Around the World in 7 NYC Dishes – AFAR Media

Posted By on May 22, 2022

New York Citys diverse food scene offers a world of flavors without ever having to get on a plane.

With its thousands of restaurants and ever-changing roster of recent openings, theres always something new to taste in New York City. But one of the most exciting and enduring parts of the citys food scene is its wide array of international cuisines, ranging from perfectly executed Chinese soup dumplings to classic American chicken and waffles. Below, weve rounded up a handful of essential foods to eat in New York and where to try them for the truest sense of NYC dining.

Tender soup dumplings at Joes ShanghaiNew York has an obsession with xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, which originated in 19th-century Shanghai. One of the citys go-to institutions is Joes Shanghai, which launched in Flushing, Queens, in 1994 and became so popular that it opened a second location in Manhattans Chinatown the next year. To this day, locals and tourists alike crowd both spaces for a taste of the handmade dumplings filled with hot, meaty broth, which are rolled and steamed to order. Featuring a thin skin made from flour and water, they come in two flavors: pork meat and crab with pork meat. The best way to dig in is to bite off a small piece of the wrapper, drip the broth onto your spoon, slurp it when its slightly cooler, and then eat the rest of the dumpling, including the tasty morsel of meat inside.

Perfect pizza at LucaliNew York City may have its own way of doing pizza these days, but the pies roots are Italian through and through. There are so many worthy optionsfrom Di Fara and Totonnos to Joes Pizza and Robertas that its nearly impossible to name the best pizza place in the city, but Lucali is one of the top contenders. At the Brooklyn pizza institution, which opened in 2006 in Carroll Gardens, chef Mark Iacono does everything the old-fashioned way, hand-kneading his dough and leaving it to proof for 24 hours. He then tops his pies with house-marinated tomatoes and bakes everything in a wood oven to create his signature thin, crispy crust.

Theres only one pizza on the menu, a large pie with basil, but you can customize it with toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, and lightly marinated artichokes, or pair it with one of Lucalis stellar calzones. Itll be even more rewarding than expected after the usual two- to three-hour wait for a seat in the small, candlelit dining room. Pro tip: Get in line at 4 p.m. to add your name to the list, and then hit a wine shop and an ATM (its BYOB and cash only).

Legendary pierogies at VeselkaWhat started as a newsstand with soup and sandwiches is now a New York institution for late-night comfort food. Opened in 1954 in the heart of the East Village, Veselka still sits on the same corner today, serving its homey Ukrainian cooking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over the years, countless New Yorkers, including New York University students and families with Ukrainian roots, have gathered here for the pierogi dumplings, made fresh in house at four or eight to an order. Available boiled or fried, they come in classic meat, potato, cheese, and sauerkraut-mushroom versions as well as untraditional arugula with goat cheese, short rib, and bacon-egg-and-cheese varieties. Whichever you choose, pile on some sour cream and caramelized onions before you tuck in.

Momos and more at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar, Potala, Maharaja Sweets, and Mustang Thakali KitchenJackson Heightss Little India is increasingly known as Himalayan Heights for the influx of Nepalese and Tibetans. Its easy to try a smattering of flavors from the Indian subcontinent with some progressive dining in this walkable Queens neighborhood. Compare the silky-skinned, spicy Nepalese chicken momos at Nepali Bhanchha Ghar to the pouchy hand-shaped beef- or greens-filled Tibetan versions next door at Potala, decorated with images of Tibets holiest palace. For Indian sweets, try the delicate confections called mithai at Maharaja Sweets. For something truly unusual, order yhosi (steamed buckwheat) with curries and chutney or sukuti (jerky) with pumpkin gravy at Mustang Thakali Kitchen, representing the rugged mountain cuisine of Nepal.Anya von Bremzen

American soul food at Melbas RestaurantIf you think Sylvia is the only name in Harlem soul food, talk to passionate fans of Melbas. Melba Wilson learned her craft at Sylvias (and other New York venues like Rosa Mexicana and the Tribeca Grill). Her high-energy restaurant is known for neo-soul food, a tasty sort of comfort food for modern eaters. At Melbas, the standard dish of chicken and waffles is as American as it getsand its fine-tuned here as fried chicken plated with eggnog waffles and topped with a sweet dollop of strawberry butter (the dish won a Food Network competition against Bobby Flay). Melbas updated favorites include fried catfish with chipotle mayo and short ribs braised in red wine. Theres even a green salad on the menu at this soul food restaurant. Khalid Salaam

Bagel with cream cheese smoked salmon at Russ & DaughtersThere are few foods more New York in their essence than a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. Its a tradition that began in Jewish appetizing spots (or purveyors of dairy and smoked fish), which proliferated on the Lower East Side in the early 1900s and established Jewish food as part of New York dining culture. Today, you can get a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon at just about every bagel shop in the city, but the best one is still found at appetizing legend Russ & Daughters, which opened in 1914 and has remained a favorite through four generations of family ownership.

For its famous version, Russ & Daughters uses hand-rolled bagels from the Bagel Hole (smaller and less doughy than the usual New York bagel, but still soft and chewy), all-natural cream cheese from a California dairy (which has a slightly tangier flavor), and your choice of seven different kinds of smoked salmon (get the melt-in-your-mouth Gaspe Nova). Theres always a line here, especially on weekend mornings and Jewish holidays, and theres no seating save for a small bench outside. But every inconvenience is worth it for this definitive American classic.

Cuban sandwiches and roasted chicken at MargonHidden amid the skyscrapers and white tablecloth restaurants of Midtown, the no-frills, cafeteria-style lunch spot Margon opened in 1970 and remains one of the citys best places for Cuban foodand what the bustling restaurant lacks in service, it more than makes up for in flavor. One of the most ordered items on the menu is the classic Cuban sandwich, composed of roasted pork, salami, ham, and Swiss cheeseall rolled into a satisfyingly crispy grilled bun thats been slathered with mayo and garlic. For something even heartierif you can imagine thattry the chicken fricassee, a perfectly roasted quarter chicken thats simmered in a white wine garlic sauce. Order it with a side of plantains, and youll keep your hunger at bay for the rest of the day.Jennifer Flowers


Around the World in 7 NYC Dishes - AFAR Media

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