Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Empire State of Mind

11 Places you must eat at while in USA

I am walking through the crowded streets of New York, swarms of people passing by like sardine. Empire State of Mind playing in my head...

In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of,
Theres nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York,
these streets will make you feel brand new,
Big lights will inspire you,
lets hear it for New York, New York, New York

I look up ahead & I see gargantuan amounts of people coming towards me, their movements full of hurry and their eyes filled with hope. I look up and I can hardly see the sky, cyclopean buildings stand undermining my presence. Yes Alicia Keys you got it right, New York, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of! I look around me & I see an emporium of brands from high end one’s like Louis Vuitton & Versace to the not so high end but not so low end either like Armani Exchange & Zara. Yes am at 5th Ave and this does make me feel brand new, Alicia.

Lets hear it for New York!

I have been to USA twice over and it still doesn’t fail to baffle me. The hustle & bustle of New York v/s the calm and serene New Jersey make a great combination. But one thing remains common – the infiltration of Indians. Both New York & New Jersey have dedicated localities to Indians, more precisely Gujarati’s – Oak Tree Road in NJ & Jackson Heights in the latter. So I don’t feel that intimidated by this land of hotdogs, Disney, Liberty, opportunities, loners and now Patels & Shahs. Avjo  Avjo! Jaishri Krishna !
Exploring the food around NJ & NY was delight. I got a taste the traditional America junk to Egyptian & Japanese food making the USA one of my top picks for culinary haven. So getting down to this blog, I have decided to encapsulate my culinary journey in the US through this ‘To Eat’ list, giving you a what one must eat when in the US specifically NJ & NY.

Here goes ‘My list of 11 places to eat at while in New York/New Jersey’

1)      Applebees - Serves up traditional American Meals of Burgers, Pizza, Pastas & Steaks. Applebees gives you this Ruby Tuesday & TGIF kind of feel with bright red booths (yes not tables) and American memorabilia like baseball bats and balls hanging all of the places in a chaotic yet fun manner. At Applebees a must have is their steak. I tasted the Bourbon Steak – Medium Rare. Not that I have had steak before, my mom would freak if she read this but I thought when am there might as well experiment. The juicy steak comes with creamy and tasty mash potato on the side & green veggies and is jazzed with Cajun spices and really is quite a mouthful! Another thing that you must and I mean it must try is the Chocolate Melt Down for the desert. A mudcake sort of dessert, which when sliced into spills open with molten chocolate, this is for chocolate junkies who love the whole melt in the mouth deal. The cost of per dish here are $7-$15 which is pretty decent. Applebees has have outlets all over the United States.
Bourbon Steak
Mozrella Sticks
Chocolate Meltdown

2)      Deli Plus – Located on 42nd street, inside the Port Authority of New York, a critical body in New York as it  conceives, builds, operates and maintains infrastructure critical to the New York/New Jersey region’s trade and transportation network. A cafĂ© style restaurant that serves up almost everything under the sun albeit American Style. From salads to panini’s, from soups  to traditional meals of roast chicken & rice. A must have at this are the Soups – the Chicken & Rice Soup & The Chilli Chicken one are scrumptious and quite filling. Another must have is their Paninis specially the Chicken Fajita -with chunky pieces of chicken filled into European flatbread topped with homemade style tomato salsa and bell peppers. They have these amazing smoothies – the Berry Blast a mixture of blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and nonfat yogurt is beautiful with the both tanginess and sweetness of the berries served chilled. On average a dish here would cost anywhere between  $4 - $7. They also have an extensive breakfast menu with assorted bagels and cream cheese, eggs, oats to choose from. 625 8th Ave # 106, New York, NY 10018-3986, United States# (212) 244-5678

Chicken & Rice Soup

3)      U - Yee Sushi – I went to this place on the last day of trip and till today the taste of the meal still lingers in my mouth. We had the hibachi meal, a traditional Japanese meal cooked live on a hot plate. Even if Japanese is not one of your favourite cuisines, I suggest coming here because hibachi is an experience altogether. For a sneak peak watch  the video below.

So one has a choice of different meats – Chicken, Shrimp, Lobster, Squid, Steak & Veg. Every Hibachi meal consists of a clear miso soup, salad, shrimp appetizer and stir fried rice/lo mein (noodles) and chicken with green vegetables on the side. Brilliant flavours come together, making it a palate searing dish. As I devoured through the massive shrimps and the small grain rice, putting morsels in my mouth, saliva pooled in at every anticipatory bite And this place is even economically priced at the hibachi meal costing between $11 - $20. U-Yee Sushi 675 Us-1, #12, Iselin, NJ 08830, # (732) 283-7888

4)      Bagel House – Next on my list is the stereotype American breakfast – The Bagel. Looks like a doughnut but isn’t sweet. The shape is for convenience in baking. Have just the bagel with Veggie Cream Cheese. Warning this is an overdose of cream so people with high cholesterol and stuff should not have this cause actually the amount of cream cheese in between is like putting another slice of bagel in between. I couldn’t finish an entire one so ate half and the rest in the evening. But the bagel was brilliant. Bagel house has outlets all over the United States.

Bagel with Veggie Cream Cheese

5)      Nanking – Chinese maybe a popular cuisine but Indian Chinese has its own set of fans and is cuisine devoured around the world. My next pick is the Mecca of India Chinese and one must go there while visiting the US.  The chef here is worked at Chopsticks at Churchgate and really stirs some delightful meals. A must here is the Chinese style Calamari. Usually am not too much a fan of this chewy meat and find it quite rubbery for my palate. But the Calamari I had her was brilliant and melt in the mouth kind dolled up with spicy peppers and garlic. Another dish that is the chefs speciality and quite acclaimed is the Drums of Heaven, a sort of Chicken Lollipop with spicy tangy sauce of garlic and hot chillies and onions. All it needs is a glass of beer. In the deserts their the Toffee Banana With Ice Cream is also delectable. Nanking has outlets in a number of places for more information http://www.nankingrestaurantgroup.com/

6)      Thai Kitchen – I am a huge fan of Thai Food, so getting an opportunity to Thai food while not in Thailand was a blessing. Beautifully adorned with Thai motifs, this place served up a pretty authentic spread. A must have here is obviously the Thai Curry both red & Green were brilliant – spicy, tangy with loads of flavor of ginger, shallots and coconut milk. Another dish on the menu that impressed me was Khao Phat a sort of Thai fried rice. This dish differs from Chinese fried rice is that it is prepared with Thai Jasmine rice instead of regular long-grain rice. It normally contains a meat (chicken, shrimp, and crab are all common), egg, onions, and tomatoes and unlike its Chinese cousin can be had as a meal itself. This place is a bit on the expensive side with dishes costing between $14 - $25. Thai Kitchen 320 US Highway 206 S, Chester, NJ 07930-2492, United States, # (908) 879-9800

7)      Auntie Anne's – This a sort of chain that serves up fresh pretzels and other snacks. You must have the Cinnamon Sticks – soft break sticks dipped sugar and cinnamon. This could be a sugar overload but nevertheless a brilliant combo to be had once in a while. Aunt Annies has outlets almost in every mall. 
Cinnamon Sticks

8)      Delizia Pizza Kitchen, Ledgewood Mall – A traditional Italian restaurant that gives you the feel of  the Godfather, Marlon Brando and the spooky sound track Speak Softly Love.  Decorated with Jars of pickled spices, the colour red seems to dominate the place. We ordered for an Alfredo Pasta, which came with a soup , a garlic portion of garlic bread and the pasta. Huge portions and all of it for $11. Talk about being economical. There was a choice of soups and we opted for a Clear Chicken And Noodle Soup which was mellow and heavenly. The Alfredo though was bland it had a different flavor and after lots of chilly flakes and Oregano it made a delicious meal with the buttery garlic bread.  Delizia Pizza Kitchen, 461 Rte 10, Ledgewood, NJ 07852, # (973) 584-3512

9)      Burger King – Now I now we have an overload of McDonalds in India and you definitely wouldn’t want to waste time having burgers there when it’s so readily available here but trust me you have to have the burger specially the Tender Grill Chicken Sandwich at Burger King. It is not chewy and rubbery as the ones you get in India and is different in a nice sort of way. Burger King has outlets all over the United States

10)   Platters – This is literally a cart in New York and is supposed to be super famous for it’s Egyptian Meals. So an Egyptian platter is basically meal of rice pita bread, hummus like dip on the side, topped of with a choice of meat. It pretty filling and the hummus like sauce by the side adds a sort of zing to the dish.

11)   Olive Garden – An Italian restaurant with the ambiance of home kitchen in the bylanes of Rome, although it can get pretty crowded during the weekends. A must have at this place  is the Stuffed Chicken Marsala - Oven-roasted chicken breast stuffed with Italian cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with mushrooms and a creamy marsala sauce. Served with garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. Delectable. Another one of their signature dishes is the Ravioli di Portobello – Portobbelo mushrooms filled in ravioli pockets and cooked in a creamy cheese sauce. Heaven. Olive Garden has outlets all over the United States.

Stuffed Chicken Marsala
Raviolli Di Portobello

There are a few things I learnt about eating in the US - 1)While ordering never look at the prices, I mean you tend to convert and compare and that is crazy cause an average dish there is for $7 -10. .. That’s like close to Rs 450 only on 1 dish, drinks appetizers etc alag. So don’t look just order 2) their portions are HUGE and I mean it so if you’re a small eater u need to have a dining partner!

Hope you enjoyed reading this. Do leave some feedback below. 
Other places you must go and I didn’t have time for are –

Grease Trucks, Rudgers for their sandwiches


  1. Wow just looking at all that great stuff really works up an appetite! ;-)

  2. Thanks Rohan! haha u should really go there I know you would like the food there

  3. very well written..... im hungry now!!! ;o))))

  4. Haha Mahesh thanks! Nw just hop on a plane and go there! Am prayin tht of these places open in India!


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