Address: 157 Duane St, New York, NY 10013
Thoughts: This was the first time Rebecca came to try my favorite pho in the city and she LOVED it. As simple as it sounds, it all comes down to the quality ingredients. Creekstone Farms Brisket, Oxtail, and Eye Round. The noodles aren’t gummy and have a nice mouthfeel as you slurp the broth which is perfectly balanced and not as salty as other places. The finishing touch is the fried garlic paste and pickled chiles that adds an extra punch of umami and acidity to cut through the meaty broth. We’ve made many repeat visits since this initial phoday.
Restaurant: Duane Park Patisserie
Address: 179 Duane St, New York, NY 10013
Dish: lemon pound cake with cream cheese frosting
Thoughts: Picking just one thing from the display case at this patisserie is a Herculean task that I wrestle with every time I visit. Should I go with a almond pastry? Fruit tart? Oh look, chocolate cannele. On this fateful day, I discovered my favorite baked good there by accident. I’m still not sure why I picked the lemon pound cake with cream cheese frosting. It definitely wasn’t the prettiest belle at the ball. In any case, this cake was fluffy with just a hint of lemon (unlike the overpowering tart and sweetness of a key lime pie). I usually scrape off 90% of frosting off my cupcakes because it’s too sweet but this cream cheese version was delightful. If you ever find yourself in Tribeca, do yourself a favor and pick one up and pair it with a nice cappuccino.
Address: 198 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Dish: royal milk tea, matcha with barley, strawberry shortcake
Thoughts: This cute Japanese café serves a little bit of everything but the tea and the cakes are the highlights. Went with Sohee on my first visit two hours before they closed and a few things stood out.
1) Everyone there was Asian. Not even like American Asian but like straight up Japanese and Korean.
2) It was as quiet as a library. No music. No noise except for the occasional clattering of silverware scraping the remaining crumbs of the cake. No talking really…..in fact, Sohee and I were whispering in hushed tones the entire time.
3) A great place to study or read in peace while sipping on your tea.
I ordered a cup of royal milk tea, perfectly creamy and slightly sweet. She ordered the opposite, a matcha with barley that was more astringent and earthy, an effective foil against the slice of strawberry shortcake we enjoyed. Strawberry shortcake is probably my favorite dessert and the best I’ve had is at Mad Hatter’s in North Carolina near the Duke campus. Harbs version is very clean and I wish it was just a tad sweeter.
Restaurant: Sons of Thunder
Address: 204 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016
Dish: salmon poke bowl
Thoughts: After trying out all the major poke players (Wisefish and Pokeworks) in 72 hours, I finally found my favorite. Sons of Thunder has the best quality fish. Their tuna and salmon are sushi grade and the salmon just melts on the tongue. The other two places I feel like the taste of the fish gets lost and mashes with the rice, seaweed, and other components.
This quality comes with a tradeoff – most of the bowls have predetermined ingredients while Wisefish and Pokeworks offer customizable options. I’m all for choice and customization but in this situation, I prefer having superior fish and rice quality. Besides the food quality, there is plenty of seating space and high ceilings whereas the competition has a cheaper, Chipotle feel with limited seating.