Category Archives: BRIAN’S 100 Best ’13

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.

I purposefully don’t put out a list of the 10 best restaurants because it would be totally unfair for me to judge. Unlike a well-paid (and reimbursed) critic, I’m not able to go to all the major restaurant openings. And if I do find myself at one of the hot spots, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to order the entire menu or visit more than once to check for consistency. So instead I think I can fairly choose specific dishes that made my eyes open, my stomach growl, and my tastebuds very very happy. Here are the ten best dishes I tasted in 2013.

NUMBER 10: PIZZA at JULIANA’S

Pizza at JULIANA'S

Everybody has heard of Grimaldi’s. Every travel book tells you to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and then get in line for some classic NY pizza. But the travel books need to be re-written. This was the year that the original Patsy Grimaldi came back to the pizza world and opened up Juliana’s in the original Grimaldi’s location (the new owner of the namesake was forced to move up the block due to a dispute with the landlord). And the pizza at Juliana’s puts Grimaldi’s (and most other NY pizzerias) to shame. Here you can truly taste the trinity of flavors of coal-oven pizza: the sweet imported Italian tomatoes (not a sauce, mind you), the creamy homemade mozzarella, and that magical blistered dough. The name that everybody should be speaking from now on is Juliana. Price: $16/$19

JULIANA’S
19 Old Fulton Street (between Elizabeth Place and Front Street),
Dumbo, Brooklyn
(718) 596-6700
julianaspizza.com

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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.

It’s ironic that Japanese cuisine is my favorite because when I was younger, I tasted some dark roasty soup at the Japanese pavillion at Epcot that made me want to gag. My dining choices have gotten much better since my young days at Epcot. And today I just love the delicate freshness and full flavor of everything from ramen to sushi to grilled yellowtail collar.  Here are the five Japanese dishes this year that Epcot wishes it had on one of its menus.

NUMBER 15: HIRAME AND CUCUMBER at NETA

Hirame and Cucumber at NETA

Neta was full of surprises – all delicious. One of the first surprises we experienced at this trendy Japanese restaurant was the hirame (flounder) wrapped up with little bites of green, herbal freshness. The filling consisted of lime, cucumbers, and jalapeños, with a spicy cilantro sauce. It’s not your usual Japanese combination (it almost had a Mexican flair), but the bright, citrusy lightness paired with the luxuriousness of the plump fish flesh worked wonders. And throughout our dinner at Neta, the surprises kept coming, Price: $15

NETA
61 West 8th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenue),
Greenwich Village
(212) 505-2610
netanyc.com

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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.

In the last few years, a brand new cuisine has been created that I (and most of NYC) like to refer to as “hipster Asian.” There’s a definite kitschy, hipster vibe to these restaurants that are all located in trendy neighborhoods like Soho or Red Hook – unlike the no frills Asian joints located in ethnic enclaves in the outer boroughs. Also, many of these chefs are white Americans who have spent some time in Asia falling in love with the cuisine. Now they’ve brought it to us and these five dishes are an argument for why this city is better for it.

NUMBER 20: TOFU RIBBON SALAD at YUNNAN KITCHEN

Tofu Ribbon Salad at YUNNAN KITCHEN

Somewhere between a spicy pasta dish and a cooling herb-loaded salad, is this plate of tofu ribbons. Inspired by the Yunnan region of China, the food at this Lower East Side restaurant is hip, authentic, and delicious. The long strands of tofu in the salad have a nice toothsome chew and sop up the bright dressing of spicy chilies, sweet tangy red onions, and loads of fresh mint and cilantro. If you can’t decide between pasta, salad, or vegetarian food, this is the dish for you. Price: $11

YUNNAN KITCHEN
79 Clinton Street (between Rivington and Delancey Street),
Lower East Side
(212) 253-2527
yunnankitchen.com

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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

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
Locations Vary
Twitter: @mooshugrill,
(212) 695-5995
mooshugrill.com

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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.

I joke with my tour attendees that there is a separate stomach for dessert. While doctors might disagree with me, I feel like something like that must be true. Because no matter how much I gorge myself at dinner (or lunch), there truly is always room for dessert. And here are five sweet dishes worth splurging on, whether there’s room or not.

NUMBER 30: CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE at CHEZ NAPOLÉON

Chcocolate Souffle at CHEZ NAPOLÉON

I don’t really like committing to things in advance. That’s why I’ve never been one for making reservations. But if I want to try a chocolate souffle at a restaurant, I usually have to place the order with my entrée. At the classic French restaurant Chez Napoléon, it can take up to an hour to get the souffle right. And when it comes out, it’s more than right – it’s perfect. The soft fluffy skin is just like chocolate air with a rich chocolatey goodness inside (decadent chocolate sauce was poured in the souffle tableside). If I could, I’d put an order in for one of these at every meal. Price: $20

CHEZ NAPOLÉON
365 West 50th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenue),
(212) 265-6980
Hell’s Kitchen
cheznapoleon.com

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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.

Apologies to Lady Gaga, but meat sculptures were invented a long time ago. Maybe we didn’t wear them like the pop icon does, but as soon as people realized they could chop up meat and reform it into a tube, casing, or mold, we started eating them. And we’re still at it. Here are five meat shapes that tasted as good as they looked.

NUMBER 35: PIGS IN A BLANKET at BROOKLYN PIGGIES

Pigs in a Blanket at BROOKLYN PIGGIES

Just like every other childhood delight, the pig in a blanket has been reinvented by a Brooklyn-based company with good intentions. Brooklyn Piggies can be found at most of the summer food markets, like Smorgasburg, doling out little nuggets of deliciousness. These weenies are a smoky blend of beef and sausage wrapped in a buttery and tender puff pastry blanket. A dip into some spicy brown mustard, it’s a wonder we’ve suffered through mediocre microwaved cocktail nibbles for so long. Price: 3 pieces for $5

BROOKLYN PIGGIES
Available at Smorgasburg:
80 North 5th Street (at Wythe Avenue),
Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Winter Location: Saturdays and Sundays)
brooklynpiggies.com

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