Extremefoodies Founder: The 18 Best Things I Ate in 2016

By jeffrey_merrihue on January 10th, 2017

It was another incredible year for ExtremeFoodies founder Jeffrey Merrihue, as he traveled to North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Memorable dishes stretched from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur to an island off the coast of the northwestern United States. The list features six fine dining venues, six restaurant and bistro types and six more affordable restaurant and street food entries, listed in a rough order of level of love.

18. Lance Wiffin’s Fried Mussels @ Attica

These mussels are plucked from the water within 24 hours of service by Lance, the mussel farmer who supplies these beauties and whose portrait is painted on the shell. Shucked raw, fried in crumbs for 35 seconds and rested for 35 seconds, this dish is a testament to the local ingredients such as kangaroo and wallaby and freshness credo of Ben Shewry’s fabulous restaurant.

Click to read an interview with Ben Shewry by our Melbourne expert, David Hagger 

17. Eight Treasure Duck @ Sek Yuen, Kuala Lumpur

This dish is legendary in Chinese restaurant lore. One of several long forgotten dishes prepared over wood-fired stoves at this globally gastronomic treasure, the duck must be pre-ordered and is simply spectacular. For Chinese New Year, the Yu Sheng tradition of tossing noodles in the air is also celebrated here, as it is the longest serving purveyor of this great plate from its original location. It’s a foodie celebration unequalled anywhere in the world.

16. Fried Cheese Steak Tacos @ Mexico City Lounge, Denver

This local invention from the family that owns this bar are irresistible. The tacos are fried on one side until the cheese melts out the sides and crisps and, for this reason, they are simply better. This is one of the great contributions by Americans to Mexican cuisine. Do not leave Denver without trying a tray of four or five of these addictive beauties.

15. Giant Tuna Head @ Octopus Garden, Vancouver

Eating this dish is an experience to be remembered at this small seafood counter run by the delightful Chef Sada-san. You eat every part of this oceanic behemoth’s head and it is delicious.

14.  Shepherd’s Pie @ The Ivy, London


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This beloved winter cornerstone of English cuisine is served perfectly at a beloved London landmark with light fluffy potatoes, juicy chunks of beef and a gorgeous red wine sauce. The dish is simultaneously crunchy, soft and wet.

13. Caviar Chomping Egg @ Momofuku Ko, New York


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This soft-cooked egg with onion soubise, caviar and potato chips was terrific. In full disclosure, however, I was there with NYC’s mightiest Instagrammers and we had a sense the kitchen focused on creating this cutesy dish to be photo-worthy. Well, I don’t care. It was fun and delicious.

12. Black Conch Ceviche @ Encebollados Del Gato, Quito

For 15 years, this beloved cook has simply laid out pots and pans on the roof of his house and served Quito’s finest ceviches and stews. These black conchs are pried live from their shells and then served in their own ink black juices with a shimmering coating of fresh tomato juice across the top. Onions, parsley and lemon top one of the finest ceviches you will ever try.

11. Spiced Fried Chicken @ Himalaya, Houston

Chef and owner Kaiser Lashkari spent four months developing the recipe, which features a 24-hour buttermilk marinade and is dredged in flour and seasoned with garlic, ginger, and garam masala. It isn't spicy but it is spiced. As the chicken is skinless, the flavors permeate the juicy meat, which is a great contrast to the crusty crunchy crust.

10. Pigeon with Crispy Thin Potato Cakes @ Joséphine Chez Dumonet, Paris


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The restaurant’s signature dish is an astoundingly buttery roasted pigeon, its breast deboned, legs done confit, and served in a reduction of its own juices. It’s topped with a fan made of tiny, feather-thin golden potato discs. This Paris bistro dish is simply perfect.

9. Döner Kebab @ Mustafa’s, Berlin


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Locals don’t like them because the wait is 45 minutes with a load of tourists, but the reality is this kebab is fantastic. The chicken is tender and wonderfully seasoned with both a zingy spice mix and a lovely sauce. The classic lettuce, onions and tomatoes are there, but then they add grilled vegetables as a mega bonus. This is then topped with goat cheese crumbles and a squeeze of lemon. Finally, the killer is the unique, soft and crispy bread located somewhere between a pita and traditional döner bread. You can go to Hasir, which invented the Doner Kebab in 1972 or to Imren, which features the tastiest meat. But it is here that all the elements come together into the perfect döner kebab.

8. Fried Phoenix Tail Fish @ Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village, San Gabriel, California

These ultra-crunchy fish -- simultaneously sweet and sour, dry and wet -- are so addictive you will wish you had them instead of a bag of popcorn the next time you go to the movies. This California restaurant has better Chinese food than any of the 20-plus restaurants I have tried in Shanghai.

7. Bone Marrow with Uni and Herbs @ Joe Beef, Montreal

This unlikely combination will make your head spin, as the first thing to hit your palette is the herbs, followed by the freshness of the uni and then the hammer blow of bone marrow with a crunchy toast finish. Joe Beef is the most exciting restaurant in Canada. And its dish is epic.

6. Red Cabbage and Iced Mustard Mousse @ Schloss Schauenstein, Furstenau, Switzerland


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This gem among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is tucked somewhere between Zurich and Milan, and this dish exemplifies the precision and perfection and prettiness of each dish. The mousse was a riot of textures and temperatures not soon to be forgotten.

5. Mustard Seed Toast with 14 Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs @ The Willow Inn, Lummi Island off the coast of Seattle

This cozy island restaurant is a farm-to-table heaven. Everything is foraged, so get a canoe or swim to this idyllic paradise tucked away on an island in a far corner of the Northwestern United States.

4. Pig’s Head @ The Pig, New Forest, England


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If you can handle it, the whole fried pig’s head is a hedonistic wonder. This terrific dish is served with a variety of garden- and forest-picked vegetables plucked the same morning. The veggies help this gut buster go down easier.

3. Plankton Taco @ Aponiente, Cadiz, Spain

Everything at this restaurant is made from the sea, including the charcuterie each of which looks like salame, bologna, etc. This little taco was a highlight both in terms of the delicacy of the crunchy little shell as well as the intense creativity involved.

2. Vegetables @ Destroyer, Los Angeles


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This is supposed to be a list of individual items, but the menu is so short at this fine dining oasis hidden inside a coffee shop that you can order all the items between two people. This is a master class on how to serve vegetables for people who are not vegetarian. The potatoes (bottom left) and the cauliflower three ways (bottom right) are sensational.

1. Grilled Bacon and Cheese Sandwich @ La Vague d’Or, Saint-Tropez, France

Some plates are memorable, but this paper-thin sandwich is unforgettable. Being able to see the sky and the ocean through a “sandwich” this delicate is insanely great. One day I will write about the 15 best things I ever ate and this dish will surely be on it.

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Meet the author

Jeffrey Merrihue is the Founder of XtremeFoodies which is the world's largest network of local food experts. He has eaten at all 125 restaurants that have been on the World's 50 Best Restaurants lists since 2005. He is currently a judge on Iron Chef and has published a book: The History and Science Behind the World's Best Pizzas. You can visit Jeffrey at his Santa Monica restaurant Heroic Deli and Wine Bar. Follow…... More