New York City

Introducing EWZ Tours

img_7142-1Some tours developments for ya…

We have a name, a website, and the least attractive attractions on TripAdvisor (meaning the guide, not the experience)

The three tours are shaping up quite nicely.  I’ve made some changes to all three already and quite satisfied with all the routes.  I’m fairly booked for the holiday season, but not so much after January 3rd.  Yes, I’m doing the walking tours throughout the winter

I think the most painful part of this whole process was coming up with the name.  Eating With Ziggy Tours ultimately beat Angry Panda, Touring With Ziggy, and Hungry Penguin.  I was all set on the last one, but no one liked it.  Touring With Ziggy was the natural progression, but then the expectations of Drinking With Ziggy, and Sleeping with Ziggy would follow.  I would have already gotten a review on the last one, and I’m afraid it’s not good

It took about 6 weeks but we are finally on Trip Advisor, and Facebook.  On Instagram which I finally joined in the summer, I’m “EatingWithZiggy”, and on Twitter I’m still good ol’ Ziggy601

In order to get on TA, I had to quickly create a dedicated site which I’m still working on https://eatingwithziggytours.com/

Why East Village

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

Introducing the Z-List Map

danji-big-korean-breakfastSince so many of you are paying attention to this Z-List for some reason, I figured I might as well help you out with a little map.  The same map appears at the bottom of the Z-List page.

Happy Thanksgiving!

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1D349Rvw-nDSZ2D13p0c_7gkL9rA&usp=sharing

 

 

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Meet the New Mexican Sheriff of Hell’s Kitchen – Tacuba

An update on Tacuba after an all out bash last night.

Eating With Ziggy

Tacuba Tacuba

November 20, 2016 Update:  Three months later, Tacuba of Hell’s Kitchen is clicking on all Chimichangas!  A big birthday bash for a close friend last night started with a sound concern, but ended with another fun meal.  If you go however, try to avoid Friday and Saturday nights if you can.  The word is apparently out (ahem!).  There were quite a few large groups there besides the usual turnout, and they can get busy.  Tacuba has all the red flags of places I usually avoid.  Younger crowd, loud, overzealous vibe sometimes.  But the touch of Julian Medina (who I finally met last night) of Toloache fame, gives it this nice balance of food and energy you cant get out of Mexican in Hell’s Kitchen.  Nothing new to report food wise.  Stick to the Carnitas, Pulpo and the rest of the appetizers.  And the drinks here are quite good.

August 7, 2016 Post:…

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Mister Dips – A Burger With a View

mister-dips-viewA famous person once said, “I didn’t know that I was starving till I tasted you.  Don’t need no butterflies when you give me the whole damn zoo.  By the way, by the way, you do things to my body.  I didn’t know that I was starving till I tasted you”.  Always a joy listening to this one in the car with the kids around (rolling eyes smiley goes here).  I knew that I was starving before I tasted this burger.  Well, I wasnt literally starving, but it was a solid notch above first world hunger kind of starving.  And while I didnt quite get the zoo when I visited William Vale’s second floor terrace (or is it third), I did envision butterflies roaming around there in the spring.  And yes, it did things to my body.  Wonderful things!  Followed by guilt, despair, and total loss of hope in humanity (especially after the elections).

Maybe I should have just stopped with a single patty.  Did I really need a double?  And instead of plain waffle fries, did I really need the porn name sounding “Dirty Dipper”, covered with spicy, gooey, wonderful cheddar and scallions?  Yes, I needed all those things.  Raise your hand if you are tired of your partner’s “Do you really need that?” every time you reach for a dark chocolate?  Do you REALLY need that diamond ring?

The Mister Dips burger, sold from a parked Airstream trailer, is as solid as a Shake Shack burger can get (yes Shake Shack is is now officially the “Bounty” of burgers).  The flavor profile is spot on, and the price is right.  Coupled with the dirty Waffle Fries, and.. watch out Shake Shack, there’s a new bounty in town.  You know things are going well when you forget to drink your beverage while eating.  But that’s not all.  The park, terrace, Low Line, or whatever they want to call it, is a stunner.  A “chuppah” of colorful patio furniture, overlooking lower midtown Manhattan, with grassy hills to boot.  Gorgeous views, especially once you ignore the construction in between.  Did I mention the speakers blasting gangsta rap and 80’s in the background?  So check it out, along with a well earned bathroom break at the new William Vale, before the mister shuts its Dips for the season.

Mister Dips
111 N 12th St (Williamsburg. William Vale Promenade)

mister-dips-burger mister-dips-park mister-dips

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Atoboy – Helping Make NoMad Great Again

atoboy-atoboy-2The Schnied is over.  I finally made it to Atoboy, and I finally ate something worthy of more than one Z (stars).  Friends parties, family events, the dog ate my schedule, are just some of the reasons I had to cancel Atoboy about 5 times.  At some point it became a joke, and at another point a curse I thought perhaps I should not be tempered with.  I tempered!  The constant barrage of food porn by an army of Instagrammers kept the plans intact, but it took me a few good months to finally make it.

Atoboy is the newest Korean bad boy in the NoMad, an area that started to feel somewhat stale as of late (New Mercato sibling Ulivo will be next to check out).  A Jungsik alum introduced a whimsical menu of Korean Banchan, small tapas like dishes.  A set price of $36 allows you to choose one dish from three sections. One can add more a la carte ($9, $12, $15 respectfully) and dessert which I recommend here.  Decor as you can see is Industrial Bushwick Chic.  I totally made that up, but you bought it admit it.  Not something you normally see in the increasingly elegant purse-bench filled NoMad hotel zone

atoboy-tartareA friendly waitress guided us well throughout.  Only issue is something that haunts us in just about every tapas like joint, but got elevated here.  A constant flow of arriving dishes.  You eat non stop here, and within an hour you are pretty much done.  For $160 for two that included tip/tax, two Gruners, two desserts, an extra small plate, and $2 upgrade to seasoned rice (yes!), I was expecting to linger a little longer with my date.  I will break the food by rounds, and list my favorites at the end as well

First round – We ordered an extra dish here, the Cobia, served raw, finely diced and mixed with Korean pear, hockey puck tartare style.  Nice combination of textures and flavors.  The least exciting of the early three was surprisingly the heavily Instagrammed beef tartare, a Korean style tartare, thinly sliced strips instead of finely chopped which is my preference.  The “Eggplant “on first glance looked like a babaganoush gone horribly wrong, but resulted in the best dish early on by far.  A spoonful of the layers of eggplant, Dungeness crab and tomato jelly led by that smoky eggplant was pure ecstasyatoboy-sunchoke

Second round – I was a little bored with the “Egg” with Sea urchin, Watercress, Quinoa.  The egg white was in charge throughout and needed something more.  Far cry from a similar egg dish at the NoMad (not fair I know) nearby.  The meaty Jerusalem Sunchoke was more like it, with Oyster mushroom, Black truffles, and Orange.  One of the better dishes of the night

Third round – Fried chicken tempura style with peanut sauce featured a good amount of tender, juicy, delicious meat.  Looks greasier than it actually is.  Mrs Z wasnt as much of a fan though to be fair.  The Brisket with Foie gras infused gravy and more Oyster mushroom looked and tasted like a sick meat stew.  A solid dish, but one of those where the main ingredient (unevenly tender meat cubes) is the least exciting thing there.  Love the garlic chips, the sauce, the mushrooms, and once I started dipping the mushrooms from the Sunchoke dish, I almost wet myself.  From the sauce that is.atoboy-chicken

Dessert.  A tale of two desserts. Panna Cotta with frozen pomegranate was outstanding.  Its all about the cookie crumble in the middle tying everything nicely together.  Black Raspberry Cake was just like a fine pretty cake you get at your corner pastry shop.  Should have tried the Granita with walnuts and burrata.  Go!

Atoboy
43 E 28th St (Madison/Park)
Rating: Two Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Cobia, Eggplant, Sunchoke, Chicken, Brisket, Panna Cota

atoboy-cobia atoboy-eggplant atoboy-various atoboy-brisketatoboy-desert atoboy

 

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Foodpourri

danji-big-korean-breakfastRandom EWZ food discoveries, announcements, and other nonsense…

Danji, the long time EWZ fave in the kitchen of hell is now doing brunch.  In addition to the best tofu dish in town, you can now enjoy delicacies like the Big Korean Breakfast (top picture), Kimchi bacon fried rice, and their version of the Filipino Sisig.  This medium size Jew did the big Korean Breakfast and (of course) the tofu last week, and as much as I enjoyed them, I would love to try the other offerings next time

Talking about Sisigs, I accidentally had it twice last month.  My favorite was in Maharlika in East Village.  Gorgeously fried pig ears, snout, belly with garlic, chilies on top of garlicky rice.  Just a solid combination of flavors and textures.  And while you at it, try their Lumpia rollsimg_4401

lam-zhou-handmade-noodle-dumplingsHaving trouble sleeping?  Problems in the bedroom, ever since Prosperity Dumplings closed by the health dep’t.  Before you reach for the red pill, blue pill or any pill for that matter, check out Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle in Chinatown.  Even at room temperature, you get some of the tastiest fried pork dumplings in NYC today.  8 for $3 is still quite cheaper than what all the new places charging today

In Pizza news, while I dont normally get excited about Sullivan Street Bakery‘s thin, often room temp Roman pies (I do get excited about everything else), the day I walked into a fresh Pizza Capicola changed all that.  Coppa ham, green olives, chili, fennel, Mascarpone.  A masterful combo with plenty of nice heat to keep your taste buds happy for a while.

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Discoering Los Mariscos in Chelsea Market is like discovering a secret Speakeasy, or Tom Hanks discovering a secret garden full of typewriters.  The Los Tacos #1 team leased the space that leads from the tacos hallway to 15th st where there’s a separate entrance.  The place meant to resemble a Mexican seafood shack, and the Baja style fish and shrimp tacos are as solid as they get in NYC.  And at $3 to $4, quite affordable for Chelsea Marketlos-mariscos

I’ve been eating quite a bit in Brooklyn as of late.  Some ups, some downs, with the highlight coming from the most unexpected, Olivier Bistro in Park Slope.  Homey, basic French Bistro fare done well.  Escargot, Hanger, Daurade special particular standouts.

Stop me when I start sounding like Crazy Eddy, but the new East Village Food Tour is beginning to look like a smashing success food and sightseeing wise.  I assembled a pretty nice route that includes a stop at the always fun Caracas Arepa Bar where we’ll sample some Venezuelan mini Arepas they do especially for the tour.  Not all tours will be the same, but this one is shaping to be one the most popular stops.caracas-bar-pork-shoulder-mini-arepas

img_4469In my constant pursuit of great Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao) in NYC that included the much hyped Drunken Dumplings, and others, The Bao in, you guessed it, East Village, makes possibly the best I’ve had in NYC.  Thin skin that holds it on, and a very fine filling of pork and crab which is what I recommend.  Love the dumplings, not so much the stuffier than it should be, $10 per person minimum, space.

Right below Bao on St Marks place is another place we’ve been obsessing with as of late, Spot Dessert Bar.  Playful, imaginary desserts like the Harvest, a plant of berries and soft cheesecake that you water with black rose milk tea.  Dont overlook however the more normal looking and sounding Green tea lava cake spot-dessert-bar

In Bakery news, I cant get enough of Breads Bakery (Jerusalem baguettes, babka, multiple locations), and Arcade Bakery in Tribeca.  Arcade is located in a lobby of an office building and the hours are office kind hours (m-f 8-4).  Go early for the sensational buttery Laminated Baguette, Whiskey-pecan Babka and call me in the morning.

Miso Cherry!  Say it with me, c’mon.  Slower.  Say it like you mean it.  Meeesooo Cherry!  Another wacky Oddfellows Ice Cream flavor that is perhaps the best ice cream/Gelato I’ve had this year.

Stay Hungry My Friends arcade-bakery oddfellows-miso-cherry-ice-cream

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

East Village Starting Location Changed

Just a heads up.  As much fun as it was playing Amazing Race, I have to change the meetup location of the East Village Tours.  The old location 51 Astor Place proved to be too confusing, especially when I discovered the arrow on the actual meetup building, 30 feet from the location, sends people to Broadway.  The new location is nearby, also on Astor Place, but much less confusing.  I think…

 

New Location:  26 Astor Pl, in front of Chase Bank.  http://tinyurl.com/hv8478g

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More About the East Village Food Tour

img_4226To describe East Village is like trying to describe our presidential race.  One of a kind bizarre, full of characters, twists and turns, and an extremely complicated history.  In some ways East Village reminds me of Sicily.  A long history of invasions of different peoples, cultures, and a lot of pain.  Like Sicily, seeing it is like seeing layers of paint.  And watching that paint while munching on an Israeli Bourekas, Philipino Lumpia, or a Xi’an spicy chicken wing is like… “Making watch paint great again!”  Or something like that.

Like the Hell’s Kitchen food tour, no tour will be the same.  We will have a few sit downs in some carefully selected spots that will differ from tour to tour.  Some of them I’ve been enjoying for years, while some discovered recently.  Unlike other food tours where strategic deals are made with the establishments regardless of quality, quality comes first. (oh boy, I’m starting to sound like Crazy Eddy)

img_4469While one may question the validity of Hell’s Kitchen being a hot food neighborhood (historically it hasnt been), you wont hear similar arguments about East Village.  Its arguably the best food neighborhood on the east coast.  Its not only extremely diverse, but well represented in any “Best Of” discussion.  From soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao) to BBQ ribs, to tacos.

We will pass by some important sights that helped shape the neighborhood and really NYC overall.  Plenty of history and photo opportunities

We will follow the Mosaic Trail.

You will hear stories that will bring the area to life.  Stories and events that even most New Yorkers arent aware of.  Some involve celebrities living in the East Village.

img_4396Small, private groups (up to 5 people) will enable you to experience the neighborhood like no large groups can.  I dont even need a microphone nor a pole with a chicken attached to it.  The only chickens you may see will be on skewers.

The timing of the tour 2-6 allows me to introduce you to some of these places and people in a more comfortable, relaxing pace, avoiding the crowds of lunch and dinner.  I try to finish by 6, although sometimes we have some fun and stay a little longer.  If you have a show to catch however, you will not have a problem.

$60 per person (for now)

Meet at 2:00 pm at 26 Astor Pl, in front of Chase Bank.  http://tinyurl.com/hv8478g

For any inquiries and availability email EatingWithZiggy@gmail.com

Love,

Ziggy img_4401img_4461img_4222

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NYC Slice Myths

best-pizza

Best Pizza

’twas the day before National Taco Day.  I was craving pizza, and decided to stop by at my trusted friends at Sacco in Hell’s Kitchen for a slice.  And while sitting there all lonesome, various thoughts came to mind.  “This is still a pretty darn good slice”, “What if I would start riding scooters”, “how come no one is here”, “Where would I park my scooter here”.  Only in my head I say things like “pretty darn”.  The slice is a typical NYC slice done right.  Thin, cooked just enough, with the proper cheese/tomato sauce mix and oregano.  And the crust has just the right amount of char and crunch.  I then expressed my feelings to the owner yet again, and we had a nice chat about other notable slices in NYC and what I call the Peter Luger affect.

sacco

Sacco

sacco-fold

Sacco

The Peter Luger Affect – The notion that once you make it, you make it forever.  Once you are crowned by all media as “The Best”, no matter how many steakhouses, burgers or pizza joints open since the crowning, you are never to be questioned, challenged, or replaced at the top.  Only if the king dies (closes) and doesnt produce a heir, a potential royal shift might occur.  With pizza, unlike steak, its not exactly clear who wears the crown.  But there are a few celebratory “Bests” that come up in just about every conversation, qualified for Peter Luger like glory.

One such place is Joe’s which has three locations including one on Carmine street where I grab a slice from time to time.  During my little talk with Mr Sacco (I dont know the gentleman’s real name so lets just call him that.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I call him that), I decided to pay a visit to Joe’s for a more proper comparison between the two.  Sacco, busy enough to remain open for a while, just outside of the tourist route, but totally empty at times.  Joe’s, consistently mentioned as the top or one of the top slices in NYC, and always packed with tourists and locals.  While the flavor was still there, the Joe’s slice was smaller and quite droopy this time to fully enjoy.  To be fair, I’ve had better slices at Joe’s, and worst slices at Sacco, but on this day at least, the two made the thesis too easy.  Sacco wins this round.

joes

joes

joes-fold

joes

Just like with Peter Luger, people from all over the world flock to Di Fara in Midwood, deep inside Brooklyn.  Once inside, it actually feels more like a pilgrimage than flocking.  You see tourists embracing their bible guidebook before embracing.  The first sight of 81 year old Dom DeMarco making the pies the same was he’s done for the past 50 years, brings people to tears.  The pizza has won numerous accolades from all over the world, including a”Best of the Best” tag from Anthony Bourdain.  However there’s only one tiny, little issue with this most famous pizza.  Coming from Manhattan for this may take half a day.  You may spend from 30 to 45 minutes waiting for a $5 slice (most expensive in NYC as far as I know), and much longer for a pie.  Dom the legend, doesnt let anyone else make them which is part of the appeal.  But that also means your slice may occasionally be overdone, underdone, or a little misshapen like the one on the right below.  “Sophie’s Choice” in the pizza world is when the food enthusiast husband must choose between the bigger and better slice, or smaller misshapen 30% bread slice, while there with his wife.  Obviously I chose the slice on the right, and still get to sleep in my bed.

Di fara

Di fara

A few days after the latest Di Fara episode, I paid a visit to another favorite, Best Pizza in Williamsburg, by Roberta veteran Frank Pinello.  Like Sacco, BP is not particularly well known, and is just a solid neighborhood pizza joint.  I would replace most of mine for this one.  Baked in a wood fired oven, the pies are the perfect marriage of Napoli and NY styles.  The fresh basil on each slice is like their zoro mark-like trademark.  I bike here from time to time, where the reward to pain ratio is much higher than Di Fara.  A few years ago, it beat both Di Fara and another legend, L&B Spumoni Gardens, on one of those Girls gone shopping so I’m free to roam around Brooklyn taste test

New York is a pizza town.  Its in our blood, and everyone has their favorites.  In the outer boroughs you will find a bagel shop, pizzeria, Chinese takeout, and therefore a pharmacy on every block.  And many of the 100’s of pizza out there do it well.  So while by no means, visit our “Bests” if you are in the area, you dont need to venture out too far for a proper slice.

dom-demarco

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Best Soups in Hell

Its that time of the year. Soup season in Hell’s Kitchen. Other than Mocu Mocu which is now Closed Closed nothing has changed. All these amazing soups are ready to be consumed. Check em out!

Eating With Ziggy

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…

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