In October of last year, Sam Sifton ventured down to the corner of Houston and Orchard to try Eddie Huang’s restaurant, Xiao Ye. The review was nice in places but consisted mostly of cutting, savage critiques of the dishes interwoven with references to the hip-hop blasting through the speakers. “Your boy Eddie’s basement, with Hova on the stereo: Where the food at?” That sort of thing.
Retaliation ensued. Eddie took to his blog, and even his mother chimed in with advice for her son (“Trust me, you much keep your bar license active just in case you need it”). Relations between the two turned friendly — Twitter love going on as we speak — but perhaps the damage was done. Xiao Ye closed in November after its rep as a Four Loko den trumped any dumplings it had ever served. Eddie Huang returned to making sandwiches at Bauhous, is reportedly in talks to host a TV show and, um, writes for The New York Post.
But now it’s a new year — a Chinese New Year, that is, and such an event calls for a special treat from Huang: he’s cooking up a three-course feast, drinks (Four Loko?) included, at Fort Greene mainstay No. 7. Sifton took it in last night.
The verdict? Compared to his visit to Xiao Ye, Sifton seemed slightly more enthused with the food, and more enamored of the atmosphere, which to him is defined by “the unrelenting coolness of youth.”
People spoke to each other about shared experiences: Their first sandwich at No. 7 Sub, Mr. Kord’s shop in the Ace Hotel in Manhattan; their memories of the dumplings at Xiao Ye. Bloggers took photographs to post in the morning. It was as if the restaurant had been transformed into a rock club and Mr. Huang and Mr. Kord into a band.
And, naturally, he was sure to mention the “low-volume soundtrack of hip-hop.” This time, though, he didn’t have to ask where the food at.