8 GREAT ASIAN EATERIES IN NYC

My Chinese roots have left me with a natural affinity for Asian cuisine flavors. And in New York City, we're spoiled silly with limitless choices of Asian restaurants. Still, finding the gems can seem overwhelming. Here I'm pleased to share eight ("8" indicates prosperity in Chinese) places that I think are stand outs. I recommend all of them mostly based on the strength of the food. For this list, I've also decided to stick with Manhattan since that's the borough that I know best.

1. Excellent Pork Chop House
3 Doyers Street, Chinatown
Although Flushing, Queens might be better known for good Taiwanese restaurants in the city, Excellent Pork Chop House represents Manhattan exceptionally well. And you can eat here for under $10. The Taiwanese homestyle cooking is soooo good here you'll feel like you're not even sitting in a restaurant. The pork chop over rice is, indeed, excellent. You have to get it for sure. But the best dish here is the piping hot Braised Chicken Soup which comes with a heaping bowl of vegetable rice with minced pork. You'll leave stuffed and happy, and it's not because of the ambiance, of which there is none.

2. Obao
222 East 53rd Street, Midtown East
I'm thoroughly impressed with the consistency and value of Obao's Asian Fusion flavors. This year it was actually recognized by Michelin for the latter. The value hits its peak with the early dinner special. Get there by 6:30pm and you'll get an appetizer, entree, and soda for $10. Given the prices, people are always surprised at how good the food is here, and the menu is full of great picks. I definitely recommend starting off your meal with either the Crispy Fried Tofu or the Vegetable Spring Rolls. From there, you can take your pick from several great entrees, including the Pork Belly with Chinese Broccoli, Assorted Mushroom & Tofu with Vermicelli Noodles, and the Marinated Chicken with Vermicelli Noodles.

3. Gahm Mi Oak
43 West 32nd Street, Koreatown
I recommend Gahm Mi Oak's Korean solely based on the strength of two dishes. The first comes free: the Kim Chi. It's crunchy, refreshing and comes in both the cabbage and turnip varieties. It's the best Kim Chi I've had on 32nd Street. The second dish is Sul Long Tang, an oxtail bone soup that's been brewing for days in a black cauldron in the back of the restaurant. The hearty, milky soup base is topped with slices of beef, rice, white noodles and scallions. You add your own salt to the soup. But go easy on it. You don't need a lot. Sul Long Tang is perfect for dinner or after a night out. Bonus: Gahm Mi Oak is open 24 hours.

4. Menkui Tei
60 West 56th Street, Midtown West
Japanese Ramen noodle houses are ubiquitous in the city, not just in the East Village. And one place that rarely gets mentioned is Menkui Tei. It may not be on par with Totto or Ippudo, but it's not far off, and you won't have to endure the ridiculous lines at the other two. Menkui Ramen and Miso Ramen are both solid picks here, but I think the best broth - hands down - is the Tonkotsu Ramen, which has a fuller, bolder flavor. Menkui Tei also has some of the best Japanese fried rice I've ever had, and you can get a generously portioned side of it for about $3.

5. Fatty Crab
643 Hudson Street, West Village
2170 Broadway, Upper Westside
Although it isn't your traditional Malaysian, Fatty Crab presents fresh takes on classic Malay fare like Nasi Lemak and Beef Rendang. It's a playground for your tastebuds here. Spices, fresh herbs, and contrasting ingredient combinations pack tons of flavor in every dish. I strongly recommend the Malay Fish Fry, Chili Crab, and Fatty Duck. And always order the chicken rice over its white and coconut counterparts. Right now, the West Village location has stronger marks on Yelp compared to the newer Upper Westside digs.

6. Nice Green Bo
66 Bayard Street, Chinatown
It was called New Green Bo for years. The owners finally realized that they needed to change the name, but keep the same solid Shanghai cuisine. If you're looking for something carb-heavy, your dollar goes pretty far at Nice Green Bo. I love walking out of here with that insanely stuffed feeling. Definitely start with the steamed pork buns (Xiao Long Bao) and scallion pancake. Then take your pick from any of the rice cake dishes, Seafood Chow Fun, and the classic Pork Chop over rice.

7. Tomoe Sushi
172 Thompson Street, West Village
At Tomoe, you can eat sushi and be full. This is still my favorite sushi place in the city. I just wish it didn't come with the long waits, and the no-stroller policy doesn't work well for us right now. Tomoe is the size of a walk-in closet. Fortunately, so is the Sashimi Lunch. It's 10 ginormous pieces of super-fresh fish that melt in your mouth and you only have to drop a 20 to get it. The sweet, fragrant yellow tail is the best I've had in the city. Tomoe does all the staples extremely well - tuna, salmon, toro. But you won't get the unusual fish varieties here. On the cooked side, the Hamachi Kama (grilled yellow tail collar) hits all the right notes. But after that appetizer, go raw the rest of the way.

8. Yakitori Taisho
5 St. Marks Place, East Willage
Sorry, another place with long lines, but many aficionados consider this the Yakitori capital of New York. And there probably isn't a place in the city better known for creating a loyal following out of putting meat on a stick. If you're patient enough to get a table at one of the two locations (practically next door to each other), order the Kawa (chicken skin) immediately before you do anything else. Crispy, salty, flavorful, and they run out of them quickly. After this emergency request, there are still tons of yakitori sticks to be devoured: bacon with scallop, Teba (chicken wing), Ebi (shrimp), and shitake mushroom. If you're feeling a little adventurous, I would also recommend the Hatsu (chicken heart). I haven't tried the beef tongue yet. If anyone has, let me know how it is!

Picking the best Asian restaurants can be a very subjective exercise. On that note, I'd love to hear your own thoughts and recommendations!

Comments

jonyangorg said…
Oh nice, interested in trying them all!
Calvin Lai said…
Hi Jon, let me know what you think!
jonyangorg said…
I've been to a few of these and they are indeed some of the best so clearly your taste is the best!
Calvin Lai said…
Glad you liked the recs Jon.

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