>> Eat the World NYC

08 August 2020

Royal Garden Tbilisi

GEORGIA 🇬🇪

[COVID-19 UPDATE: Besides the couple tables in front, used mostly for coffee and lunch on the weekday of this visit, the restaurant has a covered outdoor space in the garden that can host quite a few people. Customers wishing for ample spacing and appropriate mask usage by staff and other customers might wish to avoid this place.]

On the few occasions that meals were taken at We Are Georgian, the previous tenant at this Kings Highway address, the small bakery and restaurant had always impressed. Last year, well before stay at home orders, a walk in the area had noticed that a new restaurant had unfortunately taken its place, but plans to give it a shot were made.


More than halfway through 2020, with outdoor dining in full bloom throughout the five boroughs, it seemed like the appropriate time to come back. Photos online showed a new backyard with plenty of seats and even a small stage for live music, which was all ready for action for a Friday evening that was fully booked a day in advance. No one was around for lunch though, the perfect time to sample the kitchen on short notice.

Even at lunch, and with a lack of customers, the music will be on in the garden as the soundtrack to everyone getting things set up for the busy night. Grab a table or a lounge-style seat and take a look through the menu. There are no descriptions for eaters less familiar with the names of Georgian foods, so either stick to what you know or start Googling.


One item that needs no introduction and is usually familiar to anyone that has eaten Georgian even just once is their dumpling. The khinkali (above) are listed as $2 per piece, but an order must contain at least six, so any dreams of ordering just one each as to be able to sample more dishes do not come to fruition. Regardless, performing such an abomination might get you thrown out of the place anyways.

Inside the thick wrapper, along with minced meats are just of hint of spiciness and a high level of herbs. It is delicious, although not juicy like most. The proper technique is to grab the thick top where the dough twists together and eat the rest, tossing the doughy stump to the side when finished. In Georgia, these piles of tops are almost like a record, as groups of men stack theirs and compete against each other while downing frosty mugs of beer.


When the khachapuri adjaruli ($14, above and below) arrived at the table, all eyes widened and there may have been just a bit of drool forming. The bread "boat" had puffed up and risen high above its cheesy interior, possibly setting a record in New York City for tallest khachapuri.

Take photos quickly and stir in the butter and egg before the cheese starts cooling. Once you have a good mix, start tearing off chunks of bread and dip them into the center to pull the cheese out. Served on a cutting board not even as long as the khachapuri, there is absolutely no way to keep this from getting messy, but it is worth it hands down.


Not appearing like much when it arrives at the table in a nondescript bowl, the megruli kharcho ($15, below) is actually a great order. Megruli is a descriptor for something from Samegrelo in western Georgia, which reaches both the coast of the Black Sea and up into the Caucasus Mountains. No matter what style of kharcho you are eating, there will be an abundance of walnuts pureed into the soup, and indeed the word "walnuts" is even added to the menu.

The soup is spicier than most things you will order at a Georgian restaurant, with a few flakes of roasted Turkish red pepper floating on the surface. Nuggets of dried beef are found beneath the surface, chewy like jerky and just right to suit the other tastes, which besides the tomato walnut puree include cherry plum paste for tartness, paprika, and fenugreek.


As always in Brooklyn, a 10% service charge will show up on your bill. No matter what the final price of the meal, there are leftovers and good value.

Kings Highway lost one good Georgian restaurant but gained another. Life moves on.

🇬🇪🇬🇪🇬🇪
GRAVESEND Brooklyn
230 Kings Highway

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06 August 2020

Pakiza

PAKISTAN 🇵🇰

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The few tables inside have been removed for now, but the steam table operates daily as it always has, and takeout is as fresh as ever.]

For a good chunk of the city's restaurants, the pandemic has hit them with a vigor that appears unlikely to subside anytime soon. Most that want to forge the path forward have adapted as best they can, building outdoor seating areas and more robust delivery systems.

On a recent hot day, kulfi served as immediate relief.

But then there are also certain sectors that seem almost unaffected, besides the annoyances everyone faces to be outside their own home. The steam table joints up and down this section of Coney Island Avenue still have all of their spots full of freshly prepared meals that both the neighborhood and working taxi drivers pop in quickly for throughout the day and night.

If you arrive by car to a place like Lahori Chilli or Pakiza, yellow and green will occupy most spaces out front, and many onto each of the side streets closest. Certainly there are bottom lines that are not seen when something like this is said, but frankly it is a brief glimmer of hope to witness business still going ok for some.


At Pakiza, most of the steam table offerings are available in two sizes, a small for $6 and a large for $12. A recent visit was able to procure large portions of haleem and biriyani and a small lamb curry, annotated in the photo below. Most orders will also throw in a container of lettuce and onions as well as a good portion of raita, a yogurt-based condiment full of cucumber, mint, and coriander.

The lamb curry ($6, small portion) is definitely worthy of a large order, which has already been noted for next time. Grab some naan ($1.50 each) for use with their also excellent haleem ($12, large order), a spicier than usual version of the barley, lentil, and shredded chicken stew. The workaday biriyani ($12, large portion) satisfied just fine, but of the three it could have been the one ordered in a smaller quantity.


🇵🇰🇵🇰🇵🇰
KENSINGTON Brooklyn

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Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

04 August 2020

Cha Cha Cha Cuban Café

CUBA 🇨🇺

[COVID-19 UPDATE: As seen in the photo above, there are a few seats in front if you would like to enjoy your food, but Cha Cha Cha is doing primarily pickup and delivery service at the moment.]

Having never been here before restrictions were put into place for dine-in services, the joy and hospitality this room is most certainly full of cannot be independently confirmed. But even in these days opening the door is much more like stepping into the kitchen of a friend rather than a restaurant.

The staff is busy cooking and sorting lunch orders coming in on the phone and various apps, but never stops being friendly and accommodating, even apologizing that the indoor tables are unavailable when a takeout order is ready.

The cute interior can hopefully be enjoyed soon.

When the dining room is back open, it will be with great pleasure that a return visit will need to take place. Besides these good moods, the restaurant is full of cute reminders of Cuba (including bar stools made from real drums), great music, and artwork with scenes of home.

On this particular visit, food was being picked up for a trip down to the beach, but a few appetizers were necessary to take care of growling stomachs. This was a good opportunity to sit at a table in the front.


The plate above includes an empanada de pollo ($2.50, left) and an order of croquetas de hamon ($1.50, right, their spelling), along with two different types of mayo-based dipping sauces. The croquetas are fried to order and tasty, bites are rich with ham and pepper, and maybe a dash of nutmeg?

The empanadas are also fried in their Cuba renditions, but retain their moist meaty filling. You can also select them with picadillo, but this was full of shredded chicken. To be honest, neither of the snacks requires the sauces, each one full of its own spices that outshine the condiments.


After Florida, New Jersey saw the most migration from Cubans over the years and is no stranger to some of the best Cuban food around, including some very impressive cubanos. The cubano ($9.95, above, lunch price) at Cha Cha Cha checks all the right boxes: toasted right with the cheese oozing out, while the savory, sweet, and sourness of the ingredients all play off of each other perfectly.

When the pickle is allowed to dance and showcase itself like it is in this sandwich, happiness is usually quick to follow.


Amongst other dishes that are also available for lunch specials (Monday through Friday, 11:00-14:30) is the lovely ropa vieja ($10.95, above). This shredded and spiced flank steak is cooked in a savory creole sauce and also takes hints of sour from its olives.

For those that are fascinated by Latin American rices and how each country can create its own taste within them, you will not be disappointed by the ample portion here. Scoops of it with the black beans (both come with the ropa vieja) are enough to conjure up memories of sitting down at a restaurant right on the malecón. For now, the Jersey shore or some proximity to it, will have to suffice.


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Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

31 July 2020

Somtum Der Red Hook

THAILAND 🇹🇭

[COVID-19 UPDATE: See below for the nice backyard setup at Somtum Der's newer location, a comfortable deck where they can serve about six groups of people at a time. Tables are spaced very well and staff is acting very safely. Wear your mask.]

Somtum Der comes with a well-established reputation for delicious food from the Isaan region of Thailand, with a focus on brilliantly prepared fresh som tum. Their first location on Avenue A in the East Village was possibly the first place in the city that served excellent Thai food outside of Elmhurst, a trend that has continued throughout a few parts of the city since.


Their new location on Red Hook's main drag continues the theme of being located in a place you might now expect (although two short-lived restaurants briefly disproved that), and also the tradition of cooking excellent food. Conveniently for 2020, they also have a nice backyard.

Heat levels are up, all the right ingredients are on point, and so far everything seems just right. For more please read our 2013 review of the original location:
Somtum Der East Village




🇹🇭🇹🇭🇹🇭
RED HOOK Brooklyn
380 Van Brunt Street

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

06 July 2020

Merguez and Frites

ALGERIA 🇩🇿

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The northern African sausages are still grilling and there are a few tables set up out front for diners. An new enclosed attachment also offers some quick standing space.]

Some addresses in New York City just seem to be cursed and never hold a tenant for very long. The previous business here was a not dissimilar Moroccan sandwich shop that only called it home for a short time. The newer owners hail from the neighbors to the east: Algeria, a country without a ton of representation in the city (One Algerian-ish place in the East Village and now-closed Bar Omar in Williamsburg precede this).

Like their predecessors, the space seems often busy and a meeting point for some of the neighborhood's northern African people to share stories and get together. They have built out a temporary structure like you often see in winter to provide more space to stand and eat. With current conditions, it likely will just be a place to spread out and avoid the hot sun while waiting for takeout orders, at least in the near future.

Merguez frites, kofta frites, and Algerian pizza.

The main offerings here are again sandwiches, those wildly popular on the streets of the capital Algiers and other cities. There you will find a diet high in meat intake, often with lamb being the most popular and readily available. The foods of France are of course no stranger to the once-colonized land, and baguettes circulate along with other Algerian breads.

The combination of lamb, the French baguette, and fries which seem to find their way onto and into many other foods, give the place its name and a sense of what you will find. Looking to the top of the menu, the merguez frites ($7, above and close-up bottom of page) seems like the obvious place to start here. The baguette is of very good quality, as are the sausages, especially for such a low price for a sandwich longer than a foot.

A list of sauces will be offered, ranging from hot sauce and ketchup to their "special sauce" which is a spicy mayo of some sort. A combination of the hot and special ended up being a very good choice to complement both sandwiches, but dijon mustard is never a bad idea either for merguez.

Ask for a quick reheat on the tasty pizza.

If you have ever traveled in the south of France, and specifically Marseille, the sandwich may even be claimed by the French, but be sure this is the product of the other side of the Mediterranean, quintessential food from the streets of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

These three countries make up the heart of the Maghreb, the cuisine offered proudly by the menu here. Any travelers to this region of the world will also be offered a direct route to their memories with the tray of pizza ($2/slice, above) that is always displayed and ready to eat. Like in Algeria, each slice is adorned with one black olive. Algerians are mad for pizza of all slices (pun intended), but the olive seems to be the constant. It is hard to go a few city blocks without seeing a pizzeria there just as it is in New York City. Stay here at Merguez and Frites long enough and you are bound to see someone ask for the squeeze bottle of mayonnaise to drizzle on their slice just like back home.


Even in the midst of a pandemic, Steinway Street is ready for anyone who wants to come out and eat and enjoy hookah. Most restaurants have built dining areas in the parking spots directly in front of them, and the mood is still convivial for those comfortable with being around others.

Some options are not always available here, like the keskrout lablabi, a sandwich of tuna, chickpeas and cumin. So make it a plan to come multiple times and at least once at night when the weather cools and you can enjoy some Algerian tea made with pennyroyal.

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Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

28 June 2020

Santorini Restaurant & Café

EGYPT 🇪🇬

[COVID-19 UPDATE: With outdoor dining now legal, Santorini has set up quite a few tables. In addition, takeout and delivery are available as always.]

While the website of Santorini proclaims they have been "making delicious Mediterranean food since 1990" and is directly followed by some Lorem Ipsum text, it was only sometime after the summer of 2019 that they took over the space from a nondescript bakery named Mon Gateau. Hardly any work took place outside besides swapping out the name, and a new casual Egyptian café was born.

The casual passerby might be led to believe this is a new Greek restaurant given its reference to one of the most famous islands on the planet, but a closer look reveals an Egyptian fascination with that island rather than the island itself. In Egypt you can actually find a beach on the coast west of Alexandria named "Santorini Greek Beach," outfitted with blue umbrellas to simulate the tops of houses.


Regardless of any confusions that delayed trying the food here for over a year, it is nice to have a place in Bay Ridge specializing in feteer since the closing of King Tut back in early 2018. As with Hemo's Spot Juice Bar a bit further north on 5th Avenue, they also add different kinds of coffee, western breakfasts, and fast foods to cater to a younger generation of kids that have mostly grown up here and want the mixture.

Middle Eastern and North African couples will be seen here ordering the feteer, often times getting one of the massive pies per person. This phyllo dough layered Egyptian pastry is enjoyed in both savory and sweet versions, the medium version of which comes out around 12 inches in diameter.


The sujuk feteer ($13, above) is stuffed with stringy melted mozzarella, onions, green peppers, olives, and tomatoes. While the skill is not quite that of what King Tut possessed, you can never go wrong with this type of dish. They can also make different types of feteer with a variety of cheeses, different meats, tuna, and shrimp, or a mix of most everything.

Santorini is set up like a fast casual restaurant, and you can walk to the counter and order, but if you plan to dine in, take a seat and the friendly staff will come to you with menus and everything you need.


Another great order here is the mix mahashi ($18, above), an assortment of vegetables and grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices. The chef must have thought meat was fine given the feteer order, and threw on some mombar as well, the red "links" at the bottom of the plate. These have the same stuffing, but use the thin lining of sheep intestine to contain everything.

The combination of these, stuffed peppers and grape leaves is a wonderful plate to share between a group.


As the younger employee and older manager fight between upbeat pop music and more traditional sounds, respectively, other diners are moving on to satisfy their sweet tooth with either one of many crêpes or an order of feteer meshaltet, the same phyllo crust drizzled with honey.

A next visit might also try the loukoumades, deep fried dough balls soaked in honey and the Greek flag-bearer of the menu. These are of course also enjoyed throughout the Arabic-speaking world, but just another fun quirk of the menu that they go by their Greek name instead.

🇪🇬🇪🇬🇪🇬
BAY RIDGE Brooklyn
8101 5th Avenue
Santorini Restaurant & Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

22 June 2020

Cosina de Chencha

MÉXICO 🇲🇽
(OAXACA)

[COVID-19 UPDATE: The chairs are still on top of the tables as seen below, but Cosina de Chencha is still cranking out orders for delivery and pickup daily, which has always been their main source of business.]

As reported from New Brunswick last summer: "New Brunswick, New Jersey, a growing town of about 57,000 people is most known for Rutgers University and surrounding area that firmly place it in the image of a "college town." But not far outside of the university section and the city's downtown, roads stretching south and west reveal where the growth in population is coming from, and an almost magical area containing one of the densest concentrations of Oaxacans on the east coast."

The interior is in much better shape.

During warm months, and when there is not a pandemic, you will see pastries being sold on the sidewalk. Many of these are familiar to folks who frequent panaderias, but some have names that reveal them as Oaxacan specialties and are much more rare outside of New Brunswick.

Step inside the small dining room to take a look at the menu and see more Oaxacan favorites like the gigantic tlayuda (below), which is available with or without meat. The massive wrappers, imported from Oaxaca, are folded over all the ingredients, and at least for takeout, the whole thing is chopped in half. As always, it takes a bit of skill and luck to get everything into your mouth without losing some to your jeans.



Also of note are the rare masa triangles from Oaxaca called tetelas ($2 each, above and below), antojitos that are filled with beans and cheese. These are satisfying snacks and always available.

The sad lonely tetela pictured here was a mistake, as he definitely deserves to have many friends. Purchase these by the dozen!



One of those baked goods you may find on the sidewalk when passing during better days is the empanada de lechesilla ($2.75, above and below), dusted with sugar and filled with a vanilla cream.

A set amount of these are made each day, and if lucky they will still be warm when you find them. On those days, place them directly into your mouth and enjoy.



I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!

23 March 2020

COVID-19 Takeout and Delivery Ideas

SITE UPDATE/COVID-19
I obviously do not need to tell you what is happening in the world. I just wanted to mention that if you read this website but are not following us on social media, the @EattheWorldNYC Twitter feed has been going through each and every restaurant ever written on these pages and figuring out if they are offering takeout and/or delivery options right now.

Please follow us on Twitter for more:
https://twitter.com/EattheWorldNYC

If you are having reservations about ordering food right now, that is understandable. I found this article recently published on Serious Eats to be very informative concerning the safety of prepared foods right now and what you can do to keep yourself safe:
https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavirus-a-comprehensive-guide.html

I hope you all are very well, and thank you for reading these pages over the years. I can't wait to get back to it.

I COULD USE YOUR HELP
Eat the World NYC is and always has been free. No advertisements block the content or pop over what you read. If this website has helped you explore your city and its wonderful cultures a little better and you have the means to contribute, please consider doing so. Eat the World NYC is a labor of love, but also takes a lot of money and time everyday to keep running.

You can Venmo me @JAREDCOHEE or click here to send PayPal donation, no account is necessary. Thank you!