Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fatty Crab

My mom and I were in Manhattan last weekend. Originally, we had tickets to see that Spider-Man musical, but the opening was delayed because Spider-Man flew into a wall or something. So instead, we had a leisurely stroll around Manhattan. Stops for the day included: the New York Public Library, Bryant Park to see the ice skaters, and the highly anticipated high-end Italian market Eataly in the hopes of sampling something delicious (note to self: in the future visit Eataly on a weekday, say early a.m., if you don’t want to get trampled by others hoping to sample something delicious—we were in and out of there in less than a half hour due to the crowd).

Around 3 p.m., after a brisk stroll along the High Line, stomachs growling due to the mob scene at Eataly, we walked the few short blocks east to Hudson Street, thinking it was finally an opportune time to visit the tiny, no reservations Malaysian hipster hotspot, Fatty Crab.

We had a good feeling about this Fatty Crab almost immediately. Upon entering, we received a warm welcome from a smiling, unassuming waiter. The restaurant is tiny, the very definition of “hole in the wall.” A corner bar is manned by a hippy-version of Ryan Renolds, with a small kitchen window to his right. Bright red walls, exposed brick, a tin ceiling, and worn wooden floors give off an aura of “I’m-not-trying-too-hard-despite-my-reputation-of-Awesome.”

Given the few patrons at 3 p.m., we were seated right by the front window, a Fatty Crab delivery bicycle parked outside.

We started with Steamed Pork Buns ($13):
I think the picture says it all.

Well, NOW the picture says it all:
I am a SUCKER for a soft, squishy steamed bun, and these buns delivered. Piping hot, soft as clouds, the perfect conduit for succulent pork belly. It’s served with a hard-boiled egg, pickled radish, and a tangy-yet-somewhat spicy dipping sauce.

Here is the Watermelon and Crispy Pork ($16):
At the time, I think my mom and I were under the impression we were ordering an entrée, but now I think this dish fell under Appetizers with our pork buns. Which makes sense, given our waiter brought this out after the buns, but before our entrée. A small matter. The lesson learned was simple: Crispy pork belly and watermelon is the Future. Who knew these two could be such a duo? The pork crunches satisfyingly before melting on the tongue, the watermelon gives a burst of refreshing sweetness. A glorious dish, albeit a small one.

Sadly, this is when we should’ve left Fatty Crab (ie: on top).

Take a good, hard look at the Nasi Lemak ($21), aka, the worst dish I’ve had in years.
Nasi Lemak is described on the menu as “coconut rice, chicken curry, slow poached egg.” On the left are two pieces of fried chicken, a wing and a leg. It was not remarkable fried chicken, but it did taste like fried chicken in its defense (wasn’t it supposed to be curry, though?). There were also some spiced peanuts buried underneath the chicken that were tasty. The shimmering poached egg on the coconut rice wasn’t terrible; the egg, coupled with the creaminess of coconut, just ended up being too creamy and rich. Not a pleasant combination, especially paired with the stuff in the middle, which is what we really took issue with: a fish cake in banana leaves that was extremely fishy-smelling and off-putting. What type of fish was it? I think the waiter said it was a “combination of leftovers” which should’ve been our first clue something was up, but he also went on to say it was made “fresh” daily. There was a little pile of dried anchovies that were fun, but next to it, a dark pile of sambal belacan—chilies, shrimp paste, sugar and lime juice—that was beyond fishy. It smelled off; I tasted it anyway, but it tasted like it smelled. Nasi Lemak: FAIL. Keep in mind: this was my first Malaysian meal. I’m merely telling you my personal feelings on Nasi Lemak (in essence: I was horrified).

The staff, initially on their best behavior, were now acting kind of erratic, as well. What started out as a warm, welcoming feel, was quickly dissolving into the weird and eccentric. Our waiter was conversing loudly with diners behind us, the word “porn” coming up over and over.

We were still somewhat scarred by the Nasi Lemak when our waiter arrived with our bill. There was no offering of a dessert menu (maybe he sensed the last dish didn’t go over well), but he did leave us with two slices of coconut-flavored mochi. They had an unexpected, slightly salty aftertaste, which was wonderful paired with the sweetness of the rice cakes. This lifted our spirits.

I’m left slightly mystified by Fatty Crab. How could a restaurant that served two exceptional, knock-your-socks-off dishes, send out such a BOMB? And what of the vibe? Is it warm or wacky?

Jury’s out.

Fatty Crab
643 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 352-3590

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Silver Tips Tea Room

Well hello! It’s been a long time. I completed the two 5ks mentioned below. I’m decidedly the world’s worst runner, but I did complete them, and in my book, that warrants giving myself a good old pat on the back for actually seeing something through. And the more I think about it, the more I wager I may stick with this running thing. I have my eye on the Leatherman’s Loop this coming May. We’ll see how I fare with training this winter, before I make any type of commitment. But back to the food, which is what we really care about.

A few Sundays ago, I had my first “High Tea” with some very lovely ladies. To quote Ferris Bueller, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.” Luckily, “the means” in this particular instance is quite reasonable. Silver Tips is a charming little establishment tucked in the heart of Tarrytown. Local artists’ work adorns the walls, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac align rustic shelves, and lively chatter resounds from the tables. It’s quaint without being overly frou-frou or feminine. Guys go there too (I’ll tell you why in a moment). The tea? Pages and pages worth, delivered hot to your table and kept warm via uniquely designed tea cozies:
What do I know about tea? Not a whole lot. I suppose I like it. I steep my own Japanese Genmaicha tea at home and also enjoy Barley tea from time to time. I’m a sucker for English Breakfast with a little milk and sugar. That’s the extent of my knowledge on tea.

The ladies I high tea’d with? They take their tea to another level, and had some great recommendations for the table. The Silver Tips ladies? Just visit their web site: you can learn all you ever wanted to know about tea.

Truth be told, I didn’t take to the blog to mention the tea. I’m here to clue you in to the other teahouse treasures, which is why guys find their way into this teahouse as well. Silver Tips has killer sandwiches. They’re still somewhat small for a dude (but way bigger than those mini cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off) and I suppose the presentation of the toasted sandwiches could cause a guy to squirm, but they’re so. unbelievably. yummy. [Note: Silver Tips also has larger, non-gussied-up sandwich wraps, served with nachos and salsa, as well as soups, salads and samosas that would make men a lot less uncomfortable than the route we went]. For $21, there is “Tea Deluxe”: two sandwiches of your choice, a scone with cream and preserves, one dessert (a variety of tarts and pastries), and two two-cup pots of tea, or one four-cup pot of tea. We ordered two “Tea Deluxes,” for our table of four. Ch-ch- check it out:
The Egg Souchong sandwich? Marinated in smoked tea, then combined with seasoning and chives. Pshhhh, only the best egg sandwich ever. My buddy Danielle and I both really wanted the smoked salmon sandwich, which wasn’t one of the standard selections for “Tea Deluxe” so we asked our waitress to “upgrade” our second choice to the salmon for a dollar more. She thought that was funny, and even funnier when our friends “upgraded” as well.
The scone? Absolutely delightful. We went with the raisin, but it’s also available in cranberry and blueberry. Paired with the cream, it was heavenly.

I’m a sucker for fruit tarts, so Danielle and I chose the peach tart. It was good, but a little heavy on the crust and not enough actual fruit. The mixed berry tart crust was a more condensed and the fruit extra flavorful.

Oh, and the tea? ...It was yummy! But I don’t even remember what we ordered! Hey Lori, wanna leave a comment about the tea below? For the tea lovers?

In closing, Silver Tips is serving up a lot more than just apparently awesome tea. They’ve got some real treasures on their menu, and a cozy, delightful setting to enjoy it. They’ve got a good sense of humor over there, too. Our server took a picture of the four of us at the end of our meal and said, “One, two… teabags!”

It’s good to be back!

Silver Tips Tea Room
3 North Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591
(914) 332-8515