New places to eat in Manhattan, with photos. Yum.

March 10, 2012 · 9 comments

in Loving food, Making art

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My new reporting job has me in the ‘burbs of  Westchester County 24-7. I miss Manhattan! So I’m making a point to get down there and explore the city through its food.

Taking a bite of the Big Apple has been an education in just how much dining in New York has evolved. Here are photos from two of my latest adventures.

Lotus Blue is a sweet restaurant in the trendy downtown Manhattan neighborhood of Tribeca. It features an upscale take on dishes from Yunnan Province in China, a still unexplored cuisine. As regular readers know, my friend Kian Lam Kho put together the menu. Mmmm.

At first, I wondered why the interior of this cozy place is done up in chic Asian red. Kian explained that the restaurant’s name refers to an elevated state of Buddhism. Okay….got it. Kian has a really nice post about opening Lotus Blue on his blog. You can read it here. I also posted a review on

Kian & his crew have done a great job with this place. Do check it out.

After Lotus Blue, it was onto a foray into food trucks. The meals-on-wheels concept first took off on the West Coast. Like in Los Angeles, the scene here has gotten incredibly fancy — and dangerously tasty…

As you know, I’ve been taking weekend cartooning workshops at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, right across from Carnegie Hall in mid-Manhattan.

Well. A few blocks in the other direction, there’s a Belgian waffle truck parked at Columbus Circle. It’s strategically located between the big vertical mall and Central Park. You can smell these freshly-made griddle goodies all the way down the street.

Serge, one of my classmates, had been raving about Wafels & Dinges. So during the lunch break at our last workshop,  a few of us followed him there. Our hungry crew included instructor Greg Follender, who treated us. How nice to be a student with a generous teacher! I could get used to this role reversal.  :)

Over-the-top, diabetic coma-worthy waffles with Nate, Greg & Serge.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shirley Bubbles March 10, 2012 at 8:03 am

They looked so yummy! ^^

2 Athena March 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

Wow I didn’t know you know Kian! I know him too! He is such a great chef!

3 June March 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I had a fantastic dinner at Lotus Blue a couple of weeks ago and had a fabulous time. A nice twist/touch to Yunnan cuisine!

Let me know if you ever need a partner on your next food exploration!!

4 Skye March 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

A waffle truck? How cool! I’ve seen a few shows on the food trucks recently and the appeal was…ahhh! Mouthwatering. Fun, colorful trucks dishing up homestyle or quirky meals. A new take on meals on wheels for sure.

Thanks for the reviews. Lotus Blue sounds interesting, especially since I have never tried Yunnan cuisine. I’ve been reading and watching shows about the international food scene in Harlem, too. After I check a few of those places out, I think Lotus Blue is next on my list. I can eat my way around the world without pulling out my passport. This is what I appreciate about NYC.

Miss ya, Betty! Hope work’s going well!

5 betty ming liu March 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

athena, i met kian two years ago through the museum of chinese in america. he was a speaker on a panel that i moderated at moca. the topic was dumplings. a lot of fun:

june, heard you had a good time and we will dine again soon!

skye, miss you too! as you say, it’s possible to travel the world in nyc. there’s a lot of good eating in harlem that i need to try. although, red rooster was something of a disappointment. drinks were terrific but the food was uneven. work is good. not exhausted the way i was in the beginning. things are starting to come together. :)

6 Hana Song March 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Betty! It’s my last semester in New York/I need to impress my parents when they come for graduation. What’s your top three restaurant suggestions? You’re the ultimate go-to person for NYC food.

Also, I think it’s kickass that you’re taking cartooning classes. And I miss those days when you would bring snacks and home-cooked meals to our class.

Love You!

7 betty ming liu March 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

how exciting, hana!! i’m flattered that you think i have the taste buds to give you recommendations. okay, i’ll try:

1) first choice, nyu’s torch club for lunch. alumni are allowed to use it too. don’t know if you technically qualify before graduation but tell the hostess that your parents are in town. a meal here might impress your parents because it feels academic-snotty. last time i was there, the club had a buffet lunch that was cheaper than a la carte.

2) dinner in the nabe would give them a sense of your nyu life. what about balthazaar? or for something closer (and more real) with a sweet dining room, there’s the knickerbocker bar & grill which has a nice dinner menu.

3) if they’re paying, how about trattoria dell’arte? it’s across the street from carnegie hall, which they’ve heard of. lovely room (i’m picking places with good rooms). the food isn’t incredible but it’s pleasant, if you like italian — esp standards like fried calamari. or try the fried artichoke appetizer. it’s really cute how the waiters showcase the dessert on a big silver platter.

4) bonus option…if you end up going to a broadway show, book way in advance for dinner at joe allen, a theater district classic. food is very good. not cheap. but it has a classy, solid vibe.

and yes, lovin’ the cartooning workshops. i’ve learned so much about developing characters and stories. you know i still want to do a journalism-guidebook-as-graphic-novel. i am making progress. so good to hear from you! xoxox

8 Greg May 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

Just checking in, Betty!

Hope all is well with you…
I’m getting ready for the Summer lifeguard season and a little departure from my usual “artsy” lifestyle.

After recently dealing with some red tape and rampant inefficiency regarding my publisher,.. I’m reminded of the hard work and enthusiasm you brought to the workshop. I wish I could have you around all the time to keep me motivated!

Stay in touch,

9 betty ming liu May 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Aw, Greg! You’re the one who inspired me! I thought of sending an email around to see if any of you wanted to go see “The Avengers.” Hope you’re well and don’t give up on your book. It can happen. Enjoy the summer lifeguarding season!

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