New York City 3/2012, 7/2013, 11/2013, 6/2014

Saturday 3/10/12, Lunch at Shake Shack (Madison Square Park)

After seeing Something Borrowed on a plane, Shake Shack wound up on my radar. It was a bit chilly to be eating outside in NYC, but nonetheless there were still plenty of people in line at this original location even at an odd mid-afternoon hour. Once through the line, I ordered the Shack Stack – cheeseburger and a ‘shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce – and shared cheese fries with my dining companion. Once the food was ready, we sat down at one of a handful of wire tables outside. The fried, cheese-stuffed mushroom patty on top of the juicy burger made for quite heavy grease bomb, and a delicious burger. Strongly recommend.

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Saturday 7/27/13 and Monday 6/30/14, Lunch at L’asso

My dining companion for these lunches has an extreme passion for pizza. As such, we sought out the margherita D.O.C. (tomato sauce, cooked buffalo mozzarella, oregano, basil & extra virgin olive oil) at L’asso in Nolita. A bit of a hipster joint off the beaten path, it was well worth the search. We also tried their Tartufo (Affumicato) – portobello pesto, mushrooms, choice of smoked or regular mozzarella, rosemary & truffle oil. On the return trip, we opted for the Bufalina D.O.C. (tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, uncooked buffalo mozzarella, oregano, basil & extra virgin olive oil) and L’asso Supreme (tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, onions & mushrooms, grated ricotta salata). All were quite delicious. Maybe not my favorite margherita pizza, they do a lovely job and their other pizzas are quite satisfying, too.

Monday 11/18/13, Lunch at Burger Joint (Le Meridien)

Down a partially hidden hallway in the lobby of Le Meridien with only a small neon beacon to lead the way lays the well-known Burger Joint. This cash-only small box-like dive usually has long lines, but I managed to arrive late enough after the lunch crowd to find a line of only a couple people before I could order my burger and fries. While the burger was tasty, I’m not sure it would have been worth my time during the lunch rush. My palate leans more toward the rich, juicy, saucy Shake Shack stack to be worth that kind of wait. Can’t beat the atmosphere, though.


Monday 11/18/13 and Saturday 6/28/14, Dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar

After viewing the Harvard Science of Cooking lecture series on iTunes U, I became intrigued with David Chang. When a friend recommended Momofuku Noodle Bar and I put the two together, it went to the top of my list. The first time I sought it out (7/24/13), we ended up going to Ma Peche instead due to proximity. For the second try, I made certain to plan around a visit. I’d recommend arriving shortly before opening, especially if you have a larger group. Once you make it through the wait (enjoying a soju slushie or two in the meantime), the server leads you to a couple spots at one of the many shared tables in the small and quite packed space.

We shared Pork buns, Shiitake buns (hoisin, scallion, cucumber), and I got the chilled spicy noodles – Sichuan sausage, spinach, cashews. The pork buns were definitely preferred over the shiitake buns, but as expected the noodles were definitely the highlight. It was almost hard to comprehend how much umami was packed into the dish. There was also plenty of heat, which was delightful for me. We both thoroughly enjoyed our cider soju slushies, too. Clearly I thought this place lived up to the hype having returned a couple more times. The slushie flavors and buns rotate. On the return visit, it was a Singapore Sling slushie, and we got the shrimp (spicy mayo, pickled red onion, iceberg) and sausage (mustard, cucumber, pickled red onion) buns with the Momofuku Ramen (pork belly, pork shoulder, poached egg) and Spicy Miso Ramen (smoked chicken, poached egg, sesame).

Tuesday 11/19/13, Lunch at Kashkaval

After scouring some local restaurant listings, I settled on Kashkaval for a quick off-site lunch during a conference. I took their recommendation of the Turkey Kofte skewers with orzo and side salad, since I can always go for a good meatball. For the $14, it was a solid lunch choice for Midtown Manhattan. Both tasty and somewhat healthy feeling, as is most Mediterranean cuisine for me.

Tuesday 11/19/13, Dinner at The Modern

Looking for a spot within walking distance of a conference location, I stumbled upon The Modern, a restaurant connected with the MOMA. While typically a relatively upscale and pricey dinner, I found a spot in the lounge and enjoyed a martini along with the warm veal and goat cheese terrine with toasted pistachios and watercress to start, which was delicious. This saffron tagliatelle with rabbit and chanterelles was like mac’n’cheese on a whole new level. Every mac’n’cheese should have saffron in it. Sans the martini, this was still viable to expense.


Saturday 6/28/14, Breakfast at Balthazar

Walking around Nolita and Soho after an early morning arrival, we spotted Balthazar early in our search for a breakfast spot and ended up deciding it looked to be the most inviting of what we saw. My traveling partner ordered the apple galette, I ordered the egg pastry, and we split French onion soup. The portion sizes were relatively small, and the egg pastry was a bit bland, but the asparagus was cooked perfectly, and I’m sure any baked goods fan would have appreciated the flakiness of the pastry. Not a super exciting place, but decent and reasonable enough to return if I were to stay in the area again.

Sunday 6/29/14, Brunch at Alder

Went to Alder on the suggestion of my cousin. Four of us split Pigs in a blanket (chinese sausage, Japanese mustard, sweet chili sauce), Bacon/egg/cheese gyoza with sriracha soy, Pastrami hash with soft poached egg and rye toast, and French onion soup rings. The sausage was good, but the bready wrappings weren’t very exciting and gave the dish a fake almost waxy appearance that wasn’t very appetizing. The gyoza were fried a bit too much and had thick wrappers, which was disappointing. The pastrami hash was decent, and you can’t go wrong with a good poached egg. The onion rings had a strange glaze that made them a big messy to eat and took away from the fresh crunchiness of frying, which made them seem a bit stale. The flavor was good if very salty, though. Overall, the place seemed interesting, and the concepts were creative, but the execution just missed the mark.

Sunday 6/29/14, Dinner at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Trying to find a recommendation for great dim sum in NYC is hard only because it seems there are so many options that are consistently rated highly. After scouring the lists, I opted for Nom Wah Tea Parlor for a historic/old-school Chinatown experience in the oldest dim sum parlor in the city. Plus, the prices seemed reasonable, too. They have the typical checklist ordering slip. We realized halfway through our order that we had ordered far too much. Fortunately, they stopped bringing things out to us. I think they must have known better. Here is what we actually managed to work through, all very good, though I typically prefer the less bready options as was the case here:

  • Pork sui mai – minced pork, mushrooms, and shrimp steamed in a wonton wrapper
  • Shanghainese soup dumplings – pork-filled dumpling filled with broth
  • House special roast pork bun – teamed wheat flour bun filled with pork and carmelized onion
  • Pan fried dumplings – pork & chives wrapped in a wheat wrapper and then pan fried
  • Fried crab claw – fried minced shrimp wrapped around a crab claw
  • Taro dumplings – taro with pork, shrimp, mushrooms, and dried sausage in a homemade tapioca starch wrapper

Honorable Mentions:

  • Friday 3/9/12, Dinner at Nizza (Hell’s Kitchen)
  • Saturday 3/10/12, Snack at Dishes (Grand Central Station)
  • Saturday 3/10/12, Dinner at Nice Green Bo (China Town)
  • Tuesday 7/23/13, Lunch at Korea Spoon (Korea Town, closed) – Eel Dolsot Bibimbap
  • Tuesday 7/23/13, Dinner at Taralluci e Vino
  • Thursday 7/25/13, Dinner at Blue Fin
  • Friday 7/26/13, Dinner at Carmine’s – Meatballs and Penne alla Vodka
  • Saturday 7/27/13, Dinner at Old Sichuan – Pork Soup Dumpling, Hot and Sour Soup, Crispy Whole Fish, Chicken with Garlic Sauce
  • Sunday 11/17/13, Dinner at Benoit Bistro – Cassoulet, Bordeaux sémillon/sauvignon

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