Once a dangerous neighborhood, NYC's East Village has transformed into a much safer zone thanks to the arrival of numerous independent bars and restaurants. According to the NY Times, the East Village's Alphabet City (avenues A, B, C and D) went "from a drug-infested no man's land to the epicenter of downtown cool." The East Village has become the number one foodie destination in Manhattan but thankfully still maintains its gritty personality. Some may argue that East Village has lost its bohemian feel due to gentrification, but it's also the only neighborhood left where you will feel like you are really in NY and surrounded by real New Yorkers. I had the good fortune of spending a couple days in the East Village thanks to my kind friends Elena and Kevin. Here are the foodie highlights:
Momofuku Ssam bar (207 2nd Ave) - My favorite NY restaurant combining the best fusion of Asian and American cuisine from the brilliant mind of chef David Chang. Check out the whole fish or the unidentified dish below of crack cocaine on a plate. Thank you Gavin for the recommendation!
Wabi Matcha Cafe (233 E 4th St) - Brewing matcha green tea and pour over coffee (beans roasted by Brooklyn's 95 RPM), Wabi is a great place to visit to re-energize. Don't miss their delicious matcha rice krispie squares!
Dumpling Man (100 St. Mark's Place) - Outstanding freshly made dumplings and delicous dipping sauces. When I asked the cashier if perhaps the cooks knew the mysterious wifi password he told me "the cooks don't speak english and don't have telephones." Authentic.
Please Don't Tell (113 St. Mark's Place) - Reservations are a must for the most famous speakeasy cocktail bar in the world. Regularly near the top of the World's 50 best bars.
Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 first avenue) - After one visit to his Ssam bar a couple years back, David Chang instantly became my favorite chef in the world. His noodle bar has a more compact menu specializing in Ramen and steamed chinese buns but is definitely worth a visit, especially if on a budget. Check out the Momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg or the Spicy miso ramen – smoked chicken, poached egg, and sesame.
Xi'an Famous Foods (81 St. Mark's Place) - one of the best asian noodle experiences of my life. Everything here is spicy, and really damn tasty.