Now that I’ve eaten my way through somebody else’s list (Time Out New York), I’m ready to compile my own 100 spectacular things I’ve tasted in 2012. Look for another five dishes every few days.

NUMBER 95: RICE ROLL WITH FRIED DOUGH at NOM WAH TEA PARLOR

Why does fried food taste so good? Well, it probably has something to do with lots of oil, salt, and often a good amount of carbs.

This whopper of a dish is basically carbs upon carbs. At the newly re-thought old time dim sum parlor Nom Wah they take a chunk of dough and wrap it in steamed rice noodles. The Chinese cruller known as youtiao gives the dish a doughy sweetness which is complemented by the chewy texture of the pasta. A drizzle of sweet salty soy sauce brings the carb bomb to life. Price: $3.50

NOM WAH TEA PARLOR
13 Doyers Street (between Bowery and Pell Street),
Chinatown
(212) 962-6047
nomwah.com

94. TAIWANESE SALT AND PEPPER CHICKEN at TAI PEI HONG KONG

Word on Chowhound is that Savor Fusion, the latest in Flushing’s Chinese food courts has closed. I haven’t ventured out to Queens again to find out first hand, but I will always have a delicious memory of this plate of fried chicken nuggets from one of the stalls.

Moist pieces of dark chicken meat are doused with salt, pepper, basil leaves, and breading before being dunked in a vat of oil. Like potato chips or popcorn, it was impossible to stop popping these crunchy delights. Although it would be sad if this place was closed for good, it might be a selfishly good thing since I developed a serious addiction to these greasy, salty meat sticks. Price: $4

TAI PEI HONG KONG
42-01 Main Street (at Maple Avenue),
Inside Savor Fusion Food Court,
Flushing, Queens
(718) 886-6966

93. CRISPY BABY ARTICHOKES at IL BUCO ALIMENTARI & VINERIA

The smells at this hybrid restaurant and grocery store are distinctly of wood-burning ovens and seasoned meats. But a special vegetarian appetizer that was fried (rather than grilled) quickly pleased my sense of taste.

Who can resist whole baby artichokes that are fried until the leaves are crispy and tender? I sure can’t! These were generously seasoned with salt, herbs, and a wedge of lemon. Earthy, salty, and irresistibly addicting, this starter is the perfect introduction to a meal full of sensory pleasures. Price: $12

IL BUCO ALIMENTARI & VINERIA
53 Great Jones Street (between Lafayette Street and Bowery),
Noho
(212) 837-2622
ilbucovineria.com

92. CALAMARI at PARM

Although they’ve been dishonored by one too many dive bars, fried calamari can and should actually taste like squid. Parm uses fresh (not frozen) Montauk squid and fries the cephalopod without overwhelming it with grease and breading.

The result is tender and juicy pieces that burst when bitten. There is a surprising lightness to the modestly breaded rings and tentacles that are boosted by accompanying fried sweet and hot green peppers. The composition is so perfect you don’t even need the housemade Tabasco mayo or marinara for dipping. Can you say that about your local watering hole?? Price: $14 (When Available)

PARM
248 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Prince Street),
Nolita
(212) 993-7189
parmnyc.com

91. THE WASABI FINGER at STICKY’S FINGER JOINT

This one was a shocker. When I walked in to Sticky’s Finger Joint, I was expecting more of a laugh than a truly delicious dish. Just like other laughable gimmicky restaurants, this NYU haunt specializes in one thing and one thing only. In this case, it’s chicken fingers.

Amazingly, the creations work – some better than others, of course. My favorite of the handful (get it?) that I tried was a buttermilk drenched chicken strip that was breaded with wasabi seasoned panko and fried. Even more wasabi goodness along with complementary ingredients like seaweed flakes, tobiko (fish roe), and sesame seeds make this an irresistible crunchy, meaty, intense experience. And that’s no joke! Price: $12 (for 3)

STICKY’S FINGER JOINT
31 West 18th Street (between Fifth Avenue and MacDougal Street),
Greenwich Village
(212) 777-7131
stickysfingerjoint.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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