Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Shang


SYoung
 Share

Recommended Posts

All of these posts are the reason I like to wait a couple of months before going to a restaurant which opens with a celebrity chef like Lee, with all its expectations, with all its hype, etc. etc.

Yes, one of Fat Guy's dining rules and not bad advice. It may also be more financially prudent, however, it misses the fun of exploration and discovery :laugh: Besides if every one did that none of these restaurants would ever survive long enough to go to. :raz:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also enjoy the "sense of discovery" in visiting new restaurants. But if you're passing judgment or giving recommendations, you need to develop a sense of how a restaurant is likely to evolve as it matures. You also need to consider sampling error—that's why Bruni pays a minimum of three visits before writing a review. In a forum where most posts are based on one visit, you should expect to see widely divergent reviews of a new restaurant—even beyond the usual reasons for disagreement (i.e., different tastes, experiences, or judgment).

For what it's worth, the reviews of Shang by Dryden and Kathryn didn't seem all that much alike. Dryden compared it to Wakiya, which basically means it is a lost cause. Kathryn's view sounded more mixed (i.e., she actually liked some stuff).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also enjoy the "sense of discovery" in visiting new restaurants. But if you're passing judgment or giving recommendations, you need to develop a sense of how a restaurant is likely to evolve as it matures. You also need to consider sampling error—that's why Bruni pays a minimum of three visits before writing a review. In a forum where most posts are based on one visit, you should expect to see widely divergent reviews of a new restaurant—even beyond the usual reasons for disagreement (i.e., different tastes, experiences, or judgment).

For what it's worth, the reviews of Shang by Dryden and Kathryn didn't seem all that much alike. Dryden compared it to Wakiya, which basically means it is a lost cause. Kathryn's view sounded more mixed (i.e., she actually liked some stuff).

I, too, enjoy the "sense of discovery." But I really enjoy it once a restaurant is operating on all cylinders; it can still be a discovery at that point.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was part of Kathryn's group and her description of the meal is very accurate. Everything was executed well and there wasn't a single dish that I thought was "off" or a "miss" in terms of flavors. But at the same time there was nothing particularly memorable about any of the dishes. I would much rather go to a restaurant where I don't like a few dishes but I really love a few others than a restaurant where I'm ambivalent about everything. And at $10 for a single portion (1 lobster croquette or 1 lamb chop) in an entree I expect more given what else is available in NYC.

I really wanted to like this restaurant and I'll definitely try it once more after they've had time to work out any opening issues. That said my initial impression is that given number of ingredients in each dish while everything was balanced it still lacked gestalt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, the reviews of Shang by Dryden and Kathryn didn't seem all that much alike. Dryden compared it to Wakiya, which basically means it is a lost cause. Kathryn's view sounded more mixed (i.e., she actually liked some stuff).

I actually didn't hate anything at Wakiya, to me, it was much of what I experienced at Shang - no bombs, but a ton of "eh", and a couple of dishes that were okay but nothing that would make me want to come back to eat them again. The foie gras, the wagyu were OK, but given the way the menu is built, as kathryn says, they more or less shout out, "we are the home run, amazing dishes here", and they just didn't hit that level at all.

And Doc, if that's your take on the Momos, then you absolutely need to go back right this very minute, because you're missing out on some truly amazing stuff.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quick add- we normally don't visit restaurants this soon after opening, either, but my wife's dad was in town and we wanted to try something special for him. If the place can manage to smooth things out and be really remarkable, I'll give it double kudos, because to get to that level from what we experienced would really be an impressive achievement.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And Doc, if that's your take on the Momos, then you absolutely need to go back right this very minute, because you're missing out on some truly amazing stuff.

Maybe, but my experience at MSB was very underwhelming, much like it sounds your experience at Shang was. I should go back and give it another shot.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And Doc, if that's your take on the Momos, then you absolutely need to go back right this very minute, because you're missing out on some truly amazing stuff.

Maybe, but my experience at MSB was very underwhelming, much like it sounds your experience at Shang was. I should go back and give it another shot.

To an extent, Shang and the Momos suffer from the same phenomenon. Shang is run by an acclaimed chef from out of town. He arrives here with hype that's hard to live up to. The Momos didn't arrive from out of town, but some of us never dined there until the hype became so loud that it couldn't be ignored. Inevitably, some people dined there with inflated expectations that were impossible to satisfy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

At the risk of incurring the wrath and scorn of the more militant members of the New York forum, I have to be honest in saying that, following my visit to Shang last night, not only do I concur with the Paper of Record's view of this joint, but frankly I thought they were kind.

That staircase gives one visions of what it must have been like to be summoned under suspicion to the Kremlin or SS headquarters, and the bar area once gained is no less ominous and forbidding. And while I’m aware that the Lower East Side is considered by some to be the non plus ultra in hipness, a second story view of the schmatte district really doesn’t add much glamour or atmosphere. Even the extremely tasty and effervescent “Galangal Storm” (galangal-infused simple syrup, lime juice, Plymouth gin, club soda) available at the bar wasn’t potent enough to dispel the sepulchral gloom of this space.

The dining area isn’t much of an improvement, for all the peach and coral colors accented with dark woods, and suffers from noticeable climate issues. Initially seated by the big aperture opening on to that cavernous staircase and therefore subjected to drafts from the ground floor entrance, we were moved at our request across the room to a table by the windows, where the ferocity of the heating system causes the drapes to billow decoratively.

Denizens of New York’s dining scene who recall Von Gerichten’s ill-fated 66 in Tribeca will find Shang to be old news: fusion takes on Asian cuisine, though the menu here scans much wider afield than what I remember of 66, which skewed more towards China. Long story short, everything we had was thoroughly unremarkable, despite long and elaborate lists and descriptions of ingredients whose roles in their respective dishes were largely undetectable. Portions tend towards the luxuriously miniscule (i.e. a lotta money for little food). Steamed Wild White Snapper with ginger, red dates, citrus and tree ear mushrooms, fresh soybeans was a peculiarly sweetish dish sitting in a bland broth. Crispy taro puffs with spicy curried beef were about as spicy as Hamburger Helper. Crispy Skinned Young Garlic Chicken with sweet and sour onion marmalade was not crispy skinned, though it was quite tasty and that marmalade would be a wonderful component for a foie gras dish (of which there are several on the menu though we didn’t attempt any of them). Mongolian Lamb Chops with glazed bananas, chili mint, carrot cardamom chutney and peanut sauce was probably our favorite, though the chops were overcooked. None of these dishes come with accompaniments, necessitating an order of the fried rice, which despite what seemed an agglomeration of ingredients was bewilderingly bland. No starch freebies of any sort are offered, and while I realize that is probably culturally authentic, at this price point a basket of something while you’re waiting patiently for the hooch or first round of dishes to arrive should be seriously considered by the proprietors. More than once I was tempted to jog down to nearby Eldridge Street and grab a few orders of four-for-a-dollar.

An overall description would be tepid: flavorings, seasonings, and worst of all temperature. In fact tepid was the warmest any of our orders came, and the majority were room temperature, including the fish, which was not a happy experience. The warmest dish was a chocolate banana cake, very successful, as was the lemon meringue tart.

The fairly predictable wine list contains few options under $50. An initial bottle of Albarino was so completely flat and unremarkable that I did something I never do: sent it back, and exchanged it for a run of the mill but reliable Sauvignon Blanc. Service was not happy: our waitress parked herself at the (second) table as soon as we were seated and staunchly remained there until we had ordered booze, ignoring our attempts to converse or give the menu a thorough perusal. After that, it was difficult flagging her or anyone else down. Total we were 2.5 hours at the table, with considerable waits between courses despite the room being barely full when we sat down.

Shang follows a long line of establishments where the quality or even enjoyability of the food plays a considerably secondary role to a “scene”, in which latter aspect it did not, to my view, appear to be succeeding very well last night, though it was certainly full when we finally were able to depart at 10. Whether there will be enough of an audience in the new economy for this sort of thing, willing to spend healthy chunks of money on posing for little gustatory gratification, will be a decisive factor in the survival of places like Shang. No one seems to be depending on the food to play a role.

Edited by ewindels (log)

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Denizens of New York’s dining scene who recall Von Gerichten’s ill-fated 66 in Tribeca will find Shang to be old news: fusion takes on Asian cuisine, though the menu here scans much wider afield than what I remember of 66, which skewed more towards China. 

Since the appeal of the food is clearly a subjective area, and opinions seem to vary widely about Shang (not to mention the possibility that the food may simply be inconsistent), I'll leave that alone.

However, the comparison made here between Shang and 66 seems to be a bit off factually. 66 was not, to someone familiar with Chinese cuisine, what could be called fusion. The dishes were straight up renditions of specific and commonplace Chinese dishes, plated in a more elegant way than is typical in Chinatown. All of the dishes served at 66 were available in any Western Chinatown, with the same basic flavor profiles, ingredients and techniques. Ingredient quality may have varied, but they were standard Chinese dishes. Fusion, by its very definition, refers a combination of cuisines, and there was no combination at 66. It was simply fancy presentations of Chinese food.

Shang, on the other hand, is definitely a fusion restaurant, taking ingredients, concepts and preparations from a wide variety of Asian cuisines and combining them to create a new whole. Whether you like the food or not, Shang is indeed a fusion, creating a new whole, while 66 was definitely not. I think the comparison, beyond their shared trendiness (and modern decor), is a miss.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ever since I heard about the forthcoming Shang, I carried around the following question: If you already operate a restaurant that's absolutely world-class, groundbreaking and beloved, what could possibly justify closing it to open a lesser restaurant elsewhere? I hoped against all hope that a visit to Shang would convince me that it made sense to close Susur in Toronto in order to run Shang in New York. But it doesn't make sense. It's closer to insane.

Is the food good? Sure, some of it is good. Some of it is excellent, even. Like the turnip cake with steamed eggplant. It's so much better than any dish like it I've ever had, it's amazing. But seriously, am I going to schlep all the way to Shang for a turnip cake? No, nor is there enough support from the rest of the menu to justify return visits. I am just so profoundly disappointed by Shang that all I want to do is turn back the clock and have everything in its place: Susur still serving backward tasting menus in Toronto, available for a return visit if I ever raise the capital, and cheap clothes on Orchard Street instead of high-concept hotel restaurants.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ever since I heard about the forthcoming Shang, I carried around the following question: If you already operate a restaurant that's absolutely world-class, groundbreaking and beloved, what could possibly justify closing it to open a lesser restaurant elsewhere? I hoped against all hope that a visit to Shang would convince me that it made sense to close Susur in Toronto in order to run Shang in New York. But it doesn't make sense. It's closer to insane.

Is the food good? Sure, some of it is good. Some of it is excellent, even. Like the turnip cake with steamed eggplant. It's so much better than any dish like it I've ever had, it's amazing. But seriously, am I going to schlep all the way to Shang for a turnip cake? No, nor is there enough support from the rest of the menu to justify return visits. I am just so profoundly disappointed by Shang that all I want to do is turn back the clock and have everything in its place: Susur still serving backward tasting menus in Toronto, available for a return visit if I ever raise the capital, and cheap clothes on Orchard Street instead of high-concept hotel restaurants.

Couldn't agree more. I suppose the hope is that he'll at some point open the equivalent of Susur in New York.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ever since I heard about the forthcoming Shang, I carried around the following question: If you already operate a restaurant that's absolutely world-class, groundbreaking and beloved, what could possibly justify closing it to open a lesser restaurant elsewhere?

Was that always the intention, or was he forced to modify the concept when they realized he would be opening into the teeth of a recession?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have all the testimony that would be needed in order to make that determination, but I did chat with him briefly at the restaurant. I got the impression that Shang is his dream restaurant. That this dated notion of fusion is actually what he has been wanting to do for the longest time. It made me sad, uncomfortably so, because I really like and admire the guy. When we ate at Susur in Toronto in 2002 it was a real eye opener, and he was very hospitable. He's obviously sincere in his efforts to make Shang conform to some notion of greatness that he's holding on to. But it's not great. The end result is just an unsatisfying jumble of dishes.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have all the testimony that would be needed in order to make that determination, but I did chat with him briefly at the restaurant. I got the impression that Shang is his dream restaurant. That this dated notion of fusion is actually what he has been wanting to do for the longest time.

It would be a real pity if that were the case. Sometimes cognitive dissonance sets in: having been forced (by the economy) to open a more modest restaurant, he may have convinced himself that it's what he wanted anyway.

I would add that we liked Shang a whole lot better than you did, but we also sampled much less of the menu. Everyone seems to agree that if you happen to order the right dishes you can have a great meal here, and perhaps we were lucky enough to do that.

Edited by oakapple (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't sampled so much of the menu. I went in once with one of the reviewers (who gave it a kinder review than I would have!), so I got a pretty good selection then, and another time for a smaller selection. There's a lot on the menu I haven't tried, but I can't imagine it changing my judgment short of a radically different experience that to me seems so unlikely as to be a non-consideration.

In terms of the whole recession theory, is that something he's been quoted on? I don't get the impression that recessionary thinking guided this project. It could have been a long-enough time in the making that the concept wasn't particularly influenced by today's economy.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I liked Shang, but not nearly as much as I liked Susur, which I truly loved. I have a hard time believing that Shang as constructed is Susur's dream restaurant. His concept is good, but as evidenced on this topic not clear to a lot of people. I would have thought that by now some of the kinks in the restaurant would have been ironed out.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't sampled so much of the menu. I went in once with one of the reviewers (who gave it a kinder review than I would have!), so I got a pretty good selection then, and another time for a smaller selection.
That is still probably a good deal more than I sampled (five dishes plus bread).
In terms of the whole recession theory, is that something he's been quoted on? I don't get the impression that recessionary thinking guided this project. It could have been a long-enough time in the making that the concept wasn't particularly influenced by today's economy.

Actually, I don't recall that he has been quoted, insofar as his "concept" is concerned, or how it may have been altered (if at all) because of the recession. But I do recall that he was pretty quiet about his plans for the menu, and as late as 2-3 weeks to go it was said to be "still in flux" (or words to that effect). A lot of people asked if he intended to offer a version of his famous reverse tasting menu: he never said, and nobody seemed to be sure until the final menu was published, about a week or so before opening.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would add that we liked Shang a whole lot better than you did, but we also sampled much less of the menu. Everyone seems to agree that if you happen to order the right dishes you can have a great meal here, and perhaps we were lucky enough to do that.

I should clarify on my post above that I felt that, with few exceptions, we ordered the wrong dishes, but as it wasn't my birthday I wasn't the decision maker. From what I recall of the menu, I can easily see where we could have done better, which however doesn't address the temperature issue... unless the temperatures were deliberate. Or the service or atmosphere issues, but those are personal and subjective.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a Toronto expat (who, sadly, has not eaten at Shang yet), much of what has been said on this board is unsurprising to me. In my mind, Susur has always been prone to some poor conception, haphazardness and overcomplication in his food (the "reverse" tasting menu, which is a bit of a misnomer, is an example of this, but that's another discussion). When it's working, his food uses complication to elevate a dish to pretty high heights, but when a dish is a miss, the complication is perplexing, even sloppy. Susur is a Jazz musician playing difficult music and sometimes it comes apart. I think that the danger when his food is served a la carte is that one can easily compose a menu of 'misses'.

His other restaurant in Toronto, Lee, which appears to have a similar concept to Shang would appear to be a bit behind the times if transplanted NY; a little to "fusiony" for a city that appears to have moved a little bit passed that. It's never gotten the acclaim in Toronto that most expected it would get pre-opening. I really hope that Shang settles down as Susur learns this market. From my experience here, there is less margin for error in NY than Toronto and Susur isn't going to get the free pass to make mistakes here that he gets in Toronto. I really hope he succeeds; when at his best, he's a phenominal talent capable of producing food that's competitive with some of NY's best. Now to actually get over to Shang.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From my experience here, there is less margin for error in NY than Toronto and Susur isn't going to get the free pass to make mistakes here that he gets in Toronto.

The challenge in NY is that with so many restaurants opening all the time, one has a very short time to develop a following before the public mindshare moves onto the next new thing. Compounding the difficulty, the reviews tend to come in a big clump, which means that even if the chef were inclined to make adjustments in response to early criticism, there is usually not any time to do it.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The challenge in NY is that with so many restaurants opening all the time, one has a very short time to develop a following before the public mindshare moves onto the next new thing. Compounding the difficulty, the reviews tend to come in a big clump, which means that even if the chef were inclined to make adjustments in response to early criticism, there is usually not any time to do it.

Let's not forget how much pressure is even put on prior to the opening. Shang was gonna be the next great thing from Mr. Lee.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...