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Tag: Manhattan

Heart of India

Indian in The Village.

What We Had

My DH and I both had selections off the Prix Fixe $19.99 dinner menu.

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I had the crab samosa appetizer, followed by chicken tikka masala.
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My DH had the meat samosa followed by lamb rogan josh.

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Both meals came with naan and rice.

We also enjoyed a really good assortment of table chutneys (mint and tamarind) & pickled onions with crispy cracker.

All dishes were fantastically spiced and really well balanced. The samosas were perfectly fried and not greasy; the main dishes were deeply flavorful and wholly satisfying.

Decor

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A riot of rich colors and light Indian instrumental music. A good place for a relaxing meal.

Service

Out of the way and polite.

Overall Impressions

A really enjoyable meal for a great price.

Rating

4 out of 5 for fantastic food in a nice atmosphere.

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Ramen Setagaya

Noodles in the village. Listed as a favorite ramen shop of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

What We Had

Chicken gyoza – The gyoza was ok. Could have used more seasoning and TLC.

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I had the R1 Shio Ramen – BBQ pork, bamboo shoots, seaweed, scallions, scallop powder & salt taste egg.

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My DH had the R6 Spicy Miso Ramen – BBQ pork, bamboo shoots, corn, miso, salt taste egg, onions, bean sprouts & cabbage.

Chewy, perfect noodles wrapped in rich, luscious broth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – ramen is the apex comfort food in my book, and the perfect remedy for the world’s ills.

My dish was more delicate than my DH’s, but it was still a great bowl of noodles, especially if you favor delicate taste over flavor bludgeon.

The BBQ pork in both bowls brought a nice smoky depth to the overall product, and is a must-have.

Decor

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You eat at long counters very informally. Lots of Japanese menu items on the wall.

Service

Standard for a busy noodle shop – they tend to leave you alone.

Overall Impressions

The only recommendation qualm we had was that our food came out at vastly different times; my DH was half done with his bowl when the gyoza arrived, which was followed almost immediately by my dish.

We still have to hand the ramen win to Ippudo, if for no better reason than the pork chunks. This is a great shop, and we will definitely be back – but Ippudo has our heart.

Rating

3.75 out of 5 for solid food but wonky serve times.

The Masala Wala

We stumbled upon this place by pure happenstance. We happened to be on the Lower East Side to see a movie; the sky happened to look like it was going to start spitting demons; and we happened to duck down a side street or two looking for something either really tasty or really healthy to eat. Right before the bottom fell out of the sky, amid leaf and street trash tornadoes, we spotted a sign proclaiming South Asian Roadside Food. We love Asian and we love road food, so we ducked in.

What We Had

We did a few light dishes rather than getting large entrees or one of their really good looking custom bowls.

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Chicken Tikka Roll with Egg – Richly spiced, succulent and delicious chicken wrapped in a roti burrito with fried egg layered in between the rolls. Yum. Really yum.

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Pani Puri – Fun, nicely spiced potato and chickpeas in a hollow cup of crispy fried dough with tamarind dipping sauce.

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Dal (black lentil) – Comforting velvety pool of dal with, again, rich deep spices. I could wrap myself into a bowl of this any day.

Fluffy and perfect basmati rice – This was the good stuff.

Decor

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Edison bulbs and dark cherry wood in a modern chocolate and cream decor scheme. New tech in place like waitresses ordering on iPads.

Service

The staff was supremely welcoming and the owner checked personally after the meal to assure it was up to standard.

Overall Impressions

I am really glad we rolled the dice on this place. Sometimes you roll the hard six and win.

Rating

4.5 out of 5 for crazy good food and really top notch service. Well worth a special trip to the area just for the food.

Eats On Lex

Well-reviewed American bistro near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What We Had

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We started with two Asian Fried Oysters – These oysters gave a really nice bite with a great (not overpowering) fried taste and fresh little palate cleansing salad. I would recommend, even for diners on the fence regarding the issue of oysters.

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We were also brought crusty table bread with a clever little roasted garlic hummus spread.

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And just because we couldn’t resist (and because the Museum had sapped so much energy we feared we were near death), we ordered the Tableside Steak Tartar. This dish was really, really good. I had forgotten just how much I love tartar when it is prepared well, which this was.

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My entree was the Bricked Free-range Cornish Hen – OMFG, this dish was fantabulous. Crispy skin, succulent meat, all the right spices – a triumph. The accompanying mash and roasted veg were just the thing to sop up the imminently drinkable pan sauce dressing.

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My DH had the Dry-aged Steak House Burger – This was one of the best burgers either of us had eaten in quite awhile (excluding the Pat la Freida patties we bought from Fresh direct).

Décor

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Bistro – clean blacks & whites.

Service

Fair.

Overall Impressions

A great find. We happened to be at the museum and at the end of our collective ropes when my DH stumbled upon a good review on Google. Thanks, Google, this really hit the spot.

Rating

4 out of 5 for quality food in a nice atmosphere. A touch pricey but not bad at all – just enough to keep them from a 5.

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Lucy’s Cantina Royale

One part cool architecture (if you like sleek & modern), one part cantina bar bordering Madison Square Garden near Penn Station.

What We Had

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My DH had the Roast Pork Burrito with garlic-cilantro marinade, refried beans, mexican rice, lettuce, pico, jack cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. The meat was nicely seasoned and tender and the dish had a nice balance.

Not his all time favorite (Moe’s), but a decent substitute. His burrito also came with a really nice salsa verde. It wasn’t the green crack Moe’s serves, but it was good enough to stave off the proverbial shakes.

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I had the Skirt Steak Tacos with chipotle-tomato marinade, pico and lettuce. My meat was also seasoned nicely and my tacos were good. Refreshingly cheese-free, as well.

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We split an order of Paper Bag Tortilla Chips with Tequila-laced Salsa (our dishes did not come with chips). The tortillas had salt! And they weren’t greasy!

The salsa was really nice – smoky, spicy, bright, really deep — the tequila was very understated and blended well enough that my tequila-adverse self didn’t ick out.

I also had Tropical Tea! I was so excited the tea came out tropical-flavored. I adore this type of tea and had resigned myself to having left it behind in South Florida after the move.

Décor

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The downstairs eating area is bright and beachy with a fresh Baja vibe.

Be forewarned: if you are planning on imbibing some of this bars’ selection of tequila; the bathroom is down 3 narrow flights of stairs you share with kitchen staff. It’s doable, but might be dicey if drunk in heels.

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Service

Not the best, but not totally horrible. I would imagine it might be next to non-existent at night, but that is purely speculation. Our particular server wasn’t the most attentive I’ve ever seen during a lunch service.

Overall Impressions

We were first attracted by the rooftop bar – it is really eyecatching and looks like a nice place to lounge in the shade on a sunny afternoon. Apparently they have ‘top of the hour’ tequila shots & fishbowls up there, and it’s open year-round. I have a strong feeling my opinion of this place would change dramatically after 4 pm.

Rating

A cautious 4 out of 5 on food alone with a strong possibility of unbridled douchebaggery at happy hour and beyond.

EDIT: We revisited recently (May 2013), and the food is not at all what it once was. The salsa was ok but ketchupy, the tacos were bland, and the burritos were tasteless. The service has also gotten worse. 2.75. Still edible, but not anything special.

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

Japanese cook-your-own BBQ joint off of 44th st. near Times Square.

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What We Had

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We split an order of the Fried Shrimp Dumplings, which were nice, with a solid general Chinese dumpling flavor profile freshened up a bit. A little grease hit, but with 4 to an order, not to an unpleasant degree.

We then went for some ala carte items. Gyu-Kaku has a number of lunch and dinner pre-selected combo items, which all looked great, but we wanted a little from this combo & a little from that and decided to go it alone.

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All items were a few ounces each of wafer thin meat and all cooking was done on the grill in the middle of our table.

Bistro Harami Hanger Steak – A pleasant teriyaki steak

Gyu-tan Beef Tongue – Not unpleasantly chewy and incredibly beefy – it felt like we were eating much more than a few slices because of the texture and deep flavor

Yakishabu – This was another teriyaki dish

Toro Beef – Fatty and delicious; almost like cow belly

Rosu – My DH and I can’t decide if this or the Kalbi was our favorite. The Rosu was tender, steak-y, and hearty

Chuck Kalbi – After consideration, my DH is leaning toward this being our favorite. This dish was also tender and beefy, but with just a little more somethin’ somethin’

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We both added the lunch set (soup, salad & rice) for $3.

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Great little salad – nice greens, interesting dressing with shoyu base

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One of the best examples of miso soup either of us have ever had – The broth had an excellent balance with minimal grit; the tofu was silky and the scallions were plentiful.

Decor

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Modern, clean lines.

Service

Friendly.

Overall Impressions

A great place to take a date or group of friends. A fun and tasty dining experience.

Rating

4 out of 5. If you’re near Times Square, this is a solid choice for lunch or dinner.

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Ippudo

Ramen hot spot near NYU

What We Had

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I had the Kasane Black – Authentic Kasane Tonkotsu (pork) noodles topped w pork loin chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, red pickled ginger, naruto, scallions & fragrant black garlic oil. I added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg). This dish was fabulous. The taste was delicate, deep, and robust all at the same time. I ate every bit, drank all the broth, and was sad I had no more room for Kae-dama (a second helping of noodles). My egg was a nice touch, and no added spice was needed – the black garlic was too interesting a flavor to risk drowning it. Get anything on the menu with the sesame kikurage mushrooms – they are lovely little flavor bombs.

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My DH had the Miso Ramen –
Soy bean paste flavored noodles in the original “Tonkotsu” (pork) based soup with pork chashu, cabbage, menma, ginger, and scallions. He also added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg) and Bakudan (Ippudo original spicy paste). This dish was also fabulous. Rich, deep, complex & wholly satisfying. The spice was a nice addition here – that paste is really a standout in the world of spice additions.

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We split the Hirata Buns (pork) – Steamed buns with pork & spicy mayo bun sauce. A great way to start the meal, but Momofuku’s are just a bit better.

Overall our meal was near perfect – not a note missed or a taste out of whack. Words are falling short when describing just how good the broth here is. Pure comfort – rich, deeply complex, delicately balanced – a balm for the soul. For the expertise used in preparing your food, the price is beyond fair. ($15-$16 per bowl + $2-$4 per addition). Sure, you can get a decent bowl of noodles for half the price, but this is something better. Whole. Other. Level.

Décor

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Ippudo has a great vibe – young, boisterous, open – and the Beasties (among other great bands) in the sound system.

Seating is at large communal tables – not the place to bring small children or strollers. The decor is modern and minimal, yet layered and very interesting.

Service

Friendly & efficient.

Overall Impressions

This place is hands down better than Republic, and might even edge out Momofuku Noodle Bar in the pantheon of noodle houses. (ok, it does, but just by a little)

If we lived next door, my DH would happily let it make us fat (and I don’t think I could put up much of a fight).

Rating

DH is calling this his best NY meal ever. This includes WD~50, local & seasonal up the wazoo, celebrity chef vehicles, Beard Award winners and noodles from culinary luminaries.

I would say for noodles it is the best – I just can’t put it over WD~50s Eggs Benedict — I dreamed of that dish for over a year and half and planned a vacation around it before we lived here (it lived up to expectations and then some — unfortunately, WD~50 has overhauled their menu since — understandable, but sad).

Ippudo can’t help but be a 5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. Wait in a ridiculously long line if you have to (and you might – lines are often crazy, though we lucked into a 15 minute wait on a Sunday late afternoon)- it is worth it.