...I can't help it.
Art needs a break every once in a while for that other pasttime of mine-- EATING!
So I'm giving my readers two restaurant recommendations.
1. X.O. Cafe & Grill, long a favorite of mine in Chinatown on Walker Street.
This evening I probably had the most outstanding dumplings yet from their fantastic menu.
There's nothing... I repeat, nothing fresher, more crunchy, more succulent, and scrumptious than the snow pea leaf dumpling on their Dim Sum list.
(pic of actual X.O. dumpling by Roboppy on Flickr)
I mean, look at that thing!
It has (at least I think it has) snow pea leaves, water chestnuts, black mushrooms?? and possibly garlic) stuffed so neatly inside.
It comes with this excellent, thick and sweet dipping soy sauce.
I add the hot chili oil to it, and it just brings me to tears.
So good it melts in your mouth.
Besides their dim sum, they're quite known for their hot pots (sizzling beef and veggies on your table) as well as the pretty ridonkulous fake tree in the middle of the joint.
And... and... if that's not enough, take a look at my other favorite dum'lin'... the crystal shrimp dumpling.
The shrimps are meaty, sweet, pink, and so delicious.
I love the litle orange roe on top, not unlike Christo and Jean Claude's perfect shade of orange.
The Gates, anyone?
In fact, I believe these are works of art.
(photo again credited to Roboppy on Flickr)
And I finished it off with my usual Taro Root bubble tea.
X.O. is located on 96 Walker Street by Lafayette Street.
It's right around the corner from the Canal Street subway station.
And second, I had my first ever Sri Lankan food the other day.
The Nirvana Cafe in Gramercy exceeded my expectations.
(a look into the spice influences of Sri Lanka-- image from Byflickr on Flickr)
I thought Sri food would be very similar to Indian.
Yeah, sorta, except imagine your spicy quotient upped to heights never before seen, and sauces that are never liquidy, but thick and rich.
I had a quite chunky mint chutney that was truly from the gods.
This sat atop my order of vadai, 4 crisp lentil patties fried to a crisp perfection.
So delicate, and yet so meaty.
There's much more influences in their food than I expected-- French certainly being one of them.
As for the spices, my mouth was on FIRE the entire night, and I just wanted more and more.
I was tempted to get the hoppers, (crispy, curved crepes, one with egg in center, served with a chili relish katta sambol and a curry*), but I knew if I ate more than the 5 pounds of food I had received so far, I might explode.
(check out this recipe for do-it-yourself hoppers-- Warning, bad joke alert, this is not to be confused with Edward Hopper)
Some interesting vegetable sides came with my order of chicken curry (Five Alarm hotness)-- softened green beans in a sweet, yet spicy chili paste; chilled collard greens with minced scallions, shallots and garlic,with shredded coconut; and piping hot sweet potatoes in a delicious peanut sauce.
Nirvana Cafe is located at 213 3rd Avenue at 19th Street near Gramercy Park.
Since most of us don't have keys to that silly park anyway, why not scarf down some good eatin's instead!
Check out their website.
You can also use this nice menu from MenuPages as well.