Author Archives: Ziggy

Kāwi – At the Cutting Edge of NYC Dining

Kawi TunaI will start this one the same way I started the previous post.  It took me some time to warm up to Hudson Yards.  After all, it represents everything that is wrong with NYC dining today.  Higher rents and a surging mouth shift from the mom and pop to the corporate.  One doesnt need to walk too far to find available space, and the rate of closures seems to be accelerating.  There’s a street on 3rd Ave between St Marks and Stuyvesant where every single retails space is available.  They were all taken not too long ago.  With Hudson Yards we got a little closer to Vegas.

With that said, its hard to curb the Hudson Yards enthusiasm.  A mega public art piece dedicated to the Shawarma (aka Vessel).  Little Spain with its big names, and little balls.  Jose Andres is from Asturias, so why not serve Asturian dishes that are hard to impossible to get here like Fabada and Arroz con Pitu instead of more Paella which is really just a Valencian specialty.  And then there are the new Momofukus to save the day.  Peach Mart,  a new Fuku branch, and Kāwi – perhaps the #1 reason to go to Hudson Yards today.  

Kawi

Eater NY

This is another Momofuku outpost where the cuisine is hard to describe to out of towners.  Executive Chef Eunjo Park describes it as “playful” and thats pretty much how you can describe the rest of the Momofukus.  Inventive, Asian (mostly Korean) influenced lab recipes.  I call it Momofunk.  While this one feels more Korean than the others, the Kitchen, for the time being at least, consists of Fuku All Star Avengers, like Josh Pinsky, bringing in some of their own influences.  The sweet and sour ribs, the clams – I’ve seen clips of this movie before.  But while Park is getting some temporary help, this is entirely her baby.

As of this writing, Kawi is open for lunch only.  I cant think of any such place that started as such, but considering the location it makes sense in this case.  Rumors are that dinner will include more stews and much of the same.  The space is spacious and quite striking.  Some of it overlooking the very open, action packed kitchen.  On my fist visit, while sitting facing that kitchen, I witnessed a team of five chefs and managers closely, and somewhat nervously following a health inspector.  At some point me and the inspector briefly exchanged smiles and nods, so I would like to believe I had something to do with the earned “A”.  This place is cleaner than my house after cleaning.

Here’s the food rundown at Kawi which means scissors in Korean, hence the brilliant cutting edge title…

White Pepper Wings – The prototypical wings at a higher dining establishment.  There’s a curious Yelp review out there urging to skip this item – “The wings are not crispy and the chicken meat is not juicy”.  That could be so at that time, but what I got was pretty much the opposite.  Crispy, peppery, and juicy alright.  These are three whole wings, and a must get for the wing lovers of the world.

Kawi Wings

Fried Cod – In a strange way, this glorified mini fish and chips without the chips might be the most memorable dish here for me.  You will be hard pressed to find a flakier, more fresh-tasting, lightly battered fish.  But its the gentle Yuzu spray that elevates it to the point of thinking about it many days later.

Kawi Fried Cod

Sweet & Sour Ribs – No surprise here as I’ve had and touted similar ribs at Nishi before.  While its a slightly different flavor profile, this is the same fall of the bone, succulent goodness.

Kawi Ribs

Madai Tartare – One can live here a lifetime and not realize the importance of raw seafood (Hwe or Hoe) in Korean cuisine.  Kawi has a column devoted to it.  Called a Snapper but technically a prized Sea Bream, this is a firm, delicious fish treated properly at Kawi.  I would opt for at least one “HWE” here.

Kawi Madai

 

Spicy Yellowfin Tuna Kimbap (top)- If you like spicy tuna rolls, you may want to avoid this at all costs as you may not be able to enjoy them the same way again.  Love that crunch from the fried Myoga (ginger) bits especially.

Spicy Roasted Rice Cakes – Just like at Ssam Bar, this is yet another brilliant use of rice cakes, that come with scissors.  Its topped with a good amount of crispy puffed rice, chili jam and ham that blends in nicely.  While interesting, this is more of a large side dish, suited for larger groups as its big and can be a bit heavy.

Kawi Rice Cake

Dry-Aged Striploin Set – Just what dry-aged beef should taste like.  Served with a Miso-like soup, an assortment of fried veggies, and delicious rice with more beef fat.

BTS – One of the cocktails we tried.  I wouldnt list a cocktail unless its good.  Its good!  Soju, honey, strega, lemon.  On the sweeter side, but nicely balanced.

Kakigōri – This is their version of the Japanese ice dessert.  Ultra light, not too frozen shaved ice with whipped cream, ginger syrup, and pear.  Like a perfected Halo-Halo.

Kāwi
20 Hudson Yards
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: All of the above

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Foxface – Sandwich Academy

It took me a while to warm up to this one.  After all, I was a fan of the previous tenant, Feltman’s of Coney Island, a hot dog joint with a story.  The reincarnation of the original Coney Island Red Hots, invented by Charles Feltman in 1867.  Owner Michael Quinn, packed and left about 6 months ago, and a sandwich shop now occupies the space inside the William Barnacle Tavern (a former prohibition era speakeasy) on St Marks.  My level of enthusiasm needed some time to get going on this one.  What can they possibly do in this tiny ‘hers and hers’ closet size kitchen?  Magic apparently.

The available space was ideal for Ori and Sivan who live in the same building.  According to EV Grieve, they grow some of the ingredients in the garden behind the building.  A Zero Kilometer Slow Food destination if you will.  Maybe they even have a few black pigs roaming around the back munching on East Village acorns.  How else would you explain the hard to get Culatello (Prosciutto so prized, it has its own name) that was featured one week.  The rotating ingredient driven, whimsical sandwiches keeps Sivan and Ori on their toes, and fun to follow on Instagram.  And their brief stint in Tokyo taught them a few tricks.

It starts with the high quality bread from Pain D’Avignon which they also sell separately.  The sandwiches rotate based on availability of carefully selected ingredients and to some degree… Sivan’s dreams.  When she dreamt about camels, camel meat made it to the menu.  When she dreamt about being attacked by angry Bisons, there was revenge in the form of Bison Heart with Tehini, pickled onions, and greens.  On occasion, You may see the cleverly light “Oh Boy”, wild Argentinian jumbo Red Shrimp with homemade shrimp sauce and pickled tomato.

Some sandwiches include their orange based spicy sauce that elevated Mrs Ziggy’s already fantastic chicken cutlets back at home.  They sell the bottles now for $5.  No matter what sandwich you select, the three to five ingredients dance together in harmony, producing a well balanced combination.  But if I have to pick one sandwich its the signature Smoking Fox – Smoked Boneless Rib, Coleslaw, pickles and that zesty hot sauce.

EWZ historians claim that this is the first post about a place with less than two Yelp reviews (one as of this writing).  This is some strong stuff, and a lesson to us all.  When you come across a seemingly low overhead business, dont dismiss it quickly.  There could be a creative team behind it, that likes to dream.

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

The 15 Best Things we Ate in Spain

Better late than never I suppose.   In order of the places visited…

Dry rice with pigeon at Lakasa (Madrid) – Starting with the best meal in Madrid and a challenge.  Hard to pick from a flawless meal with so many hits (Cecina, Hake, steak, clams), but this rice dish was the most memorable.  Tender, succulent bird, on top of flavor packed, socarrat filled rice.  First of many amazing rice dishes on this trip.

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Shrimp and Garlic La Casa del Abuelo (Madrid) – Years ago, Ramiro in Lisbon introduced us to the wonderful world of Shrimp swimming in sizzling garlic sauce, and we’ve been looking for this dish ever since.  La Casa del Abuelo is famous for it and I can see why.  The shrimp was plentiful and plump.  What they lacked in crispiness, they more than made up in flavor

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Cocochas de Merluza con Yema de Huevo at El Paraguas (Madrid) – This was exceptional although its not exactly clear what it was.  The restaurant translates it to “Hake’s Barbel in green sauce and egg yolk”.  Confusing because Barbel is a another fish, and Cocochas is the second chin or jaw of a fish which we had in Getaria some time later and it looked nothing like this.  Whatever it was, it was excellent. and I would go back just for this.

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Suckling Pig at Jose Maria (Segovia) – When in Segovia, a carnivore foodie experience like no other awaits.  From the theatrical presentation to the cutting with a plate, to the crispiness and juiciness of the meat.  A rather simple cooking process but the result is heavenly.  Thats because these guys got this thing down to a science.  From the weight of the pig, to the timing of the kill and what it had for breakfast on days 4 to 6.  And dont leave town without trying the Segovian beans.

Jose Maria in Action

Dessert Sampler at El Almacén (Avila) – Overlooking the dramatic walls of Avila is this mature gem producing splendid meats (although really on the rare side) and other creative dishes.  But it was the shockingly good dessert sampler that will make me come back.

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Farinato at Mesón Cervantes (Salamanca) – Salamanca, an underrated university town is not exactly known for its cuisine.  But one of the local specialties is Farinato, sausage made of lard, bread, and onions.  Its usually served with fried eggs and/or potatoes.  A local took us to this place on the main square for one of the best Farinato renditions in town.  I was also considering listing the Tostas (open sandwiches) at the uber local Taberna Dionisos

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Cachopo at Chigre El Antoju Sidrería (Llanes) – The formidable Cachopo can be criminally overlooked when researching Asturias.  How to describe this dish.  Its like a veal schnitzel gone horribly great.  Two mammoth fried veal fillets sandwiching ham, cheese, and whatever else in season.  And one of the best places to try it is this popular Sidrería in Llanes where you’ll be bathing in Sidra even if you didnt order it.

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Pitu de Caleya at El Molín de Mingo (Peruyes) – In the country side of Asturias, apparently there are these 7 feet chickens roaming around the area answering to the name Pitu.  Pitu Caleya Con Arroz, a rice dish made with those chickens is a local specialty and locals swear by El Molin de Mingo’s version.  Even local Michelin heavyweights try to replicate it’s exceptional depth.  Another must try is the Jabali Estofado, a slow roasted, super juicy wild boar that can be served with fried potato.  This place is well off the beaten path but well worth finding.

El Molín de Mingo Pitu

Fabada at Casa Marcial (Arriondas) – The Michelin crowned Casa Marcial produced one of the most memorable meals we ever had.  The set menu is a smart blend of inventive starters and perfected classic mains like the Fabada.  Calling it a bean stew doesnt feel right.  But it is. And you need to try it.  Other than the occasional showing at Despana, I havent seen it in NYC.

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Seafood Rice at Guernica (Luanco) – Once you step inside this local seafood mecca, there’s no mistaken its signature dish, as you see it served all over.  We opted for the Pixin (monkfish) and clam infused rice dish (there are choices) which was stellar and huge.  Its a good place for families and groups.  And I also wouldnt miss the best of the trip octopus, and scallops.

Guernica Rice Dish

Seafood Soup at Adolfo (Comillas) – Sometimes its the unplanned spur of the moment finds that are most memorable.  After we finished admiring El Capricho, one of Gaudi’s only works outside of Barcelona, we found Adolfo where seafood reigns supreme.  For us four it was a mega bowl of soup with heaps of fresh seafood, and quite cheaper than anticipated.  And the squid wasnt too shabby either.

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Turbot at Elkano (Getaria) – A fish experience like no other.  Tourists take expensive taxi rides from San Sebastian to eat here, while we just rolled from our hotel/winery nearby (The brilliant Gaintza).  The grilled Turbot dominates the entire fishing village, but at Elkano, they perfected it.  The owner, if around, will present the fish and explain the various textures and flavors from its parts.  This is also a good place to try Kokotxas (fish cheeks)

Elkano Turbot

Bonito at Mayflower (Getaria) – It was tough to choose from this fisheria featuring one of the most sought after terraces in town.  We’ve had two great meals here and we tried most of the menu pretty much.  So I turned to Mrs Ziggy on this one, and she fondly remembers the Bonito del Norte, the Tuna of the North that is essentially the best canned albacore you’ll ever eat.  The peppers and Galician octopus need to be ordered as well.

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Wild mushrooms with Foie and egg yolk at Araneta (Zestoa) –  This is a simple looking Asador up on the mountains, very popular with locals.  About 20 minute drive from Getaria.  Here you can get a fantastic Ribeye, and an even better wild mushrooms with Foie and egg.  When you have a group of mushroom haters (the rest of my family) wipe a mushroom plate clean you know you got something very special.

Araneta Mushroom Foie

Steak at Néstor Bar (San Sebastian) – How to describe Néstor Bar?  Imagine a dimly lit, romantic room.  Soothing, easy listening in the background, mixed with the occasional laughter of a young loving couple celebrating their 5th anniversary.  And a waiter that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed.  Now imagine the opposite of that and you have Néstor Bar.  Wait for your “table” in chaos, until you get standing room counter for the 4 of you, but can only fit two and half.  But once you taste the steak, with tomato salad, and green peppers, you go “F$&ck Romance”

Néstor Bar Steak

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Jun-Men Ramen – Come for Nails, Stay for Italian

Eating With Ziggy

fried rice Jun-men ramen Photo by Jun-Men Ramen

March 29, 2019 Update:

I cringe sometimes when I read things I wrote over 3 years ago.  I had to take an entire paragraph about Cialis, yes Cialis, from this post because its not very relevant or funny today.  But here it is.. an oldie but.. Ok, just an oldie.  Z-List staple Jun-Men is clicking on all cylinders, and established itself as one of the most important Chelsea neighborhood hangouts.  Well, you cant hang out for too long as the place is very small and waits can stretch to the corner.  But this is the only place I know where you add yourself to the list on the ipad in the front, where you can see exactly how many are ahead of you.  A good spot to go before Hudson Yards if you want to eat “local”

The Ramen here settled down to a silky smooth…

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50 Shades of Vessel

IMG_0123In case you didnt get your daily Vessel fix today, here’s a good one.  Well, as good as my iPhone can take at least while my big boy camera collects dust.  And in case you’ve been living under a rock, or Staten Island, the Vessel, aka The Honeycomb, aka The Giant Shawarma is a 200 million giant art structure in the just unveiled Hudson Yards (aka pretty mall).  You need tickets to get inside and the process of getting them at this moment is as difficult and convoluted as the process to get tickets to The Last Supper in Milan.  But at least its free.

 

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Simon & The Whale – Not your Grandpas Hotel Dining

Simon & The Whale - CrudoWhile we were dining at Simon & The Whale the other day, we noticed something thats becoming less and less peculiar these days.  We were the oldest people in the room by what looked like quite the margin.  That includes the wait staff.  Our waiter could have been the son I was never given (even though he confused Dorade for a Sea bass, something my son would never ever do).  But didnt all these kids get the memo that hotel restaurants are horrible tourist traps?  They may not have lived long enough when it actually was.  In NYC at least.

And so where is the “mature” hanging out these days anyway?  We were also the oldest at Broken Shaker, the rooftop bar at the same hotel (Freehand).  Some kind Millennials asked us if we were lost and offered help.  Did the entire Generation X move to Staten Island?  Oh never mind.  Found them in the Upper East Side.  But are we getting closer to Young Pro City that just got accelerated with the introduction of Hudson Yards.  I’m a soon to be 49, frontal balding Tour Guide middle aged professional.  Where do I belong?

Simon & The Whale

Courtesy of Freehand

But these days, hotel dining in NYC is not only perfectly acceptable, but trendy.  Just look at The NoMad, The William Vale, The Freehand, and any other hotel that begins with “The” these days.  They all offer a plethora of creative chef driven dining options.  And your ears perk a bit higher at the sound of “At [hotel name]” these days.  For example: “The Magician at Mikes Pub” vs “The Magician at The NoMad Hotel”.  There’s no question which magician I just have to see.  The competitive dining and real estate environment today means you can no longer afford to have a hotel restaurant that sucks.  Is that all good news? No, not really.  But let’s leave that for another gloomy day post.

Simon & The Whale along with The Studio and George Washington Bar at The Freehand is run by Happy Cooking Hospitality founded by Gabriel Stullman and his wife.  With the hotel launch, HCH essentially transformed into a dining empire, adding to a resume that includes Fedora, Bar Sardine, Joseph Leonard and other places I dont really frequent.  Matt Griffin, the Fedora and Bar Sardine chef, is now at the helm at Simon & The Whale, named I believe after Stullman’s son who likes to play with whales.  A practice we dont endorse here on EWZ.  Its a seafood focused New American menu.  Which really means fancy food that can not be called Italian or French.  Although it’s one or two pastas shy from Italian.

Simon & The Whale - Whole Fish

Black Bass Crudo – If I have to pick one dish, this might be it.  Mrs Z said the sauce reminded her of her childhood. A ratatouille moment if you will.  But I think she was just under a major Spritz  influence by that point.  It was just a nice spiced miso.  Along with the sliced radishes (daikon I believe) and the crunch of the puffed rice, this was a very pleasant bite

Smoked mussels – Fine but skippable. You fish them from a small jar and spread on wheat crackers.  Not overly flavorful or smoked.

Squid ink Tagliatelle – Very nice, albeit there’s really no squid ink mixed here as the name may suggest (to some).  Its simply black pasta (made with squid ink) mixed with fresh seafood, with a little heat.

Simon Burger – Had this on another visit and as expected just a solid burger from the team that got burger fame at Bar Sardine.  Well cooked meat, and top notch craftsmanship.  And the crunch from the crispy shallots tricking your brain to believe there’s an especially nice sear here.Simon & The Whale - Burger

Whole Fish for Two – Expertly cooked Dorade.  For two really means for two in this case. Very often dishes for two can be for 3 or 4.  Served on top a thin, delicate Madras curry, and creamy white butter beans (fava).  Delicious but a bit overpriced at $60.

Cauliflower (side) – Listed as a side, but closer to an appetizer we sometimes see in middle eastern places.  Its good.

Almond Milk Panna Cotta – Possibly the best Panna Cotta I’ve had in NYC.  I find that chefs often mess around with Panna Cottas way too much, but this was just perfect.  The combination of the cream, tangerine, and the crunch from the caramelized cocoa nibs worked beautifully.

For drinks she enjoyed the Crazy Charlie, a Spritz-like with Mezcal and grapefruit. My Negroni was a little off but manageable.  The great wine list didnt have many glass options, but there was a rare Grillo (Sicilian white) sighting so I had to take advantage. This is a Go!

Simon & The Whale
23 Lexington Ave (23/24 at the Freehand Hotel), Flatiron
Rating: 2.5 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Crudo, Burger, Squid ink Tagliatelle, Whole Fish, Cauliflower, Panna Cotta

Simon & The Whale - MusselsSimon & The Whale - Squid ink Tagliatelle

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

Hunan Slurp – Substance Over Style

Hunan Slurp - Pepper and PorkIts 14:30, I just finished another East Village tour, and I’m hungry.  An inside peek into my head… “I still have time for Hunan Slurp before the kitchen closes for a smoke break.  Or should I just get another sick sandwich from Foxface?  Where exactly did I park my car?  If I sprint to the car with the sandwich, will it make it or get all soggy.  How do you spell mausoleum anyway?  Its cold and I really feel like noodles, preferably swimming in something spicy.  Ok, Tatsu Ramen it is!”.

I did end up having one of the better bowls of Ramen this winter at Tatsu, called “Bold Ramen”.  But the Hunanese noodle joint on the same block is where my thoughts are these days.  I picked Tatsu because I’ve been to Hunan Slurp so many times lately, I’m having my Amazon mail forwarded there (yes I switched from Dell’anima after a complaint was issued).

Hunan Slurp - Hunan Salad

Hunan Slurp, along with Le Sia, Szechuan Mountain House and some others is leading the charge in what is dubbed by some as “Chinatown North”.  A most important Chinatown that looks nothing like a Chinatown.  The past five years saw an explosion of young entrepreneurs opening shops covering a variety of regional Chinese cuisines.  While they are young, the kitchens are staffed with very capable, experienced cooks.  And a more recent phenomenon is popular Flushing and Sunset Park joints like 99 Favor Taste, and Szechuan Mountain House testing the waters of the more glamorous East Village.

Contrary to the what the title may suggest Hunan Slurp is stylish alright.  In fact its one of the most tastefully decorated restaurants in the area.  A lesson in restaurant design. Thats because owner Chao Wang who grew up in Hunan’s second largest city, is a former artist.  But in a city where style over substance is much too common, its always refreshing to see stylish spaces where the food is the real attraction.  Its a first date for foodies kinda place.  Here’s the food rundown…

Hunan Slurp

Hunan Salad – This is a thing of beauty and not really “Salad” by any means.  Preserved eggs wrapped in eggplant topped with pepper and dressed in soy and sesame oil.  Like Baba Ganoush with makeup.  A must get.

Cabbage – Sounds awful.  Looks even worse.  Who wants to eat a plate titled cabbage?  Me!  After my first introduction to Chinese style cabbage at the Fei Long Market in Sunset Park I never looked back.  When done right its addictive.  And this one ladened with garlic, chili and soy, was one of those.

Fresh Whole Fish – Possibly the best thing I’ve eaten all year.  The whole fish is chopped so it looks like fillets with bones.  Covered with garlic, ginger, and a supremely flavorful homemade chili sauce

Hunan Slurp - Fish

Chicken – The closest dish to American Chinese, and still a good get.  Stir fried chicken with young ginger.  The hot plates here can seem pricey (this is $25) but they are very shareable.

Hometown Lu Fen – Probably the closest thing on the menu to a signature dish.  Sliced Beef, Char Su, Peanut, Cucumber, Bean Curd, Crispy Soy Bean and plenty of silky thick rice noodles that sucked all the little amount of broth.  Pretty sure I sat next to Terri Hatcher while eating this.  I didn’t ask, but she did ask me if I’m Ziggy, and I said no.  Don’t like to be bothered while eating

Pepper & Pork – Mifen (rice noodles) is the specialty here.  There are all sorts of nifty combinations on the menu, and this is just one of them.  Its like soup topped with a delicious juicy stir fry.

A rare 3 Z’s!

Hunan Slurp
112 1st Avenue (6/7), East Village
Rating: Three Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: All of the above

Hunan Slurp - ChickenHunan Slurp - Hometown Lu Fen

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The 10 Commandments of Picking Food in NYC (And Avoiding Tourist Traps)

Eating With Ziggy

Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning ConceptJust like a mom balancing work and being a mom, a tourist in NYC needs to find the right balance between being a tourist and unleashing that inner Ziggy.  After meeting so many of you on my tours (semi-shameless self promotion), and reading Trip Reports and questions on Trip Advisor, I now totally understand the struggle.  You are reading this because you, unlike most visitors, understand that food is one of NY’s greatest attractions, that often doesnt play well with other attractions.  In fact they really hate each other.  Sometimes, something will have to give, but it can result in a much more enjoyable trip.  Here are 10 rules to help you strike that balance, and avoid tourist traps.

1. Location Location Location.  Stay in or close to a residential neighborhood, a food friendly one preferred.  Pretty much anywhere below 34th, Hell’s Kitchen, and UWS, will do.  I dont mind Times Square…

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Meet Gotham West Market’s Messiah

Dell'anima CarbonaraThe Gotham West Market’s executive in charge of luring interesting new vendors must have one of the toughest jobs in America.  It turns out that surviving so deep inside Hell’s Kitchen, a neighborhood dominated by young professionals and Bulldogs is pretty tough.  Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop is the only original vendor left since they opened about 5 years ago.  Changes are happening in a furious pace.  Latest shocker is the departure of Genuine Roadside, a burger joint owned by Avroko the firm that designed GWM.  Sources tell me Corner Bistro another burger joint will be its replacement.  Yes, I have sources.

For a moment there, with the shuttered burger option, GWM’s total demise seemed in sight.  I mean how much more pain can these Bulldogs take.  Enter Dell’anima!  Yes, that Dell’anima that you may have heard about but never went because it got lost in the crazy West Village Italian shuffle.  It managed to survive a decade there generating quite the following, but ultimately succumbing to ultra gentrification like so many others.  Today’s rent squeeze means you have to be creative with the real estate, but it also means winners may emerge elsewhere.  In this case its Hell’s Kitchen which may have just gotten its best Italian.

Dell'anima

I’ve been hanging around so much at Dell’anima lately (before or during tours) that I’m having my mail forwarded there.  It replaces the space of El Colmado, joining Ivan, Seamore’s, Corner Slice, Ample Hills Creamery and a Jianbing joint (Beijing style crepes) as the current residents.  A very different lineup to even going back a few months, not to mention on opening day.  Dell’anima features the type of concentrated menu that feels fresh and unique in the entire Hell’s Kitchen universe where Italian is somewhat lacking.  And I can safely say this again:  Gotham West Market is a solid, severely overlooked pre-theater option.  At least for the time being.

The mostly Roman inspired pastas here is the main draw although everything else I’ve tried was exceptional.  There’s a Tajarin Carbonara with Speck and egg that is so good I had to come back for it when I didnt have to share it with three women (My family.  I’m not THAT popular).  The Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese was another winner.  There’s also a Tagliolini Cacio e pepe and a standard but fine looking Orecchiette with sausage.

Only two Secondis on the menu, and at least one of them is superb.  A chili crusted, juicy Pollo al Diavolo sitting on top Broccoli Rabe.  The charred octopus, a popular dish in the previous location is excellent as well.  It comes with “Rice Beans”, cannellini Beans so young they resemble large grains.  While not one of these fat Spanish octopuses you come across sometimes, its zesty and delicious, and the dish works well as a whole.  Go!

Dell’anima
600 11th Ave (Gotham West Market, Hell’s Kitchen)
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Octopus, Chicken, Carbonara

Dell'anima - Octopus

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

EV Bites – Goodnight Almond Croissant

Patisserie Florentine - CroissantsEV Bites is a monthly feature (well sort of.  I may have skipped a few), that showcases five places in or around East Village you should know about.  I will occasionally extend the border to surrounding hoods and maybe even mention a name more than once.  East Village in case you are not aware is an incubator for top industry talent, and a goldmine of world cuisine.

Foxface –  The smallest kitchen in the village keeps attracting the most interesting stuff.  Inside the William Barnacle Tavern/Theater 80, out goes Feltman’s Hot dogs, the rebirth of the inventor of the hot dog (or Coney Island red hots) and the best hot dog in NY.  In goes Foxface, the little Sandwich shop that could.  It took me a couple of months to try it, because that’s how long it takes me to get excited about a sandwich shop, but man was it good.  One bite of the well crafted, balanced Smoking Fox (smoked boneless rib, coleslaw, pickles, homemade spicy sauce) is all you need to understand.  Its owned by a duo that used to own a cafe in Tokyo.  Quite the ingredient driven little place, starting with the bread they get from NYC’s elite like Pain D’Avignon and Fat Witch.

Hunan Slurp – Possibly the most important opening out of the countless of Chinese openings over the last few years.  Half of my meals in the area as of late are here.  A fresh Z-list addition.  Cant say enough.  The incredible whole fish, the cabbage, stir fried chicken, Hunan Salad, and the signature Hometown Lu fen.  I will have a dedicated post when the time comes.

Hunan Slurp

Hunan Slurp

La Rossa – Hate the generic sounding name, love the pizza.  This is from yet another Italian pizza legend, Stefano Callegari who owns some of Roma’s best and the inventor of the Trapizzino.  We are just missing Bonci (Interestingly he owns two in Chicago).  I like to start my pizza relationships with a light no frill meal which means a basic Margherita, and this one did not disappoint.  Although from Rome, its more Neapolitan-style featuring a light and airy dough with great ingredients all around.  But the pizzas to get are most likely the Roman inspired Carbonara and Cacio e pepe baked with ice in order to “glue” the ingredients better.  Technically just inside Soho on Lafayette.

Dunhuang Noodles – Its getting to the point where its hard to limit this feature to just one Chinese, but they are all so very different.  Dunhuang specializes in Northwestern Chinese food, and is growing a la Xi’an Famous.  In the winter I usually crave spicy noodle soups, and very few in the area beat Dunhuang’s Braised Beef Noodles and Lanzhou Beef Noodles these days.

Patisserie Florentine – Is no more!  That group from Canada that makes the semi-annual pilgrimage to Patisserie Florentine after pre-ordering ALL their Almond Croissants will soon get the painful truth just like I did.  Only in East Village a place with a perfect Yelp score offering a legend-esque product can still close.  I’ve watched these Almond Croissants make countless of people smile over the years on my tours.  But hey, its East Village.  There’s plenty of fish in this sea.

La Rossa Pizza

La Rossa

Categories: East Village, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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