BY BECKA WOOLF
529 Hudson St
(between 10th St & Charles St)
Manhattan, NY 10014
Neighborhood: West Village
Do you like faces on your food? Perhaps some googly eyes on your shrimp dumplings? RedFarm does.
Opened by former Chinatown Brasserie chef and dim sum extraordinaire Joe Ng and Chinese restaurant expert Ed Schoenfeld, RedFarm has been the chatter of the West Village since its opening at the beginning of September, and rightfully so. Featuring communal tables and Ina Garten-esque décor, the menu features Greenmarket-inspired, innovative Chinese dim sum. The atmosphere is loud, the food imaginative and inspired. Think Joe’s Shanghai and Blue Hill’s restaurant love child.
RedFarm puts forth many winning dishes. The crispy spicy beef is the standout. Sweet and spicy at its best, the beef is served alongside roasted hot chiles and crunchy lotus root chips. The Kumamoto oysters with Meyer lemon – yuzu ice are incredibly fresh and satisfying, an oyster slushie of sorts. The Pac Man shrimp dumplings are as whimsical as they are delicious. As the waitress put the plate down in front of us, she laid out the scene: a piece of crispy fried, Pac Man-shaped sweet potato, resting on a bed of non-traditional but delicious guacamole, is chasing the four “surprised” shrimp dumplings (there is something different in every dumpling to accompany the shrimp, hence the “surprise”). The crispy duck and crab dumplings also have a unique presentation – the dumplings are modeled to look like sting rays, complete with eyes, and they sit on the edge of a bowl of sweet, rich curry sauce for dipping. Also delicious and worth ordering are the Kowloon filet mignon tarts, a one-bite tart topped with a mouthwatering, perfectly cooked piece of beef.
I also want to speak briefly to the wonder and pure genius of the Katz’s pastrami egg rolls. Yes, you read this right, the pastrami is straight from the one and only Manhattan pastrami institution Katz’s Deli. As a Jewish girl from the east coast, you better believe I have an appreciation for good pastrami, and these just blew me away. They are served with a tangy, creamy mustard dipping sauce. Naturally!
Not everything at RedFarm is a home run, however. The first time I dined there, I had the spicy Korean rice cake with Chinese sausage and shrimp, and adored the dish. My second time there, I noticed it was no longer on the menu and asked the waiter why. He said he “ate it all” (with no real answer), and suggested the wide rice noodles with shredded roast duck instead. They were disappointing –bland, oily and one-dimensional. They can do better. I just know it.
RedFarm is certainly not cheap, most dishes in the 8-15 dollar range, which adds up quickly given the majority of the dishes are only a few bites. They don’t take reservations so expect to wait, the best option being getting a drink at Bayard’s Ale House next door. And never fear, you will get a text when your table is ready. As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
Now, if only those spicy Korean rice cakes would make their way back onto the menu. Pretty please, Chef Ng?