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Eaters’ Journal 7/9/16: Hao Noodle & Tea, The Beatrice Inn, Le Coucou, Pig Beach, and More

Field notes from Eater editors about recent meals around New York City

Hao Noodle and Tea: It is rare to be astonished by a new restaurant, but this place does it. Hao Noodle and Tea is a first American project of a Chinese restaurant chain known as Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, which boasts six locations, including ones in Shanghai and Beijing. This branch has clearly been carefully groomed for the New York City market, with a rustic build-out that includes a long communal table, vases bursting with flowers, light fixtures like exploding fireworks, and blue draperies. The menu mainly favors short dishes, and a selection of expensive teas by the cup. As the name suggests, this establishment is intended to function as a faddish tea house (indeed, a tea course is served in the late afternoon), as well as a Chinese tapas joint.

The short dishes are exquisitely prepared and presented, and the price tags reflect that. A vegetable called celtuce arrives stacked like Jenga blocks; it’s hard to resist pulling out a bottom one first. Dan dan noodles are creamy tasting, engulfed in orange oil, and all noodles seem to be undulating in unison, like a living thing. Tiny bits of pork rib arrived thickly glazed, with enough meat to feed a small squirrel, but arranged on the plate so perfectly you may not care. There are larger dishes, too, including a surprisingly huge ceramic pot of dumplings in broth, and a fish stew shot with Sichuan peppercorns that explodes in your mouth and leaves you very happy as you spoon up the paradoxically rich but light green broth. The city has never seen a Chinese restaurant quite like this before. — Robert Sietsema

The Beatrice Inn: I had the second best steak of my life at The Beatrice Inn last week. It was second best to the one I had last year by Victor Arguinzoniz at Asador Etxebarri in the Basque region of Spain. At The Beatrice Inn, chef Angie Mar recently started serving a very limited number (you'll want to order this in advance) of 165 day 50-ish ounce dry-aged rib steaks and, technically, they're not quite dry-aged. Last year Angie studied with a Parisian butcher who taught her the technique of wet-aging meat. The idea being, you wrap a piece of meat in a booze soaked cloth, like wine or sake or the hard stuff, then let it camp out for a desired number of days. So, Angie took that technique back to The Beatrice, and she's now serving her version of wet-aged beef, specifying using whiskey. It's crazzzzzyyyyyyyy good. The meat slams your palate with umami, and tastes like funk in a powerful, yet delicious way -- if you like dry-aged meat, that is. — Kat Odell

Joe's Pizza of the Village/Varrio 408/Sai Thai Kitchen I just moved to Park Slope, and so far, the neighborhood is great. The trees are bigger, the architecture is more pleasing, and there's simply less garbage on the streets. But sadly, the dining situation has been very hit or miss so far. Although Joe's Pizza of the Village on Fifth Ave boasts a link to Joe's in the West Village, its sauce is far more sugary, and it's definitely not another outpost of the famous slice joint. It was hard to get through the last few bites of my pepperoni.Varrio 408, a taco place that I dropped into after seeing a woman making fresh tortillas, did indeed serve fresh and bright tortillas, but the meat fillings were too big for a taco and also, for some reason, overly sugary. And Sai Thai Kitchen, a spot I hoped would be my go-to Thai take-out place, similarly packed every dish with more sugar than any savory dish could possibly need. Is that simply the taste here? (Maybe because kids prefer sweeter dishes?) Send your (non-Talde) Park Slope recommendations my way. I am open to new neighborhood haunts. — Serena Dai

Nick Solares

[Papa Rosa by Nick Solares]

Citi Field: I went to the Mets game on Thursday and tried a margherita pie from Papa Rossa, Danny Meyer's new-this-year pizza spot in Citi Field. It was very good, but while in theory I love the idea of more good vegetarian options in baseball stadiums (there's a white version with mushrooms as well), in practice thin crust slices are hard to eat at your seats — I actually waited for mine to get cold so that it would be less floppy and more manageable. Most people in our group opted for Fuku chicken sandwiches, obviously, though a few confided after the fact that they wished they had waited in line for Shake Shack instead. — Sonia Chopra

Té Company: I've been to Té Company in the West Village at least three times, maybe four. It's not new; it opened late last year. But each time I visit I am stunned by the beauty with which everything is done, from the tea to the service to the food. The tiny cafe, which specializes in Taiwanese oolong tea, is run by Elena Liao and her partner Frederico Ribeiro, formerly a sous chef at Per Se. You know that classic Spanish tapa, the frittata-like tortilla Espanola? It's typically so rubbery it could bounce off the plate. Ribeiro's is as rich and tender as a custard. It's drizzled with olive oil and dusted with chive blossoms and I could eat it every day. There is a pineapple linzer cookie that has achieved cult status already (for good reason), but if you like chocolate at all, please go and order the chocolate cake. A wedge of soft flourless chocolate cake is topped with whipped cream so pillowy it looks like a down blanket. Crawl under it with your spoon and don't forget to take a sip of tea with each bite. — Daniela Galarza

[Le Coucou by Nick Solares]

Le Coucou: Dinner here last week was something special. The room is stunning but not at all intimidating, and the staff moves so elegantly, you feel instantly at ease. For a brand new restaurant, they have seemingly nailed their timing and coursing. All the food ranged from good to really great. A highlight was the poached egg with salmon and artichoke, though the server did not care for my likening the dish to eggs Benedict. The duck with cherries was delicious and I could have had three more of the summer scallops, but a few dishes leaned on the heavier side, leaving me without dessert. — Patty Diez

Pig Beach: I’d heard this place could be kind of a shitshow, but when I visited this seasonal pop-up on the Gowanus Canal at around 2 p.m. on Sunday, the bar and the barbecue counter were both completely manageable. The space was full of families chowing down, plus a few bros in critter shorts playing corn hole. I asked the bartender if this was a typical crowd and she mentioned that things were just getting started and that on a previous Saturday they did 1,500 covers.

I loved the smoked and grilled wings doused in a spicy white sauce. The pulled pork, which was mopped with a slightly fruity vinegar concoction, was also really good. The spares had a nice crust and the meat was tender, but the peppery rub overpowered the flavor the beef. It’s not super smoky ‘cue, but obviously, the Pig Beach crew cares about the meat that they’re serving. I hope to hit it up once again before the summer’s over. — Greg Morabito

Top photo: Beatrice Inn by Daniel Krieger

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