New York City

Nargis Cafe – Uzbek Beauty With an Attitude

Ziggy:

Another fun meal at Nargis Cafe…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Nargis Cafe Samsa

8/30/15 Update:  Another great lunch in one of my Brooklyn faves.  You cant get this stuff in Manhattan.  The Plov is still Killa!  So are the Monti, those giant dumplings filled with cuminy meaty goodness.  The chicken kebabs and Lyulya kebab are some of the juiciest tenderest kebabs you will ever eat.  Among the starters I particularly like the red eggplant dish (over the green) and the avocado salad.  They make Lagman noodles but only offer it in soup (very good).  It doesnt look like they have Pilmeni any more but they do offer its fried uzbek cousin Chuchvara.  Wash it all down with the Szech draft beer (the second one, forgot the name) or their terrific Kompot (Russian fruit punch).  Very busy place, sort of approaching local institution status.  You cant get this in the city.  Did I already say that?  Well I’m saying this again.  I just read the…

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Hellish Update

Mocu Mocu DishesIn my constant pursuit to bringing you the best bites in an area I call Hell’s Kitchen, I present to you this most pressing update.  Two in, two out

Out:  We fare adios to Bis.Co.Latte who lost their battle with the rising rent monster.  This means we are saying goodbye to over 50 flavors of Biscotti, but more importantly Hell’s Kitchen best soups.  Best of luck to Holly & Antone with the next venture.  Hopefully a soup truck right at my doorsteps.

Out:  Co Ba 53.  While I wouldn’t be so quick to remove a place closed by the health dep’t, the last couple of meals helped with the decision.  I wish them the best, and please if you do reopen, get rid of the stupid tablecloth.  It makes you look fancier than you are, and it doesn’t fit the place and the neighborhood (Update:  Just passed by them and they already reopened.  Oh Well)

In:  Otto’s Tacos.  The first addition I didn’t even need to try.  I’m already well too familiar with their East Village spot, and those shrimp tacos (hmmm, how you doing).  But I did of course had my fix on day two of this most important Hell’s Kitchen opening since Gotham West.  I’ll be seeing more of them

In:  Mocu Mocu.  More Japanese goodies in the hood, though there’s really nothing like this in the area.  Artsy, nifty but very casual spot that is still trying to find its bearings.   Essentially all sorts of Japanese street food and snacks.  Takoyaki (octopus balls), Oshinko (homemade pickles), soups like the terrific white bean and Sausage Miso, Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), Obanyaki (dessert pastries), decent wings.  I’ve been here three times already and each time I discover something new.  This project is a collaboration of two sisters and Hiroko Shimbo, an acclaimed cookbook author.  Unlike the new atrocity across the street El Original, this place hasn’t spent a day on any hot list, while flying under everyone radar.  Its all in the marketing, and word of mouth.  That’s why I’m here

Buon Appetito!Mocu Mocu Miso Mocu Mocu Otto's Tacos

 

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

Top 10 Reasons to Visit the NoMad Bar

Ziggy:

Reiterating Strong Buy after another fun visit with friends. Get the burger, carrot, scallops and call me in the morning. I updated this top 10 to make it less offensive and more corny.

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

116 Bay Scallops marinated with yuzu & pistachio

10. The place is sort of neat looking.  Like what you expect to find at a secret Playboy tunnel

9.  They have a Chicken Pot Pie that will make you wish you were Amish

8.  Their head bartender has more moves than Nicky Minaj.  Try the Start Me Up!

7.  Their carrot tartare will make you start eating carrots

6.  You now realize that on your previous trip you went to the wrong Nomad.  It happens quite often actually.  Like 1 out of 10 Asian tourists go to the wrong nomad.  Cabbies love it and make bets.

5.  Their Bay Scallops will make you start eating carrots (strange, I know)

4.  The Cocktail Explosion will make your 15 Instagram followers very jealous (and worried)

3.  The meaning of Life, Christmas, and Marriage will instantly be revealed once you try the 28 day Dry-Aged Burger with bone…

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The NYC Trip Report that Left Me Speechless

Annisa SquidAnd starving.  Like, literally starving to death.  There was a point where I realized that the safest time to read Aynat’s (Trip Advisor handle) daily accounts of her NY adventure is between 6 and 6:45, before my stomach wakes up from its beauty rest.  This was not Aynat’s first trip to NYC, and she already logged countless of great meals under her belt.  But this time it became apparent after day two (out of 27) that included a marathon meal at Ko (the best marathon there is), that Aynat picked up her game to almost unreachable levels.  From my vantage point (living room, transferring to kitchen soon) this is the Michael Jordan of trip reports.  The basketball player, not the chef.  Although the chef is pretty darn good too (miss Rosemary’s in Vegas dearly).

I read trip reports on various boards like Chowhound and Trip Advisor on occasion, and it usually doesn’t take long to get a sense of the due diligence involved.  Aynat on the other hand, essentially has redefined food research, and is probably already planning her next trip to NYC (best medicine to post vacation blues..  Alcohol.  Second best.. rebook).  This was 27 days of eating bliss and blissful eating.  After her trip was over, I figured it would be criminal not to write something about this on EWZ, but the challenge was how.  So I asked Aynat to compile a list of her favorite dishes of the trip and here are the results.  Top 20 dishes (comments are mine) with pictures whenever I could find them

Momofuku Ko – Chef’s Multi Course Tasting Menu.  Its impossible to pick one dish from this 18 dish ecstasy.  Its like asking Evander Holyfield which Illegitimate child is his favorite.  Perhaps the best eating experience NYC has to offer at the momenyMomofuku Ko Razor clams

Bowery Meat Company – Bowery Steak with Salsa Verde, Whipped Potato.  The ribeye cap, arguably the cows most delicious part is rolled into this hockey puck of dreams. One of the most delicious steaks I ever ate.  Aynat agrees.Bowery Meat Company Bowery Steak

Marta – Carbonara Pizza with Potato, Guanciale, Black Pepper and Egg.  I’ve watched Nick Anderer try to perfect this Roman beaut over the first few months, until he settled on arguably the best white pie NY has to offer.   Aynat also liked the Rabbit meatballs very much.Marta Patate alla Carbonara

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Bistro –  Oxtail Fried Rice with daikon, Shiitake & Bone marrow. Aynat hesitated at first with this one.  “Why is he suggesting Fried Rice, in a hotel no less.”  Easily made the top dishes mark, along with the brilliantly simple sautéed squid (Ika shuga)Blue Ribbon Sushi Oxtail Fried Rice

The Marshal – Wood Oven Roasted Meatloaf stuffed with Mozzarella, Squash Carrots and Kale.  Sometimes a man just wants to eat meatloaf. Apparently same rules apply for women.  One of Hell’s Kitchen’s hidden gems, dishing out proper farm to belly American classics.The Marshal - Meatloaf

Annisa – Barbecue Squid with Thai Basil and Fresh Peanuts (top picture).  Aynat asked me about some of my favorite squid/octopus dishes in town and I directed her to one of Anita Lo’s best sellers.  Needless to say she liked it.

Ivan Ramen – Pork Meatballs with Buttermilk Dressing, Bulldog Sauce, Bonito.  Perhaps it’s the hypnotizing dancing bonito flakes, the tangy Bulldog sauce, or those tender juicy meatballs. Whatever that is, hope this LES Ivan branch keeps it on the menu for a while.Ivan Ramen Pork Meatballs

Alta – Shrimp and Chorizo Skewer with Avocado, Garlic and Sherry Vinegar.  Another winner at this old tapas staple.  Aynat also praised the Brussel Sprouts with apple, Creme Fraiche and pistachios.  The dish that essentially made us start cook Brussel sprouts.  And many chefs around town followed.

Balaboosta – Crispy Cauliflower With Lemon, Currants and Pine Nuts.  It’s not an Israeli meal without a cauliflower dish. (Hmmm, I knew something was missing from my meal in LA last night).  This is one Balaboosta mustBalaboosta - cauliflower

Nougatine at Jean Georges – Fried Calamari with Basil Salt and Citrus Chilli Dip.  Never been to Nougatine so never had it.  But I can just taste it…

Root and Bone – Crispy Free Range Fried Chicken, Tea Brined and Lemon Dusted.  Perhaps the NYC fried chicken to beat, along with Ma Peche’s Habanero infused bird.  The brine and the magic dusting gives it a deeper, lasting flavor. Aynat also really admired the Charred Asparagus with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Crunchy Peanuts. And talking about deeper and lasting, Root and Bone apparently means something else entirely down under (where half of the owners are from.  Coincidence?)root and bone chicken

Santina – Guanciale e Pepe.  Aynat also hit some of the new kids on the block, and enjoyed Santina’s Cecina as well.  I’ve personally been to Santina three times now, so ye.. I’m a fan too.Santina Guanciale e pepe

Rounding the top 20…

The NoMad Restaurant – Suckling Pig with Ramps, Potatoes and Salsa Verde.  Been twice, never had it

ABC Cocina – Spring Pea Guacamole with Warm Tortillas

Timna -Lamb Saddle with Persian Lemon Dust, Black Garlic Mousse, English Pea Purée.  Along with Fried Cauliflower (doh!) with Homemade Labane, Curried Tahini and Sumac.  Top of my to do list

Inti – Ceviche Mixto.  Love this dish.  They make great ceviche hereInti Ceviche

Mercato – Gnocchi in Beef and Pork Ragu.  Havent had this in a while and got tomorrow free.  m..u..s..t r..e..s..i..s..t…

Kati Roll Company – Unda chicken roll.  Never had it.

Gazala’s – Sun dried tomato Bourekas with Hummus, salad and olives.  Still best hummus in town

Ample Hills Creamery – Salted Crack Caramel.  Seriously addictive ice cream (like seriously!) .  Aynat also gives major props to the Sullivan Street Bakery Bomboloni and Amorino gelato.

So there you have it.  There were many other great dishes Aynat enjoyed in this one, but these are the highlights.  This is a great starting point for those researching their next trip.  Thanks Aynat for this glorious report

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

Gotham West Market Top Eats

Ziggy:

Leaving for a couple of weeks yet again, sorry gang. I leave you with an updated Gotham West Market top eats since I havent updated it in a while. Happy eating…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Gotham West Market - Ivan Ramen

July 31st, 2015 Update:  Little Chef is long gone and I miss it dearly.  Choza (Mexican) took it’s place, and although my co-workers like it, I rather pay a visit to the many other Mexicans in the area like Tehuitzingo and the just reopened Parada 47 (former HK survival guide member Guelaguetza).  The bigger addition to the market is Ample Hills, one of the cities premier ice cream maker.  Their Salted Crack Caramel is the closest I will ever get to crack.  Add it to the list of musts here.  The chicken sandwich at Genuine is still crack like (I’m told), and the whitefish Doburi is now Salmon Donbui.  Although I miss the whitefish smokiness, this is still the strongest dish at Ivan’s.  Ivan also introduced an incredibly unique morning menu which I’m yet to try.  Canibal menu continues to impress and its quickly becoming one of my Hell’s Kitchen…

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Bar Pitti – The Confucius of NYC Dining

Bar Pitti Taglierini Black TrufflesEverything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it – Confucius

The legend of Confucius is so legendary that in modern times he is often compared to Jesus.  Both men were great thinkers and preachers whose believes written down well after their death.  Confucius, much like Jesus is viewed as a religeous figure.  Except that.. he wasnt really.  He was a teacher and a great philosopher, but not so much a preacher.  Confucius, as the name implies… a misunderstood figure.  Even some of his philosophies are either misunderstood or misapplied

Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star – Confucius

Just like great thinkers like Confucius and Donald Trump, I feel that Bar Pitti is misunderstood.  Perhaps the most misunderstood restaurant in NYC.  If you are to visit NYC and read reviews about this place on Yelp, chances are that you will likely pass on it.  Which is fine I suppose.  There are plenty of Branzini in the sea.  What you will read is mostly about service.  “I did not get the special board right away”, “The board was too confusing and heavy”, “The wait staff is hurried and rude”, “We were hurried”.  “The owner walks around like he owns the place”  I can go on and on.  You can read about it yourself.

When you hit the wall, it will hurt for a few days – Ziggy

But the truth of the matter is, Bar Pitti is just about as Italian as it gets in NYC.  The owner and the entire staff are Italian.  The chalk board is in Italian.  Everyone speaks Italian.  And if you ever set foot in a true Italian Trattoria in Italy (not Staten Island) you may have noticed the contrast.  Italians are more direct.  Just like the rest of the world, they dont work for tips.  The “wait staff” is not there to “serve” you.  It may be the owner, the sister, the cousin that takes your order, brings you the food, and helps you select the wine.  But the biggest difference the way I see it, is that the number of workers in a typical Italian restaurant in NYC far outnumber a similarly sized Italian Trattoria in Italy.  In another words, they work their ass off.  That work ethic translates to “Hurried” by some here.  The directness and the language barrier may translate to rudeness.  Their policies (like cash only) are… well.. their policies.  Its all in the open.  If you choose to eat their anyway, you dont have the right to complaint.  Its like saying “This Pizza place sucks because they dont sell slices.  Only whole pies.  AVOID!”

Some girls are bigger than others. Some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers – Morrissey

Bar Pitti Veal Milanese

You know who doesnt think there are service issues at Bar Pitti?  NY celebrities.  Bar Pitti is one of those NY celebrity magnets.  Which also means good looking people lining up the sidewalk waiting for a table.  Its a places to see and be seen, partly due to that wide sidewalk and prime West Village real estate.  Jake Gyllenhaal was in the next room while we dined there the other night, joining a slew of celebrities dining there at some point.  Bar Pitti is also one of the only restaurants in its class that has no website.  Reservations for four and over are taken like in Italy, the old fashion way… via conversation.  which means you can score a table even on a busy Saturday night.  Want to stay for a while?  Keep ordering.  This is not a place to linger, unless you are Jake Gyllenhaal

You can observe a lot just by watching – Yoggi Berra

Yoggi Berra is talking about the specials board at Bar Pitti.  That’s where the action is.  Starting with the great Pappardelle Rabbit ragu or whatever meat ragu, and ending with the Taglierini with summer Black Truffles.  One of the only NYC places offering black truffles the entire summer.  The Burrata is another strong board option, and so is the Veal Milanese.  This place will also make you question your ban on creamy dishes, starting with the Pappardelle Alla Fiesolana, perhaps the most popular dish of the house.  For mushroom lovers, the oyster mushroom app is an absolute must.

Bar Pitti is old school at its best.  And I pity the fool who passes on it

Bar Pitti
268 Ave of the Americas
$$$ (cash only)

Bar Pitti Pappardelle Rabbit ragu Bar Pitti Burrata photo (17) Bar Pitti

 

 

 

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Oiji – Men at Work. Korean Men!

Oiji Jang-Jo-RimFirst, an apology to you readers, both of you, for the lack of quality posts as of late.  Busy with work, family, various projects, avoiding Obama.  Yes, Obama visiting the Daily Show the other day causing major havoc to many New Yorkers trying to go home or just go about their business.  Have you ever seen an American president stuck in traffic?  There’s no such thing.  At some point the entire 52nd st was converted to Obama freeway where no cars or pedestrians could cross from north to south.  Close to three hour commute.  My friend and fellow blogger at Smum County told me today about the commute nightmare of his daughter’s camp that day.  Even the homeless guy on 52nd and 11th had to be temporarily displaced, and knowing him and his apparently very annoying invisible friend, I feel sorry for the poor cops that were tasked with that one.  And for what?  15 minutes of American entertainment.

But I digress, quickly.  Since not even Obama can steal the spotlight of this post about one of the best meals we’ve had lately.  No coincidence it was in East Village.  No coincidence from young chefs opening their first restaurant.  In a way this place reminds me of Tuome nearby.  Very young chefs (I was told 12 years old by our waitress but it was a little loud), playful Asian inspired menus, no desserts (I dont consider the chips dessert) and that overall casual, buzzy East Villagy feel.  In fact since this was a last minute rezzy, I was wondering if perhaps I was underdressed for the occasion after reading on Chowhound that this was more of a chic, romantic joint.  So I asked the guy on the phone if sexy long shorts with sandals (and desperate need of pedicure depending on the light) were ok and he just burst out laughing.  As for the food, plenty of hits, and no bad dish in sight

Fried Chicken –  Started with a bang.  Tapioca flour coated, far from your ordinary battered fried chicken.  Shredded Leeks was a nice touch

Cold Buckwheat noodles – Excellent!  Pretty much exactly what you expect but with the much added bonus of spring Ramps preserved from the previous spring. Those ramps soaked in a lot of punch

Jang-Jo-Rim – Enjoyed this one.  If I have to pick the weakest dish this might be it, though its more of a testament to the other dishes and I still recommend you get it.  Buttered rice once mixed in with the egg and everything else had a nice flavor.  The King Oysters Mushrooms was my favorite part, but the beef shank could have been a little warmer

Truffle Seafood Broth – Best dish of the night.  Mussels, Shrimp, two Crispy Rice “Sheets” that sizzle when the broth is poured table side, need to be softened a little for best taste.  But its all about the beautiful, dark, rich broth that makes this a winner.  Just a small hint of truffle, perhaps not enough to be part of the name, but just right to round up the perfect broth

Oxtail – Finger licking exceptional good.  I was concerned that it would be too sweet but it wasnt.  Pick it up and suck on the bones for the true affect.  More tasty root veggies here.  Really liked the use of veggies throughout the meal.  Their mama must be proud

Potato Chips – The most disgustingly addictive thing I ever ate.  Apparently a thing in South Korea nowadays.

Go!

Oiji
119 1st Avenue (7/St Marks)
$$$
Recommended Dishes:  All of the above

Oiji Fried Chicken Oiji Buckwheat noodles Oiji Truffle Seafood Broth Oiji Oxtail Oiji Potato Chips

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

Santina – Lucca via Miami Beach

Ziggy:

Update on Santina…

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Santina Cecina

Update 7/20/2015:  Get the Squash Carpaccio people.  Whether you are into such veggie dishes or not is irrelevant.  Thinly sliced squash with pumpkin seeds adding a nice texture, crème fraiche dropped like Hershey kisses, brown butter, pink peppercorn and other spices and herbs.  The peppercorn especially complete this dish.  Tastier than many beef carpaccios I’ve had.  Another new must is the Potatoes side.  Flash fried, then sautéed with onions, hefty amount of chili paste and other goodies.  Reminded me in a way of the Momofuku rice cakes with meat.  Addcitive stuff.  The light and satisfying Santina fusilli is an interesting combination of lamb and the mussels which you wont find anywhere else.  The bright red chicken with a tangy guajillo sauce was tender and tasty as well.  Don’t overlook this gem when you visit the High Line or the great new Whitney Museum

Santina Squash CarpaccioSantina ChickenSantina Fusilli

Original Post 5/9/2015:

A lot of firsts for me at this new Carbone/Torrisi team hot spot.  The first time I took a…

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Best Wings in NYC

Kolkovna Olympia wingsOk, so we are all adults here.  We all know perfectly well that these are NOT the best wings in the city.  In the city that never sleeps, and never runs out of wings, there are hundreds of wings out there, not counting the simple bar wings you can find in every corner.  But I’m just one Ziggy, with different taste sensitivities than many readers, and I cant taste them all.  “Decent wings” or “favorite wings” doesnt sound as convincing, or Google friendly.  With that said, there’s only one certainty:  The competition is rather fierce.  And any new joint offering wings has to be creative, and deliver something more than palatable.

Since the average wings researcher has shorter attention than other researchers (eg Ramen), I’m only listing my favorite five, with more solid options at the end

Ma Peche – Jerk Wings.  If I have to pick one, this is probably it.  The love affair started with the wings being part of the cart service.  Whenever I would bring guests here, my attention span would drop to wings researcher levels until I’d finally spot the cart of dreams carrying them.  These days the wings are part of the menu and they are better than ever.  An explosion of complex jerky, zesty, habanero, brown sugary flavors fill your palate and stay for a few good minutes, or days sometimes if you don’t rush to wash those handsMa Peche wings

Distilled – Distilled Wings.  A former Momofuku alumni has been quietly dishing out great wings in Tribeca.  Distilled may be better known for their mixologist team as of late, but those wings have been on the menu since day one.  These are grade A quality hefty wings.  They are double fried to crispy perfection, and coated with a thick and messy layer of Gochujang (that fermented Korean sauce you put on your Bibimbap).  And they serve it with their own version of not too funky blue cheese dressing to cool things down.  Truly excellent wings.Distilled wings

Danji – Spicy ‘k.f.c.’ Korean Fire Chicken Wings.   Love at first sweat, around four years ago.  I like to bring visitors here on occasion, though I don’t love when they witness me lick my own fingers which may be considered rude.  What’s more rude me thinks is wiping off that awesome deliciousness with wet napkins.  Heat level has been steady all these years, so make sure to have the fantastic tofu before altering your palate.  This is pure delicious heat, as opposed to senseless heat.Danji - Wings

The Cannibal (Gotham West Market) – Chili and Garlic Wings.  These wings dont carry the same spice punch as the others.  They are milder, but far from lacking in flavor.  The wings are marinated, slow roasted, and breaded before cooked in the Cannibal’s high powered oven.  Space is limited in Gotham West so they need to be creative.  The zesty aioli and the little oniony salad served on top compliment nicely.  And the skin and the juicy meat are happily married.  And while you ate it, dont forget about the sick Pig’s Head Cuban.  This is quickly becoming my favorite Gotham West menuCanibbal - wings

Pok Pok – Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings.  Unlike the other four, wing historians out there are probably already well too familiar with this legendary pick.  Articles, cookbooks, essays, children books (Goodnight Pok Pok Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings) written about these wings.  Somewhat inaccessible to most people so you wont find any tourists or Staten Islanders here normally.  You can have the wings at the Whisky Soda Lounge next door while you wait for your table.   They wings are huge, spicy, garlicky, on the dry side, but packed with flavor.  Put this one on your bucket list.  Before the Great Wall of China, after Story Time with Bill Cosby.Pok Pok Wings

Other Notables:  Mighty Quinn’s, Mission Cantina, Bonchon, Mission Chinese Food (not a fan personally but it has a huge following), International Wings Factory

Categories: Brooklyn, Midtown West, New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Locanda Mariella {Calestano} – The Perfect Meal

Ziggy:

Busy busy, with various projects and no time to post. Here’s one of my favorite meals from last year

Originally posted on Eating With Ziggy:

Locanda Mariella eggsWhy are we here?  How did we get here?  What exactly made Kim Kardashian famous?  When is an egg no longer an egg?  I feel like starting this one like Anthony Bourdain starts some of his shows, with deep, philosophical nonsensicalness that grabs your attention and never lets go… until commercials.  Its the perfect prelude to what’s to come, whether its “The best soup in the world” (Vietnam – last episode), “Best Duck Feet I ever had” (Beijing), or “Best Meal I ever had” (French Laundry).  Because somehow “The Perfect Meal” or “Best Egg Dish I ever had” would simply get lost in the shuffle of this blog if I dont start with a deep Kim Kardashian question.  Makes sense?  I thought so

Locanda Mariella OutsideWhat makes a perfect meal?  When you are hard-pressed to find any little detail that worked against your enjoyment of the meal.  From the food, the host, the wine, the room, the environment…

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