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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Southern fried vegan lasagna, cheese bread, and more standout dishes across New York City

A restaurant storefront
Terra Thai, in the East Village
Robert Sietsema/Eater

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.

May 24

A compartmentalized black container with ground chicken and rice with a poached egg and broccoli on top.
Basil chicken at Terra Thai
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Basil chicken over rice at Terra Thai

Terra Thai, an import from Boulder, Colorado, has been peddling a handful of Bangkok street food dishes out of a narrow space in the East Village, one block south of Tompkins Square, since opening a year ago as the pandemic was on the upswing. Basil chicken is in many ways the flagship, a dish of coarsely ground chicken swimming in bird chiles and chile oil, giving the hottest things on the Ugly Baby menu a run for their money. The dish ($10.50) is agreeably served with white rice, a poached egg, and side vegetable (in this case broccoli). For vegetarians, it can be made with tofu instead of chicken. 518 East Sixth Street, between avenues A and B, East Village Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A yellow, oblong, guava-stuffed cheese fritter sits on a wax paper on a counter
Guava-laced buñelos from Salento
Ryan Sutton/Eater

Cheese breads at Salento

As part of my overview of some of the city’s great empanadas the other week, I wrote about Salento, a fine Colombian coffee shop in Washington Heights. As luck would have it, I was in the neighborhood again on Friday and got a chance to sample some of the venue’s very tasty baked and fried goods. A barista warmed up a few snacks for me, which I took to the outdoor seating area and promptly devoured. The oblong buñelos ($2.50) were just as they should be, sporting a gently crisp exterior and a warm interior oozing with salty cheese and a smear of fragrant guava. The more disc-shaped pandebono ($2.50), in turn, balanced the savory tang of the component cheese with just enough sugar. I’ll definitely be back here more often. 2112 Amsterdam Avenue, at West 165th Street, Washington Heights — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A large white, shallow bowl filled with red tomato sauce and two slices of fried lasagna with a garnish of green herbs on top
Southern fried lasagna at Cadence
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Southern fried lasagna at Cadence

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a lasagna, and now I’m pretty sure that all other lasagnas have been ruined for me after digging into chef Shenarri Freeman’s version at vegan soul food restaurant Cadence (one of three new spots that restaurateur Ravi DeRossi has opened up in the neighborhood this year). The lasagna ($21) is a crispy, crunchy, deep-fried delight — stuffed with a vegan red wine Bolognese, pine nut ricotta, and spinach — that doesn’t sit heavy afterward. And I couldn’t resist scraping the bowl to get every drop of the lasagna’s housemade chunky tomato sauce, bursting with fresh basil and oregano. 122 East Seventh Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, East Village — Erika Adams, reporter

Jasmine tea-smoked barbecue ribs at the Nuaa Table

The season of minimalist outdoor dining has arrived, where sometimes the best set-up is just a few sidewalk tables and a slab of artificial grass. Such is the case at Nuaa Table, a Thai restaurant that opened its doors along the Prospect Heights stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue in March. For peak summer dining, head in the direction of the restaurant’s barbecued ribs, which come five to a rack and are smoked in jasmine tea ($23). Glistening in sriracha barbecue sauce, and topped with a mountain of sesame seeds, the dish reminded me of the seasonal pumpkin spice ribs served at Olmsted, a few blocks up Vanderbilt, last summer, but here the tea flavor comes through more fully. The restaurant’s portions are probably best for sharing among two to four — not the group of six we dined with — and be advised that there’s no liquor license or BYOB available for now. 638 Bergen Street, at Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

May 17

A round roll with scrambled egg, slced avocado and thick sausage patty, very messy.
Chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich at C&B

C&B must be one of the East Village’s best kept dining secrets — a narrow storefront right next to the fabled Horseshoe Bar that makes three breakfast sandwiches right on a flattop in the window as a line of hungry New Yorkers wait for them. These three sandwiches feature mushrooms, pork belly, or chorizo in addition to eggs scrambled soft and cheese that will melt before you even get the thing up to your mouth. My favorite is the one for which a very thick puck of chorizo with a spicy afterburn is the center of attention, and eating it is such a mess you may rightfully turn to a knife and fork to help you get the job done. I can’t help insanely adding avocado to the formula, which jacks up the price $3 to $14.99. Yes, there are a few other things on the menu, including bowls and the occasional hero special, and one of the reasons everything is so good is that the bread is made on the premises. 178 East 7th Street, between avenues A and B, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Seco de chivo at Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen

Abel Castro opened Ñaño in 2013, a few years before I moved to Hell’s Kitchen, but somehow I didn’t manage to drop by until just the other week, to test out some (excellent) green plantain empanadas for a story. A few days later, I ordered delivery to try a few more items, including some very good battered and fried maduros, as well as the classic Ecuadorian seco de chivo, or stewed goat ($18). The seco de chivo was particularly tasty; cooks slowly braise the ruminant in a sauce of naranjilla, or lulo, a tropical Andean nightshade with a citrusy flavor. The result is tender flesh sporting a sweet caprine punch, with the pulpy braising liquid adding a dose of savoriness. A wallop of cilantro imparts a grassy perfume, a nice counterpoint to the musky meatiness. On my next visit, I’ll try the corresponding seco de pollo, for sure. 691 10th Avenue, near West 47th Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A bowl of beef udon
Beef udon at Min Sushi
Bao Ong / Eater NY

Beef udon at Min Sushi

Most of my noodle soup consumption during the past year has involved packs of instant ramen. My feeble attempts at doctoring up a restaurant-worthy bowl usually involves throwing in an egg and rescuing some sad, wilted scallions or cilantro on their last legs. So when I passed chef Kelly Cho’s menu at Min Sushi on an overcast day, my eyes went straight to the beef udon ($10). It’s a bowl I could never recreate at home: a balanced broth that’s just salty enough and feels like it’s been simmering away for hours, thick strands of udon with the ideal springy texture, thinly-sliced pieces of beef cooked just through, and all the garnishes (even scallions) to top off this homely bowl of noodles. 32 St. Marks Place, between Second and Third avenues, East Village — Bao Ong, editor

A dark cup filled with orange ice cream sits on a pink plate in the foreground, with a blue plate of white ice cream and baklava in the background
Saffron ice cream at Shiraz Kitchen
Courtesy of Mondona McCann

Saffron ice cream at Shiraz Kitchen

I’ve consumed my fair share of sugary-sweet mounds of frozen dairy in my childhood, which has inevitably led me to this conclusion as an adult: I am not an ice cream person. But every once in a while (or, every time I go to Superiority Burger), I meet an ice cream that reminds me that, in the right hands, this dessert has range. The saffron ice cream ($8) at Persian restaurant Shiraz Kitchen was one such example. The vanilla-based ice cream — studded with tiny dried roses — is so deeply infused with saffron that I had to stop mid-sentence to marvel during a recent mid-week dinner. Served in a firm chocolate cup, the frozen treat was at once tart, a touch sweet, and faintly floral; unlike any ice cream that I’ve had before. I couldn’t help but smile my way through each bite. 111 West 17th Street, near Sixth Avenue, Chelsea — Erika Adams, reporter

May 10

A hand holds a half-eaten roti filled with shrimp, chana masala, and hot sauce
Shrimp roti at De Hot Pot
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Wrapped shrimp roti at De Hot Pot

While reporting on flour tortillas earlier this year, one Mexican restaurateur shared that, for years, the closest thing to a good flour tortilla in New York City was a roti. (Several readers also pointed this out in comments on Instagram.) It’s a thought I haven’t been able to get out of my head, and one that’s helped me find a taste of home without leaving the five boroughs. For some of the best roti in the neighborhood, head to De Hot Pot, a takeout counter a short walk from Prospect Park east. I ordered the roti made with shrimp ($12), a neatly folded dish that also comes stuffed with channa, curried chickpeas, and potatoes. Ask for an extra side of hot sauce (50 cents). Cash only. 1127 Washington Avenue, between Lefferts Avenue and Lincoln Road, Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Luke Fortney, reporter

Four stuffed oysters on their shells with lemon wedges in front.
Roasted oysters at Victor
Robert Sietsema / Eater NY

Roasted oysters at Victor

The first thing you notice upon walking into Victor’s double premises, which lies along Sackett Street near the Gowanus Canal, is a giant domed black oven. It has been there since the place was Freek’s Mill, and the burning wood does service in all sorts of ways, besides perfuming the air. It is employed to make all sorts of dishes among the apps and mains, including this oyster appetizer ($16). It features a bread-crumb stuffing not assertively flavored, so that the briny flavor of the bivalves can shine. And the crumbs also serve to absorb the oyster liquor, so you don’t so much slurp them as chew them. 285 Nevins Street, at Sackett Street, Gowanus — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

An oblong boat of lamb flatbread with a red center sits diagonally on a wooden platter on an outdoor table
Lamb flatbread at Iris
Ryan Sutton / Eater NY

Lamb flatbread at Iris

I realized recently that it has been too long since I’ve visited a John Fraser establishment, and so I figured I’d swing by Iris, the chef’s new Mediterranean restaurant at the ground floor of a Midtown West office building. I sat outside — as I always do — and ordered a few dishes, but the Turkish flatbread is what stood out the most. Cooks shape the dough into an oblong boat, not entirely different from khachapuri Adjaruli, and fill the center with a crimson mixture of chili, sumac, cilantro, and ground lamb. The bread itself is quite soft, while the filling packs a hint of acidity, a round savoriness, and just a whisper of ovine funk. At $16, it’s an expensive light snack for one, but it’s a nice pairing for a gin martini on a warm evening. 1740 Broadway, at 55th Street, Midtown West — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A plastic to-go container full of fish balls with rice noodles from Fu Yuan
Fish balls with rice noodles at Fu Yuan
Bao Ong / Eater NY

Fish balls with rice noodles at Fu Yuan

As the weather warms up and I spend more time at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is held, I’ve developed a new ritual: Take the 7 train just one stop further into the heart of downtown Flushing and hunt down one new snack that qualifies as carbo loading before hitting the tennis court. This past weekend, I passed my favorite bakery for egg tarts and saw a small group of people lining outside of Fu Yuan. I ended up ordering the same dish as the girl in front of me, who held a cell phone bedazzled in pink sparkles in one hand and a bubble tea in the other. Clearly, she knew what to order. The small serving of fish balls atop rice noodles ($3.25) was a perfect size before a tennis match. Drenched in soy, sesame paste, and a dash of Sriracha, it was exactly what I craved: simple, starchy noodles with a QQ texture with a just bit of protein. I’ve passed this tiny stall many times, but now I’ll have to come back for the congee, rice noodles rolls, wonton soup, and all the other items. That’s a lot of tennis. 135-43 Roosevelt Avenue, near Main Street, Flushing — Bao Ong, editor

May 3

A yolk floats in a bowl of soy with a brochete in the background.
Duck a l’orange skewer at Maison Yaki
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Duck a l’orange skewer at Maison Yaki

Olmsted offshoot Maison Yaki on Prospect Heights’s hopping Vanderbilt restaurant row is a great place to brunch. Sit in the sunny backyard and enjoy a rather oddball Japanese-French fusion menu, the heart of which is a series of brochettes grilled over binchotan charcoal. This one features coarsely ground duck — which tastes very much like duck, with its pond-water flavors — intended to evoke the classic French dish duck l’orange ($14). But wait! It comes with a soy-based dipping sauce with what appears to be a raw egg yolk floating on the surface (it’s like a science-like chef’s trick made out of fruit puree). Using any implement at hand, whip the puree into the soy before dipping the kebab, for an amazing taste sensation. Then wipe the dribbling “yolk” off your chin. 626 Vanderbilt Avenue, between Prospect and Park places, Prospect Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Yellow snowing cheese fries at Pelicana

During my review process for Chick Chick, a new Korean fried chicken spot on the Upper West Side, I made sure to get a batch or two of drumsticks from the Pelicana global chain, which suddenly has quite a few locations in the tri-state area. The short story is that the wings at Pelicana sport a stupendously well-engineered exterior, with a dense crunch, but the meat is often bland and under-seasoned. I’d still order them again; they just need a bit of work. The wow factor, by contrast, really comes from the chain’s yellow snowing cheese fries ($8.99), a preparation that somehow involves using the power of industrial food science and dark magic to make the tubers mimic the taste of Cheez Doodles or Cheetos. You can still detect a little potato-y earthiness, but the predominant flavor profile is processed cheese, which imparts the frites with a marked saltiness, sweetness, and orange hue. Also, Pelicana delivers the fries in a half-open container, so they stay crisp during the ride over to your apartment! 641 10th Avenue, near 45th Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A brown takeout box filled with egg, raw fish, orange roe, green leafy herbs, and white rice with a park gate in the background
Chirashi bowl from Rosella
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Chirashi bowl at Rosella

I have to admit, I am kind of bummed to see some restaurants starting to turn their backs again on takeout and delivery. (I understand that it was likely hellish to keep running from an operator’s perspective, but sometimes there’s nothing I want more than a nice takeout box on a tired weeknight!) I slipped in what felt like one of my last fun not-supposed-to-be-takeout takeout orders with sustainable sushi newcomer Rosella last week just as the restaurant started to pair down its off-site orders — it now only accepts takeout orders before 6 p.m. or after 9 p.m. — to make more room for its nightly tasting menu. I got the chirashi bowl, now priced at $35, and found a sunny park bench nearby to sit and inhale meaty cuts of fish mixed with thinly-sliced strips of avocado, savory herbs, sweet cubes of tamago, and generous scoops of roe, all laid over a thick bed of tangy, vinegary rice. It was a luxurious park bench meal, and I savored every bit of it. 137 Avenue A, between between East Ninth Street and St. Marks Place, East Village — Erika Adams, reporter

An overhead photograph of several dishes, including a pizza, eggs benedict, and a bowl of tahini and sliced tomato
Several dishes at Fandi Mata
Luke Fortney/Eater

Tahini and tomato mezze at Fandi Mata

Those looking to venture indoors again — but not sure where to start — might consider a table at Fandi Mata. This Greenpoint newcomer opened its doors one block from McCarren Park last December, operating out of a warehouse that used to repair ambulances. Some trappings from its days as a repair shop remain, but the interior has been gutted and turned into this two-story restaurant with lots of room to spread out, dozens of indoor plants, and tahini ($8) good enough to make you forget it’s your first time indoors in over a year. When the weather gets warm enough, Fandi Mata opens its sidewalk-facing doors, which are more than a story tall and offer plenty of airflow. 74 Bayard Street, between Lorimer and Leonard streets, Greenpoint — Luke Fortney, reporter

A deflated but golden brown souffle rests in a tin dish on top of a wooden table
Japanese souffle pancake at Rule of Thirds
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Japanese souffle pancake at Rule of Thirds

I don’t remember the last time I made it a point to go out for brunch and it felt like the kind of date with friends where the day was carefree and you could wander around multiple neighborhoods. Maybe it was the stylish interior design at Rule of Thirds — the private outdoor bungalows are especially sleek — that set the tone. My friends and I shared three Japanese breakfast sets consisting of roasted fish, chicken meatballs, and braised pork belly served on a nice set of ceramics that look like they could be used in glossy magazine spread. But it was an impressive fluffy Japanese souffle pancake ($18) with honey maple butter that stole the show. Its airy texture reminded us of the sponge cakes from Kam Hing Coffee Shop, the popular Chinatown spot. Each bite was as comforting as a slice of pound cake but so light that couldn’t resist digging in for one more bite. 171 Banker Street, between Meserole and Norman avenues, Greenpoint — Bao Ong, editor