Food

Favorite Dishes #8: Empellon Cocina’s Cucumbers

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For the past four years, pastry-chef-turned-Mexican-cooking savant Alex Stupak has wowed diners with his creative take on this complex cuisine, delving deep and playing with flavors, techniques, and textures both familiar and unconventional. At Empellon Cocina (105 First Avenue, 212-780-0999) the most formal and experimental of his three establishments, he’s tinkered with his dining room menu numerous times, and even installed a chef’s counter in back of the restaurant that entertains four select guests with cavalcades of ingenious bites served in two seatings.

If you can’t snag a reservation for the wild ride taking place in back, several dishes on Cocina’s main menu offer similarly evocative highs. One such plate is Stupak’s surreptitiously intricate jumble of cucumbers. Sitting in a puddle of black cumin-spiked buttermilk, the raw and pickled cucumbers chill out under a dusting of lemon ice squirted with lime-basil oil (referencing Mexican snow cones called respados). The refreshing, sour granita, tangy and spicy dairy, and gently sweet vegetables conspire to generate a composition that’s feels far more nuanced and luxurious than cucumbers have any right to be; yet it’s something that would also feel right at home alongside a michelada.

In honor of our Best of New York City issue (available now!), the Village Voice has been 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.

Here’s our countdown up to now:

#100: Laminated Blueberry Brioche at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

#99: Egg Shop’s Golden Bucket Fried Chicken

#98: Ramen Lab’s Torigara Shoyu

#97: Cannoli at Ferdinando’s

#96: Breakfast Sandwich at Dimes

#95: Banana Royal at Eddie’s Sweet Shop

#94: Fletcher’s Burnt Ends

#93: Almayass’s Mante

#92: Empellon Taqueria’s Fish Taco

#91: El Rey’s Sardine Tostada

#90: General Tso’s Pig’s Head at the Cannibal

#89: The Vegetarian at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop

#88: The 21 Club’s Creamy Chicken Hash

#87: Deep-Fried Olives at Via Carota

#86: Pougi at Loi Estiatorio

#85: Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich

#85: Pearl & Ash’s Smoked Bread with Chicken Butter

#84: Gluten-Free Pizza at Rossopomodoro

#83: Perry St’s Chocolate Pudding With Candied Violets

#82: Whit’s End’s ‘Fuckin’ Bluefish Dip’

#81: Morgenstern’s Salt and Pepper Pine Nut Ice Cream

#80: Levain Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

#79: Delmar Pizzeria’s Pizza

#78: Cafe Cluny’s Avocado Toast

#77: Brooklyn Star’s Cinnamon Bun

#76: Pork Belly Cotton Candy at Carnem

#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns

#74: Mission Chinese Food’s Oil-Cured Anchovies

#73: Johnnycakes at LoLo’s Seafood Shack

#72: The Starving Artists Steak at Belle Reve

#71: The Spotted Pig’s Gnudi

#70: Xi’an Famous Foods’ Tiger Vegetable Salad

#69: Crème Brûlée Truffle at Kee’s Chocolates

#68: Pok Pok’s Muu Paa Kham Wong

#67: Cacio e Pepe at Upland

#66: Pulpo at Toro

#65: Junior’s Something Different

#64: Duck Carnitas at Cosme

#63: Banana Miso Ice Cream Sandwich at Neta

#62: Breads Bakery’s Chocolate Babka

#61: Braised Lamb Neck at the Gorbals

#60: Dough’s Passionfruit Doughnut

#59: Uncle Jesse Bao at Baohaus

#58: Patatas Bravas at El Colmado

#57: Lupulo’s Razor Clams

#56: Bar Masa’s Spicy Dancing Shrimp

#55: Underwest Donuts’ Halva

#54: The Virgola Platter at Virgola

#53: Noreetuh’s Monkfish Liver Torchon

#52: Amarena Cherry Merveilleux

#51: Roasted Mushrooms at Bara

#50: Fonda’s Oaxacan Black Mole Enchiladas

#49: Flinders Lane’s Lamb Rump

#48: Blue Ribbon Sushi’s Temaki Honnin

#47: Dirty French’s Chicken and Crepes

#46: The Vegetarian Combination at Zoma

#45: Merguez Sausage Flatbread at Irvington

#44: Le Grand Aioli at Marlow & Sons

#43: Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich

#42: Hippie Banjo at Pies ‘n’ Thighs

#41: Malted Milkshake from Dizzy’s Diner

#40: Graffiti’s Graffiti Burger

#39: Beef Rolls at Kottu House

#38: Cafe Katja’s Wiener Schnitzel

#37: Norma’s Potato Pancakes

#36: Goat Milk Soft Serve at Victory Garden

#35: Okonomi’s Onsen Egg

#34: ‘Njuja Pizza at Obicà

#33: Paulaner Sausage Sampler

#32: Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies at The Whitney

#31: Momofuku Ssäm Bar’s Dry Aged Rib Eye
#30: Bar Boulud’s Escargots Persillade

#29: Marta’s Roman-Style Pizza

#28: Untitled’s Roasted and Fried Chicken Salad

#27: Sweet Corn Goat Cheese Tamal at Confessional 

#26: Crispy Duck Necks at Trestle on Tenth

#25: Emily’s Emmy Burger 

#24: Manousheh’s Jibneh Manousheh

#23: Herbie’s International at Ivan Ramen

#22: Bhutanese Ema Datsi’s Namesake

#21: Lan Larb Soho’s Ba Mee

#20: Lobster Roll at Fairway Market
#19: Khinkali at We Are Georgians

#18: Doughnuttery’s Paris Time

#17: Eisenberg’s Patty Melt

#16: Gabriel Kreuther’s Virginia Quail

#15: L’Artusi’s Garganelli with Mushroom Ragu

#14: Rebelle’s Clafoutis

#13: Epaulettes at Vaucluse

#12: Wildair’s Georgia White Shrimp

#11: Trini-Gyul’s Doubles

#10: Bar Goto’s Okonomiyaki

#9:   Peasant’s Risotto

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