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Labneh (strained greek yogurt) in NYC

Ditto the Yoghurt Store on Sullivan. Delicious!

Feb 13, 2014
windycity in Manhattan

Vermillion - 480 Lexington Avenue

It's called At Vermillion, and the fusion flavors really don't work. Also, the service there was terrible. I hope your experience was okay.

Feb 13, 2014
windycity in Manhattan

dinner near JW Marriott DC ( 13th st)

Some restaurants like Cedar (9th and E St) are running Restaurant Week specials through Sept 1, if you are in town then. Cedar is decent, although if money is no budget I'd go to Zaytinya and enjoy. Fits all your criteria (is Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese food) and is a Jose Andres restaurant. My favorite dishes are their scallops, shrimp, char, seasonal mushrooms.

El Chilango - finally, a taqueria in DC that gets it right

Haven't been to the brick & mortar but the truck has some of the better / authentic tacos in DC. It's all about the carnitas.

dinner near JW Marriott DC ( 13th st)

Zaytinya is delicious and Middle Eastern but I'm not sure you will be full if the total budget is $75 for 2. Beck's mussels will keep you within budget.

Taberna that budget is doable if you go during the happy hour (half price tapas.)

NYCer's Chicago trip reportback - Hoosier Mama, BlackDog, Big Star, Gage, Ken Kee, Lou Malnati's plus suburban Chinese

Ping was booked and couldn't accommodate our party of 20. If location and seating weren't a consideration, I would have lobbied hard to go to Great Seas for lollipop chicken. Sadly, it's not befitting a 100th bday celebration. But if I live to 100, that will be on my list!

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Chicago Area

NYC Ramen Recommendations

The Minca broth can be very heavy, heavier than I like especially in the toroniku. I realized that it's better to go with the chicken or do a half chicken/ half pork broth there. It makes the broth more drinkable. Generally I really enjoy Menkuitei for their tonkatsu and sara udon. The service can be very indifferent at times, but I also don't have to wait 1.5 hrs like at Ippudo.

Totto is next on my list to try. I had a really bad experience at Menchanko that made me never want to go back. Less said the better. Rai rai ken I find meh.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

Where to Find a Guide to Chinatown Market Ingrediants

Are you talking about the medicinal herbs? I would find/make/bring a friend who speaks and reads Chinese.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

NYCer's Chicago trip reportback - Hoosier Mama, BlackDog, Big Star, Gage, Ken Kee, Lou Malnati's plus suburban Chinese

Came back for a family reunion so I didn't have as much free time to hit up high end restaurants. I did go to a number of great dessert places including Hoosier Mama Pie (had the pie flight of cherry, blueberry, peach/blackberry - cherry was the standout.) $7 for 3 no-so-mini slices is a brilliant idea.

Black Dog Gelato - so delicious and friendly. The women were very eager for us to sample the flavors. I finally settled on the goat cheese caramel with blood orange. The gelato here is a bit softer than I'm used to but enjoyable nonetheless. I asked about the whiskey goat cheese ice cream bar pictured on the website, and the women were confused.

Mario's Italian Ice - I have always loved Mario's, it never disappoints. And the prices are still affordable for sunshine slurpie heaven with large chunks of real fruit. Got my go to, go two: pineapple and tutti frutti in 2 XLs.

I did enjoy a spectacular meal at Gage with the elk ragout poutine and the smoked salmon sandwich (which reminded me of salmon pastrami in the best way possible with the herbed edges.) The poutine was over the top - melty cheese curds and thick gravy over thick cut fries. My friend and I could hardly finish this and then were almost too full to eat our mains. I had planned on going to Girl and the Goat but my stomach couldn't take in 2 gastropubs in one day. This is a shame because apparently Lady Gaga was there that night.

Instead, I went to Big Star. They have fun, creative tacos - I tried the fish, shrimp, and carnitas. We did the takeout counter, so I thought the tacos were decent if slightly overpriced. The fish taco is ok, and the pork and shrimp were good. Not necessarily better than NYC tacos, definitely not comparable to West Coast tacos.

Lou Malnati's - individual sausage pan pizza. Maybe it's all the Sicilian pizza that I've been eating but the crust weighed in my stomach. I still prefer Gino's and Uno.

Ken Kee - my family has followed the owners from their shop on Argyle to the one in New Chinatown. I got a bowl of their handdrawn noodles in clear broth and had some of my mom's pho. The handpulled noodles were good quality, but the broth was slightly underflavored for my tastes. Would go back to the pho next time.

Now for two banquet dinners in the burbs (I didn't do the ordering for either.) Yu's Mandarin is pretty flashy, they have a whole see-through chef's kitchen where you can watch noodle demonstrations (announced via loudspeaker.) The food was . . . interesting. There was a flayed open fish with what looked like intestines, but were curled up pieces of fish with ham. It was actually surprisingly edible, but the rest of the meal was underwhelming, although the fried prawns were huge. All of my extended family was disappointed by this meal, since it is supposed to be the best Chinese in the burbs. Suffice it to say, we had a LOT of leftovers and no one was really fighting over who got to take them home.

The next dinner was at IChef in Hoffman Estates. It's a smaller and more sedate setting, but the flavors here popped compared to Yu's. The hot and sour seafood soup was delicious and everyone from the kids to grandma wanted more. Everything was authentic (we ordered off the traditional Chinese menu) and the food was also cheaper than Yu's. I felt bad that we were the only other major grooup in the restaurant on a Sunday other than two other tables. They definitely outperformed my expectations and the dongpo braised pork belly with mantou was succulent and quickly consumed. Overall, this place is a pleasant surprise, and I would say better than some of the restaurants in Chinatown.

Sorry to say that I missed the artisinal donut craze. I will be back for donuts and more!

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Chicago Area

September 2012 New York City Dish of the Month - Nominations

Fried chicken

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

"Pop-Up" Wedding in Dupont Circle, Dinner Suggestions

I like the Kellari Taverna idea above. It's not too expensive, and folks can nosh on free appetizers (cheese, bread, olives) in the bar. They have a private room in back and their service is pretty great. Plus they give out free cookies at the end of the night that you can use as wedding favors.

The cheapest possible wedding reception in DC... Help please :)

My friend had her wedding in a church by the waterfront, and they used the community center underneath for the reception. I think her budget was a few thousand, though.

The thing about ethnic restaurants is that you'd probably be buying out a place for the night, and they would be losing money, so I can't think of very many that would be willing to do it at your price point. Off hours/ wedding tea/ dessert may be best option since folks wouldn't necessarily expect alcohol if it's not dinner.

Which of these DC restaurants for a bridal shower brunch?

I really enjoyed my friend's birthday party (food + atmosphere) at Urbana, and they had excellent customer service.

Relatively inexpensive, fairly quiet place for business dinner

Taralucci e Vino on 19th
Punch on Bwy near 21st

Taralucci is much more informal and has pastas and to die for donuts. Punch has an extensive wine & beer list and is probably more appropriate for a business meal. Nice people and good service with solid food. I'm found of the hanger steak with broccoli and they have great sweet potato fries - some of the best in the city imo. Entrees are mostly under $25.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

What to eat on Amtrak?

What? I've been out of the city for awhile. Sad.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

Best Food Trucks in NYC?

Wafels & Dinges, Treats Truck, Luke's Lobster

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

What to eat on Amtrak?

For convenience, here are my recs around Penn Station.

Ditto this. I've done Woorijip myself on the fly many a time. It's a Korean deli with many pre-wrapped, easy to take home dishes. They also have a hot bar that you can pick from. I'm partial to the bibimbap and the japchae but there's also spicy chicken and sushi. I've got it down to in and out in 3-5 mins.

You can also get sweet snacks like sticky rice there or pick up pastries from nearby Paris Bakery. There's a 32nd street food court with a wide range of items and a Taiwanese bian dan place inside too.

If you want to make people jealous and you've got 20-30 minutes to wait for it, I'd bring Korean fried chicken. Just know that the garlic soy scent will probably make everyone want to jump you for your food :) Lastly, hard to transport but delicious and cheap is Go Go Curry on 38th.

A bit further is Food Parc, the food mall at Eventi hotel. Aura Thai on 9th Ave is decent too.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

Chicago Hound would love your NYC ideas

Would definitely go to Russ and Daughters for bagels and lox and they have some great sea salt caramels. Then for more snacks walk to Essex Market and try some of Roni Sue's chocolate bacon. Also on the LES is the Meatball Shop which is good for a mid-walk recharger.

For black and white's, I'm addicted to Moishe's - they are a bit cakeier with a light taste of lemon.

For handpulled noodles, try Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles - it's a very inexpensive hole in the wall (lives up to its name.) If you get seated upstairs, you can watch the man ply his noodle magic. Get the thinnest noodles possible with beef soup.

I would skip Shake Shack - it's Danny Meyer's take on Chicago fast food and I'm not into the burgers or dogs (Chicago does it better.) And there's better frozen custard in Chicago and 2 hours north in Milwaukee.

If you are up for venturing out to Queens and are into Asian food, I recommend Sripraphai Thai and also the New World Mall Food Court by the Flushing subway. It's like being in Asian food heaven - they have Taiwanese small eats, and so much more. Also there's terrific empanadas at Mama's and Papa's.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

NYC Ramen Recommendations

Minca has an amazing toroniku with meltingly delicious pillows of pork. The toroniku broth is quite heavy though. Menkuitei by St Mark's is my go to and they have a great hakata. Ippudo is delicious but the lines are ridiculous. The times I've gone for lunch to avoid the traffic and for the lunch set, I've felt the broth has been as fully nuanced as dinner.

Aug 27, 2012
windycity in Manhattan

Top 5 New York Sandwiches?

Lobster Roll @ Luke's Lobster
The ricotta special @ Defonte's
Turkey sandwich @ Torrisi
Smoked lox and green onion cream cheese on a bagel from Russ and Daughters
hot pastrami at 2nd Ave Deli

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Russ & Daughters
179 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

Second Avenue Deli
162 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

Defonte's Sandwich Shop
261 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10010

Luke's Lobster
93 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

Oct 21, 2011
windycity in Manhattan

Sifton leaving [moved from Manhattan]

Agreed. Sifton's an entertaining writer but I don't really like his taste in food. I'd rather have someone whose tastes I can trust when I go out to eat.

Sep 13, 2011
windycity in Food Media & News

My report on EV cheap eats

I've actually never had chicken curry banh mi, I was recommending the bbq chicken banh mi which is pretty common at a lot of shops. I'm trying to wrap my head around chicken curry banh mi. . .Would that be like a chicken tikka masala on a baguette? It sounds good, I just have a hard time thinking about a very liquidy banh mi. The same way I never got the sloppy bao at baoguette.

Sep 10, 2011
windycity in Manhattan

BCN review - Alkimia, Berri Taktika, Sagardi, Taller de Tapas, Bar Lobo, etc.

Thanks for all of your advice. If I had known that the best restaurants were closed in Aug, we might have gone somewhere else and saved Spain for another time but we had a good experience overall.

I will say, the Euro-dollar conversion slayed us. We should have done more menu del dias to save money. Is it terrible to hope that Spain goes off the Euro? 8oz of soda for 3 Euro/4.5 USD is pretty bad. I am glad I can fulfill my new-found love of Fanta lemon in the US for lots cheaper.

Would definitely go back on a second visit to BERRI TAKTIKA and ALKIMIA.

Sep 10, 2011
windycity in Spain/Portugal

tapas itinerary...help.

It's pretty hard to move around with 7 people at the tapas bars in the Barri Gothic area. Sagardi is standing room only (no chairs). My partner didn't enjoy eating while standing so on our tapas crawls we tended toward the larger places with ample seating. Taller de Tapas was one of our favorites and had lots of seating for larger parties. We actually went there 2 nights in a row because there are so many pinxtos/tapas bars in that area that we wanted to try that we wouldn't have been able to sample everything in one night.

I thought Alkimia was the highlight of our trip, and we did the lunch prix fixe there before heading over to Sagrada Familia a few blocks away. It also allowed us to avoid the insane lines in the morning, and we didn't have to worry about being hungry while waiting or visiting.

We visited in August when most of the high end restaurants were closed, so you're lucky you have your pick of places - I would have loved to go to Cinc Sentis!

Sep 10, 2011
windycity in Spain/Portugal

Madrid in 2 days

I ate at La Barraca and it was the best paella that I've ever had. We had the rabbit paella, and it was brothy and the rice was rounded and creamy. Also had the flan for dessert, that flan has the perfect texture and consistency.

Sep 08, 2011
windycity in Spain/Portugal

Panera Bread -- I like what I've seen. What do you think?

Lols. I enjoy the cinnamon crunch bagel and the crunchy sugar bits. Although perhaps it would be better with poppyseeds or sesame.

I actually am in the pro-Panera camp, and have been since I knew it in the Midwest as East St. Louis Bread & Bakery. I used to eat a soup and sandwich there every week - fast, reasonably delicious, fairly priced.

I do think the sandwiches used to have better bread and chips, however. And I believe the sandwiches are getting smaller as well. But it's still a safer bet for me than a random shop or restaurant.

Sep 08, 2011
windycity in Chains

Disappointing Balthazar Bakery experience; strong canele alternative?

I am not a canele aficionado, but the ones at Market Day Canele in Philly are pretty good. Bit of travel though.

Sep 08, 2011
windycity in Manhattan

My report on EV cheap eats

Sorry you didn't enjoy your experience at the Redhead. I'm surprised the fried chicken didn't come with a side salad - I've been a couple of times, but not in months as the lines are too long and the restaurant too crowded.

On Bisous Ciao, I thought the macarons were fine, but not as good as Madeleine. I am looking forward to trying Laduree.

In terms of bahn mi, you should try the ones at Nicky's on 3rd St. They are fresh and cheap, and the beef and chicken ones are especially good. They stop making the sandwiches when they run out of bread for the day, which has happened as early as 7p in my experience. I don't like the pork pate banh mi in general either. But I would hate for you to give up on banh mi so easily just because you didn't like the pork ones at Baoguette. Other Chowhounders also like bahn mi at Banh Mi So 1.

For ramen, you might also want to try Men kui tei across from Cooper Union. I find their broth to be less dense/ more drinkable than Minca's but I like the Minca noodles better.

Thanks for the helpful roundup!

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Saigon Banh Mi 1
369 Broome St, New York, NY 10013

Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches
150 E 2nd St, New York, NY 10009

Minca
536 E 5th St, New York, NY 10009

Men Kui Tei
63 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003

Baoguette Cafe
37 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

Bisous Ciao
101 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

Laduree
864 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021

Sep 08, 2011
windycity in Manhattan

Chelsea for tired people

The cute Argentinian place is called El Cocotero and has good food particularly the sandwiches but slow service (the place is pretty tiny.) I took an out of town group there and they were really happy with the drinks and food.

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El Cocotero
228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

Sep 07, 2011
windycity in Manhattan

Soup Downtown

I am looking for good, hearty, soul-warming soups for this week especially in light of the constant showers. Places that deliver downtown would be ideal, although I could be convinced to venture out into the rain for a really good bowl of soup.

I like the gumbo at DC Coast, and am looking for other places - either high end or low end that have soup (either clear as day broth or thick, rich stews). Help a sick chowhounder out, will ya?

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DC Coast Restaurant
1401 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005