The Best Dishes of 2012 – Part I

We’ve had some great food this past year in our own kitchens, at restaurants here in New York, and at locations around the world. To celebrate the end of 2012, here are the best dishes I’ve had this past year at New York City restaurants, in descending order.

As you can see from the list, most of the dishes are Asian or have strong Asian-influence. The prevalence of fantastic of Asian-influenced dishes was one of my favorite food trends of 2012.

The post has dishes 6-10, read the next post for the top 5!

10. Pastrami Sandwich at Katz’s Deli

I had Katz’s spectacular pastrami sandwich this year during our two-part tour of street food on the Lower East Side. While I’ve had Katz’s pastrami numerous times growing up in New York, at the most recent visit, I found that it unquestionably retained its title of the best pastrami in the city. Katz’s is one of the few tourist attractions that actually live up to the hype. Everything is made in house, including the mustard, Russian dressing, pickles, and cured and smoked meats. While there are some new dishes at Katz’s — like an inexplicable combination of pastrami or corned beef and American cheese — and a bizarre ordering system, you’re never disappointed by the hand-cut pastrami piled high on fresh rye bread.

For more, check out our review of the Lower East Side’s Chinese and Jewish street food, and newcomers to the neighborhood.

9. Tertulia’s Paella

Tertulia’s seafood paella is the best paella I’ve had in the United States. While this country has more than its fair share of dry yellow rice masquerading as paella, Tertulia does it right, or as they say in Spain paella como Dios manda – as God commands it to be done. The smell of Tertulia’s wood burning oven greets you as you walk into the restaurant, serving as a prelude to the paella they cook in it. While not everything at Tertulia is great or worth the price, it is worth making the trip just for the authentic paella.

Read our full review of Tertulia here.

8. Bo Ssam at Momofuku Ssam Bar

Much has already been written about Momofuku’s huge mass of slow-cooked Korean pork butt. This dish has been available for a number of years already but I finally had it for the first time this year. The fall-off-the-bone pork is served with a dozen oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, kimchi, and a number of Korean sauces. The large lettuce leaves wrap around combinations of different sauces, rice, oysters, and pork, making each bite have different, bold flavors. The bo ssam easily feeds 8 people and at $200 comes in at a decent deal as well. One of the most notable dishes in New York and an experience that every meat eater should try at least once.

7. Falafel Crusted Salmon at Aquagrill

Aquagrill has perhaps the best fish and oysters in the city (outside of  Le Bernardin). Their signature dish is an imaginative falafel-crusted salmon with lemon-coriander vinaigrette. They’ve been serving this dish for over 15 years now, a remarkable run. The filet is lightly breaded in a falafel coating and crisped on the top, while leaving the fish a perfect medium-rare. It’s served on top of hummus that rivals the best middle eastern restaurants in the city and a delicate vinaigrette with just a hint of coriander. A perfect dish to go along with a bottle of wine and a dozen oysters.

Read our full review of Aquagrill here.

6. Ike’s Wings at Pok Pok Ny

Pok Pok Ny is one of the hottest new restaurants of 2012, in large part because of Chef Andy Ricker’s dangerously addictive Vietnamese-inspired chicken wings. The wings are marinated in a combination of fish sauce, garlic, and chilies – familiar from my travels to Vietnam and Laos – and are then deep fried. The wings are served whole with attached wings and drum sticks, making them as messy as they are delicious.

Read our full reviews of Pok Pok Ny and Pok Pok Wing (now serving Phat Thai).

Read the next post for the top 5 best dishes of 2012.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

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