March 8, 2004 | Ask Gael
What did Jean-Georges and Gray Do to Deserve This?

        When Jean-Georges Vongerichten has nothing else to do, he opens a restaurant. This time he enlisted long-lost Gray Kunz to orchestrate a Far Eastern street-food duet while the pair wait to open a steakhouse (J-G) and brasserie (Kunz) in the Time Warner mall. Spice Market, their giant sprawl stuffed with old pagodas shipped in from India, is as big as some small towns and already pulsating. With Kunz sweating behind the 64-foot cooking line, Jean-Georges speed-walks the room, greeting congenital first-nighters. “How do they find us?” he asks, in sly innocence. “We open quietly. No name out front. The wrong address printed.” The mostly American kitchen crew flipping and sautéeing in full view already scores. Thai fried chicken wings, yes. Sensational salads too: complex green papaya, or crunchy squid with ginger, papaya, and cashews. Our sixsome—struggling to eat in the prescribed “family” style at a too-tiny table—is wowed by char-grilled chicken, steamed lobster with butter-fried garlic, wok-fried sea bass, and a complex toss of lime noodles. Even plain-Jane broccoli and baby corn explode with flavor.

403 West 13th Street, 212 675 2322