Tag Archives: chinatown

Banh Mi Co Ut

This little Vietnamese sandwich joint in Chinatown serves up some of the best I’ve had. The bread really sets this place apart from the rest.

At this point, I’ve tried about six different kinds, and my favorite is the #4, the traditional sandwich but with SMOKED Viet ham rather than regular. I also like to order with hot peppers and extra cilantro. They don’t charge!

BANH MI CO UT
83 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10013

Bacaro

I’m officially hooked on this place. A while back, my wife and I stopped in for a drink and an app – the fritto misto. We were already sort of full, but that pplate of mixed fried items like calamari, olives, lemon rinds, shrimp, and artichoke really made us want to go back.

Last night we finally did! We tried two more apps, meatballs and fried zucchini blossoms. Both were incredible. In fact, the meatballs are some of the best I’ve had outside of family.

The fried zucchini blossoms are stuffed with velvery smooth ricotta and served with an anchovy pesto oil. I liked swiping them in the meatball sauce though.

The pasta entrees are pretty large servings! Check out this massive bowl of gnocchi with peas and mushrooms.

The cavatelli with duck meat ragu was a massive serving too.

They had to be half a pound each. We couldn’t finish! I’ll definitely be back here to try more pastas, and perhaps one or two of the fish items from their entree menu.

BACARO
136 Division St
New York, NY 10002

Cervos

My wife and I finally tried this spot. It’s been getting very popular lately in the food scene, mainly because of the crispy shrimp heads seen here:

They paired nicely with the house hot sauce.

They’re delicious! But so are the other items they offer, like the mussels escabeche:

The fried skate wing:

And the piri piri chicken with french fries:

Fries were perfect, chicken was juicy! Great cocktails as well.

We’ll definitely be back to try the Manila clams and a few other items that looked tasty.

CERVOS
43 Canal St
New York, NY 10002

Wo Hop

How have I never reviewed this place in all my years living here, and all my times eating here – especially from way back when I went to Law School and lived/worked nearby for years after?

Wo Hop is a NYC institution. They’ve been serving up excellent and affordable Chinese food in their iconic downstairs location since 1938! I have to say, the fried wontons are some of the best I’ve ever had.

On this visit, my wife and I had the sliced chicken with baby corn. I was expecting this to be much spicier, being printed in RED on the menu and under the spicy Szechaun section, but it was still delicious.

We also had the 4D chow fun, which has 4 different proteins (shrimp, beef, chicken and roast pork). This was the better dish.

They’re still keeping prices very low here, which is great. Even the t-shirt prices haven’t changed since I purchased one back in 2000 – $10!

If you’ve never been, you definitely should go at least once, even if it’s just to say that you’ve been there.

WO HOP
17 Mott St
New York, NY 10013

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

Le Turtle

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.

We started with the following:

Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.

Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.

Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.

Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.

Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.

Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.

Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.

Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.

This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.

90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:

And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:

This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.

There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.

There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.

Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.

Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.

Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.

Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.

I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.

LE TURTLE
177 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002

Sing Kee

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

A food friend of ours organized a massive 18-person, multi-course Chinese Thanksgiving meal on the weekend before turkey day as a way to celebrate our love of food.

We started with a house soup that contained dry winter melon and shredded pork.

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These clams were served in a bean sauce that really popped. Super flavorful and clams were cooked perfectly.

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These fried pork chops were incredibly tender and juicy. Definitely one of my favorite courses.

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I’m not usually into full veggie dishes, but this mushroom platter was really incredible and satisfying. Those things at the bottom are little tofu skin crepes that are filled with a variety of mushrooms.

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This whole fish (flounder, I believe) was another top dish of the day.

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The meat was succulent and tender, and the veggies were a nice vehicle to deliver the sauce that they sponged up.

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Fried and chopped lobster with some sort of Cheetos-like cheese coating. Incredibly unique for a Chinese joint. These were gobbled up almost instantly.

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Beef! Yes! This was likely either flank or strip, but it came out on a sizzling skillet and was served in a really delicious brown sauce. Very tender.

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Also a winning dish, this chicken was basically deconstructed and then re-assembled with the meat having been replaced by mixed-protein sticky rice. That rice was then coated and blanketed with extremely crisp chicken skin. So awesome, and so labor intensive.

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Another hit dish was this dungeoness crab on a bef of flat, wide noodles (think chow fun style).

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This was a very photogenic dish, and the crab meat was delicious.

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The noodles could have used a bit more of a flavorful sauce, but otherwise this was really good.

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On the side we enjoyed some stir fried and garlicky pea shoots.

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And for dessert was a warm bowl of sweet bean porridge, of which I did not get a good shot.

All in, this meal only cost $45pp with tax and tip included. I definitely recommend giving this place a try. Especially for the chicken/sticky rice, fried pork chops and whole fish.

SING KEE
42 Bowery
New York, NY 10013

Mr. Taka

Mr. Taka is easily one of the best bowls of tonkotsu I’ve had in NYC. The thick, rich pork broth manages to be full of porky flavor without going overboard with the salt content or overpowering you with too much garlic. It’s velvety smooth – no off-putting textures, which can sometimes happen with thickened broths.

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The meat quality is awesome. Super soft with a good char on the outside of each slab. It falls apart between your chopsticks. So good. I recommend getting an additional slab, since your bowl will only come with one if you don’t.

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The noodles are the straight kind, not wavy, and if you order the spicy version you get a soft boiled egg and a normal sized blob of spicy paste that won’t overrun the entire eating experience with heat.

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I highly recommend this joint for all your slurping needs. It really is as close to perfect as you’re going to get.

MR. TAKA
170 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

Flaming Kitchen

This joint offers a legitimately awesome Chinese food experience in the heart of Chinatown. The owner contacted me for a press meal, and I was quick to jump at it.

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The interior is very bright, pretty, spacious and clean. The dining room was a cool and comfortable, with plenty of elbow room.

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My wife and I turned over all control of our meal to our waiter, Griffin, after we poured ourselves some oolong tea.

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Griffin asked a few questions, like “do you like spicy foods,” and “do you have any food allergies.” Yes, and no. “We are willing to try anything.” He was happy about that, as he was planning to feature some of their more signature dishes for us. And then we were off…

The first thing that came out was this plate of thinly sliced conch with spicy chili sauce.

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The conch was cooked perfectly. It was tender enough to make you think you were eating chow fun noodles, but it still had snap to it, like you might associate with nicely cooked squid. My wife referred to this dish as “protein noodles.” I thought that was pretty clever, so we did a “lift” photo for all of you Instagram whores out there.

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And the spicy chili oil with lemongrass was the perfect sauce to deliver all of this deliciousness. I can’t wait to go back and order more of this. $12.95.

Next up were these pan fried mini pork buns. Say what? Steamed pork buns that are also fried? Yup. Take a look:

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They’re steamed first, and then one side is pan fried to give it a nice flat and golden brown crisp. I’ve never seen this before.

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Inside was tender and lemongrass-spiced pork meat with scallions.

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They were great. The bun was soft but not sticky and gummy, and the pan fried side gave them a nice texture mix that kept my taste buds interested from the first bite to the last. $5.95.

We tried four entrees! The first, and our most favorite, was the braised whole tilapia in spicy chili broth with peppercorns.

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It may LOOK like a nightmare of spices for you heat pussies out there, but I assure you, this broth is drinkable. I love spicy foods, and I can handle a lot of heat, but my opinion is that this dish is accessible to all in terms of spice levels, so long as you don’t actually eat the dried red chilies. The peppercorns within are very herbal and only slightly numbing, like a milder version of the kind you might encounter in spicy hot pot. This was so addicting that we brought home whatever was left of this dish so that we could have at that broth again and again. It almost had a Thai tom yum flavor, but without the lemongrass.

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But back to the actual fish: the meat was extremely tender and flavorful. Braised means it is fall-apart tender, and with some fresh cilantro on top, you feel like you are eating so fresh and healthy. Tilapia is a light fish to begin with, so this was a very good entree to start with. $24.95.

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We even got some of the cheek meat out of the head. Mmm.

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Next up was sauteed frog with spicy peppers.

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The frog itself was mainly leg meat, with some occasional other parts mixed in, but chopped up coarsely so you had to be deft with not swallowing any bones. I found that eating in the front of my mouth, with my front teeth, was the trick to maneuvering the bones with ease. The meat was awesome. If you haven’t had frog, to me it tastes like a cross between tender chicken and a scallop, both in texture and flavor.

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This was the spiciest dish of the day, too, as the chopped dried red chilies added a nice kick in the balls for heat. The green peppers aren’t that spicy but they have a great aroma and flavor. I even tasted traditional black pepper in there as well. $22.95.

The next dish was salt and pepper jumbo shrimp. These were presented butterflied, but with the shells and heads still on, on a bed of lettuce, peppers, sliced garlic and scallions.

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While a few were slightly overcooked, the salt and pepper batter was delicious and crunchy. We dipped these into the sauce that came with the frog dish as well, for a little more spice. $21.95.

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We treated the fourth entree as a side, since it came out alongside our fish dish. This was sauteed pumpkin with celery and artichoke.

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The pumpkin was tender and slightly sweet, which went well with the fresh braised celery flavor. The artichoke added a bit of starchiness to the dish, so if you are not a meat eater, this will be nice and filling for you, and unique to boot. Not bad for vegetarian! $14.95.

We will definitely be back here, again and again. For a long time my wife and I were hunting for a good Chinese and spicy Szechuan joint in the area. This place will give us our fix, every time. When you come here, I highly recommend the pan fried mini pork buns, the braised whole fish and the sliced conch dishes. All three were amazing. I realize that frog is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we really enjoyed it. If you are up for trying something different, then go for it because I recommend that as well. They also serve dim sum, so if that’s your thing, I suggest doing that as well. Oh, and upstairs is a karaoke joint. So you can go up and sing your ass off after dinner.

FLAMING KITCHEN
97 Bowery
New York, NY 10002