My parents and aunt are visiting next week, and I'd like to plan an itinerary that out-does their previous visit! They are from the West Coast, and Hong Kong, respectively, so for them NYC is very much a different mecca of food, filled with unknowns and possibilities. They love to eat and discuss food, so I think with some tasteful (haha) planning they could easily return with many happy memories.
Below, the categories with ?-marks are in the most need of advice. Stay duration is 5–6 days, so it's cool that we don't get around to everything. Mainly I'd appreciate a lookover any blindspots that I might be exhibiting. As a reference, I've included at the end places where we've been. Here goes:
1. Special occasion dinner:
• Per Se - I am so looking forward to this, be still my heart. I might keep this a surprise, and tell them we're dressing up to see a ballet, opera…
2. Something special to pair with the above:
• Sushi Yasuda || 15 East || Kyo-Ya - either traditional sushi, or traditional kaiseki. No reservation yet.
2.5. (skip) More fine dining: I've decided to save these for future occasions. Unless they insist on more, and are footing the bill!
• ruled out: The Modern || Jean Georges - awesome prix fixe lunches.
• ruled out: Corton || Atera - two of my favorites, and so unique.
3. "European-American" restaurants:
• Aldea - lunch, the arroz de pato, amongst other dishes. I like this place.
• ruled out: The Modern Bar Room, The NoMad - both very very good, but would rather avoid the museum/hotel-food pricing.
• optional: Acme - never been, sounds like *I* might like it.
4. • Momofuku Ssam Bar - great cooking, decent prices, paragon of eclecticism. Fun setting, I just hope the crowd noise isn't too overwhelming…
• Xi'an Famous Foods - I hope they'll love this!
• (?) Fuleen? - Looking for any regional cooking that is NYC's strength. Not too expensive. (alternative: visit Flushing)
?6. American food:
• unsure: Luke's Lobster || Pearl Oyster Bar - Lobster roll, or oysters. Are they good deals? Brooklyn may have better offerings. Come to think of it, Vancouver probably has great oysters already.
• hamburgers: done that (see below)
•? What else represents Americana? I feel culturally ignorant in this department. (They're not that keen on steakhouses or bbq, though.)
7. • Zaab Elee - regional Thai food. We love Southeast Asian cuisine.
8. Japanese—noodles: we swoon for noodles.
• Ippudo || Ramen Totto || Onya || Hide-chan - choose one, only Hide-chan would be new.
?9. Italian: Aunt has previously expressed interest in Italian cuisine, but in all my time, nothing has leapt out at me, until now. I'm thinking:
• Babbo - lunch sounds good! Expecting $60-80 total pp. Holding a Saturday reservation.
• alternative: Torrisi Italian Specialties - dinner prix fixe sounds great. So, this, or Babbo? Online reservation is looking full.
alternative: Eataly - Adam Platt ranks this one higher than Babbo. Um, okay.
alternative: Dell'anima || Da Andrea - slightly more budget friendly?
ruled out: Lincoln - lunch p.f. looks like a nice treat. for backup.
<I have been to the following>
ruled out: Lupa - Great pastas. for backup.
ruled out: Novità - Excellent pasta, but no lunch on weekends.
ruled out: Ai Fiori, Maialino, L'Artusi, Hearth. They were very nice dishes, but I didn't fall in love.
?10. Small eats - sweet:
• il laboratorio || L'Arte - This is sufficient to make their day.
• (?) Where to find fine pastries? Or do only restaurants have that caliber of dessert?
• La Bergamote - good tarts, epic Napoleon, but would prefer a nicer setting for tea/coffee.
• Balthazar Bakery - often excellent pastries, no seating.
• Dominique Ansel Bakery - never been, looks really nice.
• ruled out: Laduree - Mom dislikes macarons, too sugary.
• The NoMad || Ai Fiori || The Dutch - great desserts, bar seating
• Nougatine || ?… - table seating, more relaxed
??11. Small eats - savory:
• Russ & Daughters || Katz's - nuff said.
• Ni Japanese Delicacies - East meets West, profile sounds homey & delightful. Curious about more shops like this.
• (?) what else??
12. Food shopping:
• Jacques Torres - how did we miss this one the first time?
• Myers of Keswick - for the Anglophilia
• Eataly - no comment.
??13. Bakeries: both aunt and mom like to bake! Something that piques their interest would be nice.
• Clinton St. Baking Co. - I see this name over and over again. But afraid of long lines.
• Levain? || Sullivan Street?
Some places we've done together:
Eleven Madison Park (collective wow)
Casa Mono, Prune
Bouchon Bakery (nice setting, desserts were *mostly* hits)
La Maison du Chocolat, Minamoto Kitchoan, La Maison du Macaron
2nd Ave Deli, H&H Bagels, Zabars (<- would go again)
Shake Shack, 5 Napkin, Junior's
Cafe Zaiya, Aburiya kinnosuke, Robataya, Soba-ya, Mitsuwa Marketplace, …
Marseille (nice brunch, and we were walk-ins)
Wu Liang Ye, Grand Sichuan, Lang Sheng, Congee Village, Joe's Shanghai, etc. (these Chinese restaurants were just ok for them)