NYC Filipino Food: Sizzling Sisig is an Adventure for Pork Lovers at Maharlika in the East Village

Date October 10, 2013


Looks pretty good doesn’t it? Tastes pretty damn good too. Want to know why its an adventure? Because that pork fried rice-looking concoction actually contains four pig parts: ear, snout, cheek and belly.  And surprisingly, they’re all delicious in their own way.  They go through a three-tiered cooking process, first being braised to seal in flavor, then grilled over charcoal for some char and then fried to crisp them up.  What results are a melange of pork bits some fatty and crisp, some meaty yet tender, some a little funky.  If you’re skeptical, rest assured, there are so many flavors and textures at play in this dish, you’d never know you were eating all these random pieces of pork if no one told you.

The pork arrives at your table in a sizzling skillet and then you pour an egg on top and mix it up, letting it cook with the heat of the skillet, and then mix in some garlic rice.  And since Filipino food is really a fusion between Malaysian, Spanish and Chinese cuisine, this is more than just fried rice, it’s actually an amazing cross between paella, fried rice and whatever rice-laden Malaysian dish is garlicky, sweet and spicy.  Make sure to pour some of the house made chile-infused vinegar on top of your sisig, it really helps cut the fat. Head to Maharlika if you want the full intro to Filipino food, they’ve taken a lot of the Filipino basics and updated them with a modern twist.  Think Filipino versions of fried chicken and waffles and eggs benedict at brunch and amazing dishes featuring prawns in red curry and pork belly fried to perfection.  Ask for Nicole or the Chef Miguel, co-owners, and tell them Lawrence the NYC Food Guy sent you.  This place is also the sister restaurant to Jeepney, the Filipino gastropub I wrote about recently because of their incredible, hands-free feast, Kamayan Night. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s time.

Maharlika Website

111 First Ave near 7th Street

New York, NY 10003

646.392.7880

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NYC Italian Sandwiches: Sergimmo Salumeria Serves the Best in Midtown West

Date October 3, 2013

salumeria

You’re looking at mortadella, warm fried eggplant, a hearty later of melted and thinly sliced sharp provolone, peppery arugula, and balsamic vinaigrette on ciabatta. All freshly sliced and prepared to order. The chicken parmesan hero is also solid and I’m always tempted to try one of their other two dozen sandwich creations, or the daily special, or a bowl of pasta, or just sit down and eat a meat plate, nicely arranged on a wooden cutting board, sipping a macchiato and wallowing away the day in a sea of salty, porky goodness. Every neighborhood in New York City should have a place like Sergimmo Salumeria.  Honorable mention for 2nd best Italian sandwiches in Midtown West goes to Salumeria Biellese on the corner of 29th street and 8th Ave.  They cure their own meats, including what I consider the best soppressata (spicy salami) in the city, and that gives them some serious cred, but they lost points because as Serious Eats says, you’re better off bringing your own bread than eating theirs and that’s just not gonna cut it for on-the-go New Yorkers.

Sergimmo Salumeria Website

456 9th Ave b/t 35th & 36th St

New York, NY 10018

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NYC Wings: International Wings Factory on the Upper East Side, An Unlikely Location for the Best Sauces in NYC

Date October 2, 2013

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What makes a great wing? Is it the size and quality of the chicken? Is it the frying technique? Or is it the sauces? Take a trip to the International Wings Factory on 1st Ave b/t 91st & 92nd street, and the answer is clear: it’s all about the sauces. They offer thirteen different sauces as well as four dipping sauces, all of which are hand made from scratch using fresh chiles, in order to achieve the perfect flavor and texture so the sauce will actually cling to the wings.

You don’t think of wings as a dish that a serious chef would dedicate his time to, but that’s exactly what’s happening here.  Chef Deepak Ballaney is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and has consulted in big time restaurants across almost every cuisine, from Chinese and Mexican to Indian and American.  But no matter the cuisine, the big batch of wings Chef Ballaney would cook for his staff at the end of every shift always brought people together.  Now he’s drawing on the unifying force of wings, as well as his diverse culinary background, to create some of the most flavorful and juicy wings in all of New York City.

Read on to find out which sauces I loved, what new exotic flavors are coming soon and what they’re doing to French fries that will make you drool!

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Gratuitous Food Porn: Gargiulo Burger at Brennan and Carr in Gravesend, Brooklyn

Date September 27, 2013

gargiulo burger

This gutbomb will only set you back $6.45.

Forget bacon, this burger is topped with freshly sliced roast beef, grilled onions and melted American cheese. It’s on the take-out menu but not on the placemat menu inside.  Fret not, just make sure to order a side of jus, slice your burger in half, dunk, wait for a second, and then enjoy what The Daily Meal’s Arthur Bovino calls “an infusion of flavor… like a riff on French Onion Soup, American style, with a burger sitting in it.” Wow.  Thanks to Matt Setton, the original intrepid eater in my life, for the photo.

Brennan and Carr

3432 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11229 718.646.9559

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NYC Mexican Food & Cheap Eats: Taco Cart at 70th Street & Broadway May Be Upper West Side’s Best Lunch Deal & Best Mexican Food

Date September 26, 2013

tacos upper west

Spicy pork taco ($2.50)

Two spicy pork tostadas ($3.00 each)

In the colorful photo just above these words, you’re looking at two carne enchilada tostadas.  Crispy, open face taco shells spread with beans, covered with freshly griddled spicy pork, and topped with lettuce, tomato, and crumbly white cheese.  They were made by an industrious Mexican woman inside a little metal cart outside the Chase Bank at the southwest corner of 70th Street and Broadway.  This cart may be providing both the best lunch deal and best Mexican food on the Upper West Side.  Each one of the towering tostadas above cost just $3.00.  $3.00! That means if you bought two of these, you would have a seriously filling lunch for just $6.  The overstuffed tacos (photo above, at top), sprinkled with cilantro, onion and green sauce are $2.50 each.  Get two of those and you’re stuffed for just $5.  The dinner plate-sized torta is just $6 and it’s easily a two-meal sandwich.  The only downside to the entire enterprise is that the food doesn’t come fast, there’s only one woman working and typically a few people on line, so leave a little time.  Forget Chipotle, Subway and whatever other underwhelming and likely overpriced Upper West Side lunch option you’ve decided on and make a beeline for what I’ve decided is the best Mexican food on the Upper West Side.  I’m already sorry I let you in on the secret.

Taco Cart at 70th Street & Broadway, Southwest corner

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NYC Best Late Night Eats: 12 of NYC Food Guy’s Favorite Late Night Spots Featured on Foodie.com

Date September 25, 2013

If you know me, you know I love late night eats and you know I’ve got a lot of restaurant info swirling around in my brain. How do I keep it all straight? Well click on “See the collection” above and find out. It’s a nifty feature on this new site called Foodie.com. The site is essentially Pinterest for food. They’ve got a pretty deep reservoir of recipes and food porn but now they’re starting to ramp up their restaurant collections and I decided to add my two cents. The Late Night Eats collection you see above is just one of four collections I’ve created. The others range from Best Breakfast in NYC to Best Burgers, so click through and see if you agree. If you have something you want to add, let me know or get in on the action and create your own collections.

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

NYC Most Unusual Restaurants: 12 of NYC Food Guy’s Top Spots Featured on Foodie.com

Date September 24, 2013

You think you know unusual restaurants? Well click on “See the collection” above and let me know if I’ve opened your mind at all. Wondering how I put the collection together in that neat little package above? It’s all Foodie.com, a pretty sweet new site that is like Pinterest but for food. It’s got a ton of recipes (and food porn to go with them) and now they’re starting to pick up the pace on the restaurant side and their collection feature is a great way to keep your food thoughts organized. Create a collection of your favorites or create an eating to do list, whatever you do, head over to Foodie.com and start playing around and telling me where I need to go eat next!

The NYC Food Guy’s Restaurant Collections on Foodie.com

NYC Food Guy Video: A few of the most exciting savory & sweet options at Smorgasburg

Date September 23, 2013

“Good things to those who wait.”  Or so they say.  When it comes to sweet food videos, however, there’s no time like the present. Smorgasburg is a food festival unlike any other in New York City. It crashes into the Brooklyn coast each weekend through November – Saturdays in Williamsburg and Sundays in DUMBO – bringing with it a tidal wave of handmade artisan food.  There’s over fifty vendors each day, making stomach space quite the commodity.  Fortunately, I’m here with the video below to guarantee you maximize the deliciousness. Good luck out there.

NYC Georgian Food: Life Changing Experience Thanks to Oda House’s Adjaruli Khachapuri

Date September 23, 2013

khachpuri

If there’s two things I know, it’s that first, you probably have no idea what Georgian food is, and secondly, you also don’t know how to say adjaruli khachapuri (I have enough trouble spelling it).  And really, it’s ok.  Because until I ate at Oda House, a Georgian restaurant on the corner of 5th Street and Avenue B, I was in the same boat.  According to Wikipedia, Georgia is “a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia.  Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.  The captial of Georgia is Tbilisi.” And “adjaruli khachapuri” is pronounced Ahd-Ja-Rule-Ee Ka-Cha-Pour-Ee.  So, there’s that.

Now to the life-changing information:  khachapuri is a type of Georgian cheese bread that is buttery, deep dish and freshly baked.  At Oda House, you want the adjaruli,which is a type of khachapuri baked with loads of mozzarella and feta inside and then topped off with a fresh egg when it comes to your table.  Mix it up (as seen in the video below) and it becomes buttery, cheesy scrambled egg bread.  Slice it to the best of your ability, eat, and then die.

No. Seriously. You may eat it and realize that your life has been nothing up until this moment and it’s not worth living any longer because nothing is going to taste better than this oddly-named concoction you just devoured.  Ok, maaaaaaybe it’s not quite THAT serious, but you’re going to be talking about adjaruli khachapuri, kinkali (beef and pork soup dumplings), lamb shish kebab, and whatever beef-stuffed bread Oda House is offering that night, for weeks to come.  Doesn’t it feel good to be educated?

Oda House Website
76 Avenue B at 5th Street
New York, NY 10009
212.353.3838

The photo and video above were originally on the @nycfoodguy Instagram.
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NYC Best Croissants & Pastries: Ask For Nutella Inside Your Croissant at Fresco Gelateria in the East Village

Date September 18, 2013

nutella croissant

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

I wish I could remember who told me to ask the Fresco Gelateria counter girl to open up my croissant and slather Nutella all over the inside of both halves.  If I could remember, I’d kiss that person. Because this bad boy is as good as it looks.   Fresco’s web site touts “daily baked pastries,” but in regard to the croissants, they actually purchase them par-baked and finish them in the shop.  That means if you manage to get there early enough, you can actually have Nutella inside a fresh-baked croissant. Shit.  I just realized a new possibility. Asking them to heat the croissant if it’s room temp before they spread on the Nutella.  And oh yeah, they always have at least six different house made gelato flavors on the menu.  So why not scoop some of that goodness into a croissant? Wow. I think I just blew my own mind. I don’t know if they would actually do either of those things, but if those aren’t questions worth asking, what are?

Fresco Gelateria
2nd Ave b/t St. Mark’s Pl & 9th St

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NYC Fried Chicken: Blue Ribbon’s New East Village Fried Chicken Restaurant is Open Until 2am Every Night

Date September 17, 2013

blue ribbon collage2

Sure it’s crispy, juicy and a little spicy. And so what if it’s unique breading involves matzoh meal. And really, it’s great and all that their fries are thin and freshly fried, their potato wedges can be loaded with bacon and cheese, their onion strings are some of the best I’ve had, and they have ice cream custom made for them in flavors like Banana Salted Caramel and “Spiked Bourbon Street” (chocolate, hazelnut and Bourbon).

But what really matters is that they’re open until 2am every night.  In the East Village.   And in the city that never sleeps, that’s big.

Priorities people. You may not realize you need fried chicken at 1:30am on a Monday, that is, until you do.  And therein lies the beauty of New York City. Any time, any craving, it can happen.

Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken

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NYC Best Burgers: Six Dream-Worthy Burgers From All Around Manhattan

Date September 13, 2013

burger collage

Clockwise from top left:

Coppelia, Blue Collar, The National, Bayard Ale House, Brindle Room, Full Shilling

“I not only think about food all day,” said Henry Miller in “Tropic of Cancer,” “but I dream about it at night.” NYC Food Guy, he dreams about cheeseburgers. Big, dinner plate-sized sandwiches filled with juicy beef patties with neon yellow American cheese dripping from the sides, please. There are few food items whose simple pleasure make me happier. And since many of New York City’s chefs fortunately share my sentiments, I’ve decided to put together a list of six burgers I’ve eaten over the last year, from sources as diverse as an Irish Pub, an Iron Chef and even a Cuban restaurant. Rest assured, these are burgers worth dreaming about.

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Kamayan Night Wednesdays & Thursdays at Jeepney in East Village: A No Utensil, $40 Filipino Feast for the Ages

Date September 12, 2013

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It may not be pretty, but no meal has excited me more in recent memory than the one I ate a few months back at Jeepney, the sibling of fellow East Village Filipino restaurant Maharlika.  A huge plank of sticky rice was laid end-to-end over neighboring two-person tables covered in banana leaf.  Our server carefully placed a whole fried fish in the center of the long white mound of coconut milk-flavored rice. Spreading out from both sides of the fish, he symmetrically placed chicken, smoked soft boiled eggs, two kinds of pork (one in a coconut milk gravy, one marinated in Coca-Cola), sweet longanisa sausage, sauteed bok choy, bitter melon salad, piles of fried tripe and fried bread, and grilled green onions. You get to choose two appetizers and three entrees from a set menu.  Each of my three dining companions and I received two bowls, one with vinegar and chiles and another with soy sauced-spiked mayo (recommended for the tripe).  The only other thing in front of me was a San Miguel beer and a napkin, the latter of which would prove useless.

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It was at this point that I snapped a few quick photos because as soon as I put that iPhone down, it was time to eat.

With only my hands.

For about 30 minutes straight.

No talking, just visceral moans from all the startling intersections of flavor and texture; spicy gives way to sour then sweet. Crispy melts into fatty and tender.  Maw at the sticky rice with your hand, form it into a little ball and wrap a shred of pork (or chicken, fish or sausage) around it, dip it into the vinegar, pulling up a chile as you bring it all to your mouth.  Repeat until nearing food coma, save some room for the icy dessert halo halo and then prepare to not want anything to do with food until dinner the next day.  I’m not used to this kind of gustatory defeat but according to Jeepney co-owner and sometimes-server Noel Cruz, his family feasted like this every night back in the Philippines.  I think I know where I’m taking my next vacation.

Jeepney 201 1st Ave b/t 11th & 12th St, NY, NY 10003 212.533.4121 CASH ONLY
Kamayan Night – Wednesday & Thursday Only – $40 per person, call for details and reservations

NYC French Fries: Umami Burgers “Manly Fries” & Truffle Fries May Look Good, but Save Room for the Burgers

Date September 11, 2013

I know these look good. How could they not? They’re French fries, one of the hardest-to-resist foods on the planet (for me at least). But when push comes to shove, you didn’t wait in line at Umami Burger for 30 to 90 minutes for the fries, you’re here for the burgers.  These fries look sinful and spectacular, but give credit to my iPhone for that, because quite frankly these are just window dressing. The fries themselves are ordinary pre-frozen shoestring and the flavor profiles of the “Manly Fries” and the Truffle fries are as basic as their descriptions imply.  Sure they’re salty, sinful and easy to eat by the forkful.  The burgers, on the other hand, are unique and very big on flavor. Are they worth a 90-minute wait? Not in my humble opinion.  But if you happen to pass by Umami Burger and see some open seats, pop in and grab a classic “Umami Burger” AND a Green Chile Burger. Pass on the fries, you’ll thank me later.

Umami Burger Website

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NYC Breakfast & Brunch: “Oatmeals” in the West Village Proves Oatmeal Can Actually Be Exciting

Date September 10, 2013

oatmeals

What’s your first memory of oatmeal? For me it was my Dad mixing it over the stove and then offering me some to taste. My first bite was a forgettable one as my Dad uses little to no sugar and wanted to let me try it that way too. Five minutes and half a cup of sugar and cinnamon later and I was happily eating my oatmeal. Oatmeals, a small new shop on West 3rd st b/t MacDougal St and 6th Avenue, whose aim is to up the ante on breakfast’s typically boring buddy, has succeeded in their task and they do it with more than just cinnamon and sugar. Take the “Salted Caramel Apple” you see above. Cinnamon, brown sugar, cinnamon roasted apples, whipped cream, caramel, and a very smart sprinkle of sea salt combine to make oatmeal something you’re actually excited to wake up for in the morning. They offer 25 different ways to enjoy your oatmeal, some savory like the “Truffle RisOATto” which features shaved parm, truffle oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper, some sweet like the “Dulce de Leche Cheesecake” with graham crackers, whipped ricotta, dulce de leche drizzle, cinnamon, brown sugar, and whipped cream or the “Strawberry Shortcake” with graham crackers, fresh strawberries, strawberry jelly, vanilla and brown sugars, and whipped cream. However you decide to top your oatmeal, rest assured this will be the only oatmeal you’ll ever be excited to tell your friends about after.

Oatmeals Website

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