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New York Cheap Eats: My Top 20 Picks...


More of my favorites...

Best Bubble Tea: I started drinking bubble tea in Montreal and it quickly became an addiction. St. Alp's Teahouse (39 3rd Avenue, New York, NY) has a great selection of flavours and their tapioca ‘bubbles’ are not soaked in honey water (unlike Ten Ren) so the tea is not unbearably sweet. My favorite is the taro milk bubble tea.

Best Arepas: Arepa Arepa (160 Havemeyer St (between South 2nd and 3rd Sts) Williamsburg, Brooklyn) its name may be overkill (we get it, you serve arepas) but the main star of the show is not. Plenty to choose from, none too oily or too dry, this restaurant gets it right. Favourites include the chorizo and cheese pile-ons.

Best Vegetarian: newly opened Peacefood Cafe (460 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY) serves fantastic veggie food, in a bright, no-frills atmosphere Try the chickpea fries or the Shanghai-style dumplings – you will not regret it.

Best Korean: I love everything about Mandoo Bar (2 West 32nd Street, New York, NY). Located in the middle of Koreatown, it is surrounded by all night karaoke joints and as astounding selection of frozen yoghurt places. Its mandoo (Korean for dumplings) are always cooked to perfection and can be purchased boiled or fried. Best of all, however, is the dolsot bibimbap, a mix of rice, vegetables an egg and a protein of your choice mixed to crispy perfection in a hot stone bowl.

I love SakeBest Japanese Street Eats: Otafuku, 236 East 9th Street, New York, NY. I am a huge okonomiyaki fan, and Otafuku never disappoints me. Though it’s essentially a food stall with no seating, I usually camp out on one of the many stoops lining East 9th street and happily chow on my Japanese pancake. The sauces are excellent, the bonito flakes are soft and light and the food is always delicious. Opt for Combo B, the okonomyaki and takoyaki combination plate.

Best Sake Bar: A good, fun izakaya bar is a serious treat, and Bar Hagi (152 W. 49th St., nr. Seventh Ave) does not disappoint. Located in the basement of a nondescript midtown building, Hagi has a hearty sake menu, great gyoza and yakitori and the best mini-udon hotpot in the city. Their spicy pork belly and cabbage dish is not to be missed and the sashimi tuna salad (one of the few light items on the menu) is always a hit. Best of all: the prices are great.

Best Dessert: I am not a chocolate person, so apologies to the purists. My favorite desserts are an astoundingly tasty black sesame creme brulee from the quiet, beautiful Cha An Teahouse (230 East 9th Street, New York, NY) and the banana pudding dessert from Mary's Fish Camp (64 Charles Street, New York, NY, but also found at Brooklyn Fish Camp. Leave room for both, they are worth it.

Best Oysters: I only discovered oysters late in my 20s, and have tried to make up for lost time. While not your traditional oyster bar, Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar (101 2nd Avenue, New York, NY) has a wonderful selection of oysters (try the Oysters Six Ways), attentive staff and a great chef, Brendan McHale. The space is fairly cramped, but the food more than makes up for it. The butter-poached lobster is surprisingly light, and their dessert menu varies by season and has been consistently delicious (this coming from a non-dessert person).and, my absolute “must eat” category for last:

Best Dumplings: I have been to Tasty Dumpling (54 Mulberry Street, New York, NY‎) and Fried Dumpling (106 Mosco Street, New York, NY) more times than I can count. I have a food problem, but foremost on my food list are dumplings – and these two hole-in-the-wall shops make the best dumplings in the city, at amazing prices.

Foodie Bonus - Best Italian: I must confess I rarely go out for Italian food because Asian eats tempt me so much, but when I do, I go to Max in the East Village (54 Ave E between 3rd and 4th Street). Their lasagna is absurdly good.

Eat well everybody!

Womens words on New York City...

Its sharp towers shoot up out of the rock like
scissors, cutting the sky into ribbons.
(Mary Borden, 1927)

New York was an idea... an idea held
simultaneously by thirteen million people.
(Nancy Pickard, 1993)

PenCut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real and I myself am not a dream.
(Helen Keller)

When you leave New York you are astonished by how clean the rest of the world is.
(Fran Lebowitz)

It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City.

New York City is itself a detective story.
(Agatha Christie, writer)

If you must live in a city, New York
is the only city in the world.
(Katherine Neville, 1992)

Best snack in Chinatown...

statue of libertyMy personal favorite stop for snacking in Chinatown is run by the Hong Kong Cake Lady. She has a tiny shack on a short street that slopes down from Mulberry St. where she makes "Hong Kong Cakes" on special griddles. A small bag of 12 is $1.00 and you'll get these hot, little, oval, madeleine-like cakes...crispy on the outside, custardy inside. It's most interesting to watch her work. She's put two sons through college from this stand. My advice is, don't bother with any other Hong Kong Cake stands; they're not as good. That's why there's always a lineup to buy the Hong Kong lady's treats. Beware: This woman is often stern and grumpy-looking but you can't blame her. You'd be too if you were standing over hot griddles all day long. She closes up shop when she's out of batter...usually by the end of the afternoon. (Alice Chiu, New York City)





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