December 23, 2014
Tuome was opened in August, 2014, by chef Thomas Chen after three years in the kitchen of Eleven Madison Park. It has received a surprising amount of favorable commentary. Pete Wells, giving Tuome two stars in The New York Times, wrote: “He has terrific control over salt, spices, texture and contrast, weaving them together until you ask, why hasn’t anyone done this before?” Robert Sietsema wrote on Eater: “The food is shockingly excellent, and I didn’t find single dud among the dishes.” The Village Voice awarded Tuome “The Best New Restaurant New York 2014.” with Zachary Feldman writing: “At Tuome, Thomas Chen Articulates Eloquent Culinary Sentences in Alphabet City.”
Linda and I went to Tuome for dinner on December 8, 2014. It is deep in the East Village on 5th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B. The décor is spare with old windows framing the brick wall behind them There is a small bar for single counter diners.
The light is very low with little candles on each table. The photos below are not great, but I am surprised I was able to get them at all. There is boisterous music. We were much the oldest diners until a foursome who looked much like us came in, probably drawn from uptown by the same reviews as we were. The tee-shirted young staff looked quite bohemian, but they were welcoming, helpful and efficient.
We quickly ordered glasses of cava. The menu is quite small with fourteen dishes offered in small to big categories. The course titles below are from it. We made our choices with help from our informative server. The wine list is also small, but eclectic with interesting choices. We ordered a bottle of 2011 Van Duzer Willamette Valley pinot noir.
It was characteristically US young pinot noir and went well with the cuisine.
The amuse-gueule was a little bowl of kabocha squash soup with a dab of Thai chili pepper.
The first of our three small dishes to share was
yuba, sixty minute egg, fermented black bean
There were a variety of exotic mushrooms in this dish, but it seemed to me that the pervasive flavor came from dried porcini. The black beans are a good match with mushrooms. There was also noticeable chili heat, which seems inappropriate with mushrooms and got us off to a bad start with the wine, but it eventually went away. The very soft poached egg and the yuba, or tofu skin, were decorative and added some texture, but had no flavor that could be noticed against the others.
pork xo, brown butter, fingerling potatoes
The flavor of the octopus tentacle had not survived its deep frying, but the chopped caramelized pork and the potato, brown butter purée were very nice. Other photo reports on Tuome show a much better looking grilled octopus tentacle.
This was quite good. We had asked that the chili be left out of the peanut sauce on the noodles; there was some, but not too much. The generous bowl of thick noodles provided a good base for the confit pork. It was served in ten pieces with a very crisp skin on top of luscious pressed meat. The “condiments” this evening were persimmon chunks and candied walnuts: nice.
The flaky ‘beignets’ could be enhanced with apricot jam (upper left), goat’s milk caramel (in the squeeze bottle) and vanilla ice cream with red beans. The caramel was particularly good.
Well, the meal was interesting and usually enjoyable, but not up to the advance hype. We will continue to try new eating adventures and hope that you enjoy reading about them.