Wasabi, a by-the-piece sushi shop, is the latest fast food import to hit Times Square.
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Japanese import Ootoya specializes in teishoku, set meals of meat or fish with sides like rice and steamed egg custards, but you need to start your meal somewhere, and the Homemade Tofu Salad with Special Bonito Flakes ($12) is a fine way to do so.
Paul Denamiel, chef and owner of Le Rivage, offers a dry aged steak special for two on Monday nights for a very attractive price: $99 for two 18 oz. New York strips.
Sure, you can have sushi or ramen at Ootoya, the large Japanese chain that recently sprouted its second US branch between Bryant Park and Times Square, but that would be missing the point. New York already has more than its share of single-minded specialists and Ootoya excels at less common teishoku, set meals with miso soup, rice, pickles, and egg custard, plus dish-specific sides, all presented in eye-pleasing ceramic and lacquerware.
This new branch of the Dutch-based Chinese fast food chain offers stir fried rice and noodles that are fresher than the steam table competition, but it's not exactly a destination.
Let's get straight to the point: this is a fantastic burger and a fantastic deal. There are not too many places in the city that you can get a burger made with dry-aged beef period, let alone for only $16.95 with a side to boot.
Every restaurant exists in context, of neighborhood and price, of cuisine and competitors. Guy's American Kitchen and Bar—the massive big-box restaurant that Food Network star Guy Fieri opened last week in Times Square? No one expects it to be good, per se. The questions you're answering: would a tourist wandering in after a Broadway show have a better meal than he would elsewhere in the neighborhood? Would a Food Network fan visiting from out of town enjoy her Slammin' Jammin' Chicken Parm? Basically—is Guy's American Kitchen and Bar better than the Cheesecake Factory?
This fried chicken sandwich with pickles and mayo may remind you of one that's been in the news of late, but it's a pretty tasty lunch in its own right.
The concept of this premiere U.S. outpost of a Korean chain isn't unfamiliar: the emphasis on coffee drinks and customers parked with laptops feels Starbucks-y; the pick-your-own pastries in the front wouldn't be out of place in Au Bon Pain; and the refrigerated case of salads, sandwiches and wraps is reminiscent of Pret a Manger. The Korean influence is not particularly obvious.
Of all the restaurants we've reviewed this year, Elsewhere may not be the best, but it certainly answered the biggest question: "Where do I get brunch/pre-matinee lunch/pre-theater dinner/drinks near Times Square?"
Few things could ever persuade me to venture through the crowds of Times Square, but when a friend told me of a cocktail at the newly opened Qi Bangkok Eatery named "Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit" (pictured), I couldn't help myself.
Lunch in Midtown is a challenge in so many ways—time is limited, good eats may be scarce, and service is by necessity rushed and harried. While lunch at Pongsri Thai Restaurant on West 48th Street is not exactly a relaxing experience, the restaurant's wonderful food and attentive service make it, against all odds, a delightful place to go have a family lunch.
Last week, I visited Elevation Burger, an organic burger chain from Falls Church Virginia, The Counter, a high concept design-a-burger chain from California, Go Burger, a brick-and-mortar version of the truck based on a Los Angeles burger joint, and Smashburger, the rapidly expanding Denver-based chain that just opened its first New York location in Brooklyn. At each restaurant, I ordered a few burgers, tried all of their sides and special menu items, as well as a milkshake. How'd they compare to each other, and more importantly, are they going to be key players in the New York burger landscape? Let's take a look at them one at a time and see.
A tourist standing at the corner of 38th and 8th after hopping off at Penn Station or the Port Authority might think they've stumbled upon some sort of pizza mecca: I mean, c'mon—there's four slice joints on one corner? Sad truth: they're all pretty bad, and they prey on two types of people—tourists, and late night drinkers. But if you absolutely must eat on this corner, here's my advice...
At Elsewhere, the Passionfruit Pavlova ($6) is served only during lunch and weekend brunch. It features a duo of cheerful meringue boats filled with a tart, creamy passionfruit curd and rounds of a housemade coconut ice cream.
The expansion of Shake Shack is a double-edged sword. With four Shake Shack locations in Manhattan, the average New Yorker is now closer than ever to juicy, gooey, beefy, cheesy bliss. On the other hand, the real question is whether or not quality will suffer with the expansion. Is it possible to cook burgers that are not only the best in the city, but consistently the best in the city in four different locations? I took it upon myself to find out.
California-based build-your-own-burger chain The Counter is opening their first location in New York City next Monday, December 20, in Times Square at Broadway and 41st Street. 1451 Broadway, New York NY 10036 (map); 212-997-6801; thecounterburger.com; Opening hours: Sun. to Thurs....
Even with a history dating back to 1899, Japan's Yoshinoya serves fast food in the modern sense of the phrase: quickly, cheaply, with less than appetizing results. However, that doesn't put a damper on the Times Square hordes testing the limits of the orange-and-white chain's 82-person-capacity. On a chilly Saturday evening, tourists were jockeying for seats and resorting to sharing plastic booths with strangers as if they were eating dim sum in Chinatown.
Had the pork been the succulent, melt-in-your-mouth experience I had hoped for, I still think that I would be hard-pressed to recommend Aureole for lunch, when one can get do better for less money.
[Photographs: Chichi Wang] If you happen to find yourself in Midtown today, it's worth going over to Times Square to check out the 3rd annual International Chinese Culinary Competition, which is being held live in an outdoor arena on...