East Meets West
Red Farm on Hudson St. was one of the most trendy new West Village restaurants to open in 2011 – they came out of the blocks on fire and have not cooled off. It features a fresh, and creative locavore take on Asian fusion (mostly Chinese) dishes in a bright and friendly atmosphere. They do not take reservations and though it had been in the neighborhood for months it always had formidable lines when we wandered past. We never seemed to hit it at the right time, until we strolled by with our out-of-town friends looking for a culinary adventure (early on Sunday evening our party of four fortuitously got the last available seats without a wait).
The food rates 5 stars in creativity, presentation, and freshness and most dishes we sampled were quite tasty. They feature a good assortment of Chinese starters, Dim Sum, Rice & Noodles, and main dishes. While not large in size it is well-appointed and cozy; there are both individual booths and long communal tables to make optimal use of the space. The service is friendly, helpful, and prompt.
We started with the mushroom and vegetable spring rolls which were artistically sculpted by weaving strands of the thin wrapper into a basket pattern and deep-fried to preserve its shape – the whole roll was planted in a carved out cucumber so it resembled an exotic weeping Cherry tree and was served with a light dipping sauce. Next we tried the Shrimp and Snow Pea Leaf dumplings which resembled whimsical figures with tiny spots for “eyes” – served with a spicy soy-based dipping sauce. The Pac-Man Shrimp Dumplings are a close relative and equally tasty. Although spring rolls and dim sum are simple dishes, Red Farm manages to combine exquisite taste and unusual presentation to bring new excitement to these traditional Chinese starters. The Katz’ Pastrami Egg Roll, an attempt to represent the heritage of co-owners Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng crosses the over-the-top line – something about deep-fried kosher pastrami is a bit much.
As good as most were, the starters merely served as an opening act to the unique and delicious entrees that followed. We ordered Jumbo Shrimp & Pumpkin in Lobster Sauce from the specials list, which vaguely resembled the dish fondly remembered from our childhood days at the neighborhood Chinese restaurant (sans pumpkin of course), only with high quality shrimp and a much tastier sauce. Next we had the Okra and Thai Eggplant Yellow Curry over white rice. Complementing the starring veggies in an award-winning supporting vegetable role were yellow and red tomatoes, peppers, and tofu in an incredible curry sauce with just the right amount of heat. Finally we sampled the Wide Rice Noodles with Shredded Roast Duck & Pickled Mustard Greens, another taste sensation.
All portions were rather generous and while not inexpensive (starters and dim sum ranged from $ 6 – $19; noodles from $14 – $17, and Main Dishes from $15 – $39) we managed to have more than enough for dinner plus enough leftovers for a gourmet lunch the next day, all for less than $25 per person. Definitely worth making the effort to experience. I understand there will soon be a Red Farm location on the upper west side, which may ease the difficulty in getting a table.