Nerd York City: A Geek's Guide to Gotham

by Adam Kuban, 04/09/2013

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  • Dining
    Geek cuisine may conjure up visions of snack chips, pizza, convenience foods and reheated frozen fare, but we've noticed that those with a technical bent appreciate novelty, technique and obsessiveness when it comes to restaurants. Chef Wylie Dufresne was an early pioneer of scientific techniques in the kitchen of his Lower East Side restaurant wd~50, which in turn has been a springboard for many of its alumni chefs, who are now redefining NYC's dining scene. Here you'll find bright-orange pasta noodles made from lobster roe and "pho gras," which merges French and Vietnamese cuisines in a precisely playful way. Nearby in the East Village, chef Amanda Cohen's Dirt Candy turns vegetarian cuisine on its ear, focusing not on health or food politics but on inventive ways to showcase vegetables in all their forms. (Further geek appeal: she's the author of the world's first cookbook in graphic novel form.) In Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, Wild Rise, in the back of 68 Jay Street Bar, cooks its Neapolitan-style pizzas in a modified electric kiln whose chamber moves up and down on an elaborate counterweight system. The owner, who has a degree in microbiology, keeps yeast starter culture for the dough in a lab-grade incubator. For another classic nerd food gone upscale, look no further than ramen. New York City has had a ramen renaissance in the last decade. While heavyweights like Ippudo NY and Totto Ramen inspire the longest lines, you'd also do fine at any of these Asian noodle spots. For a sweet snack or dessert, Doughnut Plant offers such unusual (for doughnut) flavors as tres leches, peanut butter and banana cream and pistachio. (See also: the Best Doughnuts in NYC.) 

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