If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.
70. PIEROGIES at VESELKA
They say New York is the city that never sleeps and while most of us take at least 6 hours (I need a good 8), it’s not unusual to find many restaurants and hangouts that are open 24 hours.
Veselka is an old standby in the East Village serving up delicious and comforting Ukranian diner food. One of their best dishes is their plate of handmade pierogies which you get to try with a number of different fillings.
They offer traditional stuffings like potato, cheese, and spinach. But if you want to try something new, I recommend the sweet potato or goat cheese & arugula options. They’re all encased with a tender doughy wrapper that can come either boiled or fried.
And any you choose (4 to a small plate; 7 to a large one) come with a side of apple sauce, sour cream, and sweet sauteed onions. I love knowing that I can get my fill any time of day I desire. Price: $6.75 (small), $10.50 (large)
|144 2nd Avenue (between 9th Street and St. Mark’s Place)
69. EDAMAME POTSTICKERS at J.J.’S
Another popular delivery place for me in Astoria is J.J.’s. Good sushi has been hard to find out here, but once I discovered these guys, I realized they served more than quality sushi. They also make interesting and chef-focused appetizers. Many of which are only available for dining in. Which I have yet to do at J.J.’s.
But one of the more interesting appetizers they will deliver are the Edamame Potstickers. You get four good sized dumplings that have been boiled al dente and are stuffed with an earthy, green edamame puree. On their own they might be rather bland, but then the topper comes. Wasabi cream sauce. And this bring the inventive pot stickers to life.
Each bite reveals both mild earthy soybean flavors and bright spicy sinus-clearing wasabi! Excuse me, I think I’m going to have go call for another order. Price: $5.50
|3705 31st Avenue (between 37th Street and 38th Street)
68. CHOCOLATE COVERED BANANA at SOMETHING SWEET
Amidst hip restaurants, dive bars, and ethnic bodegas, there’s a little unassuming bakery on the corner of First Avenue and 11th Street. And I’m not talking about Veniero’s (they’re good, but far from unassuming). It’s called Something Sweet and really doesn’t seem to belong in the East Village. It’s much more suited to a small town upstate.
But here it is and they offer an amazing simple cookie option: the chocolate covered banana. I actually have never tasted any of their other confections because the chocolate covered banana is so perfect, I don’t want to ruin my impression that this place only turns out greatness.
They take a whole ripe banana, halve it, place it on top of a graham cracker cookie, and top the whole thing with a hard dark chocolate. It’s like a chocolate banana pudding party in your mouth. Do they have banana pudding parties? And if so, how do I get invited? Price: $2.50
|177 First Avenue (at 11th Street)
67. CRAB AND PORK SOUP DUMPLINGS at NAN XIANG XIAO LONG BAO
Nan Xiang Dumpling House (although many places on the web call them Nan Shian) in Flushing is one of the most respected establishments in the city to get these playful poppers. And I’m going to prematurely call them one of the best.
Ignore the noodles and scallion pancake options, and just order these dumplings. Because they’re incredible.
The wrapper is a little thicker than most but it’s not too hard to puncture the skin and allow the hot soup juices to flow into the spoon. The soon-exposed exterior is bursting with flavor – literally. The broth itself is yummy: rich with an eggy meaty flavor. The rest of the filling works so well immersed in that flavorful soup. The crab mellows the funkiness of the pork and the pork balances the sweetness of the crab. Neither flavor overwhelms but they work together in harmony to form a happy little package. Price: $5.50
|NAN XIANG XIAO LONG BAO|
|38-12 Prince Street (between 38th Avenue and 39th Avenue)
66. SPINACH PIE at PARADIS TO-GO
When I think of restaurants serving spinach pies, I conjure up images of big Greek restaurants. Besides, the spinach pies (or spanakopita), there’d be plenty of olives, feta, and fish on the menu. But see, I was thinking of a different type of spinach pie.
And while the version at Paradis To-Go still uses spinach and phyllo dough, it’s unlike any I’ve ever had before.
I learned about this dish (which is only available on Mondays and certain weekends) from the Village Voice and it was truly a revelation. It looked almost like a funnel cake or an oregano and sesame seed crusted bialy and there was no trace of spinach until we tore into it. The phyllo dough was so soft and easily gave way to a delicious spinach-cheese filling. While the dough was flaky and buttery, the pie was incredibly light and not greasy at all. I’ve never eaten a spinach pie that left me feeling this good – both in my stomach and in my mouth.
|114 4th Avenue (between 11th Street and 12th Street)