Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eating Pan Asia in New York!

Memorial Day holiday means an excuse to splurge on food because it's vacay time! This Memorial Day weekend, I decided to get away from all the Rolling Thunder coming into the city to go to another city, New York City that is. Is there any place in the entire country you can go to get better food? Well the real reason my friends and I went into New York was to check out the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met (which was freaking awesome!!!) and the Harry Potter exhibit at the Discovery Center (which was also awesome!), but in between hitting up museums, we went to some effing amazing restaurants!

Like what I said in a previous Philly post, I know this blog is about D.C.'s food scene, but I know people around make many casual trips into NY on the weekend, so I thought it would be nice to share some good food finds in the city. You may be surprised to find out that I did not go to Joe's Shanghai, seeing how obsessed I am with soup dumplings, but I decided to try something different this weekend. Let's start with our first spot. First lunch we had in New York was a gorgeous Southeast Asian restaurant in the Meat Packing district called Spice Market. Spice Market is a little on the pricier side, but well worth it (we spent around $28 per person). The ambiance is amazing, and the decor is beautifully done. What I really liked was they served everything family style, so my friends and I got to share everything. We ordered some kind of cabbage slaw with Asian pears, char-grilled eggplant, duck curry, and seafood Laksa. For drinks, we got the freshly made ginger soda (non-alcoholic!). The slaw was nice and refreshing, but was overshadowed by the amazing-ness of the rest of the dishes. The eggplant is perfectly grilled with a delicious, spicy sauce. The duck in the curry was incredibly tender and the curry was perfectly seasoned and flavored. The seafood Laksa was different from any Laksa I've ever had. This Laksa wasn't sour and spicy but instead was creamy and coconut-ty. The broth was a perfectly blended with fish sauce and coconut and very frothy. The seafood was plump and delicious and noodles were perfect (the type used in Pho)! Definitely my favorite dish of the four, and a must get if you go. For dessert we ordered a white chocolate pavlova with a thai basil sauce. The pavlova was effing amazing, and a hidden surprise of fruity sorbet was hidden in the center. It was topped with some flaky mint chips and the basil sauce was awesome. A must, must, must get.

Our dinner stop was a dim sum venue called Red Egg, sitting around the border of Chinatown and Little Italy. We decided we wanted dim sum in New York, but also agreed that we didn't want to go to one where you had to fight all the crazy Chinese people to get to the carts. We found a Zagat rated sit down dim sum place, being Red Egg, and decided to try it out. Once we walked in, we knew it was something very different from your usual dim sum place. The ambiance is that of some sexy gentlemen's club- very dark with red neon lights, lol- but nice!! The dim sum you mark on a piece of paper like sushi and they also have a separate large menu to order off of. We ordered the peking duck sliders (can you tell our lot likes duck) and octopus salad. Off the dim sum menu, we ordered the steamed taro dumplings, pork dumplings, sui mai, steam shrimp dumplings, shrimp in tofu, clams in black bean sauce, spare ribs with garlic, and chicken feet...am I forgetting anything? The food was very good. The clams and the octopus were awesome. All the dim sum was pretty good, but I was kind of sad how limited their selection was for dim sum; a lot of the dim sum we were craving they didn't have. The peking duck sliders I thought were just okay; I would have perferred for them to cut the duck in thinner slices and removed more of the fat. For dessert we had a coconut pudding. The pudding was served in the coconut itself and basically tasted just like coconut with a pudding consistency- probably one of the best desserts I've ever had.
On Sunday for lunch, we decided not to go to Chinatown anymore and try this burger that the Korean Times named the best burger in America. This place is located in the Upper East side and is called Social Eatz. A lot of their of menu is a fushion of American and Asian; i.e they got Bulgogi burger and a Kung Pow Wow sandwich. The "Best Burger in America" is the Bim Bim Bap Burger, so all of us ordered one. The first thing you notice when it comes out is it's massive size. The buns are the type they sell at the Korean bakeries which was awesome, and the inside is stuffed with a good (but not obnoxious) amount of burger meat, a perfectly plumped egg, and a mix of veggies (cabbage, carrots, zucchini) in a mild sauce. The burger also comes with a side of slaw that kind of resembles kimichi; very good addition to place in your burger. I recommend you do what I did; cut it straight down the middle, and take a big bite right in the center where all the egg yolk is dripping out of; a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth medley of flavor and textures! Is this the best burger in America? Not sure, but it's certainly the best burger by farrrrrrrr I've ever had! You feel like you've hit heaven for a second when you take that first bite! Just look at the pictures below! They speak for them self!
Our last meal in New York we decided was going to be ramen. Our first choice was Ippudo, but we didn't feel like waiting in this three hour line that everyone on Yelp heeds warning of. My sister recommended a spot in the East Village called Momofuku Ko which has a much shorter line so we decided on that. Momofuku was a really fast paced Japanese ramen joint that also serve a variety of other small Asian dishes. I got kind of scared the of the $$$$ on Yelp, but the ramen was only $16 and it's HUGE (trust me, it's all you need to order)! I also ordered the lychee slushy (which I didn't even realize was alcoholic until my friend mentioned I was completely red int the face) which was quite delicious. The ramen came with perfectly chewy egg noodles, a perfect poached egg, pork bellies, paper seaweed, fish cakes and some cabbage. The broth was pretty good, and all the ingredients eaten together with it made it delicious. The ramen was good overall, but not the best ramen I've ever had (if you're not use to eating ramen, you'll probably love it). I noticed a lot of people ordering these pork belly sliders which looked amazing! I wish I could have tried it but was too stuffed from all the ramen broth, I couldn't lift a finger to order it!!
All of my food experiences in New York have been great. The service was wonderful at all the spots we went to. Spice Market's waiters were incredibly attentive and sweet. The waiters at Red Egg were very patient with us even though we took forever to order and they had to deal with me and my loud blabbering in the restaurant for more than two hours. Social Eatz had very cute and friendly waiters and the food came out real fast. All the prices weren't too bad either; I spent around $20-$25 per meal! And finally, the waitresses at Momofuku were very quick and attentive and apparently don't check ID (even though my friend and I look like teenagers, hah!). Most surprising of all is we didn't ever have to wait for a table; we were sat immediately everywhere we went!! I think lots of the city folks left for the weekend so we lucked out. I whole heartly recommend each of these place to try when going to New York! If I had to pick one, I'd say go with Spice Market and get the seafood Laksa!!!!

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