I have a recurring fantasy of getting on Jeopardy with the final Jeopardy category being "Famous Chefs and their Restaurants". The answer then flashes, "A classically trained Korean-American chef whose out of the way Michelin-rated casual restaurant features pork belly buns, Korean-style fried chicken and other Asian/American inspired comfort dishes".
I look at my opponents with a combination of pity and condescension and scribble furiously being extra sure to formulate my response as a question. Having bet my entire winnings thus far, I shout triumphantly "Who is David Chang of Momofuku?" Now it's Alex's turn for pity and condescension. "No, I'm sorry. The correct response is 'Who is Daniel Yi of Salt&Fat?" Huh???
On an out of the way stretch of Queens Blvd. in the up and coming neighborhood of Sunnyside, classically trained (including stints with Patricia Yeo and Marcus Samuelsson) Korean-American chef Daniel Yi has opened the anti-cardiologically named Salt&Fat right under the 7 train tracks near 41st Street. And while he serves pork belly buns and a fantastic Korean/Southern style fried chicken, Daniel Yi is very much his own man.
The great beer selection pairs perfectly with complimentary in lieu of bread grease stained paper bags of rendered bacon fat soaked popcorn. Every movie theater in the country should immediately remove the artificial butter flavor dispensing pumps in favor of syphons of liquid bacon fat.
We then started out with more bacon in the BLT Salad with the "L" and the "T" standing for "lobster" chunks and "tomatoes" of the heirloom cherry variety. The "Shaved" Hudson Valley Foie Gras was cinnamon spiced frozen foie gras shaved generously so as to completely blanket in a frozen liver colored snow dome mandarin orange wedges and bits of bacon brittle (yes, more bacon).
Korean BBQ Wraps were 3 to an order of lettuce wrapped juicy marinated hangar steak, fried scallions,pickled daikon and miso. The hockey puck shaped fried crispy pig trotter was as good as Hakata Ton Ton in the West Village made all the richer by the slow cooked runny egg on top and the spicy mayo with scallion "mu-chim" (salad). The perfectly seared scallops with roast carrot puree,truffled corn salsa and capers could've been served in Martha's Vineyard. And that fried chicken that would make any Korean grandmother living in Georgia proud as pachon.
The desserts at Salt&Fat would give Momofuku Milk's Christina Tosi a run for her money. We shared homemade rice crispy treats with marshmallow ice cream and 3 sorbets:Thai Tea, Miso Apple and White Peach Jalapeno.
Now back to Jeopardy-the answer:"Hell yeah!" The proper response: "Is there room in this city for another Momofuku?"