St. Marks between 2nd and 3rd Ave
(no website yet!)
This might be the most excited I have been about a restaurant in a long time. The Bao is a new Chinese restaurant in East Village. It’s so new it doesn’t even have a website or Yelp review yet (someone please get on it!). I was lucky enough to be invited (okay, forced to go because I was already so full at this point) by N.T. because her aunt’s friend opened the place. And let me tell you guys, it has, HANDS DOWN, the BEST 小笼包 xiao long bao (aka. soup dumplings) I have had in the United States. Thanks, N.T. and Auntie Judy for bringing it into my life!
The restaurant sits in the middle of the craziness on St. Marks, yet offers a peaceful, spacious space with pretty great modern design. We literally just had a huge barbecue meal and ice cream before this, so only came to show support for the restaurant. We said we’d just try one soup dumpling each and would be on our way. One led to two, three, four, five…
The restaurant serves up a combination of Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan, and Guangdong dishes – all the owner Richard and his wife’s favorite foods. This here is a glass of sour plum juice, which tastes slightly medicinal but is super refreshing. I love that they have some of the lesser found things like this on the menu.
TURNIP PUFF PASTRY (萝卜丝饼). I friggin LOVE this and have only ever had it in Beijing where I get it at every restaurant I go to that has it. I’ve never seen it on the menu over here and was so excited when I saw it at The Bao. Unlike the traditional kind that are a bit bigger, about 2 inches in diameter, these little guys are bite size. The filling is typically freshly shredded turnip, scallions, some ginger (I believe), and a little bit of Chinese smoked ham (fattier the better). Not sure exactly what The Bao uses, but the filling tastes very similar to what I get in Beijing, maybe even less greasy. Continue reading The Bao: THE BEST SOUP DUMPLINGS HAVE ARRIVED IN MANHATTAN
80 Spring St
(between Crosby St & Broadway)
New York, NY 10012
The first time I came to NYC as an “adult,” I was a college sophomore rebelliously skipping Friday classes to make the 5-hour trek to the big city. The only meal I distinctly remember having was at Balthazar. We went for dinner and I remember it feeling super NYC… busy, trendy, with a hint of stuffiness. I hadn’t returned since…until Y.N. invited me to join her and L.N. for brunch. LAW and I decided to go for the bread (they have a bakery next door known for its baguettes) and for the company, of course.
Y.N. read my mind and asked if we could share the bread basket ($21.00). L.N. was on the same page and had apparently already asked for a bread basket… on the house. L.N. manages a number of restaurants in NYC, including Dos Caminos (which I need to check out), so he has the hook-ups. For a bakery that supplies so much bread to numerous restaurants and cafes in Manhattan, I expected more from Balthazar’s bread basket. It wasn’t bad. The croissant was buttery and light. The pecan sticky bun was fresh and properly glazed. The golden raisin walnut bread was dense and flavorful. But nothing stood out… the breads weren’t particularly moist, chewy, soft, or crusty. The bread wasn’t hot or cold. It was room temperature. Really nothing to write home about. Continue reading Balthazar, a NYC Classic for Brunch
I’ve been very into cauliflowers lately. The roasted cauliflower sides at all the restaurants just seem to be much tastier than usual. Of course, this is purely a result of me finally paying some attention to them. Have you really tasted a cauliflower? Unlike mushrooms and butternut squash, vegetables that have a good fan base, I feel like cauliflower doesn’t get enough cred. Carrots have carrot bread, butternut squash has soup, mushrooms have everything now… what does cauliflower have? Continue reading Homemade Cauliflower Pastry
10 Columbus Cir, 3rd Floor
(between W Central Park & Broadway)
New York, NY 10019
Bouchon apparently means “stopper” in French. Not quite what I was expecting out of such a pretty word. Bouchon? Bouchon. I could say it all day. Boooo-shaaaungg. Beautiful, just beautiful.
This lemon tart was equally beautiful. The crust was not too sweet and was crumbly, which is only ever good when it is a crust (crumbly cookies? No, thank you.). The gooey lemon center was probably more tart than expected but only because I always tend to prepare myself for the worst: overly sweet pastries. Why would you get a lemon tart if you wanted something super sweet? Bouchon understands me. The tart was very lemony, creamy, and had a nice sharp zest to it. The top was covered with a fluffy marshmallow meringue. Continue reading Bouchon Bakery: Lemon Tart and more
Ninth Street Espresso
341 E 10th St
(between Avenue B & Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
This cookie is an explosion of textures and flavors; not the NYC scary bomb kind of explosion, but rather, a wondrous explosion of complementary flavors (remember how Ratatouille – the cooking rat – escaped into an explosive abyss of deliciousness when he combined tasty ingredients? Nevermind.)
THIS COOKIE IS AMAZING. It is technically a shortbread (aka. buttery heaven) but unlike typical shortbreads, it is very chewy. Each bite of this chewy buttery treat is also interrupted by the crunchiness of tiny pieces of almond. The center is filled with a sweet raspberry jam that has become divinely gooey from the baking process. The Jane Street Jam is really an interpretation of the classic Pepperidge Farm Verona cookie. I always love a good remix.
Ninth Street Espresso actually doesn’t make these cookies on site. They get their cookies from Downtown Baking Co. Check out more of Downtown Baking Co.’s delicious cookies here. The oatmeal chocolate chip one looks amazing…