How have I never reviewed this place in all my years living here, and all my times eating here – especially from way back when I went to Law School and lived/worked nearby for years after?
Wo Hop is a NYC institution. They’ve been serving up excellent and affordable Chinese food in their iconic downstairs location since 1938! I have to say, the fried wontons are some of the best I’ve ever had.
On this visit, my wife and I had the sliced chicken with baby corn. I was expecting this to be much spicier, being printed in RED on the menu and under the spicy Szechaun section, but it was still delicious.
We also had the 4D chow fun, which has 4 different proteins (shrimp, beef, chicken and roast pork). This was the better dish.
They’re still keeping prices very low here, which is great. Even the t-shirt prices haven’t changed since I purchased one back in 2000 – $10!
If you’ve never been, you definitely should go at least once, even if it’s just to say that you’ve been there.
My wife and I tried Dhamaka last night, using a gift certificate that our friends gave us as a housewarming.
We started with some of their delicious cocktails, and then moved right into some meaty apps. The first thing that came out was my favorite item of the meal – lamb ribs!
These had such awesome flavor and tenderness. The mint chutney that came with it is something they should sell by the jar!
Next up, smoked goat belly. This was cleverly presented in a tiny barrel smoker:
It was a bit too aggressive on the salt level, but over all we loved it. It was similar to some kofta / meatball skewer dishes that we’ve had.
These prawns were a little bit overcooked, as they were difficult to pull from the shell. They were spicy and really tasty, however. Especially the heads.
Our first main was the stewed mutton dish. They smush an entire bulb of roasted garlic into this, paper and all, so be prepared for dragon breath as well as picking garlic paper out of your bites of food! The dragon breath wasn’t so bad actually, but I wish they somehow removed the paper first.
Our other main was this delicious chicken and rice dish.
The chicken is bone-in, so the meat remains really juicy and tender. The ]rice reminded me of a really tasty, elevated rice-a-roni! Love that stuff.
That about covers it. We will definitely be eating here again!
It’s been a while since I’ve been out to eat at a place I haven’t yet tried, and that means it’s been a while since I’ve posted a review. Well, here is my latest and greatest.
Brad’s Burgers and BBQ is a small spot on the Upper West Side that slings burgers and BBQ, as you might have guessed from the name. I tried a few of the BBQ-sided items on my visit last week.
Their brisket platter is different from what you normally expect from a BBQ joint. Here, the brisket is shredded instead of sliced, and it’s already hit with some vinegar-based BBQ sauce. I guess you can call it “pulled beef.”
Despite being a fan of the more traditional sliced style, this was fine. The meat was cooked nicely, and it had nice flavor to it. The cole slaw was good (I usually don’t like coleslaw much), and the waffle fries were perfectly crisped.
The corn bread was standard issue, but we also tried the Mexican corn on the side. This just needed a hit of some salt and pepper to make it pop. Perhaps a little jalapeño heat would have helped too.
The pulled pork sandwich was hearty. It comes dressed with sliced pickles, tangy sauce and coleslaw.
The star of the meal, however, was the fried chicken sandwich. This was marketed as spicy, but it didn’t bring much heat. However, it did bring some great flavor and textures. Happy to report they use thigh meat for this baby. This comes with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickles, sautéed onion and special sauce.
We also tried their coconut cake, which was almost like a cross between cake and a cookie in terms of density and flavor. The cream cheese frosting was nice.
This place is no Hometown, Fette Sau or Pig Beach, but it should get the job done if you’re in need of a fix and don’t feel like traveling all the way to Brooklyn for some ‘cue.
BRAD’S BURGERS & BBQ
522 A Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024
Once again David Chang pretty much disappoints. I understand and respect that he did a lot to expose certain aspects of Asian cuisine to folks here in NYC (and beyond), but I just don’t get why so many people are riding his dick so hard. The food just isn’t that good. Maybe it’s because he, himself, is not actually cooking? Not sure. But he gets doted on like crazy from places like Eater and the NY Times.
This man is supposed to be the wizard of fried chicken. Everyone says it. But two out of three times that I’ve tried his fried chicken, the experience was highly problematic. Fuku + was great. Ma Peche was half raw and half burnt. And this time at Noodle Bar the skin and batter wasn’t crisp enough – not by a long shot.
The bird was small but I don’t mind that. I actually prefer it, as the ratio of meat to skin and batter is usually better on a smaller bird. Also this bird had great flavor within the meat. But when there is little to no texture on the outside, it’s overall a let down.
Another let down was the “pork ramen.” When I associate David Chang with pork ramen I’m thinking of a rich, thick, fatty and almost milky tonkotsu broth. Not the case here. This was thin and lacked character. The slab of pork belly was nice enough, as were the noodles and the bamboo shoot. But the broth was weak. Even with a raw egg yolk mixed in, it was thin and watery. Maybe I’m just missing the point of this dish.
On the positive side of things, the creamy lemon and pepper lobster noodle dish was excellent. It sports lots of juicy and flavorful claw meat throughout, wide and perfectly cooked snappy noodles, and a hearty citrus and pepper zing.
The rice cakes were a bit soft but very tasty. When eaten with the corn you got the texture that was needed.
One thing I will say is that the prawn dish looked incredible. We were wishing we ordered that instead of the chicken every time we saw an order come up (we sat at the kitchen bar area). For $23 the dish comes with five huge baby lobster sized head-on prawns. Lightly batter fried and then dressed up for the big ball.
That about does it. I probably won’t come back here unless my wife and I are jonesing for that lemon-pepper lobster dish and those prawns.
MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Over the course of a few days, some Instagram pals and I were able to get a sense of their operations, how they raise their animals and how delicious their proteins are.
The camp itself was pretty awesome. Home base was a nicely appointed “glamping” style tent that can sleep two, outfitted with extremely comfortable beds.
I was more comfortable here than I was in the hotel that I stayed at in San Francisco prior to the drive up. There are nice modern bathrooms with hot water showers near the tents too, so you’re not roughing it in some outhouse or washing up in a lake.
Here’s the event barn and main lawn, where most of the action took place:
Okay so let’s get down to business:
Belcampo Meat Co. is a 100% grass fed and grass finished organic beef producer. They also raise lamb, pork, chickens and turkeys, but they run about 3200 head of cattle total, including their cows, calves and bulls.
The animals are generally about 24 to 30 months old when they reach market weight, after which they go off to Belcampo’s processing plant in nearby Yreka. Most of their beef grades out at USDA choice or select in terms of marbling. However since intramuscular fat (marbling) isn’t a priority for Belcampo in the way that it is for traditional beef producers, the grading almost doesn’t matter.
This was the best tasting grass finished beef I’ve ever had. Truly outstanding!
As you can imagine, at a place called “Meat Camp” your daily scheduled activities are pretty awesome if you’re a raging carnivore like me.
We broke down a beef forequarter, which included the chuck and rib sections.
We also broke down a lamb shoulder, pork shortloins/t-bones, and chickens.
We portioned out chops for grilling, as well as ground up various meats for burgers and sausages.
Yes, we ate LOTS of it.
We even made sausage and tasted several of their incredibly delicious cured meat products with a charcuterie and wine pairing lesson. I think these bites were my favorites of the entire trip!
One of the many impressive things up at Belcampo is the fire wagon, which they use to develop embers and natural charcoal for cooking on their Argentinian style grills, their huge cauldron, and their “Asado Crucifix,” (all of which are made by NorCal Ovenworks).
Another fun lesson was about how they make their “bone broth” and sauce bases, like ragu and soffrito.
When we weren’t cooking, eating or butchering, we toured their farms, fields, and animal paddocks, which consists of about 5,000 acres of grasses and alfalfa.
We also visited the farrowing barn where newly born piglets were nursing from sows.
Just nine months later those babies are pushing 500-600lbs from eating a mixture of pasture, grains, acorns and nuts on the farm.
We saw their chicken train cars and barns, with the animals truly “free range” feeding on bugs, seeds and grasses.
I even got to see their turkeys along the road when I was out for a morning run.
Belcampo goes above and beyond to make their animals comfortable, and they exhibit the utmost respect for the environment. The farm is run like a family, and the love and care they give to their animals translates directly into a high quality product at the end of the animals’ lifecycles.
I think my biggest takeaway – and by far the most important one – is that not all grass-finished beef is the same. I had it in my head that I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste of grass-finished beef, but Belcampo’s product is truly amazing. They definitely changed my mind on that, but their other proteins and products are outstanding as well – especially that charcuterie!
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.
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.
I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.
We started with the following:
Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.
Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.
Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.
Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.
Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.
Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.
Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.
Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.
This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.
90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:
And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:
This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.
There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.
There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.
Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.
Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.
Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.
Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.
I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.
Le Coq Rico is essentially a steakhouse for fowl. They serve whole, half and quarter birds – everything from chicken to duck to guinea hens. The menu is quite impressive.
My wife and I went in with a photographer who shoots food photos and runs social media accounts as a side business, so we got to try a bunch of things.
First off, they make great cocktails. We tried their old fashioned, and it was excellent.
Since we went in for brunch, we also got to try a pair of their fresh juices. The orange one is called Sirocco Breath, and it’s made with celery, carrot, apple, turmeric and nutmeg. Pop a shot of vodka in this and it is an amazing cocktail as well. So tasty and fresh.
The reddish purple drink is called the Root Twist: beet, ginger and orange. Very nice.
To start, we had the Caesar salad with chicken croquettes. This was a great salad.
The foie gras terrine en croute was so amazingly flavorful. This has won competitions all over the world. A definite must order.
Okay now on to the main feature. This is a 120-day old Brune Landaise pastured chicken, poached and roasted to perfection.
I really enjoyed this. All the dark meat was juicy, succulent and flavorful, and even the breast meat was incredible – especially when you drizzle some jus on it.
We snacked on this with some fries and a mixed greens salad with vinaigrette.
Now, I know the chicken is the main star, but you NEED to save room for dessert. I’m serious. These are some of the best desserts I’ve had. Every one of them was incredible. Perfectly executed French classics.
100% Chocolate Profiteroles:
Chef Westerman’s Vacherin, Ice cream side:
And Sorbet side:
I highly recommend this place. Share a fowl for the table, and go ballistic on desserts. You won’t be disappointed!