Category Archives: East Village

Esora Omakase

I was recently invited to try a new Wagyu and tempura Omakase restaurant connected to J-Spec in the East Village, called Esora.

This was one of the most incredible Omakase experiences I’ve had. We started with a trio of appetizers: wagyu tartare + uni, scallop + caviar, and tofu.

All were excellent, but the wagyu tartare and uni was possibly the best bite of the night!

Next up was sashimi. More wagyu strip, as well as sea bream and blue fin tuna.

Wagyu sushi? YUP! We got a taste of both Hida and Ozaki strip here. Torched (Ozaki), and raw (Hida).

The tempura portion of the meal was so much fun, and the bites seemed to just keep coming!

Prawn heads (and bodies):

Okra:

Magochi fish:

Maitake mushroom!

Tenderloin wrapped in shiso leaf. Awesome!

Corn:

Scallop:

Squash blossom and Japanese pumpkin:

Sea Eel:

And finally, sweet potato:

We washed that down with a really tasty seafood and mushroom soup, served in a nice tea kettle with citrus (dobinmushi).

Next, we had STEAK! Wagyu strip from Hida:

…and from the Ozaki family brand:

Check this out!

I liked the Ozaki a bit better:

There was also sea bream rice with ikura:

And finally, dessert: earl grey tea panna cotta, roasted green tea, and peach compote.

I highly recommend this place. Make sure to call ahead at least 24hrs before booking. There are only seven seats at the bar with the chef, and there are a limited number of seatings each day.

ESORA OMAKASE
239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003

7th Street Burger

SMASH BURGER MADNESS!

The city has become inundated with smash burger joints, and I love it. They’re so fucking tasty – especially the ones here at 7th Street Burger.

I tried a double, and I really loved it. Greasy, messy, and delicious. I’ll be back for more, for sure.

7TH STREET BURGER
91 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009

Pineapple Club

I stopped into this joint real quick to try some cocktails and their burger. The cocktails were great (no pics), and the burger was just mediocre.

It had a great crust on the patties, and the fries were battered style and super crisp, but the cheese needed a little more melt and the “special sauce” didn’t seem very present.

I would definitely go back here for some other menu items though, and absolutely for the tiki inspired cocktails. But there’s a better burger next door at NOWON if that’s what you’re looking for.

Oh and here are some avocado fries. They were tasty!

PINEAPPLE CLUB
509 E 6th St
New York, NY 10009

Dim Sum Palace

This is really just a photo dump of the dim sum I tried here at Dim Sum Palace. Over all this is pretty good quality stuff, and I’d definitely come back again. Only down side is that they were slammed, so service was a little bit spotty. I recommend going at an off hour (for example, not at noon on Saturday).

DIM SUM PALACE
59 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

The Dip

Apparently, the folks behind the incredible steak sandwich at 4 Charles Prime Rib have ventured out into the world of fast casual cuisine, opening up a sandwich shop on St Marks called The Dip.

The anchor of the small but focused menu is their French Dip sandwich, which is what I tried when I went.

Sandwiched between toasty garlic bread is a good sized portion of good quality shaved beef, melted gruyere, and diced cherry peppers. The horseradish cream sauce and jus come on the side. This will run you $16.50, before tax.

 

This was a killer sandwich; one of my best bites of the year. The dip and the sauce were both full of robust flavor to the point where you just want to keep on dipping.

The sandwich itself would be great on it’s own too though. You don’t really need the dip or the sauce if you don’t want them. The bread is fresh and flakey. The meat is textured yet tender. The cheese is melty but not molten. The peppers provide both spice and sweet. It’s perfect. And no, there’s not as much meat as the version at 4 Charles, but it’s also half the price here at The Dip.

There’s a bunch of other tasty sounding shit on the menu too, like fried chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses and some limited-run specials. Eventually I’ll try them all. In particular, the Chicago hot dog looked great.

THE DIP
58 St Marks Pl A
New York, NY 10003

Black Emperor

Chef Jae Lee recently took over the kitchen at Black Emperor, and MAN is the food good. My wife and I tried everything on the menu, so buckle up and read on.

As you can see, the menu is a cross between American, Korean and Japanese food. The bar even serves up a nice Toki Highball.

The yuzu guac and rice cracker comes with a dollop of delicious home made chili oil. Really nice and refreshing.

The numbing cucumber pickles are a must try. I ripped through these babies, all the while wiping up that sesame yogurt at the bottom of the plate.

The blistered shishitos with black sesame caesar dressing are highly addictive, so if you order a plate, be prepared to want more and more.

The honey butter tater tots could use a bit more crisp on the outside so they stand up to the honey and butter lacquer, but the well balanced sweetness  is a great way to cut some of the robust and highly savory flavors in the entrees to follow.

The ramen spice wings are the best things here. They’re triple fried,  and coated in pulverized ramen noodles to give it an unrivaled crispy, crunchy batter. Totally unique. Ramen seasoning is actually used in the glaze.

The Washugyu double American cheeseburger with kimchi mayo is also a big winner here. Just big and savory enough to not need to eat anything other than this and maybe those tots on the side. A masterful stack.

What is Washugyu, you ask? It’s a name brand of beef that’s produced by breeding full blood wagyu cattle with Angus cattle.

The Pat LaFrieda dry-aged burger is a thick single patty, also with American cheese and kimchi mayo. There are only five of these available per night, so go early if you want to try it. I found that the Washyugyu meat played nicer with the toppings and condiments than the dry aged flavors. That dry aged meat by itself, though, is so delicious.

I really liked the food here, and I’ll be back for sure – definitely for the wings, cucumbers, and double burger. Those were my top three items here.

BLACK EMPEROR
197 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Nai Tapas Bar – Revisited

I recently revisited one of my favorite tapas and wine bars: Nai Tapas Bar. They’ve expanded into a two floor location, now on 2nd Ave at 5th Street (they moved from their old location on 1st Ave near 11th Street).

They offer an $89 chef’s tasting menu, which only jumps to $110 with their generous, high quality wine pairing pours for each course (and then some).

Not only is this a great deal, but it’s one of the best tasting menus I’ve had in years. Here’s how it went down.

We were met with a heaping goblet of white sangria…

Followed by a pour of the first white wine…

Which paired with the following bites:

This is truffle mushroom basmati rice with manchego cheese, beets and a perfectly poached egg.

These clams are gently broiled open and then dressed with cilantro, citrus zest and yuzu.

Next up was a pour of another white wine to go with this torched salmon and saffron nigiri and glazed Chilean sea bass (wrapped in crispy fried bread and topped with Serrano ham and asparagus).

After this, another glass of white (Gewürztraminer) came out with my favorite dish of the night (and a possible best of 2019 contender): portobello mushroom carpaccio. The Manchego cheese and crushed marcona almonds really made this pop, and the mushrooms are marinated in truffle oil.

There was a nice sangria-marinated cube of watermelon with mint served at this point, to get us ready for the next round.

After that, a red was poured…

To go along with these three meat courses:

Chicken: what a presentation. Broiled sweet mustard marinated thighs with tobiko, seaweed and champagne picked shallots. There were three kinds of sauces too.

Pork: braised marinated baby back rib.

Beef: prime rib eye katsu sando with Hokkaido milk bread and aioli, over shishito peppers.

After that, a palate cleansing cava came out, and then a glass of dessert white…

To go with this lemon tart and chocolate-stuffed churro.

What an amazing meal! There are so many more dishes I want to try on the menu. I’ll be back here again soon for sure, and I highly recommend you go as well. The price is low, the food is great, and there’s even live flamenco music.

NAI TAPAS BAR
85 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Madame Vo BBQ

The talented couple behind Madame Vo recently opened this joint as a way to introduce NYC to Vietnamese BBQ, which, from what I understand, is very popular in central Vietnam.

Be aware: this is not the same as American BBQ, which we all know is characterized by slow and low smoker cooking. This involves a high-heat metal mesh grill and various cuts of meat. Fast and hot, no smokers.

Also: this isn’t Korean or Japanese BBQ. While they use a similar cooking method with the grill, the flavors, preparations and beef items are obviously entirely different.

What’s really unique about Madame Vo BBQ, and what I feel sets Vietnamese BBQ apart from other grilled meat establishments, is that the traditional “Beef 7 Ways” or “Bò 7 Món” feast in Vietnamese culture really lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking.

So what is “Beef 7 Ways?” Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is. It’s also really not that difficult to figure out from its name.

“Beef 7 Ways” in Vietnamese cuisine is generally a large format family style meal where various cuts of beef are served, obviously, in seven different ways. Almost always this will involve some thin sliced beef that’s grilled or dipped in a hotpot broth. There will also almost assuredly be a spiced ground/minced beef application, often wrapped in a betel leaf. And surely there will be a finishing dish of some form of starch with beef. But all throughout, there are “summer roll” rice wrappers on the table – along with various veggies, herbs and even fruits – for you to wrap up with the beef as you eat your way through all seven courses.

Madame Vo has done a great job of elevating that traditional “Bò 7 Món” concept, refining it, and presenting it to New Yorkers in the familiar grill table format. Here’s how they present their version of “Beef 7 Ways:”

1st Way: Eye Round Carpaccio

This was great. I’ve always thought that eye round would be perfect for a carpaccio application. This Viet style carpaccio was so delicious. Great pops from the herbs, spices and sauce.

2nd Way: Meatballs

These are technically not beef; they’re pork. But delicious nonetheless, and still part of the seven.

3rd & 4th Ways: Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf & Thin-Sliced Short Rib with Onion

These are both grilled, and the betel leaf rolls were my favorite of the seven courses. They have a great fresh green kick to them from the grilled leaf.

5th Way: Five-Spice Beef Tongue

This was awesome. They’re cooked through and make for the perfect filling in those rice wraps with veggies and herbs.

6th Way: Dry Aged Strip Steak with Marrow Butter

That marrow butter was absolute crack. Here’s a little video of it getting smeared on.

7th Way: Oxtail Congee

I really liked this. It was a close pick for my favorite of the meal.

Madame Vo BBQ offers this “Beef 7 Ways” for just $59/pp. I think that’s a great deal considering the quality of the beef, the amount you get, and of course the deliciousness of the whole experience.

We didn’t stop there, though. We also had some amazing seafood apps (not included with the “Beef 7 Ways”).

Giant Oyster with Uni Mayo

These things were huge, and that uni mayo was really addictive.

Maine Uni with Special Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc

Beautiful, sweet and delicious.

Grilled Prawns

These were nice and big. Tasty heads too!

BBQ Quail

The tamarind sauce on this really made it unique.

Short Rib & Marrow Spring Rolls

Loved these. I could eat a dozen easily.

And because I’m like a wild animal, I wanted more beef. We shared the Pat LaFrieda dry-aged tomahawk rib eye. At $95 for about 40oz, this is a steal.

Really beautifully presented too.

I highly recommend this place. Go with a group so you can try lots of stuff. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

MADAME VO BBQ
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Mister Paradise

Mister Paradise puts up an awesome burger! Their 25% dry-aged patty comes from Master Purveyors in the Bronx, but it also includes suet in the mix. This gives it a characteristic and deep, robust beefiness.

To top things off, the cheese is infused with bacon! It comes with slices of pickle on the side, and some caramelized onion on it as well. This is a top burger of the year for sure. Go give it a try.

UPDATE!

On the last Sunday of evey month, this place transforms into Paradise Prime: a tableside service 1960’s mod-inspired prime rib joint!

The set menu includes wine and cocktails like their expertly mixed martinis and Rob Roys.

Snack on some chicken liver mousse crostini while you sip.

After that, you’ll watch your Caesar salad be made from scratch; dressing and all.

Then there’s some massive cocktail shrimp to eat, and sides of creamed spinach and roasted potatoes accompany the main event.

The main event? A perfectly roasted slab of prime rib, carved right before your eyes!

Dessert is a unique and delicious malted pandan ice cream sundae with Johnnie Walker Blue on the side for your sipping pleasure.

At $150 this is a no-brainer! Tickets are available on their website, and I highly recommend you get yours ASAP. This meal is awesome – 10/10!

MISTER PARADISE
105 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009

Boilermaker

I finally got to try the burger at Boilermaker this week. I had heard great things about this for a while.

I went with the single patty with American cheese. Each burger comes pre-dressed with thin sliced tomato and red onion, as well as a special sauce and slaw. The slaw and sauce are what really make this burger pop. Despite the unmelted cheese, I really liked this one.

BOILERMAKER
13 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003