NYC Best Thai Food: “Som Tum Thai” Papaya Salad at Zabb Elee in East Village

Date November 19, 2013

Shredded papaya, vinegar, fish sauce, peanuts, fermented dry shrimp, Thai chiles, string beans, tomato, and iceberg lettuce.  Simple, fresh, sweet, sour, salty, and oh so spicy.  This salad has it all.  When you’ve eaten all the good stuff, dip pieces of sticky rice in the dressing that collects underneath and you have a second meal.   This salad is one of my favorite Thai dishes and simply one of my favorite salads in New York City.  The fermented dry shrimp add a definite funky flavor and texture which can be a bit tough to overcome for some people but you can just tell them to keep that out or on the side.  They’re happy to oblige as every salad is made fresh.  If you love Thai food but haven’t been to Zabb Elee, it’s time. They offer a Thai experience unlike any other because they specialize in Isan Thai (northeastern Thailand) where there’s not really any noodles, just lots of great salads (warm and cold) and stir fries.  At Zabb Elee you order on a five-level heat chart.  Anything above three seems to be pretty face-melting.  My favorite dish there is the Kana Moo Krob which features crispy chunks of fatty pork belly wok sauteed in soy sauce, chile and garlic along with snappy strands of Chinese broccoli. It always hits the spot.

Zabb Elee

75 2nd Avenue b/t 4th & 5th Street

New York, NY 10003

(212) 505-9533

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NYC Best Sandwiches: Sub in Grilled Chicken & Russian Dressing for Roast Beef & A1 Steak Sauce in “RB King” Sandwich at Toastie’s or G3 Sandwich at Lenny’s

Date November 18, 2013

Sometimes great sandwiches are right in front of you if you use your imagination.  Lenny’s and Toasties are two sandwich shops with multiple locations in Manhattan and near identical menus (I think some guys left Lenny’s and opened Toastie’s, taking the menu with them and renaming most items).  But despite their vast sandwich offerings, you might still want something neither place has on the menu.   In my case, a grilled chicken BLT sandwich with melted American cheese, pickles and Russian Dressing. The best way to achieve this sandwich is to ask Toastie’s and Lenny’s to take their “RB King” and “G3″ sandwiches, respectively, and swap out the roast beef and A1 sauce for grilled chicken and Russian dressing.  As I’ve stated in the past, the roast beef versions are quite delicious as well, but sometimes you just want to lighten up your bacon, melted cheese, Russian dressing sandwich and that’s where this sandwich hack comes in.

Hopefully this inspires you to push the limits at some of your favorite places.  If you have an idea that you think may make a standard menu item better, ask the restaurant to make the change for you. Maybe they’ll like it so much, they’ll add it to the menu!

If you’ve personally created any new dishes at your favorite restaurants, let us know in the comments!

Toastie’s Website

Lenny’s Website

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NYC Best Chocolate Chip Cookies: Friday Levain Bakery Fix

Date November 15, 2013

I mean really, why not post another photo of the best chocolate chip walnut cookie on the planet? Haven’t tried it yet and want to know more? Read about it here, here, here, here, and here (it’s so good I’ve written about it five times).

Levain Bakery Website

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NYC Best Pizza: Cafe Duke’s Spicy Chicken Pizza May Be My Favorite Lunch in Midtown West & I’m Not Ashamed to Admit it

Date November 14, 2013

Hey, good food is good food. Doesn’t matter where it’s from, even if it’s Cafe Duke, the pinnacle of NYC we-have-it-all “gourmet” food shops. You know the kind of place I mean, they have pizza, sushi, sandwiches, soup, udon noodles, salads, a hot food bar, and snacks and candy bars from all over the world. I don’t care about the rest of that stuff at Cafe Duke though, just the brick oven pizza. The “Spicy Chicken” is topped with grilled chicken tossed in Sriracha, mozzarella, feta, red onion, and scallions post-oven. Ask for it well done, give it a few minutes to settle and then enjoy the spicy, salty, tangy, smokey, and sweet flavors complemented by the crunch of the red onions and charred crust. I’m usually a pizza purist, eating it only at places that specialize in pizza, but this is one non-traditional pizza I will always consider when I’m looking for lunch in Midtown West.

Cafe Duke – 140 West 51st St b/t 6th & 7th Ave – 212.445.0010

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NYC West Village Pizza: John’s Of Bleecker Satisfies In That Perfectly Greasy Bar Pizza Way You Want (And Goes Great With Cheap Beer)

Date November 13, 2013

I’m not much for food and wine pairings. I like to save my space for food and then drink after.  But sometimes I get really sophisticated and have an epiphany, like at John’s of Bleecker last week.  I realized that this may be the perfect pizza to pair with cheap beer. It’s super crispy because of the coal oven, super cheesy because the cheese is laid down onto the dough under the sauce and baked right in, and perfectly greasy from the milky little squares of fresh mozzarella and puddles of oily tomato sauce.  Would I wait on line at this place for a seat inside? No. Is it the best old school pizza in Manhattan? No, that’s Totonno’s in Coney Island or Patsy’s up in Harlem. It has history on its side as it was born in 1920 and was one of the first pizza restaurants in NYC after Lombardi’s (the first in the US), where the original John of Bleecker, John Sasso, used to work.  And it’s also one of the few remaining coal oven pizza restaurants in Manhattan.  But that’s not why I wrote about it.  I wrote about it for two reasons: First off, because I ate it and took a picture. And second, because you’re sitting at your desk at work and you want to pass the time reading about pizza and imagining the the moment when the steam whistle blows and you can leave the factory and eat pizza and drink beer.  Now this blog post seems pretty inventive, doesn’t it?

John’s of Bleecker 278 Bleecker St (b/t 6th and 7th) New York, NY 10014 212.243.1680

No Reservations, Cash Only

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“NYC Food Tour” on NYC TV – Episode 3: Unique & Exotic Cuisines in the East Village

Date November 11, 2013

For the maximum food porn experience, change the resolution to 720p HD using the gear button above.

The third episode of “NYC Food Tour,” the food TV show I’m producing, hosting and editing begins airing this week on NYC TV. It was a big thrill to receive so much positive feedback on Episode 1: “Smorgasburg” and Episode 2: Astoria, Queens – so thanks to everyone for that – but I’m even more excited about Episode 3: “East Village”.  If you haven’t had a memorable meal in a long time, one that really stopped you in your tracks because it was so unique and flavorful, then it’s time for you to head to the East Village.  In this episode I conquer Filipino food, Georgian food and a Montreal, Canada twist on classic NYC deli.  Every episode is jam packed with mouth watering food porn, but since it’s only four minutes long you won’t be able to find it on your DVR, so watch it here instead! Share it with your friends, subscribe to my YouTube Channel below for more videos and feel free to provide feedback and offer suggestions for future episodes. Thanks for watching!

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NYC Best Chocolate Chip Cookie (with walnuts): Why you need to go to Levain Bakery NOW

Date November 8, 2013

levain

This is very simple. Do you like chocolate chip cookies? Do you enjoy having your life changed for the better? Do you look at the photo above and think dirty thoughts? Don’t lie.  Why do you need to go to Levain Bakery NOW? Because if you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Levain Bakery offers consistent cookie perfection EVERY visit. And if by some chance your cookie is not warm, ask them to put it in the oven for a minute and get those chips melting. Thank me now, thank me later. Whatever. Just go get a cookie. It may be the most delicious $4 you’ll ever spend.

Levain Bakery Website

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NYC Best Chicken Fingers: Salted Caramel, Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Fingers at Sticky’s Finger Joint Satisfy On So Many Levels

Date November 7, 2013

They’re sweet, sticky, salty, and crunchy. And that’s before you even get to the tender white meat chicken. At first glance the salted caramel pretzel idea doesn’t seem to jive with chicken, but it works so well you’ll be kicking yourself for not thinking of this concoction first.  Chicken fingers are battered in crushed pretzel, fried to a crisp, doused in caramel and sprinkled with pretzel salt. This process of frying, sweetening and salting makes them a dish best shared, perhaps as dessert chicken fingers post Buffalo Balsamic and/or General Tso’s.  Aside from the pleasing interplay of salty and sweet, the best quality may be the fact that they stay crisp almost indefinitely. Not that they’ll survive long enough to reach that point.

Sticky’s Finger Joint 31 West 8th St b/t 5th & 6th Ave, New York, NY 10011 212.777.7131

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NYC East Village Late Night Pizza: Muzzarella Consistently Gets it Done on Avenue A & 14th Street (And Is a Great Alternative to Waiting on line at Artichoke)

Date November 6, 2013

This is by no means the best pizza in New York City. It’s not even the best pizza in the East Village. What is it, however, is the best late night pizza on the Northern half of the East Village, if not for their variety of slices – they typically have between 5-10 pies with different toppings plus other pizzas with airy, crispy focaccia style crust – then for their consistency and willingness to stay open until the far recesses of the evening, until the last slice is sold, even on weeknights.  It’s always busy on weekend nights and despite being as small as Artichoke, never has a long line.  Artichoke’s up there with Crif Dogs as some of the East Village’s finest late night gluttony, but do you really need either one of those? No. What you need is something more stable, like pizza, which won’t make you regret being alive on a Sunday morning. And what you need is a good old classic New York City slice that costs more than $1 because its made with halfway decent ingredients instead of the test tube cheese in the Kraft singles commercials (I’m looking at you Two Bros). Go to Muzzarella, tip the unfriendly Mexican guys behind the counter, and order a Sicilian slice or two. Just leave a corner slice for me.

Previous Muzzarella Coverage: East Village Late Night Eats Part 1 (May 2009)

Muzzarella Pizza 221 Avenue A  New York, NY 10009 (212) 614-0905

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NYC Lower East Side Filipino & Vietnamese Food: Brunch at Pig & Khao Kind of Blew My Mind

Date November 5, 2013

So apparently Pig and Khao, the newish Lower East Side restaurant from former Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen (Remember? Cute brunette who made out with Hosea? Who? Right.), is serving “Filipino-inspired” cuisine.  I guess that just means they get to serve dishes from other Asian cuisines and not have to explain why. Works for me.  Take the dish pictured above.  It’s a traditional Vietnamese dish called banh xeo” ($13) and it’s a crispy, flaky, salty, sweet crepe flavored with coconut milk and loaded up with shrimp, bacon, bean sprouts, cilantro, and scallions. You rip a piece of it off to the best of your ability, wrap it in some lettuce, pour on some of the sweet and sour dipping sauce and go to town.  It’s a mess but it offers some serious flavor and texture. Sadly it’s only served at brunch.   Happily, it’s one of the tastiest and most interactive dishes I’ve had recently.

sisig food photo

Fortunately for pork lovers, the dish above, Sizzling Sisig ($14), is served at brunch and dinner. If you’ve been following my last few posts, you’ll know that sisig is a Filipino pork head fried rice served in a sizzling skillet. It’s typically pork belly, ear, snout and cheek mixed up with an egg and some rice on a piece of hot metal that keeps everything crispy around on the edges.  It’s a kind of heaven for pork lovers and it’s not nearly as funky-tasting as it sounds. Mix up that egg, coat everything in runny yolk, spill on some vinegar (upon request) and enjoy the fact that you’re at the top of the food chain.

photo (6)

And speaking of dishes that make you happy to be alive, I strongly recommend you order the grilled pork jowl ($13) which despite being listed on the menu as being served with watermelon, fried pork skin and toasted rice, it arrived at my table covered in a pile of crispy, perfectly deep fried Brussels sprouts, leaves gnarled, burnt and frozen in delicious pain.  There was also some fried mint leaves, which refreshingly countered the fatty pork jowl and the funky lime fish sauce it’s all doused in.  Get this. It will make you happy. And really, it’s just that simple.

Pig and Khao 68 Clinton Street at Rivington St New York, NY 10002 212.920.4485

Brunch Sat-Sun 12-4pm Dinner starts at 6pm

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GRILLED PORK JOWL | 13
watermelon, chicharron, toasted rice,
lime-chili fish sauce, herbs

NYC Best Burgers: The secret to getting pickles and onions on your Shake Shack burger is easier than you think

Date November 1, 2013

shake shack

I love pickles and onions on my fast food style burgers and while I’ve been eating Shake Shack for years, I never knew they were an option. But sure enough, as with most requests at the customer-friendly burger Mecca, they are happy to oblige. All you have to do is ask.  Thanks to Lil NYC Food Gal, my sister Melissa, for the great 2nd photo.

Shake Shack Website

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“NYC Food Tour” on NYC TV – Episode 2: Low & Slow BBQ, Greek-Inspired Neapolitan Pizza & the Best Pork Gyro Ever in Astoria, Queens

Date October 28, 2013

For the maximum food porn experience, change the resolution to 720p HD using the gear button above.

The second episode of “NYC Food Tour,” the food TV show I’m producing, hosting and editing begins airing this week on NYC TV. It was a big thrill to receive so much positive feedback on Episode 1: “Smorgasburg,” – so thanks to everyone for that – but I’m even more excited about Episode 2: “Astoria”. It’s a neighborhood that whose culinary diversity is really undervalued. People hear Astoria, they think Greek food. But as you’ll see in the video above, there’s also legit low and slow BBQ, Greek-inspired, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and of course, authentic pork gyros that are like the best BLT sandwich you’ve ever had. And of course, every episode is jam packed with mouth watering food porn, but since it’s only four minutes long you won’t be able to find it on your DVR, so watch it here instead. Share it with your friends, subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more video and let me know your thoughts, critiques and suggestions for future episodes. Thanks for watching!

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NYC Sandwiches: Is the Freshly Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich at Van Horn & Company in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn worth $15 with tax and tip?

Date October 24, 2013

Looks good doesn’t it?  Well this food porn perfection cost me $15 including tip ($12 without tip).  And while this sandwich is tasty – a big piece of juicy, freshly fried buttermilk chicken topped with crisp cabbage slaw all inside a perfectly toasted sesame seed bun – it is a bit under-seasoned.  If I’m in the neighborhood again, I’m more likely to use my $12 a few blocks south, at Esposito’s Pork Store, where for the same price you get to choose from one of over 20 gut-busting Italian heroes made on fresh Caputo’s bakery hero rolls.  Or I may trek even further south to Court Street Grocers, where the huge, creative house made sandwiches offer bigger flavor and satisfaction.  At Van Horn, you’re paying for the restaurant experience – Esposito’s is a butcher shop and deli, Court Street Grocers is a sandwich shop – so if attentive service and JCrew catalog atmosphere makes you feel better about paying $15 for a chicken sandwich (with tip), you will not be disappointed.  And at that point you may as well get Van Horn’s grilled pimento cheese sandwich with bacon and lettuce too, because after all, you only live once, might as well make it count.

Van Horn & Company (Website)
231 Court St at Baltic Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 596-9707

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Lawrence “The NYC Food Guy” Hosts “NYC Food Tour,” a New TV Food Show Debuting Tonight (Thurs. 10/24) on NYC TV!

Date October 24, 2013

tufino screen shot

I’m finally hosting my own food TV show!

It’s called “NYC Food Tour” and it airs tomorrow night (Thurs. 10/24) at 9:30pm on NYC TV.  I’m not only the host, I also produced it, wrote it and edited it!

WHAT IT IS

During each four minute episode we’ll discover unique food throughout the five boroughs and get YOU excited to go out and eat!

HOW TO WATCH

“NYC TV Life” is channel 25 for most New Yorkers. It also airs in Long Island and some parts of New Jersey.  Click here to find out what channel NYC TV is near you.  Since my show is only four minutes, it won’t get its own time slot on the TV Guide, but is scheduled to air at 9:30pm.

WATCH IT ONLINE RIGHT NOW!

My “Smorgasburg” episode airs tonight, but in the link below you can also watch my 2nd episode, “Astoria,” which will air on NYC TV next week.

If you want the full experience, make sure to adjust the resolution to 720p HD using the little gear button at the bottom right of the YouTube video screen.  It’s ok to make this change after the video begins playing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFbiDTOFk6M&list=PLdR-dvg0I2N3qDOr-xgE1a_zfFjDTMXiV

WATCH ME IN NYC TAXIS TOO!

On all Taxi televisions there is a button at the bottom of the screen that says “Change Channel” or “TLC Channel.”  Click that button to watch the NYC TV channel in your taxi and there’s a good chance you’ll see me.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE?

I’m currently editing two more episodes of “NYC Food Tour” as we speak and I’ll be all over NYC TV for the foreseeable future.  I hope to have a full half hour show for the summer which you’ll be able to DVR.

I CAN USE YOUR HELP!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, critiques and suggestions for future episodes or shows.

And if you know of any bigger shows who are looking for a host (even if it’s not specifically food-related) or a food expert guest, or if you know of any websites, networks or production companies looking for food content or freelance producers, please let me know.  Your help is greatly appreciated!

WHO IS LAWRENCE WEIBMAN?

Lawrence Weibman is “The NYC Food Guy.”

I’m a native New Yorker whose life is dedicated to discovering great meals wherever I go.  I’m the founder of the food blog NYCFoodGuy.com which focuses on “NYC’s Most Delicious and Affordable Food” and I also eat my way around the country as a full-time field producer for a national food TV show.  When it comes to food, I will never steer you wrong.

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SPONSORED POST – NYC Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting: Food, Booze and… Plastic?!

Date October 19, 2013

plastics collage

Plastics Make it Possible! Top row (left to right): Chef Robert Irvine, Plastic Maple Syrup Dispensers, Faux Metal Plastic Forks w/ Bread Pudding. Middle row (l to r): Hill Country Brisket, Plastic Makes It Possible Display, Chipotle Taco w/ Margaritas in Clear Plastic Cups.  Bottom row (l to r): Mionetto Prosecco with plastic light up mixers, Rums of Puerto Rico Drinks in Clear Plastic Cups, Wear your Wine Glass Thanks to Plastic Connector

If you’re reading this website, it’s highly likely that you love to eat, cook and imbibe.  And if you enjoy those actions the same way I do, you’re typically focused on the quality of the food and drink, not the serving dish or glassware.  But if you stop and think for a second about how your food and drink is actually served, you’ll realize it’s a big part of the experience.  And few materials play a bigger role in that than plastic.  Why do I bring this up? Well today I was asked to eat and drink my way through the New York City Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting, complements of Plastics Make It Possible, and look for cool ways plastic is used in serving and preparing food and drink.  And guess what?  Despite the fact that I got paid a few clams to do the job, I actually enjoyed my role as plastic detective.  It was fun taking a new angle on food exploration and discovering how plastic, something I generally pay no attention to, is actually integral to my edible enjoyment.  Plastics help me save food and money by keeping ingredients and leftovers fresh while lightweight plastic packaging protects food and helps the environment by reducing waste and fuel consumption in transport.  So next time you grab a meal or a drink, take a second to look around and see how plastic interacts with your experience, because after all it’s the little things that make the difference!