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  1. RedFarm is opening for dinner (only) Tuesday August 30th.
  2. Coming from out of town and looking to arrange a formal chinese banquet dinner. We will want to have 4-5 tables, 8-10 courses served one at a time, and a menu that would please a knowledgeable and well-traveled eater. Fairfax country is strongly preferred. Suggestions anyone?
  3. Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking isn't new just full of recipes that give first class results Pei Mei's books are better for an individual with some background in the field or perhaps for a Chinese person whose whose inherent knowledge of the subject is strong
  4. I don't post often these days BUT BLU in Montclair is worth the journey from anywhere. When owner/chef Zod Arifai cooks a special menu for you it's seriously good, as in 3-star Michelin good: as good as Keller, JG, Bouley, Passard etc. - fabulously good, plus original and clean. Can't get his vision of great food in NYC. Try the cured foie or perhaps his salmon tartare with smoked ice cream and soy caramel. As with other great chefs, Zod has achieved a super high level of craft and puts his own signature on his dishes. For my money I am just as happy eating his food as I am eating at Jean George (which is currently putting out fabulous quality/genuine 3 star Michelin-level food - and is lunch a bargain at $28!) or Le Bernardin. I recently was lucky enough to enjoy an Eric Rippert meal that was made for his peers - the group he cooked for included the likes of David Bouley, Michael Romano and a number of Tokyo's most stellar chefs. The food was awesome and I especially remember an amazing and rarefied squid broth. but it was no better than a number of meals I've had at Blu (preordered, not off the menu).
  5. you might want to check out: http://www.rameria.com/englhome.html based in montepulciano italy signore mazzetti is one of the last great copper artisans in europe - his cookware is tinned using a process handed down from his grandfather - he crafts every piece himself and uses hand hammering techniques that create a superior durability, better than his competitors - he does fabulous old world work and makes custom pieces using your choice of copper guage and details - his tinning is the best and most durable I have ever seen - he has many pieces in stock - great products and designs - made me a fab 14" flat-bottomed wok! highly recommend his work - he is profiled in the May2007 issue of Saveur Magazine Send an email to Chef Ron Askew Sales@CulinaryCultures.com Tell him what you want and ask for the best price on the Bourgeat "Alliance" pan or pans that you want. State whether or not you want the lid included. Free shipping in the US. Download the PDF of the Bourgeat catalog from here, so you have the part numbers. Matfer-Bourgeat catalog. He offers a significant discount to professionals. see what others say! ←
  6. Why? What happened? ?
  7. You're right. It's a shame that CB doesn't serve chicken feet, because really good chicken feet are something that I would gladly pay a premium for. I haven't had any really good ones since the last time I was in Malaysia.
  8. Can anyone who has had dimsum in Hong Kong (or Singapore) comment if it would be more comparable to dimsum there? ← At the risk of 'self-serving' accusations I have some comments to make and would like to set the record straight on certain issues. First let me say that I’d don't own or have a continuing interest in CB, but as a consultant I did set up the food program there, and I clearly am part of the family. To start with, in my professional opinion I think the overall work done at CB was absolutely first-rate, excellent in fact. By this I mean the team assembled by the owners, John McDonald & Josh Pickard, the interior work done by William Georges, and the culinary team led by Executive Chef Ophaso and Dim Sum chef Joe Ng that also includes one of the industry’s top BBQ chefs, are absolutely excellent. If you want to talk about dim sum in Hong Kong and Guangzhou I can claim a certain familiarity. In the mid-90’s I was a guest of the Hong Tong Tourist Association. They brought me there to explore the dim sum/small restaurant scene. Armed with a well-known guide, a car and a driver, and a host who was the HKTA’s restaurant expert, I have been exploring the restaurant scene in HK regularly since then. I was there in ’04 with a group, including my friend Chinese culinary expert Nina Simonds, and again last summer when I spent a couple of weeks in HK and Macao: all the time chasing dim sum with insiders who really know. In HK, my favorite dim sum destination, and the standard by which I judge dim sum quality, is Victoria City Seafood. It is an excellent Cantonese restaurant where dinner is just as good or even better than the dim sum. The dim sum in both of their branches (3 now?) is limited in variety but excellent in quality. I have also dined on dim sum at the Peninsula, The Mandarin Oriental, The Shangri-La, Luk Yu Tea House, Maxim’s, the dim sum restaurant in Happy Valley and many others. How does Joe Ng’s product rate? Well from what I’ve seen it’s as good as the absolute best in Hong Kong. In fact, I can’t think of any better and frankly I don’t know if any are as good. So let me spell it out for you in case this is too subtle. JOE NG IS ONE OF THE TOP DIM SUM CHEFS IN THE WORLD! – period, simple. As far as I’m concerned he’s up there with the top 3 star Michelin chefs. Yes, you can get 5 fried dumplings for a dollar in Chinatown, and at New Green Bo the fried dumplings (which are not at all comparable to Cantonese dim sum except that they’re dumplings too) are just 5 or 6 bucks and when they’re good and carefully cooked they can be excellent. But the fact is these are northern style dumplings that are fundamentally different than dim sum and though delicious, rather basic in their craft. Joe Ng makes hundreds if not thousands of items, not just one skin with one or two different fillings. This is a guy who makes 40 different skins with 40 different fillings and one is better than the next. How foolish to compare his craft and that of the women at New Green Bo who make fried dumplings that don’t even have pleats along their seams. They are doing very different things. I have been in this industry for 30 years and this is the highest level of craft I have ever seen in this area. We are extremely lucky to have an artist like Chef Ng in our midst and FRANKLY IF THERE IS A STORY HERE, IT IS EXTRAORDINARY HOW MUCH IGNORANCE AND LACK OF DISCERNMENT THERE IS ON THE PART OF OUR FOOD CRITICS AND SOME OF OUR FOODIES. It is clear to me that the vast majority of them don’t know nearly enough about this subject. I am not looking to make enemies. In fact as a consultant it benefits me to have healthy relationships with the media. However the ignorance and lack of sophistication surrounding CB has been unbelievable to me, astounding in fact! And the mistakes: forget about a critic’s taste (or lack thereof). I am thinking of the seasoned food journalists in the Observer and Crain’s (individuals whom I have met, liked and respected over the years) who dismissed the dim sum as just good and never really figured out how good it really was. Or the critic writing in one of our venerable, now-given-away-at-the-corner publications that venomously and ignorantly claimed the food was tasteless (you could call the food at CB many things but tasteless? – impossible!) and most amazingly complained about the beef ribs – which is truly extraordinary since they come from a pig. Great credibility there – not getting the difference between a pig and a cow correct! Then there was the critic from a major NY magazine whose report on the wonton soup was that his daughter (I’ve been told that she’s around 3) thought it was excellent. What does that mean? Should we be taking her word over his? Perhaps, I hear she’s Asian – he’s not. Is this the type of thoughtfully arrived at opinion that we food professionals deserve for all the work and experience we’ve put into our creations? We have a right to expect to be judged by someone who knows a lot about these areas. By the way, Joe Ng makes those wontons, and they’re exceptional! This is obviously a cool kid with great instincts! Are you competitive Manhattan nursery school directors of admission paying attention? This child would be a good one to admit! Perhaps Mr. Bruni understood the restaurant best, but even with him I feel there were fundamental misunderstandings. First one? Saying that the dim sum were very good. He’s wrong. Very wrong. They’re GREAT. Some of the best in the world. True, much of the Chinese community-oriented esoterica are not part of the dim sum program. There are no duck tongues, goose intestines or even periwinkles. Not even any tripe. In their place however, there are frogs legs, Chilean sea bass, and duck and yellow leak spring rolls – esoteric items that are more western in their appeal, yet items that don’t appear at any other NY restaurant at all! Plus, Chef Ng adds and subtracts dim sum items every week. Plus he makes almost 40 items a day. Interestingly many food professionals in the Chinese community recognize Chef Ng’s talent and seek out his cooking Next misunderstanding? To regard the restaurant as merely dressed up general tso. It’s true, there’s plenty of that, and what there is, is usually done very well. But there is also much else that is subtly and mouthwateringly exciting. What about the excellent riff on chicken chow mein? Why hasn’t anyone noticed the crispy onion rings on top or the Vidalia onions that flavor the base and make it naturally and deliciously sweet, and the fun and cool looking presentation of a crispy free form egg roll skin basket that is broken open tableside? It is exactly the same sort of 'sensible' cooking that Mr. Bruni lauds Mitchell Davis for in his blog this week - yet he failed to either notice or appreciate it here. Or why has no one mentioned the fresh sea scallops and cellophane noodles that are braised with saffron and rich chicken stock to produce a savory and delicious, yet Chinese feeling dish. Why is there saffron on a Chinese menu? The answer: because it’s the spice of the moment in Beijing. Clearly saffron is something one doesn't expect from a beef broccoli-centric menu, yet why isn't it acknowledged? Why hasn’t anyone commented on the texture of the General Tso’s Chicken which is simultaneously crisp on the outside - (w/o its customary heavily battered exterior – what’s the trick?) – yet juicy on the inside, and then features a sauce that has a different flavor and finish than everyone else’s - black chinkiang vinegar is added just before serving. Or why has no one mentioned the absolutely fantastic steamed Branzino? It’s one of the few steamed fish recipes in 30 years that has made me crave a dish that I normally taste for a moment and then take a pass on. Plus the fish is so beautifully butchered and presented: great sophistication, way beyond general tso. Yet when the critics write it is only about prosaic type beef and broccoli dishes – one would get the impression there is nothing else Fact is, when it comes to Chinese food, it seems that many of our critics lack the professional training and experience to discern these details. And unfortunately many of our foodies, upon seeing the word Chinatown in the restaurant’s name immediately think about value and the fact that Chinatown represents lots of tasty food for very little money: a thought that has become the bane of the Chinese restaurant industry in America. You know that when a Chinese restaurant chooses to serve, quail or squab or lobster, they still have to pay the same for it as a French or an Italian chef, only that since they’re cooking Chinese they can’t charge for it (comparably) in this environment. Apparently (from reading our critics and blogs) all beef and broccoli is created equal and as a result why get the purportedly good stuff? Using that logic I guess it must be the same with steak. Why go to Peter Luger’s for a porterhouse when you can get one at Outback? A ridiculous thought, right? But apparently when it comes to beef and broccoli or general tso’s chicken, it is perfectly fine even if it is very soft thinking! Bottom line to all of this is that in reading the posts of many in this thread and the reviews and blogs that have appeared in recent weeks I keep coming to the same conclusion: too bad that such good cooking is being dissed and avoided by so many who ostensibly care. The joke is unfortunately on them. I go to CB regularly and have had consistently excellent meals. Some of the best in the industry by far. Not the spiciest, not the most esoteric, not the most authentic, just simply (or not so simply) delicious. I was particularly enchanted with a nasty and vituperative ditty that appeared recently on a little known (to me) blog entitled ‘gridskipper’. The author, while grudgingly admitting that the food was good, still managed to trash the place for its lack of value. Well, we live in a world where disciples spend $1,000 on dinner for 2 in The Time-Warner AOL building, but apparently a $2 hand-crafted dumpling made by one of the world’s top artisans is too expensive and should be avoided at all costs - same with the beef dishes that are made from super-tasty flatiron steak but at $18 or so are deemed way too expensive and not worth it. Hey, Colicchio may get $50 for a steak at Craftsteak, but apparently if you put oyster sauce on it and sell it in a Chinese restaurant environment, the steak loses 65% of its value. I have an offer to the person at gridskipper who wrote this: please contact me as I would be willing to take responsibility for your Chinese food education. It’s on me, and I’m serious. We badly need a more educated public so we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Caveat emptor, caveat eater. Just because you read it in a NYC restaurant review or food blog, doesn’t mean that it’s true: not now in NYC! Be careful of the dumbing down of the masses! Wishing you a hearty appetite and a delicious life!
  9. what are the best dishes?
  10. Has anyone tried Chanto (7th Avenue South) or know what they're about? The owner/chef in Tokyo is well known in Japan (where he has 50 restaurants) and purportedly has aspirations of being the new Nobu or Megu of NYC.
  11. That black cod dish is unpretentious and stellar. Nuggets of melting goodness. . . ← ......and a very good example of a classic Chinese recipe being used with an especially succulent American fish and yielding an exceptional result.........it may sound like 'regular' Chinese food......and it absolutely is: in the sense that it is sliced fish with vegetables in a brown sauce.......but I would suggest that it is an example of taking the best of what the Chinese kitchen has to offer and using it to create an inspired and uncommon dish.....black cod cooked this way is simply terrific......we're not trying to reinvent a technique that is already top drawer, but we are trying to apply it in a thoughtful and effective way.......and I would further suggest to you that in a very real sense this is where the forefront of modern Chinese cooking should be going: not making Rube Goldbergian or esoteric concoctions but learning how to rely on the thousands of years of Chinese cooking refinement and knowledge and using these techniques to incorporate the best parts of Chinese culinary culture while embracing and understanding the ever changing and growing culinary world that has expanded so much during our lifetimes and yet has becomer smaller as well because of the accessibility of various cuisines and ingredients from anywhere in the world.
  12. Think you'd be wise to sample a bit more of the main menu before drawing such conclusions. Chinatown Brasserie is not about esoteric or competing in value with Chinatown. It's about preparing and serving delicious food made with superior recipes, ingredients and Chinese cooking techniques while making best use of the resources of the chefs working there. Chef Ophaso and his team have developed and are preparing many special recipes. One of the reasons they're special is because when properly executed, they produce terrific food. They're innovative because (among other reasons) they DO go back to the roots of what makes Chinese cookiing so appealing in the first place. At the same time there are unexpected spices like saffron, uncommon ingredients such as chanterelles or artisanal Italian pasta served with a terrific Chinese riff on a classic Bolognese, and classic and sohpisticated items like elaborately butchered and seasoned lute-shaped roast ducks prepared by a master Cantonese 'pitmaster.' Just because there are very good versions of classic items such as beef and snow peas, don't make the mistake of thinking there is little that is special. Indeed, one of the banes of the entire Chinese restaurant industry (in the US and elsewhere including China) is the dumbing down of recipes and standards. For some of us the presence of duck tongues and goose intestines means authentic and authentic is frequently (and wrongfully in my mind) equated to good. It is true that a sense of discovery is one of the exciting things about Chinese food. However, sometimes there may be just as much or more to discover in plates of traditional food where 'carefully cooked and excellent' is the default mode. You'll be missing out on a lot by not exploring the rest of CB's menu. It is true one can find egg rolls, spare ribs, and chow mein on the menu. However the egg rolls are made by the best dim sum chef this side of Canton, the ribs are cooked by a master and are served fresh from the oven (not cooked at 6 AM and rethermalized like every place else) and the recipe for the chow mein uses vidalia onions and tastes damn good. This is food that is thoughtfully prepared, served at a fair price, and doesn't pretend to be something that it isn't. There are also many more innovative choices. Some suggestions: steamed branzino, black cod with asparagus and mushrooms, grilled lemongrass pork wrapped in lettuce (lunch), lasagnette with spicy chopped pork (lunch), BBQ'd flattened and butterflied duck, scallops with saffron, tatsoi salad w black vinegar dressing, spicy pork with string beans, very thin noodles with mushroom essence. None of these items are available anyplace in Chinatown, but more importantly, they're really good. They feature better cooking than is being served in competitor's restaurants. The place may be slick (especially attractive if you ask me), and the crowd may have glitz, and the prices are certainly different than Chinatown's, but the eaters are being very well fed, from one end of the menu to the other. There may be some consistency issues from time to time, after all this is a very big restaurant where quality control will always be a force to reckon with. However it is a real Chinese restaurant that takes great pride in itself and is doing many things very very well, not just serving the best dim sum in the country (which it does by a long shot). Personally I want delicious cooking more than anything. After it's delicious it can be modern, traditional, slick, homey, authentic, seasonal, intellectual or full of 'terroir'. For my money to dismiss this kitchen on the basis of one admittedly very well made but (to your eyes) not sufficiently exciting dish when the menus has more than 100 items is premature and simply not on the money. Large restaurants are like sports teams. They require spring training and a period where all the team members learn how to work with one another. The kitchen at CB is starting to roll really well right now. I know there is much to enjoy and explore there. I have been in this industry for a long and passionate time and am extremely well versed in what I'm talking about. I hope you get to enjoy it as well. It would be a pity if all your Chinese food journeys ended at NY Noodletown (a good restaurant nonetheless) when CB is only a few blocks north.
  13. Haven't tried them but please tell me what they're like. Do they have a sesame paste-based sauce, or a peanut butter-based sauce? Is the sauce creamy and emulsified or does it separate into liquid and oily parts? Are there vegetables in the dish? Beansprouts? Cucumbers? Green soy beans? Does it have cold shredded chicken? Chili Oil?
  14. Cold Sesame Noodles used to have a certain Szechuany cachet. Somehow they've morphed into the not-very-special & sometimes even given away or we'll-substitute-one for-your-eggroll category. Who curently makes really good sesame noodles? What makes them special?
  15. In my (biased & educated) opinion the dim sum program at Chinatown Brasserie represents the highest quality authentic Cantonese cooking available. Not in NY. Anywhere. The dim sum assortment (40 items/day) is definitely tailored to the marketplace: there are fewer air bladders and intestines and more dumplings and short ribs, but that being said the textures and flavors, the subtleties of skin making and fine artisinal craftsmanship, the variety and spirit of invention sets a standard that is world-class. Would be great in Hong Kong, Guangchou or Shenzhen. Daily dim sum servcie will begin on Monday June 12 and will be available everyday from 11 AM. With regard to the main dishes: it's true you can get chicken chow mein (inventively served and prepared with vidalia onions, both stewed and fried crisp), egg rolls (made by the awesome dim sum chef), and spare ribs (made from a quality classic recipe and served fresh out of the smokehouse - not reheated) - but you will also find top-quality Peking Duck served with perfect homemade pancakes, great black cod and branzino, special fresh angel hair pasta with deepiy flavored mushroom ragout, and fresh diver scallops with cellophane noodles and saffron, the 'in' spice in Beijing right now. Executive Chef Tyson Ophaso cooks sophisticated delicious great food. Don forget he has a French 3-star Michelin background and only recently turned his attention to the Asian kitchen. Look for his cuisine to improve over time. As it stands I think he's preparing the most exciting Chinese dishes in town. This is a restaurant that will be influential and delicious. Pig's tails and ears, well, sometimes.............
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