This week Pete Wells files on pricey Midtown Chinese restaurant Hakkasan. The kitchen serves some excellent dim sum, but he finds that there are too many expensive misfires on the menu:
Anything described as spicy was sure to be as mild as cream cheese. Run-of-the-mill udon noodles with duck had no trace of the advertised XO sauce.He ultimately gives the restaurant one star. If all you want is dim sum, Wells recommends going for lunch or brunch, "when the selection is greatest." And one final note about the music: "The stuff they play at Hakkasan at night now — it’s enough to put crazy ideas in your head." [NYT]
Nothing I tasted at Hakkasan was unpleasant, but when the check easily surpassed $100 a person, it was hard not to feel cheated. It was like buying scalped tickets to see Anna Netrebko at the Met and then finding out that she would be performing the Katy Perry songbook.
The Post's Steve Cuozzo also reviews Hakkasan this week, and he's not impressed: "Stir-fried lobster in XO sauce is among 'dishes specifically created for New York.' It would be less than half of $59 in any of the city’s Chinatowns. The chewy crustacean is what steakhouses call 'tail.' Strong desserts ($15 a pop) are too little, too late. I’ll see you on Mott Street." Cuozzo gives the restaurant a half star rating. [NYP]
Ryan Sutton likes a lot of the dishes on the a la carte menu at The Nomad, but he's disappointed by the ones on the tasting menu: "The NoMad charges $125 for its tasting menu — the same price as the entry-level option as Eleven Madison. Must be the deal of the century, right? Wrong, sorry to say. Chef Humm sends out four of his worst dishes on the seven-course meal." He gives the restaurant two stars. [Bloomberg]
Gael Greene is charmed by Eric Korsh and Ginevra Iverson's Calliope: "Gleaming thin slices of tête de porc scattered with circlets of onion and parsley has us in its thrall. Bits of pickle play an acid note. Beef tongue is thin sliced too, tender and bland with a sharp onion sweetness. I use a furl to wipe up a big dab of sauce gribiche: chopped herbs and pickle in a faintly mustardy, vinegary mayo-like emulsion. Sauce gribiche? When was the last time you saw that classic on a menu that isn’t Daniel Boulud’s? " [Insatiable Critic]
Tejal Rao loves the food and the vibe at Andy Ricker's Pok Pok NY: "Ricker gives traditional dishes attention and respect but doesn't fetishize them or price them unreasonably. That's why there are crowds. Go! You're likely to enjoy most every dish, unless you bring along a killjoy who insists on measuring food's authenticity by his own pseudoscientific criterion. In which case, my condolences. Nothing ruins dinner like asking to see its papers." [VV]
Jay Cheshes gives three stars to both Yunnan Kitchen and Lotus Blue. On the former: "Mashed-potato puffs, as delicate as French pommes dauphines, come with a light soy-vinegar dipping sauce. Silky scrambled eggs are folded around jasmine buds and cherry tomatoes. Despite the clamorous soundtrack of metal on wok, all of this food is as spare and elegant as the space it’s served in." And the latter: "The banana-blossom-and-sweet-mango salad, garnished with peanuts and mint, is a bright and refreshing taste of the jungle. And strips of pressed and smoked tofu stir-fried with pineapple hunks and garlic chives are just as intriguing." [TONY]
THE ELSEWHERE: Ligaya Mishan likes the haute comfort food at Earl's Beer & Cheese spinoff ABV, Robert Sietsema checks out the new crop of cheap eats on Eldridge Street, and Tables for Two enjoys the appetizers more than the entrees at Alison Eighteen.
THE BLOGS: Serious Eats give a B plus to La Vara, the Imaculate Infatuation boys encounter some hits and misses at Betel, Gotham Gal recommends the sushi at Neta, Goodies First has a solid meal at North End Grill, Chekmark Eats digs the macrobiotic fare at Souen in the East Village, Eat Big Apple checks out the first NYC location of Chinese chain Little Sheep, The Food Doc posts a recap of the Dia de Portugal feast at Aldea, and NY Journal files on a very good meal that he had at Isa, before Ignacio Mattos was fired.
· All Coverage of Week in Reviews [~ENY~]