Luke’s Lobster

Rating:

Location: 93 E 7th St (btw 1st and Ave. A)   &   242 E 81st St (near 2nd ave)

Price: $6-$17

It all started with a little dinner in the West Village I don’t even remember who I was having dinner with but I remember seeing that one item that piqued my interest.  The crustacean that was market priced and came on a roll with a side of shoestring fries and coleslaw.  Yes, the humble lobster roll at Pearl oyster bar which was impeccable but not humbly priced at $25.  After the economy took a downturn in ‘08 I remember seeing a surge of street food in general everywhere in NYC and even saw lobster rolls at the Brooklyn Flea market at the Red Hook lobster stand.  Lobster rolls as street food for $12-$15?? CRAZY!  This might’ve been a norm in the New England area but I think for NYC this was a new trend taking off.  As 5 start restaurants were shuttering their doors everywhere in the city these midrange priced food spots were taking off.

So with that preface… here is one of the better lobster roll spots in the city:  Luke’s Lobster.

The owner who was laid off during the recession started this spot with connections to the Lobster market in the Northeast and hence was able to bring down lobster at cheaper than normal prices to bring your Luke’s lobster rolls.  Currently two spots, one in the East village and one in UES very much a quick bite standish kind of place.  Although you could do a $40 meal for two mega-feast.  For $15/roll, They give you big chunks of lobster with a bit of mayo and spices for a little extra flavor.  The roll is buttery soft and doesn’t get in the way of the lobster and very much there as a supporting cast.

It’s really perfect for a quick lunch and I always associate lobster roll with the summer so great for weekend summer lunch.

Next stop in my lobster roll journey is this guy (underground lobster pound)…

VIDEO

.:CL

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Filed under East Village, Seafood, Upper East Side

Fatty Crab

Rating:

Location: 2170 Broadway (btw 77th &78th) & 643 Hudson Street (btw Gansevoort & Horatio)

Price: $6-mid $30s

 

It’s not every day that I’m willing to trek up to the upper west side during a weekday for something, but when it come to anything food related I WILL go anywhere.  As of now, there are probably three reasons I’ll go to the UWS:

  1. Rita’s water ice (the only location in NYC)
  2. Kefi (Amazing greek restaurant)
  3. A bit of a stretch, but Levain Bakery for their damn good cookies.

 

Whenever I meet new friends that live in the UWS I tried to dine with them in their neighborhood and try to convince them that there are only 3 places I’ll eat in the UWS (Albeit, only one of them is a restaurant).  But, usually I get tricked and I succumb to the “new” place they have in mind.  I was content this time because I had been trying to go to the other Fatty Crab location in the Meatpacking district location for a while now, but every time the wait ends up being borderline too long and we end up at some random restaurant in Chelsea.  I was pleasantly surprised at the no wait at this Broadway location and we were seated right away in the dark & hip/cool interiors of the Fatty Crab.  This Malaysian restaurant offers seasonal specials and has a fairly diverse menu.

Before I got to the restaurant, I knew exactly what I wanted to order from there…Chili Crab…Chili Crab…Chili Crab.  As I looked through the menu, THERE WAS NO CHILI CRAB!  On the other hand, they had chili lobster, so what the heck.  We order 2 chili lobster and pork buns.

OMG.  They chili lobster comes out nested on a gravy like brown curry sauce which is DIVINE.  I almost forgot that I had a bright red lobster in front of me waiting to be eaten by me since I was so busy eating/dipping the brown sauce with my tasty texas toast bread.  Once I started digging into the lobster I realize that the meat of this crustacean paired beautifully with the heavenly sauce.  As I devoured my lobster I had to ordered another serving of the texas toast to finish off every bit of the sauce left on my plate.

The pork buns we ordered were mighty tasty too, and liked it better then the way its prepared at some other establishments.  It’s just that the main course had much more intense flavor then our appetizer.

Something to keep in mind is that it gets mighty messy eating this dish.  Should keep that in mind if you’re going on a first date or something and you’re trying to impress them by ordering the most expensive dish.  My friend was eating this dish and she got sauce all over her fingers and a bit on her white dress. Another thing to keep in mind is that the bathroom is VERY dark.  My friend tried to go in to wash her stain off but, could not see anything and basically stumbled out not being able to see anything.  Just something you should know just in case.

So, with that all in mind…I had good experience and I’m still thinking about that sauce.  Oh sweet sauce.

.:cL

 

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Filed under Asian, Seafood, Upper West Side

Totto Ramen

Rating:

Location: 53rd St.  (btw 8th 9th Ave)

Price: $10-$12

It’s interesting to me that the Japanese Ramen has a level of maturity and complexity that makes it a gourmet type food.  Different types of broth, high quality meats, and homemade noodles have all contributed to elevating this food into a higher class than the instant stuff many of us have grown to love.  I love the instant Korean ramen, but why hasn’t anyone made a gourmet Korean Ramen shop with noodles made in house with some long simmered broth delicious as those Korean soups at the Korean restaurants?  I digress, but until someone comes up with this Korean Ramen restaurant idea I have plenty of Japanese Ramen shops that I adore to keep me busy.

Only if my #1 spot Ippudo didn’t have the crazy wait time at the restaurant I would call it my goto Ramen spot.  I can’t justify waiting 1+ hour to get my bowl of Akamaru Modern Ramen, so I really wanted to find a quick and delicious spot to fill me up with Japanese ramen goodness.  Up until now this is my top 5 in terms of pure quality:

  1. Ippudo
  2. Menchanko Tei
  3. Men Kui Tei
  4. Rai Rai Ken
  5. Momofuku Noodle Bar & Naruto Ramen (tie)

So, with the suggestion from Eliza’s friend Soo, the three of us made a visit to the recently opened Totto Ramen, and it looked like the #2 spot was going to change.  I was always a huge fan of the Totto empire (Yakitori/Soba) and I didn’t expect them to do less in terms of quality at their new joint.  So they went ahead and hired Chef Hideto Kawahara, who owns several ramen shops in Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture.  The difference in the Ramen at Totto is that they specialize in a creamy chicken broth (paitan) , although the miso and shoyu broths are available for those that can’t handle the chickeness.

I have to admit there was something about the smooth flavor of the chicken broth that I loved.  I like that it wasn’t too salty, but had a nice balance to it with an adequate amount of kick from the chili paste. The noodles were absolute perfection and they provided the perfect quantity of noodles to ease my hunger.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to finish my noodles first or keep on sipping my broth, it really was that good.

Considering we got our food in literally 2 minutes from the time we ordered our food, we paid and we’re out of the restaurant in 30mins total.  That is what you call good quality fast food!  Everything from the service, ambiance, and quality of food was top notch and felt authentically Japanese.

So I repeat once again can someone please do a take on gourmet Korean Ramen…David Chang?  Someone?

.:cL

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Filed under Hell's Kitchen, Japanese, noodles, Quick food

Diner

Rating:

Location: 85 Broadway Brooklyn, NY 11211

Price: $6-$20

The problem with enjoying food too much and talking about the great places to eat all the time is that it can come back to bite you sometimes.  I’ve had a few situations where people were bitter that what I recommended was not that great or that I suggest a restaurant that I cherish and they come back to tell me that it was sub-par.   So, I’ve come to love nights when a friend suggests a spot to eat that’s on my “places to eat” list and I have no pressure but, to show up and enjoy my personal meal.  In the case of Diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that was exactly the case.  My roommate, the last person I would think to suggest such a place invited me out to dinner with couple of other friends to this classic restaurant  Under the Williamsburg bridge.

To preface, I’ve been keeping track of the best meals I’ve had each year I’ve been in NYC and it goes as follows:

2008- Momofuku Ko

2009- Blue Hill at Stone Barns

I have to say as of now for 2010, my best meal is at Diner.  Don’t worry this is not some crappy diner you find in NJ or Queens but, the name only comes from the fact that they’ve converted an old Diner car into a restaurant which alone made the dining experience unique.  Other interesting things about the restaurant is that they have a rotating menu depending on what the in season ingredients are and the staff will come over to scribble the menu items and specials directly on the table.  The website has a full list of the specials for those guilty of needing to know exactly what they want to order before they go to the restaurant.

Our meal started off with some microbrews and cocktails and we didn’t feel any pressure to order quickly even though the restaurant was starting to fill up.   Our appetizer of spinach salad tasted fresh and some unique flavors to the dressing.  For the main courses we ordered a grilled salmon, the house burger, and my favorite the curry mussels.  Everything was great and flavorful but, SERIOUSLY my curry mussels were out of this world.  I never really associated curry with seafood but, the fact that they made this seafood concoction with these ingredients made my taste buds rejoice with joy that it was there that day eating that dish.

I didn’t leave a single drop in that bowl and I could’ve eaten so much more but, I was in a good place.  We ended with a magnificent strawberry rhubarb cobbler w/ vanilla whipped cream a great topping to one of the best dishes/meals I’ve had in a while.

It sounds almost too simple to be the best meal of 2010 but, I think the music playing in the background helped and of course the good conversation at the table makes any meal a little bit better.  Let me see if my hungry stomach leads me to a better meal than this for this year.

.:cL

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Filed under Atmosphere, Brooklyn - Williamsburg, Burgers, Fancy dinner, Seafood

No. 7 Sub

Rating:

Location: 1188 Broadway (btw 28th & 29th)

Price: Sandwiches $9

Near the Empire State Building where I work in  Midtown Manhattan, there haven’t been much new places to eat for lunch during the last year or so.  Luckily I have all my Korean food places in K-town to keep me busy but, a dude like me needs as much variety as possible.  Since the beginning of Spring, we’ve had Kyochon chicken pop up on Fifth Ave., soon a Bon Chon will be opening few doors down, and there’s an okay new Mediterranean place (Nanoosh) on Madison but, nothing great.  The Ace Hotel on 28th & Broadway has managed to bring in some class and some food spots into a relatively desolate wasteland of perfume & cellphone stores.  The first and only stumptown coffee outpost in NYC is there and most notably The Breslin Bar has been getting some great reviews and I’m waiting to try that.  In the mean time, I managed to hit up the newly opened No. 7 Sub located around the corner from the entry of the hotel in an almost undisclosed entry.

The sandwich shop is nice inside with a cool art piece and quality finishes but, felt a bit cramped with no seating.  We saw some people eating on the steps outside but, luckily we planned on going over to eat outdoor at the nearby Greeley Square anyway.  The menu is very straight forward with ten different sub sandwiches, each with at least one unique ingredient.  Based on some other reviews I read prior we opted for the Lamb meatloaf sub, Roast beef sub, and a half-moon cookie (basically a black and white cookie).

Lamb meatloaf sub – Strawberry Pico de Gallo, Curried Crema, Cheddar, Pappadam

Roast beef sub – Horseradish, Pickled Endive, Fried Scallions

Half moon cookie ($3!?!?!)

(The guy at the counter convinced me that this cookie is MUCH better than a regular B&W cookie and hence I made this irrational purchase)  note: this cookie is NOT that much better than a regular B&W cookie…

I did enjoy the sandwiches at this spot and they were tasty and satisfying but, it’s not something that stuck out to me even though they did use ingredients that are different than a typical deli type sandwich.  The sandwiches are a bit pricey but, I realize that you are paying for the freshness of the bread and the special ingredients that make the sandwiches what they are.  I definitely want to try some of the non meat sub options now that I’m doing this no meat on weekdays diet thing that I started recently.  The panko crusted tofu with pickled rhubarb, peas, and roasted garlic OR the broccoli sub with fresh mozzarella, thai basil pesto, and fried lemon seems like right up my alley.  Definitely worth stopping by at least once and if you’re not happy grab a coffee from stumptown, and blog about your good/bad experience using the free wifi inside the comfy Ace Hotel lobby.

.:cL

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Filed under Flatiron, Sandwiches, Under $10, Vegetarian

Golden Unicorn Restaurant

Rating:

Location: 18 East Broadway (nr Catherine St.) 2nd & 3rd Flr

Price: $2-$9 / dish

http://www.goldenunicornrestaurant.com/

(unexpectedly decent website for Chinatown restaurant, plus good food pics)

Pop question: What did Gramercy Tavern and Golden Unicorn Restaurant have in common back in 1996?

Answer: They both were named top five restaurants in NYC by Food & Wine magazine.

Okay so 1996 is a LONG time ago and although there is no way they would get a title like that in this crazy restaurant world of 2010 but, Golden Unicorn has managed to gain some nice recognition for their quality food throughout the years since then.  Located on East Broadway away from the craziness of Bowery and the tourist filled mayhem of Canal Street is this restaurant somewhat tucked away on a block which I rarely go.  Gold Unicorn is known for their dim sum and that’s what brought some of us there for typical Saturday morning outing.  The restaurant is located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of a commercial building and upon taking the elevators up and entering the restaurant I am greeted by the array of golden colors everywhere.  Didn’t see any images of unicorns anywhere nor golden unicorns.  I liked the spaciousness of the restaurant and at 11:30am we were able  to sit right away with ample seating around the restaurant.  This is a bonus because some of the other popular dim sum spots in Chinatown tend to have ridiculous wait times during brunch time.

We sat by the kitchen so we were hit by the dim sum ladies right away and there was nice variety of stuff coming out.  We got some shrimp shumai, sticky rice inside lotus leaf, sticky rice molded to bowl shape, fried shrimp balls, wide rice noodle with pork, & the best dim sum dish was the fried taro ball (first image).   Lets just say there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like that we ordered.

You have to excuse me for botching the name of these dim sum dishes because I never know the actual name to these thing since my Chinese/Taiwanese always order the dishes.  I’m just glad those same friend didn’t order the BBQed chicken feet, because that is one dish I WILL NOT EAT…long story.  The food was solid good dim sum but, nothing crazy amazing rock my world type of dim sum.  If I were to meet friends in Manhattan chinatown for dim sum I’d probably go back to this place for solid food and accommodation for large parties.  AND yes, I do have to go out to Flushing, Queens to try dim sum there and YES maybe it will completely rock my world?

.:cL

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Filed under Chinatown, Chinese, Dim Sum

Luzzo’s

Rating:

Location: 211 1st Avenue (btw 12th & 13th St.)

Price: $12 – $24

After my endless failed attempts at finding a good pizza place in Manhattan, one of friends suggested I check out Luzzo’s in the East Village.  He claims that this is “the best” pizza in New York, which obviously is a huge claim.  So, I took a break from all those $1 pizza places for once and had a sit down with some friends at this First Ave. restaurant.  This is not one of those new school pizza joints popping up everywhere in the village but, this place has been around for quite a while serving up not only coal oven pizzas but, a whole Italian menu consisting of pasta and antipasti.

First impressions of the interior of the restaurant were good and we didn’t have to wait at all to get a table for five people.  Service was prompt and they were ready to take our order right away.  We came here for the pizza so decided to with the following pizzas:

Diavola – tomato sauce , bufala mozzarella, spicy salame, basil


Salsiccia – tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, sausage, basil


(no longer on menu?) –bufala mozzarella, broccoli Rabe, sausage

All of the tomato sauce pizza have the same baseline ingredients of tomato sauce, bufala mozzarella, & basil which, by the way aren’t the normal kind of sauce and cheese.  The sauce has a pretty special complexity and sweetness you don’t find in normal Neapolitan pizzas and the bufala mozzarella gives a nice different flavor to the pizza.  This all topped with basil was a nice touch because in my opinion, basil is the most amazing green ingredient in the world.  We figured we couldn’t hurt the pizza by adding some tasty meaty ingredients to the pizza so we went with the sausage & spicy salame.  I didn’t have much thoughts on the pizza with the Broccoli rabe other than the fact that it was our “healthy” option and lacked flavor without the tomato sauce and basil.  That’s probably the reason it’s no longer on the menu.

My biggest gripe about our experience was that when we got our pizzas we tasted a sandy substance in the basil and asked if we can get some fresh basil on our pizzas.  The waitress was trying to argue that there shouldn’t be any sandiness and that it should be clean, basically five guys against one.  After some back and forth they finally brought us some fresh basil and recovered our pizzas with the greenie goodness and we were happy.

So my final conclusion is that YES it is a good pizza on par with Patsy’s or Lombardi’s but, better than Totonno’s, Motorino, Co., or any of those other places.  I disagree on the opinion that is the best pizza in NYC and still hold my belief that Brooklyn has the best pizza in all of NYC.  Still lots of pizza places to try and my pizza journey will continue at Keste? Pulinos?…we’ll see.

.:cL

4 Comments

Filed under East Village, Italian, pizza