Friday, July 16, 2010

Purity Food (Jamaican)

Purity Food - 3812 White Plains Road - Jamaican
Tamarind balls and nice service.

Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen

Whole Earth Bakery and Kitchen - 130 St. Marks Place
A cute little vegan bakery and mini deli. The guy behind the counter is really nice (and always offers a taste of the smoothie currently being blended.) The foods a little pricey, but not unreasonably for the area. And hey - it's vegan, so that's nifty/neat. The vegan pizza's tasty - although don't expect regular pizza taste - rather, it's crunchy, chewy, with a taste all its own. Oh - and try the snowball sweets - deep, rich chocolate, unlike the snowballs found in the junkfood isle.

Waikkiki Wally's

Waikiki Wally's - 101 E. 2nd St (1st Avenue and Avenue A) - Hawaii Fusion
More an alphabet city haunt - and probably not that authentic. But a fun establishment, brought to you by the people who own Lucky Cheng's. I'm personally fond of Waikiki Wally's - with an appreciation of its two great claims to fame: 1) It's only one of two places where I know I can find Poke. 2) Their Coconut Kiss drink is positively great!

Village Mingala

Village Mingala - 21 E. 7th Street (Burmese)
One of the only Burmese restaurants in NYC. At first glance, it looks like it will be a quasi regular haunt of mine. Small, but classy interior (and right next to Brewskis, which is great if you like gourmet beer.) So far, I've had only one thing - the green tea leaf salad, which was wonderful and different from anything I've had with other cuisines. So - go!


Veniero's - 342 E. 11th Street (Italian Pastries)
A spectacular Italian bakery - filled to the brim with rich cannolis, pastries and tons of delicious (sinful) treats. Though I've known the place for only 15 years, the place has been a NYC institution for over a century. With that kind of track record, you have to go and try a least once!


Tsampa - 212 E. 9th Street (Tibetan)
Elegant (perhaps too elegant for me), dimly lit and situated on the same block as several Japanese restaurants. I've only had cheese soup here so far, but it's worth knowing about, since there are only three or so Tibetan joints in the city...

Sushi Lounge

Sushi Lounge - 132 Saint Mark's Place (Avenue A) (Japanese)
A competant sushi joint, located in Alphabet City (on Avenue A). Similar to Sushi Park, the Lounge offers 50% off on sushi (though with a $10 minimum, after rebate.) The rolls seem decent, including a few tasty veggie rolls (such as natto, squash and pickle.) Not quite as yummy as nearby Avenue A Sushi - but if you buy enough, the rebate makes for a decent bargain.

Sunrise Market

Sunrise Market - 4 Stuyvesant Street, 2nd floor (near 9th Street and 2nd Avenue) (Japanese)
Around the corner from JAS Mart in the East Village. This street is Manhattan's J-Town, although there's not all that much there other than Sunrise and Otafuku. But this market is a gem. Decent sashimi cuts, snacks and some daifuku.


Sharaku - 14 Stuyvesant Street (right around the corner from St. Marks, in Little Tokyo - near Otofuku.) (Japanese)
Ah, a Japanese restaurant that has earned the Gaijin Girl prized 3.999999999 stars rating! This place was visited on a whim, and turned out to be great. Very reasonable prices, fresh takes on sashimi and sushi - classy surroundings, good service...what is there to say? Oh yes, go upstairs (lots of stairs there), and get a seat by the huge picture window, for a wonderful view of the village at night. Let's just say that my friend who was visiting from DC and I have agreed. One visit, and from now on, it's going to be a tradition. Whenever she's here - its Sharaku. Recommended.


Satsko - 202 East 7th Street (Japanese, Pan Asian Sake Bar)
In alphabet city, between Avenue A and Avenue B - its a teeny, tiny bar, specializing in sake and fusian asian appetizers with a Japanese bent. Great intimate place to learn about the different types of sake - on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they have a $25 sake sampler, including 6 shots of your choice, and a belly filling appetizer to keep you from getting too sloshed. And Warren the bartender has a good beginner tutorial on which sake is which.

Saint Alps Teahouse

Saint's Alps Teahouse - 39th Third Avenue (There are other locations also) (Taiwan)
On first glance, I rather like this place. It's a little on the pop-mod-stylish side, and they've got a ton of very reasonably priced snacks, great for sampling. And it's got bubble tea, of course. Since I'm not sure how traditional the place is (ie: are their munchies proprietary or served elsewhere?), I'm going to break tradition and list quick thoughts about their offerings here (as opposed to on the usual food pages:

Coconut Butter Pancakes - Very sweet and nice, a good spin on hotcakes!
Matcha (Green Tea) Butter Toast - Bright green (had to tell friends it wasn't mold!) In actuality, a very mild flavored snack. So-so.


Quintessence - 263 E. 10th St (Raw Vegan)
I've been wanting to go here for awhile (yes, I know that it's not Asian, but I've been interested in the concept of raw food, and wanted to see what its was like at a good restaurant.) For the record, Quintessence is a small, elegant type nook, located between 1st Avenue and Avenue A on the eastside. I had a full three course meal, of a kamut crust pizzalet, yellow squash pasta, and a "live" pecan pie. I have to say, it was good - the pizzalet was rather small, but quite yummy, and the sauce for the "pasta" was scrumptious. (The pasta itself was pretty nifty.) Cost? Too much, for me to ever turn the place into a regular hangout. But I'm glad I went. Other nice thing? Because the food is raw, it only took 10 minutes for preparation!!


Punjabi - 114 E. 1st Street (Pakistani)
East and South of St. Mark's, this very tiny taxi pitstop has very cheap, good Pakistani meals, and Kulfi in the refrigerator. Yum. Open very late night, if not 24 hour....

Pak Punjab

Pak Punjab - 40 East 3rd (Pakistani)
A Pakistani deli with cheap meals, and Kheer for $2.00 a dish. A good pitstop, when you're slightly south of St. Marks.


Otafuku - 236 East 9th Street (2nd/3rd Avenue) (Japanese)
Yummers! It's a nook in the wall place around the corner from St. Mark's, and they only make three things: Takoyaki, Okonomi Yaki, and Yakisoba. That's Octopus Balls, Japanese Pizza/Pancake, and Fried Noodles. (It's kind of a Okonomi Japanese version of Pomme Frites, a Belgian Fry place that's also around the corner. They only make Belgian Fries--the best in the city I may add--and Otafuku only makes the holy yaki trilogy. It takes awhile to get an Okonomi, because they're made fresh. But do it, and get all the yummy brown sauce and fish flakes on top of it!

New Manilla FoodMart and Restaurant

New Manilla FoodMart and Restaurant - 351 East 14th Street (Filipino)
Small, but nice owners, and it's got a few things that my Bronx treasure trove (Filifipino Food Center) doesn't have - for instance, fresh lumpia!

Moishe's Kosher Bake Shop

Moishe's Kosher Bake Shop - 115 2nd Avenue (off 6th Street)
A tempting little kosher pastry shop, right in the heart of Saint Marks. Pretty darned cheap, and the munchie's look tasty (I've personally tried the Kichel and Bowtie Pastry...and held off on the rest!)


M2M (Morning to Midnite) - 55 3rd Avenue (PanAsian) (Other locations: 2935 Broadway, and 25 W. 32nd Street)
A very large, clean and well stocked chain of Asian deli/grocery stores. I know there's more than just this one, although I don't have those addresses handy. The M2M's have quite a bit - daifuku, korean munchies, noodles, mochi ice cream, and on and on. Check one out!

Little Pakistan Deli

Little Pakistan Deli - 200 Second Avenue (Pakistani)
A gem of a teeny place. Several Pakistani dishes, and a decent selection of Indian/Pakistani sweets, purchasable by the piece. You should see this place - and the guy is really nice to talk to.

Krystal's Cafe

Krystal's Cafe - 171 1st Avenue (Filipino)
Clean and bright, this cafe is a winner! It's got Sago Gulaman, which I've seen nowhere else. It also has a very good list of entrees that I haven't tried yet. The Filipino Food Center in my Bronx neighborhood still trumps it for desserts, but when in Manhattan, I'll definitely go to Krystals! (There's also a Krystal's near
Sripraphai in Woodside, Queens, at 69-02 Roosevelt Avenue).

JAS Mart

JAS Mart - 35 E. St. Marks Place (East Village) and 2847 Broadway (between 110th and 111th) (Japanese) .
Okay, it's not Chinatown. But JAS Mart is a nifty Japanese grocery. On street level there's a small Japanese diner where you can get a good Onigiri. But the real attraction is downstairs, where there's an honest to goodness grocery store. There you can find snacks, mochi ice cream, pocky, miso, everything your little Japan-o-phile heart desires....! I'm starting to find Tongin better, though.

Health Conscious Express

Health Conscious Express - 45 First Avenue (between 2nd and 3rd Street) (Jamaican)
A small little Jamaican joint - marketing mostly vegetarian munchies such as patties, lotsa juices and a few raw desserts. Slightly on the expensive side (though normal for Manhattan)...but the place is small, friendly, and convenient. All good things, if you're in the area!

Great Jones Cafe

Great Jones Cafe - 54 Great Jones Street (Cajun/Creole)
A nifty little hole in the wall, located near the south end of the east village (competitively close both to ACME and Mara's - two other cajun joints in the neighborhood.) Loud and packed with diners, Great Jones isn't the place for fancy eatin' (the menu--which is limited--is written right on the wall.) Nor it the place *overly* authentic (then again, what NYC place is, following the demise of Cooking With Jazz?) The hurricanes seem a little on the light side, and there's no bread pudding to be found. But the service is warm and friendly, the portions large...and the food is tasty (highlights of our trip included veggie jambalaya, blackened fish and really good sweet potato fries.) In other words, basic Cajun comfort food. So if you've craving a po' boy, Great Jones is a good spot to know. Just don't dress up like you're headin' to Bayou!

Elvie's Turo Turo

Elvie's Turo Turo - 214 1st Avenue (Filipino)
This is the only place I know to get Baluut (fertilized egg), so I'll forgive the fact that it isn't Chinatown. Elvie's isn't fancy - just a few cafeteria tables, and a selection of food. (The name Turo Turo means Point Point--ie: point at the food, and you shall receive--and is traditionally where Filipinos go for a snack (called merendia). The two entrees I've tried so far were blah and undistinguished, but it's worth knowing if only to try the Baluut!

Dumpling Man

Dumpling Man - 100 Saint Marks Place (Asian)
A small place, specializing in dumplings. Pros: very fresh, nice dumplings - a great way to get your fix when in the East Village. Cons: At 4 for $3 and change, they're considerably more expensive than in Chinatown. Also, the dumplings are a little on the small side. But its a classy, tasty place - worth a trip if you're in Saint Marks.

Do Sirak

Do Sirak - 30 E. 13th Street (Korean)
A not-bad Korean place in the East Village, a little bit east of St. Marks. Rather on the loud side, and the banchan (side dishes) weren't flowing as much as you'd think. But its okay if you're craving Korean, and you're in the area.


Daphne's - 233 E. 14th Street (Jamaican)
A very, very small place - and even though their menu is pretty impressive, they don't seem to have everything available. Daphne's usually looks only partially stocked. I will say this - their rum cake is quite good!

Curly's Vegetarian Lunch

Curly's Vegetarian Lunch - 328 East 14th Street (Vegetarian/Vegan and some Omni Stuff)
My new favorite comfort-food stop - an unassuming vegetarian/vegan joint offering lots o' tasty (but not necessarily gourmet) stuff...including Maryland crabfakes, soy mac and cheese, and all-day breakfast options like pancakes and scrambled tofu. With entrees ranging from burritos to sloppy joes, there's also stuff for the omnivores in your life. But for me, the vegan options are the highlight of the show - especially the dreamalicious deep fried banana-chocolate chimichanga (with soy ice cream, no less!) Other tempting desserts include sopapilla y nieve, with a fried tortilla, ice cream and maple syrup drizzle. All that, and it's easily accessible from the 14th street green line stop (and the service--while not sterling--is pleasant enough.) Kate's, eat your heart out!

3/26/07 Update - came back to try the sopapilla. No, it wasn't all that I 'd hoped for. But as long as they've got the chimichanga, Curly's dessert are still aces in my book.

The Crooked Tree

Crooked Tree (The) - 110 St. Marks Place
It's Belgian, not Asian - but they're worthy of note for serving Belgian Waffles, Ice Cream, and $4-$6 crepes that are small, but extremely yummy with various toppings like fresh fruit, Nutella, or Belgian Chocolate.

Cinderella Falafel

Cinderella Falafel - 129 2nd Avenue
Three words come to mind - just not impressed. The falafel here is brown and blah, with slow service, and just none of the zing of Chickpea. Nuff said. Sorry guys. If I'm on this end of St. Mark's, I'll go to Paul's Burger or Pomme Frites - not this place.


Chickpea - 23rd 3rd Avenue
A hip little falafel joint on the edge of St. Mark's. Now, I don't know all that much about falafel, but I *do* know this stuff was tasty! Better than the other falafel I've had (at Cinderella Falafel)...and a nice change for days when you just don't want any daifuku...

Cecil Cafe Crepe

Cecil Cafe Crepe - 135 First Avenue (St. Mark's and 9th) (Fusion/Japanese)

A cute little creperie, located between St. Marks and 9th. Like many Japanese influenced boutiques, the space is small, classy and pristine - sure to catch your eye as you wander along first avenue. Which is a good thing, since CCC is not well advertised on the net (as of this writing, there were no postings in either citysearch or menupages. Averaging around $7.00 per item, CCC serves crepes both sweet and savory - medium sized, delicate wraps filled with ingredients ranging from capers, ham and/or tuna to ice cream, sweet red bean and/or cream. (Not all at once of course...capers and ice cream? Oh blechhh!) Both sides of the spectrum are tasty, though none transcendant. But the crepes themselves are light, and enjoyable...with a texture that proved the most memorable aspect of the trip for me. So if you're in alphabet city, you should stop by and pick up a wrap. You might really enjoy it.

Caravan of Dreams

Caravan of Dreams - 405 E. 6th Street (Between Avenue A and 1st) (Vegan)
One of the better known vegan restaurants, serving up a wide variety of salads, smoothies, sandwiches (and even "raw food" snacks ranging from soup to meatballs.) Balanced on the edge of Alphabet City, Caravan's decor is hip and cute - and somewhat classier than its weather-beaten exterior might lead one to think. The staff is nice, and the food is fair. During the Gaijin Girl trip, the pesto pizza proved tasty (though hardly worth the $15 price tag). A "live" brownie was also pleasant (though paling in comparison to Pure Food and Wine's Chocolate Ganache.) The unchicken nachos saved the day - offering great comfort food, buried under mounds of guacamole, salsa, blacks beans...and a shredded seitan that felt and tasted like really good chicken. Now those babies might be worth a second trip...if it weren't for the overblown prices!

Benny's Burritos

Benny's Burritos - 93 Avenue A (6th Street) (US-Mexican)
A small cafe offering a wide range of Mexican entrees - including nachos, quesidillas, tacos and enchiladas - as well as their namesake burritos. The options at Benny's are impressive, with fillings ranging from shrimp to chicken to soy. (Alternative diners take note - Benny's is very veg-friendly, offering both soy cheese and tofu sour cream for no extra cost.)

Portions are hearty. Prices are Village standard, running from $7.25 to $13 (for a burrito with the works.) The taste itself runs neck and neck with Chipotle - neither is transcendant, but the grub is good and satisfying enough for a quick bite.

Beard Papa's

Beard Papa's - 740 Broadway (Astor Place) (Japanese)
They say it's the best place around for cream puffs. I'm actually not a cream puff type, but I did stop to sample the Chocolate Fondant. Not bad. Chocolately - but hardly transcendant. But if you're a cream puff fan, you should know where this place is located. There. Now you're duly served. Try 'em and let me know.


Awash - 338 E. 6th Street (Ethiopian)
This is a second location for an already existing Ethiopian restaurant on the upper West side. This place is terrific! It's between 1st and 2nd avenue, at the end of a long line of Indian restaurants. It's tiny, elegant, longer than it is wide, with a neat bar in the back for Tej (honey wine). I've just been won over to Ethiopian food, and this place serves it quite tastily. Go!

Avenue A

Avenue A Sushi - 103 Avenue A (Between 6th and 7th Street)
A hip little sushi joint in alphabet city. The decor is nice, the bar looks good - and the vegetarian rolls are very tasty!
(On the Gaijin Girl maiden voyage, the choice was two veggie rolls - pickled japanese squash--kampyo--and seaweed/avocado. Both a treat...and the kampyo was dark and tender enough to pass believably for tuna.

With options this tasty, who needs toro?

Atlas Cafe

Atlas Cafe - 73 2nd Avenue (between 4th and 5th) (Vegetarian/Vegan)
A nifty east village sandwich shoppe with lots of vegan/vegetarian options. Other goodies (both veggie and omnivorous) include breakfast platters, crepes, smoothies, and a whole slew of tasty (yet animal-free) cakes and sweets. Not bad - and with the summer months a'comin', they've also got outdoor tables...!


Ihawan - 40-06 70th Street, Woodside, NY (Filipino)
A nice, solid eatery. Nothing fancy with the decorations, but who cares? What does matter is the tasty (and cheap!) Filipino food to be had (right across from Phil Am Foods). Especially good is the BBQ, and the Lumpia Sariwa. Amazingly cheap, this place has Sago at Gulaman for $1.50!!! Thanks to Mike, my friend (and my only Filipino contact) who introduced me to this place.

Little Guyana Bake Shop

Little Guyana Bake Shop - 116-04 Liberty Avenue/124-13 Liberty Avenue (Guyanese)
Spacious and neatly organized, a Guyanese bakery full of brightly colored confectionaries, cakes and general grocery items. Well displayed and clearly labelled, the sweets line the back of the store...offering everything from sugar cake to pera balls. Much bigger than the name implies, this bake shop is a great first stop if you're learning about Trini/Guyanese snacks. This place seems to have it all.

Phil Am Foods

Phil-Am Foods - 40-03 70th Street, Queens, NY (Filipino)
I didn't think it was possible, but here's a Filipino bakery that make my neighborhood place (Filipino Foods) look meager. Really nice selection of desserts and general snacks here - when visiting Sripraphai, take a walk over and browse here, also!

Hot and Spicy

Hot and Spicy (aka Savi's Quik Serv) - 120-23 Liberty Avenue (Trinidad/Guyana)
One of the best stops on the Liberty Avenue Line, this establishment has it all - pleasant service, great prices, a nice casual atmosphere, and a wide variety of tempting treats, from snacks to full fledged meals.
A great place to learn about Trinidadian/Guyanese cuisine, Hot and Spicy offers a full menu of options - including an impressive variety of roti, both vegetarian and carnivorous. Alternative dishes also beckon - and this is where Hot and Spicy truly shines - offering local treats such as aloo (mashed potato) pie, macaroni pie, Trinidadian Low Mein and Egg Balls (made from deep fried cassava with a boiled egg center.) Then there are the sweets - filling the counter with kurma crisps, pine tarts and local desserts like pone cassava cake. Not that you'll have room - but isn't that what take home is for?

Tibetan Yak

Tibetan Yak - 72-20 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights (Tibetan)
The only place I know of to get Lephing. Also, they're pretty gracious - I ordered my Lephing to go, and got complimentary bocha while waiting.

Warteg Fortuna

Warteg Fortuna - 51-24 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens (Indonesian) 718-898-2554
The size of a (small) backyard shack, Warteg is right off the 7 train, at the 52nd street stop. Its claim to fame is a small number of traditional Indonesian meals for $3.00 and less. And the proprietress is a really nice person.

A Salt and Battery

A Salt and Battery - 80 Second Avenue (British) (Second location at 112 Greenwich Avenue)
An English fish n' chips shop near the heart of St. Marks. I haven't had entrees there - my main attraction to this place is their infamous deep fried Mars Bar dessert. Yes, you heard right. A deep fried Mars Bar. Around Easter, they also have deep fried Cadbury Eggs. Extremely unhealthy, but quite yummy. Not Asian, but definitely a must-try.

Zip Burger

Zip Burger - 300 E. 52nd Street (1st/2nd Avenue)
A hip looking burger shop located in midtown east. The menu offers a full array of gourmet options - including sourdough bread, whole wheat buns, and a nice choice of "extras" (such as roasted peppers and grilled mushrooms.) The veggie burger is tasty - made from a combination of lentils, barley and vegetables. (A word of warning - the texture is mushy, and liable to fall apart in your hands!) A good burger - but the prices made me nostalgic for a Chinatown Banh Mi. $5.00 and up for a patty? Now that's just wrong!!!


Zenith - 311 W. 48th Street (Vegetarian)
A well meaning restaurant - offering vegetarian/vegan cuisine in midtown west. Despite a menu full of colorful descriptions (from Green Pyramid to Fireworks Squid), the food is bland, unmemorable - and suspiciously similar to neighboring Zen Palate (straight down to the complimentary bottle of wine, delivered with each order.) The staff seems genial - and the presentation is nice. But ultimately, it's taste that counts - and Zenith just doesn't make the grade.

Yum Yum Bangkok

Yum Yum Bangkok - 650 9th Avenue (off 46th street) (Thai)
Not a bad little place - with great papaya salad.


Yagura - 24 E. 41st Street (Japanese)
A reachable Japanese grocery mart if you're stuck in mid-town and need a fix....

Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market - 250 7th Avenue/Cross is 24th Street - also 14th Street at Union Square (International Grocery Store)...and a host of other places (God, this chain is really breeding!!)
Just a great grocery store, with an international variety. Not quite as good as it could be (if you know your stuff and are looking for something really specific), but worth going and gawking anyway.

Additional note (03/08) - One warning/caveat about Whole Foods markets. They're just TOO *&()^((*&(*& crowded. Honestly, the places are so packed that it's positively unpleasant to shop in WF these days. And since they're not really as well stocked as, say, Lifethyme or even Heath Nuts, it's just not worth it. Whole Foods, it just ain't all that...!

Tibetan Kitchen

Tibetan Kitchen - 444 3rd Avenue (Tibetan)
Near 32nd street, on the side. It's very small, but elegant. Haven't explored it well enough to rate it, however.

Sushi Time

Sushi Time - 821 2nd Avenue (43rd/44th Street) (Japanese) (Seamless Web Review)

One of my favorite restaurants, when ordering from Seamless Web. For me, sushi is comfort food - maki and hand rolls never fail to make me happy...especially when prepared spicy/crunchy. So when the workload requires those late night hours, Sushi Time is inevitably my choice. No, I've never actually seen the physical location - but have come to love their varied selection of veggie rolls (filled with ingredients such as Avocado, Mushroom and Pickles), ordered with an appetizer of seaweed salad (very yum.) They're quick to deliver, and always tasty. Hey - with Sushi Time and Oms B in the vicinity, who ever needs to leave midtown?

Sullivan Street Bakery

Sullivan Street Bakery - 533 W. 47th (10th and 11th Avenue) (Bakery/Bread) (Also: 73 Sullivan Street)
Located on the far westend of town - a small classy bakery, specializing in loaves and other baked goods. Specifically interesting are the pizza slices - made from thin slices of bread, decorated with toppings such as potato, tomato or mushroom. (Vegans take note: several of the options are cheeseless....and wow, the mushroom slice is very good.) On the GG trip, I also sampled the whole wheat loaf - which proved to be substantial and tasty-chewy. While I wouldn't trek all the way across town for it, fans swear by this place, calling it the best bread in NYC. So give it a try - either at the Hell's Kitchen location, or the original spot downtown on Sullivan Street.

Say Cheese

Say Cheese - 649 9th Avenue (45/46th) - American Comfort Food
A cute little establishment, specializing in Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Tasty, and sure to bring back warm memories of childhood, they even have soy cheese options – perfect for vegans in the group. A fun Hell’s Kitchen stop (much better than neighboring Bali Nusa.)

Sichuan Palace

Sichuan Palace - 310 East 44th Street (1st/2nd Avenue) - Chinese
An elegant midtown establishment near the UN, with reasonably priced fish maw and shark's fin soup on the menu.

Panini Tost Cafe

Panini Tost Cafe - 589 1st Avenue (Sandwiches)
Not Asian, but one of the few places in my work area that I was able to find a Cubano sandwich. Not bad - don't know if it was authentic, but they were nice.

Organic Market

Organic Market - 375 7th Avenue (near 27th Street) (Health Food)
Good in a pinch, with an okay selection. No great shakes, though. Just your basic, everyday health food store...

Oms B

Oms B - 156 45th Street (3rd and Lex) (Japanese)
A little place in midtown, specializing in gourmet onigiri. Very pretty offerings, a little on the pricey side. Nice when you want to treat yourself, although it has to be said that regular $1.00 onigiri at Yagura or Jasmart are just as tasty. (Although not as decorative!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lifethyme Natural Market

Lifethyme Natural Market - 410 Sixth Avenue (off 9th Street) (Health Food/Veggie)
Wow, this place is a vegan's dream come true! Tons of veggie pho meats, cheeses, raw snacks, a juice bar...and even a vegan bakery on premises! Reasonably priced (though not dirt cheap), Lifethyme even has tons of premade stuff, like vegan knishes, un-tuna sandwiches, etc. Already my choice shopping venue, it's enough to make me want to move to the West Village! (Though with the prevailing real estate prices, it ain't neva gonna happen...)

Jacques Torres

Jacques Torres350 Hudson Street
Specializing in gourmet chocolates, Jacques Torres offers bonbons, truffles, and other chocolate goodies – all slightly higher in quality than Max Brenners (and not as flamboyantly creative). Though not worth a special trip across town, the staff is sweet - and the signature hot chocolate is strikingly rich. (The original shoppe is in Dumbo, at 66 Water Street)

Integral Yoga

Integral Yoga - 229 W. 13th Street (near 8th Avenue) (Health Food/Raw)
A solid little health food store, stocked with a wide variety of staples (including lots o' grains, TVP, and other sometimes-hard-to-find items.) There's also a food counter in the back, serving up smoothies, various entrees and sweets (alot of them raw!) Like most health food stores, Integral Yoga suffers from high price because-we're-healthy syndrome. (The raw burger ran a hefy $8.50, slices of cake were priced around $6-7.) The food won't rock your world, but the stuff is decent and convenient. So I'm glad to see them there.

Employees Only

Employees Only - 510 Hudson Street (Bar)
A classy bar, with classy drinks. Okay, it's a bit on the expensive side, but not a bad experience at all...and the back room is really pretty. (PS: I still think that Mt. Fuji's Femme, and Cheesecake Factory's Chocolate Martinis are my best drinks to date. But what the heck do I know? I'm just your average prole....!)

Chocolate Bar

Chocolate Bar - 48 8th Avenue
Again, not Asian. But worth a quick note as one travels through the West Village area. A popular coffee/chocolate joint - stylish, upscale and known for celebrity sightings. A quick summary says it all: tasty chocolate (though surely not the best in town) - with prices that are too high, though fair for the image that they're trying to project.


Balducci's - 81 8th Avenue (near 14th Street) (Gourmet Groceries)
Another gourmet grocery store, similar in theme to Dean and Deluca. There are alot of greens here, dried fruits, and gourmet goodies, snacks and treats. (The chocolate selection is pretty nice.) Good to know its there - though I personally think I'll continue to frequent Stop and Shop...!


Zabars - 80th and Broadway (Grocery - Multi-ethnic)
Known as a NYC institution, Zabars is truly a wonderland of multi-ethnic eats, treats and sweets. Located in the upper westside (where everything else looks like a culture desert), the aisles of Zabars are a delight to browse - filled with gourmet chocolates, dried fruits, tons of meats/cold cuts, pastries...and a hoppingly busy bakery. Wander to the second floor for even more fun - a fully stocked arsenal of cookery gadgets and gizmos. I hadn't expected much when I visited. I left with my jaw on the floor, and happiness in my culinary heart.

Westerly Natural Market

Westerly Natural Market - 913 8th Avenue (54th Street) (Health Food)
A top notch health food market, with alot of hard to find stuff, like Vega Bars and Dr. Cow Cheese. The raw section (found in the back) is pretty fab, too!

Olde Bridge Deli

Old Bridge Deli - 373 Lexington Avenue (39th Cross) (Mixed, some Japanese, some Korea)
Just recently reopened after major renovations, Old Bridge has a nice sushi bar, with a few decent Korean options near the bottom of the menu. (June 24, 2005 note: a recent visit sadly showed that the Korean offerings had been removed from the menu. But they've built an upstairs - maybe it's still available there!)

Maeda Sushi

Maeda Sushi - 16 E. 41st St. (Madison/5th) (Japanese)
A classy sushi restaurant (right next to Yagura) with Awabi on the menu.

Leon Bakery

Leon Bakery - 695 9th Avenue (Mexican)
Not Asian, but a cute little nook in the wall where I tried my first sopes. Cool.

Korea Palace

Korea Palace - 127 E. 54th Street (Lexington/Park) (Korean)
Nice, hi-brow, classy place (albeit a little expensive, but on par for Manhattan Korean). Complete with a piano player and full bar...

Health Nuts

Health Nut - 835 2nd Avenue (44th Street Cross) (General health food)
They've got amazake, acai drinks, kefir, and teff grain and flour. Wickedly narrow aisles though.
If you're into raw, you have to check out the Raw-E-O cookie, or the Temple Balls (made with sesame, dates, walnuts n' stuff.)

Hakata Grill

Hakata Grill - 230 W. 48th Street (Bway and 8th) (Japanese/Hawaiian)
A classy little Asian fusion place in the middle of the Theater district - serving sushi, sashimi - and Hawaiian Poke (quite a rarity in NYC!)

Grand Sichuan

Grand Sichuan - 1049 2nd Avenue (close to 55th) (Chinese - Sichuan)
Part of a large chain of Sichuan Restaurants. Can't speak for this restaurant too thoroughly (positive or negative), for I've only had only entree there. But - for those of us stationed mid town east during the workday, its good to know it exists. Sidenote: the baby shrimp with garlic sauce I had? Flavorful, not *too* hot - but not all that memorable, either. But give the place a try yourself. Who knows?


Chipotle - 150 E. 52nd Street (Lexington and 3rd) (and a host of other locations) (American-Mexican)
A popular Mexican chain, located at branches throughout the city. The philosophy at Chipotle is simple - specializing in customizable burritos, served at a fast food pace (lines are long, but tend to move quick.)

While not gourmet, the result isn't bad: enormous burritos - packed with chicken, beef and veggie versions -at a relatively cheap $6.00 and up per serving.

Okay, they're not authentic - but these babies do taste good, and they'll fill you up for hours!

Bali Nusa Indah

Bali Nusa Indah - 651 9th Ave, Ste. 145 (cross on 45th) (Indonesian)
The only /Indonesian place in mid-town west. The staff is sweet, and they have Murtabak and Otak, Otak, which are only available there and at Eastanah (see below). But I doubt it's authentic. The food I've had here is bland, and I wouldn't rely on it as a mainstay or a place to learn about real Indonesian.


Bayan - 212 E 45th St (2nd/3rd Avenue) (Filipino)
Reviewers have already noted that Bayan isn’t much for atmosphere. And its not – occupying a small undecorated nook in a corner of mid-town east (making it the only Filipino place – at least that I know of – in the vicinity.) Nor does it have much in the way of customer courtesy. At Bayan you’ll get basic attention, but smiles and warmth are not part of the package. Still, the food is always where its at, and Bayan does have a good selection, from Lumpia and Pancit, to Goto and Arroz Caldo (rice porridge with tripe or chicken). Am I wowed by the place? Nah. But I’ll keep it in my mental rolodez for the next time I get an urge – because it’s nice to know where you can find Halo Halo when you’re working in Mid-Town.

Amish Fine Foods

Amish Fine Foods - 240 East 45th Street (off 2nd Avenue) (International)
Neat place - and they've got well as some WONDERFUL Sweet and Sara vegan treats, like marshmellow and huge, tasty S'mores "sandwich cookies".


Akane - 216 E. 39th Street (2nd and 3rd Avenue) (Japanese/Sushi)
A classy sushi joint in the heart of mid-town east. Good food, with decent vegetable roll options. Pretty popular with the business crowd, Akane gets pretty crowded near lunchtime...

Mara's Homemade

Mara's Homemade - 342 East 6th Street (Cajun)
Right next to Awash Ethiopean - this small, family owned restaurant offers Cajun/Creole fare, along with a decent helping of Southern food such as Fried Green Tomatoes. Cajun menu items include crawfish by the bucket, jamabalaya, and other southern style munchies (drinks include Hurricanes, and the dessert menu has the obligatory bread pudding.) I find Mara's just okay, and too expensive to justify. But it's my husband's favorite place - so if you want Cajun, give it a try. Then again, other decent options include Delta Grill (with a somewhat upscale feel) and ACME (for downhome, cheap n' tasty fare.) So pick your fav, and celebrate Cajun style.


Mancora - 99 1st Avenue (off Seventh Street) (Peruvian)
Yet another foray into the the non-Asian world of cuisine - this time with a positive score! Having never had Peruvian (and drawn by the attractive signage outside), I finally wandering into Mancora. Granted, it hadn't gotten all the best reviews in Citysearch, but I felt I had to try. Sushi lover (and spicy eater) that I am, there was really only one choice to make - the ceviche mixtu, a spicy serving of raw fish marinated in lemon. Score one for the gipper. There was nothing I didn't like. Low carby, high in raw fish tangy yummyness. The food came out quickly (what really was there to do?) and the staff were all nice and personable. Granted, I've got quite a few new Malaysian places to hit next...but once I'm done, Mancora has me sold. They're worth going back to.

Lula's Sweet Apothecary

Lula's Sweet Apothecary - 516 E. 6th Street (Avenue A/B) (Vegan ice cream)
All I can say's about freakin' time! Yes, now the East Village boasts a fun and tasty (albiet small) vegan ice creamery...offering all of your childhood favorites, from hot chocolate sundaes, to banana splits...complete with a bunch of "Cold Stone" type toppings...including coconut, sprinkles and even vegan gummy bears (YUM!). Made in-house, the ice cream's good, and reasonably priced for the Manhattan crowd (around $6 for a sundae.) The size is slightly small (at least compared to my memories of Friendly's), but it definitely satisfies an ice cream craving. A quick conversation with the proprietor revealed that there'll be even more options in the future...including raw ice cream and lots of other sweet stuff. So give Lula's a shot...especially if you're in a treat-yourself mood.


Kenka - 25 St. Marks (Japanese)
A funky restaurant in the heart of St. Marks.

I originally had a very fond view of this place, but that's recently changed, giving it the dubious distinction of 1 of only about 2 places that I'm really displeased and negative about. Just came back from a run to Kenka for, yes, turkey testicles. (Don't giggle!) They just kept striking out on so many levels. 1) You can't order "to go". 2) It took an inordinately long time to get the order. 3) The $6.00 order turned out to be the size of four large lima beans.... 4) When I approached the waitress to give her the money, because I had to get going and it was getting late, I got an attitude in return. It's a real shame, because I'd planned to sample a few more things on the menu, and now I've got--well--a bad taste in my mouth about the place (no, it wasn't the testicles!). I seriously doubt I'm going back. Oh well.

Spice Corner

Spice Corner - 135 Lexington Avenue (Indian)
This place is TERRIFIC! 3.9 stars! The guy is the sweetest, nicest person you'd ever want to meet and talk to, and it's a great little shoppe for various sweets like Mysore Pak, and Burfi, sold by weight.


Shaheen - 130 East 29th Street (Indian/Pakistani)
A very nice little Indian type of Turo-Turo (Philipino for point point). They've got a decent sized case of sweets off to the right, a very nice, casual staff, and good food. Out there in the middle of curry hill. I've only been there once, and I like it already.


Kalustyan's - 123 Lexington Avenue (International)
What a difference one store away makes! Foods of India is horrible (at least for customer service) - but run right next door to Kaustyan's, where they have, among a million other nationalities, Turkish and Greek sweets like Baklava. Gawd, not another culture to eat through! Where can it end? Well, dive into the munchies here, they're really nice and different.

Foods of India

Foods of India - 121 Lexington Avenue (Indian)
Don't ever go here. This deli store now has the distinct of only being the second place I've ever given a negative review to. Nothing whatsoever wrong with the food (and the only place I've seen Balushahi). But the service is beyond surly and nasty - and no-one deserves that type of treatment.

Dosa Hut

Dosa Hut - 102 Lexington Avenue (Indian)
A million different types of Dosas, and it's where I got Uppma. Although, the price is rather steep for my liking ($9.50 for the Uppma, which is basically mashed rice....!) I will say that they had one really neat touch - a fennel and mint mixture that you eat a little of after dinner, like an apparatif, in order to aid digestion.

Chennai Garden

Chennai Garden - 129 E. 27th Street (Indian)
It's here that I got my Masala Gunpowder Dosa, which was very good (albeit slightly expensive) at $7.95.

Uncle Vanya

Uncle Vanya - 315 W. 54th Street (8th and 9th Avenue) (Russian)
Located near Columbus Circle - a small, semi-casual restaurant considered by some to serve the best Russian cuisine outside of Brighton Beach. Though neglectful and slow, the service comes with a smile - and the fare is certainly affordable (with Blinis or a cup of soup running slightly over $5.00 each.) On Valentine's day, we sampled what Uncle Vanyas had to offer - choosing a round of Borscht, Blini, Vareniki, and Golubtsy (cabbage rolls). Sadly, both appetizers and entrees proved bland - especially in contrast to the desserts (Cherry Dumplings and Walnut Tort Cake) which were both quite good, clearly providing the highlights for the evening. Were the flavors authentic? Maybe - but (with the exception of dessert) the flavors proved unmemorable - leading to an unfortunately disappointing Valentine's Day Dinner.

Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery - 401 Bleeker Street (off 11th Street)
Made famous by Sex and the City, the cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery are touted as tasty, superlative...and generally irresistable. Today, I strolled over to Magnolia - to test the theory myself. The counter offers an array of cupcakes with do it yourself service, as well as several other sweet desserts (such as cheesecake and bread pudding.) The atmosphere is preppy, and the space a little crowded (expect a line, though it moved fast for me.) As for the cupcakes? Surprisingly reasonably priced (given the location), they only cost about $2.00 a pop - and the super sweet icing was the best part. The cupcake itself was no great shakes - and certainly not worth the return trip. Bottom line? If desserts are your thing, its probably worth checking out once. But don't expect an earth shattering experience...

Casbah Rouge

Casbah Rouge - 2841 Broadway (Moroccan)
I was really, really looking forward to this place - invited for a birthday party, and I'd never tried Moraccan before. Always up for something new, I waited all week to go there. And besides, I'd never had a hookah, and that was just...intreguing. I got there, and the place did have good ambiance. Dark, kind of mystery-murky, with really NICE lights. But then...the food and drinks came. The drinks - well, they were just your average Manhattan cocktails. Too expensive, and just okay/sweet. As for the food? I eagerly waited for the Moraccan cigars, which came out deep fried (probably a normal thing, but they just reminded me of your average Chinese takout egg rolls.) Then the Tangine. Another neat concept - but in was just a stew. Honestly, the best two things about this place? A really good looking waiter...and AMAZING bread/hummus dip. No, it wasn't worth it. But now I can say I tried.

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant - 140 2nd Avenue (9th Street and St. Mark's) (Ukrainian)
A small East European restaurant, located in the heart of Saint Mark's. Decorated with a plain burgundy-white banner, UEV specializes in homestyle Ukrainian cooking - from Kasha to Beef Stroganoff and Borscht (very affordable, at less than $3.00 per soup.) While surprisingly well decorated, service can be brusque. And on my one visit, the food proved uninspiring - the pierogi/varenykys soft, buttery and bland. While better, the dessert (apple strudel) was just...okay. Was it the fault of UEV, or just normal for Ukrainian fare? Given my lack of exposure to the cuisine, I can't be sure. But the sampling was small, and first impressions have been known to be wrong. So try this place yourself - and be sure to report back!

Sweet Life

Sweet Life - 63 Hester Street (all the way east)
A cute little sweets shoppe. Located all the way at the end of Hester, it's chock full of nuts, candies...and well, chocolates. Haven't sampled the wares yet, but it's worth a mention..

Russ and Daughters

Russ and Daughters - 179 E. Houston Street (Allen and Orchard) (Jewish)
A small traditional specialty shop, stocked with lots of Jewish delicacies and goodies - from herring to halvah, cheeses, coffee beans and kosher pastries. Within a block of the landmark known as Katz's, R&D is worth a look (especially if you're already in the area.) Speaking from personal experience, I can say that the Rugelach is good. And the Babka cake is delicious.

NYC Vegan Eat Up

NYC Vegan Eat-Up - 145 Stanton Street (Off Suffolk) - Last Sunday of every month. Recommended.
A meetup group, rather than a restaurant, NYC Vegan Eat Up is still quite worthy of praise. Put together by a few really friendly nice folks, Vegan Eat Up offers user friendly cooking classes, perfect for the culinary impaired among us (um, I'd raise my hand, but I think readers of Gaijin Girl probably already know that about me.) Located in the Junior High School at Stanton, the classes are a little hard to find first time around, but I *really* recommend the experience. Fun, good people...and useful stuff to learn. Between this and Vegan Dad, I'm gonna be an Iron Chef in no time!! :)

Katz's Deli

Katz's Delicatessan - 205 E. Houston Street (Ludlow)
A good old fashioned Jewish Deli, practically unchanged from the days of the great Depression - even down to the ticket method of payment. (The routine is part of the charm. Various lines are formed at the counter - with different queues for hot dogs, sandwiches, egg creams or other. Customers receive a ticket at the entrance, marked manually with the prices of every order. The spirit is self-serve: grab your food, grab a table - hold onto your ticket, and pay on the way out.) Used in the famous "When Harry Met Sally" scene, Katz's is full of Kitch...not to mention Kugel, Latkes, Matzo Balls and more. The hotdogs at Katz's are good. Rumor has it that the pastrami is heavenly. You'll have to discover that one for yourself - at $12 a plate (and my pescetarian status) - that's one item I didn't try.

Dean & Deluca

Dean and Deluca - 560 Broadway (Prince Street) (Grocery)
Well known gourmet grocery store located in SOHO (with chains scattered around the city). Hoping to experience a NYC landmark, I visited D&D immediately after my first trip to Zabars. What a letdown! Sure, it has nice stuff (including a lot of gourmet chocolates and a pretty bakery)...but the place is on par with Whole Foods...with plenty of yuppie atmosphere and really little else. Blah.

Cake Shoppe Cafe

Cake Shoppe Cafe - 152 Ludlow Street (Vegetarian/Vegan)
A little LES joint with alternative/college sensibilities - complete with a downstairs bar, a backstore record shoppe...and a snack counter upfront serving teas, soups, and a few vegan desserts (including cakes and cookies.) During my visit, I passed on the savories - choosing instead a prepackaged type of eskimo pie. Filled with peanut butter mousse, the choice proved tasty in a junk-foodie way (though not awe-inspiring.) Still, the sweets are relatively cheap - and convenient for a grab-n-go. Though not all vegetarian--and hardly gourmet--the soups looked promising, especially as options for any future visits.

4th Street Food Coop

4th Street Food Coop - 58 E. 4th Street (Bowery and 2nd Avenue) (Health Food)
REALLY teeny, with a small selection. It's got a few decent vegan options (like Mac and Chreeze), but I have to say...ain't worth a special trip. Sorry!


Woorijip - 12 W. 32nd Street
Your basic Korean deli - with plenty of prepackaged snacks n' meals.

9/1/07 - A followup trip to Woorijip proved that this deli has just alot o' good things going for it. Tons of prepackaged snacks and meals (as I've been wont to mention previously) - including tasty tidbits such as pumpkin porridge (Ho bak Jook), cold cucumber soup (Oyi Naeng-Guk), lotsa Kimbap (Korean-style sushi rolls) and warm, freshly made rice cakes galore. Can't beat the prices, which run around $2.50 - $5.00. Awesome, and thrifty - a great combination in my book!

Mandoo Bar

Mandoo Bar - 2 West 32nd Street (also, 71 University Place)
If you're going to try Mandoos (Korean dumplings), have them here! They make them right in the window (a beautiful multicolored sight), and the appetizer of 4 Mandoos is only $5.00, which is way better than the usual price of $7.00 or more. Plus, the Mandoo menu is expansive, with plenty of varieties to choose from.

KR Space

KR-Space (Deli) - 34 W. 32nd Street
A good deli with a bunch of little prepackaged meals for takeout. What I've sampled here so far is Pat-Bing-Su, the shaved ice, fruit and syrup treat that's alot like Malaysian ABC. I'm sure it's available in other places, too, but this is the first place I've seen it. By the way - it's good!


Koryodang - 31 W. 32nd Street
A decent Korean bakery (a little on the fru-fru side for my tastes). But worth a stop. There's also one in Flushing, so I read.

There's one amazing thing I've had here: the cashier simply called it mochi, but it was wonderfully different. Pure white, this mochi was assymetrically lumpy with a tiny gel-green leaf on top. Inside was a creamy white filling, with a taste that I can't place (shiro-an, white bean paste?). It was the softest mochi/daifuku type dessert I've ever had - I think it had soy bean flour (kinako) on it. Almost supernaturally soft! They had it right next to the register, and if you see it....get it!

Vegan's Delight

Vegan's Delight - 3565 Boston Road - Jamaican/Vegan
A small little Jamaican joint--possibly Ital--located on the far end of Boston Road. Though not large, the store offers some good veggie staples - including mock meat, vegannaise and nicely priced bulk items like beans, grains and dried fruit. (They also have containers from the "Just Veggie" company, priced at a reasonable $3.99 per container.) A counter in the back offers a limited selection of decent tasting entrees - ranging from patties to steamed veggies and various mock meat dishes... (Prices run a little steep, with small one dish entrees costing $5.75.) But the service is pleasant...and it's nice to have something in the neighborhood. (Why should Brooklyn have all the veggie fun?)

Sankofa African Restaurant

Sankofa African Restaurant - 2254 Webster Avenue - West African (Nigerian/Ghana)
One of several such restaurants on the Webster avenue strip, Sankofa specializes in west african fare - serving up staples such as fish flavored with palm oil, fermented kenkey, and the cassava mash known as gari. As a practicing vegetarian, I gravitated towards the sides - ordering spinach, beans and two types of mash (a gut busting amount for only $10.) Though not spectacular, all proved to be servicably tasty. Not good enough to warrant a trip from other boroughs...but worth a least if you're in the neighborhood.

Rock A Tone Seafood

Rock-A-Tone Seafood - 3740 White Plains Road - Jamaican
The only place I've seen bammies...nice.

Philipino Food Centre

Philipino Food Centre - 234 E. Gunhill Road (Phillipino)
Wow! Finally, something neat in my neighborhood! This is a decent little deli, with a good selection of desserts in the refrigerator. Better selection, in fact, than Elvie's Turo Turo. So take that, Manhattan! So if you live in the Bronx, check this place out (although beware, they don't keep strict hours - officially, they're open 9-7 every day.). 3.9 stars - this place is A-one, and the absolute best place for Philipino treats (Sapin Sapin, Yema, Macapuno Tarts, etc), especially on the weekend after they've had a shipment in! If only they kept firmer hours....!

King Taco

King Taco - 9 East Mosholu Park Way (off Jerome) - Mexican
My local source of Mexican food - not much to say, but I've had tasty flauta here, and am looking forward to the Pozole. Good to know, if you've a yen for Mexican, and you're around my way....(Unfortunately, no Champurrado on the menu...!)

Country Boyz Jerk Yard

Country Boyz Jerk Yard - 1182 E. Gun Hill Road - Jamaican

Got da ackee here....

Ali's Roti Shop

Ali's Roti Shop - 422 White Plains Road (Corner of 234th Street) - Jamaican/Trinidadian
Another great place in the Bronx (I like this trend, very much!) A friend of mine turned me onto this place. Open 7 days a week, decent prices, huge portions, and lots of Roti, Doubles and more. It's a small place, with lots of stuff inside. So if you're interested in getting a taste of the Carribean, go here - it's a quicker trip than Brooklyn (at least for me!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Choga - 145 Bleeker Street (Japanese/Korean)

A decent, stylish joint in the West Village - offering both Japanese and Korean fare.

Not much seems to distinguish Choga from the millions of other Japanese and Korean spots dotted throughout the city. The interior is classy. Like alot of places with Korean food, it's a tad on the expensive side (definitely not a cheap, tasty grab n' go like Han Ah Reum.) But the menu has a decent breadth of choices - from Japanese comfort food such as OmeRaisu (omelet rice) - to Korean mainstays like Bulgogi. The ethnic mix is probably the best reason to give Choga a try - it's a chance to have your sushi, and Bibimbap too...all in one big multicultural meal.

NY Dosa Cart

NY Dosa Cart - Washington Square Park (W. 4th and Sullivan) (Sri Lankan)
Nominated for the 2007 Vendy Awards, this street cart is famous in the west village - and much loved by the NYU crowd. Manned by Thiru Kumar, the cart specialty is dosas, accompanied by a handful of snacks/extras (such as vegetable rolls, Jaffna patties and Pakoda.) Thanks to its popularity, the lines are quasi-long, but the food is well priced (only $5.00 for a decent sized dosa). Fresh off the griddle--and pleasantly fluffy--these babies do hit the spot. And as an extra bonus, they're vegan!

Pegu Club

Pegu Club - 77 West Houston Street (near Wooster) (Cocktails)
I have now found my favorite place for least for very special occasions. Unobtrusively located between Laguardia Place and Wooster--and marked solely by a glass-etched lion--Pegu Club is very easy to miss. But once upstairs, the (extremely) high class atmosphere is hard to forget. And so are the signature cocktails, running from their own version of mojitos to sake laced beverages, and my favorite - a Rum/Ginger beer mix known as a Jamaican Firefly. (It's also known as a Dark and Stormy, but that name is trademarked.) The drinks are reasonably priced for upscale Manhattan - $12.00 for the standards, and a little more for specialty drinks. (You also get a decent least there was for my D&S.) They also serve tapas type eats, but who cares? Patrons of Pegu are there for the atmosphere and the liquid refreshment. This place is class personified - perfect for that special date, or celebratory drink. So take a trip and see for yourself. And have one on me.


S'Nice - 45 8th Avenue (off W. 4th) (Vegetarian)
A hot new name in food, S'Nice is a comfy sandwich shop located in the West Village (a few doors down from the Chocolate Bar). Despite its liberal use of tempeh and tofu, it's hardly an Asian establishment - not even in the fusion sense of the word. As of late, my tastes have run astray...leading me on a temporary detour through American comfort foods and staples - from Pizza, to (veggie) dogs...and trendy sandwich shoppes like S'Nice.

Vegetarian themed, S'Nice offers a good selection of sandwichs, wraps and salads - from Tempeh Reubens, to a Thai Chicken Salad Wrap. The staff is casual, friendly...and the prices are good (at least for West Village wallets, at $7.00 a pop.) Geared to the sandwich gourmand, the fare may not be Banh Mi - but it is tasty, filling and perfect for the vegetarian palate. Full of panini, I left happy and satiated, thinking how nice it is when an establishment lives up to the hype. Or is that S'Nice...?


Minangasli - 86-10 Whitney Avenue, Elmhurst, NY (Indonesian)
Located in Elmhurst Queens, a small Indonesian cafeteria - decorated even more sparsely than neighboring Upi Jaya. The menus are similiar, with Minangasli offering renditions of Ketoprak Jakarta, Lontong Sayur - and colorful drinks from Es Teler to Durian Juice (!). Prices are comparable (and equallly comfortable), running around $7.00 per dish. As comparisons go, the atmosphere of Upi Jaya runs more to my style, based on welcome warmth and ambiance. As for flavor? Neither restaurant seemed overly spicy -- a shame in my book -- but still a nice option, given the alternatives in Manhattan.

Lan Cafe

Lan Cafe - 342 E. 6th Street (1st and 2nd Avenue) (Vietnamese/Vegan) (Note: does not take credit cards)
Nestled on the culinary strip known as 6th street, Lan Cafe stands as the lone vietnamese restaurant - surrounded by a myriad of Indian establishments and diverse ethnic cuisines from Ethiopean to Cajun and Peruvian.
Small and modest, Lan has found a niche, specializing in vegan versions of vietnamese standards (its menu filled with Banh Mi, shredded salads and Pho soups, all free from meat and the ubiquitous shrimp pastes and fish sauce.) Though they won't rock your world, the results are pleasantly tasty - especially the veggie ham salad - which was light with a complex mixture of sweet/sour tastes. A mixture of caramel stewed eggplant and tofu was also good, though not as spectacular as the Kho dishes found at New Pasteur. Yes, other outlets of vegan vietnamese do exist - most notably Saigon Banh Mi, which will prepare veggie hoagies and even Banh Uot upon request - but no other restaurant offers a full vegan menu. Worry free vietnamese, with a pleasantly light price tag? In my opinion, might be worth a visit (though honestly too bland for my taste!)


Subway (American)
A well known fast-food chain, offering a range of heros...from chicken and ham to roast beef. Though a true review would be out of place, it's worth noting that the Veggie Delight Sandwich isn't half bad--especially with a wrap--offering hungry pedestrians a decent quick-bite option...definitely a few steps up from McDonalds!

Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice
A fast food juice bar offering a range of juices, smoothies, and blends (made with ingredients such as green tea, yogurt, mango, strawberry and OJ.) While not life-changing (and a bit on the expensive side), the beverages are tasty - and can be supplemented with handy extras (called boosts) such as protein powder, vitamin C and calcium. At the JJ I visited, the staff was quite cordial, and willing to supplement the dairy ingredients for soy...which made for a nice overall experience.

Go Sushi

Go Sushi
A NYC chain, serving up the standards with a fast-food mentality. The menu offers plenty of the classics - such as spicy tuna, handrolls and soba salad. Though it ain't Nobu, the fare is perfect for a dine-and-dash. It's not transcendant...but sometimes fresh and tasty is all you need.

Polskie Delikatesy

Polskie Delikatesy - 4703 8th Avenue, Brooklyn (off 47th Street) (Polish)
A cute little bakery, located in the heart of Brooklyn Chinatown. There's not alot to be found here, but the small selection of cakes and pastries are really tempting. Worth a look if you're in the area...and looking for a new cuisine to sink your teeth into.

Kabir's Bakery

Kabir's Bakery - 1425 Foster Avenue, Brooklyn and 29-05 36th Avenue, LIC (Indian/Pakistani)
Haven't been to a physical location, but have had their products at my local Bronx deli. They seem to have a good variety, so they deserve at least preliminary mention.


Katagiri - 244 East 59th Street (Between 2nd and 3rd) (Japanese)
A good, basic Japanese mart. Sushi, sashimi, wasabi, daifuku, etc.

Cafe Mingala

Cafe Mingala - 1393 2nd Avenue, Ste. B. (between 72nd and 73rd) (Burmese)
Burmese cuisine on the upper Eastside. Owned, incidentally, by the same people who run Village Mingala down on 7th street. I will say that the gentleman who waited on me during my recent run for Mohinga was very nice. But...I'm beginning to think that Burmese doesn't appeal to me, with the exception of the Thoke salads, which are wonderful. The rest is too...spicy, with nothing extra to it. (At least - at the Mingala restaurants - can't swear by the cuisine in general!)


Eastanah - 212 Lafayette Street (Malaysian/Indonesian)
The Malaysian restaurant in Soho (the cross street is Spring). Its best selling points are that it has Murtabak and Otak Otak, which are only available elsewhere at Bali Nusa. The staff is very pleasant, but it tends to be a bit on the expensive side, and I begin to wonder how authentic it is, out in Soho. With Chinatown so close, why go unless for these two items?

New Sunshine Restaurant

New Sunshine Restaurant - 3 Corson Avenue, Staten Island (Sri Lankan)
A few doors away from New Asha, New Sunshine has a much more polished look. Rich colored red and gold tablecloths, and even a TV in the front. It's still a small space, but very, very friendly, with several things on the menu that aren't available at New Asha. For instance, the desserts Wattalapam, and Yogurt and Treacle. Recommended! (Although, so is New Asha...)

New Asha Sri Lankan Restaurant

New Asha Sri Lankan Restaurant - 322 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY (Sri Lankan)
The only place to get Sri Lankan around these here parts is Staten Island - the Manhattan locations are gone, closed. So far, I have only been to New Asha once - it was small and geared to cafeteria takeout (rather like Sripriphai, the Thai restaurant in Woodside.)

During my visit, I got a curry that was standard, but tasty. For $6.50, the portion was huge (good enough for my husband and I combined). But what I'd really come for were the hoppers and the puttu. Sadly, I found that they're only available in the evening (they take awhile to prepare.) So warning - if you're going anywhere for Sri Lankan, make it for a dinner. That's when everything's ready to go!

Angkor Watt

Angkor Watt - 136 Shirley Avenue, Revere, MA (Cambodian) (Grocery) (781-286-2667)
A cute little place a few doors down from Floating Rock. It's got a little of everything - groceries that are Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and (of course) Cambodian. As with most small grocery shoppes, it's the impulse items in the front that are most interesting - including deep fried banana or shrimp fritters, and bags o' multicolored mini muffins. At $.50 a shot, you can't go wrong...

Angkor Thom Market

Angkor Thom Market - 157 Shirley Avenue, Revere, MA (Cambodian) (Grocery) (718-289-2834)
The larger of the two Cambodian groceries on Shirley Ave., Angkor Thom Market has lots of little must-tries...from bags with glutinous dough waffles, to plastic glasses of white or black fermented rice (known in Singapore as Tapeh.) Then there are the standard pan-Asian items - including soy sauce, Vietnamese Banh Xeo batter, and any number of fermented fish sauces. So go and stock up the pantry...but don't forget to stop off at Floating Rock before you leave!


Mitsuwa - 595 River Road, Edgewater, NJ (Japanese)
Not exactly what you'd expect in the middle of New Jersey, this Japanese-only food court and mall offers a range of produce, condiments, and even delicate goodies from the likes of Minamoto Kitchoan. The booths at Mitsuwa come complete with plate glass window displays featuring plastic replicas of their menu options - with dishes from Tonkatsu to Soba noodles. The food court is equally elegant - with the polished wood tables overlooking an expansive view of the Hudson River. For Japanese culinary fans, Mitsuwa is worth the trip....which isn't all that bad. Open 365 days a year, there's a bus available from Port Authority. So even if you don't have a car, it's a reachable destination!

Viva Herbal Pizzeria/Cafe Viva

Viva Herbal Pizzeria - 179 2nd Avenue (11th/12th Street)(Pizza)
Cafe Viva - 2578 Broadway (97th Street)

A small Italian franchise specializing in organic, vegetarian/vegan versions of all the classics - including Stromboli, Calzones, Ravioli and Gourmet Pizza. Made with whole wheat, spelt and even corn meal crusts, the slices look particularly good. Heavily layered, versions include Il Fiore (grilled eggplant, onions and roasted pepper) and Canja (made with Hempseed Needs, Miso Tofu, and Basil). On my visit, I tried the Zen Vegan - made with Green Tea Miso-Tofu, Shittake Mushroom and Sundried Tomato. Though beautiful, the taste was bland - impacting only minimally on my taste buds, despite an impressive range of ingredients. Dessert--a small chocolate snowball--was equally plain, and chewy (with only the slightest hint of sugar.) In both cases, better versions could have been had at Whole Earth Bakery. That's too bad - 'cause I'd been looking forward to trying the ravioli!