Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Hunan Slurp

I came to Hunan Slurp with a group of friends, so we were able to sample a bunch of shit. Here’s what we tried:

The “Mala Beef” noodle dish was nice. It was slow cooked shank meat that was really tender. The egg noodles were perfectly cooked.

This dish contained pork and beef, and was served with rice noodles that were similarly perfectly cooked. Also shank meat, cooked very nicely.

This noodle soup was the spiciest on the menu, a pepper beef dish, which was really intense and flavorful. I wish this also contained the shank cut beef, as the stuff in this dish wasn’t as tender as the above dishes.

This next dish was cold “Hunan Charcuterie.” It contained bits of pig ear and tripe, among other nice off-cuts. This was my favorite dish of the day, and easily a contender for top dishes of 2019.

The smoked sausage plate was nice, but I wish it had more crisped texture to it.

This eggplant with “thousand year egg” filling was delicious. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant, but I loved this. A must try here.

The beef skewer dish had a great cumin aroma, but ultimately the majority of the beef in the dish was chewy and tough. Pass on this one.

Most of the dishes were pretty spicy, so these sweet riblets were a great way to cool down and cut the heat.

We also tried stewed fish noodles, and a potato and duck egg dish (both not pictured) which were also very nice. But the last item I have here for you is winter melon, served warm and savory with ground pork. Very interesting.

Give this place a shot. I liked it.

HUNAN SLURP
112 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009

Barn Joo

I recently had a meal here when celebrating a friends birthday party. Here’s a quick rundown of everything I tried:

This chicken with peanuts dish was really tasty. Nicely fried morsels of dark meat.

These fried beef dumplings were better still. I could have eaten a dozen.

While I’m not a huge tofu guy, these fried cubes were pretty tasty. I’d eat them again, but definitely not over the other two apps above.

Next up, beef noodles. These were ultimately pretty middle-of-the-road. Nothing stand-out about them.

The star of the show, however, was this pork belly dish. So much nice quality belly, with some chiccharones and a great spicy bean curd dip to boot. Awesome.

The octopus was perfectly cooked and had a great crunchy texture on the outside, but there was just something about it that bugged me. It had a flavor that reminded me of the smell of dried fish food. Perhaps it was something added on top for seasoning.

Lastly, their pickles and kimchi items are superb here. Some of the best I’ve had.

I would definitely go back here again.

BARN JOO
35 Union Square W
New York, NY 10003

Il Tinello

Il Tinello is an old school NYC Italian joint that’s been open for nearly 40 years. My wife and I finally got around to trying it last night. Here’s what we had:

My wife started with some fresh bluepoints, and I had this delicious seafood salad made with scallops, calamari and shrimp.

Next, we had a trio of pastas as a mid-course sampler dish. Penne with pesto, beef and ricotta ravioli, and pappardelle with a truffle and mushroom cream sauce. All were delicious, but I liked the pappardelle the best.

For my main course, I had this gorgeous boneless veal parm.

This was really nice. The sauce and cheese were top notch quality, and the veal beneath was super tender.

My wife had the veal chop, which was a nice, thick rib chop.

It was a perfect light pink inside, cooked just right.

For dessert, we had the fruit tart and the creme brûlée. Both were well executed and tasty. They pleased The Cake Dealer, so that’s always a good sign.

This place is a gem. It’s cozy and fancy inside, really classy. And the service is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The staff are professionals, not some young hipster chumps who wait tables on the side while they try to get their crowd-funded artisanal kombucha brand up and running in Williamsburg.

IL TINELLO
16 W 56th St
New York, NY 10019

Lincoln Ristorante

Lincoln Ristorante is now part of the Patina Group of restaurants. These guys are awesome, because if you sign up to their newsletter, they send you $50 off for your birthday. You can use the discount pretty much any time within a month of your birthday. So my wife and I decided to check this place out since it was just her birthday the other day. This joint offers a four-course meal for $94, which I thought was pretty awesome, especially considering how great the food is.

I was impressed with the cocktail menu, which sports a prosecco bar and an entire menu of negronis. We tried the caffe negroni, which, later on, was perfect with our desserts. Here’s a pic of it (I kinda made it look like a pussy on purpose):

The meal begins with some complimentary bread sticks and house made focaccia bread with whipped ricotta. This shit is addictive. If you eat a few rows of this stuff (they will bring out more), then you can just get the three course meal for $78.

Then a small dish of smoked trout came out for us, compliments of the chef. This was great.

I started with an escarole salad, and my wife had the octopus. The salad was awesome. I love escarole, and I loved seeing it used raw rather than the usual sautéed or braised. This salad had shaved, truffled sun chokes, sliced apples, radishes and grated cheese. It was delicious, and very large.

The octopus was nice. It came in a spicy tomato ragu with some perfectly cooked beans. I was happy to see more than one tentacle given. As far as portion sizes go, this place is way above average.

For my pasta course, I had conch pasta with octopus and guanciale. This was really nice, and the toasted breadcrumbs gave it a great texture.

My wife had lobster risotto with an arugula pesto. This was herbaceous and fresh, and contained lots of lobster meat. It ate a bit more like a thick soup than a traditional risotto though.

My wife went with the lamb shank for her main course. This was tremendous, and really tender. We couldn’t finish. It had pancetta, roasted chic peas, and other goodies underneath.

I had the venison loin, which was probably one of the best meat dishes I’ve eaten in a while. Certainly the best rendition of venison I’ve ever had.

I highly recommend giving this a try if you can. It was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and it had none of that typical iron flavor that you normally associate with game meats. It was mild yet full of flavor. I loved it!

Dessert was incredible. My wife had a trio of gelati. Pistachio stracciatella, toasted faro, and prune. The toasted faro (middle) was our favorite of the three, and tasted like the flavor of the cone of an ice cream cone. The prune was like an elevated rum raison, and the pistachio stracciatella was creamy and rich.

I had the creme fraiche coffee cake, which came with anisette gelato, crumble, bitter lemon coulis and ricotta pasticcera. This shit is crack! I fucking loved it.

Then, a pair of tasty marzipan coconut bites came out with the bill.

We can’t wait to go back. I think we will do the three course meal next time, since we were really full after four courses.

LINCOLN RISTORANTE
142 W 65th St
New York, NY 10023

Le Bernardin

I took my wife to Le Berdardin for her birthday this year.

First, let me say that they make some great cocktails here. We tried four altogether. They averaged around $20 each.

The bread service here is spectacular. Almost as good as my favorite spot for pre-dinner bread, Marea.

The amuse of raw seafood preparations was probably my favorite part of the meal, and it wasn’t even one of the seven tasting menu courses.

And this kampachi crudo with dried olives was amazing. So flavorful yet so simple.

The crab cake of peekytoe and dungeoness with lobster shell broth was really nice. This place knows what they’re doing around seafood.

The halibut with dashi and radish was nice…

But the Faroe Islands salmon with mushroom and black truffle sauce stole the show in terms of fish filet dishes here.

Our next entree was a surf and turf of wahu (Hawaiian white tuna) and wagyu. The portion was very small, but I didn’t mind so much at course five.

We had a ton of desserts here. First was the coconut sorbet with coconut meringue.

Then a chocolate gelato and chocolate cake thing with gold leaf and meringue sticks.

Then a complimentary chocolate mousse cake thing for my wife’s birthday, of course with more gold leaf.

And then petit fours.

Honestly, I would have preferred more amuse crudos from the start of the meal over this sweet shit. But everything was nice nonetheless.

The bill was big, but luckily I had a $150 gift certificate to use from a very generous friend of mine.

I probably wouldn’t go back, but I would definitely recommend this place for someone who is looking for an impressive night out with their spouse.

LE BERNARDIN
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019

Bang Bar

I finally had the chance to run over to David Chang’s “Bang Bar” in the morning before work to try their highly acclaimed breakfast crepes. I grabbed one of each: the smoked salmon and the mortadella with cheese.

The salmon one was nice, light, and refreshing with just the right amount of cream and acid to balance out each bite. The mortadella sandwich was delicious, but really salty.

I think when it gets roasted on the vertical spit (like shawarma), that heat intensifies the salinity. Not to mention that they probably season it on the spit too, which is just overkill. The cheese coverage, however, was “underkill.” There was just one slice of melted cheese on the surface of the crepe, so it didn’t really get in between all the chunks of mortadella. Oh well.

The doughnut was dense and pillowy, like a cream cake or something based in rice flour, perhaps. Just too bready, though it was moist and soft.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it here for breakfast again, but I’m glad I got to try this stuff anyway.

BANG BAR
10 Columbus Cir.
Third Floor, Unit 301
New York, NY 10019

Legacy Records & Ada’s Place

Legacy Records is the restaurant, and Ada’s place is the bar/lounge upstairs. Both places are serving up some awesome food, connected by the same kitchen staff and crew.

While at first glance you might think that prices are high for the portion size, once must remember that these are “no tipping” establishments, where the tip is already worked into the pricing.

LEGACY RECORDS

I started at the main bar with a brandy old fashioned. This was delicious and beautiful. The ice game is on point here.

Later on I tried the “Fig Fix,” which was somewhere between a mint julep and a berry bramble type of drink. Very nice, but I prefer the stronger shit.

We started with three different crudos. Each crudo comes with four pieces, unless otherwise prepared (like the fluke, which is a tartare). They’re all around the $20-$25 range. First, and my favorite, was the hamachi with cilantro citrus cream and puffed rice.

This red snapper was “veddy tasty.” Do not choose what Hiro-san offers in the mystery box over this. If you haven’t seen Weird Al’s masterpiece film, UHF, then you missed that reference completely. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Now. Before finishing the rest of the review. You’ll thank me later.

Third, the scallop. These were small. I wish there was more to them, because they were delicious; bright, acidic, creamy, smooth… everything you want in a crudo. And beautifully presented.

After the crudos, we transitioned to some smaller plates. First was the octopus.

This was executed nicely, and consisted of about 1.5 tentacles worth of meat.

This next dish was a special entree listed at $40, but we split it as a shared app. Pigeon with parsnips and some other shit.

The meat was roasted rare to medium rare, and was pretty much in the realm of duck in taste. The waiter said it was deboned, but I think they were really just referring to the thigh, breast and rib sections, as the wings and lower legs were not deboned.

Then we switched over to the pasta dishes. My first, and favorite, was the pesto cavatelli with sausage and mint. Incredible.

This torchio pasta was perfectly cooked and came with clams.

The spaghetti with uni and red pepper was great too, and the sauce reminded me of peri peri sauce from Portugal.

At this point we also tried some of their house made bread and butter. I didn’t shoot it, but both bread and butter varieties were good. However, at $8, I’m not sure I would order it. Fortunately for us, they brought it out on the house since we had a lot of delicious sauce to soak up from the pasta dishes.

We tried two entrees. First was the dry aged rib eye.

This was perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious, though it lacked that dry-aged flavor punch. It was only aged for 14 days, so that may be why. It ate more like a filet than a rib eye, which was a nice surprise in terms of texture. However, at $48, it was a bit on the small side (maybe 8-10oz max). The Brussels were too acidic/citrus flavored for my liking, but the meat really was almost perfect. I think it was just the eye, or longissimus dorsi, and not the cap though, which was a little bit of a bummer. Overall this was still an 8/10, so I was happy.

Next up, duck for two.

We were four people, so we only had one slice of duck each. I could probably eat all of this myself as a main if I wanted, but it really is a good portion size for two. If you get this with a date, you’ll basically each get two of these, which I think is fair for the $98 price tag including tip:

I should note that this is one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever had, right up there with Little Frog, The Grill and Ferris. I already have this listed as a contender for the best dishes of 2019.

We skipped dessert downstairs, but went up to try some of the items on the bar menu upstairs at Ada’s Place.

ADA’S PLACE

First, the duck and honey sandwich.

This is basically a slightly oversized slider, but the flavor is immense. The duck comes from the leg meat of the duck that we ate downstairs (which was only breast), and it is paired with kimchi and a delicious spicy red pepper sauce, which is balanced deftly by the addition of honey. Another contender for best dishes of 2019. Awesome.

This burger was great too. It’s described as a crudo burger, so expect it to come out rare.

This, too, is dressed with a spicy red pepper sauce, but the fresh mozzarella cheese cuts it beautifully with a nice, mild creaminess. We split one “slider plus” sized burger among four of us, so I need to get back in here and try this all by myself.

Finally, the Tuscan fried chicken.

This is a steal at $24 for a bowl of beautifully batter-fried and spiced thigh and breast meat. I could eat buckets of this. I also really liked the combo of red pepper, lemon and rosemary.

In short, I highly recommend this place. Everything we tried above was great – no bad dishes. While the price tag may feel steep for some items, you need to remember that you’re getting superior quality in every dish, and you have that tip already included. Go give it a shot. I know I’ll be back. Maybe even tonight.

LEGACY RECORDS & ADA’S PLACE
517 West 38th St
New York, NY 10018

Parrilla Urbana

I hit this joint with my wife and some friends when we were away in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Here’s what we had:

First, a bean and cheese dip with tortilla chips:

Next up, Mexican style roasted bone marrow. You scoop it out and eat with tortillas.

This beef tongue casserole was the star of the night for me. You could eat these with the tortillas too.

The rib eye and chicharrones with guac was really nice too.

As were the blooming onion and the shrimp.

We had a pair of salads to pass around as well. Both were excellent.

We had three main meats. Roasted chicken, filet mignon (7/10 for cook temp issues), and braised beef ribs (9/10). All were great, but I think we all liked the beef ribs and chicken the best.

On the side, we had some french fries and mac and cheese, both were excellent.

We also tried three desserts, one of which was a late addition to my best of 2018 dishes (the corn cake).

That corn cake was insane. We also had chocolate cake and flan.

Even the drinks here are awesome. I was really digging the mezcal cocktails.

As well as the straight stuff.

This was by far the best food in Playa del Carmen that we got to try. If you are ever in the area, go here.

PARRILLA URBANA
Avenida esquina Calle 32 5A
Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710
Playa del Carmen
Q.R., Mexico

Da Noi

My wife and I met some friends for dinner at Da Noi in Islip. Here’s a rundown of what we had.

First, the octopus:

A nice large single tentacle. I’ve had better, but this definitely did the job, and overall is great for Long Island.

Next, prawn with polenta:

A nice head-on fucker. And the polenta was creamy, cheesy and delicious.

Now some pasta dishes. First, gnocchi:

These were heavy, but tasty.

Next, cavatelli.

This came with a pork rags that was really robust.

Then there was pappardelle with meatballs.

Meatballs are always a tough sell on me, and these veal balls did not meet my standards. But the pasta was awesome, as was the sauce.

Now for the meats: first, the porterhouse.

This was nicely grilled but came in at a 6/10 for me, which isn’t terrible for Long Island.

The bone in tenderloin was the better steak, at 8/10.

My buddy ordered his medium, so that’s why there’s less pink in this shot:

My wife’s rabbit dish was very tasty. A bit salty in parts, but over all really nicely cooked. I love seeing this on a menu.

These bison medallions were tenderloin cut, and came out as an app. Nice portion size. These were really tasty. 7/10.

I ended with a perfect creme brûlée.

This is a good restaurant, especially for LI. Go give it a shot. Ask for the bone in tenderloin and get some of those tasty pasta dishes.

DA NOI
301 Main St
Islip, NY 11751

Sai Gon Dep

Sai Gon Dep is a new pho-focused casual joint by acclaimed former Hanoi House chef John Nguyen. He’s a master at making pho – the best I’ve had outside of Vietnam.

While Hanoi House is focused on northern style beef soup, Sai Gon Dep focuses on southern style chicken soup from the region where John was born.

Although beef soup is still served here (as well as full-on 45-day dry-aged tomahawk chops, available only on weekends – 8/10) and other protein entrees are available on the menu, the main focus is on fowl.

They even have balut, for those looking for either an authentic or Zimmern-esque experience.

At $15 a bowl, these soups are a steal. The rich, hearty poultry flavor is like nothing else I’ve had. Not even the most rich paitan broths come close, and this soup eats much lighter than those salty sweat-bomb bowls at ramen shops.

While the noodles here come with shredded meat and an egg yolk in the broth, you can order a half or whole chicken to go with it.

Pull some meat off the bones and drag it through the ginger chicken fat oil and scallion sauce that accompany the dish, and munch away at the delicious bird between slurps of noodles… or just plop it into your soup.

Honestly, the broth alone is so soul-satisfying and delicious that you might not even need the additional meat. But if you do order the extra chicken, don’t be alarmed: you may get a plate of feet and heads along with your order. Nothing goes to waste here, just like where John was born in Vietnam. The entire bird is used, and that’s why the soup tastes so fucking great.

Keep an eye out. This place opens next week. I was there for a special media preview, and I can’t wait to start eating this more regularly. The chicken pho is a top dish of the year for me.

SAI GON DEP
719 Second Ave
New York, NY 10016