Not much gets past the true Chowhound. She’ll drill down through a menu of Southern-style seafood to unearth a handful of Burmese rarities, take a chance on a new sushi spot marked only by a paper sign to sniff out an all-city contender, or venture into a pizza-and-pasta joint that looks like a thousand others and uncover the secret lab of a mac-and-cheese wizard. Here’s an alphabetical list of intrepid New York ‘hounds’ most rewarding discoveries of 2013.
1. CHAYHANA SALOM
1652 Sheepshead Bay Road (between Jerome and Voorhies avenues), Brooklyn
Downed but not defeated by Hurricane Sandy, this Uzbek newcomer in Brooklyn bounced back to offer some of the city’s best kebabs, salads, savory pastries, and noodle dishes like pan-fried lagman with beef.
2. CRAZY CRAB
40-42 College Point Boulevard (between 40th Road and 41st Avenue), Flushing, Queens
Good Burmese food is so rare in New York that Chowhounds jump on it wherever it surfaces—this past year in Flushing, where authentic specialties like tea leaf salad lurk on a menu of American-style seafood boils.
3. DHAULAGIRI KITCHEN
37-38 72nd Street (near Broadway), Jackson Heights, Queens
The ongoing Himalayazation of Jackson Heights is exemplified by this Nepali kitchen, purveyor of many-splendored thalis and more. Sharing the cozy space—and representing the neighborhood’s old guard—is the Tawa crew, rolling out ‘hound-endorsed Pakistani-style breads.
4. LANDIN MACARONI & CHEESE
705 Melrose Avenue (near E. 155th Street), Bronx
Think you’re deep into macaroni and cheese? Meet a chef who matches your obsession, baking knockout mac ‘n’ cheese, lusciously creamy inside and browned to a turn on top, in at least a half-dozen varieties daily.
5. MAMAK HOUSE
35-20 Farrington Street (between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue), Flushing, Queens
If you think you know Malaysian food, think again. The robust subcuisine of the country’s Tamil Muslim migrants has been hard to find around here—until now. Try pakoralike crisp-fried okra or rice combos with spicy-sour curries.
144-07 Jamaica Avenue (between 144th Street and 144th Place), Jamaica, Queens
Soup’s on, Ghana style, at one of Chowhounds’ new West African favorites. Spicy, meaty peanut or pepper soups—served with the staple plantain or cassava mash—are solid bets, as are appetizers like grilled goat kebabs.
7. NEW WORLD MALL FOOD COURT
136-20 Roosevelt Avenue (between Main and Union streets), Flushing, Queens
This pan-Asian food hall, long a rich source of chow intelligence, has yielded another savvy tip: From vendor number 28, check out a peppery, deeply warming lamb soup that’ll transport you straight to China’s Henan Province.
8. ODA HOUSE
76 Avenue B (at E. Fifth Street), Manhattan
Brothy, herbaceous meat dumplings and big, cheesy breads crowned with egg are two smart orders at this East Village restaurant, which brings the hearty cuisine of the Republic of Georgia to Manhattan.
9. SUSHI KATSUEI
210 Seventh Avenue (at Third Street), Brooklyn
This assured newcomer promises to transform its neighborhood with faultlessly fresh seafood, subtly dressed with wasabi, soy, seaweed, and more. Park Slope sushi aficionados who lowered their expectations long ago can scarcely believe their good fortune.
611 Bay Street (at Water Street), Staten Island
Rich, homey Nigerian cooking has joined the mix in Staten Island’s thriving African scene. Enjoy stewed goat with jollof rice, plantain-stuffed fried tilapia, and maybe a beer and a televised soccer match at this community gathering place.
Photo of adjaruli khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread) from Oda House