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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Beer-braised-tongue tacos at Empelln

    Beer-braised-tongue tacos at Empelln
    Pastry-pro-turned-Mexican-food-booster Alex Stupak proves his mettle in savory cuisine with these rich, fiery pork-tongue tacos. The soft, shredded meat---slow-cooked with Negra Modelo, bacon and chorizo---is deposited on two house-made flour rounds, and sauced with the reduced braising liquid and an incendiary chile de rbol salsa. Raw onion, roasted fingerling potatoes and salty queso fresco complete the dish. 230 W 4th St at 10th St (212-367-0999). Two for $12.

  • Photograph: Daniel Krieger

    Stamina Soba at Cocoron

    Stamina Soba at Cocoron
    Slices of pork belly, bits of scallion and a plump ginger-chicken meatball bob in this soul-soothing Japanese crock, which combines savory chicken and briny seaweed-bonito stocks. Dip chewy house-made buckwheat noodles into the bubbling broth, and then drink down the brackish remnants, thinned out with the noodle cooking water, when you're through: It's restoration in a bowl. 61 Delancey St at Allen St (212-925-5220). $8.80.

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Beef with chili turmeric at Pure Thai Shophouse

    Beef with chili turmeric at Pure Thai Shophouse
    To fashion this five-alarm delight, wok-charred slivers of beef are tossed with kafir lime leaves and sliced green beans (vegetables vary by season). They're bathed in a thin, orange-tinted sauce chock-full of pungent turmeric and Thai chilies that pack a lingering, memorable heat. 766 Ninth Ave between 51st and 52nd Sts (212-581-0999, purethaishophouse.com). Lunch $9, dinner $12.

  • Shrimp-and--snow-pea-leaf dumplings at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

    Shrimp-and--snow-pea-leaf dumplings at Nom Wah Tea Parlor
    To create its open-faced specimens, Nom Wah rolls out homemade wheat wrappers as thin as vellum paper and packs them with minced shrimp, flecks of scallions and bright, fresh snow-pea leaves. The Chinese dumplings are steamed to order, resulting in juicy, two-bite parcels that, unlike other dim sum offerings that linger in steam boxes, are always fresh. 13 Doyers St between Bowery and Pell St (212-962-6047, nomwah.com). $3.95.

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Sizzling sisig at Maharlika

    Sizzling sisig at Maharlika
    This traditional Filipino dish originated in Pampanga, where they hold an annual festival in its honor. We can see why: The crispy, chewy sisig features pork belly and lesser-loved pig parts like ear and snout, punched up with garlic, onion and citrus. The dish arrives at the table in a hot skillet topped with a still-runny fried egg---mix it together, add a dash or two of garlic-and-chili-infused vinegar, and eat it with a healthy scoop of garlic rice. 111 First Ave between 6th and 7th Sts (646-392-7880, maharlikanyc.com). $16.

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Kai tod at Zabb Elee

    Kai tod at Zabb Elee
    The Koreans don't have a lock on Asian fried chicken. The crisp and spicy bird at Manhattan's most fiery Thai spot ought to ignite a new craze---for its garlicky marinade, sweet chili dipping sauce and succulent flesh. 75 Second Ave between 4th and 5th Sts (212-505-9533, zabbelee.com). $9.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Al pastor tacos at Taco Mix

    Al pastor tacos at Taco Mix
    The signature al pastor pork is sliced directly from the spit at this Spanish Harlem hole-in-the-wall, which is so tiny that you have to eat standing up. You'll forget about the cramped quarters as soon as you taste that juicy meat, redolent with lime juice, earthy chilies, sweet pineapple and cumin. A warm, pliant tortilla, a few hunks of grilled pineapple and a shower of cilantro is all the backup it needs to sing. 234 E 116th St between Second and Third Aves (no phone). $2.50.

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Dum biryani at Tulsi

    Dum biryani at Tulsi
    This Indian-style potpie is a statement piece at chef Hemant Mathur's midtown eatery, arriving in a gorgeous earthenware handi (a deep pot, similar to a Dutch oven) capped with a puffy, mottled dome of nan. When you break through the doughy crust, the fragrance of whole spices---including bay leaves, cinnamon and black cardamom---wafts out and announces the hearty stew within, made up of glistening hunks of ginger-marinated goat leg tossed with saffron-dyed basmati rice. 211 E 46th St between Second and Third Aves (212-888-0820). $24.

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Momos at Himalayan Hut
    Order these crescent-shaped Tibetan dumplings steamed to fully appreciate their thin, delicate wrappers. The chewy casing yields to a scallion-dappled filling of chicken or beef that's so loosely packed it barely holds together. Dunk them in a pool of tongue tingling tomato-chili sauce to tease out even more nuanced flavor. 75-18 37th Ave at 76th St, Jackson Heights, Queens (718-426-6888). Fried $7, steamed $6.

  • Photograph: Nitzan Krimsky

    Ukoy at Purple Yam

    Ukoy at Purple Yam
    Co-owners and chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan go beyond the usual brunch fare with this traditional Filipino dish. Shrimp, sprouts and finely julienned leeks, plus snow peas and napa cabbage, are stuffed into a banana leaf and plunged into the hot oil. Dunk the fritters, airy and crisp with a mild seafaring sweetness, into the accompanying sauce---a tart mix of vinegar, sriracha and the excess juice from the restaurant's pickled green papaya. 1314 Cortelyou Rd between Argyle and Rugby Rds, Ditmas Park, Brooklyn (718-940-8188, purpleyamnyc.com). $7.

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    Beef rendang at Nyonya

    Beef r

    Beef rendang at Nyonya
    The perpetually packed Nyonya serves our favorite rendition of this Malay staple dish. The supremely tender beef here is simmered low and slow in a fragrant mixture of clove, cinnamon, lemongrass and coconut milk. You could cut the meat with a knife handle. 199 Grand St between Mulberry and Mott Sts (212-334-3669, ilovenyonya.com). $13.95.

    endang at Nyonya

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Miang Kana at Ploy Thai

    Miang Kana at Ploy Thai
    This invigorating, hands-on salad of minced red onion, fresh ginger and crushed peanuts is delivered with a stack of firm, palm-size Chinese broccoli leaves. Use them to scoop up the colorful blend, which draws its intense flavor from red and green chilies, funky fish sauce and salty dried shredded pork, and its bracing acidity from bright, chewy bits of raw unpeeled lime. 81-40 Broadway between 81st and 82nd Sts, Elmhurst, Queens (718-205-7298). $10.

  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    Spicy beef with knife-shaved-noodles soup at Uncle Zhou

    Spicy beef with knife-shaved-noodles soup at Uncle Zhou
    Hailing from central China's Henan province, our top Asian soup of 2011 starts with irregular ribbons of hand-sliced wheat noodles that are boiled till they're springy and chewy. They're submerged in a fiery, lip-tingling broth flavored with Sichuan peppercorns alongside paper-thin slices of stewed beef. 83-29 Broadway at Dongan Ave, Elmhurst, Queens (718-393-0888). $5.50.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Beer-braised-tongue tacos at Empelln

Beer-braised-tongue tacos at Empelln
Pastry-pro-turned-Mexican-food-booster Alex Stupak proves his mettle in savory cuisine with these rich, fiery pork-tongue tacos. The soft, shredded meat---slow-cooked with Negra Modelo, bacon and chorizo---is deposited on two house-made flour rounds, and sauced with the reduced braising liquid and an incendiary chile de rbol salsa. Raw onion, roasted fingerling potatoes and salty queso fresco complete the dish. 230 W 4th St at 10th St (212-367-0999). Two for $12.

Users say

1 comments
Fuego Grande
Fuego Grande

Beef with chili turmeric at Pure Thai Shophouse - I said, "Sure." That was in answer to the question of spice level, after he said that this dish was served, "Very Spicy." And it was, but not to the degree that it was a challenge to eat. Just the perfect "order another Thai Iced-Tea to get through it" level of spicy. More importantly, it was a great balance of flavor and texture. Yes, the spice was there, but so was the kick of ginger, richness of asparagus, crunch of jalapeno, and sweetness of pepper and sauce. This a dish worth visiting.