Tag: Manhattan

Per Se, New York City, United States

How much hassle is it to arrange a surprise birthday meal in New York City from London? No matter how much upfront planning I did, it was still nearly impossible. I was going to treat my friend Darcy to a nice meal in NYC at the last weekend of August 2011 since it’s her big birthday. My plan A was to book Le Bernandin, but it’s closed for refurbishment in August; then I booked Picholine and they confirmed the reservation, with me thinking that it’s all sorted. However, about a fortnight before the visit, I got a cryptic e-mail saying that they cancelled my reservation. It’s only when I rang the restaurant that they told me they would be closed for refurbishment also (is that all they do in New York in August?). So in the end I opted for my safety net Per Se, which might be impossible to book (and Darcy would be able to guess) but worth a try.

Then what happened? Hurricane Irene hit New York that last weekend in August and nearly the whole of New York (including Per Se) was shut down. But at least Per Se managed to sort out a table for the weekend after for Sunday lunch, which I happened to be back in Manhattan anyway. Then it’s working out with Darcy’s boyfriend on how to throw the scent off the trail, and so I made up a story of going elsewhere but meet at Columbus Circle.

Luckily when the big day came, everything worked according to plan. Darcy got a birthday greeting from the restaurant as soon as she arrived, and once we settled down at the table, we had the tough task of deciding which menu to go for. In the end, I chose the vegetarian menu (which was unusual, but after a whole week of stuffing my face stupid, I could do with a lighter meal) while the rest of the table chose the carnivore menu.

The amuse-bouche reminded us of Mr Underhill’s in the UK, as they were more sophisticated versions of Gougeres, smoked salmon cones and sweet potato cone.

Per Se - Gougeres Per Se - Salmon Cones and Sweet Potato Cone

(1) “Oysters and Pearls” – Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling white sturgeon caviar

Per Se - Oysters and Pearls

My first course was Sweet Corn “Veloute” with Hass avocado and thyme-scented buttermilk sherbet – Every time I saw sweetcorn soup of some form, I always thought of my most favourite version at Restaurant Sat Bains. Here, the combination of the avocado and sherbet actually worked really well with the sweetcorn. All the various flavours just came to life in the mouth.

Per Se - Sweet Corn Veloute Per Se - Sweet Corn Veloute

(2) Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm with navel orange, cherry belle radishes, mache and black winter truffle puree

Per Se - Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm

Torchon of Elevages Perigord moulard duck foie gras, with compressed Garden State peaches, fennel bulb, Marcona almond butter and petite basil

Per Se - Torchon of Elevages Perigord Moulard Duck Foie Gras

Braised fennel bulb with Per Se raisins, sunflower seed puree, nepitella mint and crispy Greek yogurt

Per Se - Braised Fennel Bulb

Sauteed fillet of Atlantic striped bass, with Florida Creek shrimp, sweet peppers, cilantro shoots and saffron aioli

Per Se - Sauteed Fillet of Atlantic Striped Bass

Yukon gold potato “mille-feuille”, broccolini, cherry belle radishes and black winter truffle puree

Per Se - Yukon Gold Potato Mille-Feuille

Butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, glazed turnips, watercress and Oregon huckleberries

Per Se - Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster

Swiss chard leaves “piccata”, with toasted farro “tabouleh”, violet artichokes, Cipollini onion shoots and black olive puree

Per Se - Swiss Chard Leaves Piccata

Thomas farm’s pigeon “pastrami”, rye seed pancake, red wine braised cabbage and “Thousand Island dressing”

Per Se - Thomas Farm's Pigeon Pastrami

Hen egg omelette, Matsutake mushrooms, French leeks, Vldalia onion “soubise” and Mizuna

Per Se - Ham Egg Omelette

Snake River farms’ “Calotte de boeuf”, Squire Hill Farm’s butternut squash, young onions, tarragon puree and Nasturtium caper cream

Per Se - Snake River Farms' Calotte de Boeuf

Mascarpone-enriched cranberry bean “Agnolotti”, cherry tomatoes, haricots verts, parmesan crisp, basil and Armando Manni extra virgin olive oil emulsion

Per Se - Mascarpone-enriched Cranberry Bean Agnolotti

“Hittisau”, buckwheat crepe, seckel pears, broccolini, toasted hazelnuts and balsamic vinegar

Per Se - Hittisau

“Pata Cabra” with charred eggplant puree, cucumbers, citrus blossom and greenmarket peppers

Per Se - Pata Cabra

“Honeyed plums” with plum compote, honeycomb, whipped plums and burnt honey ice-cream. “Peach Lemonade” with toasted oat crumble, lemon soda and Pearson Farm peach sherbet

Per Se - Honeyed PlumsPer Se - Peach Lemonade

Ice-cream sandwich, and Thomas Keller Oreo ice-cream biscuit

Per Se - Ice-Cream Sandwich Per Se - TKO Ice-cream Per Se - TKO Ice-cream

“S’Mores” – Tcho chocolate torte, vanilla marshmallow, candied Virginia peanuts and caramel ice-cream

Per Se - S'Mores

“Raspberries in black and green” – Macerated raspberries, black sesame, raspberry gateux and matcha-scented ice-cream

Per Se - Raspberries in Black and Green

Variety of truffles, macaroons

Per Se - Mignardises Per Se - Mignardises

Address: 10 Columbus Circle # 6-REST, New York, NY 10019-1219, United States
Telephone: +1 (212) 823-9335
Website: www.perseny.com

Opening Hours:  Mon-Thu 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun 11:30am-1:30pm, 5:30pm-10pm

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 19/20 [Based on visit in September 2011]

Fatty Crab, New York City, United States

When hurricane Irene struck New York City during the last weekend in August 2011, New York went into an unprecedented shutdown. Not only did the public transport system closed down that weekend, most shops and restaurants decided to stay shut the whole weekend. I’d hate to think the amount of business lost during that weekend, especially when the weather improved dramatically by Sunday morning.

Still, because of the transport limitations and I was staying near Columbus Circle, I decided to go somewhere not too far away for dinner. Fatty Crab on Upper West Side announced on Twitter that they were open on Sunday evening, so that seemed to be a good place to walk to for dinner.

The restaurant was not a typical Malaysian restaurant – the decor and music was very much appealed to the younger trendy Western crowd. The food was “inspired” by Malaysian cuisine (as the restaurant said so on the website) and other neighbouring South-East Asian countries.

Because of the hurricane, it was a reduced menu, but there were still plenty of choices on there. So to start, we opted for Jalan Alor chicken wings, and pork steamed buns. The belly of pork sandwiched in the steamed bun was divine – the flavoursome meat was served with a sweet soya and chilli sauce, with boiled eggs and coriander as garnish.  The chicken wings were coated with a rich glaze of soya sauce – maybe a bit too much sauce but the dish did satisfy my craving for chicken wings that evening.

Pork Steamed Buns & Jalan Alor Chicken Wings at Fatty Crab Upper West Side, New York City

The next dish was Bobo chicken satay with lontong cakes, red onion, peanut sauce. The chicken unfortunately was somewhat too burnt on the outside and without any proper marinade, a bit bland and dry inside.

Red curry okra at Fatty Crab Upper West Side, New York City

For the main courses, we chose Fazio Farms Fatty Duck, with pickled mustard greens, gula jawa, thai chili; red curry okra and rice. Unfortunately the duck, which was deep-fried, was so tough and greasy that after two small bites I already felt that I’ve had enough. The okra was somewhat overcooked and just did not look very appealing to go into the mouth.

Fazio Farms Fatty Duck at Fatty Crab Upper West Side, New York City Red curry okra at Fatty Crab Upper West Side, New York City

 

The meal started on a high with the pork belly in steamed buns and then gradually went downhill from there. Service was warm and friendly without being pretentious – that’s a major plus. The place was vibrant and certainly would make a fun night out with friends, as long as quality of food was not high on your list.

Address: 2170 Broadway (Between 76th & 77th Street), New York City, NY 10024, United States
Telephone: +1 (212) 496 2722
Website: www.fattycrab.com

Opening Hours: Monday to Wednesday: Noon to Midnight ;  Thursday & Friday: Noon to 02.00am ; Saturday: 11.00am to 02.00am;  Sunday: 11.00am to Midnight

Food: 5/10
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 13/20 [Based on visit in August 2011 ]

Degustation, New York City, United States

One of my ex-colleagues in Boston shares the same surname as me (and no, we are not related) and she loves her food, so there was a running joke in the company that we were the London and Boston representatives of Chow With Chau guide on the company intranet. She is now living in Manhattan. So when I was out there visiting, I thought I’d meet up with her for dinner, and let her decide on the restaurant. After consulting some of her friends, she informed me that she’d made a reservation at Degustation in East Village, based on the recommendation from a friend of hers that “it was the best meal I’ve had in NYC”.

Open kitchen at Degustation, New York City

The restaurant was smaller than I expected, and it’s basically an open kitchen with customers sitting at the bar (though we were sitting on chairs and not bar stools). Having experienced the rather “warmer-than-average” open kitchen setting at Momofuku, this one was a lot more pleasant. As our reservation was rather early in the evening, the restaurant only had a small handful of people in there, though we were still “asked” to wait at the tiny reception area for a minute, for no apparent reason, before we were led to the table.

The menu contains a selection of small dishes, a bit like having tapas really. We were told that we could either order a la carte (in which case, we’d order about 3-4 dishes per person) or go for the 5-course or 10-course tasting menu. We decided to go for the 5-course menu, as I was still quite full after a heavy lunch earlier in the day.

The first course was Ajo Blanco with cherries and fine herbs: the white garlic gazpacho was creamy and a welcoming soup for a humid summer evening (it was the evening before New York City went for a complete shutdown due to hurricane Irene – so the outside was rather stuffy). The cherries gave a bit of extra sweetness to the taste of the soup.

Ajo Blanco, Cherries, Fine Herbs at Degustation, New York City

The next course was marinated sardines wrapped in nori and served with salmon roe – the thin slices of sardines were sandwiched between the seaweed and then deep-fried to a very beautiful crispy and light texture. This was probably the best dish in the whole meal.

Marinated Sardines, Nori, Salmon Roe at Degustation, New York City

The third course was sturgeon with vegetable caviar and sea beans – the vegetable caviar was essentially tapioca, which was nicely cooked. However the sturgeon was verging on the tough and dry side. While the taste was nice, the texture and presentation was a let-down.

Sturgeon, Vegetable Caviar, Sea Beans at Degustation, New York City

The fourth and last savoury course was flank steak on rye, sauerkraut and served with a spicy mustard – I was not keen on this dish at all.  The flank steak was cooked to a pastrami style: unfortunately it was rather tough and even with a good steak knife it was still a bit of an effort to cut through the meat. The spicy mustard had a very strong bold flavour – maybe a little too strong if more than just a little dab of it was used with the meat.

Flank Steak, Rye, Sauerkraut, Spicy Mustard at Degustation, New York City

There were two choices for the dessert: Caramelised Torija or a chocolate pudding with vanilla marshmallow and granary cracker. I was going to opt for the chocolate, but then they could not tell me what chocolate they used, so I thought to be on the safe side, I’d go for the former. It turned out to be a good choice – the torija was like a brioche-based bread and butter pudding, with a nice thin crust of caramelised sugar on top.

Caramelised Torija at Degustation, New York City

By the time we finished the meal, the restaurant was completely full and there were already customers on the second seating. It’s a nice cosy restaurant and a fun place to take a friend or two to for dinner. However, due to the layout, it’s probably not a good idea to go with more than 4 people as you can’t really have a conversation with everyone without shouting across. The waitress was friendly and very helpful in explaining some of the dishes.

If I didn’t have such a big lunch a few hours before, I’d probably have happily gone for the 10-course tasting menu. Ah well, there’s always next time!

Address:  239 East 5th Street, Manhattan, New York City, NY 10003 , United States
Telephone: +1 (212) 979 1012
Website: www.degustationnyc.com

Opening Hours: Daily: 12.00pm to 2.30pm; 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Food: 8/10
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Total: 15/20 [Based on visit in  August 2011]