In New York, Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…
Hola EST friends! I should apologise for the lateness of my NYC update. I’ve been a little
lazy busy in New York City. Firstly, I should mention why there are updates from NYC from me. If you didn’t know, I (Teresa, part of the EatShowandTell crew) took a leap across the Pacific Ocean, bounced over to the east coast of the United States of America and moved myself to New York City. It has always been a dream of mine to live in another country in a city full of culture, and now I’m living that dream.
Working countless hours in Sydney encouraged me to come to New York with ZERO employment plans. Some may say that was a brave choice, but to me, I saw it as a lifestyle choice. I had plans to just roam around the city, taking photos, eat my heart out and enjoy the NYC lifestyle. And to live this American dream of mine, I may not be able to eat at michelin starred restaurants, but with thousands of restaurants in this densely populated city, I’m probably never going to run out of places to try. (Any recommendations are welcome and I may even blog about it!)
For those that are friends with me on facebook or follow my twitter, I constantly check-in to restaurants via Yelp. Some have even made comments saying that I should be overweight by now. Luckily for me, this city is all about walking and soaking up the NYC atmosphere.
Now 2 months later, and being constantly nagged by the rest of the EST crew, I am here to share some of the fabulous New York City culinary finds in #1 of Teresa’s NYC updates.
Street fairs are extremely popular in NYC. There is at least one each weekend, mostly during the warmer months. Streets are closed off and you don’t know where one may pop up for that weekend. I usually go to Hester Street Fair during my saturday or sunday afternoon strolls. The stalls sell everything from vintage clothing and handmade jewellry to ice-cream sandwiches and gourmet hot dogs.
Banh Mi (vietnamese sandwiches) has been a NYC lunch “trend” with places like Baoguette being a front-runner as best vietnamese sandwiches in Manhattan. At Hester Street Fair, An Choi’s banh mi’s are deliciously cheap.
Who doesn’t love bagels? Well I didn’t really eat bagels… until I got to NYC. Famous for their bagels, New York bagels certainly do not disappointed. Thick, dense and boiled (well the boiled part is really to gelatinize the starch so the outer layer remains chewy and hard and then they are baked). And very recently, I heard the new “trend” was bagel scooping. Scooping? Yes, its when you scoop out the inside of the bagel to fill it up with more cream cheese. I mean, before scooping, the layer of cream cheese was 2cms, now it’ll be at least 5cms.
Here’s the 2cm photographic evidence:
A list of places to try bagels:
- Murray’s Bagels: Located in Chelsea on 8th Ave btn 21st & 22nd streets. Their motto: “We don’t toast”. Watch out for the bagel that goes with your cream cheese (meaning a mean & thick layer of cream cheese to go with your bagel). There’s a large selection of flavoured cream cheese to choose from as well as a large selection of bagels. If your adventurous, try the fruity flavoured cheeses. They’re actually pretty good with the bagels.
- Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee company: Also located in Chelsea on 8th avenue btn 24th & 25th streets, the bagels are slightly bigger than Murray’s, and they toast! The bagel that is… The mini bagels here are basically the size of a normal bagel.
- H&H bagels: H&H bagels are sold at many cafes around NYC but they also have a storefront. As their slogan tells us “Like no other bagel in the world”, this may have been true a few years ago but many stores rival and even better the H&H bagels. With my still-young bagel tasting tongue, I can’t really tell the difference except for the fact that some bagels have a harder and crunchier outer layer.
- And last but not least, Bagels from street carts. To be honest, I was afraid of street carts at first. I didn’t know if they were clean, but I was assured street carts aren’t dodgy. So I tried a bagel with cream cheese and at $1.25 each, it’s one of the city’s cheapest and tastiest snacks. If a regular sized bagel wasn’t equivalent to 3 pieces of bread, it would be my breakfast regular. And whilst your there, buy a boiled egg to go with it.
I know the cupcake phase has come and gone, but for me, cupcakes will always be that one treat that makes me feel young again.
Magnolia Bakery is one place with a mean, tasty cupcake. I thought the cupcakes here were just a hype, but the cupcakes at Magnolia does live up to the hype. Soft cake, not too sweet and a perfect marriage of cake and icing.
Sugar Sweet Sunshine was voted by Time Out New York for best cupcakes in NYC and I would have to agree. This little bakery on the LES has cupcakes that rival Magnolia’s. Just as soft and tasty, my favourites are Ooey Gooey and Sassy Red Velvet. Their iced coffee is a also must for those hot and humid days. The interior of the store is very cute and is great for a snack with a few friends.
Diners are everywhere in NYC. They’re your cafes for those late night suppers after going out drinking or if you get cravings for extremely tasty but not picturesque looking food. Many diners are open 24 hours and one I like going to is Veselka’s.
Veselka is a diner, located in the East Village, serving Ukranian soul food. I’ve been here both for breakfast & dinner and I adore the food, the warm friendly service and the atmosphere. This is where I discovered my love for Grits. Grits are a coarsely ground corn, made into a porridge-style dish. If you’ve lived with me or worked with me, you would know I love porridge. In fact, I have spicy cheesy oatmeal for breakfast every morning (does anyone else do this?).
The egg yolk oozing into the cheese grits, flavoured with a few drops of Tabasco… It’s what you see here:
Dinner is also a winner with dishes including handmade pierogi – an Ukraian-style dumpling (similar to gnocchi) – and meatballs the size of large tennis balls. Definately if your out & about in the East Village, pop over to Veselka’s. Or even a diner called 7A – the burgers are highly recommended.
There are diners throughout this city and to experience New York, a diner-meal is a must!
Located on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, Frankies 17 is one part of the Frankies Spuntino family (there’s another one in Brooklyn). Serving family style Italian food, their menu includes a variety of salads, homemade pastas, plate of antipasti and a large range of cheese. I love the homely dishes from Frankies, and together with the romantic casual atmosphere, this is definately my favourite eatery to go for a comforting dinner with some friends or loved one.
I seem to get the gnocchi each time I come here (and without realising!). Homemade topped with a simple tomato-based sauce, I could never get sick of the soft, slightly chewy texture of Frankie’s gnocchi.
They also serve Stumptown coffee beans – known for a very smooth and nice coffee aroma. I love a nice cuppa after a delicious meal and I certainly do miss the coffees I used to get back in Sydney.
Frankies Spuntino even release their own recipe book recently, filled with recipes of all their dishes! This is already on my “must-buy” list.
Another restaurant located on the LES, Sushi UO is one of NYC’s hidden japanese restaurants, literally hidden. The restaurant is a coverted apartment space and any normal person would simply walk straight past it. A relatively recent addition to the LES restaurant scene, what lured me to try Sushi UO were their “live & raw” dishes. (Warning: if you’re an animal rights fanatic, it maybe best for you to skip this section.)
Yes, on the menu, there is “live” octopus and a few other. To our surprise (and thank goodness for this) we were served slices of a large-octopus leg. I was informed by the waitress that it was, infact, live and if I poked at it, the muscles may still move a little.
The sushi & sashimi was fantastic here. Although being so close to the East Village (filled with Japanese eateries), I think the food and dining experience at Sushi UO sits above most of the places you find in the area. The fish is fresh, the presentation is professional and experience being very “fine-dining”. With the majority of the cuisine’s in NYC being more latin american and less asian (as it is in Sydney), I have found myself craving sushi a lot more than usual. Sushi UO is the place I get my “sushi” fix or if I felt like treating myself to a good meal. With the price range being $$$, this isn’t really your everyday eatery.
The potato and spinach soup (picture#3) is probably one of the best soups I’ve ever had. The creaminess and flavour left me salivating for more. At $5 a bowl, I’d definately recommend you try it. And don’t let the size of the bowl trick you.
This is one of NYC’s latest hits. Baohaus is famous for their taiwanese-style snack buns or “baos” if you say it the chinese way. Eddie Huang, the creator/owner of Baohaus, bacame a household name after his recipe was featured on the Food Network as part of the Ultimate Recipe showdown.
The “haus bao”, stuffed with juicy hanger steak, won Eddie his recognition Other baos include the Chairman Bao (oozing fat pork bao) or Birdhaus Bao (fried chicken).
There’s also a new restaurant opening called Xiao-Ye (formerly named Crackhaus), specialising in taiwanese cuisine (noodles, small dishes, etc). All baos are made to order, so the wait could be a little long, but they are worth the wait. The Bao fries (fried mantou topped with black sesame sauce) are crunchy and delicious, especially ones freshly made. Baohaus is definately a hype worth trying, but probably not worth eating everyday though since a bao will cut you back at least US$4.00. I think it’s their quirkiness that brings the back. The menu, the name, even their workers look quirky!
Ready for a heartattack? Yes! Well, cheese fondue anyone? I am a huge cheese fan. The stinkier, the better. Taureau is a french bistro in the East Village known for its fondues. Meat fondue, cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, any flavour, it’s probably on the menu. A day of fasting to prep myself for this meal and I’m ready to eat!
The pot of cheese was huge but enough for 4 people. There’s lots of dipping materials from cherry tomatoes to chorizo. We also order a meat fondue, which really was a pot of hot oil (we chose peanut) to deepfry cubes of beef/meat.
With BYOB (rare in NYC), you should visit Taureau with a group of friends for a fun fondue time. It’s a little expensive (as they charge per serving/per person), but it is a once-only experience. Probably also better for the heart and diet to dine at Taureau occasionally.
At a recent Yelp event, the lines for Luke’s Lobster was continuously long for the whole night. Sadly I didn’t get to try the delicious, very delicious shrimp roll on this occasion. In the previous month, I went to Luke’s Lobster for a afternoon tea snack. Located in the East Village, the Lobster roll is the thing to try. A soft sweet roll, filled with pieces of lobster and topped with mayo, I thought I could eat 100 of these. Sadly, my tummy can only fit so much… The lobsters are fetched fresh from Luke’s family lobster business in Maine. The lobster is creamy, full of flavour and lots of lobster!
A homestyle latin food (cuban) safe, Cafe Habana serves a great brunch and small eats. Located on the edge of Soho, Cafe Habana also have a takeout store right next door, Habana-to-go. For those that are impatient (like me), I always opt for this option. Their Grilled Corn Mexican style is my favourite. Topped with cheese, mayo and a sprinkle of chilli powder, this is a must-eat in NYC.
And together with a thirst-quenching Lime-Lemonade = the perfect weekend snack.
Their sweet plaintains (similar to bananas) is a great “dessert”. I never knew cooked bananas would test good, until I had these…
THE END… for now!
There’s more to come, so stay tuned for part #2. I don’t want to bore you too much with a long post. And until then, here’s a few things I’ll leave you with:
This actually exists only in the US… There’s also Aussie brand shampoo. Both of which we don’t have back in Australia.
Fried chicken with grits & biscuits. I didn’t really know what to think of this…
I love Mac ‘n cheese so much that I will order it if it’s on the menu. No wonder my tummy’s a little chubby.
So to conclude #1 of my NYC update, a last thought:
Whilst I have visited NYC a few times, living here feels different. Instead of thinking bright lights, taxi horns honking, tall buildings… I think of this:
… there’s really is a different side to the glitz and glamour of NYC and I’m lovin’ it!
Welcome to New York City and many more posts to come.
I’m open to any and all recommendations of great NYC restaurants or speciality foods, so leave a comment or email me at email@example.com. I’ll be more than happy and welcome to eat on your behalf
Hester Street Fair
Cnr of Hester St and Essex St, New York (Lower East Side area).
Open every Saturday and Sunday 10am-6pm, from April through December.
The Fair happens rain or shine!
242 8th Avenue (between 21st & 22nd streets), New York (Chelsea area)
Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company
286 8th Ave., New York (Chelsea area)
There’s also 2 other stores in Astoria, Queens.
401 Bleecker St, New York (West Village area)
There’s also 3 other stores: Grand Central Station, Rockerfella Center and Uptown (Columbus Ave).
Sugar Sweet Sunshine
126 Rivington St, New York (Lower East Side)
Cnr of 9th street & 2nd avenue, New York (East Village area)
17 Clinton St, New York (Lower East Side area)
There’s also Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn.
151 Rivington St, New York (Lower East Side area)
137 Rivington St, New York (Lower East Side area)
127 E 7th St, New York (East Village area)
93 E. 7th Street, New York (East Village area)
There’s also one on the Upper East Side.
17 Prince St, New York (Soho area)
There’s also one in Brooklyn.