BRIAN’S Top Ti 2021 | Eat this NY

I count down the 10 best dishes I tasted in 2021 …

Last time I published an end of year list of best dishes, it was 2019 and the world looked very different. Not only were we not yet in the midst of an endless pandemic, but the way I ate at restaurants was different. I would cuddle up to a bar or cuddle around a communal table with strangers. Now I mostly find that I eat outside, at the mercy of the items and / or out of a take-out container.

The good news is that unlike 2020, I once again spent an entire year exploring the city’s food scene. And while I may not have as many as 100 dishes to write about, I found much more than ten good things that were delicious in any kind of outdoor dining. Here I present my Top Ten.


You might think that peanut butter and coffee do not belong together, but you would be wrong. Think about getting two scoops of ice cream on top of each other: a coffee, a peanut butter. Not so bad, is it?

And when you realize that certain beans, like the Ethiopian ones, have fruity blueberry notes and give not only a toasted cocoa flavor but also a sour fruitiness, you remember that peanut butter and jelly do not sound good on paper, but it is a miracle combination.

The Brooklyn Roasting Company, despite having been through some financial trouble over the last few years, still sells both their craft coffee and this ingenious combination. Price: $ 9- $ 18

200 Flushing Avenue (at Washington Avenue),
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
(718) 858-5500


Lillo is a small Italian standby in a residential neighborhood of Brooklyn who had been on my list for years. That was the year I finally got to taste.

Gnocchi rosa was a fascinating discovery for me. The pillow-like potato gnocchi had been added to beetroot, giving it both a dramatic color and a sweet earthy taste. These dreamy gnocchi pieces floated in a buttery soup topped with sage and parmesan. It was absolutely amazing. Price: $ 14

331 Henry Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(347) 763-0899


When Karazishi Botan from an Ippudo chef opened in early 2020, it was immediately on my radar. But this little thing called the pandemic put me very late to the game.

I could not resist Point Blank, which showed a chicken broth soup filled with horseradish and pork. I’m a big fan of horseradish and usually do not expect to find it my bowl of ramen.

Strong horseradish was the main flavor component in the dish and I completely enjoyed the whole experience. There are also notes of wasabi oil and wasabi tobiko on top. The stiffening notes dot and warm, while the perfectly wavy noodles have a beautiful texture that, together with the fatty pork chashu, gives the spicy notes depth and balance.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any more unique and intense, you are asked to add some of the included yuzu juice to the bowl about halfway. The peppery citrus juice brings a whole new spin to the dish. It tames the heat a bit, but also amplifies it in a way. It’s really brilliant. Price: $ 18

255 Smith Street (between Douglass and Degraw Street),
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
(347) 763-1155

NUMBER 7: Birria Taco with Consomme at CASA BIRRIA

Birria, for the uninitiated, is a rich red adobo-laced meat stew from Jalisco, Mexico. It is richly flavored with beef or goat, onions, chili and spices. And it’s become quite popular in NYC since it first appeared here a few years ago.

After seeing the Casa Birria truck on the Upper East Side, I have now tried some of the best I have ever had.

My taco was already dripping with the lively red juice. The tortilla itself had all the flavor imaginable, and the meat was juicy and bursting with flavor. The salsa roja put it all over the edge.

But then came consomeé, which was pièce de résistance. Pieces of raw onion and coriander dipped in the deep red elixir. I was not quite sure if I should dip the taco or drink the soup. It turns out that both are right. Price: $ 4 / $ 4

184 East 86th Street (between Lexington and Third Avenue),
Upper East Side
(646) 868-2090
Instagram: @casabirrianyc

NUMBER 6: Singaporean Chili Crab Fried Rice on THE TYGER

The trendy Asian bistro The Tyger released probably the most beautiful dish I wrote about all year. It also happened to be quite tasty.

Chili Crab is a common dish in Singapore, and here they turned it into some of the best fried rice I’ve ever had.

The crab is picked out and mixed into the rice. Rich meaty pieces of crustacean get stuck among some smooth, tastefully spicy rice studded with sweet peas and scallions.

And then the shower upstairs is this red crisp magic. Not sure what it was exactly, but it added so much wonderful texture and just a touch of warmth to the dish. Price: $ 27

1 Howard Street (at Center Street),
(646) 476-7566

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