For the fourth year in a row, I present the 100 most exciting dishes I’ve consumed during my food adventures around the five boroughs. Look for another five dishes every few days.

Whether you slurp them, chew them, or bite them, whether they’re filled with cheese, floating in a soup, or tossed with a sauce, pasta is certainly a universal food. They appear in just about every cuisine in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors. This year, these three noodle dishes won my heart.
NUMBER 60: TABATA RAMEN at TABATA NOODLE

Tabata Ramen at TABATA RAMEN

Lately New York has experienced ramen joints that are really stretching the imagination of what we understand as ramen. We’ve long surpassed the days of college ramen with horrifying flavor packets and now ramen is moving away from the traditional Japanese flavors. Tabata Noodle in Midtown specializes in ramen noodles with a Burmese touch (thanks to the heritage of the owner and most of his staff). Nowhere is that more obvious than in the coconut milk based namesake ramen. The Tabata has a milky broth that is thickened with soybean powder and a hint of spicy curry. Floating inside are springy noodles that soak up every last flavor of the slightly sweet, tropical broth, along with spicy chicken, the usual hard boiled egg, tangy red onions, and a kick of fresh cilantro. Unlike any ramen dish I’ve stumbled upon before. Price: $10

TABATA NOODLE
540 Ninth Avenue (between West 40th and West 41st Street),
Hell’s Kitchen

(212) 290-7691
tabataramen.com

NUMBER 59: RIAGTONI at PIORA

Rigatoni at PIORA

I’ve experienced whole wheat pasta, squid ink pasta, even mushroom pasta. But when the bright purple rigatoni was set down in front of me at Piora, it was the first time I had ever seen red wine pasta. Chef Chris Cippollone actually infuses red wine into the rigatoni dough adding a rich, minerally taste with a slight raisin finish. The richness is accentuated by shaved parmesan cheese, funky duck sausage, and charred sweet figs. Shredded spigarello (similar to kale, but actually in the broccoli family) is tossed in making for a bright and exciting play on a traditional Italin pasta dish with a red wine pairing. Here, it’s all in one dish. Price: $23

PIORA
430 Hudson Street (between Morton and St. Lukes Place),
West Village

(212) 960-3801
pioranyc.com

NUMBER 58: TALLARIN VERDE at URUBAMBA

Tallarin Verde at URUBAMBA

This spaghetti dish is where Peruvian and Italian food come together. I’m amazed I had never tried tallarin verde before, but the version at classic Peruvain restaurant Urubamba is so good that I know I’ll be trying it again and again. Thin strands of spaghetti are tossed with a rich pesto-like sauce that’s made from basil, spinach, garlic, and cheese. You can have it mixed with breaded chicken, fish, or beef, but I like the solo version where you can really savor all the rich, decadent flavors of this thick bright green sauce. And to ensure it’s Peruvian, some fried potatoes are garnished on top. Nothing like a little carb on carb action. Price: $5.50 and up

URUBAMBA
86-20 37th Avenue (at 87th Street),
Jackson Heights, Queens

(718) 672-2224

NUMBER 57: RICOTTA DUMPLINGS at ESTELA

Ricotta Dumplings at ESTELA

You can’t even see the dumplings underneath the stark white slivers of raw button mushrooms at Estela. But as the fungi begin to melt, it becomes impossible to keep the plate pristine and not dig your fork in for the treasures hidden beneath. And you’ll discover light and airy cheesy orbs of heaven that are swimming in a salty and herbacous broth of mushrooms, onions, and more cheese. It’s something worth uncovering at this new and exciting restaurant. Price: $22

ESTELA
47 East Houston Street (between Mulberry and Mott Street),
Nolita

(212) 219-7693
estelany.com

NUMBER 56: DAN DAN NOODLES at HAN DYNASTY

Dan Dan Noodles at HAN DYNASTY

It’s not fair that Philadelphia has had access to these extraordinary Chinese noodles for years, but we’re just now experincing them in New York. Sure, we’ve had lots of dan dan noodles and Szechuan restaurants in this city (most probably better and spicier than those in Philly), but the best dan dan noodles I’ve ever had are from this recently opened hip, overcrowded Philadelphia import. Han Dynasty probably doesn’t serve the best Szechuan food in the city, but Chef Han Chiang’s irressistibly toothsome dan dan noodles are soon-to-be-legendary. They’re tossed table-side in a numbing chili oil and balanced with a deep, intense sesame nuttiness. They’re spicy, a little smoky, and endlessly addicting. And now they don’t belong to just Philly. Price: $7.95

HAN DYNASTY
90 Third Avenue (between East 12th and East 13th Street),
East Village

(212) 390-8685
handynasty.net
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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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