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Dec 14, 2007 01:22 PM

Roadtrip '08 - Tampa to NYC

Hey fellow foodies.

I just registered here, but I've been a lurker for a while. This really is one of my favorite message boards, being extremely informative when it comes to anything food.

Anyways, I'm from Poughkeepsie originally [Dutchess County]. Moved down south to the Tampa, FL area about 2 years ago, so you can bet that I miss New York. I decided that I'm going to start 2008 with a bang and eat my way up the East Coast, obviously with the pinnacle of the trip being several days and nights in Manhattan. But first... [Lengthy post ahead]

I'm going to automote/locomote up the coast the first week of January. Coming out of Tampa, my first major stop will be Atlanta. I've been meaning to check out this city, hit-up the Delkalb Market for some fresh ingredients [especially on my way back down to FL], possibly spend the day there. Any area of interest in Atlanta you feel worth mentioning would be welcome, as I love exploring new places.

A few other pitstops will be made, likely including Asheville, Richmond and Philadelphia. I wanted to pick your brains regarding eating locations not to miss. Not the typical fare though: the more obscure, pedestrian and diamond-in-the-rough the better. Nothing fancy, as all the big bucks will certainly be spend in New York...

Now, what I'm specifically searching out are good, authentic, Vietnamese and Korean joints that lay anywhere in my path [excluding Manhattan, I'll get to that in a bit]. Recently I've become somewhat of a Phởnatic, so I definitely would appreciate some input on where to grab a good bowl of phở or two. I've heard Virginia has a decent Vietnamese population -- perhaps something there may prove worthwhile? Besides pho, I like Hu Tieu and Boat Noodle Soup, basically any big, tasty, cheap soup with rice noodles [not too spicy though]. I could down a decent bowl of that stuff and be set to drive for at least several hours. Any other input you might have regarding the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey would be great.

[Yada, yada, yada]

Several days later: New York. Hopefully I get there in time for the sunrise version of Manhattanhenge. Once I'm established in there, I have so many options. But between all of the errands and visiting I'll need to do, I'm dead set on eating some of the freshest sushi. Must-eats include Yasuda, Kuruma-Zushi, Kanoyama, Ushiwakamaru and Sasabune, to name a few. Perhaps you guys can point me in the best direction, as I'm largely seeking the freshest, most interesting fish and seafood -- sashimi, preferably. Things like bluefin otoro, the best [live!] uni from Japan/Russia/Maine, some Sayori, 'artisan' oysters, live hotategai and just about any 'uncommon' fish imported from Japan, all served impeccably fresh.

Any and all of you New Yorkers are welcome to join me when I go to said sushi bars. Actually, I insist on it -- I enjoy the company of sushi fanatics/snobs, like myself, but I still have much I want to learn. And anyone that knows some Japanese has my blessings if they would like to join me... I eventually would like to start learning Japanese [for when I inevitably move there], and it would be a great learning experience for me to accompany you to a setting where I will undoubtedly find myself often. I'll get into town around January 5th or 6th and will stay about a week or so. Hit me up if you're interested.

I'm also not against getting some good, cheap Viet grub during the day either, especially pho. There's likely some good Korean in the City, as well. Feel free to contact me and perhaps let me tag along to your favorite pho place. Also, any leads or recommendations on affordable places to spend a night or few would be great. Any advice or anything else you can suggest would be most welcome.

Thank you much!

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  1. Please keep your responses to Manhattan recommendations. For recommendations in other areas, please post on the appropriate boards.

    1. Ushiwakamaru is currently closed so don't count on it being open when you get to NY. I love Kanoyama but it's not really "special occasion" although they do have very fresh fish at gentle prices. Call Sushi Yasuda and make a reservation ASAP to sit in front of master Yasuda himself. I might add Shimizu and 15 East to your list.

      Not a whole lot of exceptional pho in Manhattan, sad to say.

      9 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Sushi Yasuda. Done. I was originally going to swing by lunchtime just for a few choice pieces of nigiri, but I guess now I've jumped in with both feet. I feel giddy. :)

        I have Shimizu and 15 East included on a list of a dozen or so good sushi bars. Now all I need to do is arrange by priority [...Simply yet masterfully prepared, perfectly fresh, no distractions. All about the fish] :

        Sushi Yasuda - Reserved. Jan 8th
        Ushiwakamaru - Closed
        15 East

        While I can appreciate well-executed fusion and 'creative' dishes, that is not what I'm after here. Terms such as trendy, exotic, innovative and 'Brazilian-Peruvian blend' need not apply.

        Any others I should consider? Exclude? I suppose I will realistically only be able to go to 4, 5, maybe 6 or so before I (a) run out of time, (b) run out of money, or (c) get sick of... hmm, not sure what else could possibly happen.

        kathryn - The best pho is only found home-made, I'm sure. Being on the road, and not having the time to devote to making it myself [although I will be making some before the holidays], I'd settle for 'good' or even 'decent' pho. Unless there is unanimity regarding that, I suppose I'll settle for wherever is nearest in proximity at the time. Seems like Orlando, outer Atlanta, D.C. or South Philly are my best bets as they have substantial Vietnamese populations.

        Thanks for the advice about reserving with Yasuda. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures [or should I not?].

        1. re: antanukai

          What's your budget (you can afford Masa AND Kuruma?!)?

          How long will you be here (as not all places serve lunch)?

          Will you want to try to do omakase at the sushi bar for each place? (Hence probably needing a reservation, etc).

          1. re: kathryn

            I'm thinking the Yasuda omakase will be my splurge.

            I normally don't eat much in one sitting, but I'll certainly try to pace myself and enjoy Yasuda's food fully. Otherwise, I am perfectly fine with a few select pieces and a beverage at the other locations.

            I'll be here 4-6 days probably. I prefer sushi relaxed, in the evening [after I get everything else on the agenda finished] but I'm not picky.

            I certainly don't intend to spend a small fortune on sushi. That leaves out Masa. I'm sure it's entirely possible to eat a good $30-40 lunch at Kuruma, but I may gladly spend more if the conditions are right. Which others would you suggest as a Top 4 or 5? No reservations, not spontaneous enough.

            1. re: antanukai

              This is a conundrum as:

              1. Sushi is best experienced straight from the chef's hand
              2. You'll get that experience at the bar
              3. Not sure it's nice to make a reservation/sit in front of the chef and only order a few pieces and a drink, assuming you even get a seat

              Usually when I sit at the bar, I order enough for a full dinner.

              1. re: kathryn

                No, no, no. I fully intend to eat more sushi than I've ever eaten before at Yasuda. I've got an hour and a half to enjoy his work and make this visit worth every penny. That will be my splurge. And that will be my only reservation.

                For the rest of my stay, I don't think I'll have it in me [or my wallet] to eat large amounts of sushi each day. At any other place, I'll get what looks good or is recommended by the chef, and I'll eat a 'normal' quantity of food. It definitely would not be nice for one to reserve a seat and not eat much at all, and I certainly wouldn't do that. So no reservations, no Masa, no [extended] omakases, no triple-figure bills.

                1. re: antanukai

                  Ah, OK, gotcha. I'm not sure which of the top places will be able to accommodate you as a walk-in, as I usually make reservations and go for the long haul. Maybe other hounds can help...

                  So really you want the answer to "help me maximize my sushi enjoyment across 4-6 days with X total budget, minus the Yasuda slurge"

                  I'm assuming you aren't getting many responses as the current posting title isn't JUST about sushi.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Well, my trip isn't just about sushi. But it certainly is a large part of the equation.

                    Yes. Maximizing sushi enjoyment has always been considered a long-term goal of mine. :)

                    Upon further thinking, I may throw in one or two more omakases during my stay - perhaps keeping each under $100 or so. Suggestions? I suppose I should make some reservations - how soon in advance? I was hesitant to make extra commitments as I may decide to head upstate, do something or go somewhere spontaneously... I feel vacations are enjoyed best without commitments.

                    *** Does chef Yasuda only work Saturdays? I did some reading and somehow got that impression. Funny, cause I asked for a reservation in front of chef Yasuda, and I was given Tuesday evening. Anybody?

                    Thanks again.

                    1. re: antanukai

                      I would do 15 East and Shimizu since Ushi is closed. Soto is better known for cooked dishes although the chef's tasting is quite affordable. Kuruma Zushi and Masa are too expensive. Esashi and Kanoyama are good neighborhood options but not something I'd go out of my way for, although you're on a budget, you can get good stuff for your price range. Like Kanoyama's 8 piece omakase set is only $30 and you can always add on some daily specials from Japan. Don't know much about Sasabune, Seki, or Sushi-Ann. Isn't Sasabune the place from LA where the rice is warm on purpose? And I believe Seki is run by a guy who came from Sushi of Gari, so not quite as experimental as Gari, but definitely not traditional.

                      Anyway, raji knows more than me, use his list instead:

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Other than Yasuda, I've been debating which other places to attend.

                        Kanoyama is very likely -- did you see their daily specials!? Such variety. I'll go 'a la carte' there or possibly even omakase.

                        Shimizu, 15 East, et al: How much of a different experience will I have?
                        After Yasuda and his amazing work, as well as Kanoyama's large variety of rare and otherwise uncommon choices, what could these other places possibly offer me that cannot be found somewhere else? I'd like to have a memorable experience at each of the places I go to, but just exactly how do I choose from the remaining top 10 or so? ie Which place has the best *blank* that I should not pass up?

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