eat. shop. love. nyc.

Downtown Asian eats
July 24, 2009, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since my family got together: mom, dad, brother, me. They’re in town this weekend, and it’s going to be full of good, homey-feeling Asian food at equally good prices. Here’s the plan, ranging from Chinese (soft shell crab, hotpot, soup dumplings) to Vietnamese (banh mi, bun) to Japanese (izakaya) to Korean (and why I hate eating Korean food that is not cooked by my mother):

Great NY Noodle Town (28 Bowery at Bayard, Chinatown) – Soft shell crabs (my dad’s fave) are in season! *Thanking lucky stars* At $16 for two large, meaty, salt-baked soft shell crabs, you really can’t go wrong. The Cantonese noodles with beef are also good ($6.95), and I’m a huge fan of the Sauteed Pea Shoots ($9.95). It’s open late-night in case you’re ever craving shrimp wontons in noodle soup after a night out downtown ($5.95).

Grand Sichuan (125 Canal Street between Chrystie St & Forsyth St – Chinatown/LES) – Local hotpot joint for groups of 4 or more. We’ll be getting the half spicy, half mild broth with beef, Chinese cabbage, Udon noodles, enoki mushrooms, and fried tofu. Don’t forget to fish out the sichuan peppers and peppercorns BEFORE adding all your goodies to the broth; you’ll thank me later. Cold sesame noodles w/peanut sauce a must. Expect to pay $10-15 per person in groups of 4 or more.

Joe’s Shanghai (9 Pell St between Bowery & Doyers St – Chinatown) – Going for the soup dumplings and turnip cakes. Trust me, the turnip cakes taste a lot sexier than they sound. Light flaky crust, See Exhibits A & B below:

Baoguette (37 St. Mark’s Place between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave – East Village) – The warm, toasted baguette used for the banh mi here is unfailingly delicious. I like the $5 chicken and the pork banh mi (the $7 Sloppy Bao, not my favorite) with the crisp pickled radish and carrots and generous sprinkling of cilantro. Warning: when it comes to spice, they mean business. If you are hesitant, ask for the sriracha sauce and hot Thai peppers on the side. Say YES to the bun (rice vermicelli noodle) with grilled shrimp and pork ($9). I haven’t tried the pho here, but that’s because Northern Virginia has awesome pho (Pho 75, Pho Sate) and I’ve been let down too many times elsewhere to waste a perfectly good meal on bad pho.

I’m a little torn when it comes down to the last few meals. I know I should be a good, little Korean girl and pick an awesome Korean place to go, but the truth is that my mother has ruined me for all Korean food to come. She is such an amazing cook that every time I go out and have Korean food, I am always thinking, “Mom’s is so so much better,” in the back of my head. We always do KTown, Downtown, I’ve only been to Gama (12 St. Mark’s Pl. between 2nd and 3rd Aves – East Village / Astor Place) for bibimbop at lunch, and while it was tasty, I found the stinginess with meat somewhat disappointing. I’ve been meaning to try Bonjoo forever (107 1st Avenue between 6th & 7th Streets), but again, I just can’t imagine it’s any better than my mom’s food. These are the problems with having a mom who’s an awesome cook:

  1. Nothing ever tastes as good as it does at home.
  2. At home, this awesome food is free (to me). All other Korean food, in comparison, seems grossly overpriced.
  3. When I live at home, I’m a big fatty.

Finally, there’s my Japanese food dilemma. What to eat? There is good sushi to be had in NYC, for sure, but my family is more gourmand than it is gourmet, and I’m fairly certain that my hard-working, fiscally conservative, immigrant parents would likely choke upon seeing the prices on a Soto, Morimoto, Nobu, En, or Blue Ribbon Sushi menu. My mom loves soba noodles, my brother likes ramen, my dad likes sashimi, and I like Japanese curry and DIY okonomiyaki and izakaya snacks. I was struggling between Soba Ya (229 E 9th St between 2nd & 3rd Aves – EV / Astor Place), Minca Ramen (536 E. 5th St between Aves A & B), and either Yakitori Taisho or Oh! Taisho (5 and 9 St. Mark’s Place, respectively, between 2nd and 3rd Aves – Astor Place / EV)… and then I remembered Village Yokocho (8 Stuyvesant St between 11th St & 12th St – Astor Place / EV). It has ramen, udon, yakitori, okonomiyaki, and beer and sake (for dad, since I don’t think there’s any sushi). We have a winner!


2 Comments so far
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Hotpot! ❤

Comment by measurer

Speaking of Asian Eats…had lunch at this place called Mantao Sandwich Shop (?) in Midtown, 53rd bet. 2nd and 3rd. It’s super yummy meats sandwiched between a warm, fluffy, sesame seed bun called mantao (this is new to me, so if it’s old news to you, please shrug and move on from this comment). I had the lunch special: 2 mantao sandwiches with a salad and shrimp chips, $9 bucks. I chose their spicy pork (which came with mild pickles in the sandwich) and their braised pork (which came with cilantro and what I think was zucchini in the sandwich). It was super warm, moist, fluffy, perfectly done, and a balanced mix of flavors–not salty, just tasty 🙂 My coworker chose the shiitake mushroom mantao sandwich and the beef sandwich. We were both sooo stuffed and satisfied afterwards. I think we should go sometime soon!

Comment by measurer

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