Kenji's Top 8 Bites in New York From 2012

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopéz-Alt]

Only after putting together my list did I realize that a full seven out of eight of the very best bites I had in New York this year were from East Asian restaurants. Not a single burger or pizza on the list!

Does that mean that I didn't have any awesome burgers or pizzas this year? Certainly not. But it does indicate perhaps a trend in the New York dining scene. We saw the opening of at least one authentic Sichuanese restaurant (Legend in Chelsea) and one very inauthentic-but-still-delicious one (Mission Chinese). A Northern Thai restaurant run by a Northwesterner (Pok Pok) and a sit-down branch of one of my favorite cheap regional Chinese eateries (Biang!). Two Masa alums branched out to bring ultra high-grade sushi to folks unwilling or unable to spend $400 a head (Neta), and great ramen made its way all the way up to Harlem (Jin Ramen).


Meanwhile, I discovered that vegan food can be amongst the most exciting stuff in the city when executed with care, quality ingredients, and a sense of place. My dinner at Kajitsu was the most memorable meal of the year, perhaps in several years.

As for the lone non-Asian dish? The sea urchin spaghetti at Marea, which has become a strong contender for my favorite pasta dish in the world, right up there with the Sheep's Milk Ricotta Gnudi at the Spotted Pig.

Check out the slideshow above for a closer look at all eight dishes.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.