Posts Tagged With: Berber Street Food

Top 10 Dishes of 2019

Another fantastic eating year is in the books folks.  Just to be on the safe side, for the purpose of this post, I’m not planning to eat anything until 2020.  Figured I’ll give this Intermittent Fasting thing that everyone is talking about a go finally.  Eat freely for the first 362 days of the year only.  Ever wonder why these lists come out so early in December by Eater, and the rest of them?  Do they not plan to eat anything interesting the rest of the year and postpone all eating assignments to January?

Anywho, its actually been a rather a rough year, and perhaps contrary to the first line of the post, not exactly my favorite food year.  Personal tragedies, and an accelerated number of great eateries closing all over the city contributed.  There’s no more rhyme or reason to restaurants closing these days.  But 2019 still saw some great openings and old favorites continue to deliver…

Peking Duck at Pinch Chinese

Who said the most expensive item on the menu is often the best.  I did.  Many times.  Because its true more often than not.  This $105 duck that needs to be ordered and paid for days in advance is a triumph.  And not bad value considering the four of us couldn’t finish it.  Without sounding too much like the Oscars, this is the third nomination for Pinch Chinese who previously got nods for the Wind Sand Chicken and Crab dish in this space.

Crabmeat Tom Turmeric at Taladwat

2019 saw the talented David Bank (Pure Thai Cookhouse) finally open another massively successful Thai hit in Hell’s Kitchen,  And he somehow managed to keep it fresh in Little Thailand.  In about half a dozen visits during the year, only once I did not order this well balanced milky goodness.  With Gloria now shuttered, this is the best crab dish in the kitchen today.taladwat - crab

Pastrami Sandwich at Hometown BBQ Industry City

Yes, this means I finally found a parking spot in Industry City.  And yes, I finally found a compelling reason to visit Industry City.  This ultra flaky pastrami may be as good as it gets in NYC today.  It borders too salty on the first few bites, but settles in beautifully.  Fatty in all the right places, like slow dancing with your mother in law.  A nice homage to the classic Jewish deli pastrami on rye.Hometown BBQ Pastrami

Tagliolini al Ragu at Rezdora

If you look at the word ‘Bastardized’ in the dictionary you’ll see a picture of the classic American spaghetti Bolognese.  If you ever had the real thing, Tagliolini al ragu in Emilia Romagna or Tajarin in Piedmont, you are probably nodding profusely right now.  So before you hurt yourself, head to Rezdora.  It shouldnt surprise anyone considering chef/owner Stefano Secchi’s resume includes Modena royalty Osteria Francescana, and Hosteria Giusti.

Rezdora-Tagliolini

Eater

Parrillada de Setas at Tomiño Taberna Gallega

When I dine alone, I often order mushroom dishes, because I’m legally not allowed to order them when I’m on a date.  Its in my marriage contract.  And sometimes when I see a good looking mushroom dish on the menu while with Mrs Z, I have to sneak back into the place on another day in order to have it.  This one was worth the hassle.  A wonderful sweet and savory medley of Enoki, King Oyster, Maitake with goat cheese, garlic and honey.Tomino - Mushroom salad

Wagyu Ragu at Kāwi

Perhaps the most important opening of the year in NYC doesnt get enough attention.  Probably because of the mall location (Hudson Yards).  There are about 5 very solid dishes I can pick from Kawi, but the Wagyu ragu that comes with table side scissored rice cakes is a no brainer.  The kind of umaminess not experienced since the debut of Ssam Bar’s spicy rice cakes.Kawi - Wagyu Ragu Rice Cakes

Carrots at Ducks Eatery

Leave it to smoking wizard Will Horowitz to make carrots taste this good.  The man behind the the legendary pastrami, watermelon ham, and goat neck (a former Top Dish) got another hit which got vegan chain By Chloe’s attention.  The carrots are treated just like pastrami which means it takes about a week to make them taste like meat.Ducks Eatery Carrots

Lobster Noodles at Wayan

One of the most thrilling openings of the year, and a dish I think about often, sometimes in most inappropriate moments.  Like when Mrs Z tells me about her day and then ruins the moment with a “Are you listening”?  Its like the most amazing Mazemen (drier Ramen) you’ll ever have.  Ramen noodles, chili, butter, soy, thai basil and plenty of Maine lobsta.Wayan - Lobster Noodle

Djolof Fried Rice with chicken at Berber Street Food

In vanishing NY its refreshing to see places like Berber Street Food keep opening.  Michelin trained Diana Tandia created quite the sweet formula to attract a slew of locals very quickly.  The Djolof is a tomatoee Senegalese rice dish that is essentially like the best Biryani you’ll ever have.Berber Stree Food - Djolof Fried Rice

Fresh Whole Fish at Hunan Slurp

The plethora of new Chinese places opening all over the city changed the way I eat fish in NYC.  This whole market fresh fish is chopped with bones and all, and covered with garlic, ginger, and a supremely flavorful homemade chili sauce that I can drink from a wine glass.Hunan Slurp - Fish

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Berber Street Food – By Mother of Dragons

Berber Stree Food - Berber FeastNow that I got your attention…

The story is all too familiar, but the outcome in this case has a GOT type twist.  Girl starts working as a waitress at some of our higher ends.  She then graduates from the French Culinary Institute, before working at names like Gramercy Tavern, Per Se, Daniel.  She then leaves to travel around the world to collect more inspiration before opening her first establishment.  The girl becomes chef.

But the big twist in this story is in the type of establishment.  Every time I sit in one of the four tables at tiny Berber Street Food in West Village, I wonder if there’s another place remotely like it in NYC.  “Afro-fusion” is one way to describe it, but in order to understand what it means one needs to have a few meals here and meet Diana.  She is as fierce, and confident as they come, with unrivaled talent and passion to boot.  As the New Yorker put it, Diana “has the West Village wrapped around her finger”

Berber Stree Food

This is not the case where I was blown away by the first bite.  The Jerk wings had this  familiar and pleasant fruity tone, but not quite as sharp or spicy as the Caribbean style jerk I’m accustomed to.  Dont get me wrong here.  I smothered these babies, licked every finger, and didnt wash my hands that afternoon, or evening.  I just wasnt in a rush to come back, but oh so glad I did.

The love affair started with visit #2 when I had a bowl of rice, Black Eye Peas, seasonal green beans, and jerk chicken that came in a stew-like form this time.  It had this addictive sweetness, and spicy enough to leave a nice tingle.  Although if you want more spice, the intense Habanero sauce that accommodates the dish (if not, ask) will do.  Enjoy it with the terrific homemade Ginger Lemongrass juice.  Although on another visit the scent of the Morrocan mint tea next to me was hypnotizing.

But the dish to get here might be the Djolof Fried Rice with chicken.  It may just rival the best Biryani you ever had and then some.  The same chicken is used as a wrap in the Shawarma sandwich.  Plenty of Middle Eastern dishes here due to the North Adrican connection.  There’s also Koftas, Moorish Kebabs, and her own falafel interpretation on the menu.  Diana is like Einat Admony reborn in a way.

Berber Stree Food - Pudding

 

Every time I come here I see the team grow a little bit.  Yesterday the cook (not Diana) felt especially generous with the “Berber Feast”, slowly roasted chopped leg of lamb that is marinated for a few days with Harissa and cumin.  You get more Harissa on the side, along with other spreads, a couple of nifty salads, and couscous.  A taste of a Berber (North Africa ethnic group.  Diana’s father side) wedding feast where they serve whole pigs as such.  This has potential as a house specialty.  On another day Diana was experimenting with an off menu North African pudding that tasted like something you may get at one of her old employers, like Per Se.

Half a block away, visitors from around the world, flock to Joe’s for its above average NY slice (I get mine at Sacco and elsewhere).  While at Berber, you’ll find returning locals including students going for the cheap bowls and sandwiches to go.  Berber is slowly becoming a little local hangout, where Diana knows everyone and you end up making new friends.  This is possibly the best thing to pop in West Village in years.Berber Stree Food - Wings

Berber Stree Food - Chicken BowlBerber Stree Food - Djolof Fried Rice

 

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

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