There's a bag full of little scraps of paper with different nationalities on it. My friends and I will blindly reach in and that's how we figure out who we're going to date next.
Did you see your face? But no, that's just how we pick restaurants.
Going out to dinner with friends is always fun- once you're at the restaurant. Picking the restaurant, on the other hand, is super annoying, especially in New York, where there are approximately 6 million options.
"I don't know what I'm in the mood for." "I don't care, I could go for anything…oh, but not that, though." "Wellll, what about these other six places, since we're not having a tough enough time with indecision?"
“Restaurant Roulette” eliminates that entire step from the process. Instead of choosing between every eatery in the entire city, our options are limited to every Ethiopian place, or every Thai place, or every Dutch place in the city (by the way, if you want to start doing this, don't bother including that one because there is not one Dutch restaurant in New York).
I'm a big believer in trying new things and going outside of your comfort zone. I think pushing yourself like that makes you a more solid, well-rounded and frankly, more interesting person. I think people often equate those things with taking a new job or moving to a strange city, but it doesn't only apply to big moves. I think even sampling different cuisines is enough to count.
Picking restaurants this way opens up your mind, while also taking all the annoying aspects of planning off the table. The element of the unknown is what makes it most fun. What even is Indonesian food? I didn't know, but I do now. There are a lot of curries and coconut milk, and it almost reminded me of a cross between Indian and Thai.
Another benefit of Restaurant Roulette is experiencing new neighborhoods by default. It's easy to get into the routine of sticking to where you live, where you work, and where you normally go. In New York, it's easily to overlook certain neighborhoods, just because there are so many of them. But when you pull a country out of a bag, you're naturally going to gravitate toward that enclave. On Polish night, I had the best potato pancake of my life and also explored Greenpoint, Brooklyn- someplace I've spent virtually no time even though it's less than five miles from where I type this sentence.
We've been doing this for about a year and have "been to" 19 countries. I've had Peruvian ceviche and sushi made out of Spam, which is huge in Hawaii. I've learned that kangaroo is delicious and that when Czech people say "dumplings," they mean, "hunks of white bread covered in gravy."
What’s going to be my next country? I’m not sure, but it definitely will not be The Netherlands. If you decide to start playing Restaurant Roulette (which you should, since it’s the best), I’ll recommend my top five favorites from the game:
- Chinese: Jing Fong, Chinatown
- Filipino: Maharlika, East Village
- Greek: Taverna Kyclades, Astoria
- Jamaican: Miss Lily’s, East Village
- Polish: Karczma, Greenpoint
What’s going to be your next country?
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