Cantonese restaurant

Best Dishes Eater editors ate this week, February 2022

The amount of great food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — but mediocre meals somehow continue to find their way into our lives. With Eater editors who sometimes dine several times a day, we come across many remarkable dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back each week for the best things we ate this week – so you can too.

February 14th

Filet of beef sautéed with garlic chives at Uncle Lou.
Robert Sietsema / Eater NY

Filet of beef sautéed with garlic chives at Uncle Lou

Uncle Lou is a recently opened post-modern Cantonese restaurant on Mulberry Street owned by Chinatown veteran and early restaurateur Louis Wong. It caused a stir during Lunar New Year with its large, well-decorated dining room and nuanced versions of mostly familiar dishes. In this dish ($26.95), beef tenderloin cut into generous chunks is heaped with a similar volume of potently flavored garlic chives, which are barely sautéed so that every bite is a satisfying crunch. The savory Angus tenderloin is cooked rare and flavorful enough to make you feel like you’re dining at a steakhouse. 73 Mulberry Street, between Bayard and Canal streets, Chinatown — Robert Sietsema, Senior Critic

A wooden cutting board filled with different types of hams and cheeses with nuts, pickles, dried fruits and jam.

Meat and cheese platter at & Sons.
Bao Ong/NY Eater

Meat and cheese platter at & Sons

Sommelier André Hueston Mack’s & Sons is advocating for more ham bars in the city. The roughly 20-seat space resembles a cozy wine bar, but it’s the focus on national country hams — served with adorable cornbread madeleines — that sets this place apart. My friends and I ordered a meat and cheese platter ($66 for six), where we got to pick hams, charcuterie, and cheese. A preserved pork ribbon from Kentucky tasted like well-aged prosciutto while a variety from Virginia tasted sweet and buttery – unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. It almost made ordering a natural sparkling red from California or any other American bottle on the menu, as we tasted and talked about the ham like it was wine – the saltiness, the texture, the fatness and deliberate on what we liked the most. 447 Rogers Avenue, at Lincoln Road, Prospect Lefferts Gardens – Bao Ong, publisher

A hand grabs a small burger smash, with onions and a thin beef patty visible.

Only one smash burger at Motzburger.
Luke Fortney / Eater NY

Only one smash burger at Motzburger

I first heard of George Motz while researching smash burgers last fall, and it quickly became apparent that I was late to the party. The self-proclaimed “burger scholar” is known for his Motzburger pop-ups, sometimes served from a slide posed by his apartment window, and his vast knowledge of regional burger styles. So when Motz announced his latest pop-up on Instagram last week — one of his last before opening a restaurant this spring, he says — I pre-ordered a few take-out burgers. A week later, there they were: speeding down a wooden slide at Windsor Terrance. The scholar’s burgers are well thought out: he finely crushes his patties (with raw onions), then garnishes them with a slice of American cheese and other onions (these are sautéed). They taste overwhelmingly beefy and buttery, thanks to their potato roll, and just one is enough to dent your hunger (about $8). Address disclosed after placing an order. Windsor Terrace — Luke Fortney, Journalist

Black pieces of fried chicken and slices of green radish placed between two soft buns, sitting on a piece of white waxed paper.

Five Spice Fried Chicken Sandwich at Bench Flour Bakers.
Erika Adams / Eater NY

Five Spice Fried Chicken Sandwich at Bench Flour Bakers

The Astoria’s Bench Flour Bakers Tofu Breakfast Sandwich I’d been eyeing online had sold out when I arrived, so I took a left turn and grabbed this Five Spice Fried Chicken Sandwich instead ($13). The sandwich arrived with a sizable portion of spicy fried chicken piled between two glittery milk rolls, accompanied by a few slices of lightly marinated green daikon radish and a squirt of creamy garlic-jalapeno mayonnaise. The fried chicken skin wasn’t as crispy as I expected, but I was too distracted by the well-balanced, throat-warming seasoning that brightened every bite to care much once I got there. dug. the thick, herbaceous green hot sauce. 43-18 25th Avenue, at 44th Street, Astoria — Erika Adams, Associate Editor

February 7

Lamb Burgers in Dun Huang

People often talk about the estimable lamb burgers at Xi’an Famous Foods, but I prefer to treat myself ($6) to the folks at Dun Huang, who bring Northwest-style Chinese food to the city, New Jersey and Long Island. The soft, almost bland bun works like the proper foil for the heady interior: a heap of game meat, cumin and chilli. I like to order two at a time, one as an appetizer before a noodle soup dinner, and the second as a light lunch for the next day when the musky spices have still soaked through the bread. Really, it’s the kind of thing I wish I could find around every corner. 8 Cold Spring Road, near Split Rock Road, Syosset — Ryan Sutton, Chief Critic

A hand squeezes a cup of atole.  In the background, a New York sidewalk and crosswalk are visible.

A cup of atole at Reyes Deli & Grocery.
Luke Fortney / Eater NY

Atole at Reyes Deli & Grocery

Our continued search for the best breakfast burritos in town led me back to Reyes Deli & Grocery, a Mexican convenience store and increasingly one of my favorite places to spend a Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. On weekends, signs are stuck to the front of the shop announcing promotions, including tamales, barbacoa and this cup of atole. Some versions are thickened with corn dough, including at For All Things Good Mexican Cafe in Bed-Stuy, but the atole here is made with tender cooked rice for a drink thin enough to drink without a straw. A 10-ounce pour will set you back $2.50, and it comes with a spoon to scoop out what’s left at the bottom of the cup. 532 Fourth Avenue, near 14th Street, Park Slope — Luke Fortney, journalist

Three meat-filled cone-shaped tacos are covered in white onion and cilantro with a wax wrapper, sitting on a white plate on a black table.

Three great tacos at Tacos Matamoros.
Emma Orlow / Eater NY

Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Matamoros

When a friend says he’s car-sitting for the week, that means one thing to me: encourage him to take me to get something to eat somewhere far from home. This week, that meant dinner at Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park. There are two sizes of tacos to be seen here, both are served in a cone shape. If I’m being honest, two large tacos al pastor (each $6) and a large carnitas were more than I could handle with fries and guac also on the table. But these were worth the trip for its fluffy double-layered flour tortillas and the plentiful serving of meat. I also appreciate that the frozen margaritas here – don’t worry, I wasn’t driving – come with the fun glasses that have cactus handles. 4508 Fifth Avenue, near 45th Street, Sunset Park — Emma Orlow, reporter

White logs stacked in a basket with crumbled brown powder on top.

Brown Sugar Rice Cakes at So Do Fun.
Robert Sietsema / Eater NY

Brown Sugar Rice Cake at So Do Fun

There are plenty of amazing and rarely seen dishes here at Gramercy Park newcomer So Do Fun, the first American branch of a Chinese chain. A wonderful example is the Brown Sugar Rice Cake ($9.95). Yes, you’ve seen this kind of rice cake before, often stir-fried with salty ingredients, but this interpretation is softer and creamier, cut like panisse, and also like fried panisse, which makes the inside melted more memorable. Neatly stacked in the wicker basket like stems of pale dead flowers, they are then covered with brown sugar. Is it really a dessert? No, but it’s a good palate cleanser and a contrast to the other chili-laden dishes on the menu. 155 Third Avenue, between 15th and 16th Streets, Gramercy Park – Robert Sietsema, Senior Critic

A white plate with lamb chops, sprinkled with a mixture of cumin and hot pepper, on shredded lettuce.  small triangles of bread and more cumin and chilli mixture are also on the plate.

Barbecued lamb chops at Jiang’s Kitchen.
Erika Adams / Eater NY

Barbecued lamb chops at Jiang’s Kitchen

I can’t help but think of the grilled lamb ribs ($29 as part of a Restaurant Week promotion through Feb. 13) that I tore up last week at Jiang’s Kitchen, the revival recently opened famous northwest chinese restaurant Jiang Diner. The rack of lean ribs had been coated in a thick layer of a mixture of dry spices – cumin and a mixture of hot peppers – then barbecued until the meat had reached a smoky crust and crisp that has given way to a layer of soft fat underneath. Extra sprinklings of cumin and the mixture of sweet peppers came on the side, along with several slices of a dense, doughy bread. By the time I was done the plate was just a pile of bones. 65 St. Marks Place, between First and Second Avenues, East Village – Erika Adams, Associate Editor

A white plate with four cups of bibb lettuce filled with impossible meat larb with chili peppers.

Impossible Isan larb in Somtum Der.
Bao Ong/NY Eater

Impossible Isan larb at Somtum Der

I’ve sampled burgers, bolognese and hot dogs made with Impossible Foods — the fake meat line backed by big tech companies — and it’s generally forgettable. The Impossible Isan larb ($18) at one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Somtum Der, was the best so far. I found the Impossible products tasted like cardboard or pea paste depending on how it was made, but the texture here might have tricked me into believing the bibb lettuce cups were filled with ground pork or chicken. The mix of fresh chilies, onions, soy dressing (instead of fish sauce) and herbs didn’t hurt either. I kept it vegan by ordering another portion of sticky rice to finish the whole plate. 85 Avenue A, between East Fifth and Sixth Streets, East Village — Bao Ong, editor