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If I love Fatty Crab, Momofuku and Otto, where else will I like?

Along the lines of Momofuko and Fatty Crab, in terms of fine-dining influenced preparation of asian foods, check out Tigerland in the East Village. Thai and Vietnamese food, excellently prepared with the best ingredients (almost strictly organic, things like Berkshire pork, etc), good presentation, a nice space, and really friendly helpful service (which you may not like, depending on which of the above two mentioned places you prefer).

Dec 19, 2006
ADB in Manhattan

TIGERLAND!!

Just wanted to add my voice in support of Tigerland. Went there last night and had a fantastic meal. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the design of the place was very nice. Had their angel wings and some butternut squash curry puffs, and then their mussaman short ribs and duck red curry; all of it was excellent. I will definitely be going back in as soon as I get a chance; for purists, it may not be completely authentic, but it takes the spirit of authentic thai and vietnamese food and applies sophistication and slowfood/organic/sustainable ideals, with a wonderful outcome.

Dec 19, 2006
ADB in Manhattan

Please - Help in Willlamsburg and nearby

I'd second an Aurora recommendation. I was incredibly disappointed with my Bamonte's meal, and every dinner (brunch has disappointed) I have had at Aurora has been fantastic - especially in the winter, when they have their 10-hour slow-roasted pork. Dressler is decent, but I don't feel it lives up to the hype about it.

Dec 13, 2006
ADB in Outer Boroughs

San Sebastian - Akelare or Arzak

Finally getting around to posting my review of Akelarre - went for lunch on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. It was excellent. The setting is beautiful, overlooking the Cantabrian sea. The menu and prices are the same for lunch or dinner, so I would really recommend lunch to take full advantage of the setting. We had both of the tasting menus, which are currently on their website. In all it was one of my top meals ever, although there were a few missteps.

They started us out with a tray of what appeared to be petite fours, but were all savory; the two highlights were a crispy morcilla roll and "zurrukutuna." This is a traditional Basque soup made with bread and flavored with salt cod bones; their version was a solid, crispy, doughy ball, which had the appearance of a chocolate bonbon - tihnk Ferrero Rocher. It was a fun way to get the meal started, and all of the components were firmly grounded in Basque flavors, but very inventive and creative. The amuse followed this up perfectly; fresh anchovy and fried egg. The single fresh anchovy filet was served in olive oil, in a tin - simple, perfectly fresh, and humorous. The egg was a small square of fried egg white, but the "yolk" was a puree of orange bell pepper, presumably treated the way Adria has been making his pea ravioli, such that the center was liquid surrounded by a solid outer membrane. Another fun, yet quintessentially Basque dish.

On to the main menu:

Oysters eaten with shell - the one part of the menu which, as a professional cook, still has me completely stumped. A "shell" was made out of something - the waiter revealed that it contained cacao and about a dozen other ingredients. It was gray, resembled a natural oyster shell, and was meant to be eaten whole - the perfectly fresh oyster was entirely encased inside it. One of the most perfect oysters I have ever had - incredibly fresh, it was still surrounded by its liquor and a bit of gelee (perhaps simply an oyster liquor gelee) - the whole tasted perfectly of the fresh sea.
Prawn and shrimps in shell - incredibly flavourful prawns, which were dusted in what I presume was their powdered shell.

Squid with colored sand - my favorite dish on my tasting menu. Perfectly cooked tender squid, accompanied by a quenelle of diced squid and sauteed onion, and three different colors of "sand," which appeared to be three kinds of finely ground bread crumbs. Excellent.
Steamed moluscs - clams, mussels and razor clams in a foam, with a borage puree - also very, very good.

Wild mushrooms - assortment of cepes, black trumpets, matsutakes, etc, with powdered nuts and mushrooms and a soy mayonaise. My second favorite dish on my menu.
Roasted Iberian pork - This was the single best dish on both menus in my opinion. The pork was simply amazing. Served rare, it had an unbelievably rich flavor, tender, and as dark red as beef. It was served with mashed potatoes with gold and bronze leaf. I dream about this pork.

Tuna - The weakest dish of the whole meal. The tuna was cooked a little past rare, where I prefer it. It had a citrusy white sauce, a line of ground spices and a line of barely set egg yolk on the plate. The presentation wasn't all that appealing, and it just didn't seem to come together for me.
Turbot - Also the weakest dish on the second menu, although better than the tuna. Nice piece of fish, served with lentils in a clear mussell liquor. Good, but not outstanding.

Roasted suckling pig - A rack of ribs (I noticed other diners getting other cuts), a white pork emulsion sauce, sugar and tomato meringue-like chunks. Good, but a little disappointing after the astounding pork on the other menu.
Wood pigeon - Excellent roast pigeon, with cider and yuzu jelly, and walnuts

In general, I was not as impressed by the desserts. While my palate does not require the sweetness most Americans are accustomed to, I still found most of these desserts a but bland for my taste.

Rhubarb sorbet - with honey and candied "frosted" herbs, which I liked, but then it had these off-putting little pink squiggles - similar to cookie sprinkles in appearance, but a bit waxy in texture, and the texture of a mouthful of these, perhaps because i had recently been in southeast asia, brought to mind something insectile.
A small glass of berry juices and flower petals, into which warm milk was poured, that then set into a soft yogurt-cheese consistency. Apparently this milk-rennet-berry combination is a typical Basque dessert, but I thought it was a cool effect and the flavor was really good. The standout dessert for me.

Steamed savarin - a tangerine foam surrounding the rather doughy savarin, with a pomelo salad and some candied lemon peel. Again, while this looked and sounded good, I was a bit disappointed in the blandness of the flavor.
Swiss roll - with coconut and chocolate, a mulberry sauce and milk meringue.

The petit four course was a perfect ending to the meal. It brought it back to the humorous, yet Basque-focused beginning of the meal. We were served what appeared to be a simple farmers lunch: a small carafe of "red wine" and a small cutting board with a loaf of bread, a sausage and a small plate of potato chips. The wine was a nicely balanced, refreshing blend of berry, and probably grape, juices. The bread was a sweet, buttery brioche. The sausage was chocolate with pinenuts and rolled in powdered sugar, giving it the appearance of a fat-studded, aged sausage. The potato chips were potato chips, but with an anise flavor to them.

Despite my criticism of parts of the meal, in all, it was amazing. The standouts were exceptional, and more than made up for the few flaws. Going into the meal, I did probably expect something transcendental, and a number of dishes lived up to that - notably the roast pork, the squid, the mushrooms, the oysters. A truly perfect meal could be put together among the offerings on the two menus if one were able to make changes - I didn't ask, and while I of course respect the chef's vision in creating the menus, I have noticed they have changed since I was there and a few of the dishes mentioned here have been moved around in their order and between the two menus.

Nov 26, 2006
ADB in Spain/Portugal

Cheers Thai

The few times I have had Cheers, it hasn't really registered - not great, not bad, it simply suffices.
I have heard lots of good things about Chai, but I have never been very impressed by what I have gotten there; I don't remember any details, but I seem to remember most things being too sweet - not as bad as SEA though.
Khao Sarn is cheap, but not very good.
Siam Orchid, on Metropolitan, I consider to be the best in the neighborhood. I have always found it to be consistently good, never to sweet, and often pretty spicy. Maybe not authentic Thai spicy in most cases, but too spicy for most of my dining companions. They do seem quite happy to accommodate (in both directions) on spiciness though.

Nov 26, 2006
ADB in Outer Boroughs

Fatty Crab is the worst meal I've ever had in New York

Well if it makes his opinion a little more valid, I have been around here for awhile and I think Fatty Crab is vastly overrated. Their food ranges from crap to good, the service is beyond terrible, and the atmosphere, well it's cool if that's what you're into (which I am actually), but it is not justifiable at its price point. That being said, congrats to Zak and crew at FC for making it work, for having a good PR team and for convincing the dining public it is the new hot thing.
I like Malaysian food. I also think you can find just as good, authentic Malaysian at real Malaysian restaurants around town, for a much better price. What I would think I am paying for at a place like Fatty Crab, is the chef's take on Malaysian food, bringing a more refined, American-style fine-dining approach to it. Their service and atmosphere don't live up to this at all. Don't get me wrong, I love that attitude, the loud music, etc, but when I'm at a bar I'm paying $2 for a PBR at. And I have to say, the watermelon and pork salad also really pissed me off. I fucking LOVE pork, and there's nothing better than a nice, fatty piece of belly. That being said, there has to be some meat on it. Especially when you are paying those prices, justified by the fact that it is supposed to be a locally-raised heritage breed and/or organic pig. It defeats the whole idea of that if they are giving you nothing but fat. And that is what we got. No meat, just fat. Four pig enthusiasts, and Malaysian food lovers, sat around the table grumbling about being served really expensive pieces of lard. I work in restaurants that use the same purveyors as Fatty Crab, and it is clear where those pieces of meat we deem unservable end up.
Having gotten that off my chest, Fatty Crab is not that bad. They have some really good food. But it doesn't live up to the hype at all. Try it. Then try a real Malaysian place, uninflated by hype and a PR machine and make the decision for yourself.

Nov 16, 2006
ADB in Manhattan

New french Bistro in Williamsburg, Juliette

I also stopped in last night, and was impressed. The space is beautiful, and the music was great. The food I wasn't as impressed with as everyone else, but it was good. Far and above better than Fada. For apps we had the pate and the roasted artichoke special. The pate was good, none of us were that impressed with the artichoke - tough and dry. We had mussells, which we enjoyed and someone had the spicy chicken, which had a good flavor but was a little dry. The fries were excellent, as everyone has noted. The wines were very reasonable; nothing over $50, and a good selection in the $30 range. As has also been commented on, the service was very friendly and attentive. In all, it is a very good neighborhood place. The decor, service, music and price will bring me back, while the food won't keep me away, as is the case at Fada.

Nov 09, 2006
ADB in Outer Boroughs

Best Cured Meats and Cheese Plate in Manhattan

I don't believe Il Buco is curing their own meats after the departure of Chef Ed Witt.

Nov 08, 2006
ADB in Manhattan

San Sebastian - Akelare or Arzak

Nevermind. Digging around, I found posts on both, and have decided to hit Akelare this weekend. Looking forward to it.

Oct 26, 2006
ADB in Spain/Portugal

San Sebastian - Akelare or Arzak

This is assuming I can get a reservation for either this weekend, but was wondering if anyone had been to both and could compare them? I've heard and seen reviews of both independently, but could anyone recommend one over the other, and why? thanks.

Oct 25, 2006
ADB in Spain/Portugal

Ideas for pretty green Thai eggplant?

Thai eggplants vary in size from about quarter-sized, to larger than golfball (I cooked some of these bigger ones just last night.)
The much smaller eggplants that are the size of large peas, are a different type of eggplant. These are called Bitter Eggplants, and require a longer cooking time, and when done have a mild slightly starchy taste, similar to peas in fact.

Also, in terms of the cooking times for curry given above, they are much too long. If your pieces of chicken (or other meat) are sliced into bite-size pieces, it shouldn't take more than about 5 minutes to cook. If you simmer for 20 minutes, your vegetables will most likely be mush and your meat dry and tough. Almost all Thai dishes take no more than a few minutes to cook, once your ingredients are all prepped.
Also, there are two methods for starting a curry. One as described above, involves frying the curry paste briefly, but this can involve extra oil, and you could potentially burn the paste, developing off-flavors. The second method, which is what I was taught when in Thailand, involves bringing the coconut milk to a boil, until some oil separates out, then adding the curry paste and stirring until fully mixed. At this point, add your meat and cook for just a few minutes - it doesn't need to be fully cooked through yet. Then add your vegetables, and cook for a few more minutes, and you're ready to serve. I made this last night, and the eggplants required no more than 3-4 minutes to cook through, assuming you have them quartered and not whole.

Sep 07, 2006
ADB in Home Cooking

Where do the top chefs eat after hours?

Blue Ribbon, Mas, Fatty Crab all attract kitchen crews late night.

Jun 24, 2006
ADB in Manhattan