Help me find food in NYC I can't find in HK!
July 7, 2015 2:38 AM   Subscribe

NYCers, please direct this hungry but overwhelmed-by-choice Hong Konger to your favourite Middle Eastern, African, Scandinavian, Eastern European, Central Asian, Caribbean, and South American food! I will be there for six days in late July, party of one/two adults, based in Midtown East, takeout acceptable, weird/early/late hours acceptable, happy to travel to the outermost reaches of the city (no car though!) and make bookings, informal/reasonably-priced preferred.

I'm not looking for food from, say, India to the Pacific, or from western Europe, or the US, Canada, or Mexico - these cuisines are happily well represented here in HK.

I have seen this oldish question, this fantastic blog, and have looked through the Chowhound NYC forums but there's just so much choice and I'm there for so little time that I'd love to hear some up-to-date advice.

A great example of what I'm looking for would be Kafana or Tanoreen.

Thank you!
posted by mdonley to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Crap I was going to suggest Kafana.
posted by amy27 at 3:11 AM on July 7, 2015

Kafana is great, go there!

I'm a big fan of 1001 Nights in Brooklyn for Uzbek food and Joe's on Avenue U for Sicilian food.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:59 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Arepa Lady in Jackson Heights.
posted by ferret branca at 6:23 AM on July 7, 2015

In recent visits to NYC I have had very good meals at the following, mostly around Midtown, Theater District, and Hells Kitchen

- Ethiopian: Abyssinia (Harlem 135th St), Lalibela (Kips Bay/Koreatown area), Queen of Sheba (Hells Kitchen); have heard Meske also in Hells Kitchen is also good
- X'ian Famous Foods (several locations, one in Midtown, might count as Central Asian? anyhow their spicy cumin lamb burger and hand-ripped noodles both are great, probably other things as well but I never get past those two menu items, also not sit down but eat-at-counter places)
- Kashkeval Garden, really good Turkish mezze/salads, though the kabobs oddly enough were only average
- Uskudar (Turkish, upper East Side, great kebab/doner - I seem to recall a crazy inexpensive 2-for-1 sandwich deal); also had good kebabs several years ago at Ravagh, upper E side, fancier decor and a little more expensive
- Scandinavian - the only one I have been to was Smorgas Chef a couple years ago in the Financial District, the food was good, kind of a quirky place
- Latin American / Caribbean - have been to Sophie's Cuban in both Midtown and Financial District, pretty good but not great fare, a little cafeteria-like in atmosphere, but got a pernil sandwich in Midtown last time and enjoyed it
posted by aught at 6:49 AM on July 7, 2015

I'll give some direct answers in a second but i am curious why "amercian" foods (ok, specifcally just bbq) is not on your list. while it hasnt always been so, NY has developed a pretty significant bbq culture over the last several years and there are some really excellent options. My favorite, by quite a bit, is Mighty Quinns (several locations including the East and West Villages). Get the brisket, it is fantastic. I was in hong kong for a few days this past winter and while the array of food was impressive i dont think i recall anything about good, traditionally made, wood smoked bbq.

Taste of Persia is amazing - definitely take out only and the menu seems to rotate all the time but if you havent had iranian/persian food its well worth it (there is a dish with chicken and walnuts that is incredible).

One suggestion that is a little out there is Mission Cantina which isnt exactly a mexican restaurant but they take a lot of their inspiration from mexican and latin flavors, and i find the execution to be pretty on point. the place is fairly casual (despite the not cheap prices, its NYC/HK moderate which means i think it cost me about 75-100 bucks with a couple drinks after tax and tip). the tortillas they make to order are great. in a similar vein the Empellon restaurants (empellon cocina/taqueria/al pastor) offer food that reads more authentically as mexican but with some more creative and modern technique. of the three i like Al Pastor as mostly a bar (they only serve tequila/mezcal and beer) with solid but probably not destination worthy food. Empellon Cocina would be my first choice given your circumstances.

I know you have a Motorino location in HK but id be remiss to not recommend some pizza - if you can get out to brooklyn (not too bad from midtown east - just down to union square and out to BK on the L train) id recommend a visit to Roberta's. The pies are incredible (they catered our wedding) and the non pizza food is exceptional as well- its a total scene and the waits can get crazy but they have the outside tented bar to wait at and if you know going in you might be hanging out for a while its worth the wait.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:45 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I second Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian in Hell's Kitchen. I really miss that place.

Malecon Restaurant (autoplaying video) is worth a trip up to Washington Heights. They are a Dominican restaurant; their roast chicken is fantastic.

Empanada Mama in Hell's Kitchen has a wide variety of empanadas (and other options) but the focus is Colombian.
posted by mountmccabe at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2015

Yang Ji Chon or Sol Hyang Gee for North Korean (Yanbian) style food, but they're both located in Flushing so it might be quite a trek...

Elza Fancy Food (location 1, location 2) for Eastern European/Korean/Uzbek fare in Brooklyn
posted by doctordrey at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2015

We order from Akdeniz on the regular in my office. The whole department likes it - delicious Turkish food. Midtown West.

Repping for Greenpoint - I think you can stroll down Manhattan Ave, walk into any Polish joint and be happy but Lomzynianka is well loved.

Nearby in Williamsburg is a new Russian place called Masha and the Bear. Haven't tried it yet but it's getting good reviews and is a quicker train ride than Brighton Beach. Must be tolerant of the hipster vibe.

There will be plenty of options at each of the Queens Night Market or the Smorg. You can review the vendor list and see if you think it would be worth a visit.
posted by rdnnyc at 10:33 AM on July 7, 2015

Midtown Lunch is a long standing blog about finding affordable food near midtown Manhattan. Its all here, from food carts to felaful. New York does have some good Jewish food, probably rare in Hong Kong, I personally suggest Taam Tov, a kosher Bukharan Jewish lunch room located a couple of floors above a diamond trading office area. Amazing bread, avocado salad, and Kosher Tajik pilafs.

The rundown on Pastrami: if you order iot, ask for "juicy" or "fatty" and get it on rye bread. Katz' is best, but nearly $20. Most Manhattan places, like Carnegie Deli, survive of the tourist trade. The newly reopened Second Avenue Deli - now in Midtown - is a bit too pricey for any deli.

Take the bus into the Bronx and visit Loesser's or Liebman's for a real Jewish deli at half the Mahattan price.

Also: Shake Shack. These are the hamburgers of your dreams, slow food, prime beef mixes.
posted by zaelic at 1:53 PM on July 7, 2015

I had some great foul at Queen Sheeba in Harlem. It's the only foul I've had in NY, but easily compares with foul I had in Syria and Jordan.
posted by Dr. Send at 4:01 PM on July 7, 2015

Chopsticks and Marrow is a a great place for inspiration. Dozens and dozens of reccs.
posted by lalochezia at 7:47 AM on July 8, 2015

The Halal Guys - best street food in North America.
posted by eotvos at 2:27 PM on July 8, 2015

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