Friday, January 30, 2015

Best Ramen in New York: Ivan Ramen, New York, NY

Ramen's moment is now. Mu Ramen, Ramen Lab and Ivan Ramen are being written up everywhere. After our slurp shop adventure last fall, I was eager to visit the mothership - Ivan Ramen.

You'll find Ivan Ramen on the Lower East Side in a sliver of a spot on Clinton Street. Part the curtains and enter the den of ramen. 

Lines are long but luckily they now take reservations via OpenTable; they quickly seated our party of 5 in the window. We were not in the mood for alcohol (read: hungover) although our neighbors' beer and cocktails looked both interesting and delicious.  On the non-alcohol side try a Yuzu lemonade and you won't be disappointed. 

We started with chicken cutlet katsu for the table.  Thinly pounded fried chicken with lemon, cabbage shiso and spicy sauce woke us right up.  Yum, I could have eaten this for days.

Ramen was next and, WOW, was it spicy.  I had the "dry ramen", a Dan Dan noodle with thick whole wheat noodles, sesame oil and, spicy, did I mention, spicy, sautéed pork.  A ramen without the broth.  My kind of ramen.

We also had the more traditional shio and shoyu ramen, both had rye noodles, pork and chicken broth.  The difference was in the condiments - sea salt for shio, soy sauce for shoyu.  Either way you have it, it is awesome.

In fact everything at Ivan Ramen is awesome.  This may be the best ramen in New York. We are already planning our next visit.  Who's joining us? 

Ivan Ramen
25 Clinton Street
New York, NY

Monday, January 19, 2015

Doughnut Testing: The Doughnut Plant, NY

It's no secret that we are mildly obsessed with doughnuts.  From The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine to Federal Donuts in Philadelphia, we've had some pretty stellar ones.  So it was only fitting to pay a visit to the Doughnut Plant in New York City and have a taste test.

Since 1994, the Doughnut Plant has been serving the best kind of carbs from the Lower East Side of Manhattan.   They offer round and cake varieties plus square and doughseeds (their version of a munchkin) - this is a tough choice. We had four of them.  And we wanted so many more.

We actually tried to have just three - the Vanilla Bean, the Brooklyn Blackout and the Cinnamon Sugar:

But then had to add one final masterpiece - the Tres Leches.

The results? All amazing. Best doughnuts yet. Better yet these doughnuts have all natural ingredients and no eggs. 

My favorite was the Cinnamon Sugar, traditional and perfect. Brooklyn Blackout was my second favorite, it's hard not love a chocolate doughnut. The Tres Leches was too milky for me (I know it's milk-based doughnut) and the Vanilla Beach was too sweet. But honestly we're just being picky here. Incredible across the board.

Thirsty? Coffee, espresso and the freshest milk you can find from the Battenkill Valley Creamery are also available to wash them down. 

Until our next Burger (or maybe doughnut)

The Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street
New York, NY

Check out their website for their other NYC locations in  Brooklyn and Chelsea.  Plus, you can find them at a variety of speciality stores and coffee shops like Citarella, Whole Foods and Dean and DeLuca. Or in the shakes at the Shake Shack.  YUM!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Drinks Only: Havana Central, Garden City, NY

With temperatures hovering in the single digits, stepping into the tropics on the freezing evening seemed like a good idea.The palm trees and bright Cuban decor at Havana Central's Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY had me intrigued. The drinks did, too. The food? Not so much.

A Pomegranate mojito at happy hour prices was the ideal antidote to the sub-freezing temperatures.  Don't like mojitos? Sangria and margaritas are also available. My advice? Leave after that. 

The appetizer sampler was just terrible. Don't you think that a tray of fried items should be defined when served? We practically had to beg the bus boy to give us a vague description.  Empanadas were too dry, as were fried plantains. Conversely, Chorizo was too greasy.  Corn was on the cob and therefore impossible to share. The only semi-redeeming item was sweet plaintains. And that's more of a dessert item.

My main course shrimp mofongo wasn't any better.  Mofongo is not a dish I know much about. Apparently it is supposed to be a dish with mashed plantains, bits of pork and some kind of chicken, meat or fish. At Havana Central it is mound of slop, the shrimp that surrounded said mound were fine but the mound was not. I could discern no real flavor so I gave up. 

Supposedly the Cuban sandwich is tasty, although irrelevant since I'm probably not eating here again. Drinks only from now on. 

Until our next Burger,

Havana Central
Roosevelt Field Mall
630 Old Country Road
Garden City, NY

Note: Other New York locations include Times Square and Ridge Hill in Yonkers.  There is a Legoland Discovery Center at Ridge Hill and you may need a drink after that!