Eating With Boykji: A Dining Diary in Five Parts

by James Boo on September 15, 2010 · 0 comments

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In mid-August, my great friend and epic eating comrade Boykji visited New York for a whirlwind tour of the city’s eats. The five days I spent sharing meals with Boyk reminded me of how lucky I am to live in New York, where one can literally spend hours on end walking, eating and repeating without ever getting bored. They also tested my limits more than any stretch of time in recent memory – there’s something to be said about bad influences when two insatiable appetites egg each other on against the better sense of gastric conscience.

For better or for wurst, here’s the record of our eating marathon – I’ll be breaking form to spread this over the week, so your RSS feeds don’t explode. Let the feast of a thousand hams begin!

The Lower East Side

The next morning, we finished off the last of the donut peaches and caught the B train to Chinatown, where we stopped off for a bite at Prosperity Dumpling before making our way to Katz’s Deli. Lamenting that lack of a real Jewish deli in the East Bay, Boykji was tempted to double up on cured meats here, but an ambitious grazing schedule limited us to splitting one order of pastrami on rye.

Pastrami on Rye - Katz's Deli - Lower East Side - New York, NY
I’d have a hard time believing that this sandwich has gone downhill. Fortunately, no one’s ever tried to convince me.

I’m sure that this was even more of a glistening, salty, succulent stack of pastrami 100 years ago, but as a savory symbol of New York City, I can’t help but rise to its defense. Like the French dip at Philippe‘s and the burger at The Apple Pan, the sandwich itself is almost too classic for criticism. If each generation wants to lay claim to Katz’s pastrami as its own immortal icon of nostalgia, my $14 won’t stand in the way.

Blueberry and Vanilla Gelato - Il Laboratorio del Gelato - Lower East Side - New York, NY
After polishing off our half-sour pickles and Dr. Brown’s, we trotted down to Il Laboratorio del Gelato, whose reputation for bold flavors like tarragon pink pepper and sambuca had put it on top of Boykji’s dessert list. None of the more interesting concoctions were actually available for walk-up service, so we settled for a split of vanilla and blueberry. Blueberry handily smacked vanilla in the fight for flavor; its fresh and bright taste made for a more vibrant palate cleanser than the relatively mild vanilla.

At this point, I schlepped to the office. Boykji continued exploring the Lower East Side, stopping for lox and cream cheese at Russ and Daughters, a hearty chat and snack with The Pickle Guys, and a spinach knish at (apparently long-lost) Yonah Schimmel’s before hopping on a train to Brooklyn for dinner at Prime Meats.

Rest for the Weary

Sadly, there was little I could do to make my body catch up with my Boykji’s iron stomach. The next morning, even after I had mulled over almost 24 hours of wholly dull feeding, my gut was still in digestive retreat. I passed completely on another afternoon of great eats and parked myself at the office until supper, when I skipped over the East village to introduce him to Minca Ramen Factory.


When I first stepped into Minca for a bowl of noodles nearly two years ago, I declared that the flavors I found weren’t “distinct, delicious or addictive enough” to make the top of my ramen hit list. Repeat visits proved me entirely wrong. As shortcuts at Setagaya batted its shio ramen off its perch, Minca’s sio ramen became more and more essential.

Its broth is hearty, porky and infused with garlic in a way that is crucially easy on the palate (I’m looking at you, Ippudo!). Its noodles run firm without being difficult. Its egg is somehow drenched in soy sauce without coming off as hyper-salty. Its slices of pork have the right balance of fatty, tender, juicy and seared, all of which melt into one fantastic bite. Flush with the comforting powers of ramen, I was ready for another day of epic dining.

Katz’s Delicatessen, Inc.
205 East Houston St.
New York, NY 10002
212.254.2246
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato
95 Orchard St.
New York, NY 10002
212.343.9922
Minca Ramen Factory
536 E. 5th Street
New York, NY 10009
212.505.8001
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