January 28, 2008 | Insatiable Critic
Asian Mish-Mash in a Room with a View
| Chop Suey is wrapped in Times Square mania. Photo: Steven Richter
Fatty Crab’s hustling impresario Zak Pelaccio is still fine-tuning his pan-Asian riff at Chop Suey as our foursome settles into the glass-wrapped second story nest at the Renaissance Hotel overlooking Times Square’s neon rat-a-tat. Illuminated stock market ticker tape streaming across Broadway seems to run right into our scallion pancakes with chopped pear mostarda and the luscious oyster and bacon in lettuce cups with kim chee. We’re that close to the dizzying spectacle.
I especially love staring at Sly Stallone’s heroic mug across the street through the vodka bottles at the bar. In a move to shake up the hotel, make it younger, hipper (as if anyone would ever seek older, stuffier), Pelaccio -- avatar of the authentic, chili hot and in your face -- has been paired with Jordan Mozer whose waltz-of-the- hippo furniture at the now defunct Irridium still haunts my memory.
Here, the Chicago designer’s
| Lettuce cups, secretly exotic wings. Photo: Steven Richter
drama is subdued, cushy red leather chairs, leaning tower-ettes of salt and pepper shakers, pendulous blobs of light from the ceiling and an occasional anthropomorphic sofa in the bar-lounge.
It’s early and quiet tonight. We can actually talk, catching up with an old friend and loving chili-detonated noodles with curls of Chinese roasted pork and the savory chicken wings with crumples of fried curry leaf. “It’s a hotel so you gotta have something accessible,” Pelaccio offers, quickly assuring us the wings only seem familiar but have actually spent three days marinating in fermented shrimp paste.
Crispy rock shrimp on thin-sliced pork belly is tame enough for sissies too. Perfectly cooked halibut in a complex and gentle green curry sauce and the big fat burger with kim chee and cabbage slaw, aioli and sensational roasted potatoes are the hits of our tasting, better than dried-out pork shoulder or disappointingly staid short ribs, boned and sliced.
Sorbets in a fortune cookie “tuile” saucer make a tangy finale.
“How could I say ‘No, I’m too busy’ when someone asks me to do a restaurant in the center of Times Square?” Palaccio muses. “And I recently actually got to taste Korean food in Korea, so it was a fast chance to play with what I discovered.” He found his mom-and-pop kim chee makers, Woori Farms in Sullivan County, at a farmers market in Soho.
With entrees from $24 to $80 (for wagyu rib eye), let’s hope that means Zak is in the kitchen tweaking and tasting with executive chef Anthony Paris, till he runs off to a deal he’s refuses to reveal, as well as the opening of Fatty Crab on upper Broadway at 77th Street.
714 Seventh Ave bet 47th and 48th Sts 212 261 5200