Singapore family seeking advise
My family (with 2 kids age 7 & 10) plans to visit Manhattan for a period of 10-14 days in late June/early July period. Will most likely stay at New York Palace, price is not an issue, willing to splurge if necessary (sorry, want to take advantage of weak US$...). I have done some research on past threads but still looking to complete the list before the departure. So want to thank in advanced to anyone who is willing to provide any advise.
First, this is the list that we target to visit after the research on past threads. Any opinion or suggestion is welcome:
Fine dining- Jean Georges, (is there a problem to bring 2 kids?)
Korean BBQ- Madangsui or Woo Lae Oak,
Sushi- Yashua, Kuruma Zushi or Kanoyama,
Izakaya- Totto or Aburia Kinnosuke,
Cantonese- Congee Village or Amazing 66, (need authentic Cantonese, not American Chinese, not willing to venture outside of Manhattan)
Cantonese comfort food- Great N.Y. Noodletown.
Second, this is a list of questions that I would appreciate to get any recommendation:
1. Where is the best Sunday brunch that is close to the hotel?
2. Any really good American seafood that focus on raw oysters, clam chowder and Maine lobster? Something like Swan Oyster Depot or Hog Island in San Francisco.
3. We would like to try NY style pizza. Di Fara and Grimaldi's seem too far. Do not want to wait 1 hour for Lombardi. What is the best alternative for pizza in Manhattan? Looking for just very good cheese and pepperoni, nothing fancy.
4. Where is the best place to bring the kids for ice cream?
5. Any good Southern BBQ place in Manhattan?
6. Any good Thai and Vietnam restaurants near the hotel?
7. Any good Greek gyros on street corners rather than restaurants?
8. Any good comfortable restaurant in Greenwich Village or Soho area after some shopping there?
Thanks again for any reply.
4. Shake Shack. They may have opened up the "B line" by now so you won't have to wait in the burger line to get a cup of ice cream. There actually aren't a lot of good traditional ice cream shops in NYC. Ronnybrook might be fun? Otherwise, try gelato at Cones.
8. There are a TON of good comfortable restaurants in the village. Any specific food types you're looking for? I like Cornelia St. Cafe, Snack Taverna, Deborah, Jane, August, Po, Blue Ribbon Bakery, 'ino...
I think we had "met" a few times at the Japan and Hong Kong board! Here are some ideas for your questions:
Your targeted places mostly sound fine. No problem of bringing kids to Jean Georges.
I will go with Keens for steaks instead of Strip House as it has such a old-school "New York feel" to its and the steaks are delicious. It will give you an utterly unique New York experience that you can't find elsewhere. However, if you want more of a chic place (like Cut in LA), then Craftsteak will be my choice for the true Japanese Wagyu beef. They have not just great steaks but also a lot of seafood and sides and apps that are outstanding. The price is going to be huge, but so is the reward.
For sushi, go to Yasuda if you care about the total sushi dimenions - sushi rice and the fish. Go to Kuruma Zushi if you care mostly about fish quality and ready to shell out A LOT of money.
Izakaya - Totto is all about yakitori and chicken and rice dishes (their tori don is excellent!) are the standouts. Aburiya Kinnosuke is more fish focused and they are about robata and shichirin grills. The latter is definitly more "grown-up" so to speak.
Cantonese - if you are going to NY Noodletown, then you can skip Congee Village and visit Amazing 66. Just a word of warning, since you frequent Hong Kong and the family is from Singapore, the Cantonese food here is not going to impress you. It will be a good option if you want some home food after a few days of gastronomic indulgence.
1. For Sunday Brunch, I suggest Eleven Madison Park which you didn't include in your targeted list. It is a bit of a walk from your hotel, but a very short cab ride. Their brunch is just decadent and service is exceptional. The space is also beautiful and with the sunlight beaming in during brunch out in the summer, I can't image a better brunch place than EMP. After the brunch you can have a walk with your family at the Madison Park to enjoy the lovely weather.
The perfect day doesn't have to end here. Now your kids can enjoy the decadent frozen custard at Shake Shack in the Madison Park. If they have the appetite, make sure to order the burgers as well. Definitely one of the best in Manhattan. (so this answered Q4)
2) Aquagrill in Soho is great place for seafood just like you want
3. For pizza, Artichoke just opened up in East Village and several hounds had already raved about it being a good alternative for Di Fara. I haven't tried yet, but may be something that you want to consider.
If you are going to East Village, I highly recommend the LES Food Excursion created by RGR, our veteran Manhattan hound. This trip is perfect for experiencing everything New York and it is definitely fun way to spend an afternoon with the kids.
5). For Southen BBQ, several options: Daisy May is my favorite but it is a bit out of the way. Hill Country is also a great option to enjoy Texas-style ribs with a quasi-texan decor. There is again a new BBQ place called Wildfire which also some recent rave reviews from other hounds (the pit master was from Hill Country). The decor is a bit of upscale so it depends on your preference.
6. and 7. I will leave them to the experts.
8). There are many places that you can go in Greenwich Village (West Village) / Soho. For comfy restaurants try Perilla or Little Owl in WV. Perry St is more sleek and chic but if you are visiting Jean Georges than you can skip. Greenwich village also have tons of smaller restaurants like Da Andrea or Po for pasta, Pearl Oyster bar for lobster roll, or Spotted Pig for gnudi and burgers. There are also great gelato like Grom, Cones, and L'Arte Del Gelato.
In Soho, Blue Ribbon Bakery has great American comfort food and not to forget my favorite, the bone marrow appetizer! Again you can go to Aquagrill for seafood, and kill two birds with one stone!
One place that I will say that you should definitely try is Momofuku Noodle / Ssam Bar. A lot of innovative dishes, great offal and fresh seafood. Got to love the pork buns!
Hope you have a wonderful trip in NYC with your family!
2nding Kobetokibo, EMP and Shake Shack and Aquagrill are all great places.
(Note that NYC is not a huge ice cream town. There are more quality gelato places around like Grom, Il Laboratorio de Gelato, Cones, and L'Arte than there are ice cream places. And if you see a Cold Stone Creamery, don't go inside! It's a chain that has sickeningly sweet flavors.)
Note that Aquagrill is a bit on the casual side, but pretty popular, so make reservations if you're going for dinner on a weekend night. They'll definitely be fine with kids, and the waitstaff is extremely, extremely nice.
Kanoyama is probably the cheapest out of your three sushi options, but it's not a large place, and pretty popular. Make reservations there if you're going Sunday through Thursday. They don't take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays, and the wait can be an hour or more for a party of four. There's also only a teeny bit of room inside to wait, so don't go if you have tired feet.
Same for Artichoke. Actually, Artichoke is more of a takeout place, though, although you can eat standing up. I wouldn't put it on your itinerary until they straight out their hours and lines (some CHers have reported them not being open on the weekends until 7pm!). As an alternative, I might try Una Pizza Napoletana, Patsy's of East Harlem (though that's a trek uptown), or Luzzo's. Both have sit down service. I think your kids might like the open kitchen feel of Una Pizza Napoletana.
Kobe, I think you mean Wildwood Barbecue, just north of Union Square. Not Wildfire. :)
Yes, I remember we "met" at Farm House Causeway Bay in Hong Kong board, "bumped" into each other at Depachika in Japan board, and I have been a "fan" of your writings when I did my research in Manhattan board. Anyway, thanks so much for all the above recommendation.
I picked Striphouse because it seemed to be the consensus favorite without any complain on past threads. I read that Keens is for the older crowd, I assume that meant above 60 years old. Not really into Wagyu beef in NYC as I go to Tokyo 2-3 times per year; I guess I am looking for real American-style Porterhouse or Rib eye steak in NYC.
I am a bit intimidated to bring my 2 kids into fine dining areas like Jean Georges and EMP. They are not very well behaved, after all they have my genes. But just want to check again if both places are very formal and conservative.
I am not expecting to have great Cantonese food in NYC. The layover there will be after a 10-14 days trip to Orlando, which I assume will be just hot dog, cheese burger and pizza everyday. My appetite will be homesick by the time I reach NYC, so we just really need to have some food that is closer to home cook food.
Is Momofuku Noodle/Ssam a kids-friendly place? The website looks ultra chic, more like a place for yuppies.
«The layover there will be after a 10-14 days trip to Orlando, which I assume will be just hot dog, cheese burger and pizza everyday.» I admit to never having been to Orlando (and Disney may make what I am going to say totally off the wall) but Florida while limited in scope is not a culinary wasteland. There is Caribbean (especially Cuban) food, and BBQ for example. I not that you have not posted on the Florida board. It might be worth your while.
And while we're at it don't exclude the close in portions of the Brooklyn and Queens. They really are very close and often one subway stop away from Manhattan. Luger's, the River Café, Grimaldi's (while not my favorite is IMO better than any Pizza in Manhattan except for the harder to get to Patsy's of East Harlem) and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory could easily be on your list (but not to be discussed here).
I am sure Orlando has some pretty awesome restaurants, but the objective of the trip is to spend as much time in the resorts as possible. Not exactly a culinary trip when the 2 kids would want to meet their favorite characters and rides throughout the trip. We have decided that the Orlando trip is for the kids and the NYC is for the adults. So will pay much more attention on the gourmet in NYC.
No offense to residents of Brooklyn and Queens, but coming all the way to NYC, we want to spend most of the time in Manhattan. i know Peter Luger and Grimaldi's are the best in town, but since this is not a long visit, we are not willing to spend much time on traffic, willing to accept the second or third best one in Manhattan instead so that we can spend more time here.
The porterhouse for two at Keen has always been excellent in my experience. I'm in my late 20s and have always felt comfortable eating there, it's not filled with senior citizens, this is Manhattan!
I think Noodle Bar is slightly more friendly than Ssam Bar. Ssam is more on the chic/hip side, whereas Noodle Bar is a little brighter and homier. I do see families in there on occasion, so they're not frowned upon, but I'd go on the earlier side. Or maybe to Noodle Bar for lunch. I don't know if they're considered restaurants "for yuppies," to me, it's just really damn good food.
If you stay in Disney -- yeah, I think you'll be eating a lot of burgers and hot dogs. If you venture out of Disney, you've got The Ravenous Pig (a terrific gastro-pub, on par with some of the best casual places in NYC), Primo and Norman's (in order of how I rank them).
Momofuku is not the most kid-friendly place out there during the evenings -- very loud music, young people, kind of meat marketish. But I think it will be OK during the day.
Hey, Four Seasons,
Jean Georges is definitely more formal, i.e., jackets required, than Eleven Madison. So, since you admit that your kids are not particularly well-behaved, I would certainly not take them to JG.
With regard to EMP, regulars know that it is our favorite NYC restaurant, and we go there very often for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Despite its more casual ambiance than JG, I don't think it would be appropriate to bring your children there for lunch or dinner. However, if you could tame them just a bit, i.e., not allow them to run around, you might consider going to EMP for brunch. There's an even more relaxed vibe then, and it's when you're more likely to find families with children eating there. Also, I think the breakfast side of the menu is more kid-friendly, but if you adults want to indulge in Chef Humm's exquisite cuisine, you can do so by ordering from the lunch side of the menu.
A note about Keens. It is definitely *not* strictly for the over-60 crowd. It gets a mix of age groups, including families with children.
I know Singapore fairly well. So coming from that perspective, I would skip anything in Manhattan's Chinatown, especially if you want Cantonese. The Fuzhou cuisine, though, might be slightly different from what you can get in Singapore. Amazing 66 and Congee Village - while good here - are merely average when compared to what you can get in Singapore and HK. If you want comfort food I would actually recommend ramen - there's some kind of ramen war going on in NYC right now and Ippudo, which just opened, is really good. Superior to anything in Singapore.
If you don't wish to travel for pizza - Artichoke is a good choice, as someone else mentioned. But John's of Bleecker Street, while not as good, does offer a decent pie and you can sit (Artichoke is takeout only). You can probably combine that with some shopping in Greenwich Village. You may also want to check out Patsy's.
There are some decent Thai restaurants in Hell's Kitchen, around 9th/10th Avenues. Check out Pam's Real Thai for some good crispy duck. However, American-style Thai food is pretty different from Thai food in Singapore - it's heavier and focuses more exclusively on curries.
For sushi - Yasuda. And I would choose Totto over Aburiya Kinnosuke. AK definitely has more of an adult atmosphere and the portions are pretty small. I don't know if the kids would like the food.
For steak - I would break the "only in Manhattan" rule and take a cab out to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn. It's just across the bridge, and it's definitely the best steak in the city. For the amount of money you'll be spending on steak, I would pay for the best! That said, Keens is also pretty good and very atmospheric.
I like going to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory - it has some pretty awesome flavors, including some you might recognize, like dan tart (egg tart), pandan and black sesame flavors.
I'm not an expert on Southern BBQ but Hill Country has really good Texan BBQ. I've brought a lot of Singaporean friends there and they loved the experience (it has a very Texan honky tonk atmosphere). Get the brisket! And if you want to skip the lines, go early - by 6.30pm there's usually a small wait and by 7pm the wait can be an hour.
For pizza, I'd skip John's. It's become too cheesy after the last few years.
BTW, "Texan BBQ" is different from other BBQ in the US. Hill Country servies Texas style BBQ from the Lockhart/Central TX area. Traditionally this barbecue is served without sauce, and with no sides other than saltine crackers, pickles, and onions. It's mainly brisket and sausage focused. In fact, they import their sausage from a renowned place in Texas, and also import ice cream from Texas! Sauce is considered anathema from Central TX BBQ traditionalists, and if there is sauce, it can be an acquired taste as it's not sweet. If you want pulled pork...go elsewhere. But you like fatty brisket, jalapeno sausage, and giant beef ribs, go to Hill Country. You order by the pound and they give it to you on butcher paper, dripping with deliciousness.
I never thought of ramen as an option. Thanks for that advise. We will be in Orlando for 2 weeks prior to coming to NYC, so we just need some comfort food like wanton noodle, char siew rice, hor fun, congee etc. Ramen would be a good alternative. So is Ippudo the best one in town now? Is there a long queue (a problem with the 2 kids beside me)?
Wonton noodles are really good at Wonton Garden and Noodle Village (both in Chinatown along Mott Street). If you are hankering for some HK Cha Can Teng style food, XO Kitchen is pretty decent as well.
If you want Malaysian food, I like Sanur and Skyway. Sanur has decent curry puffs and nonya kueh, and on days I'm really homesick I go early and buy beehoon from them.
I visited Ippudo in its soft opening week and the wait for a table was 30 mins. Since then I heard prime-time waiting times are 90 mins. But New Yorkers do eat a little later, so if you head out before 7pm, it should not be a big problem.
Thanks your recommendation. Do Wonton Garden and Noodle Village serve other food such as hor fun, congee etc? If you have to select one from the above two and NY Noodletown, which one do you go to?
You sound like you are from either Malaysia or Singapore. I guessed it would be good to know from you where to go to if I were homesick in my appetite? Does Sanur serve Chicken Rice, Hokkien mie or Char Kway Teo?
Bingo! I'm Singaporean =) Your kids have a really long vacation!
I do agree with kobetobiko that you'll have better wonton noodles in HK and Singapore but I still think Noodle village and Wonton Garden is very good. The noodles are nice and springy, and the wontons are packed with fresh tasting meat. I also like their beef brisket. I've seen other people order other stuff, but have not personally tried anything except of the soupy noodles and steamed vegetables. The soup in noodle village apparently does not come with MSG although I am a little skeptical about that.
Sanue sells all three, but the hokkien mee is the dark KL version, not the Singapore version. And one thing that's common amongst new york malaysian restaurant is that you'll find their chicken much better than the rice for chicken rice. Sad but true...
And do not go to congee village for congee... I felt so cheated by that watery flavorless mess the one time i ordered congee. Their other things are decent, but that place is mobbed every night.
I am hijacking this post here. Which restaurant in NYC will you recommend for the best Hainanese Chicken, Prawn Mee, and Curry Laksa? (they can be from different restaurants). I know these topics have been posted before but I want to know from a Singaporean's point of view.
Thanks in advance!
np... If you're looking for the lemak laksa made with dried shrimp base, you probably will not find it in ny. What I've found are curry-based laksa, more akin to curry noodles you find in Thai restaurants. If those are what you like, Sanur's pretty good but a little too thick. Bo-Ky's curry noodles are probably better in that respect. If you have friends visiting Singapore anytime soon, you might want to get them to bring you a pack or two of the the Prima Deli Laksa Paste. A cop-out v. making your own curry paste, but it does the trick pretty well
If the Prawn Mee you are thinking about is the soupy version and not the fried hokkien noodles, that's a dish that's surprisingly decently made here. I do remember likely the version at Singapore Cafe but admittedly have not been there in more than a year. The one at Jaya ain't bad too.
Hainanese chicken is something most places do a decent job with too, but its the rice I have a problem with. No one has the right condiments in ny too, either lacking the ginger or the dark soy sauce. That said, Skyway's chicken is smooth and not overtly greasy.
Hope this helps!
Prima Paste has 2 franchises now in North America, one in Vancouver and the other one in San Jose. One may just turn out in NYC in future. I tried the one in Vancouver last year, and actually quite surprise it was quite decent.
Yes, on Hainanese Chicken rice, most people tend to focus more on the chicken meat, but I actually think the rice is more important, it enhance the flavor of the meal.
Thanks so much for your recommendations! I actually did have the prawn mee (the soupy version) at Singapore Cafe and thought that i was very good! I just didn't know if there are other places with better version, but I will be happy to stick with Singapore Cafe.
I had a Asam Laksa as well at Singapore Cafe but I didn't like it. Perhaps it was authentic but I guess it wasn't what I expected. It was with minced fish meat and such. I think I should have ordered curry laksa (how many kinds of laksa are there???) The laksa at Jaiya has a lot of coconut milk, and I am not sure if that's authentic either.
Have you ever tried New Malaysia in the arcade between Elizabeth street and (?) street? My friend said that they have a the best Hainanese Chinese Rice but I haven't tried. The one at Singapore Cafe / Jaya didn't do it for me. I think they have the Thai version of hainanese chicken rice which only serves with chili sauce and not ginger and dark soy sauce.
Again, thank you so much for your post!
I've tried New Malaysia and found it rather inconsistent. I've had good meals and not so great ones.
I seriously have not found Singapore style Lemak Laksa in ny. Assam laksa is different, with sour tamarind-based broth. I like it though. The curry laksa in NY tend to be curry mee, with noodles topped with chicken curry, and not the ones made with dried shrimp in the curry mix.
so i opt'd to try the prawn mee at sanur today, it was okay, but nothing special. the noodles were not very good, they were the type of noodles that take out places use in chow mein. there were 3 shrimps that were decent albeit slightly overcooked. the fishcakes were fine and the bean sprouts were good. they did put those fried onions on top which i always like. the broth was decent, but not amazing; it was spicy, slightly sweet and kind of fragrant in a way, but it was missing something which i cant put my finger on, so it wasn't flavorful enough.
ill have to try the version at singapore cafe
I will have to say that the wonton in Manhattan Chintown completely underwhelmed me. It is even close to the average of what you can get in Hong Kong or Singapore, and hence I really will not recommend wonton (cantonese style, that is) in NYC Chinatown. Same applies to soup dumplings (xiao long baos).
That said, I think the salt and pepper seafood, particular the soft shell crabs, at NY Noodletown is excellent. You don't even get it that often in Hong Kong. Their stir fries are ok and quite comforting.
The best congee, IMO, is Big Wong King on Mott Street (67?). It serves the old school Hong Kong style congees which actually have "rice aroma". The versions at NY Noodletown, congee village, and XO Kitchen are waterdown versions. Flavor not as great, just more options for the ingredients. The beef chow fun at Big Wong is good too!
If you want the Hong Kong bistro / cafe style food, Congee Village is definitely better than XO Kitchen. It is also better kids than Amazing 66 because you get all those desserts and bubble teas. A lot of Hong Kong bistro offerings!
I also think that Ippudo is a great option if you are craving for ramen. By the time you visit, all the hype should have died and I won't worry about wait.
Edit: 4 Season, just saw your new post. For me I will pick NY Noodletown for the salt and pepper soft shell crab + may be congee (not bad but not as good as Big Wong King). If you want congee and Cantonese style BBQ, then Big Wong King.
For me, any kind of noodle soup or congee is comfort food! I think Ippudo is the best in town right now. It's not full during lunch time, and if you go before 6.30pm for dinner it shouldn't be more than a 15 minute wait, if any.
Char siew rice is pretty common around Chinatown - it's hard to go wrong I think! There's a place around Grand and Mott or Bowery that always has enormous lines around lunchtime and it's packed full of succulent char siew for $2.50...unfortunately I can't recall the exact location or name but if you walk around that area there are plenty of stalls selling char siew rice.
Hey there. Looks like you've got a good start on your planning. Here are my thoughts:
"Korean BBQ- Madangsui or Woo Lae Oak"
I don't know anything about Madangsui, but you should skip Woo Lae Oak. The scene is stupid, the service is problematic (seated 45 minutes late for reservation without so much as an acknowledgment, let alone an apology), and the food is not too good.
"Sushi- Yashua, Kuruma Zushi or Kanoyama"
Not Kanoyama. You'll do very well at the other two.
"Izakaya- Totto or Aburia Kinnosuke"
Have wanted to go to Totto for the longest time but still haven't made it. Kinnosuke is awesome.
"Cantonese- Congee Village or Amazing 66, (need authentic Cantonese, not American"
+1 for Amazing 66. Also +1 on the sentiment that you won't be that impressed with Cantonese food in Manhattan.
"Chinese, not willing to venture outside of Manhattan)"
"2. Any really good American seafood that focus on raw oysters, clam chowder and Maine lobster? Something like Swan Oyster Depot or Hog Island in San Francisco."
I think a better route than Blue water or Aquagrill would be Pearl Oytster Bar, Mary's Fish Camp, or Ed's Lobster Bar. The latter two are essentially clones of the former. The food at those places is more in line with what you're asking for and, imo, just plain better. Also I enjoy the more casual atmosphere and I think you will too. Ed's is usually my choice because it's easier to get into and the best seating is at the bar which is my preferred place to eat. But with kids, and staying in the WV, Pearl or Mary's are a better fit.
4. Where is the best place to bring the kids for ice cream?
The best Ice Cream in the city is either Labradorio Del Gelato or Otto. But they're maybe not best in terms of entertaining kids. The other replies have good suggestions.
"5. Any good Southern BBQ place in Manhattan?"
Although it has some detractors, I think you can't miss Hill Country. Their BBQ is simply phenomenal, and really the only credible BBQ in NYC. I hope this doesn't draw flames, but I think people who dislike Hill Country either caught it on an off night (every BBQ place is going to have some off nights) or just don't understand the concept of Texas BBQ. I put it up there as one of the top NYC dining destinations (except for people from BBQ rich regions).
"7. Any good Greek gyros on street corners rather than restaurants?"
"8. Any good comfortable restaurant in Greenwich Village or Soho area after some shopping there?"
Lupa is great and a comfortable place in the afternoon. Slammed at night. Blue Ribbon and Blue Ribbon Bakery are also very good. And for a quick 'sandwich', Blue Ribbon Bake shop. Also, Melampo has good Italian sandwiches.
The LES food tour is a good use of time and appetite. If you don't want to do the whole tour, at least go to Katz's.
And yes, get to one of the Momofukus!
Aquagrill does have a HUGE variety of oysters, so if you're into oysters, I'd go there. They had 26 different varieties last time I went.
Il Laboratorio de Gelato (more of a takeout joint) and Otto (restaurant) are gelato places, not ice cream. But I do love both of them. If you go to Otto, the olive oil gelato is a must try.
Since there are many Blue Ribbons:
Blue Ribbon = Blue Ribbon Brasserie, in Soho, only open for dinner (4pm I think) but open until 4am. (Blue Ribbon Sushi, a whole other beast, is just up the block from the Brasserie but is not considered one of the top sushi places in NYC)
Blue Ribbon Bakery = West Village, open for lunch/brunch and dinner, very popular, but larger than the Brasserie
Blue Ribbon Market = West Village, across the street from 'ino, just west of 6th Avenue, takeout shop.
The Blue Ribbon Bakery suggestion is a good one, I think. The booths are spacious and comfortable, good for children. The menu has a really good cross section of American / New Yorky comfort foods. They have great, homemade country style pates and foie gras terrine, great cured meats (rivaling Batali's, I think), a nice rendition of sweetbreads and good fried chicken.
Seems like you're fitting in a lot of eating on your trip.
Korean BBQ -- I would do Madangsui and make sure you order at least one order of the plain beef as opposed to the marinated.
I would get rid of Congee Village and just do Amazing 66. As kobe said, if you frequent Hong Kong, it's not going to be amazing for you. But it's still good. Congee Village -- I never liked it very much except for the congee.
I agree with those who said Aquagrill for your American seafood. And it can be the good comfortable restaurant you're looking for after shopping in Soho.
Pizza -- I like Arturo's. If you plan on doing the Times Square thing, you also have John's Pizza there. Not the best, but not terrible. I've taken some tourists there and they seem to like the atmosphere (it used to be a church). I wouldn't do Artichoke unless you're going to go there when it's dark (literally) as they have very inconsistent opening times. And I've heard reports of waits -- probably not as long as Lombardis, though. And there is no place to eat there unless you bring it to Union Square Park and eat outside.
Izakaya -- my preferce would be for Totto, especially if you're bringing your kids. I love the chicken heart and kobe beef tongue there.
Thai near hotel -- the closest decent place would be on the West side on 9th Ave called Wondee Siam in the 50s.
I don't know any Greek gyro stands, but you may be interested in doing one of those "halal" chicken carts -- it's a very New York thing. It's curried chicken and/or lamb served over rice. But I'm wondering if this is too similar to things you can get in Singapore.
I hope you enjoy your stay.
re: Miss Needle
The best breakfast in NYC is at a restaurant called Norma's at Le Parker Meridian Hotel on 57th Street.
The best barbecue is at Blue Smoke on 26th St. We also like Virgil's on 44th St,
My fav Italian restaurant is Carmines. Go to the one on 91st abd Broadway. It's not as hectic and much less noisy.
For steak, take the cab ride to Williamsburg and enjoy Peter Luger's Steakhouse. Their french fries are absolutely deliscious. Also, endulge and enjoy their chocolate mousse pie with the freshly whipped cream. They make a great cocktail as well.
My recommendation for pizza is Lombardy's. It's worth the wait.
re: Miss Needle
"Izakaya -- my preferce would be for Totto, especially if you're bringing your kids. I love the chicken heart and kobe beef tongue there."
I agree. Totto is probably a bit more kid friendly than aburiya kinnosuke -- unless you manage to score a booth at the latter. I strongly second the chicken heart and kobe beef tongue at Totto -- also my two favorite items, there!!
If you want the rice platters with doner meat sliced into it, do try the two carts at 53rd and 6th ave., on the east and west sides of the st. I have only really sampled the carts within a 5-8 block radius of there, but for that small area, the 53rd / 6th carts are best. Others who probably know better than me will tell you that these carts are (among) the best in Manhattan.
re: Miss Needle
Hi Miss Needle:
Thanks your post. You are the second person to recommend chicken hearts and Kobe tongue in Totto. I never knew that Americans are into internal organs now. I have always loved beef tongue, I guess I will have to try the one at Totto. And based on yt28's comment that Aburiya is not kids friendly, I would have to choose Totto over Aburiya.
Me again! Hope you don't get annoyed by me yet...
If you are visiting Totto, I highly recommend the tori-negi don. It is a rice bowl topped with chicken and tons of scallions, and a raw egg. It is the ultimate comfort food for me as my mom used to make this for me all the time at home when I was small. As long as you (and your kids) are ok with raw eggs, I think they will enjoy it very much.
I like all the exotic yakitori like hiza nankotsu (the knee bones) and all kinds of offals, but don't forget the mushroom and vegetables. They are great and good for your kids to have some greens~