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Best of 2010

January 6, 2011

*looks at the title of this post*
*looks at the date in the corner of her screen*

In true Food Ledger fashion, I’m writing my 2010 recap at the end of the first week 2011. (Oops!) But I figured I should have some kind of recap for the year…

Looking back, 2010 was full of transition in more ways than one – not only did I move to a new city and find a new job, I also rediscovered my love for good, cheap eats. Out of all the establishments I’ve eaten at this year, I surprisingly remember the casual hole-in-the-walls more so than the Michelin starred restaurants. Not to say I didn’t go to some fantastic high end establishments…but I guess my palate is just getting tired nowadays. (Palate fatigue – oh, what first world woes!)

Anyway, I’m already behind so I’m going to skip the introductory blabber.  Here’s my list!

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The Food Ledger’s Best of 2010

(Similar to my 2009 review, the following only contains restaurants I ate at for the first time in 2010. Not discovered in 2010, not on the list!)

Fine Dining (Still) Rocks My Socks

(The reason Eleven Madison Park is #1.)

  1. Eleven Madison Park (NYC) – I’ve been debating about #1 and #2 on this list since the middle of the year but, deep down, I knew it would go to EMP. Sure, its gourmand menu (which was sadly replaced by a new menu a couple months later) could have been considered the ideal tasting menu; I seriously loved every dish, from start to finish. But the real reason EMP is placed at the top is because of one single bite: the pea lollipop. My favorite dish of 2010, my fondness for that bite can only be compared to my first gastronomic epiphany at Hatfield’s (and you never forget your first!).
  2. The Dining Room at The Langham (LA) – My meal at The Dining Room was gluttony at its finest. 22 courses, who knows how many glasses of wine, 5+ hours of pure indulgence. Not only did I get to taste every bite (+1!) on the menu, but I also had the opportunity to experience a one-in-a-lifetime event.
  3. Babbo (NYC) – The distinctive progression of a pasta tasting menu was something I had never imagined prior to Babbo. The range of dishes, the creative combinations of fillings and textures and flavors and the focus on the pasta…I was enlighted by the experience.

Hide Away in a Hole In The Wall

(I discovered my love for Japanese izakayas this year.)

  1. Sake Bar Hagi (NYC) – One of King of my Heart’s (i.e. Anthony Bourdain’s) favorite places in NYC and I have to agree – Sake Bar Hagi is amazing. I love Japanese izakayas because they have such a wide variety of options; no matter what mood you’re in or what you’re craving, they probably have something here for you. The pan fried octopus balls are soft and chewy, the yellowtail collar is huge and fatty, the chicken meatballs are tender and flavorful…I can go on and on. This is where I go for comfort food in NYC.
  2. Ichiza (LV) – Did I mention how much I love izakayas? I think Ichiza is memorable to me because it makes me realize how the best things may be right under your nose and you’d never know it. I mean, I have been to Vegas so many times and I can’t help but think of how many crappy meals could have been replaced if only I had known about Ichiza. If only I had known!
  3. Joan’s on 3rd (LA) – Joan’s is not quite a hole in the wall but it is casual fare that is worth noting. I dropped by to pick up some lunch to go and I remember vividly, sitting in my car and thinking “Oh, I’ll just have a pickle while I wait at this red light.” That tiny nibble turned into “I MUST GET TO MY DESTINATION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE” because it was then I discovered that everything at Joan’s on 3rd is freaking fantastic. It’s hard to explain how its sandwiches and salads are exponentially better than other ones I’ve tried but please – trust me here – they are.

One Bite and I’m Yours

(This had to be mentioned somewhere.)

  1. Marea (NYC) – Uni + lardo = food porn. (If I didn’t include this dish in this post, there’d have to be something wrong with me.)
  2. Momofuku Ssam Bar (NYC) – I may have been skeptical of Momofuku Ssam Bar but its kimchi fuji apples were 100% solid. David Chang did good with this one…
  3. Wafels and Dinges (NYC) – One word: Spekuloos. ‘Nuff said.

I Can’t Live Without

(The man – no, god! – of fish tacos. Ricky himself.)

  1. Ricky’s Fish Tacos (LA) – With Ricky’s, we’re not talking about the best fish taco I’ve had this year or the best fish taco I’ve had in LA. No, we’re talking about the best fish taco I’ve ever had IN LIFE. Ricky’s redefined fish tacos for me, and I’m a better person because of it.

The Restaurant That Needed Its Own Category

(Seriously, where else?)

  1. Petrossian (LA) – I don’t think there will ever be another year when I will consume as much caviar as I have this year. I essentially went to Petrossian every other month, going a total of 6 times during 2010 (and I’m pissed that that’s far less than Danny of Kung Food Panda‘s count). I mean, considering how slow I am at writing reviews (and you know how slow I am at writing reviews!), I have three reviews for Petrossian posted on The Food Ledger. THREE!  If that doesn’t say it all, then I don’t know what else to say.

Almost…But Not Quite

  1. AOC (LA) – I’ve wanted to go here ever since I started seriously fooding in 2007 but I didn’t get to go until a week before I moved to NYC. And now I’m beating myself up for not trying it sooner…if only I had gone earlier…
  2. Pure Thai Cookhouse (NYC) – I love Pure Thai Cookhouse so much, their pork and crab dry noodles were the first thing I ate in 2011.
  3. Wurstkuche (LA) – There were a couple months where, every weekend, my friends and I would go to Wurstkuche for a sausage, a beer and some fries. If you go, just remember: The rattlesnake and rabbit sausages are the best thing on their menu. Seriously. Rattlesnake and rabbit. You’ll be disappointed with anything else.
  4. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (NYC) – I live in the same city as the BGICT!…I can’t wait for the summer.
  5. Cream Pan (OC) – The azuki cream pans are airy puffs of deliciousness. Are they worth a trek to the OC? Just maybe…

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In conclusion, it’s been good 2010 but it’s time to start talking about 2011 now…

One Comment on “Best of 2010”

  • Protocol Snow

    I’m with ya, fine dining is fun once in awhile, but I quickly get bored with all the pomp, serious decor and extremely long dinners.

    January 6, 2011 » 2:52 AM »

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