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Week in Reviews: Mr. Chow Tribeca, Degustation, Mr. Chow Tribeca, Sakagura

[Kalina, 5/18/06]

1) Platt feels the fury Mr. Chow Tribeca elicits in those not "impressed by the Mr. Chow scene," awards it a tantalizing zero stars. From the lack of menus (the idea being that regulars remember the 40-year-old menu by heart) to the horrific food, which began in "comically dismal fashion and then got steadily worse." Later trips proved a bit better, if only for the company:

Perhaps it’s because I dined with one or two of the city’s numerous Mr. Chow obsessives, people for whom the timeless idiosyncrasies of the Mr. Chow experience (high-handed waiters, absurdist prices, the creepy greenness of the green shrimp) have, over the decades, become a kind of comforting, clubby ritual.
and
What he’s peddling is a hint of glamour, a whiff of celebrity, a tenuous sense that you’re making the scene.
Translation: Insecure? You'll love it. Have tastebuds? You won't. [New York]

2) What starts off as Bruni-en-typical-fuego turns into a thoughtful two-star contextual examination of the Lambs' latest, the Euro-inflected Degustation. At first, it's all about the food porn:

A seared pair of plump scallops rode a magical carpet with colorful threads of sweetness (wedges of orange), tartness (grapefruit and lemon) and heat (a jalapeño emulsion). Caramelized wedges of grapefruit were unexpected but prudent companions for seared foie gras, whose richness they eloquently offset.
...
The quotation marks around the word tortilla in a description of one of those dishes signaled that something sly was afoot: specifically, poached quail eggs and shallot confit inside pockets of thinly sliced potato. Each of these savory bonbons was best consumed in one bite, which set off a gooey eruption.
But at second, it's all about checking out what's up next door. And while
The breadth of its selection — about three dozen kinds of sushi and sashimi — remains remarkable
...
those tables are tightly packed, the lighting isn't particularly soothing and service can be sluggish, making the prices, lower than at other serious sushi temples, seem less a bargain than a fair enough deal.
And of course, lest you think Frank has lost the script, he brings it back home.
Eating next door isn't cheaper. But it's actually more comfortable, and it's definitely more exciting.
See above. [NYT]

After the jump, more (dissing) on Mr. Chow Tribeca, a Sakagura rave, and the usual you-know-what.

3) The always excellent Lauren Collins weighs in on Mr. Chow Tribeca in this week's Tables for Two. Basic point—if you're not interested in glitz, you're not interested in Chow—remains the same, with a few kickers.

Googling your date before dinner is standard practice, but your dinner Googling you for a date? Perhaps it’s best to show up and appeal to the cartographer himself.
Not to mention the very definition of a set-up-knockdown:
It was a full house at ten, when Karl Lagerfeld appeared. No matter: soon, a troupe of white-suited flunkies cleared a space in the middle of the room and scurried through, carrying a table over their heads.

Lagerfeld has said that he never eats after 8 P.M. Lucky for him.

Enough said. [New Yorker]

4) Peter Meehan
gets happy on the sake at midtown's Sakagura, whose name is "synonymous with serious sake drinking in New York." Small plates rule, but the uniqueness is in the, well, uniqueness of the dishes like the onsen tamago (a cold roe-spiked soup), and the dango (flour and rice fritters.) And, as he's been doing lately, he lets us in:
And now here's a caveat: watch how fast you put back that sake. It's ice cold, easy drinking and packs a wallop: sake is significantly higher in alcohol by volume than wine, 15 to 18 percent.
He's not as think as you drunk he is. [NYT]

Elsewhere, Time Out New York practices their new system by giving two (out of six!) stars to Buddha Bar; Gothamist notes the return of M&R; NYCNosh gets down with the tacos at Tehuitzingo; and Gotham Gal checks out Chinatown Brasserie.

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