Visiting from out of town, I took a walk one afternoon through Lower Manhattan from the Village to Chinatown, sampling ten places mentioned on this board. I enjoyed trying them all. Thank you all for your contributions, as I learned about them here.
1. LiLac Chocolates, Christopher Street. I tried out a 1/2 pound 'French Assortment'. 'Homestyle' is how I'd describe them, hardly on a level with the French or Belgian varieties, in sophistication of palate. They had oddball fillings including one with a green jelly which was too odd. Terribly sweet. Among other things, I think their round chocolate fruit patties in the left side of the glass case are better offerings than the boxed chocolates.
2. Rocco's, on Bleecker. I didn't find any hot cross buns here as was mentioned on this board. However, they do sell Italian ices for just $1. I got a strawberry one on a very hot day which was refreshing.
3. Melampo, Sullivan Street. I tried their Marina on focaccia. The ingredients in this sandwich--arugula, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella--were indeed quite fresh and seemed best of their kind, although I think I cared less for the thin coldcut-style meat in this choice of sandwich. First visit, location wasn't obvious as there's no sign out front. Even the guy in the spectacle shop next door didn't know where Melampo was when I asked! But for other first time visitors, it's the only apparent narrow grocery-type store on Sullivan between Prince and Spring streets, next to a spectacle shop, east side.
4. Sullivan Street Bakery. I tried their potato focaccia and their plain. I waited several hours before sampling these, which was not a good idea. These should be consumed immediately, they don't transport well. However, they still had a good, notable texture different than other varieties I've tried.
5. Balthazar Bakery, Spring Street. I got their baguette, which is indeed priced at $1.75 now. One of the better baguettes I've had, with crusty charred black and brown crust and chewy stretchy soft insides.
6. Vietnam Banh Mi on Broome. Great banh mi, with a good balance of sunny carrot and cilantro with the pork and pate and spice dressing in a crunchy-crisp baguette. Great price at $2.75.
7. New Malaysian, in the Chinatown Arcade. My lunch stop. Tried the beef brisket curry with rice, and a plate of roti canai. Rich, filling, and delicious. Similar, but more complex than the curries served at downscale Japanese joints, with more spices and heat. Tender beef with fatty sections which was actually quite good, although I normally don't like the fat. First time trying roti canai. Delicious, buttery, flaky pita-shaped bread served scrunched up next to a bowl of thin curry sauce with a piece of chicken.
8. Choy Gunn Heung. Tiny bakery steps up from the Chinatown Arcade on Bowery. Wonderfully light coconut cake-tarts. The bean filled pies were sweet and generously filled but encased in a pastry that I found a little dry. They had little baggies of ten little airy pastry-cookies with a piece of walnut in the center, which were light and lightly sweet. I liked those. Just $1 per bag of ten cookies!
9. Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, Bayard Street. I tried their lychee flavor, which was very light on the flavor, but refreshing and creamy.
10. Saint's Alp, Mott Street. Tried their taro bubble tea. I loved the deep cool flavor and attractive purple color. Could do without the tapioca pearls really, although I guess it provides a bit of fun in drinking.
Just a fleeting impression of each. I enjoyed my sampling trek!