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Posts by: Donny Tsang - Eat to Blog
What’s more comforting than a bowl of hearty beef stew in cold weather? Try pho bo kho, a bowl of pho noodles served in a hearty beef stew, at Pho Hoai in Bay Ridge. Like a bowl of pho, bo kho includes beef broth, beef, star anise, cinnamon and fish sauce. But with the addition of carrots, annotta seeds, curry powder and (depending on the chef) tomatoes, bo kho is heartier, sweeter and spicier. Normally this dish is served with a baguette, but here the noodles are a better choice at absorbing the flavors of the stew.
8616 4th Ave. at 86th St. (map)
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Beef chow fun is a classic Cantonese dish found on nearly every menu in Chinatown. While chow fun is easy to find, it’s difficult to find a good version. This tiny corner restaurant in Manhattan Chinatown is one of the few places that really makes it work. Tender pieces of beef and crunchy bean sprouts are stir-fried with thick, yet tender, strands of rice noodle that yield just the right chewiness. The noodles, flavored with soy sauce, arrive from the wok with a nice sheen of oil, but the dish isn’t heavy enough to make you regret the order.
Cheung Wong Kitchen
38A Allen St. at Hester St. (map)
New York, NY 10002
The menu at Allswell in Williamsburg changes daily, depending on what’s available at the farmer’s market—but the restaurant’s Mini Smoked Chicken Hot Dog is a late-night fixture. The hot dog is smoked in-house, topped with fresh relish of pickles, shallots, hot peppers, preserved lemon and dill and served in a top-split bun. What’s more summery than downing a hot dog with a refreshing pint of beer? Available only on Thursday-Saturday, from midnight to 3:30 a.m.
Whirlybird in south Williamsburg does one thing and does it well: breakfast tacos. Served in a single tortilla, the taco combines scrambled eggs, roasted peppers and Oaxaca cheese, topped with salsa and crushed jalapeño potato chips. The salsa is slightly spicy but not enough to give off much heat, and the crunch from the potato chips is a nice touch. Most importantly, they do not skimp on the fillings in each taco. The vibe of the place is relaxed and chill. The owner, a musician, is usually inside, spinning records for hungry customers.
For the price, Panda Dumpling House packs a lot into this bowl of noodles. Although the broth is filled with dried chilies and peppercorns, it is surprisingly mild. The stew is loaded with tender chunks of beef and tendon. Crunchy bok choy adds freshness, and ample, long strands of perfectly cooked noodles bob in the mix. The fried egg on top is not optional.
67-A Eldridge St. at Hester St. (map)
New York, NY 10002
Kim Ima of The Treats Truck may be famous for her baked goods, but at her newly opened shop in Carroll Gardens she is expanding her menu to include savory items. The one to try is the BLTA (Bacon+Lettuce+Tomato with slices of Avocado) with an egg added (for $1 more). What really makes this sandwich stand out is the optional side of house-made kimchi. That’s right, Kim Ima makes her own kimchi, and it is delicious. Put it into this sandwich and enjoy a BLTA with a spicy, tangy kick.
- $9.50 for 4
In the gentrified East Village, B&H Dairy is still churning out tasty old-school dishes, including “tastes-like-homemade” soups. On any night at this vegetarian diner you’ll find special combos, like four pierogies (boiled, Polish-style dumplings) plus a cup of soup. The pierogies, filled with potato or cheese, are plump and unusually large. They’re great with the hearty, but not heavy, barley and mushroom soup. Sop up any leftovers with the two slices of challah, smeared with generous amounts of butter, that come on the side.
B & H Vegetarian Restaurant
127 Second Ave. nr St. Mark’s Pl. (map)
New York, NY 10003
At this tiny East Village (and Williamsburg) spot, your favorite meat product in tube form gets a nice upgrade. The Good Morning Dog, also pretty tasty as a late night snack, is a hot dog wrapped in bacon and padded with melted cheese and a fried egg. The bacon is fried up nicely for that perfect, salty-crunchy bite that all bacon lovers crave. Cheese fries sold separately.
555 Driggs Ave. at North 7th St. (Map)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
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Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop
- $1.00 for small
If you’re looking for something quick and easy to eat while trying to catch the bus, try the meat burek (a.k.a. “meat cone”) at Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop in Cobble Hill. Curry-flavored ground lamb is wrapped in phyllo dough then deep-fried until golden. Most of the flavor comes from the ground lamb and spices. For $1, these make great snacks. Don’t worry, vegetarians – there are also cheese bureks.
Damascus Bread & Pastry Shop
195 Atlantic Ave. at Court St. (Map)
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Smoked and cured fish are the thing to get at Shelsky’s in Brooklyn, but be sure to try some of their spreads, which are available by the pound. The baked salmon salad works really well with a warm, toasty bagel; in one bite, the combination is cool, warm, crunchy and soft. The salad tastes fresh and will satisfy any salmon lover. It’s also very good hangover food.
While they offer the giant, Bavarian-style pretzels we’re used to seeing, Sigmund Pretzelshop also makes sweet and savory mini pretzels. Warm, airy and tasty, these mini pretzels make the perfect afternoon snack. Try the garlic parsley, paired with a honey mustard dip.
Nectar, a juice bar, also serves a great avocado and sweet potato sandwich. The combination of avocado, mashed sweet potato, sprouts, onion, jack cheese and slices of multigrain bread is enough to make any meat lover crave a vegetarian meal.
At Sun Light Bakery in Manhattan Chinatown, you can get baked goods and your regular ham-and-egg sandwiches, but what you really want is the cheung fun (rice roll). A popular dim sum dish, cheung fun is a thin piece of rice noodle that has been steamed, rolled up and then usually stuffed with beef or shrimp. Sunkist Bakery’s are smooth, silky and made to order. Be sure to add a squirt of soy and hot sauce.
The word torta means many things. In Mexico it’s a sandwich, and a good torta is the stuff of dreams. Puebla Mini Market in Sunset Park makes a torta with layers and layers of pork, avocado, jalapenos and oaxacan cheese. The bread is slightly toasted and has a nice outside crunchy texture. It gets a little messy toward the end, but with food this good, it doesn’t really matter.
When people say “bacon makes everything taste better,” they’re pretty much right. At the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, you can have soft serve ice cream with sea salt and dulce de leche dipped in chocolate, but what you should really try is the Choinkwich, an ice cream sandwich made with chocolate cookies from the Treats Truck, chocolate soft serve ice cream and a layer of Bacon Marmalade. It’s chocolatey, bacony, smokey, salty, sweet and most definitely delicious.