Tag Archives: cheap eats

Ikinari Steak

Formerly the location of Prime & Beyond, Ikinari switches up this dedicated steak spot from Korean to Japanese, only this joint lowers the price tag “big league” and creates a casual, standing-only environment.

What a great bargain for good quality meat! All of their beef is choice grade from Aurora Packing in Illinois, and wet-aged at least 40 days. Most importantly, the beef is cooked properly and treated with respect. But what’s surprising is that, for a “fast food” style joint, this place can actually compete with mom and pop restaurants (and even some big name steakhouses) on quality and flavor, for sure. And definitely on price.

Here’s how it works: You pay 8-11 cents per gram, telling the butchers exactly how thick you want your cut of steak. They offer filet, sirloin and rib eye.

Naturally, I had a proper sized steak cut from each:

I’m fat. Here’s what my bill would have looked like, had this not been a press/media event:

There are a variety of sauces and condiments to use for both your salads/sides and steaks. I was prone to keep hitting the wasabi.

The Ikinari sauce is thicker and sweeter, while the hot steak sauce has a little bit of spice and is a thinner liquid. Both are soy based.

The onion and pepper dressings went nicely with the radish salad. This was a small size:

So after choosing your cuts, the guys cook it up for you and you wait for them to bring it over to your standing/eating area.

Very casual! The steaks then come out sizzling on a cast iron plate with corn and onions.

Here are some more shots of that sirloin:

They serve the steaks rare, so that you can continue to cook it to your desired temperature directly on the hot skillet. I pretty much left mine as-is.

Here’s the filet:

Freaking HUGE for just $27.

And cooked perfectly inside.

My rib eye was cut a bit on a diagonal, and thinner than the other two, but no matter. It was excellent, and since I ate all of these steaks myself, like a real man, I didn’t mind so much.

The filet was tops, with rib eye close behind (if not tied), and sirloin next. If I had to put numbers on them, they’d all be in the upper 70th percentile for flavor, especially if you add some of the earthy sauces into the mix.

When you think about how much steakhouses are charging for on-par and sometimes lower flavor scores than these, it makes you question the entire steak scene!

Another thing worth mentioning: the pepper garlic rice was wildly tasty! It even had bits of steak thrown into it, and it also comes out on a sizzling cast iron plate.

Mix it all up and then let it sit and sizzle, so that a good, tasty crisp develops on the bottom of that rice.

Essentially, this place is everything that you wish Tad’s could be. You go into a place like Tad’s (do you even go in?) with high hopes and a hunger for steaks while you’re on the go. But, without question, it fails you, every time. The meat sucks, and  it’s cooked like garbage.

Ikinari won’t let you down. I’ve eaten hundreds and hundreds of steaks in this great city, and I can tell you that this is a fantastic value, striking a bizarre but fascinating and attractive balance between steakhouse quality and budget dining. Give it a shot! Just don’t go there when your feet ache, because, as I said earlier, STANDING ONLY!

IKINARI STEAK
90 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003

Premium Sweets

After eating Bangladeshi food across the street, a group of us walked into this joint for dessert.

Premium Sweets0001

The display case glowed with interesting shit I’d never tasted before.

Premium Sweets0003

Premium Sweets0002

We tried several items, most of which had similar flavors (dense, yet sugary and moist quasi-cakes), but each was packaged and presented with different textures, colors, etc.

Premium Sweets0004

The most interesting was this spherical thing that had smaller spherical things attached to it like sprinkles. In the middle was a pink colored paste of some kind. It tasted like a very light cheese cake.

Premium Sweets0005

This actually tasted like sweet cheese in a creamy cold broth.

Premium Sweets0007

But my favorite was this snaggle of deliciousness, which was essentially a honey-soaked funnel cake. It was crispy on the outside but juicy through and through. When biting down on it, the liquefied honey just oozed out like squeezing a dessert sponge. Yum!

Premium Sweets0006

PREMIUM SWEETS
3714 73rd St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Haat Bazaar

My first foray into Bangladeshi food was a good one. A buddy of mine, who hails from Bangladesh, took me, my wife, and a few other friends here to give us a taste of the cuisine.

Haat Bazaar0006

Many people, including Yelp, seem to lump this cuisine in with Indian food, but I was thinking the flavors of Bangladeshi food are more aromatic. The dishes have more of a floral “nose” to them (possibly some rose water in the rice dishes), and are less sweet than the Indian food that I’m familiar with. There is a similar earthy spice regimen to Indian, but Bangladeshi food is definitely distinct enough, even aside from the proteins (beef is generally not found in most Indian joints, and fish has a bigger presence in Bangladeshi food).

We tried a pair of rice dishes. One had goat as the protein, and was biryani style. Both came with hard boiled egg as well, but the one served with the goat had a breading over it that was really interesting. The goat meat was surprisingly tender and not greasy, though I preferred the chicken dish to a huge degree. The chicken was moist and tender (it was a leg), and the smaller grain rice that came with it had a “fried rice” quality that was really delicious.

Haat Bazaar0001

Haat Bazaar0002

The beef was super tender. It was roughly chopped, so you had to be mindful of bones, but the end product was a very “melt in your mouth” braised quality. The same goes for this chicken dish, which was cooked and prepared in a similar way:

Haat Bazaar0004

The fish was interesting. While not my favorite, it was cooked properly and remained juicy, flakey and moist. The shrimp, on the other hand, was a bit overcooked and slightly grainy as a result.

Haat Bazaar0003

Haat Bazaar0005

All in this was a pretty great meal. There was more food too, that I didn’t shoot. We ate like kings and I think the bill came to about $14 each, including tax and tip. Awesome value.

I think the joint could benefit from a cleaner environment, however. Tables turn over very fast, as the place is super busy ALL THE TIME, so you get some grub leftover on the tables as a result. That being said, this is a no-frills joint, with food pre-prepared and ready to roll from under a glass counter where everything is kept on warmers. So go into it knowing that it is fast casual, not a fancy sit-down place. Also – eating with your hands is encouraged!

HAAT BAZAAR
3711 73rd St
Flushing, NY 11372

Gray’s Papaya

Gray’s is a NYC institution. I believe the chain has dwindled down to one remaining shop, on Broadway & 72nd Street. There are/were a few knock-off versions, if I recall, like Mike’s Papaya and Papaya King, but Gray’s is the one and only. Get it while you still can, if you feel the overwhelming need to try one.

They’re known for cheap-ass grilled “franks,” which are essentially their snappy lips-and-assholes hot dogs slapped on a bun, which are then guzzled down with some fruit slush type exotic drinks. The juices are pure sugar deliciousness.

20151004_124322(2)

When I was in law school, the “Recession Special” was $2.75 for two dogs and a small drink. Fast forward 15 years and we are still in a recession, yet the price for the special is now $5.75.

20151004_124920(2)

These fuckers will give you heartburn, stinky burps, and the runs, but they’re great in a bind or when you’re in a hurry …or when you are completely fucking wasted.

20151004_124317(2)

GRAY’S PAPAYA
2090 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

1 2 3 Burger Shot Beer

I’ve walked by this joint on many occasions. Today I finally had the time to go in and see what it’s all about.

image

The name comes from the daily specials offered: $1 burgers (sliders), $2 shots and $3 beers – ANY beer on tap, other than the ciders. Not fuckin’ bad!

The joint is set up like a college style sports bar. Lots of TVs throughout, with seating at the bar and along the opposite wall.

image

They even have some drinking games like the wheel of death pictured below, along with beer pong, and there is an outside drinking area in the back as well.

image

So I came with a coworker and we noticed outside that if you bring a friend you can get their daily lunch special in a two-for-one deal. The daily lunch special is three sliders, fries, and a beer for $7. Normally that will cost you $10 if you order the items separately, on their own. With the “bring a friend” special we got six sliders, two beers and two fries for $7. AWESOME!

The beers are probably only 10oz, but they don’t restrict you on the draft options, which is nice. I got a Hoegaarden and my buddy got a Rebel IPA.

image

The sliders are nice and tasty. They come topped with American cheese and grilled onions, nicely jammed between a mini potato bun. Deeeeelicious. I can easily put away a dozen without even blinking.

image

image

The fries needed salt. They were decent, but seasoned with a salt substitute sort of thing. Perhaps paprika and some other herbs. The portion size is a bit small if you were ordering separately at the full $4 price tag.

image

Since I’m a fat fuck, I also needed to try some other items. First was this Philly cheese steak. It comes with finely sliced steak, ooey-gooey cheese and onions on a hot dog style bun for $5. I ate the fuck out of this thing. It was way tastier than the sliders, for sure. But maybe you can get a better one at a larger size for just a few bucks more down at Shorty’s, nearby on 9th Avenue in the 40s.

image

Wednesday is double wing day. When you order wings, they double it for free. I recommend that Wednesday is the ONLY day to try the wings here, as they are small (which I actually like, but most people do not) and don’t come with many per order (four or five), at a price tag of $7. Since we came on a Wednesday, our order was $7 for nine or ten wings. They’re breaded and fried crisp before they are tossed in the Hell’s Kitchen wing sauce, which is a standard mild to medium spice level. If you get these on a non-Wednesday, you’ll probably feel like you got ripped off.

image

Overall this is a great place to grab some grub and suds, especially on a nice day, since the place has an open and airy feel. Go with a friend during lunch to get the most bang for your buck. That two-for-one special on the $7 lunch deal is amazing. Just add some more sliders to the order to get a real filling meal out of it.

1 2 3 BURGER SHOT BEER
738 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Taco House

Nothing to brag about here. This is one of those wham-bam thank you ma’am type of Mexican food joints run by Asians. Pretty much everything is under $2. It will fill you up, but make sure you’re close to a toilet bowl after about 30 minutes, just to be safe. This stuff got me through law school, so I can’t knock it too much. I always went for the bean burritos and the guacamole with grilled chicken, because the regular tacos were just too fucking greasy. Shit you pay, shits you get.

DSC05139

TACO HOUSE
178 Church St.
New York, NY 10013

Percy’s

I strolled by this little category 3 dollar pizza joint while I was on my way to grab a burger with a friend. It turns out this was one of the best dollar slices I’ve tried to date. The crust was nice and crispy, and the cheese was of good quality. I only wish there was a bit more sauce on this baby. But I have to say: this place is a much better buy than some of the standard category 2 joints charging upwards of $2.50 for a slice.

DSC03700

They do offer some topping slices for a dollar more.

PERCY’S
190 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012