Another fantastic eating year is in the books folks. Just to be on the safe side, for the purpose of this post, I’m not planning to eat anything until 2020. Figured I’ll give this Intermittent Fasting thing that everyone is talking about a go finally. Eat freely for the first 362 days of the year only. Ever wonder why these lists come out so early in December by Eater, and the rest of them? Do they not plan to eat anything interesting the rest of the year and postpone all eating assignments to January?
Anywho, its actually been a rather a rough year, and perhaps contrary to the first line of the post, not exactly my favorite food year. Personal tragedies, and an accelerated number of great eateries closing all over the city contributed. There’s no more rhyme or reason to restaurants closing these days. But 2019 still saw some great openings and old favorites continue to deliver…
Peking Duck at Pinch Chinese
Who said the most expensive item on the menu is often the best. I did. Many times. Because its true more often than not. This $105 duck that needs to be ordered and paid for days in advance is a triumph. And not bad value considering the four of us couldn’t finish it. Without sounding too much like the Oscars, this is the third nomination for Pinch Chinese who previously got nods for the Wind Sand Chicken and Crab dish in this space.
Crabmeat Tom Turmeric at Taladwat
2019 saw the talented David Bank (Pure Thai Cookhouse) finally open another massively successful Thai hit in Hell’s Kitchen, And he somehow managed to keep it fresh in Little Thailand. In about half a dozen visits during the year, only once I did not order this well balanced milky goodness. With Gloria now shuttered, this is the best crab dish in the kitchen today.
Pastrami Sandwich at Hometown BBQ Industry City
Yes, this means I finally found a parking spot in Industry City. And yes, I finally found a compelling reason to visit Industry City. This ultra flaky pastrami may be as good as it gets in NYC today. It borders too salty on the first few bites, but settles in beautifully. Fatty in all the right places, like slow dancing with your mother in law. A nice homage to the classic Jewish deli pastrami on rye.
Tagliolini al Ragu at Rezdora
If you look at the word ‘Bastardized’ in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of the classic American spaghetti Bolognese. If you ever had the real thing, Tagliolini al ragu in Emilia Romagna or Tajarin in Piedmont, you are probably nodding profusely right now. So before you hurt yourself, head to Rezdora. It shouldnt surprise anyone considering chef/owner Stefano Secchi’s resume includes Modena royalty Osteria Francescana, and Hosteria Giusti.
Parrillada de Setas at Tomiño Taberna Gallega
When I dine alone, I often order mushroom dishes, because I’m legally not allowed to order them when I’m on a date. Its in my marriage contract. And sometimes when I see a good looking mushroom dish on the menu while with Mrs Z, I have to sneak back into the place on another day in order to have it. This one was worth the hassle. A wonderful sweet and savory medley of Enoki, King Oyster, Maitake with goat cheese, garlic and honey.
Wagyu Ragu at Kāwi
Perhaps the most important opening of the year in NYC doesnt get enough attention. Probably because of the mall location (Hudson Yards). There are about 5 very solid dishes I can pick from Kawi, but the Wagyu ragu that comes with table side scissored rice cakes is a no brainer. The kind of umaminess not experienced since the debut of Ssam Bar’s spicy rice cakes.
Carrots at Ducks Eatery
Leave it to smoking wizard Will Horowitz to make carrots taste this good. The man behind the the legendary pastrami, watermelon ham, and goat neck (a former Top Dish) got another hit which got vegan chain By Chloe’s attention. The carrots are treated just like pastrami which means it takes about a week to make them taste like meat.
Lobster Noodles at Wayan
One of the most thrilling openings of the year, and a dish I think about often, sometimes in most inappropriate moments. Like when Mrs Z tells me about her day and then ruins the moment with a “Are you listening”? Its like the most amazing Mazemen (drier Ramen) you’ll ever have. Ramen noodles, chili, butter, soy, thai basil and plenty of Maine lobsta.
Djolof Fried Rice with chicken at Berber Street Food
In vanishing NY its refreshing to see places like Berber Street Food keep opening. Michelin trained Diana Tandia created quite the sweet formula to attract a slew of locals very quickly. The Djolof is a tomatoee Senegalese rice dish that is essentially like the best Biryani you’ll ever have.
Fresh Whole Fish at Hunan Slurp
The plethora of new Chinese places opening all over the city changed the way I eat fish in NYC. This whole market fresh fish is chopped with bones and all, and covered with garlic, ginger, and a supremely flavorful homemade chili sauce that I can drink from a wine glass.