Ready for some more NYC eats?
Happy Belated Independence Day!
Yes I know it was back in July and now it’s August. Independence Day in the US reminded me of how we spend Australia Day. It started off with a breakfast of homemade margaritas (with my new blender), sitting on the rooftop with my feet burning on the hot roof, beer and rice paper roll lunch then a night of burgers, cheese, wine and fireworks! As you see in the photo above, it feels like NYE in Sydney.
So for the past few months, I have been hard at work eating my heart out. Luckily I don’t own scales so I cannot say whether my body size has been affected by this, but I’m pretty sure it has. That’s one thing to watch out in NYC… the heaviness of the food!
I have read that many of you es&t readers are planning trips to NYC (or are now planning trips are seeing all this food) so I’m going to post about some of my favourite NYC eateries and hopefully one day, collate a list of “must try” places of different varieties.
Some of my recent “gems” include:
- Clinton St Bakery Company
- Jewel Bako
- Momofuku Ssam Bar
Clinton St Baking Company
When I first arrived in NYC, I craved cafe food, well, I craved a nice cup of coffee. Doing a search on yelp (might I add that Yelp has been my saviour), Clinton St Bakery popped up with the 700+ reviews and a 4* rating nearby. Reading the reviews actually deterred me from going… “Sometimes I have to wait up to 2 hours…”. I can say I’m a pretty impatient person so the words “wait” and “hours” are pretty much a turn off for me. However, after reading “the wait is worth it…” I decided to bring my Aussie visitor, Belinda, to taste some delicious NYC cafe/bakery food.
The wait was definately worth the amount of options on the menu. 11:30am Sunday brunch, table of 3, waited 1.5 hours. I saw tables of 2 who arrived AFTER us seated way before we were. Why couldn’t they put an extra seat at the end the table? Luckily I went into ask because a few minutes later, ‘Teresa’ was called. (Note: The turnover of tables for 2 is much quicker, so best to limit your party.)
With an all-day breakfast menu, it was without doubt I would be ordering eggs. Their famous blueberry pancakes nearly swayed me from my initial choice, but truffled fried eggs & asparagus? It got me at truffled. The menu consisted of every breakfast item you wanted, from buttermilk country biscuit sandwich, to eggs benedict and even huervos rancheros.
B orders the potato pancakes served with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, chopped dill and egg. The potato pancake is fried golden to perfection. The smoked salmon together with the pancake is a match made in (food) heaven.
M orders the Clinton St omelette, choosing goats cheese & mushroom as fillings, served with a side of hash browns (which we were wrongly charged extra for…!)
I love the smell of truffle oil and sometimes all you need is a nice smelling plate of food. Sadly, the taste did not match the smell, but with my egg yolk oozing over the truffled asaparagus, I happily ate this with a big smile.
Did I mention I love grits? So of course we also ordered a side of grits
By the end of this feast we were all pretty STUFFED. Luckily, home was just a few blocks away so an afternoon nap was certainly our next activity.
There was so much we wanted to try that we went back for dinner a few days later. Chicken & waffles with a beer for $20 on Wednesdays? Why would you not! Before dinner, we also saw Obama drive past waving from his limo. I love celebrity sightings.
Leaving Sydney, I have found myself craving sushi day after day. To satisfy this craving, I decided to treat myself to some top-notch highly rated sushi. A creation of Jack and Grace Lamb, Jewel Bako sits alongside Degustation and Jack’s Oyster Bar as one of the Lamb’s suite of popular NYC restaurants.
Unfortunately, Jewel Bako has no website so I couldn’t check out the menu beforehand, but from reading the reviews, the Chef’s omakase ($55) is a must order. Due to my disorganisation, I called at 5pm on a saturday to book for a 7pm table. Sitting at the sushi bar is always a recommended seating area, but unfortunately for me, I was only able to score a table in the dining room.
Sitting inside the restaurant, I felt like I was in a whale’s stomach (not that I know what the inside of a whale’s stomach looks like). The lack of lighting gave the place a romantic touch, but sadly affected my photos.
Very nice soft tofu and the saltiness of the miso was not too overpowering. A nice cleanse of the palette before we start the meal.
The sweetness of this fish made me forget what type of fish this is. It was served with a zucchini flower and each bite I took made me want more!
Chef’s omakase consisted of 10 pieces of sushi, very fresh and sweet. I liked how the waitress asked if I had any preference for the fish we got with the omakase. I love ikura (roe) so so very much, so I was glad I was able to request for a particular sushi.
The baked salmon with 3 types of miso was nicely cooked with the middle still raw (which is a perfect way of cooking salmon). I like how they served the fish with the paper it was baked it. It shows the skill put into this dish.
On the “special” fish menu, they had fish from Tsukiji Market (Tokyo). I ordered a type of cherry blossom fish, which was recommended to be served as sushi. M ordered the namadako (raw octopus) and this was served sashimi style (recommended by the waitress).
I also ordered a sushi roll (which I forget which one I ordered) and it was a way larger portion than I expected. There was more fish than rice, which I enjoy a lot more than sushi with mainly rice.
The dessert menu is very limited and since I had a tasting for sweets, I ordered a coconut and lychee sorbet. There were bits of lychee to eat and the sorbet was a nice choice of the humid NYC summer nights.
The service was attentive and friendly, with lots of smiles from our servers. I love how we were given recommendations on the sushi, fish and sake as they all turned out to be fantastic choices.
If you’re craving for some top-notch sushi, definately check out Jewel Bako. (The entrance was very obscure, but luckily I knew this and kept my eyes on alert.)
239 E 5th St
(between 2nd Ave & Cooper Sq)
New York, NY
Ph: (212) 979-1012
Location: East Village
Read the reviews of Jewel Bako on Yelp!
Momofuku Ssam Bar
With the popularity of the Momofuku empire streaming worldwide, it was my turn to see what the hype was all about. My dearest friend, Veronica, decided on a 36-hour whirlwind trip to NYC on her way back to London, and I HAD to show her what great eats NYC had to offer.
The $25 lunch prix fix at Momofuku Ssam Bar is not only a great deal, but a steal! Ranked 26th in the world for the San Pellegrino World’s best 50 restaurants, Momofuku Ssam Bar serves a killer prix fix lunch as well as an awesome bo ssam (- which I have yet to be able to try. Anyone want to try with me? It’s for 6-8 people.) Another one of David Chang’s famous creation, this asian fusion eatery is highly recommended on my list of places to try.
For 3 people, we order 2 prix fix lunches and another plate off the a-la-carte menu.
Momofuku famous Pork Buns with hoisin, cucumbers, scallions. THESE are a MUST eat at Momofuku. The pork belly is perfectly cooked with just enough fat to make you think these buns may actually not be bad for you. We were kindly given one bun each as we waited a long while for our appetizers.
This was not too spicy, and although the flavour reminded me of the jellyfish you get at chinese restaurants with the BBQ meat, I could not stop picking at the tripe.
Entrees (otherwise known as mains)
The smoked striped bass was drizzled with a macadamia flavoured dressing with bits of pineapple grass and peaches. Although not a standout, the bass was very fresh.
This spicy fried rice cake reminded me of the korean dish dukboki. The rice cake had a nice crunchy shell that made it a little peculiar, but in a good way. Loved the flavour of the sauce. I think this dish is what filled us up!
The tofu reminded me of my favourite dessert: the tofu dessert you get at yum cha. But together with a salty/sour dressing, the sweet and sour made an interesting combination.
By this time, I was truly stuffed, and since the dessert was calling to me, I just HAD to eat it.
Thai iced tea Parfait. This dessert surprised me a lot. It had a nice lemony flavour to it and I enjoyed it more and more towards the end. I like the chocolatey crumbs together with the lemon sorbet and the parfait. They marry so well together.
The Berry ice cream pie was nice but nothing spectacular. (I prefer ColdStone Red Velvet birthday cake over this. nomnom!) In fact, the crust was my favourite part.
Overall, I enjoyed the lunch at Momofuku Ssam Bar. For the price and quality, I highly recommend all my friends to try this place. However, I’m not sure if it feels like a #26th best restaurant in the world. And if you feel like extra dessert or a gift to bring back home, Momofuku milk bar is right next door, so go run for the Crack Pie!
Reservations are only accepted for the pork shoulder here at Ssam Bar and the fried chicken dinner at Noodle Bar. Otherwise, first come first serve so get there early or during low peak times.
There are other Momofuku’s to try: Ko, Noodle Bar (for the fried chicken dinner), Ma Peche, but I enjoy the casual feel to Ssam Bar.
THE END for now…
So that’s the end of #2 New York City Eats. Don’t worry… this isn’t even close to being the last of it!
But I’ll leave you with some awesome street art I walked past recently…