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E. Village -- returning after 9 year absence, need recs.

Long story short.

Grew up in the NYC area. Lived in the E. Village for a while. Started wandering around the US. Kept wandering and now am returning to the city to visit good friends for the first time in 9 years over Christmas/New Years.

My husband and I are extremely adventuresome eaters. We are also very budget conscience (he's a public school teacher/I'm a graphic designer). Obviously since I've been out of the area for so long I'm not up on all the good eats.

I know this is very vague an open (and I can narrow it down if possible) but any suggestions are welcome. We are more into interesting foods than dressing up. My husband especially likes organ meats. If anyone knew any good Korean or Russian places that would be nice also. We are staying on Ave B right off the park, so anything close to that would also be great.

The only must have on my list is Chinese scallion pancakes ... I know ... this is FAR from adventuresome but I haven't been able to get them all the place I've lived so I have a craving.

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  1. What is your budget per person? There's not that much great Korean in the EV, I don't think. As for Russian...not that many Russian places in NYC these days period. Is Ukranian close enough? I like Ukrainian National Home (more traditional than Veselka, although Veselka is 24/7 and delivers). A lot of the other Ukrainian diners have closed.

    I think Grand Sichuan St Marks probably delivers that far east -- they made a pretty good scallion pancake but I think their shining stars are the other dishes: Gi Zhou spicy chicken, cucumbers in scallion sauce, Sichuan won tons in hot oil, tea smoked duck, cumin beef.

    There are some very good places to get offal these days (sweetbreads, liver, head cheese, etc.) but most may be out of your budget.

    1. Oh we don't have to stay in the EV. We don't even have to stay in Manhattan. We will travel for good eats. As far as budget -- I'm talking --- budget. And I don't care if they deliver -- we can either eat there or pick up.

      That makes me sad about all the Ukrainian diners ... I have many good high school memories at those places.

      15 Replies
      1. re: tmontauk

        Kiev closed, Teresa's closed, and that's only in the 5 years since I've been living in NYC!

        I'd post on the Outer Boroughs board for sure, there's lots of GREAT inexpensive food in Queens and Brooklyn.

        By budget you mean...$15pp? $20pp? It helps to give a ceiling that includes tax, tip (if any).

        1. re: tmontauk

          First of all, welcome back! You'll see that a recurring theme is that, with gentrification and rising rents, things have been getting more expensive here and some of the cheaper places - Leshko's and Teresa's among them - have been forced to close. But there has also been an increase in good Italian places, some of them modestly priced.

          Scallion pancakes are also called Shanghai pancakes, so try some of the better Shanghainese places in Chinatown, such as Yeah Shanghai on Bayard between Elizabeth/Bowery and Mott (I've tried theirs and like them, except that I wish they used more scallions) and Shanghai Cafe (I haven't tried theirs yet but have liked other things there) on Mott St. between Canal and Hester. Both are cheap restaurants, within your budget.

          Ukrainian East Village in the Ukrainian National Home is more expensive and not as good as Teresa's used to be (yeah, I know: Ukrainian isn't the same as Polish, but that's not my point), but it's not bad and does fit into your budget. The Stage Restaurant is also still there, next to the Orpheum Theater. It also costs a good deal more than it used to, but is within your budget.

          There are some Korean places around here, but I go to Koreatown, instead, so I really couldn't tell you how good they are. Anyway, Han Bat's prices are creeping up but still within your budget (35 St. between 5th and 6th). Get Hyaemul (mixed seafood) Dolsot Bibimbap there.

          There's a good South Indian vegetarian restaurant here, which probably opened a year or two after you left: Madras Cafe, 2nd Av. between 4th and 5th. I like my food spicy, so I ask for extra small green chilis in my utthapam. But they're dependably good, except for the pickles, which you should avoid. It's possible to eat there within your budget. Saravanaas, on 26th and Lexington, is better, but Madras Cafe is much closer. Don't get delivery of utthapams or masala dosas, though: They really don't travel well and are much better eaten at the restaurant.

          In terms of the new Italian places, the one that's closest to your budget, if you order judiciously, is Cacio e Vino, 2nd Av. between 4th and 5th. The way to do it would be to avoid secondi, just share a couple of dishes in the appetizers/salad categories, and then have a pizza or schiacciata. I suspect that your meal would still cost around $50, rather than $40, though. Supper, on 2nd St. between A and B - part of the Frank's chain of associated but different restaurants - is another good Italian restaurant that's near your budget but may be hard to keep actually within your budget, especially if you're including tip in your upper limit. But I'm thinking that 'inoteca, Rivington and Ludlow, may be within your budget if you are careful. Have a look at their menu:

          http://www.inotecanyc.com/menu.php

          'inoteca is a quality place, and everything I've had there has been good.

          My general advice to you, especially as I see you like organ meats, would be to patronize Grand Sichuan a lot (get their Ox Tongue and Tripe and Beef Tendon cold dishes), check out 'inoteca, consider Ukrainian East Village and Stage for Ukrainian/Polish eat in or takeout, and otherwise, go to Chinatown a lot. For example, there's a little restaurant on Allen St. and Grand called Hung Wong that often has soy sauce chicken gizzards and various other kinds of meat for sale cheap. You should also patronize Congee Village, within whose delivery area you might be. If you order at least $8 worth of food, they will deliver. Plus, it's a great place to get takeout from or eat in, and quite well-priced. If you want to go further out of the area, Szechuan Gourmet on 39 St. between 5th and 6th is currently the best Sichuan-style restaurant in Manhattan and it's terrific. It's not cheap but I have eaten there for around $20 and had a large amount of food (appetizer + main, and some of their appetizers are really big portions).

          You should also try Malaysian food at Skyway, Allen between Canal and Division. It's inexpensive and within your budget, and they have some terrific seafood dishes and so forth. All of their belacan, asam, and sambal dishes and curries are bursting with flavor.

          I'll try to think of some more ideas for you.

          1. re: Pan

            Also, a secondary branch of a Chinatown dumpling place has opened up on the East Village. Vanessa's Dumplings (FKA Dumpling House) is on 14th between 2nd and 3rd. Very cheap.

            The other location is 118 Eldridge Street, between Grand Street and Broome Street.

            1. re: kathryn

              How does the quality of the dumplings compare between the two locations?

              1. re: Pan

                Skip both of Vanessa's places for fried dumplings (Guo Tie) and head to Prosperity Dumplings at 46 Eldridge.

            2. re: Pan

              Recently tried Yeah Shanghai, and it was not too good. I prefered Joe's Shanghai between the 2. I'm still thinking about Shanghai Cafe for x-mas, or Congee Bowery. btw thanks for your comments on these 2!

              1. re: michele cindy

                You're welcome. What did you eat at Yeah and what did you eat at Joe's? I've been going to Yeah for many years and find it consistent, and good for New York. I have to add that caveat, because none of the Shanghainese places I've been to in New York are as good as almost any anonymous hole-in-the-wall place on a side street in Shanghai.

              2. re: Pan

                How does Skyway compare to Nyonya? Thanks.

                1. re: D...DF

                  I haven't been to Nyonya in a couple of years or so, because Skyway blew it out of the water, as far as I was concerned. At its best, Nyonya was fairly good. At its best, Skyway is great - good enough to be good if it were in Malaysia.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Wow, awesome. I was disappointed by Nyonya and wrote off this borough for Malaysian. I can't wait to try Skyway.

                    1. re: Pan

                      hi Pan...i value your Malaysian food advice highly, as i know you lived there and that you know your SE Asian food...but my recent re-visit to Skyway was only so-so...

                      the Kari Assam w/ fishhead was ok...compared to a recent visit to New Malaysia, i liked the NM version much better...Skyway's was a huge portion, but the fishhead was a bit dried-out and old-tasting -- definitely not something i'd re-order there, and it's one of the few Malaysian dishes that i know&love in general...and i also had the tofu satay, which tasted bizarrely both oily&dry at the same time: like it was fried it in old oil and then left to cool too long?...

                      i trust you that they do other things well and/or that it was an off-day...and the staff were nice...but i left with a more of a desire to return to New Malaysia than to go back to Skyway...but: i am newbie to Malaysian food and am willing to re-try different things at both places...

                      1. re: Simon

                        Pan, what are your surefire dishes at Skyway? Thanks.

                          1. re: Simon

                            Thanks Simon, didn't see that.

                        1. re: Simon

                          I will try New Malaysia again soon. I wouldn't order tofu satay and wouldn't really expect it to be good anywhere (satay in Malaysian stalls is sold as chicken, beef, goat, but I don't think I've ever seen tofu), but I certainly wouldn't think of defending old-tasting fish.

                2. Yes, $15pp or $20pp tops! Perhaps I should post on the Outer Boroughs board ... as we really love hole in the wall places that present us with foods we've never even seen.

                  1. Thanks for all the advice ... I was wondering if anyone had any other recs that weren't Chinese. I can get pretty good authentic Chinese where I live now.

                    1. hi...here are a few ideas:

                      -- Ippudo, on Fourth Ave is new...a branch of a famous ramen place in Fukuoka...

                      -- i imagine the hallowed Cafe Mogador was one of your old haunts, but it's what i usually rec in that neighborhood, particularly for breakfast/brunch

                      -- i agree w/ the Cacio e Vino rec, although i haven't been there in over a year...

                      Hope your return to the area is a happy one...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Simon

                        Yeah, I forgot to mention that Mogador is still around and going strong.

                      2. Just the other day I ate at Le Gamin, 536 E 5th St, for the first time. It sounds like it's just a few of blocks away from where you'll be staying. I very much enjoyed my meal, as you might surmise from the pictures at http://www.nyx.net/~rpking/breakfast2... (the last 2, that is). No great adventure, but a pleasant, casual place to catch a decent meal.