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12 International Ingredients to Try in NYC

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New York City’s food offerings are as diverse as the population of the largest city in the U.S. Even the most experienced diners would not lack new things to try among all the restaurants in the five boroughs, some of which incorporate fresh ingredients in dishes both traditional and innovative. Here are the restaurants where you can seek new worldly ingredients in the city.

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Takashi

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This small Japanese yakiniku place has become known for its offal offerings and all the cow parts you could think of. Among the more popular items is the testicargot, a cleverly named dish of cow testicles prepared much like escargots a la Bourguignonne with garlic and parsley butter. Calf’s brain also gets the royal treatment at Takashi, where it is made into a cream and served with caviar and blinis. For the yakiniku grill, diners can opt for the “tongue experience” featuring three different cuts of tongue, different parts of cow stomach and intestines, or the aorta.

Read Review |

For those interested in trying insects but afraid to make the leap, leave it in the hands of one of the world’s best restaurants. At Chef Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, raw fluke aguachile is garnished with crushed chicatana ants, a prized delicacy in Oaxaca since pre-Hispanic times. The chicatana flying ants come out only for one or two days with the first rain of the summer in Oaxaca, where they are harvested by excited children.

This bare-bones Pakistani restaurant serves a traditional dish called magaz masala. The curry is made with cow or lamb brain cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices to make a savory gravy. Commonly found in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the soft brain in this curry dish resembles eating spicy scrambled eggs and it is in fact a popular dish to eat for breakfast with some hot naan.

Jeepney

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Head to this Filipino gastropub in East Village to try a beloved street food of the Philippines, balut, which is a fertilized and half-developed bird embryo (usually a duck). Once you get over the initial hesitation, the taste is a pleasant surprise. A bite of the hard-boiled egg combines savory broth with duck meat and creamy yolk, and it goes quite well with some cold beer.

Kulu Desserts

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Even Andrew Zimmern cannot stomach eating durian, but fans of the king of fruit swear by its sweet creamy taste and know to come to Kulu Desserts to get their fix. Kulu serves a number of durian desserts, from the smooth durian pudding that is lighter in flavor and perfect for first-timers, to the durian with coconut pudding and Durian Supreme. The Durian Supreme is a filling bowl of black rice, sago (tapioca), topped with a scoop of fresh durian.

Ferdinando's Focacceria

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112 year-old Ferdinando’s Focacceria in Brooklyn is one of the very few places to get a vastedda. This traditional Sicilian street sandwich is a rare find in New York City (or anywhere outside of Sicily) and one to check off the list for those with a bold palate. Most commonly found in Palermo, the sandwich is made of cow spleen and topped with ricotta and grated caciacavallo cheese on freshly baked rolls, made in-house.

Moss and lichen is part of the diet when it comes to the New Nordic food movement and that is also true at Fredrik Berselius’ two Michelin-starred Nordic restaurant in Brooklyn, Aska. On the restaurant’s current tasting menu, lichen is served with caramelized cream and mushroom broth infused with vinegar from preserved spruce and chanterelle.

Playground

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Red ant egg salad is a classic Isaan dish from Thailand’s northeast region and is similarly popular in Laos. Here in New York, you can find it at Playground, a Thai restaurant in Jackson Heights. The spicy salad is mixed with onion, cilantro, mint, fish sauce, toasted rice, chili paste and garnished with the red weaver ant larvae that burst in your mouth. The ant egg salad is not always available as they are seasonal, but as consolation Playground also serves fried silkworms and grasshoppers.

Shoji at 69 Leonard Street

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In winter months, shirako appears on the menu at some of the city’s best sushi and Japanese restaurants, including Shoji at 69 Leonard Street. Shirako is cod milt, a.k.a. the sperm sac or seminal fluid of a male cod. Considered a delicacy in Japan, shirako’s texture resembles smooth and creamy custard. At Shoji’s current kappo-style tasting menu, Chef Derek Wilcox prepares the delicate cod milt by lightly grilling it. It is then served with shaved black Perigord truffles in a yuzu peel.

DF Nigerian Food Truck

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Mango and melon is found throughout New York City groceries, but in Nigerian cooking, ground seeds of these fruits are used as thickeners to make soups and stews. Find good examples of these at the DF Nigerian Food Truck, which is normally parked in front of the Nigerian consulate in Midtown East. The food truck serves ogbono, made with ground bush mango seeds, and egusi soup made with ground melon seeds. Both can be ordered with either meat or fish. The truck also serves peppered snails, fondly nicknamed “congo meat” in Nigeria.

Burke & Wills

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The Upper West Side Australian bistro Burke & Wills serves an excellent burger made with kangaroo meat. The kangaroo burger is topped with tomato jam, arugula, and pickled onions and it is surprisingly tender for a lean meat with less than 2% fat. With some luck, you may also find kangaroo loin or kangaroo pot pie as a daily special. Ecologists have recently started encouraging the consumption of the tender game meat due to overabundance of kangaroos down under.

Courtesy of Burke & Wills

Himalayan Yak

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As the name suggests, Himalayan Yak in Jackson Heights serves yak meat alongside its Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian menu. The restaurant gets an organic, hormone-free supply of the lean meat and offers it in a variety of dishes. Start off with yak momo, where whole wheat dumplings are filled with ground yak meat, onion, scallion, garlic, and ginger. The meat is sautéed with garlic, onion, and bell peppers in the Yak Shapta, while the yak sausage is filled with both ground yak meat and yak blood.

Anthem of the Seas

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After you’ve explored your city from top to bottom, it’s time to seek out adventure elsewhere. Why not try at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas packs options for thrill-seekers, (iFly skydiving simulations, anyone?) foodies, and globetrotters — and that’s just on the ship. So when you’ve maxed out all these local options, check out what awaits. Royal Caribbean is now sailing from Cape Liberty to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean
This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

Takashi

This small Japanese yakiniku place has become known for its offal offerings and all the cow parts you could think of. Among the more popular items is the testicargot, a cleverly named dish of cow testicles prepared much like escargots a la Bourguignonne with garlic and parsley butter. Calf’s brain also gets the royal treatment at Takashi, where it is made into a cream and served with caviar and blinis. For the yakiniku grill, diners can opt for the “tongue experience” featuring three different cuts of tongue, different parts of cow stomach and intestines, or the aorta.

Cosme

Read Review |

For those interested in trying insects but afraid to make the leap, leave it in the hands of one of the world’s best restaurants. At Chef Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, raw fluke aguachile is garnished with crushed chicatana ants, a prized delicacy in Oaxaca since pre-Hispanic times. The chicatana flying ants come out only for one or two days with the first rain of the summer in Oaxaca, where they are harvested by excited children.

Haandi

This bare-bones Pakistani restaurant serves a traditional dish called magaz masala. The curry is made with cow or lamb brain cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices to make a savory gravy. Commonly found in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the soft brain in this curry dish resembles eating spicy scrambled eggs and it is in fact a popular dish to eat for breakfast with some hot naan.

Jeepney

Head to this Filipino gastropub in East Village to try a beloved street food of the Philippines, balut, which is a fertilized and half-developed bird embryo (usually a duck). Once you get over the initial hesitation, the taste is a pleasant surprise. A bite of the hard-boiled egg combines savory broth with duck meat and creamy yolk, and it goes quite well with some cold beer.

Kulu Desserts

Even Andrew Zimmern cannot stomach eating durian, but fans of the king of fruit swear by its sweet creamy taste and know to come to Kulu Desserts to get their fix. Kulu serves a number of durian desserts, from the smooth durian pudding that is lighter in flavor and perfect for first-timers, to the durian with coconut pudding and Durian Supreme. The Durian Supreme is a filling bowl of black rice, sago (tapioca), topped with a scoop of fresh durian.

Ferdinando's Focacceria

112 year-old Ferdinando’s Focacceria in Brooklyn is one of the very few places to get a vastedda. This traditional Sicilian street sandwich is a rare find in New York City (or anywhere outside of Sicily) and one to check off the list for those with a bold palate. Most commonly found in Palermo, the sandwich is made of cow spleen and topped with ricotta and grated caciacavallo cheese on freshly baked rolls, made in-house.

Aska

Moss and lichen is part of the diet when it comes to the New Nordic food movement and that is also true at Fredrik Berselius’ two Michelin-starred Nordic restaurant in Brooklyn, Aska. On the restaurant’s current tasting menu, lichen is served with caramelized cream and mushroom broth infused with vinegar from preserved spruce and chanterelle.

Playground

Red ant egg salad is a classic Isaan dish from Thailand’s northeast region and is similarly popular in Laos. Here in New York, you can find it at Playground, a Thai restaurant in Jackson Heights. The spicy salad is mixed with onion, cilantro, mint, fish sauce, toasted rice, chili paste and garnished with the red weaver ant larvae that burst in your mouth. The ant egg salad is not always available as they are seasonal, but as consolation Playground also serves fried silkworms and grasshoppers.

Shoji at 69 Leonard Street

In winter months, shirako appears on the menu at some of the city’s best sushi and Japanese restaurants, including Shoji at 69 Leonard Street. Shirako is cod milt, a.k.a. the sperm sac or seminal fluid of a male cod. Considered a delicacy in Japan, shirako’s texture resembles smooth and creamy custard. At Shoji’s current kappo-style tasting menu, Chef Derek Wilcox prepares the delicate cod milt by lightly grilling it. It is then served with shaved black Perigord truffles in a yuzu peel.

DF Nigerian Food Truck

Mango and melon is found throughout New York City groceries, but in Nigerian cooking, ground seeds of these fruits are used as thickeners to make soups and stews. Find good examples of these at the DF Nigerian Food Truck, which is normally parked in front of the Nigerian consulate in Midtown East. The food truck serves ogbono, made with ground bush mango seeds, and egusi soup made with ground melon seeds. Both can be ordered with either meat or fish. The truck also serves peppered snails, fondly nicknamed “congo meat” in Nigeria.

Burke & Wills

Courtesy of Burke & Wills

The Upper West Side Australian bistro Burke & Wills serves an excellent burger made with kangaroo meat. The kangaroo burger is topped with tomato jam, arugula, and pickled onions and it is surprisingly tender for a lean meat with less than 2% fat. With some luck, you may also find kangaroo loin or kangaroo pot pie as a daily special. Ecologists have recently started encouraging the consumption of the tender game meat due to overabundance of kangaroos down under.

Courtesy of Burke & Wills

Himalayan Yak

As the name suggests, Himalayan Yak in Jackson Heights serves yak meat alongside its Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian menu. The restaurant gets an organic, hormone-free supply of the lean meat and offers it in a variety of dishes. Start off with yak momo, where whole wheat dumplings are filled with ground yak meat, onion, scallion, garlic, and ginger. The meat is sautéed with garlic, onion, and bell peppers in the Yak Shapta, while the yak sausage is filled with both ground yak meat and yak blood.

Anthem of the Seas

Royal Caribbean

After you’ve explored your city from top to bottom, it’s time to seek out adventure elsewhere. Why not try at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas packs options for thrill-seekers, (iFly skydiving simulations, anyone?) foodies, and globetrotters — and that’s just on the ship. So when you’ve maxed out all these local options, check out what awaits. Royal Caribbean is now sailing from Cape Liberty to the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean

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