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Where to Eat 2008


International Brooklyn

To the borough’s honor roll of perpetually booked, yuppie-approved neighborhood dining destinations like Franny’s, Applewood, Dressler, and The Good Fork, let’s add the unlikely new Korean restaurant in Park Slope called Moim. The narrow room opens out to a pretty, even Zenlike, garden view in the back, and on winter evenings the little townhouse space feels warm and toasty, just like a good Korean barbecue should. But instead of animated Korean families, the tables are filled with members of the local gentry, sipping glasses of Rioja and madly twiddling on their iPhones between bites of thick fried pa jun pancakes and plump mandu dumplings messily stuffed with mushrooms. Not surprisingly, I liked the beefy dishes the best, like darkly caramelized oxtails soaked in sugar and soy sauce, stacks of soft, garlic-flavored pork ribs, and strips of the deliciously sizzling short ribs, which the local gastronomes supplement with that ubiquitous Korean specialty bibimbap, served in a hot stone bowl with a barely cooked egg on top.

In a region famous for its pizza meccas, the latest one is Lucali, on a leafy stretch of Henry Street in Carroll Gardens. The brick-walled room was suffused, on the evening I visited, with the sounds of opera arias and the smells of fresh pizzas baking. After you’ve devoured one of the hot, matzo-thin pies, top off your meal, like I did, with one of Mark Iacono’s signature hubcap-size calzones stocked with real Italian sausage from the old neighborhood. From there, our multiethnic culinary ramble proceeds to Silent H in Williamsburg, for a plate or two of shrimp toast, deep-fried on slices of French baguette, just like they do in the finer private kitchens of Hanoi. There’s an impressive selection of bánh mì sandwiches available at lunchtime, but this popular little restaurant’s real specialty is the thick grilled pork chop, which is bathed, like some elaborate Vietnamese version of steak au poivre, in peppercorns and a salty-sweet fish sauce.

The latest dining hot spot in restaurant-challenged Dumbo is Danny Mena’s evenings- only Front Street establishment, Hecho en Dumbo, where crowds of starving artists and local taco addicts converge each night for a taste of the thick corn sopes piled with chorizo, and the chef’s street-style mini corn tortillas, rolled with deposits of organic Berkshire pork or strips of steak squirted with cooling wedges of lime. But no international tour through the culinary wilds of Brooklyn would be complete without a visit to Lucky Eight, on the fast-growing Chinatown strip in Sunset Park. My friend the China Expert likes to retreat to this tidy, well-run establishment after his afternoon shopping, to feast on platters of crispy chicken scattered with crunchy bits of garlic, stacks of small Zhenjiang spare ribs subtly flavored with vinegar and coriander, and the bizarrely fresh “Hong Kong Bay style” lobster, which tastes like it’s just been hauled out of the chilly waters off Long Island and costs roughly $10 less than it would in the Chinatown of Manhattan or even Queens.

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