If you have been following my blog, then you should be aware of my fondness for the Top Chef TV series and their talented contestants. I seek out their restaurants whenever I can, I now have been to 21 of them, and they are all on a level between pretty damn good and downright amazing. Here are my latest 3 culinary adventures at their establishments! (They are in order of their appearance on the show, not best to worst, they are equally awesome…).

Rice And Gold

Dale Talde was on season 4 and made it to round 11, as well as season 8 (All Stars) and also made it to round 11. He has several restaurants in New York and New Jersey (with partners), and his newest eatery Rice And Gold is on the bottom floor of Hotel 50 in Chinatown, down in the Bowery. Here he serves Asian American food out of a huge restaurant with concrete floors and beautiful graffiti on the walls. Visually this is one of my favorite places to dine maybe ever. It’s funky and beautiful.

The food? Oh yes. So, so good. We started out with Pho Soup Dumplings with holy basil, shaved onion and pickled chili, and Pork Belly Skewers with miso-date caramel and smoked pickled daikon. Both had unexpected flavors and were just excellent. We followed with main courses of Thai Fried Chicken with dirty rice, pickled chili, grapes, egg and kaffir lime peanuts, and a Lobster Fried Rice with egg, lemon and crispy potatoes. Again, there were some surprising components here, and they absolutely worked, I was in heaven. We finished the night with a Sundae for 2, the flavors being Red Velvet, Buttermilk Apple, and Black Sesame, along with some pretty sweet waffles. Thanks Dale for my food coma, it was outstanding….

Rice And Gold

Pig And Khao

Leah Cohen has always been one of my favorite Top Chefs, she’s cute and tiny, yet tough as nails. She appeared in Season 5, and made it to round 12. Pig And Khao is her first restaurant here in New York, serving South East Asian food, and she is now expanding and hopefully getting the little empire she deserves.

I rarely visit a restaurant twice, I’m always looking for the next spot, but I did go to this one twice! That pork belly kept calling me. My sidekick Sasha and I had a bunch of their small plates that day: Pork Belly Adobo (of course) with Szechuan peppercorns and a slow poached egg; Khao Soi with red curry, chicken and egg noodles; Chicharron with coconut vinegar; Bun Bo Nam Boi with lemongrass, beef, rice noodles and peanuts. Our dessert was an amazing Halo-Halo with leche flan, macapuno and pinpig. This place is one of my all time faves. Besides the amazing food, I love the relaxed atmosphere and friendly vibe….

Pig And Khao

Añejo

Call me biased, but Angelo Sosa is probably one of the best looking Top Chefs so far! And talented of course… He competed in Season 7 and made it all the way to the end as the runner up! Here in New York he has opened two locations of his restaurant Añejo, one being in Hell’s Kitchen and one in TriBeCa, serving modern Mexican food. I visited the Hell’s Kitchen spot about a year ago, but just recently my daughter Sasha and I went to the downtown location,

This restaurant is romantic and elegant while still modern and comfortable. They had me at the chandeliers…. The food was of course outstanding. We started off with chips and green salsa and guacamole with bacon (yes bacon). We followed with Empanadas with chicken and black beans, and Pork Belly Tostadas. Heavenly. Our tacos (because of course we had them) were Short Rib Tacos with Chipotle Crema and Cotija cheese, and Shrimp Tacos with Guacamole and Pico de Gallo. I couldn’t resist the Churros with 3 dipping sauces (salted caramel, cranberry and chocolate), while Sasha had the amazing Flan made with caramel and topped with Cojita cheese. Oh my. I couldn’t find fault with any of it, it was a perfect meal.

Anejo

All in all I just keep proving myself right! Every single one of the Top Chef contestant’s restaurants is worth the trip every single time! Their drive and talent speaks through their food, and I’m the better for benefitting from them! Keep it coming….