New Restaurant Reviews: Brooklyn Ramen and Parallel-Universe Mexican

Categories: Reviews

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Dominic Perri

Despite the calendar's promises, New York doesn't seem to know that it's spring. Perhaps our food critics had a feeling that the winter chill would linger in the air, as they both sought out belly-warming comfort food this week. Robert Sietsema slurped up ramen at Suzume and Ganso, while Tejal Rao opted for a Mexican-influenced meal nearby at Xixa.

How did the professionals rate their choices? Read on to find out.


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Catch Up with Our Critics: Sietsema at Lotus Blue; Rao at Cocina Economica

Categories: Reviews

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Liz Barclay

This week, Robert Sietsema introduces his meal of crossing-bridge-noodles at Tribeca's Lotus Blue through a Yunnan folktale. Further uptown, Tejal Rao reminisces about the highs and lows of restaurant staff meals before exploring the Upper West Side's new Mexican comfort-food restaurant, Cocina Economica.

Fables and family-meal memories aside, how did our critics rate this week's homier dishes? Read on to find out.


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Catch Up With Our Food Critics: Rao Enjoys "New York Nordic" and Sietsema Finds "Perfect Jerk"

Categories: Reviews

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Dominic Perri
Aska

This week, our restaurant critics ventured beyond the Manhattan dining scene, with Robert Sietsema on the hunt for authentic Jamaican jerk all over Flatbush, and Tejal Rao sampling new Nordic dishes at Williamsburg's Aska.

How did their Brooklyn choices stack up? Read on to find out.

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Catch Up with Our Food Critics: Rao Pans Tribeca Canvas; Sietsema Feasts at The Marrow

Categories: Reviews

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Village Voice
Tribeca Canvas

This week, Tejal Rao and Robert Sietsema dine at two of the city's buzziest new restaurants, Tribeca Canvas and The Marrow.

How did our critics rate Morimoto's "fancy fast food" concept and Harold Dieterle's family-inspired spot? Find out after the break.


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Under Review: Sietsema is in Spicy Heaven at Sweet Yummy House; Rao Devours "Fresh-Killed" Chicken at Hanjan

Categories: Reviews

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Victoria Wasik
Sweet Yummy House
For our own Robert Sietsema, hearing the name Sweet Yummy House "conjured up gingerbread dwellings deep in the woods made by witches." In reality, the Elmhurst restaurant is one of the city's newest Sichuan restaurants, specializing in "delicious peculiarities resulting from fusion with other cuisines" -- in this case, Taiwanese. Sietsema suggests ordering the Chinese celery and Sichuan-peppercorn-laced black lamb, as well as the salad of garlicky cucumbers in sesame oil. He adds that "those who go for Sichuan peppercorns like a junkie reaching for his dime bag" will get hooked on the cold jelly Chengdu-style -- a bowl of gooey, translucent noodles sheathed in "lip-numbing" spices.

Tejal Rao visits the Flatiron's Hanjan, "a wee, rackety tavern where you can rip hot chicken hearts off a stick and drink, drink, drink." Hooni Kim (who also owns the always-bustling Hell's Kitchen restaurant Danji) has crafted a group-friendly menu of traditional and modern Korean dishes. The structure of the meal is as thoughtful as the food itself: All cold dishes (first smaller plates, then bigger ones) are served before any hot dishes (again, little courses before larger ones) are brought to the table. Rao favors the "fresh-killed" chicken, which is "slaughtered in Brooklyn" before it's "delivered straight to the kitchen, still warm." Dabbed with a spicy and addictive house-made ssamjang (a traditional Korean condiment), the bird should be picked at between gulps of makgeolli, a gently carbonated "alcoholic brew" of yeast and rice. If you visit after 10 o'clock, order the 12-hour ramyun -- a "muscular soup" -- and slurp until closing time.

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Unavoidable and Tasty Rye Bread at Aamanns-Copenhagen; All About Love for Hanjan

Categories: Reviews

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David Penner for the Village Voice
Aamanns-Copenhagen
Our own Robert Sietsema finds himself in a sea of small, Danish plates at Aamanns-Copenhagen. The restaurant that once opened for a single day to celebrate the New York arrival of Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark has now officially started service in the same Tribeca location. Specializing in smørrebrød (that's Danish for "bread and butter"), Aaamanns puts out plate after plate of "Scandinavian tapas." Sietsema writes, "Standard toppings include pickled fish, chicken salad, and thin slices of roast meat, but Aamanns embroiders on a beloved Danish tradition by mixing startling ingredients with traditional ones." The bites are "stunning" but small, so hungry diners should not expect a royal feast.

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Dine with Descartes at Le Philosophe; Lots of Tongue at Bar Corvo

Categories: Reviews

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Village Voice
Bar Corvo
Our own Robert Sietsema stumbles upon the new and under publicized Noho bistro, Le Philosophe, and finds that it's a "wonderful place." He writes in his review of Le Philosophe that a slightly grayish "mural depicting dozens of philosophers" looms behind diners in the candlelit space. But he barely notices the other people as he feasts on "roast chicken your mom would be proud of," "fois gras tourchon," and other excellent French standards. "Call it haute cuisine lite," Sietsema suggests.

Also at The Voice, Tejal Rao checks in at Bar Corvo, a year-old sleeper in Crown Heights. She writes in her review of Bar Corvo that the charming, neighborhood spot is "no clone" of sister restaurant Al Di La, but rather, "it's a funny little place" that specializes in intelligent Italian food. "Rich, hefty batons of beef tongue battered and fried...arrive with a creamy horseradish dip," Rao writes, noting that the satisfying dish is a "whole lot of tongue." She also notes that waiting nearly 45 minutes for the "salty, golden [roast chicken] lounging on a bed of braised onions and garlic," is worth it.

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A Look at New 'Cue around NYC; Pigs Ears Amidst Chaos at Salvation Taco

Categories: Reviews

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Salvation Taco
Our own Robert Sietsema surveys the latest barbecue offerings from "the East Village to Gowanus," and finds worthwhile rib-stickers throughout the boroughs. His saucy list of favorites includes Daniel Delany's BrisketTown, "which obsesses on beef brisket smoked in a trailer located just off Flushing Avenue," the "barnlike" Mighty Quinn's in the East Village, and Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue (word to the wise: order the coleslaw).

Also at the Voice, Tejal Rao visits Salvation Taco, the new Mexican restaurant in Midtown's Pod Hotel. The "tchotchke-fileld" spot from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman offers "casual drinking food, small plates to keep ordering until you're full or ready to move on to the next place." Rao advises bringing friends and ordering a whole lot of tacos. She also notes that the "nonlinear service we were experiencing might work as a model for chaos theory, at least at a TED talk." But the clamor is not a dealbreaker; rather it's part of the restaurant's charm.

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New Pizzeria in Tribeca: American Flatbread

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The handsome beehive oven at American Flatbread, one of two


American Flatbread is a small but ambitious chain of pizza parlors that originated in New Hampshire Vermont. The chain recently opened a massive new pizza parlor at the corner of Hudson and Canal. As you wait for your pies, you can watch convoluted lines of cars entering the tunnel as they go back to Jersey. "What a beautiful view!" The waiter exclaimed, as the two of us stared out the window in near-disbelief, wondering at the chain's choice of location.


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Crisp and Chewy Pizza at Juliana's; Spectacular Japanese Food at Chez Sardine

Categories: Reviews

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Vicky Wasick
Chez Sardine
Tejal Rao visited pizza legend Patsy Grimaldi's new outpost, Juliana's, where the pies are made with an old-fashioned touch -- cheese first, sauce last. The method allows the "tomato sauce [to] protect the cheese like sunblock," Rao writes in her review of Juliana's." The benefits of such care are clear in the final product, as Rao notes, "the pies are milky white on top, the cheese in thick, Rubenesque proportion, smudged with a clean, bright red sauce and a few wilted basil leaves. The bottoms are brown as if the char were painted on in watercolors, and each bite carries the flavor of the oven without being scarred by it--the crust has a thin shell of crispness, but it's soft and chewy inside." Sounds like there's a new thin crust in town.

Also at The Voice, Robert Sietsema checks in at the latest restaurant in Gabe Stulman's Little Wisco mini-empire, Chez Sardine, where the name is a nod to "the crowdedness of the room." While the place is labeled an izakaya, Sietsema writes in his review of Chez Sardine that the theme is "somewhat confused." However, that's not much of a concern considering that the restaurant "often diddles spectacularly with Japanese food," as well as other culinary styles.

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