Midtown West

Best Soups in Hell

Akamaru Modern Ippudo

Akamaru Modern Ippudo

Winter is here in beautiful Hell’s Kitchen.  The sky is blue, the birds are chirping, and the cabbies are singing “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” and other West Side Story tunes.  That’s what it feels like after you have any of those soups below on a cold NY day.  Let me put this another way… I’m not a soup person.  It rarely excites me, and I would never go out of my way for decent soup.  So for me to write about soup, it must be something special.  This post is 15 years in the making really, and none of these are your average homemade Ratatouille moment grandma soups.  For that I recommend grandma!  (although I will touch on some of those at the end)

Caldo de Bola at Nano – Perhaps I should have added to the above “Unless your Grandma is Ecuadorian”.  A tiny Eucadorian hole in the wall on 10th serves this traditional thing of beauty.  Rich, beefy broth with veggies, beef, corn on the cob, yes corn on the cob which is probably the least interesting item in there.  The most is a giant plantain dumpling with all sorts of awesome deliciousness inside… more beef, raisins, egg and peanut sauce.  Sounds bizarre, but it works

Caldo de Bola at NanoSpicy Ramen at Totto – Home to Ziggy’s first and coincidentally last Ramen, with about 100 in between.  Delicious Chicken Paitan broth topped with spicy sesame oil and your choice of chicken or pork belly (I’ve never had the chicken, always pork).  I like to sit at the counter at the 51st/10th location where you can also get some apps like Spicy Tuna Don at half price with your ramen (lunch time only I believe).  Cash only.

Totto Spicy RamenSukhothai Pork Noodles Soup at Pure Thai Cookhouse– While its hard for me to stay away from the rest of the menu normally, during frozen tundra times, this is the dish of choice.  A clean but tangy pork broth with rice noodles, sweet sliced roasted pork, long bean, bean sprout, peanuts, dried shrimp, ground pork, and if thats not enough, topped with pork cracklings.  Yes, its busy, YES its delicious.  Skip the option to upgrade to the homemade egg noodles and stick to tradition.  TRADITION!

Pure Thai SukhothaiShanghai Pork & Shrimp Wonton Soup at Mooncake Foods.  Calling this Wonton soup is almost criminal.  Whether you generally like Wonton soups or normally pass on them at your neighborhood Chinese takeout in favor of the hot & sour, is irrelevant.  Pure, clean chicken broth with a generous amount of fantastically meaty dumplings, and noodles (extra).  Perhaps the best cure for the common cold in the hood.

Mooncake Foods Wonton soupAkamaru Modern at Ippudo.  I’ve exchanged eye pleasantries and perhaps tasted a spoon or two, but after a dozen or so visits, I’ve never actually had Ramen at Ippudo that’s not called Akamaru Modern, mainly out of fear.  I’ve made it this far, waited this long, not settling for potentially second best.  This porky Tonkotsu Ramen with a secret umami paste transforms ramen as we know it.  A game changer.  While Totto is my quick ramen fix, this one is where I would bring a wife, or a date

Oxtail Soup at Pam Real Thai – I’ve already written about this one in great length.  Forget winter!  This is the official cure to summer time sadness.

Pam Real Oxtail Soup

The RestIndie Fresh at Gotham West Market got unusual and healthy soups like Borscht that can even make a Babushka blush… a rather shy Babushka.  When I’m in the mood for something simple like white bean or split pea soup I head to my friend Anna at Café Ole.  Sometimes when I feel naughty, I get Ezra’s terrific split pea with my falafel at Azuri CaféMocu Mocu serves a most unusual Miso with white bean and Sausage.  RIP Bis.Co.Latte, and Holly’s amazing soups

Mocu Mocu Miso

Mocu Mocu Miso

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Quality Italian – Locals Trap

Quality ItalianIn my adopted home of Turks and Caicos (I’m not worthy) there’s a little famous place called The Conch Shack, nicely situated right on the beach.  Its an island institution of sorts, appearing on various “best Caribbean shack” lists and quite popular with tourists and locals alike.  The same fame also means an occasional “Tourist Trap” tag given by visitors with less than stellar experiences.  A rather unfitting tag considering the establishment lacks the number one ingredient for a “tourist trap”… location.  To get to the Conch Shack visitors need to hire a car, or take an expensive cab ride.  There are other reasons why the Conch Shack is far from a tourist trap, like the constant need to protect a reputation, but the bottom line as far as I’m concerned is location, location, location.

Times Square and much of Midtown Manhattan is on the other end of the spectrum.  As tourism continues the steady yearly rise, rents continue to skyrocket, and restaurateurs need to stay on top of the tourist game.  In a sea of establishments that are strictly in the business of making tourists happy (think today’s Little Italy), there are plenty of reputable establishments that can’t afford to release clunkers out of their kitchens.  Spots like Ma Peche, Marea, Betony may not satisfy everyone, but you get the sense they care about every single dish they put on the table.  Up until last weekend I thought Quality Italian and Quality Meats were in that same company.

It took about 5 minutes to realize that I’m sitting in a slightly fancier, tourist filled Rosa Mexicana.  Except that in RM I would be attended to initially without asking for it.  For the 5 of us this evening, we opted to share a yellowtail crudo (good, though I prefer the flat skinny cuts over cubes), Ricotta (very good), a few pastas, one steak and the world famous chicken parm shaped like a 12 inch pizza pie.

The Bucatini & Clams was actually quite good.  Covered by a rich, pleasantly peppery ragu with potatoes.  But it comes with a price tag, $33, which is $11 more than the listed online price (at the time of this writing showing $22).  Same price discrepancy with the Agnolotti and the rest of the pastas, not so much with other items on the menu

Quality Italian Bucatini

On occasion we do see price discrepancies between actual and online menus, but not quite to this 50% extreme.  Perhaps I dont frequent mega touristy area restaurants often enough, but how the hell do they get away with this.  Whether this is a mistake or not, after several tries I have not given any explanations from Quality Meats representatives.  The closest to that was a “Oooh really, we’ll let our marketing dep’t know”

On top of that I was not even given the opportunity for redemption.  A bone-in filet was dry and flavorless.  Dont believe me? ask my 13 year steak aficionado daughter who picked up on that before I took my first bite.  A recall a similar cut at Del Frisco’s nearby that was much more successful.  At a place known for their ways with the meat, this was as shocking as the pasta-gate.

The legendary Chicken Parm has been talked about since QI opened.  Bloggers, Yelpers, Eater, children books written about this famous dish.  The cost:  $64.  The verdict:  It tastes approx $10 better than Mrs Ziggy’s version.  Its a decent bite initially, but the sweetness of the sauce takes charge before you even finish the first slice.  And if the sauce is not sweet enough, among an arsenal of condiments to justify the cost, you also get honey.

As we say bye bye to 2015, let this post be the beginning of the new and angrier improved Eating With Ziggy.  The reason I finally got to experience Quality Italian was because I was looking at something to eat before the new musical School of Rock and seeing the new tree which to me looks exactly the same as the previous 30. And if there’s one thing I learned from School of Rock is that when the time comes, sometimes, you just gotta STICK IT TO THE MAN!

Quality Italian
57 W 57th St
Recommended Dishes:  Ricotta

Quality Italian Chicken Parm

 

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Best Thai in Hell’s Kitchen

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Pure Thai Ratchaburi

Pure Thai Cookhouse – Among the plethora of Thai eateries flooding 9th avenue, Pure Thai stands out (and so will you for a while unless you arrive early or in off hours).  It was built to resemble a Shophouse in Thailand in order to give you a taste of the Thai food culture.  The menu doesn’t feature the usual curry suspects, but more daring dishes that represent various regions of Thailand.  E.g. The Jungle fried rice, the simple Ratchaburi with homemade dry noodles, crab and pork, and the more intense Wok Curry Paste with Pork.  The lone dessert, pumpkin custard with coconut sticky rice wrapped inside a banana leaf always a recipe for a full blown attack.  766 9th (51/52)

Pure Thai Pumpkin

Pure Thai Pumpkin

Pam Real Thai –  If you are looking for chandeliers, table cloth, and a little bench for your man purse, you will not find it here.  Though “Room Service” another Thai player nearby does have some of these things including nice chandeliers.  The minimalist décor is the same as it was 10-15 years ago, and so is the menu.  But if you are a fan of flavor and dont care about anything else, this is the place for you.  The sick Oxtail soup is reason enough to go, and just about everything else I ever had here is made with a lot of love.  Try the Pad Kra Prow (with shrimp), Seafood Kee Mao, Pad Prik Khing, and the terrific Khao Soi.  The menu size is intimidating, so ask away if not sure.  And the $2 Thai Ice Teas help combat the occasional hefty spice levels.  404 W 49th St (off 9th)

Pam Real Oxtail Soup

Pam Real Oxtail Soup

Larb Ubol – In the last several years, we’ve seen a slew of eateries open, specializing in Isan cooking.  First there was Zabb Elee who intorduced the bold Northeastern flavors to us, until they gave birth to Larb Ubol.  Don’t expect anything more than a bookstore café type décor (notice a trend here?).  I bike here sweating the heavy traffic in order to sweat some more with dishes such as the peppercorn heavy Pad Ped Moo Krob and the Duck Larb.  The spice levels approach “Thai Spicy” at times (but not quite there) so this is not for the faint of sugar seeking heart.  But hey, this is after all Hell’s Kitchen.  480 Ninth Ave (37/36)

Larb Ubol Whole Fish

Larb Ubol Whole Fish

Kare Thai – You know what the next best thing to Thai food on 9th?  Thai food on 10th!  Yes, they are naturally spreading to 10th these days because they are running out of real estate.  And among them all, little Kare is my favorite.  I’ve had some pleasant meals here with co-workers though I mainly use it for a convenient quick Kee Mao grab on the go, always greeted by smiles.  And the complimentary lunch special snack helps.  You know what they say,  “You give a smile, you get Shumai!”.  752 10th Ave (51/52)

Kare Thai

Wondee Siam II – Back in the day, this was the place I frequented.  And although I havent been in many years, I still have devoted co-workers that swear by this place.  If you are new to Thai food, or simply want to taste something familiar that you are used to and enjoy back home like Green curry and Pad Thai, this may be the right place for you.  813 Ninth Ave (53/54)

Pure Thai Pork

Pure Thai Pork

Larb Ubol larb

Larb Ubol larb

Larb Ubol Pad Ped Moo Krob

Larb Ubol Pad Ped Moo Krob

 

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mocu-Mocu – Sister Act

Mocu Mocu ArtWatching Mocu-Mocu grow is like watching a child grow.  I wasnt there during inception, but I watched the development for the next 9 months, and the rapid changes after birth.  Its only been 5 months, but before you know it, you are standing there swooping three different bra sizes into that laundry basket.  I watched them build a modern, casual, artsy Japanese eatery specializing in… stuff (more on that).  I watched them move from front window ordering to a comfortable sit down surrounded by smiles.  I watched them build the constantly changing menu that includes a la carte, sets, pictures, and more sets that mimic Japanese traditions.  Its a work in progress, but a fun and most interesting one to follow.

Mocu Mocu WingsMocu Mocu, a dream come true for two Japanese sisters, sits in a rather odd location in Hell’s Kitchen (10th/51st).  Unlike Tex-Mex El Original which opened around the same time one block over, Mocu employs no PR firms, and didnt spend any time on any hot lists.  Scorecard so far:  One visit to El Original, four to Mocu Mocu.  El Original, the name, is actually a better fit for Mocu Mocu since there’s nothing like it in the area and perhaps in the entire city.  A true original

So what’s the specialty here?  Well, some may say things that end with “yaki”.  Takoyaki, doughy octopus balls, come topped with a posse of dancing bonito flakes.  Okonomiyaki, tasty veggie filled savory pancakes are used almost like sandwiches hugging chicken, pork belly or coconut shrimp.  The chicken Okonomiyaki is in danger of becoming my regular.  Then there’s the larger and messier Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki that comes with a dollop of cabbage and fried noodles.  And while consuming all these Yakis, you get brainwashed via the videos in the front into ordering perhaps the tastiest yaki of all, the Obanyaki.  A gorgeous, not too sweet, dessert pastry filled with various “half and half” combinations.  The one I tasted, titled Matcha de Bosco (should come with its own Reggaeton soundtrack) was filled with Matcha Cream and Mixed Berries.

Mocu Mocu Obanyaki Mocu-Mocu Obanyaki

There are six sets on the current menu featuring various combinations, and in true Japanese traditions (I’m told) all the items arrive at the same time.  Along with your favorite “yaki” it may include seasonal Oshinko (pickled veggies, normally cabbage), salads, and unique soups like Chilled Edamame Vichyssoise with dried Edamame which I havent tried yet.  Though I did have and enjoyed the minestrone like white bean and Sausage Miso.  This most unusual miso is a product of Hiroko Shimbo, an acclaimed cookbook author that served as Mocu’s consultant.  And if none of this works for you, there are always wings.  Quite satisfying ones actually

In this corner of Hell’s Kitchen where tourists and high-heeled office workers are at the minimum, you either need to offer something cheap for the children walking from school or interesting one-off flavors that arent easily found anywhere.  Totto Ramen around the corner is a good example.  While there’s nothing unique about Ramen in NYC these days, there’s nothing like it in the immediate area.  Mocu Mocu takes it even further as there may not be anything like it in the entire city.  Go!

Mocu-Mocu
746 10th Ave
$$
Recommended Dishes: Soups, wings, and everything that ends with Yaki

Mocu-Mocu SetMocu Mocu Takoyaki Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki Mocu Mocu Mocu Mocu Mocu-Mocu inside

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Hell’s Kitchen Taco Crawl

Tehuitzingo

Tehuitzingo

I have to make this one short and sweet.  My oldest who is now obsessed with everything zombies, finally convinced me to catch up with the Walking Dead.  That’s pretty much my evenings this week, between throwing out the garbage and taking out the dishes (I havent proved yet that I can put them IN the dish washer yet, but I’m getting there).  I dont even have the time to produce some nice pictures for you on this one, but I may do it later.  Besides, tacos I find, are the least photogenic food items out there.  Many look sort of messy or the same, and as soon as I get them I want to eat them quickly before they get cold.

In Hell’s Kitchen these days you cant sneeze outside anymore without a Mexican resaturant owner going “gazuntai, come on in, we have something for that”. It seems like every week something new opens up, and we are suddenly spoiled for choice.  This walk will give you a nice taste of the Hell’s Kitchen Mexican scene, and at the very least some ideas on where you can get some nice meals.

Shrimp Taco at Otto’s Tacos (9th 48/49).  One of the newer kids on the block, and a nice intro to the taco scene.  Get your Horchata here too (as opposed to the other places).  The rest of the tacos are fine as well, but this is my favorite

Fish Taco at Ponche Taqueria & Cantina (49th 9/10).  I would ask for grilled instead of tempura’d.  Al Pastor here on the sweet side but nice flavor as well

Al Pastor at Tehuitzingo (10th 47/48).  And/or the Lengua.  And/or the Goat.  Oh fuck it, get all three and share.  This place is getting very popular for good reason

Carnitas at Parada 47 (47th 10/11).  Former bodega recently reopened with the same cook David (say hi from Ziggy).  I like it here because its not discovered yet (and I’m doing such a great job keeping it that way).  Its like my little Mexican oasis.  Go to the front, order, sit, repeat

That should fill you up.  For dessert head across the street for a Canotto Dolce at Sullivan Street Bakery, or better yet head to Gotham West Market for the sick Ample Hills Creamery salted crack caramel.  If you still want more tacos, you can have more at Choza at Gotham West, or better yet try the fish tacos at Genuine Roadside.  While not a taco, a spicy chicken empanada from Empanada Mama can also be included in the walk (after Otto)

Enjoy!  let me know how it goes

Otto's Tacos

Otto’s Tacos

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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

 

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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

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

HK Just a Bit Outside Update

Blue Ribbon Sushi Oxtail Fried RiceTime to update that good ol’ Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide once again, the bread and butter of this blog.  Well, not from the financial standpoint as I haven’t made a dime yet (I made 8 cents so far total, so almost there).  The theme this time, purely accidental, is as Harry Doyle put it “Juuuust a bit outside” of Hell’s Kitchen, but closer to most readers staying in or near Times Square

Adding Blue Ribbon Sushi on 58th st (near Columbus Circle).  My monthly dose of their oxtail fried rice with bone marrow (top) is becoming more of a religious experience.  As of late I also bring co-workers and visitors to Kung Fu Steamed Buns Ramen for their… you guessed it.. soup dumplings (top of the menu labeled “pork buns” or something like that).  And almost just around the corner is Bibble and Sip for dessert to complete the one-two punch.

Pork Buns

Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Battle of The Bridges: Seeking Best Pizza, Fuku, Wings

204Winter is coming!  Time to file some Citibike miles under the belt.  About twice a year the Hummus Whisperer and I take a day riding between the boroughs (Brooklyn and Manhattan) losing crazy amount of calories, while gaining back three times as much from munching in various places.  We try to hit at least 5 random spots, some are planned, some not.  This time HW couldn’t make it, but we did meet up at some point.  Here’s how the ride went

In my constant pursuit of great chicken wings as of late (another middle age crisis symptom), I targeted two year old Distilled in Tribeca.  Distilled originally opened as an interesting looking destination spot from a Momofuku Noodle veteran, and settled down into more of a popular neighborhood gastropub with a talented team of mixologists (partly judging by the exceptional Bloody this morning).  But the one constant since the beginning seem to be the glorious 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).  They serve it with their own version of not too funky blue cheese sauce to cool things down.  Really excellent hefty, top quality wings.Distilled wings

Back on the bike, sort of full after just 5 wings (I left one for good luck), where to go next?  Cutting across east I decided to bike the selfie stick happy Brooklyn Bridge.  With all the crowds and craziness, I still rather bike iconic Brooklyn Bridge than any other bridge.  Then down to Sands street, Flushing, and Kent before crossing the Jewish side of Williamsburg and parking by old favorite Zizi Limona.  The one big surprise here is the large Puerto Rican community in this part of the woods.  The big parade was in Manhattan this day, but I felt the celebration here in Brooklyn.  With Citibike, I feel like I’m rediscovering my own city

Best PizzaMy next destination is a slice of Pizza.  Yes, I biked all the way here from Tribeca for a slice.  But lets go back for a sec.  About a year ago, when I had one of those cherished free days, I decided to drive around Brooklyn for various iconic slices I haven’t had in a while and more.  I had the great L&B Spumoni, the legendary Di Fara (after a 45 minute wait), and then drove to Williamsburg for Best Pizza which proved to be Best of the bunch especially while factoring in some of the pain involved getting some of the others.  The funny part is that Roman based food writer Katie Parla did something similar a month later, and also proclaimed Best Pizza as the winner.  Now, back for yet another NY style slice (need to save room for the next most highly anticipated stop) from the wood burning oven, with that signature basil leaf in the middle for added aroma.  Great slice again with an unusually well balanced cheese/sauce proportions.  Owner Frank has an extensive pizza resume, along with a stint at the Culinary Institute of America.  The paper plate art alone including the “Jews love Best Pizza” plate is worthy of a schlep.Best Pizza art

photo (18)Back on the bike, and back to the “city” via the much quieter Williamsburg Bridge.  The emptiness means more freedom to move around so you can fly like a bold eagle!  Until you realize you are on a Citibike, and you are dangerously close to being passed by an 80 year old woman (that actually happens often to me in Italy).  Its hard to look cool on those little blue bikes, especially in Central Park.  The only chance you have is to ride in the rain (not drizzle, rain), or with just one hand.  Until you face another blue frontal balding biker riding with one hand and you realize it doesn’t look as cool as you thought.

Anyway, sometimes the most anticipated items prove less than thrilling at the end (see Best vs Di Fara).  Such is the case with Fuku, the hottest sandwich in town at the moment from David Chang’s Momofuku empire (As some of you know, I’m a fan).  Perhaps I got Fukued.  My 30 minute wait was about half outside, half in after paying for it.  “Credit Only for now” is something I haven’t heard anywhere yet I don’t think.  After paying, you get a number with a stick, and you can stand with your number just about anywhere looking like a dork, for the order girl to eventually find you.  Sort of like one of those bachelorette games…”bachelor #23 if you were a kitchen appliance, what appliance would you be”… Eventually the “spicy fried chicken” arrives.  Its a flat almost schnitzel like, thigh meat sandwiched by a tiny potato roll that is meant to serve as a handle.  Not the sexiest looking thing.  There are also sliced pickles in there somewhere that serve almost no purpose.  The first few bites were interesting, featuring decent flavor, then the struggle took over.  Stringy, uneven texture throughout, with crust and meat not so happily married.  Not very spicy for a sandwich called Spicy Chicken. It wasn’t a total mess, but far from that hot, much anticipated item I was so looking forward to.  Try for yourself!Fuku

photo (99)A Battle of the Bridges is incomplete without my favorite thirst quencher which happens to be nearby, the Grasshopper from Liquiteria.  Its not cheap at around $9, but so refreshing on a hot day.  I proceeded then west, cruising 13th st, passing Da Andrea, All’Onda and eventually Santina on the way to meet Hummus Whisperer and baby Hummus Whisperer at the new Whitney Museum by the Highline.  There I rediscovered the joys of quirky American art, and the joys of watching quirky American art while holding hands of a baby surrounded by the striking Manhattan upper class.  Its a a scientific theory that’s proven time and time again; Babies, preferably cute ones, are babe magnets!  The museum is actually very cool.  You can couple it with the Highline, and dinner/lunch at Untitled (thats the name) inside the museum, or Santina a few steps away.photo (16)

I said goodbye to HW and baby for hire and headed uptown via Hudson River Park, perhaps our most important and one of the most scenic bike paths.  Between the rotating art in the 50’s and 60’s, various parks (another good place to bring your neighbor’s babies!), piers, people watching, and stops along the the way like Chelsea Market, Gotham West, I can easily spend a whole day here.

My last stop was at one of the newest Hell’s Kitchen bakeries, Bibble & Sip.  Well technically just outside Hell’s Kitchen but got all the making of another unique Hell’s Kitchen bakery.  Nice place to sit, relax and BS all you want!  The Earl Grey Banana Bread is quickly gaining neighborhood fame.  Add the Matcha Cream puffs, various scones, the occasional English Muffins sliders and all sorts of rotating goodies.  I visited it three times before, and on this day the Earl Grey Panna Cotta proved to be the perfect finisher to a fun day.

bibble photo (13) photo (14) photo (15)

 

 

 

 

Categories: Brooklyn, East Village, Midtown West, New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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