I don’t typically go to Chinese restaurants to dine in. I suppose it’s just too easy to get greasy spoon Chinese delivered straight to your door here in NYC when the craving hits me. However, when Chinese food is high end and done well, it’s very tasty and not nearly as greasy as their delivery counterparts. I had been dying to go to this new dim sum place in the West Village called Red Farm. It’s been getting a ton of hype. Dim sum is like little appetizers and when done with a group of people, it’s even better as everything can be shared and you can get a taste of everything.
Met up with Page Six and Cookie Monster one very cold and rainy evening at Red Farm. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations and the place is small so do the math: long wait. We waited for approximately 30-45 minutes and because the place does not have much of a bar to speak of, we waited in the little area right outside the restaurant that’s in between the outside door. More than 10-15 people walked in and tried to get a seat and walked out. The place is quite popular. I thought the inner window was really cute with the potted plants:
The place has a large communal dining table in the front and another running through the middle of the restaurant with smaller tables on the side. We were seated at the unfortunate location of the end of the table where the servers were running constantly behind one person and located directly right in front of the door which frequently let in the drafts with every visiting patron. I hoped the food was worth it! (it was)
We ordered a bunch of dim sum and then three entrees with the intent to share.
The first thing was the dim sum starter sampler. It allowed you to try a little of everything.
There were raw oyster topped with meyer lemon yuzu ice and caviar (humongous and quite a briny bite!), smoked cucumbers (not my thing as I’m not a huge fan of smoked items that aren’t meat or pizza but Page Six loved them), marinated mushrooms (earthy, meaty), deep fried jalapeno shrimp (crunchy and easily my favorite of the bunch! so good) and spicy crispy beef (slightly crunchy, slightly chewy, deep fried and full on beefy – yum). This sampler was perfect and whet our appetites for more. I refrained from ordering more of that shrimp as I knew more food was to come.
Then we ordered a bunch of dim sum.
The steamed lobster dumplings with a mushroom ragu at the bottom which you are supposed to drink after ingesting your dumpling:
SO GOOD! Chunks of lobster are encased in that delicate dumpling skin and the richness of the mushroom ragu added a hearty element to it. They were delicious. I could have easily had more. This is a must have.
Crab and pork soup dumplings:
So these are just as delicious as Joe’s Shanghai dumplings – there is that same warm full bodied broth inside with the savory crab and pork meat – BUT, these come at a much higher price point and two were not enough for me. When I want my soup dumpling fix, I’ll go to Joe’s. At least I can eat to my hearts content for a lot cheaper.
The Kung Pao chicken and scallion dumplings (I chose these thinking they would satisfy my desire for HEAT!):
For Kung Pao, you had the peanuts and the peppers and that dark Chinese sauce but alas, no heat. I thought I would love these but didn’t. I found the dumpling skins a bit too thick and gummy and the chicken inside chewy.
The BBQ’d black foot pork belly:
Pork belly was fatty and glazed with that delicious Asian inspired bbq sauce. It’s not nearly as tender and braised as the pork belly you find at Momofuku; this pork belly was a tad chewier and had more bite to it but that didn’t make it wrong. The flavors were spot on and you could taste the richness of the pork meat. This portion gave each person alot more than it initially appeared. Pork is sliced thin.
For entrees we got one noodle, one fish and one meat.
Page Six informed us that the grilled marinated Creekstone rib steak with bok choy was voted on some list as a “Must Eat” in some major magazine publication – can’t remember which. I can never say no to steak and that explanation was more than enough for me!
OH MY GOD……this steak was perfectly marinated and perfectly cooked to a medium rare. It was SO tender I thought it was melting in my mouth. It was unreal. I haven’t had such tender steak this good in awhile. I wanted the entire dish all to myself. I loved the caramelized charred bits. The bok choy added a nice fresh accompaniment to the dish and tasted full of garlic flavor but still had a wonderful crunch to it.
Here’s a close up to that godly meat:
Did I already give you a must have? Right…the lobster dumplings…get those AND get this. You won’t be sorry. This steak was wonderful and now I want it again.
Cookie Monster loves himself wide flat noodles so he wanted to order the wide rice noodles with shredded roast duck and pickled mustard greens:
We were all underwhelmed by this dish. It didn’t taste all that different from what Cookie Monster and I get from take out. I found the duck chewy and there seemed to be more duck skin than actual meat. This was probably the only dish we left so much of, Cookie Monster and I took it home for next days lunch.
Lastly, we got the special of the day which was a miso sea bass served with asparagus and leeks in a black bean sauce:
Wow. The fish was very moist. That black bean sauce really blew me away. It was dark and musty and full of flavor. I really really enjoyed this. I was picking up the individual black beans and eating those up too! Very pleasantly surprised with this plate.
So overall, my impressions of Red Farm is: it’s delicious. I love that you can eat a little bit of everything. The food is very flavorful and the ingredients taste fresh. The food is Chinese dim sum elevated: you get the wonderful comforting flavors of Chinese food without the heavy greasiness. Everything is refined.
I wasn’t a fan of our seating situation but I think anywhere else in the restaurant would have been better. I do think we got the worst seat in the house but hopefully next time that won’t be the case. The place is adorable with alot of hustle and bustle. It’s softly lit and cozy. I don’t think it’s the best first or second date place because it feels a little harried and it’s quite loud in there but I think it would be a great third date place as it’s fun sharing. Big groups beware- waits will be longer for you.
Definitely try Red Farm – enjoyed it immensely!
Red Farm, 529 Hudson Street, New York, NY