My visit to New York was for PNGF and her food. And of course the list of restaurants that are permanently tied to her food list. Yay! (Yup, it's gonna be a long long post, my friends, good way to start the New Year) In chronological order:
Jean Georges - this Michelin 3 star restaurant did not disappoint at all. Lunch was extremely reasonable with extraordinary dishes. There were several highlights, but none better than the sea urchin pictured below. It didn't look nice at all to PNGF's disappointment, but the taste was absolutely marvelous, even eclipsing the shrimp (with papaya wasabi sauce!) that I got. Service was of course impeccable, but it didn't matter. The food talked (but not the dessert, sigh).
The dessert was so-so, though it came with a lot of complimentary dishes, which were also so-so. Nonetheless, if you are having lunch, JG is a great deal. As for the Michelin stars... a bit overrated I must say.
Habana Cafe - this is the one place I always visit whenever I am in New York. Last time I was in New York for an interview, I sneaked out in the morning just to have corn at Habana Cafe. The picture will do it justice.
Sasbune - an inconsistent sushi restaurant anywhere is as rare as a good sushi restaurant in Chicago. Sushi restaurants are good when the chef has an eye for fresh and good seafood. It's that simple. Since the chefs don't change mid-meal, you will be hard pressed to find a piece of bad sushi followed by a good one. Unfortunately, we found Sasbune. Here's a perfect piece of uni sushi. Very fresh. Melted in my mouth while leaving a good taste
Oh... and then a sushi that is smothered by eel sauce. Arg. And the junior chef had the gall to advice us to "no soy sauce please..." How's about I tell you "less eel sauce please"? Disappointing. Double disappointing when the bill came out. What? I paid $130 to have someone put sauce to cast away the fresh taste of seafood? Really?
Kyotofu - Kyo.Tofu, get it? They use Tofu as the base of dessert... PNGF swears by it. I say the decor is very good. The food was decent and refreshing. It was a light type of dessert as you may suspect. Lighting was poor and I didn't get a good picture of the very nicely put together desserts.
Sobaya - met up with old GSB friend AW at a soba restaurant. Good cold noodles. Not so good for PNGF, who was allergic to wheat. Even when she didn't have it, the smell of fresh soba being made nearby must have gotten her sick. Still, it was a good and reasonable restaurant.
Fatty Crab - If you come to this 14th street restaurant right next to the bustling meat-packing district, please order the Chili Crab. It is awesome. I wish they could try the same with prawns and lobsters. Too dark is my only complaint, since I can't see if there is crab meat left in the shells. Also too dark for pictures.
Stanton Social - Okay, I have to ask: the "shared plate" concept that the waiter explains to every patron... isn't that the same as Chinese style? Or Italian family style? Funny how these marketing tactic work for these new restaurants (Fatty Crab was the first to shock me with "shared plate" concept). Call it something cool and people will rush to try the "shared plate concept!" Back to the food: Stanton Social, a ML recommendation, delivers. The shared plate concept works nicely as we get to SHARE multiple delicious plates! What an idea! We ordered six in total and got a good taste of the menu. Delicious and refreshing food in a very comfortable and down to earth setting. Highly recommended. Pictures speak most:
Wonderful vanilla bean flavor pancake with pecans
Can you say no to caramel dipped donuts?
Shula - (Hong Kong has yet to offer a good independent steak house... though FY has recommended Wagyu up in SoHo) I was craving steak, so Shula was the solution. I had a 24-oz porterhouse from Shula years ago on my first real business trip. Good times. Nowadays, I can handle a 12-oz filet mignon. Beautifully cooked. Can't complain. And the super large Crème brûlée is a perfect ending to a hectic day. (The Chicago version is thinner and is much more appropriate - this New York one is way too thick and the creme isn't even in the middle)
Jewel Bako - sushi restaurant for New Year Eve. They had helium balloons on the ceilings and the strings hung down like streamers... and annoyed all the waiters who were trying to get the dish to the table without the streamers brushing on it. High comedy. Appetizer was a trio of tartars - a bit too much fat in the tartar, but overall satisfying. Entree is some pretty fresh sashimi as you can see. Nothing out of this world, but nothing disappointing either. Priced reasonably and I would go again and maybe try their other dishes as well.
Sambuca - New Year Eve should never end with mediocre dessert, as was served in Jewel Bako. After some wandering around, PNGF decided that she had had enough and Sambuca was going to be next stop for food. Excellent... and I mean more like EXCELLENT... tiramisu. Perfectly made in every way a tiramisu should be made. The rum, the cream, the lady fingers, the chocolate sprinkle, everything... in perfect harmony. I'm so glad I had this before midnight struck. Great ending to the year!
I'll be back with some 2007 year in review and feelings about my first helicopter ride (Manhattan from the sky is awesome)!