Tag: Joe’s Shanghai

Essential New York Dishes (and Where to Get Them)

Essential New York Dishes (and Where to Get Them) by Ari KellenHot dogs.  Pizza.  Bagels.  Such dishes are as New York as the Statue of Liberty.  Yet New Yorkers know that there are plenty of other great, iconic New York dishes.  A city of 8 million people will offer 8 million different opinions on what a “quintessential” New York meal is, but I’ve chosen ten highlights, and more importantly where you should get them:

Hot dog and papaya juice (Papaya King): Most people wouldn’t consider a hot dog and papaya juice a good combo, but New Yorkers know otherwise.  While there are several establishments around Gotham who offer this combo, the original is Papaya King, located in the Upper East Side and St. Marks.  Gray’s Papaya on the Upper West Side gets honorable mention as well.

Ramen (Hide Chan Ramen): In recent years, Americans from every city have gotten onto the ramen train, including New York.  There are many places around the city who offer stellar ramen (many sing the praises of Ippudo), but my personal favorite is Hide Chan in Midtown East.

Pizza (Joe’s Pizza): “New York Pizza” is a phrase for a reason.  There are plenty of excellent pizza spots around the city (Paulie Gee’s and Vinnie’s nearly made the list), but for a traditional, no-frills New York slice, visit Joe’s Pizza.  They’ve luckily got several locations in New York, so they aren’t too hard to find.  

Knish (Yonah Schimmel’s): Few people outside of New York are familiar with the “knish”.  Even fewer are familiar with the traditional round, baked knish (most know of the square fried knish).  You can get the traditional knish at various Jewish delis and bagel spots across the city, but the undisputed king is Yonah Schimmel’s in the Lower East Side.  They’ve been slinging knishes since 1910.  My personal favorite is the sweet potato knish with a bit of hot mustard.  

Pastrami sandwich (David’s Brisket House): Pastrami as we know it was first developed in New York City by Romanian Jewish immigrants, who based it off a traditional recipe for goose.  Many say that Katz’s does the best pastrami (and it’s certainly very good), but they aren’t the only ones out there.  For a true New York pastrami sandwich off the beaten path, go to Bedford-Stuyvesant for David’s Brisket House, which makes the hands-down best pastrami in Brooklyn.  A Jewish deli run by Yemeni Muslims, it’s a true New York experience whose very existence celebrates this city’s diversity.

Lechon and rice & peas (Lechonera la Piraña): Every weekend on the corner of 152nd and Wales in the Bronx, Angel Jimenez, also known as “Piraña” and “Papi Chulo”, serves traditional Puerto Rican-style roast pork out of a food truck.  On Saturdays and Sundays, he wakes up at 4 in the morning to put a pig in a smoker, and then slow-cook it for eight hours before it’s ready.  For less than $10, a cheerful Piraña will serve you a giant plate of his lechon and a generous helping of rice and peas.  It’s the best Puerto Rican food you’ll get outside of Puerto Rico, and well worth the journey up to Mott Haven.

Chicken, mozzarella & pesto sandwich (Faicco’s): As one of the oldest Italian delis in the city (it’s been open since 1905), Faicco’s has had plenty of time to perfect its art.  Their sandwiches are as delicious as they are gargantuan, and while every variety is worth writing home about and then some, my personal favorite is their chicken, mozzarella and pesto.  Some close seconds include their classic Italian and meatball grinder.

Bagel & Lox (Barney Greengrass): Many consider Russ & Daughters to be the best bagel & lox in the city, but as an Upper West Sider, my loyalty lies with Barney Greengrass.  Once you have lox from the “Sturgeon King”, you’ll never want it from anywhere else.  

Soup dumplings (Joe’s Shanghai): No, it isn’t dumpling soup, the soup is inside the dumpling.  Hard to make, even harder to perfect, these can be found throughout both Manhattan’s and Queens’ Chinatowns.  Arguably the best comes from Joe’s Shanghai, which has outposts in Chinatown, Flushing and Midtown.  Get an order of soup dumplings with peanut noodles and scallion pancakes, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  

Halal (Mamoun’s): Halal trucks sell gyro sandwiches on pretty much every street corner in Manhattan.  But the original, and arguably the best, is Mamoun’s in the Village.  This tiny hole-in-the-wall doles out the best falafel and shawarma in a no-frills atmosphere that attracts hundreds of visitors every day.  

Chinatown’s Best Food

As small as it is, there’s no shortage of Chinese food in Manhattan’s Chinatown NYCChinatown, representing food from every part of mainland China and Hong Kong.  While these choices may seem overwhelming, here is a list of the best restaurants in Chinatown, no matter what you’re looking for:

Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Located in the heart of Chinatown on a crook of Doyers Street known as the “bloody angle” due to its use for gang fights in the early 20th century, Nom Wah has been open since 1920, and the restaurant is rich in history.  Here, you can get plenty of delicious dim sum plates made fresh to order.

Ah-Wah: While it looks like any run-of-the-mill greasy spoon Chinese restaurant, Ah-Wah, located right off Bowery, boasts one specialty that no other spot in Chinatown has come close to replicating: bo zai fan, listed on the menu as “rice casserole”.  This is a rice dish cooked in a clay pot until the edges are crusty.  The perfect comfort food, it’s warm, stick-to-your-ribs and delicious.  While it’s often easy to overlook soy sauce, the house-made sauce here will make sure you never view this condiment the same way again, and you’ll want to pour generous helpings of it all over your bo zai fan.

Joe’s Shanghai: While many spots around Chinatown boast soup dumplings, the undisputed master here is Joe’s Shanghai.  In addition to their legendary soup dumplings, the cold sesame noodles, greasy and covered in peanut sauce, are excellent.  If you do visit, be sure to not go into neighboring Joe’s Ginger instead; while good, Joe’s Shanghai does everything else better.  It might also be a good idea to go at an odd time, because it tends to get crowded.

Xi’an Famous Foods: Part of a New York-only chain made famous by none other than Anthony Bourdain, the food here is inspired by the city of Xi’an in western China.  As one of the last stops on the Silk Road, the food from Xi’an has plenty of Middle Eastern influence, as evidenced by the restaurant’s signature dish of spicy cumin lamb noodles.  The flavors here are a combination Whatever you order here, make sure it includes noodles, which are the house specialty.

Peking Duck House: Before serving it, the waiter here parades the roasted duck here past your party before dramatically slicing off meat.  Yet it’s important to remember that you need to order this specialty in advance.  Select the “three way”: the duck main course, complete with pancakes, plum sauce, vegetable stir-fry and a cabbage soup.  While there are other options on the menu, you’d be foolish to go to the “Peking Duck House” and order something other than Peking Duck.