Tag Archives: midtown west

Savour Sichuan

Savour Sichuan serves up some authentic, spicy-as-hell Chinese food in the heart of midtown.

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Executive Chef Zhong Qing Wang masterfully put together about 14 dishes for a press meal, showcasing not only his skills as a chef but the difficult-to-come-by and truly authentic cuisine of China’s Sichuan province.

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The Lazy Susan in the center of the table displayed an array of about a dozen styles of pepper, including pickled peppers, dried peppers, fresh peppers, pepper powders and peppercorns.

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Let me get right down to business, since there are a lot of dishes to discuss here.

APPETIZERS

Cold Chicken with Sesame Sauce

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This was tender, sliced white meat chicken that was served in a somewhat sweet and savory sesame sauce.

Pork Belly with Garlic Sauce (aka “meat curtains”)

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These thin slices of pork belly were also served cold, but with a hot (spicy) chili oil and garlic sauce for dipping. Really nice. I took to calling it “meat curtains” because, well, that’s what it looked like, and I have a weird sense of humor. It isn’t the official name on the menu.

Szechuan Country Smoked Pork Ribs (aka “pork wheelbarrow”)

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I gave this the “pork wheelbarrow” name as well, because it looks like a little ox cart filled with small pork ribs. The meat was sweet yet spicy, and also dry yet succulent. A conundrum.

Baby Shrimp with Red Pickled Pepper

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This was a spicy dish. The sliced up green fresh peppers packed heat, but the shrimp were cooked perfectly and retained a great seafood flavor with good texture.

Dumplings

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These were classic, with a great pop of spice from the chili oil.

Crispy Cucumber (no photos)

Very simple: just raw sliced cukes with a dipping sauce.

ENTREES

Fish Filets with Spicy Green Peppers

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Widely hailed as one of the best dishes of the night, this large, family style platter was filled with green peppers (not too spicy) and perfectly cooked medallions of fish.

Sliced Beef

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As a beef guy, you know I was liking this spicy dish made from slices of tender beef that were lightly breaded and stir fried with hot peppers and served on a bed of cooked scallions.

Yellow Millets and Pork Ribs

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This tasted like a broken sticky rice type of grain with small bones of pork that had tender meat still clinging to them. Very tasty.

Szechuan Pepper Chicken/Pork and Crispy Noodles

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Another favorite of the night was this dish made of tender morsels of baby pork rib (our platter didn’t have chicken but it can be made with either) and fried noodle twists. This was almost like eating a bagged corn chip type of snack. I loved it.

Okra with Garlic and Pepper

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I hate to say it, but I loved the okra. Yep. I loved the veggie dish. It’s a rare thing to get okra that isn’t slimy after being cooked. This was nice and fresh, even had a little crisp to it, absolutely no slime, lots of bright flavors and a good amount of heat.

Seafood with Tofu in Spicy Sauce

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This was essentially shrimp in a spicy broth with fried tofu pillows, onions and bell peppers. It was herby and fresh, and it was presented with a glowing candle beneath the bowl.

Fried Soft Shell Crab

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I’ve never really been a big soft shell crab fan, but these were excellent. My experience is always that the shells aren’t really that soft. They still retain a “shrimp shell” quality to them, which I don’t want to eat. These were soft through and through, and beautifully fried with a delicious batter that was reminiscent of fried chicken.

Fresh Frog Pot with Pickled Peppers (no photos)

Although I didn’t take photos, this was a nice dish as well. I would have liked more lumps of leg meat as opposed to the other bits, but the sauce was very nice for putting on top of a bed of rice.

DESSERT

Brown Sugar and Steamed Sticky Rice Doughnuts

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These had the texture and consistency of a rice or tapioca cake, but with a crisped outer edge and some sugar on top. Very simple and mildly sweet.

Fried Yellow Bean and Rice Ball with Black Sesame Paste

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We all loved these. The sesame paste inside reminded me of the red bean breakfast and dessert pastries I sometimes get from Asian bakeries downtown, only the outside was soft and powdered instead of crispy.

Here’s a 360 shot of the table, and then the dudes all together.

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If you have any interest in who everyone is, check out their Instagram accounts:

@mattbruck
@thecakedealer
@ibitefood
@rebecca_chews_nyc
@jillish_
@sherrytao88
@thegrubfather
@boddenbites
@missyanacherie
@gramercygourmand
@nomnomnycgirls
@food_p.o.r.n_ny
@thefoodjoy

I’ll definitely be back here again, and probably soon, since I’d really like to get more than just a taste of some of the dishes that I liked most. If you like spicy Chinese food, this is the place for you!

SAVOUR SICHUAN
108 W 39th St
New York, NY 10018

Uncle Jack’s (west side)

Uncle Jack’s (west side) overall score: 83

My wife and I came here to use a Groupon that we purchased, which gave us a five-course steak dinner for two for just $99.

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Flavor: 7
We had the options to choose a filet and a strip as our entrees, so that’s how we rolled. Both came in at 7/10 for flavor. They were cooked properly to medium rare, they had a good crust and sear on the outside, and they were seasoned properly.

Filet:

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Strip:

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I think they just lacked flavor due to the fact that they were such lean cuts. As a steak man, I tend to always go with a rib eye, which generally has more marbling, more fat, and therefore more flavor. For this reason, when cooking cuts like tenderloin and strip loin, many steakhouses will be quite liberal in their use of butter. Butter adds fat flavor back into the beef, and it triggers all sorts of cum-inducing sensations that start at your taste buds and end at the tip of your rock-hard cock. I didn’t taste too much butter at all, so my dick remained pretty flaccid throughout the meal. I did taste soy, which was nice, but ultimately it competed with the steaks natural earthy and aged flavor qualities. As a result, the steaks were just a little flat, and lacked flavor depth. Most of the score here is for good execution on the cook temperature and sear.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Uncle Jack’s has a really great selection of USDA Prime and dry-aged beef. Top notch stuff. There’s an elephant’s shitload of variety in terms of sizing, bones, cuts and even some specialty stuff like wagyu and kobe. An elephant shits large loads. That’s why I used that analogy there.

Portion Size & Plating: 10
The filet comes in three styles:  puss-bag 8oz, 12oz, or manly 20oz bone-in tenderloin. I must say, ordering the big tenderloin here is not a pussy move.  A little kid had one next to us and I felt like a rimmed out gaping asshole for sharing two steaks between me and my wife that, when combined in weight, added up to his one cut. That kid is going to grow up to crush so much pussy that he will STILL be crushing pussy while he rests between bouts of crushing pussy. The ribeye is 24oz (bone-in), the strips are 12oz or 16oz boneless, and the porterhouses start at 44oz (22oz pp). They also offer a cote de boeuf 44oz rib eye for two. Everything is pretty much on the large side here, which is good, and similar to Lex Steele’s penis. They even offer some wagyu and kobe selections as well. TONS of variety.

Price: 9
Since we had that great Groupon, this was a bargain. While it wasn’t the best steak we’ve had, I still feel that we got a good bang for our buck here.

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Bar: 8
The bar is perpendicular to the windows on the right as you walk in, but there are a few high tops along the windows for people watching. The location, 9th avenue and 34th/35th street, is not the best for hanging out, as it is close to what I call “the armpit of the city” (the Penn Station and Port Authority areas), but the bar does mix up some nice cocktails. Although the waiter or bartender got my martini order wrong (see service section below), it still tasted great.

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Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were no specials read to us that I can recall (probably because they knew we were eating from the Groupon menu), but they do offer pork, lamb and chicken for people who have too much estrogen in their bodies to properly enjoy beef like real men with dicks between their legs.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We had baked clams and a crab cake to start.

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I like that they give you eight clams per order (they split the clams up between us when they served them). The spicy butter and lemon breadcrumb stuffing was good, and the clams were whole, quality Little Necks, not chopped up cherrystones or bait clams that were then re-inserted into a clam shell that wasn’t its own. As for the crab cake, we loved the sauce in which it was served. It was like a reduced crab bisque soup mixed with vodka sauce. Very flavorful, and the top of the cake had a great crispy crust.

Our salads were next. My wife went with the farmers mixed greens. Some of the greens were soggy, wilted and probably rotten, so that was a bummer. Otherwise the salad had great flavor from the cranberries and pine nuts, and it was well dressed, so that’s a plus. My caesar was pretty standard.

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On the side we had creamed spinach and mashed potatoes.

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That pic is just a combined plate that I was eating from, not the full size portions. These were both pretty good, but nothing too stand out. I liked the potatoes better, which is reverse from my usual preference when it comes to these sides.

Seafood Selection: 8
There’s tuna, salmon, “day boat fresh catch” and surf & turf (lobster tail, shrimp or crab oscar with either a filet or strip). That’s a decent amount of shit in addition to the standard shellfish on the app menu. But if you’re ordering seafood for your main course at a steakhouse, you better have tits and a vagina, otherwise you are pretty much an asshole. Go home.

Service: 7
Unfortunately we had some slow service here. The staff was all nice, pleasant and courteous, but we found ourselves waiting a while to get drinks and order food. It picked up a bit after that, but it was slow to start. This was a little odd since the place wasn’t too crowded when we went at 6pm. A few other things I found to be odd or a bit off: (1) The steak sauce doesn’t come out to the table with the steak. You have to ask for it. We didn’t get sauce (not a problem, but I always like to taste it), and I overheard another table asking for it since they didn’t get it either. (2) Also there was no bread basket. Finally, (3) this time I ordered my martini on the rocks instead of up. They made it up instead. Not that big of a deal, but figured I’d mention it. I didn’t send it back, and it still tasted great.

Ambiance: 8
This joint is old school, where waiters wear bow ties, tables are covered in white cloth, and the decor consists of wood paneling, large mirrors, exposed brick, ornate chandeliers and a patterned tin ceiling. It’s a warm and inviting atmosphere, yet classy and elegant, without being pretentious. It’s a classic steakhouse look and feel.

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UNCLE JACK’S (WEST SIDE)
440 9th Ave
New York, NY 10001

Wondee Siam

Once of the mainstays in Thai Town is Wondee Siam. This place has multiple locations, actually.

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My coworker and I came here, to the 9th Avenue and 52nd Street location, for a quick $8 lunch during a slow day at work. Each lunch special comes with a pair of vegetable spring rolls to start.

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Not bad. Good crisp, not too oily, but just a bit too temperature hot. Careful you don’t burn your mouth.

I got the pad see ew, which I believe is commonly referred to as “drunken noodle.” It is a wide, flat noodle, stir fried with Chinese broccoli and tossed with a choice of protein. I went with chicken.

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This was pretty good! For $8 you really can’t go wrong. The sauce clung to the noodles and chicken, the dish was not greasy, and the broccolini was cooked properly. I’d hit this joint again most definitely.

My coworker, however, might not be as keen on returning. He ate the pad thai, and said he shit his brains out promptly upon returning to the office. Oh well. I was fine.

WONDEE SIAM
792 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Holey Cream

Doughnut ice cream sandwiches? Why, yes… I’ll take one!

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Well, they’re not quite what I expected. Yes, it is ice cream between a doughnut that has been sliced in half like a bagel, but it is just three scoops plopped on top of a plain doughnut, then frosted and topped with sprinkles (you can choose the ice cream flavors, frosting flavor – chocolate, vanilla or strawberry – and the topping).

I was hoping for something like a Chipwich, where it actually looks and eats like a sandwich. This was essentially just a doughnut with ice cream. Oh well. Good idea, not so good execution.

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They also serve a variety of cookies, cakes, brownies and doughnuts here as well, if ice cream isn’t your thing.

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UPDATE 8/24/17

Check out this beauty of a sandwich that my wife and I grabbed for a dessert one Sunday after brunch. So tasty.

HOLEY CREAM
796 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Otto’s Tacos

My wife and I tried one of each taco here, along with the masa fries. You should skip the mushroom taco, unless you’re a vegetarian douche. It just lacks punch and flavor. The carne asada, carnitas, chicken and shrimp tacos are all legit. Quite difficult to choose a favorite when they are all quality. The tortillas are hand made, soft shell, corn masa style. Not my favorite, since they tend to crumble and fall apart too easily, but they were actually pretty flavorful.

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As you can see from the pics above, delivery is pretty cool because they have boxes that are specially designed for carrying three tacos. Very convenient.

The masa fries were a big hit for me. They’re nice and crunchy! Basically, they are like thick, half tender/half crisp taco shell strips. Very inventive.

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And the horchata tastes like the milk that’s left over after eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, one of my all-time favorite cereals. Very tasty.

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OTTO’S TACOS
705 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Virgil’s Real BBQ

I used to live just down the block from this joint back in the day. I’ve eaten here many times, but that was all before I started writing restaurant reviews.

Over the course of the last year or two, I’ve had the pleasure of eating some take-out lunch from this joint, in the form of catered work functions. While I recognize that is not the best format to re-experience the glory of Virgil’s, the quality and flavors are consistent enough to what I remember, I’ve tasted enough different items, and, most importantly, I managed to snag a good enough photo (kidding with that reason, of course), to render out a nice, current, up-to-date review of the various menu items that I’ve tried here.

Let’s take this plate of protein, for example:

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Fried Chicken: Great crispy skin and batter, juicy thigh meat too. All around solid item that can hang with all the big boys of the fried chicken world.

Brisket: A bit dry, but packing an amazing smoked flavor in each bite. Good bark on the outside, but the dryness means that this would require some sauce. I ate a slice or two but got bored.

Pork Ribs: Best thing on the plate. These were cooked properly – not braised or boiled – so the meat had good bite texture and wasn’t falling apart. The bark was super tasty too: sweet but still savory.

BBQ Chicken: Skip it. I love a BBQ drumstick, but this was the worst thing on the plate. It was coated with too much shit so that the spice rub on the skin tasted like grainy dirt mud rather than a crispy spice bark. I was annoyed by that.

Pulled Pork: With the addition of sauce, this would be much better. I generally don’t like to put too much sauce on my pulled pork, but with the right sauce – something with a spicy kick and a little sweetness at the back end – this would be delicious.

One thing I will talk about that’s not in the picture is the jalapeno corn bread. Perhaps the joint’s location in tourist central (Times Square) causes them to approach the corn bread with caution, so as to not kill anyone with spicy peppers. But ultimately that means this particular corn bread falls short. The texture and moisture level was great, but I was hoping for some heat. Bummer. But if you approach it like a regular corn bread, then I think you’ll be pleased.

VIRGIL’S REAL BBQ
152 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

Muk Eun Ji

Matt BruckSeolbin Park and the folks at SB Groupe and EatersDrinkers invited me to a pretty cool aged kimchi tasting at Muk Eun Ji recently.

I actually DO have to write this next bit, because there were a few people at the event who had never eaten kimchi before. For various reasons I will not disclose, this was completely understandable and should not be mocked or taken as a point of negativity.

So here it is: Kimchi is Korean for “pickled” and/or “fermented” veggies. In its most typical form, kimchi consists of cabbage with various spices and herbs. Cucumbers are also common.

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Muk Eun Ji is known for its 1+ year aged kimchi. This tasting event featured their aged kimchi in every dish in various ways. Here is a shot of owners Cathy and Yongsung Kim, who were very gracious and kind, and who explained everything to us as we ate.

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Dish 1: Crunch Muk Eun Ji – washed aged kimchi seasoned with sesame oil. This was mild and really tasty.

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Dish 2: Yuk Hwe – Korean beef tartare. Okay, while this ONE DISH didn’t actually have any kimchi in it, the flavors were present, perhaps in the sauce. This was skirt steak. Super tender and incredibly delicious.

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Dish 3: Kimchi Jeon – Korean pancake with aged kimchi. This had a nice crunch on the outside with a great spicy kick from the kimchi and scallions inside. As you can see from the pics below, this joint has a fun conveyor belt in one dining room, where  you can pluck the little dishes right off and start digging in.

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Dish 4: Mandu – steamed homemade Korean dumplings with aged kimchi. These were expertly created and cooked. I loved the dipping sauce on the side actually. Wanted to drink it.

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Dish 5: Janchi Guksu – cold thin noodle with aged kimchi in spicy anchovy broth. This was one of my favorite bites of the night. It wasn’t too spicy, and the cold noodle was great for the summer.

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Dish 6: Kimchi Bokkeumbap – stir-fried rice with chopped aged kimchi and pork. Also a favorite, this rice dish packed a lot of flavor and meatiness. I could easily eat a massive bowl of this.

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Dish 7: Samhap – boiled pork belly, fermented skate fish and aged kimchi. This is an acquired taste. The fermented skate has a distinct ammonia-like quality to it that is common with fermented fish products, whether from regions like Scandinavia or Iceland, as well as parts of Asia. One thing that I didn’t expect was that the skate would have some bone connected to the meat. I popped all of it into my mouth at once and then had to work around the bones. It was a difficult eat for me.

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Dish 8: Galbi Jjim – braised beef short rib stew with aged kimchi and vegetables. This was incredible. The small bowl tasting size didn’t do the dish justice.

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I actually didn’t get to taste it on first pass, so I and a few other guys who missed out asked for some more later on. They brought out a full entree size.

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This is a $20 item. There is so much fork-tender beef that falls off the bone in that bowl, so it is an amazing deal at that price point. As you can see from the pic above, there’s tons of kimchi too. This will feed two or three people easily. The sauce is amazing. A deep, robust flavor lurks in there, so soak it up with some rice after you get tired of spooning it directly into your mouth.

Dish 9: Deungppyo Jjim – braised pork backbone with aged kimchi. Same deal as above, but with tender-ass pork instead of beef.

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Dish 10: Gyeranmari – Korean style rolled egg omelet with aged kimchi, cheese and sliced pork belly. This is like heaven at breakfast time, I bet. Absolutely delicious, and really beautiful.

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Dish 11: KBBQ – premium thick cut pork belly, thin sliced marinated beef short rib and aged kimchi on the grill. No Korean meal is complete without gorging on some delicious grilled meats.

I mean, this is what I’m all about, is it not?

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So the idea is to take the meat and add some of the nice toppings from the small plates, and then wrap it up in some lettuce. Then eat.

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Carb-free! Haha. I love this shit. It may be time for a separate page dedicated to KBBQ on this website. I’m considering it. There really is nothing quite like it. So satisfying.

I should also mention that we were washing this delicious shit down with some nice drinks throughout. We tasted an assortment of soju and makgeolli. For the uninitiated, soju is a mild distilled spirit that is similar to a flavored sake.

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Mokgeolli is more like a rice or wheat beer in that it is bubbly and looks unfiltered. It contains less alcohol (not distilled), but it tastes similar to flavored soda.

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MUK EUN JI
34 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Carnegie Deli

There are few eating holes as iconic as Carnegie Deli. This joint is known around the world for serving up Jewish style deli sandwiches that are piled high with mountains of meat. I hadn’t been here since around 2000, so it was great to finally go back and really sink my teeth into some classic NYC shit.

My buddy and I split the Woody Allen combo, which is about a pound each of pastrami and corned beef on rye bread, but without the statutory rape. We ordered to go so we didn’t get nailed with the $5 share charge (and a tip) if you eat there.

This place still delivers high level quality like I remember. The meat is juicy and tender, sliced thin but not dried out, and piled high as fuck.

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One sandwich can easily feed two, but I have to tell you – I was wishing that I had my own sandwich as I got down to my last few bites. So much meat, but I wanted more!

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Now that I live nearby, I’ll be picking up sandwiches a lot more often. This place is totally worth the hype, and there are really only three places that still operate in this classic Jewish Deli fashion now: Katz, 2nd Avenue Deli, and Carnegie Deli. Get here. Even if you’ve gone many times. It still delivers a powerful punch of flavor.

CARNEGIE DELI
854 7th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Gotan

My friend Matt and his Eaters Drinkers crew invited me and a bunch of other food bloggers to Gotan to sample some shakshuka, along with some other tasty egg dishes and health-conscious bowls.

I’ll start with the healthy bowls. There were two: acai and chia. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try the chia, but the acai was very fulfilling and tasty.

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With this kind of flavor depth and satisfaction after eating, I can totally see how it can be quite easy to eat more healthy. Here’s the chia bowl:

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Some smaller cups of the two, by the window.

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Shakshuka, if you’re wondering, is a poor mans salad-like dish that hails from both Northern Africa and the Balkans and means “mixture” in Berber. Typically it is made with tomatoes (usually slow-cooked), herbs, spices and egg as the basis of the dish. The Balkan versions often have cheese (feta).

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Avi did a great job explaining this to all of us, as I had never tasted the dish before. Here he is, with co-owner Melissa.

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They also have a Gotan location in Tribeca, but this place on 46th is the newer addition. When renovating, they preserved some beautiful original details when chipping away to reach the original brick walls.

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So we tried two shakshukas. Red and green. The red is the North African version, and the green is the Balkan style with feta cheese and tomatillo instead of tomato. My favorite was the green, as it had a bit more zip and zing to it in terms of flavor.

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These dishes were all beautifully executed and plated by Chef Vicki:

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The gang also sampled a bunch of other egg dishes as well:

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This was a mushroom toast with root veggies and egg:

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This one had chorizo, kale, butternut squash and cauliflower mascarpone:

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Unfortunately I didn’t get to taste any of the egg dishes, but I did sample a ton of really unique drinks from the coffee bar (non-alcoholic): espresso spritzer with tonic water and orange zest; watermelon juice with mint; lavender water; blueberry hibiscus tea; and shakerato with candied ginger – another espresso drink.

This joint also slings a bunch of salads and sandwiches as well.

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I will definitely be back here, and it’s close to my office, so may be grabbing lunch here pretty often.

GOTAN
20 W. 46th Street
New York, NY 10036

Redeye Grill

My wife and I came in here on a Sunday morning for brunch. I was psyched to learn that they serve “real food” even before their official lunch time begins at noon. That means I was able to try their rib eye burger instead of getting some lame egg or pancake dish.

Their “rib eye burger” definitely has the flavor of a rib eye steak. It’s juicy and fatty, tender and tasty.

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The bun held up to demanding scrutiny without getting sogged up and shitty, and the burger thickness was just right for the amount of toppings they used.

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It was cooked nicely, and the aged cheddar and horseradish aioli really brought the punch. The fries were solid too. Heavily herbed with fried rosemary, these golden shoestrings were very addicting.

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My wife tried the lobster crab and shrimp roll, which I also liked a lot. It was served with a saffron mayo and crispy shallots. The meat was dressed just right, and the quality of the meat was all very good.

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I’ll probably be back in soon to try a steak, because why not?

REDEYE GRILL
890 7th Ave
New York, NY 10106