Tag Archives: Hecho en Dumbo

I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order. 

20. PICADITAS DE JAIBA at HECHO EN DUMBO

Hecho en Dumbo has nothing to do with a lovable little elephant, but in fact refers to the neighborhood where this Mexican gastropub was first created. They’ve since moved to the East Village, but their philosophy of refined, seasonal Mexican food in a drink-happy setting remains. We sat at the Chef’s Table and had a pretty memorable meal.

We started with these picaditas de jaiba, which are little corncakes of flavor. On top of the firm buttery patties, sits a delicious salad of fresh jumbo lump Dungeness crab meat tossed with a gently biting jalapeño oil and topped with ripe avocados. A squeeze of lime brings out the brightness and lightness. These small bites are too easy to gobble up regardless of the neighborhood. Price: $8

HECHO EN DUMBO
354 Bowery (between 3rd Street and Great Jones Street)
East Village
(212) 937-4245
hechoendumbo.com

19. PASTRAMI RUSS at RUSS & DAUGHTERS

You know I’m a big fan of the pastrami sandwich. I’ve spent months searching for the best version of the deli staple. That meaty, smoky goodness is a heart attack that’s more than worth it. But wait a minute, a pastrami sandwich minus the meat? Why would anybody do that?

If you’ve ever been to Russ & Daughters in the Lower East Side, you’ll understand. This is a classy old-time shop that specializes not in smoked meat, but rather smoked fish. If you want the hard stuff, you’ll have to go next door to Katz’s. But they make a pastrami sandwich here that rivals the classic version. You get to pick your bagel of choice for the Pastrami Russ, but trust me when I say you need to order it on pumpernickel. Not only will you get the approval of all the guys behind the counter, but these are the flavor combinations that make the most sense. With a generous schmear of mustard, crisp sauerkraut, and the freshest smoked salmon you’ll ever taste, you won’t miss the actual meat for a minute. And you may live a little longer. Price: $10.45

RUSS & DAUGHTERS
179 East Houston Street (between Allen and Orchard Street)
Lower East Side
(212) 475-4880
russanddaughters.com

18. CHIMBORI JALWA at TAMARIND TRIBECA

Crab cakes tend to be the same everywhere you go. Aside from the bread crumb to crab meat ratio, most versions are pan fried, served with citrus and an aioli of sorts. The chimbori jalwa appetizer at fancy Indian restaurant Tamarind Tribeca was unlike any crab cake experience I’ve had before.

The colorful tower of meat was loaded with plenty of sweet lump crab meat and tinged with some Indian spices, ginger, and garlic. It had a restrained hint of curry with lots of balanced sweet (tamarind) and spicy (chile) flavors. Served on a bright spiced tomato sauce with scattered scallions and corn kernels, it was complex and delicious. And made for my new favorite crab cake in the city (just beating out Del Frisco’s baked version from last year’s list). Price: $15

TAMARIND TRIBECA
99 Hudson Street (between Leonard and Franklin Street)
Tribeca
(212) 775-9000
tamarinde22.com

17. PIKE QUENELLES at MILLESIME

Millesime really is a little gem: a hidden, French brasserie that can work as a relaxing cafe or a fine dining seafood restaurant. It’s located above the bar in the Carlton Hotel and it will transport you to Paris. And not just because of the ambiance, but because of the expertly prepared seafood and classic dishes. Take the pike quenelles, which are made in the style of Jean-Louis Dumonet. I don’t know much about this old French chef, but I do know he made some amazing quenelles.

You don’t see quenelles too often in New York, especially not like these. The delicate little dumplings are absolutely delectable, so soft and tender in a rich tomato lobster butter sauce that begged to be sopped up. Reminiscent of an airy seafood sausage, they fell apart like a buttery soft matzo ball of the sea. Très bien! Price: $14

MILLESIME
92 Madison Avenue (between 28th and 29th Street)
Inside the Carlton Hotel
Gramercy
(212) 889-7100
millesimerestaurant.com

16. TOSTA MATRIMONIO at TERTULIA

The new Spanish tapas hotspot Tertulia is more than just a bar for celebrity watching. It’s one of the best restaurants of the year. Truly any of the dishes I tried could have made my Top 100. The fried eggplant was spectacular, as was the sliced acorn-fed Iberico ham, and I haven’t even mentioned the tender as sin ribeye. But the one dish that blew everything out of the water were the little anchovies that inconspicously lay on heavenly toast points.

They’re referred to as both “tosta matrimonio” and “black and white anchovies.” The two meaty fish (the black are cured and the white are pickled) are simply halved and arranged on a toast-bed of sweet roasted tomatoes, creamy tangy sheep’s milk cheese, and a generous drizzle of aged balasamic. The dish is a perfect example of balance and brightness with the sweet cheese and tomato pairing perfectly with the salty, acidic anchovies. And amazingly, the delicate dish don’t even taste fishy. Maybe that’s why so many celebrities come here. Price: $9

TERTULIA
359 Sixth Avenue (between Washington Place and West 4th Street)
Greenwich Village,
(646) 559-9909
tertulianyc.com

Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

Hecho en Dumbo is a new Mexican restaurant in the East Village. “Hecho en” means “made in” and DUMBO refers to the gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It has nothing to with a similarly named flying elephant.

At one time, Hecho en Dumbo was indeed located in DUMBO where it operated out of the Dumbo General Store serving dinner only. Last year, Chef Danny Mena and his staff moved the whole operation into their own space in the East Village. Some people will call it the EVill, but I don’t like that name quite as much as DUMBO. And while I can’t attest to the food being just as good as it did in its original location (I never made it out to the original), I can assure you this is some of the tastiest and most inventive Mexican food happening in the city today.

The restaurant lost some of its romantic charm when we sat at the brightly lit kitchen bar- we didn’t feel like waiting for a table. But the service was friendly and we got some great recommendations besides the queso fundido de huitlacoche, which was Time Out’s pick. Okay, more translations: I’ll get to the queso fundido in a moment, but huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn. It’s basically corn mushrooms.

Hecho en Dumbo specializes in antojitos, which are small plates, so we ignored the entrees and ordered a bunch of these. We started with Picaditas de Jaiba, which were a wonderful take on crab cakes (jumbo lump crab on top of  a Masa corn cake) with ripe avocado and jalapeno oil. The Burritas de Res were mini-burritos of flavorful beef yet they were missing some components – guacamole, salsa, or crispy vegetables. Something. The Tacos el Alcalde were right up my alley – tacos of spicy, smoky Spanish flavors. They featured surprising ingredients of smoked sable fish, braised octopus, and shrimp making for a spicy, smoky few bites.

Finally, the Queso Fundido de Huitlacoche was one of three options for a pot of fondue-like cheese, comprised of two cheeses: Oaxacan and Queso Asadero. Even without Time Out’s urging, I probably still would have picked this. Aside from those suffering from lactose intolerance, I can’t see how somebody wouldn’t like it. It’s really just a dish of melted white cheeses, with a brown bubbly crust on top. Who doesn’t love melted cheese? The huitlacoche itself was rather sparse, with just a few nuggets of earthy funky kernels. They were a nice surprise in every few bite or so, but I could have done with more throughout the queso. But dipped onto a thin tortilla, this is a rich, cheesy treat. Muy delicioso. Now that shouldn’t require much translation.

Would Hecho en Dumbo’s Queso Fundido de Huitlacoche make my Top 100 of the year? If the black corn flavor was more prevalent, maybe, but it stays at a 7 out of 10 because of the cheesy, greasy goodness. It could have been called Queso de Queso and I would have been happy.

HECHO EN DUMBO
354 Bowery (between 3rd Street and Great Jones Street)
East Village
(212) 937-4245
hechoendumbo.com

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