The Great Debate – Where to stay in NYC

Choosing the right neighbourhood to stay in Manhattan can be the difference between an authentic trip to NYC and a tourist-trap trip to NYC.

Most tourists visiting NY for the first time will stay in Midtown to be close to where the action is. I understand the logic, trust me. In fact, I even did it myself when I first went to NY. However, there is a saying around town that locals don’t go above 14th street and there’s a reason why – it is home to great neighbourhoods such as Chelsea, the West Village and of course, Greenwich. Whenever I visit NY now I avoid the highly-populated touristy areas and head downtown for a true New York experience. It can be a bit daunting staying away from the main attractions (think Empire State and Central Park), however it should ease your mind to know that NY has such an incredible subway system that makes travelling around the city a smooth and easy process. Lex and I purchase a weekly subway pass that has unlimited journeys and it is a more affordable option to explore the city – we soon discovered taxis were costly once factoring in the traffic.

Have a look below at my fav spots to stay when in the Big Apple!

  1. West Village/Greenwich – By far my favourite spot in Manhattan. It has a distinctly ‘local’ vibe and is buzzing with trendy shops and delicious restaurants such as ‘The Spotted Pig’. There aren’t many hotels in the area so your best bet is to get an Air BnB and stay in a real New York apartment. The West Village is also home to celebrities – SJP leaves amongst the tree-lined streets, and we even saw Hugh Jackman walk past whilst shopping. Bluestone Lane cafe is also on Greenwich Avenue – a cool, Aussie-run cafe serving good coffee and amazing brunches (smoked salmon and avocado bruschetta!). The best part? It’s only 12 minutes on the subway from Midtown. So you can explore the sites during the day and then come back to the Village for a nice dinner and a drink.
  2. SoHo – there is a stack of amazing shops in the SoHo district and I feel it really is such a central and easily-accessible part of Manhattan. The SoHo Grand is a grand hotel that everyone should stay in at least once!
  3. Chelsea – I named my adorable cat after Chelsea. It’s a bustling and vibrant part of the city home to some cool places and things to do such as the Chelsea High Line and the Chelsea Markets. Every foodie should make a stop by at the markets to drool at the elaborate displays and taste-test some goodies. It’s also home to the Chelsea Piers – Lex and I went here for a night of bowling and laughs! You can also play aqua golf and go ice-skating!
  4. Tribeca – Lex and I stayed in Duane St Hotel and whilst we probably wouldn’t stay in that particular hotel again, I wouldn’t necessarily rule Tribeca out of the question altogether. Home to the locals and celebrities alike, Tribeca is the neighbourhood where you spot glam mothers pushing strollers in their Lorna Jane! Tribeca is almost like the Double Bay of New York. It’s also a great spot to visit attractions like Wall Street, Statue of Liberty and Battery Park. If you’re choosing between West Village and Tribeca I would opt for the Village as there’s a little more going on there, however Tribeca is easier to find hotels.
  5. Central Park – If I was to stay uptown then staying on Central Park or the Upper West Side would be my preference. It would be great to go for a morning jog around the park. It’s also a tad quieter than staying in Midtown, but still close enough to easily visit attractions (including Museum Mile). I say Upper West as opposed to Upper East and the West is home to young money, whereas the East is old money. With young money comes some more adventurous eateries and a more youthful nightlife vibe.

Heading to NY or have any questions? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

Lis x

Pret A Manger, NY and London

Whilst technically a fast food chain and not a restaurant, I wanted to share Pret A Manger with you, as I think it’s absolutely perfect for travellers and people on the run. Lex and I first came across Pret’s when we were in London. We were staying up in Nottinghill and on a morning walk towards Hyde Park we stumbled across Pret’s. It kind of became our go-to place for breakfast and cheap lunches. They had beautiful soups which came in handy on rainy days in London and chilly afternoons in Bath. During a quick Google Map search around our hotel in NY I noticed there was a Pret’s right around the corner, so Lex and I made sure we visited the NY version.

The great thing about Pret’s is that it is affordable for breakfast and/or. It also serves freshly made and healthy meals that are great for travellers and people who don’t have time for a sit down brekkie or lunch. I won’t bother giving you a list of Pret’s in either London or New York as when you get there you’ll notice there’s one on almost every corner! I believe they are now a franchise, however Lex and I have never been disappointed with the food or service. Now some of you might have been put off by my earlier description of Pret’s as a fast food chain, however it’s not your typical McDonald’s or KFC. Instead, Pret’s serves organic coffee and natural food that is fresh and all left over food at the end of the day is donated to the poor and hungry. Another plus? There are also vegetarian and vegan options.

What we ordered:

There is quite a range to choose from at Pret’s, and guaranteed there will be something for all taste pallets. When we go for breakfast, Lex and I normally order a cup of fruit – my favourite was the ‘posh fruit cup’ that had mango, pineapple and lime. Lex loved the detox fruit cup with pomegranate, mango, berries, pineapple, apple and orange. Their Five-grain Oatmeal is also delicious and packed with all the healthy stuff – chia seeds, flax seeds, amaranth, quinoa and steel-cut oats. It’s a good way to get your energy and metabolism working of a morning! For lunch Lex normally orders a wrap of some sort – he particularly likes the Avocado and Toasted Pine Nut Wrap which is a tortilla wrap of sliced avocado, tomatoes and cucumber drizzled with Pret’s yogurt dressing and topped with toasted pine nuts, shaved Parmesan and spinach (delicious!). He has also had the Bang Bang Chicken Wrap consisting of chargrilled chicken drizzled with sweet chilli mayo and Asian dressing topped with grated carrots, cucumber, red onions and sesame seeds again rolled into a tortilla wrap. As for me, I can’t resist the fresh soups on offer at Pret’s. They come in a small and large size (I go for large – duh!), and are piping hot when you pick them up off the shelf. I’ve pretty much  had every soup Pret’s makes, but my favourites include the Chicken Noodle which has slow cooked tender chicken stirred into a rich and flavoursome chicken stock. The Mafalda noodles are the perfect sidekick to add some body to the soup too. I also LOVE the Tomato Feta which has crushed tomatoes, caramelised onions, garlic and vegetables, all topped off with a dab of cream and a sprinkle of feta – heavenly, and something you would be happy to get at a more expensive establishment!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you eat at Pret’s every day of your life – if you’re in NY or London I definitely hope you try out the delicious fare they have on offer at some of the best restaurants in the world! However, if you want a quick, cheap, and tasty eat then Pret’s is a great option. Enjoy!

Lis x

Eataly, NY

Lex and I love Italian food and are always on the hunt to find authentic food when we travel. We’d heard about Eataly from friends prior to visiting NY so we put it on our list as a must-have meal. FYI, if you do want authentic and delicious Italian food, this is a much better option that Little Italy where meals are targeted towards tourists. We first caught a glimpse of Eataly on our bus tour around Midtown. Right opposite the Flatiron building, the popular Italian foodhall can be quite unassuming from the outside, but don’t let appearances fool you. When you get inside you’re transported to a food haven with all the best Italian produce and cooking on display. Unfortunately for us that produce was hard to see when we first went to Eataly as it seemed that every tourist in NY had the same idea as us – it was absolutely packed. We found a table and thought that we had hit the jackpot until the waitress promptly asked us to move and said the wait time is two hours. Lex and I refused to wait that long, and so we came back to Eataly after the peak tourist time in NY and to our surprise found it a lot less busy and a lot more enjoyable.

Before I go in to details of our meals, I want to take some time to explain the concept of Eataly as the experience goes hand in hand with the food. Basically Eataly is an expansive Italian foodhall. It’s divided in to separate restaurants which all focus on a different aspect of food and cooking. Each restaurant is placed within its corresponding market section, so you can actually buy the food they cook.

  • Pranzo  – a  lunch-time restaurant that acceptas reservations (this is a bonus if you head to Eataly when it’s busy. It also has a really cool concept whereby the meals are served with the recipes so that you can recreate the meal at home and learn about the intricacies of Italian cooking. They also serve regional Italian dishes that are rich in flavour, and are located just out of the bustling marketplace so you can have a (reasonably) quiet meal.
  • La Pizza and La Pasta (where Lex and I went) – this is actually two restaurants combined into one and serve just as the name would suggest, Napoli-style pizza and al dente pasta! It also has an upstairs eating area that has a nice outlook over the marketplace. Lex and I sat upstairs and it was great to feel part of the action but in a little more relaxed setting. They do not accept reservations and the wait-time can be excessive during busy times.

  • Le Verdure – situated near the produce department, Le Verdure is a restaurant that honours the trusty vegetable. They use local and seasonal ingredients and is a good option for both vegans and vegetarians. They do not accept reservations.
  • Il Pesce – a restaurant featuring fresh seafood (that you can also buy after your meal at the seafood counter!), including oysters and catch of the day. They serve their seafood in a variety of ways too – crudo, pan-seared, roasted etc. A healthy option is a seemingly carb-centric foodhall! No reservations.
  • Manzo Ristorante – this is a fine-dining restaurant which showcases the highest quality Italian ingredients and follows the traditional Italian style dining experience – antipastiprimi piatti, secondi piatti, and dolci. They also offer tasting menus which are great for the indecisive. They do accept reservations.
  • La Piazza – modelled after an Italian city square where friends and family father for wine and antipasti, La Piazza is a standing room only restauarant where patrons can sample the various specialties taken directly from the sales counters. Again, if you like what you taste you can buy afterwards! I would have loved to try La Piazza as the concept is great, however after a long day spent exploring, Lex and I needed to have a sit down meal. Reservations are not accepted at La Piazza.

What we ordered:

As I mentioned previously, Lex and I ate at La Pizza and La Pasta as it seemed like the most obvious choice for us. For our lunch we were seated upstairs on the “belvedere” mezzanine balcony above the restaurant which offered a unique bird’s-eye view of Eataly’s marketplace. I should point out that the pizza kitchen is separate to the pasta kitchen so the meals come out at different times. Lex ordered the Calzone (how surprising!) which came with Tomato sauce, Mozzarella, Ricotta and Prosciutto Cotto. It was $18 which we thought was quite reasonable – and it was also quite a generous Calzone. Lex said it was the best pizza he had in NY and up there with some of the better Calzone’s he’s eaten. As for me, I went for something a little different and ordered the Bucatini all’Amatriciana with local Guanciale, Red Onion, Tomato, Chilli Flakes, Pecorino and Parsley. If you’re like me and don’t know what Bucatini is, it’s very similar to spaghetti but with hollow tubes. It was absolutely delicious. I’d been craving a good pasta and this did the trick – it was hearty, flavoursome and the combination of ingredients and flavours worked together perfectly. The pork cheek had just the right amount of salt and added a distinct (but not overpowering) meaty flavour to the dish. The Bucatini pasta also had a bit more taste than regular spaghetti and was definitely more filling.

After lunch Lex and I browsed around Eataly, having a look at the mouth-watering counters of food, having a flick through the Italian recipe books, and savouring the experience that comes with a visit to the foodhall. I loved it so much I decided to buy an “Eataly is Italy” tote bag.

Lis x

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AOC, NY

After watching a great Rangers win at Maddison Square Garden, Lex and I decided to head out for a (really) early dinner at AOC in the West Village. This place is nostalgic for me as it was a restaurant I frequented with my Mum and Dad when we visited NY in the summer of 2010. If you’re a Sex and the City fan you might recognise it as the location of Carrie’s disastrous ‘simu-date’ before her ‘real’ date with Jack Burger…

We asked to be seated at the back section of the restaurant which faces out onto the courtyard. It was too cold to sit outside so we snagged a cosy little table for two near the bigger booth tables. Being as this is a French restaurant, it was great to see the waiters and owner Romain Bonnans (who we saw walking around) were French and highly knowledgable about their food. I must say also, going to eat dinner at 4.30pm is kind of crazy, but on the flip side, you get such personalised service and are able to catch a glimpse of the workings of a restaurant before the peak time crowed arrives. The decor is really cute in AOC and there is a distinct charm about the place.

AOC has some pretty impressive reviews from reputable food critics in NY. What they all agree on is that AOC has an extensive and traditional French menu with a distinctive homemade feel and offer dishes that are common to France but not so common in French restaurants in America.

What we ordered:

I don’t normally go for Risotto when dining out, but as soon as I saw it on the menu I instantly craved it! So I took the plunge and ordered the Wild Mushroom Risotto with baby vegetables, balsamic glaze and Parmesan cheese. There is also the option to add grilled seafood, but I ordered as is. I was a bit sceptical of the balsamic glaze as I’d never thought to add this to a risotto before, however it added a kick to the dish and definitely worked. I can’t fault this risotto at all, it was absolutely heavenly. Lex tried it as well and even he liked it (he doesn’t normally go for risotto).

Lex went for the Burger with Swiss, Cheddar and caramelised onion. It was a cheap burger too coming in at around $15 all up. You can also add mushrooms, Roquefort and bacon at an additional cost. Lex was impressed and although the burger was on the small side (compared to massive servings at some of the more touristy places in NY), he said it was really filling and noticeably made with fresh ingredients. The traditional french fries on the side were absolutely delicious (I would know because I pinched quite a few!). Although we didn’t have any wine with our meal on this occasion, I want to point out that AOC have an impressive wine list – so if you’re a bit of a wine connoisseur, this could be the place for you! The dessert menu also looked great with the creme brûlée looking very tempting, but alas we were too full!

Lis x

aoc

aocc

Grimaldi’s, NY

It was a bitterly cold day in NYC when Lex and I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and over to DUMBO (a really cool park with breathtaking views of Manhattan). In hindsight we probably should have waited for a warmer day as the chill and breeze only got worse as we crossed the bridge! I can’t complain though, it’s a great walk across the bridge and the views when you get there are absolutely worth it. We managed to get a panorama with The Chrysler Building and Empire State – I’ll upload it to the blog 🙂

After taking some happy snaps at DUMBO we decided to head back up the street to Grimaldi’s – a famous (and super popular) pizza joint in Brooklyn. It was originally on our list of must-visit NY establishments, however we were thinking about giving it a miss as we had read the lines were ridiculous. My tip? Try going at lunchtime on a Monday! We got a table straight away in a cosy and warm spot at the back of the restaurant.

Grimaldi’s most famous restaurant is under the Brooklyn Bridge (where we went), however they also have locations in New Jersey and southern and northern parts of the U.S. Their pizzas (which are only sold whole, no slices) are made using a coal-fired brick oven, and they have been Zagat rated as the ‘Best Pizza in NY’. I guess now you can understand why the lines are usually so long?

Whilst the original owner Patsy Grimaldi no longer has a connection to the pizzeria after selling it (along with his naming and branding rights!), just a few doors down you can go to Juliana’s which he opened as a tribute to his late mother. There is a fierce debate amongst locals whether Juliana’s or Grimaldi’s is the better pizza, maybe try both and make up your own mind?

What we ordered:

Our table (with the traditional Italian red-checked tablecloth) was tucked away in the corner and the waiter came over and filled our (plastic) cups with water and gave us the menu to choose from. It is a simple place Grimaldi’s, but thats the point. It doesn’t feel like a pretentious place, instead it’s really welcoming – and welcomes so many patrons, including celebrities, on a daily/nightly basis.

We decided to order half and half – half Margherita and half Pepperoni. We wanted to keep it simple and not order anything too fancy, and we always find you can’t go wrong with Pepperoni! The whole pie, as the Americans call it, was ready in no time and was so tasty that Lex and I were quietly in our own little foodie pizza heaven. I should point out that we went with the large and this was probably too much for two people, although Lex justified finishing by claiming that we only get one shot at Grimaldi’s and it would simply be disrespectful to leave anything on the plate…Also, Lex has spent considerable time in Italy and his opinion on pizza counts. He is continuously on the hunt for authentic pizza like he’s eaten in Italy, and as I type this blog he agrees with me that it was definitely in contention for the best pizza in NY, along with the Calzone he ate at Eataly. The pizza was nice and thin, had a generous spread of tomato sauce on the base, and the pepperoni and cheese were fresh and hot! It really is the freshness of the ingredients, the hint of basil and the oven baked crust that makes this pizza so noteworthy and understandably, a staple of the Brooklyn restaurant scene. It really was the perfect lunch time meal and kept us out of the cold too! We were just dreading making the trek back across the bridge. Luckily we were too full and felt we simply had to find a subway…

Lex and I wanted to absolutely LOVE this place, and whilst it definitely was a good feed, neither of us are quite convinced that it’s the best in NY. I do think that Grimaldi’s are able to bank significantly on their hype and reputation…In saying that though, going to a place steeped in NY pizza history was pretty cool, and you really couldn’t fault the service and value of Grimaldi’s. At just $16 for the ‘whole pie’, and a massive whole pie it was, coupled with the casual and laid-back atmosphere, Lex and I both agree it is the perfect place for just that – a casual and laid-back lunch.

Lis x

pipii

Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar, NY

We stayed in Midtown for the first few nights of our NY trip. Even though I love downtown (West Village, Greenwich, SoHo etc.), I thought it was important for Lex to stay somewhere central when we first got there, so that he could soak up the city. It was a rainy night in NY and we didn’t have a restaurant reservation so we scoured through Yelp and OpenTable to find somewhere local and affordable. Lex came across Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar and got a good feeling when he checked out their website – luckily I managed to get a booking for an hour away which gave us enough time to get ready and head out.

Locations:

  • Midtown (where we visited)
  • West Village

As it was a rainy day Ayza had their front area enclosed and heaters blazing. We snagged a seat inside on a bar stool table. It was a really intimate, dimly-lit and romantic restaurant – absolutely perfect for date night. In fact, we had a couple next to us who were on a first date. We could tell by the rigid, interview style conversation they were having. I think they looked cute together 🙂

Anyway, our waitress greeted us and asked if we were from Australia. She proceeded to tell us she’d spent time in QLD. We convinced her to come back and check out Sydney next time. Lex is a very proud Aussie and we both love when people love Australia. She was very attentive to us for the duration of our meal, and offered us each a sample of their hot wine. We drank it to be polite, it wasn’t really our thing!

What we ordered:

We started by ordering some mixed marinated olives and two dips, hummus with fresh parsley and olive, and tzatiki with cucumber and walnut. I couldn’t fault the dips, they were fresh and flavoursome, and the olives were delicious (especially as I LOVE olives and hadn’t had any since I got to NY). The food also arrived at a good time – not too quick, enough time for us to sit there and have a glass of wine whilst soaking up the mood and romance of the place. I can’t remember the exact red that we ordered but it was free flowing and went down easily!

For mains I ordered the Chopped Mediterranean salad and Lex went for the Ayza Shish Kebab. The salad was a mesclun mix with capsicum (bell peppers), tomato, feta cheese and cucumber. All the ingredients were diced (hence the chopped title) and all tasted fresh. It wasn’t the most complex of meals, but they did it well. I would have liked a splash of vinegar or chilli to make the salad really stand out. Lex’s Shish Kebab came with a salsa, as well as a fresh tomato, herb and onion salad. Lex thought it was yum and for the $19 price tag it really fit the bill.

The service and atmosphere of Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar was truly great and I’d go back for this reason. I loved the romance of the place and thought it was a great place for a date. Sure the food could have been more memorable, but if we weren’t full on dips and wine I’m sure their dessert menu would have been delicious – after all their chocolate bar is what they are most known for.

Lis x

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Famous Famiglia Pizza, NY

We checked into our TriBeCa hotel after a long day of wandering around NY. We were pretty tired and having gone to Buddakan the night before, were just looking for a cheap eat for dinner. Lex loves his pizza and was craving some so after walking around TriBeCa for a little while, decided to go with Famous Famiglia Pizza. This is a pizza chain that serves slices, whole pizzas and other Italian food at a counter-setting. Lex went with two Pepperoni slices and I went for a Cheese slice and a Broccoli slice. Now, to be quite honest I’m not sure what possessed me when I decided to order the Broccoli slice. I would never have normally ordered a Broccoli pizza…and I never ate the slice. The Cheese slice was delicious though as was Lex’s Pepperoni slice. These are the typical massive slices that you always imagine getting when you go to America.

But the real stand out were the GARLIC KNOTS!! For just $1 you get three garlic knots. They are exactly what they sound like dough shaped in a knot and drenched in garlic. These were so nice and we were tempted to order another three. We actually said on our last day that we can’t believe we never went back for more garlic knots! They were honestly just too good.

The best part about Famous Famiglia Pizza? The price. Dinner was under $20, and tasted like it was worth more. It’s a casual place and the TriBeCa location was popular with the locals. There is also a Times Square store and a few others scattered around town.

Lis x

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ffp

Morandi, NY

Lex and I were lucky enough to spend NYE in NYC. There really is no other place in the world that does New Years like the Big Apple. We booked tickets to a comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea. Our tickets came with a small appetiser each and an open bar. Since the open bar included their impressive cocktail list we both decided to indulge. The show was hilarious and the cocktails went down nicely. After the show I needed to have something to eat to soak up the alcohol! Finding a restaurant without a booking in NYC is difficult at the best of times, but on New Years Eve we thought it almost impossible. It was around 10pm though so we tried our luck. We stumbled (I did literally…) into Morandi a beautiful, rustic Italian trattoria, and were lucky enough to snag a cosy table near the window. The atmosphere in here was so fun and festive. Interestingly enough, we walked past the next day and realised it was actually on my list of go-to restaurants in NY. I’ve since found out this is a bit of a celebrity hotspot with celebs including Meg Ryan and Cameron Diaz spotted there!

The waiter came around with some homemade bread and olive oil which was much appreciated. For mains Lex and I both ordered pasta. Normally Lex would go for a pizza but since there weren’t any on the many he decided to go for the Cavatelli al prosciutto – a delicious saffron scented pasta with prosciutto ragù and smoked mozzarella. I ordered the Pici al limone which was hand-rolled spaghetti with lemon and parmesan. Both pastas were delicious and made sure we needed 2015 on a foodie high. The menu is pretty impressive and I’d love to go back and sample a few of the other options.

After dinner the waiters handed around a goodie bag full of festive dress-up items. Beads, NYE glasses, tinsel…everything we needed to make the mood fun and celebrate NYE in (questionable) style.

Lis x

Momofuku Noodle Bar, NY

Lex and I spent the morning visiting the September 11 Museum, which was incredibly moving and also really intense. We were both glad we went as it gave us a new perspective and attitude towards the smaller things in life.

After our visit we chose to be naughty and indulged in Shake Shack near Brooksfield Place. During the busier touristy times near NYE we’d seen lines out the door for Shake Shack, so we thought we’d take advantage of the empty tables and try this popular burger joint out. Not bad. The fries and burgers were probably a bit better than good ol’ McDonald’s but not to the standard of Grill’d (if you’ve never tried a Grill’d burger, you should!).

After what felt like a heavy morning we made a spur of the moment decision and headed quickly to the East Village to watch Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie ‘Joy’ (we had 40 minutes until starting time). On a day that had already included fast food, I saw the option of getting popcorn as a no-brainer (in fact this whole trip I just kept saying to myself “I’ll go the gym when I get home” – I’m home now and still haven’t been – tomorrow!). In to the reclining seats we sat and settled in…

Lex and I had both wanted to try Momofuku Noodle Bar in the East Village. We’d walked past a few days earlier and it was really busy so we thought after the movie and whilst we were in the area we may as well give it a shot. Momofuku Noodle Bar was the first of many food spots for chef-owner David Chang, and he now has a number of places around town, as well as others in Toronto, Washington D.C and Sydney. The Noodle Bar is the more casual (and affordable) option and focuses mainly on ramen dishes. I once read it is affectionately referred to as “slurp row”. Locations are listed below, and for any Sydney-siders chef-owner David Chang recently opened one at The Star in Sydney.

Locations:

  • Momofuku Noodle Bar (East Village)
  • Nishi (Chelsea)
  • Ssam Bar (Union Square)
  • Ko (NoHo – very exclusive and difficult to reserve a spot)
  • Booker and Dax (Union Square – cocktail bar)

We waited about 20 minutes for a table and excitedly saw massive (seriously massive) bowls of ramen being served to hungry patrons. The place was bursting with energy (and people waiting for a table – after we arrived the line went out the door). It really was a place that had a distinctive buzz and energy about it. The hostess walked us to our table and we truly had the best seat in the house. If you go to Momofuku I would recommend requesting this table – the end seat on the chef’s table. With the open kitchen our table allowed us to see absolutely everything – from the preparation, to cooking, to training of the new guy Sam who had just started that day (poor guy he looked so stressed). We also saw a bit of a love affair taking place between who we believe to be the Head Chef and her assistant. Lex thinks I was glorifying the situation and they were simply friendly towards each other…you decide. A view at the chef’s table cannot be underestimated; it was absolutely amazing to see our food being prepared and the fast-paced, accurate, efficient running of the kitchen. I also loved seeing exactly what went in to creating my food, from cooking techniques to ingredients.

What we ordered:

Lex couldn’t resist starting with a serving of the Chicken Meatball Buns. Even though I’m not too fussed on pork buns/buns of any kind, Lex insisted I tried them (and I’m glad I did!). A flavoursome mixture of chicken, jalapeño, iceberg and paprika mayo all sat nicely in a bun. Lex was very impressed.

For mains, I couldn’t go past the Momofuku Ramen. It sat so proudly at the top of the menu and I got the sense that this was what Momofuku Noodle Bar was known for. I also saw the chef preparing this dish the most. Lex went for the Chilled Spicy Noodles. The waitress warned him it was spicy – Lex was more than fine with this! I was also tempted by this option but wasn’t sure if I wanted something chilled on such a cold night. We also saw the chef preparing this dish and they were very careful not to put even a dash more of the required chili sauce into the bowl.

Both dishes arrived promptly in the massive bowls we saw earlier. We were very eager to dig in! Although I would have liked a kick of chili to my Momofuku ramen, it still was delicious and slurp worthy. The ramen consisted of pork belly, pork shoulder and was topped off nicely with a poached egg. Lex’s noodles were a combination of Sichuan sausage, spinach and cashews – he did comment that he felt the amount of cashews was a bit excessive. Of course I asked for a taste of Lex’s meal – and if you’re not that good with chili, stay well clear. It definitely had a punch. I’m not even sure I would have been able to get through the bowl with that amount of spice! Lex loved it though.

Overall, a delicious and heart-warming meal. Neither of us could quite finish as the portions were large, but that is no reflection of the quality of food. Momofuku Noodle Bar whilst definitely the cheaper option out of David Chang’s ventures, was still not cheap. You do pay for what you get though, generous portions, delicate and careful preparation and great Asian infused flavours. I would recommend Momofuku Noodle Bar for smaller groups as it was a noisy place, and would definitely recommend you ask the hostess for a seat at the chef’s table (even if it means having to wait a little longer). You can’t make reservations either, so do try to go on a quieter night.

Lis x

P.S The Sydney spot is a little different to Momofuku Noodle Bar, NY, and follows the same format as Chang’s other establishments. That is, you are served a tasting menu for $185. You can couple this with a drinks pairing for $105 – pricey!

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