Before moving on to questions, a special thank you to my colleague Becky Hughes for responding last week. I feel well rested and energized to answer another round of questions from readers. Today we have a first-timer looking to try different cuisines, a visitor looking for a good Cantonese, and a diner who wants to eat in a beautiful space.
As always, if you have your own recommendations or questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expand your culinary horizons
I want to get more “adventurous” and order different plates instead of the common plates I always do. (I’ve had enough salads and pastas for life!) Since I just moved to New York, this is my perfect excuse to do this. Here’s the catch: I’m a vegetarian. I’m dying to try Korean, Ethiopian, Indian cuisine, for example, but I think some restaurants don’t offer vegetarian plates at all. Do you have any advice? — Yohana D.
I’m glad you put adventurous in quotes, because what’s “adventurous” to you may be mundane to someone else. And even better, the three cuisines you mentioned have plenty of entry points for vegetarian dinners. With that in mind, here’s a bit of a starter kit: As I mentioned in my vegan meals newsletter, vegetarians can have fun Herbal Ras in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, or Bunna Cafe in Bushwick, both specializing in Ethiopian vegan cuisine. For Korean, see Haenyeo at Park Slope. Go for the japchae, yache pajun and tofu bibimbap. And Indian cuisine is full of vegetarian options: start with the chili paneer tikka with Add one in Long Island City, Queens.
Old-fashioned Cantonese, two-way
I will be in Manhattan in early July and would like to go to a Cantonese restaurant. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good ones in Houston, where I live. Would you be able to recommend any? —Ellen S.
I have two options for you: If you want to immerse yourself in the story, you must visit the new location of the legendary Jing Fong, at 202 Center Street, which isn’t set up in a grand dining hall, as its former downtown location was, but still produces top-notch dim sum like pork buns and dumplings tender with prawns and chives. So there is Uncle Lou, which is less than a year old but already a bit of a Chinatown darling, leans on old-school Cantonese cuisine. Pete Wells put together an ideal menu in his March 2022 review, including won tons in chili oil and a homemade seafood stir-fry.
In It for aesthetics
I’m not a foodie, I’m an art historian and art critic, or a connoisseur of beauty. Where in or near Manhattan are the restaurants with beautiful rooms — architecture, furnishings, lighting, space, comfort. If they are affordable, so much the better. Otherwise, I will splurge occasionally to spend an evening for two in fabulous surroundings. The view through any window is not important; I want to be installed in a beautiful atmosphere. —Suzaan B.
I love your unwavering commitment to beauty. But that doesn’t mean you have to, as they say in ‘The Great British Bake-Off’, sacrifice substance for style. The first dining room that comes to mind is the one bathed in natural light The Haberdashery in Soho. Try an anchovy lunch with vanilla butter and green beans if you’re on a budget. Tulix Bar on Houston Street is also eye-pleasing, with cozy cabins and a sultry vibe. The spicy tuna tostaditos and masa-encrusted branzino tacos are not to be missed.
And although I did not have the opportunity to visit the recently opened Oiji Mi in Flatiron — from the team behind the Korean restaurant Ojiwhich earned two stars from Pete Wells in 2015 – the interior is fitted with a beautiful mix of velour, leather, wood and glass.
In other news…
This week, Pete Wells awarded two stars to social saigon on the Lower East Side, where “a celebration of Vietnamese cuisine done the traditional way” is on full display by chef and owner Helen Nguyen.
Bagels & Bialy from Kossarthe nearly 90-year-old Lower East Side venue will expand its reach to Hudson Yards this week and the Upper East Side this fall, reports Florence Fabricator.
Tejal Rao shines the spotlight on chef Wes Avila’s Angry Egret Dinette and his “Gourmet-grade ingredients, handled with care, but served without any of the pretensions associated with it,” in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.
Our reporter Christina Morales delved into the world of tombstones engraved with family recipes.
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