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The Payoff: Chop Suey

In today’s Times, Frank Bruni awards one star to Chop Suey. He finds the view better than the food:

…sometimes food isn’t the primary consideration in deciding where to eat, and some restaurants have persuasive charms beyond the perimeter of the plate. Chop Suey is all about setting, a second-floor perch in the Renaissance Hotel that juts like a ship’s prow into a bold, brash sea of light.

As expected, he’s not impressed with the idea of consultant-chefs, Zak Pelaccio and Will Goldfarb:

The erratic results underscore the question of just how engaged such consultants get: of whether, once they’ve lofted a few ideas and cashed their paychecks, they feel any real pride of ownership or bother to follow through. I have my doubts. Chop Suey didn’t assuage them.

But there are enough winners to justify a star:

In intent, most dishes are more distinctive than the lowest-common-denominator tourist grub prevalent in this patch of town. Some are more distinctive in actuality, too.

The char siu — roasted pork with Hong Kong noodles as thin as angel-hair pasta — is described on the menu as “twice caramelized,” and the dominoes of tender pork demonstrate why. They have crisp, sweet surfaces and corners.

Crisp pie-shaped slices of scallion pancake are given some fruity zip by an Asian pear mostarda. A thick, juicy hamburger forsakes the usual condiments for kimchi, which does the trick. It’s a Korean Whopper.

As for Korean gnocchi, Chop Suey rushes in where Momofuku Ssam Bar earlier trod, serving steamed rice cakes with a spicy pork Bolognese of sorts. They don’t fall far short of their idols.

We and Eater both win $3 on our hypothetical one-dollar bets.

              Eater       NYJ
Bankroll $80.50   $91.67
Gain/Loss +3.00   +3.00
Total $83.50   $94.67
 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Won–Lost 36–15   36–15

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