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Nathan

Survey: Greatest Disappointments with NY Dining

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1. decent Mexican...really, any decent Mexican.

but especially Oaxacan -- the greatest regional cuisine in Mexico, and you can't get it here. I know, there are a couple restaurants that offer a couple items. That'd be like arguing that NY has sushi covered if there were no Japanese restaurants and two Korean places offered a couple rolls.

2. really good Indian

3. Laotian.

its funny that with all the plethora of Asian and African restaurants, we don't seem to have this one covered. Zabb is the closest I've seen. I'm sure there are Laotians in the NY restaurant industry, I'm guessing they are running Thai restaurants.

4. high-end German

5. Serious vegetarian (I can't believe I said that...but there is such a good thing as a good vegetarian restaurant...just not in NY.) Well, I suppose the vegetarian tasting menus at Per Se and Daniel qualify...but after that?

I have to say that's about it, if you think about it, the breadth of what is covered here is astounding....the most of anywhere.

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1.  decent Mexican...really, any decent Mexican.

Nathan, have you checked out Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana on 107th and Amsterdam?

Speaking of "two Korean places offered a couple rolls" I'd say that there is also no good Korean food in the city (compared to LA).

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I think we are missing a high end New Orleans restaurant.. Like a Galatoire's,Brennan, Commanders, or Antoine's.. I love this style of food..Breakfast. lunch or dinner.. I end up using there cookbooks..

A high end Southern Restaurant.. And the lower end ain't too exciting either..

There isnt great Portugese Food...

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1.  decent Mexican...really, any decent Mexican.

Nathan, have you checked out Taqueria y Fonda la Mexicana on 107th and Amsterdam?

Speaking of "two Korean places offered a couple rolls" I'd say that there is also no good Korean food in the city (compared to LA).

I'm unfamiliar with it. But the menu on menupages indicates that they have four different moles (the pipian is a mole):

that is a step in the right direction...certainly more than anyone else. I'll check it out.

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good traditional spanish food.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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good traditional spanish food.

I've had some good meals al El Faro-they sing for you too!

I have to concur those who mentioned good vegetarian (God, how many hummus and tabouli plates must I eat?!?!?!?)

and

decent southern-style food, both high end and low country.

What passes for a biscuit in this city is criminal and any gumbo I've eaten here is so bland it makes me cry.

When I complain, they bring me a bottle of Texas Pete----can this be construed as aggravated assault on the palate?

Shrimp Etouffee is abominably gummy-yes, there is more to Etouffee than undercooked roux.

Greens are usually overgrown (stemmy) and undercooked. Chard is passed off as turnips and if I mention a pickled beet I'm treated as if I'm from outer space

Don't get me started on the barbecue. Is there anywhere that doesn't bathe the pork in ketchupy sauce?

Mexican--

Anyone who opens a good fish taco stand would make a million dollars in the first year.

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1.  decent Mexican...really, any decent Mexican.

It's true, and it completely astounds and infuriates me. How hard would it be to have good Mexican food in NY? Every kitchen in this city employs Mexican cooks. Would it be that hard to have them cook what they make at home?! This, by the way, is pretty much the business plan I've sketched out for my restaurant. Genius, I know.

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Nathan - I haven't been there in about a year, but Bonita in Williamsburgh makes pretty authentic Oaxacan food, by my standards. Have you tried it?

I agree, Mexican in general in this town is pretty bad.


The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Nathan - I haven't been there in about a year, but Bonita in Williamsburgh makes pretty authentic Oaxacan food, by my standards.  Have you tried it?

I agree, Mexican in general in this town is pretty bad.

this place?

http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0215,s...a,33769,19.html

http://www.menupages.com/restaurantdetails...ineid=43&home=Y

if that description and menu are at all accurate...heck no!

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good traditional spanish food.

I couldn't agree more. Why is that? You would think that someone, somewhere in NYC could do traditional Spanish food right. Especially now that so many of the importation laws have been relaxed.

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Nathan - I haven't been there in about a year, but Bonita in Williamsburgh makes pretty authentic Oaxacan food, by my standards.  Have you tried it?

I agree, Mexican in general in this town is pretty bad.

this place?

http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0215,s...a,33769,19.html

http://www.menupages.com/restaurantdetails...ineid=43&home=Y

if that description and menu are at all accurate...heck no!

The Village Voice article is out-of-date from what I experienced. (Of course, I mainly went there 03-05 when I was living closer so take everything I say with a grain of salt). The simple menu mostly consisted of the crowdpleasing favorites like guac, mexican corn etc. , but they always had tons of daily specials: a pretty decent mole, pambazo, chicken in huitlacoche, chorizo tacos etc.

It sounds like you have a pretty exacting taste so maybe it's not for you, but I'd far rather go here than what pathetically attempts to be tex-mex in this town.


The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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A good Basque restaurant. I keep dreaming of a pork loin poached in Basque honey dish I had in Spain.

I've never seen a Lao restaurant anywhere. I'd love to see Lao food here, too - it's terrific.

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How about a good Burmese restaurant? There used to be a good one at Mingala and a passable one at Road to Mandalay - over 10 years ago.

How about a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of the EAST Coast of the Malay Peninsula (Kota Bharu, etc.)?

How about a real old-school Hungarian restaurant?

How about a great _kosher_ pastrami place in Manhattan?

How about a really good kosher dairy restaurant?

How about a real Nicois restaurant that is inexpensive and serves the real stuff - soupe de poisson with really hot-peppery aioli, cheese, and croutons; daube; salade nicoise; etc.

How about a Tunisian bakery?

How about some delicious, fresh rambutan that don't cost their weight in gold?

You know what? I'm glad for what we DO have, and we have to concede that for some things, you really need to travel.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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1.  decent Mexican...really, any decent Mexican.

It's true, and it completely astounds and infuriates me. How hard would it be to have good Mexican food in NY? Every kitchen in this city employs Mexican cooks. Would it be that hard to have them cook what they make at home?! This, by the way, is pretty much the business plan I've sketched out for my restaurant. Genius, I know.

This has been a rather fascinating thing for me -- having grown up on the San Diego/Mexican border, I "came of age" by cutting class and dashing down to Ensenada for fish tacos and the like.

Years later, a good friend of mine wrote an article for one of those high-end airplane magazines on how certain cuisines have fared well in travel while others have not. The gist of his article was that he had eaten amazing Chinese food all over the world and the best he had had outside of Hong Kong itself was in the Czech Republic. However when it came to Mexican food, the further north away from the Mexican border he travelled, the worse it became -- including a burrito in Ohio that was served with a pre-packaged brown gravy and enchiladas in New Jersey that had celery in them! The magazine did a really fabulous production photograph of the globe made up of Mexican food ingredients.

It seems to be true that even now for me, living in San Francisco, I am less happy with the Mexican food here (and I'm in California!) than I was living right near the border.

The question then is, "why?"

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You know what? I'm glad for what we DO have, and we have to concede that for some things, you really need to travel.

Hear, hear. I do like seeking out those differences in the world.

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It seems to me that for a lot things on Pan's list, you could find them in New York if you could do time travel.

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I also think that there is a serious lack of good Mexican food in NY. The other two cuisines that I think are very poorly represented in NY are Peruvian and Spanish.

But going back to Mexican. For the most part, Mexican food is just seen as a mix of the various regional foods in Mexico. I would love to see one restaurant that was semi-profficient in producing good food from any of the major culinary regions in Mexico (Yucatan, Oaxaca, Regia). I just don't know how profitable it would be, which is why most places will be happy to stick to tacos, tostadas, mole, etc.


Arley Sasson

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There are plenty of places that pretty much stick to Pueblan (or Poblano I guess), Tulcinga del Valle being the obvious choice among them.

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"The Village Voice article is out-of-date from what I experienced. (Of course, I mainly went there 03-05 when I was living closer so take everything I say with a grain of salt). The simple menu mostly consisted of the crowdpleasing favorites like guac, mexican corn etc. , but they always had tons of daily specials: a pretty decent mole, pambazo, chicken in huitlacoche, chorizo tacos etc."

I don't doubt that it's good...what I fail to understand is why you called it Oaxacan.

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I'm sure there plenty of people in NY from Oaxaca or the Yucatan...however, I think they're all turning out Pueblan food.

I suppose the problem is customer expectations....

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How about a good Burmese restaurant? There used to be a good one at Mingala and a passable one at Road to Mandalay - over 10 years ago.

How about a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of the EAST Coast of the Malay Peninsula (Kota Bharu, etc.)?

How about a real old-school Hungarian restaurant?

How about a great _kosher_ pastrami place in Manhattan?

How about a really good kosher dairy restaurant?

How about a real Nicois restaurant that is inexpensive and serves the real stuff - soupe de poisson with really hot-peppery aioli, cheese, and croutons; daube; salade nicoise; etc.

How about a Tunisian bakery?

How about some delicious, fresh rambutan that don't cost their weight in gold?

You know what? I'm glad for what we DO have, and we have to concede that for some things, you really need to travel.

We had a lot of those things at one time.

Especially all those great German,Hungarian, Eastern European places in Yorkville. I really miss them.

you are right though--things are pretty good right now!

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I wish we had a really nice kosher chinese restaurant. They have tons of them in paris and they are all amazing-- but kosher chinese in nyc is crazy expensive and not good.

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Re "good Indian" : what could that mean?

a) Food that is delicious to a native from a particular region or ethnic background -- we have had a few such, notably Swagat that existed for a time opposite Kalustyan, right next to Pongal, around the early 1990s. It used to serve home-style Bangladeshi dishes, excellent hilsa in mustard paste.

Problem is that the larger US public have propelled to fame some of the 6th street Bangladeshi establishments [i remember visiting one on the strength of Jay Jacobs (Gourmet restaurant critic) review, and coming away aghast], and lately another one that shall remain unnamed, based on their own specific tastes.

These tastes may diverge considerably from what might be considered "very good' by native subcontinentals. As a result of this disjunct, excellent cooks like Payal Saha may fail to get the recognition they truly deserve.

On the other hand, flamboyant personalities well-connected to the right circles, with a gift for self-promotion and a flair for innovation, may, and do, turn out, excellent food, that is inspired by their Indian roots but is not necessarily 'traditionally' Indian. [To be fair, it must be said that many such foods do NOT lend themselves to restaurant service, either in terms of pace or presentation]. All of this is a very good development, a step forward in the evolution of a restaurant tradition of Indian food.

Only curmudgeons like me bemoan (occasionally) the blithe assertions that there are no good Indian restaurants, when it seems to me that there is yet not yet enough critical mass, not enough people educated in the nuances of regional Indian food to accept those cuisines as they are, without imposing sometimes ignorant yet arrogant assumptions as to how 'Indian' food should taste. Indian chinese is a case in point; US reviewers quite ignorant of its very interesting recent history, (and I mean this very seriously) copy each others mistakes, yet affect an air of great familiarity!!!!!

Times are changing! There may be hope, especially if cooking schools in the subcontinent pay more attention to training chefs in authentic regional traditions.

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