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NYC Foodies, Get Thee to New Jersey


Fat Guy
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You guys are hilarious!  Is it really that hard to drive over to Jersey to explore some exciting new places?[...]

Yes, if you have neither a car nor a license. I'm not that unusual among Manhattanites in those respects.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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[...]On 26 January 2008, my van will be waiting at 11am at a location to be announced, near the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. I have a seven-passenger van. Passenger number one will be me, the driver. Passenger number two will be my bulldog, Momo. Passenger number three will be a delegate from Grub Street, if Grub Street accepts the challenge. We'll see if a neutral member of the press wants to join for the purposes of coverage, so that may be one seat. The other three or four seats will be distributed by lottery to eGullet Society members.[...]

Too bad I work every Saturday. Have fun!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'll ante up a NJ restaurant -- Cucharamama in Hoboken.  It may not be focused on any particular Latin American cuisine (though it *is* decidedly South American in focus, with an emphasis on Peru), but the menu is loaded with winners, from the tapas-style plates to the wood-burning oven entrees to the inventive desserts (and even don't get me started on the dozen or more piscos behind the bar).  I don't know if there's a restaurant like it in NYC -- maybe there is, maybe there isn't, but I do think it's worth a trip across the Hudson.

Christopher

Hoboken is really easy and quick to get to from Port Authority. But I guess it's close to the PATH station than to Washington Av.? How do you get there from the station (or the bus)?

Their menu looks great!

Cucharamama is on the corner of 3rd and Clinton. You could get there just as easily by Bus (Port Authority) or by PATH.

For the bus, take the 126 from PA Gate 204 ($2.55). Bus stops every 2 blocks along Wash St. Get off at 4th and walk over to Clinton and down to 3rd. Less than 5 minute walk. About a 8-10 minute walk from the PATH station.

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Thanks Jon.

Hey Brian, I do have a request. First, let me clarify that if anybody tries to use the NJ Transit Northeast Corridor train to get to Edison for Indian food on Oak Tree Road, you should not go to the Edison stop. You actually want to get off at the Metropark stop, which is two stops sooner than the Edison stop. That's the stop that's within walking distance of the core Oak Tree Road places. It's about a 42-minute trip from New York Penn Station -- you save a little time over Edison. Also worth noting: if you live downtown you can take PATH to Newark Penn Station (for those who are unfamiliar with the nomenclature, both New York and Newark have Penn stations, so you have to specify) and pick up the Northeast Corridor train there, continuing on to Metropark and Edison. So it's not necessarily required that you go to New York Penn Station. I used to do this all the time when I would go to Princeton from downtown -- same train. Which brings me back to you, Bryan. Can you suss out the best walking route from the Metropark station to Moksha/Mithaas/Ming/Moghul (they're all in the same place)? I'm pretty sure if you walk up Magnolia to Oak Tree always staying on the left side of the road you can do the route -- which is about a 15-minute walk -- using all streets that have sidewalks. Can you confirm or deny?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'll ante up a NJ restaurant -- Cucharamama in Hoboken.  It may not be focused on any particular Latin American cuisine (though it *is* decidedly South American in focus, with an emphasis on Peru), but the menu is loaded with winners, from the tapas-style plates to the wood-burning oven entrees to the inventive desserts (and even don't get me started on the dozen or more piscos behind the bar).  I don't know if there's a restaurant like it in NYC -- maybe there is, maybe there isn't, but I do think it's worth a trip across the Hudson.

Christopher

Hoboken is really easy and quick to get to from Port Authority. But I guess it's close to the PATH station than to Washington Av.? How do you get there from the station (or the bus)?

Their menu looks great!

Cucharamama is exactly the type of place FG is referring to. I have been there many times and I don't think it would be a reach to say it is one of the best Pan Latino restaurants in the U.S. It is a destination restaurant the equivalent of which does not exist in New York.

But even giving FG the benefit of the doubt on Moksha, that makes a grand total of two such restaurants in the entire state. They are not sprinkled all over the map like grains of sand. In fact, to the best of my knowledge there are only three other restaurants (now that the great Ryland Inn is closed) in NJ that are noteworthy at all - David Drake, Nicholas and Shumi - and none of them offer anything that can't be replicated very easily in NYC.

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I had never heard of Cucharamama until it was posted on this topic, so at least in that respect I'm glad I started the discussion (my hot-dog knowledge is also now infinitely richer). But let's dwell for a moment on the current evolution of the claim: that there are only a couple of examples of places that support my thesis.

First of all, I think -- giving the advocates the benefit of the doubt -- that we've listed more than two places:

Cucharamama (I take no position here)

Moksha

Mithaas

Mitsuwa

White Manna

Insert name of hot-dog place

Super H-Mart

Foodmart International

That's not including the whole Ironbound field trip.

Secondly, that list of eight is not by any stretch our final list. Arguing a couple of days into the topic that the list is too short is like saying every child is short. I think we'll see several other places -- especially Asian variants -- emerge as we continue the discussion. And there are whole categories of food upon which we haven't touched.

Third, that's just the list of places so far that we're saying beat New York City. Above, I gave a list of several species of restaurants that can be found in New Jersey. So, for example, those who are really interested in getting a handle of the hot-dog culture are not going to sit around saying they'll only go to a place that meets the narrow criterion of "best." They're going to want to sample across the board. I think it can clearly be said that anybody living in New York City who thinks that, by eating hot dogs in New York City, he or she has read the whole book on the subject, is sorely mistaken. Ditto for several other categories of food.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So Kong Dong

130 Main St.

Fort Lee

(201) 585-1122

Recommended: soft tofu fish seafood stew, bbq beef.

Can't miss that if you're planning a Jersey food tour. (Korean)

Stuff Yer Face

49 Easton Ave

New Brunswick

732-247-1727

Recommended: Stramboli and one of 72 craft beers available. This is the place Batali worked at through college.

And how can you miss the chance for a boli and a beer at a Batali restaurant without Joe Bastianich running around like a little rhinoceros?

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Hey Brian, I do have a request. ..

No matter how you go, you'll have to walk at least a few yards on a sidewalk-less street.

Take the train to Metropark. From the ticket office and facing the parking lot, turn right and then turn right again at Wood Avenue. Walk through the underpass, cross Route 27, and keep walking up Wood. The left side of the street has a foot path the whole way to the strip mall even though some of it is just dirt.

A few hundred yards up, you'll hit a strip mall with a huge parking lot. To get to Moksha and Mogul, bear left, cut across the parking lot, pass the Dragon Palace and continue left on Oak Tree Road. It's about five more minutes to the Pathmark mall with the two restaurants.

You can also turn right at the Metropark Station. Cross the Garden State Parkway, and walk up to Green Street. Turn left at Green, go under the tracks and the street name will change to Oak Tree Road. Walk up one more block to the thick of the Indian stores and the much-discussed (In NJ anyway...) Chowpatty Restaurant.

Both are about fifteen minutes at a normal pace.

On weekends, you can just follow the crowds of Indian shoppers too.

Brian Yarvin

My Webpage

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Cucharamama is exactly the type of place FG is referring to. I have been there  many times and I don't think it would be a reach to say it is one of the best Pan Latino restaurants in the U.S. It is a destination restaurant the equivalent of which does not exist in New York.

But even giving FG the benefit of the doubt on Moksha, that makes a grand total of two such restaurants in the entire state. They are not sprinkled all over the map like grains of sand. In fact, to the best of my knowledge there are only three other restaurants (now that the great Ryland Inn is closed) in NJ that are noteworthy at all - David Drake, Nicholas and Shumi - and none of them offer anything that can't be replicated very easily in NYC.

I agree with your basic assertion, but only because I assume we're limiting this discussion to parts of NJ that are reasonably close to NYC. If one is willing to head even further south than Edison, there are several other places such as Delorenzo's in Trenton (for pizza) and Bent Spoon in Princeton (for ice cream) that IMO are better than any of their kind in NYC. But now we're talking a longer commute than even I'm willing to justify for food. :)

Edited by alwang (log)

---

al wang

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Does anyone have any really good Chinese, Vietnamese or Japanese places to add to the list? (Ones that are better than anything in NYC.) This came up on another thread recently (with respect to Chinese and Vietnamese) so I'd be very interested in checking out Chinese food (especially any type that isn't well-represented in NYC), Vietnamese food (authentic Vietnamese) or any type of Japanese that isn't well-represented in the city. I've heard there's a thriving Japanese community in NJ, which seems likely given the fact that Mitsuwa is supported.

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Just a quick note that I've started a planning topic for the NJ/NY food throwdown tour event in January. There's no need to do anything with it until a couple of months from now, however any throwdown-planning-related comments should go over there. Many thanks.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Does anyone have any really good Chinese, Vietnamese or Japanese places to add to the list?  (Ones that are better than anything in NYC.)  This came up on another thread recently (with respect to Chinese and Vietnamese) so I'd be very interested in checking out Chinese food (especially any type that isn't well-represented in NYC), Vietnamese food (authentic Vietnamese) or any type of Japanese that isn't well-represented in the city.  I've heard there's a thriving Japanese community in NJ, which seems likely given the fact that Mitsuwa is supported.

how about

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...152&hl=chengdu1

I think Ejebud ( http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...2908&hl=amazing ) is one of their family by now

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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garden state motorcyle association

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One major enticement I'd throw out is that dining out in NJ can be a great value because so many of our restaurants are BYO (wine/beer).  Every time I go to Blu in Montclair, for instance, I am blown away by Chef Zod's cooking and presentation, and with a ridiculously large tip, it's still hard to spend more than $50pp.  I don't know of any restaurant in NYC where I can get that quality and calibre of food with wine for that price!

that's pointless once you throw in travel costs and time.

$9.25 round trip & 35 minutes on the train from Penn Station. Calculate the pointlessness as you will.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Chengdu 1 loses the Pepsi challenge vs. S&T or Little Pepper, IMO.

This is really a very difficult topic. Once you factor in the five boroughs, NY has exemplars of pretty much any cuisine one can really get in the US with the lamentable exception of Vietnamese and (possibly) high-end Cantonese and some other regional Chinese cuisines... but those aren't available in NJ either! (And I'm not convinced that between Chinatown Brasserie, New Tung ti Fung, Gum Fung, Ping's, Fuleen, DSGG, and Oriental Garden, we don't at least have the dim sum and seafood portions of Cantonese covered.)

I think that the problem is that when discussing options that require substantial travel, you really have to compare the best with the best. Even if the overall average quality of Korean restaurants in Fort Lee is better than that in K-Town (and I have no idea if this is the case), if there's a *single* resto in K-Town that's as good as the best in Fort Lee, then the reason to travel fades.

The analogy I always use is to Intelligensia in Chicago. Do I wish NY had as good a coffee place with as strong a presence (multiple branches, etc.)? Hell yeah. Do I think I can get as good a cup of coffee at Grumpy or 9th St Espresso? Yes. Will I travel to Chicago for Alinea, or an Italian beef sandwich? Yes. A cup of coffee? No.

That's a bit extreme, but I think the analogy holds to a certain extent when talking about driving to NJ. We have family in Edison, for instance, and my father goes there every other weekend or so. Even having tried the best that Edison has to offer, he still ranks Devi (for N. Indian) and Saravanaas (for S. Indian) up with Edison's best. Are the overall prices cheaper in Edison in some cases, and the trappings better in others (e.g., Moksha vs. Saravanaas)? Yes. Is it worth the trip? IMO, no.

Ideally, one travels to NJ (or wherever) for two reasons: Local color, and something truly unique. I do like going to Portuguese or Brazilian places in the Ironbound for that reason; family atmosphere and not really comparable Portuguese places in NY. Likewise, I do think there's a price point at which travel makes sense... though I'd argue that comparing a $50/head high-end dinner with a $150/head dinner is actually probably at the wrong end of things. The point at which I'm willing to spend on Blu (and yes, I've been there) and take the trip out to Montclair is unlikely to be ahead of my willingness to throw down $135 at Tailor or $120 at Annisa or Blue Hill, any of which experiences I'd consider superior and at which I'm getting actual wine service and pairings rather than just trucking along a bottle. OTOH, I am happier spending $35 on a rodizio plus drinks in the Ironbound and watching some soccer matches with families than blowing $100 at Porcao. YMMV.

Edited by Mayur (log)
Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Alright  John. I'm going to get the car. Miami Danny - where are you?

Bring the Tums, please.

Wow that hot dog post got me Drooling For Jersey. Freakin encyclopaedic. And I did the distance and it's only 1000 miles for me. Add that Indian place that FG loves, and it's a home run. Check's in the mail for gas and tolls-and the first Frank Sinatra, fully dressed, is on me.

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Being born and raised in North Jersey and raised with many trips in to NYC, I can say that so far there is one serious competitor to any place in NYC: Cafe Matisse in Rutherford.  It's a very secluded, very intimate location that really does feel like a minor oasis.  The atmosphere, food, and service are at or above the par set by restaurants like Picholine without the stiffness.

I'll add that Rutherford is easy to get to by NJ Transit train - 20 minutes, $5.25 RT from Hoboken or $7.75 from Penn - then a 6-block walk up the main drag to Matisse. It's a BYO, as is every place in town due to our quaint liquor laws.

On the way you'll pass a good Greek place (After Athens) and a decent steakhouse (Mignon). Sure you can find the equivalents, & better, in Manhattan, but they're a couple of reasons why we aren't doing the reverse commute into NYC whenever we want to dine out.

I lived in Manhattan for 19 yrs & have now lived in Jersey for 16, so I see both sides of the coin here. I don't have much to offer New Yorkers that qualifies as destination dining, given that I don't do fine dining, but by the same token NYC doesn't offer that much to me destination-wise any more. I always have a good time, & usually a good meal, when we go in, but there's always some other reason (usually friends who live there) for us to be in the city. I can say the same about several towns in North Jersey. I don't have a problem liking both.

I'll throw Wondee's into the mix here. It's a Thai place that many have argued is as good as any in the region - there's a thread or two in the NJ Forum discussing it. It's in an area that's a bit desolate at night so it requires a car, but it's generally crowded and lively.

In the "cheap eats" category, the outpost of Sri Thai in the little food court inside Hoboken Terminal is one of the great takeaway bargains in the region. Because it's food-stand stuff, I'd never argue that it's on a par with Wondee's, but they use good ingredients & aren't shy with the spices. I can get two dinners there for $9 - $14, depending on how hungry we are. Where can you do better?

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Wow that hot dog post got me Drooling For Jersey.  Freakin encyclopaedic.  And I did the distance and it's only 1000 miles for me.  Add that Indian place that FG loves, and it's a home run.  Check's in the mail for gas and tolls-and the first Frank Sinatra, fully dressed, is on me.

Let me explain this reference - briefly, back in the 70's, in our carefree cab-driving days, there was a bar (The Clam Bar?) at Main & Roosevelt, in Flushing. There was a hack stand as well. So, at the end of our shift, we could go and get a Schlitz for $0.25. They sold hot dogs and clams on the half shell too - and a hot dog with mustard and kraut was simply called out to the "cook" as a Frank Sinatra - fully dressed...and also cost $0.25.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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I'd be very interested in hearing about places for pizza and/or hot and cold subs.

I grew up in the Montclair area and still get back there for family stuff, and I am firmly convinced that your generic mom and pop NJ pizza is usually far better than the equivalent in NY -- i.e., what you are likely to get wandering into a random place and asking for a slice or a regular pie.  I'm not talking about Di Fara's (although it takes at least as long to go to DiFara's and get served as it does to go to my parents' area), but your typical neighborhood slice joint.

Anyway, there's a kind of honest American-Italian cuisine that I grew up on -- pizza most memorably exemplified by the great to be mourned forever Casa di Pizza on the Newark border, subs from many places but two I still go to - Nicolo's and Marzullo's in Montclair, places I don't remember the names of that served "scungill" and "calamar" (strictly nj pronunciation) in red sauce...

I've never found handy NY equivalents to those places, places tend to get to fancied up or be equally inaccessible (Corona for a sub, anyone?)

I'm interested in hearing others' NJ recommendations for this type of food.  I'm not looking for authentic regional Italian, blah blah blah... (The amount of time I spend in Italy makes even most of the touted Manhattan venues taste like crap to me).  I'm looking for an entirely different cuisine -- delicious wonderful New Jersey Italian (used to be Brooklyn Italian, too, I think, although the good places are getting rarer and rarer)...

If you grew up in Montclair and aren't mentioning Belgiovine's Deli, get yourself up to 714 Bloomfield Ave, right across from the Whole Foods, right now!

(DISCLAIMER: I work there part-time, as the lunchtime delivery guy. I will try to keep these comments free of inevitable bias.)

The shop has been there for 25 years, run by two brothers-in-law who emigrated from Bari. Some (including an NY Times critic) say they make the best mozz in the region. It's the best I've tasted - by which I mean it has a firm texture & does not taste of salt - & I've tried many others. If there's better to be found anywhere (by the criteria I've specified), I hope that folks will post where it is.

No pizza, but other hot dishes & cold subs, not to mention the marinated sun-dried tomatoes & roasted peppers, are hard to beat. New Yorkers may not want to drive all the way there just for a sandwich, but if they're in the area, it's worth a stop for lunch (sidewalk table in summer, takeaway only rest of year) & a box of fresh store-made ravioli to take home.

Sorry, I guess I sound like a marketing piece here. But the Times did rave about the place too.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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We have family in Edison, for instance, and my father goes there every other weekend or so. Even having tried the best that Edison has to offer, he still ranks Devi (for N. Indian) and Saravanaas (for S. Indian) up with Edison's best. Are the overall prices cheaper in Edison in some cases, and the trappings better in others (e.g., Moksha vs. Saravanaas)?

Saravanaas is good, but it's a vegetarian restaurant. I don't see it as a New York answer to Moksha. What I'd say is that on its best day Saravanaas serves vegetarian dishes comparable to the vegetarian dishes on Moksha's menu. But that's just a small part of Moksha's offerings -- you can't get crab, lobster, shrimp, goat, lamb, etc., at Saravanaas. I simply do not know of any restaurant in New York City that's competitive with Moksha. It's not even a question of best v. best. It's best v. nothing.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Does anyone have any really good Chinese, Vietnamese or Japanese places to add to the list?  (Ones that are better than anything in NYC.)  This came up on another thread recently (with respect to Chinese and Vietnamese) so I'd be very interested in checking out Chinese food (especially any type that isn't well-represented in NYC), Vietnamese food (authentic Vietnamese) or any type of Japanese that isn't well-represented in the city.  I've heard there's a thriving Japanese community in NJ, which seems likely given the fact that Mitsuwa is supported.

There is a good Vietnamese restaurant easily accessible by PATH, near the Grove Street station

Nha Trang Place

249 Newark Ave, Jersey City, New Jersey ( NJ ) 07302-2630 Google Map Mapquest Map

Telephone - (201) 239-1988

(you can see a translated for the web version of their menu From AllMenus.com)

In Cliffside Park there's the wonderful (see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/315124) Pettie Soo Chow.

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[...]I'll throw Wondee's into the mix here.  It's a Thai place that many have argued is as good as any in the region - there's a thread or two in the NJ Forum discussing it.[...]

Is it related to Wondee's in Hell's Kitchen?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Saravanaas is good, but it's a vegetarian restaurant. I don't see it as a New York answer to Moksha. What I'd say is that on its best day Saravanaas serves vegetarian dishes comparable to the vegetarian dishes on Moksha's menu. But that's just a small part of Moksha's offerings -- you can't get crab, lobster, shrimp, goat, lamb, etc., at Saravanaas. I simply do not know of any restaurant in New York City that's competitive with Moksha. It's not even a question of best v. best. It's best v. nothing.

MHO, Saravanaas does vegetarian S. Indian better than Moksha, but fair enough. To be honest, I haven't had much of the non-veg stuff there, because the family is vegetarian. I'll try again, and if it beats Chola for non-veg S. Indian, you've got a winner!

(Ironically, my earlier statement regarding inconvenience doesn't apply for me vis-a-vis Edison, since all I have to do is walk downstairs and climb into a waiting car on a given Saturday afternoon and I can be there. Plus, grocery shopping for Indians *is* actually almost worth the trip.)

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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No way am I giving you Chola as South Indian! A restaurant that serves chicken tikka masala doesn't get to call itself South Indian -- once you do that at best you get to call yourself pan-Indian (unless you have a full South Indian menu with just a token chicken tikka masala offering for the white people -- kind of like the salmon at Peter Luger). Chola has a couple of sub-sections of South Indian dishes on its menu, but it's not in the same ballpark as Moksha. You'd have to combine Saravanaas, Chola and the varous Dosa Huts and Diners just to be able to assemble an NYC-based South Indian menu that's close to what Moksha is doing. And even if you combine all those menus you still won't find (at least I haven't found) an example of nandu puttu (steamed crab salad with pepper, coriander, and cashews), malla yetti neerulli (lobster with tomatoes and shallots) or, for better or worse, satukal soup (lamb trotters soup) or tippili and pavakkai kozhambu (pepper and bitter gourd curry). That's not even getting into stuff they'll do for banquets and in other special-order situations, like mutton and dozens of additional specialty vegetable, salad, bread, etc., offerings. And I want to emphasize that you don't have to be a billionaire or the author of a book about the restaurant in order to get the off-menu stuff; the restaurant makes the offer publicly, right up front: "Our Chef has a splendid repertoire of dishes besides those in this menu. Should you wish to explore, our Chef would be delighted to guide you thru this gastronome experience."

Granted, there are some vegetarian dishes at Saravanaas that you can't find on the Moksha day-to-day menu, but we're talking about what you can get in New Jersey that you can't get in New York, not vice-versa. This is all aside from the quality issue, which is more a matter of opinion -- I do think the food at Moksha is better but that's of course debatable. But the availability issue can be established factually.

I firmly believe that Moksha is a more ambitious South Indian restaurant by an order of magnitude than anything in New York City. The research, travel and training they've done on the dishes of the four southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala) is exhaustive. The "trappings" (in other words, the fact that it's a really nice place) are perhaps beside the pure food point but I wouldn't write them off as an irrelevant part of the experience. I'll readily say that Moghul and Mendhi (the Mehtani-owned North Indian properties) are not better than several places you can find in Manhattan and probably not hitting highs as high as whatever Suvir and Hemant are doing at the moment (setting aside the issue of Tabla, which I think is a category-beater in its way) -- though I'd still classify Mehndi (the new property in Morristown) as worth a trip for the curious. I didn't become a fan of Moksha as some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy because they comped me a few meals and the publicists' four-year-old daughter is adorable. I chose to chronicle the Mehtanis (I had plenty of choices closer to my apartment) because I tried Moksha, Mithaas and Ming (we haven't even talked about Ming yet, or SM23 for that matter) and was blown away by what they were doing, and felt like I had plugged into a world of Indian cuisine that mainstream diners were missing. If I didn't believe in the product, I wouldn't have spent a year driving back and forth to Edison and Morristown over and over again to write about it -- writing doesn't pay that well, and those places are skirting the outer edge of even my acceptable food-schlepping radius. I wouldn't be on the phone with other writers saying, dude, you've got to come to Moksha with me. I wouldn't be issuing potentially embarrassing throwdown challenges like I have here.

The reason I'm dwelling on Moksha, rather than moving on to other examples yet, is that I want to establish some firm, core examples of the NJ/NY thesis before building from there. So, you'll have to forgive me for being nitpicky about Chola and Saravanaas -- they're good restaurants too and I don't mean to take anything away from them and what they're doing. But Moksha is distinct.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You have good points there, especially regarding the ambition of the offerings at Moksha. As I said, I'll have to try it, but I take your word.

The point about going off-menu with more ease is an interesting one. I certainly have felt that it's easier to get more authentic Korean food as a non-Korean in Northern NJ than it is in K-Town. Curious as to why that's the case.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Reading through this thread is just incredible to me. During high school I lived just a few blocks off Oak Tree Road in Edison, but haven't been back since. Only during my junior and senior years did we start seeing a few Indian families moving in--I distinctly remember seeing girls in saris at the public library and it was an unusual sight. I went to Catholic school but I think even the public schools were virtually all white. Oak Tree Road was nothing but strip malls, fast food, and gas stations. It's hard to believe what you guys are describing! It makes me sad to think of all the crap I ate as a teenager compared to what you can get there now. I hope someone will take pictures not just of Moksha, which sounds amazing, but also of the neighborhood. I would love to see it.

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