TriBeCa

Houston Street, We Have a Problem!

161A Note from the Editor:

In the summer, during my much anticipated staycation, there was a moment on the High Line that is etched in my mind.  We found ourselves almost paralyzed, stuck in rush hour Sunday afternoon traffic behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was like a zoo!  We’ve seen our share of tourists at the High Line before but not to this degree, and with characters no less.  We needed to get out of there and we had to do it fast, after a bite of the Delaney Brisket of course.  A trip to the storied High Line coupled with braving the crowds of the Chelsea Market is now firmly on the tourists path.  Great for NYC, and all those Chelsea eateries that must be thriving just about now, right?  Not exactly.

A few weeks ago someone asked me if my knowledge of Hell’s Kitchen extends to Real Estate, for the purpose of finding a new home for La Lunchonette, a long time Chelsea institution.  In what seems like a daily occurrence of businesses closing its doors, La Lunchonette is just another one to bite the dust of rising rents.  Culprit in this case:  The High Line.  The park, along with new zoning permits attracting Real Estate developers who now see a lot of green in West Chelsea, and I’m not talking about the plants along the High Line that no one looks at anyway.  Current building owners succumb to offers they can’t refuse, essentially forced to evict their tenants in many cases.  According to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, the High Line is the cause of La Lunchonette’s demise, and presumably, many more will follow.

I guess we are done with gentrifying the island and now focusing on hyper gentrification?  I’m not pretending to know anything about economics or real estate.  I’m just a poor software developer who wants to have a f*** bagel or matzoh whenever I choose to, or whenever Jewish holiday dictates.  Excuse my Yiddish there.  Oh did I mention Streit’s Matzo Factory is closing soon and so is the original Ess-a-Bagel to make room for Bank of America and you guessed it.. a bagel shop.  How can anyone afford to run a business or live in NYC anymore.

The Union Square Area alone is one giant “For Rent” sign, led by Union Square Cafe which is forced to move after its lease is up.  Restaurants are getting squeezed left and right from 57th street to Houston Street.  In Hell’s Kitchen the action is slowly shifting to the West.  A Mexican restaurant owner recently told me he couldn’t afford being on 8th ave anymore and had to move all the way to 10th.  Meanwhile downtown, Brigadeiro Bakery finally found affordable space in Soho after selling their Brazilian Truffles from a Basement nearby for years.  Do you have a Bodega (Mexican deli) near you nowadays?  Bodegas are closing all over or forced to transform and unbodega themselves.

So whats in store for 2015 and beyond.  Brace yourself for more Bank of America, 7-Eleven, Chipotle, and Eataly which plans to open two more stores in NYC in the future.  While I love Eataly as much as the next guy (I spent 3 hours there last Sunday), I need more Eatalys like I need a pimple on my ass.  This expression never made much sense to me, until recently when I finally got one.  Those things can be truly annoying.  Anyway, I cant help but wonder how many more small mom and pops will close as a result of two more Eatalys.  Places like Di Palo’s, where you get a much more personal service, need to cherished like we cherish our kids.

But is it time to panic?  Yes!  I suppose 2014 also saw many new restaurants open, and I believe I even saw “Record Year” being proclaimed somewhere out there.  But with that I also noticed that my spending has increased, so no doubt I’m paying for the rent hikes as well.  How many of the new openings are truly affordable, with entrees below $20.  For every Lumpia Shack there seemed to be 10 Batards opening last year.  In Hell’s Kitchen new business owners used to find refuge on 9th ave, but now they find it on side streets where foot traffic is much lighter, or 10th ave where traffic is even worse.  Whenever I walk to Inti, a Peruvian gem on 10th where the Rotisserie chicken rivals anyone’s, I always wonder how they are still in business.  My co-worker believes they have a healthy delivery business

I still believe NYC is the greatest food city in the world, don’t get me wrong.  And the options I have in lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens are limitless.  But I’m a little worried about the direction.  Perhaps the worry is for nothing and I should stick to writing about food.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile, avoid the High Line

Ziggy

Editor in Chief

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Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, Queens, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, Trucks, Upper West Side, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Tourist in My Own Town – Day 4

136   Partially thanks to the new view, I slept like a baby.  I woke up every 3 hours needed to be fed and changed.  I’m attaching a picture of the “Courtyard View” which I requested over the street view we got last week.  We checked out after playing a game we invented called “I spy a courtyard” (I won!) and off we went to Everyman Espresso for another fantastic latte.

We are walkers, especially in the morning, and on this morning we decided to walk all the way to Battery Park passing approx 17 neighborhoods on the way give or take.  East Village, West Village, South Village, Greenwich Village, Nolita, South East Village, Chinatown, Soho, you get the picture.  Free tip for men:  The best time to walk through Soho is Sunday morning where its nice and quiet, and all the stores are closed!

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143We reach the Irish Hunger Memorial, dedicated to the million Irish killed in the great potato famine around 1850.  The great hunger led to millions fleeing to NYC, New Orleans, Australia and the relocation greatly shaped many NYC neighborhoods especially Hell’s Kitchen.  Its a memorial, not a museum, so there’s not a whole lot to see, but its fairly unique.  Large stones were brought in from the different Irish counties to represent them, and other stones were brought in to replicate a typical 1850 Irish cottage.

The transformation from the hustle and bustle of the city to Battery Park is akin to travelling from Milan to a small unassuming Italian Village with fewer cars, tourists, and more families.  We walked by the water toward our main destination of the day passing unique playgrounds, nice looking lawns with stunning settings, beach volleyball, and skateboard courts.  Kids here have it all.  When I was a kid, all I had was a tiny toy soldier, and a pack of cigarettes (I started smoking at 5, quit when 6, true story).  The Times They Are a-Changin’.

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156It may sound strange to new readers, but perfectly fine to the rest, that I built the entire day around a Lobster Roll.  Well, not just a Lobster Roll.  The Grand Banks is a Schooner (a ship for the German readers) that is parked off Pier 25 and offers one of the best lobster rolls in town until November when they go south.  The roll is done Maine style which means cold, and I’m not the biggest fan of Maine style rolls unless they are done right using the meatiest parts of the lobster.  This one features plenty of Maine claw meat with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumbers and worth every penny of the $25.  Fries would have been nice but the potato chips are spiced so very nicely.  “Is Very Nice!” Borat would have said.  The boat rocks by the way.  I mean literally.  At some point after a few beers, the thought of pirates came creeping in.  The Somali type!

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We then picked up CitiBikes and rode Hudson River Park a bit toward Chelsea and the Highline.  By this point Mrs Z is like a pro, utilizing all her fingers and command of the language.  I’m very lucky to have her.  The Highline on a Sunday afternoon is Meshugenah!  Crazy busy.  At some point we were stuck behind a family of 4, a rooster, and a pair of parakeets.  It was a zoo!

Real tourists, you are standing on the wrong line.  Instead of tacos, you need to stand for the greatest Brisket in the tri-state area, Delaney’s Brisket.  It was comical to see no line to this while a long line for the tacos.  A trip to Briskettown the flagship in Williamsburg may also be necessary if you are a brisket fan.  I once drove for takeout with the Hummus Whisperer to bring back to Staten Island.  Also right next to Delaney is great gelato from L’Arte del Gelato and not too far, north is a La Newyorkina stand offering artisanal ice pops.  Don’t discount those stands, as this is great stuff folks.

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We shared the brisket sandwich, with the 2 great sides, and off we went to the subway to catch the L to cross East to 1st Ave.  We then picked up the bikes again and rode them all the way to 60th, and I must say once again, if Mrs Z can do this, so can anyone.  And besides, 1st and 2nd avenues are great for bikers and very Obamacare friendly since all the hospitals are right there.

We took the Roosevelt tram to Roosevelt Island.  I was there a few weeks ago for the first time and this time came back with Mrs Z for her first time.  Again, I went the south route to the new FDR memorial park via the only ruins in the city of New York (Smallpox hospital).  FDR has a special meaning for us since we met in FDR high school in Brooklyn (awwwwe!).  Cant say enough about New York parks these days

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I picked dinner close to the tram and for me it was a no brainer especially after the movie the day before, Moti Mahal Delux.  Locals and most visitors may not realize that this is actually part of a world wide empire chain, originating in India.  While menu wise it didn’t feel as sexy as a Kokum, Chote Nawab, and some other we’ve visited over the years, this was a solid North Indian fare.

Evening time, we realize we have kids, they are coming tomorrow, and fridge is empty.  Back to Union Square and Whole Foods.  But right before, we found ourselves singing and dancing with Israel supporters at Union Square Park, which over time became a center for political rallies.

After Whole Foods we loaded the car next to Liquiteria, a new location right in front of the Hyatt which I only noticed on Day 3.  Got my favorite juice the Grasshopper, and back home to Staten Island.

And thats all she wrote folks.  Now if someone volunteers to take my kids to Aruba (or Turks and Caicos) next year again, I would write another NYC Trip Report.  But, until then…Ciao baby!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

 

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Categories: East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Midtown East, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dude, You Are Researching NYC Food All Wrong

002Dear Tourist,

So you’ve decided finally to go on a “Holiday” to New York City.  Mazal Tov!  You probably read by now in your guide books that NYC is the greatest food city in the world.  And you are probably waking up every morning thanking god for the gift that keeps on giving, the TripAdvisor Rankings.  Between the rankings, the guidebooks, and all the great recommendations by your neighbor’s house sitter Betty (you must go to bubba gump you must) who eloped to NYC last year with 75 of her closest friends, you are all set.  Right?  Not exactly.  Lets take a moment and examine what is wrong with the above plan, and come up with a new one.

Whats wrong with the TA rankings:  Everything, and nothing.  Its just totally meaningless, especially in NYC.  TA is a great traveling tool, but pretty much totally useless in NYC as far as restaurants are concerned.  The main reason for its uselessness is that there are much better research tools in NYC. (more on that later).  But lets discuss the rankings for a second shall we.  They are so flawed and so out of tune with reality that’s not even funny.  The top 50 at the moment is a bizarre mishmash of classics and places I never even heard of.  First of all the TA algorithm puts some major weight on the number of reviews.  So older establishments may be higher than better reviewed younger ones.  And then there are those that have 27 remarkably high reviews that made it all the way to the top 20.  And not to mention that 25 of them may be coming from all their employees and families.  I always recall this one particular place in Milan where the owner single-handedly put his place #1 with a bunch of obvious fake reviews.  At some point he mistakenly gave himself one star, and that followed with 4 quick glorious reviews with a similar language.  And once real reviews started coming in, he found himself arguing with every reviewer

But fake reviews don’t have much of a bearing on the busy NYC listings.  Tourists do.  TripAdvisor is predominately used by tourists, and its especially true in NYC.  While you may see locals contribute in other towns and countries where there’s not much of a choice other than TA, in NYC locals use other sites like Yelp.  Now, couple the tourist factor with the high volume factor I mentioned above and you can see why something like Basso56 will be near the top as its heavily reviewed by tourists thanks to its location near Times Square.  Besides Basso, at the top of the Italian chain on TA at the moment you can find other Italian behemoths like Rafele, Piccola Cucina, Via Della Pace – places I never even heard of.  But if you need more convincing than “Ziggy never heard of”, why not just go to Chowhound where all the NY foodies hang out and pull threads that discuss the best Italian in town.  You will not find any of those places mentioned.  What you will see mentioned are places like Maialino (#95), Babbo (#602), Marea (#194), Lincoln (#882), or even Ziggy fave Costata (#2605).  TA numbers are all over the place as you can see, well outside of the top range for the unsuspecting tourist.  So while you are eating a Carbonara with cream and bacon at a high ranked theater district place near you, locals out there enjoy the real thing with Guanciale and egg at Maialino.

Same applies to using the rankings everywhere else in the world.  My favorite restaurant in our adapted home of Turks and Caicos is Caicos Cafe, rated #20 at the moment, pretty low in T&C standards.

Now, its time to ditch the guide book.  Ok, wait.. pick it up.. its actually quite useful for many things.  But not so much for food.  Yes, you will get some good tips on some NY icons like Katz’s and Russ and Daughters that I recommend.  But then you have something like pizza (namely Grimaldi’s) and bagels that NYC is so famous for.  While you will not easily find better pastrami than Katz’s, you will easily find better pizza than Grimaldi’s.  Actually, all you need to do while standing on line at Grimaldi’s with the rest of the tourists is look to you left at Juliana’s window to see where the real Grimaldi is doing his thing nowadays.  But you dont even have to leave your neighborhood in Manhattan to get great pizza that is arguably better than Grimaldi’s.

Besides pizza, your guide book will mislead you in other areas.  E.g.  Hell’s Kitchen is not a safe area, the place for Italian is Little Italy, and Times Square is a foodie paradise.  Your guide book may be up to date as far as facts are concerned (MoMA hours) but not concepts.  Little Italy is now a block inside Chinatown riding one of those concepts.  There are no Italians living there.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the food contributors to the guides may not be necessarily “foodies”.  Rick Steves for example does not strike me a foodie, and to follow his advice in Italy or anywhere else is Europe in this day and age is pretty silly.  Eating at guidebook recommended establishments and high ranked TA spots also means eating with other tourists who are doing exactly the same thing.  Some may find comfort with that, but if you are reading this blog chances are you want to eat where the locals eat.

And as for your neighbor Betty recommendations go, treat them like meeting your dentist at the supermarket.  Smile, and move on.  Unless Betty, is an avid Eating With Ziggy reader and/or does any of the following…

Read Chowhound – as I mentioned, this is where many of the NYC foodies hang out, and where I get many ideas.  Chowhound is probably my wallet’s single worst offender.

Read Yelp Reviews instead of TA reviews.  I already touched on this, and its fairly simple.  Locals use Yelp, tourists use TA.

Read or Subscribe to Grub Street – You can get all sorts of interesting ideas there, especially from the power rankings.  Same idea applies to Eater, or Serious Eats.

Hang out in the TripAdvisor NYC Forum.  You dont even have to participate.  Its amazing how much knowledge you can get just by reading the forum for a month or two.  There are plenty of locals who contribute on a daily basis, and you can also find many discussions on dining by using the search feature

And the most important tip…

Read EatingWithZiggy.  Whats so funny.  Where do you think I derive my ideas from.

Happy eating, and happy planning!

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Staten Island, TriBeCa, West Village | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

NYC – Top 10 dishes of 2013

NoMad breadAnother year, another amazing eating year in the city of New York.  Keeping up with all the new and excitement here is like keeping up with the Kardashians.  But 2013 proved to be one heck of a year, probably the best ever.  And if there’s ever a post on EWZ that could be helpful to visitors or locals seeking great chow in NYC, this is IT!

Ma Peche – Fried Chicken (with a side of the Brussels Sprouts).  I’ll start with the last great dish.  Haute Fried Chicken doesnt get any better than this.  Habanero, coriander, black pepper and other spices used to create this fried pieces of awesomeness.  Its a large shareable whole chicken at $48, but for lunch you can get half for $24 which can still feed an Armanian village, or 2 Americans.  And the amazing Brussels Sprouts dish are worthy of their own spot here.

photo (4)

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop– Smoked Whitefish Donburi.  With salmon roe, sweet soy dashi, cucumber, scallion over rice.  Need I say more?  I probably should.  Tell me if you heard this story before.  A Jewish man from Long Island opens a Ramen shop in Tokyo which becomes critically acclaimed, then comes back to NYC to open a Ramen shop in the New Gotham West Market in Hell’s Kitchen.  Sounds familiar? The Donburi is a nice clash of the 2 cultures (Japan meets Jew)

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Momofuku Ssam Bar – Spicy Sausages & Rice Cakes.  Second Momofuku mention already (Ma Peche is the first)   This dish is insane.  Plenty of heat and plenty of joy.  Its a beautiful medley of ground sausage, Chinese broccoli, Sichuan peppercorn, and the awesome rice cakes which were essentially Korean Gnocchi made from rice flour.  Puts the Mssion Chinese rice cakes to shame.  Photo courtesy of Never Too Sweet

Betony – Short Ribs.  A revelation!  Tender, full of flavor goodness.  It takes 3 days to make them we were told.  We told the waitress that we cant stay that long, but we quickly understood the meaning.

Betony - short ribs

Maialino – Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe.  Its so simple, it shouldnt be here.  But along with the carbonara perhaps my favorite dish at one of my favorite Italian spots in the city.  Perfectly creamy, peppery, and addictive.  Having it sit there among the other pastas on the table is like visiting the bunny ranch after trying out all the bunnies, and constantly picking your favorite.

Maialino - Cacio e pepe

The NoMad – The Chicken.  This is a no brainer, and a top dish nominee even before it reached our table.  Once you get over the facts that a) is costs $78 (for 2) and b) its freakin chicken, you will enjoy this one no doubt.  Perfectly crispy skin, moist juicy white meat, along with some foie gras and black truffles (all cooked) nicely tucked beneath the skin.  Each bite of that combination together was a Tour de Force.  But that’s not all.  Add a glorious plate of the dark meat with garlic espuma (foamy light garlic goodness) in the middle to share.

NoMad Chicken

Ippudo – Akamaru Modern (with egg).  “Welcom”, “Goodbye”, “Aim Well”? I have no idea what they are screaming in Japanese at Ippudo every time someone arrives or goes to the bathroom.  All I know is that this is my favorite dish here.  Rich, complex pork broth, along with hefty pieces of pork belly.  Add the egg and spicy miso paste for even richer flavors

Ippudo - Akamaru

Costata – The Costata.  Perhaps the dish of the year.  A mammoth 44oz $120 very shareable Tomahawk Ribeye cooked to perfection.  Basted ever so beautifully with a rosemary brush, this beast was a feast for all senses.  Add some Black truffle butter, fries and asparagus, but good luck remembering the sides in between bites of perhaps the best steak in town

Costata - Ribeye

Nish Nush – Falafel.  I know Falafel.  I grew up with falafel.  My car runs on falafel (its the trade-in period while waiting for the new car so dont want to use the real thing).  This is good falafel.  Fresh pita from the oven, and free (great) hummus can only help

Nish Nush - Falafel

Kashkar Cafe – Geiro Lagman.  Little Asia in little Odessa (Brighton Beach) and perhaps the only Uyghur spot in town.  I’ve had this dish 3 times in the last 8 months.  Nice and chewy hand pulled noodles with lamb, veggies, cumin, garlic, other spices and herbs make up this highly palatable dish.

Kashkar lagman

Special mentions:

Malai Marke – Chicken Xacuti (and Bindi Sasuralwali)
Sakagura – Maguro Tartar
Pure Thai – Wok Curry Paste with Pork
Mercato – Trenette
Jungsik – The rice dish that comes for free for b-day boy 😉
Louro – Octopus Bolognese (tie with monkfish)
Mission Chinese – Kung Pao Pastrami

Categories: Brooklyn, Chelsea, Chinatown, East Village, Gramercy, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Midtown East, Midtown West, New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, TriBeCa, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to Khe-Yo for the Khe-Yosk

Get it?  Khe.. Yosk.  Its a play on… oh never mind.  Its Khe-Yo week on Eating With Ziggy.  Sort of like fashion Week but with less fashion and more eating.  By the way last week I came out of my office and noticed an unusual looking crowd walking on 54th, most likely coming out of pier 94.  And I realized right away that its Fashion Week.  Thank god I was wearing my fashionable 10 year old red Calvin Klein shirt that day.  It has a few small holes here and there but they are not that evident.

photo (48)Anyway, a few days ago I told you about Khe-Yo and today I met Hummus Whisperer for lunch in the brand new Khe-Yosk offering delicious Banh Mi sandwiches for lunch only.  Banh Mi is the Vietnamese version of the Po’boy.  Essentially an airy baguette with some sort of meat and veggies.  Here you got 2 kinds.  Beer Lao Braised Berkshire Pork Belly with pickled carrots and other veggies was a delicious combination.  Although I was wishing for a bit more pork belly (duh!) this one had plenty of flavor.  The Jurgielewicz Duck salad in Khe-Yo is quickly becoming their best dish for dinner.  For lunch same duck is featured as a Confit with baby arugula, red and yellow peppers and something called bang bang sauce.  I didnt know the Vietnamese were big Tarantino fans.  The meat was more evident here and all the ingredients worked beautifully together.  The baguettes here are top notch and the counter guy didnt want to disclose the source.  He probably didnt know.  Both sandwiches had pleasant, mild lingering, heat.

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

Khe-Yo – Your Laotian Fix

Khe-YoDear Readers, it is official.  Tribeca is now a culinary hotspot.  A few Years ago I wouldnt touch the area with a 10 foot pole (mainly because of the difficulties involved) but now I found the area refreshing.  I can now have a great Falafel in Nish Nush, amazing Korean in Jungsik, and now Khe-Yo.  Just like Jungsik, the first modern Korean to hit NYC, Khe-Yo is the first place purely devoted to Lao cuisine.  But Lao cooking has been around here for a while now.  In my best Troy McClure voice…

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure!  You may remember this Laos dish from movies such as Yum Yum, An Officer and a Thai Dish, Yum Yum 3, Eat Drink Man Woman Tranny”

What I’m trying to say is Lao dishes like Larb and the spicy papaya salad can be found in many Thai restaurants all over town.  But in Marc Forgione’s Khe-Yo things get a bit more inventive. I visited Khe-Yo about a month a ago, 2 days after it opened and since then Khe-Yo has gained a lot of media attention.  Marc now has places in both Duane and Reade streets! Ok, it sounded much more meaningful in my head.  Executive chef is Laos born Soulayphet Schwader (AKA better call Saul!)who will occasionally come out to serve the main course himself

They start you off with a bang here. Sticky rice comes with 2 fantastic condiments and a prolonged explanation on how to best enjoy the sticky rice.  Eating with your fingers.  Dip it in the Heirloom puree or the addictively sick spicy Jeow made with 4 different Thai chili, cilantro, fish sauce and garlic.  I was dipping everything in that thing including car keys

I love small menus.  This one only has 5 apps, 5 entrees, and a few salads.  Crunchy coconut rice with spicy kaffir lime Sausage was good and original.  I just wished there was a bit more sausage.  Jurgielewicz Duck salad was even better.  Nicely done, freshly butchered (24 hour) duck along with lightly fried crunchy duck tongue, lemongrass, nice palm sugar vinegar, and jalapeno skins to balance things out.  Nice start

Berkshire Spare Ribs were just ok.  A bit fatty for my taste and on the salty side.  But I liked the accompanied cold long beans salad.  Pork Jowl Red Curry was more like it.  Like a super delicious mild pork stew with tasty grilled shiitake mushrooms and baby eggplant on the side.

Dessert menu consists of coconut rice pudding with sliced peach and cashew bits which was fine, and a pricey but promising native cocktail ($13).  A fine meal overall.  I would love to come back and explore the rest of the menu, like the whole black bass and the chicken.  Marc Forgione told me since they opened 2 days ago 15 Lao natives told him how thrilled they were with this place.  They also recently opened “Khe-Yosk” for lunch.  Get it?  Khe..yosk.  Its a Banh Mi Sandwich takeout place, and I hope to to try it next week

Khe-Yo Sticky Rice Khe-Yo Coconut Rice Khe-Yo Duck Salad Khe-Yo ribs Khe-Yo Pork Jowl Khe-Yo shiitake Khe-Yo Pudding

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

Citibike Confessions 2 – Battle of the Bridges

photo (49)“We are going shopping”, the most beautiful words for a man to hear since “I do”.  “We” – as in just us, without You”.  Here’s how I took advantage.  A Labor Dy trip report if you will…

Picked up Mr Hummus Whisperer and parked the car by the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side.  Picked up a Citibike and rode the Bridge over to the other side.  Unlike the day before where we walked the bridge after (and before) visiting the Smorgasburg in Dumbo (will try to write a separate post) the bridge in the morning was fairly quiet.

“Cruised” Lafayette and dropped the bikes by Houston.  Wanted to try La Colombe Coffee after watching the guy on the travel channel exploring the world for coffee beans but it was closed.  I was surprised to learn how many places are closed on Mondays in NYC.  Like being in Milan in August.  Too hot for coffee anyway.  We made our way to Russ and Daughters, picked our bagels and went to a nearby park where an elderly Asian couple were doing an exercise I haven’t seen before:  Bouncing a basketball.  Buttery Lox, cream cheese, tomato, onions, on a fresh crispy bagel never tasted this good.  R&D, one of many Lower East Side institutions is touristy for good reason.   We were without the wits of our women which means without napkins but we somehow managed with minimum stain action.photo (50)

We proceeded to pick up the Citibikes nearby again and rode to Delancey and Williamsburg bridge.  We crossed over to Brooklyn and just biked around Kent Ave without a plan whatsoever.  None of this was planned BTW.  Feeling hungry again we decided to park and just walk to Egg for another round of breakfast.  But the line was too big so we just went to Verb Café nearby on Bedford and had ice coffee with our takeout Bialys from R&D.  Ok, the R&D mention again reminds me that I need to go back to work.. Ok I’m back.. where was I… Oh ye.  Verb Café  – Ive been there before.  If you ever need a reminder that you are in Williamsburg you head to this café and the mini mall attached to it

We picked up the bikes again and rode the Williamsburg bridge back.  An unfortunate incident occurred where a bra-less woman riding a bike was accidentally flashing more than the laws allowed.  Unfortunate for her.   Anyway, we had a good laugh and continued riding by the East River toward midtown.  Nice views of the manhattan skyline open up at some point with the river a few feet away.  This is a nice section to bike on.  We U-turned on 30th and turned on 20th toward the flatiron area.  Just rode around aimlessly until it was time for you know..eat.

We dropped the bikes in the East Village.  A trip like this is incomplete without eating something in the East Village.  Opted to go to Maharlika but we got distracted by a little piggy and shared a Porchetta sandwich in Porchetta.  In here they do it differently than in Italy.  They get whole loins with the skin and all, season, roll it, and roast it for 7 hours.  The result is one fatty, garlicky, porky goodness.  Fantastic sandwich.  Highly recommend Porchetta.photo (51)

Time for a cleanser.  Liquiteria is thee place in town according to my juice obsessed friend.   I’ve been there before and ordered the same thing again, the Grasshopper – a great blend of apple, pear, pineapple, wheatgrass, mint, old cellphones, or god knows what else they put in there.  All freshly squeezed, naturally sweet and very refreshing.  A little pricey but you pay for quality

Too full for Maharlika we pick up the bikes yet again and head to Tribeca.  Dropped the bikes by Whole Foods and spent some quality R&R time (Relieve and Read) in Barnes and Nobles.  This branch has my favorite travel section.  We are in Tribeca which means we have to go to Nish Nush.  Shared a Masabacha which is essentially hummus with Tahini, some other sauce, chickpeas and boiled egg.  Added some Falafel balls as well to this party.  Since I introduced HW to this place a month ago he’s been here 6 times.  He was so excited he stained himself again right next to the R&D stain.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the best falafel in the city.photo (52)

Time to pick up the bikes again and cross the Brooklyn Bridge back to the car.  Now its raining which means I finally look cool on those bikes.  I tried the one hand move before and nope.. need it to rain.  The bridge is much busier now even with the rain and those darn pedestrians are all over the bike lanes.  Of course I was also all over the bike lanes when I was a pedestrian the day before

We dropped the bikes for the last time and started to head home.  But hey, we are already here, next to a place I wanted to visit for a while now, so whats the rush.  The only one who has the balls to open a pizza joint next to Grimaldi’s is.. well.. Grimaldi.  The place is called Juliana’s and the Margherita pie was absolute perfection.  I’m not gonna go into the details of the story and controversy here but the gist of it was that Grimaldi’s sold the Grimaldi name rights years ago and now he’s back.. right next door.  So when you come to Brooklyn to stand on the hour long line to Grimaldi’s just keep in mind that the place next door with no lines has probably better pizza – I think it does.    And for the sake of the neighborhood locals who finally got their pizza back this is the last time I will mention this.

And that’s how I spent my Labor Day.photo (53)

Categories: Brooklyn, East Village, Lower East Side, New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nish Nush – Ach Ya!

Nish Nush - Falafel A little Borat/Bruno humor there

So the other day something weird happened at night that never happened before.  No, not what you think.  And shame on you.  What happened was I was awaken by Mrs Z’s stomach making all kinds of weird noises.  I spent about 10 minutes lying there listening to this processing symphony with a certain amount of fear that she’ll wake up with some sort of ailment.  The night before we had an incredible meal at a place where 2 Yelpers got sick recently and I couldn’t help but worry.  (That place is not Nish Nush).  Unlike snoring, there’s really nothing much you can do in this case.  I mean, imagine this conversation..

Her:  “What?”

Me:  “Ahhm, your stomach is making noises”

Her:  “And..what exactly can I do about that?”

Me:   “Ahem, can you.. like.. go downstairs and have a turkey sandwich or something”

Her:  Speechless

Me:  “I love you”

Her:  “Fuck You!”

See what I mean?  But thankfully Mrs Z woke up fine the next day and everything turned out fine.  False alarm.  What does it have to do with Nish Nush?  Good question Timmy.  Nish Nush is sort of a symbol that we are eating out a little bit too much lately, and as I was listening to Amadeus Belly I was wondering if I’m going too far.  The place is an hour drive from my house and I already visited it twice in one week.

Quite simply Nish Nush (“snack” in Hebrew) serves the best Falafel in NYC at the moment.  Their classic “Green” Falafel is not really green but picture perfect blend of brown and green herbs, mostly brown which I prefer.  Along with the perfectly crispy exterior its the closest I’ve had to Falafel in Israel.  Although I used to live in Israel as a kid, my best Falafel came last year when I returned as an adult (stop laughing Mrs Z!).  Falafel here is made to order which makes a big difference.  Pitas are baked in house which is another big plus, and are served warm.  There’s free Hummus inside the Falafel sandwich, which is sort of a sad plus.  Hummus should always be free, like wifi.  So many charge extra for Hummus these days.

But thats not all Nish Nush serves of course.   They have a pretty large menu in fact for a place like this.  All sorts of Hummus specialties, the Hummus Whisperer a former? contributor to this blog swears by their Masabacha, Hummus with warm chickpeas, boiled eggs, and spices.  Hummus is made fresh daily and second only to Gazala’s Place for my taste.  The Falafel Platter puts other Falafel platters to shame and I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  They also got Sabich on the menu and get this, they even spell Schug correctly.

Move over Taim! Just a little bit

Nish Nush

88 Reade St, New York, NY 10013

Nish Nush Platter Nish Nush Falafel Nish Nush

Categories: New York City, TriBeCa | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Jungsik Style

Jungsik SteakSorry about the grainy pictures.  Looking for a new camera.  And a photographer.

Part 1 of a crazy B-day eating weekend. Myself, the Hummus Whisperer, candle light, and a 10 courser which was more like 16 once you include all the freebies.  Jungsik was just about on top of the places to try list.  Gourmet Korean?  Korean influenced American? Not too clear.  But what I’m sure about is that this is fine dining that even Dennis Rodman can appreciate.

This was a truly spectacular meal and one of the top overall dining experiences we both ever had.  From the beer, to the various flavors, surprises, and presentation.   A total culinary triumph.

But with all that glitziness and professionalism we still could not help but imagine an Arirang-like scene where they dim the lights and crank out a crazy Jungsik style happy birthday routine.  So immature!

Here’s a dish by dish recap…

Great bread trio especially the barley with raisin.  I’m not sure if it was by design but we only got the bread around midway

An Amuse Bouche plate like I’ve never seen (below)Jungsik - Amuse

Wonderfully smoky clam chowder.  One of the best I’ve had.  I might as well copy the “one of the best I’ve had” line to the clipboard

First course of Foie Gras – One of the best I’ve had.  Certainly the sweetest, and creamiest. What a glorious startJungsik Foie Gras

Yook Hwe – Enjoyed it although I enjoyed my seaweed risotto birthday freebie a bit more which came at the same time.  Supposedly its a Korean tradition to eat this on birthdays as it adds a year to ones life.  Ordered 50 more

Jungsik Yook hweJungsik Seaweed Risotto

Jungsik Salad – Cant even begin to describe this.  Simply an amazing combination of flavorsJungsik - Salad

Octopus – Another big hit.  Braised for 3 hours, very tender and a wonderful soy pepper sauce compliments it so nicely.  One of the best I’ve hadJungsik Octopus

Pork Jowl – very good.  Couldn’t decide if I liked it more without the slightly overwhelming accompanying Blue CheeseJungsik Pork Jowl

Paella – With squid.  Started slowly but was sort of growing on me and by the end I loved the dish and the aftertasteJungsik Paella

Snapper – Terrific.  So good looking I forgot to take a picture.   Hot oil poured on the skin to integrate it nicely and give it that crispy texture.  Very tasty.

Steak (top) – 2 pieces of savory Wagyu.  I think I would prefer with only a touch of kimchee sauce or none but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Desserts courses were great as well especially the pumpkin cheesecake.  They added 2 more dessert courses and by the last course I was fighting it a little.

So there you have it.  This is not cheap of course as the cost of the 10 course tasting is $155 and overall damage of around $450, but worth every penny.  Check out Jungsik readers.  Both of you!

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

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