Brilliant or Crazy? 10 Mash-Up Dishes in NYC

Breakfast-burrito-pizza, Korean BBQ-arancini and more gonzo culinary creations
February 12, 2014
by Jasmin Sun

By now, your healthy New Year's resolutions have probably disappeared, thanks to Super Bowl Sunday and its siren call of wings and beer. To reward yourself for making it through a whole month of whatever diet you were grappling with since the beginning of the year, we've curated a field guide of the craziest, most brilliant dishes NYC has to offer. Continue below for flavor breakdowns of over-the-top dishes like Chez Sardine's foie-gras-smeared smoked-cheddar grilled cheese, or the mind-blowing shrimp-stuffed boneless chicken wings at Decoy.

King Noodle

Dish: Mapo Tofu Chili Cheese Fries ($10)
Concept: Take standard chili cheese fries, pour on a helping of Chinese mapo tofu.
Tasting Notes: Hot, crispy fries coated with the familiar richness of chili cheese and the not-so-familiar tingle of Sichuan peppercorns.
Brilliant or Crazy?: It's 420% brilliant.


Dish: Paige’s Breakfast Burrito Pizza ($16)
Concept: Southwestern breakfast burrito meets wood-fired hipster pizza.
Tasting Notes: Roberta's typical chewy, blistered crust topped with Berkshire pork sausage, sautéed fingerling potato slices, jalapeño peppers, and a runny sunny-side egg.
Zagat Intel: The pie is long gone from the restaurant's menu, but if you're dining in, ask nicely and the kitchen will happily make one for you. We suggest polishing off this one quickly, unless you happen to like your yolks gelatinous instead of runny.
Brilliant or Crazy?: A brilliant way to end hangover dining indecision. 

Chez Sardine

Dish: Foie Gras & Smoked-Cheddar Grilled Cheese ($19)
Concept: Souped-up grilled cheese. Plus foie gras.
Tasting Notes: Smoked cheddar, creamy foie, pickled cucumber.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Crazy, unless you know what you're getting into. Guaranteed to leave your lips slick and your fingers reflective.

Zhà (Inside Zucker Bakery)

Dish: Bulgogi Balls ($4)
Concept: Classic Korean barbecue-beef dish masquerading as Asian-inspired arancini.
Tasting Notes: Sweet and savory soy-and-ginger-marinated beef meets creaminess from the risotto-style fried rice; for textural difference, the panko-crusted exterior is nice and crispy.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Brilliant, if you're into eating full meals that are both fried and ball-shaped.


Dish: Shrimp-Stuffed Chicken Wings ($14 for 4)
Concept: Asian-inspired bar snacks go upscale. A blend of minced jumbo shrimp and boneless chicken breast gets formed into balls, dunked into cumin-spiked batter, then deep-fried.
Tasting Notes: Shrimp-and-chicken umami bomb with a kick. The wings are served with a peanut sauce to balance all that fried heat, so don't forget to dip.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Brilliant, but would you expect any less from the masterminds behind RedFarm's truffled soup dumplings?

Golden Cadillac

Dish: Monte Cristo Minis ($9 for 3)
Concept: The Monte Cristo sandwich you ate growing up has lost its turkey weight, and now it's hanging out with chef-approved foods like smoked duck and bread from Balthazar's.
Tasting Notes: It's still the same double meat and cheese sandwich you remember, but refined. Regular white bread is replaced by super-soft French pain de mie, and Swiss cheese gets traded for nutty Manchego. Everything is rolled in panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Instead of Aunt Jemima's, the maple syrup is locally sourced from different New York producers depending on availability.
Zagat Intel: Chef Miguel Trinidad (of Maharlika and Jeepney fame) highly suggests pairing the minis with the tequila-based El Guapo cocktail, saying, "The drink has a little bit of spice from the hot sauce, which goes great with the cheese and balances well with the sandwiches' sweetness."
Brilliant or Crazy?: Brilliant if you follow Trinidad's marching orders. Crazy if you eat too many in one sitting.

Kutsher’s Tribeca

Dish: Pastrami Reuben Spring Rolls ($10)
Concept: Classic Reuben sandwich dresses up as a fried spring roll.
Tasting Notes: Crunchiness from the fried egg-roll wrapper, tenderness from the house-cured pastrami, Emmentaler cheese and sauerkraut. Mild heat from the accompanying duck sauce.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Both, depending on your luck. But when they're good, they're a brilliant example of a Jewish-Chinese food mash-up.

Extra Fancy

Dish: Clam and Corn Fritters With Sriracha Ranch ($10)
Concept: Take a hush puppy, stuff it with littleneck clams, and serve with an inventive dip involving sriracha-ranch.
Tasting Notes: The fritter's most recent incarnation arrives piping hot and crispy. Each fluffy nugget is packed with a mix of meaty littleneck clams and sweet-corn kernels. The creamy, slightly spicy sriracha-ranch dipping sauce is a nice counterpoint to the fried batter.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Brilliant, if you get in a fully dipped bite. 

North River

Dish: Belly Doughnut ($6)
Concept: Heard of the donut burger? Good. Now imagine the beef patty is actually a slab of pork belly, and you're well on your way to fully comprehending the idea of a Belly Doughnut.
Tasting Notes: Salt-cured pork belly is slow-cooked for four hours, then glazed with soy, miso and brown sugar. After that's done, the final product gets sandwiched between two halves of a - wait for it - coconut donut.
Zagat Intel: Only available on the dinner menu.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Brilliant, if you're in the mood for decadence.


Dish: Mac 'N' Cheese Pancakes ($17)
Concept: Add macaroni and cheese to pancake batter, get the ultimate American comfort food mash-up.
Tasting Notes: Pan-fried cheddar and chewy elbow macaroni, all held together by a swath of fluffy pancake.
Zagat Intel: Know what you want before you get there, don't come in groups larger than four, and bring cash. Arrive unprepared, and you risk getting kicked out instead of getting seated.
Brilliant or Crazy?: Alain Ducasse-approved, madcap cooking brilliance in the form of a pancake.

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