Posted by: Hungry Korean | February 11, 2011

Spice Market

It was a reason to celebrate: it was Bear, my best friend from law school, birthday and he chose Spice Market.  I hadn’t been to Spice Market since it first opened so I was happy to revisit.  Spice Market is an incredibly lovely restaurant as Jean George collected and imported all the beautiful interior decorations from his visits to Asia. The concept of the food is “asian street food” served high end.

Chicken, Cookie Monster and I decided to share apps and then get our own mains.

The lobster spring roll was the first to come out.

Very underwhelming. The spring roll was bland and you couldn’t taste the lobster (which was rubbery).  The roll must have incorporated pickled vegetables because the lingering aftertaste was a strong sourness I did not enjoy.

We then received the peekytoe crab dumplings with snap peas which were delicious.

The menu simply states that the dumplings are in “aromatic spices” but to me it tasted like black bean sauce with a bit of heat. The tender purses were filled with alot of crab meat and the flavors of the crab were very present.  This was very good and since everyone else loved them, luckily they were generous with the dumplings.

My “must have” appetizer was the black pepper shrimp with sun dried pineapples.  I dunno why – just craved shrimp.

Warning: this dish is spicy. I can handle the heat but my dinner companions found it a little too spicy for their palate.  The shrimp were intensely seasoned and a bit salty but the pineapples (which were no longer “dried” as they had absorbed some of the sauce) added a nice sweetness to offset the salty.  I liked the diced jalapenos and radish that they added for freshness and texture.  I enjoyed this dish but the sauce was very similar to the one used in the crab dumpling so I suggest you get one or the other and not both.

For main course, I had the cod with malaysian chili sauce and thai basil.

Seriously what is that sauce this restaurant apparently loves? It was there again sitting below the cod.  And if they are actually different sauces, then there is a very prominent spice  common to all. The cod was a bit dry and bland.  I did not like the chopped celery on top – celery is strong and it overpowered the fish. I actually wonder why the chef would think celery would work with such a mild fish like cod.

Bear, Chicken and Cookie Monster all got the onion and chili crusted short ribs served with egg noodles and pea shoots.

Tender, slow braised meat that was full of beef flavor – and they weren’t stingy with the amount of short ribs either! It was so good. I loved the egg noodles which provided the starch.   Everything about this dish worked for me.  It was a little spicy, a little garlicky, beefy, noodles, asian influences…all great!

Kim Kim got the crispy salt and pepper skate with thai basil and lime.

Fish and chips (without the chips) stepped up. That batter was all kinds of delicious. It was perfectly seasoned and a light batter, not greasy at all. Skate is a more meaty fish that has the texture of lobster and it worked really well deep fried. I was instantly wanting more.  This was the first time I’ve ever had battered and deep fried skate and I was in love.  I think this was my favorite dish of the night and would come back for this.  Something about that batter just did me in…..

So overall my revisit was a success. Usually when the hype and hipness of a restaurant has left, the food also begins to slide but it seems that Spice Market has been able to maintain delicious food.

Spice Market, 403 West 13th Street, New York, NY

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