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Sep 17, 2007 07:20 PM

Help needed with ultra-rare culinary experience in NY

Knowing, that NY is often considered as a Mecca for those in search of thrilling and blissfully palatable experiences, as a visitor what are my chances in finding a truly obscure restaurants in NY? Restaurants that are devoted to less known culinary intricacies of the world without the decor-al hyperbole and celebrity chefs, restaurants that are less eager to be capitalizing on recent trends, Zagat ratings etc. I'm not looking for a the best Kaiseki nor foie-gras or Beluga cavior laden haute cuisine. More likely, I'm looking for a places that are rather mundane but truly authentic to it's regional, traditional origin without to much international cross-fusions and experimental concoctions. Is there a chance of finding a restaurant serving anything less ubiquitously featured on any menu as stuffat tal-fenek doused with finger-licking gbejniet or cod tongues and perhaps ye'assa kitfo for that matter? If you happen to know any of such place, do suggest. Surly enough, I will not miss the Reuben! New York, New York, I'm already excited!
Thank you, Bundi the omnivore.

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  1. Hmm. This is a hard question to answer because "ultra-rare" means different things to different people, depending on where they live and what they grew up eating (I'd say that in Manhattan, Maltese is definitely rare, if it exists at all, while Ethiopian is fairly common. But I thought kitfo was by definition beef?)

    It may make things easier if you can specify more cuisines and/or specific dishes that you're looking for. Are okonomiyaki and takoyaki rare? What about fermented tea leaf salad? Arepas? Dosas? Lahmacun? Hand-pulled noodles? I can't tell if you're looking for something so obscure that no one's ever heard of it, or if you're looking for something specific and delicious that you can't get where you live.

    Does Bukharian cuisine interest you?

    My recommendation would be to scan through the Manhattan Chow Digest - I get overwhelmed by the sheer number of bachelorette party/sweet 16/50th birthday posts on the Manhattan board and frequently miss the gems that Mark picks up, polishes, and consolidates in the Chow Digest.

    The other thing I'd do is go to the Village Voice's website, to their Eats section - in "Find a Restaurant", there's a pull-down menu of cuisine types. Not all of them have entries (I tried "Yemen" and got nothing) but it's a good start.

    2 Replies
    1. re: daveena

      Allow me to expand on my personal 'ultra-rare' definition. I'd like to stumble onto any restaurant that dares to feature less known although still interestingly delicious dishes on it's menu. Let it be among all fairly recognized culinary traditions such as Italian, French, Japanese, Indian, Turkish etc., all here randomly lined up as an example. New York, being a melange of cultures to my understanding provides a much greater opportunity to come across lesser known regional specialties within cuisines, perhaps by sheer variety and massively cosmopolitan population. I perfectly undertand that it would be close to impossible to find palu sami or fugu sashimi as those type of delicasicies depend upon ingredients that are highly localized and often seasonal.

      I'm not looking for any specific dish nor any specific culinary traditon. By mentioning previously randomly chosen picks from Malta, Newfoundland & Labrador and Ethiopia, I was trying to illustrate the dishes that are prepared from fairly available ingredients; rabbit,
      atlantic cod and any fresh fish suitable for fish tartar (ye'assa kitfo). In other words, I'd be glad to find an Italian restaurant having on it's menu something like, again an example: Sardinian panadas. No offense to those who are fond of chicken cacciatore or parmigiana but it's not my intention to travel to New York just to walk into establishments whose menu is almost exact to the menu I find on every corner in my city. I guess, I'm on a lookout for more daring chefs in respect of regionalized specialties rather than chefs that are trendy and keen on a decoratively focused presentation. Hope this helps in defining my skewed perception of 'ultra-rare'.

      daveena and ratatosk, thank you both very much for all the info so far, already giving me plethora of choices.

      1. re: daveena

        Just wanted to say Daveena, I love the Chow digest idea! Thanks for the link...

      2. I think you might want to post this question on the Outer Boroughs board as well as here.

        A couple of leads:

        Nothing quite as obscure as Maltese cod tongues in those threads, I fear, but that's about the best I can do. Do let us know where you end up eating, and whether you find those Maltese cod tongues.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ratatosk

          ratatosk, great links...thank a lot.

          1. re: ratatosk

            Actually, I think that the cod tongues fit in the Newfoundland & Labrador category, not Maltese. I don't you'll find them in an NY restaurant.

            1. re: ratatosk

              Szechuan Gourmet on 39th serves duck tounges, which are actually very good even for those who don't normally get the weird stuff.

            2. Let me apologize in advance for spreading even more Outer Borough propaganda on a Manhattan Thread. But consider the title of this thread, "Garifuna Star - World's rarest cuisine comes to South Bronx". How could I not call your attention to it?