If you’ve been to the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Williamsburg, then you’ve seen Peter Kim’s work in action. As executive director, he leads the team there in making exhibits you can eat. His vision is to create a global center for food education that gets people truly excited about what goes on our plates and in our glasses.
To that end, the museum is in the midst of a fund-raising campaign for its first-ever cultural exhibition: Chow: The Making of Chinese American Cuisine will open in November to tell the story of how Chinese immigrants created the beloved cuisine despite racism and hardship. There are seven days left to go in their Kickstarter campaign, where you can learn a lot more about the exhibit.
Before all that gets under way, though, we got Kim to tell us his essential spots in New York City.
Here’s where you can find the finest alfresco meal in New York City. Go at sunset, grab a dog, grab a beer, plop down in the sand, and eat as the day fades out and the twinkling lights of Luna Park fade in. Pure magic.
The entire staff of this Egyptian restaurant in Astoria consists of one man, Ali. He builds a menu with you based on what he has on hand — the last time I was there he had lamb brain and testicles. Once you’ve worked out the menu, he whips up a beautiful meal using his tiny open kitchen. It’s refreshingly BS-free and Ali’s personality shines through every dish.
Sometimes you go to a restaurant for comforting familiarity, and sometimes you go for inspiration. Contra falls in the second bucket. Chefs Jeremiah and Fabian have created a unique, forward-looking style that often pushes me to rethink what’s possible. I mean, these guys actually found a way to make a sweet and umami-rich seaweed mousse delicious. Much respect.
I came across this Crown Heights bakery while doing research on Trinidadian cuisine for MOFAD. For just a few bucks, you can taste your way through the diverse cultural facets of Trinidadian cuisine: chickpea-stuffed doubles, Indian-style aloo pies, Caribbean rotis, lo mein, and plenty of delicious desserts, including their infamous currant rolls.
This Blade Runner–esque sake den is my go-to spot for blurry late-night larks. This is the kind of place where plans are hatched… and then forgotten. They have a copious sake menu that runs the gamut from floral, complex daiginjos to more hefty junmais. Sometimes I’ll order several at once so I can compare them, side by side, along with some okonomiyaki and sashimi to soak it up.