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

Ebb Tide: Fish Shack, Westchester Style, in Port Chester

The menu flows with the catch at Ebb Tide, a riverside seafood house in Port Chester. If soft shell crab sandwiches or monkfish in calamari red sauce are available, get them, advises Dim Sum Diva. cervisiam, while not blown away by the joint, recommends fish sandwiches and the lobster dinner (steamed lobster, corn, and chowder for under $20). They also have other fresh fish, steamers, crab cakes, and more. Kids might go for the foot-long hot dog.

Ebb Tide isn’t cheap–even a simple lunch might crack double figures–but the waterfront setting has its charms. “There is something about eating out on the deck in the sun,” notes Dim Sum Diva. “It’s peaceful. We’ve watched the duck family across the channel nest and hatch and grow. For Westchester, it’s as close as we can get to a seafood shack.”

Ebb Tide Seafood [Westchester County]
1 Willett Ave., at the Byram River, Port Chester

Board Links: Ebb Tide Seafood and Lobster Shack, Port Chester—anyone been? Worth a trip?
Ebb Tide in Portchester

Hero Worship: Dominick’s Reigns Supreme

Dominick’s Deli is an East Side lunchtime destination and the go-to spot for Captain, who’s fallen hard for the Supremo. That’s a hefty hero of soppressata, prosciutto, pepperoni, provolone, sweet peppers, and lettuce on a semolina roll–a lunch and a half for $6. “It’s pretty filling but I get it down,” he confesses.

Chile heads might go for Dante’s Inferno (hot soppressata, pepperoni, smoked prosciutto, jalapeno cheese, hot peppers, tomato). Also on the menu: pastas, salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot heros (meatball, sausage and peppers, chicken parmigiana, francese or marsala, broccoli rabe-mozzarella, etc.), and more.

Dominick’s Deli [Lenox Hill]
1109 1st Ave., between E. 60th and 61st Sts, Manhattan

Board Links: Inexpensive lunch near Bloomies (59th)

Nha Trang Revisited, and Other Manhattan Vietnamese Picks

Manhattan may lack world-class Vietnamese chow, but many hounds happily get their fix at Chinatown’s dependable Nha Trang. The don’t-miss dish is smoky, sumptuous suon nuong (barbecued pork chops), insists jungirl, a fan for 16 years and counting. She likes it as a rice plate, with broken rice that soaks up the great meat juices; bun (rice vermicelli) can serve the same purpose.

A seasonal must-order–and the season is drawing to a close–is cua lot rang muoi (salt and pepper fried soft shell crabs). Also recommended: cha gio (spring rolls), ca chien chanh (whole fried fish), canh chua ga (hot and sour chicken soup), and rau muong xao toi (hollow-stem water spinach with garlic). Ech chien bo (frog legs fried in butter) is the equal of La Grenouille’s, swears guttergourmet (and Nha Trang, unlike La Grenouille, also makes frog legs with chile and lemongrass).

Not everyone is a fan–overall, Nha Trang is just OK, says Mike Lee. And even some of its partisans admit that pho isn’t among its strengths. The best in town for this Vietnamese noodle soup remains Cong Ly (see also ChowNews #189), which brews a deep, alluring beef broth that’s the key to superior pho. “It’s simple, straightforward, very cheap, and authentic,” writes surly, “the closest we have in Manhattan to the great Vietnamese food in California’s Orange County.” And, adds Mike Lee, they don’t skimp on the ngo gai, or sawleaf herb. Beyond pho, Cong Ly scores with its bun bo hue, a spicy, meaty noodle soup from central Vietnam–though others like the version at Thai Son (see also ChowNews #191).

Other neighborhood Vietnamese picks include Pho Grand, Nam Son, Pho Tu Do for bun rieu (rice noodle soup with crab), and Pho Viet Huong, where Peter Cherches recommends cha gio, spicy shrimp salad, bo la nho (grilled beef in grape leaves), and anything with lemongrass and hot pepper.

Nha Trang Restaurant [Chinatown]
87 Baxter St., between Walker and White, Manhattan

Nha Trang Restaurant [Chinatown]
148 Centre St., between Walker and White, Manhattan

Cong Ly Restaurant [Chinatown]
124 Hester St., at Chrystie, Manhattan

Thai Son [Chinatown]
89 Baxter St., between Walker and Bayard, Manhattan

Pho Grand [Chinatown]
277C Grand St., between Eldridge and Forsyth, Manhattan

Nam Son Vietnamese Restaurant [Chinatown]
245 Grand St., between Bowery and Chrystie, Manhattan

Pho Tu Do [Chinatown]
119 Bowery, between Grand and Hester Sts, Manhattan

Pho Viet Huong [Chinatown]
a.k.a. Nha Hang Pho Viet Huong
73 Mulberry St., between Canal and Bayard, Manhattan

Board Links: Vietnamese–What’s the best?
Nha Trang–what to order
Nha Trang —Centre or Baxter?

Earthshaking Dessert Tip: Cafe Lafayette’s Chocolate Volcano

At Fort Greene’s Cafe Lafayette, you can top off with the Chocolate Volcano–high-quality chocolate, judiciously sweetened raspberry sauce, excellent vanilla ice cream. For devotees, the earth moves. “Perfection every time,” sighs realbreadplease, who declares this the best chocolate dessert in all of Brooklyn. Good robust coffee, too.

Cafe Lafayette [Fort Greene]
99 S Portland Ave., between Lafayette Ave and Fulton St., Brooklyn

Board Links: chow experiences in Fort Greene

You Want Fries with That? Ja, Oui, You Bet!

Loreley, the Lower East Side biergarten, makes near-faultless fries–crisp, super-thin, and seemingly greaseless, sighs pkallan. “Heavenly with some good German beer.”

Belgian mini-chain Petite Abeille also comes through with excellent fries, topped by a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

Other favorites: Florent, Balthazar, or the downtown Les Halles for top-notch frites, J.G. Melon for cottage fries, and Pommes Frites for Belgian-style fries with a boggling choice of sauces (Vietnamese pineapple mayo, anyone?).

Loreley Restaurant and Biergarten [Lower East Side]
7 Rivington St., between Bowery and Chrystie, Manhattan

Petite Abeille [Stuyvesant Town]
401 E. 20th St., at 1st Ave., Manhattan

Petite Abeille [Chelsea]
107 W. 18th St., at 6th Ave., Manhattan

Petite Abeille [Tribeca]
466 Hudson St., between Barrow and Grove, Manhattan

Petite Abeille [Tribeca]
134 W. Broadway, between Thomas and Duane Sts, Manhattan

Florent [West Village]
69 Gansevoort St., between Washington and Greenwich, Manhattan

Balthazar [Soho]
80 Spring St., at Crosby St., Manhattan

Les Halles [Financial District]
15 John St., between Broadway and Nassau St., Manhattan

J.G. Melon [Upper East Side]
1291 3rd Ave., at E 74th St., Manhattan

Pommes Frites [East Village]
123 2nd Ave., between E. 7th and 8th Sts, Manhattan

Board Links: Best French Fries currently?

Best of the West: Beef Tri-Tip at Trader Joe’s

Down at the bottom end of the sirloin is a smallish cut of beef called tri-tip, a.k.a. triangle or culotte. Cheap, lean, yet tender and flavorful, it’s revered by barbecue hounds out West. But in the East, it’s mostly overlooked–or just thoughtlessly ground up into hamburger. “Out here, I’ve never been able to find it. Ask a butcher and he’ll just look at you funny,” complains adamclyde.

So it falls to a West Coast grocery chain to spread the tri-tip gospel among East Coast meat lovers. adamclyde found it vacuum-packed at Trader Joe’s in Darien, CT, and TJ’s current newsletter suggests that other locations are likely to carry it as well. It was around $6 a pound, he adds, which is “just incredibly worth it. When grilled to medium rare, it truly is wonderful. Superb. Lovely. Splendid.” TJ’s tri-tip comes with or without “Santa Maria-style” marinade–adamclyde prefers to go without. As a lean cut, however, tri-tip takes well to marination, which you can easily do at home; Asian and Southwestern flavors work nicely.

In addition to Connecticut, Trader Joe’s has colonized Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and (most recently) Manhattan’s Union Square.

Trader Joe’s [Fairfield County]
436 Boston Post Rd., at Old Kings Hwy., Darien, CT

Board Links: Tri Tip in the NY Metro area: Trader Joe’s

At Perry Street, One Vegetarian Feels at Home

Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry Street has an unlikely convert. DavyTheFatBoy, who had dismissed the place as “too French, too fussy, too vegetarian-unfriendly, and more concerned with presentation than flavor,” has eaten his words–which went down easy after a recent dinner of surprising, inventive, well-conceived vegetarian dishes.

Highlights included green pea ravioli with morels, fried fingerling potatoes with aioli, cherry tomato salad with red onion and herbs, braised artichokes with peas and onions, house-made mozzarella with champagne mango and red peppercorns, and fresh corn and scallions, liberally buttered. Also delicious: spinach with a touch of olive oil and slivers of jalapeno (“who knew jalapenos could do that to spinach?”). “Not a dud in the bunch,” Davy marvels.

Just as impressive, Perry Street’s menu features few vegetarian dishes; much of this knockout dinner was assembled on the fly from sides that usually come with non-vegetarian entrees. Yet each, Davy adds, “was a completely thought-through dish, not a buttered side vegetable. The whole experience totally surprised us–the lack of attitude, the ingredients, the flavors and textures, and the $121 bill for two (including four glasses of wine, before tip). It’s clear that this is a serious restaurateur at the top of his game.”

Perry Street [Greenwich Village]
176 Perry St., at West St., Manhattan

Board Links: Amazed by Perry Street

Coffee Break: Best Beans in Brooklyn and Beyond

Brooklyn coffee lovers have come to depend on D’Amico in Carroll Gardens for its wide selection of fresh roasted beans, fairly priced. “I can’t live without the dark roast Colombian Supremo,” confesses lisa, “a little more expensive, but sooooooo good.”

Self-described coffee obsessive Ann is hooked on the extra-strong Thunder Road blend at Park Slope’s Java Joe. “Truly great coffee,” she declares. “Not cheap, but not outrageous, and they really know their coffee.”

Dallis Coffee, which has been roasting coffee since 1913, is another go-to spot for fresh beans. “The coffee is excellent, and the prices are as well,” writes mshpook. It no longer has a retail shop but fills orders online or by phone or fax. If you can’t wait for shipping, you can pick up your order at Dallis’s office in Ozone Park.

redgirl swears by the whole bean French roast at Blue Apron–strong and full bodied, not overly acidic, and well priced. It’s from the same roaster used by hound-endorsed coffee source Zabar’s.

Also recommended by java hounds: Park Slope’s Leaf and Bean, Gorilla, and Union Market, Brooklyn Heights hound hangout Sahadi, and in Queens, old-world shop Baruir in Sunnyside for Turkish- and Armenian-style roasts and blends.

And for an uncommonly good online source, BGRose recommends Massachusetts’ Barrington Coffee Roasting Co., which provides lightly roasted espresso beans for Village favorite Joe. Drop by either of Joe’s two shops and they’ll sell you Barrington’s beans in small batches.

D’Amico Foods [Carroll Gardens]
309 Court St., between Degraw and Sackett, Brooklyn

Java Joe Coffee and Tea [Park Slope]
414 8th St., between 7th and 8th Aves, Brooklyn

Dallis Coffee [Ozone Park]
100-30 Atlantic Ave., near 100th St., Ozone Park, Queens

Blue Apron Foods [Park Slope]
814 Union St., at 7th Ave., Brooklyn

Blue Apron Foods [Park Slope]
438 7th Ave., near 15th St., Brooklyn

Zabar’s [Upper West Side]
2245 Broadway, at 80th St., Manhattan

Leaf and Bean of Park Slope [Park Slope]
83 7th Ave., between Berkeley Pl. and Union St., Brooklyn

Gorilla Coffee [Park Slope]
97 5th Ave., at Park Pl., Brooklyn

Union Market [Park Slope]
754 Union St., at 6th Ave., Brooklyn

Sahadi Importing Co. [Brooklyn Heights]
187 Atlantic Ave., between Clinton and Court Sts, Brooklyn

Baruir [Sunnyside]
40-07 Queens Blvd., at 40th St., Sunnyside, Queens

Barrington Coffee Roasting Co.
Lee, MA

Joe [Greenwich Village]
141 Waverly Pl., between 6th Ave. and Gay St., Manhattan

Joe [East Village]
9 E. 13th St., between 5th Ave. and University Pl., Manhattan

Board Links: Web Source For Coffee [Split from thread on Outer Boroughs]
Whole-bean coffee retail. Help!

Skyway: Malaysian Spice in New York Chinatown

Skyway is one of New York’s top options for the spicy-sour-sweet chow of Malaysia. Best in Manhattan, says Pan, who recommends chicken or beef satay, roti telur (egg and onion pancake with chicken curry), and pasembur (shrimp pancake, tofu, egg, and jellyfish with vegetables), among other things.

“Really, really good,” raves mdog, who loves mango chicken and mee siam (stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, egg, and tofu). Mike Lee finds Skyway better overall than New Malaysia and Jaya–though he has a soft spot for New Malaysia’s Hainan chicken rice and Jaya’s prawn mee noodles.

Skyway [Chinatown]
formerly Proton Saga
11 Allen St., near Canal St., Manhattan

New Malaysia Restaurant [Chinatown]
48 Bowery, in the Chinatown Arcade, #28, Manhattan

Jaya Malaysian Restaurant [Chinatown]
90 Baxter St., between Walker and White, Manhattan

Board Links: great Malaysian!!
Skyway Malaysian (On Allen and Canal)

Handmade Noodle Discovery at the Flushing Mall

Even regulars at the Flushing Mall food court may have missed its handmade noodle vendor, which is outside the food court proper, farther east and south toward the 39th Avenue entrance. Those who’ve discovered it have one more source for terrific hand-pulled, knife-cut wheat noodles, served in soup (with meat sauce, beef tendon, shredded or roast pork, chicken, duck, seafood, etc.) or pan-fried (with seafood, sliced or roast pork, beef, chicken, etc.). The menu, much of it only in Chinese, also offers dumplings and more.

“The hand-drawn noodle place is wonderful!” sighs ZenFoodist, who goes for beef brisket noodle soup. She recommends putting together a combo meal from this place and the Korean-Chinese dumpling stall upstairs amid the mall’s street-level retail shops. Its dumplings are fresh-made and fantastic–try the one with shrimp, pork, sea cucumber and chives–but don’t miss the accompanying spicy cabbage salad and exceptionally tasty dipping sauce. “We always come here and we are never disappointed,” ZenFoodist adds.

Hand-drawn noodle vendor [Flushing]
Flushing Mall food court, booth C26
133-31 39th Ave., between Prince St. and College Point Blvd., lower level, Flushing, Queens

Korean-Chinese dumpling vendor [Flushing]
Flushing Mall, street level, booth M38
133-31 39th Ave., between Prince St. and College Point Blvd., Flushing, Queens

Board Links: Flushing food courts?