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Red Farm, The Soup in the Dumplings, 529 Hudson Street nyc

  • jonkyo Mar 16, 2012 10:36 AM
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I happened into the new Red Farm Restaurant on Hudson several weeks ago, and it was packed full of people.

A newspaper review that day and a canceled dinner date was responsible for this destiny, a destiny that consisted of dumplings and soup, but the soup enters the mouth only after the dumpling has been placed there, and bitten or chewed. The result is flood of delicious juice or soup adding to the consistency and taste of the steamed dough and cooked meat within the dough. This is Dumpling and Soup as written on the menu.

The newspaper reviewer had mentioned these very dumplings and recommended that the best way to enjoy these soup filled dumplings was to bite off the top of the dumpling after it is brought up to the mouth by way of a spoon, then the soup can be sucked out as it falls into the spoon.

I beg to differ on this. I recommend waiting a bit for the dumplings to cool off, then load it up with hot sauce, if that is to your liking. Then use a chopstick and/or spoon, and pop the entire dumpling into your mouth. That experience was worth the 30 minute wait I had for the table.

After checking out the menu I had determined that it was only the dumplings I would eat, and have not a clue as to what the other items on the menu are like.

The dumplings run about 12 or so dollars. Be sure to have ordered beer and ready to cleanse your palette, after each dumpling, though it is more of augmenting the flavor in your palette.

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RedFarm
529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. Thanks for your report. That's great information.

    1. The method described in the NY Times review was the traditional method of enjoying soup dumplings. But your method sounds great too. Though if you wait for one dumpling to be cool enough to eat in one bite, by the time you get to the rest of the dumplings, they may be too cool to be enjoyable....

      As much as Red Farm is praised, I dislike the no-reservation policy and the communal table. For the same dumplings (not to mention possibly the best dim sum and peking duck in the city), give Chinatown Brasserie a try. Red Farm and Chinatown Brasserie are sister restaurants, with the same owner and chef.

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      Chinatown Brasserie
      380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cheeryvisage

        The artilce only gave Red Farm two stars, but quite explicit about the dumplings being very good.

        The interior is interesting, of Red Farm that is. It is comfortable in terms of decor, though the communal table is perhaps not the best idea considering the spatial measures of the interior. Crowded to say the least.

        Thank you for the recommendation.

        1. re: jonkyo

          Traditionally, even getting one star from the NY Times (argubly the most influential publication for the NYC restaurant industry in terms of ratings) is a big compliment to the restaurant. So, a two-star rating is extremely complimentary. The new restaurant critic, Pete Wells, is starting to mess around with this star system, but that's another topic and another rant... :)

          For Chinatown Brasseire, I'd be careful to not venture off to non-dim sum and peking duck territory. Their other dishes are supposedly Americanized.

          Another supposedly great soup dumpling place is Nanxiang in Queens.

      2. > This is Dumpling and Soup as written on the menu.

        Just so others aren't confused, I believe jonkyo is talking about the "Pork & Crab Soup Dumplings (4)" in the Dim Sum section of the menu. AKA xiao long bao AKA xiao long tang bao.

        "Dumpling and soup" might make it sound like broth with dumplings floating in the broth, or dumplings with a side of broth.

        10 Replies
        1. re: kathryn

          I had dinner at RedFarm last night and although I was not planning to write a report, I will say here that I agree with much of what has been written on this thread. While the dumplings (we had the shrimp and snow pea) are first-rate confections, I was not overly impressed with the rest of our meal. The communal table is uncomfortable and we found service to be just a step above what one might expect in Chinatown, albeit with better English skills.

          Curried Bean Curd was tasty enough, as was the Spicy Crispy Beef; the latter was not spicy, by the way, and came with very good deep-fried lotus root rounds. Both of these were akin to what one might find at a good neighborhood Cantonese place.

          The much-talked-about Pastrami Egg Roll was certainly an interesting and well-executed concept.

          Chinese Broccoli and Shitake consisted of velvety mushrooms and the gai lan (?) stems which had been peeled, if I remember correctly. Impressive preparation and knife work, and certainly tasty, but $19 (??)

          The bill for the above, plus bottled Voss water ($7), one cucumber martini and one glass of Vouvray:
          $92. before tip.

          If you do not want all the dishes to arrive at once, be sure to speak up when ordering. There is not enough alloted room on the communal table to fit more than a few dishes at one time and who wants to eat cold dumplings?

          The restaurant is obviously a smash hit, judging from the crowd. My dining companion who lives nearby eats there often, being impressed with the "freshness" of the vegetables. For my next Chinese meal, I'll head for Chinatown or, more likely, Flushing. And yes, Nanxiang on Prince Street does have very good xlb!

          Note: Redfarm and Chinatown Brasserie do apparently share Chef Ng, but is the ownership the same as well? I thought that Red Farm was a Chodorow show.

          -----
          RedFarm
          529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

          1. re: erica

            I believe that Red Farm is Jeffrey Chodorow plus Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng. But Ed Schoenfeld was only a consultant at Chinatown Brasserie, and Chinatown Brasserie is actually owned by the Burger & Barrel/Lure Fish Bar/Merc Bar people (John McDonald & Josh Pickard).

            1. re: kathryn

              Thanks. Ed S. was on the scene last night.

              I should probably mention that there WERE other dishes on the menu that sounded more up my alley--pork belly, chicken with garlic sauce, short ribs, but these were nixed by my dining companion. The diners next to us had the chicken and it looked very good, which might make sense because the duck at CB is so good.

              1. re: erica

                This is probably as good a place as any to deal with Ed Schoenfeld, a legend in his own mind. A few months ago the Eater website did an interview with Schoenfeld as part of the run up to the Red Farm opening. It made me gag. Ed took credit for everything in Chinese food except the invention of the wok.

                http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/11/...

                Then there was an extensive interview in the Wall Street Journal that yielded a number of nuggets. (Full interview here - http://online.wsj.com/article/AP74bc7...

                )

                Lets let Ed tell us all about it.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                "Speaking just before a Tuesday dinner rush, Schoenfeld asserted that RedFarm is "clearly the best Chinese restaurant in New York City,"
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                Let me just come right out and say it. Ed, are you fucking *high?*

                The WSJ described him as "a reigning monarch of New York City's Chinese food scene." Lets look at his rap sheet.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                "He created and opened a dizzying series of restaurants through 1993. ... He partnered with Keh on a series of restaurants, including Pig Heaven, which served Chinese food in a barn-like atmosphere complete with straw on the floor. Madame Chiang Kai Shek's former chef worked in the kitchen.

                There was Cafe Marimb in 1984, Vince & Eddie's in 1990, Fishin' Eddie in 1991 and Chop Suey Looey's Litchi Lounge in 1992, among others."
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                We're supposed to be impressed with *that*? Each of those places sounds like it would be perfect for Times Square. Gimmick places. The more I think about it, the more I think he and Chodorow (Mr. Gimmick himself) fit together like a stick in a corndog.

                And finally, this one -
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                ... he wants to launch a high-quality home delivery service around the city.

                "By and large, take-out in New York City is about little mom-and-pop neighborhood places where you get a lot of food — tasty food, not necessarily the best quality, but good enough."

                Under his vision, fresh food would be prepared at a centralized location, then cooked at and delivered from kitchens around the city.
                -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                Ed's vision of the future sounds terrifying.

                The more i read about Red Farm the more I think that it's Chinese food made safe for people who are afraid of real Chinese restaurants.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  I think there might be a market for that " Chinese food made safe for people who are afraid of real Chinese restaurants" just as there is a market for other foods that one of a cultivated taste may never eat.

                  It is just a good commentary on these major newspapers, perhaps. They should be a bit more egalitarian in the selections for reviews.

              2. re: kathryn

                Oh, I see. Thanks for the clarification. Given that Joe Ng, the chef, is involved at both restaurants, Chinatown Brasserie and Red Farm should be equal in terms of dim sum quality.

              3. re: erica

                That is quite a good report, as I am quite not taken by Chinese places with such postures as Red Farm, but one is quite safe to stick to basics, such as the dumplings.

                I may return, for the dumplings and introduce some others too.

                The menu is not so clear for those used to Chinese food, and I did ask one staff who was of Chinese descent about the fermented bean curd, because I thought that would have been dou gan (豆乾 / 豆干) but he stated that it was not.

                Tofu is actually already fermented fu (腐) being spoiled like fubai 腐败 or corrupt.

                In some essence, cuisines like this are a corruption from authentic cuisine, and some fly and others don't.

                Still, the dumplings are good, though other venues may have similar preparations for same or lower price.

                The beer selection is quite good, and the staff is friendly.

                1. re: jonkyo

                  Not to mention Chinatown Brasserie takes reservations (both via phone and Opentable) and their seating's far more comfortable.

                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    Chinatown Brasserie? I have been by this. It may be a misuse of the word 'brasserie' which is brasser coming from the verb brew,though if the food and atmosphere is as good as you say, we can certainly disqualify any rejection based on words. Perhaps only the French would be turned off.

                    brasserie may be easy to take, but the proliferation and (mis)appropiation of the word 'tapas' in all sorts of venues in NYC have almost sent me diving into the ocean, figuratively.

                    On this note, as for names, Red Farm is a great name. It is English, but in such a way as it is the translation from the Chinese, Hong Nongchang: 红农场, or just Hong Nong 红农 . They should get a half star just for the name.

                    Tapas comes from the Spanish habit of drinking during the summer, and to keep insects from sky diving into the glasses of beer during the hot summer months, the bar tenders would put small plates on top of the glasses to cover keep the insects out. The bar tenders would put snacks on these small plates for the guests to eat, between sips of beer.

                    Today 'Tapas' has transmigrated and morphed into all sorts of things manifestations.

                    Speaking of names such as Red Farm and Chinese venues use of the word Red in the name , I recommend a Korean owned Chinese restaurant called Dong Chun Hong in Chinese this is 東天紅 (dong=east; tian=sky; hong=red). In Chinese it might read Hong Dong Tian  紅東天: Red East Sky. But since it is Korea, the adjective, correct me if I am wrong, goes after the noun.

                    The food is as tasty as the name is pleasant to the ear. http://www.dongchunhongnyc.com/

                    I recommend the soups, and venture towards some of the Shark Fin offerings.

              4. re: kathryn

                Thank you for pointing this out. There was an absence of Chinese language on the menu, and these were steamed dumplings, which are xiao-long-bao (= 小笼包 / 小籠包).

                Steamed dumplings also go by zheng-jiao (蒸餃 / 蒸饺).

                湯包 'tang bao' is perhaps the more accurate Chinese designation for what I ate, as tangbao 湯包 are curled up and look like funny creatures with bulbest type, and used perhaps in places such as Shang Hai 上海 .

                I have not charted a lingual map of etymology or locational variations for Chinese dumplings, but I am sure some have.

              5. I don't know why the NYTimes would recommend that one bite the top off the dumpling and suck out the soup. INCORRECT. At least that's not how I was taught by Shanghainese mom :)

                The proper way to enjoy soup dumplings is to:

                1. Carefully pluck the xlb from the steamer by the nubbin at the top, which tends to be sturdier than the sides, and place it on a soup spoon.

                2. Carefully bite off said nubbin as it has served its purpose, but do not bite far beyond the nubbin as the juices will spill.

                3. Use the open hole to blow and cool the juices. Ladle some ginger and soy sauce in the hole, which will further cool the juices.

                4. Pop the entire dumpling in your mouth as it should now be still hot but not scalding.

                Who the heck would slurp scalding hot juice into their mouth and ruin the entire meal with burnt tastebuds? I've seen so many people eat XLB incorrectly and do not have the enjoyment of capturing all of the soup and dumpling at the perfect temperature, together in one luxurious bite. Inevitably, someone burns their mouth or spills soup all over the place and it defeats the whole purpose of xlb.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Pookipichu

                  Maybe my tongue is too sensitive to heat, but I still find the XLB too hot to eat after step 3. For me, it's problematic to eat the entire bao in one bite because by the time it's cool enough for me, the rest of the XLB will have turned way too cool. Hmm...

                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                    If you blow into the hole, the dumpling inflates like a ball and cools rapidly. Timing is essential :)

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      I see, thanks. I shall work on my XLB-eating techniques. :)

                      1. re: Cheeryvisage

                        Maybe we can organize a master class in xlb eating!?

                  2. re: Pookipichu

                    I get so annoyed when I see articles recommend that people eat XLB by sucking out the soup first, or worse, letting the soup drain out into your spoon and then drinking it. To me, this is like telling someone who has never had a hamburger to, upon receiving their burger, remove the patty from the bun and enjoy it separately before consuming the remaining "topping sandwich". I'm sure that there are some people who enjoy burgers this way, but generally when foods are assembled in an integrated package, they are intended to be consumed as a single unit.

                    The awesomeness of XLB is the juice-splosion, otherwise, why wouldn't one order (or make) a bowl of soup and a dish of regular dumplings?

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      The way Pookipichu describes is exactly how I eat them, for exactly the same reason.

                      A couple of points:

                      If you want to slurp the soup instead, there exists a "tang bao" soup bun in Shanghai where they give you a straw and all you eat is the soup.

                      The way described by Pete Wells in the NYT review is the same way that was shown in Bourdain's No Reservations Shanghai trip. Which has become gospel.

                      The most egregious is pouring the soup out onto the spoon, which is the exact way shown on Joe's Shanghai's website/youtube video of how to eat a soup dumpling.

                      1. re: fooder

                        Seriously? It's not rocket science, I'm surprised that these so-called authorities are spreading misinformation. Were they really in Shanghai? I've never seen anyone eat xlb by sucking out the soup or letting it spill into a spoon in Shanghai.

                    2. We returned earlier from Chinatown Brasserie. Their soup dumplings were terrific. No complaint at all. As were the rest of their steamed dim sum. Ditto their chicken lollipops. The peking duck was very good. Skin paper thin. Its still a good option for Chinese food, dumplings, if you pick carefully.