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Yonaka - every bit as good a reason as Raku to venture off-strip

There's nothing wrong with sweet desserts, if the setting fits. If I was eating at a nice diner and they ended the meal with a big slice of a very sweet peach pie, I'd be very happy.

But Yonaka's desserts are distinctively of a different style than their savory menu (as opposed to other restaurants where their pastry chef tries to create dishes that complement the style of the main menu). More fitting for them would be desserts similar to what is served at Sweets Raku. It's possible the Yonaka desserts tasted even sweeter to me than they really were because I was not expecting it at all. I was expecting them to serve me something more subdued and refined.

The days of really sweet desserts seems to have passed anyway. It's been years since I've eaten at a nice place with a tasting menu and been given something that was very sweet. Most are going with citrus-based or dark chocolate-based desserts and playing with textures/temperatures on the plate to impress.

about 7 hours ago
ah6tyfour in Las Vegas

Yonaka - every bit as good a reason as Raku to venture off-strip

I agree with this review except for the desserts. To me, their desserts were heavy-handed and far too sweet. As an Asian person, I like my desserts to have just hints of sweetness. This is one area in which Yonaka seems to be catering to non-Asians and offering desserts that don't quite hit the mark for the amazing place that it is.

Their desserts have too many components and end up being quite muddled. The Kammi-O with the creme brulee, the ice cream, the candied bacon, and the hidden jelly on the bottom was the worst offender. It's just too much and far too sweet. And it's made worse because they torch it and serve it right away so the custard is slightly warm. Without cold custard to be at least a little bit refreshing, the dish is just sweet stacked on more sweet, with the warm custard enhancing the sweetness of it all. It's rare that I will not finish a dish, but my table of four left most of this dish behind.

The panna cotta was good, but the texture was terrible. It was way too firm to be called a panna cotta and seemed to have been stabilized with something like xanthan gum instead of gelatin or agar, leading to a texture somewhere between snot and mush. It's a good concept, but the dish needs some work. They need to stop trying so hard. Give me a well-made panna cotta with a mango ice cream on the side and something like popped rice around it. Simple, focused, and not so sweet.

The most successful dessert of the four is the Chokobeets. It succeeds in being intensely rich without being very sweet. It also has a great balance between flavors, textures, and temperatures. If I go back for dessert, I'd definitely stick with this one.

about 16 hours ago
ah6tyfour in Las Vegas

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

But I really like Magnolia Bakery's banana pudding =P

Apr 06, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

Thanks! I'm going to try to get to the Trini Paki cart this time.

Apr 06, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

I think they've also served pre-cooked meat. But they used to keep the pre-cooked meat in bins and transfer a portion to the grill, get it nice and caramelized with charred eges, and use that for service. They would make sure they had the next batch on the grill before the previous batch finished. This happened one time my last trip and it tasted amazing.

But when they just start scooping directly out of the warming bins? No good at all.

Apr 06, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

Thanks! I think I'll try Trini Paki on this trip, although hopefully their curry isn't too potent (it'd be before a business meeting).

Apr 06, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

I'm really looking forward to the B&M shop opening, although I don't know when I'll be able to go to NY again after my trip in April. With the B&M store, I think they'll be able to make sure the meat is grilled.

Apr 05, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

Yes, it was definitely the real Halal Guys every time (yellow shirts, "We Are Different" sign, yellow bags), with two meals at the original location (the only one on that block to have the big squeeze bottles of white and red sauce).

Daytime location (across the street from the nighttime location of the original cart) served steamed meat out of the hotel pan. Original evening location served amazing grilled meat once and steamed meat the second time.

There's usually a line, so I would feel bad about asking them to grill the meat just for me. There might also be no space to do it with the two hotels pans resting on the grill (one for chicken, one for lamb).

Am I the only person who has experienced this at the original Halal Guys? It's so disappointing.

Apr 05, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

The problem is the meat I was served wasn't grilled! It was cooked, stored in a big hotel pan, and kept warm over the grill. It had no flavor at all.

And since my time in Manhattan is limited and I try to get many meals in, I would only have one opportunity to get Halal Guys. It sucks when it's the non-grilled meat.

Apr 05, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Halal Guys - does any location consistently serve meat off the grill?

I admit it. I'm a tourist and I love Halal Guys. I still try to go to the famous location even though the other locations should theoretically be the same.

But on my last trip, two out of three times I had it, they were serving the meat out of hotel pans that were placed on the grill instead of actually serving the meat straight off the grill.

Both times, the meal was very underwhelming. The meat was lukewarm and had absolutely no flavor since it's essentially a pile of steaming meat with no char or caramelization at all.

The one time I got meat straight off the grill, it was as good a plate of food as I remembered it being. Well-seasoned, full of flavor from having caramelization and charred edges from being on the grill.

Is there a way to guarantee that the meat will be served off the grill and not just scooped out of those hotel pans?

Here's my experience:
Daytime Halal Guys stand across street from famous location - scooped from hotel pan
11pm famous location on a Wednesday - AMAZING meat straight off grill
12pm famous location on a Thursday - scooped from hotel pan

When I saw those pans of meat on the grill that third time, I was pretty disappointed. But it was my buddy's first day in town and all he wanted was Halal Guys, so we got it anyway.

I wish we were staying at a hotel with a kitchen. I could order a combo plate with sauce on the side, bring it back to the room, and pan fry the meat to get some flavor on it.

Apr 04, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Quintessential Dining Spots for a First-Timer in Manhattan

Jungsik - my meal there was brilliant (and the one meal I had in NY that I still think about weeks later). The tasting is $155 per person, which is out of your budget, but you can order off the a la carte menu. If you order smartly and share dessert, you can get it within your budget. I don't think I've ever recommended a place as highly as I'd recommend Jungsik.

Do one of the large-format meals at Momofuku Ssam meant for sharing. You'll be able to reserve a table. They have a duck meal and a pork shoulder meal (with the pork shoulder meal the more impressive of the two). Alternatively, go to Ma Peche for their large-format meals.

Go to Prince Street Pizza and order a whole Spicy Spring.

Find the food cart Comme Ci Comme Ça.

Make a reservation to try the all-beef ramen at Takashi offered from midnight-2am on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Maybe too touristy, but drop by Magnolia Bakery for their banana pudding. It's light, refreshing, and not too sweet.

Apr 04, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Sushi steak and a bonus

Cut or GR Steak, Kabuto, and e by Jose Andres.

Mar 30, 2014
ah6tyfour in Las Vegas

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

Actually, it'll be 10:20 by the time we're out of the theater.

I think it may be a good idea to table the idea of doing a full tasting menu and instead just go do a tour of NY late night eats. And then do a lunch tasting menu.

Mar 27, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

I called the lounge and they confirmed that they can seat people until 10:30, even if you want the full tasting menu.

I'm trying to decide if I should try that or maybe just get Shake Shack after the show and do Le Bernardin for lunch the next day.

Has anyone seen Eric Ripert during lunch service? I figure he'd be more likely to be on-site during lunch than at 1am.

Mar 27, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

So how's that late-night beef ramen at Takashi?

I'll call, but I think you are right. It's confusing (even though it only makes sense that it would be the evening of Friday and Saturday), since technically they are saying it's Friday and Saturday from 12am-2am.

But looking at the business hours for Takashi, it makes sense that they take the two days they're open the longest, use the 30 min to convert to ramen shop, and serve.
Monday 6-11pm
Tuesday 6-11pm
Wednesday 6-11pm
Thursday 6-11pm
Friday 5:30-11:30pm
Saturday 5:30-11:30pm
Sunday 5-10:30pm

Mar 26, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

So how's that late-night beef ramen at Takashi?

This is a dumb question, but when they say that ramen is served Friday and Saturday 12am-2am, do they actually mean it starts at 12:01am on Friday (so it'd really just be late night Thursday) or do they mean Friday being Saturday at 12:01am?

I'm in town on a Thursday and leave around noon on Friday. Would I be able to get a bowl of ramen?

Mar 26, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

Thursday night. Avenue Q ends at 10:10-10:15pm.

Mar 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

Thanks, Le Bernardin is a great choice, but unfortunately we won't have jackets with us for this trip. I was actually thinking of doing Le Bernardin for lunch the next day, but then I realized that lunch requires jackets as well. Is it true that Eric Ripert is on-site mainly during lunch/early afternoon? Maybe it's worth packing the jacket.

Mar 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

Yes, I know I'm planning with not much room for error, but once I found Aquavit's tasting menu and saw they had a 10:30 reservation, I booked Avenue Q thinking it would work perfectly.

I just ended up being nice and writing on the reservation comments, "Sorry we're coming in so late. We'll be doing the tasting menu if that helps the kitchen plan for us". I had no idea they would reply saying they wouldn't be able to serve us the tasting.

Mar 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Restaurants with tasting menus allowing 10:30pm seatings (preferably near theater district)

I'm in town for one night, and to make the most of it, I'm planning on eating at Sushi Yasuda and then having a second tasting menu a few hours later. I started a thread regarding this and decided on Tocqueville (thanks for the recommendation, SomeRandomIdiot <--that's actually the user's name, I'm not randomly calling someone an idiot).

Problem now is I went even more ambitious and booked Avenue Q for after Sushi Yasuda. So now I'm looking for a nice restaurant with a tasting menu with seating available at 10:30pm (and located within 10 minutes or so of New World Stages, where Avenue Q is playing).

Seeing that Tocqueville was probably too far away, I looked around the boards and found Aquavit, but I wrote on the reservation that I was doing the tasting menu and got an email back from the manager saying that 10pm is the latest they can serve the tasting menu due to time constraints.

So does anyone know of a nice place with a good tasting menu that fits the criteria?

I'm holding onto both Tocqueville at 10:30 and Aquavit at 10:30 at the moment, but I'm afraid Tocqueville might be too far away to get to in time. Maybe I should stick with Aquavit and just order a la carte. Seems to get great reviews and isn't too far from the theater.

Mar 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

help pick one fab dinner

I had a pretty disappointing meal at Sage and it seems many people on this board have experienced the same. It was a complete miss for me. If you need a sure-fire winner, I would avoid Sage.

Although, in Sage's defense, many people rave about it as well. I don't know if the kitchen just has VERY off nights or if people go in expecting different things, but it's probably one of the few popular restaurants on this board to get mixed reviews. And by mixed, I mean they're usually on opposite extremes.

See this thread:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/901187

I would say go with Joel Robuchon if the cost is within your budget. If not, try for Le Cirque, L'atelier de Joel Robuchon, or e by Jose Andres.

Mar 22, 2014
ah6tyfour in Las Vegas

10 hours in Manhattan - Sushi Yasuda and another tasting menu?

Momofuku Ko is actually a very good idea. I've had lunch there, but never had dinner.

Instinctively, I'd try to go for something opposite from sushi so it'd be two separate experiences very different from each other.

Mar 22, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

10 hours in Manhattan - Sushi Yasuda and another tasting menu?

Wow, that might be too much for me! I think I'd need a few hours between meals to walk around and digest a bit.

I hear lots of good things about Tocqueville though. Of the three tasting menus, which would you suggest? Chef's Tasting, five-course, or seven-course? Would you recommend that over Ai Fiori?

Mar 22, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

10 hours in Manhattan - Sushi Yasuda and another tasting menu?

Hi everyone, it's a bit crazy, but I get a few hours in New York on my upcoming trip. I'm planning on getting the omakase at 15 East, but was contemplating the possibility of getting in a second tasting menu later that same evening.

Say I start at Sushi Yasuda at 6pm. Would it be possible to then do a tasting menu at Ai Fiori 10:15pm? Does anyone have favorite tasting menus around the $150 range and is open late? No specific cuisine. I went to Jungsik on my last trip and it was so good I'd consider going there again this time, but maybe I should try something different.

And yes, it's a bit of a crazy idea, but I can eat quite a lot while on vacation (see my last trip report). I'm pretty sure I can eat 15 pieces of sushi and be okay to eat a second dinner a few hours later. Am I just woefully unprepared for how full I will be after Sushi Yasuda? Maybe for the second dinner, I can ask that any heavy beef/lamb/venison dish be substituted for something lighter.

Mar 20, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Got a reservation at Ko! Anyone been recently and know the menu?

I ate there a month ago and it was excellent. You can look in my post history for a review, but it's really a meal that is made even better by being surprised. Don't look into it too much. Dishes change often. Just show up knowing nothing and let them serve you.

Are you going for lunch or dinner?

Mar 13, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Where to get U-bet chocolate syrup before Passover

Thanks, I'll get in touch with both places as we get closer to April and see about reserving a case or having a case sent to my hotel.

Feb 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Where to get U-bet chocolate syrup before Passover

It's to make a chocolate egg creme, which could be dessert. The Fox U-bet website has the official instructions. U-bet chocolate syrup, whole milk, and seltzer water. It's even sometimes on Eleven Madison Park's menu, although I think they must make the chocolate sauce themselves.

Feb 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Where to get U-bet chocolate syrup before Passover

Thanks, but that's not the Kosher for Passover version with the cane sugar. Maybe I'll contact them as we get closer to April and hopefully they'll get some in stock.

Feb 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Where to get U-bet chocolate syrup before Passover

I'll be in NY in early April, which is apparently a week or so before Passover (thanks Google). Where would be the best place to go to pick up some U-bet chocolate syrup that is specified for Passover so it uses the real cane sugar?

Are there any markets with delivery option I could just have them send a case to my hotel?

No hotel booked yet, but definitely in midtown. Don't mind traveling to get it. Maybe I can call the concierge once booked and have them procure it for me.

Feb 25, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan

Le Bernardin China

I did ask. The waitress said the dinnerware is imported from Portugal or Singapore, can't remember which. She said that's why it's a big deal whenever they accidentally break something.

Ippudo has the same bowl up on their wall.

Feb 24, 2014
ah6tyfour in Manhattan