Posts Tagged With: Wayan

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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Chicken and the City

Pinch Chinese Wind Sand Chicken

Pinch Chinese Wind Sand

I should have blog posts strictly devoted to Random BQE Thoughts.  Thats Brooklyn Queens Expressway if you are scoring at home, or if you are alone.  As the traffic reaches new levels these days, so are the thoughts.  Not exactly inspirational ones.  Other than how is the weather and traffic in say, Denver, this time of the year.  More like random silly thoughts like:  What do you call a female priest?  Why do we drive on a parkway and park in a driveway?  Why do I eat so much chicken lately?  Is something wrong with me?  Am I helping the environment by eating more non-farting animals.  Is this the first step to vegan?  I had plenty of bumper to bumper guards traffic to think about it this week, and I think I know the answer.  Its not me, its you, New York City.

Simply put, the city is in the midst of a crazy chicken renaissance.  Gone are the days of playing third fiddle to the beef and pig.  The competitive nature of the city these days means chefs all over are trying to outdo each other and can not afford any duds on the menu.  Chefs realize that while there’s just so much you can do with beef and other ingredients that are best to leave alone sometimes, its the bird that allows for limitless creativity.

There are countless of articles about Best Fried Chicken, Best Roasted Chicken, Best Wings, etc, etc.  Many written in the past three years for the reason I just gave.  How about one more.  A general, unfocused, random one.  These are some of the most creative chicken dishes in NYC today.

Ssam Bar Fried Chicken

Ssam Bar Fried Chicken

Home-style Fried Chicken at Ssam Bar (East Village) – Served only for lunch these days this is a fantastic fried chicken reminiscent of the late Ma Peche Habanero chicken.  Although not quite Habanero, its ladened with plenty of chili, and double fried to crispy, juicy perfection.

Chicken at FOB Filipino BBQ (Carroll Gardens) – Impossible to select the best from this chicken paradise.  You can try the amazing grilled wings, the air chilled grilled chicken, chicken skewers, and Dad’s incredibly moist overnight chicken Adobo.

Big Plate of Chicken With Bone at Jiang Diner (East Village) – This is an instant hit.  I’ve seen versions of the dish before at Biang! and Spicy Village but honestly its been so long I forgot how they taste like.  I’ve had this twice already at Jiang.  Just ignore their other signature dish, “Big Plate of Chicken Without Bone”

Jiang Diner - Big Plate of ChickenWind Sand Chicken at Pinch Chinese (Soho)– A tasty rendition of a Hong Kong classic.  The whole bird is cooked like Peking duck.  Two days of Marinating (cinnamon, star anise, other herbs and spices), drying, spanking, repeating.  The skin gets thin and crispy, and the flesh redefines moist.  Garnished with the sand like fried garlic which gives it the name.  Update:  Just made resvs for 4 this Saturday night to have this again

White Pepper Wings at Kawi (Hudson Yards) – If you see wings at a Momofuku, pounce on it like your life is depended on it.  You just know that wont be boring.  You get three whole crispy, peppery,  juicy wings.  You will not want to wash your hands for a while after this.

Nori Chicken at Ducks Eatery (East Village) – Leave it to smoking wizard Will Horowitz to figure out how to combat our seaweed invasion.  Wrap it around smoked chicken and fry it to Korean style thin crisp and extra crunch.  Pair it with the incredible smoked carrots.Duks Eatery - Nori ChickenPollo alla Diavola at Maialino (Gramercy) – In the sea of Roman pastas and other Italian classics, this is possibly the unsung hero.  Heck, after all those years, I needed some help from a reliable insider to discover this gem.   The peppery ultra moist beauty comes with a tangy sauce you’ll want to scarpetta the heck out of.

Pollo alla Diavola at Dell’anima (Hell’s Kitchen) – Yes, another Diavola on the list but in a much more relaxed setting (Gotham West Market) and easier on the wallet.  This one also features extreme moistness and a nice peppery crust, and comes as a Panini as well.

Yellow Chicken at Wayan (Nolita) – a cute name for a suburb chicken curry.  About three pieces if I remember correctly.  Some got the crunch reminiscent of the great Perry Street chicken where Wayan owner Cedric Vongerichten is still the chef.  Why Perry Street is not on the list you ask?  I havent been there in over 10 years.

Seco de Pollo at Nano (Hell’s Kitchen) – I’ve mentioned this dish before, and many of you that took my Hell’s Kitchen tour have even experienced it during the last year.  The chicken is cooked with Naranjilla a fruit grown in Ecuador, which gives this “stew” unmatched layers of flavor.Nano Ecuadorian

 

 

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Wayan – By Cedric the Entertainer

One can live a lifetime eating the world in NYC, and still will not know a thing about Indonesian food.  The vast majority of those that do, got their knowledge from a trip to Amsterdam where as we speak, thousands are celebrating their fresh Eurovision win with a Rijsttafel (Indonesian rice table consist of many side dishes).  Australia, so close!  Yet so far away (literally.  A little Eurovision humor).

Indonesian food and Rijsttafels are generally not a thing here.  The lone Indonesian in Hell’s Kitchen Bali Nusa Indah was open for may years, and closed before yours truly had a chance to try it.  The constant barrage of negative Yelpers didnt exactly push me at the time.  I remember coming back from Amsterdam myself one year, hunting for Indonesian joints after my lower lip was fully deflated (that was some seriously spicy stuff), and wasnt able to find anything to get excited about.

At French-Indo Wayan, owners Cedric and Ochi Vongerichten are not here to fill that void.  Cedric, the son of Jean-Georges Vongerichten (usually pronounced “Von something”), and his Indonesian wife already own two restaurants in Indonesia.  While they admittedly not after teaching us what authentic Indonesian food is all about, whatever they are doing at Wayan works and feels new.  The space is comfortable and smartly decorated.  A seafood leaning menu where you want to try more than you can.  And flavors that feel fresh, bold but restrained just enough to showcase the French side of the equation.

Wayan

Courtesy of Wayan

Chicken Satay – Five sticks of some of the best Satay I’ve had in NYC.  Ground chicken is perfectly spiced and cooked, served with a creamy, most delectable peanut sauce.

Hiramasa Sashimi – Outstanding Yellowtail Sahimi.  There was a lot going here including chili, herbs, and a shallots/lemongrass sauce that did not interfere too much with the clean flavors of the fish.  Different than most Sashimi out there today.

Clams Jimbaran Style.  Take the best Baked Clams you ever had, remove the breadcrumbs, and add soy, chili, sweet onions, coconut and you got Clams Oreganata on crack.

Yellow Chicken –  A cute name for a suburb chicken curry.  About three pieces if I remember correctly, some got the crunch reminiscent of the great Perry Street chicken where Cedric is still the chef.

Sauteed While Shrimp – Nice flavor, but probably the weakest dish of the night.  Shrimp slightly overcooked, and must be eaten fast before they harden even more.  I’m at the point where I enjoy fresh raw or slightly seared shrimp a lot more than the fully cooked ones.

Lobster Noodles – This is it.  The Piece de resistance!  Like the most amazing dry mazemen with ramen noodles, chili, butter, soy, thai basil and chunks of lobster.  A killer combination.  I still think about this dish a week later

Nasi Goreng – A well crafted rice with a perfectly cooked fried egg.  I’ve seen similar dishes in NYC listed as a main.  Here its a must get side.

Wayan Cauliflower

Pandan Custard – Desserts dont usually excite me at places like this.  This did.  Panna Cotta purists may balk at the tartness of the Passionfruit, but I found it well balanced.

Caramelized Banana – Dont let the purple yam ice cream throw you off here.  This was a rather divine Sandae on a Sunday.

Wayan
20 Spring St (Mott/Elizabeth), Nolita
Rating: 2.5 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Cauliflower, Chicken Satay, Sashimi, Clams, Lobster Noodles, Yellow Chicken, Nasi Goreng, Pandan Custard

 

 

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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