Design Maven Natasha Jen’s Essential New York Restaurants


Taipei native and Pentagram partner Natasha Jen, above, has worked on branding projects with some of the city’s most popular food brands, including Van Leeuwen, Flour and Salt Bakery and Teabox. Photo courtesy of

You may not know her name but you’ve seen graphic designer Natasha Jen’s work. The Taipei native and Pentagram partner has worked on branding projects with some of the city’s most popular food brands, including Van Leeuwen, Flour and Salt Bakery and Teabox.

She has a knack for it, too. After she rebranded Van Leeuwen’s packaging, sales increased by 50 percent. To get an even better sense of the woman behind the branding, we asked Jen for her essential New York restaurants in both Manhattan, where she works, and in Brooklyn, where she lives:

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Soooo, our Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles is not common in the city of Xi'an, and was first presented by Xi'an Famous Foods in 2005 as an oft enjoyed family dish. So, if an imitator claims they are bringing a version of this dish from Xi'an, ask them when's the last time they were actually in Xi'an 🐵? #givecreditwhereitsdue #Repost @phileats_ thanks :) ・・・ L A M B • N O O D L E S Foodies of Dallas, where can I find a plate of these biangbiang wide, hand-ripped noodles mixed with sauteed spicy cumin lamb?! I binged watched food videos and stumbled across @munchies making noodles with Xi’an foods last night and now I crave some. From the chewy noodles, flavorful lamb and spicy sauce, everything about this dish was great! 🔥🤤👍🏼 — 📍 @xianfoods — 🏷 #SpicyLambNoodles | #Noodles | #HandPulledNoodles | #Fresh | #ChineseFood | #ChinatownNYC | #NYCeats | #PhileatsNYC | #Lunch | #FoodBlogFeed | #HeresMyFood | #FoodBlogEats | #Food52 | #BeautifulCuisines | #ForkFeed | #Foodgawker | #BuzzFeast | #GoodEats | #Eater | #Foodstagram | #DailyFoodFeed | #MyFab5 | #phileatsapproved | #FoodiesOfDallas | #FoodPhotography | #FoodPics | #Foodstagram | #YouGottaEatThis | #Food | |

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Xian Famous Foods

They have tons of spicy noodle dishes that are really affordable. Normally , I order the spicy lamb noodles either in a dry noodle form or in a soup. The other dish they offer that is very special is the Tiger Vegetables Salad, composed of green onions, cilantro, celery, peppers, dressed with vinaigrette and salt. It’s really, really good.

Want Even More Spicy Noodles? Here Are 4 Restaurants Where You Can Get Your Fix


Very simple cooking using very, very fresh ingredients. They have nice dips of different types of hummus. I love the eggplant dip. The grilled meat is also delicious.

La Pecora Bianca

You can’t go wrong at this Italian place. Everything is delicious. I tend to order either the cauliflower appetizer, grilled simply and toasted with raisins, almonds and mascarpone, or the mushroom appetizer (roasted hen of the woods, taleggio fondue, dates, pinenuts with honey). They also have nice cocktails.

Dekalb Market

Dekalb Market is too good to true. The food hall is very casual but has a great collection of international food. When I don’t know what I want to eat I go here and see what looks good.

Get Some of Our Dekalb Market Recommendations


I never know what I’m going to get at this Italian place. They change the menu daily, but that makes it special.

Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery

This is where you go for cheesecake in NYC. But while best known for their cheesecake, they have a Southern-style fried chicken dish with collard greens that is just amazing. There’s also a shrimp bisque soup that is only available after noon on Saturdays. It’s got real shrimp in it, and the soup is really thick and salty. It tastes like the ocean. If I don’t have Saturday plans I always go get my shrimp fix.