Tonight I realized just how out of touch I've been with the world at large. My friends Linda and Jay had set up a Restaurant Week rezzie at this place called Shang in Thompson Hotel on the Lower East Side for us and another friend Caroline. I recall being confused when I looked up the place. Why are four chinky-eyed folks going out for dinner in an haute Asian fusion restaurant when we know all the best spots in Chinatown that charge a fifth of the price? I had shunned TV for the last eight months so I didn't know that Shang's Chef Susur Lee was recently a very flamboyant and memorable contestant on Top Chef Masters. I used to follow that show religiously so I was pretty appalled that I didn't know what the heck was going on with it now. Thank god for good friends who always steer you in the general direction of yumminess ...
Now if I had done my research well, I would've known to order the Singapore Slaw to start. Good thing Jay (a.k.a. Buddha) is always at the top of his eating game, otherwise we wouldn't have tasted this pile of deliciousness:
What a fantastic opening salvo this was. It's a crunchy, refreshing and absolutely addictive mixture of taro strips, vermicelli noodles, pickled red onions, jicama, carrots, tomatoes, daikon, cucumber, crushed roasted hazelnuts, peanuts, green onions and even edible flowers, all tossed in salted plum dressing. As we shoveled heapfuls of slaw into our mouths, we began planning a weekend BBQ and unanimously agreed we had to try to replicate this salad for that. Thanks to the wonderful Interwebs, I found this:
We might actually pull it off if we can find the 20 different ingredients! Aside from the salad, we ordered the calamari with spicy habanero sauce. How good was it? We demolished 3 plates of the stuff.
We also ordered a few plates off the a la carte menu. The lettuce cups were delicious, although my memory fails me on what exactly was in the filling below. I'll let you figure it out because I'm still in a bit of a food coma. I just guarantee that it's pretty good.
I would avoid ordering sushi rolls in the future. We had a couple and found them quite disappointing. The rolls kept falling apart and the rice was just not vinegary enough (I know vinegary is not a word, but it should be).
We didn't realize how slow the service was because we were so busy catching up, but it actually took quite awhile for our entrees to come out. And when it finally did, I was massively disappointed that my skirt steak did not come with Hainanese rice as advertised. You cannot, repeat CANNOT, give an Asian person mashed potatoes when your menu said Hainanese rice. That is just WRONG.
For dessert, we all had mango panna cotta, since there was really no other choice on the Restaurant Week menu:
All in all, Shang had both high and low points. What made the dinner really great for me was catching up with some amazing friends that I haven't seen in awhile. Thanks again to Buddha who treated us, and Caroline who hooked me up with Gucci wedges! (and thanks in advance to Linda, who will hook me up with delicious food at the BBQ in a few weeks)
I haven't decided yet if I would come back for another try ... though I am pretty sure that I'm hitting up Chinatown for some $5 Hainanese chicken and rice in the very near future!
Shang is located at 187 Orchard Street, New York, NY. Tel. (212) 260-7900