This week, Pete Wells files on Yunnan Kitchen, the new Chinese restaurant on Clinton Street from Travis Post and Erika Chou. Wells is intrigued by their greenmarket approach to Yunnanese fare:
In late summer, a frequent special chalked on the blackboard wall next to the open kitchen was a salad of locally grown green tomatoes dressed with coriander leaves, golden flecks of garlic and crushed poppy and coriander seeds. Has any Yunnanese cook ever treated a crunchy, unripe tomato this way? I don't know and I don't care. It's a very refreshing salad, wherever it's from.Wells notes that the spice blend is used in A LOT of dishes, and that "Mr. Post's fresh, locavore sensibility leads to straightforward and uncomplicated cooking." Still, there are enough solid dishes here to warrant a visit. Wells gives the restaurant one star. [NYT]
Neither can I vouch for the precise origins of the small pile of "Yunnan spices" alongside fatty pork belly given a gentle cure and then fried until it blistered. I just know that I fell silent as I swiped this house-made bacon into the rust-colored powder again and again, trying to name all the spices.
Robert Sietsema likes the starters and the pastas at Nicoletta, and he enjoys some of the pizza toppings, too. But the dough ultimately lets him down. The critic concludes: "I took another bite of that disappointing crust, and my mind went back to college: It tasted like the Tombstone frozen pizzas once served in Wisconsin bars and warmed in lightbulb cabinets." [VV]
Adam Platt awards an enthusiastic three stars to Blanca in Bushwick: "Dinner took four hours, but it seemed half that long. Toward the end of the meal, someone put Sinatra on the stereo, and the waiters poured a sweet, sparkling wine from Bugey. It wasn't a stunning wine, but on this evening in the wilds of Bushwick, as the improbably talented cook circulated among his guests in his baseball cap, and the moon rose over the garden outside, it tasted just fine. It tasted delicious, in fact." [NYM/GS]
Michael Kaminer gives just two stars (out of five) to Kosher newcomer Jezebel: "A boring beet salad ($16) serves up neutered root vegetables and baby arugula that mainly taste of liberally applied olive oil...Slightly more successful is a spartan charcuterie plate cutely dubbed 'The Daily Deli' ($24). Its anchor is a tiny pot of luscious chicken-liver mousse — think chopped liver gone goyish. But it barely makes up for tepid smoked duck 'ham' or gelatinous veal-mushroom paté." [NYDN]
Jay Cheshes digs the ramen at Dassara: "The most classic version begins with a robust shio ('salt') broth—a beautifully viscous chicken-based soup thickened with potatoes and sushi rice. Into that pool go drizzles of chicken fat and soy-mirin tare (Yakitori basting sauce), along with bamboo shoots, noodles, black garlic oil, a sous vide soft-poached egg, and sweet-and-savory pork belly braised in the Chinese red-cooking style. It's a complex bowl, with every component done just right." The critic gives the restaurant four stars out of five. [TONY]
THE ELSEWHERE: Gael Greene has a delightful meal with Broadway legend Joel Grey at Neta, Ligaya Mishan is surprised by the spiciness of the Tibetan fare at Phayul in Jackson Heights, Tejal Rao likes many of the meaty snacks at Ducks Eatery in the East Village, and Leo Carey of Tables for Two approves of the traditional and modern Czech fare at Hospoda.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats gives a B to The Pines, Eat Big Apple is underwhelmed by Star of Siam Kitchen in Forrest Hills, the Pink Pig enjoys his meal at Ducks Eatery, the Immaculate Infatuation boys are won over by The Pines, Goodies First visits Chinese/American/Latin restaurant Sapolo in Clinton Hill, Chekmark Eats has a great meal at Principessa in Soho, and the Food Doc files on the recent Enrique Olvera dinner at Empellon Cocina.