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shengcai

NYC Eating Tour (with photos)

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Thanks for doing this excellent report with such fine quality photos. What places did you not get to that perhaps in retrospect you wish you did or would make a priority of next time? What places would you make sure to return to next time? Why for both questions?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Doc,

Those are drool-inspiring questions! My mind was sent into a temporary frenzy as I processed all of the possibilities. After some further rumination, here's a stab at it...

I feel like I have a responsibility to return to Jean-Georges and Yasuda, Jean-Georges because my underwhelming meal there is more likely attributable to my disposition at the time and Yasuda because I know that the only true way to experience Yasuda-san's artistry is to sit at his station and let him work his magic.

Other places that I wish I could've gone to this time and will try my darndest not to miss next time:

Yakitori Totto or Tory -- grilled chicken knees, necks, hearts, livers, and bacon-wrapped enokis. Need I say more?

Fatty Crab -- I'm dying to get the chili crab and the watermelon/pork dish

Yeah Shanghai -- I can't come to NYC without getting my fix for xiao long bao. I'd like to compare the ones made here to New Green Bo's.

Di Fara or Grimaldi's -- ditto for pizza / compare to Lombardi's

Baden Baden or Unidentified Flying Chicken -- to see what this Asian rotisserie/deep-fried chicken is all about.

Some place that makes authentic hand-pulled Chinese noodles (la mien)

Balthazar -- for that giant 3-tiered seafood platter

the arepa lady in Queens -- if we can ever find her...

Le Bernardin -- Another NYC fixture. Right now, I can only dream about what Chef Ripert can do with seafood.

WD-50 -- I think I'm finally ready to experience Wylie's genius/madness. What better place to be introduced to the high-flying acrobatics of molecular gastronomy?

Eleven Madison Park -- After reading u.e.'s review and seeing his photos, this place quickly ascended to the top of my list.

I'm going to wait a few more years before I even try for Masa. I'm too young (and too poor) to completely spoil my taste for sushi made at any other establishment.

Boy, I thought I had covered a lot on this trip. I didn't even make a dent! Am I missing anything on my list? Anything I should strike?


Edited by shengcai (log)

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Our last day in New York :sad: ......

We had lunch at Chikubu, which unfortunately is now closed.

Hitsuma bushi (mixed eel rice) -- grilled eel was served on top of rice in a HOT stone bowl and mixed tableside. Sides included miso soup and pickled seaweed mixed with dried bonito flakes (katsuo bushi)

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Check out those beautiful grains of rice!

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There was a teapot of light broth that was used for pouring into the rice bowl at the end of the meal to get all of the crispy browned rice bits out of the stone bowl.

It's really sad to hear that a place as good as this would close. I'm glad I got to try this real-deal Japanese eatery while I had the chance.

That night, we treated our friend to a belated birthday dinner at Babbo. This was the one place where my camera really failed me. The lighting was too dim, and I started getting looks from a nearby table after the first couple flashes.

Ceci bean bruschetta

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Grilled octopus with "Borlotti Marinati" and spicy Limoncello vinaigrette -- the most tender chunks of octopus I've ever had. Out of this world good.

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We also got Armandino's salumi (finnochiona and culatello). As this was my first time trying culatello, I could only make comparisons to prosciutto. But it was more delicate than prosciutto. The saltiness was tempered by a mild, nutty sweetness. I don't know, perhaps this is what your typical culatello tastes like. More likely, based on what I've heard about Armandino Batali and his artisanal cured meats, this will probably be the best culatello I've ever had. In any case, this turned me into a huge fan.

We chose to stick to the pasta dishes, heeding the advice of a couple Babbo veterans.

Black pepper pappardelle with wild boar ragu

Beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles

Black spaghetti with rock shrimp, spicy salami calabrese and green chiles -- This was my favorite pasta dish of the night, with perfectly cooked shrimp and generous amounts of crispy/chewy calabrese that added a nice hit of spice and salt.

All 3 of these dishes elevated pasta to a whole new level for me. I've cooked a number of pastas, but I never got an idea for what the ideal texture of pasta should be. Now I know what is meant by a good al dente. And, this may sound incredibly naive, but I learned that something as simple as doneness of pasta makes a HUGE difference.

For dessert we shared a pineapple cake and the gelato/sorbetto assortment. I wanted to try the famous olive oil gelato, but sadly that wasn't included among the flavors.

After Babbo, we went out for a few drinks. Being a complete lightweight when it comes to alcohol, I was pretty tipsy. What better place to cure the drunken munchies at 2am than the famous halal cart at 53rd and 6th?

Even at 2am, there was a line, which means high turnover!

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Chicken/gyro meat combo platter, with the heavenly white sauce

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And so, this ends our eating tour. We had a blast, meeting up with family and friends while enjoying all the sights, sounds, and tastes of NYC. We were given the rare luxury of taking a week away from the demands of work/school/etc. in order to really savor food, to appreciate it on the level of fine art, created by people who really care about what they're putting on your plate (or styrofoam box :smile: ). I'll stop with the schmaltz now (I get that way whenever I start pining for another visit, which sadly won't be for a while). Thanks for humoring me and for allowing me to reminisce on this unforgettable trip!


Edited by shengcai (log)

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Dear Shengcai, What a total treat it was for me to read about your wonderful adventures. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing them with us...We look forward to our 3rd visit to Per Se in May...After our first meal there right after they opened, I thought it might not be as great the 2nd time...but it certainly was. We have always been treated like honored guests there...which amazes us...We are visiting Babbo again this month(eaten there many times) and have finally figured out that the pastas rule...the gnocchi are my favorites with the pasta with spicy clam sauce being a close second..the best clam sauce I have ever eaten...Jean Goerge was my very favorite meal before Per Se opened...so thank you again for the pictures and the tales... :smile:

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