Joe Ng’s Rice Dough Steamer Takes Chung Fun to the Next Level
It’s a tricky business to make chung fun, or rice noodles. They’re sticky and dense, and the dough is typically thicker than most Chinese noodle dough. Steaming it is problematic, but the ever-inventive Joe Ng at Chinatown Brasserie has come up with a streamlined solution: a customized dough cooker that’s a cross between a crêpe pan, a steamer, and a colander. “It works exactly like a steamer, except it’s flat,” says Ng. “We lay some very thin fabric in over the holes, and the dough is cooked very fast, like in 30 seconds. It takes up less space than an ordinary noodle cooker, and we change the fabric constantly.” For a machine that takes up so little space, it’s very efficient, he says. “I designed it myself and gave it to the manufacturer to make. No one else has one like it.” As for how well it works, the only solution is to eat the rice noodles at Chinatown Brasserie and judge for yourself.
The Best New Noodle Shop in Chinatown, and Where to Go for Chinese New Year
Eddie Schoenfeld is a bubbly fellow who lives in Brooklyn and happens to be an expert in Chinese-restaurant cooking. After years studying with exiled Chinese chefs in France and here, he went on to help open Shun Lee West, Pig Heaven, Auntie Yuan’s, Chinatown Brasserie, and many other restaurants. We asked him where to celebrate Chinese New Year, the eve of which is February 6th.
Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Psilakis Moving Kefi to Better Space; Chodorow Moving Wild Salmon to a BetterMichael Psilakis is moving Kefi into a bigger and better space not far from its current location. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Jeffrey Chodorow’s plagued seafood endeavor Wild Salmon is rumored to close before the New Year. [Eater]
A list of restaurants for Christmas Eve and day dining includes traditional picks like the Café at Country and Allen & Delancey, and more unique options like a Scandinavian Christmas Eve feast at Aquavit and dim sum from Chinatown Brasserie. [Restaurant Girl]
In the Magazine
Come Fly With Us in This Week’s IssueWith all New York offers, it’s still not enough. Our appetite for change and novelty is insatiable and voracious. Good thing we have this week’s magazine! Why bother with traditional Thanksgiving, when there are so many global options here? We have recipes for Chinese Thanksgiving from Joe Ng of Chinatown Brasserie, Mexican Thanksgiving from Aaraon Sanchez of Centrico and Paladar, African Thanksgiving from Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit, and more. And if all that isn’t novel enough, and you have to jet out of town, we can tell you where to eat while you’re waiting – both in the airport, and in the surrounding areas. Finally, if you’re sticking close to home, the Underground Gourmet suggests where to get a proper hero.
Back of the House
West Coast Restaurant Pulls a Single White Female on Chinatown BrasserieWhen former Chinatown Brasserie chef Tyson Wong caught the last train for the coast, we knew that his new employers wanted to draw on his experience. But from the look of Red Pearl Restaurant’s menu, they’re doing everything to replicate Chinatown Brasserie but cloning the waiters and cooks from pirated stem cells. This has to be one of the most naked ripoffs since David Coverdale decided to make a career of imitating Robert Plant.
Café Gray Back in the Lunch Game on the Upper West SideCarroll Gardens: Carniceria, the attempted replacement for Porchetta, has gone down for the dirt nap. [Eater]
Meatpacking District: Paradou will kick off its fall menu on October 10. [Grub Street]
Tribeca: Ceci-Cela on Chambers Street will close up shop near the end of December because their landlord tried to impose an “unacceptable” rent increase. [Grub Street]
Upper East Side: Saucy on York Avenue at 75th Street will offer a (what else?) sauce-driven tasting menu from October 8 through 14. [Grub Street]
Upper West Side: Gray Kunz has reinstated lunch at Café Gray with an Indian-Summer Prix Fixe that includes dishes like sweet-corn ravioli and skate schnitzel with fingerlings and brown butter. [Grub Street]
Kitchen Insider: Chinatown Brassiere
When Chinatown Brasserie opened last year, its high production values and pointedly non-challenging menu misled many of the city’s self-appointed Asian food experts into dissing the place. But the city’s Chinese community was well aware that Joe Ng, the dim-sum chef there, was the city’s finest and one of the top in his field nationwide. (The process of making dim sum is a complicated one and demands its own chef and its own kitchen.) We dropped in on a recent Saturday morning to see how Joe did it and invited former Almond Flower chef Chris Cheung to help us with our eating.
Kitchen Insider: Chinatown Brassiere [Video]
Tyson Wong Ophaso Heads for the West CoastTyson Wong Ophaso, who you may remember as the chef at Chinatown Brasserie whom was beat up by three drunks in front of his own restaurant last year, had some good news to tell us when we ran into him the other night: Six months after leaving the Brasserie, he’s been hired as corporate chef by Domaine Restaurant Group, which owns Dakota and 25 Degrees in the Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, as well as two Red Pearls, a kind of California version of Spice Market with “fresh, clean, and lean versions of Asian street food,” as Ophaso tells us.
Joe Ng Triumphs Over General TsoIn January, dim-sum aficionados reveled in the news that Joe Ng, the city’s top dim-sum man, was being promoted to executive chef of Chinatown Brasserie. Indeed, we named Ng’s creations the best in the city. Now the cook has introduced a new lunch menu centered on his delicate Cantonese-style work. The dim sum (beef and scallion buns, lobster-tail tempura, fried lobster-and-cream-cheese sticks) is complemented by a number of light dishes (wok-fried noodles, udon omelettes, and various kinds of soup noodles). If you’re still hankering for the heavier dishes they were serving at lunch, you can get them by special request. But as far we’re concerned, the new menu is all you need to know.
Chinatown Brasserie lunch menu [Menus]
Tyson Wong Ophaso Leaving Chinatown Brasserie for Bangkok FamilyTyson Wong Ophaso, until yesterday executive chef at Chinatown Brasserie, says he just needs a break. “I haven’t seen my family in fifteen years,” the Bangkok native tells us. “And they’re getting old, man. I’m the only son.” Ophaso, whose career has taken him from Thailand to France and had him running the La Cote Basque kitchen at age 26, most certainly deserves some time off. (Especially after the brazen — and bizarre — assault that he suffered outside of the restaurant in September.) We wish him all the best.
Caught on Video: Susie Essman, Jeffrey Steingarten Eating FrenzyIt’s a standard gripe among foodie types that TV food personalities are too plastic, too telegenic — that in other words, they’re chosen for their appearance rather than their cred. But witnessing a dinner conversation between the acerbic comedian Susie Essman, of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Vogue food critic (and Iron Chef guest judge) Jeffrey Steingarten on Serious Eats helps explain why TV food hosts look the way they do. Essman is likably gruff and witty, and Steingarten erudite, but these might be the two unhealthiest-looking people we’ve seen since Alexander Litvinenko. Watching them devour fried rice, egg rolls, and noodles at Chinatown Brasserie while talking about eating horse fat made us want to join an ashram and live on nuts and berries. And that’s saying something. Bring back the Stepford chefs! We finally see why TV needs them.
Serious Eats Video: Hecklers and Horse Fat [Serious Eats]
Reader: The City’s Dim Sum Sucks. But Here Are the Places I Like!
We recently heard from our friend Francis Lam, a connoisseur of Chinese food who had some intriguing things to say in response to our post on the wooing of Chinatown Brasserie’s Joe Ng by Bensonhurst restaurateurs.
“Frankly speaking, the dim sum I know of in the city just doesn’t match up to the best stuff in Hong Kong and Vancouver. What you can get in those and other places is much more in line with Joe Ng’s work at Chinatown Brasserie, which I would definitely call head and shoulders above anything else here. (Secretly, I’m glad he’s being headhunted back to a Chinese community in Brooklyn, where it will be more affordable and the product turnover will be higher.)”
Okay, Francis. So where do you get decent dim sum in the city?
City’s Best Dim-Sum Chef Might Leave City (Manhattan, Anyway)Joe Ng, the city’s top dim-sum chef, is being ardently pursued by those who seek to woo him away from Chinatown Brasserie — to Bensonhurst. Moneyed Chinese are pouring into the neighborhood, and restaurateurs are looking to open the dim-sum palaces that will sate them. Several have been pursuing Ng. He surely wouldn’t sour things with the Brasserie by admitting otherwise, but the chef maintains that he’s staying put. Yet he also gives us a few reasons why a big, busy dim-sum factory in Brooklyn might suit his avant-garde stylings: “There’s a new generation of Chinese cooking that’s not simple and easy. You need a lot of time, a lot of room, and a lot of people to make it — and lot of people to eat it. Chinese people need to eat dim sum every day. Americans only want to eat Chinese food once in a while.” Not us, Joe! Still, Ng’s point is well taken. Watch your back, Chinatown Brasserie.
What to Eat This Week
Chinatown Brasserie Presents Peking Turkey!Tyson Ophaso and Joe Ng, the chefs at Chinatown Brasserie, are also on the Thanksgiving bandwagon, and will be cooking turkeys in the restaurant’s custom-built Perking-duck oven. Expect crisp, laquered skin like you’ve never seen on your family table. The birds will be accompanied by the restaurant’s delicate, supple steamed Mandarin pancakes, cranberry-ginger chutney, and hoisin sauce. On top of that, Ng will also be preparing turkey spring rolls, baked turkey buns, and other Thanksgiving-inspired dim sum items. The menu will be available all weekend.
French Chefs Prepare for New York Marathon With Eating Marathon
It was an impossible-to-refuse invitation: Come to Nougatine to eat lunch with a group of French chefs here to run the New York marathon. The team, which was sponsored by the French tripe council (and whose members had all been given shirts featuring the slogan “Trip for the Tripe”), was clearly taking its preparation for the race with the utmost seriousness. Yesterday’s lunch was a multicourse affair, to be followed by a blowout dinner at Daniel. Today the plan is to lunch at Per Se and then dim sum at Chinatown Brasserie for supper. And on Saturday, the chefs plan to carb up for the race by going on a Chinatown eating tour, followed by a big dinner party Saturday night.
A few highlights from the lunch at Nougatine.
Executive Chef Assaulted at Chinatown BrasserieWe’ve heard of people having it out with management, but this is ridiculous. Around midnight on Wednesday, an exchange of words between three men who had just had an hours-long dinner at Chinatown Brasserie and maître d’ Robert Banat devolved into the trio yelling at Banat and shoving him. Executive chef Tyson Wong Ophaso tells us that when he stepped in to separate the men from his maître d’, the biggest and youngest of the three threw Ophaso on his back. (Ophaso is five foot, six inches, 130 pounds.) Cursing loudly, the man then dragged the hapless chef by his feet onto the sidewalk and proceeded to beat him up, despite the best efforts of Brasserie staff — but no other onlookers — to protect him.
The men fled before police arrived, but one of them left behind his credit-card information, and all three were captured on the restaurant’s cameras. They’ve all been identified, and Ophaso is pressing charges. Meanwhile, what kind of town is this that a chef is beaten by three goons, and no strangers come to his aid? Any man that cooks orange beef like Ophaso deserves the utmost protection against bruisers.
City’s Chinese Brasseries DoubleFact: Chinatown Brasserie, an out-and-out Chinese restaurant without, happily, even a hint of French fusion, opened in August and has done a fairly brisk business ever since.
Fact: Mainland, one of Chinatown Brasserie’s primary rivals in the high-end-Chinese sweepstakes, announced last week that they’re morphing into …Ollie’s Brasserie.
The Go-Go Gourmet
You have to hand it to David Burke. The frequently mulletted meat-and-lobster whiz has done it all: He pulled off an experimental gastronomy restaurant in a neighborhood populated mostly by septuagenarians and rethought the hamburger inside a department store. Now, in his crowning glory, he has created a menu for bikini bar Hawaiian Tropic Zone on Seventh Avenue.