Let’s just get all the negatives about RedFarm out of the way now. 1) The restaurant is tiny and the seating feels cramped (it’s not just that you’re close to other diners, it’s like you’re eating right with them). 2) If you go for dinner on the weekend you’ll probably have to wait a while (our wait was a little over an hour on a Friday night). 3) For food marketed as “Chinese dim sum” the prices seem a bit exorbitant (Example number 1: $10 to $15 for dumpling plates that come with 4 dumplings). Those are the three things to be prepared for before heading to Joe Ng and Ed Shoenfeld’s RedFarm, but still…that shouldn’t be enough to stop you. What are you waiting for? There’s good food to be had!
Despite those three less than desireable things, the food at RedFarm is so creative and interesting, I didn’t mind putting up with everything else. Instead of thinking about how crowded the dining experience is, think about the fun, rambunctious, “New York” meal you’re having. I mean, tons of other places in the city require a long waiting time too…it’s the city that loves lines after all, from Shake Shack to getting the Cronut. And yeah, you’re paying a lot, especially compared to food you could get in Chinatown, but would you be able to find dumplings shaped like little Pac-Man characters or get pastrami in an egg roll there? I don’t think so.
RedFarm’s food is self-described as “innovate, inspired Chinese cuisine with greenmarket sensibility.” So while you may find some similarities between your Chinese food favorites, get ready to step outside the box a little here. There are starters like yuzu-wasabi shrimp, kowloon filet mignon tarts, crab and eggplant bruschettas, and bbq’d pork belly. There are main dishes like sauteed lobster, egg, and chopped pork; three chili chicken; and mussels, clams, vegetables, and green curry. Then, there are rice and noodle dishes like Bentons bacon and egg fried rice, dungeness and rock crabmeat long life noodles, and bbq’d duck and ginger fried rice. Don’t forget about the most popular section of their menu–the dim sum. There’s pan-fried lamb dumplings, steamed lobster dumplings, mushroom and vegetable spring rolls, and so much more.
Since it was my first time at RedFarm, we had to order the famous ‘Pac Man’ shrimp dumplings, crispy duck and crab dumplings, and Katz’s pastrami egg roll. To complete our meal, we also got the wild rice noodles with bbq’d roast duck.
What makes the shrimp dumplings ‘Pac Man’? Well, they’re little, colored dumplings that look like the Ghosts from the Pac-Man game and are arranged in a row on a plate alongside a fried sweet potato slice that looks like Pac-Man himself with its wide, open mouth. Each of the dumplings actually has a different combination of shrimp with something else (say, lobster), so if you’re sharing, you just get what you get. I realize that this is totally a gimmicky food item, but they’re cute and darn tasty too. Fitting that I ate these the weekend of the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight, right?
The crab and duck dumplings also have a bit of novelty to them, seeing as they look like little sting-ray with eyes, heading for the broth/sauce in the center. This item was actually my favorite dish of the evening, since duck and crab are two rich foods that I love. Put ’em together and you get one smiling Cindy! And, tell me…when have you ever seen pastrami in an egg roll before? Specifically one with meat from the popular Katz’s, too. I was a little hesitant about how good a pastrami egg roll could actually be, but with the crispy wonton wrapper and spicy mustard on the side for dipping, I was pleasantly surprised. Last but not least, you just can’t go wrong with roasted duck slices served over slick noodles. Happy, happy tummy here.
So, no. You’re not going to find authentic or traditional Chinese food at RedFarm, but that’s not what it’s about. What you’ll find is modern, original, and a whole lot of fun to eat.
‘Pac Man’ Shrimp Dumplings, crispy duck and crab dumplings, Katz’s pastrami egg roll, wild rice noodles with BBQ’d roast duck
529 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014