Category Archives: Lower East Side/Chinatown

Scarr’s

This category two pizza joint (individual slices available) on the lower east side has gotten some big hype for being a great spot. I was in the area for dinner, so I had to check it out and grab a slice for dessert.

Most people clamor for the pepperoni slice – probably after seeing ‘roni cups on Instagram – but I’m more of a traditional guy. So traditional, in fact, that I generally prefer the Margherita style slice to the plain slice. This consists of fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.

This was a great slice. The sauce was bright, sweet yet savory, and nicely seasoned. The cheese was delicious and evenly melted. The basil was fresh (just roasted). The crust was puffy and light, while also being crisp and stiff enough to fold. A winner all around. The only down side was the $4.25 price tag for a single slice.

SCARR’S
22 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Wayla

After seeing some pics that my buddy posted on Instagram from this place, I had to give it a try.

My wife and I started with a bunch of appetizers. We tried a trio of meaty Thai dips that came with an assortment of veggies, some pork meatballs wrapped in fried noodles, and a pork jowl salad. Everything was great here, but from those three, if I had to choose, the pork jowls were my favorite. We destroyed all of it though.

Next up was the crab fried rice.

Wow. They dropped about $25 worth of steakhouse quality lump crab meat right on top of this delicious and light-yet-flavorful fried rice. Awesome. This is a must if you are looking for a “starch.”

Then we had the Thai style fried chicken.

I was blown away by this. The flavors, the crispy skin, the juicy-ness.. It was all just working. Get this! It was my favorite dish of the night.

And of course I had to try the strip steak with tamarind sauce.

This came out on a hot skillet and the aroma was nuts.

For $34 this is a steal of a value, and it was tender as hell – cooked perfectly to medium rare. I must admit, I was expecting a shitty experience here. I was dead wrong. Later I learned that this meat is from Strassburger, so it should have been no surprise that it was tender and delicious. 8/10.

For dessert we had a nice fruit plate and a big scoop of coconut pandan ice cream.

Great way to end a great meal. I definitely recommend this place. Go give it a shot!

WAYLA
100 Forsyth St
New York NY 10002

Caffe Napoli

My wife and I tried Caffe Napoli in Little Italy this week. This joint is one of Little Italy’s long standing places that many people go to for their red sauce fix. Here’s what we had:

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Baked Clams Oreganata

I’m a sucker for this dish, and they did a great job with it here. This was my favorite dish of the meal.

Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Veal Parm

Lobster and Shrimp with Lobster & Shrimp Ravioli

This was an impressive dish. Lots of ravioli tucked under there – difficult to see but there was probably more than half dozen.

Caffe Napoli
191 Hester St
New York, NY 10013

19 Cleveland

My wife and I went to 19 Cleveland – a newish Israeli/Tel Aviv joint – for a friend’s birthday. I’m not quite sure of the names of the dishes we had, as so many small plates came out and some aren’t necessarily on the regular menu. Everything was really good so I’m just going to do a pic dump and highlight my favorites with some extra words.

The falafel and starters were all great.

The hummus was awesome. Probably the best I’ve had other than the fave bean and olive -based one at Coco J’Adore.

I really liked this crispy kale, beets and farmers cheese dish. It reminded me of the one I loved at Le Turtle.

Incredible schnitzel. A top dish of 2019 contender for sure. Make sure you get this. It comes with a platter of greens too, to make it into a Milanese of sorts.

I also really loved this lemony and buttery pasta that came with a fried poached egg on top. DELICIOUS!

Roasted cauliflower.

Branzino.

Awesome halva ice cream on this first dessert plate (the stone great color).

That about does it. I’d definitely come back here again and I highly recommend it. Fun spot.

19 CLEVELAND
19 Cleveland Place
New York, NY 10012

82 Stanton

This new spot is coming onto the bar food game pretty strong with a great selection of bites.

Here’s what I tried:

First, a nitro espresso martini. First time I ever saw something utilizing nitro coffee in a booze drink. This tasted like a mudslide, only not frozen.

The burger had great flavor. Nice and simple, right to the point. And the fries that came with it were awesome. Very addicting. Check out that CHIZZ drip (cheese jizz).

The fried chicken was really nice and crisp, not overly sauced up. They were well-seasoned too.

I loved the fish tacos. These were perfectly crisp, light and airy. I could put away a dozen.

This fried chicken thigh was really nice too. Juicy as hell.

It went nicely with this mac and cheese skillet.

I’ll definitely be drinking and eating here more often. The place has a great corner location with great wide open windows. You feel like you’re hanging out right in the street.

82 Stanton
82 Stanton St
New York, NY 10002

Rabbit House

My wife picked up a Pulsd deal for this place that got us a six course omakase with three glasses of sake each for $89.

We opted to share six different glasses, one to pair with each course.

Yes, they do serve rabbit, and the theme of the restaurant definitely involves rabbits.

Before the omakase began, we were served a delicious, warm wedge of country bread with olive oil and pepper.

Prior to eating rabbit, we ate rabbit food. The first course was miniature crudite with a blob of miso paste, and an oyster shooter with wine jelly.

Next up, beautiful and delicious tuna tartare with fried lotus root.

Then we had this trio of beef tartare, cheeses and pork spare ribs.

After that, a yellowtail preparation that included both cooked and raw styles.

Then came the star of the show – the “trapped rabbit.”

This was pretty nice, and similar to a porchetta of sorts (rolled whole muscle cuts that are cooked, then sliced). It came with a side of dressed greens, colorful carrots and mushrooms.

Last was the black sesame custard. This was a tasty but not overly sweet way to end the meal. I enjoyed.

Over all this was good but not great. The Pulsd deal is definitely worth it, though, if it’s still available.

RABBIT HOUSE
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002

Phobar

This spot just took over the Char House location, which was an asian steakhouse (there’s another location by Washington Square Park too). The concept here is customizable bowls of pho with tableside boilers. You can even choose how rich your broth is, like some ramen joints offer; 8hrs, 16hrs, etc. My wife and I skipped that gimmicky stuff and went with some regular menu items instead.

For starters, we tried (1) the chili and tamarind sauce chicken wings; (2) the spicy chili oil pork knuckles; and (3) the spring rolls.

All three were great. The spring rolls were pretty standard in style and format (wrap them in lettuce with herbs and veg, then dip into fish sauce). The wings were delicious and crisp, with fried shallots on top. The pig knuckles were the stars of the starters though. Fork tender, jiggly, juicy, flavorful and spicy. I loved them. They reminded me of oxtail or braised chuck stew meat.

I had the surf and turf pho, which is beef broth with a half lobster and a nice big short rib on the bone. This is hefty at $25 for a bowl, but it really satisfies. Great broth and both the lobster and the short rib were perfect.

My wife had the bun bo hue, a spicy lemongrass pork and beef soup. It was delicious, and contained a ton of different meats within.

All in, this was $85 including tax and tip. High, but very tasty.

PHOBAR
43 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

Karvouna Mezze

Karvouna Mezze is the new Greek tapas (“mezze”) joint and meat house that just opened on the Bowery, headed up by the former chef from Merakia, Giuseppe Scalco.

I came in with a group of Instagramming bastards to try out some dishes and to feature our favorites on our profiles. Here’s what we tried:

Peinirli (Greek Pizza Boat)

I like the idea of this, I just wasn’t a fan of the flakey, dry dough. The fillings (bacon, herbs and cheese) were all great though.

Octopus

This was nice. As a mezze portion, this is actually pretty sizable.

Baked Eggplant

Generally I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but this was great. I really liked the presentation in a scooped-out and halved eggplant. You can even still see the stem on the top end. Great Mediterranean flavors on this; semi-Italian and semi-Middle Eastern.

Greek Salad

This was simple and delicious. A must order. Perfect and fresh.

Pork Belly

This was tender and flavorful, but I found myself going after the stewed greens underneath more than the actual pork belly. The ouzo and honey marinade was interesting though.

Lamb Ribs

These are amazing. I loved them at Merakia, and I love them here. They’re perfect as a mezze snack with three to four ribs per order. Great spice on them, expertly cooked, nice fat and tenderness levels.

Kleftiko

This was a bit of a let down. I really enjoyed the Kleftiko at Merakia, which was served like a stew in a bread bowl. Here, there was just too much bread and not enough of that stewed sauciness. It came off a bit dry, unfortunately, and the bits of lamb inside just weren’t tender enough to recall the stew format of the traditional dish.

Short Rib

This was awesome. So tender and flavorful, and sitting on a bed of braised greens and lentils. I could eat this every day.

Mixed Grill For Two

This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the pork and sausage. It comes out on an actual grill, though you aren’t really cooking anything since it isn’t hot enough. It’s more of a show piece and meat warmer.

This is great for a group meal to share. Even the veggies on there were tasty, and it comes with some nice lemon potatoes too.

Red Velvet Halva

This was my favorite of the three desserts we tried. But don’t expect the texture and flavor of halva just because halva is in the name of the dessert. This tasted more like a gelatin or stiff mousse. Really delicious.

Baklava

A beautiful and tasty take on the classic dessert. A nice balance of sweet and savory, and it comes with a slab of rose jelly, which looks invisible in the pic above.

Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies

This was like a chocolate covered biscotti. Interesting, but not something I would get again. I just didn’t love the flavor combination. A nice thing to have with coffee though, for those of you who are into it.

I would definitely go back here for the eggplant, ribs, mixed grill and short rib. Go give it a shot! I should also note that when we were there, the health inspector gave a surprise visit and fucked up the entire flow of the kitchen for a good hour or hour and a half. This place is brand new and the chef is very talented, so I have no problem recommending this place to others.

KARVOUNA MEZZE
241 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Wu’s Wonton King

My wife and I came here with a big group of foodie friends for a pre-Thanksgiving blowout. We ate a shitload of dishes, but the stars of the show were these two:

That’s right: a crispy skin suckling pig, and a 9lb king crab. Here’s some video of that pig being carved up for us, table side:

Those buns were amazing but the pork meat itself was the best I’ve ever had in terms of suckling pig. The flavors penetrated deep into the flesh of the meat. And if one pork dish wasn’t enough, we also fried this one as well:

The crab was prepared three ways: steamed, fried and in a steamed egg porridge:

We ate two kinds of clams:

We even ordered a steak. This was no good though. I tried one slice of this breaded t-bone and it was too tough for me to even finish half. 2/10. I left two points on the table because the sauce was interesting at least, and the broccoli was good with it.

All the other dishes were excellent though, including this chicken:

And this fluke:

Yes, we did eat some greenery:

And of course wontons, as per the name of the restaurant, in soup form:

There was even dessert that we somehow managed to eat: mango flan/jelly and a warm pumpkin soup that was reminiscent of Indian desserts:

I definitely recommend this joint. This was the best large format pig I’ve had to date. It runs $168 and you need to order a day or two in advance. It would probably feed five or six people if you ate just that and some veggies on the side. As for the crab? Skip it. It was delicious as fuck, but that shit runs $50 a pound.

WU’S WONTON KING
165 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

Char House

Char House overall score: 74

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED!

Char House is a new Chinese style steakhouse on Mott Street in Chinatown. I tried a nice variety of stuff here, so I think I got a good sense of the restaurant’s capabilities. Check it out:

Flavor: 8

Wagyu Sirloin: 8/10

This baby had a nice char on the outside, it was well seasoned and was perfectly cooked to medium rare inside. The cut itself was a little chewy, but for the price this wasn’t too bad.

Porterhouse: 7/10

This lacked a little seasoning, and didn’t have too great of a char. It did pack some nice dry-aged flavor though. Another miss here was that the filet side was overcooked.

Frenched Rib Eye: 8/10

This had a nice sized cap that packed a good amount of dry aged flavor. The steak had a nice char and it was pretty much cooked correctly – perhaps a bit on the rare side.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

The beef here comes from DeBragga, so you know you’re getting good quality. Char House does some additional aging in-house as well, and they develop some really nice flavors. As far as cuts go, they offer two large format rib eyes, a single cut rib eye, a strip, a porterhouse, the wagyu sirloin and a filet. That’s an impressive selection for a small steak joint.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions here are pretty good. The large format cuts that I tried clocked in at 36oz each. Each were meaty enough to feed two, although the filet side of the porterhouse was a bit on the small size. Sized and apps were nicely portioned.

Price: 8

The porterhouse and rib eye came out to $114 each (they charge by the ounce), which was a fair price, though a bit high compared to other small mom and pop style steakhouses. One item that stuck out as a bit pricey was the XO shrimp ($14 for three shrimp).

Bar: 3

This joint doesn’t have a bar. They offer some wine and sake selections, and I think some loose beer selections on ice in the front near the host station, but there are no seats at that area (which looks like a bar). I was hoping for some interesting Asian inspired cocktails. Oh well. Maybe in time they will build the bar out.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

I don’t recall our waiter or the host telling us about any specials, but they do offer roast chicken and pork ribs. I was hoping for some duck, being this is a Chinese joint, but no luck.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Crab Cake

I really enjoyed this. It was reminiscent of the classic Chinese shrimp toast dish, only with crab instead.

XO Shrimp

These were nicely cooked and prepared, but I feel like $14 is too much for just three shrimp.

7 Spice Corn Brulee

This was really tasty. Creamy corn pudding, in a sense, with a great spice profile.

Sweet Soy Glaze Bacon

This was nice as well. Not in my top five, but definitely something I would order again if I came back. It had good sweetness to balance the savory.

Sesame Mashed Potatoes

This was a nice take on mashed potatoes. The toasted sesame flavors definitely bring you into the wheelhouse of Asian flavors.

Skillet Brownie a la Mode

This was a nice dessert. Not too sweet, as the chocolate was nicely balanced with dark bittersweet as well as melty milk chocolate.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a whole fish as well as “Lobster Dynamite” on the menu here for entrees. Again I was hoping to see a bit more variety from a Chinatown steak joint, but I bet that whole fish is great. I’d like to try that if I go back.

Service: 7

The service was awkward. It was a Friday night at 7pm, and the restaurant was only half full at best, so I would have expected a bit more “on top of things” service. There seemed to just be one waiter, and the hostess ended up being our server for half of the meal. It also took a while to get the check, but everyone was super friendly and hospitable, and they even threw in some complimentary apps and sides. No bad attitudes or anything like that – very nice people, and everything on the menu was explained to us perfectly.

One thing to note here is the awesome bread basket. It comes with a variety of chips: sweet potato, taro, shrimp and regular potato. I particularly liked the inclusion of the shrimp chips. And the bread was super hot and fresh. Lovely.

Ambiance: 8

They did a great job with the space here. It feels both like a steakhouse and like a downtown Chinese restaurant. The music selection was a chill mix of electronic lounge type music and hip hop, and the lighting wasn’t too dim, but wasn’t too bright either.

CHAR HOUSE
43 Mott St
New York, NY 10013