2015 was a great year in terms of food. Considering I had about 5 pounds to gain, I totally ate my heart out while dining out. My obsession in 2015 was truffle oil. I ordered several items with truffle oil and I loved each and every single one of them, and thus you’ll see a few favorites on my list containing truffle oil. Aside from Manhattan, this year I explored the culinary scene in Aruba, Austria, Germany and Czech Republic! I can't say that I particularly enjoyed Austrian, German and Czech food, but fortunately there were other cuisines to choose from in those countries which made my list. So without further ado, here are my top 15 in 2015!
1. Black Cod Lettuce Wraps @ Catch, New York City (meatpacking district) Catch - an Asian inspired restaurant by Chef Hung Huynh located in the Meatpacking district is a perfect 5 in my book and was my favorite restaurant in 2015. This restaurant offers excellent customer service, food and ambiance. Every dish here has been incredible, or certainly close to it, making it difficult to decide which one is my favorite. To be fair, I have 2 items from Catch on my list starting with the Bourbon Miso Black Cod Lettuce Wraps which are out of this world. They taste light, fresh and buttery all at the same time, these babies look okay, but they are shockingly delicious.
2. Mushroom Spaghetti @ Catch, New York City (meatpacking district)
Another favorite at Catch is the Mushroom Spaghetti which consists of wild mushroom, sugar snap peas, tomato and Parmesan cheese in a truffle oil. The truffle oil in this dish is quite prominent, and outrageously delicious in combination with the wild mushrooms. This dish is like Italy meets Asia! I want to replicate this dish at home. Phenomenal.
3. Truffle Mushroom Croquettes @ Fig & Olive, New York City (fifth avenue)
Fig & Olive is one of my favorite restaurants in New York City. I love their extensive wine selection and each dish pairs with a unique olive oil. Additionally, there are plenty of healthy options on the menu. Consisting of cremini mushroom, Parmesan and bechamel sauce, the Truffle Mushroom Croquettes are anything but healthy. The combination of truffle oil and Parmesan cheese over these fried mushroom croquettes just sort of melt in your mouth. By the end you will be scraping off every last bit of truffle oil and Parmesan cheese left on the plate - heavenly. This is one appetizer not to be missed when dining at Fig & Olive.
4. Black Truffle Quesadilla (Quesadilla de Huitlacoche & Trufas) @ Toloache, New York City (theater district)’
Toloache is easily one of my favorite Mexican spots in Manhattan. The Black Truffle Quesadilla is the appetizer to order and I honestly don’t have words to describe this. This divine concoction of Manchego cheese and truffle oil is no joke. Unfortunately, this quesadilla is rather small, but a little bit goes a long way… tastes cheesy and earthy at the same time.
5. Classic Baked Eggs @ Ella Kitchen & Bar, New York City (upper west side)
By now I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern with my truffle oil obsession, this is the last one, promise. The wait for my meal was so painfully long, but I quickly shut up about it once I tried these insanely delicious skillet style Baked Eggs with mushrooms and brussels sprouts cooked in heavy cream and Parmesan. This dish was topped off with truffle oil. Off to the side were oven roasted potatoes with onion and garlic. This meal goes down as the best brunch of the year. On a gorgeous spring day, I’m totally making the trek up to the Upper West Side just for these spectacular Baked Eggs.
Molly's is one of my favorite cupcake places in Manhattan. The cupcakes here are uber moist, never too dense, never too sweet and there are a plethora of flavors to choose from, in particular this Salted Caramel Butterscotch Cupcake. A vanilla flavored cupcake with butterscotch caramel pudding inside topped with salted vanilla buttercream and a drizzle of caramel. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and my favorite cupcake of the year.
Speaking of cupcakes, finding a good Red Velvet cupcake has been no easy task. Often times I find the cupcake to be too dry or too sweet, but not Sprinkles version. A deep red color cupcake that almost reminds me of red wine. The cupcake itself is moist with just the right amount of cocoa and sugar, the scrumptious cream cheese frosting seals the deal on this disturbingly good Red Velvet Cupcake. I'm telling you people, it's unreal!
8. Chocolate Tart @ Simply Fish (now Atardi @ Aruba Marriott Stellaris Resort & Casino), Aruba (palm beach)
At Simply Fish experience an extraordinary sunset with amazing ambiance, dining on the beach, outstanding service and excellent seafood. This was my favorite restaurant in Aruba and what makes it so memorable is this divine Chocolate Tart. A tart filled with warm chocolate topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream melting slowly. This dessert was rich, yet light. Simple, elegant, outstanding!
Another exceptional restaurant in Aruba was Madame Janette where the cuisine is French-inspired. The sea bass is served on a bed of Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, crowned with stir fried wok veggies and finished with a light spicy Asian Soy Sauce and Creamy Ginger Flavored Butter Beurre Blanc. P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N! Complex flavors that all came together in this well-executed dish. I would go back to Aruba in a heartbeat for this dish alone, and this goes down as the best thing I ate in 2015!
10. Chicken Shawarma @ Sahara, Heidelberg, Germany
Considering it is way off the beaten path, Heidelberg, Germany is one of those places you visit if you have a real reason to visit, in my case I visited my niece. I was blown away when I ate perhaps the best Chicken Shawarma of my life at Sahara. Tender meat wrapped inside a wrap with vegetables, tahini sauce and a melody of spices. The flavors and spices used in this wrap didn't even taste familiar to me, but they all seamlessly came together.
11. French Toast @ Cafe Savoy, Prague, Czech Republic
A beautiful and elegant restaurant in Prague that serves an amazing brunch, Cafe Savoy is one place not to be missed. They are most famous for their French Toast, and it did not disappoint. The portion is certainly small, but since the French Toast is cooked in butter, this dish is quite filling. You can taste the butter oozing out in every creamy bite. I felt my arteries clogging as I devoured this dish. The fresh berries and banana are a nice touch to this very decadent dish. A must-do in Prague!
12. Chicken Kushiyaki with Anticucho sauce @ Nobu Fifty Seven, New York City (midtown west)
The last time I dined at Nobu Fifty Seven was back in April, and I still dream about these Chicken Skewers coated in an Anticucho sauce, a typical Peruvian dish. The meat was tender and drenched in a spicy Anticucho sauce. The skewers were beyond delicious at this trendy Asian restaurant. Will definitely be back to try out more dishes.
13. Chicken Toastie @ Bombay Duck Co., New York City (west village)
Bombay Duck’s Chicken Toastie has been on my list for a second year in a row. It is scrumptious! When you’re in the mood for Indian comfort food that’s cheap and filling, look no further than the Bombay Duck Co. located in the West Village. They specialize in Mumbai Street Food and my favorite here is the Chicken Toastie made with shredded chicken, gooey cheese, chilies, cilantro, sweet and sour sauce amongst other things. This toastie comes with a side of Chat Masala Fries which are so, so good!
14. Enchilada Suiza @ Orale Mexican Kitchen, Jersey City (grove street)
Jersey City is rapidly becoming the next foodie destination. I have a few favorites in the area starting with Orale Mexican Kitchen – a funky restaurant located near Grove Street path station that serves up delicious Mexican food. I adore Chicken Enchiladas that are filled with shredded chicken instead of strips of chicken. I find that the flavors blend so much better when the chicken is actually shredded. Shredded chicken wrapped in a corn tortilla and topped with a creamy tomatillo sauce and chihuahua cheese is slightly spicy, tangy and totally authentic. You’ll be hungry for more!
15. Yuzu Guacamole @ Talde, Jersey City (grove street)
Originated in Brooklyn, Talde opened up in Jersey City in early 2015. A casual Asian-American restaurant that specializes in dim sum along with a few entrees… Kung Pao Chicken Wings, Steamed Bao Buns, Korean Fried Chicken to name a few. However, my favorite item here is the Vegetarian Yuzu Guacamole which is essentially guacamole that sits over a bed of crispy rice. The creamy guacamole and crunchy rice impeccably complement one another. It’s unique, original and nothing like I have ever tried before.
And there you have it!
Question: What is the best thing you ate in 2015? Item, restaurant, location? Share!