been replaced by $6 fancy bagels with frozen “homemade butter”

Crispy Polenta –  Mushroom and Shaved Parmesan.  Nice starter.  Polenta not so crispy but thats a good thing as the texture was a perfect not too soft, not too hard.  Mushroom had a nice sweet tone and could have used some more earthiness or crunch.

Broiled Oysters – Garlic, Romano Cheese, Bread Crumbs, Parsley.  The great aforementioned Oysters inspired by Drago’s in New Orleans.  There are many folks out there like Mrs Z that will eat this over the raw stuff, so you gotta wonder.. what took you so long New Yorkers!

Short Rib Ravioli – Bacon, Rosemary Butter, Aged Balsamic.  Six large ravioli.  Nice meaty flavor and quite exceptional.  But covering these with cheese was a slight turnoff.  If I want my ravioli smothered with cheese I’d go to Staten Island.  I would order this again though.  Just hold the cheese.

Duck Lasagna for Two – Caciocavallo cheese, Parmesan.  As with anything “For two” in NYC means “For 4″ or “for a small Armenian village”.  I would never order something for 2, for just 2.  But we were 4.  Like the ravioli this also had excellent meaty flavor, and no sauce that I recall.  Soft lasagna sheets, duck and cheese worked together nicely.Bowery Meat Company Chargrilled Oysters

Cheeseburger – Griddled Onion, Raclette, Tomato Aioli, Fries.  This is an almost great burger.  My suggestion:  Change it to Burger.  Lose the cheese!  Raclette is generally quite salty, and this beautiful 40 day aged chuck, brisket, and sirloin combination should not be messing around with.  The fries were so salty they were not edible.  Perhaps they were gearing up for Justin Bieber who visited with his girlfriend the next day.  My youngest still cant believe she went to BMC on the wrong day

Bowery Steak – Salsa Verde, Whipped Potato.  A Triumph!  The steak of the year, and one of the best I ever had.  As soon as I touched it I knew it will be good (so many jokes with this one, but I’ll leave it alone.  Its a family show).  There’s no name to this 8 ounce meat perfection.  The best part of the ribeye, the ribeye cap is flattened and spiral-rolled into these Hockey pucks by who else, Pat LaFrieda and cooked to perfection.  Here’s your Michelin star right there.


Bowery Meat Company
9 East 1st Street
$$$$
Recommended Dishes: All of the above. But make sure to get the Bowery SteakBowery Meat Company Lasagna Bowery Meat Company Ravioli Bowery Meat Company steak Bowery Meat Company

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bar Bolonat – Shiksa Approved

Ziggy:

Updating a not quite oldie but goodie…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Bar Bolonat - Malabi

December 26, 2014 Update:

Took yet another shiksa to Bar Bolonat the other day and had another fun meal.  Plenty of empty tables on a Friday night at 8 pm but by the time we left the place was packed.  Are we eating later now like in Europe?  I didn’t get the memo.  Einat Admony’s pink scooter wasnt there again, and I’m yet to meet this NYC legend.  Yes, to me her accomplishments here are inline with some of the famous chefs in NYC.  Although there were some misses on this particular night, there were plenty of hits, some of which I added to the recommended list below.

Sunchoke Latkes – Hannukah special.  Tasted much better than they looked (they looked like Latkes!).  Nice falafely flavor

Delicata Squash – Good.  Essentially a hefty meaty sweet squash lightly dressed with some Tahini and a few pieces of brittle adding more sweetness…

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