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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Istanbul on the Upper East Side

Chef Orhan Yeğen knows Turkish cooking, having done it very well at more than a dozen restaurants around town, though typically for only a short time before bouncing. Those who've caught his act at any of his stops—including his current home base, Sip Sak in Midtown—have brought back reports of superior food, at least until he's moved on. The cooking's as good as ever at his latest place, Francela on the Upper East Side, though the format's a new one for Yeğen. You order deli-style at counters—cold salads and mezze, hot prepared foods, or grilled dishes and other entrées—and eat at one of a handful of seats or, as most customers do, take your food to go. It's a fast-casual model, popular in Istanbul, that Chowhounds wish would catch on all over New York. READ MORE

4 Must-Try Ice Cream Shops in New York City

In a summer that turned up the heat early and threatens to get brutal before it's over, New Yorkers are fortunate to be around at a very cool time for ice cream. High-end chefs, ex-screenwriters, even refugees from media and government: A diverse crowd of ice cream impresarios is crafting superior versions in ever-multiplying flavors and styles. Here, listed alphabetically, are four New York ice creams worth a lick. READ MORE

NY’s Chinese Burger and Other Treats from Auntie Wang

In recent years, Chinese expats at Columbia University have savored a taste of home thanks to a handful of food carts parked just off campus. Now one of those mobile vendors—Wang Hui Yin from Henan Province, known as Auntie Wang—has brought some of that street-food action indoors and downtown. Noodles, dumplings, and other snackish bites from central and northern China make up the menu at her tiny new shop under the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown—whose English name is either Taste of Northern China or China Local Cuisine, depending on whether you're looking at the menu or the storefront sign. READ MORE

The Bagel Before It Ballooned

In a way, New York's latest bagel moment turns back the clock. Baz Bagel & Restaurant, which opened two months ago in Little Italy, makes thinner, denser bagels than the puffed-up specimens that have taken over the city since the onset of automation starting in the '60s. Rolled by hand in small batches, the old-fashioned way, they're a welcome throwback—"Small, well done, and tasty," as stuartlafonda reports on Chowhound. Baz's blintzes, whitefish salad, and lox with eggs have also won fans. READ MORE

Do You Need a Pricey Culinary Degree to Be a Top Chef?

Paul Canales was a career changer. A serious home cook, he’d spent a decade working in marketing and sales for Pacific Bell before he decided tostep behind the stoves to make a living. In 1995, he left California for a couple of years to earn an associate degree from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Price tag back then, he says, was around $24K for two years of tuition. “I was almost 33 at the time; I felt like I didn’t have 10 years to bounce around learning, as I might at 18 or even 22,”says Canales. “I wanted to get up to speed quickly, gain basic cooking skills and entrée into a good place. I was very naive.” READ MORE

Pizza with a Pedigree in Brooklyn

The news just gets better in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, whose fast-improving dining choices now include promising pizza with deep New York roots. At five-week-old Fina Pizza Bar, the wood-fired oven's from Naples and the house style's a cross between Neapolitan and New York—"refined old school," as brooklynsabra writes on Chowhound. READ MORE

Thai Boat Noodles: New York’s Next Ramen?

"This could certainly become a trend to compete with ramen," BTaylor suggests on Chowhound. "This" would be boat noodles, a Thai street-food staple that suddenly has New Yorkers buzzing, after making its first stateside splash on the West Coast. READ MORE

Best 4th of July Recipes

Somehow, the official start of summer and the longest day of the year have already come and gone. Take advantage of the outdoors before summer slips away! Whether you're planning a picnic in the park, a backyard barbecue, or a rooftop dinner party, we’ve got recipes to fuel your next alfresco gathering. First up: the Fourth of July. READ MORE

Choice Rice Cakes and More in Flushing’s Koreatown

Even Chowhounds, who keep up with this kind of news, hadn't all heard about the rebranding of one of their favorite Korean comfort foods, the savory rice cakes they know as tteokbokki or ddukbokki. Make that topokki, advises a rice cake R&D institute near Seoul (and no, we don't make these things up). The idea is to add to the dish's international appeal by subtracting daunting double consonants from its name. READ MORE

Soft-Shell Crabs from the Village to Queens

It's the time of year when Chowhounds crave soft-shell crabs, and an awesome Thai version has surfaced at Ayada in Queens. Simon, a veteran Thailand traveler, describes perfectly cooked crab, heavy on luscious backfin meat and served with a heap of fresh, deftly balanced papaya salad that some consider the city's best. The bamboo salad, or supnormai, is another smart order. READ MORE