August 25, 2004 | Ask Gael

What does it take to join the Kitchen Club?

        Years ago, I alerted readers to the eccentric charm of the Kitchen Club on the “not-so-chic end” of Prince Street. Now it’s the torrid edge of Soho. There’s a new bar, as well as the tiny bar–holding pen with its own menu and a separate entrance. Born in Marja Samsom’s East Side catering kitchen when she was an ambitious illegal alien, the Club has its fervent regulars for whatever (often Japanese-inflected) whimsy the chef dreams up, especially tuna grilled rare with wasabi cream, and organic venison with spicy berry sauce (a special now). We love the fragrant dumplings (which she plans to market)—tonight, duck-ginger pot stickers, and tofu perfumed with spicy chrysanthemum. In Marja’s very personal world, plastic fish and giant peppers circle a garden table. Tomatoes are arranged like jewels. The chef herself wears a ruffled Japanese pinafore over shorts. And Chibi, the fat, pampered French bulldog, naps between foraging excursions. Our delicate crumbly, raspberry-jam-filled Linzer torte evokes Holland for Marja. “It’s my mother in the room,” she says.

30 Prince Street 212 274 0025


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