Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Walking Food Tour: Lower Manhattan

I haven't done a walking food tour in a really long time. So when I met up with Mr. Haribo Mule again, I took the day off and led him to everything that he's been missing out in NYC. Before we start, a key survival tip in a walking food tour is portion control. Order one thing and share it. This is especially true with a two person food tour. It's hard to resist in the beginning but you'll understand at the end.
 Our first stop, Dominique Ansel Bakery, the pre cronut days. I picked a DKA ($5.25) and he had the macarons ($2.50 each). That kouign amann is one tasty treat. Caramelized sugar and butter baked into flaky goodness. I like to describe it as a cross between a croissant and a palmier. So fine. The macarons were good too. I'm not a macaron fan (unless they're from Pierre Herme) so these got lost on me.

Next stop, Parm for a chicken parmesan hero ($12). We split one sandwich. Was it as good as the first time? Oh yes. Oh yes indeed. A crispy breaded chicken cutlet bathed in a sweet savory sauce then topped with melted but creamy mozzarella cheese. Some basil for freshness and a toasted sesame seeded hero finished it off. Damn, it was good. I was tempted to get the fried calamari as well but resisted as we had a lot of eating left.
Taim was next on the list. The vegetables in the falafel platter ($12) was a nice welcome after all that sugar and meat. The crispy fried falafel were wonderful as usual (still my favorite in the city) with creamy smooth hummus, tabouli, Israeli salad, za'atar pita and a variety of sauce. Wow, this plate was generous and quite a deal at that price. We tried finishing it all but left a bit of the salad and pita. Really, really good.
Then we walked down to Chinatown for a banh mi from Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich. We had the banh mi dat biet (~$5) to share. Sweet savory pork with sliced meats and fresh vegetables on a crusty roll. This place too is still my favorite in the city.
After the banh mi, we got lost trying to find Lam Zhou. We circled back a couple of times and finally found this hole in the wall. It was mostly young students in there (who else would be out at this hour?) so we knew it would be cheap. We ordered a plate of the fried dumplings (12 for $3). A huge plate came out and I doused it with black vinegar. The fatty pork was cut with the vinegar and made it really good. These are some very good dumplings. And cheap! Fried until crispy on the bottom and tender skins on top. Juicy pork and vegetables inside.
 Then we walked east to Phat Thai of Pok Pok Thai. We shared the Phat Thai Kung Sot ($12.50) which is a rice noodle dish cooked in pork fat and flavored with tamarind and fish sauce. It's cooked with tofu, eggs, sprouts, and shrimp to name a few. The ingredient list is long. But the flavor is amazing. This is the best single Thai dish I've ever had in my life. The flavors were so complex and delicious. Everything was cooked properly. There as some heat but it didn't bother me. Instead, it kept me going for more. Wow, oh wow. I'm completely amazed and upset. Amazed because it was so good. Upset that it took me this long to find something this good. Oh and I washed it down with a pomegranate drinking vinegar ($4.50) which is a sour soda. It was really good. Tart but not overly so
By now, we were pretty struggling with our intake. My list was much longer but I had to cut several things out. Prioritize. So by recommendation from Beer Boor, we went to Vinny Vincenz for a slice of pizza. Unfortunately, neither of us knew that there was a 3 Bros Pizza next door. That's hard on a place that's been around for a while. Vonny Vincenz lowered their own prices to $1 slices as well. Unfortunately, you can tell that the quality has suffered. The sauce was mediocre and the cheese the same. It wasn't a very good slice and I probably wouldn't go back for it again. Sad because you could tell that it was once good.
Unsatisfied by the last pizza place, we walked to Joe's Pizza to redeem our experience. Now that's a good slice of pizza. A sweet yet slightly tart sauce on finely melted cheese. Hot from the oven with a crispy thin crust. So good.  At $2.75, it was worth it.
By now, we were done with the food tour being so stuffed and all. But we left a little room for ice cream. And what better place to have it than at the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop. It was fairly empty at this random hour of the day so we scored a table to rest our tired feet. I enjoyed my favorite Bea Arthur ($7) and he had the American Globs (~$7). A sweet ending to a long day of eating.

Even after all those miles (6+), I walked from from the West Village back to Hell's Kitchen. Why? To digest of course. There was still dinner to be had.

Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-2773

248 Mulberry Street
Manhattan, NY 10012
(212) 993-7189

45 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-0600

Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich
369 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-8341

Lam Zhou
144 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(212) 566-6933

Pok Pok Phat Thai
137 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-1299

Vinny Vincenz
231 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
(212) 674-0707

Joe's Pizza
7 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 366-1182

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
61 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014


  1. 1) I must now go to pok pok STAT
    2) Pierre Herme really is incredible!!

    1. It truly made me feel that I knew nothing about Thai food until then.

  2. Y'know it really annoys the crap out of me when I take people on eating tours and they don't listen to my suggestion of sharing everything. With the exception of TC, everyone has failed to make it to the end because they don't listen. Seriously.

    Anyway, I'm pretty much craving everything you mention above now. THANKS. :P Also, I love Lam Zhou's fried dumplings - some of the best I've ever had - but never get over there. Must remedy...

    1. Yeah, I'm pretty picky about who I take on food tours. And I'll design them different based on who it is.

  3. You are the most awsome friend. Ever.
    And now i want thai food. And ice cream.

  4. When's the next food tour?

    And I'm a sharer too unless you REALLLLY want your own and the occasion I'll want my own when something small...


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