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Jan 5, 2013 08:41 PM

In/Out Lists for 2012/13...add your own?

Note, not a comprehensive list...and: “Out” does not usually mean that it’s truly out/over/verboten, just that it slipped a bit and has been supplanted as a favored option -- in most cases, the “Out” places are ones i sincerely hope regain good status and turn things around...

Interested to see the lists of fellow Hounds :)

Out: Zabb Elee...the somdam is still very good, but other dishes have declined in quality...hope they pull it together as Isaan food is my favorite and the 7 train to Woodside is slow...

In: Sigiri...this hallowed BYOB East Village Sri Lankan is a nice (though of course very different) substitute for highly spiced food in the same area..

Out: Ten Bells...formerly my fav cozy wine bar, they expanded their previously all French/Spanish/Portuguese menu to include some fusiony junk, and it’s become too crowded anyway and the oysters too frequently had jagged shards of shell...

In: Pata Negra...good bottles of Rioja, comfier seating...i wish the menu had a few more seafood/veggie options, and i wish they had more non-Rioja wines...but it’s a lovely place...

Out: Soba Totto...too many mediocre dishes, and a faintly “off” vibe...

In: was IN last year too, but really at the top of its game these days and developing a very happy regular clientele...

Out: Scarpetta...i still love dining at the bar, and i still love the black cod, and the yellowtail crudo, and the staff...but the newer menu items haven’t thrilled me and the lean towards foamy emulsions is troubling...

In: Bar Pitti...much more casual rustic Tuscan that serves all day and has become not only my fav Italian, but also my fav non-Asian restaurant in the city...

Out: Kin Shop...still fine, but it’s too loud and i just got tired enough of it that it fell out of the regular rotation...

In: Yunnan Kitchen...a it authentic Yunnan food? - no...but it covers some of that ground and is a reasonably priced, healthy option that works for many types of occassions...

Out: Keens...horrendous service and mediocre food on my last visit in early 2012...i’d give them a pass, but they’ve had 130 years in operation to learn how to keep things steady...

In: St Anselm...worth a cab/L-train to W-Burg, and the food puts Keens to shame...

Out: Grand Sichuan...steady greasy chain-like decline...when the St Marks branch took bitter melon off the menu that was the beginning of the end for me...

In: Wu Liang of the earliest true-Sichuans and still very very good provided you order well...

Out: ___ French Bistro...___ because all the ones i’ve been to were bad...

In: Rouge et Blanc...the new menu is more French than Vietnamese...i have some issues here: too many dishes are over-the-top rich w/ butter/pork-fat/cream...but the room is lovely and the wines delicious and the Vietnamese influenced options help......

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  1. Agree with the soba totto OUT....Been to sobaya around 2-3 times in 2012 and was never disappointed with the plain cold soba....

    1. "In" places can be merely new to me and good.

      Out: Spot Dessert Bar. When their cupcake icing became merely buttery, no longer full of taste, I gave up on them.

      In: Wa Jeal. Based on one meal, this is a serious Sichuan restaurant that I would definitely consider revisiting when I'm in the area.

      Out: Hot Kitchen. OK, this restaurant is around the corner from me, so I'm not giving up on them, but I will watch carefully because I was upset when I recently ordered delivery of Assorted Spicy Wok and got raw-tasting cauliflower that clearly was undercooked.

      Comments: I had dinner at St. Anselm and was impressed, and their bar, Spuyten Duyvil, is excellent.

      I don't agree about Grand Sichuan St Marks. I haven't noticed any overall decrease in quality, though Hot Kitchen has them beat in spiciness, overall. Some of the new dishes at Grand Sichuan, like the Beer Duck, are quite tasty.

      I'm not sure I've noticed any decline at Zabb Elee; I just think they've always been inconsistent. The fact that they may still be the best Thai restaurant in Manhattan says more about the state of Thai food in Manhattan than it says about them.

      Soba Koh, on the other hand, is very consistent and always pleasant.

      1. Since it's late I'll start by commenting on some on your list:
        Zaab Elee : i agree on the OUT, I had 2 bad meals there recently.

        Soba Totto: I'm surprised it's an OUT,, I watched the chef at a party make soba from scratch. It was quite impressive and tasted great.

        SobaKoh: IN i agree, i love that place
        Bar Pitti: I've been going here since it opened. It's consistently very good. Many of Da Silvano's clientele switched over to BP.
        Kin Shop I guess in in the MIDDLE,,it was never part of my rotation but it is always consistently good. The bone marrow there is excellent.

        Keen's: OUT i agree with the terrible service

        Rouge Et Blanc: IN , i liked it before the new menu. I have to try the new menu. They seem to need some business, it was always empty when I went there.

        Lotus Blue OUT I liked it when they opened, it was pretty terrible last visit. and not popular anymore

        Recette IN ( on 2nd Monday of the month) exceptional tasting menu

        Pig and Khao IN part of my regular rotation for a good mix of Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese

        Ichimura TOO IN can't get in when I want to

        Robataya IN no place I can find like it.Part of my regular rotation but getting harder to get a seat at the counter as a walk-in

        Lcoanda Verde for me is OUT the service is poor, the attitude is poor, the food is decent. The prices are high. Getting in with no notice is difficult. Off my list permanently

        1 or 8 (Brooklyn) IN, I like this Japanese restaurant

        Frankie's OUT (hudson st and Bklyn) over hyped

        Rubirosa OUT over hyped, cracker style pizza, not for me

        Tribeca Canvas IN at the moment, its in my neighborhood and fills a certain niche. So far so good.

        Aaman's IN Danish food in Tribeca, how cool is that

        Nish Nush IN great hummus, very good falafel. Part of my regular rotation

        15 East IN always great. Part of the rotation

        Morandi IN the sardine pasta is awesome. I can always get a table. The food is good. The location is good. The vibe is good

        Wong OUT it kind of lost its pizzazz for me

        Bugs IN like eating in a Japanese home. Part of my rotation

        Terroir OUT the fried hors d'oevres are terrible. The meatballs are still good. But I feel very limited there.

        Dim Sum GoGo OUT I used to like the place.I was very disappointed in not fresh dim sum. really bad.

        Takachi OUT long wait, tired of eating cow stomach

        Jungsik IN keeps getting better

        Danji OUT the novelty has worn off, it's really not that good

        Amorino Gelato (university pl) IN to me it's the best

        14 Replies
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          The cod at Robataya is unbelievable. But you really need to order a lot to make a complete meal there. $$$

          I'm surprised about the bad meal at Zabb Elee. I had a nice dinner at the EV location last week. Portion sizes there are humongous though.

          +1 for Soba Koh.

          I'm going to check out Jungsik soon. Can't wait to go. I'll report back!

          1. re: deprofundis

            Deprofundis: yes please report back on Jungsik. You can order just a few of the small size dishes and save money, instead of getting the tasting menu. The food is fantastic.
            Also to Tbtb: Robataya is good to go with more than one person. That way you can get several dishes. It really isn't expensive ,if you mix in some of the veggies, and definitely get the clay pot rice (kamameshi). The rice, is a good way to end the meal and it is quite filling. I consider Robataya a mid range priced restaurant.
            asparabou $4 each mushrooms $3 each, nagaimo $3 each, steak $4 each, scallop $5 each, a fish would be about $8 each. rice $7.50 each. Thats a lot of food. and reasonable to me. You can leave out the fish. The price of the fish varies.
            However, I see they changed their menu. They got fancier. They never used to have all the tasting menus, sake pairing. I guess they are following suit. $48 per person. I think better to order separately and share. Its more food and less money.

          2. re: foodwhisperer

            agree with the Danji out, been there twice, it is extremely similar to the stuff at momofuku ssam...with longer wait.

            Like robataya too, but I think the prices there are a little bit on the high side...

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              As Dr. Johnson said, the person who is tired of eating cow stomach is tired of life.

              1. re: Sneakeater

                Tell Dr Johnson that vegetarians are loving life :)

              2. re: foodwhisperer

                -- i have to try Pig&Khao and Aamon's, both at the top of new places to try list for early 2013...

                -- i agree re: Terroir..i also just find it uncomfortable: small without being cozy, like a tiny bar stuck between two gates at an airport...

                -- had terrible service at the bar at Rubirossa just average (tough octopus, decent turkey soup)...won't return anytime soon...

                -- curious what you think of the new menu at Rouge et Blanc...

                1. re: Simon

                  I have to try it. I liked Rouge et Blanc before and the new menu looks interesting. I'll report back, i haven't tried the new menu yet. I like the place and the management, If you go to Pig and Khao, try the Vietnamese fried oysters, Crispy para ( it;s off the bone), Khao soi and the quail adobo. Thats my recommendation and the halo halo for dessert is the best I've had in Manhattan
                  In response to Halo : and it's a coincidence that I recommended the Halo Halo btw.
                  Anyway, we each have our own opinions of food and places. The fact that there are long waits does not keep it on my IN list. There are long waits at some of the worst restaurants in the city. They line up around the block for the cupcakes at Magnolia bakery ,,add that to my OUT list. Wong is boring. It was good for a while , Danji same , nothing exciting ,, and not that good. Takashi, like i said i'm tired of eating cow stomachs, especially some i forget what number stomach , aren't even that good. They line up there too Maybe I should just put all restaurants with lines on my OUT list. I hate lines. What about Totto, do you think the lines for ramen are justified????

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    I actually have an allergy to MSG so I really really appreciate asian restaurants that don't use it. every Korean restaurant i've been to uses it except Danji. and that includes every 32st restaurant and at least every flushing ones i've been to. every sichuan restaurant uses it that i've been to. that's why i appreciate wong and red farm since they don't (even though they're not sichuan). takashi doesn't either.

                    to answer your q, totto gave me a rash which is usually my first reaction to msg. i would never wait for a place that uses msg...

                    1. re: halo

                      Wow, I didn't realize Totto uses MSG. I used to be very allergic to MSG, The Chinese restaurants in the Boroughs and the real touristy Chinatown places used to overdose you on MSG. I think in Mandarin it's called Vee Ching. But I found when I used to go to the more "authentic" places they must have used less because I rarely had a reaction. I didn't realize Korean restaurants used MSG, but I guess all of Asia uses it. I also noticed it in Dominican and Filipino food , when they use Adobo powder , which has it. I don't thin Red Farm uses MSG. But its good to know who doesn't use it. Some places you can say "no MSG" but its 50/50 whether you won't get any.
                      Thanks for pointing out the MSG situation.

                    2. re: foodwhisperer

                      i tried Pig and Khao...sat at the's a well-run place...the tomato/cucumber/chinese-sausage salad was delicious...and i like that they have a nice dry Pinot Blanc (one of my fav white grapes) by the glass...the fried whole fish at first came out raw in the center, but they whisked it away immediately and prepared a new one that was delicious...i was especially impressed that the second try on the fish was cooked perfectly (so many places would have overcooked the second try to compensate/hedge, but it was a bullseye of perfection cooking-wise)...not crazy about the broth it comes in though...all staff were super nice/professional...

                      All that said, i suspect that it won't crack the inner circle of my rotation, as i'm more likely to go to Yunnan Kitchen if i'm in that area, and i'm not crazy about listening to 50-Cent at high volume while dining...but will surely return at some point and enjoy more dishes...

                      1. re: Simon

                        Yeah the music at Pig and Khao , can be a turn off. But I understand not only do the the chefs like that music, they believe the crowd they are tring to attract do too. I try to ignore the music , except when the curse words come on loud, it's hard to ignore. That being said, when Leah Cohen is executing the orders there,I find everything seems to come out right. I highly recommend the adobo quail ,I'd describe it ,as having the "right Filipino taste" . The sisig is real good and the fried oysters have become part of the regular menu. I like the Khao Soi very much, but other people who have enjoyed it in Chiang Mai thought it should have more broth.
                        I'm glad you tried Pig and Khao. I will have to go to Yunnan kitchen in the near future. I am no fan of the Yunnan food at Lotus Blue btw.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          at Yunnan Kitchen i recommend the lamb meatballs, tofu ribbon salad, mushrooms w/ ham, and the cold charred eggplant...and definitely request their trio of hot sauces...

                  2. re: foodwhisperer

                    Wong out? Takashi out?? Danji out???

                    3 SOLID Asian restaurants where chef/owners cook their hearts out EVERY night in the kitchens with no gimmicks. They use amazing ingredients to elevate their cuisine and don't rely on MSG for easy flavor. Not 1 of these restaurants have I noticed a downhill in flavor or service. I'm not sure why you would consider these places as being out? At Takshi and Danji it is still an hour's wait every day if the week... and MOST seem to be local regulars such as myself.

                  3. for some odd reason whenever I order delivery or take out at Zabb, its great, but eating in, overly salty.

                    Never cared for the soba at Totto, I preferred Matsugen or Soba Koh.

                    Out: Resto, I like the idea of the menu but after being served a rested too long aka cold Cote de Boeuf nowhere near as good as minetta, and a waiter stopping me from using the restroom because a more attractive female customer was "next" when I was clearly waiting. No more.

                    In: Pastis, this place gets a lot of hate, but the staff is friendly, love their steak tartare, and steak frites.

                    Out: Natori, the teishokus arent as good as they once were. they were supposed to close, but seems like theres new ownership.

                    In: Ootoya, yeah the waits are long on a monday night, but the quality is high and consistent. Every server always tells me to get the hot tea when I order a cold oolong because its free.

                    Out: Acme, they always give me the "Asian table" The food while original is not good enough for me to be always regulated to the tight asian tables in the front before the bar.

                    Out: Kajitsu, been going here since they opened on a monthly basis, I am not a fan of the new chef after giving it a few tries. The new chef lacks Nishihara san's creativity, too many deep fried courses, stocks arent as good, tsukemono is weak now,

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Shirang

                      What choices would you suggest over Kajitsu, for something special? Could be non-Japanese. I am sad to say that under the original chef I've only had eaten there once. I also miss the old maitre'd/receptionist, she was very skilled/tactful.

                      Acme—I went again on a busy night, and both desserts were quite off. Wheatgrass sorbet was soggy (in the dead of winter), and chocolate creme was too bitter, too oily rather than rich.

                      1. re: calf

                        Maybe Kyo Ya, nothing really compares to Kajitsu. Brushstroke does a vegetarian menu now, but I havent tried.

                        1. re: Shirang

                          I had a reservation tonight at Kajitsu. I love the place, it's just my kind of restaurant. The osechi box was so cool, 20 pieces of various tofu and root vegetables.

                          I agree that the cooking is simpler and reduced in ambition (as you mention, the complexity of the stocks). But at the previous level of effort it made the pricing a steal; it would have been hard to imagine the continued sustainability of such a restaurant (just speculating, not that I actually understand the microeconomics of these projects)—vegan AND Japanese is something still too far removed for the tastes of NYC.

                          The dessert this time was okay, maybe I ate it incorrectly.

                          Also have to say for the record, the best mochi in the entire city is currently at Corton. The wrapping just melts, and the overall concept is pretty crazy—the center is a deep frozen citrus sorbet, perhaps made using liquid nitrogen.

                          1. re: Shirang

                            Brushstrokes vegetarian menu is excellent. It's not as good as the original Kajitsu menu, but it is really good. Maybe even better than the other menus