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Bess Adler

Eaters' Journal 9/2/2016: The Tang, Sunken Hundred, BlackTail, and More

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

The Tang: First Avenue between St. Marks and 7th Street is fast becoming the United Nations of Asian cuisine. We have Oiji representing Korea, the Hawaiian inspired cuisine of Nooretuh, the hot pot cooking of The Mala Project, and now we have The Tang, bringing Chinese noodles to the table. I stopped in last weekend and noshed on a hearty bowl of Hu noodles with chickpea puree and ground pork spiked with chili oil. They evoked dan dan noodles, with similar spice levels, but the noodles where thicker and meatier in texture. I dug it, although it either needed less broth or a spoon. Better still was the beef short rib, which is marinated in fried soy, Sichuan pepper, and star anise before being sous vide for 20 hours and seared off. It is served in bite sized slices that have the perfect rosy disposition and a profoundly beefy flavor. This represents one of the great bargains in beef going right now. — Nick Solares


Cherry Point: Does it ever happen to you where the item you were least excited to order/try ends up being the most impressive? Always? Ok. The heirloom tomatoes on toast are a real sleeper here. It's the best version of pan con tomate I've had outside Spain. It's listed under smalls but really anything but. Then there's the seafood platter that comes with sable, arctic char, a whitefish spread, scallion labna, and more. The labna is stupid good, and better on anything you eat it with. Still, the best part of the board was the scrambled eggs, a most perfect soft scramble that stays warm well after the dish arrives. — Patty Diez


Dunkin' Donuts: I tried not to spend any money on coffee in August to varying degrees of success, but one of the times that I caved was at 7:30 am at Penn Station on the way to DC. I ordered a plain black iced coffee at Dunkin' Donuts for half the price of a cold brew at my regular shop, and it was the best thing I had ever tasted. — Sonia Chopra


Sunken Hundred: Has New York City ever hosted a Welsh restaurant before? They're few and far between, as far as I can tell. Sunken Hundred sits as a Celtic beacon on Smith Street. The outside is powder blue; inside a bar runs along one wall. The cocktails are unusual. "This one tastes like the sea," warned the bartender. The best seats are in the windows that thrust out into the sidewalk. A first meal was especially pleasant there, partly due to good service and the hijinks of owner Illtyd Barrett, an artist with a mop of blonde hair who vamps around the room cracking jokes.

Stick with the most Welsh of offerings, including a free bar snack of fried seaweed fritters and a perfect, salt-flecked lamb turnover (a "pasty" in U.K. parlance) accompanied by tomato chutney. The scones with mackerel butter will leave quite a smell on your fingers, but are delectable (don’t dare call them biscuits, because that’s the Brit name for cookies). Best of all, perhaps, is ffagodau, a trio of organ-bearing lamb meatballs settled on a bed of mushy minted peas surrounded by a moat of brown gravy. You’ll be thinking of it as you subway home, mentally reciting a Dylan Thomas poem. — Robert Sietsema

[BlackTail by Nick Solares]

BlackTail: The theme here is an American bar during the prohibition, in Cuba. And yet, it works! I can't say I care for the 1990's TGIFridays pager that was given to me as I waited for a table, but once I was seated I started to be less annoyed. You're greeted with a shot of a delicious frozen daiquiri, a nice touch that I hope sticks around. I ordered the Nacional (one of the punches) which is a rum blend, bitters, apricot, banana, lime, and yuzu. It's wildly balanced and delicious, and a drink I could drink forever. But it's $16, so maybe I wont. — Patty Diez


Fonda: Fonda was surprisingly packed for a Tuesday night in South Slope — so much so that the host apologized for a 20 minute wait. (Ok, maybe that’s a long time for South Slope on a weeknight, but it was fine. The three of us waited.) Once we were notified that a table was available, it somehow ended up being a prime spot in the very cute and homey backyard. I immediately ordered a frozen hibiscus margarita and guacamole, and was charmed.

The experience had its flaws, of course. After waiting for food for a strangely long time, it turned out the waitress forgot to put in orders for two of us, and the special I had ordered ran out. But the waitress’s apologetic and endearingly bashful attitude saved it. They brought over another round of margaritas. Food came out shortly after, and the scallop and shrimp dish with a spicy and bright green sauce ended up being, hands down, the best thing I’ve eaten in Park Slope since moving to the neighborhood. — Serena Dai


Sauvage: I went to the very cool Williamsburg restaurant Sauvage on a blind-ish double date with another couple, my husband, and our two five month-old babies. Two. Babies. We went at 5 pm on a Sunday (we're not complete monsters), and it was slightly stressful at the beginning because they have a no stroller rule, but my new friend called ahead and was told that since it was raining we could bring in the strollers but then when we got there they said we couldn't. But it was fine. My kid, who is usually a silent angel baby at 5 o'clock, was pissed because he came down with a cold. We took turns wandering around with him. I went outside to feed him hoping that would help. Towards the end of the night the other baby starting getting annoyed.

The space of my brain that wasn't devoted to "oh god please don't let this baby cry" was focused on making conversation with these new people (it's hard to make friends when you're over 30). So I don't remember what I ate or drank but I remember it all being very good and the service was A++. You should go there. — Amanda Kludt


Mtskheta Café: This Georgian café in Gravesend occupies a middle ground between Russian fast-food pelmeni joints and stuffy, sit-down restaurants. The place is dark, old-fashioned, and lies beneath the elevated D tracks in an atmosphere of perpetual gloom. The food is inexpensive and delicious, though the katchapouri doesn’t have an egg in the middle, which is a pity. Highlights of a recent meal included a humongous plate of pickled pig trotters, a baby chicken tabaka that could have used a little less crushed garlic (it set our mouths on fire), and a Georgian salad of cukes, tomatoes, and flat-leaf parsley that was beautiful in its simplicity. — Robert Sietsema


Peter Luger: A wise man once told me there are good Peter Luger meals and then there are great Peter Luger meals. Of course in his opinion, and in mine, even a good Peter Luger steak is hard to beat. Not every steak there will be life changing, but it will always be a fine example of the NYC steakhouse vernacular. The steak I had last weekend was good, and while its dry aged flavor wasn't quite as pronounced as the best steaks I have had here, it was certainly noticeable on the exterior of the cut.

But what struck me about this particular steak was how ethereally tender it was. The NY strip side was as lithe as most filet mignon, and the latter muscle on the steak in question had the tensile strength of warm butter — you could pull it apart with a fork. And while the flavor might not have been as funky as some of the best steaks I have had, it none the less held a timeless charm. — Nick Solares

Top photo by Bess Adler

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