2012's Most Challenging Dishes in NYC

2012's Most Challenging Dishes in NYC

Welcoming the whelks!

Some dishes you dig into without hesitating -- you know the terrain and keenly anticipate the execution. These sorts of dishes make eating pleasurable and worry-free. Other things you like the idea of, but once the dish arrives the fork hesitates over the plate. Either the appearance is alarming, or the strange combination of ingredients gives you pause. But somehow your fork begins to fly faster and faster. Here are some menu selections that scared us this year but turned out to be wonderful.

2012's Most Challenging Dishes in NYC

10. Raw Whelks at Bowery Diner -- Yes, the French relish all sorts of shellfish that Americans remain unaccustomed to, and the whelk is one of them. Yes, the shell is pretty, but once you hook the little creature out of there, it looks like the thing that crawls into your belly in Alien, only to burst out weeks later a million times bigger.

2012's Most Challenging Dishes in NYC

9. Broccoli Tacos at No. 7 -- Jeez, the broccoli isn't even cooked. How could it be a good taco filling? Well it is, and the squish/crunch matrix provided by both a hard corn and soft flour tortilla provides the perfect context, and the nuts on top add extra crunch. How can this even exist? Did it come to the chef in a dream?

2012's Most Challenging Dishes in NYC

8. Spaghetti With Creamed Corn and Spam at Coluck -- Sadly, the madhouse café called Coluck in the Chinatown Arcade has shuttered, depriving us of this oddball dish, perhaps forever. Somehow, the creaminess of the canned veggie rammed up against the salty Spam in an unforgettable way, and what doesn't taste better ladled over overcooked spaghetti?

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