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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Smiling slices of cheesecake, banh mi from the best in town, and more

An overhead photograph of banh mi sandwiches and canned beers sitting in grass.
Ba Xuyên’s banh mi pairs well with City Lights, a light lager from Five Boroughs brewing.
Nat Belkov/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.

March 27

Banh mi combination #1 at Ba Xuyên

March 20 may have been the official first day of spring, but ask a New Yorker and you’ll hear that yesterday kicked off the new season. We decided to seize the bluebird day and 60-degree temps by biking down to Sunset Park, grabbing a few beers from Five Boroughs, and a couple of banh mis from Ba Xuyên to enjoy al fresco. Its French bread, a make-or-break component, is tender, soft, and slightly sweet with an outer shell reminiscent of San Franciscan Dutch crunch in the way it cracks on first bite ($7.50). That bread is griddled, brushed with butter, and doused in a few shakes of Maggi seasoning before being tucked with shaved jalapeno, stemmy cilantro, cucumber spears, pickled carrots, Vietnamese pork roll, barbecued pork, and smooth pate that carries the right amount of gaminess and five spice. As we enjoyed our sandwiches in the park, kids flew kites, teenagers shot hoops, and aunties gathered together to exercise, all against the backdrop of the city skyline. A perfect kick-off to the warmer months ahead. 4222 Eighth Avenue, near 43rd Street, Sunset Park — Nat Belkov, design director

A gleaming lumpy mass of red sauce garnished with onions and cilantro.
Duck chili at Taste From Everest.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Duck chili at Taste From Everest

Taste From Everest is that rare South Asian restaurant that incorporates Himalayan food from both Nepal and far northern India. It’s located in the neighborhood fondly known as Curry Hill near the southernmost stretch of Lexington Avenue and has remained largely overlooked during its three-year existence. This viscous red chili ($10) — a conceptual cousin of chili con carne, but inadvertently so — is a wonderful app, with lots of boneless (but gloriously skin-on) duck, which delivers a burst of pondwater flavor when you bite into it. The dish is from Central Nepal, where duck is a popular meat, and a similar recipe is also made with water buffalo. 102 Lexington Avenue, between 27th and 28th streets, Murray Hill — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A slice of cheesecake is decorated with edible mushrooms and colorful frosting on a blue cafeteria tray next to a cold brew coffee.
A smiling slice of cheesecake at Gong Gan.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Black tea cheesecake at Gong Gan

Our team resuscitated its bakery heatmap last week, a guide to those thorny pastry and cake shops where lines form out front before opening, and the most coveted (read: Instagrammed) treats often sell out within minutes. Well, I’m only human, and last week the hype led me to Gong Gan in downtown Flushing, one of the map’s newest recruits. Desserts come from an alum of the Michelin-starred restaurant Per Se, and our haul included this smiling slice of black tea cheesecake ($15) served on a blue cafeteria tray. The colorful “moss” and edible mushrooms on top turned heads, and even one iPhone camera, as I carried this back to my table, but the less picturesque gray cake interior, which tasted faintly of tea, was best of all. 37-02 Prince Street, at 37th Avenue, Flushing — Luke Fortney, reporter

Skewers at Dame.
Skewers at Dame.
Kristen Kornbluth/Eater NY

Squid and scallion skewers at Dame

Greenwich Village’s English seafood hotspot Dame had been on my list for years and I finally got to visit the other night with a friend who was in town. We were both impressed with everything we ordered — obviously, we tried the iconic fish and chips — but for me, the squid and scallion skewers ($14) stole the show. The squid boasted a nice chew and zippy flavor. I wish we had each gotten two orders. 87 MacDougal Street, near Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village — Kristen Kornbluth, social media manager

Steamed chicken momos at Cafe Himalaya

On a reporting mission in the East Village (yes, sometimes I do get to leave my desk during the work day), I took a break at Cafe Himalaya, which was a reliable spot for me when I was a college student and lived nearby. It was comforting to see that its reputation still held up, as I eavesdropped on two people talking about class crushes, while I crushed an order of steamed chicken momos ($13, eight to an order). The dish itself is quite simple but comes alive with a chile dipping sauce and a crunchy slaw side salad. 78 E. First Street, near First Avenue, East Village — Emma Orlow, reporter

March 20

A colorful dish of orange squash topped with quinoa salad and pomegranate pips.
Roasted acorn square at Robert.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Roasted acorn squash at Robert

High atop the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle sits the restaurant named Robert. Yes, the view of Central Park is much better than that of its more expensive neighbor, Per Se, and, yes, the food via chef Armando Cortes is great, too. My favorite dish last Saturday was roasted acorn squash ($18). It featured a good-size arc of creamy yellow squash helped on its way by a quinoa salad and maple yogurt sprinkled with pomegranate pips and toasted pumpkin seeds. Every sweet bite was a treat, without being too sweet. Note that if you eat a meal at Robert first, your admission to the museum downstairs is free. 2 Columbus Circle, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, Central Park South — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A hand holds a scoop of gelato designed to look like a rabbit with pink and green spoons.
The behaved bunny at La Mira Gelateria.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Peach oolong gelato at La Mira Gelateria

I spent the weekend wandering through Downtown Flushing, checking in on restaurants and food stalls that I had seen on TikTok over the last few months and bookmarked for a future trip. One place I didn’t find on that app, but feel like I should have, was La Mira Gelateria, which opened on Roosevelt Avenue last fall. The desserts shop specializes in scoops of gelato designed to look like various springtime animals, and its menu lists a small cast of emotional critters including “happy bear,” “chirpy chick,” and “little piggy” ($9.50). While I probably identified most with lonely panda, a worker behind the counter encouraged me to try behaved bunny — their favorite. (To make or to eat, I’m not sure.) I ordered it with peach oolong gelato, which was floral, not overly sweet, and tasted a bit like a well-made strawberry ice cream the more I ate. Not a bad thing. 133-35 Roosevelt Avenue, between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard, Flushing — Luke Fortney, reporter

A table is crowded with momos, bathuk, pork, and other Bhutanese dishes.
A self-service pot of fiery eze sits on each table at the Weekender.
Nat Belkov/Eater NY

Eze at the Weekender

Last week, after Robert hit up our newest addition to the small but mighty contingent of Bhutanese restaurants here in the city, I knew it was finally time to visit the Weekender, a restaurant doubling as a snooker and billiards hall tucked below the 7 train. Team, have we ever nominated a condiment for Best Dishes? The restaurant’s eze, with its slow, fiery burn and umami backbone certainly belongs here if so. The pungent, faintly citrusy pepper behind this memorable sauce is ema kam, a chile that in Bhutan is plucked and dried on rooftops before it’s ground into a paste with its seeds. I found myself spooning it on everything: the already hot sikam datsi with air-dried pork and a cheese sauce, the soul-soothing stew known as bathuk, and the tender steamed momo. The entire meal was on point. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my snooker game. 41-46 54th Street, near Roosevelt Avenue, Sunnyside — Nat Belkov, design director

Fried mushrooms in a soy glaze with other assorted veggies.
Fried mushrooms in a soy glaze with other assorted veggies.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Beoseot gangjeong at Hana Makgeolli

I’ve been keeping an eye on Hana Makgeolli, the artisanal Korean rice wine purveyor that’s making its way to restaurant menus all over the city, and was overdue for a hangout at its headquarters in Greenpoint. Located on a pretty industrial street tucked by the Pulaski Bridge, the airy room is both a production facility and taproom. My friend and I were mostly there for the glasses of the namesake rice wine drink, but we paired them with an assortment of fried mushrooms with a soy glaze ($24), which was a much more elegant drinking snack than it needed to be. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked so good, and I’ll have to come back to work my way through the rest of the menu. Keep an eye out for pop-ups also regularly hosted at the venue. 201 Dupont Street, near McGuinness Boulevard, Greenpoint — Emma Orlow, reporter

Vegetable dum biryani at Angel Indian Restaurant.
Nadia Q. Ahmad/Eater NY

Vegetable dum biryani at Angel

One of the chef’s specials on the menu at Angel Indian Restaurant, the vegetable dum biryani ($18), comes in a small clay pot sealed by naan. The word “dum” can trace its etymology back to a Persian term that refers to cooking something over a slow fire. The server cuts the naan open to let the steam escape, revealing spiced cauliflower, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, peas, herbs, and paneer cozily mixed in with saffron-flecked basmati rice, served with raita on the side. 74-14 37th Road, between 74th and 75th Streets, Jackson Heights — Nadia Q. Ahmad, copy editor

A white chocolate budino layered with whipped cream and butterscotch on a plate at Raf’s, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Nolita neighborhood.
The white chocolate budino at Raf’s.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

White chocolate budino at Raf’s

The caramelized white chocolate budino at the newly opened Raf’s is like eating a cloud layered with whipped cream and butterscotch ($10). The dessert mirrors the vibes of the trompe-l’oeil ceiling that showcases puffy cotton candy clouds against a robin’s egg blue sky in a fancied-up room that used to be Parisi Bakery. I am looking forward to what pastry chef Camari Mick rolls out next as the restaurant from the Michelin-starred Musket Room crew gets its bearings. 290 Elizabeth Street, near East Houston Street, Nolita — Melissa McCart, editor

Arancini at B’artusi

Soft and chewy (yet crispy), the arancini ($14) at B’Artusi are the perfect snack to have with a glass of wine and a friend. We ate these about as soon as they hit the table. They’re a must-order if you visit this restaurant, which is the more casual, younger counterpart to its sibling L’Artusi (and presumably easier to walk into). 520 Hudson Street, at West 10th Street, West Village — Kristen Kornbluth, social media manager

March 13

Miso panna cotta at Grindhaus.
Miso panna cotta at Grindhaus.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Miso panna cotta at Grindhaus

I was laughing when I saw Bon Appetit include quirky flavored panna cotta on its New American bingo card, right after I had this one at Grindhaus — the restaurant by Erin Norris, a former music publicist, and dominatrix, that first opened during Hurricane Sandy. But the Grindhaus panna cotta ($10) with miso and Lucky Charm marshmallows is truly in its own league. It’s a really fun and creative dessert that bucks pretension, with some added savoriness from the miso, to make it a child’s dream, remixed for adults. A great day to go is on a Monday, when most other spots are closed in the neighborhood. 275 Van Brunt Street, near Pioneer Street, Red Hook — Emma Orlow, reporter

A Paris-Brest that looks like an everything bagel.
A Paris-Brest at Koloman, layered with salmon, cucumbers, and horseradish chantilly, and finished with caviar.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

Paris-Brest at Koloman

I’m kind of obsessed with Koloman, the Viennese restaurant from Markus Glocker in what used to be the Breslin, and now I have another reason to go. It’s a brunch dish of all things, my least favorite meal, though I’d go for this: a savory version of a Paris-Brest — meant to resemble a bike wheel, albeit in this case, a small one. (The dish was named by pastry chef Louis Durant for a bike race between Paris and Brest, the French city.) Here, the dough is dressed with everything seasonings, which is split and layered with fancy Balik salmon, cucumbers, and horseradish creme instead of a mousseline, then topped with sturgeon caviar. Like the original, it’s crunchy and creamy, but with salmon and savory flavors, there’s the bagel-sandwich aspect, too. It’s over-the-top at $75: a decadent dish for sharing or a to-go gift. 16 W. 29th Street, near Broadway — Melissa McCart, editor

A white plastic dish with fried fish, blond gravy, and porridge with okra.
Flying fish and cou-cou
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Flying fish and cou-cou at Culpepper’s

With the closure of Cock’s further up Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights, and East Harlem’s Bajan Bistro, Culpepper’s is the only restaurant offering the food of Barbados that I know of. The national dish of flying fish and cou-cou ($22) starts with a cornmeal porridge dotted with flecks of okra very much like a West African fufu, and adds flying fish coated with spices and fried in batter. An oniony gravy ties the whole thing together, benefitting from a squirt of scotch bonnet hot sauce. Other dishes served similarly along with cornmeal or breadfruit cou-cou include cod, red snapper, kingfish, oxtails, and pork stew. 1082 Nostrand Avenue, at East New York Avenue, Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Honey butter pancakes.
Honey butter pancakes.
Kristen Kornbluth/Eater NY

Honey butter pancakes at Golden Diner

Some colleagues and I went out for a Friday lunch last week and Golden Diner did not disappoint this group of discerning eaters. The very first thing we landed on was an order of the honey butter pancakes ($14), because why not get a pancake for the table? Of course, we took the option to add berry compote ($4.50). You simply must live a little. We shared everything else on the table, but this was the star in my book. 123 Madison Street, near Market Street, Chinatown — Kristen Kornbluth, social media manager

March 6

Banchan by Sunny banchan.
Banchan by Sunny banchan.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Banchan at Marlow & Sons

Sunny Lee’s roving pop-up Banchan by Sunny is one of my favorites to keep track of for my guide, and this week I finally got to stop by her latest set-up. This time, held at Marlow & Sons, alongside its chef Ryoko Yoshida, we ordered the sundubu jjigae (with oxtail and clams), japchae noodles, a mushroom salad with sesame jang, mochi cake, and, needless to say, banchan. The namesake banchan offerings ($30) included kabocha squash bokkeum, lotus root jorim, Korean potato salad, eggplant namul, a play on giardiniera, and a ginger-pear napa cabbage kimchi — a vegetarian-friendly landscape of textural delights. 81 Broadway, near Berry Street, Williamsburg — Emma Orlow, reporter

An overhead photograph of a bean and cheese taco in aluminum foil.
A takeout taco from Yellow Rose.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Bean and cheese taco at Yellow Rose

Is there any better sight than a sea of beans and cheese overflowing from the city’s best flour tortilla onto a wad of aluminum foil and, ope, your blue puffer jacket? Actually, yes! Throw on that plastic cup of seedy salsa that comes on the side, and the scene is complete. Even two years after opening, it’s safe to say there still isn’t anything in the city like the Tex Mex tacos at Yellow Rose. Stewed fillings like barbacoa, chicken in salsa verde, fried potatoes, and more are heaped onto tortillas, but in my experience, the simple bean and cheese is best, with the added benefit of being the cheapest ($4). 102 Third Avenue, East 13th Street, East Village — Luke Fortney, reporter

Green chiles on a plate smeared with yellow cheese.
Ema datshi from Zhego.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ema datshi at Zhego

New York City is sadly deficient in restaurants from Bhutan, a country in the high eastern Himalayas sandwiched between China and India. It probably has the spiciest food in the world, with chiles of several sorts used in profusion, treated as vegetables rather than flavorings. Our newest Bhutanese restaurant is Zhego, from restaurateurs Tobden Jamphel and Sonan Tshering Singye. The national dish is ema datshi ($10.49), a plate of lightly cooked green chiles, seeds intact, swamped with cheese sauce. The dish is served with a cooling and colorful combination of white and red rice, and washing the dish down with the butter tea called suja helps, too. 31-04 61st Street, at 31st Avenue, Woodside — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A man holds a takeout container of kebabs in Jersey City.
A co-owner of Taste of Mazar, a newish food truck in Jersey City.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

Chicken and ribeye at Taste of Mazar

Okay, so I’m writing about a halal truck: much like the New York pizza slice, the best ones might be right in front of you — or, in my case, down the street from my apartment. Afghan kebab truck, Taste of Mazar rolled out in December in Jersey City, from a pair of cousins, Dave, raised in Queens after his folks moved from Afghanistan in 1981; and Kabir, David’s brother-in-law who was evacuated from Afghanistan with his family two years ago. The families pooled their savings to open this food truck. Choose from lamb over pulau with salad, a ribeye sandwich, or grilled chicken over rice ($12). I ordered the zippy mixed kebab ($18), hold the sauces, and rice studded with walnuts and raisins. 807 Summit Avenue, near Carlton Avenue, Jersey City — Melissa McCart, editor

Kaya butter toast at Kopitiam

On a recent visit, I went for the kaya butter toast ($7.50) at the Lower East Side all-day Malaysian cafe, Kopitiam. It was my first time trying it; I loved how the sweet kaya jam plays perfectly with the butter also slathered on the thick toast. It’s the perfect pregame for the rest of your meal there. 151 E. Broadway, near Rutgers Street, Lower East Side — Kristen Kornbluth, social media manager