Tag Archives: midtown east

Little Tong Noodle Shop

My wife and I stopped in here last week for dinner now that they are open later. I was dying to try this “Shank JB Melt.”

It’s tender beef shank, cucumber, and Beecher’s cheese curds (melty and crisp) on a flaky pancake “crepe.” Kind of like an Asian take on a Philly cheesesteak. Look at how crisp yet melty that cheese is:

This was amazing. I highly recommend this for all you midtown east folks. Perfect lunch item.

We also tried the Mala Dan Dan Mixian noodles. This is a non-soup noodle dish that has a nice spicy and tingly flavor profile to it, with ground pork, peppercorn oil, pickled celery, mustard seeds, pickled mustard greens and peanuts. We also added a tea egg for $2 and it was well worth it.

For dessert we had the rose crystal jelly with black rock syrup, basil seeds, sesame and peanuts. A really light and refreshing way to end the meal.

I definitely recommend this place to everyone, especially those who like noodles. They have nice sandwich items at the midtown location that really shine too.

LITTLE TONG NOODLE SHOP
235 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Four Cuts Steakhouse

Four Cuts overall score: 82

My wife and I came here for a quick meal and to take photos for Instagram.

Flavor: 8

The porterhouse was a 7/10. It was cooked nicely to medium rare, but it lacked a bit of seasoning and dry-aged flavor. The strip side had a bit of a chew to it, but still pretty good. The filet side was perfect!

The “sauce” we ordered on the side was the “cherry peppers and onions” selection, which I knew in advance wouldn’t be an actual “sauce” as listed on the menu.

Four Cuts Steakhouse is owned by the same folks as Tudor City Steakhouse, and I recall that I enjoyed the cherry peppers and onions there (it, too, wasn’t a sauce, but, rather, a toping or a side item). I dig it. And these are perfect to use for leftover steak and eggs the next morning.

We also tried the filet “oscar” style.

This was a 9/10.

The lobster meat and hollandaise really worked nicely together with the steak, which was perfectly cooked to medium rare.

I highly recommend that filet, and I’m looking forward to trying more cuts the next time I visit.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

You can see here on the menu that all “four cuts” are represented (not counting the lamb chops):

However, they also offer specials like the filet “oscar,” and this tomahawk that I unfortunately didn’t get to try:

It looked and smelled delicious! The meats hail from Masters, and are all dry-aged for 28 days.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are large here, and plating is pretty standard in the steakhouse style. Elegant and simple.

Price: 9

The prices here are all very fair. In fact some are a huge bargain considering what neighboring steak joints are charging, much like their sister restaurant, Tudor City Steakhouse.

Bar: 7

There’s a cozy little stretch of bar that was seeing a fair amount of action on a Friday evening. I liked this little guy sitting on there:

Drinks are pretty good too.

First they brought out a vodka martini by mistake, but they knew before I did (I hadn’t sipped it yet). They just brought out a gin martini and told me to keep the vodka one too. Bonus!

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There are definitely some steak items that aren’t listed on the menu. The tomahawk steak and filet “oscar” style that I mentioned above, for example. Make sure you ask what they have. By way of alternative meats, you can go with either lamb or chicken.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

The crab cake was meaty!

The star of the apps were the oysters Rockefeller and the clams casino. These usually come six to an order, but the chef did us a solid and gave us three of each so we could try both preparations.

I also really liked the tuna tartare. Big portion, clean and fresh taste, and simply executed.

Sautéed asparagus with garlic:

Hash brown potatoes:

Sautéed spinach with garlic:

For dessert, my wife liked the raspberry cheesecake best of the two:

But I liked the raspberry creme brûlée. This was a unique take.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s branzino, salmon and tuna on the menu for you non-carnivorous losers out there. But based on the quality of the baked shellfish apps, I would say you’re in very good hands ordering a seafood entree here.

Service: 10

Tony is incredible, and the wait staff is top notch. You really are treated like royalty here. My favorite service aspect of the meal at Four Cuts was the table bread. It comes with a really tasty garlic, olives, capers and tomato oil spread that will blow you away. It’s almost like a “bagna cauda,” but I’m not sure if there are anchovies involved.

Ambiance: 8

This little “mom and pop” steak joint exudes a cozy yet elegant atmosphere that really makes great use of the space. It felt like the right balance between a traditional steakhouse and a local neighborhood joint. Go give it a shot. There’s even free garage parking for four hours right around the corner on 58th Street.

FOUR CUTS STEAKHOUSE
1076 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Chimichurri Grill (East)

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

I was invited to Chimichurri Grill East by the restaurant’s PR specialist to try a special five course tasting menu (with wine pairings and dessert), and to write a review. Let me get right to it!

The restaurant is an elegant, modern and fine dining Argentinian steak house. This is somewhat of a rarity here in the city, as most Argentinian places that I know are more on the pub atmosphere end, and don’t serve actual Argentinian proteins. Argentinian beef is something that people clamor for, so it’s good to know that this place serves the real deal.

Moreover, Chef Carlos Darquea uses family recipes to create the dishes he loves and grew up with. Everything is authentic and from the heart.

His wife Alicia is the wine director, and together they own a sister restaurant, called Chimichurri Grill West (a theater district mainstay for nearly 20 years), which serves the exact same menu but in a different atmosphere.

Here’s what we had:

Course 1: Sweetbreads (Heart)

This was really nice. These veal heart sweetbreads are sliced and grilled, served with a red pepper, parsley and garlic sauce, and featured on a slice of crispy purple potato. Very pretty and delicious. This was similar to something like foie gras.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 2: Beef Tongue Stew

I really loved this warm, hearty and delicious dish. It was reminiscent of homemade beef barley soup. The tongue was diced into small cubes and braised to tender perfection.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 3: Grilled Romaine Salad

The feta, buttermilk and dill dressing makes for a nice creamy compliment with the grilled greens. And the crispy bacon lardon is just perfect.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

We had a scoop of homemade passion fruit sorbet to cleanse the palate. Very nice!

Course 4: Pasta with Seafood

This house made pasta is served with a chardonnay and basil sauce that gets added to a roux and the various seafood juices that Chef Carlos extracts from the seafood used to make the dish; clams, calamari, prawns, mussels and halibut.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 5: Grass Fed Argentinian Rib Eye

This was great. It’s wet aged for 32 days as it travels from Argentina to the US. Chef Carlos finishes this Black Angus steak directly on wood charcoal to develop a great crust on the outside of the meat. It’s even plated with some charcoal, and when you pop the rosemary on top, it smokes and gives off a great aroma.

It was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It had a huge outer cap and a lean eye, likely due to the grass fed nature of the beef.

You’re in for a really nice bite when you combine the caramelized vidalia onions and sauces that come to the table with this dish.

The steak (which was a full sized portion, FYI) also came with French fries. These were perfectly crisp and deliciously seasoned.

Dessert: Dulce de Leche Creme Brulee

Wow. What a great dessert! So flavorful, smooth and unexpected. A great Latin twist on the classic French custard.

That about covers it! I really can’t wait to go back and try some more cuts of steak. The menu here is new/fresh, exciting, and completely outside the box.

They even have nice happy hour specials from 4-8pm, and a great express lunch menu for all you midtown power lunchers. Get on it!

UPDATE: 12/22/17

On a subsequent visit, I tried a few more delectable items.

La Suprema Burger

Veal sweet breads and caramelized onions on top of a 6oz grass finished filet patty. Very nice. The sweetbreads almost act like a cheese, adding that creaminess and fat content to the lean beef.

Clams with Chorizo

Perfection. Just order these and you’ll thank me later.

Bife Con Fritas

Strip steak, perfectly cooked, with those delicious fries. Can’t go wrong with this bad boy. I liked this better than the rib eye, and at just $42 for 12oz, you’re saving some cash in the process.

Special Off Menu Bone-In Rib Eye

Similar to the boneless cut I tried during the multi-course tasting, this lean rib eye backed a great flavor with a robust char from the on-coals cooking process.

CHIMICHURRI GRILL EAST
133 E 61st St
New York, NY 10065

Tulsi

UPDATE: This place is now CLOSED!

A food buddy of mine set up a press/influencer meal at this midtown east Indian joint. I have somewhat of a deficit when it comes to Indian restaurant reviews on this site, so I was excited to try this place. I had heard good things from friends, and they were recently awarded a Michelin star.

We started with a bunch of apps.

The chicken tikka was my favorite of these babies. The meat was super tender inside and crispy/charred on the outside.

Chaat.

Paneer cheese.

Of course the amazing naan.

Their garlic naan was awesome, and went very nicely with the coconut shrimp curry.

In fact all of the curries I tried were pretty great here.

I also tried a goat biryani, which was probably the best biryani I’ve ever had. It was spicy! And the goat was super tender (just be aware of bones throughout).

My favorite dish of the night, however, was this halibut dish.

The fish was cooked really nicely, had great texture and a crisp outside, while remaining flakey and tender inside.

So beautiful too.

The lamb chops were incredibly tender as well. I really liked the spice profile on them. Aggressive, but really earthy. I didn’t get a shot of the inside, but they were cooked to a perfect medium rare to rare temperature. And like I said, so freaking tender. I actually cut them with a butter knife.

Dessert was interesting. My favorite was their rendition of cheesecake. Super creamy!

And I also liked these yogurt cream “cannoli”-like shells:

But everything else I tried was beautiful and tasty.

TULSI
211 E 46th St
New York, NY 10017

Jubilee

Jubilee is a gorgeously decorated midtown east French restaurant that was founded by Eric Macaire, and is co-owned with Chef Luc Holie and his spouse Ilda. When you step into this joint, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home, and are dining in their living room. Not only is the decor and atmosphere inviting, but the staff is very warm and friendly as well.

Jubilee is known for offering a variety of fresh steamed mussels in delicious sauces. There’s even a special, separate menu that’s dedicated to just mussels! If you’re like me and you can’t decide between the nine sauces, you can get a trio of mini pots to try. I suggest going with a group of people, that way you can get three trios to share as an app; you’ll be able to try all nine varieties!

My wife and I had the dijonnaise, curry and truffle chicken sauces. All were excellent but we liked the truffle chicken the best. What’s cool about the trio is that they remove all the mussels from their shells, so the juicy bivalves are swimming in pure flavor. And there’s a LOT of them in each cup; don’t be deceived!

A full size order of these will come with shells on, in a pretty metal pot. That’s more traditional. But I think the trio is a better value.

They also have some excellent prix fix offerings, both for lunch and dinner. For example, the dinner prix fix includes two courses and a beer/glass of wine. Not bad at all, considering they don’t cut corners on the selections or portion sizes. I’ll take mussels, a hanger steak with fries and a beer any day for under $30. That’s great!

Speaking of steak and fries, they serve up a pretty great boneless “cote de boeuf” rib eye frites here.

That’s a lot of fries! And they are perfectly golden crisp, to boot, and well seasoned. The steak is about an inch thick and 14oz. It had a great sear on the outside but maintained a perfectly pink medium rare on the inside. 8/10. Better than many midtown steakhouses.

Add the complimentary green peppercorn or bernaise sauce on top and you’re in heaven. Those sauces are great for fry dipping too.

Speaking of dipping, I couldn’t stop myself from dipping the fresh country style table bread into my wife’s platter of escargot that she got for her app. The buttery, garlicky, herby sauce was addicting!

And speaking of the bread, it was served with a smooth, spreadable soft butter. I hate when the butter is hard!

But I can’t forget to tell you about my app: the foie gras terrine. It was so incredibly smooth and flavorful, and so incredibly velvety and decadent. I highly recommend it.

We also sampled the grilled leek salad, which comes topped with a pair of fried quail eggs for good measure. I’m typically not a fan of leek texture – a bit too woody for me – but these took on an almost braised quality, and, as such, were super tender and flavorful.

Not only was the food good here at Jubilee, but it was also beautifully presented and plated. For example, take a look at this sea scallop and orzo dish.

Absolutely stunning, not to mention the perfect sear on those babies. And that sauce you see around the risotto was an earthy truffle and porcini blend that was drinkable.

No French meal would be complete without some house made French desserts. For me, creme brulee is an old standby that never disappoints. Here, it was smooth, rich with flavor, and perfectly caramelized on top.

But, rarely seen on menus is a Paris-Brest. I was excited to see it here. It was so light and airy, yet it still packed a walloping punch of flavor. That might have been my favorite of the desserts. It was really pretty, too.

And finally, warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Pure decadence. It was so soft and chocolately inside. It was kind of hard to pull away from this and eat the other stuff.

Dessert also came with these tiny little soft lemon cookie/cake hybrids. There’s a fancy French name for them, but a big, doofy, arrogant, proud American ogre like me doesn’t know it off hand and is too lazy to go looking for it.

In any case, this place is one of my favorite French restaurants now. They have weekly specials mapped out for the entire month. Right now is coq au vin, and later in the month there’s a beef bourgignon. I may have to go back very soon! I hope you go as well.

JUBILEE
948 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails

I had the pleasure of attending an Instagram influencer event at Handcraft last night, and I have to say: I was super impressed with everything I drank and ate. This place really knows their stuff.

The meal started with some buffalo style deviled eggs, which were absolutely delicious.

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They had the same flavor profile you get from good spicy chicken wings, with a pop of hot sauce.

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Then came our first cocktail: Tokyo Drift. This was made with gin, sake, cucumber, lemon and fizz.

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It was really refreshing and slammable, which was nice to pair with the next part of the meal: Handcraft Nachos.

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These are tots, topped with corn, bean chili, pico de gallo, guacamole, chipotle sour cream and cheese sauce. These “totchos” were absolutely fantastic. You definitely need to start your meal with these when you come here.

Next up on cocktails was the Liquid Lunch: watermelon and strawberry gin, basil, balsamic vinegar and lime.

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This baby was like drinking a salad! So savory yet still with a nice pop of sweetness. I loved it.

We drank that with a killer fried chicken sandwich.

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This is up there with Delaney and Fuku+ in terms of taste and quality. It’s topped with pimento cheese, pickled green tomato and kale, served on focaccia.

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The chicken was so tender and juicy inside, and that cheese acted like a sauce to boot. Awesome.

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The final cocktail was a Bourbon Punch: bourbon, amaretto, southern comfort, orange and pineapple.

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The hard liquor really gets balanced out by the sweetness here, and the fruitiness of the drink went well with the next course: The Game Changer.

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This mountain of meat consists of a bison patty and a wild boar patty. Then it gets topped with duck confit, brie and cherry chutney, served neatly on a brioche bun. Amazing. The cherry chutney almost acts like a cranberry sauce, turning this into the perfect Thanksgiving substitute for those of you who despise turkey.

I highly recommend this place, and they have a great beer menu too.

HANDCRAFT KITCHEN & COCKTAILS
367 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016

Kokum

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

I’m generally a pretty simple person when it comes to Indian food. I love a few of the popular and Americanized curries, and almost anything in the saagwala family (stewed spinach). In addition, Indian rice like Basmati is far and away the most superior rice that I’ve ever eaten. And who could pass up the amazing tandoori oven breads like naan, or delicious fried samosas? They’re amazing. But that’s such a limited, pinhole view of an incredibly vast and diverse cuisine.

Kokum opened my eyes and my stomach to items I would never think to order. Most of my experience with Indian food in NYC is centered around ordering delivery. What tends to happen is that I end up ordering the same things from the same places because I know that I will be satisfied. That’s lazy, and it precludes a lot of great stuff from ever hitting my palate. For example, I almost never order fish for delivery, from ANY kind of restaurant for that matter, not just Indian joints. I don’t know what it is, but I just never do it.

So when my wife and I came to Kokum for a press meal, we were pretty amazed at the inundation of flavors we were getting from a pair of Indian fish dishes that we probably never would have thought to order. I’ll get to those dishes in a moment, don’t worry. I just want to keep prattling on about Indian food a bit first, because I’m seeing the greatness of the cuisine with a fresh pair of eyes now; I’m re-motivated about the food, and really eager to dive deeper.

Kokum is a great place to do make that dive. It’s been open for three years, it’s captained by a Michelin starred chef, and it’s been reviewed favorably by top notch, respectable food critics from major publications.

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Chef Hemant Mathur distinguishes Kokum from the plethora of other Indian joints in Curry Hill by representing four regions in southern India: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra. With his newly re-envisioned menu, he offers some items that most casual diners like me don’t often see or wouldn’t necessarily think about when eating at Indian restaurants or ordering delivery.

So here’s a run down of our meal. I’m always eager to try beers from all over the world. These two imports, Kingfisher and Taj, were mild lagers with good flavor. I preferred the Taj for the slightly more malty and round flavor at the back end.

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These little fried calamari-shaped doo-dads are multi-colored rice crackers. They come to the table at the start of the meal and are fun to snack on.

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We were then presented with two shot glasses of warm tomato, tamarind and lentil soup, called rasam. This was delicious, and similar to a hearty minestrone, only with more complex spice flavors. The lentil flavor was strong here, but the soup was strained of any chunks or actual lentils, so it was velvety smooth.

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We started with a pair of potato, cauliflower and pea samosas, These had a great crunchy pastry outer shell, and the inside was perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

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Next up was lasoni gobi: fried cauliflower bites in a tangy sauce. Imagine a cross between General Tso’s chicken and buffalo chicken wings flavors. I was impressed! They had a crispy outside and the cauliflower was soft and tender inside. The sauce had bits of peppers and onions.

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Fish poriyal came out next. This is flaky shredded fish with lime, shallots and mustard seeds, served on a banana leaf. My wife and I really loved this dish. It reminded me of some of the Vietnamese fried rice concoctions that my wife makes at home, only without the rice. Super healthy and very flavorful.

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This beautiful web like thing is called appum. It’s a huge bowl-shaped rice crepe that you basically rip up and eat with curries.

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Another vehicle for delivering delicious curry to your mouth is Kerala parotta, which is a multi layered bread that comes out steaming in a bamboo dumpling-style basket. Looks like onion rings with bits of potato mixed in. It’s cool bread.

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This first curry is kori gassi. It’s a spicy and savory Mangalorean (an ethnic group from the south western coast of India) coconut chicken curry. This was by far my favorite item of the night. It had a great, rich and salty flavor with nicely balanced heat. The chicken was perfectly cooked, super tender, and varied by cut (both dark and white meat portions).

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This next bowl is keerai masiyal: spinach, lentils and red chilies in a savory broth. Since this dish had a more soup-like consistency, it seemed to pair better with the rice. This is definitely a solid choice for you health-conscious eaters out there. It packs flavor and its satisfying, but its low on calories and fat content.

Our final entree was meen polichattu, which is roasted cod that’s wrapped in banana leaf with green masala. It comes with a side of diced, fried banana that serve as a starch element similar to a potato side. It had a nice high level of spice, was really tender and was completely devoid of any bones. Lovely!

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We tried two items for dessert. The first was rasmalai. This is a cold dish of cheese balls in sweet reduced milk (like a vanilla custard soup) with pistachios. I liked this because it wasn’t too sweet.

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In fact, the above cold dessert went really well when you combined it with the warm dessert, gulab jamun. These are warm cardamom dough balls in a honey-flavored and sugary sweet syrup. This was very sweet, so I loved going back and forth with the cheese balls to balance the flavors.

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That about does it. I highly recommend trying this place out. I was really impressed and will definitely be back for more.

KOKUM
106 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016

Atoboy

Atoboy is a new Korean fine dining joint with a new concept; you choose three dishes for a $36 tasting with a bowl of rice. The menu is set out in three sections, which are somewhat similar to an app, salad and entree breakdown. You choose one of each, but can add additional items from each section at an upcharge of $9, $12 or $15, depending on which section you’re choosing from. White rice and some kimchi (both cabbage and tomatillo varieties) comes with your meal, but they also offer a seasonal rice for $2 extra. Currently, the seasonal rice is a white rice that’s been mixed with powderized nori.

The portions are a little small, but they’re all really well executed and delicious. Since I came here with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, we sampled an extra entree item as well as a dessert in addition to our three courses each. Here’s what we had:

Eggplant with snow crab and tomato jelly. While this doesn’t look pretty or even sound particularly appetizing, it was actually pretty tasty. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant to begin with, but I was pleasantly surprised.

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Littleneck clams with avocado cream, rice crackers and gochugaru (red chili flakes). This was pretty good. I’ve never had clams with avocado before. It was pretty interesting. The rice crackers gave the dish a nice dynamic texture.

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Next was grilled avocado with horseradish, cotija (hard cow’s milk cheese) and trout roe. I’ve never had grilled avocado before. I just assumed doing anything to a ripe avocado would result in guacamole due to the softness. Perhaps these are grilled while they’re still a little bit hard to avoid structural breakdown? In any case, this was a tasty and healthy dish.

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This next dish is highly recommended, and was one of my favorites of the night. Squid rings, stuffed with pork and shrimp, then topped with salsa verde. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and the stuffing gave a nice salty and fatty flavor. Plus, it was really pretty.

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Now we move on to the big winners from this dining experience; the entree selections. We started with crispy pork jowl on a bed of barley, ssamjang (spicy and sweet sauce/paste) and romaine.

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The crispy skin and under-layer of fat were delicious, and as I bit down into the meat beneath, my mouth came alive with salivation. Great dish!

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Next up was the brisket with melted foie gras, garlic and ginger. This was really hearty and delicious. The beef was super tender and can rival any top notch BBQ brisket you might find out there at a pit smoker competition (though this one was admittedly not prepared the same way with a smoker – it’s just the same cut of beef).

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Our last entree item was the strip steak. This came with a tofu skin and celery salad, and everything was lightly dressed with sesame oil.

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The steak was super tender and flavorful. They marinade the steak with kiwi to allow the enzymes to slowly tenderize the meat before it is cooked. That may be the reason why there was a healthy amount of grey banding around the edges of the meat.

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The outside could use a slightly better crust, but I imagine they need to be careful not to overcook the steak, as it isn’t very thick. This was a big success though, overall, and it tasted like wagyu. 9/10.

For dessert we tried this black raspberry cake with hazelnut and pistachio, which was garnished with fresh blueberries. This is the only dessert that’s made off-site by another pastry person. The texture was almost like mousse, and the look reminded me of Italian tri-color cookies. Very nice.

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Although expensive at $80 each after tax and tip, this was a satisfying, unique and delicious Korean fine dining experience.

ATOBOY
43 E 28th St
New York, NY 10016

Hard Times Sundaes

If your taste in burgers is anything like mine, you like to keep it fairly simple but always delicious. They say “you don’t mess with perfection,” and I believe that’s vital when it comes to the outstanding combination of meat and cheese. That perfection, for me, is a classic flat top griddle burger with crispy edges and a medium center, covered all over with melted American cheese, and topped with lettuce, tomato and fresh jalapenos. It must also be slapped on a potato bun with a bit of mayo.

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One of the best places to get this style of burger is Hard Times Sundaes at Urbanspace Vanderbilt.

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What started out as a meager food truck venture turned out to be one of the most sought after “roadside” style burgers in the city. Two years later, this place is consistently hailed as one of the best burgers in town by some of the most respected burger critics around. I agree with them.

I came here to celebrate their second “BURGthday” with a bunch of other NYC food scene press people.  Since this was my first go at this place, I kept it simple, sticking to my favorite style, as outlined above. I was impressed! Everything was perfect – seriously.

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A bunch of people were getting triples, because they do look amazing in photos, but I really wanted to experience the single in all its glory, perfectly ratio’d between bun, meat, cheese and toppings. It was so fucking good, and I wish I had more right now.

But I also got to try their bacon wrapped hot dog as well. These are not dick pics with toasted foreskin. These are delicious hot dogs.

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I had this once with avocado at Crif Dogs, WAAAY back in the day, before I started reviewing restaurants. I loved it then, and I love it now. I like glorified hot dogs, and wrapping them in bacon and deep frying them is probably one of the best ways to do it. I liked it so much on that first bite, that I totally skipped any additional toppings like mustard, ketchup or onions.

Do yourselves a favor and get your asses over here ASAP.

There’s also a luncheonette spot out in Brooklyn that serves the burgers and also a nice skirt steak sandwich:

Watch the video of the steak sandwich being made:

HARD TIMES SUNDAES
At Urbanspace Vanderbilt
230 Park Ave
New York, NY 10169

Koshe Poke

Koshe Poke is a Kosher poke joint inside Eden Wok on East 34th Street. Poke has skyrocketed in popularity here in NYC. We went from no poke restaurants to about 10 or more, seemingly overnight.

For the uninitiated, poke is essentially chopped up raw, dressed fish with flavorful toppings. It’s actually a Hawaiian dish, so many of the flavors and toppings are Asian/Japanese inspired, like sesame oil, soy sauce and green onions.

In many ways it’s similar to tartare preparations of salmon and tuna, only it is generally cut into larger pieces and dressed with more items. Here in NYC, it is more like a “sushi salad,” since often times the poke is thrown into a bowl with rice, quinoa or greens. It’s even showing up in burrito form now, too.

In any case, I’ve had poke a few times before the craze finally made it to NYC. Back in the mid/late 90’s, my sister lived in Hawaii for a stretch of about four years. That’s really when I first became aware of the dish, just from talking with her and having the topic of food come up on occasion.

My experience with poke in Hawaii was a mediocre one. The dish I tried contained ahi that was a bit stringy in spots, so I was a little bummed out. In fairness, I probably should have tried it in more places when I was there.

Koshe Poke is the first NYC poke joint that I’ve tried since the trend took hold. I liked it. The fish tasted fresh and was good quality, and the toppings were all flavorful and highly varied.

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The concept is simple, and highly customizable. You start with a choice of either brown rice, white rice, greens or a burrito as the “base” of your poke meal. While this is not in keeping with the traditional ways of Hawaii, it makes the poke more like a full meal rather than a side or salad item.

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Then you choose your protein from among items like tuna, salmon, and yellow tail. You can get them grilled too if you want, and you can add additional proteins for just $2.

After, you can choose up to six add-ins from a selection of 13, one sauce, four toppings, and a choice of two crispy items from a selection of 12. You get all of this for just $12, which is a great deal.

I went with tuna and salmon on white rice, with carrot, cucumber, avocado, sweet corn, scallion and hearts of palm. I chose the Hawaiian salt sauce, topped it with wasabi, and added sesame seeds and dry noodles as my crispy elements.

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I was happy with this bowl, and kept referring to it as a “sushi salad.”

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One suggestion I have is that they should have the option to get the rice served cold, that way the cold items like raw fish stay chilled and don’t warm up in the bowl from the warm rice. The main issue with that, though, is that cold rice tends to clump together and get sticky, which could be problematic. In any case, this is a good riff on poke, and I’m glad to see the item establishing a solid presence in NYC.

KOSHE POKE (INSIDE EDEN WOK)
43 E 34th St
New York, NY 10016