Senegalese, Chinese, and Raw Vegan on our List of Good Eats This Week


We eat enough to put the fat in Fat Tuesday just about every day of the year, so suffice it to say we’re not following up that day of feasting with 40 days of fasting. And in our never-ending gluttonous soujourns, we’ve enjoyed a handful of dishes around town this week, including a fig and cheese sandwich at a classic spot, a raw vegan sundae, and a Senegalese special occasion dish.

Yassa ganar at Joloff, 1168 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-230-0523
A friend who spent some months in Senegal tells us that yassa ganar, a chicken stew made with onions and lemons, was a real treat in that country, reserved for special occasions and feasts. At Bed-Stuy’s Joloff, you could eat it every day if you wanted. Hunks of tender bird lifted by sweet citrus come covered in soft caramelized onions and sided with a scoop of rice (sub in the tomato-imbued joloff rice if you want, though that’s not really a traditional move). We like to eat this with a glass of bissap, a sweet and spicy magenta-hued juice derived from sorrel. — Laura Shunk

Manouri cheese and fig sandwich at The Smile, 26 Bond Street, 646-329-5836
At Carlos Quirarte and Matthew Kliegman’s downtown standby, chef Melia Marden sings a perfect harmony of salty and sweet in this glorious, simple sammy. Marden bookends thin-sliced, crispy pears with a fat cut of manouri cheese, mild and milky, in whole grain bread slathered with fig jam, then drizzles it all with truffle oil… It’s decadent, yes, healthy enough that you won’t repent it later. — Hannah Palmer Egan

Beef with asparagus at Hop Lee, 16 Mott Street, 212- 962-6475
Yes, it’s March and good asparagus isn’t growing on our half of the planet, but if your gout-inducing winter diet’s starting to wear thin, head to Hop Lee for the beef with asparagus. Stir-fried in a lightly sweet, beefy brown gravy, the dish brings a hearty helping of meat, but even more of the green stuff you’re really craving, and thanks be to globalization, these fat, green spears of asparagus are fresh, crisp, and flavorful. It’s a whiff of spring in what will hopefully be, the twilight of this endless winter, and a welcome out-of-season diversion. — Hannah Palmer Egan

Austrian meatballs at Cafe Katja, 79 Orchard Street, 212-219-9545
The meatballs at this Lower East Side Austrian neighborhood joint come from, we hear, a recipe from owner Erwin Schröttner’s mother, and so they’ll never be removed from the menu. That’s excellent news, because the balls are also one of our favorite dishes here, regularly rotated with the gout-inducing sausage sampler and the salmon. The billiards ball-sized beauties pack a pungent, porky punch, and they’re bedded on silky mashed potatoes with a smattering of roasted root vegetables. The most addictive part of this platter, though, may very well be the gravy, a white sauce likely made with unfathomable amounts of butter and cream and so decadent we’d like to guiltily drink a vat of it and then pass out with a smile on our faces in some dark corner. Pair to a beer or five if you know what’s good for you (hint: that’s not the same as what’s heart-healthy). — Laura Shunk

Mint sundae at Pure Food & Wine, 54 Irving Place, 212-477-1010
It’s a mistake to think that the fact that Pure deals only in raw food means you’ll get out of the restaurant having had just a light dinner. Courses pack substantial heft, and none more so than dessert. The sweets list is lengthy and decadent, and our favorite is the mint sundae: chocolate and mint chip “ice creams” support chocolate crumbles, chocolate sauce, and vanilla creme. Served in a martini glass, it’s a fresh, punchy finish to a vegetable-fueled meal. — Laura Shunk