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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

TikTok-famous chocolate cake, delivery dry pepper chicken, and more

A pale opaque broth with pieces of fish and a tree of green peppercorns on top.
The green peppercorn fish stew at Antidote.
Robert Sietsema/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.

September 26

Green peppercorn fish stew at Antidote

Opened in March of this year, Antidote is a Sichuan sleeper that also serves dim sum and a few Shanghai dishes over by the riverside Domino complex in Williamsburg. The food is fantastic, even though the place may be fated to be overshadowed by Birds of a Feather, a Sichuan classic in the same neighborhood. Typical of the highly spiced dishes is this piscine stew ($25), which immerses swatches of fish and napa cabbage in a delightful, pale green broth with a soupcon of sourness. With pickled bird chiles and a stalk of green peppercorns, in addition to the pepper-laced soup, the heat verges on the mind boggling, but you won’t be able to stop spooning it up as you sweat and shudder. 66 South 7th Street, between Kent and Wythe avenues, Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A hulking slice of chocolate cake barely fits on a white dinner plate.
A slice of devil’s food cake “for two” at Claud.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Devil’s food cake cake at Claud

Ahead of opening Claud this summer, co-owner Joshua Pinsky warned me that the slice of devil’s food cake on his menu could be the largest I had ever seen. I had my doubts as a Californian raised on Cheesecake Factory, but sure enough, the chef kept his word. This slab of chocolate cake and frosting was barely contained by the white dinner plate it was served on, which is probably one reason it’s found fans on TikTok. (Another is that it’s quite good.) Find it at the bottom of the menu under the “dessert for two” section, a curious label that’s probably meant to justify the price ($22) but ends up reading more like a challenge. Who’s to say it can’t be eaten alone? Or shared among the small herd of iPhone wielding children that occupied the front dining room on my visit? Go forth, sweet tooths! 90 E. 10th Street, between Third and Fourth avenues, East Village — Luke Fortney, reporter

Snow crab noodle at Tuome

This weekend I was invited to celebrate a friend’s birthday at Tuome, a cozy Michelin-starred Asian American restaurant in the East Village. While many things on the menu looked wonderful — we started with crispy deviled chile eggs and one of the most tender pieces of octopus I have eaten — there was one dish I knew I couldn’t leave without trying: The snow crab noodle with squash and dashi butter. A generous heap of soft and meaty crab lay atop al dente noodles swimming in an umami sea of melted dashi butter and squash ($43). To quote the birthday girl, “If you ever catch me staring into the middle distance, it’s because I’m thinking about those noodles.” 536 E. 5th Street, near Avenue B, East Village — Terri Ciccone, associate director of audience, analytics and operations

Dry pepper chicken at Han Dynasty

In 2013, Philadelphia-import Han Dynasty was one of the hottest tables in the East Village, with a proper wait to boot, but so the story goes that almost a decade later you can get the Sichuan-leaning fare delivered in about 20 minutes from the Upper West Side location. That reality came in handy recently when a late night at work had me craving something fancy-ish around 11:00 p.m. No surprise here: Han Dynasty came through. In fact I’ll go even further: The dry-spice chicken exhibited more impressive crispness than most restaurant versions even thought it had been packed up in a delivery box for 15 minutes or so. The “triple flash fried” nuggets, textured like crunchy little doughnuts stuffed with poultry, soaked up the ample chile oils and lit my palate ablaze ($21.75). A bitter musk perfumed the air as I attempted to quell the pain with a good IPA. 215 West 85th Street, near Broadway, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Three balls of fried dough float in syrup in a metal tin on a wooden table.
The gulab jamun at Gupshup.
Avery Dalal/Eater NY

Gulab jamun at GupShup

This week, I headed over to GupShup, an upscale Indian restaurant in Manhattan. While the dinner itself was good, the real standout to me was the gulab jamun. This is a dessert I grew up eating, loving, and craving and this restaurant’s iteration might be some of the best I’ve had. The dish is fairly simple: It’s a deep-fried dough ball that’s soaked in a sugar syrup with a slight rose flavor. (“Gulab” means rose water, and “jamun” refers to a berry of similar size to the dough balls.) The simple iteration at GupShup came out warm, almost hot, and a perfect consistency ($8), as the mushy interior almost melts in your mouth, with the rosy sugar completely overriding any other flavors going on here. If I’m ever in the area, I would seriously consider popping in just to try the dessert. 115 E. 18th Street, between Park Avenue and Irving Place, Gramercy – Avery Dalal, audience fellow

September 19

Toasted brioche with dried pork and sweet chili paste at Noods n’ Chill | Nat Belkov/Eater

Toasted brioche with dried pork and sweet chili paste at Noods n’ Chill

Thai sweet chili paste, or nam prik pao, and its distant cousin sweet chili sauce are two entirely different ball games. Where the latter is more aqueous and ketchup-like in consistency, touting flavors of sambal oelek and rice vinegar, the former is a deep red pulp made from charred chiles, shallots, and garlic, along with dried shrimp, fish sauce, and tamarind paste. This chili paste plays a role in many of the dishes at Noods n’ Chill — a favorite of mine being this breakfast or after-school snack built atop a griddled slice of pillowy brioche, the thickness of which gives Texas Toast a run for its money ($8). After a generous swath of that delectable paste comes a showering of pork fu, cotton candy-like spindles of wispy floss made from pork shoulder that’s been fried, shredded, doused in oyster sauce, and then refried. You’ll find many an avocado toast in this enclave of Williamsburg, but when it comes to cravings for a quick open-faced snack that shows up with the savory-sweet flavor, Noods n’ Chill is in a whole other league. 170 S. Third Street, between Driggs and Bedford avenues — Nat Belkov, design director

A filet sticks out of a small bun with lettuce and a green background.
The fried fish bun at Baby’s Buns & Buckets.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fried fish bun at Baby’s Buns & Buckets

This new counter at the Dekalb Market Hall offers Thai food with an American twist, and what this means in practice is a fried fish sandwich on a small brioche bun heaped with a thick wad of baby lettuces, a tomato slice, and a crisp basa filet with just the right amount of breading and snap. But what makes the dish uniquely Thai is the condiments that boost the flavor: a thick slather of garlic mayo and prodigious squirt of chile dressing, with enough sweetness to call attention to itself as the prima donna of the sandwich. Oh, and the already buttery brioche has also been spread with more butter. At $7, this sandwich is a steal and jam-packed with flavor, though you might want to eat it with a fork. 445 Albee Square West, between Fulton and Willoughby streets, Downtown Brooklyn — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Stewed meat with cheese, onions, and cilantro, is distributed across three orange tortillas.
A trio of birria tacos at Chofi Taco.
Stefania Orrù/Eater NY

Birria tacos at Chofi Taco

There are a handful of Mexican spots that do really great birria tacos in North Jersey, but Chofi Taco is at the top of my list. Its birria quesataco is packed into a crispy homemade tortilla with stewed birria de res, gooey cheese, onions, and cilantro ($5 each) with a consomé so good I caught my dining partner slurping it right out of the bowl between taco dunks. No drop left behind. I recommend hunkering down at one of Chofi’s colorful tables and ordering one of everything, especially its savory esquites and ultra-fresh guacamole and chips, chasing it all down with a pineapple agua fresca. Bring a friend along to help drag you out the door at the end of your meal. Buddy system! 1706 Summit Avenue, between 17th and 18th streets, Union City — Stefania Orrù, supervising producer, Eater video

A stainless steel tray with papaya salad and a handful of oysters.
The som tum hoy at Zaab Zaab.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Som tum hoy at Zaab Zaab

Great news: Zaab Zaab, the Elmhurst restaurant known for its Isan Thai cooking, is now open in Williamsburg. Rest assured, the second location — called Zaab Zaab Talay — isn’t holding back on account of recently blonde Brooklyn hipsters. We ordered a papaya salad with oysters and crab legs ($26) at the hottest level possible, and after spooning a few bites into our mouths, our dinner conversation had been reduced to a series of guttural, pre-evolutionary noises that can best be summed up as, “More beer, please.” Around the time that we slurped our last oyster, a worker emerged from the kitchen with an apology: Turns out, they sent out the salad at the least spicy level by mistake, and a hotter version was currently on the way. Of that other dish, all that I can say for sure is that it caused me to sweat, and then cry. I’ll call them tears of joy. 208 Grand Street, between Driggs and Bedford avenues, Williamsburg — Luke Fortney, reporter

September 12

Chicken sandwich at Tørst

In a city — nay, country — where hot chicken is taking our tastebuds by storm, Tørst chooses the road less traveled. This Greenpoint beer bar houses over twenty taps with some of the most eccentric and off-the-radar brews available. Unlike many taprooms, Tørst’s stellar food program vies for the spotlight. Its take on the chicken sandwich ($16) showcases a craggy fried thigh perfectly sized for the toasted potato bun it’s served on. A generous smear of lime aioli keeps the tall mound of crunchy shaved cabbage in place, and the crown jewel — a heap of pickled carrots, jalapeños, and onions — counters the crunch with brightness and a little heat. This is a not-hot hot chicken sandwich, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With flavors this balanced, you won’t find yourself missing those extra Scoville units. 615 Manhattan Avenue, near Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint — Nat Belkov, design director

A sausage, heap of shaved brisket, and red-sauced pork on a concave griddle.
Meats strewn on the grill at Wonder Pig.

All-you-can-eat barbecue at Wonder Pig BBQ

I dropped by Sunnyside’s Wonder Pig K-BBQ, a Korean barbecue that opened last December with the ambiance of an airplane hangar. There, for the extraordinary price of $37, one gets to pick unlimited meats from a list of 21 — I chose beef brisket, spicy pork bulgogi, and spicy pork sausage — along with side dishes, rice, and a modest collection of banchan. And once finished with the first wave, you can order more meat and side dishes, so long as you don’t stay more than 100 minutes. Barbecuing is done at a domed griddle at your table, and the meats I tried were delicious, fatty, and succulent. After eating most of what was in front of me, I didn’t have room for further selections. 37-08 Queens Boulevard, between 37th and 38th streets, Sunnyside — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A collection of Sichuan dishes are arranged at a table.
Braised beef in red soup (bottom left) and other Sichuan dishes at Cafe China.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

Braised beef in red soup at Cafe China

Back when I wrote about restaurants in Pittsburgh, my go-to order at Chengdu Gourmet from James Beard semifinalist Wei Zhu was his braised beef stew: a deep-red treasure trove of garlic, scallions, ginger, and cilantro among pieces of cauliflower, cabbage, beef, and fried tofu triangles. The one at Cafe China has its own kind of magic, layered with similar ingredients as well as fluttery dried tofu skins, chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns ($32). The Midtown restaurant’s newish digs are really fun — a three-story space with chintz chandeliers and my favorite nook, a dark balcony U-shaped counter on the second level with library lamps. If you hadn’t been to this classic spot in awhile, make plans to revisit. 59 W. 37th Street, near 6th Avenue, Midtown — Melissa McCart, interim editor

A frothy bowl of green aguachile is served in a volcanic stone molcajete with tostadas on the side.
The aguachile verde at El Rey Del Pescado.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Aguachile verde at El Rey del Pescado

Researching this guide on mariscos last week led me to El Rey del Pescado, a Sunset Park marisquería whose backyard can sometimes feel like a club after sundown: There are colorful red lights, a wooden sign encouraging customers to order Fireball shots — we obliged — and a karaoke machine that its owners seem quite proud of. It was in this unlikely setting that I slurped one of my favorite aguachiles of the summer, a spicy swamp of cilantro, lime, serrano peppers, and shrimp served in a molcajete ($17). The liquid, thick and frothy as though it had just been poured from a blender, was good enough to drink with a straw. Can you blame us if we did? 4515 Fifth Avenue, between 45th and 46th streets, Sunset Park — Luke Fortney, reporter

Black sesame shortbread cookies at Lysée

Lysée in Flatiron recommends consuming its “experimental” shortbread within 24 hours of purchase, but my central cookie rule holds that when eating cookies, there are no rules! And so it goes that following my writeup of Eunji Lee’s excellent Korean French bakery, I’ve returned to the fridge to snack on these fine treats day after day. The $18 box holds about eight or so black sesame cookie sandwiches — too much for a 24-hour period, even if a certain Sesame Street character might disagree — each one filled with just a little bit of soy caramel. They taste precisely like they sound: sweet, salty, savory, and profoundly nutty, with a soft texture that suggests they were made with an unholy amount of butter. I’ll admit, though, that the cookies reached their textural prime on the first day. 44 East 21st Street, near Park Avenue, Flatiron — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

September 6

A slice of pie with red and yellow slice tomatoes as filling.
Heirloom tomato pie from Commerce Inn.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Heirloom tomato pie at Commerce Inn

It’s a bittersweet time of year when heirloom tomatoes start disappearing from farmers markets. One of my favorite dishes using them is the heirloom tomato pie, which requires specimens that are both sweet and still firm — and thus is impossible to make as the season winds down. The pie uses a conventional shell, and fills it with a few simple ingredients, including plain white cheese, herbs, and sliced tomatoes. The version I had over the weekend at Shaker tavern Commerce Inn was perfect, with the disappearing taste of summer in each glorious bite. Goodbye, tomato pie ($10), until next year. 50 Commerce Inn, between Bedford and Barrow streets, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

The top third of a winter melon is lopped off, exposing a soup inside.
The winter melon soup at Ping’s.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Winter melon soup at Ping’s

You won’t find this winter melon soup on the menu at Ping’s, but visit this Chinatown dim sum spot enough times, and you’re sure to spot one at least once. The steaming gourds emerge from the kitchen in various sizes — “small,” pictured here, or medium and large for bigger groups — mostly reserved for customers in the know. The unlisted dish ($80) takes hours to prepare and to get ahold of it, you’ll have to call ahead of time. Why go through the trouble, when there’s perfectly good rice rolls and cold poached chicken that can be ordered on the spot? In my case, this soup ended up being one of the best I had this summer. It comes swimming with sea cucumber, mushroom, and tender melon meat that a server carves from the sides of the gourd. There’s enough broth for eight small bowls or so, making this a nice addition to a celebratory meal with other dishes. 22 Mott Street, near Pell Street, Chinatown — Luke Fortney, reporter

A hand holds a plastic cup with an Etna Mess label filled with tomatoes, strawberries, meringue, and caramel.
The Etna Mess at Archestratus.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Etna Mess at Archestratus Books + Food

Served parfait style, this layered dessert is a play on the English Eton mess, offered at combination cookbook store and Sicilian cafe Archestratus. After seeing the flavor-of-the-day posted on Instagram, I nearly ran out the door to snag one with jammy tomatoes, strawberries, caramel, and meringue ($9.50 for a size that’s large enough to share, or portable enough to stick in the fridge for later). People love reminding you that tomato is, in fact, a fruit not a vegetable, but I haven’t experienced it in desserts before, really. Need more tomato desserts, please! 160 Huron Street, near Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint — Emma Orlow, reporter

Sushi hand roll at Momoya Soho

The omakase kiwami ($250 per person) at the newish Momoya Soho is a really fun journey, a deluxe series of dishes from starters to sashimi to chawanmushi, right into a super delicious 12-piece chef’s selection sushi, a miso soup respite, then a hand roll followed by, yes, dessert. After some glorious variations on tuna, this hand roll was a reminder: Let’s keep this tasting (and a bazillion bites of really beautiful fish later) every bit as special at the end. Next thing you know, dinner is done. 47 Prince Street near Mulberry Street, Soho — Melissa McCart, interim. editor