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TOP "essential" New York Restaurants $ to $$$$

I'm visiting from LA towards the end of March for 5 days and I'm looking some "essential" New York eats. What i mean by essential is a place reflects New York in an unusual way? That showcases New York and it's diversity. Price doesn't matter. From the best street carts to the Masa's and Per Se's. I think we got ya beat in terms of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Mexican. Places that are rolling around in my head right now are one of the Momofuku's, Peter Lugar, Morimoto, Spotted Pig, wd 50? What's the best French place besides Le bernardin since my GF had a bad lunch there? What's the best Italian place besides babbo since we have osteria mozza here? Best Puerto Rican, Jewish deli, Jamaican? Pizza, hotdogs? I'll eat anything.

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  1. Eleven Madison Park, Babbo, Craft, Keens, Old Homestead, Strip House.

    1. hi...i'd recommend searching through some of the many "i'm visiting NY from LA" threads (it's a question that's asked about once a month) and then asking specific questions based on the things that seem most appealling -- i.e. if you want Puerto Rican, ask specifically in a separate post: you'll get more detailed and helpful responses than you will in a general question...but offhand:

      -- skip Spotted Pig...imagine a CAA-watering-hole transplanted to the West Village...i always feel like i'm smack in the middle of LA when i'm there...

      -- consider some of NYC's Sichuan options (it's one regional Chinese cuisine that's more easily and authentically available in NY and than LA)

      -- consider some Italian options like Scarpetta...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Simon

        thanks for the advice..should've probably done more research....as far is sichuan goes there's actually a few really great options in the san gabriel valley where I live...

      2. Well, there are many places (esp. high end) that you can find similar ones in LA. But if you have not eaten at Katz's, then you have not eaten the best in NY. So make sure you get the pastrami at Katz's or else you are missing out history!

        Look for kathryn's posts as she has listed multiple times on the best of every single category that you can imagine. Also remember partake RGR's Lower East Side Food Excursion.

        You can keep Momofuku, Peter Luger, Spotteod Pig, WD 50. They are quite unique to New York and hard to find a "replica" in other cities. Keens is another good place for steaks and old time NY charm

        For French. Jean Georges' lunch bargain is hard to beat. If you can do Per Se, then that's your French place.

        I think you should keep Babbo. It's not the same as osteria mozza which is more like Otto / Lupa here. Babbo is a bit more upscale and the pasta are different. So I still think it is worth a visit.
        If you want more contemporary Italian, you can consider Scarpetta.

        You should also try tapas here. Casa Mono for rustic and bolder flavor, or Degustation for open kitchen French-inspired tapas.

        Don't forget pizza. My suggestions are Company (Co.), Motorino, and the old standby Una Pizza Napoletana.

        Other places that I don't really think are essential are: Morimoto (it started at Philly, and honestly, you have better Japanese in LA), Craft (again, got one in LA)

        5 Replies
        1. re: kobetobiko

          I completely second the rec for Katz's, Momofuku Ssam and Peter Luger (you could do Luger's for lunch and spend the afternoon in Bklyn).
          For Italian, check out one of Joe Campanale's places: dell'anima or L'Artusi.


          1. re: LeahBaila

            Well if your gunnabe in brooklyn might as well go to Di Fara's also. Unbelievable....

            1. re: LeahBaila

              is l'artusi really 'destination worthy' or essential? the food is meh and the scene is like eating in crate and barrel.

              1. re: 45yearheelfan

                24th & 9th.

                230 9th Ave, New York, NY 10001

            2. Was at both Babbo and Osteria Mozza in the last month, and IMHO comparison pales. Babbo is so wonderful, osteria was fun and good. Try Lupa in NYC, yes Batali but oh my.
              While l give you Korean, Japanese( NYC is equal but a LOT more money), and certainly vietnamese. NYC chinese, again IMHO, blows LA away. l loved Spotted Pig, Luger's, maybe not best French but Chanterelle does a wonderful job, every time, every time. l am not a Le Bernadin fan either, two times with a lot of people and we did not get it. BARNEY GREENGRASS is a must also.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                NYC Chinese in no way blows LA away. What do you think is so much better here? By the way, I'm asking you to please mention specific Chinese restaurants in Manhattan that are superior to anything equivalent in LA. I don't want your reply to be LA-focused.

                1. re: Pan

                  Go to 8 or 9 in Chinatown and find them super. Have never found anything in LA Chinatown or anywhere else in LA that l like, granted do not know LA as well as NY, but have tried. If you have great suggestions in LA, be glad to try them.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    I've only been a visitor to LA and won't make suggestions for places outside of New York in this thread (or, frankly, any other, because I'm not current enough). I can only suggest that, if you've found LA-area hounds' suggestions not to coincide with your taste, you check other online resources. However, you can do all of us a service by specifically mentioning the 8 or 9 places in Manhattan's Chinatown that you've found super. Thanks in advance.

                    1. re: Pan

                      Please do not chastise for my choices, this is for my mouth only. Joe's Shanghai for dumplings and braised bean curd with baby spinach; New Yeah Shanghai for honey pork;Great New York Noodletown for baby pig and Chinese chives; Shanghai cafe for spicy fish head casserole; Amazing 66 for Roast chicken with preserved vegetables;congee from Congee Village, the others are lesser supers for me. With good people showing me where to go or good reports in LA, have eaten Chinese about 6 times and none compared favorably to NY, Phila, SF, or anywhere else l eat Chinese food. For me Thai, Japanese (only due to far less cost ), and Vietnamese are better in LA, Korean is about a split in my limited experience.

                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        You aren't touting Wo Hop, so I feel no impulsion to chastise you whatsoever. I've enjoyed the places you mentioned to different extents at different times, and I'm a regular at several of these places. We've just had different experiences in LA and environs.

                2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  I totally agree, you MUST go to Barney Greengrass. You will be transported to a time when deli ruled New York. And the ambiance is classic old New York Jewish deli. It is a piece of NYC that hopefully we can keep alive. It sticks out like a sore thumb among all the chi-chi boutiques and trendy restaurants of the UWS. Try it, if you like deli, you won't be sorry.

                  1. re: bistro66

                    And while you're in Barney Greengrass neighborhood, you could check out Hampton Chutney Company (Amsterdam btw 82nd and 83rd) for delicious indian fusion cuisine -- the dosas are the specialty. Light and thin, crispy indian crepes with a variety of delicious fillings to choose from (such as jack or goat cheese, avocado, spinach, portobello mushrooms, grilled or curried chutney chicken)-- all served with your choice of six home made chutneys. AND some of the best home made chai in NYC.

                    Hampton Chutney Co.
                    464 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    1. re: rasanyc10024

                      Yes, those dosas are very light and delicious, and you can't find them in LA. There is another branch in SoHo on Prince St.

                      Hampton Chutney Co.
                      68 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

                      1. re: rasanyc10024

                        I've never been to Hampton Chutney, but if I could go anywhere in Manhattan for masala dosas, I'd head straight to Saravanaas, 26th and Lexington. And without looking at prices, I'd be willing to be a good sum of money that Saravanaas is cheaper, too.

                      2. re: bistro66

                        Barne Greengrass is a classic old New York Jewish "appetizer" store. Dairy. Smoked fish. Lox & eggs.

                        Classic New York delis are meat places like Katz's. Pastrami, corned beef.

                        There used to be dozens of good and sometimes great NY Jewish appetizer places is Manhattan. They all closed years ago except for Barney Greengrass and Barney doesn't live there anymore. Skip it.

                        1. re: RichardW

                          there is still russ & daughters. which kicks greengrass ass as far as i'm concerned

                      3. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        NYC Chinese doesn't blow LA away. My family and I are from Hong Kong and they live in LA (I've lived in NY for 7 yrs and was raised in LA). I can't find a single Chinese restaurant in Manhattan (Flushing is a different story) that comes close to what LA offers for Chinese food. And when I say LA, I mean San Gabriel Valley, not Chinatown LA. Chinatown LA is downright awful, but go 20 min east to Alhambra and some places are pretty darn close to Hong Kong. To be fair, Szechuan food in NY is definitely better than Cantonese.

                        1. re: kim e

                          true, but if you live on the west side, like in Santa Monica, going to the SG Valley is as far (or farther during rush hour) than going to Flushing from Manhattan...

                          in Manhattan, you can get very yummy Cantonese at Amazing 66 or Cantoon Garden in Chinatown or Sichuan at GS Chelsea...those are far better than most places within the LA basin...

                          so, in terms of urban living/geography, say Manhattan is analogous to the LA basin (and nearby parts of Brooklyn to nearby parts of the SF Valley), and Flushing is analogous to the SG Valley ...so you could make the assertion that Manhattan has better Chinese than LA if you are talking about places that are easy to access from the city centers...

                          all depends on how widely one roams and what one considers the city boundaries...(the LA Chowhound Board could easily be split into an Outer Valleys and Beaches board and an LA Basin board, the same way NY is split into Manhattan and Outer Boroughs)...

                          not disagreeing, just giving the discussion an alternate framing...

                          1. re: Simon

                            How do the best in flushing compare to the best in san gabriel valley?

                      4. obviously, stick with what nyc does better than your amazing food city...

                        keens chophouse im beginning to feel is superior to peter lugers but i guess you should do lugers first...get some pieces of bacon, steak for 2 medium rare, well done hash browns and a glass of cabernet and yr set...oh, holy cow sundae for dessert.

                        if you do keens, get the porterhouse for 2 and the creme brulee...they also have an insane scotch selection though i usually stick with the lagavulin distillers edition.

                        pizza...on manhattan, the only place for me is artichoke on 14th street...get the square slice only...everything else there is mediocre...they have no seating.

                        not sure about puerto rican but definitely check out margon on 46th street between 6th and 7th ave...its a dominican spot making cuban food. little hole in the wall but it gets packed at lunch. great cubano sandwich but on wednesdays, they have pernil...roast pork...get it with garlic sauce...its awesome. if you cant make wednesday, their lamb stew and roast chicken are insane.

                        momofuku sucks...go to ippudo instead on 4th ave...get the hirata pork buns...insane...like japanese big macs...

                        we do italian better than you guys...for inexpensive yet amazing italian, my first choice is da andrea on 13th between 5th and 6th...get the paparadelle with sweet sausage ragu...and the warm octopus salad...insanely tender and cheap.

                        babbo sucks...all batali places blow...for upscale, try scarpetta or convivio in sutton place.

                        jewish deli? carnegie is insane...katz's isnt kosher but definitely a necessary stop.

                        other gems? 'ino, perilla, blue ribbon bakery on downing street for chocolate bread pudding, moustache for merguez sandwich, mary's fish camp for lobster roll and steamers and an anchor steam, freemans for brunch...get the cheddar sandwich, get a bistro burger at corner bistro but only ultra late in the evening...like 2am on a tuesday...otherwise they suck. go to shake shack...it actually beats in n out burger.

                        enjoy...i adore LA's restaurants...

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: sam1

                          thanks for all the rec's...I will have to try shack shack but IMHO i can't imagine that it can beat in n out...and i can't agree that "all batali places blow" given that I adore mozza (both osteria and pizzeria) although i think the magic there is more nancy silverton than batali

                          1. re: sam1

                            the carnegie deli is not kosher either

                            1. re: sam1

                              Just a quick correction, sam. Convivio is in Tudor City, not Sutton Place. I happen to think that Italian nouvelle is an oxymoron, but, living next door to it, I can tell you the room is almost always full.

                              P.S. On another chow-thread I read earlier today, an out-of-towner asked for a 'destination salad bar' in NY. The request was so surreal I had to bite my tongue, but the in n out v shake shack argument doesn't strike me as much different: who wants to argue whose junk food is better? Honestly!

                              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                ain't nothing wrong with striving for a destination salad bar if it's what gets your foodie love goin!

                                1. re: LemonLauren

                                  You're right, Lauren, and inasmuch as I eat (happily) at salad bars 3-4 times a week, I regret writing what I did.

                                  My mind in fact was on another phenomenon that I conflated with the "destination (food) station" question: namely, taking advantage (or not) of the serendipity that walking through New York allows for finding good food. I know my feeling runs counter to the raison d'etre of this site, and that exhaustive critiquing can be tremendously valuable to people on a deadline or visiting from out-of-town, and that foodies (and yes, I am one) love to share the joy. But I really do believe that, in a place where one doesn't have to commit to a given place because that's where the car is pointed, one really does miss a crucial part of the New York experience -culinary and otherwise- by scheduling dining tours down to the minute. (end of rant)

                                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                    exactly. my best food experiences abroad (in London) were those that happened when i had my walking shoes on and followed my nose through the back streets of berwick market. that's why i asked (in another thread) for foodie 'hoods to explore :)

                            2. [i]Best Puerto Rican[i/i]

                              la taza de oro. nothing like this in LA. and FWIW il grano in LA trumps any b-tali joint.

                              1 Reply
                              1. if you're breakfast//brunch fan a stop at shopsins is a must

                                1. For essential New York that you won't find anywhere else in the unverse try Katz's in Manhattan and Junior's in Brooklyn

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Motosport

                                    I guess I'm doing Katz. We'll see how it compares to Langer's here

                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                      Langer's Wins. But you gotta try to make sure. The main difference is the counter service.

                                      1. re: Mr Conlin

                                        I agree about the counter service, but Langer's lacks something that Katz's has--substance--that palpable generosity of a dozen slices of thick meat (to be fair, you pay for them). Langer's seems wispy and fussy in comparison. As for the taste, I prefer Langer's. Both are juicy and fresh, but Katz's has a slightly harsh salt taste reminiscent of Morton's seasoning. As for the location, give me Katz's any day--I can't believe so many suited white people brave MacArthur Park.

                                        1. re: tchad

                                          definitely katz portions are more generous. As far as the location of Langer's, for me it's kinda fun to see the extreme contrast from the outside to the inside. I feel like I'm being transported to a different time

                                      2. re: peppermonkey

                                        At Katz's, get pastrami on "club". They will give you half sour pickles but ask for the full sour ones. Even better, ask for the pickled tomatoes. They hide those behind the conter and you have to know about them and ask for them.

                                      1. Everyone has already chimed in on the other cuisines besides Puerto Rican and Jamaican. I would not eat anything in Manhattan that calls itself Jamaican and pretty much the same for Puerto Rican unless it is in Washington Heights and East Harlem. Margon is definitely tasty, just isnt Puerto Rican Food. For those 2 cuisines I suggest the outer boroughs, specifically the Bronx for both or Brooklyn for Jamaican and other West Indian cuisine.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. i'll take the pepsi challenge on japanese. sushi yasuda, at the bar, in front of the man himself, will equal or exceed the best you have in los angeles. provided you like sushi, of course.

                                          le bernardin is pretty special. go back. osteria mozza isn't babbo. been to both, like both. babbo is well worth a visit. the similarities, and they exist, are superficial. keens steakhouse (it used to be called keens chophouse) is very good and, as others have said, the single malt selection is superb.

                                          i like una pizza napoletana. this is not new york style pizza. thursdays through sunday. dinner only. cash only and no reservations. four types of pizza. wood-fired oven. you don't choose toppings. a handful of italian beers and wine. pricey but good. sit in front and watch the action in the kitchen.

                                          casa mono, another batali place, has very good small plates and very good spanish wines. tiny room. next door is the smaller bar jamon. hang out at the bar there, drink cava and eat jamon while waiting for your reservation to open up. they'll come get you.

                                          per se, scarpetta, esca all work. i like the pig but go late for lunch or early for dinner. maybe check out prune if you get the chance.

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: steve h.

                                            I love sushi and because of all the great places in LA (urasawa, sushi zo, sasbune, kirala, etc)...the only place in NY that appeals to me is Masa which is a little too much given that I already ate at his apprentice's place this year. Also these restaurants source from the same places all of the world anyways (i.e. I'll be paying extra to eat California uni in NY)...so the difference would have to be in the knife skills, which I kinda doubt are better in NY. How much is a typical omakasa meal at yasuda for 2 with at least 1 bottle of good sake? If it's ~$200 each, I rather try something different special to new york.

                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                              expect $200 pp. worth every penny. try it. the rice is quite good.
                                              i'll visit your favorite place in la if you disagree. after the fact, of course.

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                damnit...now I feel like i have to fit this in somewhere just to prove a point...oh well the rice seems interesting...though we got a guy here who cultivates his own rice (mori sushi)

                                                1. re: peppermonkey

                                                  i look forward to your review. remember the terms: sushi only, at the bar, in front of yasuda. please get a reservation and shoot for an early meal.
                                                  if you don't agree with my take on yasuda, i'll visit your favorite sushi place in los angeles and wear a dodgers shirt.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    if you agree that yasuda is equal to or better than the sushi places in your hometown, then you might consider wearing a yankees shirt when chowing down at urasawa, sushi zo, sasbune, whatever. and maybe raise a glass to yasuda.
                                                    it's all good.

                                                    1. re: steve h.

                                                      Um, In no way is Yasuda better than urasawa. Not even close.

                                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                                        sounds like we have a market!

                                                        very cool.

                                                          1. re: kobetobiko

                                                            it's a polite expression.
                                                            a market implies there are buyers and sellers.

                                                            1. re: sam1

                                                              i'm not willing to concede that point. i'm willing to take the pepsi challenge.
                                                              with respect, of course.

                                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                                it's kinda like comparing apples to oranges....a fair comparison to urasawa would be masa....since both are more like kaiseki super highend....i would have to compare yasuda probably to the likes of mori or sushi zo in LA which are around the same price range...and more straight sushi

                                                                1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                  fair enough. the sushi zo comparison makes great sense.
                                                                  i'm looking forward to both your review of yasuda and the sushi zo comparison. you can get an authentic yankees shirt on ebay :-)

                                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                                    I'm actually an angels fan who btw own your yankees...and your right...ebay is a good place for you to find an angels jersey when you taste mori-san's rice or sushi zo's melt in your mouth variety

                                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                      depends how you define "own" - i tend to count championship rings.......

                                                                      but to be on topic for the thread - some places never mentioned that i love in manhattan include degustation, tailor. also grammercy tavern, craft, are on my list, and then places that may not be of the caliber but hold a great appeal to me are etats unis, dinosaur bbq, york grill

                                                                  2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                    Yeah, the big apple to the big orange.

                                                  2. re: steve h.

                                                    Last time we were at Yasuda we got out around $350, omakase, one app, sake. We were stuffed! I imagine one could pull off getting out of there even cheaper.

                                              2. What about street carts? Kwik Meal on 46th & 6th has a rockin lamb & rice dish for like 6 bucks. And falafel - Maoz by Union Square is good (though originally Israeli, not NY), Taim is pretty fantastic, and there's a place called Cafe Rakka on 3rd St and Avenue B that's a real hole in the wall but they've got great falafel and a fantastic lentil soup (used to work down the block).

                                                1. A friendly reminder, Folks, this thread and this board are about finding great chow in Manhattan, posts discussing chow in other, distant locales, will be removed.

                                                  Thanks for helping us to maintain the value of this board in its focus on Manhattan chow.

                                                  1. alright having trouble with the italian option and the pizza option: babbo or scarpetta...and why would they be "essential" to new york....would it be better for me to go to brooklyn for that pie while I'm at lugar's?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                      If you want the best pizza and steak you must go to Brooklyn. Di Fara's and Peter Luger respectively for quintessential New York.

                                                      1. re: peppermonkey

                                                        «would it be better for me to go to brooklyn for that pie while I'm at lugar's?» Unfortunately it is easier to get to DiFara's (by subway or even taxi) from Manhattan than from Peter Luger. Look at this as two separate adventures. (Use Google Maps or HopStop for directions).

                                                      2. < But if you have not eaten at Katz's, then you have not eaten the best in NY. So make sure you get the pastrami at Katz's or else you are missing out history!> You really also need to go a few doors west to Russ and Daughters for Appetizing. The whole Lower East Side Tour is uniquely New York, and has lots of great food along the way, including the above.

                                                        I can't remember, but I think the poster/expert is rgr. In any event, you should search the chowhound forums for the L.E.S.T. and consider including it in your itinerary. You wont regret it.

                                                        1. forgot to mention I prefer Keen's to Lugers.

                                                          1. Molten chocolate cake at Dessert Truck, pomodoro pizza at San Marzano's, shroomburger at Shake Shack, chocolate croissant at Brasserie Cognac, macaron at Macaron, fresh mozzarella at Obika, S. Indian lunch buffet at Tiffin Wallah, kati roll at Kati Roll Co., bagel pudding at Russ & Daughters, kugelhopf at Andre's Hungarian Pastry Shop, chocolate truffle at Pierre Marcolini, milkshake at Stand, grandma slice at Ben's in Soho, falafel plate at Taim, churros and chocolate at Sunday brunch at Five Points, cacio e pepe pasta at Cacio e Pepe, mini bagels at Absolute Bagels, bialys at Kossar's Bialys, gelato at Il Laboratorio, vegetarian at Dirt Candy, raw vegan at Pure Food & Wine, Indian fusion at Graffiti, Greek at Pylos, brunch at Telepan. I could go on...

                                                            The Vegetarian New Yorker: http://vegny.blogspot.com/

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: shivohum

                                                              Dirt Candy was horrible when I went there. I would never recommend it.

                                                              1. re: myfeetarecold

                                                                myfeetarecold, what was horrible? I went last night and my experience was different.

                                                            2. Alright here's the somewhat final list:
                                                              Momofuku Ko (keeping my fingers crossed, gonna try for lunch)
                                                              Per Se
                                                              Spotted Pig
                                                              Yasuda (just to see steve h where an ANGELS jersey in NY)
                                                              Grammery Tavern
                                                              Halal cart with the "yellow bag" on 53rd and 6th
                                                              Peter Luger and Di Fara's in brooklyn (which one would be better for lunch?)
                                                              Dessert Truck
                                                              Shake Shack
                                                              So I have 4 dinners, 4 lunches from Sat-Wed....any advice on reservations etc?

                                                              31 Replies
                                                              1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                You are still missing Katz's! By the way, you should watch No Reservation tonight as Tony will be visiting some really old-schooled uniquely NY establishments.

                                                                1. re: kobetobiko

                                                                  Sorry...Katz is definitely on the list. and maybe degustation and shopsins...damnit not enough time! unless all I do is eat for 5 days straight

                                                                2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                  Re: reservations, for Per Se you may already be too late as they open their reservation books 2 months in advance, IIRC. For Scarpetta, Yasuda, Gramercy Tavern, and the like, they book rather quickly (about a month in advance). Your best bet is to call at an off hour and ask when they open their books and at what time (i.e. 30 days in advance at 10am). Then call right on the dot.

                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                    for yasuda, if you don't mind going for lunch there's no real need to book a month in advance. A day or two ahead should be sufficient. i usually call at about 10 am (the same day) for a 12pm or 1:30 res and there's almost always a seat for one at the bar in front of yasuda available.

                                                                    1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                                                                      sounds like a good idea...STEVE H will a lunch omakase break the terms of our agreement?

                                                                      1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                        lunch in front of yasuda is a great idea. sushi only, of course. i think you're going to like what he prepares for you. btw, there will be no losers in this. i'm really interested in your review vis-a-vis sushi zo, etc.

                                                                        1. re: steve h.

                                                                          I don't know steve H. I just talked to my gf and her friends tonight and found out that they already went to yasuda when they were last in NY last yr. All of them said that it wasn't memorable...and did not compare to offerings here that are less than $60 for omakase (nozawa (aka sushi nazi))... I don't wanna waste a meal....i'm having serious doubts about yasuda now

                                                                          1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                            i can't speak to LA, but i can speak to yasuda and sushi in tokyo.
                                                                            yasuda holds up in comparison.

                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                              If you sit at the sushi bar in front of Yasuda, it is wonderful. Best sushi experience of my life. It was a class, with no test. l learned a great deal.

                                                                              1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                no worries. you have to call it the way you see it.

                                                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                                                  still wanna try it...and i don't think they sat with yasuda himself...but it might get veto'd given she's already been there

                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                    it's a wonderful restaurant but the price of poker is pretty steep. have a great trip whatever you decide.

                                                                        2. re: kathryn

                                                                          I just got reservations to Per Se for monday!!

                                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                                            Per Se sometimes has last minute cancellations. Call aroun 4 PM for same day.
                                                                            Often people who make reservations 60 days in advance find that they can't get there.

                                                                            It is also easier to get into Per Se for lunch. Try that.

                                                                            By the way, the last minute reservation trick also worked at French Laundry a few years ago.
                                                                            On the other hand, Per Se did not really originate in New York. It came straight from French Laundrey in Napa. They added a great view in New York and doubled the price. And it is great and has evolved since landing.

                                                                          2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                            I think you need to add Katz's and Degustation to that list, and also seriously consider Shopsin's and a bagel place.

                                                                            Also for snacks and desserts: Batch for cupcakes, Otto for olive oil gelato (if they don't have it at osteria mozza), momofuku milk bar for soft serve or cookies, tafu for Mitzy's macarons.

                                                                            Regarding Ko, people seemed to be more mixed than ever regarding the food and service. Why not try for dinner, when the cost and amount of food is actually less, so it will sort of be less of a "risk". On the other hand, Momofuku ssam gets consistently high praise, and the new menu at noodle bar looks interesting as well. All things considered, I would maybe replace it with lunch at ssam and dinner at degustation (way different food, but better chef/diner interaction). However, Ko is certainly a rare experience and I am sure you will quite enjoy your meal there.

                                                                            1. re: ian9139

                                                                              there are way better cookies in new york. i would not count milkbar as an essential new york place to go. if you're looking for sweets, let me know and i'll recommend a few places. mitzy's macarons are some of the best in new york, but don't taste quite like the parisian ones, so while perhaps the best of new york, they are by no means the best of the best.

                                                                              i agree that the dinner at ko could be a better choice than lunch, but also agree that you would be better off going to degustation for dinner rather than a momofuku joint. ssam also has a lunch prix-fixe that has gotten good reviews. noodle bar just rolled out a pf lunch, but i haven't tried it. i like noodle bar least of the momofuku empire, but heard that this new pf lunch is taking a very different direction. may be too risky, though, for a visit in town where you want to try the top essential new york places.

                                                                              1. re: j.jessica.lee

                                                                                I like sweets...but not that much...I don't know what the big deal is about cupcakes....I do love gelato, nuts and cheese (if that counts)...i kinda like restaurant desserts (budino, panna cotta, cheesecake (the not too sweet kind)

                                                                                1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                  you can try Chikalicious if you want a dessert experience...price fixe dessert, she's terrific...not sure if LA would have such a thing with those Hollywood types.

                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                    Definitely try otto (olive oil!) or il lab for gelato. I really liked the corn cookie and banana cookie at milk bar, but they are greasy and not extraordinary. The pistachio soft serve, otoh, was delicious, and the new cereal milk soft serve flavors would be quite fun to try.

                                                                                    I very much liked the goat cheese cheesecake from the Desert Truck. Others have mentioned elsewhere the cheese place next to Shopsin's; it is supposedly very good.

                                                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                      If you're looking for essential New York desserts, you really need to stop by D'Aiuto's and get a slice of Baby Watson cheesecake. Nothing fancy or trendy, just a truly excellent slice o New York cheesecake. Skip the toppings and just get plain. I guess Junior's is just as iconic, but I like D'Aiuto's better; it's a little less sweet.

                                                                                      405 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                                                                                      1. re: Emmmily

                                                                                        Is D'Aiuto's still open? I'm sure I saw somewhere on the internet that it's now closed. Has anyone been recently?

                                                                                2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                  don't forget Barney Greengrass...you did mention Jewish Deli, right?

                                                                                  1. re: bistro66

                                                                                    how am I gonna fit this one? Replace katz?

                                                                                      1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                        Skip Barney Greengrass. They have a satellite operation in Beverly Hills. Not the same as the original, but Katz is just a classic. And you can compare it to Langer's.

                                                                                        1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                          Take it from an Angeleno here....you must try Katz's. It's a must-do for me when I visit NY. I prefer it to Langer's. It's not just the food. The dining experience just can't be had in LA.

                                                                                          1. re: fdb

                                                                                            Just went back to Langer's, and one things for sure....it's just the best damn sandwich I've ever had in my life!...don't know how Katz could top it...but anything close will be welcome

                                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                              The rye breads that Langer's use are a little toasty outside, while Katz's are just plain rye breads. But for the taste of pastrami, I like Katz's better. Katz's also have better pickles. I'll be interested to see which one you prefer. I think there was a heated discussion of Langer's vs. Katz's on the LA Board if you are interested.

                                                                                              1. re: fdb

                                                                                                well the rye at langer's is pretty crunchy on the crust but very soft in the middle. I love the slaw and touch of mustard. and of course the pastrami is just peppery enough, tender and ultra rich. Every texture and flavor you could want. divine. pickles were nothing special. I'll be sure to look for the thread
                                                                                                BTW just had Wolfgang's steakhouse (guy was headwaiter at luger's for years) in LA last night and I have the say the porterhouse was just the ultimate for a beef lover. I think they're fanatical over there at trying to imitate Peter Luger to every last detail. I don't know if it'll match up to the original but I have to say it already beats Luger's in a couple of points: better ambiviance and no corkage. We'll see if the porterhouse matches up.

                                                                                                1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                  With regard to the rye bread at Katz's, frankly, it's rather abysmal, i.e., it usually falls apart because it cannot stand up to the extreme juiciness of the pastrami.

                                                                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                                                                    Get your pastrami at Katz's on a club roll instead of rye.

                                                                                    1. question about Gramercy...better for dinner at the Tavern or at the dining room? I've heard mixed things about the dining room and the tasting menu doesn't seem to me as interesting as the tavern menu...

                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                        ive only had the dining room and im not a fan. for all the hype about service at meyer restaurants, i dropped my fork and eight guys jumped to grab it...i nearly had a heart attack. the food was lackluster considering the price...

                                                                                        1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                          i have to say i have never been disappointed in the dining room at GT. great service, waiters are always excellent at pairing suggestions, and i've never had a bite of food there i didnt love

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            well you two are no help...you said the opposite things..haha

                                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                              i'll throw more mud into the water.

                                                                                              my wife loves the dining room. it's one of her favorite "special meal" places.

                                                                                              me? i like to meet my wife at the bar in the tavern for a late lunch/early dinner. we then dine tavern-side at a table but i like to arrive before her so i can have a martini or two at the bar. it's my kind of place.

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  one of the best. it looks right, feels right. even smells right. very comfortable. zero pretension.

                                                                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                    how hard is it to get a table at the tavern-side? What time should we go on a Sat? Am I better off trying to make a reservation for the dining area?

                                                                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                      no reservations tavern-side. just walk in and take your chances. the worst that happens is you wind up drinking a martini or two at the bar. never been to gt over the weekend. i'm guessing it's not too frantic. not to worry,

                                                                                                      1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                        Even on a Saturday night, I haven't had to wait too long for a table for 2. I say take your chances.

                                                                                                        1. re: Lucia

                                                                                                          cool...i think I'll do that just in case my friends want to join the party

                                                                                          2. Whoa great post! i signed up for Chow just to say i cant wait for your reviews post-trip. That said, Im in love with shanghai cafe for soup dumplings. Never been to Joe's shanghai cause the line can be lame-o! Ippudo is better than Momo Noodle, IMO.
                                                                                            Degustation is one of my faves - $50 tasting menu is a bargain BUT after per se i doubt it would seem all that.
                                                                                            What about Tailor in SoHo? Molecular Gastro joint (chef worked at WD50 before).
                                                                                            Katz's is delish - pastrami, BRISKET!, reuben, and perfectly snappy hot dogs. I live down the street and im still not sick of it. You can fit it in...just dont forget to pack a wheelbarrow in ur suitcase.
                                                                                            PS yasuda does remind me of japan (kyubei...anyone?)

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MonkeySeeMonkeyEats

                                                                                              I'll be sure to report back, especially after all the battling about yasuda. I really wanted to add degustation as well as a molecular joint...but i just dont' have enough dinners or a big enough stomach...next visit for sure...

                                                                                              1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                you have a really aggressive schedule. don't worry about fitting everything in/getting the best/whatever. you'll be back. further, you'll look good in pinstripes!

                                                                                                a side note: porthos, a chowhounder from both the la and sf area, is an excellent source for sushi information. give him a shout-out on the la board and see what he says about east coast/west coast sushi. he knows his stuff.

                                                                                                see you down the road.

                                                                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                  Porthos will tell you to go to Yasuda :) Then he might have a few choice words to say about Nozawa.

                                                                                                  I will send out a Sushi Signal a la the Commissioner to Batman, but I'm pretty sure the key words will be "knife work", "rice", and "eel".

                                                                                                  OMG, it's scallop roe season, right? Peppermonkey, if I were in NYC right now, I would probably go to Yasuda and have an entire meal of scallop roe, uni, and peace passage oysters.

                                                                                                    1. re: daveena

                                                                                                      steve h: I've seen porthos around some of the la threads. He does seem to like his sushi. but i'll trust my own taste here...you have an advantage...i'm not expecting much...i'll be easy to impress...

                                                                                                      daveena: don't knock the original sushi nazi - he still has a special place in my belly for starting me on the sushi craze...and though his bites are way too big and rough, no one makes better hand rolls and for the price and what you get, it's a great deal.

                                                                                              2. Don't miss Babbo, especially if you're a pasta lover. And L.A. has better ramen, but Ippudo is pretty cool because it's different, with thinner noodles and a more upscale environment.

                                                                                                Some fun eats - Dale & Thomas popcorn in Times Square, Max Brenner on 2nd and 9th for chocolate chocolate and more chocolate, Sundaes & Cones on 3rd and 10th for wasabi ice cream.

                                                                                                1. In my opinion (and others seem to agree), don't pass up on Babbo just because you have Mozza in LA. I've been to both and have to say that Babbo is definitely worth a visit. You could consider it Mario Batali's flagship restaurant, and it's one of my favorite restaurants in New York.

                                                                                                  For Italian on a different kind of note, try Cipolla Rossa on the Upper East Side. They specialize in game, and they're very good at it. It's also incredibly inexpensive. They also have two amazing soups: ribollita and pappa al pomodoro.

                                                                                                  For Greek, Kefi on the Upper West Side is amazing and also surprisingly inexpensive.
                                                                                                  Momofuku Noodle Bar or Ssam Bar I think have both been mentioned, rightly so. If you can get a reservation for Ko, that's definitely worth a visit.

                                                                                                  Congee Village serves up some really interesting Chinese food - congee being the specialty, of course. For a different "Chinatown" experience, make a trip to Flushing, Queens. It's a pretty easy ride on the 7 train. Joe's Shanghai in Flushing is a popular place - probably because their servers know the best English. They're famous for their soup dumplings.

                                                                                                  For Indian, if you can make it out to Queens, go to Jackson Diner. It's a bit of a trip but totally worth it. A more upscale Indian restaurant is Amma in Manhattan.

                                                                                                  For seafood, there's the classic Le Bernardin. Aquagrill has more of a casual atmosphere but is also delicious. The Oyster Bar in Grand Central is a fun place, too.

                                                                                                  I've seen a mention of the Spotted Pig, but I would skip it. The food is pretty good, but it's not worth the commotion of getting a table and dealing with the lousy service.

                                                                                                  For what I think is a pretty unique New York-ish experience, Russ & Daughters is a great deli counter-style place specializing in smoked fish and pickled. They have something called a Super Heeb sandwich, which is whitefish salad with some condiments that I can't remember, and it's incredible.

                                                                                                  And the Union Square Greenmarket is a great place to visit. It's open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.

                                                                                                  I'm sure I've missed a lot of great places, but these are some of my favorites. If you do your research, it's hard to go wrong!

                                                                                                  Enjoy your trip!

                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: angiebc290

                                                                                                    Angie, I haven't been to Amma since Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur left to eventually go to Devi. How recently have you been to Amma, and can you compare its current version with what it was like when Suvir and Hemant were there?

                                                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                                                      The last time I went to Amma was a few months ago. I actually don't know anything about the owners. When did Suvir and Hemant leave? The first time I went to Amma was only about a year ago. I thought it was delicious both times.

                                                                                                      1. re: angiebc290

                                                                                                        They were the chef and sommelier, not owners. They left several years ago.

                                                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                                                          Suvir and Hemant were co-executive chefs at Amma. Neither was the sommelier. There was someone who did fill that position and who did not leave when they severed their relationship with the owners.

                                                                                                          They are co-owners of Devi. Suvir is mainly involved with menu planning. Hemant is in charge of the kitchen.

                                                                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                                                                            Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                                                                              In that case, I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the former Amma. But I do think it's still a very good restaurant now.

                                                                                                    2. re: angiebc290

                                                                                                      Thanks for all the rec's. I think I'm gonna have to save some of these for my next trip since there are just too many places. I think babbo is probably too late to make a reservation now. As for XLB (AKA xiao long bao AKA soup dumplings), we have so many options here in LA (http://www.laweekly.com/2009-02-26/ea...), that I dont really see a need to try it in NY.

                                                                                                    3. Here's the first draft of the schedule:
                                                                                                      Lunch Halal Cart 53rd and 6th (going to a matinee after so it's close)
                                                                                                      Dinner Gramercy Tavern

                                                                                                      Lunch Di Fara’s
                                                                                                      Dinner Peter Luger
                                                                                                      (I know I'm gonna have to go back and forth through manhattan if i use transit, I might call a cab and walk on the bridge to burn off the pizza. I also know the weekend is bad for di fara's but this is the only place it will fit)

                                                                                                      Lunch: Katz
                                                                                                      dinner: Per Se

                                                                                                      Lunch: Yasuda (ok steve its on like donkey kong!, we'll see if this fish can stand up)
                                                                                                      Dinner: Momofuku Ko (praying)/back up Spotted Pig

                                                                                                      Breakfast/lunch:Shopsins/Shake Shack

                                                                                                      Late night eats: : Blue Ribbon (til 4), momofuku ssam bar (til 2), spotted pig (til 2), inoteca (til 3), artichoke’s (til 4-5), Halal Cart, pommes frites (FS til 330)

                                                                                                      I don't think we'll be eating breakfast except maybe the last day given we'll be on CAL time and my girl can never wake up before 12 anyway. So I'm figuring our third meal will be late night eats. Any more suggestions for these? Also can anyone refer me to milk and honey just wanna see what a cocktail is like there? Or have any rec's for bars/lounges where cocktails are made with care.

                                                                                                      23 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: peppermonkey


                                                                                                          You might consider reversing DiFara and Katz's. On a Monday, around 1:30 p.m., Di Fara probably won't be too zooish. I don't know what time your reservation at per se is for. (You may have mentioned it upthread, but I'm too lazy to look.) If it's early, this idea won't work.

                                                                                                          1. re: RGR

                                                                                                            DiFara is closed on Monday. Keep your schedule. Hope you don't fill up on meat and sodium at Katz's to lose a bit at Per Se. Perhaps go early to Katz's and late to Per Se.

                                                                                                            1. re: bobjbkln

                                                                                                              I second that bobjbkln!!! share a sandwich....theyre generous...esp if you tip the dude a buck or 2.

                                                                                                              1. re: MonkeySeeMonkeyEats

                                                                                                                when will this rumor about tipping at katz's finally go away. tip or don't - you will still get a hand cut, juicy, fat sandwich, that beats any pastrami anywhere else.

                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                  yea my reservation is early 530 at per se. I think I'll definitely just share a sandwich.. and i'll tip just in case..haha

                                                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                    No, tip because it's the right thing to do. I don't think thew was suggesting that you don't need to tip. Just that you don't have to hold the tip in your hand over the counter so that the carver knows he is getting a tip. You'll do as well if you don't make it visible until you put it in the cup after you get your sandwich.

                                                                                                          2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                            Great lineup. The only one I would replace is Spotted Pig, which I thought was fine because I could walk in at lunchtime, but I've heard the lines are insane at dinner, and I don't think it's good enough to wait on line for. Even though you have Momofuku Ssam Bar as one of your late night options, make it your Momofuku Ko backup - there are enough interesting dishes on the menu that you may injure yourself overeating if you make it your second dinner of the evening (take it from someone who's done exactly that).

                                                                                                            1. re: daveena

                                                                                                              Yea one tricky parts of such a food itinerary is eating too much and giving yourself enough time to digest. Hopefully my momofuku Ko reservation can be made later. Otherwise I'll probably stop a little sooner at yasuda for lunch. And hopefully all the walking around in the city will help me digest sooner. I was thinking about doing the ssam bar for backup, but I think we should have a group for that, since it seems like ssam is more group friendly with some of the dishes.

                                                                                                            2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                              PepperMonkey. I will join my fellow ardent Yasuda fans in support of the Maestro. You are correct. To compare Yasuda and Urasawa is unfair. I have not been to Urasawa yet (need to coordinate a back to back trip with Masa) but if you ask around, those that have been to both say that sushi for sushi, it's equal. The cost at Yasuda is half and Urasawa doesn't come close to Yasuda for variety and seasonality.

                                                                                                              To throw a monkey wrench into your plans, there is a difference between lunch and dinner at Yasuda. I have detected a slightly higher quality at dinner. Having said that, Yasuda easily tops LA's non-Urasawa sushi places. The closest in style and quality is Mori. Keep an eye out for scallop roe sac, kama toro, his freshly grilled eels (you can compare this to Urasawa as Yasuda's is fresh and Urasawa's is not), oysters, and his different sizes of wild yellowtail. Pay attention to the rice, and watch Yasuda's skill in shaping and molding. And by all means, ask him questions. He has taught me something new on every visit and I've been going for the past 7 years or so.

                                                                                                              I'd have to say that your research is spot on. I would skip Gramercy Tavern. The food is nothing special, you'll find that level food at Hatfield's and Grace. The service is wonderful but you should keep Babbo so you can understand where the Mozzas came from. I still prefer Babbo over O.Mozza. Stick to the pastas or do the pasta tasting. If you can't get a reservation, try the bar.

                                                                                                              Otherwise a very strong itinerary.

                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                i'll second the babbo endorsement.

                                                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                  ok...well now i'm a little more excited and defintely expecting more from Yasuda, if you are saying that it "easily tops" mori. Although I wouldn't quite knock urasawa on seasonality and variety. Although he keeps his shabu-shabu dish, toro, a5 beef consistent staples, everything else I received this February were completely different than all the other reviews (and even 1 review a couple of weeks prior). You should definitely try urasawa. You won't be disappointed. Babbo I think will be too late to make a reservation. It'll definitely be top priority on the next trip after Masa. (hopefully flights will remain low and I can come again soon)

                                                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                    Definitely NOT knocking Urasawa. I haven't been yet and am really not in a position to criticize it. It was more to accentuate how vast Yasuda's selection was even when compared to an elite restaurant such as Urasawa.

                                                                                                                2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                  Note that Momofuku Ssam Bar is open until 2 only on Thursdays through Saturdays. Open until midnight the other nights. Balthazar and Pastis are also open quite late, dependent on the night. There are also a bunch of wine bars around town open pretty late: Dell'Anima, Terroir, Gottino, dell'anima, etc.

                                                                                                                  Milk & Honey instructions can be found here:

                                                                                                                  Cocktails with care: Death & Co, PDT, Tailor, Pegu Club, Flatiron Lounge, in that order, I think. Better off going on non-weekend days. The only one where you can make a reservation is PDT (others either don't take them or only take them for large groups) and you do so by calling at 3pm the day of, but the bar is first come first served.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                                    i would add little branch and angel's share to that list. never been to flatiron. i have a mission,

                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                      not to be missed difara for pizza/luger for steak/katz for deli/ per se for special occasion/ reconsider le bernadin no better seafood/ avoid at all cost wd 50/and yes masa overrated

                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                        thew - Def. try Flatiron Lounge. I was really impressed when I first tried it last month.

                                                                                                                    2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                      Another late night joint that I like when I visit NY is Crif Dogs on St. Marks Place. Order the Spicy Redneck (a deep fried dog swaddled in bacon and topped with chili, jalapenos, and coleslaw). I've never made it to the "secret bar" next door but it seems intriguing:


                                                                                                                      Crif Dogs
                                                                                                                      113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

                                                                                                                        1. re: fdb

                                                                                                                          is that story from the link legit? Sounds like a movie

                                                                                                                          1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                            Yes, I was befuddled at first to see people disappearing into a phone booth. Finding the restroom was also a detective work. :)


                                                                                                                            1. re: fdb

                                                                                                                              alright i gotta go now....just sounds cool...will be definitely one of the late night eats/drink place...thanks kathryn and fdb

                                                                                                                              1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                ive been there many times. i warn you in advance that you will likely have to wait for space to sit don unless you get there right around opening time (6pm) for a party larger than 3 people you can make a rez for a table, by calling at 3pm. good luck.

                                                                                                                                they make some great cocktails there, however, and its well worth the go.

                                                                                                                      1. anyone know if Peter luger lets you bring in your own wine now? if so what's the corkage?

                                                                                                                        1. Pearl's Oyster Bar--New England style Lobster Roll
                                                                                                                          Azuri Cafe -- Falafel
                                                                                                                          Daisy Mae's, Hill Country BBQ or RUB--for NYC doing BBQ
                                                                                                                          Best Jamaican is NOT in Manhattan, sadly. You must hit Brooklyn or The Bronx.
                                                                                                                          Do NOT bother to have Chinese, Thai or Korean here in NYC.
                                                                                                                          Papaya on 72st & Amsterdam-- Hot Dogs

                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Ora

                                                                                                                            i have to say i like dinosaur for bbq
                                                                                                                            i prefer papaya king to grays papaya
                                                                                                                            and having been to thailand i must disagree about no good thai in nyc

                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                              I never said no good Thai in NYC, but why would someone from LA want to bother to have Thai in NYC, when there is a HUGE Thai population in LA? I think the idea is to branch out to areas NOT covered in your own home town. This has nothing to do with having been to Thailand, by the way.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Ora

                                                                                                                                i'll say it: there is no good Thai food in Manhattan...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Simon

                                                                                                                                  have you been to rhong tiam? land northeast? what is wrong with the food at those places?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                    i went to Rhong Tiam twice and thought it was abyssmal, a total joke....never been to Land: where is it?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Simon

                                                                                                                                      just what did you find abysmal about it?

                                                                                                                                      land northeast is on2nd and 81st - there is also one on the UWS

                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                        Land UWS does not make a list of "essential restaurants" in NYC. It would barely make a list of average restaurants. While it is not terrible, it isn't great either. I would never suggest it to a visitor.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ora

                                                                                                                                          can you or simon be more descriptive of what was wrong with the food?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                            Do you work for these restaurants? The Pad Thai at Land was barely flavorful, it wasn't served hot either, I recall it had like 2 shrimps in the dish--very skimpy. I recall the Thai spring roll as just OK, not particularly flavorful.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ora

                                                                                                                                              i agree the pad thai there is pretty awful. i also didn't much care for their som tam. both ere pretty bland.

                                                                                                                                              but everything else i've eaten there was pretty tasty

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Ora

                                                                                                                                            in fairness to thew, i don't think he was saying that Land was essential to NYC...rather, i think the thread developed a sub-thread related to Thai food...

                                                                                                                                            i've never been to Land...

                                                                                                                                            re: Rhong Tiam, i went twice...my first visit was lunch...unfortunately, i hadn't read the threads here which would have warned me that the lunch and dinner chefs/food are different...lunch was atrocious: you could argue that it wasn't even Thai food, as it tasted like the kind of Chinese-American junk that a h.s. cafeteria would serve...simply awful...

                                                                                                                                            while i normally wouldn't give a restaurant like that a second chance, i read how the lunch and dinner are so different, etc, so i got a takeout order for dinner one night...i had two things: somdam and the "pork on fire"...while ordering, i had a long convo in Thai with the staff about food preferences, how i like my somdam made, etc...in Thailand, it is normal to request your somdam made a certain way (people often request the specific number of chilis, how sour, how sweet, etc)...i ordered the "pork on fire" because i had asked them if they could make me a dry-green-curry stir-fry and they had told me they didn't have the necessary ingredients...

                                                                                                                                            -- the somdam was mediocre, not remotely authentic, and, more importantly, not made remotely the way i had specified in the long Thai convo...kind of appalling: it'd be analogus to going to an American steakhouse and chatting with the waiter for a long time about how you love the rarest of rare meat and then getting brought a well-done steak...(i'll also note that i got my order at like 6pm when the place was empty, so there was no excuse for the miscommunication with the kitchen)...

                                                                                                                                            -- the pork on fire was a total joke: a few grizzly pieces of pork hidden in a fluffy filler of deep-fried basil and lime leaves...maybe 50 cents worth of food cost maximum for 13 dollars...

                                                                                                                                            i know some people have had better experiences, particularly with the pork dish...and i'm sure there there are some more satisfactory dishes hiding on the menu ...but after two thoroughly crummy meals, there is no way i am returning...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Simon

                                                                                                                                              just had the pork on fire there again last week, and it was nothing like you describe.... but again.. no arguing matters of taste...

                                                                                                                            2. I was raised in LA, but have lived in NY for a bit. LA has definitely got NY beat on nearly all Asian food and of course, Mexican. I like the places you've suggested. I've been to Momofuku Noodle Bar and Ssam. I like MF Ssam better (LA has awesome ramen for 1/3 the price). Bouley and Daniel have great French. My 2 favorite Italian places (and I know I'm going to get a lot of criticism for one of them) are Gradisca and 'inoteca. It's very different than a Del Posto/Babbo, but imho, I really enjoy both for different reasons. I like Spotted Pig, but the hassle to quality of food ratio tips more to hassle. I'm going through this same process b/c my family is visiting me from LA and I'm taking them to the following (but please note that they are in a diff age group than you): Blue Hill at Stone Barns (one of my fave places for food and experience, but not in the city), Gradisca, Shake Shack, Saigon Grill (only b/c my mom liked it when she came out 5 yrs ago), Clinton St Baking Co for brunch (I like Norma's more, but my immigrant Chinese parents would go nuts at paying $20 for pancakes and $7 for OJ) and Grimaldi's. I'm a fan of Luger's, but my husband doesn't like it much. I haven't been to Morimoto, but I hear mixed things (to be fair, there will always be mixed reviews on hyped up trendy asian restaurants). Have fun!!!

                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: kim e

                                                                                                                                Could you elaborate on how are Gradisca and 'inoteca different from Del Posto/Babbo? I'm visiting NY from LA in April, and have a reservation at Otto but am always interested in something that I can't find it LA.

                                                                                                                                1. re: fdb

                                                                                                                                  I haven't been to Gradisca, but 'inoteca is an inexpensive, informal, very good enoteca/trattoria (wine bar/informal sit-down eatery). They have very good salads, panini, cheese, salumi, etc. I haven't been to Del Posto, but Babbo is several price points higher and - on the basis of a meal I had there, which was easily the best meal I had had in New York in several years, until my recent 10-course tasting menu at Degustation - serves much finer food, but 'inoteca is a really good value and a reliably high-quality place.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                    yeah hopefully i'll get to visit inoteca...it's in my late night eats category

                                                                                                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                      That's where it should be. Eat there as part of a barhopping trip through the Lower East Side.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                        great idea pan...what are some of the better bars in LES?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                          I'd love to tell you, but I've noticed that posts that are strictly about alcohol tend to get removed. So I'll only say that if you're going to Max Fish on Ludlow St. around the corner from Katz's, the Whiskey Ward on Essex St. close to Rivington, or Happy Endings, an interesting dance club with artificial fog and such, you should stop by 'inoteca to recharge. :-)

                                                                                                                                  2. re: fdb

                                                                                                                                    For one, they're at different price points. Del Posto/Babbo are way more expensive. Gradisca is cozy and does more homely Italian food (it's not super cheap, though), while Del Posto/Babbo are innovative, celebrity chef, more formal type places. When you walk into Gradisca, there's an older, grandma-type lady who is making all the pasta from scratch (just to give you an idea of the ambience). I won't go into 'inoteca as the descriptions below are good.

                                                                                                                                2. So, there's only 5 days until this crazy journey of gluttony begins. Managed to secure all reservations so far except for momofuku KO, which i'm praying to get able to get tomorrow (please help by logging in tomorrow, haha). My itinerary will remain as it is, but I have just a few questions about what dishes I should be getting at the non-tasting menu/omakase, non-one specialty places such as grammercy tavern, spotted pig, `inoteca, blue ribbon, momofuku ssam, degustation. Thanks once again everyone...

                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                    Gramercy Tavern. Service is excellent, the food is good but nothing exciting.
                                                                                                                                    Blue ribbon. Get oysters from the raw bar and live Maine uni in the shell if it's available.
                                                                                                                                    Momofuku Ssam- anything with headcheese, offal, and razor clam
                                                                                                                                    Degustation- 10 course degustation.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the recs!
                                                                                                                                      I'm glad you gave the thumbs up on the places I chose.
                                                                                                                                      I'll probably keep gramercy b/c it'll just be more convenient that day and it just seems like one of those classic NY food temples that I keep hearing about...most likely won't get to all of these but will save them for future reference.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                        They don't have the headcheese or razor clam dishes at Ssam any more. And the banh mi is off the menu, too.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                        The gnudi or the burger at spotted pig.
                                                                                                                                        Order the 10 course tasting menu at Degustation or order a la carte, depending on your preferences for the night and how many things on the a la carte menu interest you. I would not order the 5 course tasting menu because for about the same price you can order the dishes that most interest you off the menu. The 10 course, on the other hand, is composed of dishes that are not on the menu.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                          At 'inoteca, get some salumi if you're in the mood. They have very good stuff. Or get it in a panino.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                            what is the difference btwn their diff locations? is one superior?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LemonLauren

                                                                                                                                              I've only been to the Ludlow St. location.

                                                                                                                                        2. Gramercy Tavern - You're doing the Tavern Room or the formal Dining Room? Don't miss the house cured pastrami if you're in the Tavern Room. I also really like the pulled pork sandwich and the meatball dish. In the Dining Room, I like the Veal Cappelletti, Lamb Pappardelle, rack of pork, rack of lamb, and/or the flat iron steak. In any case, save room for dessert at either.

                                                                                                                                          'inoteca - the 'inoteca on the LES doesn't take reservations. The newer one in Gramercy does, and has a different atmosphere, feels a bit higher end. the 'inoteca on the LES is cozier. Regardless, I love their truffled egg toast. I also like the wagyu beef panini and the affogato for dessert.

                                                                                                                                          Blue Ribbon Brasserie - the raw bar is quite good there, especially the oysters and the New Orleans shrimp. The bone marrow with oxtail marmalade is also a must order. They served it in the bone with toasted challah bread. Addictive, and I often fill up on this. It's like meat butter on toast, with some of the best challah in town. Also: fried chicken. Duck Club. Chocolate bruno for dessert.

                                                                                                                                          Degustation - the 10 course tasting menu is amazing. Really creative: pork croquetas, "tortilla" with quail egg inside, a "cheesesteak" of wagyu flank in gorgonzola sauce, sardines three ways, hamachi crudo with olive dust, really great stuff.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                                                            I got the wagyu beef panini at inoteca last weekend, and it was an incredibly dry sandwich. I love inoteca, but that was a poor sandwich due to the dryness.

                                                                                                                                          2. So I'm back from New York, 7lbs heavier, quads and calves more defined, and maybe a little meaner too. I have to say this trip was quite a shock to my stomach, liver and other vital organs. I was having some major food fatigue towards the end and even had to cancel one big dinner at degustation my last night but managed to hit up some "classics" instead. Enough small talk, here's my reviews:

                                                                                                                                            Day 1
                                                                                                                                            Gramercy Tavern
                                                                                                                                            So we ended up in the tavern side and started off the night with some great cocktails at the bar. This was a start of a week of the some of the best cocktails I've ever had. I asked the bartender to make me a scotch based drink, and he came back with something with sweet vermouth and just-burnt orange peel, it was quite delicious. Ended up ordering a couple oysters, calamari salad, foie torchon, and duck confit with pork belly. The salad had just a great interplay of textures and flavors, combining the "rubberyness" of the squid with with crunchiness of the carrot and some nice acidity from the lemon vinagrette. I thought that i couldn't go wrong with the duck confit with pork belly, but I did. It was just a salt bomb with all components very disparate, nothing really working well with the other. One great feature of the restaurant is the wine pairing options. The sommelier was apt and allowed us have half pours so that he could pair with each course. Don't know if this is what you're supposed to do on the "tavern" side, but the pairing for the most part really elevated the food. Overall the meal was a great way to start off the trip. A side note: normally I don't really care about decor, but I was actually impressed by the use of seasonal plants and flowers to decorate the room. It was a nice touch.
                                                                                                                                            Flatiron Lounge
                                                                                                                                            Good old school cocktails although the house music seemed to a bit off.
                                                                                                                                            Halal Cart 53rd and 6th
                                                                                                                                            Freezing in my thin Californian skin with a good buzz going (the perfect conditions for some street food), I waited for my chicken and rice. It seemed as though I had created the optimal environment for this meal. We get our food and drink and proceed to add the white sauce and then I add little spots of red sauce, hearing earlier about it’s potency from some clubbers behind me. Then my girlfriend who feels bad for me because she can’t handle too much spice adds some more squirts of red sauce, reasonable amounts for any other red sauce in the world, but deadly for this poison sauce. Inedible.

                                                                                                                                            Day 2:
                                                                                                                                            Di Fara's
                                                                                                                                            Walking into Di Fara's was like walking into a little bubble encapsulating the whole city of New York. To my left is a Sicilian Harley biker with a heavy accent talking to a hedge fund manager from Westchester. To my right there are a group of "youts" from jersey city, the leader of which is barking orders to his minions to secure a table. There are families, there are babies, there is the moody daughter who is turns from sweet to malicious in seconds, and then there is dom, oblivious to all the havoc and theatrics, making his pies one by one, dough-sauce-mozzarella-olive oil-bake-olive oil under-basil from both ends-olive oil over-cheese then repeat. A routine he's been doing for years and years. After waiting for an hour or so we get a slice. With eager anticipation, I grab the it with my hand, and its so hot, I almost drop the precious slice. (Dom must have some bionic fingers because he just pulls the pie right off the oven with his bare hands). When the slice has cooled off to reasonability, I take a bite…the heavens open up and I am transported to pizza nirvana. A blissful combination of ingredients and love. Unbelievable. If there’s one dish from this whole trip, I will be craving for months afterward, it will be this. We waited another hour and half for 2 more slices.
                                                                                                                                            Peter Luger
                                                                                                                                            How good can a steak be? I mean an unmarinated, unsauced cut of beef. You buy a piece of quality meat from the store sear it and then broil it for a little and it tastes as good or better than any maestro’s, ruth’s chris, etc. I even went to Wolfgang’s steakhouse (headwaiter at Luger’s for years) in LA recently so I could compare. It was better but not much. So I go in with some high expectations but nothing magical. I get a Peter Luger lager. Disgusting. We order the salad, the bacon, and hash browns. Meh. The wine list is horrible filled with overpriced cabs from California and not much more. Then comes the waiter with sizzling steak. The presliced beef looks overcooked and burnt. He gives everyone a piece from each side of the porterhouse and spoons the drippings over the meat. How good can an unadorned steak be? Really fucking good! It’s like they took 50 steaks and concentrated all the beefiness into one bite. The best steak I’ve ever had.
                                                                                                                                            Great beer selection. Was able to find most of the my favorite triples, IPAs though they had tapped out of many. Reminded me of Father’s office here in LA. Wonder if the food is as good.
                                                                                                                                            Pegu Club
                                                                                                                                            A cool vibe and nice place to enjoy artisanal cocktails on a relaxing sunday night.
                                                                                                                                            Blue Ribbon
                                                                                                                                            Somehow after eating more than 2 people’s portion of steak at Luger’s, I still end up at Blue Ribbon for another meal. We get oysters from both coasts, bone marrow, fried chicken, onion soup, and pigeon. I enjoyed the east coast oysters, don’t recall what they were called. The bone marrow with the marmalade tasted like a PBJ sandwich. I’ve had much better preparations here. Fried chicken was juicy, crisp, and nicely seasoned, though at $25 it’s a little pricey. Probably the best thing about Blue Ribbon is the hours, though I’d probably rather go to 53rd and 6th for some chicken and rice.

                                                                                                                                            Day 3
                                                                                                                                            Of all the places that were mentioned on this thread, Katz Deli was the unanimous choice for “essential” New York eats. And walking into Katz seemed to confirm this. From the neon signs and dozens of frames, to the where harry met sally table, the cafeteria trays, and the ticket and ordering procedures, I could feel the history and life pervading the room. The deli man gives us a taste of the pastrami. My girlfriend (who hates pastrami) gobbles it up and is amazed and confused. “It’s sooo good, is this pastrami?” I eagerly take a bite. The meat is juicy, tender, rich and delicious. Is it best pastrami, I’ve had? I think LA legend Jonathan Gold put it best, “The fact is inescapable: Langer’s serves the best pastrami sandwich in America.” Imagine a Katz pastrami that’s even more tender and so rich that almost one bite will leave you satisfied, filled with a tangy slaw on a superior piece of rye that is fluffy soft, sog-free with a crunchy crust. Maybe for those fat haters, who live on grass and acorns, the Katz pastrami is more desirable. But for me, bring on the pork fat, the bone marrow, foie, and the Langer’s pastrami.

                                                                                                                                            Per Se
                                                                                                                                            The meal at Per Se is almost a blur to me now. I remember the gigantic blue door upon entering and a great view of Columbus looking far beyond. I remember wondering how they made the oysters into balls to go along with the smaller balls, tapioca, and the even smaller balls, the caviar. I remember the ultracreamy terrine of foie and how they replaced the accompanying bread after I had taken one bite because it was just fresh from the oven. I remember a good scallop dish and the cool lime “laces” with the mango sorbet. But I don’t remember much else. I can tell you all 8 dishes I had at L’atelier in Vegas 2 months ago. I can probably tell you all of the 20+ dishes I had at urasawa 3 months ago. I payed half as much at L’atelier and a little more at urasawa. At this price point I expect to be impressed with every dish. I don’t think my expectations were unreasonably high given my mixed experiences at Keller restaurants (Bouchon was just bad, but I did have a nice “comfort” meal at Ad Hoc). In fact, I never really liked French food because of these and similar experiences, until I went to Anisette, a brassiere in Santa Monica by great French chef, and my mind blowing meal at L’atelier. Though I hate to say this, maybe an American chef just can’t do French based food as good as a Frenchy can.
                                                                                                                                            Random Dive bar across the street while waiting for a spot at PDT
                                                                                                                                            Surprisingly made some decent cocktails but also happy to please the masses with patron and grey goose. I was intrigued by the pork belly skewers on the chalkboard menu.
                                                                                                                                            By fortune, we were seated at the bar. I was the one lucky enough to be seated next to a severed bear, who was trying to hug me the whole night. One look at the homemade bitters, juices, and liquors, I knew what to do. I picked the poison and let the bartender have carte blanche. Drink after drink wonderfully unique and customized to each of our preferences. Each drink having the right amount and type of alcohol, bitters, and sweetness. I realized we were seated in front of another master. This time the vehicle of choice was not pizza, but cocktails. More impressive than the "not so secret" phone booth, the trap door, and all the shenanigans of getting a seat, were the bartender and his delicious creations.

                                                                                                                                            Day 4
                                                                                                                                            After all the foie, pork belly, pastrami, and alcohol, sushi was a welcome change of pace. In accordance with my wager with NY sushi hound Steve H, we are the first to be seated for lunch with the man himself, Yasuda-san. Walking in, I notice the intentionally minimalistic décor, fortelling the ideals and beliefs of the man in front of us. Before any sushi is prepared, he is already instructing us how to hold our rice correctly and when to use our chopsticks. We get a piece of blue fin tuna, he notices me turn my fish over, fish side down, as I’m about to eat and then quickly corrects me that this is not traditional and how this way of eating sushi comes from a “new” style which is incorrect. And it continues like this for the next few hours, an endless stream of information from the inferiority of daiginjo sake (which I love by the way) to the superiority of rice over fish, fish and rice temperatures, the importance of speed in maintaining appetite and on and on. Porthos was right. The variety was amazing. White salmon from Alaska, Tasmanian sea trout, 6 types of yellowtail, 5 types of tuna, and God knows how many types of snapper. He ended up giving us a tasting of one type of fish from different regions so that we could compare. East coast uni vs west coast uni, freshwater eel vs sea eel, farmed yellowtail vs two wild versions. So did the sushi at Yasuda stand up to the sushi in LA equivalents?? Sorry Steve H, but you’re gonna have to book a flight to LA because it didn’t. The portions were perfect, knife skills excellent but the rice was extremely sour. I mean like a notch below sucking on a lemon sour. And with each bite this sourishness continued to develop in my mouth so much so that I could hardly taste the fish towards the end. And some of the fish were a little “fishy” not in the good “fishy” way as in good mackerel but the bad “fishy” way as in not as fresh. Did I regret going to Yasuda? No way. It was a treat to speak with a man who was so passionable about his craft and unwaveringly devoted to its traditions and history. I learned more about sushi in one visit than all the other sushi dinners combined. That said...Steve, here's a link where you can buy an angels jersey. http://shop.mlb.com/category/index.js.... God help you when you wear this in the city.

                                                                                                                                            Fast food trifecta: White Castle/Gray’s Papaya/Halal cart redo
                                                                                                                                            After the large meal at Yasuda and the accumulation of the previous meals, a 10 course degustation just seemed painful. So we ended up canceling our reservation, watched a show, and proceeded to shake shack instead. Unfortuantely shack shack was closed, (my in n out comparison will have to wait). So we came up with the bright idea of going to white castle instead since I had never been. My take on White castle: McDonalds cut into small squares. Never again. Then we saw Gray’s Papaya across the street. My take on Gray's: Hot dog. Unsatisfied and feeling like we messed up our first meal there we end up heading back up to 53rd and 6th. This time I make sure to add homeopathic doses of red sauce. And it does not disappoint. It has all the qualities of what every great taco truck, hot dog cart, kebab stand and every other great street food have: its fast, piping hot, well seasoned, full flavored and utterly satisfying, perfect after some heavy drinking.

                                                                                                                                            Day 5
                                                                                                                                            So we manage to include one last meal before our flight, and I am glad we did. I loved the combo of sweet, spice, and fat of the pork buns. The shio ramen broth was so dense with pork bone flavor, rich with oil, comparable to the best versions I've had in LA. The texture and taste of the noodles were a nice al dente. The other components? Meh. The chashu was dry and at least a day or two old. The egg boiled hard and cold (I prefer soft). But overall, a nice meal on a much colder day in the city.

                                                                                                                                            The food in New York is great. I don't know if I could say it is better than LA. I would need to live in NY for a while. The lower level of food is without a doubt higher. You could randomly walk into almost any restaurant and find a decent meal. In LA, you need to search and sift through all the crap and be willing to drive. In LA the variety and quality of Asian and Latin food is just incomparable. Next time I'll definitely need to try some Italian options and maybe some more ethnic options you can't find in LA.
                                                                                                                                            NY definitely has a better cocktail scene in general (i.e. it's much easier to find a great cocktail). LA is improving, but requires research. LA has better fruit based cocktails due to the superior local produce in California. But if you love the taste of hard liquor, NY has the edge.
                                                                                                                                            Thanks to all for the suggestions and feedback. This blog made the trip much more memorable and exciting.

                                                                                                                                            30 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                              howdy peppermonkey,

                                                                                                                                              glad you enjoyed manhattan. sounds like you really enjoyed sushi yasuda. learning from the man is a good thing. i should be in la in the fall and will proudly wear my angels jersey.

                                                                                                                                              having said that, what sushi bar in la is demonstrably better than yasuda? the original wager was "equal or exceed..." as i recall. a rematch may be in order.

                                                                                                                                              best regards,


                                                                                                                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                sushi zo or mori sushi will be a similar price point with BETTER sushi (imho), the "experience" at yasuda: one of a kind

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                    P-Monkey. Bet is already lost.

                                                                                                                                                    What specifically about Zo or Mori do you find better than Yasuda? Neither has the quality or selection that Yasuda has. The rice at Zo is actually average and somewhere between Sasabune and Mori. It's better seasoned and cooled than Sasabune but occasionally breaks apart. Zo's selection doesn't change much with the seaons. Kinmedai is pretty much always offered at Zo because Keizo uses farmed kinmedai. Yasuda only offers it when its wild and in season. There's no fresh grilled uni, or scallop roe sac, or nearly the selection of whitefish that Yasuda provides.

                                                                                                                                                    Mori, I love the guy but he only has 15-20 types of fish on any given day.

                                                                                                                                                    If you do a search both on CH and check out some indivdual blogs, it's pretty much consensus that Yasuda edges out Mori and Zo. Mori and Zo are good but there's a reason why certain CH'ers including myself always stop by Yasuda when we return to NYC.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                      it may have just been the aggressive vinegar in the rice that day that distracted me from the quality of the fish. The only time I had rice that acidic was at hiko in la. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't have that vivid, pop in your mouth quality with some of the pieces that Yasuda gave us. I also tend to prefer fatty, sweetish, soft-textured fish which may have contributed. Definitely Yasuda has a much greater variety, which I totally appreciate. I love novelty. I think he wanted to show us the differences between the fish by offering 2-3 piece "tastings," which was definitely fun and enlightening, but every piece wasn't great. Of the 3 different yellowtail he provided, I much preferred Mori's burri. The octopus was "hard to swallow" chewy. Maybe he didn't give the best of the day, so that he could teach us the differences. At Zo, I love the melt in your mouth texture of the fish there. At Mori, the quality of rice really the shines. Again the acidity of the rice was the main problem at yasuda. Dont' know if that was just one day. But my girl who is a sushi fiend and who's been twice didn't find either experience memorable.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for getting back to us, with a great post! Two quick reactions:

                                                                                                                                                  (1) It's easy to randomly walk into a crap restaurant in New York, too.

                                                                                                                                                  (2) It sounds like you didn't tell the counterman at Katz's to make your pastrami "juicy." The idea that Katz's pastrami is somehow appealing to fat-haters is very weird to me. They'll make it lean if you ask for that (but for those who insist on lean - and ONLY for them - I think 2nd Av. Deli's pastrami is better), but I always ask for it "nice and tasty" or "juicy," and get it that way. If you felt your sample was not as fatty as you wanted, you should have had the counterman get another slab. That's the way it works there.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                    thanks for reading ...it was a bit long
                                                                                                                                                    1) i feel like there's a lot more crap here in LA, and everything is spread apart...which makes it more difficult to find something great
                                                                                                                                                    2) don't get me wrong...the Katz pastrami is definitely rich and tender...i didn't know I could actually get a richer slice if I so desired. But there were a few other reasons I prefer langer's: the meat is a little more peppery which of course I like and more tender. There was some gristle/tendon which I had to remove. The bread and cole slaw are also much better.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                      I once got a sample at Katz's that had some gristle in it. I told the cutter what was sub-optimal about it, and he got another slab, which was perfect.

                                                                                                                                                      By the way, I've eaten very well in LA - but in large part, thanks to excellent advice online.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                      I agree 2nd Ave does serve leaner and more peppery pastrami (and sliced thinner) but Katz's is still my favorite in both NY and LA. I just brought home 2 lbs of sliced pastrami from Katz's. After 6 hours of flight and a night in the frige, it's still tender and juicy with plenty of "fat" after heated up. My brother who has lived in Manhatten for over 20 years used to think 2nd Ave was the best. Now I have converted him. :)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fdb

                                                                                                                                                        I've never been to Langer's in LA (I prefer to have California-style, East/Southeast Asian, and Mexican food in Southern CA) or had smoked meat at Schwartz's in Montreal, but Katz's serves by far the best pastrami I've had.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                                                                                                          you should try it, once at least...the pastrami is debateable to those who've tried both but most agree that the bread and slaw make it a better sandwich overall

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                              yeah and somehow the bread doesn't get mushy

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                      Sounds like some bias but that is to be expected. Honestly, some of the comps make zero sense. Not everything but a few. No point in going over it because well....
                                                                                                                                                      I know, everyone has opinions and nobody is WRONG, no, nobody can be wrong, so why speak of it.

                                                                                                                                                      Cool that you had a good time, overall, it seems.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dietndesire

                                                                                                                                                        I tried to keep as unbiased as possible. I have actually always thought NY was superior to LA food, since first visiting. More recently, I've discovered some of LA's great places. So I was actually kinda surprised that the LA food is on par with some of the best places in NY.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                        P-Monkey. I am shocked at your description of the rice at Yasuda. Either someone really screwed up that day in the kitchen or hell froze over. I've been going to that genius for over 8 years now and the rice has never been sour and the fish has never been fishy. I did think the quality at lunch was a touch inferior to the quality at dinner but never sour and fishy! My last visit was 1 year ago. Fellow west coast to east coast traveler Daveena went recently and proclaimed it as good as ever. Even those that have been to Masa and Urasawa compare the rice at both places to Yasuda, for Yasuda is the measuring stick when it comes to rice. And in my dozen or so visits over the years, he has consistently been better than Mori and Zo.

                                                                                                                                                        I will be very interested to see what Epop has to say in his upcoming visits to Yasuda. It will be a sad day indeed if this is confirmed.

                                                                                                                                                        As for Langer's vs. Katz.. You could argue that Langer's produces a tastier sandwich if you take into account the bread and the slaw. However, pastrami to pastrami, I still prefer Katz. I guess it has to do with what we grew up on.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                            The sushi was by no means bad. Not all the pieces of fish were "fishy." Strangely the saba was the best and least fishy saba I've ever had (even better than at urasawa). It was some of the other cuts that weren't as fresh. As far as the rice, both my girl and my friend who's never had higher quality sushi also noticed the sourness. My friend, who also said it was the best sushi he's ever had, was curious if the sourness was normal.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                              Sushi rice should be properly seasoned with vinegar but not sour to the point where it's clashing with the fish. As I mentioned previously, Yasuda is known for his sushi rice and was one of the first in the US to place emphasis on the rice. This was back when LA was singing praises to Sasabune and its horrific rice. It would surprise me if the rice at Yasuda was that bad. Do you remember which cuts were fishy? If you didn't think the saba was fishy, only the kohada and gensaba had the potential to be fishy.

                                                                                                                                                              Did you enjoy the fresh grilled eels? You can't get that in LA. Mori is doing fresh grilled anago but no fresh grilled unagi or sawani yet.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                I may have exaggerated with the whole lemon thing, but it was definitely sour. The taste was not as noticeable in the beginning but continued to build throughout the meal, ultimately clashing with the fish. What I meant by fishy was not mackerel fishy. I meant more like not as fresh. For me, the freshest fish have a vivid, springy, pop in your mouth quality. This was evident in the spanish mackerel, saba, and others. But some of the other fish had this "dull" quality. I think the fishy quality you're talking about was evident in 1 dish, the sardine (which I didn't care for). At zo and mori, I've never had that "dull" sensation
                                                                                                                                                                BTW I did really enjoy the eel, and was surprised by the unagi version.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                              My wife and I have been to Yasuda about a dozen times or so in the last few years, and Zo and Mori twice each (we live in San Francisco now but we used to live in New York). We agree wholeheartedly with Porthos about Yasuda's rice, and, although we enjoyed Zo and Mori very much, we definitely prefer Yasuda.

                                                                                                                                                              The first time we went to Mori, we agreed that his rice was among the best we had ever tried… but not as good as Yasuda's (whom we consider the best all-around sushi chef in our dining experience; his nigiri omakase would make the short list for my last meal). We got into a conversation with Mori and the Japanese diners sitting next to us, and learned that Mori and Yasuda actually worked together in Japan. Mori himself had an evidently high opinion of Yasuda, and seemed rather proud to have worked alongside him before. (When we brought Mori up to Yasuda in a subsequent visit, Yasuda responded in his characteristically laconic and gruff fashion that he remembered working in the same restaurant as Mori, but didn't really venture an opinion one way or another about him, which is probably as close to a compliment as he will give to another sushi chef.)

                                                                                                                                                              Anyway, I don't know if the Mori-Yasuda connection is common knowledge among Chowhounds, but I hadn't seen it referenced before. I'm glad they went to different cities to spread their skills around, but I wish that a third colleague of theirs would come out here to SF! In the meantime, we'll continue making trips to NY and LA for sushi. We'll be eating at Yasuda in about a month, and we're looking forward to seeing if our experience is as good as it has been over the years.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lexmob

                                                                                                                                                                That's funny because when I brought up Mori-san, Yasuda acted like he didn't know who I was talking about. Any comparison of the rice for me was marred by the overuse of vinegar the one and only time I dined at yasuda. Don't know if it was just this one time.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lexmob

                                                                                                                                                                  The Mori-Yasuda connection is known. They worked together in NYC actually. According to Yasuda they were in separate parts of the restaurant though. Yasuda was downstairs and Mori upstairs. I don't know what that means.

                                                                                                                                                                  Mori says he still goes back and visits Yasuda once in a while. I mentioned to Mori that Yasuda was still a character and Mori said something along the lines of same old same old.

                                                                                                                                                                  I like Mori but watching Yasuda work and watching Yasuda's knife skills, it's obvious Yasuda is more skilled just as Mori is more skilled then Keizo at Zo. Once Yasuda scored my aori ika 20 times in 1 direction then 20 more in another. Needless to say, the ika was the most tender I've ever tasted.

                                                                                                                                                                  All this talk is making me plan a return trip with The Man also. It has been much too long.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                    I definitely enjoyed watching him work, especially went it got a little busy. The presion and speed were amazing. He took probably 2/3rd's of the bar while the other three guys took the other 1/3. He likened the skills of a sushi chef to those of a boxer. But that octopus was one of the hardest to swallow. We were all chewing for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                      this sushi chef genealogy tree is very amusing. the only one i really know is that Masa Shimizu of 15 East trained in Tokyo. His master in Tokyo trained alongside Mizutani (of Sushi Mizutani) who trained under Jiro (of Sukibayashi Jiro). Mizutani and Jiro are generally considered the two most famous sushi chefs in Tokyo and both are 3 star michelin--and both will cost you +$400/pp!

                                                                                                                                                                      knowing that genealogy can be helpful when you're talking with the chef. when we explained to Mizutani that we had been recommended by a former pupil of his old colleague, he definitely warmed up to us!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                                  You should have had a hot dog at PDT!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                                                                                                                                    yea...but after per se....couldn't eat anything

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                                    Wow. Some great reviews here. I have been lurking on the Manhattan board for a week or two, but your in depth post really got me interested. I am visiting the city from Aug 10-14 and now I need to consider my food options : )

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: missyoulikegravy

                                                                                                                                                                      this post was almost as fun as the actual trip to the city...there's just so much great food in new york...but I really enjoyed exploring the different parts of the city in route to the various eateries...every area has it's own personality and you can feel it and taste it in the different restaurants and bars. I'd recommend going to a variety of places...from cheaps eats to tasting menus. I'd probably play to the strengths of the new york depending on where you are coming from and what your region does well.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. Best Burger-Shake Shack
                                                                                                                                                                    Best Hot Dog- Dogmatic
                                                                                                                                                                    Best Soup Dumplings-New Green Bo
                                                                                                                                                                    Best Service/Food-ANY of the Blue Ribbons
                                                                                                                                                                    Best Artichoke dip-Freeman's
                                                                                                                                                                    Here are a few ideas....from a REAL NEW YORKER

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: marsmarsmars

                                                                                                                                                                      I know I'm a little off topic, but we are Malibu peeps taking our daughter to NY for the first time. Just had the most delightful lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park! For a NY experience it was top notch.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MarlaPR

                                                                                                                                                                          Could you elaborate on your experience? I have always wanted to go to the Boathouse when I visit NY but never did get to do it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fdb

                                                                                                                                                                            It's right on the lake, with quaint boats sprinkled around with kids and adults rowing about. The room is very light with lots of glass. The lake reflects on the walls and it's incredibly inviting.The lake, the park and the skyscrapers are right out the large windows. You want to stay and share some wine or ice tea with your family or friends. The waiters are professional and friendly, and the food incredible. I had the red snapper with melted cabbage slaw. My daughter had twin burgers with homemade tater tots and my husband black bean soup and heirloom tomato salad. New York the way I like it!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MarlaPR

                                                                                                                                                                              Sounds like a NY experience I'd like to have. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I know I'm a bit late, but my two cents say to keep the Spotted Pig on your list. Keen's is definitely visit-worthy. For Puerto Rican food, my boyfriend and I loved Sazon on Duane Street in Lower Manhattan and we're both Puerto Rican (we eat at authentic PR spots in the Bronx all the time...). Artichoke Basille's pizza on 14th is defintely also a must-try. If you're in that area, there is also a really good thai sandwich shop also on 14th called Thai Me Up. Go for the white ginger sauce on whichever sandwich you choose. Petrossian is also very good. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Loma

                                                                                                                                                                          I'll ditto Artichoke Basile but LA has better Thai places than Thai me Up. Easily.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: windycity

                                                                                                                                                                            All I have to say is that I wish I had time to come here BEFORE my 1 week vacation (eat fest) in NYC. <sigh> It just means I'll have to return.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. HI Peppermonkey,
                                                                                                                                                                          I hope you enjoyed your trip. I'm also visiting NY from LA in November and I'd love to know which restaurants you enjoyed from all the suggestions you got. It's so odd to say I'm visiting-- that is where I grew up-- but I've been gone so long, I know at least some of my favorite places are gone. Would you please share a few places you enjoyed?

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: withabandon

                                                                                                                                                                            my long-winded response is further up the thread but to be concise, I'd say:
                                                                                                                                                                            Di Fara's - best pizza I've ever had, though it might not be so special to someone who grew up in nyc, I still dream of a slice once a week
                                                                                                                                                                            Peter Lugar - best steak i've had as well, definitely better than the copy cat wolfgang in LA
                                                                                                                                                                            Very good but equal/better places in LA: ippudo's ramen, Katz pastrami, Yasuda (though learned more about sushi in 2 hours than all my other sushi experiences combined) , gramercy tavern (though I really enjoyed the overall experience here)
                                                                                                                                                                            Cheap eats - halal cart on 53rd and 6th (watch the application of the red sauce)
                                                                                                                                                                            Biggest disappointment - Per Se
                                                                                                                                                                            If you like cocktails, PDT and Pegu Club were great

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: peppermonkey

                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you, I very much appreciate the recap!