Tag Archives: NYC

Fuchka / Puchka, street food of Bangladesh

When we were at the Long Island City Flea & Food Market this fall we were surprised and pleased to find a stall selling Bangladeshi food, Jhal NYC. Jhal NYC serves street food from Bangladesh including Fuchka and Jhal Muri (a puffed rice snack). Fuchka is popular around the Indian subcontinent and might be known in other areas as puchka, panipuri and golgappa.JhalNYC

Fuckha consists of a series of small crispy dough shells, topped with chickpeas and potato stew along with other garnishes, including green onions, chili peppers and cilantro. Another key aspect is that it is then topped with (or dipped in) a light tamarind water. The fuchka was a delicious mix of complex flavors, and the crispy shells perfectly complemented the soft chickpeas and potatoes. Here is a recipe from Archana’s kitchen for the dough shell and here is a recipe for the Bangladeshi-style filling; or a simplified version that has both parts of the recipe. Fuchka was such a delicious snack – we can see how it is so popular across so many different regions.

Fuchka

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Sri Lankan Street Food at Kottu House

SriLankaThere is nothing we like more than street food, so we were super pumped to try Sri Lankan street food for the first time. Kottu House (250 Broome St, New York, NY 10002), is a postage-stamp-sized Sri Lankan restaurant tucked into a corner of the Lower East Side, with only a few tables and a tiny bar (though you can do takeout as well). The resaturant is a study in contrasts, guarded over simultaneously by a strobe light image of a neon dragon and a calm wooden Buddha figure. Previously, most of NYC’s Sri Lankan food had been found on Staten Island, so this location is definitely striking out on its own. Kottu House primarily serves its eponymous dish, Kottu, which is a savory stir fry that falls somewhere within the triangulation of fried rice, flatbread, and a dry curry. The base of the kottu is chopped rotis (which almost takes on the texture of noodles) fried with veggies, egg, and a spicy sauce. To go along with your kottu there are a variety of fried sides and an interesting selection of drinks, including a decent array of unusual (think pomegranate) hard ciders, as well as ginger and Sri Lankan teas.

KottuHouse

There were a variety of proteins available with the kottu. Our server told us the chicken was the most traditional choice while the prawn was the most popular. There was also a “Little Italy” kottu that had tomato sauce and chicken sausages, as a nod to the proximity of Little Italy. For any protein, you can order your kottu with varying levels of spiciness from mild to “Sri Lankan spicy,” and the mild was described as closer to American “medium.” If so desired, the dishes can even be made vegan (or just without egg if that’s your mood). Sticking with the more traditional options, L selected chicken in “mild” and M went with the pepper beef in “medium”. The kottu comes in two sizes, small (for between $7 and 9) and large ($12 to 15). During happy hour (4 -7 pm) you can get a small for only $6. 

Kottu
For an extra kick you can order one of 3 sombols, chutney-like side condiments meant to mix into the kottu. We ordered the pol sambol which is fresh grated coconut, Sri Lankan chili powder and lime (which was described as medium) a milder sombol – minchi sambol – with green chiles garlic and mint, and a fiery hot one – lunu sambol – with raw red onions, chili powder and lime. The kottu came out in short order in paper takeout boxes, and our server instructed us to mix in the chutney right away to heighten the flavor of the dish, which really worked! The kottu was reminiscent of a spicy fried rice, but the bread as a starch gave it a very different texture. The overall flavor was salty, spicy and finished with a bit of lime, the mild was about a “medium” so keep that in mind. The kottu was delicious, satisfying and savory, real Sri Lankan comfort food. As such, kottu is the perfect food to grab and go, and would be an ideal way to soak up some late night drinks on the Lower East Side.

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The best grilled cheese in Astoria: The Queens Kickshaw

Being cheese lovers, M and I absolutely jumped at the chance to try what my cousin deemed “the best grilled cheese in Astoria” at the Queens Kickshaw (40-17 Broadway, Astoria, NY). The vibe inside was warm and cozy, and had the feel of a gastropub. There was a small but well-curated menu of grilled cheeses, along with burgers, soups and some other entrees. Not to mention a full menu of imported beers, coffee drinks and even mead. As for the grilled cheeses, Queens Kickshaw had the classic rendition of a grilled cheese, Cheddar & Mozzarella ($8.5) on a brioche roll, which was even served with a comforting cup of tomato soup. M got the gouda grilled cheese ($10), topped with black bean hummus, guava jam, pickled jalapeños, and with a side of green salad with jalapeño vinaigrette. L got a tomato burrata grilled cheese, ($12) on herb focaccia with heirloom tomatoes and herb pistou. How can we resist anything with burrata?

Gouda and Black Bean Grilled Cheese

Gouda and Black Bean Grilled Cheese by Garrett Ziegler

We figured they also would do other cheese-based dishes well, so I had to try the Mac ‘n Cheese ($14) which had a mix of Gruyere, cheddar and smoked mozzarella. The sandwiches were delicious and the cheese and bread were both extremely fresh. We also appreciated the interesting add-ins like black bean hummus and herb pistou that elevated the sandwich to another level. The gouda and black bean was definitely one of the best grilled cheeses we’d had recently, and we’d venture to say that it may be one of the best in the city. Not to mention that the Mac and Cheese was absolutely killer. What could more comforting (and tasty)? The Queens Kickshaw is definitely worth a stop if you get a craving for grilled cheese!

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Cheap NYC Chinatown eats at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

China flagWe were in NYC right before Chinese New Year and found ourselves hankering for some good, cheap Chinese food. Vanessa’s Dumpling House (118A Eldridge Street, New York, NY 10002) came highly recommended by my cousin, who is always in the know. When we arrived on a bone-chillingly cold day, there was already a very large line, and huge trays of Beijing-style dumplings basically flying out the door. We knew we were in the right place.

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Dumpling prep at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

The specialties of Vanessa’s are dumplings – obviously – but also an intriguing Northern-Chinese style dish – the sesame pancake. The sesame pancake was a must-have according to my cousin, and it was a completely intriguing dish to us, cooked in a giant round pan, and cut into manageable triangles. Despite the name “pancake,” this was basically a Chinese riff on focaccia bread. It had a light bread-y texture, coated with oil and topped with sesame seeds – a little greasy maybe, but totally delicious. And a slice is only $1! Yes, this place is crazy cheap. Vanessa’s takes the sesame pancake concept one further by even making sandwiches out of the sesame pancakes with fillings like beef and Peking duck ($2-3).

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Fried dumplings

Onto the dumplings – we ordered a mix of fried and boiled. We got the four fried pork and chive dumplings for only $1.25, eight boiled veggie dumplings, and eight boiled chicken and basil ($4 for 8). The dumplings were perfectly formed and cooked to perfection, though we slightly preferred the slightly crispy skin of the pan-fried dumplings. We also appreciated the soy and chili dipping sauces that came with each order. It was a real treat to watch the production at Vanessa’s – talk about a well oiled machine. You can also pick up some 50-packs of frozen dumplings to enjoy in the comfort of your own home ($7-14). We took our goodies to go and heartily enjoyed our little taste of Chinatown. We can’t think of a better place to get a cheap dumpling fix – and you absolutely have to try the sesame pancake.

Vanessa's Dumpling House

Batch of dumplings being cooked at Vanessa’s Dumpling House

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Nutella Bar opens in NYC Eataly

With much fanfare, a Nutella bar has opened in the NYC Eataly. Well it isn’t quite a Nutelleria, but it is the closest thing to one on US shores. The Chicago Eataly already has a lovely Nutella bar (which was around since the grand opening of Eataly, unlike the NYC outpost), but it appears to be on a slightly smaller scale than the NYC Nutella bar, which has a towering wall of Nutella on one side (that is where the gelato stand is in the Chicago Eataly). So what can you get at a Nutella bar? The menu is the same as in Chicago: pastries and bread slathered in Nutella, alongside Nutella crepes, ranging in price from $2.80 to $5.80. Without a doubt, the success of the Chicago Eataly’s Nutella bar was inspiration to Eataly impresarios Bastianich and Batali to transport the concept to NYC. After all, who doesn’t love Nutella!?

Image

Nutella Bar in NYC by Eater NY

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Fika – a Swedish coffee break in NYC

Fika
(Several locations)
41 W. 58th St.
New York City

sweden_flagWe wrote several years ago about the iconic Swedish coffee and snack break – the fika – including a mention for the Fika coffee shop in NYC. The post got us really hoping to visit Sweden to enjoy an authentic fika. A few weeks ago, we were excited to visit Fika and experience a tiny bit of Swedish coffee culture right here in the US. NYC’s Fika cafe is just how we would imagine a Swedish coffeehouse to be: tiny and immaculate with only room for about 10 people at tall tables inside (if you are lucky enough to get a seat). Compared to US coffeehouse, Fika had a rather small menu of coffees. The coffee served here is actually roasted in NYC, but in the Swedish style. L ordered a cappuccino and the caffeine-averse M ordered hot chocolate. The coffee was light and flavorful and the hot chocolate was pleasingly rich.???????????????????????????????

Even better, there is a very nice selection of pastries and chocolate, including a wide variety of truffles and chocolates. In fact, Fika has its own chocolatier and several pastry chefs, giving the shop a constant supply of tempting sweets. We got a Cardamom bun, one of the most popular items, which was a rose-shaped croissant with a heavy helping of one of Sweden’s favored spices (there were also cinnamon and vanilla versions for non-cardamom fans). Of the chocolates, we tried truffles with goat milk, which was surprisingly delicate.???????????????????????????????

However, the showstopper was the Prinsesstårta, aka Princess cake. On their website, Fika even advertises that they are the “home of the Princess Cake,” which is no small feat. We have written about the painfully complex Prinsesstårta before (to date it is the the only cake we have seen that requires a diagram to explain) but we have never actually tried it until now. The version at Fika had all the requisite layers: sponge cake, whipped cream, jam and green marzipan. It was really enjoyable, and a lot more filling than we expected.???????????????????????????????

We are so happy to have found Fika, a little taste of Sweden in the US. Incidentally, when we went on a weekday morning, the cafe was full of Swedes! If you are feeling especially nostalgic, you can also bring home boxes of the stores coffee, tea, and Swedish berry preserves for your own little fika at home.

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Kosher Lebanese for Passover in NYC

lebanonToday is the first day of Passover, and to celebrate we are bringing you a story about Lebanese food specially made for Passover in New York City. The story centers on chef Souad Nigri, and her 30-plus year tradition of making catered meals for Passover. Typical dishes include tabbouleh and other mezes, but made Kosher for Passover with no wheat or bulgur. The story is a few years old, but now you can find Nigri’s dishes at Prime Butcher in New York.

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Pastry Post-Doc visits Ladurée in NYC

LadureeWindow

franceWe have a major obsession with macarons, and we ranked the macarons at Ladurée in Paris as our favorite. So how excited were we two weeks ago to be visiting friends in New York, home of a North American outpost of our favorite macaron purveyor. The Ladurée in NYC is on the upper east side (864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021), within a stone’s throw of the Whitney Museum. We went on Saturday afternoon expecting a line… and we got one. However, the crowd control was a bit more organized than the Paris location. Here in NYC, there was a bouncer to let only 20 people into the shop itself at a time. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the counter to order, and once we were there, it was only minutes until we were reunited with our macarons.Laduree macarons

The store was just as picturesque as the original French outpost, all done up in pastels, with mirrored cabinets and little towers of macarons perched on ornate boxes. In addition to macarons, the store was jam packed with chocolates, jam, ice cream and even coffee. Of course, there was also a huge selection of food and trinkets emblazoned with the Ladurée logo. Yet as always, we were single minded in our mission.Laduree macarons

After the bouncer let us pass, we swarmed the macaron counter, which boasted over a dozen varieties, including our perennial favorites chocolate and salted caramel. As in Paris, the flavors are displayed on a little graphic menu, as displayed at the bottom of the post. There were other classic flavors including pistachio, coffee, lemon, raspberry and strawberry, as well as some more esoteric varieties including orange blossom, black forest and the quixotically-named Marie Antoinette (Earl Grey tea, though the macaron itself is blue).Laduree MacaronsIt was a steep $21 for six, but we felt it was worth every penny, as we indulged in our macarons on a bench in Central Park. The salted caramel and chocolate were also a big hit with our friends, and we are happy we brought over some new macaron addicts to the fold. Word on the streets is that there is now a Ladurée in Soho (398 W Broadway, New York, NY 10012) with a tea room. Maybe that will be our next macaron mission (if we can get past the bouncer).

laduree macarons

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Danish Fastelavn Carnival Traditions in NYC

denmark_flagLike many other counties, Denmark celebrates Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras – Fastelavn – with merriment, rich treats and other festivities. But you’ll never guess where it pops up outside of Denmark – Brooklyn. Apparently there is still a yearly Fastelavn celebration going strong in Sunset Park, at the 120-year-old Danish Athletic Club. We love hearing about hidden cultural pockets like this, still surviving after 100+ years.

fastelavn-3

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What is a cronut?

Cronut

Dominique Ansel Bakery’s Infamous Cronut

Happy National Doughnut Day! So we’ve been out of the country for roughly the past 9 months, and we definitely feel out of sync with current American culture. We’ve definitely missed out on doughnuts, and most American food trends. It was just yesterday that we learned of the latest food craze sweeping the US (which happens to be doughnut related): the cronut. A cronut, as the name might imply, is croissant dough shaped like a doughnut, and then fried (which is apparently extremely difficult). The confection was first created at the Dominique Ansel bakery in New York City, and every day’s fresh batch draws a huge crowd. The cronuts sell out so fast there is something of a gray market springing up around the coveted cronut (only 200 are produced per day), and many are resold to cronut fans at inflated prices. You can try your hand at diy cronuts with ready-made croissant dough. Of course, along with a meteoric rise to fame, there is a backlash. Only in America!

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A Day in the Life of an Italian Deli in New York City

The Atlantic has a new short video that caught our eye about Walter Momentè, owner of the lunch-only Alidoro Deli in NYC. It’s fun and informative to watch how he preps for the day by sourcing fresh ingredients from all around the city. Looks like pretty good quality control – perhaps a lunch spot for our (or your) next NYC visit?

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March 22, 2013 · 10:29 AM

A Quick Bite at: Republic

Republic
37 Union Square West
New York, NY

As they say, in restaurants as in real estate, location, location, location. Republic, a fast-casual spots serving Pan-Asian cuisine, is in an absolutely great location, right across from Union Square in New York City, and that holds much of its appeal. The restaurant is a large and somewhat cavernous, with quasi-communal seats (the tables are connected, but you are not sitting directly next to strangers, unless you are only a group of 2 perhaps). The atmosphere was loud and bustling, and the restaurant seemed to be doing a pretty healthy turnover of tables. We arrived at noon Sunday and the tables were nearly full with the NYU crowd, even so, we didn’t have to wait very long. Republic incorporates its sleek noodle theme into its decor, and the walls are lined with large black and white photos of model-types enjoying (and sometimes wearing) giant piles of noodles.

Yes, the stock in trade at Republic is noodles, namely GIANT bowls of noodles, which we saw most tables guzzling happily. The main influence is Thai, but there are also Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese flavors. The broth noodles, seemingly the most popular option, had huge portions in included such varieties as Spicy Duck and Curry Vegetable ($11-14). There was also a selection of non-broth noodle and rice dishes, including of course Pad Thai. The globe-trotting theme continues with the drink selection which includes both hot and cold sake, an assortment of Asian Beers and Vietnamese iced coffee. Between two of  us we ordered the Spicy Coconut Chicken – rice noodles in turmeric-coconut broth ($14). The portion was truly generous, but the broth and chicken were both a little bland and lifeless. However, we heartily enjoyed the vegetarian dumplings ($7) and the super-flavorful cold Peanut Noodle Salad with carrots and jicama ($11).

While Republic is not a soulful place, you can’t fault the owners for hitting upon a formula that works. Moreover  you definitely get a lot of food for your money, and there is something to please herbivores and carnivores alike. It won’t rival our favorite go-to Thai places, but it was a perfect place to meet a group for lunch in NYC. Plus, if you are in a lunch crunch, you will be sure to make your 1 o’clock meeting.

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The Red Bees of Brooklyn

Red Honeycomb from the Red Bees of Brooklyn

Typically bees make honey from the nectar of flowers, but apparently sometimes they develop a taste for some stranger foods. Enter the red bees of Brooklyn. Some beekeepers in Brooklyn caught notice of the unusual bright red color of the bees and their honey, and sought to figure out just what the bees were consuming. As it turns out, instead of dining on the usual feast of clover and other wildflowers, these bees were eating high fructose corn syrup and red dye runoff from a nearby maraschino cherry factory. Though bright red honey is pretty cool, it is not exactly a match made in heaven, with both the beekeepers and the cherry factory not quite sure what the next step is. We love trying different varieties of honey, and we’d be curious to taste some red honey – for the first time today we even tried pumpkin honey – however, we have to report that it doesn’t taste anything like pumpkins!

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Paris vs. NYC

Paris vs. NYC

Macarons vs. Cupcakes, Cheese vs. Cheesecake, Patisserie vs. Pastrami. Vahram Muratyan’s Paris vs. NYC blog compares the cuisines, attitudes and styles of each iconic city in colorful graphics. While we were in Paris we saw the book based on the blog for sale, and it is now available stateside! You can buy the book online, along with art prints of the images.

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February 9, 2012 · 12:42 PM

Brazilian Cuisine in NYC: Berimbau

Berimbau
43 Carmine Street
New York, NY

It is with a little irony that we went to a middle eastern restaurant on a street called “Little Brazil” in Midtown Manhattan. Up and down the street there were Brazilian restaurants and stores, but we were meeting a friend who suggested a Middle Eastern place, so we only could look wistfully at the signs advertising Açaí smoothies and the like. I took us a trip to Greenwich Village to get our fill of Brazilian food, when we ended up at Berimbau. We got a little turned around on our way to the restaurant (we went without the aid of smartphones at the time – can you believe it!), but we eventually found our way. The restaurant itself is tinier than tiny – with two rows of tables (probably seating for 20 or so) and exposed brick walls with a few Brazilian berimbaus on display.

The nicely edited menu contained many of our favorites as well as updated takes on some classics. We started out with one of our iconic favorite, Pão de Queijo ($6.95), little cassava flour rolls filled with Catipury cheese. We were the first diners there, by necessity of making an 8PM show that night. It was a tiny bit awkward, as the servers stared us down while we twiddled our thumbs waiting for our Pães, which turned out to be quite good.

For entrees, M ordered the Strogonoff de Frango ($17.95). The Stroganoff consisted of chicken breast in a mushroom cream sauce and came with rice and shoestring potatoes. The sauce itself was very flavorful with the aroma of mushrooms, but seemed like it was missing a little bit of a kick. L ordered the Bobo de Camarão (18.95) – a traditional Bahian fish stew with Shrimp and yucca. It came garnished with a heaping helping of cilantro, which is always a plus, and had a little bit of spice, which we found missing from M’s dish.

Berimbau filled something of an interesting void for us – an upscale Brazilian restaurant that was not an oversized steakhouse or a tiny mom and pop cafe. Of course, there is nothing wrong with either option, but definitely a Brazilian dining option we lack in Chicago. Berimbau, perhaps at a little bit of a later hour, would certainly be perfect for a date night out.

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The Rise of Single-Item Menus in NYC

Just yesterday we were extolling the virtues of the single menu-item restaurant (Chicken Kalbi) – a trend that is apparently well-established in NYC – with the success of shops selling only chocolate cake, mac’n’cheese and rice pudding (among others). We figure that if you’re only selling one thing to get by – chances are that one thing has to be pretty good!

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Venezuela via NYC: Caracas Arepas

Caracas Arepas
93 1/2 E 7th St
New York, NY

There is something about carbs with tasty fillings (especially cheese) that get us every time. Pretty much every culture has a national version of this combo – and Venezuela has arepas. In New York one of the hottest places for brunch makes some killer arepas.

On our last trip to NYC we headed to Caracas with a group of NYC-native friends for a Saturday morning brunch. Seems like we were not the only ones with the idea for some mid-morning arepas. There was a wait out the door – so we took ours to go and eat in nearby Tompkins Square Park.

I ordered the A10, the La Del Gato, which was filled with guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices ($6.25), but they forgot it and gave me a chorizo arepa instead, a bit of a bummer. We didn’t find out til we were well into Tompkins park so I ended up trading for A-14, La Jardinera  ($6.25) vegetarian with our all too accommodating friend Ashley (Thanks Ashley!). Too bad for me though, since I hear the Del gato is amazing.

But in the end, I really enjoyed my trade-in. The Jardinera had grilled eggplants, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and guayanés cheese.   The arepa was near-faultless except for the fact that all of the cheese was concentrated at the bottom M ordered the A-20 La Sureña  ($7.50) grilled chicken and chorizo, with avocado slices and chimichurri sauce. M loved the chorizo arepa, which had a bit of a kick.

As we noshed in the park we also split an order of fried plaintains. In the end we did not miss eating in the cramped space and enjoyed the warm weather outside. Other than the mix – up on our order. Guess it gives me an excuse to go back and order the De La Gato someday.

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Australia via NYC: Tuck Shop

Tuck Shop
115 St. Marks Place
New York

We thought we would never get a restaurant from Australia, until we went there, that is. Suffice to say that when M and I learned about Tuck Shop, an Australian restaurant in Manhattan, we had to go. Lest we question the authenticity of the joint,  it was full of Australian tourists to New York and an Australian server manning the counter. The restaurant itself was tiny, with only room for about 8 to sit, and some counter space, with just enough room for an Australian flag.

The menu was rather limited and the majority of the entrees were savory pies (with a small assortment of soups and salads). Being assured that it was the traditional Aussie way to go, we decided to try a range of pies: from Macaroni and cheese ($6) to Green Thai curry ($5.50) and Vegetarian chili ($5.50). Perhaps the carb-bomb that is a Mac N cheese pie would be lost on most people, but L loved it. The Thai curry pie was more well balanced, and the vegetarian chili had us asking if he was sure it was vegetarian. It was that convincing.

For dessert, we tried to order the famous Aussie cookies, Tim Tams, but they had run out. Even without the added sugar rush of the Tim Tams, dinner at the Tuck Shop was a hearty carb-bomb that filled us right up, though it probably speaks to the mixed culinary legacy left by the Brits.

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Land of the $1 Slice

If there’s anything we like as much as world eats, its cheap eats. Even in NYC there are still some deals to be had.

Dollar Slice by

Dollar Slice by Matthew Hurst

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Fake NYC Restaurant Reviews

The blog Fake NYC Restaurant Reviews is evil genius – and just what it sounds like. If I didn’t know better I’d almost swear some of these could be real.

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