Fullscreen
Food & Beverages April, 27 2012

Reasons I’m Not Vegetarian #2: Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll at Red Farm

Guest writer, Jodie Chan is quite possibly the most hardline carnivore we have met. For her second visit, Chan dives deep into a spot mixing two cultures and flavors that have long been staples of New York City. She even gives observations on the rest room… why not.

Respect and tolerance for vegetarian friends or those of any other dietary-isms is one thing, but empathic understanding is another. On the hunt for inspiring meat dishes that can get your vegan neighbor either uncomfortably twitching or privately envious, my sophomore carnivorous adventure brings me to Red Farm for inspiration and complete delight.

Photography: Jodie Chan

Not to be confused with dim-sum haunt-cum-nightclub Red Egg, Red Farm was opened last September by chef Joe Ng and restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld. Only recently did Pete Wells of NYT award the place a deserving two stars, with a review that could be summed up with this line: “The rib steak, marinated for a night in shredded papaya, ginger and soy sauce, is the last thing I’d expected to find in a Chinese restaurant: a great steak.”

A great (albeit Chinese) steak immediately became alluring enough of an excuse to visit, at least to me- a Chinese, Jewish-boyfriend toting, steak-loving carnivore. As Wells points out, “Mr. Schoenfeld is Chinese by calling, a Brooklyn-born Jew who long ago heard an inner voice urging him to bring better kung pao chicken to the people of Manhattan.”

The rib steak I did try, and it did not disappoint. The entire brunch experience in fact was absurdly satisfying. The dumplings: A+. Kumimoto Oysters in Yuzu juice: ridiculously fine.

But it was a small $7 plate down the menu that had us bowled over and kept asking for more: the Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll.

Say, if Katz’s Pastrami were a person, who might it be?  A ubiquitous legend of Jew York, a Seinfeld of sorts inevitably comes to mind. Katz’s and its most famous product together is an institution known and respected by New York City locals and tourists alike. The Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll is as if Seinfeld nurtured and manifested a beautiful bromance with somebody equally iconic (if not also a cultural cliché,) Jackie Chan.

With the black pepper pastrami heartily rolled up with lettuce, sauerkraut, asparagus, onion and fried in a light, crunchy batter, the roll is served piping hot with a homemade dijon mustard. My only wish was that I could take an entire jar home.

Pete Wells described the experience of having the egg roll dipped in the hardly mismatched dijon as “ingesting an entire century of sodium-drenched Lower East Side culinary history.” By any standard, this dish and its make is anything but ordinary, but if you just took in a big bite, any references will evaporate, and all you will be left with is: “This is so darn good.”

I would be remiss not to mention and commend the immaculate bathroom any discerning Red Farm patron might geek a little over, what with red gingham wallpaper, a Toto bidet and Dyson hand dryer. Chinese food has been elevated to another level, that is, welcomingly perched atop a Laundromat on Hudson Street in West Village which they’re taking over in a few months, by the way.

A hostile takeover I condone.

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Sydney, Jodie Chan lives in New York where she is a senior account executive at Syndicate Media Group as well as an avid carnivore. On the scour for inspiring, mumble inducing meat dishes, Chan prefers plates that ooze. “No greens on the side, thank you.”

Comments

Highsnobiety