So, thinking about food, we agreed to meet up in Samba Le, a bar about 2 blocks from Essex Market where we would woo ourselves and drool over artisanal cheese, meats and achingly fresh fish. Samba Le has been reviewed before, but I had never been there and I was not impressed on first entering the place. We couldn't find a member of staff. Then we spotted a chap lurking around in the shadows at the back of the restaurant, chatting with customers and balancing what seeme like a dinner service on one arm. That's our boy. He signalled that he would be over to us in just a few. He came about 1o mins later, the guy was clearly under pressure as he was the only member of staff. Without further ado, he poured a gang of caipirinhas, and as I happened to mention that I like cachaca, I got an extra shot as well. While I was drinking this, Johnny (the barman and all round super-hero) was drinking his shot also, twirling knives and slicing limes and chatting to patrons simultaneously. More of these rounds appeared at regular intervals, there was talk of football (the Brazilian & English kind) sun-dried steak (a famous dish in Brazil) and cocktails and we were joined by a pair of lovely ladies who were supposed to be in Philly, but they had postponed their trip so they could drink shots at the bar with Johnny. Before I knew it, we had missed the market and we were drunk. Only one thing for it then, grab some beers and head back to Jason's for the Korean feast.
His menu took in some classic Korean dishes, like kimchi, cucumber salad and Sunchang sauce, but the braised ribs (see earlier post) were inspired. French classic with Asian twist.
- Cucumber Salad
- Korean Wraps (Chicken & Beef) served with Sun chang sauce & Kimchi
- Asian-Style braised short ribs w/sushi rice
The wraps were up next, damn fine they were too. We were invited to pull out giant lettuce leaves, load them with grilled chicken, spicy beef and then sppon over some delicious Sunchang sauce, which is kind of hot and sour. Pretty good these wraps were too, with cool lettuce on the outside and a spicy umami taste inside. The ribs, though, were the best thing about the meal. Braised for hours in soy, ginger, garlic, and some other stuff. (Again, Boogie, we might need the recipe.) He let the braising liquid cool and then removed the fat and reduced the surplus before coating the ribs with it and serving. Wow! What a mouthful it was too. Rich, meaty and aromatic. Real Winter food. The kimchi he made added a fifth dimension to it.
The evening ended with some 'traditional' Sake bombs in Satsko over the road, and a couple of beers somewhere else, I really don't remember. Oh that's right, Joe's pub on 5th Street b/w A and, another one of Jason's local haunts. Are there any publicans who don't know Jason on the Lower East Side?