>> Eat the World NYC

12 July 2018

Tonkatsu Matsunoya

JAPAN πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅

A food group with over 1,000 restaurants mostly in Japan has opened their famous tonkatsu shop in East Midtown. During lunch hours, the seating inside is always at a premium and the takeout window has a constant line. For good reason, the breaded cutlets here are some of the best you'll find in the city, along with their sister Katsuhama restaurants. This pork loin cutlet platter (below) is available at lunch for $12 and along with the katsu includes miso soup, rice, and salads.

Tonkatsu Matsunoya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

09 July 2018

Santa Clarita

MΓ‰XICO πŸ‡²πŸ‡½

A double take at the beautiful al pastor trompo (below) was the beginning of our flirtations with Santa Clarita. At first, it takes a moment to figure out this place, a few seats and tables in an outdoor covered area near the trompo are usually occupied by families and solo eaters, but inside it reads as a dive bar. But do not be fooled, grab a booth on the other side of the pool table or one of the tables by the door, order a $22 cubetazo (bucket of 6 Mexican beers), and ask for the menu.

Constant orders make sure this is replaced often and fresh

In addition to the trompo, a big Mexico City-style vat of simmering meats is in the outside window, cooking most of the meats available here for tacos ($2.50 each). All meats sampled here were excellent, with a heavy recommendation for the al pastor and buche. As you can see below, they pile on the roasted onions and serve the tacos with excellent red and green salsas to suit all tastes.

Please note that these items might only be cooking visibly during more busy times, evenings and throughout the day on weekends. Plan your trips here accordingly if pointing at your meat is part of the fun.

In addition to these beauties, Santa Clarita also makes great quesadillas de tinga ($5.50, not pictured), full of smokiness from chipotle and wrapped with a nice homemade tortilla.

Unusual for New York City menus is the metate, a dish named after the stone tool it is served on that is traditionally used for grinding grain and seeds and has been used since Mesoamerican cultures. It is not unlike an alhambre, which is another tool used as a vehicle for delivering a variety of meats.

They serve three varieties, the one above being the metate "El D.F." which is heavy on meats and omits some of the vegetables from others. Basically it is a way to eat antojitos without filling yourself up with corn masa of some form. Everything is so delicious that I cannot recommend against it, especially since the tacos are using packaged tortillas. That being said, they do a good job filling them with oils and toasting them up before serving.

Santa Clarita Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

06 July 2018

Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle


Yunnanese cuisine is seeing its star shine brightly in New York City at the moment, and since it can be so delicious every new establishment must be tried. This new spot on Saint Marks Place focuses on Crossing the Bridge Noodles, the dish with the biggest back story of the region. This meal comes in many parts, all to be swiftly added to the bowl of boiling broth and combined before eating. In Yunnan, the noodles of choice is made from rice and makes a slick, slippery and thick base for all the other ingredients.

We still think that the new-ish joint in Sunset Park is going to remain our go to, but it is nice to see the expansion. The more the merrier.

Black fungus with vinegar $4

Spicy sirloin rice noodle $13

Cross the Bridge Noodle $10

Shi Miaodao Yunnan Rice Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

05 July 2018

El Chivito d'Oro


After watching both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America with Uruguayans at La Gran Uruguaya a block away, I decided to return to where I first cheered with the nation at the 2010 World Cup. That year, the country went deep into the tournament semifinals and the team was a beauty to watch. Having not eaten here since back then, a big chivito al pan (below) was ordered before the match started.

Chivito al pan con Pilsen.

This famous Uruguayan sandwich is the namesake of the restaurant and a no-brainer order when alone and the grilled meat platters are out of reach. Wash it all down with the nation's most recognizable beer, Pilsen, which are always cold here.

Uruguay is victorious!

El Chivito D'Oro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

29 June 2018

Russian Vodka Room


It is certainly the kind of place that is most frequented by tourists thinking to themselves "Hmmm... this looks like a fun NYC local spot," but regardless, this Midtown lounge has charms all its own. Find a dark corner and avoid their presence, or just grab a seat at the bar and give them an even better impression that they found the right spot and met a local. They are known for their long list of house made vodka infusions, but a full menu is also available if you want to eat hundreds of dollars worth of caviar or maybe just the Russian standards.

Red Bastard $12

Duck liver pate $14

Russian Vodka Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

24 June 2018

Pancoan Society Hippocrates Taverna Kos


Along with others that are remaking the neighborhood of Astoria in recent years, a new wave of Greek immigration has also taken place since the worst years of Greece's recent debt crisis. Certainly there are less establishments than one time, but it does not take too much looking around to find many points of Greek interest, especially towards the north end. One long-time private club and restaurant has opened its doors to the public in last couple years, possibly a result of changing demographics, but still caters almost exclusively to big loud Greek families sharing a meal together.

The menu, which simply reads "Taverna Kos," is now pinned up in the window, enticing passersby with big plates of seafood and grilled meats. The interior is split into two parts, an interior bare bones room, and a covered (and temperature controlled) patio where most people choose to eat and drink. The Greek flag and the color blue are everywhere, a big print of the Greek national football team adorns one wall.

Tzatziki ($6) and spicy feta ($6) are good meze choices

Some chippy things can be found on Yelp (as always), but I was greeted with kindness and found the service to be very pleasant throughout the evening. Tackle the appetizer list, or even better come with a huge group and get to sample lots of the fish and meat.

Small Greek salad ($9)

Saganaki ($15)

Grilled porgy ($20)

Lemon potatoes (side)

Peas and artichokes ($9)

The dish above is not on the menu and was the special of the day. Combining what it seems to say on the receipt and what I can Google, this dish may have the name arakas anginares.

Pancoan Society Hippocrates Taverna Kos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

22 June 2018

King Meats Market Takeout


This busy Brighton Beach market selling all sorts of Eastern European and American groceries has recently opened a small storefront around the corner on Brighton 6th Street selling Georgian foods by the pound. Combined with the vendor under the umbrella in front, there is plenty of takeout options here for a day on the beach or to bring back home.

$3.50 khachapuri

$2 khachapuri

$1.50 ground chicken pastry

Brighton 6th Street takeout facade

kuchmachi $5/lb

King Meats Market (Takeout) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

11 June 2018

Lagman House


While out doing the legwork to try and find Russians excited about the upcoming World Cup, I instead found something very different but actually more important to New York City. On the awning in both English and Chinese scripts was the announcement of Dungan cuisine, a first in the city, and according to our friendly server a first in the entire country.

Dungan peoples are Muslims of Western Chinese origin, different from the Muslims in Central Asia of Turkic origin that are usually associated with the countries in this region and Xinjiang in western China. They migrated away from their homelands starting in the 1800's because of various persecutions and have always been stateless. They have their own language and long history, and it is with absolute joy that we can welcome their cuisine to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

The space was quickly turned over from its previous tenant, a forgettable Azerbaijani restaurant. "50 shades of tan" is the best way to describe the bare bones design, but once the menu is placed on the table, the magic is far from the atmosphere.

Like many other restaurants in the area, feel free to BYOB here. Other Dungan families, speaking to the staff in a language that almost sounded Mandarin but not quite, all brought bottles of wine and spirits to accompany their meals.

We were warned about the sourness of the cold Dungan-style salad ($6.99, above) when it was ordered, but this seemed to be out of experience with their Russian customers' reactions. It was certainly on the sour side, but it was enjoyed enough to order a second plate later in the meal. Our server suggested it be used to combine with the noodle dishes as a garnish.

Dungan-style samsa ($6 for 2, below) were served with a side of deep red sauce (not pictured). The flakiness and texture of the shell are wonderful enough to order this, but the insides and surprisingly good sauce make it almost jaw-dropping. These samsa take much more care and time in preparation than "normal" Central Asian versions, so this is the reason for a bit of higher price.

As the name of the restaurant might suggest, noodles are king here, and all house made. Do not feel bad about ordering multiple dishes that could all be considered soups. Sharing is a bit of an issue, but they are fine bringing small bowls for everyone, and you would not want to miss out on these delicious and very long noodles.

The first selection was a cold noodle "soup" called ash lan fyn ($9.99, below), noodles in beef broth topped with bean jelly, pickled vegetables, egg, tomatoes, and beef. A special garlic sauce barely seen in the background was recommended to combine with this dish.

The namesake lagman ($9.50, below) is called thon lamian on the menu and painfully good. The beefy broth and rib-sticking heavy noodles would make a wonderful winter meal, but even in late spring we were in awe. A homemade pepper sauce that was brought out (not pictured) paired very well with the richness of this bowl.

Our server described lagman (lamian) as originating in their culture, describing what Uzbeks and others make as kind of a knockoff. Regardless of origins, this version rises right to the top of the city's best list of lagman.

Underneath the top layer

Described as "minced dough," we also really enjoyed the less hearty but just as flavorful ban thon ($7.99, below), another Dungan-style beef soup. Their ways of spicing these soups are familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, it's definitely like enjoying something for the first time while having a deep feeling for it from your past. I do not know how to describe it any other way.

Our only swing and miss on the evening was braised meat ($10.99, below), which came sizzling like fajitas but tasted more like an American-Chinese dish that swapped out the broccoli for tomatoes and bell peppers. We later learned this is in fact not from Dungan kitchens, which made sense as its sweet flavors really stood out from the rest of the meal.

Eager to end the meal on a high note, we asked for the Huascu Dungan style ($15.99, below), which takes 15-20 to prepare. This beef broth is full of pickled cabbage and topped with all types of different meatballs, something of a unique part of the culture as they prepare them all individually.

When the ton momo ($6.99, below) arrived, our server again apologized for the "high" price of the very small dessert, explaining that the process of creating it was very difficult. Of course we were not about to get upset about trying something so new and unique, and were delighted enough to order a second that was eventually given to us free.

These flaky buttery pastries are definitely a good end to the meal, and somehow you can taste all that extra expense in the small bites.

Asked if this was just a normal Russian-style honey cake ($5.99, below), we were told that this was in fact a Dungan-style honey cake and were immediately sold. I must admit I am no honey cake expert though, and would not be able to tell the difference. Despite this, the honey cake we ate was extraordinary.

They even have their own vinegar

2612 East 14th Street
Lagman House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato