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1st Trip to NYC, input/suggestions needed for Michelin stars, ethnic food and bars

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Hi CHers,

Wife and I are serious foodies making the journey from Canada to NYC for 7 nights from Feb 23- Mar 2nd. We will staying in the lower east side in order to be near all the cocktail places we most want to visit. That way we can stumble home at the end of the night. We usually do one breakfast/lunch and one dinner per day, followed by a cocktail crawl.

Here are my must go dinners:
Per Se - Extended vs regular tasting
EMP
Jungsik

These are my other likely dinners
Babbo (or other great Italian suggestions)
WD-50

For these next ones should we do lunch or dinner?
Jean Georges
Momofuku Ko (or just do Ssam Bar)

Lunches
15 East and Yasuda for sushi (love great sushi)
Katz's
JG and Ko possible

Would love some suggestions for other breakfasts, bakeries near East Village and ethnic foods (Chinese, Puerto Rican, whatever else)

Finally, bars will be:
Angels share
Death and Co
PDT
Pegu Club
Milk and Honey
Lani Kai
Mayahuel

Finally, how far out can I be making resos for these places? Are Per Se and EMP 28 days max? I know Momofuku has the crazy online reso system so will be the last one. Can the others been done now?

Thanks,

Looking forward to hearing your words of wisdom CHers.

Sperss97

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  1. Are you staying on the LES or EV? (Above or below Houston)?

    Note that 2/24 is a Sunday. EMP and the sushi places wil be closed. Luckily WD-50, Babbo, JG, Jungsik, and Per Se are open Sundays.

    The sushi places you mentioned also do weekday lunch only.

    For JG and Ko lunch vs dinner, I'd be afraid of tasting menu fatigue as EMP, WD-50, Per Se are all tasting menu only. So you're already doing a fair amount of tasting menus. Are you doing a la carte at Jungsik and Babbo? I'd really recommend a la carte at the latter.

    Also the Ko lunch tasting is such that I'd plan a very light dinner that night. If dinner at all. And it's only Fri-Sun.

    Other EV recommendations:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/882582

    I'd also add Mission Chinese, especially if you can do lunch. Dinner gets crazy with lines.

    I don't think Angel's Share is as good as the others on your list.

    I assume you know that D&C and PDT are very popular. Arrive early, Sun-Wed to snag a seat. Even then you may need to wait. No standing, capacity is limited, and it's hard to estimate wait times as some people have one round, others have many.

    Pegu Club is excellent. It also gets crowds but is bigger, so you should be able to get in on the early side. You may not get a seat though.

    Also Milk and Honey has moved uptown to 23rd St, not sure what the resevations system is going to be like, they're in a soft reopening phase right now.

    If you want something similar to the old M&H, try Raines Law Room or Lantern's Keep. Maybe Experimental Cocktail Club, if you prefer to keep it close.

    Lani Kai has closed.

    Mayahuel is excellent, also consider Amor y Amargo, Pouring Ribbons (Joaquin from D&C's new bar with the Violet Hour guys), Booker & Dax. Booker & Dax is attached via hallway to Ssam Bar, BTW.

    I also think if you like tequila and upscale creative Mexican food, Empellon Cocina should be on your itinerary. It's very close to a lot of EV cocktail bars.

    Very few restaurants in NYC take reservations this far out (Le Bernardin, Annisa, Luger's I think). Most are around the one month mark. Per Se is 30 days in advance--try midnight at OpenTable as well as calling. EMP is 28 days in advance, counting the current day ONLY at 9am. 9am is both the phone time and the OT time.

    17 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Jungsik is closed on Sundays.

      1. re: kathryn

        Thanks Kathryn,

        GAH! Just typed a huge reply and it got deleted.

        Okay, to recap, thanks to everyone for suggestions so far.

        We're staying on the LES, on Ludlow just a few blocks south of Houston. Looked like an optimal location for the bars in the area, and right near a Subway. Also can avoid the Times Square tourist trap this way.

        My revised lunches are looking like
        Yasuda
        Mission Chinese
        Empellon Cocina
        Shopsins or Zabb Elee
        15 East vs JG (Thinking I'll just do JG for dinner and perhaps drop 15 East. Reviews for lunch for 15 East seem conflicted, that said, it will be far superior to any sushi where I'm from)

        What about Balthazar? Any other Italian lunch places?

        Dinners:
        EMP
        Per Se
        Jungsik
        JG
        Babbo
        WD-50

        Should any of these be replaced with Corton/Bouley/Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare?

        I have purposefully left Le Bernardin and Daniel off the list based on mega controversy on the boards.

        Drinks:
        Pouring Ribbons (love the Violet Hour and hadn't heard of this place)
        D+C
        PDT
        Pegu Club
        Mayahuel
        Booker and Dax (Had heard of this and thinking about it still)

        Angel's share - what don't you like about it?

        Out: M+H due to move and Lani Kai for closing

        Keep the suggestions coming, thanks everyone.

        Sperss97

        1. re: 97Sperss

          It's not that Angel's Share is bad, it's that the level of creativity and execution is better elsewhere.

          Re: Shopsin's
          Note their hours and rules and go on a weekday for shorter lines.

          I'd also still plan on a Momofuku restaurant... Did it drop from your itinerary on purpose?

          1. re: kathryn

            Hey Kathryn,

            Here's a dilemma.

            2 lunches and 2 dinners, want one to be Babbo and the others to be Japanese.

            I just realized that Babbo is doing lunch now, have you (or anyone else) tried lunch vs. dinner?

            I am thinking Babbo and Yasuda as the lunches, and 15 East and Kyo Ya as the dinners.

            Your thoughts?

            Revised line-up:

            Breakfasts
            Shopsins
            R+D
            Public Brunch

            Lunches:
            Jean-Georges
            Bouley
            Babbo
            Yasuda
            Katz's
            Mission Chinese (possible)
            Empellon Cocina

            Dinners:
            Momofuku (Ko with Ssam back-up) followed by WD-50 desserts
            Per Se
            Brooklyn Fare
            EMP
            15 East
            Kyo Ya
            Jungsik

            Late Night:
            Minetta Tavern
            Tacos Morelos cart

            1. re: 97Sperss

              The lunch menu at Babbo is pretty different from the dinner menu, a lot of the famous dishes aren't on it.

              1. re: 97Sperss

                I would sooner do Babbo for dinner, if possible - lunch is good, certainly, but a number of what I consider the best "signature" items - the octopus w/ limoncello vinaigrette, lamb's tongue, goose liver or beef cheek ravioli, goat cheese tortellini, spaghettini w/ lobster, etc - are only on the menu at dinner.

                On the other hand, the lunch and dinner menus at 15 East are quite similar - there are a couple of foie apps you can only get at dinner, for whatever reason, but otherwise there's quite a lot of crossover. I'd swap 15E and Babbo, myself.

                1. re: sgordon

                  Thanks,

                  It sounds like Babbo should definitely remain a dinner, and I feel like I'm going to dump Brooklyn Fare then.
                  After reading the reviews of BF, it seems that it is a great meal, but there are enough drawbacks and sub-stellar reviews that it is not justified.
                  I have to make the decision starting tomorrow morning whether or not to start calling them, as Feb 23rd is 6 weeks out. Does anyone think BF is an absolute must for my culinary adventure?

                  Sperss97

                  1. re: 97Sperss

                    yes

                    1. re: 97Sperss

                      Although this is probably a topic better suited for the Outer Boroughs forum, I would strongly suggest keeping a reso for Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare. I had the pleasure of dining there last month. It is a singularly wonderful experience. Preferences are subjective, but I favored my experience there significantly higher over my visits to Per Se and EMP.

              2. re: 97Sperss

                I'd swap both JG and WD-50 for both Corton and Bouley.

                1. re: ellenost

                  Hi Ellen,

                  Always love your input. Can you give a bit of an explanation as to why?

                  Thanks

                  1. re: 97Sperss

                    Thanks for the compliment!

                    Bouley has long been one of my most favorite restaurants, and I'm planning to return for dinner in a few weeks.

                    I've had two excellent dinners at Corton (most recent dinner in August). While I find Liebrandt's food to be very creative, I also find it to be delicious. Service was very attentive both times.

                    While I find the food excellent at Jean-Georges, I've always found the service a bit chilly (I haven't dined at Jean-Georges in a few years).

                    I had dinner at WD-50 last year, and while I liked most of the food, some of the dishes were more creative than "yummy". The restaurant has a casual vibe in comparison to the other 3 restaurants that you're considering. WD-50 changed to only a tasting menu at its tables, while one can still order a la carte at the bar.

                    I hope this helps.

                    1. re: ellenost

                      Hi Ellen - any thoughts on Bouley for lunch? It seems like a pretty extraordinary deal.

                      1. re: edub

                        Although I've never been to Bouley for lunch, I've loved all of my dinners through the years. For $50, I think it is an amazing deal to have a multi-course tasting menu with choices for each course. Food, decor and service are wonderful, and I think the daylight streaming through the windows will make a beautiful restaurant even prettier.

                2. re: 97Sperss

                  I'd keep JG and swap WD~50 with Corton. Corton's a much better restaurant all around. If you do Bouley, do lunch.

                  1. re: deprofundis

                    Agreed, JG and Corton.

                  2. re: 97Sperss

                    I would suggest considering Summit Bar over Pouring Ribbons or Booker and Dax, for menu items that are much more realized.

                    Elsa, Waylands, Lovers of Today, and Toucan and the Lion are also known to make great drinks if you can't get into one of the biggies.

                3. im not a big cocktail fan but you listed mostly all of the big players. i think lani kai closed though...actually, im sure of it. its now some forgettable 'gastropub.'

                  i used to love yasuda but now only go for weekday lunches at the tables. they offer a 'sushi matsu' which i find to be a fantastic deal considering the price and quality. i would avoid 15 east for lunch as i believe their best staff and higher quality fish is served at the bar during dinner. i love 15 east for omakase.

                  some east village/lower east side options (breakfast, lunch, ethnic food, etc...):

                  -shopsins...famous, ginormous menu, small but if you order wisely, youll find the place delicious.
                  -mission chinese food...hugely popular, amazing american inspired sichuan. lunch tends to be less crowded but dinner is doable if you go early or late.
                  -abraco...coffee on 7th street...they take themselves too seriously but the cortados are solid and worth a visit.
                  -zabb elee...order wisely and youll have a solid and cheap northern thai meal. hurts my stomach but i still like the place.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sam1

                    Thanks Sam,

                    Mission Chinese looks cool.

                    Shopsins has a ridiculous menu. What are the standouts?

                    Love Thai, so Zabb Elee sounds great.

                    Cheers,

                    Sperss97

                    1. re: 97Sperss

                      Shopsins:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/825444

                      1. re: kathryn

                        Excellent, thanks Kathryn.

                  2. Of the bars you listed, my favorites are D&C, PDT, M&H, and Mayahuel. However PDT is extremely difficult to get in to, so it may not be worth the trouble. I would also add Little Branch to your list. And as someone else mentioned, Pouring Ribbons is worth checking out.

                    Must go to dinners:

                    I haven't been to Per Se, EMP, or Jungsik (I have plans to hit these soon though), but by all accounts these are some of the top places in the city, so this is a solid list. I would also add Corton and Le Bernardin.

                    Babbo: Solid choice. Go.
                    WD~50: If you are comfortable with doing so, I highly recommend dining at the bar. At the bar they allow you to order a la carte off both tasting menus, so you get to control exactly what and how much you get. Order the pho gras.

                    Ko: Personally I think this place is overrated. If you must go, do dinner so you can get the egg/soubise/caviar dish. Ssam bar is overrated too imho, but one can have a great meal if one orders correctly.

                    JG: I never did the lunch, but it's a great deal. One of the best restaurants in NYC. The tasting menu is a lot of food. I say go for the prix fixe, but ask them to sub or add on the turbot with chateau chalon. They'll do it.

                    1. IMO, Jean Georges should be at top of your dinner list. To me it's a nice leisurely dinner place. But if you did lunch you would not be disappointed. 15 East is a much much better experience during dinner. Lunch is not even close, i think skip it if you can't do dinner there. Katz's is a definite lunch not to miss. Blue Ribbon Izakaya might be a good lunch spot, its on LES and you can mix good cooked with some sushi. Are all of your dinners "super fancy",,,if not Pig and Khao is casual and not expensive but interesting on LES. Meatball Shoppe although overrated is a good quick lunch stop, something different than I've seen in Canada. Recette is a good dinner spot. Ceci Cela in Soho is good for pastries and coffee.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        I'm surprised to see you say that about 15 East lunch. I used to work a block from 15 East, and Masa was often (but not always) there at lunch, and served me a number of great omakase meals at the bar.

                        Also, a lot of his regulars, including some in the food industry, seem to come in at lunch time (as was evident by their conversations). Even saw David Chang eating there a couple times.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Thanks foodwhisperer,

                          Dinners don't all have to be super fancy, though they probably will end up being that way.

                          I've heard of Blue Ribbon and that's a definite possibility, I'll check out Pig and Khao and the others you mentioned.

                          Do you have any recs for a late dinner after a Knicks game (eg. 10 PM)

                          Cheers,

                          Sperss97

                          1. re: 97Sperss

                            That could be your opportunity to walk into bar seats at Minetta Tavern.

                            1. re: Sneakeater

                              minetta is good late at night.

                              if you dont want to go too far, i always love a casual meal at the bar at keens.

                              1. re: sam1

                                Minetta looks like a good choice. Any other specific places in the MSG area, as we won't likely be there again?

                                1. re: 97Sperss

                                  MSG area is a bit of a wasteland. You could try the Breslin or a late reservation at The NoMad.

                        2. We called PDT at 3pm on the day we wanted to visit and snagged a 730 reservation, it was a weekday evening and still took us about 15/20 minutes to get through but it all felt relatively straightforward.

                          1. Not sure why Momofuku Ssam got dropped, but I'd for sure add them back in. You've got a number of very formal dinners, I'd probably do them in lieu of one. I'm not the biggest fan of Per Se, but I suspect that's the one you're least likely to want to drop, so I'd probably drop JG for Ssam. Maybe just do JG for lunch (they're a good deal at lunch)

                            WD-50 is often great, but I preferred the old a la carte format, or at least having it as an option. I've tried a number of the new tasting dishes at the bar, and a couple have been great, a couple underwhelming - the "Pho Gras" left me flat, which is odd since in the past Dufresne's foie gras preps have been among my favorites in town. The desserts and cocktails, though, are still among the best in the city hands-down. Actually, a great weeknight would be dinner at Ssam, skip dessert - then walk it off, head down to WD for after-dinner cocktails and pastries at the bar, just keeping in mind to have dinner early enough (say, by 7:00 or 8:00 at the latest) that you can eat and then liesurely get to WD before closing. (Desserts at Ssam are fine, really delicious, but not as exciting as at WD)

                            Of course, a LOT depends on where you can get rezzies. Shooting for EMP, Per Se, and Babbo all in one week, it wouldn't surprise me if one didn't work out.

                            Re: Corton/Bouley - wouldn't replace any of yours with either. Maybe JG for Bouley, I just like the atmosphere at Bouley more.

                            Re: Brooklyn Fare - if you can get in, go for it. It's probably the hardest table in the city to get, and they take rezzies six weeks out (I think?) so you'd be able to book them before any of the others, anyway.

                            A couple other suggestions:

                            On Saturday or Sunday, definitely work in Public for brunch. Most creative in the city, easily. It's no rez, but you can dine at the bar and the table wait usually isn't super-long for a two-top, especially at the earlier (pre-noon) end of the shift.

                            I'll note that Balthazar isn't an Italian lunch place, or an Italian anything place, though the way you phrase it I'm not positive you were saying that. That said, they're good, but it's basically classics-done-well. Not really creative, but certainly delicious. For Italian lunch in the same area there's Parm (Italian-American - also not creative but solid) and Osteria Morini. Also Caffe Falai if they've re-opened (they're under construction at the moment)

                            I might also consider Kyo-Ya for a fancy dinner, ordering the kaiseki when making your rez. Would be a nice change of pace from the rest of your week, which is heavy on the NewAm / French-influenced.

                            Shopsin's: absolutely, go on a weekday. Standouts are hard to say, since everyone's tastes vary. When I go, it's for the most ridiculously unhealthy off-the wall stuff. As an example, there's a breakfast sandwich - sausage or bacon, egg and cheese - that uses his mac & cheese pancakes in lieu of bread. The Jihadboy I'm awful fond of as well, and a few other items which I can't remember without the menu in front of me. Check out the menu online and decide what you want to order beforehand, as "patience" is not exactly a word that comes to mind when one thinks of Shopsin's.

                            Personally, I'd probably do Ko for dinner over lunch. Not sure I could eat that much during the day. More does not always mean better. And in all honesty, depending on what's on the menu, there are times I'd rather dine at Ssam than Ko. Maybe keep one night open to try for a Ko rez, and if it doesn't work out... just do Ssam that night. You won't go wrong, either way.

                            Angel's Share is still good, it's just not as exciting as many of the newer cocktail destinations.

                            A couple other lunch/brunch options to consider (keeping all suggestions downtown) -

                            Aamanns-Copenhagen (new, very good Scandinavian, something a bit different than the rest of your itinerary, great lunch spot.)

                            JoeDoe (brunch only - a bit meat-heavy, but his duck hash w/ duck eggs is pretty spectacular.)

                            Russ & Daughters for breakfast - a can't-miss. Go on a weekday (lines are crazy on the weekends) and grab a couple bagels with different kinds of lox, maybe a little container of herring if you're so inclined, go eat at any of the little parks within a couple blocks.

                            Tacos Morelos Cart - Avenue A and 2nd Street, open 24 hours - because at some point stumbling back to the hotel drunk at 3AM (or just before drinking) you're GOING to want street tacos. And they're the best in the neighborhood. Or in Manhattan, maybe. Their lengua is great IMHO, especially.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: sgordon

                              Russ and Daughters: I prefer Barney Greengrass, but you cannot go wrong with either place.

                              I am a fan of J0 over Bouley and Corton though all of these places are excellent. JG has a great and cheap lunch.

                              I have not been to Mission Chinese, but its rep is Americanized Chinese done very well. It is hot and a branch of a SF Chinese restaurant.

                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                As for Jean-Georges, I've once had a memorable lunch on a Sunday, and shared a merely "okay" lunch on a Monday. I think that the cuisine places such an emphasis on ingredient quality and careful saucing that if either or both is a bit less stellar (which will happen on an off-day, like say, a Monday), then the experience doesn't reflect their best.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                  I prefer R&D, but BG is good too - I figured since they're staying on the LES, R&D is the obvious choice, though...

                                2. re: sgordon

                                  For a "fancy dinner" I find Corton and Kajitsu better [deeper/more interesting] than Kyo Ya. But that's just me.

                                  I'm sure a life-changing kaiseki exists. I don't believe it is to be found NYC. When your Asian guests tell you [in a discreet/implicit manner] after the meal that similar/better stuff exists back home, I take that as a sign.

                                  1. re: calf

                                    I don't take the opinions of people from the home countries of particular cuisines as worth much in terms of what I'd enjoy myself. David Chang once said "authenticity is overrated" but I'd take it a step further and say it's utterly meaningless.

                                    There was an article a few years back in which a magazine sent three of China's top chefs to The French Laundry. One of them found it interesting, but all three were pretty underwhelmed, overall. Even among very advanced palates, what's "great" will always be relative, based on what you grew up eating and the cuisine you're acclimated to.

                                    Someone from Japan comes to the table with certain cultural touchstones and expectations that we don't. I probably wouldn't take a Japanese guest to a Japanese restaurant in NYC, because I'd assume they want something they can't get back home, unless they were the equivalent of the US tourist who looks for the nearest Red Lobster when they get off the plane, or perhaps a younger person/student, the sort who fill up the izakayas on St. Mark's shovelling down bonito omelettes covered in kewpie mayo.

                                    Kyo Ya makes excellent food. I don't know that it's life-changing, but I don't know that any meal anywhere is life-changing. Maybe "transporting" is the most extreme partciple I'd use for food.

                                    Kajitsu I haven't been to since the new chef took over. Been meaning to check it out.

                                    1. re: sgordon

                                      But I'm not critiquing Kyo Ya for being insufficiently authentic. I recite the Ruth Reichl article to my [Asian] parents at every opportunity when we try new foods, but that wasn't the issue here. I have my own opinions, but I rely on their viewpoints to help inform me of my own biases or uncritical or narrow interpretation.

                                      1. unagi hakata pan—this is barbecued eel pressed into white toast. As an opener it says a lot about the *kind* of kaiseki that is done at Kyo Ya—more humble and down-to-earth, as opposed to highly refined or complex. What this means to me is that Kyo Ya's kaiseki is not representative of all kaiseki, and probably *not* the kind of kaiseki that most people have in mind. So there is some adjustment of expectation that has to happen.

                                      2. goma tofu agedashi (uni, shimeji sauce)—half of the courses were "soupy" foods; not that this was a major problem but I do wonder if more textural diversity would have helped.

                                      3. sanma kosode sushi—this was quite nice. Only thing was its tinyness reflects Pete Wells' complaints about tasting menus. And as our waiter touched upon, this format was a hybrid kaiseki and tasting menu—which incurs all the culinary challenges therein.

                                      4. kabocha potage, fluke mousseball—as I recall this was slightly fishy. Like the hakata pan, its culinary heritage is a little hard to place. I like the concept, though.

                                      5a. peace passage oyster—really nice oyster, but this was overseasoned.

                                      6. grilled magret duck, senryo eggplant, peppers/fishies—this was lukewarm and, well… limp. I would have preferred the smoked duck breast from 15 East, or surely any grilled meat from Robataya. Very good duck preparations are almost ridiculously common amongst 1* restaurants—The Modern, NoMad, Bouley all come to mind.

                                      10a. white peach sauce, shiratama mochi—the mochi was tough. It was perfect once before—and my disappointment at the inconsistency was only magnified by presence of my guests.

                                      - They ran out of an ingredient, and thus had to reprint the menu while we waited.
                                      - I didn't feel the game got going until the 5th course.
                                      - Courses 5b, 7, 9 were the memorable ones. That's 3/10.

                                      NYC is often said to be jack-of-all-trades when it comes to cuisine. Applying that it would be reasonable to say that you won't find the "best" kaiseki in NYC, but you will find either or both a) a close approximation to it, or b) one with a NYC twist. In intentionally taking a "fine rustic" approach, Kyo Ya meets both. But in terms of execution and technique, I saw things that could have been improved upon to make the experience even better. Obviously, I can't say to what extent these minor things were specific to that one evening.

                                      15 East (120): At a base price, one can have a different kind of tasting menu. There were good (openers, sashimi) and less-good (soup, sushi [long story], dessert) parts. So I would say this was different, but the overall enjoyment was at a similar level.

                                      Brushstroke (135): To compare, it's funny because I never imagined I would like Brushstroke as a Japanese restaurant. They are both kaiseki and yet different in character. I was impressed by the production effort, i.e. that Bouley and the Tsuji Institute had to develop 5000 new recipes for this restaurant. As for execution, the only really flawed moment was the somen, which had been sitting out too long. Also I should note Kyo Ya's sashimi course is much more substantial and impressive.

                                      Kyo Ya (≈100): Come to think of it, I could have skipped the kaiseki and planned to have dishes a la carte. I know this is in hindsight, but that would have for sure made a terrific meal. Kyo Ya a la carte is one of my favorites.

                                      Meanwhile at the same price range, a diner could be experiencing a 2* restaurant:
                                      Corton (125)
                                      Momofuku Ko (125)
                                      I think restaurants like these are valued for being able to show food from new perspectives, rather than being satisfied with conventional tastiness, or catering to popular preference. If you are a visitor, these are the unique places to consider prioritizing.

                                      And then there's—
                                      Kajitsu (80): I don't really have words for this place. But I see people complaining that Kajitsu isn't "creative" anymore, while Kyo Ya is lavished praise. I don't think that's an accurate judgment, for either restaurant.

                                      Lastly, I've not tried these, but at the same price one could choose prix-fixe dinner at Jean-Georges or Le Bernardin. So there's lots of competition when it comes to looking for excellent dining.

                                      I do hope that my dissenting voice serves to temper expectations, not to dissuade people from their choices. That's all I really mean to say here.

                                      1. re: calf

                                        Just wanted to reiterate that this is a great post, and we want to do more Japanese restaurants.

                                        I now see that Babbo does lunch, and think we'll try for lunch there, to open us up for another Japanese dinner.

                                        If we are to do 3 Japanese meals (2 dinner and 1 lunch), I think 2 omakase and 1 Kaiseki, what would be your preferences?

                                        I am thinking Yasuda lunch, 15 East dinner (sounds like it is a much better dinner experience, and Yasuda is just as good for lunch and dinner) and Kyo Ya dinner a la carte.
                                        Would you put in Brushstroke, Kajitsu or another Omakase in place of any of those three if you had the choice?

                                        Cheers,

                                        Sperss97

                                        1. re: 97Sperss

                                          I too liked calf's detailed review. I too prefer a la carte at Kyo Ya. You basically can create a more likable kaiseki meal. I will say however, if you have never eaten at Kyo Ya you might not know which dishes to try. We all differ in our likes and dislikes. I usually get the ebi shinjo, the pressed saba sushi, the kameshi rice dish. something grilled or fried.
                                          Before the chef/owner Sono opened Kyo Ya, he was the chef at Hakubai in the Kitano Hotel catering to mostly Japanese people. So I do know he makes food pleasing to the Japanese who expect high -end gourmet meals.
                                          Also, not necessarily to disagree with sgordon, but I find that Japanese or Asian people do seek out, if not food from their own country, food from an Asian country. They may in fact want to try foods not common in Asia also, perhaps a Per Se, or Babbo, or a Katz's pastrami sandwich. ( katz;s gets many Asian tourists). But I'm sure a major percentage of the meals eaten are Asian taste meals.
                                          I'm not sure if authenticity is overrated or not. Sometimes you want authentic, sometimes you just want good food, It depends on your expectations I think. As far as those chefs not liking The French Laundry very much, I find that amazing. It is my favorite restaurant of all time.
                                          I do think Kyo Ya is better than Brushstroke, but I do like Brushstroke very much. I loved the original Kajitsu, but haven't been there since the new chef arrived.

                                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                                            Not really so amazing. My point was that many likes/dislikes are based on the culture we grew up in. It's no surprise to me that Chinese chefs wouldn't care for the French Laundry. "Delicious" and "Luxurious" are not universal. Chances are Thomas Keller wouldn't be such a fan of sea cucumber or chicken feet, though he'd probably be too polite to say anything derogatary about it.

                                            Here's the article, an interesting read:

                                            http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s...

                                        2. re: calf

                                          I agree with you on Kyo Ya.
                                          It isn't the best kaiseki in the world, and you will find tons of better kaiseki restaurants in Japan or some other Asian cities near Japan. However, if you are in New York, I think Kyo Ya is one of very few places that are closer to authentic Japanese kaiseki.

                                          I also find Kyo Ya's price ($100-150, or appr.$130-200 after tax and tip) is far below what they charge at top kaiseki restaurants in Japan, which easily charge up to $300 or more, excluding wine or sake. May be that's one of the reasons why Kyo Ya has to compromise the quiality. Not many New Yorkers, I think, would be willing to spend $300 or more for Japanese kaiseki. They would rather go to Per Se.

                                    2. re: sgordon

                                      Thanks for such a detailed reply. Awesome!

                                      I agree we are heavy on the New Am/French, and Kyo Ya sounds like a nice place to get some balance.

                                      Absolutely love the Tacos Morelos Cart idea. Nothing we like more than taco carts, and Canada has none of them.

                                      Seems that R&D is a must from almost everyone, so we'll get that in there somewhere.

                                      We'll put a Momofuku back in somewhere.

                                      Public brunch looks different and amazing!

                                      So we have pretty much 6 full days + 1 breakfast/lunch (Arrive at 11 AM on the 23rd and leave at 5:45 PM on the 2nd)

                                      Breakfast/Lunches
                                      R+D
                                      JG (Will do it for lunch as the price is right and I don't want to miss JG. Will also make sure it is a non "off-day" as per calf)
                                      Shopsins
                                      Yasuda
                                      Mission Chinese
                                      Empellon Cocina
                                      15 East ??? (If not worth it for lunch, may just do Yasuda)
                                      Katz's
                                      Bouley ??? (looks great, but where will I fit it in?)
                                      Public Brunch

                                      Dinners:
                                      EMP
                                      Per Se (Yup, this is one we're gonna have to keep. It's a Keller-Achatz fight to the death, and I've done Alinea twice. Mind blown twice. We need to see if Achatz is Darth Vader and strikes down the Obi-Wan Keller)
                                      Babbo
                                      Brooklyn Fare - Will go for the reso, but can live without it
                                      Momofuku Ssam followed by WD-50 for desserts is a possible
                                      Kyo Ya vs. 15 East vs. Kajitsu for a change of pace
                                      Jungsik

                                      Bouley and Corton are on the back-up list, but I'll try to hit Bouley for lunch

                                      Bars:
                                      So many amazing suggestions, thank you. We often do two-three per night, so 15 is doable.

                                      Tacos Morelos cart for late night
                                      Pizza places/other late night eats in EV/LES?

                                      I am salivating right now. So excited for my impending gut explosion.
                                      I would love to see how everyone would tinker this list to make it into actually edible/enjoyable days. ie: Not so stuffed that we can't enjoy it anymore. Usually we do this by eating only twice a day, but I have too many places for that.
                                      Also thinking that doing Per Se, EMP, Momofuku and Brooklyn Fare on every 2nd day will help. Are those the biggest meals?

                                      Oh, and who does BYOW of these places?

                                      Keep it coming!!

                                      Sperss97

                                      1. re: 97Sperss

                                        South Brooklyn Pizza on 1st Av. just north of 7th St. serves a very good margherita slice. Whatever the special is, don't get it. Super-informal, one table (from what I'm remembering) plus counter space. $4/slice.

                                        1. re: 97Sperss

                                          You should totally go to Per Se, and never let anyone convince you not to.

                                          But, other than being expensive and having multiple courses, it's so completely different from Alinea that I can't imagine how you'd even compare them.

                                          Look forward to hearing what you utlimately think.

                                          1. re: Sneakeater

                                            Don't worry, we will not miss Per Se. It is the top priority on our list!

                                            Remind me to give you a review if you haven't heard a few weeks into March.

                                            Cheers

                                      2. If you are super-interested in Jungsik maybe consider looking for a casual meal at one of the places along Korea Way. It could serve as a useful cultural reference. In particular I'm thinking of Kun Jip (the one with the dark red awning), but I'm sure there are other good recommendations.

                                        1. Try out Ajna Bar in West Village, the space is incredible. It's hidden. You wouldn't even know what's inside from the exterior. It really is beautiful & a fun atmosphere.

                                          1. I wouldn't recommend anyone patronize Yasuda.

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875273

                                            1. Veselka is the nexus of the universe, and it's right near you in the East Village. I've run into my professors (from a University in Texas) there. It's great for breakfast, lunch, and 3am whatever. Their blintzes and Christmas borscht are two of my favorite foods in the world.

                                              Alternatively B&H Dairy is also in the East Village, and its one of the last remaining lunch counters, not to mention my favorite place for whitefish salad. Seriously. I like theirs better than the whitefish at Barney Greengrass. (Let the flames begin.)

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: flower_puppy

                                                Have you tried Ukranian Home yet?

                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                  Good call on East Village Ukrainian Restaurant (aka Ukrainian National Home). Way better than Veselka, which I don't get at all.

                                                2. re: flower_puppy

                                                  I can't comprehend this level of worshipfulness toward Veselka. I recommend Stage Restaurant instead. B&H does have some good dishes, but other bad ones.

                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                    I think Veselka is Ok in that it is open late. The pirogie are decent. Nothing is great. Ukrainian home has a unique atmosphere, you have to wonder where you really are. The food is Ok there too. It's not great, but it is better than Veselka. B&H has good salmon croquettes. When I was a vegetarian years ago, B&H was a good go-to spot. I have been choosing Stage over all those mentioned, thanks to either Pan or Kathryn's recs on CH.

                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                      If I recall, you never liked Veselka.That's ok. It's a diner, and keeping that in mind, it's one of the better diners in the city. For certain specialties, it is a top destination. Borscht for example, has few equals in it's price range. Ukranian National Home is a notch up, but they are almost interchangeable.

                                                      For Pirogies, there are few better options. They're the only ones making shortrib or sweet potato pirogies that I know of.

                                                      Once you get into stuffed cabbage, or a dish with a mushroom sauce, Keilbasa, or some other specialty, it's touch and go. The burgers and salads are decent, but nothing mind blowing. Breakfasts are diner breakfasts, and a good diner breakfast at that, but nothing destination worthy. The baked goods are surprising depending on when you order, and who is overseeing them.

                                                      B & H makes a great challah, and I've have excellent well spiced pirogies there too. I'd say they were heartier. Stage is another classic I wish kept later hours, but again, these are all diners, first and foremost. I wouldn't order the dinner specials, or a glass of wine, or a fish dish. The East Village used to be full of them (although nothing like the amount of Ramen places today) and half the reputation was built on being affordable, hearty, and when you're broke, stomach padding meals. Polish diners were the place even a squater could afford to eat.

                                                      Would I burn a meal there if I were visiting? Honestly, no. That said, I've had friends visit, and I've taken them to Veselka for brunch/lunch, and felt a little bad by what was served, only to have friends ask about it later on a return visit, because they enjoyed themselves so much.

                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                        I hear you on that. Everyone has different tastes.

                                                        I wish Stage were open later, too.

                                                        I don't have nearly as low a view of their specials as you do, though. They make decent stews and such (goulash, etc.) - nothing incredible, and I still miss having Teresa's around the corner, let alone Leshko's and the Odessa of yesteryear, when it was good, but there are some perfectly OK specials there.

                                                  2. I would definitely add Nomad for brunch or dinner !!

                                                    Second South Brooklyn Pizza
                                                    Luke's Lobster Rolls (EV eats)

                                                    I'd skip Velselka
                                                    Not a Babbo fan, but obviously others love it

                                                    Kajitsu is a very cool experience but I'd suggest to only sit at the bar or in the front room (having been there twice).

                                                    If you *love* sushi, don't miss Yasuda !

                                                    1. Hey Lavendula,

                                                      Are you talking The Nomad hotel? Where do you eat, atrium, parlour, etc.? I looked at the menu and it looks great. Maybe we will add it as a brunch the day we leave (Saturday).

                                                      We were planning on skipping Veselka anyway.

                                                      Would you still recommend Yasuda now that the chef has left? The reviews have looked brutal since then.

                                                      So far we have locked up
                                                      Saturday - Bouley lunch, Babbo dinner
                                                      Sunday - Minetta tavern brunch, Per Se dinner
                                                      Monday to Saturday are still > 1 month out so will be booking up as the days come.

                                                      Finally are there any other great brunch recs, esp. if in the LES/EV?
                                                      We missed out on Public (they're all booked for the next 8 weeks, damn!) I'm thinking Minetta Tavern and NoMad right now for our two brunches.

                                                      Thanks,

                                                      Chris

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: 97Sperss

                                                        For brunch at NoMad, I think they only serve it in the atrium. The fireplace room and parlor were empty when I went. Make a reservation, it gets busy.

                                                        Public has a great weekend brunch but doesn't take brunch reservations. A lot of the good places don't. They also don't book up that far in advance for dinner -- I've definitely done some last minute dinners there.

                                                        Weekend brunch that takes reservations:
                                                        Locanda Verde
                                                        North End Grill
                                                        Union Sq Cafe
                                                        Balthazar
                                                        The Dutch
                                                        Maialino

                                                        1. re: 97Sperss

                                                          There have been people on these boards knocking Yasuda since long before the head chef left.

                                                          I was there last week. It was great-still my favorite sushi in the city. There are many people who prefer 15 East, which is also great.

                                                          If you love sushi, I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice by NOT visiting either Yasuda or 15 East.

                                                          If you want a no-frills experience with a ton of nigiri and a handroll, a relatively small selection of beer and sake, and not much else, go to Yasuda.

                                                          If you want a more elegant experience with a mix of cooked dishes, sashimi, sushi, and a much wider selection of drinks, check out 15 East.

                                                          Either way, make sure you sit at the bar and leave yourself in the hands of the chef.

                                                          1. re: lexismore

                                                            When i eat at 15 East , omakase, It is 99% sushi and sashimi. Maybe 1 cooked dish, sometimes.

                                                          2. re: 97Sperss

                                                            Yes, the Nomad Hotel. They serve in all rooms but we like to sit in the Atrium the best. Get the chicken sandwich (you can thank me later). Note that the chicken sandwich is only served after 12:00, as are the amazing bloody marys. The cauliflower and eggs benedict are our other favorites.

                                                            BTW, Minetta Tavern is a very heavy brunch (delicious, but heavy)...I would go lighter before Per Se, you're going to have to save room.

                                                            If you like fried chicken, check out The Dutch for brunch (but also not on the same day as Per Se)! Miss Lilly's is also fun for Jamaican style Brunch. La Apicio is worth checking out for brunch or dinner.

                                                            My husband is a huge Yasuda fan and still loves it. 15 East is also very good but the rice isn't up to par and I find the service excruciatingly slow. I do love their homemade tofu. Also check out Neta!!

                                                            1. re: lavendula

                                                              Thanks,

                                                              So where would you recommend for a lighter breakfast/brunch on Sunday? We have Per Se at 530 PM, is Public's brunch lighter? We are eating a late dinner at 15 East the night before.

                                                              The Nomad sure looks good.

                                                              We have pretty much booked most things and it looks like this:

                                                              Saturday - Bouley late lunch (5 course Prix Fixe), 15 East late dinner

                                                              Sunday - Minetta Tavern Brunch (?Change to somewhere lighter), early dinner at Per Se

                                                              Monday - Breakfast at Russ+Daughters, away for lunch, dinner at Babbo

                                                              Tuesday - Lunch at Yasuda, dinner at EMP

                                                              Wednesday - Lunch Jean Georges, Dinner at Momofuku Ko with Ssam
                                                              Bar as back-up. Possibly make dessert only reso at WD-50

                                                              Thursday - No breakfast/lunch chosen (Shopsins/Katz's possible), dinner at Jungsik

                                                              Friday - No breakfast/lunch chosen (Shopsins, Katz's possible), dinner at Kyo Ya

                                                              Saturday - Brunch at Public, fly out at 6 PM, so may need a quick East Village/LES snack before we leave.

                                                              Bars
                                                              PDT
                                                              Pegu Club
                                                              Pouring Ribbons
                                                              Booker and Dax
                                                              Mayahuel
                                                              Death and Co

                                                              Late night eats in EV/LES - Luke's Lobster rolls, Tacos Morelos cart, Motorino pizza

                                                              1. re: 97Sperss

                                                                Public's brunch isn't necessarily lighter -- some of the best items are on the heavy side. Blood pudding waffles with foie gras butter. Turkish eggs are also pretty rich.

                                                                I don't believe that WD-50 will let you do a dessert only reservation since their menu revamp. There's two tasting menus offered now. If you just want dessert, you can do a la carte dessert at the bar. But you might be exhausted by then. JG and Ko and WD-50?!

                                                                1. re: 97Sperss

                                                                  Reserved tables at WD-50 are for the tasting menus only.

                                                                  That said, if you're going to Ko or Ssam, there's no need to go elsewhere for dessert. At Ko they're included in the meal, at Ssam there's a couple good ones on the menu and/or you can just go to Milk Bar across the street.

                                                                  Friday might be a better night to wander down to the WD bar and get a couple desserts a la carte - Kyo Ya's desserts aren't really anything to go nutty over, though if you're doing the kaiseki there'll be desserts included and you'll probably be too full to eat more. That said, the bar at WD will be BUSY on Friday, so unless you're going really late when things slow down a bit you might want to scratch them. I can't really see any other nights where it might be feasable to do the bar there - maybe after 15 East - I could skip the desserts there, especially if it was WD-50 desserts I was skipping them for - but if you've a late rezzie at 15E you might not get to WD in time.

                                                                  I might move Minetta to lunch on Thursday or Friday instead of brunch, just do something light on Sunday before Per Se. Mayb ethat Sunday do something super-light for brunch/lunch - starting the day with snacks and tea at the Mandarin Oriental lounge could be fun. You'd be right by Per Se, spend the afternoon in Midtown (walk through the park to the Museum of Natural History, do fancy shopping at Barney's etc) and then back to Per Se.

                                                                  As kathryn said, some of the better dishes at Public can be on the heavier side - sweet brunch fans are partial to the waffles or coconut pancakes, for savories the venison burger (which doesn't look huge but is DENSE) and the tea-smoked salmon are pretty righteous. They also have the best lentil salad I've had in NYC, oddly, if you're feeling less adventurous... Either way, that Saturday is probably the best time to do them.

                                                                  Also, I hope the Monday of your return you've got an appointment with your cardiologist and/or personal trainer. After that week, you'll probably need one!

                                                                  1. re: sgordon

                                                                    Great suggestion to put tea before dinner at Per Se. My wife wants to do tea days anyway, but it looks like the tea hours are all 3-6 PM. Does anyone know of tea that starts early on a Sunday?

                                                                    1. re: 97Sperss

                                                                      They serve tea all day, it's only the "traditional tea service" with the scones and mini sandwiches and whatnot for a set price they do for limited hours (I thought it was 2:00 - 4:00, but maybe they changed that) - you can still get a nice pot of tea, a few little snacks, etc, and enjoy the great view any time of day.

                                                                      1. re: 97Sperss

                                                                        If you find yourself in the West Village at some point, Bosie Tea Parlor:
                                                                        http://www.bosienyc.com/index.html

                                                                      2. re: sgordon

                                                                        I still remember the dessert course from the 10-course kaiseki dinner my girlfriend and I had at Kyo Ya about 3 years ago. It was soft tofu with beans and I think it also had some dried fruit in it. It was wonderfully clean and subtle in what seemed to us a sublime way, so while it might not have wowed on its own, it was the perfect conclusion to a great meal.

                                                                2. Hi! If you love sushi, you may want to consider omakase at 15 east as a dinner instead of a lunch...it is really the best sushi in New York. Mayahuel has amazing cocktails - great choice. For other ethnic food option, you may want to look into Momofuku noodle bar or ssam....for italian, you may also want to look into il buco alimentaria or osteria morini

                                                                  1. If it were me, I would get a juice at Melvins Juice Box (part of Miss Lilly's) and fast the whole day till Per Se!