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

A New Barbecue Champ, and Other News from Koreatown

Koreatown’s newest barbecue house is also its best, declares Lau. It’s the Manhattan outpost of Madangsui, a three-year-old restaurant in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where folks know their Korean ’cue.

The house specialty is saeng kalbi (unmarinated short ribs), whose spare seasoning highlights the meat itself; Madangsui promises high-quality, never-frozen beef, a cut above the competition. The result is splendid: buttery, delicious, and better than any other piece of meat in the neighborhood, says Lau, a hard-to-please veteran of LA’s world-class Korean scene. Sam gyup sal (pork belly) is another standout, flavorful and luxurious. Panchan is fresh and plentiful and includes relative rarities like fluffy steamed egg and wine-marinated raw blue crab. The attentive servers might even bring around free portions of kimbap (rice rolls) or denjang jigae (bean paste casserole).

K-town regulars have been talking recently about Third Floor Café, a loungey hangout that overlooks Fifth Avenue and 32nd. Several years old but rarely discussed by hounds, it offers a short menu of snackish bites and comfort food. traceybell likes its seafood dukboki (rice cakes) and omurice (“omelet-covered stir-fried rice with vegetables” on the menu). Other choices include Western snacks (fries, onion rings, cheese canapés), various stir-fries and noodle dishes, the ever-popular Korean-style spicy chicken, Japanese-style fried pork cutlets, and Japanese-Korean-Western mash-ups like doria (rice with cheese, cream sauce, and kimchee, seafood, or bulgogi). bigjeff endorses the Tuesday night happy hour special: $14 for all the Bud or Miller Lite you can drink and all the fried chicken and pork cutlets you can eat.

On a sober note, there’s bad news from 33rd Street. The mostly unsung Yangpyung Seoul Haejangguk, which made nice dumplings and soups—including namesake specialty haejangguk, a meaty brew reputed to cure hangovers—has gone belly up. And it gets worse: Yangpyung’s replacement, a Korean-Chinese place called Beijing, is off to a highly disappointing start. Lau ranks it behind even the hit-or-miss Hyo Dong Gak and Shanghai Mong.

Madangsui [Herald Square]
35 W. 35th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan

Third Floor Café [Midtown]
315 Fifth Avenue (at 32nd Street), Third Floor, Manhattan

Beijing [Herald Square]
Formerly Yangpyung Seoul Haejangguk
43 W. 33rd Street (between Fifth Avenue and Broadway), Manhattan

Board Links: Madangsui–taking the bbq crown
Best Korean Barbecue in Koreatown
anything NEW in koreatown?
beijing–korean/chinese on west 33rd

A Quick Trip to Italy, by Way of Middle Village

Uvarara means rare grape, and the Italian wine bar of that name is indeed something unusual for Middle Village, Queens. Hounds report home-style bites and well-chosen wines, served in a comfortable old-world setting.

The menu offers salads, meat and cheese platters, house-baked flatbreads and focaccia, panini (including a standout with bresaola, pear, and Gorzonzola), and the like. A section of small plates called piattini includes simple rustic dishes such as grilled shrimp or vegetables, meatballs in tomato sauce, polenta with mushrooms and fontina, and fagottini (zeppolelike fried dough purses) stuffed with cheese and tomato. Baked semolina gnocchi, with butter and Parmesan, is a smart order—amazing stuff, says pellegrino31.

This is a family operation with an inviting vibe and a friendly staff that knows the food and wine; “you feel like you took a trip to Italy,” says NYMike, “even if it’s just for a night.”

Uvarara [Middle Village]
79-28 Metropolitan Avenue (at 80th Street), Middle Village, Queens

Board Links: Uvarara (Middle Village, Queens)–worth visiting
UvaRara: New wine bar in Middle Village, Queens
Atlas Park Dining

Wonder Where They Got that Terrific Cake?

Doma Café, the popular West Village hangout, serves a superb coffee cake, but it’s not baked there. Nosher knows who bakes it: Jay+Dan. This small custom and wholesale operation, whose slogan promises “freshly baked bliss,” also makes a wide variety of cakes, cookies, and other treats.

For those who have enjoyed the carrot cake at Eisenberg’s, the ageless Flatiron lunch counter, foodluvngal has found out where it’s from. A baker named Kimberly makes it, and she fills custom orders as well. It is the most delicious you will ever eat, swears foodluvngal: “It ain’t cheap, but it’s so worth it.”

Doma Café and Gallery [West Village]
17 Perry Street (at Waverly Place), Manhattan

212-662-6304 or

Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop [Flatiron]
174 Fifth Avenue (between 22nd and 23rd streets), Manhattan

Board Links: Best coffee cake?
carrot cake delivable to mid-manhattan

An Eye-Opening Breakfast from a Doughnut Shop

Park Slopers who order their scrambled eggs nice and soft are nearly always disappointed at the local breakfast spots, laments bigmackdaddy. But Seventh Avenue Donuts (unlike Dizzy’s, Second Street Café, Park Café, etc.) gets it. Its eggs are rich and buttery and cooked to order to optimum softness. Ask for a side of grits, which are deep in corn flavor.

Beyond breakfast, this 24/7 eatery turns out a tasty griddle-cooked burger and surprisingly great chicken soup, with firm chunks of meat in a mellow house-made broth (“not the watered down canned saline stuff you usually get,” bigmackdaddy notes). Prices are gentle, among the lowest in the Slope, reckons Woodside Al. Oh, and the doughnuts are decent, too.

Seventh Avenue Donuts [Park Slope]
324 Seventh Avenue (between Eighth and Ninth streets), Brooklyn

Board Links: 7th Avenue Donuts
Need great Breakfast place PARK SLOPE

Home-Style Latin Goodness

The steak sandwich is the signature dish at Los Hornitos, a homey Latin American spot in Wappingers Falls, and markp can see why. Tender griddled sirloin is tucked into a billowy house-baked roll with Muenster cheese, mashed avocado, tomato, and mayo. A lively pepper-and-onion salsa cuts the richness. (The only sandwich to come close, markp adds, is at Atlantic City’s fabled White House Sub Shop.)

Further evidence of a kitchen on its game comes in the creamy potato-lentil soup and a memorable lunch plate of fried chicken cutlet with rice and tender, smoky red beans: “Just perfectly cooked. Ultimate comfort food.” Don’t miss the treats in the bakery cases; markp reports a delightful tres leches cake with fresh strawberries and real cream and butter (“No cheap commercial bakery ingredients here”). Los Hornitos is named after a restaurant in Santiago, Chile, once frequented by owners Monica and Hector Lorca, but the menu ranges all over Latin America. Look for meat stews, roast pork, ceviche, empanadas, fried plantains, and tropical fruit smoothies.

Los Hornitos Bakery [Dutchess County]
In Dutchess Shopping Plaza
1582 U.S. Highway 9, Wappingers Falls, NY

Board Link: Los Hornitos: pan-Latin gem in Wappingers

Welcome Winter Tidings from the Shake Shack

Chowhounds have mobbed the Shake Shack since the day it opened—except for a few weeks every winter, when it’s been closed for the season. Now the annual hamburger hibernation is history. Barring unexpected snags, the three-year-old fast-food stand in Madison Square Park will stay open year-round. Don’t worry about shivering over your Shackburger: The plan is to fire up heat lamps above the tables.

Shake Shack [Flatiron]
In Madison Square Park, between 23rd and 26th streets and Fifth and Madison avenues, Manhattan

Board Link: Shake Shack now open year-round?

A Bargain Bird and a Bowl of Soup

Jackson Heights hounds who love the roast chicken at Pio Pio—but not the churlish service at its takeout shop—have found a cheap, friendly alternative nearby. Empire Chinese does moist, tasty, falling-off-the-bone roast chicken. A half bird is $3, a whole one is $5.85. There’s also a combo (D1 on the menu) of a half chicken, steamed vegetables, and rice for $4.75. “This is a huge meal and so very good,” declares Mike V.

For another budget bite in the neighborhood, check out the soup of the day at Latin American places, often served in a meal-size portion. “They may be the cheapest thing in the restaurant,” Brian S observes, “and they sometimes are the best.” Mike V recommends La Boina Roja, a Colombian spot whose soup specials, priced at $6 or $7, include rice, salad, and fried plantains. Typical offerings are tripe, oxtail, short rib, fish, meatball, chicken, plantain, and cream soups of asparagus, mushroom, or corn.

Empire Chinese [Jackson Heights]
37-09 83rd Street (near Northern), Jackson Heights, Queens

La Boina Roja [Jackson Heights]
80-18 37th Avenue (between 80th and 81st streets), Jackson Heights, Queens

La Boina Roja [Jackson Heights]
77-05 37th Avenue (near 77th Street), Jackson Heights, Queens

Board Links: terrible experience at Pio Pio to go
Best places for Soup in Queens

Fresh Italian Breads on the Upper West Side

Life just got a lot better for uptown hounds who love Italian-style breads. Grandaisy, the Sullivan Street Bakery spin-off, opened its second shop a couple of weeks ago at 72nd and Broadway.

Expect some of New York’s best filone, pugliese, and olive loaves, as well as excellent ciabatta and pane integrale; “if you love bread, this will be the place for you,” promises nativeNYer. Beyond bread, hounds have fallen hard for Grandaisy’s pizzas, including potato, mushroom, and a wonderful bianca, agreeably salty and olive oil–y. Also recommended: panini (e.g., egg-asparagus-Asiago, bresaola-arugula-Parmesan) and the appealing lineup of sweets, among them biscotti, fruit tarts, and cookies, including a knockout peanut butter sandwich.

Grandaisy Bakery [Upper West Side]
176 W. 72nd Street (at Broadway), Manhattan

Board Links: Grandaisy UWS Opens Tomorrow
Grandaisy Bakery–W72 & Brdwy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At the Meat Counter, Steakhouse Memories

In Connecticut, they still miss Manero’s. Nearly two years after this old-time steakhouse served up its last surf ’n’ turf, ending a satisfying six-decade run, Greenwich hounds go all misty-eyed over its impeccably aged meats, Gorgonzola salad, crisp fried onions, house-blend steak sauce—even its singing waiters.

Minus the waiters, a slice of the Manero’s experience can be had at Greenwich Prime Meats, opened by two veteran butchers from the restaurant. Besides nicely marbled meats, the shop offers many of Manero’s greatest hits for carry-out customers: the steak sauce, the fried onions, the Gorgonzola salad. “If we can’t have Manero’s,” figures amanda3571, “then this is the perfect alternative.”

As long as you’re in the neighborhood, cross the street and drop in at the Bruce Park Grill, which billyparsons recommends for ice-cold beer and great little minipizzas. The joint wins bonus points for a congenial barkeep and a tavern rarity: regulation shuffleboard.

Greenwich Prime Meats [Fairfield County]
100 Bruce Park Avenue (near Davis), Greenwich, CT

Bruce Park Grill [Fairfield County]
231 Bruce Park Avenue (near Davis), Greenwich, CT

Board Links: Greenwich-Manero’s Butchers Back in Business
Favorite ‘Secret Hole In The Walls’

Superior Boba Tea, Bubbling Up Downtown

Bubble-tea buffs will appreciate the generous deal for regulars at Vivi, a shiny, chirpy little shop in Chinatown. After you’ve bought five drinks (and gotten your “VIP” card stamped), the sixth is free. But wait, there’s more: You then qualify for 20 percent off on every beverage from that day on. And it’s good stuff, says Lau, probably the best he’s had in the neighborhood—free of the odd chalkiness and cloying sweetness of many competitors. Warning to the cuteness-averse: Like popular boba spots in Taiwan, Lau advises, Vivi is a “super like bubbly type of place.”

In the East Village, they’re brewing better-than-average bubble tea at TKettle, a newish outpost of a big Asian chain. Pat Hammond reports delicious black tea with milk, just sweet enough, and tapioca pearls with a pleasing chew. “Their motto is ‘Healthy drinks in delicious way’!” Pat adds. “I’ll drink to that!” We hear word of excellent northern Chinese dumplings here as well; no reports yet.

Vivi Bubble Tea [Chinatown]
49 Bayard Street (at Elizabeth), Manhattan

TKettle Drinks [East Village]
26 St. Marks Place (between Second and Third avenues), Manhattan

Board Links: Vivi Bubble Tea
TKettle Drinks, St. Marks Place