NYT Critics’ Picks: Restaurants

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Flavors Cross Borders at Little Tong Noodle Shop

Wheat noodles blur at the edges. At their core, they taste of cooked flour, or flour and egg, but toward the surface, they take on the flavor of their sauce. Think of pappardelle allied with a meaty ragù, or spools of ramen entwined with pork broth, throwing off starch, drinking in soup. Their …

Restaurants

Bangladeshi Flavors Alongside Burgers and Chicken at Neerob

Last spring, on the street known as Bangla Bazaar in the Parkchester section of the Bronx, the Bangladeshi restaurant Neerob — thought by many to be the city’s best — vanished.<p>Another Bangladeshi restaurant stands in its place, a source of confusion for some pilgrims who step off the No. 6 train at …

A Shrimp Cocktail With a Jumbo Jolt, at La Esquina in Queens

The bodega is two aisles wide. Toward the back, where a piñata shaped like a giant frilly Negra Modelo beer bottle hangs by the ceiling vents, Pedro Rodriguez stands as studious as an apothecary, quietly filling plastic cups with shrimp, purplish nubs of octopus and a red liquid that looks lit from …

East Meets West, and Cafe Becomes Sake Bar, at Hi-Collar

The flames shoot straight up and we all lean back, watching the light tremble across the brass countertop at Hi-Collar in the East Village, a Japanese coffeehouse by day, sake bar by night.<p>A small grill called a shichirin has been swiftly assembled on a crimson tray, with a metal grid laid over …

A Journey Through Indonesian Favorites at Awang Kitchen in Elmhurst, Queens

Evening in Elmhurst, Queens, and the windows of Awang Kitchen were awash in purple light. Inside, a party about 30 strong was winding down at tables pushed together along the wall, with balloons tugging upward from chairs and a woman on guitar leading the crowd in what sounded, in Bahasa Indonesia, …

For This Soup, Some Assembly Is Required (and Provided)

“Once upon a time, there was a scholar who was studying hard for his imperial exams on a small island of Yunnan.” So begins the legend of crossing-the-bridge noodles, as written on the wall at Western Yunnan Crossing Bridge Noodle in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.<p>The scholar’s wife brought him soup every …

In Tama’s No-Frills Space, the Filipino Food Is Anything But

In the Philippines, itlog na maalat is egg soaked in brine until the yolk turns as dark as a dying sun. At Tama, which opened in April in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the yolk is liberated after a week, while still high-noon yellow, and grated into strands that taste meaty and melting at once. …

Layers of Flaky Dough, and History, at King Tut Pie

Inside a former bodega in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, two immortal rivals — falcon-headed Horus, lord of the sky, and long-snouted Set, bringer of storms and disorder — pause in their war to bestow blessings on the pharaoh.<p>The original bas-relief of the tableau lies across the sea, in a temple at Abu …

Egypt

Around the World in an Evening at the Queens Night Market

“This is what you eat in La Paz at 4 a.m.,” said the man half-devoured by smoke as he stood at the grill, stroking oil over beef hearts with a brush of banana husks.<p>It was only 8 p.m., but at the Queens Night Market, next to the undulating walls of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing …

Vegetables With Benefits at ABCV

Warnings about the risks of eating raw shellfish and eggs are now fairly routine on menus. Somewhat less common are disclaimers like the one that appears next to an asterisk on the drinks menu of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest restaurant, ABCV:<p>“These statements have not been evaluated by the …

Restaurants

A Chef Dreams in Mexican at Empellón in Midtown

To begin at the end, the desserts at the new Empellón in Midtown are some of the most exciting New York has seen in a long time.<p>Empellón is the flashiest, fanciest and newest of Alex Stupak’s three restaurants, and the one that provides the fullest expression of his dreamscape vision of Mexican …

Restaurants

The Extras Are the Stars on the Korean Menu at Atoboy

When all of the little plates of pickles and vegetables and whatnot land on the table at the start of a Korean meal, it’s like winning a game show. They are called banchan, and they shower down out of nowhere, like balloons. Fermented daikon and wavy cabbage leaves, pink with chile paste. Pinwheels …

At Don Peppe, Expect a Lot of Everything

“Get ready for a lot of flavor.”<p>This was what an old hand with the menu at Don Peppe said as the first plates came to our table. He could have shortened that to “get ready for a lot,” or just “get ready.” Some preparation for the meal to come is definitely in order for the uninitiated, a word that …

Some Food, a Plate, a Room. That’s Enough at King, in SoHo.

A friend who has made herself a regular at the SoHo restaurant King sums up its appeal, with deep approval, as “food on a plate in a room.” This undersells the place — King offers much more than that — but she has a point.<p>The restaurant, which opened in September, is not a show-off. The dining room …

Pork Is Only the Starting Point at Pig Bleecker

Pig Bleecker takes the second half of its name from its Greenwich Village address and the first from Pig Beach, a beer garden and barbecue stand on the idyllic shores of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The two places share a chef, several owners, some sauces and recipes, and a fondness for wood …

New Dumplings to Hunt, by Way of Hong Kong

Visitors to Hong Kong who have an appreciation for dumplings, an eye toward low prices and faith that a single Michelin star reliably predicts quality will tend to eat at one of two places. Those who are more attracted to Cantonese dim sum classics will almost certainly end up at a location of the …

‘Vegetable Forward’ Chef Gets His Own Patch at Loring Place

ABC Kitchen signified a small turning point in the appetites of New Yorkers when it opened seven years ago. We had snuffled through much of the previous decade in search of pork shoulders, lamb belly, rib-eyes and marrow bones, and if we didn’t exactly wake up on the first day of 2010 doubled over …

Union Square Cafe Returns, With More Than a Dash of Déjà Vu

Sitting at the upstairs bar, one of the best places to eat in the new Union Square Cafe, I listened in on a conversation the woman next to me was having with the bartender. In December, after a year out of operation, Danny Meyer’s first and most formative restaurant had been transferred from its …

The Smoky Allure of Lebanon Wafts Through Wafa’s Express

All afternoon the scent followed me, smoke rising off roasting meat, and rose water like a balm thumbed behind the ears: the perfume of Wafa’s Express in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.<p>The menu could belong to any of the city’s frill-free Middle Eastern restaurants. But everything here is a little bit …

Parts Are Greater Than the Sum of the Chicken at Torishin

Consider the chicken. Consider each part of the chicken. Consider eating each part of the chicken, one after another, grilled over charcoal at a yakitori restaurant called Torishin.<p>Dark neck meat first, gathered in a ruffle around a bamboo skewer. When stuck to its long root of bone, the neck is …

Simple Taiwanese Food, Full of Secrets, at Mama Lee in Queens

I did not expect sorcery from a preserved turnip.<p>It was the only ingredient in the omelet on my plate at Mama Lee, a small, plain-spoken Taiwanese restaurant in Bayside, Queens. The eggs had been beaten loosely, so flecks of white still showed, and hustled from the pan when patchy bronze. Inside, …

Adventure (Try a Goat’s Head?) Is Still on the Menu at Babbo

When the waiter asked if we wanted the last roasted goat’s head, I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was just another night at Babbo.<p>This was around 1999, a year after it had opened, when Babbo had few peers among Italian restaurants, serving unusual meats with a side of light decadence. In this …

We’ll Always Have Paris, at Augustine

Keith McNally switched on the lights of his latest restaurant, Augustine, on the first day of November. New McNally projects always incite anticipation but not a great deal of suspense. Certain things are known before the first oyster is popped open. One of those things is the presence of …

A MacGyver of Slow-Cooked Meats at Franklin Barbecue

AUSTIN, Tex. — “How much brisket are you having?”<p>That’s the first question the man with the knife behind the counter will ask when you reach the front of the line at Franklin Barbecue. He won’t stab you if you don’t have an answer ready, but I might.<p>By that point, you or another person who is …

Butterfunk Kitchen Is Driven by Soul Food and Built on Memories

“This,” the waitress said, stroking the glass jar on the table as if it were a beloved and dangerous pet. “It is not mild; it is not medium. It is hot. Go slow.”<p>I wished she had been there on my first visit, when I fished a pepper out of the jar and ate it whole. Time stuttered. In such heat, …

A Different Kind of Alexandria Library, at Little Egypt

I have never seen branzino look quite like this, like some ancient, jewel-encrusted weapon unearthed from volcanic ash, prickly with glistening shards, crushed obsidian and olivine. Steam rises from the fish’s mouth, a long, pensive exhale.<p>The armor — cracked wheat, cumin, allspice and garlic, …

Sahib, in Curry Hill, Lets You Eat All Over India

Anybody who tries to tell you that the place to go for Indian food is Jackson Heights, Queens, hasn’t been there in a long time. Beyond question, Jackson Heights is the first stop for anyone seeking an education in the Tibetan syllabus: momos filled with brothy beef under their bellybutton pleats; …

Tables for Snooker and Bhutanese Food at Weekender Billiard

It’s Saturday night and every snooker table is taken at the Bhutanese pool hall in Woodside, Queens. The players are all men, most with roots in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, the young ones lanky in faded rock tees and track pants, their elders slouching in bomber jackets and bright white kicks. …

Culinary Clashes End in Harmony at Chinese Tuxedo

The bend halfway down Doyers Street in Chinatown used to see more killings than any other stretch of road in the country. The Bloody Angle is safe now, but not quiet.<p>The gangs there have been replaced by packs of roaming young people who come for siu mai and har gow at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, or …