Julianna Yu's Blog

New York City Trip: The Food

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This is the last of a series of posts on my recent trip to New York the weekend of July 20, 2012. Just joining us? start here. Read the first post but not the previous one? read this.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that food is pretty big for me. If you haven’t eaten yet, this post might make you hungry because it’s full of pictures. It’s making me hungry and I can’t do anything about it because none of these restaurants and food vendors are in Toronto.

Before leaving for New York we had already decided we were going to share food as much as we could so we could eat more. Thinking ahead. 🙂 We forgot this idea sometimes and other times we knowingly dismissed it because we were far too hungry to share. I wanted to eat lots of things: fish taco’s, pizza, cabbage rolls, blintzes, schnitzel, perogies, dumplings, house made noodles, ramen, onigiri, okonomiyaki and if we had time some baked goods from Babycakes.

Famous Original Ray’s Pizza

That first day, after dropping off our belongings in our hotel room it was around 5:30pm and we were exhausted, still wanted ramen but knew we needed to eat something close and quick. We went outside and spotted a Ray’s Pizza. My sister told me she remembered a Seinfeld episode where Kramer was lost at First and First and makes a collect call to Jerry for help. Jerry asked him where he was and he said he was near a Ray’s Pizza and Jerry asked if it was Famous Ray’s or Original Ray’s. Kramer’s panicked voice on the collect call was HILARIOUS.

Ray’s Pizza

We should’ve shared, but when we entered and the aroma of baked pizza hit my nostrils, I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days and sharing was the last thing I wanted to do. We were both in agreement. One of my favourite foods is pizza, I could eat it everyday and not get sick of it but I don’t because I know I shouldn’t (I’m such an adult! LOL!). Other than the apple I ate in the cab ride to the airport and the whole wheat digestive cookie I had on the plane ride there, my belly was empty.

Ray’s Pizza: Pepperoni, Sausage & Ham

Damn this pie was good. It was thin, the bottom of the pie was crunchy as you ate it and it wasn’t burned. They also had a good amount of sauce and variety. I saw pizza with pasta on it! But I opted for a sausage/pepperoni kinda pie because that’s what I was in the mood for.  The pizza was wonderful, I wanted to buy a whole pizza to go to the room and just eat until I passed out. I told her we should save that grand idea for another night. After all, it was our first night in New York. LOL!

Oh! Taisho (East Village).

After having Ray’s Pizza, we took the subway to the East Village. I had read about Oh! Taisho On Yelp just a couple days before we left so the name kind of stuck in my head. When we landed all we wanted was Ramen and although I couldn’t remember if this place specialized in it (and as it turns out it didn’t, but it was on the menu), but whatever, it was Japanese and I wanted some okonomiyaki (my first) and some takoyaki as well.

Oh! Taisho

As expected, it was a popular place, the line up went outside and I was told it would be a 20 minute wait for 2. We’ll take it. Thank goodness for the pizza. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if we hadn’t had that first. We would probably be frustrated.

Luckily in about 5-7 mins we were called to the bar. NICE! I loved that I got a great view of the cooks in action including making yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball).

Pork Ramen

Okonomyaki

Takoyaki

Yaki onigiri with salmon filling

The meal

We really enjoyed this meal. We definitely ordered more than we could handle but we made sure we ate as much of everything as we could. The ramen was my favourite because I really enjoyed the pork broth. Also, since it was the first thing I wanted to eat when we landed, it was very satisfying. I realize I prefer regular onigiri to grilled version and after eating takoyaki and okonomyaki, I got sick of the sauce pretty fast (the same). So, next time, I’ll order one or the other, but not both.

Shake Shack

A friend raved about how tasty the burgers were at Shake Shack, so I was excited to try it out. I really enjoyed the space. There was a lot of seating, a water station (self serve), a drink line up and a food line up. The table tops are made from bowling alleys in Brooklyn. I liked the soft bun and fresh lettuce inside. The meat is ground fresh everyday and from what I read, from some good quality beef (hormone and anti-biotic free angus beef) too.  The fries (one of my favourite junkie foods), were sort of dry, but I have a weak spot for potato-ey things and things that are deep fried. So, I ate it anyways. ^^ The burger was very satisfying and even with the fries it didn’t leave me feeling heavy or lethargic.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack Meal

Shake Shack: Close up of burger

Xi’an Famous Foods

I remember reading about Xi’an Famous Foods before New York and being lured in by their photos of hand-ripped noodles. We were both really excited to try this place because we love noodles. We decided on one spicy pork and one spicy beef noodle soups. It was really tempting to just order a dry noodle but we learned from the past few meals that we couldn’t eat as much as we would like to.

Xi’an Famous Foods: Our Noodles

Spicy Pork Noodle Soup

Handpulled noodles – These were soo long, it was hard for me to see where they ended.

The small place was full (with a line that went all the way out the door) so we got ours to go and ate it in the hotel room. YUM! It was very satisfying and made me want more Chinese food. The noodles tasted soo chewy and fresh. I also couldn’t get over how long the noodles were. Highly recommended.

China Village Restaurant

After visiting the brooklyn bridge and making our way to Chinatown, we were too tired to wander, so we picked this restaurant from the NYC visitor guide we found in our hotel room.

Egg Drop Chicken Soup

Stir Fried Garlic with Gai Lan (chinese broccolli)

Chicken Fried Rice

We ate really late but it was a very satisfying and simple meal. Exactly what I needed. Some soup, some fried rice and my garlic gai lan GREENS! This meal satisfied my Chinese greens craving.  🙂

Bian Dang

I read about this food truck before we got to NYC and although it had mixed reviews on Yelp. I wanted to give it a chance in case the bad reviews were perhaps from people who just weren’t accustomed to the taste of Taiwanese cooking. I was wrong. Man, I was wrong.

Bian Dang

Bian Dang Meals. Fish cake on the left and pork chops on the right.

The portion was huge! Three fried pork chops on top of rice with a pork sauce. My issue was that I couldn’t taste any seasonings on the pork chop it just tasted oily. And it was quite fatty. I ate about three bites and tossed it out. The pork sauce was very bland too. What a waste. My sister was disappointed with hers too. Her fishcake was too starchy and not enough fish. We have both tasted better in Taiwan which probably makes us more critical of this food.

Rickshaw Dumplings

After doing some shopping damage in Times Square, we stumbled upon the Rickshaw Dumplings stand. We had been planning on going to their food truck location (talked about it everyday but never made it in time) but found it in Times Square. I remember reading online they were known for their Thai Basil Chicken dumpling so I ordered that and my sister got the pork and chive.

Rickshaw Dumplings

Rickshaw Dumplings

We shared a few pieces between us at the hotel room so it had cooled down. And maybe because it was cool, it didn’t taste that good to me. The stuffing was so, so and the sauce was okay. It made me miss my own shrimp and pork dumplings. If I get the chance to try it again, I’ll definitely just scarf it down at the stand. The only reason we didn’t was because our hands were full of bags. Although by the sound of these reviews, the dumplings are normally lukewarm. That’s just terrible.

Nuchas

We spotted Nuchas in Timesquare after Rickshaw dumplings and thought we’d pick up to try as a snack.

Nuchas

What is it about something wrapped in dough that makes me go crazy? I think it’s that in one bite, I am getting all kinds of tastes and textures. There’s something about biting into a baked doughy pastry and tasting the filling inside that is pure comfort and flavour country. It’s fun to eat too because no utensils are needed. I got to say, I haven’t had a whole bunch of empanadas before so I don’t have much to compare these with. We had them after they had cooled down a bit in our hotel room and they were packing with flavour! These were incredible!

Nuchas: Empanadas

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant

This one sort of disappointment both my sister and I. It had rave reviews on Yelp so we were excited to indulge in pure comfort (potatoes and meat) type of food.  Going in our four wants were: schnitzel, blintzes, perogies and cabbage rolls. I went in expecting this meal to be a lot like the Polish comfort food I love in Toronto. It wasn’t. Boy, I should’ve done some more research. I wanted perogies that were lightly pan fried and ours might’ve been shallow fried because it was more fried/crisp than I would’ve preferred. There was a misunderstanding on my part where I asked for a plate with mixed fillings – I wanted a mixture of cheese and potato for the plate and we got a plate that was half cheese and half potato. It was still perogies (one of my faves), so I ate as many as I could as fast as I could because I didn’t want them to get cold before my main came out.

Ukrainian East Village: Perogies

Then my main came… and my heart sunk. It was covered in a mushroom cream sauce that was sort of bland. I was expecting a tomato based sauce and I can only have so much cream sauce before I get sick of it. I could only finish a few bites of cabbage roll because I knew I needed to save room for the blintzes.

Ukrainian East Village: Cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes on the side.

They were probably the best part of the meal. These are like pan fried crispy rolls of pancake filled with cheese, blueberries and strawberries. Yum!

Blintzes

Fillings in the blintzes: strawberries, blueberries and cheese.

Stage Deli

I have a confession. I have never had a reuben. GASP! I know right? I know… So I was told that this was something I should eat in NYC. I really wanted to. Why is it that when you are in search of a Deli you can’t find one? And then when you are finally at one, you realize they don’t offer reuben’s in the morning? LOL!?

Stage Deli

Stage Deli was recommended by my sister’s bf. It had a real old deli feel to it – like it had been around for ages, like the waitstaff might’ve been working there for a long time, it hadn’t changed much but not trying to be anything than what it is. Love that. I just read that it’s been around for 70 years! haha They got to be doing something right. It was our last day. *Sniff* or we were hoping this was our last day because otherwise we were going to have to find another hotel that afternoon. As it turned out later that afternoon, we got final confirmation that it was our last day and my passport was ready.

Stage Deli: Photo Wall

We shared a pastrami/egg sandwich. They folded the egg with the meat inside thing here (I saw this at another cafe when I ordered an egg/bacon sandwich). Details. It’s about the details.

Pastrami Egg Sandwich on a Soft Bun

Potato Pancake with apple sauce and sour cream on the side

I wanted something “light” so I picked the potato pancake. hahaha. My appetite was still pretty small. We were both anxious about whether this was going to be our last day. It was also too “fried” for my liking. I guess I compare everything to M’s grandma’s cooking and I was expecting something soft and lightly pan fried. I ate it anyways with sour cream and then with apple sauce.

Thai Street Food by Tuk Tuk Boy

After we got my emergency passport from the consulate, my sister booked our flights home for that night and we went outside to look for a quick bite to eat.  It was around 4pm and I was mad hungry because we spent the past few hours in the consulate and our last meal was breakfast at Stage Deli. Luckily, there were food trucks and vendors right outside the consulate so we didn’t have to go far. We decided on some chicken pad thai.

Thai Street Food Vendor

Chicken Pad Thai

We wanted this just to tie us over until we could find something else so we shared. It was a little drier than the pad thai’s that I’m use to but it was quite tasty and did the trick.

There was soo many more restaurants, street food vendors and food trucks on my list that I hope to hit up the next time I’m in NYC. Next time, I want to make sure I get more ramen, some fish taco’s, some baked sweets and a reuben. I’m also missing Ray’s Pizza, thank goodness I don’t live in New York or else it would take more willpower to not eat regularly. 🙂

What are your favourite NYC eats? 

Did you enjoy this post/series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Other posts in this series:

New York: The First 6 Hours.

New York City: Activities & Sights

Author: juliannayu

I love food, people and cats. I love reading about people's kitchen adventures, taking pictures of it, and sharing it with good company. I enjoy strolling, playing with cats on the street, chewing my food slowly, playing in the kitchen, curling up to a mug of hot tea and laughing with friends. This blog will include things I've done, eaten, seen, my interests, and anything else I can dream up. My hope is that you will find something you can perhaps relate to or enjoy during your visit here. Welcome to my world.

4 thoughts on “New York City Trip: The Food

  1. Your blog makes me wonder….what I did in NYC….lol I didn’t try any good food there! Such a waste. And for sure your pictures make me hungry! I think I should go there again, just for food

    • Definitely, go again. Your trip was probably too rushed because of the tour. I want to go again just to try more of the foods I didn’t get around to eating. I also miss Ray’s Pizza. LOL!

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