clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Yellowtail collar, chili fried chicken, Vietnamese desserts, and more

The garage-door style entrance to Bread & Salt
The garage-door style entrance to Bread & Salt in 2019
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.


January 26

A collar shaped white and slightly charred fish collar on a black background with a baby ginger sprout sticking up in the middle, red at the top end.
Yellowtail collar at Bushniwa
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Yellowtail collar at Bushniwa

Few things are more exciting in a Japanese restaurant than finding collars on the menu. These are nearly always the bony necks of fish used for sushi and sashimi, tremendously discounted because you can’t really carve them into raw fish dishes. Instead, they are salted and broiled and presented whole. They give you a better idea of what your sushi fish really looks like, and with crisp skin attached and plenty of fatty portions, they are a boon to gnawers. The yellowtail at this all-purpose Japanese restaurant a stone’s throw from Roberta’s — in the vicinity of which I found myself, trying to get a Burgie’s burger, only to find the new place unexpectedly closed — is presented with a pickled young ginger root and masses of grated daikon. Bliss! And lots of high-quality fish for $15. 250 Varet Street, between Bogart and White streets, Bushwick — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Pieces of chili flakes coated fried chicken from the delivery only restaurant Pecking House
Chili fried chicken at Pecking House
Tanay Warerkar/Eater

Chili fried chicken at Pecking House

After weeks of reading about Eric Huang’s wildly popular new fried chicken restaurant, Pecking House, I got a chance to sample the food this past weekend. In addition to the fried chicken meal ($35), which comes with three sides, I also got the cauliflower meal (for vegetarians) and the peanut butter pudding. But the chicken is clearly worth the hype. Despite its long journey from Queens to my apartment in Harlem, the chicken held up really well with its crispy, tingly exterior covered with Tianjin chiles and Sichuan peppercorns giving way to tender meat underneath. I highly recommend dipping pieces into the zippy hot sauce that comes along with each order. Among the sides, the dirty fried rice really stood out, as did the creamy sweet potato dish with almond pesto and bacon, but I just found myself wanting more chicken after every bite. Online orders for delivery only by getting on a waitlist — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

Green and yellow squares of steamed rice cakes are placed on white plate that is set on a wooden table
Banh da lon at Bánh by Lauren
Erika Adams/Eater

Banh da lon at Bánh by Lauren

Following in the footsteps of many other out-of-work restaurant staffers, former Gramercy Tavern pastry cook Lauren Tran — the mastermind behind the coconut and pandan pie that won the restaurant’s competitive in-house Thanksgiving pie contest in 2019 — began selling weekly boxes of French and Vietnamese pastries ($40) under Bánh by Lauren on Instagram. It was nearly impossible to pick favorites from a recent box, but, in between mouthfuls of persimmon and brown sugar scones and airy purple ube chiffon cake, I kept returning to Tran’s rendition of banh da lon, a classic Vietnamese dessert of steamed rice cakes. The chewy, sticky, bite-sized treat — made here with alternating layers of pandan and mung bean — struck a lovely, comforting balance between savory and faintly sweet, making for a fun, eat-anytime snack that was the first to disappear from the box. New menus are posted on Instagram each Monday; DM to place orders for pickup in Manhattan on Saturdays — Erika Adams, reporter

Mortadella sandwich at Bread & Salt
Bao Ong / Eater New York

Mortadella sandwich at Bread & Salt

I’ll take the PATH train, brave the Port Authority bus terminal, or resort to begging friends with a car (as I did this past weekend) for the mortadella sandwich at Bread & Salt. The Roman-style bakery serves the best version of this simple dish I’ve had so far in New York (let me know if you find a better one because I’m happy to try it in the name of research). The excellent bomboloni and other pastries are definitely worth ordering, but this simple sandwich is already in the running for the most memorable bite of 2021. The bread is actually pizza bianca — a lightly dimpled, crispier cousin to the doughier focaccia, which you can also order here. Between the bread, you’ll find thinly sliced slabs of fatty mortadella that shows how less is often more. 435 Palisade Avenue, between Griffith and Hutton streets, Jersey City — Bao Ong, lead editor

January 19

Orange rice with cross sections of stewed rib arranged on top in a round aluminum container, with a cup of beans partly visible in the corner.
Rib stew at Sabores
Robert Sietsema / Eater New York

Rib stew at Sabores

I’m convinced Sabores is one of the Bronx’s best Dominican restaurants. Located at the corner of 150th and Morris, not far from Lincoln Hospital and the courthouses, Sabores offers the typical menu items, including roast, fricasseed, fried, and stewed meats and poultry, mofongos, pressed sandwiches, and fruit-based juices and milkshakes. Go for lunch and find a few choice dishes newly prepared; in my case it was a stew of pork ribs ($8 at lunch), with the porky flavor bolstered by a dark gravy redolent of onions, celery, and red bell peppers. And of course, garlic. It’s served with white or yellow rice and red beans, with the beans on the side so you can spoon them on the rice as you eat the meat and don’t forget to get a small serving of sweet plantains, caramelized on the edges. 582 Morris Avenue, at 150th Street, Melrose Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Two meat-filled corn tacos sitting side by side in a white styrofoam container
Tacos at Birria-Landia
Tanay Warerkar / Eater New York

Tacos at Birria-Landia

I’m never first in line to anything really, but that changed this past weekend by a happy accident that found my group and me waiting to order at the Birria-Landia truck in Williamsburg. We walked by the truck’s stop at Meeker and Metropolitan Avenue not realizing we had arrived too early and began to walk away thinking the truck wasn’t showing up — just as it whizzed past us walking in the opposite direction. With only a few dollars in our pockets, we grabbed two tacos ($3 each) — the truck only takes cash — and leaned against the railing across from the truck, proceeding to bite into the tacos that warmed us against the wind. Every bite is studded with deeply flavorful, saucy chunks of beef, crunchy bits of onion, and herby cilantro leaves. A spritz of lime brings it all together, and my only wish walking away was that we had more cash in hand, waiting at the front so we could take several more tacos home. Located at Metropolitan and Meeker Avenues, Williamsburg — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

Bread basket at Caravaggio
Beth Landman / Eater New York

Bread basket at Caravaggio

Complimentary bread baskets were already becoming increasingly scarce, and when the pandemic hit, even many places that were still serving the one-time staple put the practice on hold. So, when the bountiful cradle arrived at Caravaggio, it was particularly welcome. The array here includes eight different rolls and loaves, all made with nutritious, non-GMO ancient grains, cultivated without pesticides. Among the selection: breadsticks with salt and fennel pollen; simple light mini rolls baked with natural yeast; classic ciabatta; long dinner rolls studded with olives; a gluten-free option made with rice and soy flour; a crusty organic whole wheat Jerusalem loaf; and an incredibly textured health bread made with whole wheat, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, and honey. Best of all, the selection is made on premises every afternoon and comes to the table hot. 23 East 74th Street, at Madison Avenue, Upper East Side — Beth Landman, contributor

Dinuguan at Bilao
Bao Ong / Eater New York

Dinuguan at Bilao

This Filipino restaurant, started by a trio of Mount Sinai Hospital nurses, has been on my bucket list ever since senior critic Robert Sietsema gave it glowing review last fall. It was lunchtime when I stopped by, but my heart was set on ordering the tapsilog from the breakfast portion of the menu. Alas, the table next to us had ordered the last plate of the popular thinly sliced beef — marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic — served with garlic fried rice and a fried egg. I decided to be adventurous and went with the dinuguan, a pork dish I don’t often see at similar restaurants across the city. It didn’t disappoint. The bite-sized cubes of pork comes in a stew of pork blood and vinegar spiked with green chile peppers perfect over white rice. I’ll come back for this dish — and the breakfast menu items. 1437 First Avenue, at East 75th Street, Upper East Side — Bao Ong, lead editor

Mushroom rajas tamales at Mayfield

One of the many pluses of working from my kitchen table these last 10 months: supporting local restaurants on my lunch breaks. This week I visited Mayfield in Crown Heights, a neighborhood American restaurant from Lev Gewirtzman and Jacques Belanger, the same chef-owners behind Chilo’s taqueria and dive bar. The duo’s three Brooklyn restaurants may be hibernating for the winter, but its staff is selling a selection of standout tamales each weekend at Mayfield as part of an ongoing fundraiser. Our favorite — stuffed with mushroom and rajas con queso — was slightly sweet and just moist enough to eat without salsa ($5). Proceeds from the tamales benefit employees at Mayfield and Chilo’s who are temporarily out of work. Donations can be made via GoFundMe or Venmo (@mayfieldbk). 688 Franklin Avenue, near Prospect Place, Crown Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

A cinnamon roll topped with white icing on a square blue plate
A cinnamon roll from Portale
Erika Adams/Eater

Take-and-bake cinnamon rolls from Portale

My at-home brunch game this weekend was seriously upleveled thanks to a pan of bake-at-home cinnamon rolls ($35) that I will not soon forget from Portale’s executive pastry chef Kaity Mitchell. The portions of yeasty bread stuffed with the usual suspects of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon looked innocent enough in the pan, but Mitchell directs customers to pour a generous portion of warmed heavy cream over the rolls before slipping them in the oven. It’s a decadent extra step that has a magical effect on the end product, saturating the bread with sweet cream. We topped off each roll with a scoop of the airy cream cheese frosting — bonus points for including generous portions of the frosting! — and happily curled up around the pan all morning. 126 West 18th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Chelsea — Erika Adams, reporter

January 11

A hand holds a cutlet sandwich with mayo slaw sticking out while the other hand holds a small bamboo container of pickles while a cartoon figure looks on from a wall behind.
Pork katsu sando at Evil Katsu
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pork katsu sando at Evil Katsu

Popping up in the former Pretty Ricky’s space at the corner of Ludlow and Rivington, Evil Katsu specializes in Japanese sando sandwiches, but offers bentos, too. The crustless white-bread sandwiches ($14) are large in comparison with other examples around town, with a just-fried pork or chicken cutlet, or a portobello cap that will please vegetarians, as the focus. I tried all three, and the pork was the best, with slaw spilling out top and bottom. Good mixed-vegetable pickles accompany; put them in the sandwich before you start munching. 101 Rivington Street, at Ludlow Street, Lower East Side Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A light wooden bowl with dark fish, cooked greens, and white rice set on a reddish brown wooden table
Cá kho tộ at Ha’s Đặc Biệt
Erika Adams/Eater

Cá kho tộ at Ha’s Đặc Biệt

Roaming Vietnamese pop-up Ha’s Đặc Biệt set up shop this past weekend at Vinegar Hill House in Dumbo, selling dinner sets ($38) that included a killer version of cá kho tộ, or fish that is typically braised in a clay pot. For this dish, the duo behind the pop-up, Anthony Ha and Sadie Mae Burns, served thick cuts of mackerel that had been cooked until fall-apart tender in a sticky, slightly sweet, caramelized sauce. In this context, the fish morphed into a juicy, meaty feast that hit perfectly on a windy winter night — and, not surprisingly, the dinner sold out both weekend days. While the mackerel was only sold this past weekend, there will be plenty of chances to try other dishes. The duo will stay on at Vinegar Hill House for upcoming weekends, serving a different menu for takeout and delivery each Saturday and Sunday. 72 Hudson Avenue, at the corner of Water Street, Dumbo — Erika Adams, reporter

Wonton noodle soup at Maxi’s Noodle
Bao Ong / Eater NY

Wonton noodle soup at Maxi’s Noodle

There are few things I want more than a bowl of noodle soup when the weather is cold, especially when dining out these days means sitting outdoors bundled up even with a heater on full blast. But when I’m in Flushing, my favorite way to thaw out is ordering Maxi Lau’s Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup. It warms me up like an electric blanket: the clear pork bone broth is just salty enough, the egg noodles are springy, and if you order three toppings, the golf ball-sized dumplings filled with shrimp and pork are a meal in themselves. 135-11 38th Avenue, between Main and Prince streets, Flushing — Bao Ong, lead editor

A hummud dish with a sliced soft boiled egg, sliced red onions, green pickles, and brown crumbs of merguez sausage
Merguez hummus masabaha
Tanay Warerkar/Eater

Merguez hummus masabaha at Miss Ada

After much convincing, my family begrudgingly agreed to go out on a cold January day. Miss Ada’s cozy backyard setup lifted their spirits, but nothing did so more than the food. In fact, we ordered more than half the restaurant’s menu for our party of four, which made it incredibly hard for me to pick a best dish here. The merguez, though, really stood out from the crowd. Crumbled bits of the spicy sausage are generously sprinkled over a creamy bed of hummus, topped with a perfectly oozy soft-boiled egg sliced in half, crunchy slices of red onion, some pickle chunks, and a dollop of harissa. I scooped up bites of this savory goodness with freshly baked pita, and ate up leftovers all on their own later at home that evening. 184 Dekalb Avenue, near Carlton Avenue, Fort Greene — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

January 4

Enchiladas peek out under a crown of onions, grated cheese, and jalapenos, swamped in brown chili gravy.
Enchiladas de Tejas at Javelina
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Enchiladas de Tejas at Javelina

Nothing better for homesick Texans than this plate of San Antonio-style cheese enchiladas with the brown chile gravy flowing like the meandering Guadalupe River through Central Texas. The gravy tastes of cumin, oregano, and a symphony of dried red chiles; the rolled tortillas are stuffed with cheese, and the enchiladas garnished with raw onions and pickled jalapenos — the kind shaken from jars and cans. This wonderful dish ($18), found all over the Lone Star State from Dallas to El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley, is something of a signature of Mexican cuisine in the state, and there’s no better place to eat it than Javelina, where the winter sidewalk dining area is perhaps safer and more comfy than most. 19 East 18th Street, between Park Avenue South and Irving Place, Gramercy Park Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A hot pot with broth is visible in the background and a dark platter with fish and beef balls plus sliced red meats is set in front of the hot pot. Four sauces in small dark bowls are set alongside the other items on a light wooden table.
Shabu shabu set from Shabushabu Macoron and Mayumon
Erika Adams/Eater

Shabu shabu set from Shabushabu Macoron and Mayumon

Last week, we unboxed my sister’s newly gifted Christmas hotpot and took it out for a weeknight dinner spin. We boiled our own broths and picked out most of the fixings to cook, but the meal was made extra special thanks to a frozen kit of meats and sauces ($55) from the team behind Shabushabu Macoron and Mayumon in downtown Manhattan. The thinly-sliced pieces of fancy Washugyu beef and tender, fatty pork were the fastest ingredients to disappear off the sheet pan platters, and there was not a single item that did not pair well with the restaurant’s signature Iwanori sauce, a thick, earthy mixture of toasted seaweed, soy sauce, and a bit of chili pepper. I’ll definitely be stocking up on individual packets of that magic condiment. Kits are available for pickup from Cocoron at 37 Kenmare Street, between Elizabeth Street and Mott Street, Soho — Erika Adams, reporter

A plate of four rellenos — cheese and meat filled, golden brown deep fried balls placed on a tray with three sauces next to them
Rellenos mixto at Bolivian Llama Party
Tanay Warerkar/Eater

Rellenos mixto at Bolivian Llama Party

Deep-fried, hot food is always such an antidote to cold, blustery days, and that proved to be the case this past weekend when I visited the new Sunnyside home of Bolivian Llama Party. My family and I braced the winds by devouring these croquettes ($12) — a couple with cheese and the others stuffed with beef — just a few minutes after we sat down at the restaurant’s streetside outdoor dining setup. The crispy exterior hides a lush interior stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes and yuca, and depending on the croquette, it either comes with the addition of beef, onions, and carrots or mozzarella. I liked the beef one better but regardless, I could have gobbled up several more of them in one sitting. Don’t miss out on getting a sampling of all three sauces on the side; I was partial to the umami-rich artichoke truffle queso. 44-14 48th Avenue, at 44th Street, Sunnyside — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

Pierogi ruskie at Pierozek
Bao Ong / Eater

Pierogis ruskie at Pierozek

A dumpling is a dumpling is a dumpling. But the pierogi I’ve eaten in the past were always encased in a thick dough that filled me up after a few bites. Are pierogi the inferior dumpling in the hierarchy of dumplings? There’s no need to go there if you’re inhaling them at Pierozek, which opened just over a year ago in Brooklyn. One bite of the pierogi ruskie — filled with mashed potatoes, farmer’s cheese, and topped with caramelized onions — had me second guessing if I’d just eaten a jiaozi (the common Chinese dumpling). The elastic wrappers were thinner than what I had tried in the past, and I didn’t want to stop eating them. I’m definitely coming back and ordering a plate just for myself. 592 Manhattan Avenue, between Nassau and Driggs Avenues, Greenpoint — Bao Ong, lead editor

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater New York newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world