Chris Cheung’s Foie Gras Bao Resurface in Midtown East
When chef Chris Cheung told us “Chinese cooking is cloaked in secrecy. I know those traditional recipes, but I also have been trained in the new, cutting-edge techniques that a lot of Western chefs are using” after leaving his post at Almond Flower last July, he simultaneously had us pining over the loss of his modern Chinese dishes and anticipating his return to the city’s dining landscape. Well, the liquid–foie gras–squirting bao are back — along with sweet-chile baby back ribs — and now available at Cheung’s newest post, Monkey Bar. The Glazier Group hired the Nobu alum as a replacement for chef Patricia Yeo in hopes that he will have better luck revitalizing the chronically buzz-lacking restaurant. With the Chinese New Year starting tomorrow, Cheung informed Gothamist he’ll be cooking dishes designed for prosperity, but his new permanent menu, which includes sliders in bao buns and wok-fried noodles with short ribs in house-made abalone oyster sauce, might just be all the luck he (and Monkey Bar) needs.—Alexandra Vallis Monkey Bar Menu
A New Food Blog From the ‘Times’; Can Dining Alone Get You a Date?The Times has launched a new food blog called Bitten that’s being written by “Minimalist”-column writer Mark Bittman. What’s in store for readers? “We’re going to look at great food made with everyday ingredients and readily achievable techniques — as The Minimalist has been doing for a decade — not food as something to be admired from afar, but as a part of daily life.” [Bitten/NYT]
Monkey Bar chef Chris Cheung thinks he deserves a little credit for making black miso cod so popular at Nobu. [Gothamist]
Several changes in their dining culture have led the Vietnamese to embark on a “rodent-eating bonanza.” [WSJ]
Chris Cheung Looking to Bring ‘Evolutionary Asian Cuisine’ to MonkeyWe’ve always liked Chris Cheung, going back to the days when the young Long Island–born chef was trying to reinvent Asian fusion from the Chinese side at Almond Flower in Chinatown. (His exit from the place, and its epic aftermath, made some good Grub Street fodder.) Now that Cheung has taken over from Patricia Yeo at Monkey Bar, he’s trying to implement his style of “evolutionary Asian cuisine.” So what does that amount to?
Chris Cheung Swings in to Monkey Bar; Astoria’s Greek Restaurants ChallengingAstoria: The nabe’s Greek tapas offer a light respite from overstuffing on leftovers. [NYT] A & D Meat on 31st Street now sells organic beef. [Joey in Astoria]
Hell’s Kitchen: Not only does Bis.Co. Latte on 47th at Tenth Avenue make over 40 varieties of biscotti, but the bakery also offers seasonal soups and daily gelati. [Blog Chelsea]
Financial District: Flames Steakhouse is now an Italian restaurant called Giardino D’oro, though the chef hasn’t changed. [Restaurant Girl]
Midtown East: After dispensing with Patricia Yeo, the Monkey Bar has installed promising chef Chris Cheung, who so memorably left Almond Flower this past summer. [Eater]
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Lime might not be open yet, but the bar is planning a fund-raiser for a nonprofit preschool. [Across the Park]
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]
Letter to Grub Street Might Get Manager FiredWe recently got an e-mail from Sze Chuen, manager of Almond Flower bistro, the restaurant that chef Chris Cheung recently departed. Sze didn’t mince words: He accused Cheung of being a lazy, self-promoting “mediocre talent” who “thought he was Gordon Ramsay.” It ended by telling us to “please get the story straight and just say he was fired for being himself. I would hope he doesn’t find another victim in his scheme to promote himself.” We asked Cheung for his response and, while waiting for it via e-mail, received a call from the astonished (and apparently tipped-off) co-owner of Almond Flower Joe Lam. “We love Chris!” he told us. “We just parted over philosophical differences … what that manager said was egregious, unacceptable, unprofessional. He will be fired as soon as my brother gets back from Hong Kong on Monday.” When Cheung himself got back to us, he just seemed bewildered: “I worked with [Sze] for only a period of a week … and we had no working relationship to speak of. I can only respond that the entire letter is untrue.”
Chris Cheung Leaves Almond Flower, Unbowed
Chinatown’s Almond Flower is an unusual restaurant, and its young chef, Chris Cheung — who just left the restaurant on Sunday — was the main reason. The bistro was the reverse of places which serve Western food with Asian accents to a largely Caucasian clientele; Almond Flower served fusion food from a Chinese perspective to an overwhelmingly Asian crowd. But Cheung kept pushing the envelope with luxe ingredients that chefs sometimes like more than customers: roast pork buns filled with foie gras, say, or truffled congee soup with abalone wontons. And now that he’s done with Almond Flower, he’s unrepentant.