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Currently viewing the tag: "Winter Edition 2012"
- Photograph by Bethany Wong
In addition to run-of-the-mill Middle Eastern fare, this Van Nest sit-down churns out some exciting Yemeni specialties. Try the fahsa salta, a fenugreek seed-laced stew of celery, onion, potato, tomato and shredded beef cooked in broth that—so the story goes—has its origins in the Turkish occupation. Heavily spiced and a tad bitter, it makes a grand entrance, frothing and ready for flat bread.
700 Rhinelander Ave. at White Plains Rd. (Map)
Bronx, NY 10462
At roadside food stands in Indonesia, pecel lele (“Peh-chel Lay-lay”)—tenderized, marinated, deep-fried catfish—is traditionally eaten by hand. Patience is required: Ask for your fish to be cooked a bit longer and crispier, and nibble cautiously, working around the little bones by touch rather than by sight. The chili sauce, inflected with shrimp paste, is finger-lickin’ good.
Cold salads are a staple of Sichuan cuisine and make a perfect shared appetizer before jumping into more substantial dishes, like double-cooked pork or tea-smoked duck, at Bensonhurst’s Bamboo Pavilion. Ox tongue and tripe are a classic duo; the thin, beefy slices and springy ribbons of stomach taste like more than humble organ meat when drenched in fiery chili oil and dusted in Sichuan peppercorns and raw minced garlic. Your chopsticks will barely get a rest after the first spicy, buzzing mouthful.
Bamboo Pavillion on Goodies First
6920 18th Ave. at Bay Ridge Ave. (Map)
Brooklyn, NY 11204
It’s not hard to find cheap rotisserie chicken in the city, but Brancaccio’s Food Shop brings take-home chicken to the next level. Dressed with lemon, garlic, herbs and spices, then roasted perfectly, it’s just the kind of chicken dinner you’d put on the table if you had the time. Lines queue early for chickens, so your best bet is to reserve one in advance or follow Brancaccio’s on Facebook for updates on when the chickens make it out of the oven. Round out your meal with their sinfully delicious, double-smoked bacon macaroni and cheese and roasted Brussels sprouts.
At Brother’s, nearly everyone orders a regular slice—oregano-tinged, thick-sauced and well heated over a smokey, crackling crust. There’s nothing behind a sneeze glass, and you won’t see a chicken-and-broccoli or buffalo-and-bleu-style slice. Instead you’ll see a regular and a square behind the counter and the ever-working pizza man making another.
Photograph by James Boo
The debate over the best Thai cooking in New York usually pits fans of Chao Thai, in Elmhurst, against devotees of SriPraPhai, in Woodside. But in a flat noodle contest, Chao Thai’s Gai Kua Noodle (chicken, squid and egg) wins handily. Flat noodles are usually thick and floppy—congealed into an oily, glutinous mound. But Chao Thai’s noodles are exceptionally delicate and firm—almost perky—and totally free of gloppy, sweet sauces. Enjoy the subtly mingled flavors of garlic, the squid itself and that smoky wok essence. -Anne Noyes Saini and Sue Yacka
Chao Thai Too
8347 Dongan Ave. at Broadway (Map)
Queens, NY 11373
Meltingly tender chunks of lengua (tongue) layered with ripe avocado slices, crema, crisp red onions, chopped iceberg lettuce, mashed black beans and white cheese in a toasted sesame seed topped cemita roll make for a hefty sandwich that could last for two meals—but probably won’t, because you’ll want to eat it all in one sitting. If you’re averse to feeling like your mouth is burning, make sure to ask for it without the default spicy sauce.
- $1.50 for small
- Photograph by Bethany Wong
The tacos and cemitas at this Michelin Guide-recommended joint are some of the best in the Bronx. In winter weather, though, you may want something more than mole to keep you warm. Estrellita’s champurrado, a rich, hominy flour and chocolate-based beverage, is thick as pudding. If you’re looking for a jolt, try the soothing café de olla. Flavored with cinnamon and panela (unrefined whole cane sugar), it’s devoid of bitterness and uncharacteristically sweet. Take it black.
Festac Grill’s goat pepper soup is some serious stuff, almost as if a goat was hacked up and thrown in a pot. Unlike its more accessible counterparts in Clinton Hill, which are made almost exclusively with more familiar meats, it is heavy on the offal—as Nigerian foods tend to be. Dive right in!
The Halal Gyro Express cart toiled under the moniker “Xpress Power Lunch” for seven years, serving the usual trinity of lamb gyro, chicken and falafel. In 2011 the men running the cart added four Afghani dishes to the menu, including lamb chops and a tender, well-spiced lamb tikka. Try the tikka with Halal Gyro’s fantastic green sauce, and bring a book—these Afghani dishes are cooked to order.
For those who are disinclined to trek to Flushing for quality Sichuan, newcomer Hot Kitchen provides a surprisingly solid alternative in the heart of the East Village. Their hot pot is great, but if you’re without a group, stick to this appetizer. The name is misleading—the noodles are actually vermicelli—but forgive the misnomer and just enjoy the mouth-numbing sensation of slippery noodles bathed in a hot chili-oil broth, studded with bits of ground beef, peanuts and cilantro. Taste- and texture-wise, it’s a workout for your tongue—in a good way.
Kimchi Taco Truck’s bulgogi kimchi bowl, which would be recognizable as dup bap in Korea, is simply protein and vegetables over rice. You could find a similar meal in Koreatown for about the same price, but the fact that a dish this fresh, filling and tasty can be served out of a food truck is a game changer. The rice is fragrant, while the grilled beef is meaty, juicy, well caramelized and complimented by pickled radish for crunch and zest. It’s topped with kimchi that’s made in house using Chef Youngsun Lee’s grandmother’s recipe, which utilizes red pepper powder imported from Korea. A meal that channels Grandma’s home cooking from a truck? I swoon.
(Photograph by Miriam Finkelman)
In a dining world of reclaimed wood and dressed up comfort food, the un-manufactured ambience of Loeser’s is a real breath of fresh air. Little has changed, including the recipes, since Freddy opened the shop 50 years ago. Any of the overstuffed standards—all served on cushy rye from New Jersey’s Certified Bakery—will do. But the best of the bunch is corned beef, complete with Freddy’s luscious Russian dressing and sauerkraut. If you’ve got company, order a side of homemade coleslaw (it’s good enough to end a life-long aversion) or some mushroom barley soup for spooning.
Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao is most widely known and written about for its namesake: the soup dumpling. But don’t overlook the Pan Fried Pork Buns (6 pieces to an order). They are just as good, if not even better. A juicy pork meatball is housed inside a tender and fluffy bun, with a golden fried bottom. It’s the pot sticker of steamed buns.
Editor’s Note: Since this dish was added to Real Cheap Eats, its price has risen past $10.00. It’s still a part of the guide as a part of our “grandfather” policy.
Hong Kong-style bo zai fan (“clay pot rice”) turns a simple bowl of rice into a soulful delicacy by transforming the grains of rice on its edges into a layer of crunchy, semi-caramelized delight. Noodle Village’s rendition—listed inconspicuously on the menu as as “hot pot rice”—arrives steaming, sizzling and topped with your choice of meats. Order pork with salted fish, drizzle plenty of extra-thick soy sauce over the rice as it continues to cook in the pot, and add a splash of roasted chili oil for an exhilarating alternative to winter soups and stews.
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.
Nothing’s quite as comforting on a bitter winter day as a bowl of dou fu fa—fresh tofu curds served creamy, nutty and lashed with sweet syrup. And there’s no place like quite like Soybean Chen Flower Shop to get it. Add a you tiao—the crunchy cruller that’s a staple of Chinese breakfast—for a mere $2.50. Don’t forget to grab some flowers for your sweetie on the way out.
Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop
135-26 Roosevelt Ave. at Main St. (Map)
Queens, NY 11354
Not to be confused with tourist trap The Stage Deli, Stage Restaurant is a tiny postage stamp-sized diner in the East Village that has been knocking out breakfast classics since 1980. Unlike most every other diner these days, Stage makes everything from scratch. The corned beef hash doesn’t come from a can, but is made daily from fresh corned beef. Served with two eggs, toast and potatoes, an order costs barely over $5 and is packed with beefy flavor. Best of all, it’s available all day long.
One foot inside the unassuming Taqueria LES, and you know they mean business about Southern Californian food. You won’t find battered, overwhelming fish tacos here, just simple, fresh, pan-fried tilapia topped with cabbage slaw and salsa on 6″ tortillas. It’s perfect for a mid-afternoon snack or a mix-and-match taco meal. Eating in also offers the bonus of complimentary homemade chips and salsa.
What could be better than a big bowl of classic comfort—spicy pork meatballs topped with a deliciously creamy Parmesan cream sauce? Look no further than the Meatball Shop, which boasts ever-so-slightly spicy pork meatballs that melt away under a cloud of dairy-based sauce, helping temper the heat. Dip the accompanying focaccia liberally into the bowl. You’ll want every last drop of that heavenly concoction, lovingly described on the menu as “alfredo on steroids.”
64 Greenwich Ave. at W. 11th (Map)
New York, NY 10011
200 Ninth Ave. at W. 23d St. (Map)
New York, NY 10011
170 Bedford Ave. at N. 8th (Map)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
1462 Second Ave. at 77th St.(Map)
New York, NY 10075
You might be familiar with fiery dishes from Sichuan Province or the noodles of Northern China, but how often do you hear about the delicacies of Shaanxi? With temperatures steadily dropping, is there anything better than indulging in a meal so spicy you’ll be dripping sweat, with complete loss of feeling in your face? The only answer is: nothing. Xi’an Famous Food’s “Spicy Hot Oil Seared Hand-Ripped Noodles” do just that. A hefty plate of—you guessed it—hand-torn carbs is stir-fried in red-hot chili oil, scallions, cumin and other spices until every square inch of noodle is coated in a thin film of liquid heat. It’s perfect for winter days.
67 Bayard St. at Mott (Map)
New York, NY 10013
41-28 Main Street Stall #36 at 41st Rd. (Map)
Queens, NY 11354
86 Beadel St. at Vandervoort Ave. (Map)
Brooklyn, NY 11222