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NYC itinerary...what do you think?

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Hi all,

My DH and I are coming down to NYC from Montreal; we will be there from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. I am trying to include some classics plus some stuff that I crave and can't find good versions in Montreal. So here it goes:

Wednesday supper: Katz's Deli and Donut Plant
Thursday lunch: Saravanna Bhavan for S. Indian
Thursday supper: BZ Grill in Astoria for gyro (we are meeting friends there so that's not negociable)
Friday lunch:Mercadito or Pinche Taqueria for fish tacos
Friday supper: Sripraphai for thai
Saturday lunch: Peter Luger's

Snacks along the way: Magnolia cupcakes, soup dumplings at Joe Shaghai, H & H bagels, pizza from Famous Joe's and anything else that comes our way.

Does this sound ok? Is there anything we should skip or nix or replace by something else?

We love most ethnic foods but especially thai, malaysian, chinese, vietnamese, japanese, middle-eastern and mexican. I was looking forward to some curry laksa but a search of the board was not very promising. Also is there a not to miss japanese joint that has fantastic sushi, ramen and gyoza.

Thanks for your time.

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  1. > Wednesday supper: Katz's Deli and Donut Plant
    Donut Plant closes at 6:30pm

    > Friday lunch:Mercadito or Pinche Taqueria for fish tacos
    Good but I'm not sure if it's worth going out of your way for. Manhattan is not super strong in Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai, or Mexican.

    For Sripraphai and Luger's you need to post on the Outer Boroughs board, not the Manhattan board.

    Magnolia's cupcakes aren't that great and are not worth standing in line for. I'd try Sugar Sweet Sunshine or Chikalicious Dessert Club instead.

    Note that H&H will not toast your bagel or make you a sandwich or do anything really other than put your bagel in a bag and charge you money. They're good but if you want a nice sandwich with cream cheese and smoked salmon, go elsewhere. Also, the H&H bagels are kinda big. I've been told Absolute Bagels is a better alternative.

    Famous Joe's? There are a thousand Famous Original Ray's in and around Manhattan that sell cheesy street slices. Joe's (near Carmine Street) is different.

    For Japanese, the restaurants are hyperspecialized. A ramen place will not have fantastic sushi. A sushi place will rarely have fantastic ramen or soba or curries, etc. For sushi, it depends on your price point. For ramen, it depends on the style you like. Right now Ippudo seems to be the winner although Setagaya was strong for a while. Don't go to Momofuku Noodle Bar for ramen. For killer gyoza, I'm not sure, but the 4 dumplings for $1 Chinatown joints might be interesting and similar enough.

    If you love ethnic food, you might want to search out some pierogi at Ukranian National Home, the famous halal cart at 53rd and 6th avenue, or look into Momofuku Ssam Bar (Korean meets Japanese meets Southern meets Localvore). Or spend some time in Jackson Heights or Flushing, Queens, or go to the Red Hook Ball Fields for Saturday lunch (assuming they are still there). Look for threads on the Outer Boroughs board.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      "Joe's (near Carmine Street) is different"
      In a good way different? Sorry, I am not sure if you are endorsing my pick for Famous Joe's or referring me to Ray's?

      1. re: hungryann

        Just pointing out that there is no place called Famous Joe's and you may be conflating all of the famous Ray's joints with Joe's. Joe's is pretty good for a slice. The various Famous Ray's...less so.

    2. wow....that's not the most positive response Kathryn. Almost sounds like all the choices are not great. I don't agree. Some are great choices.
      Katz's terrific, donut plant as well
      Tacos - either Taqueria at La Esquina on Kenmare or the Mahi Mahi tacos at Dos Caminos on West Broadway. both great
      Billy's for cupcakes also a great choice
      vietnamese - saigon 48
      japanese - tomo sushi on Sullivan or Thompson Street. can't remember which street
      lunch at 5 points for an awesome burger or lunch at Mary's fish camp for great fish
      Greek - Ethos on 3rd btw. 33/34 or pylos on 7th btw. 1st/A

      we are lacking in the Middle Eastern dept for sure.
      Pizza - love Franny's in Park Slope for thin crust or Joes on Carmine for a regular slice
      Chinese - Green Bo on Bayard - total dump but lots of great food for cheap
      Bagels - you can go to any bagel shop really. All good
      Italian - Del Anima on 8th Ave/ Jane - amazing

      Happy Eating! Have a great trip:)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bernke

        Not trying to be negative. Katz's is definitely great. Donut Plant is polarizing. The apple cinnamon cake donut I tried recently, though, is fantastic. Donut Plant has two types of donuts. The yeast are big and look fluffy but aren't as fluffy as say a Krispy Kreme, and also are a little bit chewy. The cake are more like your standard cake donut but with really hig quality ingredients.

      2. i would be thrilled to have your eating itinerary, hungryann. i know this isn't as interesting as dissent, but i really think you've made some great picks, there. i'd probably do pinche over mercadito. mercadito is delicious and fun, but a bit more gringo. katz is best for pastrami.

        for sushi, look into yasuda or kuruma zushi. if you want a more modern style of sushi / sashimi, try soto in the w. village.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cimui

          Note that Kuruma Zushi is very very expensive.

          When you say you are looking for a good sushi joint, it's better to be specific about what you want and how much you are willing to pay. For a sitting at the bar, eating lots of nigiri sushi, in an omakase, letting the chef guide your experience, call NOW to reserve a spot in front of Yasuda-san at Sushi Yasuda, and be ready to open your wallets at the end of the experience.

          But if you want atmosphere or sake bombs or fancy rolls or nouveau nigiri with experimental sauces, we can point you in other directions, especially if you can't spend a lot of money on your meals.

        2. I would have to say no to magnolia, go to patisserie claude instead.

          1. Thanks all. I know NYC is not known for fish tacos or mexican but my hometown is sorely lacking and I have such a craving. Even an OK version will do; I am leaning towards Pinche because they also have yucca fries.
            We will probably hit Katz's and Donut Plant around 5 pm, a little early but we will be coming in around 3-4 pm and will probably be starving.
            I have agonized over these choices...too much great food around. Other contenders depending on our sightseeing and location are the carts: Jamaican Dutchy for jerk, Halal cart and the Dosa man.

            6 Replies
            1. re: hungryann

              About the dosa cart, I've heard it's not as good as getting it at the restaurants because he can't get the dosa as crispy. If you're going to Saravannas, I would get your dosa there if that's what you're craving. The Jamaican Dutchy cart is very good. My favorite halal cart is the one of 43rd and 6th for chicken and white rice (the yellow is terrible). If you want both lamb and chicken, I like the one on 53rd and 6th.

              And I really agree with everybody that Magnolia is not worth it at all. I've had decent banana pudding there, but their cupcakes and way too sweet and dry. It is awfully popular there. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it was mentioned in Sex and the City. I was always confused by all the lovers of Magnolia cupcakes. But I've had one decent cupcake there. But the majority of them were terrible. (same as Crumbs -- some varieties are actually decent; but overall, they suck). Sugar Sweet Sunshine is good. My favorite is Mitchel London (but only for red velvet and yellow cake with chocolate ganache -- the other ones aren't too hot).

              I haven't been to Pinche, but I definitely do like the fish tacos at Mercadito.

              When you go to Donut Plant, be sure to get at least one cake-style donut. I don't enjoy their yeast donuts at all as they're really heavy and greasy. But the cake ones are really delicious. I think they use cake flour as opposed to all-purpose flour as the the crumb is really soft and moist. My favorites are the blackout and tres leches.

              Should really be on the Outer Boroughs, but my favorite Malaysian is Taste Good in Elmhurst, Queens. I like it more than Nyonya, New Malaysia, Skyway and Sentosa (which tend to be the board favorites). You can get your laksa there. You may want to combine it with your trip to Sripraphai as it's not too far away (about a mile). Between Sripraphai and Taste Good is the neighborhood of Jackson Heights which makes for some fascinating sight-seeing.

              If you're from Montreal, I wouldn't do Vietnamese in NYC. But if you're really looking to have some, I like Pho tu Do and Cong Ly for pho in Chinatown, Saigon Banh Mi on Mott Street for Vietnamese sandwiches (it's in the back of a jewelry store), and Nha Trang and Pho Viet Huong for other Vietnamese offerings.

              If you want pizza by the slice, I prefer Bleecker Street Pizza (esp for Nonna Maria) over Joe's on Carmine.

              Kathryn is correct -- the best Japanese places specialize in one thing as opposed to doing everything. For sushi, I like Yasuda (but it's more expensive than the other restaurants that are on your list). A more budget-friendly choice would be Ushi Wakamaru. You may want to try an izakaya -- one of my favorites is Yakitori Totto -- I love the grilled chicken hearts and grilled kobe beef tongue.

              I'm also a fan of Sullivan Street Bakery/Granddaisy Bakery located in Soho and the Upper West Side. Love their pizzas there (not with cheese and tomato sauce) as well as some of their pastries.

              You should also look up RGR's Lower East Side self-guided walking tour as you're going to be going to Katz and Donut Plant on Wed.

              And when you go to Saravannas on Thursday, be sure to stop by Kalustayan's (28th and Lexington) for some great shopping.

              I can totally understand agonizing over your choices as I do the same thing when I travel, particularly when I travel to a place where I'm overwhelmed by all the eating choices. I think you made some good choices here. Nobody is going to agree with any of the choices 100%. Just have fun. And please report back and let us know how you felt about Katz's compared with Schwartz's.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                Definitely make a reservation if you plan to visit Ushi Wakamaru. It's not that big and quite popular.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Oh my gosh, thank you for that extensive answer. I appreciate your insight. Yes, vietnamese is not high on my list for NY but was just mentioning it to give people an idea of what we like. Thank you as well for the laksa rec.
                  I will impose a tad more since I am reconsidering Pete Luger. Basically, my husband wants a good steak and I would like to try Kobe beef, so I am thinking of Kobe club. Is that a good idea or should I stick with the classic destination and forego the Kobe for another visit?

                  1. re: hungryann

                    I haven't been to the Kobe Club and am probably not the best person to answer your question as I'm not the largest fan of kobe beef. Personally, I'd rather have a really flavorful rib eye or porterhouse than a piece of kobe beef. But in defense of kobe beef, I've had kobe many times but don't think I really had the authentic one from Japan. I'm thinking all of my "kobe" experiences were probably American wagyu.

                2. re: hungryann

                  The yucca fries are amazing.

                  1. re: hungryann

                    I haven't seen the Dosa Man in his usual location lately - did he move?

                  2. Amazing selection. However I might second guess Katz's. Althought it is fun to go there, they are really a pale vestige of their former glory. I am not even sure if they still make their own pastrami.

                    1. I wanted to thank everyone for steering me well in NYC's culinary cornucopia and give a quick report.

                      -First day: only made it to Katz's and I have to agree that the pastrami is phenomenal. For those that have been to my hometown and tried Schwartz and did not like it, I totally know what you mean! Only gripe is that it's a tad expensive at 15$ for just a sandwich but maybe that's the price for pastrami in NYC? Anyway, I would gladly return and fork over the 15$ next visit.

                      -Second day: Tried the Magnolia cupcakes and found them meh...I know you warned me but I had heard so much about them I had to get it out of my system. Went to Bleeker Street Pizza for lunch and the slices were great but the service was surly. It's all good...part of the NYC vibe! BZ grill in Astoria was a tad dissapointing; we got there at 10 pm and the gyro was almost gone so I don't know if that's what accounted for the fatty meat. i love porky greasiness as much as anybody but this was too much. I had to manually remove chunks of pure fat from my pita sandwich.

                      -Third day: Pinche taqueria for lunch. The fish tacos were good as were the carne asada and the al pastor. I found them small though for 2.95$ a piece. The yucca fries were great and super crispy. Wandered around the nabe and came across Rice to Riches; I tried two of their rice puddings (banana/toasted coconut and coconut coma) and was not blown away. I did not find the flavour intense enough and yes, I love coconut. Also tried Pinkberry and I loved it. Dinner was at Sripraphai which was amazing! In the debate of Lotus of Siam vs Sripraphai, Sripraphai rules for me. I will definitely be back next time. I had the Khao Soy which was spot on, the drunken noodles and the panang tofu. My only regret was that it's not mango season so I could have indulged in the mango with sticky rice.

                      Unfortunately, I did not make it to my other picks because we were way too stuffed most of the time despite all the walking we did. Oh well, reason to come back soon.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: hungryann

                        glad you enjoyed yourself. thanks for reporting back.

                        a place to try next time is rhong tiam. though i haven't had the khao soy at sripraphai to comapre, the version at rhong tiam is delicious. their food is complex, well spiced and delicious. they also have a great roti canai.

                        i have to disagree with bernke. moustache has great, fresh flavorful middle eastern food.

                        1. re: hungryann

                          Thanks for your report. I can definitely understand wanting to try Magnolia after reading about all the press about it. I think I did the same with Pat's cheesesteaks of Philly. But I got it out of my system and will never go back.

                          If you're a fan of Pinkberry (which I'm not), next time you should try Red Mango, Berrywild or Frogurt (in selected locations). Red Mango and Berrywild are in the vein of Pinkberry, but with a much superior product. Pinkberry is actually a Red Mango copycat. I think Pinkberry just entered the NY market first and has better marketing. Frogurt is more like the 80s frozen yogurt -- creamier and more "ice cream" like.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            Thanks, i will give them a try. I knew of Red Mango but did not think they had locations in NYC.