43 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup: Really Just a Bowl of Chili Oil

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  *barf*

Someone bring me a puke bag because writing this might actually make me puke.  I would rather not think about Grand Sichuan’s Sliced Fish Sauce Soup ($20; was $19) ever again.

First off, yes, it was $20.  They bring out a family-style bowl of it.

Grand Sichuan's Sliced Fish Sauce Soup

Below the thick, red chili oil and bushel of red chili peppers lay some thin fillets of fish (skin on and bone in), cilantro, celery sticks, napa cabbage, leeks and squares of tofu.

Here are a few things that were said by me, TK, KF and MS:

“I feel like I’m eating oil.”

“(It’s like) pepper juice.”

“I can’t taste anything else but chili oil.”

I’d rather drink a bottle of pepto.

No one really touched the soup after the first sip.  I, on the other hand, decided that the non-fish items were good enough to eat with my rice.  Without any “broth” it was edible.

My friend told me about “twilight anesthesia” this morning – it keeps you conscious but sleepy, and you forget the entire experience afterwards.  This is exactly what we needed that night while trying this nastiness.

When the waitress came by and asked me if we wanted it wrapped, I wanted to say “hellz no, it was nasty!” but I didn’t know how to express that in Mandarin.  The best I could do was say, politely, “No, it was too oily.”  I guess that’s a good thing?

Grand Sichuan
15 Seventh Avenue South (near Leroy St.)
New York, NY 10014
212.645.2222
http://www.thegrandsichuan.com/contact/7ave

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!

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42 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Felidia’s Chicken “Noodle” Soup: One of the Best Chicken Noodle Soups

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Far from boring.

“This is the best chicken soup I’ve ever had.”  That’s what JM said after having some of Felidia’s Chicken Soup ($15).

Zuppa Di Zucca – Roasted Butternut Squash Soup – was the one featured on the list, but they didn’t have it on the menu.  I had definitely groaned in my head when the waiter told us what the soup du jour was because I was pretty tired of the same old chicken noodle soup that cost too much and was nothing special.  In fact, I didn’t even think you could really make this type of soup unique.  Well, Felidia (celeb chef, Lidia Bastianich’s, resto) proved me wrong.

Felidia's Chicken Soup

mmm, chicken

At first you see ingredients just like any other chicken soup – shreds of fresh chicken, carrots and leeks (I don’t believe I saw celery).  Then you taste the broth, which was one of the more flavorful ones out there.  But what separated this one from all the other ones

The bestest "noodle" out there

were the “noodles.”  This was no ordinary white pasta.  Instead, it was bread rolled up into dough with some cheese.  Homemade, omg-give-me-more-of-this awesomeness.  It added a whole new dimension to typical chicken soup.

But, again, it always comes back to what you’re getting for the money.  Were these noodles worth $15?  Probably not.  If it were $10 a bowl, maybe.

PS – Looks like they have the Zuppa Di Zucca as part of their Pre-Theatre Menu for $45 per person, during certain days/times, and by reservation only.

Felidia
243 E. 58th Street
New York, NY10022
212.758.1479
http://www.felidia-nyc.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


41 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – The Breslin’s Onion and Bone Marrow Soup: A Robust French Onion for the Lactose Intolerant

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  If you’re not worried about your health, go for it.

Just walking into The Breslin Bar & Dining Room revealed a lot.  A wide assortment of animal figurines adorned the dark, wood bar:  deer, cows, pigs, ox, bison, chicken, sheep, ostrich and more.  If you don’t like meat, turn around and walk out the door.  That’s not to say that they don’t have non-meat options, but meat is spotlighted.

I sat at the bar for lunch and ordered my Onion and Bone Marrow Soup ($13 now; was $10 in 2009) with a side of broccolini to make myself feel better.  The baby crock came out scolding hot, which was  better than the lukewarm Kuba Soup that I got at Mimi’s Hummus…except for the fact that my tongue paid for it with the first slurp.

The Breslin's Onion and Bone Marrow Soup

It was a bolder, richer French Onion Soup made for the lactose intolerant.  A school of long, thin onion slices, a piece of fried toast and swirls of oil didn’t miss being cloaked by a thick slab of cheese.  But the bowl wasn’t completely devoid of dairy – somewhere in the murkiness, you could see bits of cheese fried to the toast.  The perfect amount, if you ask me.

I thoroughly enjoyed every last drop, but the heaviness and cost made me feel extremely guilty afterwards.  I’ll keep this as a guilty pleasure, if I’m reeeeeallly craving it one day.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
20 W. 29th Street (near Broadway, at the Ace Hotel)
New York, NY 10001
212-679-1939
http://thebreslin.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


40 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Kuba Soup at Mimi’s Hummus: Good and Filling But Not the Highlight

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Make the tasty kubbeh smaller and then let it float in the broth, or serve the kubbeh sans broth?  Or would that be blasphemy?

From the name, Mimi’s Hummus would seem to only serve hummus.  But, while the menu does feature a variety of hummus (definitely some creamy goodness), it features a few other items that will rock your world.

I went there for brunch one weekend afternoon with JM, hoping that they’d serve the Kuba Soup ($11), but I was out of luck…sorta.  I didn’t get the soup, but I got a really freakin’ spectacular brunch.

The next night, JM and I went back for dinner since I was told they served the soup at dinner only.  The waitress informed me that the soup was good enough as an entree, and she sure as heck wasn’t lying.  Kuba (or Kubbeh) are meat dumplings which are apparently a specialty of Jews from Kurdistan.  They’re filled with ground beef, spices and usually pine nuts (although I’m not sure Mimi’s Hummus used the nuts).

Kuba Soup at Mimi's Hummus

In a shallow bowl, Mimi served three very hefty and dense dumplings within a light, slightly sweet and vinegary beet broth.  They were surrounded by chunks of beets that were, thankfully, not too soft or mushy.

The Meat

The kubbeh reminded me of ground beef empanadas or Jamaican beef patties, but better.  I had two thoughts while chowing down:  1)  I wish they brought it out steaming hot, as opposed to lukewarm, and 2)  I’m not sure if I would really call this a soup since the dumplings were like boulders that stood atop a thin layer of broth.

I probably wouldn’t go back for the kubbeh alone, but I’d definitely buy a frozen bag of them if they sold it.  If I manage to get back there, it would be for the brunch dishes, fresh whole wheat pita, hummus and general atmosphere.

Mimi’s Hummus
1209 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11218
718.284.4444
http://www.mimishummus.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


39 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Arirang’s Chicken Ginseng Soup: Get a Few Packs of Breath Mints Ready

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Vampires – watch out.

Good thing CD was having friends over to watch the Filipino boxer, Nonita Donaire Jr., fight Mexico’s Montiel ’cause, otherwise, I’m not sure I would’ve ever made it all the way out to Flushing for this Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup ($17.95), aka Samgyetang, at Arirang.

It’s a small hole-in-the-wall joint where you might expect some good home cooking.  Right when you walk in, the hyper older Korean woman immediately pushes the Samgyetang on you.  Service is definitely both slow and rushed at the same time, but somehow you’re able to forgive them for it.

Arirang's Chicken Ginseng Soup ("Samgyetang")

The soup comes out in a steaming hot stone bowl (awesome on a freezing day like the day we went).  Before I could get a proper photo, the same woman rushes over, takes the ladle and stirs it all up.  It was like a tornado just swooshed on by, and nothing landed in our individual bowls.  I ended up serving both me and JM.

After the storm...

There was definitely a lot of stuff going on in that one bowl:  whole chicken (game hen?) with bones and all, chunks of fresh garlic, sticky rice, stalks of ginseng, black sesame seeds, scallions, one ball of chestnut and salt and pepper that you add to your liking.

Sticky rice and stuff

But all I tasted was garlic.

After a while, the sticky rice soaked up most of the broth so that it became even more like a Chinese congee.  JM said it reminded him of a Filipino dish as well.  (Which came first, eh??!)

Ginseng and stuff...

I think it was good and soothing, but JM and I both would’ve preferred a larger broth-to-other stuff ratio.  What would’ve been even better was if they brought out a huge pot for the $17.95 price tag.

And, again, for me, it might as well have been called garlic soup.  Could it have been a winner if I loved and could handle garlic?  Not so sure.  One thing’s for sure, though:  I think I could’ve also knocked out Montiel just by breathing on him.

Arirang
137-38 Northern Blvd (near Main St.)
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 661-5454

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


38 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Alfanoose’s Red Lentil Soup: As Flimsy As Its “Dinnerware”

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Someone who really knows lentil soups please tell me why this was deemed top notch.

The Red Lentil Soup ($3.50) at Alfanoose looked unappealing sitting in a flimsy white plastic bowl, and I had hoped it wasn’t a sign of what was to come.  Unfortunately, it was.  I went from one extreme at Dovetail to another at this super casual, nearly buffet-style Middle Eastern restaurant.  The website is a bit deceiving, making it look like you were going to be in somewhat of a fine-dining atmosphere (Exhibit A – http://www.alfanoose.com/).

But I wasn’t going to judge a soup by its presentation, so I dug in with the flimsy white plastic spoon.  Had I loved the soup, I would’ve been pissed about the cheap utensil.  I could barely get a drop onto it, which made it even less enjoyable to eat.  Luckily for me, I didn’t care for the much-too-lemony flavor.

Alfanoose's Red Lentil Soup

To overcome the plainness and mouth-puckering effect, eating it with all the extras (rice-and-lentil mojadara + fried onion + hot sauce), which is supposedly how the chef/owner eats it, may have done some good…only with a proper spoon, though.  Too bad I was never asked if I wanted any of those extras.

EW’s brown version was just slightly better, in my opinion (this is

Alfanoose's Brown Lentil Soup

opposite of what NY mag declared).  Could’ve been the cilantro that did it for me, but it was still not something I would ever order again.

Honestly, I don’t know what the magazine was thinking…

Alfanoose
8 Maiden Lane (btwn Broadway and Nassau)
New York, NY 10038
212.528.4669
http://www.alfanoose.com/

—–

Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!


37 of 50 “Tastiest” Soups in NYC – Dovetail’s Butternut Squash Soup Blew My Mind: A New Fave

MY TASTEFUL OPINION:  Must go there.

The northwest corner of 77th and Columbus is a diverse, yummy corner.  You’ve got a casual, down and dirty Shake Shack on one side and a fancy, prim and proper Dovetail on the other.  Perhaps I’ll park my future cookie stand right in the middle to give it a sense of completeness.

Dovetail is  a hidden gem tucked away on the sidewalk with its understated curb appeal, but what lies behind is a meal you will never forget.

I knew ahead of time that the New England Clam Chowder I was supposed to try was no longer being served.  In its place was a Butternut Squash Soup – the first course of a $24.07 Friday lunch prix fixe menu*.  This soup could very well be my new favorite, kicking out the tripe soup from Corsina.  Not only was it a beautiful piece of art, but it was also a well thought out bowl.  Every single ingredient served a pleasant purpose.  This was not a case of, yea, it’s fancy, but it’s all fluff.  Whether it provided texture or bursts of flavor, each ingredient played a role to help make this into one cohesive – and very special – bowl.

Dovetail's Butternut Squash Soup

The chestnut confit provided a subtle sweet nuttiness.  The hidden red cranberry swirl gave a contrasting tanginess to the sweetness of the squash, whereas the itty bitty pumpernickel croutons added a big crunchy texture to the silkiness.

Chestnut confit, pumpernickel crouton bite, apple pearl

And then you’re surprised with the cutest pale yellow pearls of tart apple…(love!).  This was all topped off with three fluffy clouds of rosemary marshmallow, giving it a blast of candied herbiness.

It was no doubt the perfect marriage of flavors – not too sweet, not too salty.  It could’ve veered too much towards tasting like a dessert, if an unskilled chef tried it, but somehow the chef at Dovetail created an insanely good deconstructed savory sweet pie and put it in mostly liquid form.

Needless to say, this was no ordinary butternut squash soup.  Every bite brought something new and made me ask, “Wow, what is this?”  My notes on the side said, “I WANT TO LICK THIS BOWL!”

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*I have no idea how much this would’ve cost on its own.

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Dovetail
103 W. 77th Street
New York, NY 10024
212.362.3800
http://www.dovetailnyc.com/

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Over $10 – These soups should have a gold leaf in them.

$6 to $10 – You’re not shellin’ out the gold, but also not gettin’ super lucky.

Under $6 – It’s your lucky day!