Sunday, March 12, 2006

Greenjeans’ Picks for Best of New York

In response to New York Magazine's new Best of New York issue that came out this week, Jae and I have assembled our own list. It could hardly be described as comprehensive, and it's in no particular order, but this is what we came up with this afternoon. Enjoy!

Best Sushi in Brooklyn: Café Sakura
This tiny, neat spot on 5th Ave. serves superb sushi and sashimi that is much better than it has to be given the prices and location. Also offers a thoughtful, diverse saki list, and specials that are always delightful plays of flavor and balance. The chefs here are the real deal and the service is proper and smooth. The simple garden out back is a quiet oasis. Try the surprisingly delightful annin dessert, the unlikely but great Japanese favorite of almond jello and ginger ice-cream topped with chunks of fresh pear.

Best Soba & Udon Noodles: Soba-ya
They make the soba and udon noodles on site here. Some afternoons you can catch a chef cutting batches of noodles in the dining room. Try them cold or hot in any dish offered for a hearty and comforting yet clean meal. You will leave feeling well taken care of.

Best Ramen: Taku
Like Japanese but not up for sushi tonight? Try Taku on Smith Street, where the multiethnic kitchen turns out great dishes including their specialty Taku Ramen with pork, smoked bacon, and sea vegetables in a tasty broth. The line-caught Chatham cod is served over kabocha squash, ginger sauce, and pink grapefruit – don’t miss it. Cocktails feature house-infused sochu and are expertly mixed.

Best Almond Croissant: Almondine
Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. Buttery to the nth degree with a pale, not-too-sweet almond paste layered inside, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. Absolutely dreamy.
Runner-up: Fauchon

Best Restaurant for Body and Soul: Applewood
Can’t say enough about Applewood. The food is creative and detail-oriented. Ingredients come from local sources and are organic and seasonal whenever possible. Wine pairings are spot-on and desserts are worth the extra calories. And they host monthly meet-the-farmer dinners. What other restaurant does that?

Best Source for Fabulous Women’s Shoes: Shoe Mine
Owner Temah M. has a great eye for shoes that are design-conscious yet eminently wearable. Featuring lesser-known designers from around the world as well as some tried-and-trues for good measure, Shoe Mine is always fresh and always unexpected in a good way. It’ll be hard to leave without falling in love.

Best Haircut: Ali at Lotus Salon
I never loved a hair stylist before I met Ali. But I love Ali. We all love Ali. She cuts Jae’s hair and his brother’s hair and his cousin’s hair and his other cousin’s hair, and my hair too. And we love her not only because she is smart and kind and bright, but because she does a great great great job on our hair. Simple as that.

Best Little French Bistro: Lucien
Another gem that’s better than it has to be for price and location and because it’s kind of an East Village institution. At night the place is always hoppin’, but once you get installed at a table it feels intimate and exciting. During the afternoon, it is calm and neighborhood-y and you feel like family. And the food, from escargots and pate to the duck confit and French onion soup, is exactly what you want it to be.

Best Hot Chocolate: Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie
It just is.

Best Museum Gift Store: Neue Galerie
If you love the aesthetics of the Vienna Secession, and I know you do, this is the place to get your fill. Wonderful books, note cards, wrapping paper styled after wallpaper, actual wallpaper, silver tea services – it’s all here and it’s beautiful. The impeccable museum is definitely worth a visit too.

Best New England Clam Chowder Outside of New England: Pearl Oyster Bar
Fresh, tender bites of clam mingle with savory bits of bacon and pieces of potato and corn in a creamy but not-too-heavy base. Served with the requisite Oyster Crackers, it makes me feel almost home. The oysters are top-notch, too. (See picture.)

Best Place to Get Some Writing Done: Hungarian Pastry Shop
This well-worn and time-tested dive of a coffee shop cannot be beat for getting work done if you’re a writer. It’s full of students and other writerly folks hunched over their books and laptops in the dim bulb light. There’s no music to guide your emotions, and the din of tourists chattering at the front mixed with the clipping of keys and pens creates a glorious accompaniment to the turnings of your mind. Get yourself a serious cheese Danish and bottomless cup of coffee and tuck in for hours of productivity.
Runner-up: The New York Public Library Rose Reading Room

Best Place to Get Red Socks: H. Herzfeld
Though his casual jeans-and-tee-shirt look might belie the fact, Jae has a penchant for bright red socks, and this is the place he gets ‘em. This proper haberdashery offers the best selection of superior quality, mostly British-made red socks of various lengths, fibers, and textures. They have other color socks, too, as well as bespoke suits, ties, hats, pajamas, umbrellas, toiletries, and accessories for the gentleman in your life. Or for Jae.

That's it! Thankyouverymuch! G'night!

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