Two weeks ago Alli and I spent 5 glorious days in NYC eating everything we possibly could with my best friend Mike. Thankfully Mike was very generous and we stayed at his apartment in the East Village for the entire trip, which means we were able to spend all of our money on eating and drinking (but mostly eating).
This week we’ll have posts about all of the food we ate during our stay, they’ll be broken up into a few parts for easier reading and to break up the photo galleries. If you’d like to just see the pictures, check out our gallery on facebook here. Today we are going to be talking about our trip to various Asian restaurants. We covered Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. You can check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our trip if you’d like.
Ippudo. The first bite of food that Alli and I had when we arrived to NYC was a Pork Bun (pictured above) from Ippudo. The first words Alli said after taking a bite was “that’s stupid” (which she meant in a very good way). The restaurant is known for their top notch ramen, which all of our bowls were fantastic, but the pork bun was a perfect combination of flavor and texture. I will probably order two orders for myself on our next visit. Mike, Alli and I all tried different bowls of their ramen and everyone was more than satisfied with their results, the pork broth was silky and smooth and the pieces of roast pork in my bowl was incredibly tender. We luckily decided to visit for lunch on a Tuesday and only had to wait 5 minutes.
BaoHaus. I wish I could say I knew about this place because I have my finger on the pulse of hip restaurants, but I simply found out about BaoHaus because of Anthony Bourdain’s New York episode of the Layover. Their menu is mainly Tawainese bao style sandwiches, the location is pretty bare bones with only a couple seats and a DJ playing some fantastic hip hop. Their Chairman Bao (pork belly, left) tasted alright but couldn’t compare to Ippudo’s version, their Birdhouse (fried chicken); however, was fantastic and I actually made a point to revisit on our last day to get another. With a seasoning that was basically sprinkled on after the chicken came out of the fryer, the texture was slightly off putting but the sweet and spicy flavor was great. This place would make for great late night drunken eats, they are open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Xian’ Famous Foods. Our visit to Xian was a last minute idea and really a test of how much we could fit into our stomachs. The place is pretty well known thanks to several appearances on television and the large crowd on a Friday afternoon reflected it. I ordered their lamb burger (pictured in gallery) which didn’t live up to Bourdain’s typical “you could just sell this and a line would form” typical description. It was good and if it was late at night and I was a couple drinks in, I would absolutely love as a cheap snack (under $3). Nothing mind blowing but still a very tasty sandwich, strongly seasoned on a grilled bun. We also had a couple bites of their sizzling beef and noodles, the beef itself was alright but the noodles were the real winner of the dish. Just an awesome texture and flavor with a small amount of heat. Maybe if we visited on an empty stomach, or were really hungry, we might have enjoyed ourselves more. Either way, it was neat to sit in the same seat that Bourdain did (there’s a sign/picture).
Grand Sichuan International. In the summer of 2008 Alli and I visited New York City at the very beginning stages of our “foodie-ness”, we weren’t even adventurous eaters at the time but wanted to be. Mike took us to a restaurant in Chinatown and introduced Alli, my Dad, Tommy and I to the magic that are soup dumplings (pictured in gallery). It’s been a long 4 years since that first taste and we’ve been dying to have them again, especially after failed attempts to find them here and in Toronto. We ended up ordering 16 dumplings to share between the three of us and had no problem eating them all within minutes. We also ordered the Spicy Beef (pictured above) that had a wonderful flavor but also made our mouths tingle for a good 15 minutes. It wasn’t spicy like an order of hot chicken wings and I wasn’t reaching for milk at any point, it was just a really unique tingling sensation.
Banh Mi Zon. Our final stop on our Asian adventure was a required stop at a place that served Banh Mi sandwiches. Alli and I have been a fan of them since we started Buffalo Eats but have had a hard time trying to find them locally. I think I found Banh Mi Zon because I googled “best Banh Mi in East Village” or something to that effect and they were one of the top results. We lucked out. The place had a really modern and clean atmosphere that almost made me doubt how good the sandwich would be. But after watching the woman behind the counter put the sandwich together very methodically and seeing the finished product in front of us, I became very confident with our decision. The sandwich was loaded on a wonderfully crispy baguette, with dried pork, Vietnamese ham, terrine and pate. Without question it was the best Banh Mi I’ve ever had and I’m glad the three of us found a way to eat the entire thing.
Well that’s it, that was our entire NYC trip in food form. I think we’ve learned a lot of things about trying to eat and enjoy a vacation, next time we will definitely pace ourselves better and maybe be a little bit more selective of our restaurants. I’d like to start checking out more upscale eateries and perhaps get a little more adventurous, but I think trying 20 restaurants in 4 1/2 days is still pretty impressive.