Been wanting to report back on my experience with this collaborative dinner. A somewhat fun experience, with mixed results and some pretty glaring service issues.
Fermented Rice Noodles
The first dish to arrive and one of the highlights. A nice blend of cool, heat, sour, and tangy which made for a good way to perk up the tastebuds on a hot summer night.
Kim Chi Shrimp Toast
Tasty enough, but neither shrimp nor kim chi really made their presence known too assertively.
Good quality meal that might have benefited from a bit more of a binder. Neither shiso or kombu flavors really stood out. But again, really nice to eat considering the temperature outside.
Pad Kee Mao Gnocci
This was just awful. Should have been called “soggy dumplings in ma la broth.” Except that it just numbed (a lot) rather offer any heat. It was hard to tell how these misshapen things were cooked. The shaved parm on top did it no favors. Probably one of the most unappetizing things I’ve consumed in a while.
Night+Market Fried Chicken
This was good. I don’t know if I would call it one of the best in town, but it hit the spot. Nice crunch on the crust and the ranch dipping sauce had a good tang.
The service on other other hand was so haphazard. There were multiple people coming around asking the same questions repeatedly in rapid succession. Food came out pretty quickly and it felt like they were trying to turn the tables although they were booked solid. Our last two dishes (the gnocchi and the chicken) came out about 45 minutes after we placed our order while we observed other tables having been seated after us receive the same dishes before us. Again, multiple servers checking up on us, asking the same questions over and over again with nary a hint of apology. When the chicken finally came, one of the servers had the audacity to ask, “Well, was it worth the wait?” My dining companion could only glare at this point. Very odd experience to be rushed and detained simultaneously. Even some of the components noted on the menu (fermented chili pepper hot sauce; tendon crisp) didn’t even make it onto our dishes.
In the end, I’m glad that I went. I was looking forward to what these two kitchens might conceive together. In the end, I think I would rather have separate meals at each of their respective restaurants instead. Service wise, I understand that this was a new menu for the wait staff. But the lack of professionalism and organization were really noticeable. It would have been made a bit more tenable had someone at least made some acknowledgment that something wasn’t quite working right. I do hope those cold noodles make a permanent home somewhere and that Sichuan gnocchi are given an early retirement.