Vietnamese-y Peasy!



The city of New York—and Yorkville as a prime culprit—has become egregiously more overrun by pan-Asian shops. You know these spaces, the ones that have over-complicated menus serving a variety of cuisines from a wide variety of Eastern countries. The ones that offer Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, even Indian all on the same side of the page.

Not surprisingly, the problem with places like these is that, with no concentration on one type of food, all the dishes kind of suffer. How I hate realizing that a restaurant is using the same noodles for both their ramen and lo mein, and using strips of fried wonton skins for crispy soup noodles.

So it was by fortuitous accident that I discovered Vietnaam a few weeks ago, and have made it an immediate new staple for my neighborhood lunch and dinner options. First turned on by their excellent canh chua (sweet and sour soup), I was immediately impressed with the classicist authenticity of the traditional Vietnamese menu, and with the delicious respect with which the menu's dishes are executed.

The proof rerealized during a recent lunch of lollipop" sugar cane shrimp (shrimp paste deep-fried on a sugar cane stalk) and a bánh mì sandwich featuring braised duck. Vietnaam keeps their dishes simple, pure, and clean, making for tasty meals that speak most honestly—and simply—to its cultural provenance.

Which means when I want true and truly tasty Vietnamese food—and nothing else—Vietnaam makes my decision-making very very easy.

Bun Apple Tea!



Year Of The Goat Sees The Return Of The "Pig"



A truly special occasion just occurred up here on the Upper East Side. In a neighborhood chock-full of any number and varieties of (pan)Asian takeout joints—like most NYC neighborhoods—Yorkville got to see the return of the decades-long favorite, Nancy Lee's Pig Heaven.

To us local nostalgists, Pig Heaven represented the last of a seemingly extinct iteration of Chinese restaurant, that of a time when "going out for Chinese" was a special occasion. People looked forward to it for a week, showing up formally-attired and sitting down at sturdy linen-covered tables, where likewise formally-attired waiters served family-favorite Chinese dishes in or on decoratively ornate porcelain vessels. Nary a plastic fork, paper plate, styrofoam container, or sauce packet in sight!

But happily in sight is the owner/proprietor herself, the agelessly beautiful Nancy Lee, who broke hearts last fall by informing loyal local customers that she had to give up her former space of 29 years. (Rent hikes—what's new?!) The bad news was short-lived, as she was diligently persevered and was able to find a space just a block away to offer the same quality food, service, and personality that defined an era in this area, if not the whole city. And she thankfully turned the business around so quickly she was able to celebrate the Chinese New Year with her reopening just last week.

The year and location might be new, but the vibe, and ambience are old, welcomed, warm reminders of many great experiences of a grateful generation of whole families of diners. And as I—this past Chinese New Year Day—enjoyed my General Tso's lunch special (with spring rolls and chicken velvet corn soup), I decided to congratulate Miss Nancy Lee, on the return of her fine traditions of Chinese food service, by spoiling myself with one of her all-time most popular menu items: the BBQ spareribs.

And I am proud to say that those spareribs alone—as deliciously sweet, smokey, meaty, tender, sticky, spicy, "porky", and sublime as ever—are reason enough to celebrate. As is the sight of neighborhood staple, Miss Nancy Lee and her restaurant of many fond memories. Welcome back, Miss Lee, and Happy Year of the Goat!

Bun Apple Tea!


NANCY LEE'S PIG HEAVEN | 1420 3rd Ave. | 212.744.4333 |


East Meets Upper East

KOBEYAKI (UES) | 215 East 86th St. (off 3rd Ave.) | 212.860.2300 |

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