PEr FYI

March 8, 2020

Lattanzi, New York City…Perfetto!

Unlike a bastion of French haute cuisine or an upmarket sushi den, the very best Italian restaurant, by my estimation, must be a  place you can roll into with minimal forethought and  order some well-sourced salami and cheese or a perfect plate of pasta, and let the worries of the day dissipate with a bracingly bitter Negroni. You can do all these things at Lattanzi.

When it comes down to it, you judge an Italian restaurant on the strength of its pasta, and based on its merit of its Linguine alla Vongole – homemade linguine and little neck clams with garlic and extra virgin olive oil, Lattanzi is up there with the best. This is the kind of food that will stay on your mind long after you’ve left.

There’s nowhere better to become a regular. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 22, 2020

Hakkasan, New York City…you’ll die poor but happy

New York’s Chinese food scene is a diverse beast. There’s pork ribs to sweet, stir-fried-whatever-you-can-think-of, Hong Kong Dim Sum, the classic Peking duck and of course the comforting staples including noodles and fried rice (and way, way more) at eateries both high end and super casual.

With its innovative Cantonese cooking, Hakkasan is still the benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Their stylish interior and moody lighting attracts all kinds of beautiful people.

We started with hakka steamed dim sum platter – scallop shumai, har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, black pepper duck dumpling. The pastry was perfect in give and texture, just elastic enough to encase generous bites of flavour-packed meat and seafood. The stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with Merlot was equally good, the melting tenderness of top-quality meat turning the clichéd staple into a luxury – Chinese takeaways should weep with shame. We also enjoyed the hot and sour soup with chicken, shiitake and pomelo, spring onion and fried egg rice and the tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushroom claypot with chili and black bean sauce

You’ll die poor but happy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 1, 2020

Dadong, New York City…nobody should pay this much money and be sad

If one wants terrible food delivered quickly, accompanied by several other unappetising dishes you hadn’t ordered but other diners are currently waiting for, Dadong in midtown New York is for you. While I didn’t get ill after eating at Dadong, I did feel sick about how much I’d spent on a substandard meal.

I’m a massive Dadong, Beijing fan, and can wolf down a peking duck faster than you can say “Times Square”, so I awaited my Dadong “Su bu ni” roast duck – served with sugar, pancakes, crispy sesame buns and special sauce with some level of excitement. The duck was bland, dry and actively repellent. I like to think the staff made it up as a prank, and were watching to see if I would be an obedient foodie and play ball. Let us never speak again of the prime chili diced short ribs

Dadong in New York, well, just don’t serve very good food. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 1, 2020

The Cher Show, New York City…a mixed bag

If you grew up on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in the mid-’70s, like I did, there is probably nothing I could write here that would keep you away from The Cher Show.

There were too many character arcs and agendas to serve — three Chers, several careers, 35 songs. All the songs were there – “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”, “If I could turn back time,” “Believe” – it’s impossible not to karaoke along. Stephanie J. Block’s spectacularly commanding performance – her take on Cher – goes beyond impersonation into respectful homage, and while the vocal likeness is uncanny. We get to witness all of Cher’s struggles and triumphs, but are not especially moved by them. Unlike Mamma Mia, the songs rarely tell the story. The costumes are simply sensational, ranging from the nostalgia trippiness of the 1960s to the famous feathered get-up of the 1986 Oscars. This, to me is just a fancy but empty jukebox musical.

I’m still left wondering what The Cher Show is exactly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 16, 2019

Luke’s Lobster, New York City…it’s hard not to love.

There’s a lot of joy to be had in a lobster roll. Priding themselves on the fact that they work directly with fishermen to pick out the best seafood, Luke knows a thing or two about lobster.

Unable to decide at The Plaza Food Hall, I went for The Luke’s Trio – 1/2 crab, 1/2 lobster, 1/2 shrimp and preceded that with clam chowdah. All the meat are well-chilled, fresh and tender; they melt in your mouth along with the butter, which is flavorful but not overpowering

It’s big on flavours and it’s huge on joy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 7, 2019

Roberta’s Pizza, New York City…this is pizza you’ll want to eat at any hour of the day, whether you’re inebriated or not

Pizza. It’s one of the world’s most popular foods – and rightly so. It’s not usually my first choice to eat in a food hall, but Urbanspace Vanderbilt in Midtown East houses the closest Roberta’s to me. There are  some picnic tables and bar seats inside, so it’s not a bad place to hang out for a little while.

Roberta’s imaginative pizzas are a perfect balance of puffy, chewy, and charred. The Bee Sting is a small, personal-size pizza. With a blistered crust and sweet-savory toppings (soppressata and honey), nothing about this Bee Sting pizza is conventional, but it’s damn delicious

You get the idea. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 24, 2019

Sarabeth’s, New York…do yourself a favour and put it on your list

Sarabeth’s is a brunch factory. And I mean that in the best possible way: After serving what must be tens of thousands of meals since the early ’80s,** the place makes consistently great plates of breakfast and brunch items.

Look, the menu doesn’t promise adventure. It promises heartiness and hominess. If what you want is classic breakfast and brunch food, here you go.

The menu doesn’t promise adventure. It promises heartiness and hominess., The avocado & burrata toast which I gravitate to, comes with sunnyside eggs, petite greens, espelette is the perfect way to start the day in NYC. Lemon & ricotta pancakes with fresh blackberries is the breakfast of your dreams. Each bite is light as air and perfectly flavored with fresh lemon.

Take note, prices are a bit high for what you get which means at the end of the meal, you’ll have just enough for subway fare. That aside, do yourself a favor and put it on your list if you’re ever in the Central Park South area. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 2, 2018

Katz Delicatessen, New York…nothing else like this in the world.

I have popped my Katz’s cherry. This is the home of the Meg Ryan “When Harry Met Sally” fake orgasm scene. Yes, ladies, feel free to give it your best shot.

It’s been around since 1888. It’s tacky, noisy, and rushed. The service gruff-but-kind, and the sandwiches way too big. The richly flavoured, freshly carved, emphatically smoky and tender pastrami sandwiches are worth the hype.

This is the king of New York delis. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 28, 2018

Hertz, New York City…GPS stopped working

JFK. One of America’s busiest airports is well served by car hire companies catering for the huge numbers of visitors who pass through this major transport hub each year. Just take the complimentary AirTrain to Federal Circle station, where rental car offices are located.

Hertz may have a reputation for being expensive, but it was favourable in terms of affordability and choice of cars. Being a member of their Gold program, I got the “Carfirmation” service, which confirms reservations through text and emails and so I skipped the check-in counter.

There is just one criticism. The GPS stopped working when I was in on the expressway.  Whinge over. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 24, 2018

The Halal Guys, New York…great street meat

A food cart under umbrellas in can’t-miss yellow and red serving platters of halal lamb and chicken on 53rd and 6th in the Big Apple with never-ending lines that reeled down the block.

Your options are “chicken,” “lamb,” or “combo”. Lamb, roasted on a rotating spit and chopped to bits before a final crisping on a flat-top grill; chicken, simply grilled; falafel. The juicy lamb is the draw, sharply seasoned, with just enough melting fat. You want that as a sandwich or over rice? I chose sandwich. The secret “white” sauce is a must.

But take that white sauce away, and I don’t really get what the big deal is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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