“How was the food in New York?”
“Did you miss Malaysian food?”
This is not an uncommon questions we hear from Malaysians who are ferociously proud and defensive of our food culture and variety.
So unsurprisingly this was the question we were asked the most upon our return from a recent trip to New York City in December 2022.
But what was surprising, even for myself, was the answer I had to ‘did you miss Malaysian food?’ – which was a “no” without much thought…surprising because I’m usually dreaming of my plate of wan tan noodles and nasi lemak on my flight back home.
Why no? Because throughout our three week stay, we had the delight of trying out a variety of food that we are normally not exposed to – namely South American, Caribbean, African and Jewish food.
This included food from the Republic of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Peruvian food, Jewish fare, in addition to the awesomely delicious all American food galore (not a rarity back home though) – southern fried food, pancakes for breakfast, alongside bacon, sausages, toast, oatmeal and bagels in flavours that we would never be able to get through in a month.
There were some misadventures, but on the whole the food experience in New York was a tasty adventure – if you stick to the philosophy of eating where the locals dine.
I’m going to share these delights with you – one place at a time just because I feel I need to do justice to the heart, soul and effort that has so obviously been poured into each dish.
Am going to start with Cafe Nunez – our favourite spot on W 35th Street, Manhattan New York. This place injected a dose of much needed warmth needed after a few chilly days in the outdoors, while the catchy Latino tunes as you enter the cafe gave that must needed boost of energy to continue our exploration of this lively city.
Malaysians will know what it means when I say that the food served at Cafe Nunez is ala our ‘Chap Fun’ or mixed rice – a long line of dishes you can pile your plate with.
Cafe Nunez opens for breakfast and stays open till late night. It is a popular spot for lunch, and you can’t go wrong when it is a popular spot for the locals who seem to love the pay-by-the-pound option whereby you pay according to the weight of your plate. The other option is to take advantage of the buffet which allows you to eat all you can for a period of two whole hours.
The all you can eat buffet between 6am and 4.30pm costs $19.95 after 10.30am and $13.95 before 10.30am (prices as at December 2022). This includes drinks (fruit juices and soft drinks) and desserts.
I was full by half an hour, but that’s just me. If you think you can do the whole nine yards, then – go for it!
Among my favourites were the fried plantains, warm soups (befitting for a cold winters day), the grilled meat, fried chicken and the salads.
VIDEO: CAFE NUNEZ, NYC (Apologies for the din in the video – the sound of food trays being laid out for the lunchtime crowd).
Check out Cafe Nunez site for more information: https://www.cafenunez.com/