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8 Places

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Trip report from the summer - quite long, read at own risk!

MusicSue1 | Oct 14, 201901:39 PM     6

Hello Chowhound folks – I’m way behind in writing a trip report for my late June/July trip, once school starts things are a whirlwind. But I wanted to write something up because it seems as if every trip I take, the food just keeps getting better and better – or maybe it’s because I’m branching out farther as I take more trips. In the city alone in my summer off from teaching music in central PA, always looking for the best food. Here are the places I ate, each one as amazing as the next:

Kopitiam – this place had caught my eye in some write-ups, and happened to be a block and a half from my hotel, so I stopped there for lunch right after arriving. It happened to be the one year anniversary of their new location – I spun the wheel for a free ‘gift’, and of course my sad unlucky self landed on the ‘high five’ spot instead of actually getting anything. I already knew what I wanted from reading ahead – I got the Pan Mee and the Oyster Omelette with a mango tea. The Pan Mee was amazing, the fried anchovies were so unusual, the broth had this amazing rich umami flavor, the hand pulled noodles a great chew. I wasn’t as thrilled with the omelette – the oysters were really fresh, loved the hot sauce and cilantro, but something about all the textures together didn’t work for me. Ended up getting a free dessert from the manager who sat down beside me – think she felt sorry for me, the little bite with coconut and rice was yummy.

Ten Bells – one of my favorite happy hour spots on the way to dinner as I walked through the LES, the 3 oysters and glass of house white hit the spot.

Aska – this was my big splurge, I had been wanting to try it last summer but they were closed for vacation. After a great walk across the Williamsburg Bridge, I arrived at a beautiful modern open restaurant with a gorgeous courtyard, and a tasting menu I’d easily put in my top 5 meals ever. The service concept was interesting – no real waiters/waitresses, just front of the house and then chefs that actually brought out each course to explain. Amazing people watching with the open kitchen, couldn’t get over how many cooks in that tiny space. The tasting menu with wine pairings was flawless – really unusual ingredients, presentation, and the sauces were absolutely fantastic, I was tempted to lick the plate a few times. Chatted with the head chef who was a super nice guy, as well as the incredibly warm staff. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first night meal.

Corner bodega for my bacon/egg/cheese on a roll and coffee light and sweet – don’t even remember the name of my corner place, but I find it so reassuring that no matter where you stay in NYC you’re never more than a block or 2 from the perfect breakfast.

Kings County Distillery – including some drink here, took a walking tour through Big Onion that concluded here. The whiskey was delicious, so smooth and such care taken in making it. Took a few bottles home for gifts and myself.

Transmitter Brewing Company – after touring a bit in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, stopped here for a few beers. They had just opened up inside Building 77, a great industrial space with super high ceilings. The beers were fantastic, service really good, people so nice and friendly.

Lilia – so of course I couldn’t get a reservation, so I made my way over by taxi to wait in line. Arriving at 5:15, there were still probably 20 people in front of me, but not bad of a wait on a lovely summer evening. Line went fast at opening time at 5:30, and I had a choice between the single seat at the bar left (which looked awfully squished) or an outside table. I chose outside, and had an incredible 3 hour dinner watching the city go by. I started out with clams for an appetizer, so fresh, and I had already decided ahead of time to go with 2 pastas instead of a secondi. I settled on what seems to be the signature pastas you hear about – the maffaldini with pink peppercorns and the agnolotti. They were both sheer perfection – pasta so perfectly al dente, simple clean flavors, just amazing. Enjoyed the soft serve with olive oil for dessert and chatting with the lovely couple sitting next to me, sharing our desserts and stories.

Haru Sushi – quick sushi lunch before theatre, the one on 9th Avenue fit the bill fine, two really fresh rolls and a nice chilled saki.

Le Coucou – another new choice for me, I usually do tasting menus but I love French food and have heard great things about this place. The room is lovely, but I was feeling dubious going in solo, especially as the couple sitting 2 tables over from me moves to the same side of the table and starts making out. Awkward – definitely a good place for romance, but turns out an amazing place for food and wine also even when alone. A glass of white with my quenelles de brochet, perfect and decadently rich, then the grilled pigeon recommended by my waitress that was marvelous, accompanied by these little fried artichoke fritter things that I could’ve eaten 3 dozen of. Then a cheese plate, because I couldn’t resist, and a chocolate dessert finished with my bottle of red (yes, I drank the whole bottle).

Doughnut Plant – yes, they’re expensive, but that coconut cream donut with the hole in the middle blows my mind every time! The blueberry cake was great as well.

Flushing, Queens – talk about stranger in a strange land. I was heading to a Mets game, so I needed to check out Flushing. Wow, so exotic and amazing, I loved it! Walked around the huge grocery store with the live fish, saw the dim sum carts being pushed around, and then had dumplings in the basement at Tian Jin Dumpling House, spicy lamb noodles at Xi’an (went with regular spicy because that’s what they recommended and I didn’t want to be a wimp – but they were sooooo spicy, finished half the plate), and ending with the greatest egg tart in the history of the universe, still warm.

Nathan’s at CitiField – hot dog was cold but still tasty, but dang, those fries were good! Also a giant can of Toasted Lager that cost half my monthly salary…

Capizzi – pizza before catching my bus home, as delicious as I remember, and super quick. Prosciutto and mushroom, with a glass of chianti.

OK, as long as I expected, but thanks to all of you that always inspire me and give me great advice.

Tian Jin Dumpling House
Haru Sushi
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