New York is experiencing a phenomenon known as the “David Chang” effect, in which inventive but economical Asian eats are transforming the city’s dining scene.
That’s one of the observed trends to come out of Zagat’s annual New York City Restaurants survey released this week.
Once described as the enfant terrible of the New York restaurant world, Chang has been exporting his Momofuku empire into international cities like Sydney, Australia and most recently Toronto, Canada, where the opening of four new outposts made headline news and drew snaking queues.
His recipe for success? Reinventing popular Asian flavours and dishes in a dynamic, irreverent style and making his food widely accessible.
His Momofuku Noodle Bar, for instance, specialises in ramen bowls and assorted pork buns, ranging from US$2 to US$18 (RM6.30 to RM56).
At Ssäm bar, meanwhile, diners tuck into country hams, rotisserie duck, alongside spicy pork sausages and rice cakes, ranging from US$8 to US$26.
Other popular Asian destinations include Mission Chinese, Pok Pok NY and RedFarm, which Zagat describes as ‘variations’ of the Momofuku concept.
At the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, are fine dining Asian addresses like Hakkasan, Jungsik and Kristalbelli.
‘Creative but inhospitable’
In addition to the “David Chang effect,” the city is also adjusting to an increasingly common “no reservations” policy, Zagat says — a trend that may be off-putting to some locals given that 62 per cent of readers said they wouldn’t wait more than 30 minutes for a table.
Zagat readers also gave Japanese restaurants the highest average food score at 24 out of a possible 30-point scale, followed by Spanish, Italian, American and French restaurants.
And while diners gave the city top marks for creativity and diversity, the top complaint when dining out is lacklustre hospitality, followed by noise levels and prices.
According to the 2013 edition of the Zagat survey, Eric Ripert’s French seafood restaurant Le Bernardin took the top spot for best restaurant in New York City.
Likewise, Michelin also released their latest restaurant ranking for the Big Apple this week, handing out single stars to nine more restaurants and adding one more restaurant to their two-star category.