Spice Market

Back in NYC for business this week. I obviously miss Amy and the little man tremendously, but do enjoy the chance to enjoy some good food here in the big apple. Headed to Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market last night with a vendor after a late meeting around 6:30pm. The place is in the recently-trendy Meat Packing District. Surprisingly, the hostess showed zero ‘tude and seated our party of three immediately, albeit in the slightly less posh downstairs.

I happened to think the design of the place was pretty spiffy – it really reminded me of an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum I saw a few years ago of a home moved there from China which dated back to 1800, and had been occupied for over 200 years, with the added bonus of good drinks and better food – and the prices are not unreasonable for a fun night out. And the food was great – including at least one dish I’ll remember for a long time to come. Read on after the jump for more about the food…

Thankfully, we avoided the tables with the backless stools in the middle of the room – can you say uncomfortable? And although we had to remind our server to take our cocktail order, the service was excellent and well-paced.

We started with their Kumquat/Ginger Mojitos. For our first appetizer, we had their black pepper shrimp complemented by sun-dried pineapple, of all things. The slightly dessicated fruit was a great foil for the intense flavor of the shrimp. We also had a their version of a satay, melt-in-your mouth beef with a basil dipping sauce. But the best of the bunch – a dish that will live in my tastebuds memory for a long time – was a unique combination of shaved tuna, chili tapioca, Asian pear and lime. Wow! The fish was perfect and was not overpowered by the other ingredients. A real winner.

The pacing of the meal was really nice. Each appetizer and entreee came out as they were ready, allowing a nice flow of eating, chatting and more eating.

For entrees, we had the striped bass with wok (stir) fried napa cabbage, water chesnut and cucumber. The waiter warned us it’s the spiciest dish on the menu, which it was. The red chili sauce combined with the napa reminded me of kimchi, but the flavor was great. The fish was overpowered, though.

Then we moved on to the char-grilled chicken with kumquat lemon dressing. That was another winner. Very refreshing flavors from the dressing on the flavorful chicken.

Finally, we had the pork vindaloo, which had a fairly authentic depth of flavor, although one member of our group from Northern India was less enamored of the lack of heat in this one. I was bummed by the somewhat dry texture of the meat.

All in all, a very nice meal, with a few standouts. I’d recommend it.

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