Cheryl Wat went from Marketing & Finance to becoming a NYC Food Influencer! Take a look at her 7 secret New York City tips and be sure to add them to your To-Go spots!
Cheryl Wat was born and raised on Long Island, but now lives in Queens. She graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Marketing and Finance and has 10 years of marketing experience working in the Finance industry as an Analyst in Marketing Research and Product Management.
During this time, Cheryl’s boyfriend wanted to open a restaurant. She became interested in learning about influencer marketing and using social media as a means to build his restaurant’s brand awareness and anticipation of its opening. To do this, she realized that she had to open up her own Instagram food account.
In July 2016, Cheryl established Book of Eats on Instagram and as a site, with the initial focus being restaurants, food, and beverages primarily in NYC area.
As she shared her dining experiences, she realized a community of people was being built who share the same interests. Since then, Book of Eats has expanded to travel, food around the world, and interesting food/travel related news.
See below her 7 secret New York City tips:
Trademark Taste & Grind
“I love how this Midtown restaurant, called Trademark Taste & Grind is hidden behind a coffee shop. It’s one of the few places near Penn Station that I can think of with good food, isn’t touristy, and that I would want to bring someone.”
Yup! They are known for their delicious food, coffee and cocktails. The front area of the restaurant – Trademark Grind – is a coffee shop with a great selection of pastries and coffees. Walking towards the back area, you’ll find Trademark Taste serving new American comfort food.
It’s located in the Hotel Le Soleil.
Monday – Friday: 7am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 11pm
Location: 38 West 36th Street
“Fry Guys is a super cool retro looking French fry spot in the East Village with vinyl records all around the floors, walls, and ceiling. There’s even disco balls hanging from the ceilings. If you come here get the Drunk Guy, its fries are loaded with guacamole, bacon and cheese.”
These guys are really experts when the subject is “fries”. Their food is gluten-free fries and made from delicious Idaho Russet potatoes. How do they make it? They hand-cut everything, season it and perfectly fry it to get that crunchy texture.
The décor of the place is also fantastic and it’s vintage kinda look will take you back decades. It’s most certainly a nostalgic feeling.
This is the place to splurge and forget your diet! Forget about calories and just be happy! Ha! After all, as they say ‘Every day is FryDay!’.
Location: 150 East 2nd Street
Gaijin, now Koyo
“Gaijin is the only place in Astoria that I know of with a legit omakase sushi menu. I love the whole experience of sitting at the counter, interacting with the Chef, and being told the preferred way of eating the sushi is with my hands like in Japan. I can’t think of any other restaurants like this in Astoria, but in the city I definitely can.”
Chef Mark, a Chicago-native, is the artist behind it all. His outstanding culinary career gave him enough experience to open Gaijin – the result of his take on modern Japanese food.
Moreover, he blends his traditional Japanese cooking technique with a personal touch and inspiration. It’s known that his signature nigrizushi toppings are outstanding!
“Nigirizushi (“hand-pressed sushi”) consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses between the palms of the hands to form an oval-shaped ball, and a topping (the neta) draped over the ball.” ~ Wikipedia
Gaijin has been rebranded to Koyo.
” The restaurant was originally opened as Gaijin which was a very popular local establishment that offers Omakase dining and robata grill a la carte menu fares. In the summer of August 2018, the team of Gaijin decided to refine what they do best, a modern omakase establishment and undergone a full update along with a new brand, Koyo.
Koyo means “Autumnal Foliage” which refers to the changing of Japanese maple tree leaves which signals the change of a seasonal. Koyo has a strong focus on seasonality and uses ingredients at its peak during that season to create a Kaiseki inspired multi-sensory dining experience.”
Monday – Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday – Saturday: 5pm – 11pm
Location: 37-12 31st Avenue
Vaccaro’s Bakery & Café
“Vaccaro’s Bakery & Café is a bakery in Astoria, Queens, that has the most delicious “donnolis”. It’s basically a cannoli wrapped in a donut. It’s the best thing ever.”
This authentic Italian bakery was founded in 1981 and has been one of Astoria’s to-go spots. Loved by locals, they sell everything from delicious cakes, desserts and pastries, to breads and breakfast specials!
It will be hard to pick only a few things to try. But, remember you call always buy more and take home!
Location: 28-05 Steinway Street
The Last Word
“A speakeasy in Astoria, called The Last Word, serves really good cocktails and is hidden behind a hardware store. I know in Astoria it’s well known, but I’m not sure about the general public.”
So, if you enjoy oysters paired with a good cocktail, this is the place for you! They still have a great menu with beer, wine and a few bites to nibble on.
They explain that: “Our name comes from the gin-based prohibition-era cocktail called, The Last Word.”
And still, if you enjoy Soul, Rhythm and Blues, they have it live, every Thursday night. It’s definitely a place to got more than once! You’ll love it!
Location: 31-30 Ditmars Blvd
“Of course I have to mention my boyfriend’s restaurant on here. I’d be a terrible girlfriend if I didn’t, I’m also a bit biased, but read his Yelp reviews if you don’t believe me! Shuraku is a hidden Japanese Grilling restaurant without a sign on the building. You would only know it exists if you walk up close to the building and see a menu hanging from the window. This is the only place that I know of in NY that serves gyu-katsu (deep fried breaded steak).”
We love Shuraku too and we’ve recently visited and written about them.
They are certainly a new place to have in your To-Go places in New York, especially if you’re into high-end Japanese spots with unique tasting menus!
Wednesday: 5:30pm – 10pm
Thursday – Saturday: 5:30pm – 11pm
Sunday: 5:30pm – 10pm
Location: 47 8th Avenue
Jason Naylor’s murals
“The murals all around the city by Jason Naylor. Offhand, I can only think of the one on 60th and 2nd Ave and the one on 16th and 6th Ave. I’m amazed by his graffiti work. The colors he uses are so vibrant. It’s so distinct that you don’t even need to see that it’s his work, you’ll just know.”
Jason is not only an artist, but he’s also a designer, writer and creative director. In addition, his colorful art works certainly make the city look even more beautiful and the quotes are very inspiring!
He was born in Salt Lake City, but fell in love the NY at an early age. His works can be seen in the fashion industry, as well as magazine, footwear and even in tattoos. We personally love the Statue of Liberty in his left arm!
Thank you, Cheryl, for participating in our Insider Interviews and sharing with us these 7 amazing secret New York City tips!
Stay tuned for more upcoming interviews!
Photo Credits: Courtesy of the venues
*Last Update on April/2020.*