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APA Meetings
N.Y. Dining: No Passport Needed on This Round-the-World Journey
Psychiatric News
Volume 47 Number 18 page 14-14

Reinhardt: Latin-American cuisine comprises a huge chunk of the New York culinary scene. For Cuban cuisine, seek out Cafe Habana, filled with life and situated on a great corner for people watching. It’s home to a delicioso Cuban sandwich, Mexican-style corn, and a perfectly made mojito—a great way to enjoy what will hopefully be a warm October day. Not far away sits Tacombi, a converted garage that serves Mexican home-style cuisine and a spicy Michelada in a lively atmosphere. La Esquina serves Mexican cuisine in three distinct dining settings. For a family-style, all-you-can-enjoy carnivore’s delight, head to the Brazilian steakhouse Churrascaria Plataforma just west of the Theater District.

It will be hard for us to fully represent the diversity of Asian cuisine in New York, but here are a few favorites. Head to Chinatown for a heaping shared table of dim sum at Buddha Bodai (vegetarian), Golden Unicorn, or Jing Fong. You may not be sure of what you have ordered from the carts as they whiz by, but that is truly secondary to the shared experience. New favorite Red Farm serves greenmarket-style, modern takes on classic Chinese cuisine. If the weather turns a bit cold, there are few things better than classic Japanese fast food—a steaming bowl of ramen. Slurping up a bowl next to your colleagues at Ippudo is a popular treat. Momofuku Noodle Bar Chef David Chang’s famous restaurant, serves ramen daily mixed with an ever-changing menu of fresh, locally sourced dishes. Sushi, with its special culture and artistry, is abundant throughout the city. Ushiwakamaru is true to its Japanese roots, while Sushi Yasuda, Blue Ribbon, and Sushi Azabu are also superb.

While justifiably famous for its Italian restaurants, much of European food culture is at your fingertips in New York. Head to Tribeca to check in to Locanda Verde for a casual, scrumptious Italian dinner. Sheep-milk ricotta, grilled octopus, honey-glazed duck, and fire-roasted garlic chicken are outstanding. For your “Iron Chef” fix, wander in to Eataly, Mario Batali’s Italian specialty store with many in-house dining choices. For a more traditional Italian restaurant setting, try Batali’s Babbo, which is very reasonably priced (for New York City)—for me the tasting menus are definitely the right choice here. If Spanish cuisine sounds tempting, try Socorrat Paella Bar, which serves up mouth-watering paella at three locations. Sitting around a huge pan of their paella with friends, sharing, and arguing over the crispy, salty layer on the bottom of the pan may be my definition of heaven. High on the list of musts if you want French cuisine is Balthazar—try its duck confit and moules frites. Per Se, by renowned chef Thomas Keller, is the definition of French perfection. Though Keller’s masterpiece comes with a hefty price tag, it should be on every foodie’s “try-before-I-die” list.

Bazzi: For me, one of the most exciting parts of moving to New York City was the prospect of gastronomical adventure. Living in cosmopolitan Beirut and traveling all over Asia and Europe honed my palate and sent me in search of culinary epiphanies. My heart leapt at first bite of the spicy pork at Szechuan Gourmet in the Garment District, where the tacky decor and loud noise all lend to the delicious ambiance of authentic Chinese food. Macao Trading Company in Tribeca and Buddakan in Chelsea offer similar feasting in a high-end venue. At Macao, the decor exemplifies Portugese cuisine meeting Chinese, forming a menu of decadent stews with exotic spices, bacalao, and dumplings with pork and shrimp.

For those more in the mood for European fare, Soccarat New York is a mouthwatering example of the best rice, seafood, and sausage dishes outside of Catalunia. Pata Negra, a small tapas bar in the East Village, manages to import the most decadent acorn-fed, organic ham, and serves it in copious piles with oiled bread and a selection of wines. Boqueria caters to the more fusion oriented among us, but fear not as its quail-egg toast and patatas bravas will soothe the traditional palate as well. The more traditional French palate is not ignored in this city of course. Tocqueville on Union Square caters to the haute cuisinophiles of Paris and beyond, combining molecular techniques with traditional flavors to create masterpieces. For those with a more traditional approach to Paris, head to Zucco le French Diner in the Lower East Side, where the owner is the chef and the entertainment. Well worth the wait, the mussel pot and fries, the sandwiches, and the eggs all seem rooted in a small bistro on the Champs Elysées. Tartinery in Soho, owned by a French-Lebanese chef, combines Mediterranean influences such as labneh, a strained yogurt, with French croque madame.

Italian dining has largely left Little Italy, but one must still go to Mulberry Street for the experience. If you do, pop into Florio’s Ristorante for pizza and veal chops. Florio’s has an air of a time past. Peasant in nearby Soho exemplifies the new farm-to-table movement of fresh food and seasonal cuisine. Serving everything from roasted suckling pig to grilled asparagus and broccoli rabe, it also makes fantastic 2 a.m. paninis for those who nosh late. While a cornucopia of famous chefs helm the city’s kitchens, sometimes it is the lesser-known chefs who win culinary accolades. The sea-urchin toast and kid goat at Aldea are astounding creations, as the perfect melding of harmonious flavors and textures is sublime. Lure Fish Bar and Aquagrill both serve some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in Soho and the South Village. Finally, one last suggestion, and that is a visit to Keen’s Steakhouse. As one of the oldest steakhouses in the country, this is the best steak I have ever had. The old-school waiter uniforms and the veggies and ranch dip on the table made me want to wear a flapper dress and light a cigarette—and I don’t smoke. The steak was cooked perfectly, the lobster bisque was rich and full of lobster, and the monstrous mutton chops with mint jelly were memorable. inline-graphic-1.gif

Michael Reinhardt, M.D., and Lama Bazzi, M.D., are residents at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

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