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Feb 8, 2007 08:11 PM

spice market - long review

my husband and i celebrated an anniversary by having dinner at spice market. i've been so curious about the place. it's really a beautiful/exotic space and unlike some ny restaurants, you actually have some space b/t you and the other diners. we ordered so much food, but i have to admit i was a little under-whelmed....

lobster roll w/dill and sriracha - when we ordered this we thought it was going to be the type of lobster roll in a hot dog was the sushi kind, but instead of wrapped in nori, it was wrapped in vietnamese spring roll paper. i feel like lobster has such a delicate flavor that it was overpowered by the dill and srirarcha...which weren't necessarily complementary flavors. disappointing.

mussels w/steamed lemongarss/chili and coconut juice - this was tasty and some of the plumpest mussels i've ever had. however, i felt like the flavor was so similar to any favorite/local thai restaurant that i would just rather get it cheaper someplace else. not really worth getting at spice market. there's no special twist to the dish.

shaved tuna w/chili tapioca/asian pear and lime - this was definitely the kind of dish i was hoping for at spice market. ingredients were fresh, interesting play of flavors and light yet a good quantity. that's not to say i would order it on a regular basis or ever "crave" it, but it was definitely an interesting/flavorful dish.

onion and chili crusted short rib w/egg noodles - the short rib meat was well cooked and tender, but it was much soupier than i was hoping for, almost sitting in a broth. and i'm not sure if the noodles were homemade or not, but seemed like the kind you get at a deli when you order udon. nothing really special about this dish...again a little underwhelming.

chili-garlic egg noodles w/seared shrimp and star anise - same thoughts on the noodles here...but the shrimp was fresh, plump and really perfectly seasoned and cooked.

apple dumplings - there wasn't much of a description in the menu, what it ended up being was deep-fried wonton wrappers filled w/apple mixture. that was topped with whipped cream and shredded fresh apple. i'm asian, so i know how easy it is to just stuff pre-made wonton wrappers and deep fry it. it's the type of recipe i'd expect to see on "semi-homeade w/sandra lee". while it tasted fine...if they have a pastry chef, i think that's really disappointing.

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  1. Jno, I'm sorry to hear your anniversary dinner was not up to par to your anticipation. But as the saying goes, it is the great company that truly makes the moment special right? :o)

    I also had dinner at Spice Market when I visited NYC two months ago. I personally had never heard of this place but because my friend insisted she take me there because she felt I'd like the ambiance, I caved and went with her.

    I admit, I did love the setting. Unassuming on the outside, the moment you walked it, you felt like you were transported back to a time when the Orient still promised an alluring exoticism. The setting and the amber lights made everyone and everything look very inviting. You couldn't help but feel sexy just being there.

    Seduced by the environment we were in, we ended up being quite ambitious with our orders as well. We started off with beef Samosas as appetizers, which were deliciously spicy yet refreshing with a coriander yogurt sauce.

    Our entrees soon came. My friend ordered Cod with Malaysian Chili Sauce while I ordered the same Onion and Chili Crusted Short Ribs served with Noodles in a broth. I usually try to give the chef the benefit of the doubt so I try not to be too harsh with criticism, both gosh, both entrees were just not up to standards at all. The short ribs were very tender and tasty enough, but the overly bitter caramelized onion crust overpowered the sweetness of the meat. In addition, the accompanying broth did not fit well into the dish. It was just out of place.

    My friend's cod was cooked properly but the sauce accompanying it was quite disastrous. Chili sauce should be vibrant with heat and freshness; rather, thes sauce was heavy on the palate and bitter in taste. It did not compliment the fish well at all. My friend also got the Spicy Shanghai Noodles on the side and even that was not up to par. There were tons of slivered garlic scattered on top of the noodles and they were all dark and bitter from overcooking. Fortunately, you can fish them out so it was salvageable. But still!

    After the meal we had, we were a little sheepish on the desserts so we opted for a safe bet and went for just a Passion Fruit Sorbet to clean the palate. The server just plopped a miniature Chinese takeout box pre-filled with sorbet. Obviously, this was prepackaged long ago and just withdrawn on a moments notice. We were paying money here. The least they could do was doll up the sorbet a bit with some orchids!

    All in all, the dining experience there was well, disappointing. Let's just say that I'm thankful for the great company and beautiful ambiance to distract me from the food. I'd have been crying into my sorbet if it wasn't for that.

    1. I have had some really nice food here. The place is too big & over decorated for my taste,
      but the Grilled Chicken with Kumquats was amazing !