New York City Eats

Ten Under a Buck

text and photos by iLuvpotato © 2014

text and photos by iLuvpotato © 2014

With high cost in rent, food, transportation in most cities these days, it can get depressing living in a big city like New York City where on a daily basis where most of us are watching our budget.  I am probably the worst Chinese when it comes to crunching numbers but what I did inherit is a tolerance for cheese (my god, I love cheese!) and being economically savvy.  I went on a mission to find what is available for a dollar and still eat well, without the usual greasy fried dumplings or 2 Bros Pizza – which I have never tried before and still hesitant to.  Here are 10 items under $1 or less in New York City metro area and no, it’s not an April Fools’ joke:

1. Sullivan Street Bakery
Pizza Bianca:  Sullivan Street Bakery is celebrating their 20th Anniversary and for a limited time only they are offering their signature pizza bianca for only $1. Until April 17, so get there fast.

2. Hong Kong Hot Cakes
Hong Kong Hot Cakes: These are similar to the French madeleines, Southern hot cakes or Belgium waffles. There used to be a popular red kiosk selling Hong Kong Hot Cakes on Mosco Street in Chinatown.  The lines would be as long as the lines for cronuts.  It closed in the early/ mid-90s and now are sold in street carts in various locations in Chinatown.  The way it is made is on a cast iron waffle-like pan with no more than few ingredients of egg, sugar and flour.  A treat for all ages. $1 for 15 pieces.

3. Fried Dumpling
Hot and Sour Soup: Located in one of my favorite streets in Chinatown on Mosco Street, Fried Dumpling is a hole in the wall shop and has a variety of items for $1 including fried dumplings of course.  Although, I recommend having their hot and sour soup instead.  It’s served piping hot and perfect for a frigid day or to fight a cold. There are generous amount of ingredients in the soup that includes tofu and mushrooms. Though avoid going on weekdays after 3pm as the place will get very crowded with school kids.

4.  Fong Inn Too
Herbal Tea: I have been going to Fong Inn Too since I was a child.  My mom would buy their turnip cakes or soy pudding dessert. Since then I have become a regular myself but for their $1 herbal tea.  It comes in black and unlike many herbal tea, it is not bitter and naturally sweeten.  It is also said to get rid of toxins or inflammations. Its purpose, although not proven should have similar affect as juice cleansing if not greater and much friendlier on the wallet.  If you’re lucky sometimes they bottle the chrysanthemum tea for $1 too.

5. Bakeri
Assortment of cookies $1 each (lavender shortbread, earl grey tea, peanut magic bar):  I’m obsessed with Bakeri in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and their $1 assortment of cookies have me return consistently.  My favorite is Bakeri’s lavender shortbread cookie.  I usually dislike lavender baked goods because of the perfume taste but this version is fresh and subtle that I could eat a jar of it.  Its a charming little cafe, bakery and I guarantee it will be hard  to resist not to spend more than a dollar.

6. Golden Manna Bakery
Egg Tart:  A variety of baked goods in Chinatown are still $1 or less but if you must choose wisely on how to spend the dollar, I recommend the egg tart from Golden Manna Bakery. The inner egg has the texture of a flan or a custard on a flaky miniature pie crust. It’s a favorite among many during dim sum or for dessert.

7. Bagel Bob’s
Assortment of bagels: New York City hands down has the best bagels and is an iconic food item.  It’s cheap and satisfying.  Bagel Bob’s in Greenwich Village has probably one of the best hand made boiled bagels and on Mondays from 4-7pm they sell their freshly baked bagels for only $.45 cents! It’s so cheap it almost feels wrong. There is usually a mini line but moves efficiently with friendly counter staff, armed and ready.

8. Kossar’s Bialys
Bialy (onion, garlic, or poppy seeds):  Kossar’s Bialys on Lower East Side is an old school bakery making their signature bialys for over 65 years. The recipe and craft is based on traditional methods past down through generations and truly defines the meaning of artisans. For $.90 cents each, there are 3 kinds of bialys, traditional- onion, garlic and poppy seeds.

9. Tea Eggs
Tea Eggs: I got the idea of writing $1 food when my local dry good store on the corner of Catherine and Division street introduced selling tea eggs, 3 for $1.  The aroma of the marinated tea, soy sauce and spices could be smelled from a distance and it’s a great replacement as a hand warmer in the winter months. Since then they have raised it to $1.25 but it’s worth the extra quarter.

10. 83 Elizabeth Street Chinese Sausage ( lap cheong)
Chinese Sausage (lap cheong):  Chinese sausage is cured meat and is similar to chartcuterie.  There are various grades of Chinese sausages but my favorite is their house cured one which you can get it loosely, 2 for $1.  It’s one of my favorite ingredients and a better alternative to Spam meat.  In fact during Hurricane Sandy, it was one of my survival gourmet food items.  All you will need  is a butane gas stove, clay pot, rice, water and Chinese Sausage and you have yourself a clay pot rice or an inexpensive version of paella.

{ Directory }
Sullivan Street Bakery (both locations)

Hong Kong Hot Cakes (various Chinatown locations)
a. Corner of Canal St and Mulberry St
b. Corner of Bowery St and Pell St

Fried Dumpling

Fong Inn Too

Bakeri

Golden Manna Bakery (various Chinatown locations)

Bagel Bob’s

Kossar’s Bialys

Tea Eggs (various Chinatown locations)
a. Corner of Catherine St. and Division St.
b. Corner of Rutger Slip and East Broadway
c. Corner of Hester St. and Elizabeth St.

Chinese Sausages or Lap Cheong
83 Elizabeth St.

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New York City Eats

Hungover from Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes  from Clinton Street Bakery – start to somewhat finished

February 19th, 2010

“February is Pancake Month!”  At Clinton Street Bakery that is.  Clinton Street Bakery is celebrating all month long this February in this official national Pancake week (February 14th -20th, 2010).  Whoever comes up with food holidays are a genius!  It encourages someone like me who doesn’t eat pancake often to be pressure to order pancakes.  I must admit I don’t really like pancakes that much to begin with.  Perhaps the reason is I have only had pancakes from franchise restaurants such as Denny’s, Ihop or McDonald (Hot Cakes) while growing up and have never really had authentic pancakes on American soil before …(?)  I think pancakes are fun to make at home and to eat it is rather bland but for me it is all about the topping.

“Voted for the best Pancakes in New York City Since 2008″ —  Clinton Street Bakery is a hot spot for brunch in New York City.  The wait for a table for 4 on a weekend brunch hours could last to one and a half hour or more, even on a snow day.  Anyone crazy for a pancake for a Friday night dinner? Apparently everyone.  The wait was a hour long for 5 : me,  Jesse, Hayley, Lauren, and Peter.  While we waited we watched the table before us indulge in their stacks of pancakes but what seem to be in utter pain towards half of the pancakes they have eaten which I had second thoughts about ordering pancakes and was debating whether to order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a Jalapeno cornbread with coleslaw instead or to stick with our purpose ” pancakes.”  In honor of pancake week: blueberry pancakes it is.  Hayley, Lauren and Jesse all ordered the Chocolate Chunk pancake special (2/18, 2/19, 2/22).  On top of the Chocolate Chunk Pancakes, Jesse ordered a split pea soup and Peter apart from the pancakes ordered fish tacos.  Watching the last table struggle through their pancakes, we were determined even if it meant stuffing our face.  Our stack of fluffy pancakes came in three with a side of warm butter maple syrup which the syrup is the definite star.  I think I can chug a jar of this heaven.  The density of the the syrup is perfect, not too liquidity nor too thick and the sweetness is just right.  If anything the warm butter maple syrup is really what enhanced the pancakes.  Halfway into our pancakes we were all punch, drunk, love.  Feeling a bit nauseated,  I do not want to see or eat another pancake for a very long time.

Fried Turnip Cake – Courtesy of Jane’s Ma Ma

February 18, 2010

Jane and Cynthia made a visit to Chelsea for lunch at La Grainne Cafe on Thursday.  Jane delivered her mama’s homemade turnip cake they had remaining over the Chinese New Year but when Jane’s mama realized Jane was giving her turnip cakes to a friend, Jane’s mama made a fresh batch that morning, so sweet!  I had the royal treatment.  Turnip cake (Cantonese pronunciation: Law Bock Gow) is a common dish found on the push carts at dim sum and is commonly eaten during Chinese New Year at particular regions in China, Hong Kong.  The sound of turnip cake in Chinese is “growth” which is a positive connotation for children “growth in education or height,” and for adults “growth in career, etc”  Same for New Year’s Cake (Cantonese pronunciation: Neen Gow) though the taste differ with it’s sweetness.  The turnip cake is made of freshly shredded turnip radish with fillings of Chinese sausages, dried shrimps, and scallions / green onions.  You can have turnip cake both ways steamed or pan fried.  Which is exactly how I enjoyed mine.  Thank you Mrs. Tam!

That evening, I met with my friend Jervilyn for Bon Chon – A up and rising gourmet Korean fried chicken franchise opened nationwide and soon worldwide, Dubai…wow!  Jervilyn is obsessed with Bon Chon and the CEO of Bon Chon should endorse this girl as the official spokesperson or model.  After our first Bon Chon dinner at Boka’s in St.Mark’s Place, I was not blown away.  Though the stainless steal canister which I thought was hoping for to be used for a complimentary bottle of champagne was will you believe this, it is used to discard your chicken bones. Over the top fancy indeed.  Jervilyn suggested we have Bon Chon again, so I decided to give Bon Chon a second chance by trying their newest 38th street and 7th avenue location.  The new location in a corporate district had a sports bar essence.  With the first floor as a full bar and the second level as a dine in.  Bon Chon’s fried chicken is covered in sauce with  two flavors to select from is soy sauce garlic or spicy soy sauce garlic.  What was exciting was this location came with sides!  Unlike the Southern fried chicken complement with mac n cheese or mashed potates, sides at Bon Chon includes coleslaw, french fries, and it is a Korean franchise so going with the Asian flair there is rice and kim chi coleslaw.  I ordered the spicy route with spicy soy sauce garlic chicken wings and kim chi coleslaw and all platters comes with a side of cold radish salad with Asahi beer.  The kim chi coleslaw was pretty much ordinary coleslaw.  The radish complement with spicy soy sauce garlic fried chicken wings is really smart.  It lessens the heat level.  I think I got sucked into the Bon Chon paradigm.

Addresses:

Clinton Street Bakery /// 4 Clinton Street (btw. East Houston & Stanton), New York, NY 10002

La Grainne Cafe /// 183  9th Avenue, 21st street  New York, NY 10010

Bon Chon /// 207 38th Street, New York, NY 10018

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New York City Eats

Pitas, Sandwiches, and Banh Mi

Paris Baguette

I discovered Menupage to be a pretty unreliable source or at least for Istanbul Grill.  The reviews on menupage was better than it actually is. It is located on 14th street between 8th and 9th avenue and it is divided as half takeout and half dine-in.  I have past by it a few times on my way to West 14th street but have never eaten there nor have I ever eaten Turkish food.  What intrigued me in Turkish food was New York Times recent travel section article on Top 30 places to visit in 2010.  Turkey was not listed though users named Istanbul, Turkey as No. 1.  In addition this past Monday’s episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation was taken place in Istanbul, Turkey and the intern from work had returned from her one week winter study abroad where else but in Istanbul, Turkey.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I was in good company Ashley, Cynthia, Jane and I venture out from our comfort zone of Asian cuisines and trekked from Union Square over to Istanbul Grill after the free performance of Vampire Weekend at Barnes & Nobles.  When we arrived, I hesitated to walk in as it looked different than during the day time.  It was candle lit and emptied…hmm, perhaps it was early since it is a 24hr.  On the menu was a list of kebabs in sandwich or platter dishes.  We all ordered sandwiches since it was more budget friendly.  Cynthia and Jane got the Adana Kebab Sandwich (lamb), Ashley got the Chicken Shish Kebab Sandwich (?) and I went ahead indecisively, the Chicken Gyro Doner Sandwich with Turkish Coffee.  When our sandwiches came it was wrapped in the restaurant Chickpea paper bags.  The waitress brought three giant bottle of sauces, ketchup, hot sauce, and yogurt.  My Chicken Gyro Doner came semi-cold.  It had shredded grilled chicken, with lettuce, tomatoes, if I recalled correctly cucumbers too in a pita.  It is a pretty hefty portion of chicken and tasted rather bland so I added a lot of yogurt sauce bite after bite but still did not enhance the taste.  I ordered a Turkish coffee as well since I have never had one and was always curious what Turkish coffee is other than a coffee grind option button back in my Starbucks barista days.  If what I had was an authentic Turkish coffee, I do not ever want it again.  It was in an espresso size cup and with one sip the texture was thick and bitter as if I had chugged mud.  So I still prefer Mamoun’s Falafel / Shawarma on St.Mark’s Place or MacDougal Street or thanks to Cynthia for reminding me how delicious Taim is  I am now dreaming of going back to Taim.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Continuing with sandwiches, my sister decided to initiate a gathering with my cousins Lily and Nancy for brunch and bowling on Saturday.  I wanted to try Clinton Street Bakery since walking by on a snow day rather than our usual Dim Sum brunch.  When we arrived to Clinton Street Bakery at 12:30pm the wait for a table of 4 was going to be for 1 hour and a 1/2 or more.  Since we had further plans in the day, we decided to explore Lower East Side some more and by random we settled for a less crowded restaurant for lunch, Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop. The decor of the sandwich shop is painted in black with a giant tenement house mural growing from a corner, the table tops were black and so were the chairs.  The only in color was the wait staff and the diners and thankfully the food.  The menu was limit to and pretty simple just sandwiches and salads. I ordered a Spicy Rizzak which was turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, onions, chipotle mayo on a semolina sesame hero.  It came with a side of wavy chips in a basket, kind of like a local college hangout or style.  I split my sandwich with my sister’s Southwestern chicken which is pretty much the same except her is breaded and sweet.  The sandwiches were pretty homemade and nothing special but overall quite satisfying.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I walked by last weekend  the grand opening of Paris Baguette on Grand Street, a sister branch from the original Mott Street location. The Chinatown Paris Baguette is different than the Flushing, Queens location where it serves pastries and desserts.  Je’ Taime Chinatown Paris Baguette!  I love Vietnamese Banh Mi’s and Paris Baquette is one of my favorites.  It is amazingly inexpensive and amazingly delicious!  Everything even the baguettes are made fresh to order.  At this new location the menu remains the same with various Vietnamese deli cold cuts with the exception of the French inspired baked goods corner as soon as you walk in.  The new location introduces a new system with a loud speaker with numbers on the flat screen in reference to your order number.  My sister and I ordered the No. 1 Baguette to share which is the traditional Banh Mi with Vietnamese pate cold cuts with shredded carrots, cucumber and cilantro with a thin spread of Vietnamese mayo.  We also order a Vietnamese coffee which tasted like regular coffee.  For 2, we spent only $5.70, amazing deal!   This new location also introduces a combo meal that includes a Grilled Chicken Banh Mi, a green tea waffle and a coffee for only $5.00!  — now this is what I call a recession special.  Paris Baguette has done it again.

Addresses:

Istanbul Grill /// 210 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014

Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop /// 129 Rivington St. New York, NY 10002

Paris Baguette///  113 Mott St. New York, NY 10013 ( original) & Grand St. Between Mott street and Elizabeth Street (Grand Open)

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