Kjun is a Korean/Cajun fusion food concept that offers delivery service around NYC. They will soon reopen a physical location, but for now, the delivery is thoughtfully packaged, arrives hot, and travels well – nothing soggy, everything remains crisp that needs to.
We tried the fried chicken, ribs, and pork belly lettuce wraps. All were awesome. I especially liked the sides like the noodles and pickled watermelon rinds. Delicious food! Can’t wait to try their hanger steak dishes next.
Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.
Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.
Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:
First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).
The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.
We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).
The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.
Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!
The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.
The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!
We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.
*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*
Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).
The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.
Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!
Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!
I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…
My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.
For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!
Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.
These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.
This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.
I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.
They developed a great char on the outside…
While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…
This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.
On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!
So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!
Strip steak has a mild aged flavor, but a really nice peppercorn crust. Perfectly cooked throughout. 8/10.
Rib eye for two is great – a solid 8/10.
Lemon chicken is a sleeper here. Amazing dish!
Also really loved the glass for the French Bird cocktail. They should sell them!
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
This place has some great snacks and cocktails at the bar upstairs. They’re becoming well known for their interesting cocktail glassware.
My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff so let me get right to it.
1) Elementary, My Dear
This sweet and easy to sip Japanese whisky drink comes in a glass shaped like a pipe. It’ll go down fast so nurse it a bit.
This cocktail is like an Aperol spritz without the ice, and comes in a blowfish glass.
3) Smoked Rum Old Fashioned
My favorite of the four we tried, this elevates the quality aged rum with a nice smoke aroma.
4) Black Magic Woman
Probably our second favorite, this well balanced and easy to slam cocktail is beautiful
1) Fluke Ceviche
Absolutely awesome. The perfectly seasoned and well balanced flavors make for a refreshing, cool summer snack. A top dish of the year.
2) Paella Croquettes
Warming, comforting, salty and spicy balls contrast with the cechive in this delicious hot snack that will have you drinking your fancy cocktails faster than you anticipated.
3) Tartare Tacos
There’s beef striploin in here but it’s a bit overshadowed by the dressing and accompaniments within the tartare itself. Otherwise tasty. A bit salty though.
4) Fried Chicken
These perfectly fried bone-in nuggets of breast meat come with a jalapeno cream sauce and a drizzle of honey. The flavors balance nicely and this is a great dish, I just wish they used boneless morsels of thigh meat instead.
This burger “intersects” Asian and American cuisines seamlessly with a perfectly seared beef patty that’s nestled in the folds of a warm sesame seed bao bun and covered with a miso cheddar cheese sauce and topped with pickle slices, pickled chili and crispy shallots. Lovely. Another top item of the year.
6) Cheesecake Donut
To be clear, this is a small ring of cheesecake that looks like a donut – not a donut with a cheesecake filling or something like that. It’s light, fruity and tasty. They also sell them downstairs at the coffee counter sans service charge if you want to try this on the go without sitting at the bar.
7) Melon Margarita Kakigori
This flavored ice dish is a hit with the locals passing by. There’s a little booth station beside the bar where you can get them on the fly. It was delicious, and we got ours “spiked” with tequila.
I definitely recommend this place. It’s a no-tip Danny Meyer joint, so expect a little sticker shock. But find comfort in the bill being the final number you see on your credit card (they don’t accept cash).
INTERSECT BY LEXUS
412 West 14th St
New York, NY 10014
This is a great addition to your fried food rotation. I walked by Jimmy’s Diner before a filming gig and had to try the joint based on looks alone.
Turned out to be a great choice. This “Lucky Schmidt” sandwich was awesome. Fried chicken fingers, melted swiss, bacon, jalapenos, chipotle mayo and pickles on a potato bun. Great crispy fries too. Go give it a shot!
Not really a big deal, but I figured I would mention that just for the fuck of it.
My wife and I noticed this joint while walking around the ‘hood, and since we are always interested in trying new noodle joints, we figured we would give it a shot.
We started with an order of fried octopus balls – not ‘pus testicles, but, rather, fried spheres with a creamy octopus-based filling.
These were excellent. Super tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Hot though, so careful when you pop these balls into your mouth.
I’ve been on a Japanese fried chicken kick lately, so the next thing we tried was their fried chicken appetizer. For just $6.50 this was a great deal. Lots of good, juicy, tender thigh meat with an excellent golden crisp batter on the outside.
The way to go here is ordering their combination platters. My wife got this combo deal that came with soba noodles, sashimi, tempura and some other nice bits.
You can choose hot or cold soba (she picked hot), and small, medium or large orders are all the same price (S=100g; M=200g; and L=300g). Pictured above is a large.
I ordered a combo that came with soba noodles and a chicken and egg rice dish.
I, too, ordered large and hot.
I think, though, the noodles weren’t the star of the show here, as odd as that seems. All the stuff AROUND the noodles was better. Maybe because we picked hot/soup style? Perhaps the best way to go is cold noodles or tsukemen style (you dip the noodles into concentrated and flavored broth/sauce).
One last pair of things to mention: the desserts. My wife’s combo came with a scoop of ice cream. They were out of black sesame so she picked green tea. It was good but not quite sweet enough for my tastes. I generally dislike all things green tea, so take that assessment with a grain of salt.
That said, I was intrigued by the idea of a green tea tira misu, so I had to order it.
It was amazing. The green tea wasn’t bitter – it was sweet. And when we combined the tira misu with the whipped cream and sweet red beans in one bite, the flavors were outstanding. I highly recommend this for dessert.
SOBA NOODLE AZUMA
251 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019
My wife and I stopped in here for a quick meal since we are both big fans of yakitori. We tried a bunch of shit.
First was the “soft bone,” which is essentially the cartilage found near the breast meat of the chicken. I thought there would be more of this, since it is generally abundant on the animal and a throw-away item in so many cultures. It was tasty though, I must admit.
Next was chicken skin. Since this is grilled, it doesn’t quite develop the crunchy texture you might expect from something that’s broiled, baked or roasted for a long period of time. It wasn’t rubbery or fatty though, so I liked it.
Next up, knee bone. This was probably my least favorite of the skewers, but I know my wife likes the weird crunchy bits, so I’m pretty sure she liked this.
These skewers are chicken oysters, tender lumps of meat found beneath the thigh of the chicken, near the ass. They’re so soft and juicy. One of the best skewers (we ordered two).
Our last skewer was the chicken thigh. These were my favorite. Nice and tender, as expected. Good fat content, lots of flavor.
We also tried both of their fried chicken apps. At $9 these were a little pricey (just four drumettes per order).
This is the regular order – just fried and lightly seasoned, served with lemon wedges.
And this is the flavored version, with a sweet sauce, a grilled shishito pepper and sesame seeds. We both liked this dish better.
Last, we had an order of ikuri: rice with roe. It also comes with a blob of fresh wasabi, shredded nori, shredded scallions, a nice seaweed broth and Korean/Japanese style pickles. Not bad for $13.
We really liked this place. The skewers range from like $3 to $10 (for special meats). Ours were all $3 or $3.50. It all came to $50-something bucks, which I thought was cheaper (and better) than other yakitori joints in the area.
This joint offers some of the most unique and delicious dishes I’ve come across in a while. I went with a group of food Instagrammers to help the restaurant get some pics out to the masses, so we were able to sample a lot of stuff.
First off, the cocktails are really creative.
If you like apertif type drinks, try the Greyfriar or the Donna Reed. I generally shy away from them due to the bitter element, but these were extremely tasty and have me re-thinking the entire class. My favorites, though: Old Smokey, I’m on Fire and Deacon Blues.
Take a look at the food menu.
Everything looks/sounds good because everything IS good. I’m serious. Every item we tried was not only good but often times outstanding. I seriously think this is my new favorite restaurant.
Okay on to the goods. I apologize in advance for some of the pics that I didn’t bother editing. I was primarily concerned with getting just a few to look great for Instagram, in particular the steak, burger and fried chicken dishes.
These little corn bread wafers are a nice change from standard table bread in a basket.
The Pecan Candied Bacon is served in a mason jar. They reminded me of the stuff my wife makes, only without the spicy element.
The Deviled Steak & Eggs is essentially a deviled egg with steak tartare under the whipped yolk. Excellent bites.
If there’s only one thing Chef Matt Abdoo should have as his legacy, it’s his ability to make incredible sauces. These BBQ Chicken Lollipops feature one of those amazing sauces. They are fantastic.
Grandma Val’s Meatballs are really great. Again, that sauce is killer.
This next dish of fried cod cheeks was not on the menu, but they might have been one of my favorite dishes of the night. I could easily eat bucket-loads of these. Nice light and puffy batter, simply garnished with pickled peppers and scallions. Awesome.
I’m usually not a fan of cooked oysters, but the Grilled Oysters here definitely changed my mind.
Brisket Ravioli with black truffle butter? Yup. They even shaved a bunch on top, table-side.
We shared the Bleecker Burger, which is probably now one of my new favorites. It’s in the style of a Big Mac; double patty, special sauce (yeah – it’s an incredible sauce). Nearly flawless in execution. As a friend pointed out, it just needs an element of crisp, whether from the patty or a leaf of iceberg. The house pickles are perfect.
The Linguine Cacio e Pepe and Lasagne dishes were both nicely executed as well, but I didn’t get a shot of either, unfortunately.
FOR THE TABLE
Let me start with the amazing Smoked & Fried Chicken. This is a whole chicken, and it’s expertly breaded and perfectly fried.
I enjoyed this more than Ando and Ma Peche, which seem to be the top of the pack for many fried chicken aficionados.
Again, the sauces that come with this are amazing.
But the waffles with whipped sweet and salted butter were the real show stoppers. I’ve never had a waffle that tasted so good.
The chicken comes with cheesy grits, which are fantastic.
Here comes the big daddy: the Tomahawk Chop with Smoked Beef Rib. Essentially, steak and brisket.
This is an aged Pat Lafrieda cut that has been lightly smoked before being properly finished off as a steak. It’s served with smoked cap and brisket, and another amazing steak sauce.
This steak tastes like a delicious hybrid between BBQ and traditional steakhouse fare.
It’s smokey and sweet, but also earthy and savory. It really blew me away. 10/10.
The Mac & Cheese is really tasty, and topped with a cheese powder that will take you back to your childhood.
These Hand Cut French Fries are more like flattened and squashed baked potatoes. Very good, and not the same as the shoestring style fries that come with the burger.
The Utica Greens are made with escarole, which I love to see on menus. This really popped from the smokey bacon and cherry peppers.
Finally, we tried the Anson Mills Grits, which I also liked very much.
Mason Jar Oreo Cheesecake. Velvety and delicious.
Mango Sorbet with Yogurt Chips & Fresh Mango. So bright and flavorful.
Karen’s Key Lime Pie. Perfect rendition of this classic.
Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae with Virginia Peanuts. Decadent.
Buckeye Milkshake (like a peanut butter and chocolate ice cream shake). This is something special. Not only is it gorgeous, but it is filling, yummy and satisfying.
They were all awesome, and overall this was an amazing meal. I can’t wait to go back and try their 155 Steak, a Teres Major/Shoulder Tender cut, so keep an eye out for updates.
UPDATE 4/18/17 – 155 STEAK
This shoulder tender is awesome.
It has all the softness you’d expect from a filet mignon, but the flavor character of a rib eye.
Although it was cooked more like medium than medium rare, it still packed a lot of oomph. It was slightly sweet yet savory, had a good crust on the outside, and was super tender and juicy inside. At just $28, this is a steal. 8/10.