A foodie’s paradise
One thing I learned my first time in New York was that I could eat out here every day for years and never get to all the restaurants, so I had no big summer ambitions when it came to dining. (Plus, of course, I’m on a budget.) My only goal was to not go anywhere I could eat at home and not go anywhere twice. I had a list of restaurant recommendations I planned to follow, and I browsing picks and reviews online now and then, so my list is a constant work in progress that never gets any shorter.
I started with the obvious: famous restaurants, New York chains, places close to where I live. Given my love of Italian food, a few different styles of that were necessary. Early on, I had tacos and street-fair Chinese. I’ve eaten at a classic American diner and pub. I finally had a New York bagel and my first falafel (not my favorite thing ever). I’ve also had Thai a couple times. I live near Koreatown, so I’ve been wanting to hit up a Korean restaurant.
But walking around the East Village last weekend, I passed an Italian restaurant, a Korean restaurant, an Indian restaurant, a Ukrainian restaurant and a Tibetan restaurant. All in the same neighborhood. All in the span of five minutes. And it hit me: There is more diverse, ethnic food here than possibly (and probably) anywhere else in the country or world, and in the most compact areas. I had never even heard of Ukrainian or Tibetan restaurants, let alone eaten at one. What do they eat in Tibet? I don’t even know! But now I want to find out!
So this revelation spiked my curiosity and led to the next question: Why would I ever eat American food or, for that matter, Americanized ethnic food (Chinese, Italian, Mexican) when I can try entire styles of cuisine I can’t find at home or at school or, in some case, have never even encountered before? The answer: I can’t think of a good reason.
Crossed off from my list is another famous diner. Unless it’s less than $3, forget pizza. Who cares about New York’s delis? Little Italy? Maybe not necessary again. Chinatown? Been there, done that. Instead, I’m expanding my goal of not duplicating restaurants to not duplicating genres of food. I want to try Ukrainian and Tibetan fare. I’ve never eaten at a French place. I’ve only had Indian once in my life. I still need to hit K-Town. Yesterday, a woman recommended to me a Malaysian restaurant – bingo! Add it to the list.
Now, I don’t consider myself a terribly ambitious eater, and I don’t eat meat, but I am a curious person, I like trying new things, and I do love food. And there’s a reason restaurants have multiple options on their menus. For the rest of the summer, as long as I can have what can be considered an entirely new food experience, that’s taking priority over something I know. No more eating something I can find in most American cities.
The exception, of course, is dessert. I think I forgot to mention that my food list is half restaurants, half sweets. I know cupcakes and frozen yogurt are available elsewhere, but with those, you can’t beat NYC.