Chinese on the cheap

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year, the day that we scare off the ghosts and celebrate luck, welfare and success. In my family we always exchange red envelopes with yellow coins inside. Red is supposed to scare the ghosts away and yellow brings luck. We celebrate this with a big Chinese dinner party at my parent’s home or in a restaurant. With lots of Chinese food off course. Are you celebrating Chinese New Year? And if so, do you eat Chinese on Chinese New Year? If yes, here are some of my favorite no frills Chinese spots on the cheap that you might consider: 

Cafe China New York

1. Cafe China (13 East 37th street, between 5th avenue and Madisson avenue. Midtown East). $$

To my knowledge, this authentic Sichuan restaurant is the only Michelin-star restaurant where you can have a two course meal for less than $10 (11.30 am -3 pm Monday- Friday). If you like spicy, order the Tree pepper chicken, Spicy Cumin Lamb or Ma Po Tofu and Pork Dumplings on the side. If you’re not into spicy, have some Tea Smoked Duck, Kung Pao Chicken or Chinese Broccoli. 

Cafe China New York

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10 places in Korea Town

Like an abundance of noodle bars, there is also an abundance of Korean (BBQ) restaurants in New York City. A lot of them are located in Korea Town, centered around 32nd street between 5th and 6th avenue. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much Korean restaurants concentrated in one area outside Korea. If you are in Koreatown and don’t have a clue which one to visit, here are some places you might consider:

1. New Wonjo (23 West 32nd street, between 5th and 6th Avenue). $$

My favorite for Korean BBQ. Order: Scallion Pancake, A BBQ- Combo.

KoreaTown New York

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20 Big Apple Sandwiches worth eating

Sandwiches New York

One thing I noticed immediately the first time I visited New York, was the habit to buy sandwiches every morning for breakfast or afternoon for brunch. From plumber to  policemen to businessmen, I noticed that basically everyone was buying their sandwich. Not a very common thing (yet) in Amsterdam, where I used to make my own sandwich every morning and take them to the office in a plastic lunchbox.

Anyway, since I think that most Big Apple sandwiches from the sandwich place (with multiple thick layers of cheese or meat) are way better than my own-homemade (single layer of cheese or meat) sandwich I took over this habit and stared buying my sandwich outside instead of making my own homemade sandwich. Consequently, I tried out many different sandwiches from various places in Manhattan. I am mostly familiar with the sandwiches available in the Lower East Side, West Village and Midtown West/ Hell’s Kitchen. Because that’s the area where I had most of my breakfast- and lunch breaks.

I did not discover that many yummy sandwich places in other neigbourhoods yet and there are still an uncountable number of sandwiches still to discover yet. That’s right, I am reaaaallly interested in more insider tips :). 

But here some sandwich places that I think are worth a visit during breakfast time or at your daily lunch break: 

Lower East Side

1. Tiny’s little giant sandwich shop

(129 Rivington  street, between Essex and Norfolk street. Lower East Side)

For indeed. Giant Sandwiches in a small cozy cafe. Check out more of my Lower East Side Favorites here

Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop New York Lower East Side

Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop New York Lower East Side

2. Cheeky Sandwiches 

(35 Orchard street., between Canal street and Hester street. Lower East Side)

 A cute little sandwich shop serving the best fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits in town.

Cheeky Sandwiches Lower East Side New York

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Gaia Italian Cafe

GAIA ITALIAN CAFE (251 East Houston at Norfolk street. Lower East Side). $ 

This little hidden gem has recently been added as one of my new favorites to my list of Italians and Lower East Side spots. It’s cozy, friendly, affordable and most of all super delicious. 

Gaia Italian Cafe Lower East Side

Their fresh home made spinach and buffalo ricotta gnocchi ($7) is simply amazing Also their freshly baked toasted Italian panini’s are a must to try. My personal favorite is the Bubi (Mozarella di Bufala, tomatoes and basil). For just $5! 

Gaia Italian Cafe Lower East Side

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A bagel @ Russ and Daughters

RUSS AND DAUGHTERS (179 East Houston street, between Orchard and Allen street. Lower East Side). $ 

This classic deli shop that has been run by four generations of the Russ family offers is my favorite bagel spot in the city. From regular cream cheese bagels till specialty bagels with smoked fish and caviar. 

Russ and Daughters Lower East Side New York

Russ and Daughters Lower East Side New York

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Brunch @ Marc Forgione

MARC FORGIONE (134 Reade street, between Hudson and Greenwich street. Tribeca). $$

This stylish restaurant is urban and rustic at the same time. Wooden tables are combined with brick stone walls and industrial dark lights. Half of the brunch menu consists out of eggs, not just regular eggs but large egg dishes. Classics with a twist such as eggs Benedict with prosciutto, scrambled eggs with applewood bacon and more, or a burger with an egg on top. I had a Feather Ridge Farm Omelette (with Greenmarket Vegetables and Fresh Goat Cheese. $12), a man sized portion equal to a big breakfast. 

Marc Forgione New York Tribeca

Marc Forgione New York Tribeca

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Gramercy Tavern

GRAMERCY TAVERN (42 East 20th street, between 5th avenue and Park avenue South. Gramercy Park/ Flatiron/ Union Square). $$$

I finally managed to get a table at Gramercy Tavern. An iconic restaurant that has been on my list for ages but the endless line (no reservations are taken at the tavern) in front of the door always just scares me off. But this time I went at an unusual time to have lunch or dinner (at 4pm!) and we were immediately seated :). 

Gramercy Tavern New York

This straightforward classic American cuisine that has been in New York City for over twenty years is one of the most beloved restaurants in the city. Only high quality ingredients are used, stemming from local farms and mostly from the Union Square Greenmarket located a stone’s throw away from the restaurant.  

The restaurant itself is spacious, but with all the wood and the fireplace it still has a warm and welcoming feel. But it’s not the most trendy or romantic place I’ve been to. The service was one of the best I’ve experienced so far. 

Gramercy Tavern New York

I only tried their delicious sea bass but I will definitely come back for more. Because I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the dishes. 

3 x Hotpot

Hotpot is something I’d like to eat when the weather is cold. And because the weather cooled off rapidly , I thought it would be a good time to eat hotpot again. Here my top 3 favorite hotpot spots in New York City (in random order):

HOU YI HOTPOT (112 Eldridge street at Hester street. Chinatown) $$

Like most of the restaurants in Chinatown, this place has a lack of ambiance. But the best thing about Hou Yi is it’s all you can eat concept. For $30 you can eat as much fish balls,meat, tofu, vegetables and ice cream as you want. And drink as much as you can. Within a 2 hours time frame. There are many hotpot ingredients to choose from, so I am sure there must be something you like. And the broth is very tasty. Thus is you have big appetite, the all you can eat hotpot at Hou Yi is definitely worth the 30 bucks. 

Hou Yi Hot Pot New York Chinatown

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Noodles @ Menkui Tei

MENKUI TEI (60 West 56th street. Between 5th and 6th Avenue. Midtown East). €

I haven’t been eating ramen for a while and was pretty excited to try out the ramen at this spot. Menkui Tei! This ramen restaurant didn’t have the long wait like most of its competitor noodle bars have and the restaurant was pretty much empty. Perhaps it had anything to do with the outdated decor? Anyway. I just hoped it had anything to do with the noodles.

Mekui Tei New York

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Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle

LAM ZHOU HANDMADE NOODLE (144 East Broadway, between Pike street and East Broadway. Chinatown). $ 

After over 5 months, I am finally able to try out some new Noodle place in New York city. This afternoon I had lunch at Lam Zhou Handmade noodle. The noodles here are handmade in right in front of you. It can’t be any fresher. And even better, the fairly large bowls are very very cheap. I paid $6.00 for my roasted pork chop noodle bowl. Certainly not a romantic fine dining experience, but not bad at all considering it’s price. 


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