Warning: bumper post ahead! I thought it would be interesting to have a summary of all our food experiences in NYC in one bumper post instead of slipping them in between the day 1 day 2 posts. The food we had was so good that we just had to do them justice and give them a bit more attention!
I think my expectations for food in USA were pretty dismal: I expected everything to be American-ized and to have burgers and fries on a daily basis but NYC really changed all my perceptions. We stayed in Flushing, which is NYC's second largest Chinatown and dare I say it - the chinese food we got there was almost better than back home. Also, nothing in KL comes close to the sweets and desserts in NYC. Everything is innovative, flavourful and sounded downright interesting and unique. Right, lets get down to business!
The Plaza Food Hall, West 59th St
If you love lobster rolls, here's the place you have to come. We had the Taste of Maine which was 1/2 roll each of crab, shrimp and lobster - costing 23USD. Each seafood was super fresh and went wonderfully well with the salty lemon-buttered buns. As always, clam chowder tastes superb all over the states. KL doesn't even come close to it. Other notable mentions include Lady M which I didn't know was famous until I saw a long line. We got ourselves a Green Tea Mille Crepe and it did not disappoint at all.
The Plaza Food Hall is easily accessible if you're spending your day on 5th Avenue or at Central Park. The huge departmental stores on 5th Avenue - think Bergdorf Goodman's, Barney's, Bloomingdale's - always have extravagant Christmas window displays so do look out for that.
Theatre District, 8th Av
How could we be in the states and not have Shake Shack? The boys were especially excited to try it after hearing all about their famed burgers. As for Jane and I, we had 'Shroom burger to share which I thought was pretty good, but Jane thought was only average. The boys also decided that the burger wasn't worth all the hype after all and the buns arrived soggy. Wilson's theory is that the QC at this branch wasn't too good. We weren't able to go to the famed Madison Square Park Shake Shack as it was under renovation, bummer!
The hot chocolate and shakes did impress though, and my only regret was spotting their holiday special (Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate) only after we paid the bill! :(
I vaguely remembered reading about Jacques Torres somewhere, and how their chocolate stuff is amazing - so I dived in after spending a cold morning on top of the Rockefeller Centre. I had a Wicked Hot Chocolate that was spiked with chipotle and let me tell you, it's the best hot chocolate I've ever had! It's melted dark chocolate (super sinful but I'm allowed - I'm on holiday!) with spice and nothing I've ever had comes close to this beauty. It's a must have for chocolate lovers. Also couldn't resist myself... had a Mudslide cookie to go. Again, best cookie ever!! Quality aromatic, nutty, dark chocolate chips in such generous portions that the cookie actually felt more like a brownie on crack. I miss it everyday!
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Because we ran out of time, it was a choice between waking up at 5am in the morning and joining the queue at Dominique Ansel's for their famed cronuts, or get up later and head to Katz for their famous pastrami instead. In the end, pastrami prevailed and we ended up going to Dominique Ansel's at 3pm to line up for their cookie shot. I do kind of regret not queuing up for the cronut since the December flavour was Valrhona Chocolate with Raspberry Chambord - but I guess you can't do too many things at once!
Whilst the cookie shot (5USD per shot) was definitely unique, my experience was slightly ruined due to my cookie cup having a hole at the bottom. The milk started leaking out before I even had a chance to bite into it and I hurriedly gulped down everything instead of properly enjoying it. Also, it was soggy and a little too sweet for me. Although, we did also have a Frozen S'more and it was amazing! Highly recommended.
East Houston St
Katz's Deli is a real icon and you would know the minute you step inside thanks to the number of framed photos of celebrities having a meal at Katz covering the wall. It's so iconic we took an hour long subway trip and walked in the rain for 10 minutes for it.
The most famous thing at Katz's is of course their pastrami and when you make your order, you get a few slices of meat to munch on while they prepare your sandwich. Prices are pretty steep (if you convert), as one sandwich costs 23USD but the amount of meat they give you probably justifies the price. Wilson had half his sandwich and was stuffed! I was slightly smarter and had a half turkey sandwich - very delicious - with chicken noodle soup. Nobody makes chicken noodle soup like the Jewish!
219 Mulberry St
We ducked into Australian-run cafe Ruby's while walking about Little Italy because we had time to burn before dinner, and Wilson's googling brought up Ruby's as the most highly rated cafe in Little Italy. It was just a quick pit stop for a hot drink, but there were quite a few people inside the shop and a slow-forming line outside so I suppose the food here would have been good to draw this kind of crowd at such an odd hour as 4.30pm in the evening.
Il Piccolo Bufalo
141 Mulberry St
There are so many Italian restaurants in Little Italy that it's almost impossible to know which one is good and which one is not. We went with reasonable pricing and the presence of Zagat reviews and picked Il Piccolo Bufalo. While everyone else thought the food was pretty alright, my mussels linguine was disappointing because of the lack of freshness. There was this strange taste in the mussels which kind of ruined the whole thing for me.
The Lobster Place, Inc
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Av
The Lobster Place is definitely THE place to go for fresh and cheap lobster. It only cost us roughly 63USD for a meaty 3.5lb lobster which was fresh and finger-lickin' good. Other offerings such as the crab cake burger was hands-down the best crab cake burger I've ever had. The prawn and chips were divine as well.
Ronnybrook Farm Dairy
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Av
Three words: amazing ginger ice-cream. Not sure whether the flavours are seasonal, and the ice-cream here reminds me of Milkcow in KL, but much much better.
225 East 60th St
I wasn't the keenest person in the world when Wilson mentioned going to Serendipity and I was even less keen after walking in and finding out that there was a 40 minute wait for a table. But it was pouring outside and we were already in the warmth of the shop so we decided to just stick it up and wait. I have to apologize for my lack of enthusiasm because the Salted Caramel Frozen Hot Chocolate was the BOMB. Worth every minute of my cranky wait.
18, 37th Av Flushing
Szechuan Gourmet is right next to our hotel and serves really authentic Szechuan food that packs a tastebud kicking punch. The pork with chili and leek and ma po tofu steal the show. Based on the food, this place should get a four-star rating from me but because of the terrible service we got on our 2nd visit, it loses a star.
East Lake Seafood Restaurant
13613, 37th Av Flushing
Flushing is a real chinese food haven and East Lake Seafood serves great HK style chinese food. Best thing we had there: Lobster with glutinous rice.
Mighty Quinn's BBQ & Sprinkles Cupcakes
Hudson Eats, Vesey Street
$$ / $
Hudson Eats is a food hall that's a good place to go if you're in the 9/11 Memorial Area as it's just a 10 minute walk away. We chose Mighty Quinn's BBQ and had a smoked pork cheek sandwich with vinegar slaw and pickled cucumbers. It was amazing, the meat literally melts in your mouth. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip. The sweet tooth in me couldn't resist a Sprinkles cupcake for afters. The verdict? Moist cupcake with icing that was surprisingly light and cloyingly sweet.
West 56th St
As far as Japanese ramen goes, I haven't been able to find one overseas (GC, LA and NYC mainly) that is good as Santouka back home. Menkui Tei was okay, but not as amazing as I expected it to be. We all had the Stamina Ramen which was a winter special and although it was pleasantly spicy, it tasted pretty much like the Spicy Ramen from Sushi Zanmai lol. Maybe we ordered the wrong thing since Wilson's dad had the Tonkotsu ramen and said it was good.
While there were a couple of things we missed but I think we covered pretty good ground. Five days in NYC is definitely not enough and if we ever have the good fortune to be able to visit again, we're definitely going to extend our trip to two whole weeks just for the Big Apple. Visit the museums, the parks, and my favourite pastime - cafe hopping!