clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Thai smash burgers, tea leaf salad, goat pepper soup, and more

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

An overhead photograph of a burger with an overflowing beef patty.
The krapow smash burger at Little Grenjai.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we 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.

January 29

Krapow smash burger at Little Grenjai

Last fall, I wrote about one of the city’s great new sandwiches: a smash burger with Thai basil and a spicy sauce made by cooking down shrimp heads ($11). If you tried it back then, you were one of the lucky ones. Little Grenjai, the burger’s home, closed after two weekends while owners Trevor Lombaer and Sutathip Aiemsaard waited for the gas to be turned on. The restaurant reopened on Friday with gas — and a full new menu — but obviously, I had to see how the burger had evolved. It’s now a bit thinner (a good thing) and has a nice char from the gas grill. Its signature condiment, a pickled “Thai” giardiniera, was as good as I remembered. 477 Gates Avenue, near Marcy Avenue, Bed-Stuy — Luke Fortney, reporter

Two spoons dig into a pile of crispy rice salad at Chao Thai, a restaurant in Elmhurst, Queens.
Crispy rice salad at Chao Thai.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Yam Nam Kaho Thot at Chao Thai

On a team excursion to Chao Thai in Elmhurst, we fell in love with the yam nam kaho thot, a crispy rice salad that hit all the right notes with a slow chile heat and the sour notes of fermented sausage and fish sauce ($16). I also loved the interplay of textures with the rice and pig skin. It was a special, but if it’s not available when you visit, there are enough stellar dishes here that another is bound to steal your heart. Cash only. 85-03 Whitney Avenue, near Broadway, Elmhurst — Melissa McCart, editor

A bowl jammed with brownish ingredients.
Tea leaf salad at Burmese Hut.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Tea leaf salad at Burmese Hut

If you’d rather drink tea than coffee, this meal-size salad ($10) is for you. The tea leaves have been fermented, and they are joined in the bowl by sliced garlic, fried shallots, crunchy toasted soybeans, and other aromatic ingredients too numerous to mention — but it somehow ends up tasting as if you’re eating a cup of umami-laden tea. One place you can find this Myanmar staple is at a tiny stall in what is now called Happy Mart (formerly HK Food Court) inside an Elmhurst Asian supermarket. The food court has had its ups and downs over the years as the supermarket has changed hands, but now there are a half dozen other stalls in operation, mainly selling Cantonese food. 82-02 45th Ave, near 47th Ave, Elmhurst — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Goat pepper soup at Radio Kwara.
Goat pepper soup at Radio Kwara.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Goat pepper soup at Radio Kwara

With so much coverage of Dept of Culture, and two years of James Beard nominations, I’ve been surprised that Radio Kwara hasn’t blown up. It’s as good as Dept of Culture and unlike the original, you can get in easily. The format is different: Most days the Nigerian restaurant serves dishes a la carte and owner Ayo Balogun isn’t there to tell stories of his youth. My favorites were the goat pepper soup ($36, yes, more than I’d usually want to pay for soup), which has a strong spice that kicks you until the last spoonful, but don’t skip the Nigerian agege bread ($21) with mushrooms. It’s listed as an appetizer, but I’d make it an entree any day. 291 Greene Avenue, near Classon Avenue, Clinton Hill — Emma Orlow, reporter

Chicken curry at Coqodaq

You can’t go to Coqodaq, the Cote team’s new Korean fried chicken spot, without ordering the $38-per-person Bucket List menu. But there’s a sleeper hit hiding in the “savory accompaniments” section: the chicken and curry ($24). Made with ground chicken, instead of the more commonly seen fried cutlet, the curry is flavorful and warming. We ordered a selection of carbs to round out all the chicken — mac and cheese, tteokbokki, fries — but the curry was the table favorite, like a soft, cozy hug that goes shockingly well with all of the crunchy fried goodness. 12 E. 22nd Street, near Broadway, Flatiron — Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief

January 22

Vanilla citrus croissant at Radio Bakery

I could sing praises for this new rock-star bakery from every rooftop in Greenpoint. But their latest special made me want to sing a little louder. Serving Orange Julius nostalgia, this croissant ($7) hides a layer of vanilla bean-flecked pastry cream under slivered winter citrus. And like the other laminated pastries here, the flakey layers feel infinite. The bakery uses satsuma and cara cara oranges, which are sweeter than your standard navel orange, but they’re balanced in this bright pastry. Talk about sunshine on a cloudy day. 135 India Street, near Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint — Nat Belkov, design director

A tostada with octopus, shrimp, shaved radish, and other garnishes.
A shrimp and octopus tostada at Quique Crudo.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Shrimp and octopus tostada at Quique Crudo

I know it’s winter, and I’m supposed to be craving soup, but last week at Quique Crudo, a cold seafood tostada ($18) sounded just right. Then again, so does almost anything made by Cosme Aguilar, the chef at Casa Enrique in Long Island City and this new bar in the West Village. He makes the dish with chef’s tweezers and lots of tiny garnishes. I couldn’t tell you what they were: I took a bite instantly, and the tostada shattered into a dozen delicious pieces. If you think that sounds good in 30-degree weather, just wait for the summer. 27 Bedford Street, near Downing Street, West Village — Luke Fortney, reporter

Two brown matzo balls in brown broth with carrots and rubbery seaweed.
Matzo ball miso soup at Haven.

Matzo ball miso soup at Haven

Sometimes you don’t realize the worth of a dish until days later. When I first tried this soup at Haven, I didn’t know if I liked it or not, but it increased in my estimation as time passed. A miso soup with lots of dashi umami is used instead of the usual chicken broth, and carrots are paired with kombu (kelp) as add-ins, plus the distinctly bi-cultural mushrooms. The matzoh balls themselves are totally doctrinaire, soft but still cohesive, and the collision of Jewish and Japanese flavors makes this soup ($14) a real Upper West Side phenomenon. 226 W. 79th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, Upper West Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Udon made with a cornhusk dashi.
Potato udon with cornhusk dashi at Corima.
Jovani Demetrie/Corima

Potato udon soup at Corima

For higher-end restaurants, soup seems to rarely be one of the more exciting offerings. While there are other dishes just as good at Corima — a new restaurant where LES meets Chinatown — the potato udon soup with cuttlefish is perhaps the most memorable. Made with an unctuous dashi of sorts prepared using corn husk, it is representative of chef Fidel Caballero’s vision to combine the flavors of Northern Mexico with Japanese techniques. Given that it is only available on the tasting menu ($98 per person), just a small portion is served. But I hope Caballero will someday consider making a larger bowl of this soup, or another, available on the a la carte menu at the front. 3 Allen Street, between Canal and Division streets, Chinatown — Emma Orlow, reporter

January 16

Pork and chive dumplings at Jin Mei Dumpling

When was the last time you had a full meal for five dollars? I don’t mean a “square” meal, as defined by the USDA. I mean the kind that leaves you clutching your stomach and searching in the cupboard for TUMS. That’s how I felt last weekend waddling away from Jin Mei Dumpling, a small storefront that has to be home to the best dumpling deal in Manhattan Chinatown. Five dollars gets you 15 pan-fried pork and chive dumplings. If you like a thin wrapper, steer clear: These are as thick as they come, discolored but not quite crispy on the bottom. They come ganged up in a single takeout container that I flooded with sauces: a watered-down sriracha and a darker dumpling sauce. 25 Henry Street, near Catherine Street, Two Bridges — Luke Fortney, reporter

Chicken in a heap with yellowish powder on top.
A smoldering plate of chicken suya at Wakky’s Nigerian restaurant.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Chicken suya at Wakky’s

Tired of the same old fried chicken? Here’s a scrumptious alternative: the chicken suya ($20) at Wakky’s in Crown Heights, a restaurant and bar that concentrates on the food of the Nigerian Delta. The bar snack chicken is different from the peanut-dressed skewers of beef or chicken suya more often found in Nigerian restaurants in town, instead a massive heap of smoky grilled chicken parts snowed with a spice powder that will set your lips on fire. It is served with shredded cabbage and sweet purple onion for crunch. 1174 St. Marks Avenue, near Utica Avenue, Weeksville —Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Winter chicories and citrus with spicy peanuts.
Winter chicories and citrus with spicy peanuts.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

Winter chicories and citrus at Don Angie

This past week, I went to Don Angie, and it’s still as packed as ever. Sitting in the corner window, my group over-ordered: All the salads! An extra pasta! All the desserts! While we kept talking about what our table called the “cheese salad” (chrysanthemum salad) for its layer of Parmesan (a trend I’m seeing in a lot of places), the best salad was the winter chicories with citrus and spicy peanuts ($19). An amalgam of bitter and sweet and salty and spicy — it’s the dish that I’d go back to order again and again for as long as I can get it. 103 Greenwich Avenue, near West 12th Street, West Village — Melissa McCart, editor

Jägerschnitzel on a plate at Zum Stammtisch.
Jägerschnitzel at Zum Stammtisch.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Jägerschnitzel at Zum Stammtisch

Zum Stammtisch is more than a restaurant. It’s a sensory overload in the best way possible: dressed up like an old-timey tavern, the kind where waitresses wear dirndls and there’s an attached gift shop selling jams and boxed chocolates. It’s exactly the place I want to be during an incredibly cold weekend dinner. We went for the jägerschnitzel — a decadent veal schnitzel with mushroom gravy ($32) — plus creamy pickled herring, beets, and the requisite mega pretzel with mustard and horseradish cream. 69-46 Myrtle Avenue, at 70th Street, Glendale — Emma Orlow, reporter

January 8

A hump of friend plantains with pork inside and shrimp on top.
Irma’s mofongo at El Rinconcito.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Irma’s mofongo at El Rinconcito

Remember when El Rinconcito was mainly a carryout window on East 10th Street? It closed after 27 years a few years back and only recently reopened further down Avenue C. The menu has been expanded at this Dominican spot that also features Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Italian dishes, plus burgers. When I made my first visit last week, I went right for one of the showiest dishes. Called Irma’s mofongo ($18), it features the usual fried plantain ball made with ripe and unripe fruit stuffed with pernil and dotted with small shards of pig skin for crunch. On top were eight jumbo shrimp, with a red gravy on the side with just a hint of cumin, along with a small salad and garlic bread. This is one of the best versions of mofongo around and more than a full meal. 75 Avenue C, near East Sixth Street, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A stack of golden, fried logs, Filipino spring rolls, from Tito Rad’s Grill in Woodside, Queens.
An order of turon from Tito Rad’s Grill.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Turon at Tito Rad’s Grill

I’ve never been one for white tablecloth restaurants, but a place that uses big squares of parchment paper torn within seconds of you sitting down? I’m home. You can scrawl on their surfaces with crayons and slurp noodles without fear of racking up someone else’s laundry bill. No one knows this better than Tito Rad’s Grill, a Filipino restaurant in Woodside where there are lots of ways to make a mess. As you eat, the paper keeps the score. It’s splattered with orange kare kare stew and gray grease slicks from deep-fried pork knuckle. If only you could take it home afterward and hang it up somewhere prominent. The theme doesn’t stop at dessert, either, where the best option is turon, fried spring rolls filled with banana mush whose greasy wrappers end up everywhere. An order of nine of them costs $7 before tax. 49-10 Queens Boulevard, between 49th and 50th streets, Woodside — Luke Fortney, reporter

A mushroom pupusa at Pupusas Ridgewood.
A mushroom pupusa at Pupusas Ridgewood.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Mushroom pupusa at Pupusas Ridgewood

Since it opened in 2020, Pupusas Ridgewood has been one of my most recurring snack spots. Owner Guillermina Ramirez serves several pupusas including chicken mole, zucchini blossom, huitlacoche, and my favorite, hongos (mushrooms), all for less than $5. They come with a crunchy side slaw and if you put a to-go container on your lap, these pupusas, made to order, can double as a seat warmer. There are always plenty of veggie-friendly options, as well as several types of tamales and agua frescas. When I stopped by recently she told me she and her daughter have started an off-menu list of offerings, including tacos, quesadillas, fried chicken with plantain, and more. Just ask for daily specials. Note: There’s no indoor seating, but there are a few outdoor tables for when the weather allows. 71-20 Fresh Pond Road, near Myrtle Avenue, Ridgewood — Emma Orlow, reporter

January 2

Shish barak at Huda

When I interviewed Gehad Hadidi, the owner of the new Williamsburg restaurant Huda, it was clear the shish barak would be a crowd favorite. That proved true when I finally dined there over the holidays. The restaurant pulls from Hedadi’s Lebanese and Palestinian heritage, mixing in the bistro notes he’s honed owning La Bonne Soupe in Midtown. The Lebanese beef tortellini with yogurt sauce ($28), seven to an order, which Hedadi ate as a child at home, was as comforting and creamy as I had hoped, with a nice crunch from the pine nuts. 312 Leonard Street, at Conselyea Street, Williamsburg — Emma Orlow, reporter

A lamb shank with farro.
Lamb shank at Corto in Jersey City Heights.
Melissa McCart/Eater NY

Lamb shank at Corto

I had taken a break from my neighborhood Corto for the past year and recently returned because I wanted to go with Robert, who’d never been. Since my last visit, the expansive year-round terrace is far warmer, has a new permanent floor, and generally feels pretty close to eating indoors. (The staff was super friendly, too.) One of the aspects I’ve appreciated about Corto’s menu is the outdoor grill and smoking situation: When Robert saw the chef tending to lamb a lamb shank ($38), we knew we had to get it. As solid as the meat and cheese plate (from co-owner Drew Buzzio of legendary Salumeria Biellese) and pastas may be, the garlicky lamb with smoked farro turned out to be a favorite dish of 2023. 507 Palisade Avenue, at Bowers Street, Jersey City Heights — Melissa McCart, editor

Eight momos arranged on a plate around a dipping sauce.
Chicken momos at Himalayas Newa Cafe.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Momos at Himalayas Newa Cafe

Right when I thought Greenpoint couldn’t fit another new restaurant, one more opened at the end of the year. Himalayas Newa Cafe, a small Nepalese restaurant, is run by Asha Maharjan, a first-time restaurant owner who makes momos by hand. The dumplings come eight to an order with several options of fillings. Try the one with chicken ($8). Inside a wrapper with seven neat pleats, ground chicken is mixed with squash, onion, scallion, cilantro, and a sinus-clearing scoop of garlic and ginger. The mustard-colored dipping sauce on the side, a tomato achaar chile sauce, is good enough to drink with a straw. 211 McGuinness Boulevard, between Greenpoint Avenue and Calyer Street, Greenpoint — Luke Fortney, reporter

A rectangular plastic container with chicken chunks, rice, and broccoli.
Basil chicken at Apou’s Taste.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Basil chicken at Apou’s Taste

Operator Doris Yao (nicknamed “Apou”) started her small cafe as a street cart in 2010, and by 2017 it had turned into this tiny, delicious, and cluttered cafe, a throwback to the days before restaurants had interior designers. Her rendition of Taiwan’s signature dish, three cup chicken ($8), here called basil chicken, is spectacular — gingery and sweet, served with fluffy white rice and steamed broccoli, making it a good-sized meal. Dig the homemade chile oil! Wash it down with canned Chinese herbal tea. 963 Grand Street, near Morgan Avenue, East Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic