PACK YOUR KNIVES AND GO
A DIY "Top Chef" Tour of New York City
Craving more Top Chef? We've got the dish on the show's most memorable New York moments—along with smart tips for experiencing some of the city's best culinary spots.
Brighton Beach, Curry Hill, and Chinatown
New York's not called a melting pot for nothing; the city's immigrant neighborhoods are unparalleled in their breadth and scope. So it's fitting that season five's chefs were dispersed to various ethnic areas to find cooking inspiration. Hosea created a smoked fish and potato dish after visiting Brighton Beach, a seaside Russian enclave in southern Brooklyn. For a taste of Little Odessa, head to M & I International Food, a family-owned shop and restaurant in business for more than 30 years; pickled potato salad ($4 a pound) and slabs of massive, creamy Napoleons ($8 a pound)are among the offerings. Stop at Café Glechik for a heaping plate of pelmini (from $5) or vareniki (from $6), two types of small dumplings stuffed with meat, cheese, cabbage, or potato. M & I International Food, 249 Brighton Beach Ave., 718/615-1011; Café Glechik, 3159 Coney Island Ave., 718/616-0494.
Hawaiian chef Eugene hadn't cooked Indian food before the challenge, but he wowed the judges with a lamb dish inspired by food he sampled in Curry Hill—a slice of the Manhattan neighborhood Murray Hill so nicknamed for its density of South Asian shops and restaurants. Find the perfect spices for your own cooking at Kalustyan's. Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is a fan of the two-story ingredient emporium, which is crammed floor to ceiling with bags of Eastern spices, grains, sauces, and nuts (small bag of Kalustyan's curry powder, $5). Kalustyan's, 123 Lexington Ave., 212/685-3451, kalustyans.com.
Chinatown's Oriental Garden will satisfy any Chinese craving. The superb seafood restaurant serves dishes like salt-baked prawns ($19) and braised sea cucumber ($29). Not sure what to order? No need to worry: Whatever you choose will be infinitely better than the gloppy Chinese-inspired salmon noodle dish that got culinary student Patrick eliminated from the show. Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth St., 212/619-0085.