New York rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Bargain Lox in Greenpoint and Other Smoked-Fish Tips

Acme Smoked Fish sells its wares to such higher-end purveyors as Zabar’s, Citarella, and Russ and Daughters–and, one morning a week, to us retail-paying civilians. The public can buy top-shelf nova, lox, sable, trout, whitefish and more–at deep discounts–every Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Acme’s plant in Greenpoint. “I’ve gotten some amazing stuff there on Friday mornings,” says billhill. Go early–they tend to run out of the choice stuff.

Other Brooklyn hounds count on Schwartz’s for smoked fish. This old-school appetizing store in Borough Park comes through with great sable, herring, and whitefish or baked salmon salads, among other things, says Alisonleslie.

Fairway in Red Hook, like its sister stores, stocks first-rate lox and other smoked fish, says irvingk, who’s partial to their mild but flavorful Gaspe smoked salmon. gnosh also endorses Fairway’s fish but adds a caveat: Be sure to deal only with the regular fish staff. Early one morning, before the smoked fish man had arrived, the cheese guy cut gnosh’s lox, and the result was “disgusting thick chunks.”

In Midwood, the Orchard–better known for pricey but pristine fruit–also sells very good smoked fish, sliced to order, and house-made whitefish salad, jen kalb reports.

Acme Smoked Fish Corp. [Greenpoint]
30 Gem St., near N. 15th St., Brooklyn

Schwartz Appetizing [Borough Park]
4824 16th Ave., at 49th St., Brooklyn

Fairway Market [Red Hook]
480 Van Brunt St., at Reed, Brooklyn

Fairway Market [Upper West Side]
2127 Broadway, between W. 74th and 75th Sts., Manhattan

Fairway Market [Harlem]
2350 12th Ave., between W. 133rd and 134th Sts., Manhattan

Fairway Market [Nassau County]
50 Manetto Hill Mall, Plainview, NY

The Orchard [Midwood]
1367 Coney Island Ave., between Aves. J and K, Brooklyn

Board Links

Best Brooklyn Lox
Wild Pacific Salmon in Queens?

The Chinatown Beat – Noodles, Oysters, and Killer Fried Chicken

A new contender has stepped forward in Chinatown’s hand-pulled noodle wars: Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle on East Broadway. “A great great great noodle place,” declares christinag123. She ranks it ahead of another hound favorite, Super Taste, on the strength of its anise-scented broth, which is rich, deep-flavored, and less oily than the competition’s.

These $4 noodle soups come with beef, brisket, lamb, tripe, duck, or pork chop, among other choices–some on the fatty or gristly side–but they’re really less about the meat and more about the soup and the thin, springy wheat noodles, made fresh before your eyes. In fact, you might find yourself eating to the accompaniment of loud “whaps” as the noodle guy slams knots of dough onto the metal table at the back of the dining room. Spike your soup as needed with chile oil, vinegar, or pickled vegetable.

A few blocks west, at Yogee Noodle, the signature beef stew noodle soup features uncommonly good meat, says PAL. This veteran Cantonese restaurant takes pride in its family recipe, which has gained a neighborhood following. The beef tastes deeply beefy, the fat is meltingly luxurious, and the broth is a simple complement to the rich stewed meat. It’s one of 26 noodle soups at Yogee; congees, casseroles, and a full range of entrees round out the menu.

Elsewhere in Chinatown, Brian S has been exploring the fast-growing Fujianese quarter on the neighborhood’s east side. From the lengthy all-Chinese menu at Good Good Taste, practically in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, he unearths two worthy dishes. One is an eggy, pancake-like affair, studded with baby oysters, chives, and celery, and served in viscous sauce thickened with rice flour. The other is a nicely prepared casserole of fish head swimming in rich, dark wine sauce–a signature of Fuzhou cuisine. “I feel drunk,” Brian confesses, “but that’s probably just because it tasted so good.”

Back in the older part of Chinatown, look for superior fried chicken at New Big Wang, a hound favorite for roast pork and poultry. Its Cantonese fried chicken (with or without fried garlic) boasts crisp, pleasingly salty skin and moist meat with a hint of five-spice. “My new favorite Cantonese dish in Chinatown,” announces Sweatshirt Guy.

Lan Zhou Handmade Noodle [Chinatown]
144 E. Broadway, between Rutgers and Pike Sts., Manhattan

Super Taste Restaurant [Chinatown]
26 Eldridge St., between Canal and Division, Manhattan

Yogee Noodle [Chinatown]
85 Chrystie St., between Grand and Hester, Manhattan

Good Good Taste Chinese Kitchen [Chinatown]
13A Market St., between E. Broadway and Henry St., Manhattan

New Big Wang [Chinatown]
1 Elizabeth St., at Bayard, Manhattan

Board Links

Favorite Chinatown bakery?
Yogi Noodle, Great Beef Stew
On Chinatown’s fringes, a mystery meal
‘The Big Wang’ Try the Fried Chicken!!!

Nurnberger Bierhaus – Soulful German on Staten Island

Solid, hearty German chow is drawing happy crowds at Nurnberger Bierhaus. Expect ample, homey platters, none more ample than the Bayerischer bauernschmaus (Bavarian farmer’s feast), a massive meal of roast pork, smoked pork chop, bratwurst, and double-smoked bacon with mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and red cabbage. Also recommended: spaetzle, sauerbraten, goulash, zigeunerschnitzel (pork cutlets with red pepper sauce), and jagerschnitzel (pork cutlets in mushroom sauce).

Open a little over a year, this friendly joint in Staten Island’s West Brighton neighborhood stacks up well against the island’s better-known German place, Killmeyer’s. “Light years better,” declares Miss Poste. “Where Killmeyer’s dishes seemed rather cafeteria-like, Nurnberger was incredibly homey and warm.” Nurnberger is “definitely the more serious German food destination,” agrees Epicure, who enjoys the authentic atmosphere and warm vibe as well as the chow.

Oh, and there’s beer, around eight kinds on tap–including DAB, Dinkelacker, Paulaner, Weihenstephan hefeweiss, and Spaten Optimator–and more than 40 in bottles.

Nurnberger Bierhaus [Staten Island]
817 Castleton Ave., between Davis and Pelton Aves., Staten Island

Killmeyer’s Old Bavarian Inn [Staten Island]
4254 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island

Board Links

Nurnberger Bierhaus vs. Killmeyers
Staten Island—is there hope???

Middle Eastern Update – Falafel and More Downtown

East Village newcomer Taj-Almoulouk has charged to the top spot in eca’s personal falafel ranking. Its fresh, light, fried-to-order falafel eclipses those from Taim and Chickpea (which now drop to second and third place). As good as the falafel is, the house-baked bread used for falafel sandwiches may be even better–soft, chewy, and more substantial than the usual pita.

Opened late last year by alumni of the popular Moustache restaurants, Taj-Almoulouk also serves salads, meze (hummus, tabouleh, babaganoush, etc.), beef shwarma and chicken or lamb kababs, and stuff from the oven such as zaatar bread, fatayer (spinach-cheese pies), and lahambajin (spiced ground lamb on flat bread).

There’s another houndworthy falafel at Ashkara, a newish vegetarian place on the Lower East Side, says rollergrrl. The falafel is fresh, handmade, and served with first-rate pickles, sauces and other fixings. Good hummus, too, plus soups, salads, house-made pita or malawach (Yemenite flat bread) and something unexpected: Belgian-style fries with a variety of dipping sauces.

For a cheap, filling Middle Eastern feast, bigjeff recommends Cinderella Falafel’s $9 vegetarian combo platter–falafel, hummus, feta, tabouleh, chickpeas, garlicky babaganoush, a rice-stuffed grape leaf, lettuce-tomato-cucumber salad, and nice fried cauliflower (which they sometimes neglect to include, so make sure you get some). It’ll feed two, especially if you order extra pita bread.

Taj-Almoulouk [East Village]
125 E. 4th St., between 1st and 2nd Aves., Manhattan

Ashkara [Lower East Side]
189 E. Houston St., between Orchard and Ludlow, Manhattan

Cinderella Falafel [East Village]
129 2nd Ave., between E. 7th St. and St. Marks Pl., Manhattan

Board Links

Terrific New East Village Falafel
Queen of Sheba-Not Good

On Roosevelt Avenue, a Mexican Metamorphosis

There’s something in the air on the streets of Jackson Heights. One of the best of the latest wave of food vendors hawks superb gorditas and quesadillas in the afternoons on Roosevelt Avenue. “This woman is excellent,” declares Jim Leff. “The success of this vendor and Tacos Guicho a few blocks west has changed the tenor of local street food.” For one thing, more of the new vendors are female; for another, they’re moving beyond tacos and offering a more diverse menu of Mexican street bites.

Guicho’s tacos, made with store-bought tortillas, are not the don’t-miss order–though justinjh reports scoring some fine ones, filled with carnitas and served with arrestingly fresh garnishes and salsas. Instead, check out sopes and gorditas, handmade to order by the two women who run the cart and feed ever-growing queues of hungry neighbors. The other surprise here is that chicken–often forgettable at local Mexican street stands–is actually one of the best fillings. “That’s increasingly true,” Jim observes, “at least among cart people. Chicken’s the new pork.”

Farther west, another cart works a spot at Roosevelt and 75th from early morning through evening. scarey reports a good gordita (with bits of crunchy pork, cotija cheese, and medium-spicy green salsa) and a decent chicken and green chile tamale.

The renaissance in street eats is the best news in years for local chowhounds. “The state of food on Roos Ave has never been worse,” Jim laments. “The old bastions are coasting, and new places are fast-buck imitative crap. But the street food people have been keeping deliciousness alive for some time in this nabe (that’s why the restaurant owners are pushing so strongly to get rid of them). And they’re now in a quantum leap.”

Mexican street vendor [Jackson Heights]
Roosevelt Ave. (north side), between 85th and 86th Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens

Tacos Guicho cart [Jackson Heights]
Roosevelt Ave. (south side), at Baxter Ave., Jackson Heights, Queens

Mexican street vendor [Jackson Heights]
Roosevelt Ave. near 75th St., Jackson Heights, Queens

Board Links

gorditas on roosevelt
NYT Real Estate Section Article: Author Moves to Jackson Heights for the Food

Onera Dresses Down; and Other New York News

The upscale Greek restaurant Onera earned critical acclaim and hound love, but that by itself doesn’t pay the rent. So chef Michael Psilakis has dropped prices, traded his ambitious modern fare for more casual, family-style dishes, and rechristened the place Kefi. Our first report suggests that the newly downscaled menu is accessible and delicious.

americanafan reports a satisfying meal highlighted by terrific moussaka, unusually light yet also hearty and filling. Traditional spreads–tzatziki, taramasalata, melitzanosalata, fava bean–get a slightly nontraditional tweaking, but they’re still comforting and familiar, served with tasty, warm pita slices. Main courses (which now top out at just $16) include a couple of holdovers from Onera, including the hound-endorsed helopites (a wide egg noodle with braised rabbit and grated cheese). The wine list is modest and nicely priced, with bottles for as little as $18. “It looks as if chef Psilakis has accomplished exactly what he set out to do,” americanafan adds. “I was a big fan of Onera and was disappointed to see it close. But Kefi should be a very popular neighborhood restaurant.”

Across town, Upper East Side hounds have one fewer dessert option. Martha Frances Mississippi Cheesecake, beloved for pecan, sweet potato, and Key lime pies, as well as its signature cheesecake, closed abruptly late last year.

Kefi [Upper West Side]
formerly Onera
222 W. 79th St., between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan

Martha Frances Mississippi Cheesecake [Upper East Side]
1707 2nd Ave., between E. 88th and 89th Sts., Manhattan

Board Links

Kefi–first look
martha frances cheesecake…what happened?

Frozen Mochi Goodness at Momofuku Ssam Bar

There’s marvelous fresh-made mochi ice cream on the dinner menu at Momofuku Ssam Bar, says kathryn. A recent sampler comprised four flavors–mango, butter pecan, pistachio, and chocolate with egg nog. So try not to fill up on the boutique hams, three-terrine banh mi, fried cauliflower with chiles and mint, and other bites that make up the dinner menu (once served only after 10:30 p.m., now available from 6 on).

Momofuku Ssam Bar [East Village]
207 2nd Ave., at E. 13th St., Manhattan

Board Links

late night dining at momofuku ssam?

House of Dosas Revisited – Crepes with a Kick

The House of Dosas, curiously enough, has never been a hound favorite for dosas. Past reports suggested that thali lunches were the way to go. But recently, dosa lovers have stepped up and made their case.

Among the 20-plus varieties, sbp recommends onion chile masala–potato, raw onion, and kicking fresh green chile tucked into a huge, crisp, nutty, faintly caramelized crepe. Alongside comes coconut chutney and unusually soulful sambar. Even erstwhile dosa-disser TongoRad confesses to enjoying its interplay of onion and coconut flavors. jnet62 endorses the Gunpowder dosa, spiked with fiery/tart milakai podi.

Those thinking outside the dosa should try chaat (good picks: bhel puri and samosa chaat) or the popular thali, a daily-changing grab bag of bites, some on the menu and some not. Highlights include channa masala (chickpeas), eggplant any style, rasam (spicy vegetable broth), and fluffy idli (steamed rice-lentil patties). Save room for vermicelli pudding, flavored with saffron and white raisins.

House of Dosas [Nassau County]
416 S. Broadway, at Boehme St., Hicksville, NY

Board Links

House of Dosas, Hicksville

Catch of the Day – Gorgeous Grilled Octopus at Vespa

centrejack had a decent but unexceptional Italian dinner at Vespa with one memorable must-try appetizer: octopus, marinated and beautifully grilled. It’s tender, tasty, and nicely seasoned, and you get a generous plate of it for $11. Accompaniments change with the seasons; for winter they’re serving it with potato, fresh herbs, and roasted peppers.

Vespa [Upper East Side]
1625 2nd Ave., between E. 84th and 85th Sts., Manhattan

Board Links: NYE at Vespa–one dish you have to try

Korean Walnut Treats at Woodside’s Man Mi

At Man Mi bakery, a contraption that could have come from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” bangs out fresh, hot Korean-style walnut cakes. Known as hodo kwaja, they’re like less greasy doughnut holes filled with red bean paste and walnuts, Dave G reports.

These are not hard to find around New York–Korean supermarkets and chain bakeries sell them at room temperature, swaddled in plastic wrap. But for the best specimens, advises surly, you need to find a specialty shop that makes only a few items–like Man Mi–and score a batch hot off the griddle. “There aren’t too many of these specialists around anymore,” he adds. “It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a hot, fresh version of these cakes at a larger, more comfortable Korean bakery like, say, Koryodang.”

Man Mi cranks up the hodo kwaja machine on an irregular schedule during the week, but it’s always up and running on Saturdays from around 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. A fresh bag of 10 costs $2.

Man Mi [Woodside]
54-08 Roosevelt Ave., between 54th and 55th Sts., Woodside, Queens

Board Links

Korean Walnut Cake in Woodside