Photo by Pig & Khao
Address: 368 Clinton St. (Stanton & Rivington St.)
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.
Photo by Obao
Address: 222 E. 53rd St. (2nd & 3rd Ave.)
*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!
Photo by Chop Shop
Address: 254 10th Ave.
Review: Though Chop Shop is located slightly out of the way for the non-Chelsea dwelling crowd, here you’ll find a cozy nook that’s got an interesting take on some solid Asian fusion. Both Thai and Chinese influences lead to a lot of yummy dishes that combo some great flavors. We came here shortly after they opened and had not gotten their liquor license yet, but they graciously suggested places nearby where we could grab some beers or wine to bring in and have with our meal. The one downside is that the portions are on the small side so you’ll want to order several plates to fill you up. Overall we were met with a generally friendly staff who were happy to talk about their new menu and provide us with some suggestions. As an added bonus for the spring/summer months, they have a nice outdoor garden space in back.
Address: 136 9th Ave. (18th & 19th St.)
Review: Social Eatz is Angelo Sosa’s restaurant in Midtown East (from Top Chef). This was a great last minute date night find for us. Everything on the menu has a really interesting/different flavor than you’d expect, in a good way. He takes standard comfort food dishes and gives them an Asian twist. The kimchi wedge is refreshing with a tangy dressing, the steamed pork buns were good (but could use some more pork/less bun), the tuna pastrami on rye with mustard is a well-executed new age twist on a New York classic, and the Korean fried chicken is fantastic – cooked beautifully, crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside. For dessert we had the strawberry shortcake in a jar with peppercorn whipped cream, it was a really cool twist on dessert and insanely delicious. Though we didn’t have it, the bibimbop burger also sounds like a must try. They have surprisingly tasty and refreshing signature cocktails as well. Overall, we definitely recommend Social Eatz for a casual date night out in Midtown East. Be ready to try new things, the dishes will throw you for a loop but they are all executed very well. With the doors opening out to the street and the refreshing drinks and dishes, Social Eatz is a great summer spot to take your date.
Photo by Leslie D.
Address: 37 Union Square West (16th & 17th St.)
Review: We went here as a last minute date spot since we were in the mood for noodles and planning to catch a movie afterwards in Union Square. The boyfriend had the BBQ pork which was amazing and I had the curried duck which was good but nothing in comparison. Delicious noodle dishes, fast service and solid specialty cocktails make this place worth a visit. Though seating is at communal tables and it can get VERY loud so its not ideal for a first date/getting to know you type of place. Republic is a good last minute date spot for the food but don’t expect to have much of a conversation since you probably won’t be able to hear the person across the table from you.
Photo by SUSHISAMBA
Address: 245 Park Ave. S (19th & 20th St.)
*Location also in the West Village
Review: Much like Haru, Sushi Samba is another good chain restaurant that churns out an above average product. It’s kitschy and always busy but has a large cocktail list and is a fun spot – though the menu is not for the sushi purists. They have some really good, fresh specialty rolls and both Latin and Asian dishes are available so it’s a good spot if you’re in the mood for a little bit of an eclectic dinner. The noise level is a little loud at both locations but it’s still a decent date spot that’s more on the expensive side.