Alright guys, I’m excited to finally share my NY recap with you all! I entitled it “Best Eats in New York City” because I ate so much while I was there. I visited 16 different restaurants in 4 days so I’m not exaggerating when I say I ate a ton. I added Fort Lee, NJ to the mix because I was staying in a hotel there with my family. Anywho, I hope you’re ready for some serious foodporn, friends -read about my favorite meals and other fun activities in today’s post.
Dong Bang Grill: The Best Korean BBQ in Fort Lee, New Jersey
My parents and I got in at around 6PM and checked into our rooms promptly. We were starving so we unpacked quickly before heading out to Dong Bang Grill. Located on 1616 Palisade Avenue, their Korean BBQ was to-die-for delicious. Their banchan spread was impressive, and their meats were quality cuts. I ordered DB Galbi (short ribs marinated in their house sauce), Bulgogi (thinly sliced boneless ribeye in their house marinade), and Saeng Deung Shim (non-marinated tender sirloin steak) for the table.
The waitstaff was super attentive and cooked all of our meat for us. Pro tip: ask for raw garlic and peppers on the side. I dip them in gochujang (korean chili paste) and eat them raw with rice because I’m hardcore like that, but they taste great if you grill them alongside your meat. Later on, I ordered kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), and that was on point as well. I’m picky about my Korean food because my mom is such an amazing cook, but my family and I left the restaurant impressed.
above: an overhead shot of our banchan || below: complimentary steamed egg
Dessert at Cafebene: My Thoughts on Their Gelato
Afterwards, we hit up Cafebene with some family friends for dessert. This was about a 3 minute drive from the restaurant so it was about convenience more than anything else. Located on 1636 Palisade Avenue, they’re open from 7:30AM-11PM every day – on Fridays and Saturdays, they stay open until midnight which is great if you want to hang out with friends. The dessert wasn’t anything special. We tried their pistachio and green tea gelato, and they were both were just ok. Honestly, I don’t see myself coming back here!
Best Eats in New York City: Matcha N’ More
My mom and I started our morning off at Matcha N’ More! We were beyond impressed with their cafe – the decor was cute, and we really liked the vibe of the whole place. Located on 177 Hester Street in Little Italy, their matcha’s directly imported from Japan, and they make all their purees and syrups in house. They use fresh and organic ingredients so you don’t have to worry about ingesting anything artificial.
So, here’s what we got: their Blue Matcha Latte ($5), their Lavender Rose Matcha Latte ($5.50), 24k matcha soft serve on a chocolate cone ($9), and matcha/vanilla soft serve on a matcha cone ($5). Everything was good, but their ice cream reigned supreme.
So, was the 24k cone worth it? If you’re an instagrammer, absolutely. It’s totally worth the photo! Now, if you just want some yummy ice cream, go for the regular cone. It tastes the same with or without the gold so you’re not missing out. With that said, I really enjoyed their soft serve because it was creamy and just the right amount of sweet.
Best Eats in New York City: Binki Cafe
I didn’t think I had enough sugar in my system so I trekked over to Binki Cafe afterwards. Located on 42 Eldridge Street, this cafe was the cutest ever! The interior wasn’t anything special, but the desserts were so worth the visit. If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably already seen their cotton candy desserts, but here are pictures of them in case you missed my IG post.
They have 11 different characters available for purchase, and each one’s priced at $7.99. There were two ice cream flavors available when we went (chocolate and vanilla), but we only got to try the latter. It tasted a lot like cereal milk, which we loved! And FYI, it was so much yummier than Momofuku Milk Bar’s cereal soft serve – call me crazy, but I just don’t understand the hype.
Side bar: for those of you interested, they also sell pretty sundaes and colorful galaxy drinks in addition to smoothies and juices.
Best Eats in New York City: Joe’s Shanghai
After finishing our treats, we wanted something savory so we decided to pay Joe’s Shanghai a visit – we were already in Chinatown so it made sense for us to stay. My mom’s not the most adventurous eater so we decided to play things safe and share soup dumplings. We got their Pork Meat Soup Dumplings ($6.75 for 8) and Sliced Chicken with Black Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots ($15.25). Both dishes were good, but the dumplings were standouts, as always. The chicken was tasty but overpriced at $15.
Joe’s Shanghai has three different restaurants in NYC (Chinatown, Flushing, and Midtown), and 2 out of the 3 only accept cash so make sure you come prepared – FYI Midtown’s the exception. This was my first time dining at their Chinatown location, and things were crazy. There was a huge line out of the door, and the space needed to be at least 3x bigger in order to eat comfortably.
Now, I love the food at Joe’s Shanghai, but I can’t really recommend this location because I felt claustrophobic and rushed. I recommend heading to Midtown because it’s significantly bigger, and you can eat in peace. This place is a NY staple though, and their soup dumplings are a must-try! I’d honestly just stick with them – their entrees are good but nothing special. Get an order of dumplings for yourself and call it a day! They’re ginormous so you’ll be full after a few.
We were ridiculously full at that point so we decided to walk it off…at Saks Fifth Avenue. We ubered over and spent the next couple of hours browsing clothes and bags. I know I’m all about being sensible, but I absolutely love designer brands like Chanel. I actually ended up purchasing a new bag for my mom there because I’m the best daughter ever, haha.
Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner with family friends in Jersey. We ended up going to Dong Bang Grill again because they said it’s apparently “the best Korean restaurant in Fort Lee,” and who were we to argue? After the meal we had the night before, we were more than ok with going back.
My Current Favorite Spa: Village Nail & Spa
Instead of heading into the Big Apple, my mom and I drove north to do some more shopping. We started our day off with breakfast at our hotel before hitting up Village Nail & Spa in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Located on 300 Ridge Road, their salon was as clean as can be, which is important for germaphobe like me. This was the second time I’ve ever gotten a professional mani/pedi because they’re expensive, and I’m a control freak who likes doing them myself at home.
I’m actually really glad I came here because they did an outstanding job. I ended up getting a gel mani/pedi, and it was super luxurious. I actually wish I lived closer because I’d totally go back again. Their services were on the pricier side, but remember, you’re paying for quality – definitely give them a shot if you’re in the area! For those of you interested, they have a second location in Morris Plains, NJ.
Lunching at Cosimo’s Brick Oven Before Shopping at Woodbury Commons
Afterwards, we went to Cosimo’s Brick Oven for lunch. They have four different locations in NY, but we went to the one in Woodbury because it was right next to the outlet mall we were heading to. We got the Kale & Beet salad ($13) and Pork Pappardelle ($17) to share.
The salad was ginormous and had roasted heirloom beets, baby kale, pistachio, goat cheese and champagne vinaigrette. The pasta came in a slow braised pork ragu with EVOO and shaved ricotta salata. We really enjoyed the greens, but the noods were a no-go for us. There was way too much pork, and it tasted far too gamey.
Cosimo’s still gets 5 stars from us though because the service was on point. Our waitress saw that we didn’t enjoy the dish and immediately took it off our check. We’re definitely going back the next time we’re in Central Valley! This was our second time there – we had a nomtastic meal the first time around, which is why we came back for more. We just happened to order the wrong dish (for us at least) that day.
The Best Stores at the Woodbury Premium Outlet Mall
We quickly paid our bill and drove to Woodbury Commons. If you enjoy bargain shopping as much as I do, this premium outlet mall is a must. They have everything from Aeropostale to Gucci, and a lot of their designer items are heavily discounted. My favorite stores there are as follows:
- ALL SAINTS: they had a huge selection with great sales so I highly recommend checking them out if you go. A lot of their stuff was still pricy though (even with discounts) so don’t expect to find too many bargains.
- Burberry: if you go during blowout sales, you’ll score some great deals, but I didn’t find anything this time around. They weren’t offering any additional promos at the time so I left after 5 minutes of browsing.
- Chloé: I got a purse here the last time I visited, but their collection was sparse this time so I left disappointed.
- Gucci: the Gucci here always has good stuff. I can’t wait to show you guys the new bag I got! If you’re looking for a solid investment purse, definitely pay them a visit.
- Joe’s: this is my mom’s favorite denim brand so we always stop by when we’re here. They had a lot of leftover pieces from their Memorial sale so there was a lot to sift through.
- Kate Spade: there are two Kate Spade stores here, one for bags and the other for shoes and clothing. We spent a good amount of time in the latter! They always have a nice selection so definitely take a look-see the next time you come. If you’re a student, remember to bring your ID because they’ll give you an extra discount.
- MaxMara: I only have one thing from MaxMara, and it’s a stunning winter coat. I love all their designs, but everything is so expensive – it’s still fun to browse though.
- Prada: I found a crossbody bag I loved, but the saleswoman was so rude that I left. Let’s be real though, I’ll be back the next time I visit Woodbury, lol.
- Salvatore Ferragamo: I always visit the Ferragamo here to look at bags and browse the men’s section for gifts. I ended up getting my dad a new belt for Father’s Day so hopefully he likes the design!
- Tory Burch: I’m actually not a huge Tory Burch fan, but I ended up getting a new pair of sunglasses here. I’ll be featuring it in an outfit post soon so stay tuned, friends.
Where to get Delicious Tofu Stew in Fort Lee, New Jersey
Afterwards, we drove back to Fort Lee and went to the BCD Tofu House for dinner! This was nostalgic for me because I used to go to BCD all the time when I was getting my Master’s at Juilliard. They have one in K-town that’s open 24/7 so I spent quite a bit of time there with my friends. I got my usual mushroom soontofu extra spicy and enjoyed my jjigae (the korean word for stew) with a bowl of brown rice and banchan.
The Best Bingsoo in the Greater New York Area
We were in the mood for dessert so we went to Cafe Mocha in Palisades Park (about a 8-10 minute drive) for bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) afterwards. There were a bunch of enticing options, but we ultimately went with their milk ice. It was such a good call because it was done so well. It reminded me of the bingsoo I had in Seoul back when I visited last summer.
I feel weird calling it shaved ice because most people think I’m talking about snow cones when it’s actually very different. Korean bingsoo legit looks like snow because the texture’s so fine. Their milk ice was pretty standard, and I mean that in terms of toppings. It had condensed milk with red bean and mochi. Pro tip: ask for extra red bean because that enhances each and every bite. The “toppings” at Cafe Mocha were buried inside so dig into the dessert to get to the good stuff.
Best Eats in New York City: Magnolia Bakery
You’d think I was food coma’d out by that point, but nope. My mom and I went to 5 different restaurants in NYC on day 4 so it was our busiest food day yet. We started our morning off the Magnolia’s in West Village. Located on 401 Bleecker Street, this bakery is a NY staple.
We got 6 different cupcakes and some of their limited edition Reeces Pieces banana pudding to go. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of the flavor, but I’m not big on peanut butter to start with so that’s probably why. Plus, I’m biased because I love the original so much. The cupcakes were just ok! I recommend getting an order of their regular banana pudding and sharing it with a friend – that’s definitely a dessert you want to experience while you’re in the Big Apple.
Best Eats in New York City: Sweet Corner Bakeshop
Afterwards, we walked over to Sweet Corner Bakeshop for some more sweets. I got to sample a bunch of different goodies here with my mom, and we seriously enjoyed everything we got. I especially loved their sea salt chocolate chip cookies and their red velvet nutella bombs!
above: gooey cookie porn || below: the fluffiest cheesecake I’ve ever tasted
You really can’t go wrong with anything you get here – the baker, Rodolfo Goncalves, is an absolute genius. His shop went viral because of his giant nutella hearts – click here to see – but his baked goods are so much better. Definitely make sure to give him a visit when you’re here – Sweet Corner’s located on 535 Hudson Street in West Village.
Best Eats in New York City: Bar Pa Tea
We were already pretty full at that point, but we had one more place to cover for Nomtastic Foods before lunch so we ubered to Nolita to check out Bar Pa Tea. Located on 85 Kenmare Street, this place specializes in boba and tea latte soft serve. Their drink menu was impressive, but their soft serve was outstanding.
There were a total of three flavors available: oolong, black tea, and swirl (both flavors). We wanted to try both so we went with the swirl and added bubbles because what’s tea without boba? It’s $4.75 a cup, and you can add the following toppings for 50 cents each: a cone, honey wheat braided twists, a mini stroopwafel and/or oreo cookie crumbs.
Best Eats in New York City: Gelso & Grand
Then we walked down the street to grab lunch. We were in Little Italy so we decided to get pasta. We walked into Gelso & Grand on a whim, and it ended up being a great decision – the food was really quite something, and we’d more than happily go back. Located on 186 Grand Street, they have a beautiful patio that’s perfect for people watching.
As always, my mom and I ordered two different dishes and shared. She got the Beet & Goat Cheese salad ($16), and I got an order of their Cacio e Pepe ($19). Her salad came with bits of hazelnut, orange zest and whipped goat cheese. I was kind of annoyed that she ordered a “basic” salad for her entree, but this salad was anything but basic. I was blown away by the presentation, and it complemented my dish perfectly.
My spaghetti was cooked al dente (as it should be) and each bite was chewy flavorful perfection. It was a tad bit salty, but I still enjoyed it immensely, and I’d honestly get it again without thinking twice. I do have one regret though: not trying their Pistachio Pesto. It came highly recommended by both the hostess and waitress, which means I need to go back asap.
Best Eats in New York City: 375 Fries
After lunch, we walked around a bit before grabbing an uber to cover one last restaurant in NYC: 375 Fries. Located on 124 Ludlow in the Lower East Side, they’re known for their unique loaded fry combinations.
There were 6 different combos available: Swedish Poutine, Nacho, Banh Mi, Fish & Chips, Okonomiyaki, and Kimchi. It was a tough decision, but we decided to go with Nacho ($8.95). These fried morsels of goodness were topped with chile con queso, black beans, grilled chicken, chipotle-tomatillo ketchup, sour cream, pico de gallo, and guac.
If you’d prefer to just get french fries, that’s fine too. They have an array of delicious sauces that you can choose from. Ketchup, mustard, malt vinegar and raw onion are free, but their special sauces cost $1.25 a pop. Get 3 for $3.50 and sample as many as you want before you make your decision. Some of the more interesting flavors include: jalapeño-cilantro ranch, white truffle mayo, chipotle-tomatillo ketchup, and more.
And that’s a wrap, guys! I hope you enjoyed reading about the best eats in New York City. What did you think of my recommendations? Did you have a favorite? If yes, definitely let me know by leaving a comment below, friends. For those of you interested, you can browse more of my travels here. Until next time!