The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week – Eater NY

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Samosa sandwiches, tofu pudding, and heirloom tomatoes
The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.
Why have french fries when you can have fried spearings? The custom is much the same: You dip something long and skinny in a sauce and pop it in your mouth, biting first into the crispy and salty layer, and then down into the soft innards. But in Astoria’s Little Egypt, Sabry’s punches up its version of the appetizer ($15), yielding more and bigger puffed-up globules of crispy fried breading than I’ve seen at Greek mainstay Telly’s Taverna or even in my own home cooking. With a fresh-squeezed limeade verdant and frothy with blended mint leaves on the side, I could have this combo as a snack every day. 24-25 Steinway Street, between 25th Avenue and Astoria Boulevard, Astoria — Caroline Shin, interim reporter
This project of Hapreet and Balbir Sohal might be called an Indian bodega, and indeed the shelves and refrigerator cases are neatly lined with staples of Indian cooking, snack foods, bottled sauces, spices, frozen meals, and sacks of rice. But the front of the establishment displays a steam table, from which combo-over-rice meals may be ordered at bargain prices, and a sign offers sandwiches. One of those sandwiches features a pair of potato samosas with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on a kaiser roll. Post-squishing so they fit in the sandwich, the samosas have been sprinkled with a lively and spicy masala. This samosa sandwich ($8) is crunchily delicious, and I know of only one other in the city. 1665 First Avenue, between 86th and 87th streets, Upper East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
In an ongoing celebration of tomato time in New York, I ate a lot of thick, juicy tomatoes last week — showered in lemon zest, sprinkled in chive salt — but the preparation that stopped me in my tracks was this little number ($16) from Cervo’s. The plate came piled with slices of tomatoes and fried balls of rock shrimp, and all of it blanketed in a creamy horseradish sauce. The zippy sauce added a welcome, unsubtle kick to the whole dish, and, once the tomatoes were gone, I found myself scraping the plate with bread crusts to make sure no bit of it was left behind. 43 Canal Street, at Ludlow Street, Lower East Side — Erika Adams, deputy editor
I was out of the office last week, and I spent some time wiggling through the streets of Manhattan Chinatown, sucking down cheung fun with a variety of fillings and toppings in search of a favorite. It was the cilantro and scallion rice noodle from Yi Ji Shi Mo, of course, which is as good as they say, followed by a beef roll drowning in peanut, hoisin, and hot sauces offered from a food cart at the end of the same block. Is this stretch of Elizabeth Street home to Manhattan’s best textures? I was ready to call the contest — until I slurped a spoonful of tofu pudding from 46 Bakery nearby. The small storefront on Mott Street sells barbecue pork buns, sticky rice dumplings, and a whole lot else. Three dollars gets you a plastic tub sloshing with bean curd, available hot from a cauldron at the front of the shop or chilled in a refrigerator at the back. A splash of syrup is all that’s needed. 46 Mott Street, between Bayard and Pell streets, Chinatown — Luke Fortney, reporter
Carroll Gardens newcomer Cafe Spaghetti lives up to the hype. On Saturday evening, the backyard was just lively as promised, the service warm and attentive, and the iterations of Italian American classics, from the calamari starter to the eggplant parm served in a casserole dish, were deeply satisfying. As Eater critic Robert Sietsema noted around the restaurant’s opening, the pastas are the true highlight. Of the three I had it’s difficult to choose a standout, but for now, I’ll go with one of the seasonal dishes: a ricotta ravioli drizzled with balsamic and sprinkled with Sungolds ($22). If it wasn’t so hard to snag a table, I’d go again before tomato season is done. 126 Union Street, between Columbia and Hicks streets, Carroll Gardens — Monica Burton, deputy editor, Eater.com
Pastrami-spiced stuff in New York hasn’t quite reached the abundance of everything bagel-spiced stuff, and I thanks the heavens for that, but like any fast-moving storm the situation is clearly developing and could change at any moment. I rolled my eyes a bit when a staffer at Cosme told me how the so-called kampachi pastrami sope was the restaurant’s little tribute to New York, but Gustavo Garnica’s kitchen executed the affair without devolving into kitsch. Sliced fish ribbons exhibited a welcome oiliness and a wonderfully bouncy texture; underneath lay a warm masa cake, packing a bold, earthy wallop that helped tame the spiced kampachi. Mustard seeds and a wedge of lemon finished things off with a touch of brightness ($26). Did the dish taste anything like pastrami? No, and it didn’t need to; it was just a masterclass in balancing powerful and delicious flavors. 35 East 21st Street, near Park Avenue South, Flatiron — Ryan Sutton, chief critic
I believe that ice cream is a year-round food, but especially in late summer, when it’s often too hot to eat anything else. On a couple of recent sweltering evenings, the bright pink interior of Maya’s Snack Bar, just two blocks from the 7 train at Junction Boulevard, has offered an oasis. The mango chamoy paleta ($4) starts off a little salty and spicy and tangy, then gives way for the sweetness of the fruit to come through. I’m eyeing the more elaborate concoctions on Maya’s menu — including pepinos locos, mangoneada, and chamoyada — all of which seem like they’d be really fun to enjoy with friends. 95-11 35th Avenue, Jackson Heights — Nadia Q. Ahmad, copy editor
Situated in a massive corner storefront right on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Cornbread Farm to Soul is the latest link in a three-restaurant chain originating in Newark and Maplewood, New Jersey, founded by Adenah Bayoh and Zadie Smith. Outfitted with upholstered booths, the room is elegant, with ordering done at the counter from a limited menu that highlights fried chicken, but also offers baked chicken, turkey wings, barbecue pork ribs, and a number of fried whiting or catfish entrees, in addition to a classic collection of sides. (The mac and cheese in particularly good, and so is the wedge of cornbread that comes with most meals). A highlight on a first visit was a New Orleans-style catfish po’ boy ($14.99), which came slathered with thick tartar sauce on a demibaguette. The crisply fried fish filets were coated engagingly in a batter laced with herbs for extra flavor. Hey, the fried chicken was great, too. 409 Eastern Parkway, at Bedford Avenue, Crown Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
A friend has been telling me to venture out to China Chalet in Florham Park, New Jersey for Sichuan after she wrote a piece on the chef, Wei Lu (who used to have a Sichuan restaurant on the Upper East Side) for the now defunct Lucky Peach. It took me a while to get there, but I went over the weekend for a collection of Sichuan standards as well as this off-menu starter, springy jelly noodles with spicy sauce ($14) littered with the requisite Sichuan peppercorns, chile oil, soy sauce, and a hint of sweetness. I’m psyched to polish them off for breakfast. 184 Columbia Turnpike, near Willow Way, Florham Park, NJ — Melissa McCart, interim editor
Date night with a long-distance friend (she in Brooklyn, me in Queens) resulted in the kind of dinner crawl that I reserve for my chill friends and fellow food obsessives. We had our appetizers at Basta Pasta — their mentaiko pasta still in true form since it was the go-to spot for me and my now-husband years ago — and a celebratory splurge at Fish Cheeks. For part two of our dinner, we ordered the limited-edition dungeness crab, where the $125 sticker shock thawed with a heap of crab meat served on top of a gigantic crab. Hefty chunks of shelled meat were thick with creamy crab roe and salted egg yolk; the legs cracked easily to offer even more clean-tasting meat. Add a side of rice and dollops of chile sauce, and it was my kind of nightcap. — Caroline Shin, interim reporter
I’ve been working on a skewer review of sorts, so for some necessary context — and let’s be honest because I’m always looking for an excuse to eat Uzbek fare — I treated myself to delivery from chef Umitjon Kamolov’s tiny Central Asian spot in Hell’s Kitchen. The charcoal-grilled lamb ribs were as chewy and fatty as I remember them, but on this particular night it was the plov that I couldn’t stop eating. Grains of firm rice glistened with heady lamb and beef fat, while small slices of slow cooked carrots acted as little bombs of sugar, adding a shock of sweetness, and a hit of perfume, every few bites. It’s been nearly a year since my last plov experience, from Tashkent Supermarket in Brighton Beach; I reckon we should all be eating this regal rice pilaf more often. 498 Ninth Avenue, near 38th Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic
Much has already been written about El Pingüino, including in this publication, so I’ll keep it short: When visiting this Greenpoint seafood bar, order the mussels. “Is that a photo of a can of bread?” It is. The mussels in escabeche, from conservas company Cabo de Peñas, are served swimming in their own juices with a miniature picnic spread of saltines, aioli, butter, and pickled pepper. A small butter knife for assembling bites completes the scene. At $15, the whole thing feels like a treat, while also being the cheapest tinned seafood option on the menu. 25 Greenpoint Avenue, near West Street, Greenpoint — Luke Fortney, reporter
T. Brasserie is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s miniature facsimile brasserie, on the first level of the newly opened Tin Building, which is housed in the former Fulton Fish Market. The brasserie is smaller than the usual brasserie, either here or in Paris, with a shortened menu, too. There’s a burger, excellent steak tartare, onion soup with a raft of gooey gruyere, rotisserie chicken, french fries that are just so-so, and — best of all on a first visit — a sextet of snails in one of those circular, blackened metal plates with indentations that looks like a piece of 19th-century lab equipment. The escargots are plump, and bobbing in a buttery and deeply green herb puree, none of those desiccated specimens one usually encounters. At $21, the price is high, but you’ll never be satisfied with ordinary snails again. 96 South Street, at Fulton Street, South Street Seaport — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
Since Malay Restaurant opened in 1988, grimy men got their kicks and coins on its small side street that was laced with crime (and my grandma knew not to take me around), and shiny buildings rose up dozens of stories around it. But the restaurant has withstood time, crime, and gentrification on the strength of its food. Here, my curry chicken noodle soup ($10) was freckled with the veneer that always gets my mouth watering: red oil bubbles on yellow broth. Chunks of chicken on the bone rested on a mass of noodles, and white crevices of fried tofu lay submerged in the brimming bowl. One spoonful and I could taste the coconut milk come together with the curry spices and a subtle heat permeated each subsequent bite. 135-17 40th Rd, between Prince and Main streets, Flushing — Caroline Shin, interim reporter
I’m becoming a regular at Uluh in the East Village which opened in 2019 and is named for the bottle gourd. I keep circling back for a handful of enthralling Sichuan and Yunnanese dishes and teas (it also features Cantonese and Chinese American dishes that I haven’t tried yet). Fish in green peppercorn ($32) is a zingy bowl to share, laced with a litany of treasures including tied rice noodle bundles, enoki mushrooms, and a confetti of pickled chiles. I always want to eat more but can’t take the heat. Other dishes to try: the Sichuan jerky or cucumber salad, wild pepper and beef, stir-fried cabbage with soy, green pepper chicken, the mapo tofu, and so on. 152 Second Avenue at East 9th Street — Melissa McCart, interim editor
Though the origin of ceviche in Mexico is often credited to the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz, the tostada ceviche is most often associated with the Baja Peninsula on the West Coast. A particularly splendid version is found at Bosco in Greenwich Village, a new Mexican cocktail bar whose menu comes from Alan Delgado, formerly of Oxomoco. The shrimp are tossed with pico de gallo in a lime dressing, heaped on a crunchy tostada, and then squirted with more cilantro mayo than you may have thought necessary, making every bite moist and delectable. The ceviche tostada ($14) is almost voluminous enough to make an entire meal. 169 Bleecker Street, at Sullivan Street, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
There are dishes that have been seared into my palate for so long that I’ll always have a craving for them. Gomtang is one of those dishes. It’s what my grandma and mom would make for me every time I’d feel under the weather, and continuing our heritage, it’s what I make for my daughter. I was out when the craving hit, so a grocery run turned into a Naju Gomtang visit, and their gomtang hit the spot: rich and beefy with a broth still steaming in its black ttukbaegi bowl ($17). The clear vermicelli noodles slipped around the nubs of rice, swollen and softened by the soup. With a sprinkle of gochugaru for a spicy red kick, I was like a kid again, slurping away. But this time, with my own daughter doing the same next to me. 156-18 Northern Boulevard, inside the strip mall, Flushing — Caroline Shin, interim reporter
Dim lighting and the smell of charred pizza crust were the motivations for this over-the-top photo: Before I had taken my first bite, I knew Oma Grassa would be a contender for best dishes. The corner spot opened in Fort Greene last month, giving this Brooklyn neighborhood a pizza destination that stands out from the display case slice shops and fancy upcharged pie spots nearby. Nope, here pies come out black, bubbly, and paper thin, reminding me of the excellent Ops in Bushwick: Hoist a slice from the tray and you can bet it won’t sag, even when weighed down with tomato sauce and anchovy. Of the three we tried, the Battuto was best, decorated with fennel sausage, parsley, basil, and mint ($22). Mint on pizza? I had my doubts, too, but one bite was enough to turn that unlikely topping into a future craving. 753 Fulton Street, at South Portland Avenue, Fort Greene — Luke Fortney, reporter
A visit to the Queens Night Market wouldn’t be complete for me without stopping by the Moon Man stall selling Southeast Asian desserts. The Indonesian coconut pancake with Java palm sugar ($5 each, or three for $12) comes off the griddle warm and fluffy, with a fun contrasting crunch and chew you get from biting into the layer of blowtorched sugar and shredded coconut on top. Given the spot’s name and astronaut logo, it always seems fitting to enjoy this treat here, by the light of the moon and the blue-purple glow of the Hall of Science. 47-01 111th Street, in the Hall of Science parking lot, Corona — Nadia Q. Ahmad, copy editor
There’s no better time of year for ice cream and when it comes to Jersey City, Torico is the place to go. A family-run business from the Berrios family for over 50 years, the shop offers ice cream standards as well as seasonal flavors like soursop, jackfruit, lychee, papaya, and avocado as well as tamarind sorbet or coconut sherbet ($6 for two flavors). Sure, it draws lines around the block after dinner on these hot days, but don’t be dismayed: The line moves fast. Besides, it’s fun to people-watch among a blend of Jersey City residents, old and new. 20 Erie Street at First Street, Jersey City — Melissa McCart, interim editor
No, this isn’t any old scallop you can find at Citarella or at a Riverhead seafood stall at the farmers markets, but a behemoth five-bite scallop, tasting sweetly of the sea. Bathed in brown butter, its roe accompanies it like a butler follows a millionaire. The texture of the egg sac is rich and gooey, and fried capers add the slight bit of crunch that makes this extravagantly priced special seafood offering my dish of the week ($28). And if you haven’t already guessed — Corner Bar is not really a corner bar in the normal sense of the term, implying a sort of humble neighborhood fixture, though it is on a Lower East Side corner. 60 Canal Street, at Allen Street, Lower East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic
Last week’s dozen wasn’t from a dollar-oyster happy hour, and I typically wouldn’t focus on one pure ingredient as a best dish, but I was blown away by the incredible sweetness of the aptly named Sound Sweet oysters ($4 each) from the Long Island Sound. They’re the fruits of North Fork Oyster Company’s labor, which included the re-seeding of once-empty oyster beds and led to the resurgence of oysters along the North Shore of Long Island. At first, I tasted that cold lemony ocean water — nothing exciting just yet — but then I bit into the flesh, and whoa: unmistakable sweetness developed and plumed out. It mixed with the tabasco (required for my oysters) and cocktail sauce, picking up a peppery kick from the horseradish, too. Since this platter was a sampling that also included the small and briny Kumamotos (from the Pacific northwest) and the milder Wellfleets (Massachusetts) and Violet Coves (Moriches Bay, Long Island), I ordered a couple more of the Sound Sweets (at nine o’clock in that circle of oysters above). 2167 Montauk Highway, near Hildreth Lane, Montauk — Caroline Shin, interim reporter
I’ve been saying it for months: The Prospect Heights stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue needs a win. Though home to worker-owned butcher shops and a few excellent bakeries, this Brooklyn thoroughfare doesn’t have much in the way of late-night eating and drinking. Will No. 7 change that? This restaurant with bar vibes uprooted from its longtime home in Fort Greene last summer, reappearring on the corner of Saint Marks Avenue a few weeks ago. I missed the opening announcement, but passed the space while walking home last week and had to do a double-take: What were this many hot young people doing in Prospect Heights after 10 p.m.? Aspiring to join their ranks, I cozied up at a booth a few days later, ordering a can of Taiwan Beer ($5 apiece) and the restaurant’s so-called “giant minimal” cheeseburger. It came out properly cooked and dripping with juices beside a pile of fries, a bargain at $16 and a great first impression for this neighborhood newcomer. 627 Vanderbilt Avenue, at Saint Marks Avenue, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter
Go to Archestratus for the cookbook store and grocery, but please stay for the Lina sandwich ($12). Layers of salty smoked tuna, sweet and tangy house spread that includes carrots and raisins, and crisp, slightly bitter radicchio sit between slices of very crunchy focaccia (a texture I did not realize I would enjoy so much in sandwich bread). The cafe seems to put a lot of thought into what greens to incorporate, something that I’ve made a note to reconsider when making sandwiches at home. Radicchio adds a cool zing to the Lina; my friend and I were also pleasantly surprised by the fresh mint as a main ingredient in the Domenico’s Wife chicken sandwich ($12.50). 160 Huron Street, at Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint — Nadia Q. Ahmad, copy editor
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