According to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 was the year of the sheep, but I didn't end up eating any new lamb or mutton dishes (which is not to say that I didn't eat plenty of older ones). On the other hand, there where many brand new beef, pork, and even chicken dishes that I found captivating this past year. Here are eight meaty masterpieces for you to sink your teeth into:
The Ozersky sandwich at Parm
Dedicated to the late, great Josh Ozersky, who died in May, the sandwich sold at the Parm outpost in the Financial District is a fittingly meaty affair. Inspired by the famous roast beef and mozzarella sandwich from Fiore's in Hoboken, which Ozersky introduced the Torisi boys to, it is chock full of rare roast beef and creamy housemade mutz. I do, however, agree with my estimable colleague Robert Sietsema that along the way "they forgot the gravy."
Ssam at Oiji
East Village Korean hot spot Oiji serves a bargain-priced dish for two ($34) that is packed with flavor. This entree features sautéed gochujang pork that's aided and abetted by a separate bowl of gang-deon-jang, which Eater critic Ryan Sutton tells us contains a "flavor bomb" of "fermented soybean, anchovy stock, shiitake, beef brisket, long bean zucchini, and honey."
Wagyu Steak at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse
This A5 Kobe strip steak — which is sourced directly from Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan — is the real deal Wagyu beef of lore. And at $162 for eight ounces, it is priced accordingly. A once-in-a-lifetime dish for all but the moist well-heeled carnivores, it combines the best beef from the East with the technique and aesthetic of the American steakhouse. The meat is intensely seared, giving it a charred exterior full of snap and crunch, yielding to a voluptuous interior brimming with flavor.
Tebasaki Gyoza at Mu Ramen
Chef Joshua Smookler serves what is surely the world's most labor-intensive chicken wing. Involving over 20 ingredients and several days of preparation, the Tebasaki Gyoza costs $14 for two wings which, considering the effort involved and ingredients at play, not to mention the extraordinary taste, is a bargain.
The General Tso's Pig's Head at The Cannibal
The Cannibal chef Francis Derby set out to make the whole pig's head ($85) "more approachable," and at the same time "fun and interactive." To this end, he uses the flavors of the ever-popular General Tso's chicken on the whole pig's head which has been slow cooked overnight and then crisped in the oven. Served family style, you pull the head apart with chopsticks and layer the unctuous ribbons of flesh and crispy skin onto pancakes. Fun and interactive indeed.
Hanger Steak at La Gamelle
Mathieu Palombino serves a classic hanger steak ($28) doused in an earthy Bordelaise sauce at La Gamelle. Served alone it would be rich enough, but it is further elevated by the inclusion of a bone marrow pipe and some of the best pommes frites this side of France.
Cote de Boeuf at The Clocktower
While the cote de bouef is basically de rigueur for a certain type of NYC restaurant, British chef Jason Atherton's incarnation brings a few innovations to the table. The beef itself is, of course, prime beef dry aged by Pat LaFrieda that is expertly cooked. But the bone marrow au jus and the string beans dotted with foie gras add considerably to the experience. $132.
Filet for Two at Strip House
Genuine innovation in a steakhouse is a rare thing, but chef Michael Vignola's 60-ounce dry-aged bone-in filet for two ($180) is unique to the Strip House. The massive cut was devised with the help Marc Sarrazin of DeBragga butchers, and according to the chef satisfies the most vociferous ribsteak eaters.