Monday, July 23

Everything You Need To Know About RedFarm

The Rundown: Upscale greenmarket-friendly Chinese restaurant that everyone excitedly freaked out over when it first opened, and continue to flock to in droves. (Think: solid Chinese takeout, but with actual meats and fresh veggies, in a loud, lively atmosphere.) The whole place feels like a mix between a barn and a spaceship, which pairs well with their unique, mix-and-match menu.

Basic Info So You Don't Have To Scour Blogs In Preparation: RedFarm is a partnership between Joe Ng, dim sum master chef and Ed Schoenfeld, big-time Chinese food restauranteur. Since opening in 2011, they've been so slammed with diners that they're expanding into the bottom level of the building which previously housed a laundromat, and are opening a new location on the Upper West Side.

Fun Fact: Whatever you do, don't be an ass — that goofy glasses-wearing guy at the front is the owner.

The Menu: Intense, aggressively unhealthy and slightly overwhelming, but most of all: real fucking good, so do your dutiful research. The perfect large order would probably be 2 or 3 smaller plates and 2 entrees for every two people, but if you ask for help, be sure to order one less dish than the server recommends — my family eats more than anyone I've ever known, and this method worked perfectly.

Don't Leave Without Eating The:

-Spicy Crispy Beef. Warning: This Is Not Healthy. Actually a one-way trip to fried sodium town! toot! toot! all aboard! but if you're a Chinese food-head, this is what your meaty dreams are made of.

-Grilled Vegetable Salad. You'll never hear anyone talk about it, but the strawberry-surrounded vegetablepalooza covers up a secret artichoke tofu dip underneath, which ended up being the perfect, non-fried compliment to our heavy duty order. (Psst - if you're with a light or vegetarian-leaning eater, this is your ideal compromise dish.)

-Katz' Pastrami Egg Rolls. It's not the very, very best thing on the menu, but it's pretty stinkin' fantastic and you'll never get it anywhere else. Once finished, I've never not dipped my finger Passover-style into this downright perfect honey mustard dipping sauce.

-Grilled & Sauteed Short Ribs. Meat. Meat! Served in thin slices with big baby carrots and pieces of asparagus, this guy, like the Three Chili Chicken, does a solid part in remind you of how refreshing it is to eat Chinese food with real vegetables and ingredients.

-Any specials that sound good. The best dish I've ever had here was a sea bass special that isn't on the regular menu, paired with sauteed onions and greens and a fish cheek i legit took a bite of. The main dishes will always be there, so if there's a featured item you'd like to taste, take a chance if it sounds right.

The Internet Also Recommends: Kowloon Filet Mignon Tarts, PacMan Shrimp Dumplings and Pork & Crab Soup Dumplings (though I personally believe Joe's Shanghai owns that crown)

Booze: Their bar is teeny-tiny and the drinks aren't worth the cramping, so I've always soberly waited outside due to neurotic table-losing fear. But, considering they'll apparently text you when your table's open, grow a bigger pair than me and visit neighboring bars Turks & Frogs and Orient Express around the corner for wine and cocktails, respectively. Pre-or-post-dinner beers at White Horse Tavern two blocks down is always a solid choice, and if you've got the time and money to kill, saddle up to a stool at the classy, busy cocktail joint Employees Only.

Reservation Nation: An all-out clusterfuck. You can put your name down starting at 5pm day-of, but you'll definitely wait, and won't eat or leave at any exact time. Try to plan to chow around 7ish or 9ish — most tables fill up by 7:30pm, so you'll end up waiting for them to finish.

Perfect For: Post-work stuff-your-face outings with small groups who have time to kill, and dates with someone you're already comfortable around. (No one wants to spend their second outing awkwardly waiting for a table and then sitting among strangers.) Don't write this place off for late-night sit-down eats, either — they're open until 11:45 every night but Sunday.

Seating Arrangements: Two long, communal tables which can be cramped for small groups and awkward for parties of 2, a few two-seater benches, and two prim-o four person booths. (We waited a loooong time for one of these.)

Parentally Approved: If your dad loves the idea of Katz' Pastrami Egg Rolls, yes. If he likes fiscal responsibility and spacious seating, no.

The Verdict: You kind of get out of it what you put into it. If you're already thinking, "Why would I need expensive chinese food when I can just go to Chinatown?, you'll never like RedFarm, so don't even bother. On the other hand, if you actively hate New York's plethora of shitty Chinese food and non-meat and don't mind paying a premium for the good stuff, this will be your edible dream castle. And ladies: take off your tight jewelry before eating, too — I was so physically affected by the restaurant's, oh, admiration of MSG that nothing fit on my fingers for 36 hours and I woke up with sodium-induced bags under my eyes.

Here is the website
Here is the dinner menu
Here is where it's located
Here is what Yelp, The New York Times and Serious Eats had to say
Here is a wee bit of food porn

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