Tex-Mex titans and their viscous queso have nothing on the cheese sauce at Bhutanese Ema Datsi (67-21 Woodside Avenue, Queens; 718-458-8588). At Lekay Drakpa’s modest corner spot, the only restaurant in New York City to offer a full Bhutanese menu, diners spoon the country’s signature dish of soupy cheese sauce simmered with hot green peppers over piles of nutty Bhutanese red rice. Only slightly creamy, the dairy stew can also be ordered brimming with chewy dried beef, potatoes, or beans.
Drakpa, who was born in Tibet, raised in India, and for more than a decade studied to be a monk, commands the dining room with a Zen-fueled generosity. For us, it’s his whey soup, a cloudy and gently milky liquid fortified with potatoes that accompanies the various cheese stews, that puts us in a meditative trance.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10. To read about previous dishes, browse our 100 Favorite Dishes page.