A travel journal
to New York by travel2000
Quote: New York City is literally crawling with eating establishments. The hard part is to make a choice. You could rumage through Zagat or weeklies such as Time Out New York or New York magazine. Or you could print out this list of my favorites and save yourself alot of research.
Come back to this listing periodically as I will be updating and adding to the list as time goes by.
As an added note after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, let's give New York a vote of confidence and its economy a boost by continuing to dine out. Some restaurants have already suffered losses resulting in closures and letting go of staff. Let's make a concerted effort to frequent our wonderful restaurants. Above all, what better way to escape our new reality for a few precious moments by dining at one of New York's fine establishments.
Getting back to Soba-Ya, this is a santuary from the hustle and bustle of city life. Through the doors, you see a nice rock garden water fountain. Then you through a second set of doors, you are greeted by the staff in their enthusiastic welcomes. On the right of the door is the noodle making station. A guy literally stands behind the counter and uses different rolling pins to make the noodles.
Tables are small and somewhat intimate. There are a few nice booths tucked away to the side that give some privacy, good for groups of four or two on a slow night. There is also a bar at the back for loners.
The menu is quite simple. There are appetizers and these change quite frequently. Grilled eggplant with miso sauce, fermented beans, sashimi, marinated sardines, all are good and worth trying.
However, the main attraction and reason for coming are the noodles. There are both soba (thinner noodles in buckwheat or white) and udon (thicker white noodles.) In the summer, cold soba is a big hit. These come on a grass mat and you dip them in a sauce as you slurp them up. I usually get the duck or kitsune (tofu skins) udon. These come in clear broth and either spinach or leeks. The broth is light and very flavorful. The udon is chewy (as in Italian al dente...) and fresh. All in all, the perfect meal.
At the end of your meal, they clear the table and bring you small cups of excellent green tea. This is not a burnt diluted tea you normally get. This tea is brewed and has a rich green color and deep taste. Even on a hot summer day, this will quench your thirst and bring your meal to a close.
On a side note, I've sat next to a few famous faces in the past year here. Celebrity photographer Annie Leibowitz sat next to me with a few of her friends one night, while Lauren Hutton was there right before the time of her motorcycle accident. Usually, there is a fair share of Japanese faces. You may have to wait if you come during prime time such as 7 or 8pm for dinner or weekend lunches.
Credit cards are accepted and no reservations are taken.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2001
229 East 9th St
New York, New York 10003
+1 212 533 6966
Restaurant | "Markt"
Markt serves Belgian bistro food. The decor is wooden paneled walls with seating booths and small tables. It looks nicely aged and on a cool summer night, there is a nice breeze from the opened window doors. There is also a long bar area with ample seating. The space is large and airy, but on a crowded night, the noise level gets a bit high for normal conversation.
Start off with a cold glass of Leffe beer, dark with rich aroma. Of course, there is a full menu of beers, each with its own description and there are some interesting ones. The menu carries about 6 or 7 varieties of moules frites (mussels in a big enamel pot with fries and mayonaise on the side). It would make a full meal, so be careful about ordering too much.
I usually don't order any appetizers, although I've tried the salmon tartare and the pate. For entree, you must try one of the waterzooi. This is a cream stew with seafood and juilliene vegetables such as carrots and celery. My favourite is the signature markt waterzooi, which has lobster and monkfish. This is not a light dish but it is delicious and full of flavors. The price for this is based on market price, and it was $25 on a recent visit.
The steak frites is also excellent and very popular with friends who are of the meat-eating variety. The fish specials are interesting. On a recent night, there was a 3-fish grilled with a leek quiche on the side. I've also tried the grilled lobster but at $35 market price, I would pass and spend $10 less at Pearl Oyster Bar (see my entry.)
Even though the dishes are quite filling, I always find room for dessert. The chocolate mousse comes in its own chocolate cup and has a signature "Markt" plaque as a finishing touch. The ice cream with berry sauce is good on a hot summer day. There are some after-dinner liquers to choose from and of course, a cup of espresso.
I've been to Markt on numerous occasions in the past two years and have found the quality of food and service to be consistent. This is also a great place for groups of 8 or more as you can usually get a reservation up to a week in advance for a Friday night.
Credit cards are accepted. There is a little-known L-train that goes crosstown from the east side along 14th street to 8th Avenue.
676 Sixth Avenue
New York, New York 10010
(212) 727 3314
Restaurant | "Katz's Delicatessen"
Once in, you have two choices. Either go straight to the counters and order from the menu up on the wall. Pastrami, corned beef and salami are highlights here. The meat is still carved by hand, no machinary here. There are also sandwiches like chopped liver and sliced beef tongue if you want to be more adventurous. Once you have your food on a tray, walk over to the tables and grab a seat. There are areas designated for table service so be sure you don't sit there.
For table service, you don't get much more other than someone taking your order and bringing your food. Often, the service is abrupt but you get the occasional nice waitress or waiter. When you are ready to pay, just take the ticket and go up to the counter booth at the entrance. Up above on the wall, you get a choice of Katz's memorabilia such as t-shirts and caps.
Credit cards are accepted. Opened till late at night, so this is good for a late night snack if you are in the area.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 29, 2001
205 East Houston St.
New York, New York 10002
Restaurant | "Yura & Co."
Situated in a corner storefront with windows all around, there is a large bakery area on one side and a dining room on the other. It has a nice country feel to it, with warm color paint on the walls and stainless steel colanders as ceiling lampshades. The open kitchen is huge and tucked in the back.
Yura serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. It does close early, with a last seating at 8:45pm. Breakfast and brunch share the same menu. Selections of granola, eggs and apple smoked ham, and all kinds of gourmet (or mix your own ingredients) omelettes. My favourite is always the bread pudding french toast. It has a custard layer on top of the french toast and with maple syrup over, is excellent and unlike anything else.
The lunch and dinner menu overlaps with the sandwiches and soups offered. Soups are very good, from carrot ginger to curry vegatable to beef and barley. My favourite sandwich is the rare roast beef. It comes on a garlic semolina bun with a wonderful simple green salad and a side of potatoes gratin. There are also other choices such as turkey pinwheels and roasted chicken.
As if that is not enough, dinner is another highlight. For between $12 to $17, there are set meals with a simple salad (not just iceberg lettuce!), a choice of about 6 or 7 entrees, a choice of delicious desserts, and coffee or tea. My favourite entrees include a moist meat loaf with sweet and sour sauce and homemade mashed potatoes, and the goat cheese and spinach lasagna. Roast chicken, osso bucco, and duck breast are also on the menu. Dessert choices include a light and airy angel food cake, apple or cherry crumble, chocolate cake with bourbon sauce and a few others depending on what's available.
Some of what's on the menu is also available for take-out. This is convenient if you want to stay home or need to bring a dessert to a dinner party. The service here is wonderful and attentive. Most of the staff have been with the restaurant for years. The clientele is varied. Brunches and lunches are crowded with families, young professionals and older couples. Dinner tends to bring the age group way up, but that's never been a problem for me. It's tranquil and a quiet place to enjoy a good meal.
Note that there is another location at 1292 Madison Ave (at 92nd St). This is a take-out only branch.
Yura & Co.
1645 3rd Avenue
New York, New York 10128
Restaurant | "Divino Gastronomia"
This may not be the best Italian food in town, but this could be called Italian comfort food. You always know what to expect, the standard has been consistent through the years, and most of the menu is quite authentic. Start with a glass of the house wine, and take your time scanning the menu. I usually start with the Zucchini Fritti or the Vitello Tonnato (fried zucchini or veal with tuna sauce.) The portions are on the large side so make sure you don't order too much.
There are usually a list of specials written on a blackboard. There range from a salad, soup, and a few pastas and entrees such as fish. My favorites are the Rigatoni Siciliana (with eggplants and mozzarella) and the Linguine Clam Sauce (white sauce, and I usually exchange the linguine with spaghetti.) The Gnocchi Divino (with a meat sauce) is good but very heavy. Unless you are extremely hungry, you are better off with something else.
Meat and fish dishes are also good, with Veal Piccata, Marsala, Chicken Parmigiana, Sorrentina and others on the menu. These tend towards the American Italian variations but are made well. Sometimes, the specials are salmon, grilled or poached and other types of fish. The Seafood Crepe is another one of my favorites, although I take the appetizer portion, which is more than enough.
There are some good desserts here. The tiramisu is always reliably good. There are also Zuppa Ingelese (trifle) and Fragole con Zabaione (delicious strawberries with zabaglione sauce or whipped cream.) The cakes tend to be too heavy. If you wish, you can also have them pack your dessert to go.
The dining room here is small, fitting about a dozen tables. There is a food counter at the back and then the open kitchen behind that. The space is bright and cheery. More often than not, there is no wait as most of the business is in delivery or take-out.
The other restaurant is called Divino Ristorante. It is located at 1556 Second Ave (80th & 81st Sts.) tel: (212) 861-1096. It has a completely different atmosphere. Most nights, there is music and live music with piano and a singer (they are a couple who have been with the restaurant for ages.) The crowd is older, middle-age, and there is sometimes even dancing late at night.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 2, 2001
1556 Second Ave
New York, New York 10028
+1 212 861 1096
Decorated in Southeast Asian flavor, you almost feel like you are entering a Malaysian restaurant. It is a pleasant space. There is bamboo on the walls and a kind of maze is constructed to make it feel like you are in a tropical village. Cantonese food is the main focus and the menu offers many options.
To start, you must try it's namesake, the congee, a rice porridge that is especially well made here. The porridge base is the same, but you can choose the ingredients to mix in. Beef, chicken with mushrooms, sliced fish, lobster, abalone and frog, pork and preserved egg, these sound exotic but are delicious. Have it with the fried cruellers, long bread that is fried. Congee is especially good for mornings or late night snacks. Imagine it as being Chinese brunch, a lighter alternative to dim sum.
Other items on the menu include your basic rice and noodle dishes. These include things like beef and tomatoes over rice, fish and bean curd over rice, soy sauce chow mein, seafood noodle soup etc. Another specialty is the rice in bamboo pot. This is rice cooked in a clay pot with different ingredients on top. Salted chicken, salted fish, eel, preserved duck. This is a great winter dish.
For dinner, pick and choose from the house specialties, the casseroles, and sizzling hot plates. Satay beef and short ribs are popular. When my family came to visit, we were able to order lesser known dishes such as braised duck web, a special kind of Chinese vegetables (ask the staff what is fresh that day), salted fish and chicken casserole, and the eel with black bean sauce.
Don't let the exotic dishes I mention discourage you from coming here. I would ask your waiter or waitress for recommendations.
An update to the branch on the Upper East side: It just closed down in July 2001. What a big loss for the neighbourhood.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2001
100 Allen Street
New York, New York 10002
I first heard about this happening place from Time Out NY magazine. It was cited as "industrial chic" with basic home cooking with a twist. Since it is somewhat close to my apartment, I took a walk up one evening and found a discreet storefront. Once inside, I was transported to another neighbourhood with the electic mix of young professionals and locals. The open kitchen faces the entrance and is manned by a hip chef who dances to the music.
There are two dining rooms, one for smoking with a long bar as well and a non-smoking room. The atmosphere is dark and candlelit, with good loud music playing. Tables are small and intimate and there seems to be many repeat customers as certain crowds already know each other as they stroll in. I took a table next to the window, prime for bar watching and window watching.
The menu is simple. There is breakfast, eggs, chorizo, bacon, standard fare. And there is breakfast pasta with bacon, egg, parmesan cheese. There are sandwiches such as BLT, chicken steak with cheese, cheeseburger. There are deviations, such as the infamous ravioli sandwich (cheese ravioli on garlic bread). You can add various sides to your sandwich, such as fries, vegies etc.
Then there are sections named hot and cold dishes. Hot covers things like chicken wings, rice and beans, and the cold things like salads. Entrees are pure comfort food, with steak and fries, lamb shoulder chops with mashed potatoes, fried whole fish. Overall, I found the menu less exotic than the review had suggested. Nonetheless, the food is good and consistent.
Service was somewhat erratic, maybe because the young girl who covered our table was new and had too many tables to take care of. But you don't come here for the service. You are here because A: you live uptown and don't want to go downtown on a week night, B: you are so sick of the usual neighbourhoods you would travel anywhere to get away, or C: Dinerbar is a fun place, the people are nice and the price is right.
I believe credit cards are accepted, but I've paid in cash all the times I've been there. Do check before you go as there are virtually no banks nor cash machines in the nearby area.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 28, 2001
1569 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10029
Restaurant | "Saint's Alp Teahouse"
The majority of the menu lists different combinations of teas. There are nine ways to serve black tea (plain, with passion fruit, lemon, honey etc), seven ways for green tea (jasmine, apple, mango etc.) and the list goes on. My favorite is the Sesame Black Milk Tea, served hot. A tea cup arrives with the black tapioca beads, and a teapot holds the tea. It is delicious, with ground sesame added to the slightly sweet milk tea combination. On a cold winter’s day, nothing could be more soothing. Another interesting favorite is the Black Milk Tea with Wheat Germ. It tastes much better than it sounds, believe me. Of course, for those of you who don’t like tapioca, there is always the classic Hong Kong coffeehouse special, Black Tea & Coffee with Milk. The deep flavor of coffee is strengthened by tea, and excellent choice. This is best served hot.
Food is divided into three categories. There is the toast, which is basically an inch-thick slice of toast with jam, coconut butter, or my personal favorite, butter and condensed milk. This is reminiscent of childhood days in Hong Kong when I made this for breakfast. Another category is snacks and refreshments. These are light snacks such as small pizza with bacon and pineapple or seafood topping. There are hot cakes, pineapple shortcakes (a popular Taiwanese delicacy) and various flavored jelly (herbal, green tea, coffee etc.) I like the Taro Pudding with Adzuki Bean the most.
Authentic Taiwanese Delicacies make for a perfect light lunch. This past Sunday, a party of three made a good meal out of Deep-Fried Cuttlefish Balls, Chicken Wings, Pork and Vegetable Dumplings, Spring Roll and Deep-Fried Chicken Chunks with Spices. The food here is consistently good and not too greasy. For lunch, we had a table full of food and one drink each, and paid a bill of around $30. The portions are larger than they seem on the menu photos. The selection here reflects the influences of Taiwan, both the West and Japanese cuisine have made their mark here.
Saint Alps has another branch at 51 Mott Street in Chinatown, as well as branches in Hong Kong and China.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 15, 2001
Sago Tea House
51 Mott Street
New York, New York 10013
The service was cordial and somewhat friendly, not bad for Chinatown standards. We decided to order a steamed fish, deep-fried frog legs, salt roasted chicken, stir-fried Chinese vegetables, and Chinese-styled beef steaks. At the end of the meal, we had lotus-leaf wrapped rice, and dessert was complimentary, cold red bean soup.
The food was very good. The fish was steamed just right. The flesh fell right off the bones and remained soft and juicy. The deep-fried frog legs were delicately prepared, very light and not greasy at all. The salt roasted chicken was very crispy and flavorful, and the chicken did not dry out but remained tender. The skin was the best part. The rest of the meal was very good and our guests enjoyed the food very much. The noise level was very high, as typical of a Chinese restaurant. We had two large tables on each side of us, each with a birthday celebration with balloons, cake and lots of photo taking. The mood was very festive indeed.
I have been back for lunch on weekends for their dim sum. I was surprised at how good they were. The shrimp dumplings (ha gow) had thin translucent dough skin and the shrimps very fresh and large. The spring rolls were lightly fried, and the beef tripe was excellent. This is a dark stew of tripe and other internal organs. This is just a few of the selections available.
Seafood is another specialty at Ping’s Crab, shrimp, lobster, clams, scallops, fish, these are all well prepared. I would ask the captain or the waiter for help in ordering. There are many ways to prepare each variety of seafood and they can help you plan a meal without conflicting flavors.
Prices here are reasonable, leaning on the high side relative to Chinatown prices. I recommend making a reservation, especially with larger parties, which is the best way to enjoy a good meal.
Ping's has another location in Queens, at 83-02 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, NY. Tel: (718) 396-1238.
22 Mott Street
New York, New York
A petite Japanese woman in a kimono, whom I assume to be the owner, runs the show here. Everyone who works there is Japanese, a good sign since many Japanese restaurants in New York actually have a Chinese staff. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s a definite plus. The menu offers the usual selection of set sushi or sashimi assortments, individual selection, and various chicken, pork, beef and seafood entrees.
I usually go for the Sashimi Regular for $18 or the Chirashi for $25. For the sashimi, there are three pieces of tuna, two each of yellow tail, mackeral, red snapper and salmon. The slices are nice and thick and the fish extremely fresh. My only complaint is that the price does not include salad or soup, as is standard practice at other restaurants. The Chirashi has more fish and variety, served over a bowl of rice. When we had dinner there tonight, we were served a small dish of marinated seaweed. It was slightly sweet and very delicious. Service was running a little slow and they wanted to thank us for being patient.
The pork Tonkatsu is excellent here. It is breaded fried pork cutlet with sauce on the side. It is not greasy at all, and the meat remains tender on the inside. Of all the places I’ve tried this dish, Sachi makes it very well.
A special lunch menu is available, from $11 for a sushi roll menu to $14 for sushi. Chicken Teriyaki, Tempura and other classics are also available, and these come with soup or salad.
This is not a bang for your buck place. I come here when I crave a good plate of sushi within walking distance from home and good, kind service. Noise level can sometimes be high, as the tables are close together and the room is small. Evenings are usually crowded, but I’ve never had to wait longer than five minutes for a table.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 17, 2001
1350 Madison Avenue
New York, New York 10128
The small menu displayed in the glass case made me hungry. It was late, I was tired, and the chocolate fondue for dessert was too tempting to pass over. So I walked in to find a dark small room lined with counters at the side and the open kitchen behind. My husband and I sat in a table in a corner niche by the window, very cosy and intimate. That night, I enjoyed a delicious seafood soup and my husband had the grilled flank steak. Both were excellent and simply prepared. Of course, we ended our meal with the chocolate fondue. It came in a cute ceramic fondue set, small enough to hold a bowl full of dark, flavorful chocoate. On the side was various fruit in bite-size pieces. It was a highlight and worth coming back for. At $9, it was worth the money in my books.
Unfortunately, our next visit was not until this fall. Again, the room was almost full when we arrived around 9pm. People arriving after the theatre, and a few young couples on dates filled the room. I noticed the menu had changed. This time, I decided on Cobb Salad. It came on a large white plate, with bits of thick bacon, wonderful Roquefort cheese, tender chicken, carrots, and French beans over a bed of lettuce. My husband had the Rib Eye with Balsamic Vinegar. It was ordered medium rare, and it arrived with just enough redness to retain its juices and flavor. The steak was accompanied by spinach and excellent mashed potatoes.
For dessert, we were disappointed that chocolate fondue was replaced with chocolate soufflé. Well, it sounded good so that’s what we ordered. The small soufflé was more like a very moist cake. Together with the custard sauce and the homemade vanilla ice cream, it rivaled the fondue.
It is amazing how good the food is from the relatively small and open kitchen. I believe the chef has credentials from having worked at top name restaurants. During lunch and breakfast, tables are put aside and the counter service offers sandwiches, soups and pastries. I like this place for its intimacy, low-key ambiance, and excellent food for reasonable prices. On a recent night, we paid $54 for two entrees, a glass of wine, and dessert. Afterwards, you have the added benefit to walk off your meal through the beautiful streets of Gramercy Park.
Irving on Irving
52 Irving Place
New York, New York
Dress in machine-washable clothes if you chose to dine here. The smell of charcoal and spices hit you upon entry, and will linger in your clothes and hair after dinner. This is a small sacrifice for the excellent food. I go straight for the barbeque and may add a few regular dishes. My dinner this evening was typical, with an order of Kalbi (marinated boneless beef ribs), chicken, and shrimp. Seven small dishes immediately arrive at the table, along with lettuce, bean sauce, salad, garlic and chili, as well as rice, soy sauce and the plates of raw meat. Then hot coals in metal containers are carefully lifted and placed into the pit of the barbeque in the middle of the table. Coals are rarely used these days, as other restaurants use a gas flame. I find the coals add flavor to the meat.
Kalbi is delicious, tender, juicy and perfect when grilled to medium rare. The chicken is very tender and the shrimp extremely fresh and large. Use the tongs to cook food on the grill, but the staff usually insist on helping you. Dip the grilled Kalbi in soy sauce and vinegar mix, add some bean sauce, rice, kimchee, and wrap it all with lettuce. Sample some pickled turnip, marinated spinach, and the other side dishes. Broth is served and I like it with rice (probably not proper etiquette, oh well!) For a large group, try the seafood pancakes and the kalbi jim. This is beef short ribs stew, very flavorful in a slightly sweet dark sauce. Korean hotpot is also good, similar to the Chinese hotpot and the Japanese Shabu Shabu. The mixed glass noodles are excellent, as is the raw beef, which I call Korean beef tartar. No matter what you order, you will find plates of food to cover your table.
Korean beer is light and an excellent choice with the meal. The prices are now $18.99 to $19.99 for each order of barbeque meat. This includes the side dishes, condiments, rice and broth for everyone at the table. The relatively higher prices reflect the high quality of ingredients used. The service is better, not so rough around the edges. The renovations are an improvement. If only they could get more powerful vents so that our clothes don’t smell so much afterwards! (I think Woo Lae Oak in Soho is the only Korean restaurant in town with that ability.) Kang Suh is open 24 hours and has another branch in Yonkers.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 19, 2001
New York, New York 10001
Once inside the restaurant, you will be greeted by a kimono-clad Japanese older woman. In the entry foyer, there is a counter with small trays of plastic food depicting the various set meals. The main dining room is straight ahead, a narrow space that takes you on a short trip to Japan. Try to arrive early, 12:30pm or earlier for lunch, to avoid having to wait for a table. This place is very popular and fills up quickly. Usually by 1pm, there is a crowd waiting in the foyer. My friend and I once sat at the table by the entrance, but did not feel cramped or watched by the waiting crowd. The main dining room is separated from the entry foyer.
I like the simplicity of the menu, on one page with just enough variety. Most entrees come with side dishes, soup and rice. They even have Japanese style hamburger, a beef patty with steak sauce on top, without the bun. I usually order the sashimi lunch. Artfully placed on a small tray, there is dark miso soup with seaweed and tofu (extremely good, not the watery kind you get in some restaurants), a small selection of sashimi, a small dish each of marinated kelp and dried mackerel, and cabbage, and a bowl of rice. The sashimi is always extremely fresh and of top quality. Large slices of yellowtail, tuna, and squid fill the plate. There are also two small slices of the fat belly of the yellowtail. The tuna tasted almost as good as toro.
The presentation is beautiful, with nice plates sitting on a lacquer tray. Even the waiter who delivers the tray has an art of softly placing it on your table. Sometimes, I order the Nabeyaki Udon, which comes in a large cast iron pot with rice on the side. The udon is cooked just right, chewy texture, and the broth is homemade. The Unagi don (grilled eel over rice) is also very good.
The service here is very good. The Japanese women here take care to fill your tea cup and flash a friendly smile. The clientele is mostly Asian, with quite a number of Japanese customers. The sashimi is $15, and the Udon is $12, very reasonable prices for the high quality of ingredients used. Even though the crowd builds up outside, you never feel rushed.
(Closed) 12 East 44th St.
New York, New York 10017
On my first meal there, I was greeted by a young man with a strong Australian accent, who later told me he was one of the owners. I also learned that the chef used to work at Patroon and the owner loaded him up with compliments. The place occupies a long narrow space, decorated in eclectic taste, somewhat wild and colorful but in good taste. There is also a downstairs bar area.
I had read beforehand about the kangaroo and emu meat that was served here. Supposedly with less fat and more flavor, I was eager to get a tasting myself. I tried the emu carpaccio and my companion the seared kangaroo salad. Both were excellent. The carpaccio was so tender and flavorful, very similar to beef but with more depth. The kangaroo meat was grilled and then sliced thin and left raw on the inside. I highly recommend both and they are well worth the prices.
As for the entree, I tried the grilled duck breast in an asian-inspired broth. The duck was made to perfection, and was atop a mound of sliced mushrooms and wood's ear, an asian seaweed. On another occasion, I tried the bisque made not with lobster but with a kind of Australian crawfish. This is also highly recommended.
By the time dessert rolled around, I was completely full. However, how could I resist the pavlova, classic Australian fare. Legend has it that a chef created the pavlova after watching famed ballerina Anna Pavlova dance. It is a dessert made of meringue with a fruit sauce (like berries or kiwi) and cream on top.
Towards the end of dinner, the owner came by and poured us a helping of Australian ice wine. Served cold, it was deliciously sweet and light at the same time. Did I fail to mention that they also have an extensive wine list? Leave it to the staff to explain the list to you and let them choose to match what you are ordering.
Credit cards are accepted and I would recommend making reservations. The space is quite small and does not seat many people.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2001
Eight Mile Creek
240 Mulberry St
New York, New York 10012
+1 212 431 4635
It was just yesterday that I stopped by Otafuku for a quick lunch/snack. A tiny storefront with a kitchen area behind a counter, the entrance is flanked by traditional Japanese banners in bright colors. The menu is short, offering only five items.
The first is Takoyaki, 6 pieces of these fried battered balls in octopus, cheese or plain for between $3 to$5. Then there is my favorite, Okonomiyaki, which is a kind of thick fried pancake with your choice of ingredients. There are pork, ebi, beef and squid (my favorite) to choose from. You get two pancakes for $7, enough for a quick lunch or dinner. These pancakes are made with an egg and flour batter and are accented with bits of red vinegar ginger and cabbage. Once cooked, they are topped with mayonnaise, sauce and nori (seafood) and bonito (dried fish) flakes. Okonomiyaki literally and appropriately means "as you like it" in Japanese.
You can also order the Yakisoba for $5, which in this case is a seafood fried noodle, or the Vegetable Croquette for $1. Another popular combination is the last item on the menu, which is the Yakisoba and the Okonomiyaki on top for $6.
Most orders take about 10 minutes as the food is not ready made. There is a very small counter for eating inside the store, but I recommend eating on the street under a nice shade or taking it home or back to the office. Juggling to hold a drink and eat with chopsticks is not an easy feat.
This is a nice addition to the collection of restaurants on this small East Village street. On nights when everything else requires a one-hour wait for a table and your patience is running thin, this is a welcome alternative.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 18, 2001
236 East 9th St
New York, New York 10003
+1 212 353 8503
At the entrance, there is a bar counter with the small kitchen area behind. The small tables are intimately placed together and there are 4 tall round bar tables along a bench by the windows. The menu is simple, with sandwiches made with ciabatta bread and savory and sweet crepes. On my last visit over the weekend, I had the ham, gruyere and tomato crepe, one of the less exotic fillings. My husband had the olive tapenade, goat cheese and merquez (spicy sausage) sandwich. The crepes are always light and airy, made with a buckwheat batter. The sandwiches are also excellent, starting with good bread and quality ingredients. The menu is not entirely French, with dashes of Mediterranean flavors infused.
My favorite is still the sweet crepes. Made with a spike of Grand Marnier in the batter, the fillings range from the simple lemon, sugar or chocolate to combinations such as banana and nutella, candied chestnuts and crème fraiche, and brandied pear and almond cream sauce. All are delicious and I sometimes make a point of stopping by just for dessert. There are also other dessert staples as tarte tatin.
For drinks, my favorite is the fresh ice lemonade. There is also a short wine and beer list, and the usual selections of coffees. I’ve had better caffe lattes elsewhere, but with a sweet crepe, it’s a good combination.
Palacinka is a great place to hang out with its relaxed and low-key atmosphere. The items on the wall and shelves are interesting to check out as well. Old "No Smoking" signs, the collection of coffee pots old and new on the shelves by the counter, they all make for a quirky American general store feel. It is also affordable, with savory crepes and sandwiches around $8 and sweet crepes and desserts around $4 to $6. This part of Soho is also up and coming with lots of modern boutiques. Whether you make the trek here to shop and eat or stumble across this creperia by accident, this is a real find in the busy life of New York city.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 23, 2001
28 Grand St
New York, New York 10013
+1 212 625 0362
Restaurant | "Village Yokocho"
This is an interesting place with a diverse menu. On the bulletin board at the entrance, the restaurant is described as a collection of small Japanese sidewalk restaurants. The place has a bar counter, small tables and Korean barbeque grills fitted on each table in the back room. The menu may seem to be all over the map and reflects the sidewalk restaurant philosophy.
Yakitori items (grilled food on skewers, with my favorite being the chicken skin, liver, wing, whole small fish, garlic and leeks) are featured prominently on the first page of the menu. Then there are the Japanese tapas, another of my favorites. The seaweed vinegarete is excellent, as are the sea cucumbers and the raw mackeral and octopus with pickles. Portions are really small so you can easily sample a few with room for other parts of the menu. A few sushi and sashimi selections are included, as are rice balls (I love the grilled ones!)
There are the usual staples such as chicken or beef and egg over rice, unadon (eel over rice), as well as some Chinese Japanese dishes such as stir fried beef and vegetables under the heading "entrees".
Then as if that's not enough to keep customers satisfied, there is the Korean barbeque section. Kalbi and bulgogi (beef ribs and sliced beef), shrimp, pork can be grilled at your table (make sure you tell the staff ahead of time so they can seat you in the back area) along with the many side dishes that adorn the table. In addition, Korean specialties such as bibimbop (rice and your choice of ingredients in an earthen bowl) and kalbijim (beef ribs stew) are also on the menu.
Desserts have a predominant theme: mochi. If you don't like the sticky rice flour desserts, you can opt for green tea or red bean ice cream. The green mochi with red bean inside, wrapped delicately in small leaves is especially good. It's the second from last on the menu.
Yokocho is usually packed and with good reason. You can sit down for an economical $9 unadon or a $50 a head dinner with numerous tapas, yakitori selections, entrees, sashimi dishes. Like strolling down a narrow alley in Tokyo, the choice is yours and you can stop at as many places as you wish. Except this time it's right in the East Village while sitting down.
Arrive early or late in the evening to avoid a wait. You can wait at Angel's Share bar as well, just let the guy with the waitlist know. Noise level is very high. On the other side of the restaurant is an excellent Japanese grocery store.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 28, 2001
Village Yoko Cho
8 Stuyvesant St, Second floor
New York, New York 10003
+1 212 598 3041
Not that the food suffers at all. Sit down for a comforting bowl of Pho’, rice noodle soup in clear beef broth. Variations are in the toppings you desire—sliced raw or cooked beef, beef or fish balls, sate beef, seafood or chicken. For $3.75, this is a real deal. Crispy spring rolls and summer rolls with shredded pork or shrimp are great. The barbequed shrimp roll on a sugar cane are flavorful, as are the froglegs stir fried with chili and lemon grass. Prices range from $3.00 to $8.00.
For the cheapest meal, opt for the rice dishes with a small portion of an entrée on top. My favorite is the Com Bo Luc Lac for $4.50. Beef cubes are stir fried in soy sauce and garlic. The portion is not big, but enough for lunch or dinner if you also order an appetizer. The curry chicken is good as is the squid, chili and lemon grass, and barbequed pork chop over rice.
Bun’s are perfect in the summertime. Cold rice vermicelli is served in a bowl with shredded carrots, pickles and bean sprouts and your choice of beef sate, chicken curry or spring rolls. Sweet and sour sauce and mint leaves are mixed in for a refreshing summer meal. These are $3.75 each.
Drinks are a must here. Order the French ice coffee with condensed milk when you first sit down, and wait for the hot water to drip through the small percolator. The fresh lemonade is not too sweet and very refreshing. The longan ice is another personal favorite. The rainbow ice or the green bean with coconut milk are great for dessert. These are shaved ice with jelly and various sweet beans in syrup and coconut milk.
One time, some tourist friends stopped by for a meal by themselves and were persuaded to order the soft shell crab special as well as other pricier items. The meal was delicious, but they left paying more than they had expected. Stick with the lower priced items and you can often get away with a check of $14.00 including tip and drinks for two people. That’s a bargain.
There is a new branch called Nha Trang Center at 148 Center Street, tel: 212-941-9292. This is new and more pleasant. It is geared towards the courthouse crowd as well as the many companies which have sprung up nearby. Seating is more comfortable and table sharing is rare. Prices and food quality are the same as the old branch, making it a better bet.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 29, 2001
87 Baxter St
New York, New York 10013
+1 212 233 5948
Restaurant | "Frank"
Appetizers include tomato bruschetta, crostini toscana (liver pate’ on toast) and mozzarella di bufala (which they claim to be shipped from Naples.) The salads are fresh and flavorful, with beets salad and arugula, goat cheese and endive oil, and the fennel salad with parmigiano shavings. Prices range from $5.95 to $8.95.
Simple pastas are authentic and always prepared al dente. Basics include spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, and gnocchi with tomatoes and basil. There is a ravioli and a pasta of the day. I recently had the lamb ragu with pappardelle. The pappardelle was freshly made and the ragu was fragrant with lamb and melted onions. Pastas from range from $7.95 to $9.95 but daily specials go up to $13.95.
My favorite entrée is the tagliata Toscana. This is a grilled skirt steak with arugula and balsamic vinegar. Seared salmon is prepared with lemon, capers, and sage. The roasted rosemary chicken is popular, with mashed potatoes and gravy, olives and slow cooked tomatoes. The polpettone is also popular, a meat ball with tomato sauce. However, the quality has been more of a hit and miss, with the meat being too dry at times. Entrees range from $11.95 to $14.95.
The tiramisu is an excellent choice for dessert. Light, not too sweet and with just enough liqueur and espresso. Other selections include fruit salad, homemade ice creams and a warm chocolate cake.
With Frank’s success, many of us pioneers have stopped by with less frequency. It has expanded its space to include a bar and sidewalk seating in the summer. I recently got a seat by arriving early. The service lacked attention. The tables seemed smaller and its charm was lost. However, the food brought all the magic back. It more than made up for our rough waiter.
Try to arrive very early (between 6 to 7pm) or late (after 10pm) to avoid hour long waits. Reservations are only accepted for parties of 8 and over. Frank is now opened for breakfast and lunch. Cash only, no credit cards accepted.
88 Second Ave.
New York, New York 10003
There are trees, flowers, and plants around you. The tables are small and not too close together. The glass roof lets in light, whether on bright sunny days or through heavy rain. On cold winter days, it is a nice escape to dine under the sun.
The menu offers simple fare: Light salads such as Greek and Nicoise, soups, omelets, grilled salmon, and--my favorite--quiche lorraine or a daily vegetarian quiche with garden salad. The kitchen here is run by a nearby restaurant called Café Crème located a couple of blocks away. The food is good, though not outstanding. To be truthful, the atmosphere outweighs the food, but put the two together and you can enjoy a very pleasant lunch.
Dessert is a nice way to end the meal. A tray of the sample tarts and cakes are brought out for you to view and pick. The fruit tart and the crème brulee are my favorite. Both are not too sweet and consistently well made. Some of the cakes look inviting with their intricate designs and ornaments, but they are usually too sweet for my taste.
Afternoon tea offers classics such as cakes, finger sandwiches, and scones and cream. The usual varieties of loose-leaf teas and coffees are on the menu, as well as fruit juices etc. I find the place more calm and quiet after the lunch rush ends at 2:30pm. However, on my last visit the week after September 11th, it was easy to find a table as it was not crowded at all.
Service here is somewhat tricky. The staff changes quite often and the service sometimes lacks attention. For the simple fare served here, the service is not that important to me. I’ve enjoyed a few friendly faces as well.
As an added bonus, the Morgan Library Store is right outside the entrance to the café and makes for interesting browsing if you have the time. Of course, the museum itself is always a treasure. In my opinion, this is one of the most pleasant places to linger and enjoy an hour or two in New York.
Here is the website link:
Morgan Court Cafe
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 24, 2001
Morgan Court Cafe
26 East 36th Street
New York, New York
Located at an unassuming corner in the East Village, Tappo feels like a refined Tuscan farmhouse. Low lighting, faded brick walls, simple flowers and ceramics, a counter displaying artistically arranged meat and fish, I already felt relaxed as we were led to our table. The loft-like space is divided into two main sections to keep it intimate. There is also a basement level and seats at the bar by the open kitchen. The wide wooden tables are candle-lit and communal, but enough space is kept between parties for privacy. With large French doors opened to the street, a cool breeze flowed in throughout the evening.
For starters, the bread and the extra-virgin olive oil for dipping were exceptional. A main menu of 20 or so small dishes and an entrée menu that changes daily are offered. We chose a light fruity white wine from Sardinia, where our dining companions were from. For a first course, we tried the grilled baby octopus with both sweet and red potatoes, marinated beef cheeks salad, and swordfish carpaccio. I have heard the grilled shrimps were famous but we decided to be adventurous and try something different. We were not disappointed as all were delicious and full of flavor.
For entrees, two of us ordered the risotto with sea urchin, tomatoes and arugula and the others ordered the taglietelle with mushrooms, bacon and scamorze cheese, and pasta with whole lobster. The risotto was creamy and the sea urchin had just enough flavor but was not overpowering. The combination of arugula and tomatoes added texture and bite. The best dish was the taglietelle. The scamorze and the bacon made the dish so delicious, we could not help picking off my husband’s plate.
Dessert was another highlight. We ordered two digestivi, panna cotta with balsamic vinegar and lemon sorbet. The panna cotta was smooth, creamy, and the drizzle of balsamic vinegar gave it just enough acidity to counter the sweetness of the custard. The lemon sorbet came in a wine glass and was actually lemon granita with a touch of prosecco. We finished our meal with espresso, sat back on our seats and enjoyed the Italian music in the background. In all, we lingered over dinner for more than three hours. Service was attentive but not overwhelming.
This would have been a perfect evening if not for the shock of our check. A meal for four totaled $360, including tip and two bottles of wine. Though the food and service were excellent, we all felt it was overpriced. For your visit, I would recommend ordering small dishes and staying off the drinks to keep the bill reasonable.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 16, 2001
403 East 12th Street
New York, New York
The décor is very pleasant, like a smaller version of Pastis. A nice young French girl was our waitress and made sure we had a relaxed lunch without hovering over our table. Offered on the menu was a choice of 2 courses, from selections of appetizer, entrée, and dessert. For an extra $5, you could also have the wine tasting menu with 2 wines to match each course. My husband had the warm camembert salad, roasted Cornish hen and fries, and I had the Cornish hen and the chocolate mousse. Other choices include a soup or steamed mussels for first course, a monkfish for second course, and tarte tartin for dessert.
The salad was excellent. A small wheel of camembert was slightly heated and served with an appetizing salad of mesclun greens in a light mustard dressing. The Cornish hen was marinated and roasted, tender, juicy and full of flavor. The fries on the side were crisp and not heavy at all, typical of bistrot fries. The chocolate mousse was topped with freshly whipped cream, raspberry sauce and a raspberry. The mousse was not too sweet, light in texture and had a very deep chocolate taste.
The clientele during lunch included a few tables of business people, a French mother and daughter, and two lady friends sharing a quiet chat over lunch. A couple next to us arrived later and they ordered the cheeseburger meal. I did not stay long enough to see the meal, but from the look on their faces, I would think it was their regular choice. The main menu offers typical seafood platters, grilled dishes, and salads. Brunch is served on the weekend until 4pm and the restaurant is opened until 4am.
Le Bateau Ivre is a highlight in Midtown Manhattan. It is tucked away on a small quiet street and away from the crowds. It can transport you to Paris for a few hours without hurting your wallet.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 5, 2001
Le Bateau Ivre
230 East 51st St
New York, New York 10022
+1 212 583 0579
This is more of a lunch and afternoon snack place although dinner is served and more substantial dinner-type dishes are on the menu. This is also a popular stop during the summer months to grab a cold drink. They serve thirst-quenchers such as watermelon ice, honeydew juice, papaya milkshake and other mixtures with funny names like the Titatnic (3 juices mixed together with tapioca.) In the winter, the hot dessert tonics are very popular, all throughout the day or after dinner.
The menu is long and has a variety of Cantonese dishes. There are sections on dim sum, noodles, rice, as well as small plates of cold and hot dishes (kind of like chinese tapas.) You can find staples such as wonton noodle soup, spare ribs over rice as well as more exotic but authentic appetizers such as braised ducks' tongues and thousand year old eggs. One of my favorites is the noodle soup with shrimp and watercress dumplings. They are like wontons with the addition of watercress.
Credit cards are accepted and except during weekends and prime lunch hours, tables are usually available quickly as turnover is fast.
20 Mott Street
New York, New York 10013
On my first visit there, I tried to make a reservation for 4 but without success. I was told that there is a large area at the front of the restaurant with tables by the bar. Those would be available on a first come first served basis. I arrived at around 6pm to a somewhat quiet restaurant and was greeted by the charming host. Sitting by the bar while waiting for my friends, I noticed that the tables were already half-filled and people were starting to flow in at a fast pace. Luckily, my friends were punctual (they are not from New York!) and we landed the table by the window.
The menu is in Italian, with a dictionary listing at the back. The waiter was somewhat condescending and proceeded to educate us on how a meal at Lupa should be enjoyed. (We listened and tried to digest the wealth of information.) Basically, one should order a selection of starters (antipasti) which could be compiled from orders of grilled eggplants, selections of cured meats, and other specialties. We opted for the meat platter, which came on a huge wooden board. On it were proscuitto, brasaola, differents kinds of salami and cured pork meat. All were excellent.
Entrees were simpler. Grilled fish, stewed oxtail, roasted chicken, with the Italian way of ordering the contorni (side dishes, mostly vegetables, which come separately.)
I don't even remember much of the desserts there, as to begin with, I am not a big fan of Italian dolci. I do remember the caffe semifreddo, a kind of pudding made with coffee and cream and was good.
As the evening wore on, we found many eyes glued to our table as more people flowed in. By the end of the meal, the bar was packed and potential diners flowed outside onto the sidewalk. Credit cards are accepted, and yes, come early or late if you want to avoid the wait.
170 Thompson St
New York, New York 10012
+1 212 982 5089
OK, so the guy who created this restaurant went all out to get the French bistro look, from the slightly rusty edge of the large mirrors on the walls to the scruffy chairs and tables. But there is always an energy and buzz to this place and a noise level that makes your ears ring.
I come here for the food. Either call weeks ahead to get the coveted 7pm reservation (be prepared to wait on the phone and listen to the recordings) or come early and grab a seat on the long communal table in the main dining hall, or sit at the front of the restaurant on small round tables. The food is the same and you can also catch some of the bar action.
Sit down and order a carafe of red wine. Order a pate or french onion soup. One time, I had the special, which was an steamed artichoke with melted butter, so simple yet full of flavours. As an entree, I've tried the steak frites, skate, and lamb chops, all made with perfection. Desserts are always good, with chocolate mousse, creme brulee, apple tartin. The tarte au citron (lemon tarte) is especially good and highly recommended. Lounge with a cafe or have a pastis to digest.
Credit cards are accepted.
9 Ninth Ave
New York, New York 10014
+1 212 929 4844
Restaurant | "Sushi Hana"
Be prepared to sit elbow-to-elbow with fellow diners as quarters are cramped and tables are placed close together. However, since it is a corner storefront, most tables are next to the windows so you would feel less claustophobic.
Both the raw fish (sushi and sashimi) and the cooked dishes are good here. The salad and dressing are especially good here. For me, it is either the chirashi (sashimi over a bowl of rice) or the deluxe sushi platter. The fish here is very fresh and slices are nice and thick and of good quality. For cooked entrees, the negimaki and chicken katsu (not on the menu) are favorites.
Credit cards are accept. Either arrive early (6pm) or late (after 9:30pm) if you want to avoid lines.
Update: There is now a new addition to Sushi Hana. Around the corner at 265 East 78th Street (at 2nd Ave) there is now Sake Hana. This is a candle-lit, cozy lounge serving varieties of sake and light dinner.
1501 2nd Avenue
New York, New York 10021
In the middle of the street, sandwiched between a French and American restaurant is a small space, long and narrow, with a bar and one lone table at the window. This place is called Pearl Oyster, the home of buckets of steamers, raw oysters and the infamous lobster roll. Step in and you'll be transported to the New England coast. Service is very casual, and if you don't get the bar, you will probably have to sit at the narrow strip of bar by the wall. Either way, you'll still get to enjoy a cold beer (Brooklyn Lager is my favorite) and good seafood.
There is a small menu of staples like oysters, clam chowder, grilled scallops etc. But look for the specials, which are written on a blackboard by the kitchen. Try the grilled fresh fish stuffed with fresh herbs and surrounded by grilled vegetables. Usually, it is red snapper or bass. The lobster roll is always good, with big and plentiful chunks of lobster in mayonnaise sauce on a bun. The fries are excellent, thinly sliced and fried just right.
Desserts tend to be on the heavier side. Last time I was there, I tried the vanilla ice cream with homemade caramel sauce and the chocolate cake, both a bit too sweet and heavy for my taste. I would rather load up on the oysters and clams instead.
Unless you arrive early (on or before 6pm) or very late (after 10pm), be prepared to wait. Good times to come are when turnover is high. For example, 7pm is when the 6pm crowd are getting ready to leave. There are only about 25 odd seats so you do the math!
There is also a choice now as one of the original partners have parted ways and opened her own restaurant. It is called Mary's Fish Camp and is located within walking distance at 64 Charles Street (at West 4th). Needless to say, that is also packed as the space is small as well. But it could be worth a try as the walk is nice on a breezy night.
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St
New York, New York 10014
+1 212 691 8211
Since the place is so small, I would recommend smaller groups of people. Two or three is the perfect crowd. The first time I was there, I sat at the window table, tucked away behind the bar and away from the smokers (you feel like you are in Italy.) Order the individual bruschetta or the antipasti platter. Small portions of grilled eggplant, excellent liver pate, ricotta cheese, proscuitto and coppa and other delicious treats fill your plate.
Move onto the choices of panini, sandwiches made of flat italian bread and toasted to perfection. Arugula, roasted vegetables, goat cheese and different kinds of cure meat are available in different combinations. Sip a glass of wine and soak in the atmosphere or merely watch the people go by the sidewalk. This is as close to the Italian way of fare niente (doing nothing) as you can get in New York!
Since space is limited, prepare to wait or arrive early or late. However, since this is really a snack/sandwich place, the lines are not nearly as long as for other popular restaurants. This is a great budget find in a picturesque neighbourhood.
21 Bedford Street
New York, New York 10014
Tucked on a small quiet street in the East Village, you almost are surprised when you find there is a restaurant on the street. It is mostly residential. The space is white, very intimate, and small. The menu is very interesting. The kitchen is small and right at the back and within plain view of the tables. Service is good and casual. There are no set rules or clear definitions for appetizers and entrees. Start off with a selection of the small dishes, such as the roasted marrowbone (comes with a tiny spoon to scoop out the delicious contents), smoked duck breast prepared like pastrami, and salted jumbo prawns. These are great dishes to share though the portions are quite small.
All the dishes are good and the menu does change so I won't recommend any specific dish. In the past, I have tried the pork chops and lamb stew with success. Make it an adventure to go through the menu and try to imagine how each dish would taste like. You will not be disappointed.
Credit cards are accepted. Reservations are required. Only dinner is served and I would recommend booking early.
54 East 1st St
New York, New York 10003
+1 212 677 6221
New York, New York