Best of NYC: Our Critics List Their 10 Favorite Dishes

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

8. A good po'boy is no longer hard to find in New York. For one of the best, head over to Cheeky Sandwiches and order the Half-and-Half: That's half fried shrimp, half fried oysters. While you wait, listen to the sweet sound of cornmeal-battered seafood hitting hot oil. Once fried, it's tucked into a squishy but resilient white roll with mayo, tart Louisiana-style hot sauce, pickle slices, lettuce, and tomatoes. The seafood is crusty and warm against the cool lettuce and mayo; the hot sauce and pickles give the sandwich a welcome lift. But the fat, minerally oysters and sweet shrimp dominate, as they should. It's a superior sandwich in a year of excellent sandwiches. 35 Orchard Street

9. Cooking savory proteins in sweet caramel sauce is a common technique in Vietnam, and at Co Ba it results in the clay-pot caramel pork belly, one of the richest, most luscious dishes I've eaten in a long time. Chef and restaurateur Steven Duong first marinates the pork belly in fish sauce and pepper, then braises it in young coconut water, and combines it with daikon and tiny quail eggs in a simple caramel sauce. Finally, he simmers it gently for hours until the sauce is reduced to a dark, intensely flavorful sludge and the pork belly is tender and sticky. If you're sick of pork belly, this is the antidote. 110 Ninth Avenue, 212-414-2700

10. Oddly enough, Laut is actually a good Malaysian restaurant masquerading as a screechy pan-Asian joint. So ignore Usher panting loudly over the speakers and skip over the superfluous sushi and Thai stuff in favor of the curry laksa—a rich coconut-based soup, creamy orange in color, the chile-oil-stippled surface hiding a generous pile of yellow egg noodles underneath. The pungent base of chilies, lemongrass, belacan (fermented shrimp paste), and shallots balances the sweetness of the coconut. Cubes of fried tofu sponge up the broth, while shrimp and half of a boiled egg bob alongside. 15 East 17th Street, 212-206-8989

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

Best of NYC picks
Arts & Entertainment
Bars & Clubs
Eats & Treats
People & Places
Shops & Services
Sports & Recreation

Best of NYC Essays
Arts & Entertainment
The best thing about living in New York in fall 2010 is worrying about her Nicki Minaj's debut
by Rob Harvilla

Bars & Clubs
Partytown, USA: Thank gay promoter Josh Wood
by Michael Musto

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

People & Places
How a Chock Full o' Nuts opening means the City's back
by Tom Robbins

Shops & Services
What $150 can get you in NYC
by Angela Ashman

Sports & Recreation
We're the greatest sports city in the worldóand proud of it
by Allen Barra

Rebecca Marx's Top 10

1. At first glance, the bakalao al pil pil at Txikito is just an unassuming hunk of Basque salt cod, with about the same dimensions and pearlescent hue of a bar of soap. But the simplicity of its presentation makes it that much easier to focus on what's really important here, which is the way the fish's buttery flesh (poached in olive oil) yields effortlessly to the fork's slightest provocation and then slides down the throat, leaving the taste of olive oil and the sea in its wake. Salt cod has been subjected to countless preparations, but rarely has it been rendered so sensually: It's less sea creature than sex on a plate. 240 9th Avenue, 212-242-4730

2. With his General Tso's tofu, No. 7 Sub's Tyler Kord has done more to promote vegetarianism than PETA could ever dream of. Deep-fried slabs of tofu are layered with julienned carrots, arugula, broccoli mayonnaise, and caramelized onions. The crunchy-creamy tofu is more reminiscent of a controlled substance than soybeans, and it harmonizes beautifully with the sweet onions and silky mayonnaise. It's all barely contained by a soft, almost ethereal roll that falls somewhere between a hot dog bun and a baguette. Taken together, the ingredients add up to one of the city's best vegetarian sandwiches—actually, one of its best sandwiches, period. 1188 Broadway, 212-532-1680

3. At a time when chefs are racing to revamp beloved yet unpedigreed childhood classics, Bouchon Bakery's take on the Nutter Butter still occupies a class of its own. Two peanut butter cookies the diameter of a CD enclose a prodigious serving of butter, peanut butter, and confectioner's sugar that's been whipped together to satiny perfection. The cookies straddle the crisp-chewy divide and are embedded with oats and peanuts that lend an appealing, salty crunch. The whole thing is less sandwich cookie than a portal to long-suppressed memories of what it was like to believe the world was a good and just place. 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9366

4. While sausages and goulash predominate at Café Katja, equally satisfying sustenance can be found in the tiny Austrian restaurant's herring salad. The cool flesh of the fish, which is pickled in-house, is chopped into fat pieces, swaddled in sour cream and dill, piled onto a bed of thinly sliced new potatoes, and crowned with a little clump of pickled purple onions. The whole thing is wonderfully fatty, in a rich-in-omega-3s kind of way, given nuance and clarity by the clean pop of the dill and onions. Served with a few wedges of thick, chewy rye toast, it's not only a salad but a paean to the humble beauty of a criminally underrated fish. 79 Orchard Street, 212-219-9545

5. The ruthlessly hot summer of 2010 spawned many an ice cream sandwich, but almost none so wonderful as the strawberry-gingersnap ice cream sandwich found at the Little Buddy Biscuit Company. It's distinguished, simply, by perfect ice cream–cookie alchemy. The sweet-spicy cookies, pebbled with chunks of crystallized ginger, are chewy but soft enough to prevent ice cream from squirting out with each bite. The strawberry ice cream, from Jane's, in Kingston, New York, tastes like fresh cream and real fruit. Best of all, the South Slope bakery has somehow figured out how to freeze the sandwich so that both ice cream and cookie thaw at the same speed, making it both a dessert and a miracle. 635 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-369-6355

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