10 Incredibly Memorable Meals
Sweet, funny, and the very definition of a foodie, Phil Rosenthal will travel for a great meal. As the Queens-born creator and writer of Everybody Loves Raymond, he keyed into the idea that the kitchen is kind of everything, and in his next act, he’s traveling the world for his new PBS Documentary series (premieres on September 28), I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, finding the world’s most exciting restaurants and stalls. The show is both great and entertaining, and Phil makes it even better by being his cute and adorable self, kissing the chef at every opportunity. To celebrate its launch, we asked him for his list of plane ticket-justifying meals.
Phil Rosenthal’s 10 Most Memorable Meals
In the first season of “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having,” I got to travel to six of the best cities in the world, to find the best things to eat in each city. The goal is to get you up and out, to travel, to eat, to literally take in a different culture, meet the people, laugh, and fall in love with a new experience. There’s no more mind expanding thing we can do in life than travel, even if it’s in our own town. Here are a couple of do-not-miss places I’m making Gwyneth, and you, go to in each town. Hopefully with me.
Minato, Tokyo | +184.108.40.206.07.99
This is considered the best restaurant in all of Asia. It’s a splurge but worth saving up for. A celebration of all the elements. The first course that came was “the forest floor,” a piece of tree-cut wood, decorated to look like we had come upon a scene in the forest: moss, branches, stones, water, all edible. And then I hear the sound of a babbling brook, leaves rustling, birds… From where? From inside the wood. A sound chip? No, Narisawa has microphones in the forest and broadcasts a live feed through the Internet and into each diner’s dish. Insane, and insanely beautiful. And the meal gets more beautiful from there…
2 Chome-10-10 Kajicho, Chiyoda, Tokyo | +220.127.116.11.29.60
For the price of a bowl of ramen you can have a mind-blowing experience. Spicy, really spicy. But as your eyes water, your head sweats, your nose runs, your lips flame, you keep going. Not because you’re a masochist, but because it’s so delicious. Best ramen I’ve ever had.
Via dell’Isola delle Stinche, Florence | +18.104.22.168.23.34
The best gelato I’ve found in the world is Vivoli. Made by a third generation gelato genius, Silvana Vivoli, her gelato can make you cry. And if you watch the show, I’m not ashamed to say that’s exactly what happens. Go the first day of your trip, because you’re going to go every day, and you’ll be mad if you miss a day.
Via XX Luglio, 11, Panzano In Chianti | +22.214.171.124.20.20
About a half hour out of town in Chianti is a destination well worth the little ride. How about the best steak you ever had? From the most famous butcher in the world, the legendary Dario Cecchini, comes a steak tasting menu that will make you slap a vegetarian. Dario has incredible reverence and respect for these animals, in fact he used to be a veterinarian. We’re just lucky he decided to eat the patients.
72 Rue Bonaparte, 6th Arrondissement, Paris | +126.96.36.199.54.47.77 (plus more locations)
The most beautiful, spectacular, fist-pounding, eye-wateringly delicious pastries. I’m a chocolate guy but the vanilla tart, with three kinds of vanilla beans, blew the top of my head off, and yes, I cried a little here, too. I can’t help it. Let’s see you not.
32 Rue du Vertbois, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris | +188.8.131.52.87.77.48
This has been the site of a few special occasions in my life (I was going to call the show “The Lucky Bastard”). This place is where I had read about the great New York Times writer, RW Apple’s 70th birthday. The description of the food made me target this place as a goal in life worth achieving one day. I worked hard, and I got here. My reward: the best roast chicken, the best duck, the best potato galette, the BEST EVERYTHING I TRIED there, was the best everything I ever had. And in the show, I’m the first guy they ever let film in the kitchen. You’ll see.
Sham Shui Po, 9-11 Fuk Wing St., Hong Kong | plus other locations
In this fabulous party of a place resides the world’s least expensive restaurant to hold a Michelin star. It’s a dim sum house called Tim Ho Wan. Every dumpling is perfect, best anywhere, you’re having a wonderful time, and then the pork bao comes out… A fluffy white dough ball with a crackly top. You bite into it, piping hot pork… Sweet and smoky… Soft and chewy…oh my God… I’m going to have to lie down for a minute. Excuse me.
33 Bridges St., Hong Kong | +184.108.40.206.92.73
This place represents the mash-up that is Hong Kong in the best, most mouth-watering way: A Japanese yakitori style grill, whose chef is a Jewish guy from Calgary, in the middle of the coolest street in Hong Kong. Must try every dish on the menu, for the table, and a flask of their house made sake, for you.
Mercado de La Boqueria, Les Rambles, 91, Barcelona | +34.9.33.01.98.10
The Boqueria may be the world’s greatest open market. Stall after stall of the most colorful fruits, candies, fish, meats, plus counters to sit and have the up-to-the-minute-freshest ingredients prepared by experts. Breakfast at El Quim is something that by itself will call you back to Barcelona. Eggs with anything—squid, foie gras, jamon… Eggs dropped into frying pans of olive oil and sizzling up ’til you beg for them.
Avenue del Paraŀlel, 164, Barcelona
I’m going to say the world’s best tapas. Small plates for sharing from Albert Adria, the man Ferran Adria, his brother and partner at the mythical El Bulli called, “the greatest chef I know.” The dishes are magical, whimsical, fantastic and yes, none of that would mean anything if they weren’t also delicious… But then they are.
(I think LA is currently the best food city in America. The reason: our diversity. More of the biggest populations outside of their origin countries than anywhere on earth.)
You find Wes Avila’s truck by going online and seeing where it is that day. My search took me to neighborhood I had never been to in my 25 years in LA. Glad I found him, this Alan Ducasse trained chef now making the wildest, freshest, crazy-making tacos in the world. The sweet potato, and the uni and hamachi are my favorites.
704 S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles | 213.483.8050
Number 19!! That’s all you need to say. This is the pastrami coleslaw Swiss cheese Russian dressing on the best rye bread sandwich you ever had, the best pastrami sandwich in the world. That’s right Katz’s I’m lookin’ right at you. I live here now.
Get up get out live your life.