Pig & Khao

Pig and Khao NYC

Photo by Pig & Khao

Address: 368 Clinton St. (Stanton & Rivington St.)

Link: http://pigandkhao.com/

Review: A relative new comer to the LES, we were itching to try out Pig and Khao with all of the great reviews it’s been getting. On our walk over from the 6 train we had high hopes for this meal and we weren’t let down.  Once we all arrived and sat at our table with a view of the open kitchen we were informed that there was a tasting menu available for the whole table. Both pairs of our double date went for that option without hesitation. An amuse bouche of tasty/salty sauce and a quail egg, and some beers for the guys and cocktails for the ladies (which could’ve been a bit boozier) was a good start.  The rest of the meal was a mix of salty and spicy that delighted the senses. Fried oysters, more quail egg, and some parts of the pig we wouldn’t have normally touched with some one else’s fork turned out to be absolutely fantastic.  While everything was delicious, the two highlights of the night were the sizzling sisig – an upscale version of corned beef hash, and the lamb ribs – tender bits of lamp perfectly spiced and fall-off-the-bone-delicious.  All in, the food and service were top notch, though the decor and bar left a little something to be desired. It is certainly on the list for off the beaten path spicy eats.  While Pig & Khao seems like a strange mix of different elements – almost take-out like decor, a self-service keg in the back garden, yet top notch food that you’d expect from an upscale restaurant, it all somehow works.

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Mayahuel

Mayahuel NYC

Photo by Mayahuel

Address: 304 E. 6th St. (1st & 2nd Ave.)

Link: http://www.mayahuelny.com/home.php

Review: Though we have never sat down to enjoy a full meal, Mayahuel  is worth the trip to the East Village for the cocktails alone.  In the middle of the East Village, just off 2nd Ave., lies a mecca for fun and original tequila and mezcal cocktails.  With a plethora of options to choose from it’s tough to go wrong.  We have nibbled on snacks like spicy popcorn and chips and guac that were a nice treat to accompany our drinks.  Those ordering full meals around us were waiving in sizzling plates of shrimp and succulent pork belly..looks like we are going to have to show up with the intention of sampling the fare and not just the libations!  A dark and cozy bar with a couple side rooms lends itself to a great spot for a quiet conversation, though, like many of the cocktail establishments in the EV, there can be a wait (normally not TOO bad), but dont let it deter you from the chance to transport your palate to some place south of the boarder.

Obao

Obao NYC

Photo by Obao

Address: 222 E. 53rd St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Link: http://www.obaony.com/

*Also located in FiDi

Review: As we were walking through Midtown on a windy night we came across a couple of inviting restaurants on 53rd St.  In the mood for some food to warm us up, we ducked in for some noodles and bbq at Obao.  Despite its relatively obscure location, Obao does not disappoint.  It has a very inviting interior: soft lighting, wood and Asian accents, a garden area in the back, and sky lights above the middle table.  We couldn’t decide on just one thing that we wanted, but there were plenty of items that caught our eyes…so we ordered them all, moderation is not our strong suit.  The pork belly was delish with out being too fatty, the dumplings felt like authentic southeast Asian dumplings (less doughy), and the fresh shrimp rolls took the BF back to his trip over there.  We knew we couldn’t leave without at least one noodle dish so we finally decided to go with the vermicelli noodles with pork and shrimp – a colder dish that still hit the spot.  Washing everything down with a glass of wine and pint of beer, Obao turned out to be the right pick for a last second date.  Friendly and fast service made for a great evening with a tab that makes us ready to go back and try more.  This restaurant was recommended by the highly acclaimed Michelin Bib Gourmand two years in a row for a reason! Definitely a must try!

Kanoyama

Kanoyama NYC

Photo by NY Mag

Address: 175 2nd Ave. (11th & 12th St.)

Link: http://www.kanoyama.com/

Review: Situated in the East Village, Kanoyama offers an array of both food and sake options. During the week they do take reservations, but Friday and Saturdays are walkins only which can lead to a lengthy wait at times, though the selection and freshness generally rewards those who have the patience. Kanoyama has often tough to find, off the run varieties of fish, great fresh daily specials and a great selection of seasonal oysters as well. With options to grab a table or sit at the sushi bar; a la carte or omakase (chef’s choice), it’s the quality and selection that keeps people coming back for more.  Though the space is a bit tight and the bills are not cheap; its a great option for a nicer date spot with a wide array of sushi, sake and oysters to keep your palate entertained for the night.

Traif

Traif

Photo by NY Mag

Address: 229 S. 4th St. (Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)

Link: http://traifny.com/

Review: When making the trek to Brooklyn from Manhattan you always hope that you won’t be let down. Traif (not conforming to kosher dietary laws) lives up to the name serving some awesome pork and seafood small plates. The back patio was full so we grabbed a table inside.  Though space was a bit tight it pulls off a more cozy than crowded vibe.  Small plates offer the chance to sample the multitude of options ranging from sweet salads to blistered peppers, from pork belly to scallops.  Everything we ordered came out in a timely fashion and were devoured before the plate hit the table.  The prices vary and the items are seasonal so how big you go is completely up to you.  Sometimes going a little out of the way to try something new is worth it, this little gem is one for sure.

Forcella

Forcella NYC

Photo by Forcella

Address: 377 Park Ave. S. (26th & 27th St.)

*Also located in the East Village and Williamsburg

Link: http://www.forcellaeatery.com/

Review: One of the more recent openings in the quickly changing landscape of the Flatiron/Park Ave. neighborhood brings us this higher end pizza joint coming over from Brooklyn.  We sat at the bar to grab some beers and a pie.  The bartender was friendly and helpful, giving good recommendations on the new menu.  All the options had a wide array of cheeses and toppings.  However, the crust fell a bit short – the base of the pizza was a little soggy and couldn’t hold the toppings up when we lifted it to eat.  Though disappointing, the quality of toppings helped make up for it.  It could have been some new growing pains as we visited Forcella right as it opened, or maybe it was just an overload of toppings…a debate we wouldn’t mind settling with a return trip.  With its relaxed atmosphere, Forcella is a good spot for a casual date when you’re in the mood for something a little nicer than that $1 slice pizza joint on the corner.

BLT Fish

BLT Fish NYC

Photo by BLT Fish

Address: 21 W. 17th St. (5th & 6th Ave.)

Link: http://www.e2hospitality.com/blt-fish-new-york/

Review: Located just steps from Union Square park in the Flatiron area sits another gem in this burgeoning neighborhood.  After a couple of happy hour drinks we looked around for some light and tasty dinner options.  Seafood sounded like a good choice and BLT Fish has a great selection.  We sat on the top floor in a cozy booth and began our feast under the skylight.  The only issue we had with the menu was that it was too big and everything looked too good!  We finally settled on some raw bar items and a bunch of smaller plates.  Oysters, crab legs, you name it…the boyfriend was feeling good after some post work cocktails and got a bit out of hand, ordering nearly everything he liked on the menu, and I didn’t object.  Each dish was a complete delight to the palate; though not the wallet.  You pay up for the beautiful and comfortable setting and the seemingly ocean to table freshness; but it’s definitely worth the price.

Rosemary’s

Rosemary's NYC

Photo by Rosemary’s

Address: 118 Greenwich Ave. (Charles St. & 10th St.)

Link: http://rosemarysnyc.com/

Review: With the turn over that restaurants have in New York it’s tough to say when something will really last, but the people behind Rosemary’s seems to have a hit on their hands.  Couple great food, a comfortable setting and affordable prices and you have your explanation for the aggressively long waits.  The no reservation policy for parties smaller than 8 may be a turn off for some, but not enough to have an empty table in sight.  Rosemary’s is the one of the better spots we have been to for a group dinner setting.  Grab 4 or 5 buddies and brave the wait to be rewarded with tasty foccia, fresh pastas and succulent meat plates.  A great assortment of cheeses, meats and veggie sides accompany their Italian classics.  All bottles on their great wine list come in at $40 a pop, also making for an affordable feast.  We recommend getting here early or be prepared to put your name on the list and wait for a while (as in 2+ hours),  this one doesn’t look like its slowing down any time soon!

Cannibal

Cannibal NYC

Photo by Cannibal

Address: 113 E. 29th St. (Park Ave. S. & Lexington Ave.)

Link: http://thecannibalnyc.com/

Review: Continuing with the transformation of Murray Hill, this beacon of meat, cheese and beer has arrived on the scene.  But Cannibal does not have the cold cuts and bud lights of college dorm days past, rather an array of salumi and aged hams, carefully selected cheese and a selection of craft beers from brewers worldwide.  We ended our night here for some late night grub and some suds.  We sat at the bar and were served by the very friendly and helpful barkeep who pointed us in the right direction for both our food and drink orders.  So long as you don’t go crazy you can get your fill on a tasty selection with out feeling the pain in your wallet.  Cannibal is a good option for a first date for sure – start with some small plates to see how things go, then move on to something bigger if all is well.  Plus you can always judge a person by what drink they order from their massive selection!

Ramen Sanshiro

Ramen Sanshiro NYC

Photo by Keiko T.

Address: 249 E. 49th St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)

Review: Speakeasies seem to be the hot new trend for bars these days so why should food not follow suit?  This speakeasy-ish noodle joint is only open after 11 pm and does not take reservations or credit cards.  Sidle up to the bar in this “closed” Japanese restaurant (called SEO during dinner hours) and feel as though you just got off a day long plane trip to the far East. In no time we were chomping down on succulent pork and tasty noodles.  It’s a great place to end a long night out without that neon sign outside advertising $1 slices or some other greasy cooked slab of meat.  The food is absolutely delicious and the service was friendly and fast, though there is definitely a language barrier.  If your date has lasted long enough to warrant a midnight snack, this could be your best bet before calling it a successful night out.