Tag: ramen

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.  

Best Comfort Food in NYC

Best Comfort food in NYC by ari KellenOctober is now upon us.  That means the giant costume store by Union Square will actually be packed, pumpkin spiced lattes will be in everybody’s hands and the weather is, of course, finally going to cool down.  It’s also the time for comfort foods.  Here is a list of great comfort foods this fall, and where in New York you can pick them up:

Bigos: Also known as “hunter’s stew”, this stick-to-your-ribs food is an essential staple of Polish cuisine.  The recipe depends on who is making it, but it’s often tomato-based, and always includes sauerkraut and pork (typically in the form of pork shoulder, bacon or kielbasa).  Even if you aren’t a big cabbage fan, do yourself a favor and give this unique and delicious dish a try.
Where to get it: Karczma (136 Greenpoint Ave, Greenpoint)

Ramen: New Yorkers love their ramen.  And I’m not just talking the freeze-dried stuff they pick up at the bodega.  New York restaurants easily make some of the best and most creative ramen on the East Coast.  And with the weather getting colder, New Yorkers now have an excuse to dig into a bowl of this delicious noodle soup.  
Where to get it: Hide Chan Ramen (248 E 52nd St, Midtown East)

Lamb mafe: Senegalese food may not be as popular in New York as, say, Chinese or Italian, but that’s not to take away from how delicious it can be.  One of the best (and most comforting) dishes in Senegalese cooking is lamb mafe, a creamy peanut-based stew made with lamb and tomatoes.  Served hot over rice, it can warm up even the coldest New Yorker.
Where to get it: Joloff Restaurant (1168 Bedford Ave, Bed-Stuy)

Matzoh ball soup: If matzoh ball soup has become a cliché of New York cuisine, that’s only because it’s absolutely delicious.  Hailed as “Jewish penicillin”, it’s an essential fall dish for those New Yorkers who get sick when the seasons change.  And even if you aren’t sick, matzoh ball soup is still just as tasty.  
Where to get it: Mile End Deli (53 Bond St, NoHo; 230 Park Ave, Midtown or 97 Hoyt St, Boerum Hill)

Soup dumplings: No, this isn’t “dumpling soup”, these are dumplings with soup inside them.  They’re difficult to make, and even harder to master, but when they’re done well, soup dumplings are easily the best part of any dim sum spread.
Where to get it: Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell St, Chinatown or 24 W 56th St, Midtown)

Mac and cheese: Whether it comes from an artisanal restaurant in Williamsburg or a box you bought at the supermarket, you can’t go wrong with mac and cheese.  It goes great as a side dish, but also stands just as well on its own.  
Where to get it: Queens Comfort (40-09 30th Ave, Astoria)

French fries: French fries are everybody’s favorite side dish, whether they’re served with a burger, dipped in milkshakes (I promise you it’s delicious!) or smothered in gravy and cheese curds.  Maybe deep fried sticks of potato aren’t that great for you, but that’s not to discredit their value as delicious comfort food.  
Where to get it: Pommes Frites (128 Macdougal St, Greenwich Village)

Burritos: Guaranteed to fill you up, nothing beats a good burrito filled with hot beans, rice and guacamole.  Since Chipotle took the country by storm several years ago, various burrito joints have sprung up across the US (including New York); although none of them have been able to match the success of the fast food giant, many of them have made burritos that can easily go toe-to-toe with them.  
Where to get it: Dos Toros (various locations)

Beef Patties: Since they were first brought to New York City by West Indian immigrants some 50 years ago, Jamaican beef patties can be found everywhere in New York from hole-in-the-walls in Crown Heights to your local bodega.  Served piping hot and packed with spices, they’ll be sure to warm you up.  
Where to get it: Miss Lily’s (132 W Houston St, Greenwich Village or 109 Ave A, East Village)

Naan: There’s beauty in simplicity.  And you can’t get simpler (or tastier) than a simple piece of buttery naan.  It’s an essential part of any Indian restaurant experience, whether it’s served as an appetizer or used to dip into your chicken tikka masala.   
Where to get it: Masalawala (179 Essex St., Lower East Side)