Getting the "only in New York" reaction!
I'm trying to get an "only in New York" reaction out of visitors - where can I take them for a dinner with a great atmosphere and great food that you can only find in New York? Looking for Asian, American, Seafood...they've already been to Kittichai, Morimoto, Buddha Bar, Craft, BLT Steak...
How is Gin Lane? Stanton Social?
Katz's;Sammy's Roumainian;Peter Luger's (Bkln);River Café(Bkln);Le Bernardin;Grand Central Oyster Bar
For Asian, I think it would be difficult to find "only in NY", perhaps Asian fusian like Asiate.
I really liked Stanton Social when I went there.
It gets a tad pricey because of the small portions though.
French onion soup dumplings, Kobe beef sliders and the braised short rib tacos were my favorites there if you're interested.
I find it disappointing that you are looking for an "Only in NY" reaction in restaurants that are (inter)national chains: Buddha Bar originated in Paris; Morimoto originated in Philadelphia; BLT Steak has locations in DC and Puerto Rico; there is a Craft Dallas and a Craft LA, not to mention CraftSteak Las Vegas. Only Kittichai is a New York original.
I guess one out of five 'aint bad.
I like bobjbkln's suggestions. For Asian, I would suggest 66, Spice Market, and Chinatown Brasserie, although all three are pretty trendy. If you equate New York with trendy, then that will work.
I think the confusion lies in your use of the phrase "Only in New York." Clearly, Katz's, the Oyster Bar, et al. are New York institutions, but I suspect that you are really seeking a "Sex and the City" dining experience.
Best of luck, Samantha, er Sparkles.
My favorite "only in New York" moment would be walking from an Argentinian steakhouse to get a quick dessert in a Filipino cafe, and on the way seeing Indian women in flowing saris passing by a mariachi band. Only in New York!!!
(This happens in Queens, but similar stuff can be found in Manhattan, where the LES meets Chinatown)
When I think of NY, I think a bit crowded, lively, and fun. While not necessarily the ultimate gastro experiences, La Esquina and Cafe Habana might work. Also, I think a really cool experience that is also very unique and actually has great food is Sakagura.
I recently had an "only in NY" moment at Forte Baden Baden in Koreatown (on the south side of 32nd St.). It is a bar on the second floor that serves reasonable fried chicken and a knockout spicy octopus and noodle dish. Eating and drinking there, and then walking out into Koreatown made me realize why I live here, including that you can replicate this experience in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Next time you take in a meal on 32nd Street, stop in at the La Quinta Inn in the middle of the block. Take the elevator to the top floor and have a drink in the little bar up there. It's not fancy, it's like someone's back porch with a decent selection of beers and cocktails, and very very reasonably priced. Once you're ensconced on your white washed bench with your drink, slowly look up and north. You're right under the Empire State Building, and 15 floors up. When you've had a fantastic meal in Koreatown, and are so stuffed you can hardly waddle, this is my favorite way to unwind before the trip home.
I'm not sure if it's only in New York, but I've taken visitors to Meson Flamenco in Brooklyn for some great seafood and probably the best Sangria ever, not to mention desserts, strong drinks, nice atmosphere, and live flamenco dancing and guitars.
Here's a link.
I'm a big believer in the old warhorses - 21 Club, Four Seasons, Russian Tea Room, Delmonico - all the places that have been there forever (of course, the Russian Tea Room has opened and shut myriad times) are obviously very New York. I always feel very New York at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station as has been mentioned. Keen's is cool too. Also McSorley's. (I'll quit while I'm ahead!)
I would also mention the Four Seasons (the restaurant on 52nd, not the hotel on 57th) as a quintessential "only in New York" experience...this NYC institution reeks of the city's glam & sophistication without the tedious nouveau attitude...
Union Square Café also reeks of "only in NY"...as does Serendipity, a good burger joint like Melon's, a great pizza maybe from Arturo's or Totonno and a hot dog from Papaya King...and don't forget lunch at Fred's at Barney's for the trendy uptown scene...
Second the recs for ethnic neighborhood dining...