My wife and I just got back from a trip to your city and had some great meals. We are from Toronto, which has a fantastic food scene, but I will admit that New York wins every time!
Here's a few quick reviews:
This was highly recommended by a number of people as something that would have some good pan asian and a fun atmosphere. The place was exactly that, but nothing more. It seems like this place might have been really awesome when it first opened, but has succumbed to the "bridge and tunnel" crowd and tourists like us!
That said, it's definitely on par or better than Tao or Nobo and the food is quite solid. We had the edamame dumplings & rock shrimp to start and both were above average. I was particularly impressed with the dumplings - very interesting flavour and nice textures. Rock shrimp had the sauce mixed in to the dish, which I liked instead of the usually dipping dish you get everywhere else. It had a great flavour to it and it was presented in a very original style.
We finished with the "Bobo" platter which had a selection of spring rolls, shrimp toast, short rib etc. This dish was completely unmemorable and lacked any sophistication. It was the type of thing you could get at a Chilli's type place under "Asian Platter". Very disappointing - so we had to make good with one last dish, which was the Lobster Fried Rice as recommended by my server. It was good but nothing special at all - not a good closer!
Overall...service was average, price was fair, atmosphere was good, but food is not going to blow you away. I think you can do better if you want asian fusion.
The Lion Club
I have to say, I think many of the New York Chowhounders got this one wrong. I heard nothing but bad reviews about this place and my expectations were very low. Everyone said the food is overpriced for what was offered. I can't disagree more...
The place is a total hipster scene, bustling with energy, cool vibe, fun staff (but a bit snooty in an acceptable/expectable way) and very good food for the price. I should say that we had a reservation and we still waited for AT LEAST 45 minutes before we were seated. i expected little apology from a place like this, but the host graciously apologized and bought us a round of Champagne.
Of note, the oysters were very tasty as was the lobster cob salad. Both were fresh and perfectly delicious. I had the burger for my main and it was absolutely OUTSTANDING - really great flavouring, nice toppings, crispy bun. Cooked to perfection and coupled with some of the best french fries I've ever had - nicely salted with chunky sea salt by the way. They also give you a cute little pickle jar with your meal.
It was very reasonably priced (compared to like restaurants in the City) and I didn't feel underwhelmed at all. In fact, i felt like it was the best valued meal I've had in NY in a while - if you factor in the fun atmosphere too! Highly recommended.
I could save time and copy/paste my comments from Buddakan, but I'll share a few of the highlights. Same scene as Buddakan - perhaps a bit more of a scene, bordering on Jersey Shore crowd. That said, we went to have fun and we did just that. The drinks were interesting - a great "Nojito" - not sure the difference between that and Mojito, but it was really good.
We shared a salad - nothing special. The bread was very good - dipped in grape seed oil dip.
Steak was great - we shared the Porterhouse and it was just enough for two people. Cooked to perfection - media rare right on the button. Very buttery texture and nicely seasoned. I would say this is as good a steak as I've had & I've been to Mortons, Prime, Smith & W, David Burke, etc. Haven't made it to Lugers, but that's on the list. Anyway, sides way nice too - special was brussels sprout, which was prepared in a simple but tasty sauce. We also had the Mac & Cheese, which was a total bad call - I'm such a sucker for this dish & it's usually not much better than Kraft Dinner. This was no exception - way too gooey, not enough breading layer.
A couple of other highlights from the trip:
Ess-a-bagel - probably the best bagel I've ever had!! Boiled and then baked, crispy on the outside, soft in the middle. Hand carved smoked salmon. I'd go there every morning if I could! The coffee was kind of lousy, but with bagels that good, who cares!!
Momofuku - Milk Bar - very interesting spot in East Village. Kind of like a dessert espresso bar - standing room only, but you get to enjoy some of the most interesting desserts I've ever had. The cake balls are AMAZING - try the birthday cake version. They are like little truffel balls of delicious cake goodness - like they've created the ultimate gourmet donut...and put it on steroids!!
We also went to a very cool Mexican restaurant in SOHO that served great little hand made tacos out of an old VW truck with the roof cut off. They had great home made iced tea and bottle their own brand of sodas. I'll have to find the name of it online, but it was worth checking out.
Thanks NYC - until we meet again!
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
26 Little West 12th St, New York, NY 10014