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Dishes that wowed you

What dishes in the city socked you in the head (in a good way) when you first tried them (and/or even now)? I know we all have favorites that are subtle, comforting, relaxed. But what isn't that way? What is almost traumatically decadent, or bold and blazing, or explodes with flavor?

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  1. There is foie gras soup dumplings and a miso sea bass at Annisa that I dream about. Frequently. Damn, now I'm hungry again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gastrodoc

      Second both of these, especially the miso sea bass. Tofu, flaking white fish, and the best broth (dashi) that I've ever tasted. A dish with real depth, and it's really memorable.

    2. There is rarely a day that goes by without me dreaming about the soups from the original soup nazi. The seafood bisque was amazing. The new place is terrible though. It is like peter luger starting to sell McDonalds hamburgers.

      1. The Manchurian cauliflower at Devi is a deceptively simple but absolutely mind-blowing experience. I cannot express how creamy, garlicky and delicious they were. I feel similarly (although slightly less ecstatic) about the Philadelphia Truffle at Alta, the French onion soup dumplings at Stanton Social, spaetzle at Alto and, to drink, the Moment's Notice or Bergamotini at Angel's Share.

        1. The coconut samosa at Banjara; potato pide at Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine; (I don't care what anyone says about this next one) vanilla cupcakes with pastel buttercream frosting from Magnolia, SSS, Billy's or Buttercup; chocolate tart with sea salt from Eleven Madison Park; French Toast with Caramalized Bananas at The Smith; milk chocolate & chocolate chip gelato at Otto; Dal makhani at Bukhara Grill; ricotta fritters at Morandi

          5 Replies
          1. re: LeahBaila

            Foie Gras Torchon with Venezuelan Cocoa and Quince Gelée accompanied by toasted brioche and foie gras brulee at Eleven Madison Park.

            1. re: bgut1

              i liked that too but the portion size was miniscule.

              1. re: dkstar1

                I agree drkstar. All the portions at EMP, except for the glazed duck, were smaller than I had expected having seen all the pictures on line. That being said the fact the dish came with all three items made it satisfying for me.

              2. re: bgut1

                second the foie gras at Eleven Madison Park...

              3. re: LeahBaila

                Ahh, good to hear someone else likes Magnolias too. I went before I knew about the hype ansd have even made baked goods from their cookbook. Love the banana pudding. I find the cakes can be a bit dry, but have never been disappointed with the cupcakes. I'll never go though on a weekend as I just don't have the patience for the tourists.

              4. Per Se - Peas and Carrots.
                My lord.

                1. * Pastrami on rye at Katz
                  * Bagel with plain cream cheese and Danish double smoked baltic lox (champagne color) from Russ & Daughters
                  * Pork belly dish at WD~50
                  * Grilled Chicken Club at Penelope
                  * Double Shack burger at Shake Shack
                  * Scrambled eggs at Jean Georges
                  * The bread they serve at Country
                  * Panang Curry at Sripriphai
                  * Crispy Watercress Salad at Sripriphai
                  * the list could go on and on but these are a few off the top of my head.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dkstar1

                    Jean Georges scrambled eggs are off the charts.

                  2. this might be a little low-brow, but a few nights ago i had a cocoanut rice pudding at curry leaf that blew me away. it was milky and sweet without being saccharine, a relief from all that spicy food.

                    1. Meatball Sliders at The Little Owl
                      Lobster & White Truffle Mac and Cheese at Dylan Prime
                      Rock Shrimp Tempura w/Spicy Cream Sauce at Nobu
                      Black Truffle Creamed Spinach at Striphouse

                      Now, I'm just hungry.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: coleyas

                        Have to agree with coleyas on the rock shrimp tempura and the the truffle spinach. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          I didn't think the Meatball Sliders at Little Owl were anything special. That said, The Pork Chop lived up to the hype.

                      2. I had a holiday dinner at THOR the year it opened, and my dessert involved celery sorbet, and sea salt, and some other stuff. I ordered it because it sounded weird, and it turned out to be amazingly good. It's not on the menu anymore. So I'm not going back.

                        And the sashimi at Bar Masa at lunch, which was served festooned with flowers on a giant block of ice. Ok, I don't remember how it tasted - fine, I'm sure. But the presentation just rocked my world.

                        While I'm strolling down memory lane, the late, lamented (by me, anyway) Cena on E. 22nd St. had a tempura lobster that almost made me cry.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: small h

                          I just had lunch at Jean-Georges last week. I had a goat cheese custard with pistachios and goat cheese foam that was amazing. Also my tablemate had an apple dessert with green apple and fennel sorbet. The sorbet was fantastic.

                          Beyond that, I had a chocolate milk shake from Junior's that hit the spot (probably because I was dying for a great chocolate shake.)

                          1. re: small h

                            Ah the celery sorbet...originally served at Wallse. Very good...

                            Other items...

                            the tempura green beans at Red Cat
                            Gnudi at The Spotted Pig
                            The braised short ribs at Jean Georges with apple and jalapenos

                            1. re: dkstar1

                              Let me add the olive oil gelato at Otto ... wow.

                              1. re: bgut1

                                I second that! Their mango sorbet/gelato(?) is almost like biting into the fruit itself.

                            2. re: small h

                              I had a fantastic meal at Cena, one of the better dinners I had had in New York at the time. I don't remember exactly what I had, though.

                            3. This isn't necessarily breaking any virgin ground, but the pork belly buns, kimchi brussel sprouts, and pork spare ribs at Momofuku Ssam bar are all flavored about as vibrantly as anything I've tasted in the city.

                              The French toast served at Jane has no comparison (save for that at Neptune Room or The Smith, both of which are fundamentally the same), although the cream cheese-stuffed, agave nectar-drizzled curiosity at Rayuela certainly holds its own.

                              Butter and Burger are only separated by two measly letters, and you'll never forget it after you've tried Prune's obscenely rich lamb burger.

                              My most recent obsession comes courtesy of Zerza in the East Village, where the marinated feta - fried and touched with honey - fulfilled all the salty-sweet fantasies bred from my kettle-corn upbringing.

                              I'll also throw an outer-boroughs vote in for Al Di La's butter-bathed, poppy seed-sprinkled ravioli stuffed with roasted beets and ricotta. Just as each bite begins to overwhelm the palate with earthy-sweet beet-ness, the butter and ricotta announce their creamy presence and poppy seeds decide to dance in and out unexpectedly. A transporting dish, each and every time.

                              Finally, Peter Luger's bacon is - and seems forever destined to remain - the simplest, most succulent union of pork and fat any kitchen can possibly construct.

                              1. the eel tempura at Matsuri.
                                mmmmm light, flavorful, crisp, w/out a touch of greasiness.

                                pastrami at katz's

                                the grapefruit dessert at degustation

                                anything at craft or grammercy tavern

                                1. The scallop and foie gras dish at Tocqueville, Beacon's potato gratin, the peanut butter panna cotta with grape sorbet at Tocqueville, the chocolate filled egg with Maldon sea salt at Le Bernardin.

                                  1. The Foie gras (mousse in a dark chocolate shell accompanied with blueberries, croquette, and ?) at Falai. USC's baked banana tart with caramel and macadamia nuts. USC doesn't get a lot of love from hounds but I had the banana tart over ten years ago and still remember it. I've had more memorable dishes outside of the U.S., but this is the Manhattan Board.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                      I'll second the USC banana tart. I too haven't had it in over a decade and also remember it.

                                    2. steak: the porterhouse for two at keens.
                                      oysters: shaffer city. mercy.
                                      pasta: bucatini all’amatriciana at lupa.

                                      i'm pretty fond of pizzas, duck, burgers and such, too.

                                      1. At Will Goldfarb's new evening dessert place in the ABC shop, he's serving a vanilla gelato topped with american caviar and resting on dark chocolate. Sounds weird, maybe even gross, right? But if you've had the Otto oliver oil gelato you know how good the sweet-salt-silky combo goes. I'm not sure if it's better than the olive oil gelato, but it's testimony to Goldfarb's dish that it makes you think of the Otto one. Plus, here you get to add the pop of caviar. It's a seriously good dish.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jasmurph

                                          Do you know the hours of Will Goldfarb's place? I know it's opened from Thurs - Sun...

                                          1. re: chocokitty

                                            Not sure--i know they close at midnight. 6 to midnight, maybe? You have to go in through Pipa, after ABC has closed.

                                            1. re: jasmurph

                                              Just called and they serve the desserts all day. 10am to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 11am to 7pm on Sundays. BUT Mr. Goldfarb is only there in the evenings, from about 8 to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

                                        2. The venison in a lingonberry sauce at Bouley. The queso fundido (hot goat cheese in a skillet) at Mesa Grill.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: marlosse

                                            This past year, I would have to say the suckling pig, mushroom and salt cod croquettes at Boqueria on 19th Street. The sauces each come with are really nice as well. One is fig, another is some kind of lemon aioli. Wonderful with a glass of rioja.

                                            And the creme caramel cookies from The Treats Truck.

                                          2. Mojama with fried fingerling potatoes and a duck egg on top at Casa Mono - I keep thinking about it!

                                            1. duck with pea shoots at NYNoodletown

                                              1. Ricotta gnocchi with sausage & fennel at Lupa, also the salumi as an appetizer...Wash it all down with a bottle of Taurasi and it is fantastic!

                                                1. Excellent topic.

                                                  *Blue Ribbon: Bone marrow appetizer
                                                  *Jean George: Turbot appetizer with Chateau Chalon Sauce sauce.

                                                  1. First thought is the insanly buttery piece of tuna sashimi I had at Aburiya Kinnosuke.

                                                    Followed closely by:

                                                    Big Beef Ribs at Hill Country
                                                    The Bacon Wrapped Trout from Gramercy Tavern
                                                    The Fideos w/ Chorizo at Casa Mono
                                                    Egg Custard Ice Cream at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
                                                    Peanut Butter Parfait at Irving Mill
                                                    Pork Ssam at Momofuku
                                                    Rock Shrimp Tempura & Miso Cod when Nobu first opened were amazing
                                                    My first lobster roll at Pearl

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: roze

                                                      Hi roze,

                                                      If you think the tuna sashimi at Aburiya Kinnosuke is insanely good, then you will be truly "wowed" by the otoro at Kuruma zushi. That was the best piece of otoro I had in the entire NYC (or probably in the US, for that matter).

                                                      Of course the price also wow'ed me, as a single piece was 3x the price of the entire platter I got at AK.

                                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                                        Really?! That's so good to know! My SO and I have been talking about going back in a coupe weeks just for some more sashimi. We may have to change places!! Why does all the good stuff have to be so expensive....(sigh)
                                                        Thanks kobetobiko!!!

                                                    2. Great question! The mediterranean (greek) salad at Marseille on 9th avenue is really remarkable, especially in a city where greek salad is common.

                                                      At 202 in Chelsea Market, the orange ricotta muffin, which they make infrequently, is a mind-blower

                                                      1. Peter Luger- Porterhouse, Bacon, Steak Fries, Holy Cow Hot Fudge Sundae, Creamed Spinach
                                                        BLT Prime- Porterhouse, Short Ribs, Blue Cheese Tater Tots, Chocolate Chestnut Sundae
                                                        Del Friscos- Mac and Cheese

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: steakrules85

                                                          I wanted to add some more since this thread..

                                                          Keens- Porterhouse, Prime Rib, Fries, Carrots in brown butter, Blueberry Cobbler

                                                          Del Frisco's- Long Bone Kobe Ribeye, Onion Rings, Sweet Potato Casserole, Lemon Cake

                                                          Quality Meats- Double Cut Ribeye, Corn Creme Brulee, Portobello Fries, Coffee and Doughnuts ice Cream

                                                          Craft- Porterhouse, Lobster, Short Ribs, Gnocchi, Potatoes au Gratin, Roasted Carrots, Corn and Bacon Risotto, Pork Belly, Zucchini Ravioli, Assorted Mushrooms, Chocolate Souffle, Pain Perdu

                                                          Di Fara's- Regular pie, Pie with mushrooms, broccoli rabe
                                                          Eleven Madison Park- Honey Lavender Duck, Sirloin and Braised Short Rib, Rack of Lamb, Vermont Quark Souffle, Basically anything and everything.

                                                          Primehouse- Pistachio Souffle, Truffle Steak Fries, Mac and cheese

                                                          Porterhouse NY- Hash Browns, Creamed Spinach Mr. Pete's way, Baked Alaska

                                                          Strip House- Porterhouse, Prime Rib, Creamed corn with pancetta, Goose Fat Potatoes, Black Truffle creamed spinach, Potatoes Romanoff, Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake, Grand Chocolate Profiterole

                                                          Smith and Wollensky's- Colorado Ribeye, Hash Browns, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

                                                          Old Homestead- Prime Rib, Gotham Rib Steak, Steak Fries, Creamed Spinach

                                                          BLT Prime- Potato skins, Chocolate Peanut butter dessert

                                                          Sarabeth's- Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Four Flowers juice

                                                          Clinton Street Bakery- Blueberry Pancakes with Maple Butter, Sugar Cured Bacon
                                                          Babbo- Chianti pappardelle with wild boar ragu, Pumpkin agnolotti, Duck, Pistachio semi freddo, almond crostata, Pork Chop

                                                        2. For some reason the pig related dishes in NY have always made me go wow:
                                                          -The Chocolate and Chorizo dish from Tia Pol
                                                          -The pork and apricot sausage at Sarabeth's
                                                          Both off these are combinations that I wouldn't really expect, but they are beyond amazing and I'm yet to meet someone who wasn't wowed by them.
                                                          -The roasted wild boar tenderloin served at I Coppi. I've been to Italy, I've had authentic Tuscan Boar dishes, this is still the best I've ever had in my opinion.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: hungry_fox

                                                            Good call on the chorizo con chocolate at Tia Pol! Everything I had there was great, but that one really wowed me as well...

                                                          2. my current to die for faves:
                                                            channa poori and chicken korma from indian curry mahal. soo creamy and delicious.
                                                            steamed dumplings from super taste. i dream of these at night!
                                                            pork soup dumplings from new green bo.

                                                            of course there are more, can't think about it right now since its making me hungry

                                                            1. Lamb Tounge Apetizer at Babbo
                                                              Olive Oil Gellato at Otto
                                                              #1 at Saigon Bah Mi (I Probably butched the name but the vitnamese sandwich place)
                                                              Milk & Cookies dessert at Little Giant
                                                              The Potatoes at Mercat
                                                              The first bite from "The Cart" - when all the flavors just burst onto your tounge
                                                              Dim Sum during a blizzard (I know this isn't a specific dish but is an amazing experience)

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: wingman

                                                                FYI, you can get olive oil gelatto at Babbo too and I don't think it is much more expensive if at all...

                                                              2. Tapioca/coconut custard dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go. Pastrami sandwich at Katz's. Spicy Banh Mi Ga at Banh Mi Saigon Bakery. Fish with Sour Cabbage in a Hot Wok at Grand Sichuan St. Marks. I'll mention some more later.

                                                                1. The Deviled Eggs on Pork Toast at Resto. Wonderfully fatty.

                                                                  1. -White eel sushi at Yasuda
                                                                    -whitefish salad AND the bagel pudding at Russ and Daughters
                                                                    -passion fruit and blueberry meringue at Bouley

                                                                    1. -a slice of pizza at Di Fara's. The slice we dream of.
                                                                      -pear sorbet at Kyotofu. Like eating stars.
                                                                      -falafel at Per Se. The best damn falafel ball ever.

                                                                      1. the duck meatballs at Pernilla
                                                                        decent food otherwise, but the meatball app dish was top notch

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: bfgross

                                                                          Perilla or Pernilla? If it's Pernilla, where is it, and what style of food do they serve?

                                                                        2. Square slice at DiFara's
                                                                          Gnudi at the Spotted Pig
                                                                          Pickled Herring and Gravlax at Aquavit
                                                                          Fresh Ricotta App at A Voce

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: chikpea

                                                                            yes! The Sardinian Ricotta with herbs served with grilled bread at A Voce. Stellar.

                                                                          2. The lime noodles at Spice Market.
                                                                            Roast port from Ho Yip (not the boneless spare ribs, although those are good too).
                                                                            #1 Banh Mi from Saigon Banh Mi.
                                                                            Onion strings from Rub.

                                                                            1. This was a tough one. Jfood just started working a couple of days a week in NYC from CT. But it was not a memorable high-end year.

                                                                              But on the down and dirty side, two notable inclusions:

                                                                              1- Ess-a-Bagel - For those of you who live in NY, you have no idea how lucky you are to have good bagels. Jfood cries every Sunday morning knowingthere is not a bagel or bialy on the plate. So Ess-a-Bagel was a great find
                                                                              2 - Raffiqi's - After all the high end lunches and dinners, jfood really like the lamb gyro with white sauce form the guy at 53/Park. Knowingthat he does not have a lunch meeting with sandwiches or a cient lunch somewhere jfood always sneaks here for one.

                                                                              Thank you 2007.

                                                                              1. # 1 at Banh Mi Bakery
                                                                                BBQ'd Octopus at Babbo
                                                                                Kobe Beef with Foie Gras at Nobu
                                                                                Grilled pork Bun at Pho Bang
                                                                                the amazing carne asada tortas at Puebla
                                                                                and finally Grey's Papaya dogs

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Max H

                                                                                  oh please papaya king kicks grey's ass.... grey is just a papaya king wannabe ;)

                                                                                2. #1 banh mi from saigon banh mi
                                                                                  apple kimchi salad from momofuku ssam bar...the bacon infused lebne is like crack...

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: poutinelover

                                                                                    Olive oil gelato at Otto
                                                                                    Moist brisket at Hill Country
                                                                                    Shawarma at Mr. Broadway
                                                                                    Taramasalata at Taksim
                                                                                    Rare Roast Beef With Frizzled Onions at Yura (nka Corner Cafe)
                                                                                    Burnt Ends at R.U.B.
                                                                                    Red Cooking Pork with Chestnuts at Grand Sichuan on St. Marks
                                                                                    Anthos's Lamb Burger
                                                                                    Short Rib Hash at Stone Park Cafe
                                                                                    Calzone at Lucali
                                                                                    Malfatti at Al di La
                                                                                    Lasagna at Via Emilia
                                                                                    Pearl Lobster Roll
                                                                                    Pressed Sandwiches at Murray's
                                                                                    Truffle Egg Dish at Ouest

                                                                                  2. Basil chicken (with ground chicken) from Wondee Siam
                                                                                    Portuguese egg custard from Egg Custard King
                                                                                    Roasted chicken w/ green sauce (the chicken is just a vehicle for the sauce) from Pio Pio
                                                                                    Fresh greens with butter encrusted farm egg; the chicken; and the chocolate peanut butter sundae from Blue Hill Stone Barns
                                                                                    Jasmine rice w/ black and adzuki beans and basil from City Bakery
                                                                                    Black & White cookie from Moishe's
                                                                                    Irish soda bread from Amy's Bread
                                                                                    Hummus & eggs from Cafe Mogador
                                                                                    Balthazar Salad from Balthazar
                                                                                    Canneles from Balthazar or L'Occitane
                                                                                    Hummus from Hummus Place

                                                                                    I concur on:
                                                                                    Square slice from DiFaras
                                                                                    Rock shrimp tempura from Nobu
                                                                                    Tapioca dumplings from Dim Sum A-Go-Go
                                                                                    Truffled egg toast from 'inoteca

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: hongry_hippo

                                                                                      Truffle Egg toast from 'ino.
                                                                                      Shrimp dumpling noodle soup from NY Noodletown.
                                                                                      Pizza from Una Pizzeria Neopolitana.
                                                                                      Porterhouse, rare, from Luger's.
                                                                                      Crispy Pork Belly and Watermelon salad from Fatty Crab.
                                                                                      Pork Chop from the Little Owl.
                                                                                      Warm Mushroom Flat bread w/ truffle oil from Veritas.
                                                                                      Sausage Egg's benedict from 5 Points.

                                                                                    2. I'm sure there are many more than I'm remembering now:

                                                                                      salads at Taim
                                                                                      Moroccan eggs at Café Mogador
                                                                                      grits at Cowgirl
                                                                                      huitlacoche omelette at Dos Caminos (I know, what a surprise!)
                                                                                      butternut squash soup at Vynl (surprise #2)
                                                                                      veggie burger at Max Brenner (even more of a surprise)

                                                                                      These will be missed (the places closed):
                                                                                      tofu rancheros at Bright Food Shop
                                                                                      vegetable or taro bing at Roll and Dough

                                                                                      1. The Sea Urchin at EMP

                                                                                        The lamb 3 ways at Daniel

                                                                                        The Kir Royale (a dish, not the drink) at EMP - this was truly in the mind blowing realm because you could never expect anything to taste the way this tasted. It was almost addictive.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Spiritchaser

                                                                                          Agree with SpiritChaser on the Kir Royale from EMP. Just spectacular. And to think it really is just a palate cleanser.

                                                                                          1. re: bgut1

                                                                                            Crazy right? There are restaurants that have nothing this succesful on their menus and this is JUST a palate cleanser...

                                                                                        2. Pappardelle w. Chanterelles and Thyme @ Babbo - light yet complex in flavor, made and cooked to perfection

                                                                                          Steamed Buns @ Momofuku Ssam Bar - dripping with pork belly juices

                                                                                          Osso Bucco @ Piccolo Angolo - generous portion, falls off the bone

                                                                                          Hazelnut Stracciatella Gelato @ Otto - Ferraro Rocher in gelato form

                                                                                          Kobe Beef @ Megu - melts in your mouth

                                                                                          1 Reply