New York and Tokyo are similar in a lot of ways, but one of the biggest differences is that, while I can get very good Japanese food in New York, it is pretty much impossible to get very good NY staples in Tokyo. We're talking hot dogs, pizza and bagels. And if we're getting personal, I'd like to add Banh Mi sandwiches to the list. So, on my trip to NY last month, I made sure to fill up on these classics.
First stop, Gray's Papaya on the Upper West Side for a hotdog and papaya juice. Japanese people actually love hot dogs, or more specifically "wieners" but they haven't quite figured out the bun and toppings part yet.
Cookies! Another American snack that just hasn't quite made its mark in Japan. Perhaps they're too sweet or too big? How could you say no to a classic bodega black and white?
My bagel spot in NY is Murray's because I lived near the 23rd Street shop my first year in NY. I have fond memories of weekend walks for a Whole Wheat Everything with Sun Dried Tomato schmear. I still take pride that I now know not to ask them to toast...it's a ritual every Chelsea resident must go through.
((I really wish I knew how to rotate images in blogger. ))
Alright, this soft serve is an area I think I can safely say that Tokyo has NY beat. This is a pumpkin cream cheese pie softie from Momofuku Milk. It was...just ok. As fun as all the crazy flavors can be, nothing beats a plain milk flavored soft serve from the Mini Stop convenience store. And if you ever see a sign for Hokkaido Soft Cream, GET IT. It's like drinking the milk straight from the utter. Ok, obviously, that doesn't sound that appealing, but you get what I mean. It's fresh!
Cake balls. Or as Momofuku calls them, cake truffles. These are birthday cake balls (i.e. funfetti) and they were very tasty, but weird to eat. These are a big thing in the South and is basically cake, mixed up with frosting shaped into balls. Cute idea, but they need to work on the name. (or DO they?)
I'm not going to say it is the BEST Banh Mi in New York, but it is certainly my favorite. Why? Because as any good Viet would know, it's all about the bread! It's gotta be airy, flaky, kind of flavorless and warm. Case in point: One of the best high end (or any end for that matter) Vietnamese restaurants in the world is The Slanted Door in the San Francisco Ferry Building. They have a to-go window where they sell Banh Mi. Being that they are in the Ferry Building, they have access to fresh "nationally acclaimed" artisan bread from Acme Bread, a personal favorite of mine. So naturally, they use it and...the sandwich is just so so. Another example that fancier ain't always better.
Back to my point, I like Paris Bakery on Mott because they bake their own bread daily and supply their bread to other Banh Mi shops around town.
I would really kill for one of these in Tokyo.
And a final word from your neighborhood sponsor/tagger with a message.