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10 Best Things We Ate in 2015 in NYC

From a Bed-Stuy taco to an UES French burger
December 8, 2015
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by Kelly Dobkin

With only a few weeks left in 2015, it's time to take a look back at some of the most delicious new dishes we tried this year. From a Bed-Stuy taco to a French burger on the Upper East Side, here are the top 10 best things we ate in NYC over the past 12 months.

No. 1: Korean fried broccoli at Dirt Candy

Amanda Cohen reopened her glorious mecca to elevated veggie cuisine this February in a much larger LES space to the delight of her longtime followers. But the restaurant has attracted throngs of hungry newcomers as well thanks to a new, more casual and expanded menu, making it one of the harder tables to snag this year so far. If you do finally manage to get a table, start with the gochujang-fried Korean broccoli ($6) — the menu describes it as "crack in broccoli form" and they're not kidding. The crispy broccoli fried Korean-style is glazed in the spicy Korean chile paste and yogurt and topped with scallions. Trust us, you'll be begging for a second helping.

86 Allen St.; 212-228-7732

No. 2: Smoked-beef taco at Chilo's

Worth a trip to Bed-Stuy: the superlative smoked-meat tacos at this outdoor truck, located in the backyard of a dive bar. The folks behind Crown Height's Mayfield debuted this booze and taco combo earlier this spring. The meat is smoked Texas-style using mesquite, which gives it a rich, complex flavor. The DIY toppings bar includes a variety of sauces, radish, cilantro and onion for garnish.

323 Franklin St., Brooklyn; 718-676-5245

No. 3: Chewy green tea noodles at Mission Chinese Food

In late December of last year, Danny Bowien's Mission Chinese went Vegas — the much beloved den of explosive Sichuan fare had upgraded to roomier, glitzier digs complete with Mylar ceilings, roomy pink leather booths and a roving cocktail cart. It also debuted a new turned-up menu to match with help from chef (and Zagat 30 Under 30) Angela Dimayuga. Conspicuously non-Chinese items like a prime-rib cart and Neapolitan-style pizza quirked up the offerings, which also included many returning favorites like the thrice-cooked bacon, mapo tofu and the mind-blowingly spicy Chongqing chicken wings. But our favorite dish from the new menu was a surprise hit — these gingery green tea noodles ($9) with cucumber and radish. The soft, slightly oily noodles get a boost from a garlicky hoisin sauce, scallions and a dusting of matcha powder.

171 E. Broadway; 212-529-8800

No. 4: Uni darphin at Wildair

​Undoubtedly the food media darling of 2015, the more casual sequel to eclectic tasting-menu concept Contra is located just next door with a focus on natural wines and inventive small plates. It's here that the wunderkind chef duo of Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske (Zagat 30 Under 30 alums) have updated the French classic pommes darphin (a fried potato pancake), topping it with buttery uni. Note: this item goes on and off the menu depending on the availability of uni. 

142 Orchard St.; 646-964-5624

No. 5: Honey butter chips at Oiji

​This East Village newcomer that elevates traditional Korean recipes comes from a pair of Bouley and Gramercy Tavern alums who were roommates at CIA. One of the most viral dishes of the year is their gourmet take on the popular Korean snack food. Available as a side, the thinly sliced flaky potato chips are the perfect balance of fatty and sweet and can also be eaten as dessert.

119 First Ave.; 646-767-9050

No. 6: Kaiseki omakase at Shuko

Former Neta chefs Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim opened this intimate 19-seat sushi bar in NYU-land in early 2015, offering only daily changing omakase sushi or kaiseki menus. We were fortunate enough to sample the kaiseki option ($175), which includes hot dishes like a warm mushroom broth as well as creative raw-fish dishes like this tuna tartare topped with caviar and served with milk brioche (pictured). Bonus: get the kaiseki and await the quirky finish —a giant hunk of apple pie.

47 E. 12th St.; 212-228-6088

No. 7: White Label Burger at Vaucluse

It's not often that a burger is so good it can bring a grown man to tears. The Frenchified White Label Burger at Michael White's Upper East Side bistro does just that. An aged beef patty is heightened with fontina cheese, shallot confit, sweet tomato jam and creamy horseradish-infused Dijonnaise. It's served with a side of crisp, pillowy frites.

-Zagat contributor Sara Ventiera

100 E. 63rd St.; 646-869-2300

No. 8: Smoked octopus at Grand Army

The insta-hit bar on the cusp of Downtown Brooklyn and Boerum Hill from Mile End's Noah Bermanoff, Rucola's Julian Brizzi, barman Damon Boelte and photographer Daniel Krieger also has a solid list of seafood-focused snacks, including a raw bar with various sauces. But the real showstopper here is the plate of smoked octopus with celery root, olives and celery oil ($17). Bites of smoky cephalopod are offset by the grassy flavor of celeriac and the briny olives.

336 State St., Brooklyn; 718-422-7867  

No. 9: Gol gappa at Babu Ji

At this perennially packed Indian newcomer in Alphabet City, opened by an Aussie couple, the classic street-food dish comes to the table looking like a plate of deep-fried Christmas ornaments. The impossibly thin, crispy balls contain an irresistible mix of chutney and yogurt. Toss the whole thing into your mouth and prepare for a whole new take on "snap, crackle, pop."

-Zagat editor Justin Hartung

175 Avenue B; 212-951-1082

No. 10: Cherry miso ice cream at Black Tree BK

This East Village hot spot expanded into Brooklyn this year with a Williamsburg outpost on Metropolitan Avenue. The rotating menu features one theme each week — duck, Cornish game hen, etc. — and the rest of the menu falls into place. (When we went, diners could choose between entrees ranging from duck breast to duck tacos to duck confit. Standby options, like ramen, are always available.) Chef Sandy Dee Hall only sources locally, which gives the restaurant a do-gooder twist — margaritas, for example, use local grapefruit instead of imported limes. The menu's standout, however, is the ice cream. The cherry miso flavor is simultaneously savory and sweet, with chewy bits of fruit dotted throughout the bowl. 

-Zagat editor Emily Siegel

261 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn; 718-387-7611

must try
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