Miso Ramen at Chuko
The miso ramen at Chuko is not what you'd call subtle. The broth is plenty fatty and salty, and that big raft of pork chashu on top isn't doing your heart any favors. Chuko's thick, wavy noodles offer some resistance to the teeth, and the soft-cooked egg that joins the bowl walks the line between solid and liquid. Perhaps too much for a more delicate ramen experience, but when you're looking for something to bowl you over, look no further.
Suadero Tacos at El Tenampa
El Tenampa is one of our longtime favorite spots for Mexican sandwiches in the city, but a recent visit reminded us that their tacos are just as good. Seen here: juicy, beefy suadero (veal flank) in corn tortillas given enough time to properly char on the cooktop. Don't forget about the guacamole, which is thinner and less tart than most (all the better for saucing tacos); it's available for free at the toppings bar.
Mango Pomelo Soup at Indessert
There are a few places in New York to get this soup of mango purée with sago pearls and chunks of pomelo, but Indessert makes our favorite. Their fresh fruit purée is "lightened" with heavy cream and sweetened with rock sugar, topped with tiny, chewy sago pearls, plump pomelo segments (or, in the current off-season, grapefruit segments), and chunks of ripe, juicy mango. This is one Chinatown dessert we keep coming back for.
Lamb Tagine at Nomad
Nope, not that NoMad. This Nomad, which was around for a bit before the finer dining restaurant, serves Moroccan and Middle Eastern food in the East Village. Portions are generous, such as this hulking lamb tagine with dates, almonds, and couscous. The lamb shank falls off the bone with just a nudge of the fork, and the dish is worth ordering for the concentrated sauce alone.
Hand-Pulled Noodles at Cafe Kashkar
We like pretty much everything at Cafe Kashkar, but especially their hand-pulled noodles, which are just as well made as the noodles you'll find in Chinatown but with a much more interesting broth of lamb, star anise, cumin, coriander, and cilantro, just to get started. If you've never had (or heard) of Uyghur food before, this is the place to go.
Cafe Kashkar: 1141 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235 (map); 718-743-3832
Cendol at the Indonesian Bazaar
The Indonesian Bazaar, a pop-up gathering of Indonesian home cooks serving the local community, comes around sporadically during the summer months. The most recent one at the Flushing town hall offered a particularly good cendol, the drink/dessert you sip, slurp, and chew. A base of gula jawa (raw palm sugar) lines the bottom of the cup, followed by squiggly green noodles and a lash of creamy coconut milk—a beautiful thing on a hot summer day. Rumor has it the next bazaar will be at the Masjid al Hikmah on September 15th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pork Meatballs at La Vie en Szechuan
The classic Sichuan dishes aren't the best things to get at this midtown restaurant; you're better off venturing into new territory for dishes like these massive pork meatballs, tender as can be with a flavor like meatloaf, swimming in a sauce of lightly pickled mustard greens and delicately sweet osmanthus blossoms. If there's one dish we can't stop thinking about after our review, it's this.
Eggplant Escabeche at El Gauchito
It's not much surprise that the steak at Argentinian steakhouse El Gauchito is so good. But the eggplant escabeche is an unexpected must-order as well: thick rounds of eggplant that are boiled until just tender, then soused in a garlic and vinegar sauce that packs a serious punch. We've been eating a lot of eggplant this summer, but this dish packed more flavor than most of them put together.
Bulgar-Yogurt Dip at Cedars Meat House
A recent trip to Cedars Meat House, an Astoria shawarma joint of some renown, was mostly disappointing, enough to have us wondering if the shawarma's gone downhill. But this salad/dip of tender bulgar in thick, tangy yogurt was a winner. Get some for your meal, take some to go, have the rest for breakfast in the morning with a drizzle of olive oil or some fresh figs. The counter folk didn't provide much detail on where the strained yogurt comes from, but it's the good stuff.
Cedars Meat House: 41-08 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103 (map); 718-606-1244
Tokri Chaat at Mumbai Xpress
At the very edge of the city lies one of New York's best chaat houses, Mumbai Xpress, which is also home to some curiously delicious sandwiches. You'll likely encounter some dishes you haven't seen before, such as this elusive tokri chaat, half a dozen legumes tossed with sweet, tangy, and spicy chutneys, topped with yogurt and fried chickpea sev, and served in an edible bowl of shredded, fried potato. Carbo loading at its finest.
Mumbai Xpress: 265-05 Hillside Avenue, Floral Park, New York, 11004 (map); 718-470-0059