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Mid May Birthday Dinner for foodie boyfriend.

Hey all,

I'm an Angelino who is taking her Japanese boyfriend to New York for his birthday. We arrive in Manhattan about 4:30 or 5 probably on a Friday evening. I want to take him someplace special of course. Money is almost no object I can go pretty expensive but not like $400 for two, less than that please. (He doesn't drink much so that will probably save me some money!)

He loves Chinese food, but it looks like the best Chinese in Manhattan are all dives (nothing wrong with that, but I wanted it to have a great atmosphere) at least according to Yelp. It could also just be some awesome romantic restaurant. He's an amazing chef and a foodie by the way. (He cooks mostly Japanese). He doesn't want Japanese food because he really only enjoys it in Japan or his or his friends' home cooking. OK, he's picky.

He would eat anything else though I believe, as long as it's delicious. I appreciate any and all suggestions!

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  1. By the way, I'm not "taking him to New York" for his birthday. We are going to New York together. I don't know why, but when I re-read that, it sounded weird. Ok, now, suggestions?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Amnesty96

      Don't worry about the impressions: just don't do Oriental food, since it is unlikely you can do better than Japan or Cali. How about some Middle Eastern food? Especially Israeli food?
      Balaboosta? maybe Taboon or Gazala? Nish Nush or Taim for a simpler fare? Maybe Arabic food in Queens? (Please post in the Outer Boro's forum for more reqs.)

      1. re: diprey11

        Right. Don't "do Oriental" because it's 2014 and people don't "do Oriental" anymore.

        1. re: thegforceny

          i like to think that whatever im eating while lounging on a hand-knit rug is "oriental food"

    2. What is your budget per person for food only (before tax/tip/alcohol) since he doesn't drink a lot?

      Any other favorite foods or cuisines? What kind of atmosphere are you looking for?

      1. Blue Hill, NY local-centric ingredients, supposedly nice room, and good food.

        I never been, but I've been trying to get a reservation.

        1. My budget per person is around 125-150.
          I don't think Asian food is out of the question, btw. He does love very fresh and well prepared Chinese food. He would of course like a Japanese restaurant that was excellent, but I think I'll stay away from that. Middle Eastern sounds interesting. Open for more suggestions…thanks.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Amnesty96

            How about a restaurant with a show? Merlot restaurant is really nice and they have tango shows. I think you guys will enjoy it :) Happy b'day boyfriend!!!!

            1. re: Amnesty96

              Hi Amnesty96, you are very sweet and considerate to be planning all this for your boyfriend.

              Chinese food is my favorite cuisine as well. Has your BF been to Hakkasan in LA? There is a location in NY and the food can be excellent depending on what you order.

              Also, if your BF likes Peking duck, Decoy should be open by then and might be a possibility depending on how the reviews pan out.

              I personally love Annisa, it's a melange of Chinese and Asian, European and Middle Eastern influences.

              Ilili has been a crowd pleaser and everyone I bring there loves it. It is Middle Eastern food, elegantly prepared and definitely will appeal to a "foodie". The room has a spacious vaulted ceiling and the vibe is very buzzy.

              Buddakan is also an option, it has an extremely lively environment, beautiful decor and the food ranges from ok to very good+.

              I would have you reconsider your notion that the best Chinese in NY is in dives, I've tried many of the places that are well-regarded and they're not serving the best food, they're serving the best food to value ratio. For Chinese food, imo Hakkasan is most consistently serving the best Chinese food in NYC.

              1. re: Pookipichu

                Hakkasan looks perfect!! I think I've found what I'm looking for. Since we are in the city for three nights, I will explore the other restaurants mentioned here as well for other dining. Thank you all, and pookipichu I am very grateful, you read my mind!

                1. re: Amnesty96

                  Always happy if I can be helpful. Please read this thread for some recommendations and caveats.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8571...

                  Hakkasan gets rather loud past 7 pm with dance club type music. Dishes you might want to pass/avoid, xo lamb chops, lobster tail. On the fence with the merlot ribeye.

                  Recommend: Peking duck, pipa duck, duck salad, salt and pepper squid, Jasmine ribs, dim sum platters, Chilean sea bass with Chinese honey, snow pea shoot, San bei chicken, pork belly, seafood toban, spicy prawn, fried rice with crispy chicken and fish, coconut panna cotta, mango pudding, chocolate cremeux.

                  Avoid alcohol upsell, my family doesn't drink so I haven't experienced it, but others have.

                  1. re: Pookipichu

                    Wow, that is one standout review of yours! And it was good to read the response. I am certain we will go there that weekend. Now i wonder if I should wait to go when our compadres join us the next night, a Saturday (not Memorial day weekend, thankfully) because we can order more dishes to try. But then it could be out of their price range, not sure. Do you think that just two going for a romantic dinner, if we order, say the duck and the honey fish and an appetizer…I mean wouldn't we be missing out on so much? Or are the portions small enough that we should also order a couple more things. Thoughts?

                    1. re: Amnesty96

                      It depends on the size of your appetites. The Peking duck, honey fish, one appetizer and vegetable or two appetizers, and a shared desert would easily stuff a normal couple. I like going to Hakkasan as a group because you get to try more food, but budget is always a concern with expensive restaurants. Regardless, you can have a great meal for two and hit their strongest dishes.

                  2. re: Amnesty96

                    Ilili is also great for lunch (with a $25 pre fixe option weekdays) or brunch (with a $28 pre fixe option)
                    http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

                    1. re: Ttrockwood

                      Thank you Ttrockwood. The offerings sound delicious and the reviews are good. I'll look into that. Thanks!

                    2. re: Amnesty96

                      a dissenting view from me:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8421...

                      Also you might read some of the reviews referenced in that longer thread: Pete Wells, Adam Platt, and every other major critic loathed the place...

                      But maybe Pookipichu has the magic formula of what dishes to order, so if you do go, i'd say follow his ordering advice carefully, as so many people have disliked the place...

                2. Hi everyone. I've really been enjoying looking up some of these places. I just want to tell you that though Hakkasan is on my list for sure, after talking with him last night it turns out he's had quite a bit of chinese in New York. He's mostly been to dives that have been good and highly recommended so Hakkasan would be different but still, now I might want to change my course.

                  Since this is the first birthday he's celebrated in almost 6 years (long story) I wanted this to be special - atmosphere is as important as the food. It needs to be romantic and that's probably the number one ingredient here. But not too old world, like not too too old fashioned. Doesn't need to be the most modern newest scene either. Something charming. I think we are both open to Italian/French/Middle Eastern/American. Thanks and sorry I'm heading this in a different direction all together! (BTW I might still go to Hakkasan with a group that we're meeting there, which would also maybe be more fun!)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Amnesty96

                    Annisa, very romantic and will be a memorable meal. It has European/Middle Eastern/Asian elements.

                    I'm not a fan of Pete Wells, but he recently reviewed Annisa for the NYT - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/05/din...

                    There are many threads on CH on Annisa as well. It's one of my favorite restaurants in NYC.

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      If interested in Annisa, book as soon as they let you since they just got that favorable NYT review...

                      Their book opens 3 months ahead, as well, and it's not a giant space.

                      I just tried on OpenTable and I was able to book all the way up to May 12th.

                    2. re: Amnesty96

                      You may think it's reads too "classic" but I would serioulsy encourage you to look into Picholine. Really fantastic food. Another good idea with the revisions to the request; Betony. Incredible food, nice environment, very good vibe.

                    3. I would take a look at Jungsik if I were you!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: hamgm915

                        Thank you hamgm915 - it looks amazing! I will definitely put it on my list for our trip! I have a feeling I will gain at least 5 pounds before coming back home!

                      2. I am a very big NYC foodie and have had the cheap and the expensive.. the latter due to my company's outings. I have the say I have had really great dinners at the James Beard Foundation. What they do is have guest chefs from around the US sometimes globally. They prepare their own menu and pair everything with a wine. You buy a ticket to the dinner 95 for public 80 for a member. You get there and it is in an old NYC townhouse, you eat some canapes and drink some wine while meeting people(sometimes famous) or you can take your wine to the yard. Then everyone sits for dinner. The place is dim light and kind of romantic I must say, the food can be interestingly different but always amazing (you can check which chef is cooking before buying a ticket)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: butterfryme

                          JB dinners are hit or miss depending upon the chef. For a visitor, a good menu may not coincide with their visit. Not worth it for a visitor who wants a taste of the current dining scene.

                          BTW - most of the prolific posters on this board are "very big NYC "foodie"s and have had the cheap and the expensive"

                        2. http://www.jamesbeard.org/#home-dining forgot the link and you can always check time out ny http://www.timeout.com/newyork/food-d...

                          1. Ko

                            1. Il Mulino could make a fun bday dinner -- the closest thing to it in LA is DanTana's...(tricky ordering there though, so read all the primers CH first)

                              Another non-Asian option (and in a diff borough): St Anselm...one of my top ten in the whole city...