Monday, November 8, 2010

NYC Part 1

I just got back from an extremely festive two weeks on the other side of the country. I love California, but we just cannot compete with the food in New York City. I am very lucky that I have the best foodie tour guide ever, my brother Ryan. All I literally did for four days straight was stuff my face with New York's finest. While all the restaurants we went to were incredible, some of the best things I ate came right out of my brother's kitchen. That'll have to be a different post though. Here are some of the hits from this time around.

This place really needs no introduction. Eataly is not only home to five Mario Batali restaurants, but it is also an incredible Italian market housed in a 65,000 square foot building. Lucky for me, this is in my brother's neighborhood and we stopped at Eatlay every single day. The design of this place is so smart that I could not believe it. For example, they have an incredible meat and cheese counter. Adjacent to that is an area where you can order meat and cheese platters and have a glass of wine and hang out. Brilliant. My favorite was the meat restaurant called Manzo. It is right next to the meat counter. My brother and I shared the calves brain ravioli with an oxtail ragu that absolutely knocked our soxs off. Oh man, get me back to Eataly!!!

Calves brain ravioli with oxtail ragu from Manzo

Every time I go to NY, I have to go to Ippudo. There are seven Ippudos throughout Japan and only one in the U.S. and it happens to be across the street from Ryan's studio. There are few things in this world that I love more than bbq pork buns and a large steaming bowl of ramen noodles. This place rules. The bbq pork buns are the best that I have had in this country. The spicy Japanese bbq sauce on them is absolutely insane. This trip I had the special ramen of the day and it did not disappoint. It was a spicy and sour broth with homemade ramen noodles, with a pork and monkfish liver meatball and garlic toasts. The combination of flavors blew me away and it was just the best. I dream about this place often.

Special of the day at Ippudo

Best cheeseburger, fries and shake in NY in my opinion. My brother and I are disgusting and got a cheeseburger, hotdog, fries and chocolate shake after eating a full dinner at Ipuddo. Did I mention that I only had four days?
This was a great lunch spot. Tiny little place. We had the Spanish mackerel and leek sandwich and the coconut shrimp bahn mi-like sandwich. I really could have ordered one of everything though. The tangerine lemonade was also killer.

Right across the street from Num Pang is Stand. My brother had been telling me about Stand all week because it is home to his favorite dessert, the roasted marshmallow milkshake. I had no idea that something this delicious existed. It tastes exactly like roasted marshmallows and I was literally grunting in disbelief on the bar stool. My brother's friend told me the milkshake was astounding and he was correct.

Roasted marshmallow milkshake from Stand

Luke's is in the East Village and has the best lobster roll in NYC. Yes, I've had Pearl's and this is better. Luke's serves theirs on a buttery, toasted bun with a tiny shmear of mayo on the bun. The sandwich is just tons of fresh lobster meat from Maine drenched in butter with a sprinkle of Old Bay. That's it. Genius.

Lobster roll from Luke's

The name says it all. This place is also in the East Village and the menu is simple and straight forward. Amazing porchetta sandwich. The pork is moist and delicious and the crispy skin puts it over the top.


Great little South American place in Hells Kitchen. There are the cutest old ladies behind the counter and the food tastes like something you wished your grandmother made you growing up. My first time at Lali I was very hungover and ordered the mondongo (tripe stew) and it literally felt like a warm blanket on my stomach and cured me. This trip I got the picadillo and it was fantastic.

Picadillo at Lali

Last, but certainly not least. Momofuku anything is always at the top of my NY list. Last trip I was lucky enough to try Momofuku Ko and it was definitely a life changing experience. Ko is only 12 - 15 seats at a long bar and is the most upscale of all the Momofukus. I think my favorite part of Ko is the booze pairings. They don't only pair wine with the food, but beer and hard alcohol also. They are seriously masters and it was truly an eye opening experience. It is so hard to get a reservation that David Chang himself said that he cannot get his own mother in. It is a true culinary adventure in there and not to be missed if you can snag a res.
This trip I went to Ssam Bar and Milk Bar. Ssam bar is more laid back than Ko, but the food is just as exciting. I don't even want to tell you what we ate because you should just go and expect to be wowed.
The next day we stopped into Milk Bar for some birthday cake truffles that were off the charts. This is not your average, boring Godiva truffle. It literally tastes exactly like birthday cake.
David Chang is just the man because he puts out such high quality, progressive food in an atmosphere where kids my age can kick back and have a good time. Or maybe it was the three bottles of sake we polished off? Either way, well done.