My 10 Favorite NYC Dishes of 2010
10. Smoked Meat Poutine at Mile End -- It's hard to imagine an American restaurant improving on this working-class Montreal standard, but Boerum Hill's Mile End has done the trick, by garnishing the poutine with another Quebecois specialty, smoked meat, in addition to curds, fries, and gravy. The result is scrumptious. 97A Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, 718-852-7510
9. Coconut Utthapam at Sapthagiri -- Newark Avenue has been the go-to spot for excellent South Indian food for nearly a decade, and newcomer Sapthagiri offers an expanded menu, including dosas filled with the rice porridge called upma, a sub-specialty in Swaminarayan food, and the wonderful coconut utthapam shown above, which tastes of its sourdough batter and fresh coconut -- a beguiling combo, if ever there were one. 804 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 201-533-8400
8. Cool Beef Shin at Manzo -- Among the welter of amazing beef appetizers at Manzo, many of which showcase the Razza Piemontese Beef now being produced in Montana, the pressed boiled brisket, thin-sliced raw carpaccio, and beef shin are foremost in my mind, but the shin ruled all, with its open texture, veins of fat, and garnish of pickled quince and homemade cracker. Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue, 646-398-5100
7. Pepper Shrimp at Maima's -- Eating a bowlful of these huge shell-on shrimp is like putting a bazooka to your head and pulling the trigger -- the dish is that hot. Paired with a plate of beaten rice at this Liberian canteen just south of downtown Jamaica, there are no more sublime crustaceans in the city, but only if you crave spicy food. The vector of hotness here is the spice known as grains of paradise -- which have more in common with Sichuan peppercorns than chile peppers. 106-47 Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, Queens, 718-206-3538
6. Hamburger at the Commodore -- It doesn't look like much. This pared-down burger from a Williamsburg crossroads bar is small of circumference, and there aren't many garnishes either. But the beefy taste is overwhelming, and the raw onions, pickles, and mayo only serve to amplify it. Commodore's burger is a pointed return to the way burgers were meant to be. Eat two, if you're really hungry. 366 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-218-7632
5. Pressed Sushi at Hasaki -- The sushi at this walk-down Little Tokyo old-timer is the best in the East Village -- and please don't tell anyone if they don't already know. Another specialty of the house is hako-zushi ("boxed sushi"), a form popular around Osaka that predates most modern sushi, whereby vinegared rice is pressed into a box with fish and herbs on top. It's a delicious variation for neophytes and lifelong sushi hands alike. 210 East 9th Street, 212-473-3327
4. Meatball Hero at the Meatball Shop -- Perfect beef balls (or lamb balls, if you want to go kinky), above-average bread, fresh mozzarella, and a zippy tomato sauce make the world's most perfect and perfectly prepared meatball hero. Side with a perfunctory salad and finish up with the cookie-and-ice-cream sandwich, and you have the quintessential LES meal. 84 Stanton Street, 212-982-8895
3. Big Tray of Chicken at Henan Feng Wei -- By no stretch of the imagination is this menu selection -- priced at only $12 -- a tray of any sort; rather, it's a huge wok of bone-in chicken parts and a few odd potatoes in a veritable lake of fire so hot and red that even Satan himself would be impressed at this downstairs clubhouse for homesick expats from the province of Henan. 136-31 41st Avenue (between Union and Main Streets), Queens, 718-762-1818
2. Lamb Burger With Fries at the Breslin -- OMG! Forget about Shake Shack and forget about Donovan's, too, and especially forget about the Corner Bistro, because the Breslin's lamb burger via chef April Bloomfield beats the pants off them all, and just look at the presentation! Tastes best when eaten in a Dandy Warhols T-shirt. The big knife is so you can kill the person next to you and eat his burger, too. 20 West 29th Street, 212-679-1939
Next: Dish No. 1 ...
1. Tourtiere at M. Wells -- It might have been their snails mired in a marrow bone, or revamped American breakfast sandwich, or creamy winter-vegetable soups, or even their sliders, but the dish that's stuck with me most over the months since this Montreal diner opened in Hunter's Point, Long Island City, is tourtiere, a traditional deep-woods winter pie incorporating whatever game and meat one has on hand, with a crust so good you could eat it by itself and still be happy. Served with homemade cranberry ketchup.21-17 49th Avenue, Queens, 718-425-6917
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