Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Trip to NYC | What I Ate in New York City

Trying out new food is always one of the best parts of travelling and my trip to New York City was no different! The city had so much iconic and unique cuisine to offer so I only wished I had more time! Today I want to share with you all that I ate in New York. To read my thoughts on which places were worth the hype and which were not, click.......
Best Bagel & Coffee | Everything Bagel with Taylor Ham & Eggs
Best Bagel & Coffee:
Just about every single NYC food guide I read suggested that we try some New York bagels. So we found ourselves at Best Bagel & Coffee in Midtown Manhattan. The place had a line right out the door pretty early in the morning but the ordering process was very quick. I honestly didn't know which of the gazillion options to get so I tried the Taylor Ham & Eggs ($6.50) on an Everything Bagel.
I've never been a huge fan of bagels and this sadly didn't change my mind. There were plenty of fillings to go around but the whole thing was just too dry and bland with zero sauce or spread. And as it turns out, Taylor Ham is just plain ham. Perhaps I should have gotten the lox and cream cheese option but that one just seemed a bit too pricey at ~$12. Overall, this really wasn't all that exciting. The portion is large for what you pay for but the bagel just wasn't very special.

Blossom du Jour:
I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian but my friend really wanted to visit this hip vegan quick stop in Hell's Kitchen so we popped by for breakfast. I ordered the Midtown Melt (~$11), a large sandwich with a cajun spiced seitan patty, vegan cheese, agave, guac, lettuce, and chipotle aïoli. Had I known that seitan is basically gluten, I probably would have ordered something else. I'm not gluten-intolerant but I just don't like straight-up gluten patties. It tasted interesting at first but it got kind of yucky and nauseating after a few bites. The portion was huge and the other parts of the filling were pretty yum but the seitan threw me off so much, I couldn't even finish the whole thing.
Blossom du Jour | Midtown Melt
A tiny eatery in East Village opened by Eddie Huang (whose memoir was adapted into the Fresh Off the Boat TV Show), Bauhaus serves up Taiwanese "baos". I tried the Chairman Bao with pork belly and the Fried Fish Bao. The baos were surprisingly tiny at about the size of a credit card. So for $4 each, these are pretty pricey!
With that said, the Fried Fish Bao was very delicious. The fish was tender and the slaw topping added a nice crunch. The Chairman Bao was just okay; the meat was nicely seasoned but it was not as tender as I would have hoped.
Baohaus | Chairman Bao & Fried Fish Bao
The actual restaurant was a bit funky, though. The eclectic, hip pop inspired interior is cool and all but they had the worst bathroom I've ever visited. The entire space was painted black and the walls are scrawled full of graffitis. There was absolutely no ventilation so the little room was suffocatingly hot. And as a cherry on top of the already terrible setup, they had a tiny-teeny hole inside the wall that turned out to be a sink! I could barely wash my hands in the dingy little space before sprinting out of the place!

One of the many Momofuku-owned restaurants, Fuku+ was a small bar/eatery located near the hotel we stayed at in Midtown. Located inside a Momofuku Milk Bar (which has some great cookies) and above Momofuku's Ma Peche, Fuku+ is known for their fried chicken sandwich.
I, of course, got the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($7) and shared a Fuku Salad ($9) with my friend. The sandwich was probably one of the ugliest sandwiches I've seen but it was pretty darn good. The fried chicken was not super crispy but it was well seasoned. However, the bread lacked some sort of spread, with only a couple pieces of pickles as a topping. The Fuku Salad was pretty meh, it had some good components but there was barely any dressing. But oh well, we needed to get our serving of vegetable from somewhere.
Fuku+ | Fried Chicken Sandwich and Fuku Salad
Katz's Delicatessen:
Well known for being the locale of that "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally, Katz's Deli is a kosher style deli in Lower East Side. Despite being a popular tourist attraction, the place was anything but tourist-friendly. As we walked through the door, a terse greeter handed us each a ticket with no explanations whatsoever. The only thing he uttered was: "Do not lose these!" It wasn't super busy when we got in so we had no idea where and how to order. After pacing around the place looking like two idiots, we finally figured out that we just had to order at one of the many counters marked "order sandwiches here". I know we probably sound like idiots not knowing how to order at a deli but the place was full of idling staff members and not one person made eye contact with us.
Katz's Delicatessen | Pastrami on Rye
Anyhow, the basic procedure of the place is order at the specifically marked counters, give the counter person your ticket and get it marked with the price, and pay at the door after you are finished eating. We ordered the Pastrami on Rye ($21). It was very pricey but it was almost big enough to feed two people. The warm pastrami was absolutely delicious. So tender, so juicy, and oh-so-flavorful. The sandwich came with some cucumbers, pickles, and a couple extra slices of pastrami on the side. Although the service and ordering process at this place was a mess, I still really enjoyed the food.

The Halal Guys:
A middle-eastern place with several food carts in Midtown, The Halal Guys was ridiculously popular. Every time we passed the carts there were lines after lines of people waiting. The wait time was short, though, as these guys had a pretty efficient service procedure so it was pretty much just pay and go. I got a Chicken Platter ($7), which came with rice, lettuce, chicken, and individual packets of white and red sauce. The chicken was chopped up way too fine so it was a bit dry.
The Halal Guys | Chicken Platter
While doing research on the place, I saw pictures of platters doused with both sauces so I just did the same. Unfortunately, it turned out that different locales had different heat intensity for the red sauces. So little did I know, I made the worst decision of my life.
After just the smallest bite, I immediately started hiccupping from the heat of the red sauce, which is apparently made of some sort of harissa paste. My entire mouth and throat were on fire for about half and hour and I honestly was panicking from fear. Needless to say, this was literally the spiciest thing I've ever had (and I can take a lot of spice). My whole GI tract took a toll for the entire day so learn from my mistake and be very careful with the red sauce!

Sons of Thunder:
Ever since my trip to Hawaii, I'm always on the lookout for good poke places. So we visited this fast-food style poke place in Tribeca called Sons of Thunder. I got the Half Tuna Half Tako Bowl ($12), which came with rice, mixed greens, cucumber, and seaweed salad. The tuna was melt-in-your-mouth tender and fresh while the tako (octopus) had a nice texture. The meat portion wasn't great but this was overall a very satisfying meal!
Sons of Thunder | Half Tuna Half Tako Poke Bowl
Nathan's Famous:
A famous hundred-year-old hot dog place at Coney Island, Nathan's Famous was very much a tourist trap in my opinion. I got the onion and peppers hot dog and my friend got the original. After lining up for 20 minutes and paying $5 for a plain hot dog, this was pretty disappointing. The hot dogs tasted fine but it was just not worth the money or the wait!
Nathan's Famous | Original Hot Dog & Onion and Peppers Hot Dog
A unique diner in Hell's Kitchen decked out with musical memorabilia, Vynl offered up a variety of western and Asian fusion cuisine. I got the Fried Chicken Sandwich ($15). Everything tasted fresh but the whole thing was just super bland. The sesame bun was slightly dry and the chicken was kind of underseasoned. The fries, though, were very yummy and crunchy!
Despite the average food, the place was still very unique and fun! Heck, they even had a Beyonce-themed restroom, complete with a life-sized mosaic tile art of the diva.
Vynl | Fried Chicken Sandwich with Fries
Jacob's Pickles:
Hands down our best meal in New York, Jacob's Pickles is an amazing southern eatery in Upper West Side (near the American Museum of Natural History). I ordered the Sausage Gravy Smothered Chicken with Biscuits ($15), which also came with a side of cheesy grits. The dish was simply amazing! The portion was huge, the chicken was crispy and flavorful, the biscuit was buttery soft, and the gravy was just to die for! The grits was slightly tangy for my liking but it wasn't a huge deal because I could barely even finish the chicken and biscuits.
In addition to the amazing food, the service was superb. Our server was just delightful; he was keen on picking up our Canadian-ness and made us feel very welcomed.
Jacob's Pickles | Sausage Gravy Smothered Chicken
Currito Cantina:
I don't usually make a note of airport food but in our tired and starving state we visited the Currito Cantina at the Newark Airport on our way back to Vancouver. We may have been super hungry but the food was pretty darn good! I got the Carnitas Cantina Bowl with Guac ($16); it was pricey but very delicious. The rice and veggies were considerately better than Chipotle's and I got a nice portion of pork. The pork was a tad too sweet for my liking but this was actually a very decent meal!
Currito Cantina | Carnitas Cantina Bowl with Guacamole
Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream:
A really chic ice cream parlor in Lower Manhattan, Morgenstern's offered quite a large variety of flavors. I am a sucker for matcha so I got the Green Tea Ice Cream with Pistachio ($4.50 for one scoop). The ice cream didn't have a whole lot of tea flavor and it was slightly icy but I liked how they mixed in the pistachio bits right on the spot. As a result of the extra efforts, the nuts maintained their crunch.
Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream | Green Tea with Pistachio
Lady M:
One of the finest patisseries in New York City, Lady M is very well known for their signature mille-crepe cakes, which are basically cakes made with layers and layers of french crepe and cream filling. I got a sliver of the Matcha Mille Crepe Cake ($8.50), which was just heavenly with every bite. The layers are so soft and fluffy, strong with matcha flavors yet not too sweet! It's pretty pricey but worth trying at least once.
Lady M | Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake
Dominique Ansel Bakery | Brown Sugar DKA & Nutella Croissant
Dominique Ansel Bakery:
Another well-known bakery in town, Dominique Ansel is well known for their croissants and pastries. I got their Brown Sugar DKA (one of their best sellers) and a Nutella Croissant, both priced at around $6. Everything tasted very yummy and decadent but I thought they were a tad stale. I assume that they are baked fresh daily but they just didn't have that oomph factor that I usually expect with fancy baked goods.

After our visit to the Met, we took a stroll on Madison Avenue and stopped by Laduree. They were running pretty low on baked pastries (other than the macarons) so I tried their Caramel Ice Cream (~$6.50) and a Chocolate Eclair ($8, not pictured). The ice cream was surprisingly decent! The texture is super rich and creamy and the caramel flavor was delightfully intense. The Chocolate Eclair, on the other hand, was also divine. The chocolate ganache filling was literally oozing out of the center. Ugh, too good!
Laduree | Caramel Ice Cream
Magnolia Bakery:
Another highlight of my trip, Magnolia Bakery is famous for their Banana Pudding ($5.50 for a medium cup)! A combination of banana custard, soft cake chunks, and banana slices, the Banana Pudding is just amazing! It's difficult to fathom how a dessert so simple could be so good! I was seriously sad that I could  not keep them fresh long enough for the trip home.
Magnolia Bakery | Banana Pudding
So that's a list of food I tried in New York! I was a bit bummed that we didn't have enough time to grab a slice of that famous New York pizza but we did visit a lot of places on my wish list. There were some hits but also some misses. If you are ever visiting the city, my recommendations would be Jacob's Pickles, Fuku+, Katz's Deli, Sons of Thunder, Magnolia Bakery, and Lady M!