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Legend - extremely disappointing meal

I hadn't been in about two weeks, and you scared me enough that I hurried back to try it again. I went twice over the last three days, and I feel like I ate pretty darn well. Right up front I will agree that consistency is not their strong suit. Nonetheless, I rarely feel like a dish was made unsatisfactorily - just that there are several different chefs who have different visions and are not using common recipes.

Szechuan pickled vegetables - I was hoping for a mixed platter, but it was all some sort of turnip/radish. Very refreshing, but basically just a sour vinegar flavor. Very simple.

Pork with garlic sauce (cold app) - Hands down the best version of this I have ever had. The pork was cooked just the right amount, the sauce was well balanced between soy, chili, and vinegar, and the meat was artistically arranged on top of delicate slices of lightly pickled cucumber, elevating the complexity of the whole dish.

Bean curd with chopped green onion - Perfectly nice and refreshing. I can see that some people would find it salty, but personally I love the salty allium kick on top of the mild creamy tofu.

Ma po tofu - A very good rendition. The best? Not definitively, but I wouldn't instantly rule it out either. It tilts more towards the black bean and garlic, and less towards the chili pepper. Plenty of sichuan peppercorns.

Ma po tofu with fish - I love this combination. I think that it really highlights some of the textural similarities between fish and tofu, while at the same time contrasting them as veichles for the ma po sauce. My only complaint here is that this (and only this) felt like sort of a stingy portion.

Chinese broccoli with garlic - This made very happy because the garlic was really ramped up. I generally prefer my greens to have a little extra flavor.

Ginger and scallion lo mein - This was the only truly disappointing dish I had. Although it had plenty of ginger and scallion, the noodles were all wrong. Not lo mein noodles, not any kind of Chinese noodle. I'm almost positive they were just linguini.

Chengdu fish with pickled vegetables - This dish is always wonderful to me. It tends to arrive late in the meal and I'm never still hungry enough to fully appreciate it. Some day I'll go and have enough discipline to order this and only this...

Fried lamb with cumin - Perfectly decent. Not as mutton-y as the one from Grand Sichuan on 7th ave (I like it mutton-y).

Dry spicy tasty diced chicken with ginger and peanut - Another dish I'm always happy to see. In those first few minutes out of the wok I name it as a serious contender to Amazing 66's roast chicken for best Chinese chicken dish in the city.

gutsofsteel: I really do trust and respect your opinion tremendously (I know, I know; lurk much?), but I would urge you to give it another chance. Try some of the fish dishes and some of the wok-seared dishes. Stick to the Sichuan menu areas, and I would say generally avoid shellfish (both lobsters and prawns have turned out poorly for me in the past).

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Legend
88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Jul 23, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Dynamite lunch at SHO Shaun Hergatt yesterday - terrific food and excellent value

You could almost certainly wander in and score a table. I did the lunch there on Wednesday, and at best a third of the tables were taken at any given point when I was there.

Great review buttertart! A few small things I would add. The lunch deal includes an amuse bouche and several additional dessert bites as well as plenty of excellent bread. I can also speak to the endless Muscadet being very pleasant and refreshing.

I also want to emphasize how gracious the service was. When I go out to bargain lunches at nice restaurants I am used to feeling like a little bit of a second-class citizen, even when I go to EMP. SHO is the first place I have been in a long time where I felt entirely welcome and like they were happy to have me even though I was ordering the "cheap" option.

I agree that it is an amazing deal, definitely the best in the area.

Apr 23, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Food scifi centered novel idea

Try to find "The Slaves of Spiegel" by Daniel Pinkwater. Meant for younger audiences, but still very entertaining. It's sort of similar to what you describe, and even though the food described is totally bizarre and outlandish I can't help trying to imagine what the dishes taste like.

Apr 12, 2011
bworm42 in Not About Food

Crispo?

I really believe in Crispo. Not only are their pastas very solid, but their "affettati" plates (sliced meats with garnishes) are just amazing. The prosciutto with hot polenta and smoked mozzarella is probably their signature, but I personally think the bone marrow oreganato is best marrow preparation in the city. As for pasta, my favorite is the gnocchi with duck and fontina, but the amatriciana and carbonara are both delicious. And every single time I go I notice the spaghetti and meatballs on some other table and think that I have to try it some day.

Apr 05, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

When we last did the hot pot there they told us it was for a minimum of four. Never hurts to ask though...

Apr 04, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

I'm so glad to see all the love for Legend going on! I still go there at least once a week, almost completely replacing all my other Manhattan Sichuan needs. I want to report on two dishes that I don't see much chatter about.
One is the Fish Fillet with Pickled Vegetables. This is a giant bowl of soup full of fish, nicely cooked through and plenty flaky, and vegetables, mostly cabbage, lightly pickled. There is also a pile of glass vermicelli noodles at the bottom. The flavors of the dish, mingled perfectly in the light but creamy broth, include heat from fresh chilis, savor from the fish, a little sour from the vegetables...who knows what else. At long last I think I have discovered my ultimate comfort soup from Chinese cuisine, easily rivaling matzoh ball from Jewish, and pho from the Vietnamese corner.
The second dish I want to talk about is the Hot and Spicy (or possible Sichuan) Style Pig's Hock. This was a huge platter of the most perfectly fried cubes of fatty pork I have ever tasted. I think David Chang would sell both pinkies to be able to cook pork like this. The closest thing I can compare it to is the crispy pork in the pork and watermelon salad at Fatty Crab. But way better.
Both these dishes are amazing and I have not seen their like anywhere else in the city.

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Legend
88 7th Ave, New York, NY 10011

Apr 01, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Need the top 5 Szechuans in the city (burroughs included)

I definitely think Legend, on 7th ave just above 15th st, deserves a little attention. It's a relative newcomer, but they have impressed me over and over. Lots of dishes I have never had or seen anywhere else, especially some of the big fish filet dishes. Also the hotpot is very impressive, far more adventurous than I've had anywhere else, including Szechuan Gourmet. It does have both mediocre Chinese-American and mediocre Vietnamese on the menu, so order carefully and stick to the real Szechuan food.

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Szechuan Gourmet
21 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

Jan 25, 2011
bworm42 in Manhattan

Brunch at Maialino

They did, but it was just a few pieces of focaccia which were not particularly exciting. Definitely not a patch on EMP or even USC.

Dec 14, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Brunch at Maialino

I went for brunch at Maialino a few weeks after they opened and had good experience, mostly because the ham and cheese panino I tried was one of the best sandwiches I had tasted in a long time. On the strength of that experience I went back this past weekend with a friend.

Well, gone are the days when you could just stroll in on a lazy weekend and sit down. This place has become insanely busy, with waits of upwards of 1.5 hours. It was pleasantly casual with a nice hum but not rambunctiously loud. Our waiter was cheerful and well-informed in the best Danny Meyer tradition. Unfortunately the focaccia in the bread basket was so oily that even I couldn't finish a slice. That, however, only meant that we had more room for the rest of the food.

We started with the bomboloni and cream. I loved them and wished they were at least three times as big. Sugary, chewy, luscious...how did cupcakes ever get to be more popular than donuts? Were these examples significantly better than other freshly made gourmet donuts? Possibly not. But that still leaves them as pretty darn good.

For a side I had the panino with salumi and pickled peppers. It wasn't as mouthgasmically memorable as the ham and cheese I had the first time, but it was still an excellent sandwich. The quality of the mortadella and salami inside were clearly top-notch, even through the tang of the peppers. The focaccia bread was much better as a sandwich base than it was alone.

My friend had the poached eggs with lentils and pork head terrine. This was absolutely delicious. It had very well conceived and executed layering of flavors. The lentils made a great base, cooked just long enough and with a little bit of vinegar added to play around their earthiness. The pork head terrine was deep fried and thus combined the crunch of freshly fried breading with the melting richness of pork...bits. Finally a perfectly poached egg on top. Just an egg, but hey, a nice runny egg makes everything better. When you got a bite with a little bit of every component the different tastes and textures really stacked up.

Finally, and my real reason for writing this review, I had the polenta with rabbit. This was a daily special, but I pray that they will offer it often enough for everyone to get a chance to try it. The concept was pretty straightforward: a bowl of polenta with a couple big chunks of rabbit on top and a little jus poured over everything. It blew my mind. The jus was so rich and soulful, every single bite of it so deeply satisfying that I was left running my fingers around the bowl to catch every last drop. The rabbit was tender and moist with not a hint of toughness or gaminess, and the polenta was creamy with just the right amount of graininess, but both were only there to provide a couple different backdrops for that amazing rabbit flavor. I think I've raved enough, but suffice to say this is a dish I would never pass up.

Over all it was a very good meal with nice service at extremely reasonable prices. I guess I understand why it's become so crowded.

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Maialino
2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

Dec 14, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Nicer place in Flushing

Thank you all for your help and suggestions. After much in internal and external debate we settled on Imperial Palace. The atmosphere was just what I wanted - perfectly pleasant place to sit for a few hours and linger over our food. Here's the full cast, in order of appearance:

Little dish of roasted peanuts: not as savory or addictive as what you get at Fu Run, but still fine to munch on while we browsed menus and sipped beer.

Dried scallop and ham soup: very thick and comforting, but maybe a little salty for some. The dried scallops are finely shredded and have a nice satisfying chew to them. There also some slivers of mushroom in here, making it basically a giant steaming bowl of umami.

Fried bean curd stuffed with shrimp: one of my basic barometer dishes for Cantonese restaurants. It was done pretty well here, but the dipping sauce could have used a little more seasoning. The outside was perfectly crispy though, and the inside wonderfully creamy.

Steamed oysters in XO sauce: as everyone has commented, these things are absurdly massive. One of my dining companions commented that they must have been grown near a nuclear power plant. Very tasty, I even drank the juice left in the shell.

Dungeness crab with glutinous rice: of course we had to try it. It was very good, but I guess I have a coarse palate, because I prefer the fully loaded glutinous rice packs I get off dim sum carts. I really felt like the crab got a little lost amid the rice and scallions.

Fried chicken with minced shrimp: I don't think I can describe this dish well, but somehow by layering shrimp and chicken together they managed to create something that reminded me of bacon. I loved it, but it might weird some people out

Somehow we were still hungry after this, so we finished off our meal with:

Casserole of clams, Vietnamese style: this dish was totally different from everything else. Very highly spiced, tons of chili, vinegar, and citrus notes. I like it except for all the huge chunks of lemon in there. I've never learned to enjoy biting into a thick chunk of lemon rind.

Sliced fish layered with ham and mushrooms: very mildly spiced but a nice combination of ingredients. Nice to have, but I probably wouldn't order it again.

Dessert: we were too full to really appreciate anything else by here, but they bought us a very pleasant tapioca and sweet bean soup. There was also a plate of mediocre canned fruit.

Overall it was quite an epic meal, and some of the best Cantonese food I've had since I left Boston. M&T is next on the list!

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Imperial Palace
136-13 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

Fu Run
40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

SN New Restaurant
44-09 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

Dec 13, 2010
bworm42 in Outer Boroughs

Huge Cheeseburger from Costco food court

The meatball bake used to be at the food court but also for sale in six packs in the freezer section. I haven't seen it for almost a year now (in NYC),and I hadn't even considered that it might be available elsewhere. Can anyone chime in if they have recent sightings?

As I said, the carne asada is definitely worth trying, but if you have the gall to carry in your own bottle of hot sauce, I bet that would be a major improvement.

Dec 09, 2010
bworm42 in Chains

Best restaurant bars for drinks

Momofuku Ssam Bar has a very extensive list of good cocktails, some of them nicely Asian influenced and others cherry-picked/ripped off from the various upscale cocktail lounges around town. I also think most of the food is strongly spiced enough that it can really stand up to a cocktail.

Dec 09, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Huge Cheeseburger from Costco food court

I agree that the meatball bake was surprisingly tasty - made me very sad when they stopped carrying it. I do think that the carne asada wrap is better than the chicken. The carne asada has tons of delicious beef, although it would be better if the guac was cool and added last so the creaminess really came out. Neither bake is quite good enough to deter me from my hot dog with tons of toppings.

Dec 08, 2010
bworm42 in Chains

M&T Stands for Marvelous and Tantalizing

Erica, I would love to hear the list of dishes that made your notebook! I've been sifting through that thread myself, but inevitably I end up overwhelmed.

Dec 05, 2010
bworm42 in Outer Boroughs

Nicer place in Flushing

There are only 3 of us, but we'll easily order for twice that number. So probably 7-9 dishes. I love the food stalls, but what I really meant by "nicer" was just somewhere we could linger for a few hours and drink beer over our food. There don't need to be tablecloths or real napkins. As long as that would fly at M&T I think that looks like a great choice. Your thread is pretty overwhelming! Lots of great reviews, and I definitely want the "face salad," the pork chop breaded in shrimp, and the sea intestines. What other dishes especially qualify as unique? I don't think we're interested in soup, but anything else is fair game.

Dec 02, 2010
bworm42 in Outer Boroughs

Nicer place in Flushing

So I'm taking some friends into Flushing this weekend, and they've turned out to be a little more particular than I expected. Basically they have ruled out food courts and stalls, but cost is not an issue. Is there someplace we can sit down and order up a real feast? Spicy and Tasty is out (that was our last venture), and I've done Fu Run recently. I was originally planning to do Little Pepper, but it looks like that is closed (thanks for the warning Chowhounds!). I'm not married to Sichuan, but I don't want Taiwainese. Right now my two highest contenders are Imperial Palace and M&T, but I don't know the atmosphere of either place, and so much of the talk on here focuses on food courts that I feel like I might have missed some of the nicer places. Any advice anyone?

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Imperial Palace
136-13 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11354

Fu Run
40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

Little Pepper
133-43 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11354

SN New Restaurant
44-09 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

Dec 01, 2010
bworm42 in Outer Boroughs

Donut Plant – 6th Time Is a Charm

Can I ask what donuts you tried on the other five visits which were so disappointing? I've had a few that seemed underwhelming, usually seasonal specials like rose petal or ginger, but I think most of their regular lineup is superb. In addition to the tres leches and the creme brulee, the PB&J, chocolate blackout, and coconut cream are all amazing and decadent. In general I would say that their fillings and toppings are more important than the quality of the donut cake/pastry itself.

Nov 28, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

What would be on your NYC Restaurant "Bucket List"?

The smoked mozzarella with polenta and prosciutto is spectacular. The carbonara and amatriciana are both very good. I also enjoy the chocolate pot de creme/creme brulee combination when I remember to leave room.

Nov 17, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Blue Hill Farm or Lotus of Siam

It's interesting that you characterize Blue Hill in Manhattan this way, because those are actually some of the exact problems I have with Craft and Hearth. I think both those restaurants are way overpriced for inconsistently prepared simplistically conceived food, and take themselves far too seriously. Blue Hill in Manhattan has always given me delicious and brightly flavored food, fascinating cocktails, and warm service. I've never done Stone Barns, but I very much look forward to the day.
I agree that Gramercy Tavern is a great restaurant. I really believe that it delivers on service, flavor, and originality. But to me it stands head and shoulders above the other restaurants you mentioned.
Not saying you're wrong, but those have been my experiences and I wanted to give another point of view.

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Gramercy Tavern
42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

Blue Hill
75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

Nov 10, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

I agree that their ice cream is more interesting than most comparable Asian restaurants. I recently went with a large group and they brought us a plate with scoops of green tea, red bean, vanilla, and banana. All of them were more flavorful and less sugary than I expected, including the vanilla which was of really surprisingly high quality.

Nov 10, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

What would be on your NYC Restaurant "Bucket List"?

The Minetta Tavern one is served "shallot confit and baguette soldiers." The Crispo is served with what I'm pretty sure is sweet onion marmalade and toasted brioche. The reason why that one stands out to me is because the marrow bones themselves are unbelievably succulent, with a sprinkling of toasted garlic breadcrumbs on top. I also think that's where you get the most marrow for your buck.

Nov 04, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

What would be on your NYC Restaurant "Bucket List"?

I think Minetta Tavern is better, but for my money the marrow at Crispo is leagues better than either!

Nov 04, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Kin Shop in West Village - just opened

Went last night for the first time, and was very impressed. The duck laab was the best rendition I have ever had, and I order that dish ever time I see it on a menu. It was spicy, not too citrus, and somehow the bits of meat were just the right size to keep a little of their warmth and texture. The pork belly and oyster dish also left me wanting more. The oysters were perfectly crispy (although three of us split it so they didn't have much time to cool down) and it was maybe the best bite of pork belly I've had since I first discovered David Chang.
The eggplant was the one dish that really disappointed me. As jellygood noted, some of the pieces seemed a little crunchy and bitter. The crab noodles were delicious, massive, and full of tender chunks of crab. The duck roti was rich with full clean flavors. My only complaint is that there didnt seem to be enough of it. Six smallish slices of duck breast for 24 dollars seems steep to me, but it's pretty filling when wrapped in the roti pancakes. The goat massaman was truly beautifully cooked. Even well cooked goat often maintains a little tough gaminess, and this chunk of meat was truly melting. We got extra rice just so we could make sure to enjoy every drop of the curry sauce.
Finally, the thai pickle dirty martini was extremely delicious. Next time I really want to try some of their more unusual beers, but the truth is I would always be happy to make a dinner out of that martini and a double order of duck laab.

Nov 04, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Vietnamese Restaurant Wars in the Bronx: Aftermath?

I agree that the pho there is only pretty good. I personally usually find the noodles overcooked. I love their cracked rice plates though, especially with grilled pork and and fried egg. It's just one of those dishes where everything pulls together perfectly. I was pretty underwhelmed by the duck leg soup. The mushrooms in it were delicious but the broth was extremely bland. It reminded me more of a Chinese noodle soup except that the duck wasn't as well cooked. My favorite thing about this place might just be the giant stuffed buns they sell at the counter for 1.50 you get a piece of steamed bread the size of a large grapefruit, crammed with pork, mushrooms, chunks of hardboiled egg, and who knows what else.

Unfortunately it is true that the atmosphere is essentially non-existent. The room is drab and the service pretty indifferent. Nonetheless it adds tremendously to the variety of food available in that part of the Bronx.

Oct 11, 2010
bworm42 in Outer Boroughs

Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat at Shanghai Cafe

I printed out the list of translated specials here

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7323...

and brought it with me. Simplified everything. Thank you scoopG!

Oct 07, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Hundred Leaves Knotted BBQ Meat at Shanghai Cafe

I ordered this dish a few weeks ago. It was definitely one of the high points of the meal. The "knotted leaves" were bean curd skin, almost reminiscent of tangled pappardelle. The meat was large cubes of pork belly, cooked until the fat was melting and the meat falling apart. The whole dish was lightly dressed in a smoky typical Shanghainese brown sauce. I've never had a dish quite like it before, and the memories of it have haunted me ever since. Strongly recommended.

Oct 07, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

I just went back for lunch, and a few impressive and unusual dishes. The Leaf-wrapped Glutinous Rice Cake was great and unlike anything I have had before. A thin layer of the glutinous rice paste often found in Japanese pastries (but not sweet) was wrapped around a small amount of delicious spiced meat. A very good variation on dumplings. The Slice Pork with Rice Crust was a sizzling platter of crispy rice cakes brought to the table with pan of sauce poured over them. The sauce was not spicy at all, but had an addictive gravy quality, strong ginger and garlic notes, and was chock full of well cooked Chinese vegetables.

"Cheng Du" Hot and Spicy Fish Filet was the real star of the meal. It reminded me of the fish cooked in ma po tofu that I've enjoyed so much at Spicy & Tasty, but reversed. This was a giant quantity of firm tofu swimming in a bowl of chili oil crammed with fish filets and cabbage and a few other veggies. For $21 it was almost certainly enough food for 3-4 people, especially with rice. It also had an unusual addition to the standard pantheon of Sichuan spices. Something like cinnamon or nutmeg. One of my dining partners commented that this was the kind of dish you see at some other table and wish you knew what it was called so you could order it.

We also had a very well rendered Fried Lamb w/ Cumin. Giant chunks of meat with a much more pronounced lamb-y flavor than any I have had before.

Oct 02, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

I believe the happy hour lasts from 4-9, but it might start even earlier. It includes 2 for 1 beers (American, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai options), and about a dozen different 5 dollar cocktails. I don't remember all the cocktails, but there were a few kinds of flavored "martini," a very large and pleasant mojito, and an extremely drinkable manhattan. With those hours it's closer to a dinner deal than a happy hour. And I was surprised by how well bourbon goes with spicy food.

Sep 30, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Revelatory new Sichuan restaurant--Legend on 7th Avenue at 15th

That Dry Spicy Diced Chicken w/Ginger and Peanut has replaced the Gui Zhou chicken at Grand Sichuan on 34th st as my favorite Chinese chicken dish in New York. And the Sliced Pork with Garlic Stems is absolutely amazing. The pork is cooked like crispy bacon and the garlic stems seemed to be pickled somehow. The Lo Mein with Ginger and Scallion also had more ginger and scallion in it than any rendition I have had before. The Tears in Eyes had about two solid inches of chili pepper heaped onto mung bean noodles swimming in chili oil. It's not as well balanced as their other Sichuan appetizers, but it's a definite contender for people who really crave some burn. Finally, the Ma Po Tofu was just as I like it: medium sized chunks of tofu, finely ground pork, lots of Sichuan peppercorn, and a sauce that manages to be both oily and light at the same time. None of this nonsense with cornstarch and greenpeas.

The happy hour Manhattans are also dangerously tasty.

On the downside, the Griddled Cooked Duck managed to be less than the sum of it's somewhat elaborate components. A fancy chafing dish does not make up for too many random veggies and a bland sauce.

I think that Legend will definitely be one of my top choices for Sichuan food once I learn a little more about which of their unique dishes are delicious and which are disappointing.

Sep 29, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan

Where can I watch Top Chef?

Great idea, but no dice. I just called and not only do they not have any current plans for screening the episodes, they don't have any TVs installed. Any other ideas? Even if it's just a place with good food and a friendly bartender who might be convinced?

May 30, 2010
bworm42 in Manhattan