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Help for London hounds - interesting and different in New York

m
ManInTransit Oct 18, 2012 03:10 PM

We are two hounds who are regulars on the London board coming to New York for the first time in a few years.

Given we’re coming from a city that’s pretty diverse foodwise we would love some help identifying the uniquely New York places that offer food and experiences that are hard to get in the UK.

Last time we went to Peter Lugar, Jewel Bako, Katz and Freamons and enjoyed them all but looking for something a bit different. We'll eat anything but Steak/Sushi/French/Indian/Fine dining all fairly well served here and in Europe.

Provisionally we were looking at something like this

Day 1: Mattei Tavern (late dinner after landing)
Day 2: Jing Fong and Jungsik
Day 3: Lunch maybe in Brooklyn (Grimaldi’s?) WD-50 for dinner
Day 4: The Breslin brunch. Momofuku Ssam or maybe Ko in the evening.
Day 5: Somewhere streety on the go for lunch. Ippudo perhaps for dinner.

But hugely open to ideas. Staying either in Meatpacking or Lower East Side.

Many thanks in advance

  1. s
    Sneakeater Oct 18, 2012 03:22 PM

    Not Grimaldi's. Grimaldii's is just not good anymore.

    ETA -- It's not Old Skool like Grimaldi's, but why not Roberta's? Or, if it's a weekend, Franny's?

    1. k
      kathryn Oct 18, 2012 03:33 PM

      What days of the week will you be here? Hard to make recommendations sometimes without knowing this as not all restaurants are open all days of the week or for all meals.

      Day 1: I think you meant Minetta Tavern? Their cote de bouef is excellent but quite large; also don't ignore the daily specials. You can book in advance on OpenTable.com and it attracts a late night crowd so it should still be fairly buzzy when you get there, dependent upon what day of the week it is.

      Day 2: Jing Fong is OK for dim sum, not the best, people go there more for the atmosphere, the roving carts, bustling crowds (I assume this will be a weekend). Are you more interested in food or atmosphere?

      Would you be willing to try Dim Sum Go Go, Red Farm, Hakkasan instead? All of those get higher marks on here for dim sum than Jing Fong.

      Or something different for Chinese food, perhaps styles that you can't find in London such as Xian Famous Foods or Mission Chinese?

      Day 3: Skip Grimaldi's. I would do Motorino, John's on Bleecker (with 1 topping MAX, get it well done), South Brooklyn Pizza (slice joint), the point being, there are many other places are much better than Grimaldi's.

      WD-50 is a good call but don't you have a fair amount of molecular cooking in London?

      Day 4: Brunch at the Breslin is good, but perhaps too similar to what you can get back home? What about Clinton St Baking Co or Shopsin's (dependent upon what day of the week).

      I love both Momofuku Ssam and Momofuku Ko, it really depends what you're looking for. And if you are able to snag a table at Ko 7 days in advance online (SIX not including the current day, i.e. for a Saturday night, you need to go to the site on the preceding Sunday at 10am NYC time and click as FAST as you possible can).

      Day 5: You can reserve at Ippudo in person only on the day of; just drop by and give them your name. Otherwise you are in for a long wait.

      Missing from your list: some classic NY foods and places such as Russ & Daughters, Katz's Deli, black and white cookies, pickles, egg creams, halal carts, hot dogs, pretzels, cheesecake etc.

      What about Southern, BBQ, seafood? I might look into Pies 'n' Thighs, the Redhead, Blue Smoke, Hill Country, Brisket Town, Luke's Lobster, Pearl Oyster Bar... USA foods you probably can't find at home.

      Also I don't see any Italian, Spanish, Mexican, or Thai.

      Also non-ramen, non-sushi Japanese may be of interest such as Kyo Ya, Takashi, etc.

      Don't leave NY without eating these foods
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/610739

      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:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/493333

      10 Replies
      1. re: kathryn
        s
        Sneakeater Oct 18, 2012 03:44 PM

        They've been to Katz's.

        1. re: kathryn
          m
          ManInTransit Oct 18, 2012 03:47 PM

          What a kind and full response Kathryn thank you. We're here Thursday to Tuesday.

          There are some great suggestions, I particularly like the ideas of Southern/BBQ somewhere - will look up the suggestions and also non-sushi Japanese.

          A quick glance made me think Jing Fong was more highly thought of but we're really looking for quality so will look up the others (other than Hakkasan as we have a couple over here).

          I get the message on Grimaldis - was counting pizza as our Italian option and we've just had a couple of gastro tours to Spain and Thailand so aren't too worried about those but will try one of the suggestions.

          We thought we'd go for one fine dining option and there's only really The Fat Duck here which does molecular like WD-50 does and I've just really wanted to try it for so long that we're throwing the rule away a little on that one.

          Thanks again.

          PS no idea where Mattei came from!

          1. re: ManInTransit
            k
            kathryn Oct 18, 2012 04:45 PM

            Red Farm doesn't serve dim sum on Fridays, so you'd have to go on a Saturday or Sunday.

            Since you've been to Spain and Thailand recently, I do think it makes sense to consider Southern, BBQ, non-sushi Japanese, Mexican, NY style gas over or coal over style pizza (which is pretty different from, say, Naples style), and Italian restaurants separately from pizza.

            You might also be interested in Empellon Cocina, haute Mexican, from a chef who used to work at WD-50 and Alinea.

            Here's an in-depth primer to all of the many pizza styles you'll find here in NYC:
            http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

            Also keep in mind that we have brunch here basically every day, not just on Sundays. So a place like the Breslin, Clinton St Baking Co, or Shopsin's will be much less hectic on a weekday (NB: Shopsin's is closed Mondays) than on Saturday or Sunday.

            1. re: ManInTransit
              p
              Pan Oct 19, 2012 03:34 AM

              Yeah, Jing Fong definitely wouldn't impress you. I had much better dim sum than that at a Cantonese place in Soho (London's Soho, that is). I don't remember what its name was; it wasn't utterly fantastic but was quite good, and my experience is that London has some very high-quality Chinese restaurants (in particular, Golden Day served outstanding Hunanese food, much better than I've had anyplace in Manhattan or Queens).

              1. re: Pan
                m
                ManInTransit Oct 19, 2012 10:18 AM

                Ws it Leong's Legends? Or New World Dim Sum? Both very good. There is some excellent Huanese and Cantonese (and Sizchuan) food here but I think lunchtime Dim Sum is just not a cultural thing in the same way it appears to be in New York.

                I suppose in that respect we aren't looking for a hushed temple of fine dim sum where we're the only two diners - will google the suggestions and thanks all.

                We also love the look of Blue Smoke and Pearl Oyster Bar - they're both going on the itinerary.

                WIll see whether Empellon Cocina can be squeezed in. I like the look of this from the website: Halibut Ceviche, Buttermilk, Mustard, Passionfruit Juice. Probably fair to say that dish could go either way...

                1. re: ManInTransit
                  p
                  Pan Oct 19, 2012 10:34 AM

                  I won't remember the name of the place. I wasn't extremely impressed, but it was still better than Jing Fong, and the roast duck there was comparable to Great NY Noodletown but not quite as good.

                  1. re: Pan
                    d
                    decayny Oct 19, 2012 11:01 AM

                    Lots of good suggestions above. I'll add a few more -- as a NY-er who lived in London for 6 years, these are the things form NY I missed the most (not the BEST food in NYC but some tastes I missed while in UK):

                    Daisy Mae's BBQ
                    Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (coconut, almond cookie, lychee are some faves)
                    Two Boots Pizza (Mr Pink slice)
                    Katz's (pastrami sandwich)
                    Minetta Tavern (great burger and cote de boeuf for 2)
                    Kwik Meal street cart on 45th by 6th Ave (best chicken & rice from food cart)
                    Wondee Siam II (excellent larb/laab)

                    Also there's Momofuku Ssam Bar (whole roast pork butt for 6 people, need to order in advance, I haven't tried this yet but its on my list)

                    Just a few ideas!

                    1. re: decayny
                      m
                      ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 05:38 AM

                      It's great to wake up every morning to a whole hope of really useful posts so thank you.

                      Minetta very much on the agenda as is Momofuku Ssam.

                      A few places being recommended we managed to get to last time when we were in our early 20s. Kate, Death & Co.

                      Going to be tough picking through all the difference Southern/BBQ places being suggested.

              2. re: ManInTransit
                Cheeryvisage Oct 19, 2012 11:50 AM

                You guys have Hakkasan in London and Hakkasan NY is already New York's best dim sum restaurant. I don't see any reason for you to even seek out dim sum during your trip since honestly, nothing else here is all that good except for maybe Red Farm. Red Farm has the best soup dumplings (xiaolongbao) in the city. Their xiaolongbao is much better than Hakkasan's version.

                I'm glad you have Jungsik planned. Have a great time!

                1. re: Cheeryvisage
                  m
                  ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 05:39 AM

                  We do like Hakkasan - I guess we were looking for more of the Chinatown experience in that brunch dim sum seems far more of a cultural thing in NY than in London.

                  Very excited by Jungsik - surprised me how easy it was to get a reservation given the amazing writeups it has had on this board.

            2. s
              Simon Oct 19, 2012 11:33 AM

              hi...i lived in London for a few months in 2010 and dined at many places i loved (e.g. St.John, Randall&Aubin, Sedap, Wright Bros in Borough Market, The Cow, Thai 101, Dumplings Legend, Cambio de Tercio, among others)...a few suggestions:

              -- as others have said above, Manhattan dimsum is generally poorer than London's, so i wouldn't put it high on the list for a short trip...

              -- and as said above, regional Chinese might be of interest: Xian, Mission, etc...

              -- not sure why you are avoiding sushi: there is no sushi in London that even comes close to 15 East or Ichimura or Ushiwakamaru...i thought sushi in London was very poor (though not quite as poor as in Paris)...non-sushi Japanese is a good idea too i think: Ippudo is fun...i personally don't care for Sakagura, but others here like it...but my top non-sushi call would be Soba Koh (very traditional soba, cute tiny place in East Village)...

              -- i don't think the Breslin offers much that you can't find much better of in London (e.g. at Great Queen St, or The Cow)...

              -- Scarpetta might a good call one night, esp dining at the bar

              Cheers, and please report back on your impressions

              7 Replies
              1. re: Simon
                E Eto Oct 19, 2012 09:16 PM

                For non-sushi Japanese, I would suggest Momokawa or Aburiya Kinnosuke. Sakagura is also solid and worth visiting if you are interested in trying a variety of sake (probably the best sake list in the US). I wouldn't bother with Ippudo.

                1. re: E Eto
                  s
                  Simon Oct 19, 2012 09:40 PM

                  yeah, Aburiya is a good call (though the last time i was there, service was horrible: but foodwise, it's something that's not generally available in London)...

                  1. re: Simon
                    Monica Oct 20, 2012 08:47 AM

                    God, Aburiya has a horrible...really horrible service. The food is also a hit or miss. I prefer Sakagura.

                2. re: Simon
                  m
                  ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 05:43 AM

                  Thanks Simon - I always report back - it's very gratifying seeing American posters reporting back on the London trips we've helped guide them on (well the ones they've had a good time on at least).

                  I love St John and Sedap - we live near both. And Wright Brothers is fantastic. Sushi in London has suddenly got a whole different complexion thanks to a place called Sushi Tetsu - 7-seater traditional Sushi bar round the corner form the main St John. Astonishingly good place. I think I'd discounted Sushi as we eat it so often (and it seems eye-wateringly expensive in certain places).

                  Appreciate the Japanese advice (and from E Eto below), I agree that needs to be slotted in somewhere.

                  1. re: ManInTransit
                    s
                    Simon Oct 20, 2012 07:34 AM

                    that's great news re: Tetsu -- i wish it had been open when i lived there (on St John St) in 2010...and you also have that casual udon place in Soho that is much-loved by Japanese expats...

                    1. re: Simon
                      m
                      ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 09:13 AM

                      Koya? Coincidentally I am actually on my way there this evening - it's superb.

                      How funny we live on St John street as well - towards the top near Angel.

                      Tetsu has opened up in that alley behind the Modern Pantry/Zetter hotel just off St John street.

                      1. re: ManInTransit
                        s
                        Simon Oct 20, 2012 10:35 AM

                        yes Koya was the name i was searching for -- i didn't eat there often as i'm more of a soba guy than than udon guy, but my Japanese friends adored it...

                        Along those lines and getting a sense of your preferences, i'll double down on my recommendation of Soba Koh -- as far as i know there isn't anything like it in London...if you go, i recommend ordering the cold inaka (100% buckwheat) soba, either uni or tempura or kamo nasu (ground duck and eggplant)....

                3. c
                  citykid426 Oct 19, 2012 04:27 PM

                  Caveat: Be prepared to wait at Grimaldi's.

                  Try X'ian Famous Foods for authentic Xian cuisine (think spicy, lamb and pork are the go-to meats). It's super casual and they make homemade noodles.

                  For Day 5: the chicken and rice guys on 53rd and 6th if you want street cart food; the food is heavenly. Don't get confused by the imitators nearby, the correct cart is the one on the southeast corner (during the day) where the guys give you YELLOW bags saying "Halal guys, we are different". For more info, type "chicken and rice" on the manhattan chow board.

                  If staying on the Lower East Side, definitely go to Death and Co. for drinks, and try Degustation (seating is only around a huge counter), and Prune (my favorite place for homemade bloody marys!) which are in East Village. Depending on where you are staying, you could probably walk to these places.

                  If staying in Meatpacking, Pastis and Scarpetta are convenient. I would also personally walk to L'Artusi and sit at the counter and get their homemade pasta.

                  If you smoke, go to Hudson Bar and Books on Hudson Street for a cigar and whiskey after your dinner. :-)

                  Happy travels!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: citykid426
                    p
                    Pan Oct 19, 2012 04:48 PM

                    Your suggestions are friendly, and I agree with some of them, so please don't take my post as just meaning to be negative. That said, I have some questions for you:

                    (1) When was the last time you were at Degustation? The reason I ask is that the reports I've seen here about the current chef have been just about uniformly negative.

                    (2) Why would our British friend want to get chicken rice from a cart here, when he can get terrific chicken biriyani at wonderful curry houses in London?

                    1. re: citykid426
                      k
                      kathryn Oct 19, 2012 08:25 PM

                      NB: Death & Co is a speakeasy, no standing, and it fills up rather quickly after 6pm. I don't think it's going to feel very unique to hounds from London.

                      Dell'anima, L'Artusi's sister restaurant, is closer to the Meatpacking District, so will probably be more convenient.

                    2. l
                      Love to Eat Oct 19, 2012 07:44 PM

                      e Village: Porcetta, big Gay ice cream, motorino, death and co,
                      NoLiTa: pinche taqueria on Mott St for tacos in place of street food, ESP as fun neighborhood to walk around.
                      union Square: updated Bahn mi at num Pang.

                      don't miss pearl oyster bar! My cousins from London went there thrice in one week. They called the fried oysters and lobster rolls lovely and gorgeous...

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Love to Eat
                        c
                        Chuck Lawrence Oct 19, 2012 08:45 PM

                        I strongly support the Pearl Oyster idea. Especially for lunch. I'm a dual UK/US citizen, lived in London for many years - a lobster roll in the West Village is a very good idea.
                        I take exception to the comment above that dim sum is better in London. There is nothing like Dim Sum Go Go in London. Perhaps Hakkasan on a good day, but that's another thread altogether...

                        1. re: Chuck Lawrence
                          s
                          Simon Oct 19, 2012 08:51 PM

                          #shocked

                          London has both better dimsum and better oysters than Manhattan...Dim Sum a Go Go??? -- that's a subpar dimsum-for-tourists place: if that's your dimsum standard, i can name a dozen mediocre London places that serve better dimsum (and Hakkasan is not one of them)...

                          True, there are NE-style lobster rolls in NYC that the OP might like, and that's a fun call for the OP to pursue...but for raw oysters, London wins hands down...

                          1. re: Simon
                            s
                            Sneakeater Oct 20, 2012 07:39 PM

                            I agree so strongly about the strong superiority of oysters in London that I'm going to waste everybody's time by piling on and saying so.

                        2. re: Love to Eat
                          s
                          Simon Oct 19, 2012 08:46 PM

                          not to knock Pearl specifically, but imo, London's oyster bars put NYC's to shame...compared to Wright Bros in Borough Market, Pearl and all the others are a kind of a yank chav joke...

                          1. re: Simon
                            c
                            Chuck Lawrence Oct 19, 2012 08:54 PM

                            you get new england style lobster rolls at borough market?
                            with those skinny fries? (excuse, I mean chips).

                            1. re: Chuck Lawrence
                              s
                              Simon Oct 19, 2012 09:00 PM

                              read my comment above: "True, there are NE-style lobster rolls in NYC that the OP might like, and that's a fun call for the OP to pursue"

                            2. re: Simon
                              k
                              kathryn Oct 19, 2012 08:55 PM

                              Do they do fried oysters, steamers, clam chowder, lobster rolls, though? Or are you just talking about raw oysters?

                              1. re: kathryn
                                s
                                Simon Oct 19, 2012 09:05 PM

                                kathryn, per my above comment: "True, there are NE-style lobster rolls in NYC that the OP might like, and that's a fun call for the OP to pursue...but for raw oysters, London wins hands down..."

                                1. re: Simon
                                  k
                                  kathryn Oct 19, 2012 09:12 PM

                                  We must have cross-posted.

                                  1. re: kathryn
                                    s
                                    Simon Oct 19, 2012 09:43 PM

                                    it happens :)

                                  2. re: Simon
                                    MVNYC Oct 20, 2012 12:05 PM

                                    East Coast North American Oysters are different than European Flats. As an oyster lover I try to eat the local ones wherever I travel. I love the flats but I also love both North American coasts (not really Gulf). I think to say that London has better oysters is personal preference.

                            3. E Eto Oct 19, 2012 09:21 PM

                              If you want to get a real good taste of NYC Chinese, make a trip to Flushing. And better yet, take a leisurely route back on the 7 train to get a sample of the pan-Latino flavors of NYC. There's nothing like these in London. I would recommend doing this rather than wasting an afternoon at Grimaldi's.

                              1. j
                                John Francis Oct 20, 2012 04:08 AM

                                If you're doing lunch in Brooklyn, consider the Middle Eastern eateries on Atlantic Avenue between Court and Henry Streets. The Waterfalls, 144 Atlantic Ave, is an unpretentious local favorite; bring your own liquor if you want some. (Heights Chateau at Atlantic and Henry has a large selection of wines and the rest.)

                                New Orleans creole/cajun cuisine is probably not so familiar in the UK. The vogue has subsided a bit and some of the good places have closed, but I like the Delta Grill near the theatre district/Times Square. 700 9th Ave.

                                Another American specialty is barbecue. Lots of choices, lots of variety. Virgil's in the theatre district, 152 W 44th St, is an old established place, and Hill Country down toward Union Square, 30 W 26th St, is like a slice of Texas in the Big Apple.

                                Still in the American south, soul food is an African-American cuisine in its own right, and Sylvia's in Harlem is the most famous soul food restaurant in town. 328 Malcolm X Boulevard.

                                22 Replies
                                1. re: John Francis
                                  m
                                  ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 05:49 AM

                                  Thanks for the advice - hardest choice for us now is picking between the different bbq/southern options.

                                  Message received re Grimaldis! Many better pizza/brooklyn choices.

                                  1. re: ManInTransit
                                    Phil Ogelos Oct 20, 2012 07:58 AM

                                    I noticed in passing, MiT, that you were inclined to good cocktails as part of your tour. It may help decide you on the BBQ sortie that Blue Smoke has a passel of very good mixed drinks: the Blood Orange Margarita alone is worth the visit IMHO and, depending on your timing, you can move downstairs after dinner to one of the city's better jazz clubs.
                                    <end of plug>

                                    1. re: Phil Ogelos
                                      m
                                      ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 09:15 AM

                                      Thanks that's really helpful about Blue Smoke - we were already planning on it I think.

                                      It's my other better half who loves good cocktails (we liked Death & Co) so I'll get brownie points for anywhere I can find them in New York.

                                      1. re: ManInTransit
                                        k
                                        kathryn Oct 20, 2012 09:23 AM

                                        WD-50 and Momofuku Ssam, which I believe are already on your itinerary, have excellent cocktails.

                                        I'd definitely slot Momofuku Ssam for a dinner if you are into cocktails. Especially since they have a molecular cocktail bar next door called Booker & Dax.

                                        And if you do have a special interest in cocktails and like tequila/mezcal, Empellon Cocina would be right up your alley, I think.

                                        I have also heard good things about the cocktails at Red Rooster, just to make things more complicated for you... Might be fun for the atmosphere/scene as well. :)

                                        1. re: kathryn
                                          m
                                          ManInTransit Oct 20, 2012 09:39 AM

                                          I think it's fair to say five nights isn't quite enough...

                                          Thanks for the cocktail advice - it is quite easy on short trips to get sucked into micro-planning the food and forgetting about the drinks/evenings out but certainly going to be making an effort this time.

                                          1. re: ManInTransit
                                            k
                                            kathryn Oct 20, 2012 10:15 AM

                                            Post Minetta Tavern, you could try Pegu Club, it's boisterous and can get loud as the night goes on.

                                            After Jungsik, Silver Lining, Weather Up, and Ward 3 aren't too far away.

                                            After WD-50, Momofuku Ssam, and/or Ippudo, if you find yourself in the East Village, there are tons of options. Of particular note are Mayahuel (tequila/mezcal bar by ex-Death & Co bartender), Pouring Ribbons (Violet Hour in Chicago bartenders in collaboration with an ex-D&C bartender), and Amor y Amargo (sister bar to D&C, bitters focused, housemade vermouth).

                                            None of these are speakeasies, so I think it'll be different from what you can find in London. As you may already know, we have our own Milk & Honey and Experimental Cocktail Club here now. :) But if you really want to do a speakeasy, try PDT, just note that it's tiny, so getting there right at 6pm is recommended if you actually want to get in.

                                        2. re: ManInTransit
                                          MVNYC Oct 20, 2012 12:00 PM

                                          The BBQ at Hill Country is superior in my opinion.

                                          1. re: ManInTransit
                                            Phil Ogelos Oct 20, 2012 02:42 PM

                                            Just because it's not immediately evident, MiT, here's the schedule for the Jazz Standard, which is the club directly beneath Blue Smoke:
                                            http://www.jazzstandard.net/red/index...
                                            [If you've never heard them, the Mingus Big Band will blow your socks off!]

                                            EDIT: Perusing the site, it's clear that the complete Blue Smoke menu is served at the club. You could, then, kill two birds with one stone by dining and clubbing simultaneously. NY 'hounds usually see that kind of commingling as 'non-U', but I'm sure they'll make allowances for out-of-towners.

                                      2. re: John Francis
                                        t
                                        thegforceny Oct 20, 2012 07:35 AM

                                        Sure the OP cant find cajun/creole in London but really, neither can we here in NYC. I wouldn't recommend they 'waste' one of their coveted meal slots for a mediocre to sub-mediocre Delta Grill just to 'experience' this cuisine. Opportunity Cost is too high.

                                        BBQ, OTOH, we really have developed a nice group of good examples: R.U.B. Hill Country, Dinosaur, Blue Smoke. (NOT Virgil's though.)

                                        1. re: thegforceny
                                          a
                                          AdamD Oct 20, 2012 09:52 AM

                                          They should go to the great jones cafe to try some gumbo or blackened catfish. Not the most comfortable seating, but its a true NYC joint and the food is good. Good for brunch too!

                                        2. re: John Francis
                                          p
                                          Pan Oct 20, 2012 10:36 PM

                                          Waterfalls is fine, but in my relatively recent experience, Delta Grill is mediocre and definitely not worth going to except to hear live music when people are playing. I would strongly discourage our friend from London from going there.

                                          Also, are you recommending Sylvia's? I haven't been there in years, but it seems like everyone in the know says that they haven't been good for ages and are living only on tourist money.

                                          1. re: Pan
                                            j
                                            John Francis Oct 20, 2012 11:39 PM

                                            Not to fight about it, but I and many others think much better of Delta Grill than you do. Recent customer reviews on zagat.com confirm this. Can you suggest a better creole/cajun restaurant in New York? I'd certainly like to try it, and I'm sure our visitors would enjoy one (or two!) of America's great indigenous cuisines.

                                            Likewise soul food and Sylvia's, which I enjoyed as much as ever on a recent visit. But maybe I'm not "in the know"? If tourists go there, they have good reason. Besides the food, Sylvia's is a New York institution - 50 years old - and Harlem is a special place too, which foreign visitors don't often see. But if you can recommend a better choice for soul food please tell about it - I'd like to know.

                                            A general observation. For some reason, people like to put down tourists, as if they were ignorant and crass people who don't belong and don't know what's what. When I'm in London or Berlin for pleasure, I'm a tourist and not ashamed of it. At home in New York, I don't avoid places just because they attract tourists; to me that's not being "in the know," it's snobbery. But there you are.

                                            1. re: John Francis
                                              p
                                              Pan Oct 21, 2012 12:03 AM

                                              This isn't about "fighting"; this is about helping a visitor get good food and avoid mediocre food.

                                              I don't know of a good place for Cajun food in New York, so I can't recommend one. I liked Louisiana Community Bar and Grill years ago, but it is long closed. I have been to Delta Grill quite a few times over the years and have seen a downward trajectory in the food there, which to my taste used to be solidly good and now is not dependable at all. I accept the fact that New York does not have good restaurants of every single type. New York is not Louisiana, and expecting New York to have great or even good Cajun food is roughly equivalent to expecting that there is a great Calabrian restaurant in Milano. Maybe there is; I wouldn't know, but I wouldn't expect it.

                                              There are many soul food places other than Sylvia's, and I'm not the best one to ask for recommendations for soul food, but I did like Amy Ruth's when I went there last year. However, assuming that tourists are going to a place for a good reason is not a good argument. It has been stated again and again on this board that Sylvia's is coasting on its reputation from decades ago, and there are other eateries in Manhattan where that is equally true. I accept that you like Sylvia's food, and I'm glad you do, but the mere fact that a lot of tourists go somewhere is no argument for food quality. I see lots of tourists in Applebee's on W. 50 St., too.

                                              1. re: Pan
                                                a
                                                AdamD Oct 21, 2012 06:44 AM

                                                Have you ever been to the great jones cafe? If you want cajun you must try it.

                                                1. re: AdamD
                                                  j
                                                  John Francis Oct 21, 2012 08:23 AM

                                                  Yes, I've been there. The location is inconvenient for me and the ambience doesn't amount to much, but the food is fine as far as it goes. But for me that isn't far enough. Looking at the current menu on their web site, they don't do gumbo, and jambalaya is only on the lunch menu, not for dinner, so I wouldn't recommend it for a first-time cajun/creole eater.

                                                  1. re: John Francis
                                                    a
                                                    AdamD Oct 21, 2012 09:08 AM

                                                    They absolutely do gumbo and its very good. I think their blackened catfish is a perfect introduction. You are right about it being a dive, but they do serve very good cajun food.

                                                  2. re: AdamD
                                                    p
                                                    Pan Oct 21, 2012 11:43 AM

                                                    I tried it years ago, and it was so fatty it upset my stomach big-time. Has it improved markedly in the past few years?

                                                  3. re: Pan
                                                    j
                                                    John Francis Oct 21, 2012 08:17 AM

                                                    Thanks!

                                                    Since our London visitors are coming to New York, not New Orleans, they have to make the best of what we have to offer. Jaques-Imo's New York branch closed years ago, others have also gone as the cajun vogue of the '80s faded, Having made my case for cajun/creole food as an eating experience that might be new to a foreign visitor who would very likely enjoy it, I'll leave it at that.

                                                    As for soul food, my "case" for Sylvia's is that I like the food and the atmosphere, and so have my friends who have been there recently. Tastes differ, but I only speak for myself.

                                                    By the way, I didn't say that attracting tourists is an argument for a place, just that it isn't an argument against the place. At best it's testimony that the place has a positive reputation beyond its own neighborhood. Whether that reputation is still deserved, or ever was, is for each of us to decide, independent of others' opinions.

                                                    1. re: John Francis
                                                      p
                                                      Pan Oct 21, 2012 11:46 AM

                                                      If a place is patronized _only_ by tourists, that's a mark _against_ the place. And our London visitors don't have to have Louisiana cuisine because they're coming to New York. There are so many better things for them to do.

                                                      1. re: Pan
                                                        s
                                                        Simon Oct 21, 2012 01:57 PM

                                                        Agreed -- they are here on a very short trip: it makes sense for them to concentrate on the cuisines that NYC does best...i like creole/cajun food as much as the next person, but unfortunately none of the few places serving it here in NYC would even make a Top 100 list of restaurants in the city...

                                                        1. re: Pan
                                                          j
                                                          John Francis Oct 21, 2012 10:42 PM

                                                          Obviously Sylvia's is not patronized "only by tourists," as I've just said I eat there, and I've lived in NYC 40+ years. You're insistently trying to make an issue where there is none. As for the rest of it, we differ on the merits of certain places, I rely on my own taste buds and not yours, and that's that, OK? It's for our visitors to decide as best they can among the many suggestions posted here, some of them conflicting. Business as usual.

                                                2. re: John Francis
                                                  Peter Cuce Oct 21, 2012 08:43 AM

                                                  Waterfalls is not remotely special. And Sylvia's isn't good.

                                                3. Motosport Oct 20, 2012 11:09 AM

                                                  Once again, skip Grimaldi. Long lines and not worth the wait. It's good but mostly hype. If you go to Brooklyn later in the day try Lucali's. They are not open for lunch.
                                                  Motorino, John's (Bleecker St) or Keste (across from John's) are all memorable for pizza.

                                                  1. m
                                                    ManInTransit Oct 23, 2012 10:17 AM

                                                    Just a couple of very quick follow-up questions - thanks again to everyone who has helped.

                                                    1) For Momofuku Ssam or Noodle bar, am I right to assume that if we arrive just before opening time on a weekday lunch that we will get in fairly quickly? There are no queues round the block 30 mins before opening? (not unheard of in equally 'on-trend' places in London)

                                                    2) Blue Smoke a good option on a Sunday? They were happy to take our booking which is weird as the website said they only do walk-ins but the Flatiron location isn't going to be completely dead on a Sunday evening is it?

                                                    3) Rough price of a good Lobster Roll somewhere like Pearl Oyster bar which doesn't seem to include prices with its menu?

                                                    4) I've read the gushing threads but other than the pork any specific recommendations for the ALC at Jungsik - we sometimes get tasting menu fatigue.

                                                    Otherwise I think we're all set. Frankly it's going to be a challenge! But many thanks to all.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: ManInTransit
                                                      k
                                                      kathryn Oct 23, 2012 10:37 AM

                                                      1. Yes, for both Momofuku Ssam and Momofuku Noodle, weekday lunch is pretty quiet because a lot of people don't work in the East Village. My preference would be for Momofuku Ssam's duck lunch.

                                                      2. I just looked and it seems like it is the Blue Smoke BPC location that has reservation restrictions.

                                                      For the Flatiron location, I've done both -- made reservations for and walked in before. I don't think it'll be completely dead, but it's not going to be as hectic as it is on a weekend night.

                                                      3. The price of a lobster roll can often fluctuate with market prices, but I think it's something like $27-29.

                                                      1. re: ManInTransit
                                                        Cheeryvisage Oct 23, 2012 10:49 AM

                                                        For Jungsik, I have enjoyed the following:

                                                        Octopus, Jungsik Salad, Bibim
                                                        Bo Ssam, Sea Urchin
                                                        Crispy Red Snapper
                                                        Smoked Pork Jowl, Seoul Duck
                                                        Green Tea Cremeux

                                                        The menu has changed since I was last there in September. The Jungsik Steak is new and I'd be interested in trying it when I return for another meal.

                                                        1. re: Cheeryvisage
                                                          m
                                                          ManInTransit Oct 23, 2012 11:17 AM

                                                          Thanks very much Kathryn and CV.

                                                          Very excited by Jungsik but this thread has given our itinerary a great balance I hope. Will report back.

                                                          1. re: ManInTransit
                                                            MVNYC Oct 23, 2012 11:36 AM

                                                            Go to Luke's Lobster for lobster rolls. They are around $14 or so and are better than the higher priced options.

                                                            1. re: MVNYC
                                                              k
                                                              kathryn Oct 23, 2012 11:51 AM

                                                              But Pearl also has a bigger menu with many cooked dishes, raw oysters, table service, wine, beer, desserts, and theirs is larger and comes with fries. It is also rather mayo heavy in terms of style.

                                                              Whereas I find the Luke's Lobster roll on the small size (people with big appetites may need to order 2), and it has a lot less mayonnaise. It's also counter service/takeout. Very different in terms of atmosphere, so it depends what you're looking for.

                                                              1. re: kathryn
                                                                MVNYC Oct 23, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                                I personally think Pearl Oyster is over priced for what it is. Their lobster roll also has too much mayo which obscures the taste of the lobster. Some people may like it, I don't. I would much rather go to Luke's.

                                                      2. Wilfrid Oct 23, 2012 12:18 PM

                                                        For flavors I don't think you'll find in London, consider Fatty Cue or Brooklyn Star.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Wilfrid
                                                          s
                                                          Sneakeater Oct 23, 2012 03:00 PM

                                                          Fatty Cue appears to be in freefall (I'm very sorry to say).

                                                        2. p
                                                          Pookipichu Oct 23, 2012 03:54 PM

                                                          Grimaldi's is stunningly and grossly mediocre. If there was no line and I was starving, I'd eat there. If you want Brooklyn pizza, Franny's or DiFara's offer better pizza in Brooklyn.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Pookipichu
                                                            bobjbkln Oct 24, 2012 10:56 AM

                                                            Unfortunately, I think that you'd agree, that given its location and wait time, DiFara's is not for someone only spending 5 days in NYC.

                                                            1. re: bobjbkln
                                                              p
                                                              Pookipichu Oct 24, 2012 10:12 PM

                                                              I'd agree, it's a trek, but the line at Grimaldi's can be 2 hours when the weather is nice, especially since they bus in people on those double decker things.. If they're willing to wait for Grimaldi's they'd be better off being first in line at DiFara's. When I get there close to open, I wait 30 minutes at DiFara's. Or they could just stay in Manhattan. It depends on how much they like pizza.

                                                              1. re: Pookipichu
                                                                Peter Cuce Oct 25, 2012 12:29 AM

                                                                There's lots of good pizza in Manhattan.

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