A perfect East Village combination:


Rai Rai Ken  214 East 10 Street (between 1st and 2nd Aves.) 212.977.7030  This little “hole in the wall” ramen shop serves the best Miso Ramen (a soy bean based noodle soup full of bean sprouts, cabbage, onion, crispy garlic, chicken, and scallions—and, if you’re like me, liberally sprinkled with Chinese red pepper) in the City.  No fancy atmosphere, and one eats sitting on a stool at a counter; but for $7.40 plus the price of some Japanese beer, it’s an incredible bargain!  Consider adding an order of Gyoza (dumplings) for some variety. It is very small and hard to find—look for the red flag covering the doorway.  Combined with dessert at ChikaLicious, across the street, it makes a perfect meal!


ChikaLicious  203 E. 10th St. (bet. 1st & 2nd Aves.) 212.995.9511  Just across the street from Rai Rai Ken (but closer to 2nd Ave.) is perhaps the most novel new restaurant in New York.  ChikaLicious is a dessert restaurant, serving prix fixe ($12) three course desserts (an amuse bouche of the day [one day it was a brown sugar panna cotta with cranberry sorbet; once a mascarpone parfait with espresso sauce], a “main course” of your choice, and petits fours) with the option of a glass of wine chosen to go with your main dessert (for an additional $7).  It has the feel of a beautiful, white sushi bar—with sushi-sized portions, prepared by the chef while you watch.  The desserts are simply heavenly, and the wine choices are unusual, elegant, and exceptionally good.  The owners/chefs are every bit as lovely and wonderful as they are talented.  This place is an extraordinary find—but it is not a secret: it can be busy, so go at off hours if possible.





Thailand.  (aka, Pongrisi, Thai Restarant)  106 Bayard St. (just east of Baxter St.)  212.349.3132  This unassuming and inexpensive Chinatown restaurant serves some of the best (and cheapest) Thai food in the City.  Don’t miss their Yum Koon Chiang (salad with warm Chinese sausage, cucumber, scallions, and tomatoes), Nam Sod (cold ground pork, shallots, and peanuts in lime juice), Mee Krob (a shrimp and noodle-y thing in a sticky sweet and sour sauce), Pad Kra Tiem (a choice of beef, chicken or pork, prepared with fresh basil, onion, bell peppers, in a hot and spicy chili sauce), and most anything else that strikes your fancy.  Everything there is delicious.  There is also a branch in the Theater District, not as nice, but the same delicious food (but, N.B.: bring your own chop sticks; the one downtown has them, this one does not):  244 West 48 Street (212.582.3392).





Nha Trang  87 Baxter St. (bet. Bayard & Canal Sts.)  212.233.5948.  This Chinatown “dump” (absolutely no atmosphere, and rushed and abrupt service) serves some of the most delicious Vietnamese food in town.  Ask to waiter for suggestions...but also experiment:  it is so cheap that you can order a bunch of things just to taste them!





Kang Suh  1250 Broadway (32nd St.)  212.564.6845  An excellent and very inexpensive Korean place in the Garment District, open into the wee hours of the morning.  Known for its Bulgogi (stir fried beef in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, onion and sometimes Asian pear) and other grilled meats.  Another place that is cheap enough to order things just to see what they are and whether you like them.





Great Jones Café  54 Great Jones St. (bet. Bowery & Lafayette St.)  212.674.9304  Another inexpensive “dive,” with deliciously spicy Cajun food—and an unusual and wonderful brunch.  Crowded, and it is sometimes hard to get a table there.



An East Village New American:

Prune  54 E. First St. (bet. 1st & 2nd Aves.)  212.677.6221  Excellent and unusual food in this East Village New American restaurant.  Chef Gabrielle Hamilton serves up some spectacularly good dishes (combinations of game birds cooked with pearl onions which were cooked in a sauternes sauce; and it is one of the few places where roast suckling pig is available on the menu without pre-ordering).  This moderately priced place (considerably more expensive than most of the places on this list, BTW) is extremely small, and tables (reservations a must) and elbow room are at a premium; but it is well worth the effort.  They also serve a wonderful Sunday brunch.


And, when in Brooklyn...

The Dumont  432 Union Avenue (between Devoe St. and Metropolitan—right at the Lorimer Stop on L train...Carnarsie line, for those of you who really know)  718.486.7717    Alas, I am told that this informal Williamsburg eatery is no longer the wonderful place it used to be.  The burgers used to be fabulous, but, no more.. 

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