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Pig Brownie Causes Ecstasy; Kimchee-and-Spam Sandwich, Ambivalence

In this week's review lineup, a motley crew of relative newcomers, including a noodle bar serving a kimchee-and-Spam sandwich, join some of the usual suspects, like Eleven Madison Park. Having dissed the old-school last week, Alan Richman turns to the "epicenter of alternative dining" (the Spotted Pig, natch) but, disappointingly, fails to deliver any shockers: It's "a ridiculously cramped gastro-pub in the West Village where you suffer physically and usually eat well." [Bloomberg] Bruni's off blogging in Italy, but Julia Moskin doesn't miss a beat dissecting Francois Payard's InTent. The crowd consists of "headbangers and headbands." The waiters "must be imported in carloads from Ann Arbor, Mich., or Madison, Wis." The wine menu has categories that "suggest personality profiles at friendster.com." And the food? "Sometimes it works beautifully, and sometimes the softness dissolves into mush." [NYT] Eschewing the newer, trendier steaks the Daily News has been drooling over, Moira Hodgson revisits Craftsteak hoping Tom Colicchio is running a tighter ship post-Gramercy Tavern. [NYO] Andrea Strong gets her "buzz buzzing" at Eleven Madison Park, where new chef Daniel Humm's "seductively piggy" confit, which she calls a "pig brownie," nearly makes her weep with joy. [Strong Buzz] Checking in on Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Andrea Thompson dismisses the three-terrine sandwich lauded by our own Underground Gourmet: "Who wants to spend nine bucks on a glorified burrito bar?" [NYer] Meanwhile, the Spam-and-kimchee Asian-Cuban sandwich at Quentin Danté's Noodle Bar has Robert Sietsema at a critical crossroads: "Some love this sandwich, while others hate it." [VV]

Best Seats in the House: Where to Eat at the Bar

Even before the arrival of Joël Robuchon and his bar-centric L'Atelier, the ancient urban tradition of bar dining was undergoing a great renaissance. And why not? Eating while seated on a stool is a uniquely New York experience. It's convivial, expedient, and communal, but in a solitary way. The Gobbler has met Wall Street kingpins, ex–CIA agents, and loquacious bookies from Queens at restaurant bars. You don't have to deal with sniveling waiters or go overboard on tips, and it's often a convenient excuse for getting really, really drunk. Here are a few of the Gobbler's favorite barfly destinations.

Most Influential Young Chefs Named, Presented With Tchotchkes

Move over, Bouley! Step aside, Jojo! You're so over. There's a new generation of "emerging tastemakers," at least according to Food Arts magazine and their friends at Sterling Meats. Sunday night, meat purveyor and magazine jointly fêted ten young chefs who, they predict, "will be influencing what, where and how we dine out on a national level." The chefs were presented with framed, diploma-like certificates and envy-inducing Masamoto cobalt-steel knifes.

Ming Tsai Shares His NYC Asian Picks

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.

Ssäm’s Ssecret Chef’s Table

Visitors to Ssäm Bar, David Chang's sleek new "Asian burrito" emporium, may have noticed a big, unused kitchen that runs the length of the room. Chang fires it up tonight for the first time, rolling out a late-night menu of multiple-element small plates prepared by the chef and a rotating team of ambitious cooks — including his co-chef at Momofuku, Joaquin Baca; Cafe Gray and Cafe Boulud veteran Tien Ho; and several other classically trained Momofuku alumni.