Shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings $19
These were the best part of our meal. Inside a light, delicate skin was smooth, buttery shrimp with crisp snow pea leaf. The dainty parcels melted in our mouths, yielding wonderfully clean and fresh flavors.
Smoked cucumbers $6
Crunchy marinated cucumbers muddled with spicy red chili and white and black sesame seeds. These guys had a nice, smoky taste alongside a sharp hit of vinegar. An interesting hybrid of American pickles with Asian spice and seeds.
Barbequed “Black Foot” Berkshire pork belly $15.50
First off, I’m not quite sure why they didn’t round up/down with the whole 50 cents thing but whatever. The chef grilled the pork enough to get a nice smoky char but leave it tender on the inside. He then cut it into thick, juicy slices and garnished it with red pepper and a sweet sauce. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the spicy arugula on either side of the plate. It was the perfect antidote to the sweet, smoky pork (almost like ginger is to sushi).
Braised oxtail, Japanese pumpkin and okra $24
This was one of the daily specials, and we were glad we ordered it. Served in a heavy ceramic urn, the meat (on the bone, of course) was beautifully tender. There were okra, leeks, onions and yummy chunks of sweet and slightly crunchy Japanese pumpkin, which is similar to but sweeter than butternut squash. All marinated in a hearty sauce and served with flatbread.
Sautéed black cod with black bean and Thai basil $32
Black cod is a classic option so we decided to check this version out. Buried under crunchy snow peas, onion and pepper was a big piece of crumbly black cod. This was all covered in a mild black bean sauce. Unfortunately, this dish just wasn’t that interesting. It simply tasted like a higher quality version of whatever’s on offer at China Fun. Perhaps that’s what the chef was going for, but we weren’t wowed.
Diced lamb with Chinese broccoli and white asparagus $28
By the time this dish came out, our table was absolutely swamped! Although it looked appetizing, the lamb was pretty disappointing. The meat was tough and the sauce overpowering. Of course, there were the requisite vegetables (peppers, broccoli, etc.), along with a generous helping of garlic. However, it seemed strange to add in white asparagus, as the vegetable has such a delicate and easily overpowered flavor. If anything, I would have gone for heartier green asparagus.
RedFarm is a curious stop on the New York restaurant circuit. It’s certainly garnered a lot of praise and it’s always full of smiling, chatty diners. On our visit, the place was buzzing but the hostess managed to squeeze us in. (As a funny aside, you have to walk through an electric sliding door to enter the restaurant. It feels very Japanese.) The space is small but bright, with a long communal table surrounded by smaller booths. The staff are super friendly, eagerly offering suggestions as to their favorite dishes. It’s a warm welcome to the place and very much appreciated.
As far as the food, we had mixed feelings. The cucumbers weren’t the best but we were dazzled by the delicious, delicate dumplings. Our server mentioned that these were the restaurant’s most impressive items, and he wasn’t wrong. They were wonderfully light but full with interesting flavors. As the meal continued, however, we were less impressed by the cuisine. There were a couple misses for the main dishes. Maybe they just didn’t live up to the hype.
529 Hudson St.