10 day trip to NYC, input requested!
Hi everyone, yes, I am new, but I'm happy to report back on my trip once I'm done. I'm visiting New York with family for 10 days at the end of September. I've been before with my wife, but my family (Dad, sister, her BF) haven't. I would say I've done a lot of research, here, and on other food discussion/review sites (not sure if I can name them). I've seen kathryn's response to people elsewhere, so I'll try and give as much background and an overview of what I've booked/have in mind already.
It is a long trip, with a lot of scope, so any helpful "if you like the sound of that, then you might like this" tips are appreciated. Beyond that, I do have some specific questions I'd like to ask. (Feel free to answer little parts, I do realise I'm asking a lot and I appreciate the answers).
So, I've visited before, nearly 8 years ago, where the highlights were Per Se (tasting) and Veritas (Scott Bryan was still there). There is a definite Anthony Bourdain influence to my choices, as we also ate in Les Halles and Yakitori Totto (wasn't open too long then I think). We won't go back to Per Se (even if it was amazing) purely because of the increase in price since then and especially because I think the wine list is now very expensive. For 5 people, it'll be crazy. While I know we won't get 'the best' BBQ or dim sum in Manhattan, we do want the best experiences we can.
Budget is pretty open, certainly 100 dollars a day aside from special meals. For those special meals, I have EMP in mind because it's raved about here, I'd like to get lunch reservations for Le Bernardin, and I'd like to eat at two of David Chang's places (Bo SSam to take away being the most likely, and maybe a drop-in somewhere.
While I wouldn't rule out Les Halles, BXL, Eataly-type places for casual/unplanned meals closer to Midtown (unless you think I should), I'll mainly avoid French/Italian places, as we're in Europe and I can just go there pretty easily. Likewise, Greek/Turkish food is less appealing, and we can get good Thai too. Good Mexican and Vietnamese would welcome.
I've just made a reservation for Rosette for the first evening we arrive based on the recent comments about it (we're staying very nearby in LES), I'm planning a trip to Russ and Daughters (and Barney Greengrass, which we loved last time), and I have a reservation for Blue Smoke too.
I'm not looking for 'best place near X' tips, but if there's something unusual or exceptional near certain things, please suggest those. A recommendation for a seafood/raw bar place would be welcome (we also visited GCOB, and the reports in the interim seem very mixed), even if it's validation that the platter at Balthazar is worth it.
Without launching a massive pizza debate, is there anywhere that does good white pizza?
We're omnivorous (and whatever the liquid equivalent is), happy to snack just to try something, will stop regularly for breaks (and drinks) because of my Dad, and don't worry, there'll be plenty of dumplings, hot dogs, bagels, and slices. We're comfortable with fine dining or plastic furniture, cocktail bars and dives.
The pretty solid agenda (in terms of our planning) would be:
Friday evening drinks LES (169 Bar?) and Rosette
Saturday morning run to Russ and Daughters, lunch/foodcart near the High Line, drinks (where?), then Blue Smoke Battery Park City. Drinks maybe in Whiskey Tavern or Apotheke.
Sunday morning Dim Sum (Jing Fong or Golden Unicorn), maybe a baseball game and Bo SSam to go.
Monday, open during the day, general sightseeing, dinner in EMP and drinks afterward (half price wine in Les Halles?)
Tuesday, breakfast in Barney Greengrass, Natural History, omakase in Sushi Yasaka (largely because it's a good deal; we like sushi but I'm not planning on a $200+ each sushi experience), possibly dessert somewhere (was considering Per Se Salon, but leaning against it now).
Wednesday and Thursday are open; suggestions? A different BBQ place? Sweet Chick to get fried chicken? More unusual Chinese food?
Friday, Le Bernardin for lunch (if we can pop in and out of MoMa), and yakitori (Totto? Torishin? Somewhere else?) for dinner.
Saturday, we definitely want to visit Smorgasburg at some point, so maybe that day.
For the last 'big' meal, I was considering a Sunday evening trip to Picholine, but due to location (and thinking it looks awesome), I'm leaning towards WD-50 now instead.
Where can we get a 3*-style dessert tasting?
I know there are enough great places to fill a month-long trip, but I think this is as much as I can fit in my head so far.
Any substitutions or validations? Thank you again for any tips, and reading this far if you've persevered...
Very thoughtful post.
If you are coming from Europe, I would add a few things that are difficult to find there.
That would include a NY style steakhouse. Keen's or Sparks are favorites of mine.
Since you like japanese, I would add ramen. Ippudo or Totto Ramen would be good choices.
NY Deli would be also good to add. I like 2nd Avenue a lot but maybe that's because its convenient.
I like EMP. Been several times and I feeling a bit burnt out on tasting menus these days. I really like LeB as I am a big fan of fish.
For BBQ, check out Mighty Quinn.
I was at Smorgasburg last weekend at BBP. I would say while there are many choices, most of the stuff is only so so. The most worthwhile part of the experience is the setting.
Thanks Bkeats. I'm personally not a huge "steak in restaurants" fan, but I'm open to being convinced. I'm happy to try those suggestions if we go for steak.
We went to Katz's last time; nice but I wouldn't rush back. If you think 2nd Avenue is better, then I'm sure we'll go to a deli at some point so why not there.
We're all big fish eaters, and I had originally planned on dinner/tasting at LeB instead of EMP, but was swayed by opinion here. I definitely want to fit it in.
Thanks for the Smorgasburg pointer. Would somewhere like Hudson Eats or South Street Sea Port(?) be a better, similar option? Are there other food truck collectives that I should know about?
Yes. A couple of friends (industry people) recently dined at WD-50, and to be honest they didn't love it like we used to in the "old days".
WD might be in the kitchen, except when he's at Alder in the kitchen, and which I think is a much more fun place. I had a great dinner there with some out-of-town friends...when they looked at the menu, they were a little worried, but once they tasted the food, they were quite happy.
If you or anyone in your party doesn't have a jacket, I'm pretty sure LeB will supply you with one.
Similar to Alder (in that they do small plates, creative stuff, and from a WD-50 veteran to boot) is Pearl & Ash. I like them both, tend to lean towards P&A. Alder is more "fun" food-wise, I suppose, in that there are a lot of riffs on recognizable foods - the pastrami-on-rye pasta, French onion soup rings, etc. For me they're try-them-once dishes, nothing that made me feel compelled to go back and have them again and again as some of his riffs at his flagship did. (I still remember his "ham & swiss" from, like, a decade ago, and have been waiting for it show up on the Vault menu...)
I think the options at 2nd Ave are better. No confusing set up either. Come in, sit at table, order, eat, get bill and pay.
Even if you're not necessarily a fan of steak in restaurants, I would say having the mutton chop at Keen's is something special assuming you like lamb.
If you like fish like I do, you may prefer LeB to EMP.
Smorgasburg is worth checking out. I was pointing out that you should temper your expectations for the food. Nothing there is going to rock your world. Most of its is ok but you pay a lot for the experience. Don't think South Street will be better. Have not gone to Hudson Eats. If you are going to be in the Brooklyn Bridge Park, check out Juliana's for pizza.
Check out Sushi Dojo. Really good and reasonably priced for what you get.
MylesF, where are you from/what's your current city/country in Europe? What about your family members, if not the same location & country?
> Budget is pretty open, certainly 100 dollars a day aside from special meals.
BEFORE tax, tip, alcohol, or AFTER? $100 a day, per person, for all 3 meals?
> For those special meals, I have EMP in mind because it's raved about here, I'd like to get lunch reservations for Le Bernardin, and I'd like to eat at two of David Chang's places (Bo SSam to take away being the most likely, and maybe a drop-in somewhere.
If you have trouble getting an EMP reservation, note that they serve lunch Thursday–Saturday, noon–1:00pm in addition to dinner nightly.
For Le Bernardin, note that they open up reservations on the first business day of the month for the entire month following only via phone (not OpenTable). They already started taking reservations for ALL of September at the beginning of August. I would call and make this reservation ASAP if you have a specific date you want. Also they only serve lunch on weekdays. And don't forget that jackets are required for gentlemen in the main dining room during both lunch and dinner. (Ties are optional.)
Bo Ssam takeaway doesn't make sense to me as you'll be missing the rest of the GREAT menu at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Don't do takeout. Go there for dinner, go on the early side, go Mon-Weds to avoid waiting. If there is a wait, you can grab a drink at Booker & Dax next door if there is space.
> A recommendation for a seafood/raw bar place would be welcome (we also visited GCOB, and the reports in the interim seem very mixed), even if it's validation that the platter at Balthazar is worth it.
I recently had some very nice oysters at Blue Ribbon Brasserie. (Was actually thinking Balthazar but called a last minute audible.)
We also celebrated our anniversary at the very pricey, very intimate ZZ's Clam Bar, which was excellent. But very expensive. Great cocktails. The tuna, foie gras, bone marrow, and razor clam carpaccio is probably my husband's favorite dish of the year.
We also like Pearl Oyster Bar & Oceana for seafood.
Tertulia also has $1 oysters 5-7pm daily, not sure if you're into Spanish but I have had some awesome seafood dishes there.
For the white pie, maybe Totonno's in Coney Island if you're up for the trek?
> Friday evening drinks LES (169 Bar?) and Rosette
If into cocktails, go to Nitecap, 151, Attaboy instead.
> Saturday morning run to Russ and Daughters, lunch/foodcart near the High Line, drinks (where?), then Blue Smoke Battery Park City. Drinks maybe in Whiskey Tavern or Apotheke.
R&D has a cafe now so you don't need to do takeout here unless you want to. On the High Line, try the Smoke Line, or get some great takeout (lobster rolls, chowder, whole steamed lobster, etc) from Lobster Place in the Chelsea Market and take it back to the High Line to eat. You can get drinks at Terroir @ the High Line.
For cocktails near Blue Smoke, North End Grill is the easiest choice. Hopefully the weather is nice enough that you can score a sidewalk bar table. Or you could walk to Weather Up or Ward 3. Blue Smoke itself also does some decent drinks. A bit further away are Dead Rabbit and Underdog.
> Sunday morning Dim Sum (Jing Fong or Golden Unicorn), maybe a baseball game and Bo SSam to go.
Yankees or Mets? Yankee games are expensive, and if you coming at the end of Sept, this is the end of the regular season and their last 3 games are away. If this is for the weekend of the 20th-21st, these are last remaining Yankees home games before Derek Jeter's retirement (unless they make the playoffs).... so expect $$$$ ticket prices.
For the Mets, demand is not quite so high... and they have Shake Shack at CitiField!
> Wednesday and Thursday are open; suggestions? A different BBQ place? Sweet Chick to get fried chicken? More unusual Chinese food?
Steak at Peter Luger/Keens/Minetta Tavern/Wolfgang's/etc? Burgers? Deli (Katz's or 2nd Ave)? Pizza? Korean BBQ at Madangsui? Modern Korean at Danji or Hanjan? Xian Famous Foods? Mission Chinese Pop Up?
You could also try the Red Hook Ball Fields on one of the weekend days.
> For the last 'big' meal, I was considering a Sunday evening trip to Picholine, but due to location (and thinking it looks awesome), I'm leaning towards WD-50 now instead.
WD-50 closes at the end of November so I imagine that will be a tougher reservation to get as we get closer to the closing date.
> Where can we get a 3*-style dessert tasting?
Thank you very much for your response kathryn. we'll be travelling from Germany, my family from Ireland. To clarify, our trip will straddle the end of September/start of October, so reservations for the October dates shouldn't be an issue for a few weeks yet, and yes, it's the last round of Mets home games, so less pressure there.
I also had a different interpretation of the booking process for LeB, so if you have first hand experience I'll bow to that and call them later to see if they have September dates left.
Re: Ssam Bar and takeout, there's only 5 of us, so we can't book the Ssam to eat in (and we'd prefer that to the duck). Between that, and the earlier/easier booking for the takeout, I thought that was a good compromise. Is eating in a la carte a better option, either there or in another Chang restaurant? We'd love the fried chicken at Noodle Bar, but I'm very dubious about getting a reservation.
Thank you for your midweek suggestions. I'm tempted to try Keen's (for example now), and I've been interested in Korean BBQ for a while.
Is the fact that WD-50 is closing more of an argument to go there for a tasting than LeB? Is WD-50 and LeB (both for tastings) a better combo than either with EMP?
Excluding the trips to Ssam/LeB/EMP/WD-50, I'd suggest 100 dollars w/o tax/tips for food, but I do expect plenty of cheaper options during the day so dinner could certainly be 70 dollars each, perhaps with a drink or two.
We do like Spanish food, but again, something that we can get quite easily here. Asian and American (new/old/BBQ/whatever) are more interesting for us.
Thank you all for your suggestions and clarifications.
If you're willing to go on an off night / off time, it is definitely worth doing Momofuku Ssam Bar a la carte.
Since you love seafood, I'd still try for LeB. Just be aware that a lot of dishes are raw or barely cooked, and it's all about letting the stellar ingredients shine, with delicious sauces. Not really "bold" kind of cooking...
Read the chapter about Justo in Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw before you go.
GCOB is very sloppy with their oysters and pretty much the best food at GCOB are their oysters. That being said, the architecture and location are what make GCOB a place I eat every so often.
I recommend Upstate for wonderful fresh oysters, they have great specials, not a large place and it gets really packed.
If you want a more upscale environment Aquagrill is an oyster specialist, although I would highly recommend against going there for lunch. I had a very terrible experience with their service during lunch time with staff and management basically not caring.
Blue Smoke (both locations) is more comfortable than Mighty Quinn but the barbecue is better at Mighty Quinn.
Neither Jing Fong or Golden Unicorn are near the best dim sum in NYC. Dim sum brunch at Hakkasan is head and shoulders above. Also their desserts are Michelin quality and offer takes on Chinese classics like tong yuan.
For creative dim sum, Decoy has dim sum for dinner (and Peking duck)
China Blue is a Shanghainese food specialist. Service and kitchen have been inconsistent but when the kitchen is "on", they do Shanghainese classics like Dong Po rou fantastically.
If you want alternative Chinese, Fung Tu is turning out refined food that's subtle and delicious. Dumplings knots and duck are great.
Les Halles is serviceable but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there. It's a casual, office lunch level restaurant.
Tori Shin over Totto, I find the food to be more consistent at Tori Shin and sometimes the chicken is overcooked at Yakitori Totto. Their chicken skewer with raw quail egg is delicious.
WD-50 is closing, so if you've been interested, I would recommend you try it. It's worth a visit, Dufresne is almost always in the kitchen and he's very active in keeping the creativity and quality high.
Chikalicious for dessert tasting, very consistent, great flavors.
I'd also recommend Annisa for a restaurant that's different than what you might have in Germany and Ireland. New American cuisine with global references, very delicious, interesting flavors.
Thanks for the oyster tips, and the comments about Blue Smoke/Mighty Quinn. I'll stick with the Saturday reservation, but will try to squeeze in MQ too.
I never suggested that either of those were the best dim sum options, it was mainly down to the location and the experience.
Thanks for the vote for Tori Shin over Totto too. I'm very interested in WD-50 (why is it closing?), but Alder looks good too. Might try to do both, even if it means forgoing the tasting at WD-50.
Thanks. One further follow-up: has anyone had the large format rib-eye at Ssam Bar? It seems to suggest on their website that you can reserve that on a different basis to the duck/pork. It would also cover the steak experience, while allowing us to get some a la carte options too. Or is the a la carte so much better that we're better off just showing up some midweek evening?
I've had the rib eye but not as part of the large format meal. It's really good. I saw someone getting the large format meal a few weekends ago--with the salad and fries, it looked like a ton of food. I think they might size it up if you do have that bigger group.
I'd stick with a la carte. Try some oysters, pork buns, country ham, spicy rice cakes, plus whatever is in season at the moment. Right now, it's the bluefish sandwiches, whole porgy Ssam, tomatoes. The menu changes seasonally so you'll probably catch some transitional items as well.
I agree with all in your post Pookipichu. Except I think Golden Unicorn's dim sum is very good ( was there yesterday), I prefer it to Jing Fong. If they want the cart experience OP won't get that at Hakkasan. Hakkasan has hit and miss dishes. Many dishes are same as places like Golden Unicorn but with an extra added ingredient like a mushroom ,and if the mushroom falls off its the same, but for several dollars more than Golden Unicorn. Overrall food quality is better at Hakkasan, but atmosphere is less stiff at GU , less fancy too.
I like Golden Unicorn as well but I thought the OP was looking for the best dim sum in NYC which would be brunch time at Hakkasan. GU, Jing Fong and Nom Wah blend together for me. If I had to choose, I'd give the edge to GU as well, but I've been eating Nom Wah every few weeks because they deliver to my office. For the price, it's ok but the shrimp they use is merely serviceable and sometimes has off-flavors.
HK has a few dishes that are clunkers but after several family dinners, I've pretty much navigated through most of the menu and the stuff they do well is really head and shoulders above any other Chinese restaurant in the city. Most of my relatives want to eat Chinese when they visit NY and the places in Chinatown just don't cut it so I'm truly and probably annoyingly thankful that we have an HK in NYC. I haven't set foot in the Shun Lees, Mr. K's since, and Chinatown Brasserie is closed and most of RedFarm's menu sucks.
That being said, Fung Tu is great and I'm looking forward to Mission Chinese re-opening and checking out Tuome and Bao. The Chinese food scene seems to be getting better and better.
Thanks for the comments. I was aiming for a good dim sum experience, not 'the best' dim sum. I was pretty sure that Chinatown wouldn't deliver that, but that's okay. GU and JF are quite close to where we're staying, making it pretty convenient to get there early on Sunday morning and hopefully avoid the worst of the crowds.
I realise that either of them will probably be on the weak side compared to all the other Chinese options available, but that's okay.
Roughly in the same order as the original post:
For BBQ in NYC, I like Mighty Quinn's the best currently. Hill Country ain't bad either.
For dim sum, Nom Wah Tea Parlor is adorable, and the quality is probably the best in Manhattan Chinatown. Jing Fong can be fun if only for the experience - it's the single largest dining room in NYC, crazy crowds, food and carts plus a steam table you can browse for special items. If it's just between JF and Golden Unicorn, I'd pick JF for sure if only for the scene. I'd also consider heading to Sunset Park (Brooklyn) for Pacificana. Very easy to get to, just a few blocks from the train. There's also some of the better Vietnamese and Mexican of NYC out there, a great neighborhood to take a day to do a mini food crawl, given your interests.
Mind you, if it's a weekend, anywhere you go for dim sum will be a mob scene. Nom Wah is great to go to on a weekday for lunch when it's not so crowded.
Re: Bo Ssam takeaway - why are you doing it take-out? You won't be able to take it to the baseball game with you, if that was the plan - no outside food/bev allowed at the ballparks. Also, I'd sooner dine in and do the Duck Ssam (if you want to have a reservation) - the Duck Ssam is cheaper and smaller, giving you the opportunity to order more things off the menu. I also feel the regular Bo Ssam is something I could make at home relatively easily for 1/8th the price. The Duck Ssam there's a bit more going on. But overall, dining a la carte is the best option there, hands down.
A number of years ago my gf and I walked into Balthazar and simply ordered the biggest raw platter - "Le Balthazar" - as our entire meal for two. At the time it was a little cheaper (I think it was $135 then?) but even at the current price I'd do it again - heck, it'd be $85/pp for an entire meal's worth of impeccable raw seafood. That's less than some prix fixes in town. It might feel a bit pricey as an appetizer course split four or five ways, but they do a heckuva job with it. There's also the "Le Grand" at $115, which is still pretty generously filled I imagine, certainly enough for a small group to share.
Friday night - 169 bar is fun, though very boisterous and rowdy at times. Don't know how old your father is or if that would be his scene. Especially on a Friday night, depending what time you're there you could be stuck standing without seats - although that can be said for basically any bar on the LES on a Friday or Saturday. For good beer and brown liquor, the Whisky Ward up the street on Essex is a good choice.
Saturday: fully support going to Russ & Daughters. Go to the shop, get your bagels to go, take 'em to the little park across the street. As to Blue Smoke - I like them but my thoughts on the best BBQ are above. One good thing about Blue Smoke is the menu covers multiple regions of BBQ, where most of the other places tend to specialize in just one.
Sunday: if you're going to a game, the food (and stadium in general) is hands down better at Citi Field. Better view of the game, there's a Shake Shack and good beer selection. And tickets are likely much, much cheaper right now. It's the kind of stadium where you can pick up some cheap seats and then just wander around and find better seats a few innings in, because it'll be half empty. Yankee Stadium is a little stricter about that, even if the seats are empty they won't let you take them. And if it's an afternoon game you could stick around the neighborhood and have dinner in Flushing, Queens - really good Chinese and Korean options out there. (Or, alternately, head out there early and do your dim sum there before the game.)
Also, you can catch a fun minor-league game out at Coney Island (the Brooklyn Cyclones) and do great pizza at Tottonno's.
Monday: Do you have your EMP reservation already?
Tuesday: I haven't been in some time, but the recent word seems to be that pastries are the weaker end of the Per Se menu. Not sure if doing a dessert-fest there would be recommendable. Others should weigh in. On the other hand...
Wednesday or Thursday: you could do a make-your-own dessert tasting at the WD-50 bar, where it seems even people who don't care for the savory half of the menu still love what Chef Livingston is doing on the pastry end, and the cocktails are great. They take walk-ins until 10:30 so you'd probably want to have dinner on the earlier side to leave time. That is, of course, if you don't wind up doing WD for a full meal later in the trip.
Also on those days, lots of options - the above suggested Sunset Park tour could be fun if the weather's nice. Grab a Banh Mi here, some ceviche there, some noodles here, a taco or two over there, some stinky fermented tofu over there if you're feeling brave...
Some great Chinese options for those days, if you're sticking to Manhattan - Xi'an Famous or Lam Zhou for noodles. Fuleen or Ping's for dinner. Either night could be a good night to do Ssam Bar for dinner - see above re: duck ssam if you want a reservation. But on a weeknight it probably wouldn't be too long a wait for seats, regardless, and you can hang at the bar next door and they'll call you when your table's ready.
For your splurge meal, maybe consider some high-end (non-sushi) Japanese - Kyo Ya or Brushstroke?
Just a point of clarification / correction re the Mets ballpark. Yes, you can bring in food. They will "search" your bag (for contraband like alcohol) but it's totally acceptable to bring food. Each person can also bring a (20-ounce or less I think) bottle of water. You can always check the Mets website under security if you have questions. You cannot bring outside food or beverages to the Cyclones. Enjoy whatever you do.
I should have clarified, I would have gotten the Bo Ssam to take out after the baseball game, but I'm leaning against that idea now, and might just go for the duck/a la carte later in the week. Do people agree that Ssam Bar is the place to go, if we only visit one Chang restaurant?
Sunset Park sounds good, thanks for that tip and the info on Citi Field. If we did go for Chinese or Korean in Flushing (which I had in mind before considering the Bo Ssam), where would you recommend? Let's say Korean BBQ?
Based on the earlier comments about LeB, I actually had a re-think and called them. I got a table for a Monday evening at 8.15. I'd prefer to make reservations for places like that while I can, even if I risk giving myself a harder job of getting reservations for EMP later in the week.
"Do people agree that Ssam Bar is the place to go, if we only visit one Chang restaurant?"
I certainly agree with that. Ssam seems to be where the most creative things are happening.
I'm not as excited about the country ham plate as some others are - it's a very rare occasion I'll order something in a restaurant that, good as it may be, is essentially something purchased retail and put on a plate with no additional prep aside from a sauce. If they were house-cured or something otherwise unique, it would be another thing. Yes, we order beer and wine which are served to us unaltered but that's just the deal we've come to accept because there's no way around it.
I'm also not as high on the pork buns as I used to be, but that's probably on account of I'm just burnt out after eating 100+ of them over the years. The raw bar dishes are, almost always, highlights - in particular the uni, which the crew there just seem to have a knack with. I'll usually start a meal with two or three from that category, move on to a few of the seasonal things, and finish with one or two larger plates from the Fish and Meat sections. Depends how many people. These days I look for new "bonji" or "hozon" items, too - those are the Momo Culinary Lab's new fermentation creations - essentially soy sauce and miso, only made from different sources than soybeans. The beet salad with sunflower hozon on the menu right now is fantastic.
Noticing now, looking at the current menu, that under "summer" is the smoked liver mousse. Same dish I, after a quick search, found I had posted about last November - and that was the second time I'd had it. In fact I've probably had it four times over the last year. Note to Momofuku: if something stays on the menu from (at least) November through August it should probably not be in the "seasonal" section of the menu.
Thanks to you both. I think Ssam a la carte is now the top priority since I've secured the LeB reservation. I might even switch EMP to lunch to give us the extra flexibility to get a table at Ssam (that way I can try every evening if necessary).
Does anyone know anything about lunch at EMP? Their website says nothing about what's offered or the prices, merely that they're open for an hour Thursday to Saturday.
I can confirm that they also offer a la carte at lunch and dinner on a first come, first served basis. I emailed them earlier in the week. No idea of what's on offer, let alone the prices. That was a bit of a turn-off with the tasting menu; I accept it'll change regularly, but for 225 dollars I'd like some idea of what I'm going to get. Would uploading a menu once a week/month be the end of the world? I'd eat there based on recommendations, but it's a bit of a hard sell to say 'want to spend 225 dollars on a meal? It's very good but don't ask me what you'll get for your money'.
Prices are definitely on the steeper end for a la carte, as I recall - in the 20s for appetizers and high-30s to 40s for entrees.
I think so many people blog the menu on a regular basis that maybe they don't feel any need to continually update it on the website? Was never sure about that. I understand they like there to be an element of surprise - Momofuku Ko does the same thing, for example, and I can't think of any extended high-end omakases that tell you what you're in for (aside from lots of raw seafood) before one goes.
It does change frequently, though - here are two blogs posted just a couple weeks apart, and half the menu is different:
I know some folks here have not had a great experience lately but for oysters I would go to Aquagrill on Spring St. 30-40 different types of raw oysters every night...you really get a sense of the different regions.
I am but a visitor to NYC. With that said, a few thoughts on LES and environs...
169 bar - my favorite divey place in LES and they have oysters and crawfish to boot. sgordon's advice on this place might be applicable.
The Boil on Chrystie has some good boiled crawfish/shrimp/crab plus rawbar.
Meatball Shop on Stanton makes for a pretty good lunch stop.
Robotaya (231 East 9th Street) isn't earth shattering, but it IS lotsa fun (and perhaps unique) if you sit at the food prep bar.
Theres a hidden cocktail lounge Angels Share at 8 Stuyvesant St - pretty cool place. You might consider following up with Yakitori Taisho just around the corner.
Pizza - just don't get fooled by Lombardi's coal fired place open since the greco-turkish war.
Whiskey Tavern Bar, an oasis in Chinatown south of Canal at 79 Baxter
If you're in the neighborhood, The Wyndham Chinatown hotel (93 Bowery) has (at least "had"...the last time around) pretty good happy hour deals on oysters and clams and goodies along with drinks (Mon-Thu I think).
Since you are staying on the lower east side pushcart coffee and the cafe grumpy on essex are both great for morning coffee/espresso (cafe grumpy also has a great slice of olive oil cake).
Kossar's bialys and doughnut plant are also noteworthy for breakfast take and go options near your hotel (avoid weekends though, they get very busy)
I would suggest you walk the highline during the week, its not as fun when its crowded on weekends. For lunch you could either do highline vendors or chelsea market (inside chelsea market also has dos toros for good tacos among many other vendors. This thread has additional feedback for chelsea market: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966564. )
The only problem with Pushcart Coffee on the lower east side?
It closed about 6 months ago.
There are a couple of other places that are more comfortable than Cafe Grumpy, however.
One is called Whynot Coffee - 175 Orchard Street.
Another is El Rey at 100 Stanton Street.
A third is Irving Farm Coffee Roasters at 88 Orchard Street.
And a 4th is Lost Weekend at 45 Orchard Street.
Thank you all for your thoughtful questions and answers.
We now have reservations for Rosette Friday, Blue Smoke Saturday, perhaps Chinese/Korean in Flushing on Sunday after the Mets game, and Le Bernardin on Monday.
I'll try to squeeze in Mighty Quinns and sushi/noodles midweek, with EMP Wednesday or Friday evening and Ssam Bar for duck/a la carte one of the others.
I think I'll try to book WD-50 for the second Sunday. Second Saturday is still open, but we're going to a concert in RCMH so I need to work around that.
Although its ostensibly a Greek restaurant, the freshest and best assortment of fish, seafood and produce in NYC in my experience is to found at Milos. Everything that I've ever had there is excellent. They do run a heavy pencil on their a la carte items, but they have relatively inexpensive lunch and pre theater specials. I believe the lunch special is three courses and the pre theater one is four courses. Its a beautiful room with excellent service.
Thanks to all the recent contributors. Despite wanting to keep it in, we've removed EMP from the agenda both from a cost and a flexibility perspective. The up side is that I think we can include lunch in somewhere like the Gotham, and hopefully snag a fried chicken reservation at Noodle Bar.
I will check elsewhere for recommendations, but does anyone have suggestions for Flushing apart from kathryn's great rec for Imperial Palace?
Thanks, that's a shame because it really looked good and was praised here. I cancelled my reservation (rather than waiting for a notification it had closed) and booked Bacchanal instead. I had hoped to fit that in somewhere, so I don't mind needing to change too much.
In the meantime, I've secured a table at WD-50 and Noodle Bar fried chicken reservations too. I just need to decide where to eat in Flushing now...
I've read through your posts and the excellent replies you've gotten. A few thoughts:
(1) If you decide you want a Cantonese dinner and prefer to do it in Manhattan (not Flushing), consider Hong Kong Cafe. And if you decide to go there, we can recommend some dishes for you.
(2) On white pizza, I'm not really sure because I don't tend to order it, but in the past, I've really enjoyed the clam pizza at Arturo's, which might not be on the menu but should be orderable, regardless. It's essentially very good clam sauce on white pizza. I would add the caveat, though, that it's been a while since I've been back to Arturo's, and some hounds think the quality of the food there has gone downhill somewhat.
(3) You mention yakitori. I haven't been to Torishin, but Yakitori Totto is great, so consider this a validation of your thought to go back. I've been there only once so far (within the last 3 weeks or so), but it was a great meal, and the only disappointing item was, surprisingly to my girlfriend and me, duck (we usually love duck). All the cuts of chicken we got were great (my girlfriend didn't like the cartilage as much as I did), and so were the eggplants, egg tomatoes (a special, I think) and okra. The mushrooms were a bit disappointing to us because they didn't include shiitakes, so they didn't have as much taste as we would have liked. They use really high-quality chicken that tastes great, and they are really good cooks. I highly recommend Totto, and your best bet is to show up right around opening time or get reservations.
(4) People have been recommending Mighty Quinn, and I love the place and strongly second (fifth, or whatever) their recommendations. Get the brisket and the chicken wings. I haven't had the brontosaurus ribs yet and I'm intrigued by them. Get all the pickles they offer as sides - I love the hot pepper and red onion pickles, but really all of them. The candied yams are quite sweet but good, and the edamame and anything including it is also a good side. And they sell some good beers, including a lager from Oregon that I've enjoyed.
(5) Back to Chinese food - I see you mention "more unusual Chinese food." You are probably best advised to go to Flushing for that.