Restaurant Review: Tuome in a East Village
November 4, 2014 - Picnic Time
Look inside a conduct of a splendid immature cook and you’ll see a beehive of brisk ideas, a few of them only hatched and others that buzzed in from somewhere else. It can take time to arrange out that are borrowed and that have a prick of a new.
Thomas Chen, uninformed from a trenches during Eleven Madison Park and Commerce, non-stop his initial grill in August, called Tuome. Like so many other places in a epoch of Noma, it is tastefully plain in appearance. Its dual tiny dining bedrooms are furnished with tiny tables set with tiny menus printed in tiny type. The timber chairs and steel bar stools are unsoftened by fabric or cushions. The lights are low — not flattering, first-date low yet I’m-too-young-to-be-going-blind dim. In terms of glitz and glamour, Tuome falls somewhere between a yoga studio and Thoreau’s cabin.
I’ve eaten in copiousness of bedrooms like this over a final few years. And I’ve seen any series of dishes imitative these: a Nike swooshes of ultra-blended unfeeling purées; a immature leaves a distance of chipmunk ears organised only so over a deviled egg; a quarrel of scallops all crouched together as if stealing from some scallop-hating predator on a other side of a plate. Clearly Mr. Chen and we have been following a same Instagram feeds.
That egg, though. Wait a minute. This is something different.
There is half of a hard-cooked white, deep-fried in panko. Spooned into a divot is a dot of deviled yolk, pointy with pickles and Dijon mustard. On tip of that is a spoonful of boiled garlic and dusty chiles in their sharp red oil. It’s fun to feel a temperatures and textures, tawny and crackling and slippery, accommodate in your mouth, and to ambience a bizarre collision of church-picnic-style eggs with a Chinese condiment. How can half an egg do 3 or 4 things during once?
Later, a server points a siphon into a limb of an octopus leg. Out comes a suede-colored snowdrift. He says it’s brown-butter-and-potato espuma. we contend it’s froth and we contend a ruin with it. we concentration on a octopus, that crunches emphatically and has a rounded, somewhat fruity flavor. With it is a chewy, chunky, simply gingered XO sauce. Chopped caramelized pig and Chinese sausage give it a benevolence of bacon; fish salsa and dusty shrimp take it broader and deeper. we can’t get adequate of it. The froth will not be abandoned forever, though. While it is not a many strange notion, it does supplement something, distinct many foams. What it adds is a feathery call of toasted butter, like a frosting on a caramel cake reduction a sugarine and a heft. The plate is strangely good; it creates an unusual lenience out of a octopus. And it shows off a transparent and uninformed indicate of perspective Mr. Chen brings to his cooking, quite when he interprets Chinese flavors.
Before operative during Eleven Madison Park and Commerce, Mr. Chen was an accountant. The thought was to stay as distant from restaurants as possible, and it came from his parents. After relocating from China to New York City, a Chens operated a Chinese grill outward of a city. They wanted something aloft for Thomas (he was Tommy during home, yet on his parents’ lips a nickname came out “tow me,” that is how Tuome is pronounced), yet after shepherding change sheets by day and attending culinary propagandize by night, he came to see cooking as a aloft calling.
A tiny some-more than dual months in, Tuome is already starting to feel mature. The one-page booze list is severely eclectic, yet it’s not too cold for a Napa Valley cabernet and an Anderson Valley chardonnay. The servers take their jobs seriously, nonetheless I’m not certain a indicate has to be underlined by forcing them all to wear tailored T-shirts a tone of soppy cement. Mr. Chen doesn’t need to make his staff demeanour like a complicated dance unit to tell people Tuome isn’t your normal East Village spot; his cooking does that for him. (And a East Village normal is removing aloft each year.)
He has superb control over salt, spices, hardness and contrast, weaving them together until we ask, because hasn’t anyone finished this before? Adding sharp steep fat to packets of Cantonese sticking rice steamed in lotus leaves seems like an apparent good idea. So does a additional burst he puts into a Chinese sausage pieces to save a rice from sticking monotony. But they aren’t apparent until we ambience Mr. Chen’s version.
A few dishes uncover off Mr. Chen’s technical authority some-more than his originality. The dip of steep liver mousse with maple syrup pooled in a vale on top, like a gravy on crushed potatoes, is masterfully done, yet feels familiar. Another plate fell out of concentration between meals, when a carrot-miso purée concomitant parched scallops mislaid a savory, tainted abyss and became merely sweet. And there’s one I’d like to forget, a dully honeyed squish soup impaled with frogs’ legs that were both tear-jerking and stringy.
But a distinguished series of dishes during Tuome are noted for a right reasons. Serving sous-vide steep on soupy rice baked with garlic chives and shiitakes, Mr. Chen doesn’t try to sex adult his native inspiration, congee; he only creates it some-more layered and modern, surrounding a steep with a dim basil jus, and lets a flavors sensitively win we over.
I wish he would take a same proceed with pig swell instead of forcing it to do double-duty as a selling event. Right now it’s called a Pig Out (a name meant for hashtagging), and it marches to a list as a $49 feast for two, 10 bite-size squares of pig swell roving on a line-up shingle with a march of salsas and bowls of spicy-peanut noodles following behind. The crashing cymbals can’t costume how simply a dish, and a price, could be divided in half.
But Mr. Chen has finished something extraordinary to this pig. His impulse might have been Cantonese fry pork, yet these compressed, greatly dainty squares of well-rendered swell extract of Peking duck, too. After I’d surfaced a contemplative mirror of skin with ginger-scallion salsa and a few drops of sambal from a fist bottle, we wanted to tuck a pig into a steamed bun or a crepe, and afterwards gnaw and break and gnaw and break some more. Forget a gimmick. There are uninformed ideas in this dish, and they are all Mr. Chen’s.