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Reviews for Little Pepper, Salvation Burger, El Cortez, and More

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Ryan Sutton gives one star to the modern steakhouse Quality Eats. Here's a roundup of the rest of this week's big reviews:

[Salvation Burger]
[Salvation Burger]
Nick Solares

— Many of the Sichuan dishes at Little Pepper in College Point receive high praise from Pete Wells"Cold smashed cucumbers with garlic are turning up in non-Chinese restaurants now, but few improve on the ones at Little Pepper. Corn kernels stir-fried with pine nuts are strangely easy to get along with. Fried rice, cooked with so much finely minced scallion that it turns the color of a Shamrock Shake, is a superb mop for fiery sauces." He adds: "The reason to drive to College Point Boulevard is to eat undiluted Sichuan cooking." Two stars.

At 1 or 8 in Brooklyn, Tejal Rao finds excellent sushi inside an otherwise OK Japanese restaurant. Here's Rao on sushi chef Kazuo Yoshida: "He seasons simply: A piece of goldeye snapper gets a shake of lemon zest. Raw scallop, a drop or two of lemon juice. A golden pile of sweet, shaved egg yolk covers a piece of meltingly soft spotted sardine, and Yoshida animates a light, silvery piece of needlefish by running a fingertip of wasabi along its length. The rice is always extraordinary, warm, falling apart in your mouth, but not in your fingertips." Three stars.

— Zachary Feldman is blown away by the Japanese noodles at Raku in the East Village: "It's the noodles that deserve the most attention at Raku — slippery, handmade udon strands that Ishizuka imports from Japan, exceptional for both their buoyancy and their bite. The standard noodles are thick and unwieldy, with considerable snap — all virtues of ideal udon."

Raku Photo: Robert Sietsema

[Raku] Photo by Robert Sietsema

The rare Gael Greene triple-feature offers early words on Salvation Burger, La Sirena, and City Crab Shack. At Bloomfield and Friedman's newest restaurant, the critic likes most of what she tries: "Excellent salads and veggies to share. Tiny explosions of pepper in fritters no bigger than a pencil eraser. The edges of the anorexic patties in the classic are deliciously caramelized, surprisingly good. Maybe the fishwich could be crisper."

Silvia Killingsworth of Tables for Two finds El Cortez in Bushwick to be equal parts hits and misses: "The central tension at El Cortez is between two menu items: All-American Taco Night and Tacos Du Jour. The former consists of ground beef, iceberg lettuce, store-bought salsa, and canned olives in a crispy taco shell, while the latter is a genuinely good soft-shell affair—the pork well seasoned and the shrimp fresh, accompanied by the canonical cilantro, onions, and lime."

[El Cortez] Photo by Daniel Krieger

[El Cortez] Photo by Daniel Krieger

Ligaya Mishan enjoys sampling the different types of porridge at OatMeals on West Third Street: "Not every roster of toppings will delight. (You can always choose your own.) But the 'happy endings' are wonderfully goofy in their abundance, particularly the Almond Joy, with toasted coconut and dark chocolate chips that start to liquefy the moment they touch the hot oats."

The Blogs: Restaurant Girl finds a lot to praise at Bottle & Bine, Goodies First visits Ramen by MEW and a few others, The Infatuation gives a 7.0 rating to Sylvia's, the Pink Pig shares his thoughts on cheese at Murray's, and Joe DiStefano visits PappaRich in Flushing.

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