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.
There are very puzzling moments in my life where I contemplate becoming a vegetarian. Truthfully. But then I have a bite of some smoked brisket or grilled pork and I immediately come to my sense. These five dishes have kept me carnivorous this year.
NUMBER 25: FIVE SPICE PORK at MOO SHU GRILL
Street meat is a term most New Yorkers know well. It usually refers to griddled lamb or chicken minced up into little chunks. While the spices can make them taste delicious, this year a brand new truck brought a whole new flavor to street meat. Moo Shu Grill comes from experienced street meat experts who previously worked for Bian Dang and Korilla BBQ. This underrated truck offers up rice bowls and moo shu wrappers stuffed with their extraordinarily flavorful and moist proteins. I especially fell for the five-spice pork which is a blend of pork shoulder and belly marinated with a sweet and salty hoisin sauce and then caramelized to a beautiful char. Topped with a bright and smoky ginger aioli, it’s the beginning of the street meat renaissance. Price: $9
|MOO SHU GRILL|
NUMBER 24: KOREAN BRAISED BEEF at MULBERRY & VINE
Some might write off Mulberry & Vine as health food. But they’d miss out on a world of deliciousness. This spacious fast food spot in Tribeca does make a lot of claims about using organic, local, and hormone free products. Which is great as long as the food still tastes good. From their soups to their vegetables, this spot has an eye for detail and the results are mighty tasty. I’m especially addicted to the braised beef which is sweet and sour and falls apart as soon as the fork makes contact. Pickled onions makes the beef pop with acidity and the responsible ethics make me feel both clean and satiated. Price: $5.50
|MULBERRY & VINE|
|73 Warren Street (between Greenwich Street and West Broadway),
NUMBER 23: BRISKET at BRISKETTOWN
SADLY, BRISKETTOWN IS NOW CLOSED.
We were drowning in BBQ this year in NYC. Every few weeks, I read about a new “authentic” Texas barbecue joint opening in the city – mostly in Brooklyn. Being a huge fan of BBQ (and having gorged myself twice in Lockhart, TX – the mecca of BBQ), I sampled as much as I could. I found most of the over-hyped barbecue to be sadly mediocre. One exception was the brisket at BrisketTown, Daniel Delaney’s homage to the lonestar state. Their slow smoked beef brisket was irresistibly tender, falling apart into a world of smoke, pepper, and utter meatiness. The Texas gods would be proud. Price: $25/lb
|359 Bedford Avenue (between South 4th Street and Broadway),
NUMBER 22: SHORTRIB PASTRAMI TACOS at EMPELLÓN COCINA
In the past I would have told you there is only one legit bread to pair with pastrami. If anything other than rye was served, I’d throw a fit. But that was before I tasted Alex Stupak’s shortrib pastrami tacos. Served two to an order, these are fitted on the expected thin tortilla, but packed with plenty of flavorful ingredients. Firstly, the smoked and peppery shortrib (not the usual pastramified brisket) is tender and fatty. The meat is balanced with pickled cabbage, chopped onions, and a tangy mustard seed salsa. It tastes like both a legit taco and a pastrami sandwich all at the same time. And there’s no rye bread in sight. Price: $16/$24
|105 First Avenue (between East 5th and East 6th Street),
NUMBER 21: NIKU-UNI at TAKASHI
Takashi is a palace of beef – specializing in raw and unusual cuts of meat to grill yourself at the table. But they’re not against looking to the sea to find an ingredient to pair perfectly with marbled cow flesh. One of the composed (but not cooked) appetizers is the popular Niku-Uni. Here thin slices of raw Kobe chuck flap is layered on both a sheet of nori (seaweed) and a bright and pungent shiso leaf. But then for the garnish: a generous and creamy piece of uni (sea urchin). With the addition of freshly grated wasabi, the easy to wrap up bite is one of the most luxurious and pleasurable concoctions I’ve experienced this year. Price: $24
|456 Hudson Street (between Morton Street and Barrow Street)