This is a journey of a few of our food stops while in New York City this last November.
We are finally home after a few weeks of travel. I love to travel, but we have been going steady since the week before Thanksgiving. My poor blog has suffered as a result, but now I am back with plenty of stories to share with you.
This is a pic a very nice woman from Switzerland took of us after we visited the Guggenheim in New York City’s Upper East Side. I was taken back when I saw the North Dakota born James Rosenquist’s 86 foot long painting The Swimmer in the Econo-mist (painting 2). James was in good company along with a few Roy Lichtenstein paintings. The museum is amazing if you ever get a chance to check it out.
Go! Go! Curry!
We were famished after arriving at our hotel in Midtown. This was our first food stop off the plane. Chad found a review of this place on Yelp. Located in the Garment District, this Japanese Curry shop was only two blocks from our hotel. It’s just down the street from Bon Chon!
I loved their hours. An extra 5 minutes in the morning, but your SOL if you get there at 9:56pm!
Chad is my guinea pig for posing in front of the restaurant much to this Asian man’s surprise.
There are a few tables and 10 seats at a counter along the wall. The menu is pretty straightforward and there are a lot of pictures of the food all around. The ambiance was quirky with an homage to a Japanese baseball star and hand drawn pictures of your curry options.
There were two of us so we chose the MVP Grand Slam. Rice, two sausages, pork cutlet, chicken cutlet, boiled egg, breaded shrimp, and a ton of curry.
The portion was huge and the perfect price. Everything was very good. The curry was full of flavor. There was hot sauce at the table to spice it up a bit more. Overall great value for the money and quick!
Go! Go! Curry! – Midtown, 273 W 38th Street/8th Avenue, NYC
Pio Pio is a Peruvian restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. The original is in Queens, but they have since opened several more locations throughout the boroughs. They specialize in pollos a la brassa (rotisserie chicken). We were lucky enough to have this location very close to our hotel.
I apologize in advance because some of the pics were taken with my phone in bad lighting and not with my camera. Oh well, some pics are better than no pics.
Shrimp Ceviche – This dish surprised all of us. The citrus and mango danced on your taste buds as you ate the sweet shrimp accompanied by the corn and sweet potato.
My cousin Mandy had dined here before, so she suggested we try the Matador Combo. Chicken Pio, served with rice, beans, tostones, salchipapa, and avocado salad.
Salchipapas – Pan fried sausage with fried potatoes.
Tostones – smashed twice-fried green plantains.
You would be fooled if you judged the size of this restaurant by the entrance. After the hostess desk, there are a few small tables inside and a bar, but once past the bar the restaurant opens below to a big dining room. The walls were concrete covered with tree branches. We had sangria and our order was enough food to feed four people. Excellent choice, Mandy.
Pio Pio, Hell’s Kitchen, 604 10th Ave (Between 43th & 44th Street), NYC
The Meatball Shop
Ah.. The Meatball Shop. If you follow any food blogs, watch the Cooking Channel, or Bizarre Foods you have probably heard about this place. Located on Stanton Street in the Lower East Side it was a must try. These guys have balls and they like to give you options on how you like to eat their balls. You can have them smashed, as sliders, in a hero, in a salad, or you can have them naked.
Chad, Daryl, and Mandy outside of The Meatball Shop. This place is quite popular, but they do not take reservations. Since everyone now days has a cell phone, the waitress will take your number and call you when your table is ready. They even have a site that lets you track your table order and how long you still have to wait. I thought it was very techie and neat.
Inside The Meatball Shop you will find a bustling, intimate space with a great bar and views into the kitchen. Most of the seating is at shared tables, so prepare to be cozy! This may deter some people from eating here, but hey, you are in NYC. Space is precious. Even though we did sit in the middle of a shared table, we found we were able to have a decent conversation while enjoying our meal.
Chad chose to have Spicy Pork Balls with Mushroom Gravy over potatoes. The balls were great. The place was hopping. The service was wonderful. Beware of copycat restaurants trying to sell you balls. This will probably be the next food trend to hit the Midwest in about a year or so. Give it a try and don’t forget your iPhone.
The Meatball Shop, 84 Stanton Street, NYC
We dropped Chad off at his conference and then headed to Chinatown.
Mandy had confessed she had never had dim sum, so we decided it was a must.
Golden Unicorn was our choice. You access the restaurant through an elevator up to the second floor. The doors open directly to the restaurant dining room. The decor was nice and it felt a bit more upscale than what you might expect from the street. There were nice linens, chair covers, and Chinese decoration all over the walls. We were immediately seated and then our adventure began.
Dim sum is a Chinese-style food service. The food is served in small bites. Some restaurants have you order off of the menu, but this particular one has push carts that traverse the restaurant with prepared food.
If you have never eaten dim sum, be prepared to be bombarded with food when you arrive. The experience can be overwhelming. I find that I only pick a few dishes to start and I ask for specific things that I would like to eat instead of taking all that is offered. If you accept everything that is presented you will end up with a ton of food that you probably don’t want to eat. The trick is to say “No”, pace yourself, and ask specifically for what you want. The cart pushers are also food pushers. Their goal is to get you to eat what they have on their cart instead of having the kitchen make what you want.
Mandy with sticky rice in lotus leaf, shu mai (pork dumpling), jin deui (sesame balls), and hot tea.
Myself with Char Siu Bao (BBQ pork filled buns).
We ate in the early afternoon and were able to avoid the lunch crowd. This allowed us to sit and chat while enjoying our dim sum and drinking our tea.
While wandering around Chinatown, we found a cool Asian candy store on Mott Street. We decided to step inside. We were determined to find the salted plums my Uncle Cao used to feed us as kids. We thought maybe our palettes had advanced to the point where they might enjoy the candy now. Upon our discovery of the aforementioned candy, we determined that was not the case. They were still shriveled little plums which were too salty and weird to consume. While we didn’t buy any candy, we enjoyed the adventure and the memories together. However, I don’t think Mandy wants to re-live the time she and my brother discovered the pepper plant as kids. Ouch.. my eyes!
Golden Unicorn, 18 East Broadway, Chinatown, NYC
I stumbled upon a review of this place while researching TimeOut NYC. City Sandwich has a new take on the sandwich. Catering to those who want all of the flavor, but not at much of the fat and mystery ingredients which go into a lot of commercial sauces and flavorings. According to their website, they threw out the mayo.
We stopped one night for a quick bite before seeing a show. The show doesn’t deserve a comment on the blog because it was horrible. Let’s just say it should be “Turned Off!”
Anyway, the inside of the restaurant was fresh clean appearance with a friendly staff who assisted us with our questions about the menu. They offer a few different sandwich styles. Meat, Fish, Vegetarian, and Egg. We had been eating so much that we just decided to share a sandwich. We opted for the Dave. Fresh sausage, broccoli rabe, peperoncino, tomato, melted mozzarella, garlic, and olive oil on crusty bread.
Eat Good. Feel Good. Disregard Camera in your face.
Sometimes when you get a sandwich in this style it tends to be really heavy and full of a ton of ingredients. This sandwich was very fresh, flavorful, and it hit the spot. It didn’t overwhelm you with ingredients and didn’t make you feel like you were eating a calorie bomb. The bread was crunchy and soft. The mix of the sausage, broccoli rabe, peppers, tomato, garlic, and olive oil were all stuck together in mozzarella with every bite. If I lived here, I would definitely go back again to try something different.
City Sandwich, 649 9th Avenue (Between 45th and 46th Street), NYC
Halal Guys – 53rd Street
What is Halal? In Arabic the word halal means permitted or lawful. In New York City they say the best Halal is on the corner of 53rd and 6th.
We had a bit of time before meeting up with Mandy, so after missing the Book of Morman ticket raffle by two blocks, we decided to nosh at this famous NYC food cart. We seemed to arrive at a great time. I have heard reports of the lines going on forever. Our line was only about 20 people deep.
There are several other carts that are around to sell you other goods. The one above was pushing cupcakes and drinks. Be aware of imitation carts as everyone is trying to cash in on the popularity of the Halal Guys.
There is a wait, but these guys are food machines. We only stood in line for about 10 minutes before we ordered our food.
It can be a little intimidating standing awaiting your encounter with the cart staff. Containers of food are in and out of this cart at an amazing speed. They have it down to a science. As a newbie I was really unsure what to order. There is not a lot of signage about the food. You really should research and know what you want when you get up there. These guys don’t mess around. I consulted Daryl to assist us in our order. Daryl advised the following “You want the chicken/lamb combo with white sauce and hot sauce. If you like you can get extra pita on the side. It should cost 7 bucks!”
Also make sure you have your cash out. It was $6.00 for our meal as we didn’t get extra pita and fed both of us. They appreciate (and almost insist) on correct change to keep the lines moving.
We checked out our halal on the street corner next to the cart.
The meal was rice, chicken, lamb (think gyro meat), lettuce, white sauce, and hot sauce with pita bread. Everything was hot & fresh. The meat was juicy, but the sauce was the star. The creamy white sauce was excellent and the red gave it a bit of spice.
Eating on the street is a must in New York City. Most (good) places will have so much turnover that everything is fresh and safe. If you don’t know where to get good street food then I suggest a few things.
1. Research through blogs before your trip. Like Midtown Lunch, TimeOut NYC or Google NYC food blogs.
2. Ask your friends or family who have visited or live in NYC for recommendations.
3. Ask the locals.
4. Follow the lines. If there is a long line at a cart, chances are this is where you want to eat.
Halal Guys, Corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue, NYC
In the great debate over Chicago or New York style pizza, I find that I like both. They are both very different and have their own charactaristics. I find if you get them from a reputable restaurant in either city I am sure you will not be disappointed. Just stay away from the tourist traps!