January 11, 2012
If anything was made apparent to me in 2011, it was this: I am supposed to be in New York.
I may have only lived here for 14 months but I already feel like NYC is turning into home. I may have been born and raised in LA but, every time I went back to visit this past year, I became bored and antsy and only wanted to be back in the city. There’s something about New York that makes me feel so alive; here, I feel like I’m slowly becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be.
My best of 2011 list reflects a similar perspective as my life; as I created a home for myself in NYC, I immersed myself in food that reminded me of home. It’s surprising how many places I didn’t eat at in 2011: I only had one fine dining meal (Del Posto, for my birthday). I missed out on most (if not all) of the big name restaurant openings. For a girl who prides herself in trying new restaurants, this year was definitely not the norm.
Even though I may not have indulged in my typical extravagant fooding adventures, I feel like my time this past year was spent wisely. I discovered casual eateries and hole-in-the-walls and reignited my love of comfort food. I found some of my favorite restaurants in the entire city this past year – places that I will go to over and over again, no matter the season or occasion. So what if this year’s list may be a bit tame compared to years past – I have all of 2012 to eat!
The Food Ledger’s Best of 2011
(If you’re not aware of my “Best of” policy, this list only includes restaurants I ate at for the first time in 2011. Carryovers from prior years not allowed.)
I Can’t Live Without
(I’m somewhat obsessed with knife cut noodles at the moment.)
- King 5 Noodle House (NYC) – If I’m headed to Flushing, there’s a very good chance I’m going so I can eat here. The only place I know of that serves an authentic Taiwanese breakfast, King 5 Noodle House reminds me of the restaurant the parents used to take me on Sunday mornings.
- Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles (NYC) – When I think “Chinese comfort food”, I can’t help but think of beef noodle soup. I was at the edge of death (or maybe just severely hungover) the first time I came here but by the time I was done with my bowl, I was feeling almost 100%. I’ve been coming back here ever since.
- Rockaway Taco (NYC) – I love fish tacos. I NEED fish tacos. I found a fish taco place in NYC that actually compares to LA fish tacos. ‘Nuff said.
One Bite and I’m Yours
(It’s a fig cupcake with prosciutto and a balsamic reduction. These are the cupcakes of your dreams.)
- Robicelli’s (NYC) – I am not a cupcake person but I will travel long distances for a Robicelli’s cupcake. Once, I traveled from Manhattan to Brooklyn, just to eat ONE of their cupcakes. That’s right – I rode the train there, bought one cupcake, ate the cupcake, then rode the train back. Their flavors are unique, inspiring and absolutely incomparable.
- Dough (NYC) – Dough’s light, fluffly pillows of fried dough haunt my dreams. Forget those other doughnut shops (*cough* Doughnut Plant *cough*), none of them have the airiness of Dough’s.
- Del Posto (NYC) – My goat cheese, celery and fig dessert was easily the best formal dessert of 2011.
2011’s Favorite Restaurant Group
(Sadly, Totto Ramen doesn’t count for this year’s list since I first tried it in 2010. Luckily, its sister restaurants are just as good!)
- Yakatori Totto (NYC) – Two words: Chicken liver. I have never had chicken livers as creamy as the ones at Yakatori Totto. Order more than one skewer – you’re going to want as many as you can get.
- Soba Totto (NYC) – Soba Totto is like the best of both Totto worlds. Their yakatori is of the same quality as Yakatori Totto’s and their soba noodles in broth is as comforting as a bowl of ramen fromTotto Ramen. This is my go-to restaurant on the east side.
One Step Closer to a True New Yorker
(See that pizza on the counter? That was MY pizza.)
- Di Fara Pizza (NYC) – Everything they say is true. The waits will be long. The crowds will be impatient. The pizza is worth it.
Almost…But Not Quite
(A ceviche tostada for less than $5. You can’t get anything like this in NYC.)
- Marisco Jalisco (LA) – One delicious fried shrimp taco covered in slices of avocado – less than $2. That would have easily cost me $5+ in NYC. (NYC Mexican food just cannot compare to LA Mexican food.)
- M. Wells (NYC) – Brunch at M. Wells was amazing. Sadly, it closed too soon to try anything else on the menu.
- Shopsins (NYC) – Order the Mo’ Jemima: poached eggs, bacon and mac and cheese pancakes. Yes, macaroni and cheese pancakes. This is epic breakfast food.
- Neptune Oyster (Boston) – The best lobster rolls I’ve had to date. If you go, just remember – butter is better!
- Tia Pol (NYC) – Their tapas are delicious and affordable but their fried chickpeas are easily the most addicting thing on their menu.
…Well, look at that. I’ve been so busy reminiscing about 2011 that I’m almost two weeks into 2012! Into the new year we go!