If you’re looking for a traditional bowl of pho or fried spring rolls at Van Da, a new Vietnamese restaurant in the East Village, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Van Da doesn’t like to state the obvious, it prefers to showcase the overlooked, and when it does take on a staple, it’s with a modern spin.
Where do we draw the line between calling something a pizza vs. a flatbread with toppings? This is the question I struggle with when I think about the pizzas at Violet, the new restaurant in the East Village run by Matt Hyland of Pizza Loves Emily fame. The specialty here is the Rhode Island style grilled pizza, but something about it feels so far removed from a traditional pie that the meal ends up being very unsatisfying. It’s the same type of feeling you get when you melt some cheese over a piece of bread in the microwave out of desperation to make a “pizza”, but despite the effort, the end result is anything but. The cheese is so subtle and scant that you can hardly taste it, and the crust lacks that bubbly, doughy chewiness that’s a trait in even the thinnest of New York crusts. You would do better with a box of Celeste frozen pizza than a slice of grilled pizza at Violet.
The older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate bar dining. Bar dining has come a long way from uncomfortable stool seats and limited “bar only” menus. Many restaurants now offer their full menus at the bar, with coat and purse hooks included. And now that I no longer have the luxury or patience for long, drawn-out dinners, the efficiency and relative swiftness of bar dining hold even more appeal. One of the best places for bar dining in the city is at Momofuku Ko, David Chang’s two-Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant in the East Village. It’s better known for its seated tasting menu experience, but it also operates a small bar near the entrance that offers an interesting, a la carte menu that changes each day. You get to benefit from the talents of a highly skilled, fine dining kitchen without having to pay the sky high prices or having to sit through the whole experience.
Taiwanese food is trending in New York City. I’m aware of famous dishes like lurou fan, three cup chicken or bubble tea, but otherwise my knowledge of the cuisine is pretty minimal. A recent meal at Ho Foods introduced me to the world of Taiwanese beef noodle soup, which is very much its own thing. The broth is extremely flavorful and pungent, dark and brown with powerful notes of star anise resonating throughout. You can choose from either round, udon-like noodles or thick-cut, wide ones, and I preferred the latter, as there was more texture and body to them. A bowl of this will leave you feeling warm and well-insulated for the night ahead.Read More
Here’s another elevated Korean restaurant to add to your list–Soogil in East Village, opened by Soogil Kim, who used to be sous chef at some very fancy kitchens, including Daniel and Hanjan. If you’re a fan of the refined and modern Korean cooking at places like Oiji or Cote, then you’ll probably like Soogil’s food.Read More