Madame Vo’s Pho and Ro(lls)

Winter weather calls for soul soothing bowls of soup like Vietnamese Pho. At Madame Vo Lunch is served till as late as 4pm and for $15 you get a choice of rolls fresh or fried as an appetizer and a handful or so entrees to choose from. 


For my starter I choose the the Bo Bia Autumn roll stuffed with jicama, pork, egg, shrimp basil and peanuts. The jicama gave it a nice fresh crunch while pork sausage provided the flava.


For my entree I had to go Pho not only to try their 24 hr broth, but to send a pic to a Pho Bro who couldn’t make lunch this day.  Aside from the broth being deep, rich and delish it was loaded with sliced thin angus brisket. The Madame’s version also comes with Vietnamese style meatballs which are a bit dense compared to your traditional Italian version. 


The space inside is long and sleek with walls adorned with artwork. I love the big PopArt like portrait of Madame Vo up front, but take a walk to the back to check out those beautiful paintings as well. 

Definitely add Madame Vo to your Vietnamese restaurants, Pho joints, East Village spots and Lunch Specials lists. 


Madame Vong is located at 212 East 10th Street

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BAP Korean BBQ in Murray Hill

Love BBQ…ever had Korean style? Bap a Korean BBQ Joint and bar is another great recent addition to the drastically improving Murray Hill food scene. I’ve hit Bap three times already and if you’re looking for something different or simply been waiting for a Korean spot to open here’s three reasons to check it out.


My first visit was for Lunch where I had their tasty…but be warned, packing some heat (1)Kimchee Stew that came with a number of pickled sides and rice.

 

 

On my next visit I had their spicy chicken wings and their (2) scallion pancake with seafood (highly recommend) with a Peach Soju. While I like Soju…I found this a bit too sweet for me.  

On my most recent visit I finally got around to trying their BBQ. We started with those tasty scallion pancakes, this time trying the pork and kimchee. We shared the Combo A BBQ that came with four cuts of meat, Ribeye, Short Ribs, (3) Marinated Short Ribs (my fave of the four) and substituted the skirt steak for pork belly.

To drink we decided “when in Seoul” and ordered up Hite a Korean lager that was pretty good. Bap is a great addition to the neighborhood for lunch, happy hour with a bite and dinner.

Bap is located at 516a 3rd Avenue 

@SaucePizzeriaNYC The secret is in the…

Finally, a new Pizzeria serving actual Italian pizza vs Ranch sauce and the kitchen sink topped flatbreads. I’ve become rather disenchanted by all the places serving flatbreads that they call Pizza but are not opening up lately. At Sauce Pizzeria the secret is quite simple…it’s in the Sauce based upon chef Adam Elzer’s Nonna’s recipe. That aside from coming on the slices they give you a side cup to dip the crust in…genius!


Sauce Pizzeria offers slices and pies of Pepperoni, Sausage, Al Pastor (a nod to Chef Elzer time at Empellion), Vodka and Upside down plus a special of the day. Though I generally go for slices with a topping I went for two slices to go of their classic slice. Primarily due to the fact that I was bringing them home and wanted to get creative.



Sauce’s pizzas are classic brick oven style thin crust with one of the better red sauces in the city with fresh mozz and basil. At home I made a breakfast slice out of one topping it with rosemary ham and a sunny-side egg and a twist on the classic pepperoni using spicy soppressata and a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. If you have not tried it yet…do so.


Sauce Pizzeria has quite simply some of the best thin crust brick oven style pizza in NYC. Amazing how much flavor these slices pack. Must be the “sauce” :). 


Sauce Pizzeria is located  at 390 East 12th Street 

@OkiPokeRamen Craving the Cooked or the Raw? 

Oki Poke and Ramen is riding the current dual waves of Poke and Ramen infatuation that New Yorkers have caught. Located right by Grand Central Station It’s great spot on a cold day for bowls of Ramen or any day you’re feeling it’s time to start working on your beach bod with lo-cal and protein rich Poke. 


I started with their very good fried Gyoza and then enjoyed their just the right amount of heat spicy Volcano Ramen that comes with pork, fish cake and egg for your protein fix. Of note, you order Tokyo style off of an iPad like screen and than are served by a waitress. Their Poke as of yet, I have not tried, but will eventually give it a shot. 


Oki Poke and Ramen is located at 135 East 45th Street   

@SaiGonDepNYC ‘s Pho Ga

It was a cold rainy day that was calling out for a bowl of soul satisfying chicken soup and I decided to check out just opened Sai Gon Dep to try out their Vietnamese version called Pho Ga. 

 

Currently (as of December 2018) they are only open for lunch with a short and to the point menu offering chicken or beef Pho, Summer Rolls with either pork or veggie (beet and mango), Crispy Spring Rolls, Papaya Salad and Brussel Sprouts. 


The Lunch Special offers a full bowl of Pho with a half order of a Summer Roll. I went Pork and it was excellent…would love to see a shrimp version added to the menu. For my Pho I went with Sai Gon Dep’s Pho Ga. it was delicious and I was pleasantly surprised how much it tasted like old school Jewish style chicken soup though with a Vietnamese soul and subtle seasonings. 

 

 

Along with chicken meat (be careful, some pieces have bones) and noodles it does have an egg in it…thus making one ponder the chicken or the egg while gazing into the bowl. A side of dipping sauce comes with it comprised of Smaltz (chicken fat) with ginger and some chiles which they should bottle. 

While speaking with my Mom later that night when asked if I found any new food spots I told her I found a great new Vietnamese place that had Pho that gave her Chicken soup some legitimate competition. She asked if it had Kreplach in it. Points to Mom…though a Vietnamese version would be interesting…hint hint Chef Nguyen.

 

Sai Gon Dep is located at 719 2nd Avenue

@TatsuRamen The Way of the Dragon 

I love Ramen and when I walked by a new joint on 1st Ave in the East Village with the namesake of my Chinese Zodiac spirit animal Tatsu (translates to Dragon) I did a bit of research and found that this is the East coast location of an established joint out of LA. 



To start I ordered from the Sides menu the Waygu Ramen Burger (there are a number of rice dishes, a Pork Bun). It was totally awesome and blew away the overhyped one I had at Smorgissomethingorother. 

Tatsu Ramen offers a half dozen plus variations of Ramen, the option to choose your desired level of heat (as in spicy) as well as the protein  (chicken, pork or tofu). I decided on the Bold Ramen with “quite a kick” (a level 2, goes up to 4) with Kurobuta pork. It was delish and though it did have a bit of a kick, I think I’ll try Whoa…Hot! next time. 


Of note, you order Tokyo style in this case via an iPad that you pay via a credit card. It generates a receipt that you give to the host, are then seated and served. Service is very friendly, cheery and attentive. 

In a city rapidly adding new Ramen joints add Tatsu Ramen to your great Ramen Spots, Burger spots, Fusion food joints and Late Night spots (2-3pm depending on day of week) lists.


Tatsu Ramen is located at 167 1st Avenue 

@EmmySquaredPizza East Village

Straight Outta Detroit via Williamsburg comes the new East Village location for Emmy Squared’s Detroit style square Pizza’s with traditional and non-traditional toppings. 

To attempt being a bit healthy we started with their Broccoli salad which while not quite traditional Italian being topped with pears and crushed peanuts in a miso dressing was delicious.

 

We asked if the salad with a Pizza would be enough. We were advised to get one of their sandwiches (served on yummy Pretzel buns) if we were hungry.

 

Of the three choices which all sounded good we went Spicy Chicken topped with bok choy, salsa and ranch dressing. While the combo sounds odd it was awesome and both bigger than I expected and spicier…which in my book is a good thing.


As for their renowned Pizza they offer a number of Red and White versions to choose from. Detroit style slices are square and the dough focaccia like. We went with the Emmyletta a new Pizza available only at this location. Its topped with plenty of pepperoni, a good amount of mortadella and I would have liked more of olive relish.

 

While I enjoyed it…as a native New Yorker it’s hard to wrap my head around a 6 slice pie of tiny 3 x 3 inch squares for $20 bucks. For me, I would definitely come back for their sandwiches and sides/salads…I’m up in the air for the Pizza due to how tiny they are. Ideally I would get a sandwich and finish slices from dining companions who couldn’t finish their pie.

Emmy Squared East Village is located at 83 1st Avenue 

@AmericanGiant Limited Edition Pop-Up in Soho

“The greatest Hoodie ever” is a pretty bold statement but American Giant does kinda live up to it. Hailed as the Levi Strauss of our time American Giant makes basic high quality no nonsense gear like sweatshirts and tees.

While I wanted to try one…I’m a dinosaur. Their on-line only word of mouth marketing campaign has worked remarkably for them…but I generally don’t like to buy clothes on-line unless its a brand I have tried on before so I know the fit (I’m 6’2 with an athletic build).

If you are also from the Jurassic period and live in NYC you are now in luck that American Giant opened up a pop up in Soho (TBD but currently scheduled till Jan 2019). Thus, I had to check out their gear.

My findings…their Hoodie is pretty awesome, so I picked up not only a Winter Sky for myself but got my Niece a faded dark grape like color and my Sis-In-Law black.

I tried on their waffle henley, slub henley and premium T-shirts in vee and crew neck. Loved the waffle henley (had them order and ship to me Evening Blue since they didn’t have it at the store). Their slub didn’t really fit me just right so passed, but may work for you. I have too many tees as is but liked the quality, colors and how they fit so grabbed black crew and a blue spruce vee.

American Giant has recently added jeans and a number of other items. I couldn’t try on their jeans at the time(recovering from bilateral hip surgey) but hoping to in the coming weeks.

All in all I’m a big fan of American Giant and their Made in America 100% cotton gear and have my fingers crossed that this pop up becomes a brick n mortar resident of Soho. Of note, the store is big, bright, and airy with a staff that is super friendly, helpful and chill.

American Giant is located at 119 Crosby Street

@19Cleveland by @NishNushNYC “Straight Outta Tel Aviv” 

The Nish Nush team has just opened a great new Israeli restaurant in Soho with a pescatarian and vegetarian menu offering lunch, brunch, dinner and a full cocktail menu.  


I started with their delicious creamy hummus that I mopped  up with their fresh baked pita bread and Nish Nush’s spicy green Zhug sauce which is like crack for me. Of note, Israeli Hummus is much creamier and silkier than the thick stuff you are likely used to eating…and much better.

 

 

I love a good Sabich and 19 Cleveland does a tasty one...that I got all over my hands. As my waitress handed me some napkins she shared how it happens to her all the time as well.

For desert I couldn’t resist their Sufganiyah (Chanukah Donuts) filled with yummy Strawberry jam, that for bonus points…they served warm. 


The food is served in a bright open airy space by a friendly accommodating staff. Sit upfront for people watching and sun, in the back for an escape from the street or grab a seat at the bar. This is definitely on my Soho Lunch Spot and Cool Coffee joint lists and I may need to check it out for a cocktail some time. Happy Hour? 

19 Cleveland is located at 19 Cleveland Street 

Little Alley Shanghainese: Michelin listed in Murray Hill

A Michelin guide listed restaurant in Murray Hill? Yes, you read that correctly. Little Alley a Shanginese style Chinese joint with a rather large menu got high points for being a comfortable restaurant offering authentic Shanghainese cuisine for a good value.


To start Little Alley offers quite a few Dim Sum dumpling options(available at lumch snd dinner) along with a number of hot and cold appi’s. Their Soup Dumplings are some of the better I’ve had. I enjoyed the pork, they offer crab and pork as well. 


From the entree menu on my most recent visit I choose the sautéed Chicken with dry hot peppers and peanuts with brown rice. A nice sized portion with just the right amount of heat. Of note, do not eat the dry red peppers unless you want to light your insides on fire…


From their lunch specials menu, a bargain at $10-12 bucks I choose the Flounder with Tofu in a spicy garlic sauce with brown Rice. It comes with Hot and Sour soup and a spring roll or cucumber salad. Their Kung Pao chicken is very good as well.

For far better than your average Chinese spot for lunch specials, soup dumplings, Dim Sum all day and dinner add Little Alley to your go to lists.

Little Alley is located at 550 3rd Avenue