During March we were lucky enough to spend a few days in New York City. Four days in the city necessitated some preparations which included a map of dozens of interesting locations. Obviously we weren’t able to visit all of them. Not always because lack of time but rather the fact that some places had insane 5 (!) hour queue at the door (we’re looking at you Black Tap and The Bagel Store). Nonetheless we’ll be sharing our experiences in several separate posts: this one for savory food, and the following ones for sweets as well as our visit at the 2 Michelin starred Atera restaurant.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
I arrived to NYC at night, starving since my flight from Miami didn’t serve any food. After getting to the hotel I searched for the closest comfort food I could find. A few minutes walk got me to this fast food joint. Yes, it’s fatty and it’s greasy – but that’s exactly what I needed.
We sampled some of the fried chicken pieces – Thigh, Drumstick and Tender, which were upgraded using the great variety of sauces available.
We also got Kerry’s Classic Sandwich – special chicken with caramelized pineapple, Blue Ribbon special sauce, shredded lettuce, tomato & pickled cucumbers on a toasted bun and paired it with the Fries With The Works – aged cheddar, smoked bacon & sour cream. This little heart-attack-waiting-to-happen, along with an All You Can Drink Boylan’s in 8 different flavors cost us 32$.
I wouldn’t go especially out of my way to get here, but if you’re in the area late at night, and you get the itch, Blue Ribbon is not a bad place to scratch it.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken Online:
Momofuku Ssäm Bar
I couldn’t leave the city without trying one of the establishments from David Chang’s food empire. Momofuku Ssäm Bar opened in 2006 and was since listed as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants for 4 years straight (2009-2012). They don’t take reservations for small parties so we arrived for an early dinner. The restaurant is very casual, and the space is not very impressive or unique.
The service was very odd – to our question about the wifi password we were answered by the waitress “They are not willing to tell me that as well”. When we asked for recommendations we were told that “everything is tasty”.
The one-page menu at Ssäm Bar offers Asian inspired dishes such as Mason Jar with Kimchi, Steamed buns and Spicy Shrimp Roll. We ordered 3 dishes:
Arctic Char ($14) – beet bonji, creme fraiche, chive
Steamed Buns ($12) – pork belly, hoisin, cucumber, scallion
Grilled Spanish Mackerel ($23) – sunflower, chimichurri, sunchok
The portions are pretty small but everything was fresh and tasty. All in all we enjoyed the meal here. And the best thing? the fantastic Momofuku Milk Bar is just across the street, so we didn’t have to think hard where to get dessert.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar Online:
The Butcher’s Daughter
This place defines itself as a Juice Bar, Cafe and “Vegetable Slaughter House”. Whenever we passed by it was packed with “cool young beautiful” people. We stopped to grab some orange juice and a dry blueberry muffin one morning, which cost us an embarrassingly large sum of money.
The Butcher’s Daughter Online:
Ten minutes into standing in line for Black Tap’s crazy hyped milkshakes, we found out that the wait in the queue is approximately five hours. If you’re willing to skip the burgers and only order milkshakes, the wait will be around three hours. The five girls standing in front of us in line were so thrilled to hear that. We shared one quick look and quickly slipped out of the queue. Sad I was not going to taste one of the most decadent dishes in NYC I opted for plan B – the mac n’ cheese hot dog.
We arrived quite early to Ditch Plains, a casual eatery owned by Marc Murphy – a chef and tv persona. The place was pretty empty, but as lunch time approached the place got completely full and when we were heading out there were a few people waiting outside. So come early if you can. And you should come here! The food is really tasty. Besides the mac n’ cheese Ditch Dog ($12) we also got the Lobster Roll ($29). Both dishes arrived with a generous amount of some of the best french fries I’ve tasted.
The bun was lightly toasted and sooo soft, but somehow managed to heroically hold its heavy, yummy, cargo. My mouth still waters at the thought of the food here, and being as senile as I am, that’s saying something.
Along with the bill we got complimentary candy, a cute gesture (even that was tasty!).
Ditch Plains Online:
We were invited by friends that live in NYC to eat at one of their favorite restaurants in the city. If you’re from Israel, you’re probably thinking of Pasta Basta right now. Well, NYC’s Basta Pasta is really nothing like its Israeli name-twin. This restaurant serves a pretty weird fusion – Japanese-style Italian food.
The place looks a bit outdated (as well as their website) and the service is pretty rude. For example, even though we reserved a table, and our party included a pregnant woman in her 9th month, (which we told them about!) they had us waiting standing up for nearly half an hour for our table. Nevertheless they serve some interesting dishes at pretty decent prices. The two popular dishes are: Linguine ai Ricci di Mare ($22) – Linguine with fresh sea urchin, basil and pink sauce and Spaghetti con Prosciutto e Parmigiano ($19) – Spaghetti with Parmigiano Reggiano & Parma Prosciutto.
The show factor comes in the shape of a huge wheel of Parmesan cheese on a cart which is wheeled to the tableside and in which this spaghetti dish is prepared. We know because our waiter kept banging said cart at our chair every time the dish was prepared for a different table. Sadly when our turn came our waiter chose to be stealthy and so we missed the show – hence no pictures. But you can find tons on Instagram. I’m not a big fan of eating Italian food at restaurants or bumper cars but it was a fun experience and a unique combination of tastes you probably can’t find anywhere else.
Basta Pasta Online:
Num Pang (Chelsea Market)
A visit to NYC is not complete without a hop to Chelsea Market. Our master plan: eat at the market and try to burn some of these calories walking along the highline, a linear park built on an elevated section of what once was a part of the NYC railroad.
Num Pang is a Cambodian sandwich shop offering many creative Asian flavored options. All sandwiches are served with cucumber, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili mayo \ chili soy \ chili yogurt on a freshly baked baguette. The Five-Spice Glazed Pork Belly ($9.25) was brilliant. The pork belly was so tender and the chili yogurt sauce was a perfect companion.
The Coconut Tiger Shrimp ($10.95) was a success pick as well with meaty shrimp and mayo sauce.
We also got Blood Orange Lemonade ($3.50) and Lemon Gingerade ($3.25), both made from natural ingredients.
Num Pang Online:
Takumi Taco (Chelsea Market)
Walking through the market, trying to find an available table to enjoy our Cambodian sandwich, I stumbled upon another out-of-the-ordinary fusion between Japanese and Mexican food. It seems like New York is the queen of creative fusion. On their menu you can find Japanese inspired Mexican dishes such as Asian Citrus Veggie Taco, Chips with Shochu Salsa, Chicken Teriyaki Bowl and Japanese Rice & Beans. I got the Japanese Curry Beef Taco ($4.82) – medium spiced Japanese style curry, cotija cheese, napa cabbage slaw inside a gyoza shell. The flavor combinations work surprisingly well and provide a refreshing take on known cuisine.
Takumi Taco Online:
Based in Williamsburg, Fornino’s menu is derived from the evolution of Pizza. You can pick Pizzas from the first generation (Naples) such as Margherita Classica (Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Parmesan and Olive Oil), the second generation (Italy) such as 4 Formaggi (Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Fontina, Ricotta) or the 3rd (“Fornino”) like the one we picked: Asparagi e Prosciutto $16 (Mozzarella, tomatoes, fontina, asparagus, caramelized onion, prosciutto and parmesan).
Their website claims that “A great pizza blends historical traditions with scientific subtleties” and while this description sounds a bit hyperbolic, the resulting pizza is indeed balanced and full of flavor.
Red Hook Lobster Pound
It took us a while to find the indoor Brooklyn Flea + Smorgasburg market, but eventually we got there! Inside Industry City dozens of vendors are located selling vintage furniture, toys, clothes, jewelry and more. There are also many food options here: roast pork sandwiches, ramen, taco, egg waffles and much more.
The decision for what to eat became very hard as everything looked appetizing. Since Lobster Rolls are one of my favorite dishes, and are a very rare commodity in Israel, I ordered a Lobster Roll ($18) from Red Hook Lobster Pound. I had a choice between Maine Style which is tossed in homemade mayo and the Connecticut Style warm with butter and opted for the latter one. Exquisite!
Red Hook Lobster Pound Online:
Another taste from Smorgasburg market. The Ramen Burger ($9) consists of hand-made Ramen buns, scallions, “Schweid & Sons Certified Angus Beef”, baby arugula and “Secret Shoyu” sauce. The patty and toppings were quite good, meaty and well cooked but to be honest the Ramen buns fit weirdly into this equation. They do not absorb any of the juices well and disintegrate when held, while providing a gooey chewy texture with the burger. If you’re feeling adventurous – go for it! Otherwise – Somrgasburg offers quite a bit of other options.
Our food was accompanied by Prickly Pear Cactus Lemonade ($4) from Zia. The drink was hot pink, sugary and refreshing without being overly sweet.
Ramen Burger Online:
Tucked in Japantown lies this awesome bar with great beer and greater atmosphere. As its name implies, Barcade lets you enjoy one of of its 24 rotating craft beers on tap(!) while playing arcade machines.
The types of games are varied, from classics like Ms. Pacman through street brawlers like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Michael Jackson Moonwalker to “newer” titles like Tekken.
The nice touch? each machine has a tiny shelf to place your beer while you engage in furious button mashing. We had the Harpoon U.F.O. White, a Boston, MA brewed Belgian style Witbier which was light, fruity and refreshing. We also had Doc’s Fromboise, by Warwick Valley Winery, NY, an apple cider with raspberries which was quite sweet and tangy.
Beauty & Essex
The food at Beauty & Essex is really great but the atmosphere and service are horrible. It’s as if they did everything in their power to overshadow the good food with a bad experience. We waited for nearly 40 minutes even though we had reservations. The place is super crowded at night. The music was so loud that it wasn’t possible to have a conversation without shouting. Even our waitress told us she suffered. I wish they kept the kitchen staff and took a hard look at everything else. On the other hand people seem to like it (the place was packed) and we received many recommendations so maybe our timing was off.
We sampled two dishes from the Jewels on Toast section: Avocado, Lemon & Espelette ($12) and Roasted Bone Marrow ($18) with rioja braised shallot marmalade.
We also ordered one of their signature dishes: Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings ($16) and the Lobster Tacos ($22) – beer battered maine lobster, red cabbage slaw, poblano crema. We gave up on desserts seeing as how we couldn’t stand staying one more minute there.
Beauty & Essex Online:
Russ & Daughters
This cafe was opened in 2014, on the 100th anniversary of the family-owned specialty store, that is considered a city institution. We were lucky enough our hotel was just down the road, so we decided to have our last breakfast in the city here.
At this point I was craving a bagel so much (especially after leaving the crazy long line at The Bagel Store), I didn’t care much about the other dishes. The place specializes in smoked fish and caviar, so expect many dishes with these produces.
Sifting through the menu you’ll find Yum Kippered dish (baked salmon and cream cheese), Mensch (Sturgeon with capers) and Shtetl (smoked sable with goat cream cheese). The drinking menu is as interesting – I ordered Chocolate Egg Cream ($5) with Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup, milk and seltzer. As they say on the menu “Despite its name, the egg cream contains neither eggs nor cream”.
To eat we got the Classic Board ($16) with Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and of course – a bagel.
The second dish we ordered was the Eggs Benny ($18) with poached eggs, scottish smoked salmon, sauteed spinach, hollandaise and challah bread.
We enjoyed the food as well as the atmosphere in this place. The service was very professional and the place was designed with an American-Jewish vintage flair.
Russ & Daughters Online:
All the places mentioned in this post can be found in the following map: