Upper East Side/Yorkville Favorites: Yuka ~ Mezzaluna ~ Wa Jael Sichuan, J.G. Melon, Naruto Ramen (all not pictured)
Last year, after spending many on the upper east side, my previous perception of the UES as a mecca for Michelin restaurants was trumped by the discovery of some truly neighborhood gems.
Yuka: This small restaurant has the greatest valued sushi of anywhere I have tried in NYC yet. Its fresh fish comes carefully displayed with friendly and quick service. The beautiful chirashi above lasted me two meals and was only thirteen dollars. Their AYCE is around twenty. If I want convenient, high-quality, and satisfying Japanese, this is where I go.
Mezzaluna: I’ve previously blogged about this restaurant’s fantastic thin pizza. After going back another half dozen times, I’m back to suggest their calamari salad. The grilled calamari is perfectly seasoned and is unbelievably tender. It is complemented with a bunch of arugula dressed in fresh lemon juice. Best appetizer of the year for me.
Wa Jael: Seriously authentic and seriously spicy Sichuan food on the UES - YES! Everything is top-notch here, particularly their Ma Po Tofu and Singapore Noodles. Their service is attentive, always. Reservations might be a must soon enough, as I suspect this place is gaining popularity-we’ve had to wait longer every single time.
JG Melon: This place is a New York hamburger institution, still so popular that it can still pull off “cash-only.” It looks like a simple joint but the hamburgers here are divine. The patties look so simple and come with only your choice of condiments, yet they are packed with flavor. Bobby Flay loves it. SeriousEats loves it. So if you’re a hamburger lover, this is a must-try.
Naruto Ramen: I’ve also previously blogged about this ramen shop but I am now back at it again because this place has shot up on my list of favorites in the winter. Who doesn’t want a steaming bowl of savory goodness when its freezing cold outside! My new favorite is their curry chicken. There is something comforting about Japanese curry versus Thai or Indian curry. Best part is their curry comes in half portions so you can always get it as an appetizer to their hearty ramen portions.
On to exploring another neighborhood or two in 2013!