Thursday, January 17, 2013

The General

EMM Group, the people behind Catch and Tenjune, just opened their new spot The General last week.  Talk about getting the word out - I got emails about the opening from all sorts of sites such as Urbandaddy, Eater, and Thrillist.  All right all right, let's give it a go then shall we?


One of my dining compadres called earlier in the week to make a reservation for 4 people for Friday night.  We were told that only 6:30pm and 9:30pm were open.  Ok...looks like we're gonna have to go with 6:30pm on this one.  Late dinner reservations on a Friday really means an ugly Saturday morning so yes, lets eat first before kicking off any kind of Friday night festivities.  (Although, after we finished up and were leaving a bunch of tables were still open and available.  I will never know how these things work...)

Upon arrival, I was amazed at how big the space was.  There's a huge bar area up front with lots of tables and a decently sized dining room in the back.  The General had bold wall paper, funky lights, and modern chairs which added to the fun and super lush feel of the place. 



Given all the space and the scarcity of people rushing for 6:30pm dinner (just me huh?), I was surprised when the hostess tried to seat us right on top of the only other table seated.  No exaggeration, the chair of one of the girls at the other table was touching the chair at our table.  When we asked to be placed in any of the other 296 remaining seats, I was even MORE surprised when we were given push-back and left standing (!!).

I know the pic is a bit blurry, but honestly.  The whole restaurant is empty and
 you want to seat us where? Even after we finished our meal, that table and a couple tables around it were still empty...
Aish...lucky for us, one of the managers walked by and OKed our move to the other side of the restaurant (which was completely open btw).  I understand that only certain people can make the call for a table change, but why do we have to be on top of each other when there is space and please - don't just leave us standing awkwardly!

Anyhoos, so we're off to a rocky start.  That only means one thing: cocktails!!  Gonna need something to wash down the bitter taste currently sitting on my tongue.  Thank goodness there's a pretty decent original cocktail menu.  I tried so many that night (definitely all strong lol) but I personally enjoyed The Other Woman - and the size of the drink - the most. 

Cocktails!
Ahhh...perfect for a Friday night
As we perused the menu, our fabulous waiter Honesty (who we LOVED and totally turned our dinner around for us!!!!) explained that the Asian-based menu is meant to be shared family style and dishes come out when ready.  Since this was our first time here, we decided to have the waiter and the chef choose for us! 


We eagerly awaited the first course to come out.  Surprise!  First to arrive was the Edamame w/Wasabi Salt.  This, sadly, was overdone and really nothing special.  Pass on this in favor of other goodies.

Edamame w/Wasabi Salt - this was oversteamed and a pass in my book
Next up was the sushi course. We were all blown away with everything!  Every dish was extremely fresh and unique in flavor.  The wasabi was so soft and obviously freshly made (not the stiff flavorless packaged type you usually see).  We tried: the Mercy Roll (spicy tuna, jalapeno salt, salsa verde), which was my favorite with a bit of a Mexican twist; Pow Roll (spicy king crab, mango sauce, wasabi honey); and Ribbons of Tuna (with asian pear, avocado, black sesame).  All excellent!

Mercy Roll (spicy tuna, jalapeno salt, salsa verde) - one of my favorites of the night!
Pow Roll (spicy king crab, mango sauce, wasabi honey)
Ribbons of Tuna (with asian pear, avocado, black sesame)
The third course quickly came out and we tasted the Chinese Chicken Tacos (w/avocado, bell peppers, sweet chili) and Philly Peppersteak Stickybuns (braised short ribs, carmelized onion, provolone).  The chicken tacos were packed with flavor and I loved the contrast between the almost stew-like chicken filling and the crunchy shell of the crispy taco.  The Philly Peppersteak Stickybuns were bite sized, but surprisingly topped with a lot of super tender short ribs.  And the bun was soft and tasty - the perfect base of this dish.  I loved it!

Chinese Chicken Tacos (w/avocado, bell peppers, sweet chili)
Philly Peppersteak Stickybuns (braised short ribs, carmelized onion, provolone)
mmmm come meet my belly mr.stickybun!
With our fourth round, Honesty brought out the Bonesless BBQ Spare Ribs (w/sesame, scallion, honey barbeque glaze) and the Bourbon Miso Seabass (w/maple, green beans, napa cabbage).  I'm not a big pork eater, but according to my dining compadres they said the Spare Ribs were super tender and flavorful.  I did enjoy the Seabass as it was very well prepared - flakey with nice light flavor - and served on top of a bed of veggies.  Very reminiscent to Nobu's Black Cod w/Miso. 

Bonesless BBQ Spare Ribs (w/sesame, scallion, honey barbeque glaze)
Bourbon Miso Seabass (w/maple, green beans, napa cabbage)

And finally, our main features!  The stars of the night were The General's Beef & Broccoli (braised bone-in short rib, udon, chinese broccoli) and the Peking Duck (moo shu pancake, pineapple, hoison).  The Duck was prepared in the traditional way and of course its always fun to put together the goodies.  The pineapple was an interesting mix!  Chef Hung Huynh (winner of Top Chef season 3 and the executive chef of The General) came out to say hello to us and mentioned that the duck was one of his favorites! 

The General's Beef & Broccoli was massive - the bone was bigger than my forearm!  The beef was a bit fatty but well seasoned.  The udon noodles under the short rib were stir fried, very chewy in texture, and quickly cleaned up by everyone at the table.  Chef Huynh suggested that we take the bone home if we have doggies (apparantly his dog loves the bone!) ,so we did as recommended and doggy-bagged the bone hehe.

The General's Beef & Broccoli (braised bone-in short rib, udon, chinese broccoli)
Peking Duck (moo shu pancake, pineapple, hoison)
Making my pancake by candlelight!
While we had a bit of a rocky start, by the end of the meal we were all happy and full.  I was impressed with the service during dinner (Honesty, our waiter, totally rocked!) and enjoyed speaking personally with Chef Huynh.  The cocktails were great and the space was beautiful.  Nevertheless, I can't wait to go back and try more sushi dishes and other tasty bites!

Piggy says Yes!

The General 
199 Bowery (btwn Prince and Spring St)
212-271-7101

Thanks for reading - Piggy KK

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