Introducing UNFORGETTABLE, an Eater feature in which the city’s most respected chefs, bartenders, baristas, food writers, and other notable New Yorkers share their most memorable bites and sips from around New York City – the food and drink that has stayed with them long after they’ve left the table.

In this week’s edition of Unforgettable, Eater heard from Intern Claire Nugent about her most memorable New York City bite:

It was my first night living in New York. My boyfriend and I had just finished a two week cross-country road trip and were glad to have finally reached our destination. No more sitting in a car listening to the same six songs over and over again. No more gas station bathrooms. No more living out of a suitcase. But we were exhausted. And starving. And we quickly discovered that we had nothing we needed – we had no sheets, no toilet paper, no towels, no forks or plates. Too tired to remedy the situation, we decided to order Chinese food and then call it a night with our two blankets and our blow up mattress. At least dinner would be quick and tasty. So we went on Seamless and found the closest Chinese place. Szechuan Gourmet was the lucky winner. We ordered the usual – sesame chicken, egg fried rice, some dumplings, and a couple spring rolls. And then something caught my eye. Crispy Lamb Fillets. Why not?

Good decision. No, great decision. The tender meat had been fried just to the point of being crunchy but it wasn’t tough. I was hit with bold flavors: a delicate dusting of cumin, the shells of dried chilies, garlic, scallions, and Sichuan peppercorns. My first bite of these crispy lamb fillets was salty, smokey, and a bit spicy thanks to a dried chili that managed its way onto my fork. It was an unexpected but delicious and unforgettable bite. It was a memorable first meal in New York City.

At first I thought I fell in love with Szechuan Gourmet’s Crispy Lamb Fillets because I was hungry and tired, but every time we go there or order in, we get those lamb fillets. And every time, when I take my first bite, I get that same sense of joy and lingering happiness from the smokey, slightly spicy, incredibly crispy lamb.

[Photo: Serious Eats]

Szechuan Gourmet 56
242 West 56th Street
212-265-2226; website


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