July 7, 2016 / Leave a Comment
A NYC institution since 1910 (well at least according to the sign), Yonah Shimmel Knish Bakery is an essential stop if you’re planning to visit the legendary sandwich institution just down the road that is Katz’s Deli.
Going by the letters, cards and photos lining the interior walls of Yonah’s, it soon becomes apparent that plenty of people believe Yonah’s creations are just as legendary. It looks like nothing much has changed in the last few decades at Yonah’s, and I think that sums up just how traditional the food is here – and that it’s certainly stood the test of time.
I’d never encountered a knish before (it’s pronounced ku-nish), and my guess is you probably haven’t either. It’s a large traditional Jewish dumpling (well, more like a pie) that is filled (often with potato) and baked or fried. Yonah’s have a very thin outer layer and are available in a host of flavours, both savoury and sweet. I chose to try the spinach and blueberry varieties.
Now the rule is you have to eat these hot – and trust me, they will be steaming when delivered to your table. It’s not just the heat you have to watch out for – they’re very, very dense – so don’t aim to even eat a whole one yourself! Try some different flavours and share them around.
My spinach knish was really just a big pile of mashed potato with spinach in a shell – it was a bit dry and crumbly for me. But the piece de resistance was the blueberry knish. Wow. This is a home run. Stunning gooey blueberry compote lines the middle of the knish, sitting in a bed of a hot, cheesecake-like filling. I’m told it’s a mix of farmer’s cheese and cream cheese. Whatever it is, it’s out of this world. It’s sticky, gooey, stodgy – like creamy melted cheese in texture (well, I guess it is cheese after all) and I’ve never tasted any dessert that had a texture like it. This is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever eaten – but insanely rich! I don’t want to know how many calories are in this thing, but it’s certainly a taste of old New York that you don’t want to miss out on.
I’d recommend giving the savoury knish a miss, and popping in post-Katz’s for a blueberry knish (or cherry, or chocolate if that’s more your thing) for dessert. Then maybe take a stroll to Battery Park or over the Brooklyn bridge to walk off all that deliciousness! This will be some of the absolute best value food you eat in NYC, trust me.
Overall Rating: 7.6/10
Must order dish: Blueberry Knish
137 East Houston Street (between First Avenue and Second Avenue), Lower East Side, Manhattan