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Salvatore's of Soho (Hylan Blvd., Staten Island)--the early reports are positive

i tried salvatore of soho recently, and it exceeded my expectations. based on my sole visit, i'd say it's among the best of the city's newish pizza restaurants - i certainly enjoyed it at least as much as several other spots that received far more hype from the mainstream food media.

now, i wouldn't necessarily say that the pizza at this place was superior to difara or lucali, but then again it's a different kind of pie altogether (due in part to the unique coal/gas hybrid oven), so it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

at the very least, it has a real chance to land on the short list of great pizzas on staten island - and perhaps citywide - if it can consistently produce pies of a high caliber like i enjoyed. i'll need to come back to this place and try more of the toppings and specialty pies before i can make a better assessment of its relative standing, but so far, so good.

on to the specifics:
while all of the pies we sampled here had very good crusts - nicely charred and crispy, yet chewy and pliable with a slightly puffy interior - the real standout was the clam pie. it was topped with a generous amount of freshly-shucked clams (not canned or overcooked) that were perfectly complemented, rather than overpowered, by the flavors of the garlic, oregano, romano, and olive oil.

my only quibbles were that all of the pies were a touch soggy in the middle and that our neapolitan pie could've used a little bit more sauce (apparently others feel this way, too).

still, it was a very good pie overall. and i appreciated the fact that the friendly proprietor seemed genuinely passionate about making a quality pie without being pretentious or condescending.

this place is a real sleeper. it kind of got dismissed by the ny times' frank bruni in his roundup of the city's new pizzerias from earlier this month, but in my opinion he sold this place short.

Jul 25, 2009
surly in Outer Boroughs

Korean in Queens ...

duck - yes
chicken - no
shrimp - yes
fish - only in stews or casseroles

Jan 12, 2009
surly in Outer Boroughs

Korean in Queens ...

just to clarify, "ga si ri" doesn't mean what your friend says it does.

when i first drove by this place, i couldn't figure out exactly what its name meant, but assumed that it was probably a phrase from old korean (which is to modern korean as old english is to modern english). it just doesn't sound like anything you'd hear in the korean language today, and based on the decor and feel of the place, it seemed like they were going for some sort of nostalgic theme.

i asked my dad, and he said that "ga si ri" is the name of a famous poem from a long time ago. the word literally means "gone" in old korean. (while the modern verb "ga da" ("to go") still contains the same basic root "ga", the past participle form of the verb is different nowadays).

anyway, here's the translation of that sign from top to bottom:

1st row: Traditional Cuisine, Barbecue Specialist

2nd row: Ga Si Ri
the name of the restaurant, which is pronounced "GAH shee ree", with emphasis on the first syllable. if i hear one more person butcher the pronunciation of this place i just may lose it (i kid - sort of)

3rd row: At Ga Si Ri, the meaning of "Please don't forget" is included.
(not sure what they're trying to convey here, but that's the literal translation)

Jan 12, 2009
surly in Outer Boroughs

Bertha's Soul Food Cafe

reviving an old thread...

i was in LA this past weekend and finally got to try bertha's. i had the fried chicken, collard greens, and mac and cheese; my friend's order was basically the same except that he got the yams with pinto beans. both dishes were also sided with rice topped w/gravy.

we both thought the food here was very good. the fried chicken was far better than i've had in recent memory at any soul food restaurant in nyc (where i'm from). the skin had a nice crispiness to it (not excessively crunchy nor too limp) without being too greasy or salty, while having a nice, peppery flavor. meanwhile the meat, even on the breast, was juicy and flavorful. after one bite, i was hooked.

the piping-hot cornbread was also quite good, and while i wasn't as crazy about the sides, they were still above average. my main complaint was that the collard greens were a tad saltier than i prefer, but it's a small quibble. and while the mac and cheese didn't wow me, it was perfectly fine.

next time i'm in LA i'm definitely going to return to this place to try some of the other dishes recommended here. also, i got a kick out of seeing the big painted "bertha's soul food" sign on the side of the building; brings back memories of randy newman's "i love la" video from the early '80s (although after looking at the video on youtube, it appears that the restaurant was housed in a different building back then).

Apr 15, 2008
surly in Los Angeles Area

J&L Mall shuttered again (?) - Mandarin translation needed

while on our flushing tour yesterday, we took a quick peek at 41-42A main st, which is two doors down from Oriental Express Food. outside of 41-42A main st, it says "Shi Hong Development LLC"; i'll refer to the building as such from now on.

inside Shi Hong, we did see the guizhou stall from J & L; they were halfway down on the right and are unmistakable b/c of their red and white sign. we also saw a sichuan stall in the back which may or may not be sichuan chengdu from J & L.

Mar 22, 2008
surly in Outer Boroughs

J&L Mall shuttered again (?) - Mandarin translation needed

just to add to your thoughts, brian:

yesterday i did a flushing food tour with polecat and davecook. among our goals was to find some of the former J & L vendors, which we accomplished.

the building at 41-40 main st btwn 41st rd & sanford ave (same block as golden shopping mall) has a sign outside that says "Oriental Express Food". underneath this, it says "Lucky L & LWC". in any event, i'm going to refer to the building as "Oriental Express Food" from now on.

the main tenant of this place is the Qing Zhen (Muslim) bread stall from J & L mall. these guys, who hail from tianjin in northern china, are on the left-hand side once you enter the building.

right next to the muslim bread guys is a sichuan stall and a boba tea stall. neither seems to have any connection to J & L, but i could be wrong.

in the back is a shared food preparation space where the muslim bread guys and a dumpling lady work side-by-side (i didn't see her dumplings on sale up front, though). i also didn't see the bing people from J & L anywhere in this building.

Mar 22, 2008
surly in Outer Boroughs

Fantastic Big Flat Lamb Noodle Soup in Flushing, 41-28 Main

went here last night and yes, it appears that it's gone for good. no idea where this guy went, but as some of the j & l vendors are back on their feet elsewhere, it might be plausible that this guy is cooking in a different spot, or at least is actively searching for a new space.

Mar 22, 2008
surly in Outer Boroughs

Soul food restaurant in Passaic County?

kingdom's sea & soul on vreeland ave in paterson apparently closed down a month ago:

the link above does talk about a new soul food/west indian eatery at 444 broadway in paterson called kingdom foods. i haven't tried it yet myself but it looks promising.

it's tough to find really good soul food in north jersey these days, unfortunately.

Xi'an Restaurant -- in a tiny basement food stall, a taste of western China

hey brian, this is actually the same stall that was discussed in another thread from last february, complete with photos:

in that thread, i'd mainly talked about the ro bing (what the owner referred to as "chinese hamburgers"). and one of the meat options for those "sandwiches" is shredded pork (along with lamb and beef). so the place definitely isn't halal.

the owner told my mandarin-speaking friend that he's not muslim, but because of the muslim influence on xi'an's culture and cuisine, you'll find a lot of muslim-derived dishes at non-muslim establishments...which results in pork dishes like at this place.

anyway, when i first went to this place, the menu was scattered on numerous slips of colored paper hanging on the walls. but sometime toward the end of summer (i think), he replaced them with those color photos, which obviously makes the ordering process far easier for those of us who don't speak mandarin.

last time i went a couple of weeks ago, the owner directed me to a lamb soup with wide flat noodles...possibly the same one you had, although there were numerous soups utilizing those noodles. i thought the one i received was simple but quite good, with several similarities to the flat noodle lamb soup served by the guy at the henan stall upstairs ( ). the main differences, though, were that the lamb chunks were bigger and less fatty, and there was no sliced soybean curd or seaweed. basically, it reminded me of a simpler version of that henan noodle soup in that it had fewer flourishes.

Mar 11, 2008
surly in Outer Boroughs

Amazing 66 -- new in Chinatown

good roundup of what we ate last night. for me the biggest disappointment was the butterfish - on previous visits it had been terrific, but last night it was good but not great. i hadn't been to this place in a while, though, so i think we may have actually ordered something different from what i'd had in the past - looking at the menu right now, there's an item in the chef's recommendations (#46) called "fried butter fish with spicy salt and pepper"; in retrospect, i think that's what i'd enjoyed so much during previous visits. in any event, no big deal, since the soy sauce version was still all right and the rest of the meal was quite good - by far the best overall experience of my 3 or 4 visits here.

the pumpkin stuffed with ribs stole the show, as bigjeff mentioned, but i have to reiterate how good the golden prawns (in shell) over twin rice were. i think those two dishes, along with the roast chicken and possibly the butterfish with salt and pepper, are absolute must-orders here.

i should note that the roast chicken is also available in three other preparations: with fresh garlic sauce, "cantonese style" (don't know what this means), or with black bean sauce. i haven't had any of those, but a friend who's been here in the past thinks the one with fresh garlic sauce is the best of the bunch.

basically, i think that if you order correctly here, you can have a fine meal. i'm not saying that it compares with the cantonese food in vancouver or sf's richmond district, but it's probably a lot better than most of the other cantonese places in manhattan right now. the menu's really big, though, so if you order randomly you'll probably run into a lot of duds.

Dec 07, 2007
surly in Manhattan

A dish unique to LA?

no worries, and no offense taken, i see what you were trying to say and certainly respect your opinion on thai food. fwiw i went into more detail on the "is LA the center of the thai-am food universe?" post. oh and btw i'm a new yorker, but i do visit LA often and love the ethnic food scene there. hence my occasional presence on these boards.

Jun 30, 2007
surly in Los Angeles Area

Is LA the center of the univ., Thai-Am food-wise?

not to go off on a non-LA tangent here, but you're right, chao thai can be pretty good *when it's on*. the problem is that they're not particularly consistent. on a good day, i definitely think they're better than sripraphai. on a bad day, they're worse, but still better than almost anything else of its type in greater ny. as i said in the other post ( ), no place in ny is as good as the "typical" place in LA's thai town, but i think you and i agree on most of these basic points anyhow.

btw, khao homm closed down a while back. zabb's still around and so far one of the only places that serves issan dishes, but i dunno, i think it's really hit-or-miss. if you can recall, what did you like there?

getting back to LA thai food, like my fellow ny hound a and w, i'm always amazed how much better the overall average quality is than in ny. i totally believe you when you say that ordering properly (perhaps with thai language skills as a bonus) will make for a much better dining experience, even in ny restaurants, but all i know is that whenever i come back to ny from a trip to LA i'm immediately craving the stuff back in thai town or at wat thai; that's how much better it is. the stuff i've had at sripraphai or chao thai tastes uninspired and pedestrian compared to what i've had at many of the popular places mentioned on the LA boards.

btw, thanks for all the great insights into thai food around the country. very informative.

Jun 30, 2007
surly in General Topics

A dish unique to LA?

erik, you're right that LA isn't the only city with authentic thai restaurants, but i'd be surprised if there's any city in north america that can match the sheer number of authentic and high quality (not necessarily high-end dining, mind you) thai eats that LA has. i'm from ny and we only have two thai restaurants that are even remotely in the same league as the restaurant row in LA's thai town, and to be honest both places would be below average if they were transported to LA. sripraphai (in queens), which gets tons of praise on the ny outer borough boards, zagat's, and every other ny-area food publication, is a far cry from what i could get in thai town or at wat thai. same with chao thai, also in queens, which isn't even all that consistent.

and the rest of the thai food in ny? mediocre to horrendous, despite the fact that we have tons of thai restaurants. the overwhelming majority of thai food in nyc is overly sweet, not really fresh tasting, and americanized beyond belief (and usually not made by thai people, at that). i can only imagine how bad thai food is in most other cities in the country.

having said that, i've never eaten thai food in chicago and am not disputing your assertion that there are several authentic, good thai restaurants in your area. or in portland or plano, since i've never even been to those cities. all i'm saying is that authentic AND good thai food is almost certainly most concentrated in LA, meaning that the overall quality is much higher than in other cities; that was probably what saucesupreme was trying to get at - that thai cuisine is generally better and more of a big deal in LA than elsewhere.

to reference another one of saucesupreme's points, i disagree that korean food is hard to find outside of LA, but there's no disputing that the LA area has the best korean food in the country. we have tons of korean restaurants in the ny/nj area (the best being in flushing, queens and northeastern nj), but the overall quality is lower than the typical LA korean restaurant. over the years there have been individual korean joints in ny/nj that have exceeded their counterparts in LA, but those have been few and far between. still, i'd say that korean food isn't as big of a deal in LA as authentic thai or mexican food - at least not to me. mexican food in LA (and san diego) is so much better than what we have in ny (and anywhere else i've tried in the northeast or chicago) that i think it merits special attention. just the diversity of regions and subcuisines represented in greater LA is mindboggling compared with ny, where virtually all the mexicans are from puebla. and don't forget, the mexican population in most northeast cities has only been around for about 15 years, so we have a lot of catching up to do before we can even begin to compare southern california mexican vs. northeastern u.s. mexican.

one last point on korean: i don't think any of the soondooboo (soft tofu stew) options in LA are all that good. i've tried several bcd branches, so kong dong, and beverly soon tofu, and none of them were particularly good. if i were to recommend something "special", if not unique to LA, and it had to be korean, i'd just pick a good bbq restaurant that also had good fish stews (jjigae, maeoontang, etc). or perhaps a good pocha (eating/drinking place) that serves korean comfort food dishes (many of which aren't available at "standard" korean restaurants) and plenty of soju.

Jun 28, 2007
surly in Los Angeles Area

Floor plan of Flushing food court located on Main St between Maple and Sanford (L&N)

check it out, r. sietsema of the village voice wrote about j & l mall in his most recent article:

first it's mentioned in the ny times, and now the voice? what's hilarious is that most of the people who work and eat there don't know and probably don't care about the mainstream media attention.

Mar 23, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Clinton Hill update

yeah they definitely use very ordinary bread, but i've found that this tends to be the norm at most southern style fried fish shacks in the city. not sure if this is out of tradition or what.

agreed on the po boys. and that's a unique way to provide flavor for your cocktails - great idea.

Mar 22, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Best Sushi in Northern NJ

hiura sushi on main st at anderson ave in fort lee. i haven't been there in some time but when it's on, it's quite good. owned and operated by japanese, too, which is a must if you want the real deal.

Mar 21, 2007
surly in New Jersey

Roast Beef in Brooklyn--where's the best now?

john's deli is on stillwell ave btwn avenue t and 86th st in gravesend. agree with the others that it's very good.

also, i'd like to third defonte's for their roast beef/eggplant/mozzarella hero. get there earlier in the day if possible, and remember that they close early and are closed all day on sundays.

two other places i'd like to mention are clemente's and monte's. i've had great roast beef sandwiches at both in the past, although i haven't been to either in a while.

Mar 21, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Good Korean restaurant in NJ and within 40 minute driving from Midtown Manhattan?

sorry, i didn't see this post until now...

hmm, in nj there's a bunch of new korean places, but i haven't been to all of them.

my favorite of all the korean specialists is definitely boom boom chicken, on main street near the rt. 46 overpass in fort lee. it's related to bon chon chicken, but definitely better than the branches in manhattan or flushing. they use the same recipe for the marinade and seemingly the same quality of chicken, but somehow the end result ends up more juicy and flavorful on the inside while retaining a nice crisp edge on the outside. definitely the best of the newish korean fried chicken shacks in the ny/nj region.

for sullungtang, the fort lee, nj branch of gam mee ok is generally pretty good. sometimes it's very good, and sometimes not so much. but at this point it's clearly better than the original location on w. 32nd st in manhattan. they also do a good job with other stuff like bin dae dduk, soondae, and bo ssam, based on the few times i've ordered those other dishes. located on main street at edwin ave in fort lee.

my favorite boonshik (korean comfort food place) in the area is nakji daehak ddukbokki gwa (written using korean letters), which is located on broad ave btwn edsall blvd & washington pl in pal park. there's virtually no english on the awning outside (save a tiny bit of lettering that says "korean restaurant"), but look for a small, narrow storefront with an orange awning that has white korean lettering. there's also a small logo of bells at the top of the sign.

although the food here can't really compare to what i could get in korea, nonetheless it's a very solid, reliable place for korean comfort food--bokkeumbap, ddukbokki, odeng, omurice, kimbap, etc. has a very mom-and-pop feel, and tastes like what my mom would make at home.

there's also a longtime boonshik standby across the street called ddo ddo wah (for some reason, the sign says "oh oh wha restaurant" in english). it's not spectacular but has always hit the spot for very competent, filling food. i feel it's declined slightly since the mid-to-late 90s but on my last visit a few months ago everything we ate was still reasonably fine.

further south on broad ave is cap udon, another boonshik. i always thought they were merely fair but a lot of korean friends really like that place.

down the street, on the 2nd floor of a korean plaza, is mandarin restaurant. they probably serve one the best renditions of jja jang myun in the area right now, although there are a lot of new places that have opened up which i haven't tried.

for steamed mandoo, there's a place called wang mandoo a little bit further south on broad ave in pal park. the place is take-out only but their stuff is generally good, as long as you get a fresh batch.

for naeng myun, there's you chun on broad ave in pal park or shin po on anderson ave in cliffside park. i should note that shin po went on hiatus for the entire winter due to slow business (naeng myun is more of a summertime thing, anyway) but was supposed to reopen on march 1. i never knew why they didn't do well, since i thought they always served pretty good food.

for kalgooksoo and soojehbee - as well as some hybrid soojehbee/spicy jjigae dishes - go to myung dong kalgooksoo, which is on the same block as nakji daehak ddukbokki gwa in pal park. it's the fairly large restaurant on the east side of the street with the white awning. one of the only kalgooksoo/soojehbee specialists in the entire ny/nj region.

there are a bunch of other places, but i can't think of them at the moment.

Good Korean restaurant in NJ and within 40 minute driving from Midtown Manhattan?

yeah, the so gong dong location in fort lee has always been noticeably better than the pal park branch, in my opinion. to be fair, i haven't been to the pal park branch in at least two years because i was always disappointed there. maybe it's improved, but i doubt it.

but as i mentioned, i feel that even the fort lee branch has declined significantly since the late '90s. i've actually tried a number of soondooboo jjigae places throughout queens and nj in recent months, but nothing has come even close. so unless another so gong dong - circa 1998 - opens up in the area, i'm going to have to wait until my next trip to korea to get a really outstanding version.

Shopsin's in Essex Street Market

yes, it has, although perhaps not at full operational speed. i stopped by the essex street market two saturdays ago and saw kenny himself loafing around in the space right next to saxleby cheesemongers and shooting the breeze with a couple who seem to have been regulars from the previous location.

for now, customers must place their orders at the saxleby cheesemongers stall. there's a very brief menu listed on the saxleby counter, which includes a few old favorites like blisters on my sisters as well as stuff like breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. the saxleby lady even gave me and the others a free sample of cheese while we were waiting for kenny to prepare our order.

Mar 16, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Koreatown Breakfast

not much on 32nd street. lots of places are open 24 hours but they all serve the same stuff around the clock (bbq, bibimbap, jjiages, etc). i don't even know of any place in the vicinity that serves korean-style jook, though it's possible that it's buried in the menus of some of the all-purpose korean restaurants.

the only two places i really go to in the early morning hours are gam mee ok and yang pyung. both specialize in hearty, hangover-remedy soups (sullungtang at the former and haejanggook at the latter). i don't think jook is available at either, though i could be wrong.

Mar 15, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Clinton Street Baking Company

get either of the pancake options (i especially like the wild maine blueberry version). at worst this dish is pretty good and at best it's terrific - fluffy and light on the inside with just a hint of crispness on the outside. while the pancakes haven't been perfect on my last few visits they were still good nonetheless.

Mar 13, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Brunch: Prune? Schillers? Jane?

yeah. schiller's is more of a scene than anything else, though i'd say the food at brunch is generally better than at other times of day.

Mar 13, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Looking for a decent burrito in NY. ANyone have any suggestions.

yes, the calexico cart has decent burritos by nyc standards. northeast corner of wooster and prince streets, from about 11am until 3pm or so. weekdays only.

Mar 13, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Brunch: Prune? Schillers? Jane?

second the five points recommendation. they take reservations and have good drinks. the food (at least at brunch) is usually pretty good, too.

but if you're willing to get there early and/or wait, definitely recommend prune for the food and drinks. definitely one of the best brunches downtown.

Mar 13, 2007
surly in Manhattan

Asian Restaurants in Bergen County

agreed with pettie soo chow in cliffside park for soup dumplings and shanghai-style chinese cuisine in general. for korean bbq and stews, go to so moon nan jib on broad ave in palisades park. for korean soft tofu stew, so gong dong on main street east of palisade ave in fort lee. for sushi, hiura on main st at anderson ave in fort lee. mitsuwa marketplace on river rd in fort lee for japanese ramen, udon, donkatsu, and other comfort food/snacks.

Clinton Hill update

fish and crustaceans on 901 fulton street between vanderbilt and clinton aves for southern-style fish and chips and snow cones. the fish is always fresh and deep fried to order, and while the fries are simply generic this is still one of the best fish and chips places around.

Mar 07, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Peter Luger Question

it's simply a bigger version of the porterhouse for two, with 50% more meat. it's not two steaks.

Mar 06, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Peter Luger Question

i've heard this as well and, in fact, did a little experiment the last time i went there with a big group. we ordered three different steaks: in two, three, and four person portions. honestly there wasn't a huge difference, but we did feel like the steak for two was a bit juicier and more expertly prepared. it was also the only one of the three that was a perfect medium rare on that day; the steak for three was a little closer to rare and the steak for four was a tad overcooked. granted, this is small sample, but since there's no per person difference in price based on portion size, i'd always get the steak for two in the future.

Mar 06, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs

Peruvian ceviche and chicken?

over the weekend, i ate at el anzuelo fino, located on jamaica ave at 98th st in woodhaven, queens. the place was reviewed in the village voice a couple of weeks ago. almost everything we ate there was good to very good, including two types of ceviche and the rotisserie chicken. definitely recommended.

Mar 06, 2007
surly in Outer Boroughs