Posts Tagged ‘NY’

The Alley is one of Taiwan’s most famous bubble tea (Boba drinks) shops. The ´titans’ of the bubble tea world have long been attracted by NYC with giants such as ‘Kung Fu Tea’ , ´Teado tea shop´, ´Coco’, ´Ten Ren’ as well as ‘Happy lemon’ and ´Gong cha’ having their own locations in the Big Apple. It was about time that the Alley joins this high level competition, which is what they ended up doing recently with the opening of their first shop in NYC. The Alley is already an International success story with effective or projected presence in many  of this globe’s major cities (Tokyo, Singapore, Melbourne, etc). The branch in NYC opened on Saturday Sept 7th 2019 in the NoHo neighbourhood. I went there on week 1 post opening.

I picked two of their signature items:

Brown sugar Deeriocca milk tea featured soft and bouncy homemade brown sugar milk tea pearls. Deeriocca is the name they gave to those pearls. If I had to take a guess, I would say that it is with those pearls that the Alley truely stands out as the brown sugar flavour is, indeed, one crowd-pleasing flavour. I found this milk tea — which level of sweetness they do consider as «regular » —– to not have that much sugar. It was not bland, though. Just enough sugar to keep it on the enjoyable side of the spectrum. Also noteworthy was the refined creamy taste coming from the syrup. It is a chain operation, therefore it cannot  have the « exclusive » quality of the bubble Tea you can make yourself at home, but at what it is, it is certainly a Very good bubble Tea. 8/10

Royal No 9 Milk tea
One of their most popular items according to their Facebook page. The house claims to use quality Black Assam tea leaves. This had a pleasant  fragrance coming from the tea element. Not as rich as the previous milk tea, by design, as it is just your basic milk and tea flavour, with, as it seems to be the consistent pattern  here, the sugar input kept in control – for the sweetness level, I basically took the regular one. This was not too sweet, therefore your best bet if you do not have a sweet tooth. Pleasant on the mouth, but the delicate fine balance between the milk and tea elements is technically without any flaw. 7/10

-The missus ordered the snow lulu strawberry (strawberries, crushed ice in white peach oolong tea base , with a layer of snow velvet cream atop).  I tried a bit of it, and was disappointed: the one we tried had barely any fruity flavour coming from the strawberry. The missus  did not like it at all for the exact same reasons that  I have just raised. She railed  against the absence  of  the  usual fresh aftertaste that she came to expect from the better strawberry -flavoured bubble teas she had elsewhere and that is typical of most organic  strawberry-based liquid,  semi liquid or creamy concoctions. 5/10

The Alley enjoys a fame of the magnitude of the Apple’s Iphone when that device first came out and it is easy to see why: you feel the quality of its ingredients (as an example, the sugar cane syrup is made, onsite, with real sugar cane, which is why one does not get the artificial overwhelming sugar taste that comes from artificially sweetened products), a sense of refinement (well balanced flavours) as well as a well judged control of the sugar input. It is clear that their intent is not to excite you with bold /rich flavours, full-bodied textures, which makes it a product that is aligned with its time (a time of health consciousness). Blown away, I was not, but I did really enjoy the quality of the brown sugar Deerioca milk tea , which is easily one of my favourite milk teas. The Alley Addr: 68 Cooper square, New York, NY, 10003

This is one of the latest hottest bistrots of NYC. Situated in Brooklyn, it is always packed to the brim and, in terms of  popularity, could remind Montrealers of Au Pied de Cochon when APDC was in its prime (in the days of Martin Picard, Hughes Dufour).

You come here to have fun. It is small, full of social vibe.  The food is North American bistrot food. The wine list has few pages of  great findings. The menu is short but very appealing – as an example, on the evening of my visit, menu  items such as ‘roasted corn, nduja, basil, lemon, radicchio cups’, “crispy smashed fingerling potatoes, romesco, toasted pistachios” or ”Grilled Head-on spot prawns, Calabrian chillis, garlic mojo, lemon” generated  interest. Then, once you know what we now know about the skills of this kitchen, you can easily picture such food items as not just ‘generating interest’ but way more than that.

I came here for their their widely praised Burger. While waiting for it (it takes approx 30 mins to make), I had their

Cheese plate
ALP blossom (cow) from Austria
Delice de bourgogne (cow), France
Roomano (cow), Netherlands
all in superb condition.
It is obvious that they take care of their cheeses (aging, storing, etc) way better than at some ambitious tables.  These came with figs/hazelnut jam that would make a grandma of the countryside of France, known for her expertly concocted homemade jams, drooling of envy and jealousy “putain, mais comment qu’il a fait ca!!” (holy shit! How did he do that!!), It was that great indeed. There was also some  superb pepper mostarda. 9/10

Chicken liver pâté, Served with a super Hudson River Rye toast,  Some Pickled sour cherries that revealed some pickling technique that is of a high level, the cherries of great quality, some fresh quality parsley salad. The pâté itself having a delicious taste. First-rate bistrot food items. 8/10

Country ham croquettes featured top quality ham’s flavour, 1 year aged cheddar, a Dijonnaise that would NOT be out of place at an ambitious French table in France. Freshly cooked, timely served, this was a flawless croquette expressing superb flavours. 8/10

I did put an end to this superb North American bistrot meal with their fabled Burger, a Burger  that most Burger experts of NYC do consider as one of the very best of NYC :

Dry Aged Red Hook Tavern Burger (American cheese, white onion, frites) – When you do an online search for the best Burgers in the world, you will rarely stumble upon the Burgers of NYC, World’s capital of the Burger. Instead, you  end up with plenty of laughable Burgers and you realize that it was mainly for the roaring laughter, the derision. But in NYC, when they talk about the finest Burgers of the City, it is  serious business. And it did not take  long to get upfront and personal with how serious they are at RHT with their Burger: a bun that is a benchmark of its kind (a glorious soft texture, expertly designed to accompany perfectly well the patty without stealing the show from it) was paired, very simply, with a patty made of high grade dry-aged beef. Some  fabulous American cheese atop.  The cheese not melting as easily as most of the cheeses that are used with most Burgers out there, the patty not having any juice dripping and soaking the bun. They did carefully design that Burger  so that you get every single element of the Burger to express itself in its entirety, while perfectly complementing each other as a Burger. We were a world away from the big mess that many Burgers happen to be with their  piece of patty lost  in melting cheese,  their  bun   soaked in the juice of their patties, the overall flavour having the taste of nothing.  At RHT, they have  stripped the Burger from anything that’s distracting (the superfluous toppings, etc), and focused on delivering the perfected trinity of bun + patty + cheese.  A world class Burger! 9/10  (My fully detailed technical notes about this Burger can be found, here.)

This is food NOT  designed to parade on Instagram but to be enjoyed, as food is supposed to be. Soul satisfying, for sure. And it is affordable (a miracle, in NYC).

Bottom line: After the debacle of the day before at Oiji, it was great to have renewed with great food in NYC, one of World’s truely great dining destinations. Red Hook Tavern is a first-rate North American bistrot deserving of its resounding success (ingredients are top notch, the food reveals some serious skills in their kitchen, service and ambience are great). It is easy  to be hooked on  Red Hook Tavern. Overall rating (Categ: North American Bistrot) for Food: 8/10; Service: 9/10; Red Hook Tavern Addr: 329 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, United States Phone: +1 917-966-6094 URL: https://www.redhooktavern.com/

Tim Ho Wan is the celebrated dim-sum chain from Hong Kong that is taking NYC by storm. I tried their offshoot in Hell’s Kitchen.

While reading the online reviews about them, I noticed that many people do not realize that (1) however good it is, well …it is a chain, therefore it cannot provide you with the exclusive artisan craft that can only come from, guess who..an artisan Chef…obviously! (2) We are not in Hong Kong. So why expecting HK in NYC? Basics of the science of food= two geographical spaces, especially ones separated by oceans and continents, cannot have the same water, the same soil, etc. So food cannot taste the same, consequently…obviously! You also have the laws that regulate your food: you can bbq an animal alive in some countries, in the west, it is a big NO, etc (I am not saying that you can do that in HK, btw. That is not what I said. It was just an example about the laws regulating food and that can vary from one country to another. And that affects the taste of the food).

1.Steamed pork spare rib with black bean sauce. Superb bold flavours, the seasoning exciting as you should expect from this spare rib food item. Served piping hot / freshly cooked. Regardless of what their competitors do think, this is one of the better tasting steamed pork spare ribs in NYC. And if you still miss HK, then fly to HK, as simple as that! 7/10

2.Baked bbq pork buns – nice soft crunchy bun, freshly baked. The texture of the bun is reminescent of a “biscuit” rather than a “brioche”. Tasty filling of sweetened pulled pork that would have certainly expressed a bolder porky taste back in Asia. But this is in NYC, not HK, and the porky flavour is there, of course, but a tidbit less evident than with some other baked pork buns in HK (to the point that you could almost confuse this food item with a cake of date…somehow). This was tasty, of course, and you have plenty of taste sensations and textures going on: sweet, savory, crunchy, and crispy.  7/10

3.Steamed dumplings with shrimp and chives. Superb texture of the shell. Again, the seafood would have a bolder taste in HK, but this was tasty, competently prepared (not one single technical flaw) and certainly one of the better rendered dumplings of NYC! 8/10

I was reluctant to try THW as it is a chain (I prefer  solo operations) and I already had  my go-to dim-sum eateries  in NYC, with Hop Shing being a long time favourite of mine (I am a suck up for old school dim sum places), but Hop Shing is going a bit downhill, these days (Yes, the Char Shu Bao is still one of the best of NYC, but all the rest is not as great as they used to be), so I started to look around for other dim sum places. That is how I convinced myself to try THW.

Bottom line: I feel sorry for their direct local competitors, Lol, but THW is one of the better dumpling  shops of NYC. You can find more sophisticated dumplings in NYC, at some of the newer high end  restaurants (as an example, Hutong), but they are way too pricey. As for THW, I will re-iterate that I did not say that it is exclusive (obviously, it CANNOT… as I explained in the Intro). And I am not a fan  of their dish of dim sum chicken feet — which I tried on a 2nd visit  (they decided to do this differently from the classic  recipe but I prefer the classic recipe). Last but not least, if you insist on the quality of  the dim sum found on  the West Coast of the USA, do not waste your time here as NYC, as great as its food scene stands, its dim sum restaurants  are  not going to be a serious challenge to their counterpart of the West.  But in NYC,  this is  one of the best dim sum, in its price range. THW has it all: delicious food, fine service. Tim Ho Wan – Addr: 610 9th Ave, New York, NY 10036, United States; Phone: +1 212-228-2802; URL: http://timhowanusa.com

Heard about Kochi from one knowledgeable and highly reliable Korean foodie from NYC with whom I exchange plenty of intel about the NYC’s food scene. The venue has just opened recently and he tried it in its first week of opening and has recommended that I give it a try.

Kochi is a contemporary Korean-American bistrot with, at its helm, a Chef who did work at 3 star Michelin Per Se. Most of the dishes are skewered. The Chef told the medias that he drew his inspiration from the traditional festival cuisine of the Korean royal court of the Joseon dynasty. He also told them that he brings his own modern twist to that, using Japanese and French cooking techniques.

Korean-American dining is gaining a lot of traction these days in NYC with the notable success of Atomix and Jungsik  (Both are 2 Michelin starred venues). Therefore, many Korean Chefs who have worked in reputed restaurants of NYC are now opening their own eatery, and I have recently tried some of those (see my reviews of  Oiji and Jeju ).

The venue did offer solely a 9 course tasting menu when I dropped by. Most of the food items are served as skewers, the restaurant advertising its offering  as ”’Modern Korean Skewer Tasting””.

1-Tarakjuk, A vichyssoise like soup (“potage” would be more accurate) with Pine Nuts and Potatoes served with a corn Fritter. Tarakjuk is a Korean porridge made with milk and rice. The Chef inspiring himself from it in order to deliver a creation of his own that did consist in blending French (The use of potatoes in the Vichyssoise-inspired portion of this dish – ) and Korean (although the traditional inclusion of pre-soaked glutinous rice to make this dish is omitted here) influences in this dish and adding a touch of creativity with the pine nuts and corn fritter. I did pay a supplement for the fine quality caviar that you see on the picture. This is in line with contemporary Korean-North American dining (as well as all sorts of contemporary cuisines) in that the labour-intensive and time consuming techniques of old world cooking (as an example, pre-soaking then using a millstone to grind the rice, in the traditional prep of this specific dish) are replaced by a more simple/straightforward execution (but as you will see in the full account of this repast, their Chef does also invest lots of time in the preparation of other food items). This featured a flavour profile that was more “International” and “French” than Korean, but again, it is a Korean-inspired cuisine that clearly advertised itself as using French technique, Japanese ingredients, etc. Therefore we are at a Korean-inspired restaurant with International accents and this “soup” testified to that. Vibrant flavours, great textures and a remarkably enjoyable hot and cold juxtaposition of temperatures. The fritter not greasy at all and packed with enticing fresh corn flavours. Excellent. 9/10

2.Mul-Hwe, Raw Scallops and Fluke, Perilla Leaf Salad, Tiger’s Milk. Hwe (the Korean take on fish “sashimi”, so to speak, as there are some slight differences between Korean Vs Japanese “sashimi”) is traditionally served spicy (not in this case ). Following the contemporary trend of making Korean-inspired food light, they did a light version of it. And exactly as advertised by the restaurant, they did extend their creativity to other corners of the globe, with here the inclusion of their own re-interpretation of the Peruvian Ceviche’s Tiger Milk aka “leche de tigre” ( here, made of celery/onion/ginger/garlic and that they did ferment) which is a logical « international » twist to the Korean Hwe, obviously. The seafood was of fine quality but there was a bitter taste in this particular incarnation of the tiger milk as well as the seasoning in general that, for me, diminished the enjoyment of the dish. That said, it was easy to see what the kitchen wanted to do: replacing  the expected ‘citrusy’ taste of the  classic Latin american “leche de tigre” by  bitter  tones, which  are  indeed present in Korean cuisine. I respect the idea as bitterness can add “punch” to certain dishes, indeed, but I have yet experienced with a case where it managed to elevate the taste of seafood. Furthermore, in Korean cuisine,  bitterness is balanced  with other tones for flavour complexity  whereas here, it was the sole taste sensation.  6/10

3- Yachae-Twigim, which, usually,  is  battered and deep fried vegetables. In this case,  a piece of asparagus was covered with a sort of “creamy “ coating, served with a ”ricotta” of  doenjang (soy bean paste)  and soy onion glaze. Their take on the  “ricotta“’ (so, not the exact taste and feel of the Italian ricotta) had a fine flavour. The idea makes sense: you take  a piece of asparagus and you dip it in some sort of  creamy concoction.  Here, instead of dipping it in the concoction, you have the concoction atop the vegetable. Understood, but that did not translate well in reality, at least  not for me: the overall dish was unimpressive as the “creamy ”’coating  on the asparagus did nothing for me. It certainly did add nothing to the enjoyment of the asparagus.  Perhaps putting a proper coating of batter on that asparagus and deep frying  it as a tempura would have been more eventful. It is hard, for a restaurant, regardless of the fact that this was an item served as part of a  tasting menu and not a full dish, to try to make an impression with a solitary asparagus. 5/10

4- Saengseon-Gui. Binchotan Grilled Mackerel, Soy Eggplant, Makguli Vierge. Gui is a grilled dish, Saengseon stands for fresh fish, here featuring a well sourced piece of mackerel (a common fish in Korean home-style cooking) freshly grilled, lightly seasoned with salt. The sauce vierge  was  reinterpreted by the Chef, as in this case, it included sake/honey/rice vinegar and the korean fermented rice wine makguli. Both the fresh fish and the sauce dazzled. 9/10

5-Andong Jjimdak (dak for chicken / Jjim for steamed/stewed or braised in a sauce) is a Korean braised chicken dish from the city of Andong. On the menu, the restaurant claims that it required a four-day preparation, which I found interesting as this is a dish that you can cook quickly on high heat. So the intent here was, obviously, to infuse as much flavour in the meat as it is possible, which is the point of Korean cooking: flavors, flavors and more flavors. The other intent was, of course, the tenderness as indeed, superbly tender it was. The slow cooked chicken (the chicken marinated in soy sauce, as it is traditionally required —- to which they did add pear juice) which was, in this case, steamed then grilled, had great taste. Aged Shiitake Mushroom did accompany the protein. Superb piece of quality chicken with a first-rate broth that had heat, sweetness and saltiness mingling excitingly well together. 9/10

6- Eo-Jeon, Branzino, pickled daikon, hazelnut Ssam-Jang. Tasty quality fish. The pickling of the daikon was technically fine, for sure, but the korean flavour profile was not expressed in the pickled daikon. And in this case, that was the right thing to do as to avoid aggressing the flavor of the delicate fish.  Making a Ssam-Jang of hazelnut was thoughtful as it  matched  the flavour of the fish.  It is not a spectacular nibble, but one that  is well designed and that is tasty 7/10

7-Tteok-Galbi, originally cooked for the korean royal family in their days, but now a mainstream dish, are usually grilled short-rib patties. In this instance, it is charcoal grilled Beef Rib eye Patty, stuffed with sweet rice cake and topped with pear and chestnut chutney. The beef is soaked in a marinade of soy sauce at some point in the prep. In every cuisine, even in your very own one, there are dishes that you tend to like less than others. Despite my decades of carefully studying and appreciating all sorts of dishes from all around the world, for what they are, and not what I want them to be , grilled patties have always been among my least favourite, although, I can perfectly appreciate some of its renditions (such as, of course, the one to be found in a burger). That aside, what matters here is that this featured some fine quality meat, with a fine balance of seasonings, precisely and freshly grilled, packed with enticing grilling flavours. To tradition (the meat prepared in traditional fashion), the Chef paired innovation (addition of a well made pear/chestnut chutney, stuffing the meat with sweet rice cake). Very good 8/10

8-Myungran Bibimbap. Bibimbap is mixed rice. Mentaiko (pollock roe)  brown soy butter rice, in this case, that came with salmon-jang (salmon tartare),  some candied anchovy, toasted seaweed puree and sesame chili oil. The Chef trained in some of the elite kitchens of this globe (3 star Michelin Per se and Le Bernardin), and he was there, cooking in his kitchen, as opposed to lying down at home on his sofa while serving as a name bearer for a kitchen brigade that works for him (a common modus operandi at plenty of restaurants), so that did reflect in the assured preparations (technique of the tempura, timing, pickling technique, etc) on display. The rice was  tasty (the taste of butter flavoured rice), somehow reminiscent of a some sort of ”risotto  of quinoa” but you had rice in place of quinoa — somehow I wrote, the salmon tartare competently executed (fine balance of seasoning, quality fish that was freshly  hand-chopped). I did pay a supplement for the superb sea urchin that you see on that picture) . 7/10

9-Black Sesame Ice Cream Pop with crispy rice for dessert. The black sesame taste present, as it should, on the palate. I find crispy rice to be sometimes misused (a good example of that was the crispy rice served with bone marrow that I had the other day at Oiji), but here’s an example of its judicious inclusion in a food item. With this restaurant being in its early weeks, its Chef seems very inspired and that was evident with  this dessert. “Another black sesame ice cream? Nah! Lemme think outside of the box”, and that gave an ice cream popsicle (the logical form you can imagine an ice-cream based creation wouldn take to match this Chef’s trademark skewered food items) to which he did add an extra dimension of crunch in the form of the crispy rice. This was pleasant rather than eventful.

Portions are tiny, which you kinda expect from a tasting menu, but the quality of the ingredients is there. The better items were classy food items and revealed how skilled they are at their best. Sometimes in a tasting menu, there is not one single item that stands out, and here, there were couple of them. The lower rated items are to be taken with a grain of salt: they just did not do it for me, but taste is personal. As an example, the above reviewed asparagus was a highlight at the neighboring table.

On the evening of my visit, the Korean flavour profile portion of the meal was generally not expressive/bold, the accent being on International cuisine, but again, that was on the day of my visit and since this is a tasting menu that changes regularly, the next tasting menu may feature boldly flavoured Korean food items. Or not. Time will tell.

Pros:  The better food items will be remembered for a while.

Cons: I understand that it was a tasting menu, but I still found the portions of  food to be small.

Service was lovely and the restaurant, although small, is elegant.

Bottom line: Korean-American contemporary food is the trending cuisine these days in NYC. Korean-inspired food, in general, is implementing itself at all levels of the dining spectrum (fast food items in the form of korean fried chicken, hot dogs, fine dining, casual dining, etc). Of course, you need to understand the basics of the science of food in that it is virtually impossible for the same dish to taste exactly the same several continents and oceans away. What should be realistically expected from any korean-inspired food item, in America, though, is to have the kitchen brigade maintaining the korean flavour profile of the dish as close to its original version as it is possible to do, since the food is advertised as being korean-influenced, in the first place, and that is what I wish they would have put the emphasis on, a bit more during this meal. A promising table, in spite of that. Overall rating: 7/10 (food), 8/10 (service) Kochi Addr: 652 10th Avenue New York, New York 100036 ; Phone: +1 646-478-7308; URL: http://kochinyc.com

I went to the luxurious mall at Hudson Yards and tried couple of the food items (the shopping mall has eateries recently opened by some of the most popular Chefs out there)  that some of NYC’s food journalists have called their current hits. One that caught my attention was Fuku’s Vada Pav (pictured above), a deep fried potato patty with hints of fried garlic, pickle, scallion sauce, inspired by one of my all time favourite deep fried food items, Maharashtra’s Wada Pav. WP is easy to make and easy to love. If you have been cooking a bit, that’s the sort of combination of ingredients that rarely fails to be a hit (logical combination of ingredients where one ingredient serves as a flavour enhancer to the next). At Fuku, such  potential was left at bay, as the patty was WAY  too dry. So dry that I was not able to discern any flavour. I was not expecting Fuku to deliver a dazzling WP. I was simply expecting a deep fried potato patty to be what it’s supposed to be: a food item that rarely fails to be enjoyable. Somehow, they could not manage that. They have just one way out, with this one and it is to freshly fry and serve their WP as the customer orders it. Or find a way to emulate that effect.  0/10

In that mall, we found kawi creative enough (for food served inside a mall in North America) but absudly pricey as well as a tad unnecessarily fancy. At Kawi, we enjoyed their sweet and sour ribs. It is not the best we had, but probably one of their better menu items.

 

Cousins Maine Lobster, 77 Lexington Ave, NYC- This is an offshoot of a franchise food truck business based in Los Angeles. I grew up on an Island of the Indian Ocean with  the freshest  seafood possible at the lowest unimaginable cost . So now, it is payback time, lol. I have to pay for all that fresh low-cost (with low cost not synonymous of low quality, in this instance ) seafood I was blessed with in  my tender childhood, and you could not have found  a better place than a city of the western world to make that payback time a reality. CML’s seafood  was certainly not going to be a serious threat to  the dazzling seafood of my tender childhood, even at equal cost, but at what it is — essentially a chain selling lobster-rolls and some other few lobster-based fast-seafood items –, it is certainly an example for others to follow. My review here.

Sushi Amane has, at its helm, a young talented Chef who has spent several years at the current world’s best sushiya in Tokyo (Sushi Saito). The young talent has decided to give a try to NYC. I went paying a visit to Sushi Amane. There were certainly some very delicious food items to be enjoyed during that meal, but also some noticeable flaws that I took the time to constructively write about, here. Ironically, at the time of writing these lines, despite the abundance of online reviews on SA, from both the so-called self proclaimed food experts as well as the majority of opinions on the crowd-sourced review forums, no one have noticed what  I have noticed…so either those folks have no clue of what assessing sushi should be about, or I was simply unlucky. Anyways…

Quality Meats is  a steakhouse that I really wanted to love, based on the rave reviews of some of NYC’s best steakhouse experts. I was less lucky than them with my steak, but the sides were  good. My review here.

Jeju Noodle bar is a Korean Noodle bar  restaurant that delivered superb Korean freshly made Instant Noodles (Ramyun) gourmet dishes. They also have some competently rendered cooked and raw food items. Service is great, the experience very enjoyable. My review, here.

Roberta’s Pizza started in Brooklyn and it was so popular that they now have several branches across the US. I went to the one in Brooklyn, where it all started. Do not expect anything fancy, here. You go there essentially for the pizza and when you try it, you will understand why their competitors are not sleeping at night, Lol. It is always hard to call a pizza ‘world class’ or ‘benchmark’. Therefore I will refrain from using such superlatives, but let us just politely put it that way: the legions of people flocking to Roberta’s Pizza have not lost their mind. My review, here.

There were  lots of buzz about Ichiran NYC  and I have nothing again buzz. After all, how can you be in business without buzz? Buzz is essential. I am all for the buzz, but then you need to deliver, and that is exactly where I was  disappointed with Ichiran NYC. Listen, I know it is a chain of ramen. I know we are not in Japan. I know it can’t have the exclusive feel of an artisan Chef’s ramenya. And I went there with all of that in mind, which means with very realistic expectations and I was still disappointed because very basic things such as serving a proper warm fully runny egg and a decent chashu seemed to have eluded them. Which is not what one needs to experience at a ramenya, whether it is a chain or a solo operation.  My review here.

Haitian food is one of my top 7 preferred cuisines in the world. We live in a world that is dominated by what the West wants to sell you as great or not, therefore none of the major online  food writers  will have the gut to even mention that Haitian cuisine exists, lol. Mind you, their purpose is to serve as ‘promoters’ of the food industry colonialist mentality, a mentality that takes the form of such thinking  as ”’Western and Japanese food and produce’ are of course…  the best in the World. All the rest does not even exist”. I do not need them to know what’s great or not and one of the things I find great is the dazzling simple homey cuisine from Haiti. They do not have many dishes, but a great sense of flavours. Deep, bold, rich flavours with the delicious lambi en sauce, lalo, bouillon, etc coming to mind. Of course, this is not food to put on instagram, but I do not eat Instagram, I eat  food!!  My preferred Haitian restaurant, for now, in NY , is La Caye but LC is so popular that the wait was too long. We therefore had a Plan B, which was a Haitian eatery that I was going to try for the first time, Chloe’s Restaurant & Lounge in Brooklyn, NY. Chloe’s was a mixed affair. My review, here.

I also tried Sorbillo NYC – great effort by the local pizza scene in NYC to minimize the greatness of SNYC. But the real connoisseurs of the Neapolitan pizza are not going to be fooled: it is, right now, in NYC, one of their very best Neapolitan pizza. Of course, you are not in Naples, therefore the price tag of such pizza in NYC may enrage those who know the cost of such pizza back in Italy. Of course, you do not have easy access in NYC to the dazzling produce of Italy. But at the end of the day, it is one great Neapolitan piZza in NYC. My review of Sorbillo, here.

Roberta’s pizza (above picture shows the take-out section of the establishment) has been hyped up as one of the biggest current hits of the dining scene of NYC.

It is relatively not that old (opened in 2008) and yet it is already a cult in NYC dining history. Its nontraditional

pizze featuring oftently in the top 5 of the best pizze in the nation, not a light exploit in the US.

It is an American-Italian pizza eatery, therefore I went with the flow and ordered exactly what the local crowd have been raving about, their Italian-American pizze (which ratings are not to be compared to my ratings of Neapolitan pizze, btw – two completely different styles).

-Torchietti pasta /topneck clams/ garlic/herbs – it is a pizza place. Not a pasta restaurant. Therefore no expectation, here. I just picked the pasta because I wanted some pasta as well. This was too salty (yep, the cook who cooked this dish seemed to have misjudged that the clams have already plenty of salt ) though pleasant enough 6/10

-« Babe: Pig in the city » is the name they gave to their pizza made of cheddar/mozzarella/ prosciutto cotto / onion / salsa verde – all their pizze are wood fired. Plated on metal pizza tray. No ample quantity of sauce, but just the right ratio. The dough made with specialty flour (they use a blend of specialty flours) and it did, obviously, rise for a long time, judging by the superb flavour of that crust. To get to such nicely rendered crust (excellent thin chewy crust with a superb light feel and ideal crisp to its texture) , they must have been using some of the best thin-crust pizza techniques of the industry. Delicious complementary flavours (the flavour of the crust responding well to the one of its toppings). 9/10

-Lieutenant Dan pizza (marinated summer peppers, pork sausages, cheddar, basil, onion, chili pepper, sesame) – They are so creative and fearless about their choices of toppings that, at times, a distracted palate can easily interpret the presence of some toppings as being « out of place ». That is not the case at all, in reality: take the sesame. It added to the overall festive mouthfeel of this pizza. Another thin crust pie that was well rendered (clearly, there is no quickie kneading operation in their pizza making process) as evidenced by its superb crunch, the right chew factor, and its exciting flavours. 9/10

-Freshly grilled pork collar /cucumbers/ spring onions /cabbage / salsa verde – had fine taste, the flavour that comes from the open fire always imparting an enticing smoky flavour as it did, here, with both the grilled protein as well as veggies. They seem to bother about quality organic veggies as that it how the veggies felt. The salsa verde had superb taste and texture. The grilled veggies tasted fine, too. Nice seasoning as well. Again, you are here for the pizza, but the non pizza items are still enjoyable enough as it was the case with this dish. 7/10

According to the media, the owners were not in the pizza industry before. Then one day they decided to open a pizza shop, went to Italy and learned from those in the know. And then came back and gave birth to Roberta’s. Well, if that is true, then they are the proof that sometimes, you need to come from « outside the box ´´ to offer a better show. As with any operation that is creative, they have to take risks (with their choice of varied toppings), therefore I suspect that it cannot be always as stellar as it was during my visit, but what matters is that Roberta’s has proven, once again, that it is capable of some of the best pizze in the nation.

Overall rating: 9/10 for the pizze – Category ´American-Italian pizza ‘. Their pizza had me at “hello” . They are technically as excellent as It is possible to be, they do come with a divine taste and a flawless crust.  If you hear someone telling you that this is as good as any other Italian-American pizza in nyc, then that is coming from the same dude who thinks that mp3 and aiff do have the same quality of sound. 9/10 for the excellent service – no drama, no attitude here, but humble professionals who are passionate about their jobs and doing it really well. Ambience was a 9/10 (the place does not look like much from both the inside and outside, ´rough looking’ from the outside, situated in a ´tough looking’ area, but it is full of life, in a civilized way, which is of course a good thing). Roberta’s Addr: 261 Moore Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11206 Phone: 718-417- 1118; URL: http://robertaspizza.com/

I wanted to try my usual go-to Haitian eatery in Brooklyn, La Caye, but the wait was too long. Therefore, we went for Chloe’s which is another Haitian eatery in Brooklyn.

We ate:

-Lambi boucané (Grilled conch) was prepared exactly as they do it in Haiti: not tenderized, not boiled. Straight to the grill. Great grilling flavour and superb pickling technique for the onion/red pepper that was served with the lambi boucane. 7/10

-Crab cake featured plenty of fresh crab meat and was enjoyable with a batter that had proper airy crispiness (flaky and tender), the cakes holding together well. 7/10

-Tassot de cabrit (Fried goat meat – upper left corner on the previous photo) featured tender tasty goat meat (flawless marinade of the meat, they have masterfully balanced the acidity coming from the lemon element with the necessary subtle spicy kick this dish requires) 8/10

The sos pwa (bean sauce – In this instance, a red bean sauce made with shallots, garlic cloves, thyme, parsley, etc), one sauce that is simple and yet utterly delicious and beautifully textured in its prime, was, here, edible, for sure, but tired-looking and has certainly been in its prime, at some point, but not when it made its appearance at our table (the vibrant red bean flavour of the sauce was only present in our wishes).  1/10

The diri kole ak pwa  (rice with red kidney beans, flavoured with thyme/parsley/cloves – right side of the previous picture) was almost bland. I am not sure why some Haitian eateries outside of Haiti do not invest a bit more time and care in the work of the diri kole as Haitians, back home, are used to their diri kole being flavourful. Not here. Too bad, as the Haitian diri kole is usually the most flavourful  of all the  versions  of this dish found in other Caribbean cuisines. I had more flavorful diri kole  at many Haitians eateries elsewhere. However, this is an example where many food reviewers confuse personal taste with technical flaws. Not flavoring the rice is not a technical flaw, in this instance. It is the choice that the kitchen made. A choice that I do not like, but not a flaw. Overcooking the rice, burning it when it is not supposed to, etc..those are technical flaws. Theirs was technically well executed: it  was not dry and it was freshly prepared.

 

-Grilled red snapper was dry throughout, therefore had virtually no flavour 0/10

-Akra ( fritters made of Malanga — a type of root vegetable —, garlic, scallion, peppers, flour ) was freshly prepared, the texture exactly as the one of a perfectly genuine Haitian Akra, though a tad oily but this is not a gourmet restaurant that is looking after such little details and rustic Haitian cooking has the « bit oily » feature as a perfectly legit/genuine part of the Akra experience. 7/10

The pikliz – a condiment made of raw chopped vegetables such as carrots/bell peppers/cabbage that are pickled in white vinegar alongside scotch bonnet peppers and seasoned with garlic, whole cloves and onion had proper genuine taste. This pikliz was certainly great in its prime (meaning if it was timely served) but it arrived at our table with the characteristics of the lesser pikliz: its crunch was a feature of the past, its dryness a  reality of the present tense. A pikliz without crunch and texture is not what one should be looking for (in the same fashion as a slaw —as pikliz is essentially a sort of pickled spicy slaw — if it is not going to have crunch and texture, it is better not to serve it). Too bad, as it was evident that the technique to conceive that pikliz was on point (5/10).

Bottom line: An erratic performance. Not in the league of La Caye, for sure. I would still go back for the tassot de cabrit though, as well as the Akra and will try their other dishes (lambi, poulet en sauce, for example). Overall food rating: 5.5/10 (tassot de cabrit, akra and lambi boucané were good, the pickling technique generally superior, but all of that was marred by a sos pwa, some pikliz as well as a red snapper that should have never left the kitchen) Service: 6/10 (doing the basics , polite) Chloe’s restaurant Addr: 9413 Ave L, Brooklyn NY, 11236 Phone:  347-770-9051