Lucas Sin's New York City Guide
Best Slice For Your Dollar
"The New York City dollar slice is a dying breed, and Percy's Pizza on Bleecker Street serves the best one. The bottom is crispy like a cracker, the low-moisture mozzarella is abundant, and the tomato sauce is flavorful. But what makes it the best is the integrity of their enterprise. In the economic downturn of the pandemic, Percy's went through the effort of totally redesigning their logo to replace the "$1" with a "$2" sign. It's a two-dollar slice now, but it's still worth every penny."
"August Gatherings has been serving the best Cantonese food in Manhattan for quite some time—it's elegant and creative and extraordinary. I go there every single time I need a spark of creativity. There are two dishes that really blow me out of the water. First, the wild octopus and bone marrow fusilli, which is a wok-fried take on Michelin-starred Marea's signature pasta. Second, the oven-roasted Angus short rib is a fall-off-the-bone short rib slow-cooked in goose fat, flash-seared in a wok, and served with oyster sauce and broccoli."
"At Double Chicken Please, I drink whatever bartenders GN Chan and Faye Chen hand me. The bar is built to be the best in class, and the drinks whisper sweet notes of creativity and nostalgia for Chinese transplants like myself. Micheladas can take on notes of licorice, shots are accented with savory sour plum, and Negronis might take on hints of red bell pepper."
"Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is a quaint corner dumpling restaurant that specializes in Fujianese peanut noodles, wontons, and pork-and-chive dumplings. It's unpretentious, honest, and, importantly, quiet. No hullabaloo."
A No-Fuss Burger
"My favorite burger is at Joe Junior in Gramercy (167 Third Ave.). Always cooked to your liking, served by kind waiters, and no more than $7. It's so juicy, the bottom bun dissolves by the time you're halfway through your burger. Yes, I know about the foie gras–stuffed burgers. I know about the dry-aged. I know about homemade pretzel buns. But this is where I like to go."
My Daily Sweets
"The most reliable clue that you're standing in one of the best pastry shops or bakeries in Manhattan Chinatown is the number of elderly folks inside, sipping tea, reading the newspaper, and gossiping about their neighbors. Kamboat (111 Bowery) is one of these places. They make the best egg tart in town, but the key is to flirt with the ladies working the front so they give you a dozen from the freshest batch, usually hidden in the back. There's also a pair of cafés across the street from each other: Spongies (121 Baxter St.) and Kam Hing (118 Baxter St.). Both serve outrageously airy sponge cakes for 85 cents apiece. On my morning grocery runs, I try to get them fresh when they're still warm and enjoy them with a cup of yuenyeung, which is coffee and milk tea, half and half."
Go to Market
"Deluxe Meat Market [on Mott Street] in Manhattan Chinatown is one of the best grocery stores in town. Since 2001, the family-owned business has been serving beautifully butchered meats, live seafood, farm-fresh seasonal vegetables, homemade pastries, and house-roasted barbecue in a thin, neon-lit strip between Mott Street and Elizabeth Street. It's a little paradise in there, complete with cured duck and frozen soup dumplings."
"Even on the most hungover of Sunday mornings, I find myself desperate to schlep over to Ho Foods in the East Village, whose Taiwanese breakfast set never fails to breathe new life into me. Richard Ho, the chef, is a gem and a true craftsman who's always pushing for perfection in every single ingredient and every single bite. I don't think he gets that he's the light of my life."
"The first time I bit into a wonton at Maxi's Noodle in Queens, I was transported back home to Hong Kong. Each wonton was the size of a golf ball, stuffed with an entire shrimp and ample, loosely packed pork. The dace fish balls and the crispy fish skin are revelations, too."
Picnic on the Beach
"I've been beach camping regularly on Fire Island, in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, the only federally designated wilderness in New York. My friends and I will bring bread, Spam, instant noodles, charcuterie, and Spanish conservas for a quiet, isolated weekend between sand dunes, 50 paces from the ocean."
Favorite Neighborhood To Explore
"Jackson Heights, Queens, is a neighborhood of 175,000-plus people that speak at least 167 languages and a robust showcase of global cuisines and culture: Himalayan momo specialists, Mexican taquerias, Colombian sizzling steakhouses, Brazilian kilos, and Thai noodle houses are all next to each other. You could spend hours, if not years, wandering the neighborhood, hopping from bite to bite."