There’s street food, and then there is street food on steroids! The funny thing about being a foodie is that one always has a complete list of restaurants to eat at whenever we go travelling, leaving little to chance, especially when it’s a good Mecca such as New York. What I was glad for, however, was deciding to leave a few slots open to take up recommendations, and there was one unanimous decision from friends across the board and from different walks of my life. That decision was called Fatty Crab – not a restaurant, judging by its sound, made for the likes of me with crustacean allergies, but I was urged to call upon Shakespeare and look beyond the name. As it turned out, there was a branch of Fatty Crab in West Village, right next to the High Line (a disused elevated railway line, now converted into a public walkway) which I wanted to stroll down and thus a lunch date with a dear friend from college was born.
What do you get when you take 18 hungry foodies and put them in a neighbourhood Chinese restaurant? Mayhem of the utmost porcine order! I’m told that the influence of the food at Gold Mine is predominantly Malay-Chinese and by glancing at the customers filling the room, one is immediately aware that this is the right place! Like most places of this nature, going with a group is the only way to enjoy the multitude of dishes that line the restaurants menu, and better yet, go with someone who has an ethnic connection to this style of food, which we were quite lucky to do.
Having a lovely little pub as your local is great. Having a fantastic little restaurant also as your local is a double victory. Especially when there’s nothing really worth of any mention on that stretch of road. A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a chance on the Malaysian restaurant Puji-Puji a few minutes walk away from my house. The menu read like any South East Asian restaurant and at the best of times, the restaurant was always, mostly empty. Nevertheless, the thing that surprised me was that unlike most restaurants in its category, Puji-Puji’s menu was surprisingly short.
Celebrity chefs- they’re everywhere! A lot of them come with questionable reputations – spreading themselves too thin and having their names across eateries across the board. Are they really any better than your tchain restaurants? I think people – us normal customer type people, often make the mistake of expecting food worthy of the chef who’s name it is on the door. More often than not, it’s the opposite – whilst the food may not be that of the mother ship, it usually is good, fantastic even and we then start to make a clear demarcation between chef the cook and chef the brand. Jamie Oliver is rolling out his own brand of fast food restaurants and Gordon Ramsay is already an old hand (different from expert, mind you!) in that game. Countless chefs have followed suit and let’s face it – the food is usually really good at these places. And when the food is good, we do the usual humanoid matchmaking and congratulate the chef for successfully adding another tasty pie to his cupboard. If the food is rubbish, we chide the chef for having too many pies in his cupboard. Are we ever happy?
I’ve always been a fan of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Even though he’s got more restaurants world wide than any other chef, it’s his style of food that permeated all the restaurants under his umbrella. South East Asian food with varying levels of fusing with European styles. I’ve always wanted to go eat at his eponymous restaurant in New York (really really really!), but for now will have to settle with Spice Market. Sublty decorated in a black and gold motif, the place looked slick, sexy without being pretentious. We were lead up a spiral staircase to our table and were recommended the cocktail of the week: Watermelon and chilli martini. I don’t need to be told that again! Yes please! Yum!
After a few debates back and forth, we decided to go with:
Shaved tuna, chilli tapioca, Asian pear and lime.
Hmm. A bit bland. Delicious dressing, but tuna didn’t have much flavour and the whole thing could have done with a bit more chilli and salt.
Charred chilli rubbed beef skewer, Thai basil dipping sauce
This was fantastic. Really juicy beef and a scrumdiddlyumptious sauce.
Mango salad with cherry tomatoes and crystallised tamarind
Nothing special here. Mango, shredded iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes – where was the tamarind? Nice bit of greenery to go with the meal though.
Monkfish, wok fried Chinese leaf cabbage water chestnuts, cucumber
MASSIVE portion! Mmmm mmmm. Absolutely fantastic. The cabbage had tones of kimchi all over – only hot and not fermented. The water chestnuts were little gems and the monkey (chef slang for monkfish) was coated in spices and crispy fried. The fish itself wasn’t overly exciting, but the cabbage more than made up for it.
Onion and chilli crusted beef short ribs, egg noodles, pea shoots
Another HUGE portion. Beautifully cooked beef – but lacking the depth and intensity of flavour we expected. On a positive note, the sauce wasn’t overly rich and reduced as is normally the case.
Being quite full up, we decided to skip dessert. BUT only because they all sounded really good and we wanted to have one each, but knew our tummies wouldn’t appreciate it.
What was funny during the meal was that whilst we were eating, there was an army of waiting staff standing behind us – almost uncomfortably intrusive. When our mains were cleared, they all dispersed and left us be. A bit odd and we sat around chatting for a while before thinking about looking at the dessert menu, but had to ask for one as they’d clearly forgotten about us.
We’ve considered coming back for cocktails and dessert!