I’m not really sure why, but people often ask me for NYC recs. I mean, really? Really? If I told you to eat at Shake Shack every day you were there, would you? Because that’s totally what I would tell you to do. And when you get sick of it, if that’s even possible, I’d tell you to head down to the East Village and get a lobster roll.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

But honestly, people do ask me what to eat in NYC. I’ve only been there three times, and believe me I still have a tonne of places I need to get to, including the often-raved-about Eleven Madison Park. But when I’m there, I tend to steer away from the upper class establishments and find myself at street food joints, because if there’s one thing NYC is good at, it’s street food.

So if you still want to hear about my top 5 must-eats in the big apple? Here we go (in no particular order):

Shake Shack [blog post]

In my very humble opinion, Shake Shack make the best burgers anywhere in the world. They are simple, juicy, oozy on a nice soft bun. The original Shake Shack is located open-air in Madison Square Park, but if you’re an indoors kind of person, or if it’s the midst of winter, check out their Time Square/Mid Town West branch on the corner of 44th and 8th.

The burgers are pure awesomeness, and though the concrete shakes are a little too hardcore for me, everyone else seems to love them so, you know…  go for it 😉 Oh, and the crinkle cut fries are a piece of crunchy heaven.

Shake Shack
691 8th Ave (corner 44th Street)
Midtown West, NY, 10036
646 435 0135

Shake Shack (Theater District) on Urbanspoon

Luke’s Lobster [blog post]

Ooooooh baby! Can you see that juicy lobster? Just look at it! God I want one now. So, Luke’s Lobster has a number of shops scattered around Manhattan, and I’ve been to three of them, but my favourite in terms of the location and interior is down in the East Village. It’s just so cute and tiny and perfectly appropriate for the eclectic and casual vibe down that end of town.

And the lobster rolls? I don’t really think I need to explain it. Pure simple perfection, on the most amazing toasted brioche bun you’ll ever have. And a big pickle, don’t forget the big pickle.

Luke’s Lobster
93 E 7th Street
East Village, NY, 10009
(212) 387 8487

Luke's Lobster on Urbanspoon

Momofuku [blog post]

When I say Momofuku here, I actually specifically mean the Momofuku steamed pork buns. Sure, Ippudo (see below) also do a steamed pork bun and I suppose it’s not up to me to tell you which one to like more, but I tried them both and I like Momofuku’s better. It’s in the sauce, you’ll see what I mean.

There are four Momofuku’s in NYC, from their dessert arm, Milk Bar, to the upper end Momofuku Ko which still leaves me aching for possibly the best thing I’ve ever put in my food hole – the shaved foie gras. Man, that shaved foie gras! Thankfully, you can get the steamed pork buns at three of their branches – Ssam Bar, Noodle Bar and yes, even at Milk Bar. So go get one, or five, or maybe a dozen, because they are that good.

By the way, Momofuku Noodle Bar’s ramen ain’t half bad too.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave (cnr 13th St)
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Noodle Bar
171 1st Ave (betw 10th and 11th)
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar
207 2nd Ave (cnr 13th St) – there’s also one on 56th
East Village, NY, 10003

Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Ippudo [blog post]

Ippudo are famous for their ramen the world over, with queues in NYC and across Asia. We showed up at 6pm and yes, we queued. For about an hour we waited patiently, eventually being rewarded with possibly one of the best ramens I’ve ever had. It’s the broth, the thick, flavoursome goodness and all the ingredients, of which you can order extra.

As mentioned, Ippudo also do their version of the steamed pork bun, so if you go here, make sure you try them!

65 4th Ave (betw 9th & 10th Sts)
East Village, NY, 10003
212 388 0088

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

KyoChon [blog post]

I can’t believe I’m recommending KyoChon as a must-eat for NYC (even the photo is fugly), but here it is! I’m only recommending it because I FRICKING LOVE IT and even though it’s this rather sterile, unattractive shop in K-town, you really should just go and have the fried chicken. Since I’ve had KyoChon (first time in LA, where they originate), I’ve searched the world over (ok, really just London and Sydney) for better fried chicken and I have come up with nothing. So, if you need a quick snack or a fried chicken meal, hit up KyoChon for something cheap and nasty and delicious!

319 5th Avenue
Midtown, NY, 10016

KyoChon on Urbanspoon

So there you have it. My top five must-eats for NYC.

And now I want to go back to the big apple. Sigh.

14 Thoughts on “thecattylife’s top five must-eats in New York City

  1. You know I’ve recently stopped eating meat, but I would turn back for just a whiff of a Shake Shack burger – bloody fantabulous! Missed out on Luke’s Lobster and Ippudo, but I hit up KyoChon after reading your blog – very happy!

  2. The lobster roll and the burger look absolutely gorgeous – it’s 8am here, which is totally appropriate to be craving lobster/burger, right? Actually, I’d totally take the fried chicken too/also.

  3. OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!! I am SO SO SO SO SOOOOOOOO HAPPY AND EXCITED (better stop typing in caps lock) that you’ve posted about NYC!! Because i’m going there in January for about 8 days with Mr. Bao and i’ve been stressing about where I should go eat and the addresses! Now that’s perfect! I’m just gonna organise my time in NYC around your suggestions!

    So many people have told me about Shake Shack hehe so i’m DEFINITELY gonna go! Heard that the line there can get a little crazy but for FOOD i’m happy to do anything 🙂

    Any other hints or tips? THANKS!

  4. OMG you picked the five places that I want to visit! Could we have the same taste perhaps? 🙂

  5. Miss Piggy: Why did you stop eating meat??? Well I’m glad you like KyoChon, I’m worried some people might not because like you would know, the place is kinda sterile, but the chicken is GOOOOOD!

    Lucy: It’s totally ok to crave burgers/lobster rolls/fried chicken any time of day!

    Daisy: Ahhhhhh you lucky thing, you! I LOVE NYC! There are soooooooooooo many places to go to.. have you checked out my NYC list here: http://www.thecattylife.com/restaurants/united-states-of-america/

    Lorraine: Great taste, lady!! These are totally the best cheap eats in NYC, right???

  6. OMG, firstly jealous about the three visits. I have only had one and I am in love with NYC, not just her food, but that does rank high. Didn’t get a chance to grab a burger from the Shake Shack, did walk past it (a few times). Saying that I had amazing food, and yes the pork buns at Momofuku’s Ssam Bar are awesome, the rest of the food was oka. My fave place to eat WD-50, not an everyday eat, but it ranks as my #1 NYC eat.

  7. This is why we get along: I have had every single one of the things on your list. Hehe.
    KyoChon is first on my list for next week, coz it’s very close to our hotel!! 🙂

  8. Sara: Oooooh have never even heard of WD-50! See, there are so many more places to explore in NYC!!

    Su-yin: I HATE you that you’re going back next week arghhh >.< but I know you will eat extra for me, won't you? x

  9. I lived in New York for six years, left four years ago, and this list reminds me of everything I miss about the city–not least of which is that everyone’s top 5 nyc eats would be totally unique.

    I’m another vegetarian who’s having to think twice after seeing the Shake Shack picture. Looks killer!

  10. Such great picks- I’d also throw in blueberry pancakes at Clinton St Bakery- and I think the lobster roll at Pearl Oyster Bar would probably give Luke’s a good run for its money. Oh- man- I can’t wait to get back there.

  11. I might be heading over to the States soon enough! this is a great list to take with me

  12. Matt: Haha, I love that Shake Shack is driving vegetarians to eat meat! 😀

    Tori: Oooooh places for me to add ot my list for next time I’m there! Thanks!!!

    Ayden: No problem! Also check out the rest of my NYC posts here: http://www.thecattylife.com/restaurants/united-states-of-america/ – hope they help!!

  13. People always ask me where to eat in Hong Kong – where they can find the best wonton noodles, egg tarts, rice noodle rolls, etc. Thing is, all that food is local there and there really isn’t anywhere that would do it really badly. For me, Hong Kong is about street food and local food and is more a question of what to eat rather than where.

    So, as with you and New York, I avoid high end establishments there too and go eat wherever my feet or relatives take me =D

  14. I am glad to see even though I haven’t had a chance to go for a while it is still the same things I love which are the best. If/ when you visit Seoul the good thing is there are NO queues to Ippudo and they do the rip off of Chang’s pork bun just like in NY 🙂

    Oh and there is Korean bbq

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