Vinho Verde Wine Experience 2018 Recap

Portugal, a country that used to live in the shadows of more popular European peers like Spain, is suddenly the hottest place on the continent. As everyone jet sets off to Lisbon for a week of perfect weather and good food and wine, New Yorkers were lucky enough to have Portugal come to them at the 2018 Vinho Verde Wine Experience in Chelsea. Various Portuguese winemakers flew in and provided generous pours of their wine, which were paired with delicious bites and commemorated by attendees via photo booth and rooftop selfies.

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Los Tacos No. 1 and Los Mariscos in Chelsea Market

los tacos no. 1
adobada (marinated pork) and carne asada (grilled steak) tacos

Everyone likes to bash Mexican food in NYC, but you can actually get very good tacos at the Los Tacos No. 1 stand in Chelsea Market. That, of course, involves having to be at Chelsea Market and shoving elbows with the tourists for space and seating. And speaking of which, there really are no seats at Los Tacos No. 1, so you have to make do with the standing booths that are scattered throughout the market. It’s not going to be a comfortable experience, but the spectacular adobada marinated pork tacos will make you feel better about dealing with the chaos. Everyone likes to pair their tacos with guac and chips, and while the guac at Los Tacos No. 1 is very good, the chips aren’t hot and fresh.Read More

Mokbar’s Korean Ramen

mokbar at chelsea market

I was feeling very nostalgic this weekend. I was craving a bowl of spicy korean ramen noodles, specifically the instant kind like Shin or Neoguri ramen. The bad thing about instant noodles is that they are full of sodium and MSG, which take all the fun out of eating them, so I had to come up with a plan B. When I browsed through the Instagram feed of Mokbar and saw page after page of ramen noodles in a bright and fiery red broth, I knew I had found the solution.Read More

Hummus at Dizengoff

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Dizengoff is a new vendor in Chelsea Market that sells hummus in the manner of the hummusiyas or hummus stalls that are commonly found in Israel. The restaurant is named after a famous street in Tel Aviv and specializes in Israeli-style hummus, which blends chickpeas with tehina, a type of sesame paste. The hummus is very smooth, dense and nutty, definitely more flavorful and filling than the hummus that comes out of the tub you get from the grocery store.Read More

Momofuku Nishi

entrance to momofuku nishi
entrance to momofuku nishi

You can’t tell by the name, and not really by the food either, but Momofuku Nishi is an Italian restaurant. This being a David Chang restaurant, it’s intentionally not really as straightforward as that. In a Grub Street article, Chang was quoted as saying, “Trying not to use Italian ingredients to make Italian food is sort of the golden rule.” So instead of pecorino cheese to make cacio e pepe, he utilizes a fermented chickpea miso, and instead of red sauce on the menu there’s a lot of XO sauce. Asian but not Asian. Italian.

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the characteristic momofuku wooden counters and backless chairs
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a can of bantam cider. surprisingly good.
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the chitarra noodles, the star of nishi

Maybe it’s what we ordered, but I felt like the food at Nishi wasn’t Italian at all. It was all very Asian, and derivatives of very familiar Asian noodle dishes. The chitarra was definitely modeled after champong, a spicy Korean seafood noodle soup, as well as nakji bokkeum, a stir-fried octopus dish also from Korea. It was absolutely delicious and my favorite thing that I tried, and frankly I’m glad that it was pretty traditional tasting and not very Italian.

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clams grand lisboa

The curiously named clams grand lisboa was also very similar to the pippies dish that I had at Marigold in Sydney. Chang said that it was inspired by one of his favorite hangouts in Sydney, so maybe he was referring to the same place! The Momofuku version tones down the robust sweet and savory sauce that dresses the little clams and uses an al dente chow mein instead of crunchy noodles. Unfortunately, these two elements are essential to the dish, especially when they both converge so that the noodles soften underneath the influence of the sauce, and so this reinterpretation felt a little incomplete and not quite satisfying.  Even if I didn’t have the original pippies dish as a frame of reference, I don’t think my opinion would have been different. It just didn’t stand out in any way, other than being the most expensive noodle dish on the menu.

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ceci e pepe

The only Italian sounding pasta dish that was consistent with Chang’s new Italian vision was the ceci e pepe. It had the look and feel of the original, but with the chickpea miso, it had a slightly sweetish tinge about it. The noodles also felt fatter, the width being akin to the lo mein noodles from a takeout box. It was a very strange and interesting experience feeling that sensation of Panda Express and traditional trattoria all at the same time. It created new associations with this type of pasta in a good way, and I thought this was another standout from the menu.

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bitter greens and vegetarian xo

I had zero expectations for the bitter greens side dish. I thought it might be similar to a traditional stir-fried bok choy or Chinese broccoli, but it’s definitely in its own category. On the outside it looks like a normal Western garden salad, but on the inside there’s a lot of Asian breaking loose. There was more to crunch on than meets the eye, a little bit of what tasted like roasted noodles or barley and maybe some dried fishy bits, all the more made better with the incredible vegetarian XO dressing. If garden variety is a negative term, they haven’t tried this bowl of green vegetables.

Gratuity is already included in all of the prices on the menu, so don’t be too put off by the $32 pasta that you’re paying for. Although come to think of it, even from an all inclusive perspective, that price did seem pretty steep. Nishi is definitely a high end restaurant, even if the uncomfortable backless seating and communal tables suggest otherwise, although that’s pretty consistent with the David Chang experience.

Momofuku Nishi
232 Eighth Ave (between 21st and 22nd St)
New York, NY 10011
(646) 518-1919