Entries in Joe Ng (4)



Decoy opened in mid-May in a former laundromat below Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng’s hit Chinese restaurant, RedFarm.

There’s a faux mysteriousness about the project: the website is just a landing page, without so much as a menu, hours of operation, or really anything except a phone number and social media links. It doesn’t take much googling to find out everything you’d want to know about Decoy, so why the deliberate obfuscation?

In many ways, Decoy is just an extension of RedFarm. Call the phone number, and the RedFarm staff answer. Show up for dinner at RedFarm, where they don’t take reservations, and they’re liable to send you downstairs to Decoy’s ample bar, to cool your heels during the epic wait.

Decoy itself takes reservations (I already like this place better), and the menu is different. For $65, a party of two gets a whole Peking Duck, two small plates from a list of 13 choices, and one rice or side dish. Larger parties receive extra courses from the à la carte menu, in addition to the duck.

Click to read more ...


RedFarm (Upper West Side)

The RedFarm guys have been busy. In the last six months, they’ve renovated their original location in the West Village, run a pop-up steakhouse in the basement, opened a cocktail bar (soon-to-be Peking Duck place), and expanded the franchise to the Upper West Side. A Williamsburg expansion is on the way.

RedFarm UWS (in the old Fatty Crab space) looks just like the flagship, with its exposed barnyard wood, red-and-white checkered upholstery, and digital toilets in the loo. It’s twice the size.

It’s also just as crowded. There was a 20-minute wait at 9:00pm on a Sunday evening, when most Upper West Side restaurants are starting to slow down. Call me old-fashioned, but when you have 82 seats, I think you could take reservations. I predict they eventually will, when the hype dies down. But you have to give the team credit for recognizing that a “downtown restaurant” would work uptown without changing a thing. RedFarm UWS is a hit.

You have to worry if quality will suffer, as chef Joe Ng’s attention is divided across multiple properties. Some of the food didn’t seem quite as carefully prepared as I recall at the original RedFarm. But it is still one of the most original Chinese menus in town, and to the extent I can tell from one visit, very much worth repeated visits.

Click to read more ...



I was put off by the lines—the promise of an uncertain wait for one of the few communal seats. That’s why I didn’t visit RedFarm after it opened last August.

I’d liked the dim sum of the talented chef, Joe Ng, at Chinatown Brasserie. It was everything RedFarm isn’t: a big-box place that takes reservations and de-humanizes the cuisine, but was pretty darned good, for what it was—way back in 2007.

Then Pete Wells gave it two stars, and if he’s a critic of limited range, I’m pretty sure he gets casual Chinese: his review of Wong, in early January, was right on the money. So I was ready to give RedFarm a try.

At 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, all 45 seats were packed, and the host quoted a wait of forty-five minutes to an hour. He offered to take a phone number and text me when a spot opened up (there is no waiting space at all), but I didn’t want it that much. A couple of evenings later, I had better luck. But even at 5:30, there were only about three seats free. That’s how popular RedFarm is.


Shrimp and Snowpea Dumplings ($10; above left) might be taken as typical of Chef Ng’s knack for dim sum. They’re not merely cute (with little “eyes” staring back at you), but colorful (the skin is transluscent) and bursting with flavor.

The Creekstone Farms prime dry-aged ribeye steak ($39; above right) is marinated overnight, and served sliced, with crisp french-fry sized mini-spears of asparagus. It isn’t as thick or as musky as the better steakhouses serve, but it is better than you expect it to be.

This isn’t the right way to dine at RedFarm, although it’s the only way I had time for. The dishes are all designed for sharing. Go with three friends. Entrées and rice/noodle dishes are in a wide price range ($15–39), likewise the starters ($6–19) and dim sum ($7–19). Average it out, and you’re likely to spend a lot less per person on than the $49 I did.

Although the décor is bare-bones, it doesn’t feel cheap. What may seem that way is merely a stylistic choice. But it’s a style not designed for comfort or elbow room. Most of the seating is at communal tables; there are a few 2- and 4-person booths. Expect to be very cosy with your neighbor. But the staff are attentive and knowledgeable, within the confines of the format.

The beverage options are fairly limited, with about fifteen bottles of wine and seven beers, but there’s a full bar. Of the three cocktails I tried (all $12), I best liked “Le Club Hot,” with silver tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, jalapeño, and mint.

By the end of the meal, Chef Ng had recognized me, or at least guessed that I was going to be writing about the restaurant. He spoke to me at some length about his forays to the greenmarket, his quest to serve the perfect steak, and so forth. I humbly suggested he do the same with a pork chop.

Although restaurants of this ilk, with their no-reservations policies and cramped seating, are much associated with the younger generation, diners at RedFarm were in a wide age range on the night I visited. It takes patience to dine here, and a willingness to forego many of the standard amenities. So far, people seem to feel it’s worth it.

RedFarm (529 Hudson Street, south of Charles Street, West Village)

Cuisine: “Innovative, Inspired Chinese Cuisine with Greenmarket Sensibility”
Service: Very good, within its limitations (no coat check, reservations not taken)
Ambiance: Bare-bones chic; cramped; not the most comfortable

Rating: ★★


Chinatown Brasserie


Note: Chinatown Brasserie closed in June 2012. The owners say it will relocated to an as-yet unidentified smaller space. The current space will re-open as a French restaurant helmed by Andrew Carmellini, with whom the same owners are in partnership at Locanda Verde and The Dutch.


Chinatown Brasserie is another of the high-concept big-box Asian palaces that have opened in recent years. But my girlfriend and I found it more pleasant and less cynical than many of its brethren. It’s owned by the same team as Lever House and Lure Fishbar, and once again they seem to have hit the mark.

The restaurant’s specialty is Dim Sum (various items, $8–22). We ordered a selection, of which I’m afraid I don’t have a specific recollection. The pièce de résistance was the traditional Peking Duck for Two ($48), which fully lived up to the better preparations of it that I’ve enjoyed elsewhere. (Other entrées were priced $17–28.)

Dim Sum

Peking Duck

Chinatown Brasserie (380 Lafayette St. between Great Jones St. and E. 4th St., NoHo)

Food: **
Service: *½
Ambiance: **
Overall: **