New York is a city that enthralls me in several ways. From the sheer amount of people, to the amazing ethnic food you can find there, to the crazy nightlife. It's absolutely a thrill each and every time I go. Luckily, with my job I do get to partake in this mecca-for-the-senses fairly routinely.
This trip was definitely all about the ethnic foods. Living in San Diego, we actually do have a lot of top notch Vietnamese restaurants with a wide selection of various types of Banh Mi sandwiches and yummy Pho soup. However, upon watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate Between Bread", my boyfriend and I took the pilgrimage to Brooklyn and sought out Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches.
We've had the basic BBQ pork banh mi sandwich in our hometown, so we wanted to expand our palate and try their classic, which includes a pate - wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was quite good! The main flavor for me in all of these Vietnamese sandwiches is the pickled vegetables, namely the daikon. It reminds me a bit of jicama, and when pickled, has an excellent flavor and crunch. We also split a bowl of Pho, which was very comforting and fresh. I love being able to add the bean sprouts, cilantro, and green onions, as you go along so they can retain their crunch and not get overcooked in the steamy broth.
Yes, there is another Nicky's right in Manhattan, much closer to where we were, but there was another reason for heading out on a subway adventure to Brooklyn - Barcade. It is exactly what you are thinking - a bar and an arcade. It is amazingly well done with tons of craft beers and classic arcade games in an old brick building. I'm sure many of my future posts will focus on beer since it is an integral part of our refreshment repertoire at home!
The piece de resistance for me was an evening meal at Naya, a true Lebanese restaurant. With my mom being 1/2 Lebanese and growing up with my Jiddo (grandpa) being just a street away, middle eastern food was a big part of our lives. I must have always been a foodie, since one of my favorite dishes when I was young was kibbeh naye, or raw lamb. We never had it that often since my family did not dare make it at home (for fear of freshness) and there was only 1 Lebanese restaurant in San Diego that made it. That restaurant has been closed for over 20 years now.
Kibbeh naye is ground raw lamb mixed with bulgur, spices, and mint. It usually comes with green onions on top and then you pour olive oil on it and scoop it up with pita bread. Like a steak tartar, but even better. The whole experience at Naya was wonderful. Never having had Lebanese wine, we ordered a bottle of Chateau Kefraya, which paired perfectly with our Lebanese fair. From our fried kibbeh balls to our spicy lamb sausage, everything was delicious. A definite tribute to old times and a must to take my mom there if I ever get her to New York!
Until next time...Bon Appetit, New York.