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Help for London hounds - interesting and different in New York

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

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  1. 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. 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

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                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

                  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. 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

                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

                  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

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

                2. re: Simon

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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. 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

                    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

                      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. 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

                        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

                          #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

                            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

                          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

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

                            1. re: Chuck Lawrence

                              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

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

                              1. re: kathryn

                                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

                                    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.