$5 Pizza Vs Michelin Star Restaurant – Which One Wins?

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New York is the place to be when you love food, like we do. During our 4 night stay we ate a lot, from Michelin starred Korean cuisine to pizza. But the big question is…… which was our favourite? A hard decision to make as they are so different!


Before visiting New York we did our normal extensive restaurant research. This involves looking at lots of reviews and salivating over menus, a traditional part of our holiday preparation. I much prefer it to packing!

Fish course at Kochi
Desert at Kochi, New York
Chef's Counter at Kochi, New York

This is when we found a Michelin starred, Korean restaurant, something we definitely don’t have locally! Its aptly located in the Hell’s Kitchen district of New York, not too far from where we were staying, so it ticked all the boxes.

Kochi, meaning skewer in Korean, combines street food with all the traditional Korean flavours and ingredients. We opted for the tasting menu and sat at the chef’s counter, which means you can watch them prepare your food with extreme precision and care (often using tweezers) which was fascinating.

Each course was beautifully presented with such attention to detail it was amazing. The courses ranged from soup to start, to meat and two veg Korean style. The flavours were all interesting and very different to anything we had had in New York so far, giving our taste buds a real treat.

The service was impeccable, our waitress was extremely friendly and informative, chatting about when she had visited England but knew not to linger too long (an important skill which is sometimes hard to refine). The restaurant is small and intimate with only about 8 seats at the chef’s counter and 5 other tables allowing the chefs to prepare the food to a high standard.

The whole experience was really enjoyable and a stark contrast to the other meals we had eaten so far in New York, where portions are huge. These delicate little dishes were individual works of art that also tasted great.

Joe’s Pizza

On our first day in New York we stumbled upon Joe’s Pizza while walking from our hotel in Flatiron to Times Square. We recognised the name and the queue out the door attracted our attention. Anywhere with a queue that long must be good!

Devouring Joe's Pizza slice
Joe's Pizza, New York

As we got closer to the counter we could not only smell the delicious savoury, woody scent of pizza cooking but we also got a glimpse of the huge slices being served. It was hard to decide which pizza to have as they all looked amazing, but in the end we opted for a classic pepperoni with mushrooms and onions. I’d never normally order this combination at home but it proved to be an excellent choice.

Luckily, we found two seats inside where we could perch while devouring our huge floppy slices of pizza. My mouth watered as I took my first bite and I wasn’t disappointed.

It was the perfect balance of tastes and textures, a chewy yet crispy crust oozing with cheese and packing great flavour from the toppings. Heaven in a slice! The cheese and toppings were clearly good quality but the thing that really made this pizza stand out was the crust, sheer perfection for a New York slice.

Not only was the pizza exceptional but there was also a buzzing atmosphere in the restaurant, mixed with a sense of history. While enjoying our pizzas we were surrounded by a huge gallery of famous people who have eaten there in the past. Joe’s Pizza was established in 1975 by Pino “Joe” Pozzuoli, an Italian immigrant originally from Naples, Italy. The location of the original restaurant was Greenwich Village but there are now four other locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Our verdict

I have to say both meals were delicious but complete polar opposites so very hard to compare. The meal at Kochi was refined, classy and a real treat for your taste buds with so many different elements. However, Joe’s Pizza felt like New York in every way; taste, smell, sound and it felt like I imagined New York to be.

Kochi on the other hand could have been anywhere in the world. It was slick, professional and aesthetically pleasing but didn’t have that New York feeling you are looking for as a tourist. So If you are a New Yorker then Kochi is probably the place for you, however as a tourist visit Joe’s for that New Yorkiness that we’re all searching for!

Laura Mills bio pic
Written by Laura Mills

Laura loves travelling across the UK and abroad. She has two children and a husband who are often her travel companions. Beach holidays, cosy cottages, treehouse adventures and brunching are just a few of her favourite ways to spend her travel time.