Pete Wells awards two stars this week to the upscale Korean restaurant that last year opened in the former Chanterelle space, Jung Sik. The pricing is aggressive and the restaurant trades excitement for dull formality (both in terms of service and oftentimes what's on the plates), but overall the chefs are doing something special with the food:
I stirred all this together, like bibimbap, and began to travel. The seaweed and the briny urchin tugged me toward the beach. The kimchi and sesame oil dropped me on the corner of 32nd and Sixth. As for the quinoa, as it crunched between my teeth I was back at in my parents’ house, eating a breakfast bowl of Grape-Nuts. It sounds like a cab ride to crazy town, but it was great.But really, something needs to change to fill up those seats: "I wish more New Yorkers would give the place a chance. I also wish the place would give more New Yorkers a chance. Friendlier prices and a more comfortable tone would be a start..." [NYT]
A lot of what we call creativity in cooking is simply rearranging old patterns by swapping one ingredient for another, less-expected one. A talent for forming entirely new patterns is more rare.
Ryan Sutton has a hard time landing a table at West Village meat palace Takashi but likes much of what he samples once he's in: "There’s a good reason for the crowds: Takashi is virtually unparalleled in its breadth of bovine off-cuts. A cow has four stomachs; this place serves them all." [Bloomberg]
Tables for Two contends that Battersby is serving some of Brooklyn's most exciting food: "On every table, there is a dish of puréed potatoes, already Yelp-famous, which taste like a delicious cloud of cream. Slow-roasted oxtail is a bold garnish, and it’s a testament to the humblest of starches that you almost forget the meat is there...To turn out anything beyond buffalo wings in a space this small is remarkable; that the food is this good makes it all the more so." [New Yorker]
The Robs file a twofer this week awarding three stars each to newcomers Jack's Wife Freda in Soho and Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter over on Avenue C. The former serves what may be Soho's best burger and food that is "homey, delicious, and wonderfully satisfying," while the latter offers fried chicken that is "pretty much perfect: crunchy, crackling, juicy, relatively greaseless, and full of flavor." [NYM]
THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan discovers Thai food that is neither super authentic nor watered down at newish East Village restaurant Ngam, Gael Greene thinks Jeanne and Gaston on an ugly strip of 14th Street is almost a gem, Lauren Shockey samples the wares of St. Marks Place sandwich shops Xe May and Sao Mai, and Robert Sietsema discovers a low-key Hong Kong cafe in Chinatown called Coluck.
THE BLOGS: The Food Doc sees great potential in Empellon Cocina and the Pink Pig files a rave for it, NY Journal finds excellent food at Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria but doesn't think its three star materia, and Immaculate Infatuation is pretty much blown away by David Bouley's Japanese restaurant Brushtroke.