One of the things I was most excited to try this time around in NYC were poke bowls, basically like sushi in bowl form, fitting, as sake don is my favorite thing to order in a sushi restaurant. There are currently a handful of poke restaurants in NYC and a ton more in LA, but the three main ones are Sons of Thunder, Pokeworks, and Wisefish Poke. (See this article in one of my favorite food columns, Hungry City.) I tried to stop by after the big lunch rush, during which my NYC friends say the line goes out the door and down the block, and was able to at least get in line inside the restaurant. I went for a bowl, as I’ve been told the burrito is hard to eat because the seaweed is hard to bite through, leading to spillage and mess. The rice was vinegary and warm, the tuna was so pink and fresh that it looks like watermelon! I however prefer salmon, which was also fantastic and delicious. They were quite generous with the avocado, which does cost $1.50 more, and also let me both sriracha aioli (basically spicy mayo) and the umami shoyu – it was amazing. I even managed to nab a spot on the tiny counter and scarf down my bowl. When it’s really busy, my friends say they bring their bowls just down the street to Bryant Park where there is plenty of space to sit and eat. I only wish there were more poke restaurants available! Yelp; website.
We were looking for a good breakfast place and saw the great Yelp reviews for Zoi’s. We’ve run by this place a few times and decided to finally go in and check it out. There was a line but it moved quickly and the space, while small, was not uncomfortably so. Our sandwiches came out pretty quickly, the Mean Dean and the Big Kahuna, and while flavorful and hot, were a little too greasy for my taste. Definitely a higher quality version than say your McDonald’s or Panera breakfast sandwich, but just not my kind of thing. Maybe I should try their salads instead.
We’ve run by this restaurant several times on our usual running loop but had never tried it. We finally decided to check it out and started off with the Papa Hemingway. We got the chicken cubano and the plantain picadillo, both of which were quite tasty but nothing amazing. I liked the dramatic decorations and would be interested in maybe checking out their giant (200+!) rum list sometime.
We stopped by the New Haven Food Truck Festival on Long Wharf. I drove by this almost every day and have always been tempted to stop by and check out some of the food trucks that are always here. Finally got to visit during this festival, which was swarming with people. Here are a few snapshots of the trucks that were there. I was surprised that there were many food trucks that weren’t here – Sugar, Caseus, etc. We ended up getting mini doughnuts and a Yardbird burger/buns with sriracha pickles.
We walked by this new place a few times and there was always a long line, with people beckoning us, telling us it’s delicious and we have to try it. Once we stopped to look at the menu and the couple sitting in the window gave us big smiles and a thumbs-up. So of course we had to try it, not to mention it’s so conveniently close to our apartment. My first observation was that they have avocado smoothies! Yum! Unfortunately there has been some inconsistency in my smoothie experience depending on who is running the blender, so some days it’s better than others. Their mango smoothie is also interesting, with a slightly different mango flavor than most mango smoothies have. I’m not sure what their secret ingredient is. We’ve also tried their pho which comes conveniently deconstructed when taken to-go. There have been days when we’ve purchased three banh mi sandwiches at a time, my favorite is the pork but the tofu and fish are also quite good. I think the banh mi is better than the pho which is then better than the bun, the vermicelli noodles, but hey, to each their own. Apparently the owner used to be a post-doc at one of the Yale Medicine labs, but gave it up to start a restaurant. They’re still ironing out some kinks: the Perka rewards program isn’t quite up and running, and some of the newer employees are still pretty unseasoned, leading to incomplete orders for instance, but I expect all this should improve over time. Overall a delightfully fresh addition to Orange street, I just wish they were also open on Sundays so I could eat there every day!
We finished off our Portland trip at Andina, a fantastic Peruvian restaurant. It was happy hour so we were able to try some very interesting drinks including the Sacsayhuaman, which was habanero pepper vodka with passionfruit and cane sugar, what a kick! The ron-yki-on was ginger rum with grapefruit, lime, and a cardamom-sugar rim, also fantastic. The Pisco sour was lime, egg whites, bitters, and sugar, really fantastic. The empanadas were also on the happy hour menu and were some of the best empanadas I have ever had! The entrees and dessert were great as well. We were worried about not having reservations but were able to get our party of seven seated with just a couple minutes’ wait. Highly recommend!