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Noreetuh

Hawaiian East Village

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:45 PM

There is a current trendlet of ethnic people (usually Asian) who have worked in the kitchens of fancy New York restaurants -- usually Per Se or EMP -- opening restaurants featuring updates of or variations on their native cuisines, but cooked with the precision you learn in high-level French-oriented kitchens and with reasonably good ingredients.  Examples are Bun-Ker, Fung Tu, Uncle Boon, Tuome (sort of), and that Cantonese place in Park Slope.
 
And now this Hawaiian place on Second Ave. between 7th St. and St. Marks Pl.
 
The only Hawaiian food I'd ever had was in the L&B Barbecue chain, and it was terrible.  I kept going back because it seemed like in theory I should like it -- it uses Spam as an ingredient -- but the food really was hideous glop.
 
So I was curious when Noreetuh opened a few weeks ago.
 
What a strange -- but extremely enjoyable -- restaurant.
 
Strange because, despite the chef's pedigree, Noreetuh's claim to fame, early on, is its wine program.  The list features a fair amount of decent (not top) Bordeaux and Burgundies and the like from good vintages, with a good deal of bottle age, for less than $100 (much more than you'd have paid for them upon release, but hardly much more than you'd pay for them in the secondary market now) -- and some better such wines for not a whole lot more.
 
Yet, the menu skews toward things that would go better with white wine -- and I don't think any entree reaches even close to $30.  So you have these wonderful wines, accessibly priced -- and food that they don't go with, and which seems much too cheap for them.
 
I decided just to plow ahead.
 
I ordered a Chateau Meney (the famous great-value wine from St. Estephe) from 2000, for $95.  It only remotely went with one of the four dishes I had, but what the hell?  It was a pleasure to drink, even if it didn't have much to do with the meal it accompanied.
 
I started with a corned beef tongue musubi (so of course the tongue came wrapped in seaweed with rice) (there were also peanuts and cilantro).  This actually went with the wine.  It was also delicious in and of itself.  The meat was just great.
 
Then the food and wine diverged.  I had a monkfish liver torchon, with pieces of passion fruit.  The liver was perfect: silky, flavorful.  The passion fruit, while it loved the liver, didn't want to be anywhere near a once-tannic Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine.  Still, a very good dish.
 
Then -- because I had to -- the Spam tortelloni.  Now about 90% of the food I ate in college was Spam.  But not like this.  The barmaid explained to me that they mix the Spam they use to stuff the tortelloni with mascarpone, potato, and lemon .  And that's this restaurant -- all these restaurants -- in a nutshell.  It seems crazy to apply that much thought and technique to Spam, of all things.  But I'm here to tell you it was just delicious.  (The poached egg, pungent berries, and crysanthemum greens didn't hurt, either.)  And less than $20.  (I can see Stone:  "You paid almost $20 for SPAM??????")
 
I had some wine left, so I got a batch of their fried mushrooms.  I don't  have to tell you by this point that the frying technique was perfect.  The sweet miso was, of course, an excellent accompaniment.
 
Dessert:  a bruleed pineapple.  This I'd had before.  It's a great way to eat pineapple, the outside carmelized, the inside not quite like pudding, but softish and sweet.
 
They course here.  The menu is divided into courses (the familiar three and the now-obligatory "snacks"), and they come out sequentially in order.  Some dishes seem meant for sharing (those mushrooms!), most don't.  Incredibly, this Hawaiian place is a real restaurant.
 
The wine program turns out to be the work of Jin Ahn.  I had first met him as the (excellent) GM/wine guy at Jung Sik.  Now he's filling that role here.  Opening two restaurants seems to have had an effect on him:  at Jung Sik he looked like he was 14, but now he looks like he might be as much as 17.  He's very much enjoying the wine program here as stuff he'd like to see in a restaurant at prices he'd like to pay -- even if he can't quite explain what it's doing with this menu.
 
This place has taken off.  They take reservations; I don't know how hard they are to get.  The only way I was able to get seated as a walk-in, on my third try, was to come at the ungodly hour of 6 PM on a Saturday (it happily fit in between a matinee at the Met and an evening performance at La Mama).  I'd like to go back with a group, so we can do some serious damage to the wine list.
 
I recommend this place heartily.  Just don't expect your wine to be much of a complement to your food.
 
COMP DISCLOSURE:  A glass of dessert wine.
 
WHY I DON'T GET EATING DINNER BEFORE A SHOW:  So I went to this dance/theater performance at La Mama after dinner.  At one point near the end, I decided to rest my eyes for a minute.  When I opened them, everybody was in a pile on the floor naked, their clothes having been thrown off.  WHAT DID I MISS?


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#2 Patrick

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:58 PM

Well it might help if you didn't drink an entire bottle of wine beforehand.

#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 09:59 PM

But but but but


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#4 Wilfrid

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 11:04 PM

There are worse things to wake up to.

Sounds like this kitchen could do well with the traditional British spam fritter, dipped in batter and deep-fried.

#5 Patrick

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 11:14 PM

I do wish we had deep well priced lists in mtl.



#6 Adrian

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 11:28 PM

I do wish we had deep well priced lists in mtl.


You're being sarcastic right? by North American standards, it's great. Even the joe beef markups are even with toronto and nyc.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#7 Orik

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Posted 13 April 2015 - 11:37 PM

This list seems to only be marked up 100%, which is indeed unusual for nyc. Skimming it I didn't see anything that's not readily available at retail, but still not bad. 


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#8 Patrick

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 02:31 AM

I do wish we had deep well priced lists in mtl.

You're being sarcastic right? by North American standards, it's great. Even the joe beef markups are even with toronto and nyc.
Pricing sure. Deep? Not really. You especially don't see much with age on it.

#9 changeup

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 05:39 PM

Man, really happy to read such a great review, thanks for sharing.  I am friends with these folks, not least of which Jin - a touch surprised you didn't meet him during your salon visits at Per Se prior to his running/transforming Jun Sik.

 

Look forward to reading more reviews, if the trend that I've observed sticks, you could be seeing significant evolution here in the next year+.



#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 14 April 2015 - 06:08 PM

I probably did meet Jin at Per Se -- which is why we'd remember each other from only one meeting at Jung Sik.

 

He must have looked like an embryo back then.


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#11 LiquidNY

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 12:53 PM

I went last night around 9. It's a pretty tiny, well laid-out, wood panelled room. Yeah, you're probably not getting in here unless it's at a weird time.

The food is pretty solid, although there's no bread. The chef has the habit of using nuts in everything for texture. I had the big eye tuna poke and the pork belly (both contained nuts). Both really nicely done. The poke was a raw tuna salad mixed with nuts and veggies. The tuna was very good quality, and there was a lot of it. The pork belly was perfectly cooked, and rested on top of a piece of banana bread. The sauce was a brown, sort of salty sauce that I wasn't crazy about, but it was OK. The bread pudding dessert was nothing to write home about - it came as a slice of bread pudding on a plate with a scoop of banana ice cream. I'd probably get something else next time.

Pretty good over all. Worth going.

Man about town.


#12 Wilfrid

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 01:42 PM

It doesn't sound uninteresting, but it's a curious proposition.  Sounds like food which might get less attention if it was being cooked by someone anonymous, and wine which would be good value in a restaurant which had appropriate food, but might be better bought retail and drunk at home with a simple roast or stew (or cheese).

 

But I can still imagine it's enjoyable.



#13 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 04:31 AM

food which might get less attention if it was being cooked by someone anonymous,

 

Isn't that sort of the point of these places?


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#14 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 05:57 PM


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#15 cstuart

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 06:01 PM

Stop already! 







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