Monthly Archives: November 2015

No Time to Blog – Too Busy Blogging

root and bone chickenYa, doesnt make much sense, does it?  Allow me to explain.  I dont have time to blog because I’m too busy blogging (saying it this way doesnt make it clearer Ziggy).  I’m in the process of writing the mother of all posts which is approaching 5000 words.  My wife will attest that I havent written this much in all my college years, combined.  This is something that started as a joke on the message boards but also something I’ve been meaning to write for a while.  Behold… Ziggy’s List.

Ziggy’s List, sort of like Angie’s List but completely different, is simply a list of my favorite 50 restaurants in NYC right now.  Well, kinda!   It will not contain anything where you would spend over $100 per, and nothing less than $10 per.  Anything between 10-100 goes.  So you wont find old faves like Ko, Marea, Aquavit, Chicken over rice guy, Nish Nush, etcetera etcetera (Meaning the words, not the restaurant called Etcetera Etcetera which I refuse to eat due to the name alone).  Its essentially a list for the 99% of us that just want something good to eat without selling any kidneys.

This is a monumental task that’s quite frankly becoming rather daunting.  And I’m just talking about coming up with the name.  Other nominees were The Ziggat 50, The Ziggy 50, The Nifty Fifty, Z-50, and Not The Best 50.  I also considered making it a cool number like 38 but that’s already taken.  Yes, I suppose there are other numbers out there but I really wanted 38.  I just grew tired of all the lists out there.  The Michelin list is sort of a joke, Zagat’s algorithm needs a major refresher, Trip Advisor is sending tourists to all the wrong places.  As one of the names above suggests, this will certaninly not be the “Best” NY has to offer.  I’m just one Ziggy, and I cant try them all, over and over again.  But I think it will be a good one.

Stay tuned:  December 9th (or sooner) is my deadline.  But I may start phoning some selected restaurants sooner with Mazal Tovs a la Michelin.

Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

I Chose the Wrong Day to Go to Eataly

Eataly TrufflesI’ll start this one with the current list of my biggest weaknesses:  Pizza, Bread Pudding, small spiders, Ramen, foreign movies, big spiders, White Truffles.  Yes, white truffles!  Or as I call it, Tuber Magnatum Pico.  As some of you that read this blog for a while know, me and Tuber go way back.  Last fall the relationship reached its peak when we spent four days in Piedmont, possibly the most underrated region in Italy for food.   While in NYC, I always look forward to every opportunity for a taste during the fall season, often shelling out premium $$$$ for it.  But I should probably give It a rest.

I always look for excuses to go to Eataly.  Need wine for Thanksgiving… Eataly!  Need fresh pasta.. Eataly.  Need new light bulbs in the bathroom… you guessed it… hardware store… on the way to Eataly.  Yes its touristy, crowded and a little expensive, but in this case all for good and valid reason.  I can spend hours there, Sunday Football hours!  And I normally do.  I dont need to “brave the tourists”, partly because I’m used to the scene and partly because I dont really feel like I’m braving anyone.  If anything it feels like a good spot for people watching, although my eyes are normally glued to the shelves.

Pranzo TruffleLast Sunday also happened to be “Truffle Day”, a collaboration with our local truffle tzar Urbani.  Urbani, in addition to bringing in Truffles from Umbria, makes truffle sauces, truffle butter, truffle perfume (on my Santa list), and anything and everything to do with truffles.  If you are in the area of their headquarters on 60th and West End ave (11th  ave), I suggest popping in for a quick look at their showroom where you can purchase any of their products including some nasty looking Tubers.  Juts keep in mind the dry summer in Italy this year resulted in less and more expensive truffles this time around

Ok, confession time, I dont really call them Tuber Magnatum Pico, but I feel like I should.  I was just talking to friends the other day about ear, nose and throat doctors, and that they dont have more of a proper name like Gynecologist.  As if they simply ran out of “ologists” when they got to those parts of the body.  Well, it turns out they didnt.  “Otolaryngologist” is the proper name, so you can see why no one calls them Otolaryngologists.  No one can.

Pranzo Carne CrudaAnyway, so Sunday off I go to Eataly for a quick Salumi and wine run, and before you knew it, I’m asking a waiter wearing white gloves to turn the truffle around so I could take a better shot of it during a $140 solo truffle lunch.  It was like sending an alcoholic to the local bar for diapers.  I even left without buying any salumi because they put the truffle stand right next to the salumi/cheese making me miss it and forget all about it.  I spent a good 20 minutes looking and talking at these babies until the truffle lady called security.  As for the lunch, this was at Pranzo (meaning “lunch”), Eataly’s lunch only restaurant in association with its cooking school.  Lets just say, after this Carne Cruda and pasta, both with four grams of shavings each, a little more schooling is in order (hence the title).  But bashing is not the goal of this post.  The goal is to celebrate everything Eataly and Italy

Some new and old faves:

Eataly Real ExtraAnellini Caramel biscuits – Perfecto with tea.  I will be abusing these all winter

Venchi Chocolates – Those are the chocolates you’ll see sold by the pound by the sweets counter.  Anythig dark and hazelnutty especially good.  Expensive for good reason, just like all the rest of the Piedmontese sweets.  And ye, just about half of the chocolates you’ll see over the store come from Piedmont

Truffle sauces – Especially the mushroom/truffle stuff from Urbani,  Like Pasta cologne

Fresh pasta – mainly Agnolotti dal Plin which I make with.. you guessed it.. truffle butter

Re Ale Extra Beer – Love the Italian craft beer here and this is my favorite.  Fantastically hoppy, citrusy IPA.

Italian Sodas – Chinoto, Gazzosa

(Just avoid the truffles)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Khe-Yo – Steak of the Year and More

Courtesy of Zagat

Courtesy of Zagat

Feels weird writing about steak after the horrific events in Paris.  But life goes on.

Steak to me is like Family Guy.  I enjoy it tremendously, but rarely seek it.  I grill it at home, I order it when I feel like it, but rarely crave and go out of my way for it.  Steakhouses in general are not part of my regular diet, and the vast majority of my steak intakes come from non-traditional steakhouses and elsewhere (Italian, French, American).  But then, about once a year, I get to taste something like this, which makes me question my diet and our overall existence.  I’m well overdue with this post since this particular piece of meat has been on my radar for a few years now.  And for the same reason I dont record new Family Guy episodes, I’ve never actually made it to American Cut to have it.  But I thought this was a post about Khe-Yo Ziggy.  Liar!

American Cut is Marc Forgione’s steakhouse in Tribeca.  Khe-Yo is its exotic, wild half sister.  She sleeps naked, whistles at construction workers, and doesn’t come to company meetings on time.  Khe-Yo is a collaboration of Forgione, another dude, and Laos born Soulayphet Schwader offering Laos inspired dishes (Essentially Thai on Crack).  I’ve been to Khe-Yo before including four days after it opened in 2013, but this time I figured I’ll bring Mrs Ziggy for her first Khe-Yo experiences.  However, things didn’t quite go as planned.  They were better.Khe-Yo Sticky Rice

Before the waitress had a chance to tell us about today’s specials, I already knew that we were having the steak special.  That’s because my sharp steak radar was able to pick up these words from the table nearby “Pastrami, rubbed, rib eye, hmmmm, yes, so good”.  It sounded like what you normally hear at the other end of a sex line (I was told).  The Ribe eye, rubbed with pastrami seasoning is after all, the Amarican Cut classic I keep hearing about.  And it was as magnificent as I imagined.  Expertly cooked, good size steak, that’s easily shareable between two ($56).  The meat cant get much more tender for a rib eye, with perfectly rendered fat.  The peppery pastrami crust is nicely charred and buttery.  Its the perfect steak!

If you want a great steak you should probably go to American Cut.  If you wan to experience the bold flavors of Laos, dont mind to get your hands dirty (or dont mind having your spouse feed you in public), and can handle some heat, than I highly recommend Khe-Yo.  They start you off with a bang, the complimentary sticky rice with fiery “Bang Bang” sauce (lime, chili, fish sauce) that sets the tone for things to come.  You eat that and much of the rest with your fingers.  The smell for the next 10 hours is complimentary as well.  Try the complex Jurgielewicz Duck Salad, the quail, and the crunchy coconut rice balls with sausages.  I wish they would provide more sausages with that rice.  And finish off with the apple crumb with pineapple and rum raisin ice cream.  The whole meal is like Havah Nagila in your mouth!

157 Duane St
Recommended Dishes: Jurgielewicz Duck Salad, quail, coconut rice, Rib Eye (if you lucky)Khe-Yo

Categories: New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Things We Ate in California

Perbacco - Carne CrudaCarne Cruda at Perbacco (SF).  If you close your eyes while eating this magnificence, you may find yourself chasing chickens on the hills of Serralunga d’alba, while a little Barolo tipsy.  Once you open your eyes, you are eating this delicate hand chopped raw beauty aided by hazelnuts and quail egg at Perbacco.  This is one of San Francisco’s elite Italian specializing in dishes from the severely underrated region of Piedmont.

French Toast at NOPA (SF).  I’ve had a lot of French Toasts in my young adult life, and got the kilos to prove it.  While this French Toast doesn’t look very different than the rest of them, it couldn’t be more different.  A lot of work involved to reach such richness levels, and it only comes in one size, extra large, so great for sharing.  And while you at it, do try the great burger, before checking out SF’s version of the Painted Ladies nearby

NOPA - French Toast

Carnitas Tacos at La Taqueria (SF) – Yes, the Carne Asada Burrito griddled El Dorado style was heavenly alright, but those Carnitas just blew me away.  Heaps of juicy porky goodness topped with pico de gallo produce pure awesomeness on every morsel.  At this busy Mission legend, off hours means only a 20 minute wait

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Culotte at Cockscomb (SF) – Yes, I still have a job, which means “Cockscomb” can be safely Googled.  Its actually the comb of a rooster, and also a name of a flower.  But in SF, its a name of a hidden gem in the SOMA neighborhood.  Their Bacon Chop is sort of of a revelation, and the beef heart tartare is as good as it gets.  But it was the perfectly cooked Sirloin cap (Culotte) that left that special lasting impression.  To make a Culotte this tender, requires talent, and all signs point to no shortage of it here.

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Burrito Mojado at Los Agaves (Santa Barbara) – Who knew Santa Barbara was such a Mexican mecca.  You certainly wouldnt know while watching all those soap operas in the late 80’s (remember?).  Guadalajaran specialties throughout the menu with this grande wet burrito at the helm.  Grande often means dry, lacking flavor, but not the case here.

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Mussels at Montrio Bistro (Monterey) – Since the meal at Montrio we’ve had Mussels on three different occasions, and all three resulted in disappointment, anger, and even expletives on one occasion.  PMD (Post Mussels Depression) is apparently a real thing.  Something one can get after experiencing Mussels from Penn Cove in Whidbey Island, Washington that can put Prince Edward Island Mussels to shame.  Cooked and served with a mild red curry broth, these were some of the fullest, sweetest mussels I ever had

Montrio Mussels

Rotisserie Chicken at El Huarique (LA) – A pleasant surprise in the middle of Venice Beach boardwalk was this hole in the wall producing some of the best Peruvian in recent memory (recent memory is 10 days give or take these days).  Unlike the plethora of touristy eats outside, there’s zero atmosphere here, unless you have a wall fetish.  The menu includes a nice Lomo Saltado, Chinese like beef and veggie stir fry, ceviche, and this perfectly spiced chicken.

El Huarique Chicken

Hummus With Mushrooms at Itzik Hagadol (LA) – “Big Isaac” came up as Donald Trump would say, “Huuuuuuuge”.  This Encino gem dishes out all the Israeli classics in a sprawling space that allows you to bring the entire Mishpucha without notice.  WITHOUT NOTICE!  The hummus had that perfectly creamy texture and flavor you can only find in select places.  And those shrooms elevated this thang even further.  And while you at it, try the Moldovan Mititei, beautifully spiced kebabs made from mixed ground meat.  Some of the bulkiest, juiciest Mititei I’ve had in recent memory

Itzik Hagadol Hummus

Fried Chicken at Big Sur Bakery (Big Sur) – I know fried chicken.  I mastered in fried chicken (minored in couscous).  This was good fried chicken.  And the pizzas, especially with egg, not too shabby at this perfect stop on your stop-go-stop-go-stop-lose-your-glasses Route 1 day

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“Toast and Jam” ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (SF) – We fell in deep lasting mad love with this ice cream shop in the Ferry Building.  The ice cream has all the textures and sharp flavors of a top notch Gelato (technicalities!).  While their top seller “Secret Breakfast” was brilliant indeed the “Toast and Jam” was even brillianter (Is that a word?  I think so).  Dying wish type stuff.

Strawberry Ice Pop at Yosemite National Park – Nothing particular noteworthy at this stand by the entrance to the mist trail.  Though having it at the end of the hike to the top of the falls on your way back can be as satisfying as any of the items above.  Like a gift from the gods.

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Capizzi – Fughetaboutit!

Staten Island readers (both of them) can now rejoice. Capizzi of Staten Island is now a reality, and what delicious reality it is. Same great pizza, same friendly smiles, same napkins, even the same antique fridge as Capizzi in Hell’s Kitchen. This is the old La Bella location on Hylan Blvd near Armstrong. And if you still have not visited the HK branch, what are you waiting for. The not your average Pepperoni alone is reason enough to come

Eating With Ziggy

CapizziI figured the best way to express myself this time around would be by sharing the latest clinical results from my team of doctors.  The monthly report is normally 38-50 pages long but here I will just share the “thoughts” pie chart on page 17.  The chart varies from month to month but the big players are more or less constant.  And since my Islanders were ousted last night, I expect Hockey to be replaced by sex, pasta or a combination of sorts very soon.  But as you can see, I do think about pizza often.  I recently had to impose a limit on my pizza intakes and now I’m down to just twice a month.  So when I have a bad one on occasion, I do get cranky a little.  I need to make it count.

meta-chartAnd so to make it count I either go to Don Antonio or Capizzi these days.  Sure a slice…

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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!

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

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

Village Halloween Parade Confirms it

IMG_7510We are doomed.  Doomed I tell ya.  A disturbing trend I noticed as of late is the amount of women walking around looking at their cell phones.  Its not so much a male thing, and not so new, but its getting worse and worse.  They cross the street while texting, use it in restaurants, friends, family included.  But this was the most bizarre.  Perhaps the most fun parade in NY, saw so many parade participants staring at the phones instead of the crowd.  There were plenty of fun ones that acted their costume, don’t get me wrong, but those fixed to their phones were as noticeable.  Its only the most unboring thing one can do anywhere.

Anyway, it was still a blast.  Here are some pictures from the parade.  Oh, note to future self. Don’t have a full meal before the parade.  Reserve a spot along the route at around 6 instead.  And hope you have more hair and better looking, tho I cant see how both can be possible…

IMG_7186 IMG_7187 IMG_7191 IMG_7218 IMG_7243 IMG_7236 IMG_7219 IMG_7552 IMG_7550 IMG_7543 IMG_7534 IMG_7533 IMG_7531 IMG_7530 IMG_7516 IMG_7522 IMG_7524 IMG_7525



IMG_7528 IMG_7499 IMG_7498 IMG_7463 IMG_7449 IMG_7440 IMG_7439 IMG_7289 IMG_7299 IMG_7327 IMG_7349 IMG_7374 IMG_7378 IMG_7379

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

Le Philosophe

Ziggat 50 Preview…

Eating With Ziggy

Le Philosophe

November 1st, 2015 Update:  Despite the mediocre mussels this time, still loving Le Philosophe.  Over the past few years it transformed into a fine neighborhood bistro.  The classics are still on the menu, but the numerous nightly specials must get some attention.  The Lobster Thermidor puts all other overly rich Thermidors we’ve had in the Caribbean over the years to shame.  The Tournedos Rossini is still a nice ode to the classic, and so are the frog legs with Hen of the Woods (aka Maitake) Mushrooms.  The mussels this time did not have the “Balls” of the old ones. Hope they didnt change suppliers.  But those Profiteroles, even if you are remotely into Profiteroles, you must get them.  Earlier this year, a new half sister called L’Antagoniste was born in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.  Hoping to get there one day, but considering the location its a tough sell.


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