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Jan 29, 2012 11:14 PM

Bay Area Chow Hound in Manhattan right now for 5 more days - need recommendations!

Manhattan has sure changed since my last visit 12 years ago and I have no idea where to go.

We are staying in the 50s near 6th Ave...

I love to focus on the kind of restaurants which we don't have in Bay Area.... which means avoiding Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and California style organic - which we have in abundance....

So I'd love any and all regions of europe, Pan-latin and interesting regional chinese, regional american...and anything else you can think of that is interesting and novel. I am open to fusion restaurants... I'm traveling with a friend who is wild for Japanese food - so I would like one recommendation for a Japanese restaurant - hopefully one with a TWIST - something non-standard in someway...

Now for the caveats.... Not wild for fancy restaurants - with decorated plates and restrained flavors...and very high prices...Prefer Bold flavors and restaurants which provide a real bang for the buck - in terms of the dining experience as a whole. While I understand that restaurants in NY (esp in mid-town) in a "reasonable" price range tend to be pretty cramped and "store-fronty", if you have a recommendation which has a more spacious (warehouse-style) atmosphere, please mention this - as it would definitely considered as a plus!!! But the food is paramount - so feel free to recommend based on the food regardless....

Midtown is great - but willing to travel for something special..Novelty is a plus....

Thanks so much for your recommendations in advance!

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  1. Nuela is great Peruvian food. In the 20's and 5th area.

    If you haven't been to Eataly I'd say give it a shot. It's not too expensive, and I've had very good food and experiences there. Also in the 20s and 5th.

    Milos (pretty expensive, but worth it) is an awesome Greek / Mediterannean seafood restaurant close to where you are staying.

    125 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019

    43 W 24th St, New York, NY 10010

    200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010

    1. You'll do best for your search parameters of you can get outta Midtown.

      Off the top of my head, sounds like you'd enjoy Babbo, Takashi, Tertulia, Prune, Spotted Pig, Fatty Cue, Wong, Xian Famous Foods, Zabb Elee...

      What about getting some only in NY type foods? Such as: bagels and smoked salmon, pastrami on rye, hot dogs & papaya juice, black and white cookies, cheesecake, egg creams, pickles, halal carts.

      Best bagels in NYC:
      Summary: the freshest bagels are the best; bagels don't age well at all.

      I'm fond of red onion, capers, regular cream cheese, and tomato on mine. Try a few smoked salmons before you settle on one, they're surprisingly different (and lox is not the same as smoked salmon, because lox is salmon cured in salt brine, and most people actually prefer the more modern, Nova-style smoked salmon). You can get a mini-sized bagel sandwich at Russ & Daughters, too, if you wish. Takeout only.

      I'd also look into pizza while you're here. The non-Neopolitan kind.

      I like John's of Bleecker, if you ask for it well done. Get it plain or with one topping, max. I'm partial to their green peppers. This is classic coal-fired NY-Neopolitan hybrid style pie. They do sometimes undercook/under char it, though. Whole pies only.

      I have also enjoyed Patsy's in East Harlem (coal oven) in the past but it is a bit far uptown dependent upon where you are starting from, and I've not been very recently. Whole pies OR slices if you want.

      South Brooklyn Pizza or Joe's for a slice (gas oven). Joe's is a bit less crisp/more chewy and on the more cheesy sied and has a more uniform appearance. South Brooklyn is more crispy and has an interesting cheese blend (mozzarella, grana padano, and fontina) with fresh basil, and the cheese and sauce are more scattered, which you usually don't see at slice joints.

      IIRC the Bay Area has pretty good Asian food. BUT we have some of the harder to find Chinese cuisines: Shaanxi (Xian Famous Foods) and Fuzhou in Manhattan, and many more in Queens and Brooklyn (Shangdong/Qingdao, Henan, and Dongbei to name a few).

      If you like obscure regional Chinese, definitely seek out Xian Famous Foods.

      My favorite unique places in NY serve Xian (Chinese) food, Issan (Thai) food, organic/local/sustainable Japanese BBQ, authentic Basque (Spanish) tapas, creative diner food, pretzels, hot dogs, halal food, steak, upscale rustic Italian, Italian subs, creative Italian-American, high end non-sushi Japanese (like kaiseki), creative desserts, molecular gastronomy, mixology/creative cocktails, and upscale brunches (brunch is served every day here, sometimes even for dinner).

      My favorites are here:

      You might also want to get some Southern food, BBQ or lobster rolls while you're here. I might look into Pies 'n' Thighs, the Redhead, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Pearl Oyster Bar, Luke's Lobster.

      Don't leave NY without eating these foods

      I highly recommend RGR's self guided Lower East Side Gustatory tour but sub in Pickle Guys for Guss' Pickles and note that Economy Candy's address is incorrect:

      2 Day NYC Tour focusing on eating, please help with suggestions...

      Restaurant Advice for 2 day trip to NYC

      For non-Western European/American

      Foreign Street Grub

      totally obscure, odd, and intriguing menu items

      Russ & Daughters
      179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

      Pearl Oyster Bar
      18 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

      Pickle Guys
      49 Essex St, New York, NY 10002

      Hill Country
      30 W 26th St, New York, NY 10010

      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      Spotted Pig
      314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014

      John's Pizzeria
      278 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

      Blue Smoke
      116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

      Joe's Pizza
      7 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

      54 E 1st St, New York, NY 10003

      Economy Candy
      108 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002

      Patsy's Pizzeria
      2287 1st Ave, New York, NY 10035

      The Redhead
      349 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003

      Xi'an Famous Foods
      81 St. Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

      Luke's Lobster
      93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

      South Brooklyn Pizza
      122 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

      456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

      Zabb Elee
      75 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

      359 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011

      Fatty 'Cue
      50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

      7 Cornelia St, New York, NY 10014

      4 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Thank you all for your recommendations. I used some of Kathryn's links which linked me to an interesting exchange with Berkeley Hounds going to NYC. In the exchange they mentioned China Village on Solano Ave in Berkeley as a reference point for great Szechuan food. I am a big fan of China Village myself so that got my attention immediately and I saw Kathryn's recommendation for Szechuan Gourmet which is mere blocks away from where we are staying in Manhattan!! So of course we went there tonight for dinner!!

        We loved it!! Thank you so much for the recommendation. While there were quite a number of same menu items on Szechuan Gourmet and China Village menus - as I was looking for new experiences - we tried dishes which are not ones which I have noticed on CV's menu (doesn't mean they are not on the menu as CV's menu is HUGE)...

        Unfortunately my friend is not a great fan of "hot" food - so we were careful not to order any dish more than "2 peppers" on the menu which meant that I could NOT order the Ma Po tofu (4 peppers!!) which I would have loved to try. However, we ordered Dan Dan Noodles, Pan Seared Pork Dumplings (rather than the Szechuan style Dumplings) Shitake Mushrooms with Bok Choy (and Garlic) and Double Cooked Pork Belly with Leeks.

        The food was wonderful and actually I think we ordered a selection which balanced each other quite well... Turns out that even two peppers was too much for my friend - which left me to eat the Dan Dan Noodles on my own (no problem for me!!). Even though I would have been happier having a somewhat "hotter" selection - I was actually delighted by our choices. The Pork Belly was luscious and very rich - I loved this dish but must admit felt quite guilty in my blatant disregard of my cholesterol numbers!! I loved it but probably would not order it very often!! The pork dumplings were delightfully delicious fabulous texture and flavor. The Baby Bok Choy was listed on the menu as either "with garlic" or "with Shitake Mushrooms" - we asked for it to be prepared with BOTH which was an excellent idea because the combination of the three was fabulous - and a great contrast of flavors against the Pork Belly.

        Now on the Dan Dan Noodles - oddly I have never had this dish before though I gather from reading - it is quite common. I loved the sauce but I must say I was NOT in love with the texture of the noodles themselves. I really prefer very, very chewy noodles and these were not - they were kind of "spaghetti like" and not extremely "al dente". Was this a mistake on the part of the restaurant OR is this the way they are normally made? What are the noodles made of?

        At CV we always order the Cold Noodles in Sesame Chili sauce and those noodles are fabulously FAT and CHEWY! Don't know enough about what kind of noodles they are but LOVE them....

        Anyway, all in all LOVED SG and if I get a chance I may run over there for takeout "Ma PO Tofu" just to try it!

        In the interests of full disclosure - I spent a few days visiting family in the New York area so I have already had my fill of New York pizza, bagels and deli in my hometown - which is why I am skipping over your thoughtful recommendations on those subjects.

        BTW, I agree with you on John's Pizza - have had it before and its GREAT. Also, lived many years on East 21st Street and Ess-a-Bagel was on the corner - ate there many times a week - boy was I spoiled when I think how hard it is to get a decent bagel in the Bay Area!

        I am going to pour through rest of your links and keep you posted with our experiences.

        My friend wants to go to Momofuku Noodle Bar tomorrow - what are the MUST HAVE dishes???

        Szechuan Gourmet
        21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

        1. re: missdemo

          Whenever I've had Dan Dan noodles, they've been a bit spaghetti like.

          At Momofuku Noodle Bar, the menu isn't very varied or deep. The signature dish is probably the steamed pork buns. The ramen is good, but not great. I don't think it's very traditional either. Noodle Bar is probably my least favorite of the Momofukus.

          Are you going because you want ramen or because you want to try a David Chang restaurant? If the former, try Ippudo instead.

          Momofuku Noodle Bar
          171 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          65 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: kathryn

            And if the latter, try Ssam bar instead.

            Momofuku Ssam Bar
            207 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

          2. re: missdemo

            I believe dan dan noodles should be somewhat al dente, certainly not really soft. However, I've never been bothered by the texture of the dan dan noodles at Szechuan Gourmet.

            I've actually never been to Noodle Bar but have enjoyed a few trips to Ssam Bar.

            Thanks for your great reports!

        2. Not in Midtown, but I'll throw out Brushstroke for Japanese down in Tribeca. Outstanding, tasting menu format. While you're downtown, there's also high-end Korean at Jungsik; not sure there's anything quite like it in the Bay Area. No offence to cheeryvisage, but we felt Brushstroke blew Jungsik out of the water, although The Chef (name escapes me) was out the night we went to the latter; you may want to call ahead if you go...

          Jung Sik
          2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

          30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

          1 Reply
          1. re: Andy T.

            lol, no offense taken! I really need to check out kaiseki restaurants myself. Thanks for the reminder.

            I think Jungsik is worth checking out because there's really nothing like it outside Korea probably.

            Jung Sik
            2 Harrison St, New York, NY 10013

          2. For mid town I really like Seasonal Restaurant and Wine Bar. The food just works for me. I realize Austrian ain't exactly fashionable and I went there originally because they had schnitzel (which my SO needs like medicine on a regular basis) but I really love their food and their wine and their truly seasonal menu. We almost always stay at the same hotel (and the alternative is less than a block away) so I always eat at the Modern which is within spitting distance. I love the Bar menu eating the most because I am usually on my own and spending time at the museum but have also enjoyed the more refined restaurant menu on evenings with my SO.

            I don't like restrained flavors but when dining in NYC my priorities are great food, within walking distance of our hotel that we can get to quickly after my SO works a hard day. I tend to eat lunches, at least, in other parts of Manhattan where I can travel by subways or cab but when we are at 50th and 5th those restaurants are always good places to eat. There are lots of other places but we keep going back to these.

            132 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019

            1 Reply
            1. re: KateBChi

              meant to say 55th and 5th and I don't know how to edit posts