Pete Wells' list of NYC's Top New Restaurants

So did Eater Though you may have meant that tongue-in-cheek? There have got to be some newer and better additions to this list!:

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yes, @ninkat , tongue in cheek, the UES is an unexciting place for overpriced food. on the UWS we lived north of 96th where I suppose due to lower rents and a large asian population, there were some interesting, authentic restaurants. To be fair, we haven’t really scratched the surface of what’s here but there does seem to be an overwhelming number of Irish bars and Italian restaurants.

otoh, there’s a high density of pizza joints, and it’s been fun exploring what’s on offer. I should really systematically catalog and review each one but the idea of being part of the club that includes Dave Portnoy just make me sick to my stomach.


Dang! And here I was hoping to get @vinouspleasure’s recs for pizza and Italian joints (not so sure about Irish bars) on the UES where I always feel I need my passport to travel!

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Ok. I was using cow in the non-gender specific sense and referring to cow as a type of 4 legged animal. As in, hey look at that herd of cows instead of look at that collection of cows, calves, heifers and bulls. Cod as a term is also non-gender specific as obviously milt is only available from male (which I think are also called bulls) cod. English doesn’t seem to have a generic word to apply to both sexes of cows other than cow. Cattle is far to generic as that can include other animals.

I suppose from a biological perspective that cod milt may have a higher proportion of mass of sperm to the organ weight as if I recall male cods release sperm into the water as the females release eggs so there is a biological advantage to producing a lot of sperm. But bull balls would still be quite full of sperm. That is unless “ahem” they were harvested soon after release.

So how about that for some thread drift?

Back to the actual discussion about the article, I have only been to Le Rock and Semma. Semma is outstanding. I have been twice, and both times were outstanding.

Le Rock is one of my favorites. Solid good, great wine, and sitting at the bar is some of the best people watching in the city.

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Did you try the crab at Semma? It’s the thing that makes me want to go.

Have not had the crab. First time, I went by myself (had the venison, the cauliflower, and the dosa. When I went back about 6 months later, we did the dosa, the chicken, and the lobster. The lobster and dosa are outstanding. Loved those. The sauce on the lobster is so good. I still want to do the rabbit at Dhamaka, and would be game if anyone is willing to try.

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I’d be game if someone else is willing to pay.

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I loved Semma when I went in early 2022 - so I returned for the crab! Sadly, I was disappointed with the dish. The spicing in the sauce was excellent - layers of flavour, and the crab itself was well-cooked - but the combination was less than the sum of the parts.
The crab was roughly chopped and dropped in the sauce for serving - no deshelling occurred, we were just given the shell crackers (the implement) plus picks, to remove the meat. This meant using our fingers to pick out the pieces then crack and pick the meat. That sauce is VERY heavy in turmeric and although I am OK with messy dishes this one was a battle to the end, and hands, face (and clothes) were all stained yellow at the end. Amusegirl’s immaculate nails were destroyed and after several hand washings there was still turmeric hiding in nail crevices.
When I’ve had this dish before (more accurately a similar dish) in other restaurants, the crabmeat was removed from the shell, then the sauce and crab were placed back in the shell and baked quickly, so no fumbling with shells, cracking and picks.
For $125 I’d like the chef to do the work for me!

And yes, we will return to Semma - but not for the crab - their winelist is now much improved from last spring also.


That’s how I’d expect the crab to be served, especially there given what they’re projecting regarding authenticity.

There’s a pic on this thread of the same dish in Singapore.

Then why was my previous version - made by a Sri Lankan chef “the way his mother used to make it” so different? Surely that was just as authentic.

In my various experiences of SE Asian cuisine the ingredients (whether protein or vegetable) are often simmered in the sauce. This does not mean they are immersed for the entire sauce preparation, but added for final cooking to absorb the flavour of the sauce.
Would you also expect a shrimp dish to be served with the shell still on?

The curry was “the way his mother made it” — not the dish. I can guarantee you that no one who grew up in South Asia eating crab at home had them served shelled as crabmeat in curry. (We ate crab curry almost every Sunday; it was a long and laborious meal — both to prepare and to eat. Part of why the Semma menu item has held such attraction for me.)

Shelled crabmeat served in whatever sauce came about as a restaurant option for people who didn’t know how to eat crab (presumably because they didn’t grow up eating it), but more for after-work office goers who often went drinking at specialty seafood places (they didn’t want to get their hands dirty at happy hour).

Again, given the notion of “Unapologetic Foods”, I wouldn’t have expected it shelled at Semma. Tamarind, on the other hand, used to have a great appetizer of crabmeat sautéed with scant spices.

And to answer your question regarding shrimp, yes, the colossal shrimp at Adda is shell-on. Split in half, but shell-on.

(Do you expect Singapore chilli crab to be served as crabmeat in sauce?)


The chef was (and is) Sri Lankan. Born there, and eventually moved to Canada. He cooked it ‘sporadically’ as it was so much work and time, that few people would pay the price to make it economic. He has moved out of Toronto but he SPECIFICALLY told me his mother made it that way and he grew up eating it. I still had a contact number a few years back.
Incidentally, friends who visited Sri Lanka in late 2019 searched for (on my recommendation), and found, a similar dish on their visit i.e. meat extracted and presented back in the shell.

I’m sure he did, but different mothers cook differently. What’s cooked in one home, and therefore deemed “authentic” by people who were raised there, might be quite different in nuance and approach (while using the same broad palette of ingredients) from the house next door.

Other than that, I bow to @Saregama’s superior comments and I envy their upbringing in a household that included crab.

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It seems to me that extracting out the crab and re-presenting it in the shell for family menbers is a time-consuming act of love which not everyone would wish to perform. Or maybe some families relish the sensualty and mess of eating crab from a shell better than others!