Last weekend, my brother Tom and I decided to take a trip to Brooklyn to hang out with my best friend Mike. For the last two years, Alli and I have made a yearly pilgrimage to NYC to eat as much as we possibly could but this trip was a little different. While Alli stayed home in Buffalo, Tom and I tried to focus our eating at just a limited amount of places, mainly in Brooklyn. We also drank a lot more than our normal trips, those adventures will be featured in tomorrow’s post.
Here’s where we ate this time around…
Baohaus. Our first bite to eat in NYC was a revisit. Alli and I checked out Baohaus in 2012 and really enjoyed their small bao/steam bun sandwiches. So when we found ourselves in the East Village and needed to grab a quick, cheap and small bite to eat before dinner, we headed to Eddie Huang’s Baohaus. Their new Coffin Fried Chicken Bao ($7, pictured above) stood out on their menu. It’s a deep fried steam bun, filled with their standard fried chicken and topped with chili condensed milk syrup. It was awesome because, well, chili condensed milk syrup. If you are in a rush and want something to chow on while you walk around the city, this is a great option and they are open late for some delicious drunk eats.
BrisketTown. On our last visit in April, Alli and I really wanted to go to BrisketTown but it didn’t happen. So this time I put the restaurant high on our priority list and made it our first major meal of the weekend. The reason I was so excited to try BBQ in Brooklyn (normally not known for their BBQ restaurants) was because Daniel Delaney has worked with the now famous Aaron Franklin and cuts no corner with his BBQ. He only uses wood (imported from Texas) in his fires and obsesses over the smallest details. He’s also only 26 and sells out of his food on a daily basis.
We arrived to BrisketTown at 5:30 on a Friday, right after they opened their doors. We were able to walk right in and order at the counter (they are not a sit down, full service restaurant). We decided to try all three proteins; pork ribs, beef rib and brisket. They definitely lived up to the hype. I now realize that I’ve never really had true BBQ, nothing compares to the flavors or textures that I tried at BrisketTown. The pork ribs were alright but severely over shadowed by the insanely tender beef rib with the most delicious rendered fat that I’ve ever had. The brisket was crazy good too, I could see the signature smoke ring and the bite of bark with fat was ‘close your eyes’ good. Combined with a good beer, great pickles (free!) and some solid potato salad, it was an awesome start to the weekend.
Ippudo. On our last three trips to NYC, we’ve visited Ippudo each time. In my opinion, it’s really just that good. I’m sure there are other great ramen shops in NYC, but why bother looking; Ippudo’s ‘Modern’ ramen (pork tonkotsu broth, garlic poil, miso paste and pork belly) is perfect . Plus, my brother Tom had never visited and I wanted him to experience a proper bowl of ramen. We had a great meal and we’re smart enough to not eat anything prior so I actually finished my entire bowl for the first time. My biggest advice is to get there as early as possible, the place gets packed very quickly. Weekday lunches are usually the best bet.
Whiskey Soda Lounge. Our dinner for Saturday night was planned for Pok Pok,. We arrived 20 minutes after they opened and were told it would be about an hour to wait for a table. So we decided to kill time at Andy Ricker’s other place right down the street, his NYC version of Whiskey Soda Lounge. It’s a pretty small place that’s more of a bar than an actual restaurant, they have a nice menu of small snacks but it’s mostly about the booze. The atmosphere inside makes you almost feel like you are in south east Asia; the rope lighting, music and Thai boxing on TV really helped.
We decided to take advantage of the cocktail menu and try out some of their drinking vinegar cocktails (surprisingly really good). Food wise we grabbed their famous Vietnamese Fish Sauce wings (above), some shrimp chips and house roasted red peanuts. The shrimp chips were like rice cakes with a funky flavor and the peanuts weren’t too hot unless you ate the occasional chili flake, then your tongue would go numb. We ordered our wings regular because I’m not a big ‘spicy’ kind of guy. They were a bit of work to eat and there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones but like the other snacks, it made for great drinking food. This place is ideal if you are looking to go out drinking and would like a couple snacks to munch on.
Pok Pok NYC. This was our main stop for Saturday night and was probably the meal I was anticipating the most. After getting our call about our table, we grabbed seats in the back patio. We ordered a bunch of small plates to share at the dinner table. We started with the Papaya Pok Pok, a cold, spicy salad with veggies that started off sweet but developed some heat that started to cause some delicious pain. The Kai Yaang consisted of a grilled half chicken that was tender and juicy but really tasted great when dipped in the sweet and sour or tamarind sauces. The Kaeng Hang Leh was a bowl of pork belly and shoulder that was cooked in some curry and had a funky, savory flavor. Their Da Chomp’s Leap Meuang was made up of pork salad with crispy cracklings and a lot of spices; the flavor was complex and different than any other pork I’ve tried. The Muu Kham Waan consisted of incredibly tender pork neck that was served with fresh bitter mustard greens on ice (pictured above). It was my favorite dish of the meal. The food tasted like no Thai food that I’ve ever had before and I was really glad that I finally made a visit.
Smorgasburg. Our last meal of the trip was a visit to Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Not only were there over 40 different food vendors serving outside, but each tent had something unique and different. Thirsty? You could grab some craft beer, wine, artisan soda, cold brewed coffee, bubble tea or kombucha. Hungry? You can get some French macarons, bao sandwiches, fried chicken, Neapolitan pizza, some of the best BBQ in NYC, porchetta, kimchi, a variety of noodle dishes and so much more. When we arrived I wasn’t that hungry, I was nursing a bit of a hangover and wasn’t in the mood to eat until I needed a Rascal scooter. I wish I had planned properly because I missed out on a bunch of really good looking food.
That said, we did manage to try a couple stands. The Margherita pizza from Pizza Moto and their mobile wood fire oven was incredible, especially considering this was all taking place out of a tent. I was fixated on the guy feeding the dough in the oven, they were putting out a shocking amount of pizza in a short time. The oven temperature was constantly around 950, one of the highest I’ve ever seen and it gave me hope for my potential backyard pizza making. The fried chicken at Buttermilk Fried Chicken had an incredibly crispy skin with juicy meat inside. The waffle served on the side was an afterthought. We also grabbed some thick slabs of bacon on a stick from Landhaus, covered in some type of seasoning and maple syrup.
We ate some pretty great food and I plan on revisiting Smorgasburg at Pier 5 in the future to try and tackle even more cuisines/stands. There are other locations for this food flea market, all of which have some interesting food options but I’m sold on this location (open on Sundays thru 11/24).
That was it for the major food stops that we visited. Next up, some of my favorite bars that we visited.