ICFF 2015 is coming! If you are planning to be there you should use the opportunity to eat some awesome food New York City has to offer. Possibilities are endless, where to go then? Below is my list of favorites. Choose your favorite and check it out!
Paul Liebrandt’s escape from the hushed fine-dining atmosphere in which he’s spent most of his remarkable career doesn’t feel fully realized yet. The service could be sharper, the room could be at any hotel in America where style is measured by square footage of poured concrete, and Mr. Liebrandt’s idea of jumping on the shared-plates trend is to put two servings of his usual elaborately composed dishes into one deep casserole and let you do the plating yourself. But he can make flavors do things that nobody else can. If you close your eyes and taste, say, the tender, lip-smacking lamb neck swabbed in a black and intensely smoky purée of charred eggplant, or the delicate remix of bouillabaisse that tamps down the garlic and brings up the orange and fennel, you could believe that you were eating in New York’s best restaurant. King & Grove Williamsburg Hotel, 160 North 12th Street (Berry Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-218-1088.
Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque
If you are unlucky enough to get into an argument with some Texans over whether decent barbecue exists in New York, sit them in front of Mighty Quinn’s smoked beef rib, a wall of meat riding on a long surfboard of bone. It may not change their minds, but the sheer mass may move them to temporary silence. That will give you time to admit that the rib and the brisket at Mighty Quinn’s aren’t as profoundly smoky as what you’d find atFranklin Barbecue in Austin, but we New Yorkers think it’s pretty moist and peppery, etc., etc. While you distract them with this business, you can eat all the meat on your tray and theirs, too. If this doesn’t work, ask them how the smoked and fried chicken wings glazed with soy and sesame seeds compare with the ones at Smitty’s Market. 103 Second Avenue (Sixth Street), East Village, 212-677-3733.
For traditional Korean food, the place to go is the far eastern reaches of Flushing, Queens. But for delicious modern interpretations of the cuisine, nothing comes close to Hooni Kim’s two packed, casual pubs. As he did at Danji, Mr. Kim split Hanjan’s small-plates menu into traditional dishes and contemporary ones, but his flavors feel so true that you can’t always tell which is which. He turns pajeon, the flat and starchy Korean pancake, into a crunchy cloud of squid and scallion, and while the texture is completely different, the taste isn’t. Hanjan’s food is exciting; people wave their chopsticks around, urging their friends to try the grilled mackerel under a shiny sheath of soy glaze or the rice cakes slick with pork fat and chile paste. 36 West 26th Street, Midtown South, 212-206-7226.
Opened by several alumni of Eleven Madison Park, Betony offers similar pleasures without the extravagant commitment of time and money. Servers dress formally in black and white, but they’re not at all remote; they’re so in touch, so intent on figuring out what you want before you do, they’re almost telepathic. Like his old boss, Daniel Humm, Betony’s chef, Bryce Shuman, toys around with fun, everyday food, putting sophisticated spins on bar snacks like potato chips. The best of his cooking is both technically polished and soulful, a rare mixture. He makes a seared foie gras in ham-hock broth that’s both earthy and luxurious, and a short rib, slow-cooked in aged beef fat then grilled over intensely hot charcoal, that is supremely tender but still hits you in some primal spots. 41 West 57th Street, Midtown, 212-465-2400.
In an era when money and opportunities flow to chefs who think like corporations, the year’s best restaurant came from a Bronx restaurateur’s crazy middle-of-the-night dream. Alessandro Borgognone watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” before bed and became determined to bring the film’s young apprentice, Daisuke Nakazawa, to New York. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. A meal at Mr. Nakazawa’s counter is a guided tour of the potential of simple seafood on rice to amaze. With subtle fine-tunings of temperature and seasoning, he can make a piece of sushi into the kind of sense-filling experience you wish could last and last. The restaurant doesn’t look or act particularly Japanese, but the food is so transporting and the service so gracious it doesn’t matter. 23 Commerce Street (Bedford Street), West Village, 212-924-2212.
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