Best of NYC: Our Critics List Their 10 Favorite Dishes

Robert Sietsema, Sarah DeGregorio, and Rebecca Marx recap their respective years in food

Robert Sietsema's Top 10

1. This doesn't mean I'm forsaking my first love, Katz's pastrami, but the smoked-meat sandwich at Mile End is denser, redder, and offered in a sandwich that's just the right size for one person to eat, which means I don't have to go around looking for someone to share it with me. Spread mustard on it and add a sour pickle, and I'm in culinary nirvana. The cute and cozy premises of this Boerum Hill newcomer is another plus. 97A Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, 718-852-7510

2. A haystack of glistening vegetables sat before me: bright green garlic chives, pungent Chinese celery, carrots, woodsy mushrooms, onions, matchsticks of fried purple taro, and onions, all of it surmounted by the snap, crackle, and pop of crispy lo mein noodles. There wasn't a smidgen of meat, poultry, or fish anywhere to be found in the Farmer Special at Yee Kee H.K. Style. This unreconstructed empire of crunch at once telegraphs not only the poverty of a Chinese farmer's life, but also its vegetable bounty—in a way I've seen nowhere else but the city's fifth Chinatown. Did I mention it's supremely delicious? 1232 Avenue U, Brooklyn, 718-336-2338

Annisa
Annisa
Northeast Taste Chinese Food
Northeast Taste Chinese Food

Location Info

Map

Mile End

97 Hoyt St.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Park Slope

Yee Kee H.K. Style

1232 Ave. U
Brooklyn, NY 11229

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Brooklyn

Annisa

13 Barrow St.
New York, NY 10014

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Greenwich Village

Sapthagiri Indian Restaurant

804 Newark Ave.
Jersey City, NJ 07306

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Jersey City

The Meatball Shop

84 Stanton St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Lower East Side

Northeast Taste Chinese Food

43-18 Main St.
Flushing, NY 11355

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Flushing

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room

16 W. 29th St.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Restaurant > English

Region: Garment District

The Vanderbilt

570 Vanderbilt Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Prospect Heights

Momokawa

157 E. 28th St.
New York, NY 10016

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Gramercy Park

Tamarind Tribeca

99 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10013

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Tribeca

Fatty 'Cue

91 S. Sixth St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Brooklyn

Bhojan

102 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10016

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Gramercy Park

Lan Sheng Szechuan Restaurant

60 W. 39th St.
New York, NY 10018

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: West 40s

Maialino

2 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10010

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Chelsea

BaoHaus

137 Rivington St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Lower East Side

Red Apple Fast Food

4817 Eighth Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11220

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Sunset Park

Cheeky Sandwiches

35 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: Chinatown

Co Ba

110 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Chelsea

Laut

15 E. 17th St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: East Village

Txikito

240 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10001

Category: Restaurant > Basque

Region: Chelsea

No. 7 Sub Shop

1188 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Garment District

Bouchon Bakery

10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: West 50s

Cafe Katja

79 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: East Village

Little Buddy Biscuit Company

635 5th Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Brooklyn

Prune

54 E. First St.
New York, NY 10003

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: East Village

Mimi's Hummus

1209 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Category: Restaurant > Mediterranean

Region: Brooklyn

Fort Defiance

365 Van Brunt St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Red Hook

Details

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Eats & Treats
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Eats & Treats
Our critics list their 10 favorite dishes
by Robert Sietsema, Sarah DiGregorio, and Rebecca Marx

People & Places
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by Tom Robbins

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3. The restaurant rose like a phoenix after a devastating fire, and the food became better than ever, as if the near-death experience stimulated it to greater efforts. The pan-roasted farm chicken at Annisa from chef Anita Lo's original menu remains the best thing: a bird—surprisingly plump compared with the desiccated specimens found elsewhere—that has undergone a subdermal stuffing of pig foot, causing the skin to shine like the face of a nervous debutante at her first ball. The bird is scented with white truffles, too, making it hopelessly rich and satisfying. 13 Barrow Street, 212-741-6699

4. One of my favorite things to eat in the world is upma, a South Indian porridge that begins with plain cream of wheat, but then gets mutated like hell by the addition of such things as black mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions, ginger, and pistachios. Imagine my excitement at discovering that upma is incorporated into a dosa at Jersey City's all-vegetarian, mainly vegan Sapthagiri, with a wrapper made of crushed and fermented moong daal. Woo-hoo! The covering adds a grassy taste to the pesarattu upma, and the whole thing challenges your ideas of what to expect from Indian food. 804 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-533-840

5. It was a brilliant move on the part of chef Daniel Holzman to take an Italian-American classic, the meatball hero, and make slight improvements to it, instead of transforming the fuck out of it so that it was no longer recognizable. He began by selecting really, really good bread, which yields soon after you chomp down, instead of resisting your teeth and squirting the balls out the end. He also used fresh mozzarella instead of the crap you find in most pizza parlors. The meatball hero at the Meatball Shop is memorably delicious, and enough like the original that it would pass as such with most meatball-hero aficionados—including myself. 84 Stanton Street, New York, 212-982-8895

6. It sails in to oohs and aahs around the table, a wiggly yellow dome composed of egg and cornmeal, dotted with shrimp in a refreshingly light gravy. Really, if someone just set the sautéed egg with egg at Northeast Taste Chinese Food before you at a picnic table in the park, you'd have no idea what country it came from. Take one jiggly bite and you won't be able to stop yourself—it's a comfort food par excellence. Northeast Taste, by the way, is my favorite of the Yellow Sea restaurants that have lately invaded Flushing's southern end. 43-18 Main Street, Queens, 718-539-3061

7. Every once in a while, you need to eat something so hot that it blows the top of your head off. So it was with the shrimp pepper soup at Maima's, the city's only Liberian restaurant. Sure, the other things are great there—mainly the combinations of such well-kneaded starches as white yam and cassava, paired with rich fish, chicken, and lamb soups. These are relatively spicy, but the pepper soup outdoes them all, brick-red with chilies and bobbing with a clutch of gigundo shrimp—which should be eaten head and all. The crunch distracts you from the spiciness, which then comes charging back at you like a mad bull. 106-47 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Queens, 718-206-3538

8. We've been bombarded by burgers the past couple of years: big, two-fisted ones, tiny sliders, and ones with odd toppings. April Bloomfield's lamb burger at the Breslin Bar & Dining Room is different in an utterly refreshing sort of way: The meat is pink and juicy, with a faint barnyard scent that you'd never mistake for beef, and the chef has sense enough to do nothing but put it on a puffy bun and provide cumin mayo alongside, in case you want to send it spinning in a Middle Eastern or a Mexican direction. But the burger is so sweet and juicy that it needs no dressing. 20 W. 29th Street, 212-679-1939

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