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Bagels in NYC: Ess-a-Bagel, Russ & Daughters, H&H

Thursday, 30 June 2011

One of the things I never really understood was the bagel and consequently I tend to avoid eating it. Why make something that’s essentially a sandwich but leave a hole in the middle? It just seems structurally unsound. Plus, the bread is doughy and dry (well, the ones I had anyway and that scarred me for life). But anyway, New York is famous for bagels, so naturally we had to try some of it.


We first went to Ess-a-bagel to grab something for breakfast. I was starving and decided to get a Reuben’s which had massive slices of pastrami, corn beef and swiss cheese on it while the PigPig had an everything bagel (called everything because it has all the most popular toppings a bagel usually has) with olive tofu mix (tofu cream cheese with bits of olive). Naturally, I loved my Reuben’s bagel although it may not be the first thing one thinks of when thinking bagel.

Ess-a-Bagel, New York

Not so much a fan of the PigPig’s olive tofu as I generally don't like cream cheese not unless it's in the form of a cheesecake, but she enjoyed it. They were very generous with the filling. The tofu cream cheese tasted very much like the real thing, I really couldn't tell the difference. The bagels were moist, soft, dense and chewy at the same time. Weird I know, but they were delicious - nothing like what we've tasted before.

Ess-a-Bagel, New York

Russ & Daughters

At Russ & Daughters, it was Fathers Day and it was absolutely packed with people buying stuff for their picnics or home lunches or whatever other smorgasbord they had planned. Basically, Russ & Daughters are famous for their lox on bagels (lox = smoked salmon) so these people were buying masses of smoked fish (salmon from seemingly all the seas in the world, sturgeon, herring, chubbs, tuna) as well as the usual stuff to make a bagel (cream cheese in nine different flavours). The shop is really tiny with no tables and is takeout only. To make things worse, there was a film crew there that day!

Russ & Daughters, New York

Well anyway there’s a ticket system, so snag a ticket right upon entering the door and wait for your number to be called. We then waited about 45 minutes just so we could get a lox on bagel. The patient and cheerful guy behind the counter serving me recommended the Gaspe Nova smoked salmon as that’s the most popular version - less salty as compared to traditional lox. He slapped that salmon in between a sliced everything bagel, added some red oinons and some scallion cream cheese. The result was pretty amazing. Definitely worth the wait.

Russ & Daughters, New York

H & H Bagels

H & H Bagels, New York

On the last day we went to H & H Bagels as we heard that NYC is pretty divided between Ess-a-bagel and H & H on who does the best bagels. Another takeout only place and H&H doesn't do sandwiches. In a way, it was good because this allowed us to enjoy the bagel without the distraction of various meaty products. The PigPig had an onion bagel while I had a cinnamon and raisin. The bagels were still warm and the most obvious difference is the chewiness compared to Ess’ version, my jaw muscles were literally cramping up halfway through my bagel as it was being overworked. To be fair though, the bagels were tasty enough to be eaten alone and my cinnamon-raisin version was really nice and was almost dessert-like.

H & H Bagels, New York

831 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Other branch:
359 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

Russ & Daughters
Lower East Side
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

H & H Bagels
Upper West Side
2239 Broadway at 80th St.
New York, NY 10024

Other branch:
639 West 46th St. at 12th Ave
H & H Bagels on Urbanspoon

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