Ming Tsai, known to viewers around the country for his Simply Ming and Ming's Quest TV series, is probably one of the foremost East-West fusion chefs in America. Although his base restaurant, Blue Ginger, is near Boston, the chef was in town recently promoting his new line of packaged Asian foods (which are being distributed through Target). We asked him what his favorite Asian restaurants in the city are, and in particular, who he thinks does the best fusion.
Wu Liang Ye: "This is the best Sichuan food — you must get the razor clams and the smoked duck tongues. You'll get mala, that special numbness that Sichuan peppercorns give you."
Shanghai Cuisine: "They have the best soup dumplings in Chinatown. You've got to try both the pork and the pork-and-crab dumplings. You put it on a spoon, bite a little bit, and suck the soup out with a slurping noise. That aerates it so you can get better flavor, and it cools the dumpling too."
Tang Pavilion: "Another great place for Shanghai-style food, especially their king prawns. You break the head off and suck the brains out. And red roast pork belly — it's so rich I call it Chinese foie gras."
Masa: "This is the place for traditional sushi. Best nigiri I've ever had in my life, hands down. He [Masa Takayama] breaks it down in front of you. By the time you finish chewing one, another piece appears: clam, uni, octopus — phenomenal. The uni risotto with shaved truffles? One hundred percent umami: one of the most deep-flavored dishes I have ever had. Definitely one of the top three bites of my life."
Momofuku Noodle Bar: "I particularly like the fried veal sweetbreads and the Momofuku ramen."
Nobu 57: "Nobu Matsuhisa started the New Japanese craze. I go here for his always-spot-on sashimi, tempura uni and shiso, toro, and caviar tartare."
Kittichai: "Fantastic new Thai. Get the sweet-chile whole fish and the crispy rock shrimp — I had two orders of that."
Spice Market: "If you like spice, sit at the bar and graze on their Southeast Asian food, like the very tasty satays and the tuna-galangal-tapioca-pearl sashimi. You wouldn't think it would work, but it's so good."