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Well, it's Winter
Spicy Moon and BCD Tofu House will warm you up.
Some Meals will remain free until I figure out if and how I want to professionalize it. That may never happen! But please do forward it to any friends who you think might enjoy reading it. You can always reply to my newsletters to chat, find me on Instagram and Twitter, and make use of the Some Meals list as a dining guide.
2020 has been the year of delivery. I don’t mean for the tech giants—and I won’t even get started on that front, because the ways in which they take gross advantage of restaurants has been plenty covered—but simply for diners. Maybe take-out is the better “trend” to highlight, as it’s generally better for restaurants so long as you don’t use the apps to facilitate your pick up. Also, picking up is a practice I’ve engaged with much more over the past nine months, as a way to get out of the house after a long day spent with my computer and have some semblance of face time (masks on, duh) with those making and/or serving my food. The last thing I’ll say on the delivery app front: call the restaurant directly if you want delivery or take-out; they might tell you to use an app, but they also might be able to help you directly and avoid paying exorbiant fees.
It’s basically officially winter in New York, so even if you’ve been big into outdoor dining and have figured out how to bundle up appropriately, you’re likely going out to eat at restaurants significantly less. I was up to a cadence of 1-2 meals out a week, but in the past month, I’ve canceled most of my plans to order in instead. (If you’re indoor dining, you really shouldn’t be. The evidence is obvious, so I won’t be stating my case on this either.) This means I’ve also been watching a lot of TV and movies. Hit me up if you want to chat about Industry, We Are Who We Are, The Boys, I Know This Much Is True, or have recommendatinos for great shows. On the movie side, I recently loved Youth (2015) and started using Letteboxd. Find me if you use it, too!
I’m still in Manhattan, living with my parents for another few weeks until we can move into our new apartment in Brooklyn. I miss my neighborhood. But the one upside is the vast array of delivery and take-out options we’ve been able to take advantage of.
Spicy Moon should get way more attention than it does. It’s so fucking good. Really, it should be high up on any Best Chinese Restaurants list as a serious contender in the Szechuan category. That it’s entirely vegan is a significant fact for vegans, but otherwise, just an attribute like “open kitchen” as far as I’m concerned. Nothing at Spicy Moon tastes vegan in the way that sometimes occurs with coconut-based desserts or mushy seitan sandwiches. Their dan dan is my favorite version in the city; made of springy noodles laced with a nutty flavor, spiked silky with chili oil, and topped with a mess of fermented cabbage to deepen the dish’s flavor. You can add Beyond beef crumbles if you want, but you really don’t need to. So many vegetable dumplings are bad, sparsly stuffed with hard bits or simply unimaginative, but they don’t have to be. I’m ready for the veggie dumpling renaissance. It can start with Spicy Moon’s, which are pan-fried and plump with carrot, tofu, mushroom, and spinach, the star ingredient that ties everything together for a soft mouthfeel. The mapo tofu is stellar. And their Brussels sprouts are as good as any well-glazed buds you’d find on the menu of a solid New American spot, but dialed up with the addition of mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Spicy Moon has two locations, one in Greenwich Village and one in the East Village. Get there.
I’d somehow never been to BCD Tofu House until last week. This is likely because my mother hates garlic and so I never ate Korean food growing up. And yet their signature dish, Soon Tofu (or Sundubu-jjigae), a soft tofu stew, is an electrifying winter delivery order that I can’t recommend enough. I got mine vegetarian, with kimchi, and it came with rice so shiny and hydrated that it could’ve been sushi rice. Maybe it was? The broth is a fierce orange, tangy and spicy, and loaded with wedges of crisp kimchi, mustard greens, and melt-in-your-mouth squares of silken tofu. I’ll be ordering it again very soon.
328 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003 / 68 W 3rd St, New York, NY 10012
(646) 429-8471 / (646) 590-1390
BCD Tofu House
5 W 32nd St, New York, NY 10001
ACQ Bread sourdough loaf. His milk bread is getting some deserved attention (read more below), but the former makes a 🔥 WFH sandwich.
French fries at The Odeon. Come for the outdoor dining scene, stay for the (always) Heinz ketchup.
Veniero’s mini cannolis. Get a mix-match.
ACQ Bread is more than a phenomenal, pandemic-born bakery, it’s a philosophy [Grub Street]
A croissant is a marvelous creation, no matter if it’s made by hand or machine [TASTE]
Of all of the holiday cookie coverage, this package has the most recipes I want to make [LATimes]
My gift guide for restaurant lovers in New York — lots of gems in here, take a peek! [Resy]
And also… whether you’re dining outside in chilly temps or ordering in, use this NY December Hit List as your guide [Resy]
Is there any better subject than Kenny Shopsin? This 2004 documentary, I Like Killing Flies, by Matt Mahurin is just over an hour long and well worth your time this Sunday.