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Aug 29, 2007 10:18 AM

LA Hound in town for a wedding...

Hello there, NYC hounds! I need some help planning a weekend on your side of the continent. Based on very superficially perusing this board and talking to some friends, I have this very loose plan hashed out. I apologize about the caps, it makes it easier to organize my own thoughts!

-arrive Wednesday afternoon with my fiance, check into hotel (Belleclaire on Upper Westside--is it an okay choice?). Need an afternoon snack like a cafe or chocolate shop, and then dinner

-Thursday. What to do all day? We've both done the biggest tourist attractions and aren't interested in the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. We'd rather explore some of the neighborhood foodie places that we haven't been to yet. The Ferry Building in San Francisco is our favorite: should we do CHELSEA MARKET? MURRAY'S Cheese Shop? DI PALO on Mott? What is a good foodie day plan? We hope to hit either BABBO or LUPA around 5pm for an early dinner at the bar, then explore a little more and do some night life. BLUE RIBBON has been suggested for late night.

-Friday. Most of his day will be occupied with tux fittings, last minute bachelor party preparation, and then dinner and revelry with the boys. I'm actually super excited to explore the city on my own! I hope do do all the little Village and Soho type shopping excursions that he's not interested in. I'm going in search of chocolate. I remember VOSGES and MARIEBELLE off the top of my head, but I know there are more! For dinner, BALTHAZAR, PASTIS, SCHILLERS have been suggested.

-Saturday. wedding day, pretty filled up except for night life.

-Sunday. Completely blank. I figure I'll do whatever I didn't get to do on Friday?

-Monday. I just have time for a brunch spot before I hop on a train down to DC. Suggestions along my way from upper westside?

I know my plan is so not fleshed out! Can anyone point me toward recent posts of people who did three-four day trips to NYC? Maybe I just need to follow someone else's itinerary!

I'm basically just interested in a food-filled exploration of NYC, interspersed with walks through interesting neighborhoods and boutique shopping areas. I can do this with my eyes closed in San Francisco!

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  1. Pei! Please please try Sushi Yasuda in front of Yasuda. It's a must. Even if you are coming from LA. It's a true eye opening experience. Go on Wednesday when it's calmer. I'd say it's transcendent on the same level as your Dining Room experience was for you.

    Do Babbo if you're going to run a comparison between LA/SF/NYC italian. With the opening of the Mozzas, you can get a few dishes at the osteria that's Lupa-like.

    Jean Georges for dinner with wine pairing if you want to go over the top or go for Sunday brunch for a nice view near Central Park. I'd even recommend L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon for a more casual, create your own tasting experience. Le Bernardin for a peak at what Providence is trying to emulate. All 3 are on the same price level as The Dining Room. Cafe Boulud for lunch is also amazing cuisine if a bit on the stuffy side.

    Balthazar vs Pastis (drop Schillers though it's run by the same people). I like the fries at Pastis better but Sex in the City ruined that place. It's a headache getting a table there. The food and feel at Balthazar and Pastis are similar.

    For cheese, of course Di Palo's (they fly in italian burrata) and Murray's.

    Consider RGR's LES tour. Don't forget pizza. I personally still like Lombardi's. Patsy's East Harlem I feel has dropped since the renovations (and so has Lombardi's to be honest) but many still like it. At Lombardi's I like the pie topped with pancetta. It's perfect with the fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. I add roasted red peppers but it makes the crust a bit soggy. The pepperoni there is also delicious because it's thick cut. Also H&H AND Ess-a-Bagel so you can compare the two. Try it with whitefish salad. Delicious. And of course, don't forget the pastrami at Katz's.

    Check out Katsu-hama (katsu specialists) for perhaps the best tonkatsu I've had. Get the tenderloin. They make their own sauce and give you a mortar and pestal to grind your own toasted sesame seeds. You'll also find a link to Menchanko-tei. I like their hakata style ramen. The tonkotsu broth is at least as good as Santa's and the noodles are better and more true to hakata style. When in season, the kurobuta ramen is also good.

    Patisserie Claude for croissants. Payard is a shadow of its former self but it still may be worth swinging by in the morning or early afternoon to see their vast selection of french pastries.

    Someone is going to recommend Magnolia for cupcakes which I don't get but the banana pudding there is good.

    Maybe Joe's Shanghai for 1 order of the crab/pork soup dumplings just so you know what NYC-style soup dumplings are like.

    Here's my last visit.

    Daveena also did a recent rockstar quality tour but I can't find the thread.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Lots of great recs here.

      Chocolate - do go to Kee's in SOHO - on Thompson St, below Spring I think - wonderful flavors, lovely woman.

      Balthazar vs. Pastis - definitely Balthazar - to my mind, for a little more money, you get much better food.

      Di Palo's, as many know, is one of my favorite places, bar none, in NYC. The strip of Bleecker where Murray's is has other great shops as well, including Faicco's and Amy's bread. You could stop by Pearl Oyster Bar for lunch for fried oysters and a lobster roll - best to be there when they open. Several good gelato places in the neighborhood, including Cones. Will dig around for some recent "visitors in NY" threads. Here's a link to a recent evening visit to the Village, but no reason you can't do it during the day:

      Though I've never had sushi in your neck of the woods, Yasuda is excellent and gets uniformly great reviews (as far as I can recall) on this board. The idea of going to Babbo at 5pm is a good one - my husband was recently told by the reservationist there that doing so is very likely to get you a table by 5:30. Still haven't made it there myself.

      1. re: MMRuth

        Adding some places - a number are on the link I posted above.

        Kee's Chocolates
        80 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012

        Di Palo's Fine Foods
        200 Grand St, New York, NY 10013

        Sushi Yasuda
        204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

        1. re: MMRuth

          Thanks a million! So nice to see two familiar names on an unfamiliar board. I'm hitting the print button right now.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Oh. Good one. Lobster rolls. I'm not aware of any lobster rolls in LA. Mary's Fish Camp does a very similar version but you can also get a great grilled whole fish stuffed with herbs and garlic there. The branzino is succulent sweet.

            1. re: Porthos

              So excited! If only I could skip the wedding. hehehe. I bet the food won't be nearly as tasty as any of these suggestions!

            2. re: MMRuth

              Bleecker St. would be a fun stroll, and from there, it's not too far to get to, say, Blue Ribbon Market or Grandaisy, or Birdbath, or the Yogurt Place.

            3. re: Porthos

              Ditto RGR's LES tour, it's a must (but not on a Saturday). Chelsea Market is fun. I'm not a fan of Pastis, Schiller's or Balthazar. Have been to them all. Artisanal is okay, but's it's another lively, noisy French bistro. Go to Paris for a real bistro. You can do better in NYC.

              Happy Wedding!

              1. re: Porthos

                Balthazar is more special than Pastis, as others have noted.

                I've been to Patsy's a few times recently, and it is doing just fine, whereas I've felt that Lombardi's has slipped over the last few years...

                Since LA is just as cupcake crazy as NYC, maybe skip the cupcakes? (I like Sugar Sweet Sunshine the best, though, over Magnolia.)

                2nding Kee's as the best chocolate truffles in town with Jacques a close second. They're not too far away from one another and Kee's basically only does truffles and sometimes macarons, whereas Jacques does a lot of different things. Never been too impressed with the truffles at Vosges although the bars and hot chocolate are good.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Kee's does also have lots of chocolates that aren't truffles... try the thai chile one if she has it - also the creme brulee.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I just lump everything in here into the "truffle" category although I think they call them "bon-bons and hand-rolled confections" on the site:


                    In any case, if you're looking for chocolate ice cream or chocolate bars or chocolate-dipped anything, you'll be disappointed at Kee's. But you won't be disappointed with the thai chili or creme brulee or basalmic vinegar chocolates...

                    1. re: kathryn

                      "bon-bons and hand-rolled confections" - great term! I think of the truffles as just the round ones .... didn't mean to be critical , just wanted Pei to know they had chocolates other than truffles.

              2. Try Otto for dinner, but sit at the bar, BEST EXPERIENCE....Batali classic! VERY reasonable too!

                3 Replies
                1. re: kcijones001

                  If you're staying on the UWS, please stop in Beard Papa's for delicious made to order cream puffs, and hit Grom (over-rated), for gelato. Don't miss Zabar's and Fairway and consider brunch at Telepan or Compass. And congrats.

                  1. re: Will4Food

                    And also, Zabar's is across the street from H&H Bagels!

                    1. re: Will4Food

                      Actually, grabbing a few items at Fairway or Zabar's (or both! and H&H too) and then walking over to Central Park would be a lovely way to have "an afternoon snack" after you arrive/check in.

                      Also right in that neighborhood, we're big fans of Sol y Sambra for tapas and sangria. Good food and a very relaxing atmospher (and tables outside, if you like).

                  2. Congrats indeed! Top recs:
                    *Murray's, Amy's bread, generally wandering around the Village (cute brownstones) -- yes!!
                    *Best fashion neighborhood is Nolita (Sigerson Morrison & Belle, I Heart, No. 6, Opening Cermony, people watching) and also there you will find the tiny almost hidden pastry shop Ceci-Cela, which has the best fruit danish this side of Paris (it's near Balthazar but the baked goods are way better).
                    *I always enjoy MoMA and the third-floor cafeteria's salads and cheese plate to split. Alas, entrance fee is $20 each.
                    *Agree, if you're staying on UWS, try Zabar's, bagels, etc.
                    *Lobster roll excellent for LA visitor. Mary's, Pearl -- they're all good. (You have to queue up early at Mary's to get a seat.)
                    *Truly authentic and delicious szechuan food you will not find in California: Grand Sichuan, 2nd Ave. location between 54th and 55th. (Not the others.) Chicken with chinese broccoli, pumpkin, cumin spareribs are some of the many outstanding dishes.
                    *Babbo at the bar -- my favorite restaurant in New York. Go early or you will wait for two hours.
                    *I hear very good things about Jean Georges and Blue Hill (local, organic), never been.
                    *Soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai -- definitely yes! But what to order after that?
                    *Maybe a visit to Shopsin's new location on the Lower East Side? Open 10-3 Mon-Sat. A restaurant for free thinkers. See menu on their web site. (Relocated from the West Village.)
                    *Um, if you weren't from LA, I would recommend Shake Shack's Shack Burger and a concrete in the Madison Square Park, but fancy "fast" food is LA's specialty.
                    *I DISrecommend: Balthazar/Pastis/Schiller's, Chelsea Market (great if you live here but otherwise Murrays etc. is a better stroll), and Otto/Lupa on the grounds that Babbo is better.
                    *There's also the totally crazy WD-50, which I like but is controversial -- great fun if you are four and can get a comfy booth. But skip if you already have foam and sardine/chocolate pairings in LA.
                    *BTW, sushi is waaaaaay better in LA than NY.
                    Have fun! Let us know where you go.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: KateC.

                      Interesting takes but I really have to disagree with 2 key points.

                      1. Grand Sichuan, is not going to offer anything you can't get twice as good at half the price in SGV or Rowland Heights. The Chelsea location was one of my favorites for chinese eats when I was in NYC but it never approached LA quality. Just like Ping's dim sum never approached what you could get in LA.

                      2. As for sushi "waaaaaay" better in LA. That's only if you're talking medium tier like Kiriko, Hide, etc. For true top tier, neither Sushi Zo nor Mori can beat Yasuda in quality, variety, or the rice (texture, blend, milling, and quantity). Not to mention other heavy hitters like Masa, Kurumazushi, Ushiwakamaru, and Seki to LA's Urasawa. It's almost consensus if you search on other food sites/bloggers and look up reviews by people who've had sushi in NYC, LA, and SF.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        For sushi, I will have to agree with KateC. LA has Urasawa which is way better than Yasuda. Kuruma Zushi is still close but Urasawa is still superior in terms of the whole experience. Only Masa can be compared to Urasawa's sushi, but you have to pay almost double the price. I don't think it is necessary to visit Yasuda if you have pretty much the best sushi restaurant in LA.

                        1. re: kobetobiko

                          Yasuda runs in the $100-$150 price point which is much more reasonable than the $300 price point of Urasawa. Plus, the variety at Yasuda is still greater than the variety at Urasawa. If you're going to discount Masa vs Urasawa based on price ($350-ish vs $285-ish) you shouldn't compare Yasuda vs Urasawa. Yasuda, Sushi Zo, and Mori all cost about the same if you go omakase and down around 20-25 pieces of nigiri.

                          If you count top sushi period regardless of price, NYC boasts more top contenders than LA does. In the $100-$150 range, Yasuda beats both Zo and Mori by a comfortable margin.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Zo is currently my favorite so I'm curious about Yasuda. It's almost like I feel like it could be the next stepping stone on my slow climb to Urasawa. Aside from the fact that Urasawa is $$$$, there's part of me that feels like I need to work my way up to it. I would never take someone who'd only eaten California rolls to Urasawa. There's a certain amount of knowledge and appreciation one needs to build up if it's not to be a "WHAT?! That was $300+!" So I want to make sure I'm well groomed so I don't leave feeling that way!

                            1. re: Pei

                              And Zo is very good. Keizo is great and playful in his gruff way. The restaurant is more intimate. I recommended Yasuda because I agree that it's interesting to compare the two. Epop likes the feel of Zo better. You never know until you try it. If you do wind up at Yasuda, reserve in front of Yasuda and ask for kama toro. He's very good at answering questions and is the perfect stepping stone for your trip upwards. His placement of oily fishes next to each other and white fishes next to each other let you readily compare the tastes and textures between different varieties of fish. It was easier for me to appreciate the preciousness of *true* madai.

                              Also keep a lookout for kinmedai and shimaaji which are excellent there. And of course, pay attention to the consistency of the rice.

                              Ask him where he got his knife.

                        2. re: Porthos

                          Chelsea location sucks. I'm from SF, I live in NY. Masahisu is much better than Nobu -- of course, who would go to Nobu? I can't afford Masa.

                          1. re: KateC.

                            I think both Matsuhisa and Nobu serve mediocre traditional nigiri. That's not their strengths and I would not mention either of the two in the discussion of "best sushi".

                            1. re: Porthos

                              I had more or less the tasting menu at both (small plates). I've eaten a lot of sushi on both coasts, including Bond, and always the California restaurants are better. But I've never spent more than $100.

                              1. re: KateC.

                                Show me your list and I'll show you mine :-) It's not meant to be comprehensive, but more for a reference point between the 3 cities.


                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Hey, both our profiles say Pierre Gagnaire is the best meal we ever ate! Coincidence or what!?

                        3. re: KateC.

                          Or, go to Shake Shack and take notes on what an upscale In-N-Out would be like.

                          I don't think any "molecular gastronomy" stuff's make it out to LA just yet; if I were you I'd go and try a few savory items, and then go all out on dessert.

                        4. Hi Pei,

                          Putting the sushi topic aside. Are you an adventurous diner? If so, I will suggest Momofuku Ssam Bar for dinner. There is also Momofuku Noodle Bar, but you can get your share of Ramen in LA. Going to Ssam Bar and order everything other than the ssam (how ironic), and you will experience some unique, inventive, Asian fusion dishes (and a lot of offals - in a good way!). As far as I know there isn't similar types of restaurants in LA, or the rest of the country for that matter. It opens up till about midnight these days, so you may be your choice for dinner ot late night (if that's late for you).

                          If you go with a group of people, you can order in advance the Bo Ssam which is a succulent roast pork butt. It will be a foodie experience!

                          Also, there usually isn't any brunch on Monday. Where will you be at UWS? You can try Landmarc at Time Warner Center or Barney Greengrass's Salmon dishes for breakfast (BG is usually closed on Monday, but they are open Sep 10 and Sep 17).

                          Congratulations and have a wonderful trip!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kobetobiko

                            Definitely go to Momofuku Ssam Bar. I recommend the banh mi (upscale Vietnamese sandwich), the steamed pork buns (again, upscale version), thinly sliced country hams, mmmm. They also do great stuff with local produce (fried artichokes, asparagus with miso butter, heirloom tomato salad, etc.) -- basically whatever's in season. The Bo Ssam is huge, so bring lots of friends. And call far in advance.

                            I used to live on the UWS and Sarabeth's and Good Enough to Eat (both in the 80s) will definitely have Monday brunch (breakfast, really). My favorite weekday place is Clinton St. Baking Company but they're far from the UWS on the Lower East Side. Shopsin's is also on the LES but if you're interested in the menu, definitely make the trek out.

                          2. Coming from LA, seems like you don't need to eat any Asian or Mexican out here, as there will be better out there. Definitely do Babbo or Lupa. If you got to Babbo early on Sunday, you should be able to sit at the bar, if not get a table. Don't bother with Chelsea Market, but definitely try to get to Russ and Daughters on Houston and Orchard-- get some smoked fish and some sweets. Definitely go to Murray's and Zabars, and Barney Greengrass deli will also be convenient for you. Finally, though it gets bashed a bit on this board, you could have some fun at Artisanal Bistro. If you're into cheese, it can be heavenly. The wine/cheese pairings are actually pretty reasonable, and definitely get the gougeres.

                            Barney Greengrass
                            541 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                            Russ & Daughters
                            179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                            2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016