I’ve always said that Indian food is probably the least photogenic food out there. It’s probably the most flavorful cuisine, in terms of raw power, so it’s kind of a weird dynamic. Anyway, this joint is sort of like Indian food meets American grab-and-go lunch.
For example, take a look at this “Board Meeting” wrap, which has roti, chicken, rice, tikka, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, kale and a cilantro chutney. I was hoping for a bold-flavored sandwich. Unfortunately it was a bit on the bland side. Perhaps it relied too heavily on the rice and not on the chicken and tikka.
My wife got the “All Sunshine” salad, which was the better of the two items. It had rice, lentils, cucumber, tomatoes and date chutney with cilantro. It may look like shit, but it tasted pretty nice for a salad.
The real star of the meal, however, was the order of fries. They were spiced with a little bit of curry powder that made them pop. They were crispy outside and soft inside. Delicious.
Tabata is a small, no bullshit ramen joint on the corner of 40th Street and 8th Avenue.
The place is legit. Nothing fancy inside either – it gets right down to fucking business.
We started with some crispy baby octopus. These were tasty. Not the most tender I’ve had, but the crisp was nice and the lemon really made them pop.
I had “lava men,” which is their tonkotsu broth (I chose pork rather than chicken) with a spicy kick. It was pretty good. Noodle quality was good to above average, flavor was good, and I had two very nice slices of pork that were soft and flavorful with no rubbery chew. Great part about this little joint is that you get a whole egg in your ramen, not just a half. A third slice of pork would have been awesome, but at only $11 it really was a great bargain.
The real winner here though was my wife’s bowl of “tabata” ramen, which is the owner’s Burmese, non-traditional version of ramen, with a soy and coconut curry broth that was both sweet and savory, with a little kick of spice and some fresh herbage from the onion and cilantro. This was so creamy and flavorful. Man. Amazing. One thing I would love to see is a little pile of sliced red chili peppers for a little extra boom in the spice department.
This little Japanese joint opened up in April of 2014. My ramen-master buddy found it while perusing a Yelp search for ramen in midtown west. He has tried nearly everything else in the city, so this was a new spot for him.
It was a pretty nice little place. Inside, there’s lots of space – not your typical jammed-up ramen joint with a line out the door and no space to lift your fucking elbow from the table. The bar and table seating is spacious, and there’s a second bar in the back for sushi.
When we walked in, I saw an awesome looking grilled squid dish. I wanted it badly, but I mistakenly ordered the sautéed squid item just above it on the menu. It was okay (slightly chewy for my liking), but it had a good spicy flavor from the jalapeños:
We also tried the fried chicken thighs (karage). These were good. Juicy and crispy. Gotta love the thigh meat.
For ramen, I tried the tonkotsu that came with miso flavored pork belly. it was okay. The broth was a little light and the pork was a little chewy (I like the belly to be fall-apart soft in ramen). Also, I expected the belly to be a thick cut, as opposed to thin bacon style. The noodles were good: thin, straight, firm … like Quagmire’s erect cock (that’s a pure guess – I’ve never seen it).
My buddy has been to nearly every ramen place in the 5 boroughs. He said this bowl of tan tan men was good and recommended; I believe a possible 3.5 out of 5 on his very difficult scale. I though thought the broth was robust and flavorful, just the right amount of spicy. Perhaps I would get it with straight noodles, knowing now that it is served with wavy egg noodles.
All that said, this is a rare spot that serves up a full Japanese food menu in addition to some decent ramen. It’s not just a ramen shop by any means.
On a second trip I tried some other items. First, the grilled squid. This was pretty good, nicely cooked, etc.
My wife ordered the salmon saddle, which was really flavorful and perfectly fried. The fat from within the layers of fish flakes was really delicious.
I tried the signature Nippori ramen, which was coconut milk-based with chicken, cilantro and red onion. I liked it a lot but I think the similar style at Tabata was a little bit more to my liking. The wavy egg noodles were nicely cooked, the egg was soft and delicious, but I think this bowl would benefit from some sliced jalapeños.
My wife ordered a soba dish but we got this skillet fried ramen dish instead. The pork in the dish was similar to the kind in my first bowl of ramen, up top. It was a good dish, but totally not what we expected from an order of soba.
For dessert we tried two items. First was the espresso and chocolate coffee gelato. This was really tasty, and I would definitely recommend it.
The key lime cheesecake was okay. I wasn’t blown away by it. It did the job, but that ice cream / gelato was way better.
A last minute, game-time decision landed my wife and I in The Palm at west 50th street and 8th avenue for a quick meal. It was an interesting experience; a rather colorful fellow named Ray sat at the table next to us and took interest in this blog. He chatted with us for most of the meal, so it was almost like a 3-person dinner instead of just a date with my wife – a triple date. I’m sure he is reading this now; hey Ray! It was good “meating” with you. Enjoy the review!
The ribeye was juicy, it had a great char and crisp all around, and it was cooked just to my liking (an even medium throughout). The intramuscular fat, or marbling, was high quality and I could taste the goodness that melted into the meat with each bite. The only down side was that my particular cut had a fair amount of gristle that I couldn’t chew through. There was a slight amount of bleed out (needed another minute or two of rest), but totally not a big deal. My wife did a surf & turf special that came with a nice sized filet; it was cooked perfectly, and very tender, but it just lacked a slight amount of seasoning.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
The selection is solid here. They have all 4 of the mandatory cuts, but they embellish on some of the better ones. For example they have two ribeyes; a boneless and a bone-in. They also had a strip that was cooked with cherry peppers on special – tempting, but I am a purist, especially on my first visit to a place.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
The sizes are good here, and everything seems to be prime caliber. The ribeye was 24oz on the bone, and 18oz off. The strip was 16oz. Filets are 9oz or 14oz, and as I mentioned above they don’t skimp out when you do the surf & turf deals. The creamed spinach was tremendous (see pic below) – unfortunately I only had two bites of it. The servers forgot to bring out the doggie bag to take that home (couldn’t finish). Oops. The plating was basic, and it’s really simple to achieve: cook meat, place meat on plate, serve. I’m cool with that. But that little bit of parsley?!?? Make it cilantro and I’ll eat it. Parsley is as useless as tits on a bull. I’m a fucking man for God’s sake. I don’t need a sprig of parsley on my plate or a tweel of balsamic infused chocolate sticking out of my potatoes for that matter (didn’t happen here, but it DOES happen). Dear chefs who do that: Go fuck yourselves. Sincerely, Johnny Prime. PS: What’s the difference between parsley and pussy? You don’t eat parsley…
Check out the bill below and make your own judgments. I thought it was a fair price for an above average meal. Normally our bills come to a much higher figure. The surf & turf deal for $50 is a nice bargain.
I didn’t spend any time at the bar, but it is in a good location, near the street, and it gets hopping after work. The martini was made well – up, very dry, with olives, and a little dirty.
Specials and Other Meats: 9
The Palm had a bunch of specials. One thing that bugged me, though, was that oysters were a special and not a regular menu item. In addition to that they had a lobster cocktail special item, a strip steak with cherry peppers, some italian food items, and a pumpkin creme brulee. In addition to that stuff, they offer several kinds of surf & turf deals (3 courses for $50 – the menu is pictured below); some with shrimp, some with lobster, etc. As far as other meats go, they have lamb (under the chops menu), veal and chicken (under the italian menu). Perhaps a pork chop would make for a good addition to the menu.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7
My wife had a basic mixed greens salad that came with her surf & turf. I had the crab cake. It was excellent – lots of meat, but still had good crisp texture. It came with a chipotle sauce that was perfect for an occasional dunk, and beside it was a cherry pepper and mango salsa; very nice. On the side we had creamed spinach, as usual. It was a little heavy (too much of the “cream” and not enough of the “spinach”), but you could tell it was made with top quality cheeses. For dessert we shared a pumpkin creme brulee, which came with my wife’s surf & turf (see below). It was a little grainy due to the addition of pumpkin, but tasty nonetheless.
Seafood Selection: 8
My wife had a lobster tail in her surf & turf. The bite I had was nice; crispy edges, juicy inside, nicely cooked, but she said the remainder of her tail was a little overdone. A shame – anyway you can see the entree below. As I mentioned before, the crab cake was excellent, but the oysters should be a staple and not a special. From the looks of other tables, the lump crabmeat was a generous helping. The Palm offers lots by way of various lobster items, and they also offer salmon, sea bass, and swordfish.
The service here was excellent. Our waiter was Martin, and he was very observant and concerned about our dining experience, our seating location, and whether we needed anything. In particular he was concerned about whether Ray, at the table next to us, was a bother. Absolutely not! I enjoy yapping it up, and Ray was really interested in this blog, so I say bring it on. Our new buddy Ray thought his waitress was too attentive, but I thought Martin was just right for our table. He did a good job of explaining why the bone-in was better than the boneless ribeye, and I overheard other waiters giving the history of the Palm, and what the drawings on the wall were all about (see below). Our table bread was a nice mix of different items. The butter was cold, but whipped and nice; just a little hard. The bread could’ve used a little warmth; it was room temperature. Throw that shit in the microwave for ten seconds or some shit. The only down about service was that we asked for our creamed spinach to be wrapped up to take home, but it never came out to us (not Martin’s fault – it was taken by the bus boy). By the time the bill came out and we paid, we had forgotten about it. Oh well – that’s a little bit my fault too, so no big deal. I just hope they gave it to a bum or something and didn’t throw it out.
The Palm has tons of drawn faces all over their walls. Apparently if you spend enough time and money there, they will immortalize you in cartoon form on the walls of their establishment. As you might expect, lots of famous people have their faces plastered on the walls in there. I had the privilege of looking at Jason Alexander and Mel Gibson throughout the meal, as they were depicted on the column nearest to our table. The story goes that young artists with no money used to create drawings of celebrities that dined there; in exchange they would receive a plate of spaghetti from the owner. That’s the lure and legend of how it all started. Cool. Other than that stuff, the ambiance is standard for steak joints: dim lighting, dark wood, and it smells fantastic. The tables were a little close together where we sat. It’s a good thing my wife and I are friendly people, otherwise the triple date with our new friend Ray would have been awkward. The bathrooms could use an upgrade: they were like any bar bathroom in Manhattan. There was an attendant one time I went in, but not the second time. I don’t think one is needed (ever – unless they have everything I need to shave my entire face).