Momofuku Nishi

gou232 8th Ave.  New York, NY 10011 • (646) 518-1919 • momofuku.com

David Chang is a master of the impossible, so it only makes sense that he would create a veggie burger that tastes imperceptibly close to its meaty alternative, hence the name Impossible Burger (pictured). It is deception on a bun. Edible hocus pocus. The patty made predominantly from soy bean, it somehow even takes on the texture of meat.

As for the burger itself, it’s only amazing that it’s vegetarian. But as a burger itself, it’s just okay, coming off more like your classic simple cheeseburger (granted the new version now has truffle mayo and gouda) that isn’t as good as other veggie burgers like the Gouchujong at Cinnamon Snail or meat burgers like the Shack Stack at Shake Shack, The Bash Burger at B&B or my personal fav, The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern.

Beyond the novelty of the burger, however, Nishi is very hit and miss. The kimchi is just okay as is the beet salad with avocado and a dusting of nuts.

The only other hit you can chew would be the pistachio bundt cake for dessert. It’s far from epic, but it’s a solid choice if you want to end things on a sweet note.

That said, if you really want a hit, do yourself a Gin & Julius to drink. It’s like an alcoholic creamsicle. It’s also like really friggin’ yum and after two or three you won’t have your mind on your money or your mind.

The Little Beet

2 Penn Plz. New York, NY 10001 thelittlebeet.com

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So I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve been going to the Pennsy a lot lately. In fact, if I keep it up they might start charging me rent. But until that happens I’m going to continue my trip around the world, through all six menus at all six establishments.

My recent staple being Little Beet, which has pretty decent salads and is one of the healthier options apart from Cinnamon Snail. My usuals are the beet salad with arugula, warm quinoa, goat cheese and chicken tossed in a sherry, shallot dressing. It’s quite good and if you’re feeling like doubling down on the healthy, they have some solid fresh squeezed juices as well.

The other salad I often get is the Miso Chicken salad. Made with chicken, brown rice, romaine, cabbage, soba noodles, pickled Asian slaw and wasabi nori shakes and a miso glaze. It sounds more impressive than it is. But what it is, is exactly what you’d expect, nothing more, nothing less. And it’s sure to hit the spot, assuming that spot is craving an Asian chicken salad.

3 teeth

Mario by Mary

2 Pennsylvania Plaza New York, NY 10121 (917) 475-1830thepennsy.nyc/mario-by-mary

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I have to admit I’ve become a bit of a Pennsy groupie, eating from there roughly three or more times a week. But as life-saving as it is to have this treasure trove just a stone’s throw away from my office, the Pennsy is unfortunately not the Solla Sollew I once thought it to be.

But shockers of all shockers, the weak link isn’t either of the two “healthy” options, as Cinnamon Snail and Little Beet both carry their weight like a champion sumo wrestler. No, the disappointment comes from the prodigal son, Mario Batali and his partner in blah, Mary.

Having now had not one, but two different grilled cheeses there, I walked away very unsatisfied both times. The first time going with the honey and truffle sandwich and the second time rolling the dice on the eggplant. As a backhanded compliment, I will say that the pickled veggie salad they give you on the side is actually pretty nice though. But not good enough to make up for the fact that you’d be better off heading a few blocks over to No. 7 Sub. So be warned Mario and Mary, I’m gonna give you one last shot, because I have my eye on that Cubano (pictured), but this is make it or break it time, so if you don’t bring it like a cheerleader on Adderall,  you could very easily slide to a one.

2 teeth

The Lobster Press

2 Penn Plz New York, NY 10121(646) 776-3700 thelobsterpress.com

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Are you sitting down? If not, I’ll wait… Okay, here it goes. There is a really great place to eat in Penn Station. All right, stop laughing. I’m trying to be serious here. It’s called The Pennsy and it is quite literally the answer to my foodie prayers, single-handedly making me happy to be close to Penn Station, which is no small feat.

So what is the Pennsy? The Pennsy is a high end food court dressed with a modern, industrial vibe and loaded with some pretty kick ass options ranging from Batali grilled cheese sammies, to Cinnamon Snail (which you already know how I feel about), to a Marc Forgione lobster hut.

Now, if you haven’t already read my review of Marc Forgione, you should go do that so that you can appreciate the unbridled joy that I am about to spew effusively.

The very same magical chili sauce you’ll find in Marc’s transcendent lobster appetizer at his signature restaurant is transformed into a dipping jus for a hot pressed lobster and cheese sandwich served on a blissfully crunchy ciabatta. Oh. Daddy. Yes!

Then wash that puppy down with some spicy Maine Root Ginger Ale and- Fuck it. I just heart the Pennsy. ‘Nuff said.

3 teeth

John Doe

253 5th Ave. New York, NY 10001 • (646) 882-4007johndoenyc.com

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To start, I’d like to begin by stating that John kicks Lulu’s ass. Located in the former space as Lulu & Me (RIP-ish), John Doe has come to take its place with a somewhat similar offering… on paper, that is. In terms of flavor, however, I am happy to report that the 2.0 update comes with a host of new features such as better service, better décor and better food.

As for that all-important last update, let’s start with the popcorn shrimp, which was one of the better ones I’ve ever had, primarily because you can actually taste the shrimp. Normally I feel like the shrimp-to-breading ratio is always so far off that all you are eating is a fried wad of batter, but not these. They’re plump, tasty and shrimpy. Served with a spicy cayenne remoulade that make these shrimp a huge hit. Down it with a refreshing John Doe Ale and you’ll be halfway to happy.

For my entrée I went with the Jane Doe, which is the veggie burger version of the meat-based John Doe burger. Jane is made with brown rice, yellow bell peppers and beets, giving her patty a slightly red hue, topped with avocado, aged cheddar and red pepper aioli then served on a pretzel roll. It’s no Gochujang Burger from Cinnamon Snail, but it held its own. Especially with the addition of Dijon. Also, I think I might have been a bit spoiled having just come off of that insanely good duck and foie gras burger at Élan. So how could a veggie burger even hope to compare?

Don’t judge, because when I mention what we ordered for dessert I fear that some of you might find issue with it, particularly the wife. In my defense, though, there is only one option for dessert and we did split it four ways. Okay, I’ll dispense with the stalling… We had the deep fried Oreos with vanilla ice cream. Yes, a deep fried cookie with ice cream on top, because a regular cookie is just WAY too healthy. Now obviously it wasn’t bad, cuz duh, it’s a deep fried Oreo cookie with ice cream. But to be fair, it wasn’t exactly worth it either. I mean going in the expectations are SO incredibly high (as is the guilt) that there is a lot to compensate for and sadly the Oreos fall short, netting out a touch soggy and nowhere near worth the year they probably just took off my life. John Doe, however, is well-worth the trip. It’s not quite up there with some of the 4 and 5 knifers in the hood, but three is pretty respectable in my book.

3 teeth

Koji BBQ

Azul Truck • Los Angeles, CA(323) 315-0253 kogibbq.com

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I know that Koji is supposed to be one of the originators of the whole food truck craze, but Ford was the originator of the automobile and I think it’s safe to say that others have since improved upon the concept significantly.

Well, after eating Koji’s Pacman Burger (pictured) I can say unequivocally that Koji ain’t what she used to be. Perhaps due to a slide in Koji’s own performance or a testament to how many other food trucks have stepped into the ring, upping the game? Whatever it is, Koji is now a featherweight amongst heavy hitters.

Let’s just take Korilla BBQ in NY as a Korean Barbeque comparison or Cinnamon Snail as a kimchi burger cohort- both EASILY send the Pacman, well… packing.

So unrefined is the Pacman, tasting exactly as it sounds, “packed,” with 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag. Three different meats, two salsas, sesame mayo, jack and cheddar cheeses, salad and some crispy things on top, ya know, because why wait to have a coronary when you can die today?

But heaviness is most definitely not why I am getting all over Koji’s case. It’s because the burger tasted like nothing more than a bunch of greasy slop on a bun. No separation between textures or flavors. In fact, if it weren’t for the Sriacha, I probably wouldn’t have even made it halfway through it, which is about as far as I got. Not because I was full, but because I was worried about the gastrointestinal repercussions that might ensue. Fortunately the “retaliation” was milder than expected. My review, not so much.

2 teeth

Greensquare Tavern

5 W 21st St. New York, NY 10010 • (212) 929-2468 • greensquaretavern.com
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To say that this place is “amazing,” as many people state, is a bit of a reach. It is, however, very solid. Probably worth 3.5 kinves in truth. Mostly for the blondie, which is the best I’ve ever had, but that’s leap-frogging straight to dessert, so let’s back up and talk a few other dishes first.

The veggie burger is strong. Hearty. Not the kind that makes you feel like you are compromising. Not quite at the level of Cinnamon Snail’s, but definitely in the upper stratosphere of veggie burger glory.

Unfortunately, the grilled cheese (pictured) doesn’t reach the same heights. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you make a better one at home. And as for the Iced tea, it’s a tad too floral for my tastes, but if you like drinking bouquets, your ship just came in.

As for my ship, the blondie, as previous stated is a moral imperative. Basically a giant, moist chocolate chip cookie in brick form. And an Ultimate as you may have guessed.

As for other factors, Greensquare has a nice, quaint, simple decor and service is okay.

So all in, I’m always happy to go back, but I’m also not rushing.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Veggie Burger

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Cinnamon Snail – New York, NY

While its name is a bit difficult to pronounce, “The Gouchujong Burger,” that’s about the only thing I can say bad about it. This vegetarian badass is so damn impressive it almost doesn’t even deserve the “veggie” qualifier, because I swear, one bite and you will never even think to ask yourself, “where’s the beef?”

They start with a hearty mixture of grains and beans and vegetables and put together what is probably the most substantial patty I’ve ever come across in the land of vegan. Then, they top it with some seriously spicy kimchi and place it on a multigrain bun so boss that it almost acts like an extension of the burger itself. I’m not messing around. This is one veggie burger you don’t want to fuck with. Bring your appetite or bring a doggie bag.