When reader Regan Elyse Murray sent in the following piece about the shishbarak at the newish Israeli restaurant Dagon, on Broadway and 91st Street, it sparked an idea. Let’s get specific about the tastes we love on the Upper West Side — not just the restaurants, but the dishes. If you have a favorite UWS dish you’d like to share, send it in to westsiderag at gmail. If it sets our mouths watering, we’ll post it. Here is Regan’s review.
I found myself charmed by the shishbarak dumplings at Dagon. You can think of shishbarak like Lebanese ravioli. I reference ravioli because this dough is thicker and sturdier than what you encounter when you bite into gyoza or potstickers, more akin to al dente pasta. The most common versions of shishbarak are reportedly made with lamb. Dagon’s take instead uses mushrooms. Now, even I, a card-carrying member of the Rare Steak Lovers club, have to admit that their decision to go vegetarian here is defensible given the lengths they have gone to stew, shred, and caramelize the fungi. This process creates a meaty filling with texture and flavor reminiscent of braised short ribs.
As we turn our attention to the toppings for these dumplings, you are going to have to bear with me. This is where we start to lose sight of the ravioli framework we have been working with. First, we have an herb sauce that still fits somewhat well into that Italian model. Although smooth in texture, it’s analogous to pesto with its garlicky, garden-fresh flavor. But then we come across a warm yogurt sauce.
The idea of spooning an American breakfast staple over an Israeli dinner may seem baffling at first. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes apparent that cultured dairy plays the same role in this dish that it does as Mexican crema on a burrito or plate of enchiladas. It gives the carbs a creamy, tangy boost. This sauce arrives warmed and whipped, cloaking the dumplings like a dairy heated blanket. Dagon draws on the flavors of bagels and cream cheese by finishing the plate with a toasty, breath-murdering mix of pine nuts, sesame seeds, and crispy onions and garlic over the yogurt. The savory crunch, absent from most filled pasta dishes, is a welcome surprise.
— Regan Elyse Murray @Regan_Elyse_Eats
Dagon, 2454 Broadway at 91st Street, Hours: Open for dinner from 5 to 10 pm every day and for brunch on weekends from 10:30 am to 3 pm.
Featured dish: Shishbarak ($22), available on both the brunch and dinner menus.
I’m all in favor of this new column idea! Thanks for the inaugural piece, Regan – you made me want to try those dumplings.
Thank you, rteplow! They are certainly worth a taste.
My husband is the most delicious dish on the UWS.
Doesn’t do the rest of us much good, unless you’re willing to share!
Coppola’s Chicken Parm followed closely by Maison Pickle’s French Dip followed by a trip to my cardiologist.
What a review! Keep this column. Bravo and I look forward to more tastebud watering articles from Regan and more. I feel like this dish is in front of me and I wish it was.
Thanks, Gini! And I agree. The more food, the better!
This column was well written. The photo also deserves some love. I am looking forward to more ‘Here’s The Dish’ in the future.
I second this! The mushroom shishbarak at Dagon are incredible!
Although I did not try the shishbarak, a group of us went to Dagon for dinner a few weeks back and all of us felt it was one of the best meals and times we had had in some time. Great food, great service, nice atmosphere (we sat outside).
I highly recommend Dagon as a general matter.
May I ask what your approximate tab was? Some of their menu items seem pricey $16 for hummus.
The shishbarak is listed as a “small plate” but would it be enough for a main course? $22 would be reasonable then.
Well, our group was out to splurge a little, so we expected it to be pricey. So when you add in alcohol and dessert, plus tax and tip, we ended up paying exactly $100/pp.
The small plates are almost entree sized. My wife and I had three appetizer tips plus two small plates between the two of us for dinner and it was plenty.
Excellent idea! Thanks for adding this.
great idea for a column…perhaps it could be even better if restaurants would share a home-cook friendly recipe for the spotlighted dish!