Photo by Cynthia Lamb.
Buzzwords are funny things, especially when it comes to restaurants. Some places comically tout “authenticity,” others present an expensive mishmash of ingredients as “fusion“, while still others bandy about words like “original,” “modern” or “seasonal”. “Tapas” has come to mean miniscule portions paired with overpriced drinks, regardless of whether the food bears any resemblance to something one might find in Spain.
How did that happen? I stay away from places that associate themselves with buzzwords, as I’m convinced they mean I’ll be paying a premium for the privilege of taking part in somebody’s concept. I have nothing against concept dining, I‘m simply not interested in paying extra for it. My favorite places are more pedestrian: hole-in-the-wall joints where I can get a great meal without an obligatory side of pretense. I go out to eat, not to affirm my social status.
This kind of thinking brings me back to places like Pho Grand (277c Grand Street, between Eldridge and Forsyth) again and again.
Family workshop on Chinese Puzzles at MOCA.
This Saturday visit the Museum of Chinese in America and try your hand at puzzle solving! MOCA is offering family puzzle-solving workshops on the last Saturday of each month from March to August 2011. Kids 4 and older work with their parents to solve the puzzles, hear stories related to the puzzles, and experiment with puzzle-inspired art.
Time: Saturday, March 26 from 1:30 to 2:30 // Location: 215 Centre Street // Admission: $10 per child and adult pair; $5 per additional child; Free for MOCA Family Members. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Clinton Street sushi restaurant packs in a young crowd with affordable prices and a BYOB policy. There are only 26 seats, so prepare to wait for a table if you don’t have a reservation.
63 Clinton, near Rivington
Open 5pm-midnight Monday-Thursday, 5pm-1am weekends.
Karaoke club/Korean restaurant. The menu features a selection of noodle dishes, kimchi and sizzling hot pots, but really people go for the drinks and the Karaoke.
196 Orchard, near Houston
Cambodian-style sandwiches – served in gourmet hot dog buns and stuffed with pulled pork, brisket, catfish and other interesting ingredients.
78 Rivington, near Orchard
Hours Monday: 12pm-10pm; Tuesday-Wednesday: 12pm-12am; Thursday-Saturday: 12pm-2am; Sunday: 12pm-10pm
A vegan Chinese restaurant that also prepares dishes without garlic and onion (gasp!). Stay away from the mock meat dishes.
170 Allen, near Stanton
Hours Mon-Sat, 12:30pm-10:30pm; Sun, closed
Chinese, vegan, delivery, lunch
In the former home of the legendary Garden Cafeteria, this old-school Cantonese restaurant does a reasonably decent job with dim sum, barbecued meats and seafood dishes. The price is right. Downside: they don’t deliver.
165 East Broadway, at Rutgers
There’s no English sign and you can’t expect a warm welcome, but these hand pulled noodle soups and (very thin-skinned) dumplings are some of the best in the neighborhood. A bag of 50 frozen dumplings will set you back 8 bucks.
144 East Broadway, near Essex
Hand pulled noodles from Lanzhou, in Central China, is the specialty at this hole-in-the-wall on Eldridge Street. The dumplings are also standouts here.
26 Eldridge, near Canal
This Thai restaurant on Orchard Street is part of a Manhattan mini-chain. If you like your food spicy, be sure to tell the waiter. Dishes tend to be on the mild side. No alcohol served.
85 Orchard, near Broome
Mon-Fri, noon-10pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10:30pm
Japanese home cooking in a tiny spot on Suffolk Street. The menu includes tofu-based dishes and miso soup, but this is not strictly a vegetarian restaurant. There’s a casserole dish, for example, made with beef and potatoes.
102 Suffolk, near Delancey
Open Mon-Fri, noon-10pm; Sat, 5pm-10pm; Sun, closed
Reservations not accepted
A takeout counter next to the Manhattan Bridge specializing in super-fresh hand-pulled noodles and spicy lamb dishes. The Flushing import features dishes from the Shaanxi province in Central China, such as spicy lamb noodles with cumin and the savory cumin lamb burger (Anthony Bordain’s favorite).
88 East Brodway, near Forsyth
At this spartan, subterranean spot, handmade wheat noodles are served with a choice of 20 or so toppings (chopped pork bones, duck, ox tail, etc). For English only speakers, ordering here is a bit of a challenge. Some think the fish ball soup is unrivaled.
27 Eldridge, near Canal
Open daily 7am-10pm
A new sushi restaurant on Orchard Street also offers cooked entrees, including soba and hibachi dinners.
198A Orchard Street
The dumpling debate rages on, but a lot of people think Vanessa’s offers some of the best in the hood. Have them on a plate for $2.50 or in soup for $3. The place is almost always packed. You’ll have to fight for a table. Better yet: get takeout.
118 Eldridge, near Broome