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food pilgrimage to nyc

b
blitz Jan 1, 2013 03:44 PM

chowhound from toronto reporting back on a fantastic week in manhattan/brooklyn! i did a lot of research beforehand and managed to hit up almost everything on my to-do list. thanks to all you manhattan/brooklyn chowhounds for making it easy :)

ippudo
- great ramen! very efficient waitstaff. we had the daily special (spicy broth with black sesame paste) and the original (tonkatsu i believe)
- pretty similar to the ramen places sprouting up here in toronto so i wasn't amazing nor disappointed

les halles
- i'm a huge no reservations/cook's tour fan so this was a no brainer
- had a reso for 7pm and had to wait until 8pm before getting seated on xmas day...it was an absolute s*** show...hostess kept cramming everyone into the bar
- luckily food was well done (flatiron steak, moules frites, frisse, crepes suzette)
- again nothing mind blowing but well done french food

john's on bleecker
- wow. great pizza. enough said. great suggestion by waitress (roasted tomatoes, basil, sausage)
- read about the touristy-ness of grimaldi's and decided to give this dark horse a shot, well worth it :)

chelsea market
- didn't really eat anything here besides a thai iced tea from the fast food thai place but i really loved the foodiness of this place

minetta tavern
- got the black label burger and oh man was it ever good. we have a few places here in toronto that do a pretty mean higher end burger but this was amazingly juicy and beefy
- also tried the bone marrow and special of the day (kidneys) and both were great

shakeshack
- probably should've had this before the burger at minetta haha
- probably the best fast food burger i've ever had

doughnut plant
- man who knew doughnuts could be this good? all we have here in toronto is crappy tim hortons on every dam corner

dough (brooklyn)
- just as tasty as doughnut plant :)

the halal guys (53rd and 6th)
- was super confused as which place to go to as there are like carts on every corner with similar/same logos....
- did the touristy thing and lined up at the place with the longest line (beside starbucks)
- got the mixed (chicken and lamb) platter and it was fantastic! man street food in toronto is just terrible...limited to just hotdogs and sausages...which is kinda interesting since i didn't see any vendors selling sausages..is there a reason for this?

amy ruth's
- took a pretty long side trip up to harlem to grab some legit soul food...definitely worth the commute! debated between going to sylvia's but i've read it is quite touristy these days
- best fried chicken and ribs i've ever had...not to mention amazing sides! maybe someone can chime in but the collard greens tasted very similar to the greens i've eaten in chinese soups..same vegetable?
- only disappointment was the peach cobbler which was made with canned peaches...ended up tasting like apple pie instead

soule (brooklyn)
- was feeling lazy one night so we ordered takeout from this soul food joint
- had the oxtail and jerk chicken both of which were good but not great
- was definitely a bit of a letdown considering our experience at amy ruth's the night before

Locanda Vini e Olii (brooklyn)
- was kinda iffy on this place as the reviews on yelp were really hit and miss...the fact that they use homemade pasta was the deciding factor
- heard al di la was better but locanda was within walking distance
- to be honest it was very solid but not amazing. we have pretty good italian in toronto so maybe i'm just spoiled? maybe we should've tried a true italian american red sauce type of restaurant instead
- really cool decor though

pho bang
- wasn't a planned stop but a bowl of pho was just what we needed on a cold and wet day
- pho in toronto is much better i'd have to say...perhaps there is more authentic pho in the outer boroughs

ssam bar (nye prix fixe)
- momofuku just opened a bunch of restaurants here in toronto but i wanted a special experience on nye (something bookable too)
- we got the 6 course tasting menu which turned out to be more like 12 since we ordered different items
- FINALLY tried the famous pork belly buns...mmmm definitely worth the hype
- everything was quite good and well executed besides the last course before dessert ...it was bordering on bad (one of them was a steak and the other was a lamb sausage)...it was completely outta place. isn't ssam bar supposed to be asian inspired? there was nothing asian or inspired about these plates. it honestly felt like an afterthought or some banquet hall dish. not impressed at all.
- overall i liked the experience but i don't think i'd go back again...i felt like i was paying a premium on food that could be had at a much cheaper price at a more authentic restaurant...i'm not sure if that makes any sense
- in any case service was spot on

love love love new york city :) had a great time. will be back for sure!

on a side note i found the portions in the US (in general) to be ridiculously large.

  1. f
    fourunder Jan 1, 2013 04:21 PM

    Great review...

    1. k
      kathryn Jan 1, 2013 04:56 PM

      Bourdain hasn't really been involved with Les Halle in some time... And in his memoirs he admits he isn't really a genius chef anyway. They've also greatly increased seating capacity over the years without changing other factors, just FYI.

      Tons of hot dog vendors also sell Italian sausages, you just have to ask for them.

      1. p
        Pan Jan 2, 2013 03:00 AM

        I really enjoyed your report!

        FYI, Pho Bang is a chain. Which one did you go to?

        Also, Ssam Bar is not really a fusion restaurant, in my opinion, but an eclectic restaurant. Not all of its dishes have East Asian influence.

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