Restaurant Review: Shukette of Chelsea-The New York Times

2021-11-13 05:59:56 By : Mr. Gary Xin

Freshly baked hot bread, charcoal grills and market value fresh herbs and vegetables mark a new approach.

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Shukette is a derivative of Shuka by chef Ayesha J. Nurdjaja that is faster, looser and louder. The names of the two restaurants come from shuk, which means open-air market in Hebrew, and the name Shukette is much more than that: the commotion and noise, the smell of cumin and charcoal, a dizzying array of snacks, pickles Hot bread pans with dipping sauces and skewers are all reminiscent of a Middle Eastern bazaar running at full speed.

Ms. Nurdjaja (pronounced nur-JYE-uh) opened Shukette in Chelsea in early July, which owns Shuka, Cookshop and other restaurants. Working behind the counter in the open kitchen that occupies almost the entire restaurant, she fills her plates with fresh herbs and other produce. (This is how I cook after taking everything home from the farmers market.) Some of her plates seem to be over-decorated, but she managed to get away because it was in keeping with the whole person's outgoing and generous spirit. Restaurant radiation.

The menu is almost too long. Although it can be placed on one page, I never managed to read it all before ordering. This is also like shopping in the market. Before you complete the survey of each crate and trash can, you only need to start pointing out what you want to eat.

The hummus is well mixed with tahini, and it is as smooth and fluffy as Chantilly cream. However, what makes it a Shukette dish is the extra food that Ms. Nurdjaja sprinkles on top: whole chickpeas marinated with red onions and a few spoonfuls of shatta, a piercing sauce of fresh peppers and garlic, etc.

Chives and paper-thin serrano pepper wheels provide a bright, fresh attitude to marinated pickled cod, which you are more likely to associate with Peekytoe Crab Salad. Moroccan zaalouk eggplants are not mashed into a paste here, but are left in shiny black skins, sprinkled with spiced, collapsed tomatoes, and topped with crisp green onions and mint.

At this time, when the table disappears under the ceramic bowl and metal plate, you may feel a slight loss of control. Pickled beets with cauliflower dyed with turmeric are as sour and crunchy as you wish. The Roman beans in lime juice and coriander seeds may be too crunchy-in fact, they are far from cooked.

It doesn't matter, this is kibbe. They may be the best things in the restaurant. In the center of each, under the crackling crust, there is a surprise, a spoonful of stewed lamb and beef with spiced tomatoes. The kibbe is so juicy, you will want to eat them instead of soaking them in the tahini sauce on the side. But the tahini sauce is sensational-spicy, almost pink paprika.

In Shukette, the line between trough and non-trough may be good. You may be lukewarm to the ginger-flavored meatballs of fresh albacore tuna, but are forced by the stiff bed of yogurt under them, salted with marinated lemon.

You might think that the best time to bake a zucchini plate is when the zucchini is gone, there is no other way but to put the crust into the swirl of seasoning left on the plate-tahini, shata, olive oil and charred Sungold tomato juice, exuding the aroma of sesame and chopped pistachios.

For those crusts, Shukette has four types of bread, all freshly baked, toasted or toasted. Whole-wheat pita bread is steaming when served; rafa is thick with za'atar and olive oil; Moroccan frena is a bit like a small focaccia, topped with cloves of roasted garlic, which may burn you Fingers.

Shukette's Middle Eastern cooking method—based on extremely fresh produce, smoked, and heavily used herbs and spices—has been long overdue in New York. Zahav is now in its second decade and is a Philadelphia institution as solid as John's Roast Pork. Before the pandemic, Bavel and Kismet ushered in a new era of flatbread and kebabs in Los Angeles. When the dinner party is still being held, it is rare to find a host in Manhattan who does not remember at least one Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. However, the city’s chefs have been slow to adopt modern methods of cooking on the eastern and southern edges of the Mediterranean.

Research conducted in Israel shortly before the pandemic helped Ms. Nurdjaja to zero in on her style. Tall carbonated drinks decorated with sliced ​​fruits, spiral vegetables and flowering vanilla corsages are new to Chelsea, but they are all the rage in Tel Aviv, where they are called gazoz.

Another souvenir in Tel Aviv is the cherry salad, which is the signature of a bar called Basta, near the Carmel market. On paper, this is a simple number in which fresh serrano pepper, coriander and a little garlic are stirred with sweet black cherries. However, when you taste it, your eyes will shed tears and your head will spin. The herb and heat of a bowl of cherries was completely unexpected; it was like seeing Dakota Fanning playing the Manson girl in "Once Upon a Hollywood."

When the larger dishes started to come up, Shukette tried to keep the action boiling. Sometimes it will succeed, sometimes it won't. The fish in the cage, a kind of brick-colored spice and charcoal grilled sea bream under the outer skin of chili, with enough corn and zucchini for a small picnic, even if you decide to bring all of them to the table in the actual barbecue cage almost caused It’s more trouble than its worth. Although the eggplant and peppers on the kebabs stole the limelight a bit on the same kebab, the meat is tender and it doesn’t matter.

But the squid is almost impossible to remove from its fried kebabs, thanks to the batter that sticks itself to the metal rod. The same batter also makes the fried pumpkin flower impenetrable. It must be made of Kevlar.

There is only one dessert, a soft sundae with tahini oatmeal milk ice cream, toasted hazelnuts and Halva floss that flutters up like chef Anne Burrell's hair. Hawa dental floss melts on your tongue like cotton candy. The ice cream itself feels like the smoothest thing you have ever eaten. This is a miracle.

What does the star rating mean? Due to the pandemic, the restaurant has not received a star rating.

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