More News of the Weird
Our critics' adventures in odd eating. Squid intestines, anyone?
Eel Liver, Masa
I never dreamed that eels had livers. Then my first taste at the first omakase choreographed by Masa Takayama was odd, decidedly livery, but I couldn’t guess whose . . . “Eel liver,” Takayama said. As livers go, it’s no foie gras, but the sheer impudence of it made an impressive opening bid. Gael Greene
10 Columbus Circle
Ducks’ Tongues, Sumile
Chef Josh DeChellis favors his ducks’ tongues confit’d in duck fat and crisped in a salad of mizuna and pickled shallots with a blood-orange vinaigrette. It gives a clever textural contrapunto to the gelatinous bounce of his terrine of veal-head whatnots in jelly. G.G.
154 West 13th Street
Rooster Balls, Daniel
Lurking in the mix of crayfish and chicken parts in Daniel Boulud’s casserole de volaille royale (served now and then as a special) are what Daniel might call amourettes in the dining room. In the kitchen, they’re rooster balls—soft and sensuous. If you don’t know, you won’t mind. G.G.
60 East 65th Street
Squid Intestines, Kuruma Zushi
As a professional mouth, I take pride in being game. Michel Guérard’s pigeon brain did not knock me off stride. I survived the rotting woodcock my host called “properly hung.” But I’d like to forget I ever tasted shiokara, fermented squid intestines. Stink and rot on two chopsticks. G.G.
7 East 47th Street
Grilled Chicken Hearts, Churrascaria Plataforma
The Brazilian beef house serves them in bulk, like jelly beans, off a long spit. They have a condensed, bouncy consistency, and taste like fried liver pellets. Adam Platt
221 West Broadway
In case you were wondering, marsupial is a lean, tasty meat. The accomplished chef Brad Farmerie cuts his kangaroo in very fine slices, and piles them, with tahini sauce, on a crispy falafel cake. A.P.
210 Elizabeth Street
The dish’s name sounds like it was stolen from a stock opera character. Sliced thin on a plate, it appears like tuna tartare but tastes more vibrant and velvety. Hal Rubenstein
110 Waverly Place
Fried Smelts, Megu
The little fishies arrive not just whole and gloriously golden but speared on sticks, as if they were just harpooned. One of my guests let out a little gasp, but they’re nicely crispy and pleasantly doughy inside, like chickpea fritters. H.R.
62 Thomas Street
Durian Ice Cream, Spice Market
The refreshing frozen dessert derived from the spiky Asian fruit tastes somewhere between almond and coconut ice cream. But to get to the taste, you must get past the smell, a heady aroma reminiscent of vanilla, kerosene, and baby spit-up. H.R.
403 West 13th Street
One night at Babbo, there was so much tongue on the menu, I devised my own tasting menu. The main course: Calf’s tongue with peperonata in aceto Manodori. Four tongues the size of pocket combs, deeply browned to a slight crisp on the outside, with a mealy, almost fried- polenta-like texture inside, and a mellow, beefy flavor, cut by balsamic-marinated peppers and onions. Easily the best tongue I’ve ever had. Rob Patronite
110 Waverly Place
Pig Snout, La Taza de Oro
Not so much a menu item as a bonus surprise occasionally turning up in a heaping plate of lechón (roast pork), like the lucky bean baked into a Frenchman’s galette des rois. The problem with the pig snout is that more than any other cooked pig part, perhaps, it looks like what it is. Aside from that, and a slight whiskeriness, it’s tender, succulent, and full of pork flavor. R.P.
La Taza de Oro
96 Eighth Avenue
Lamb’s Tongue, Almond Butter, and Red-Currant Jelly Sandwich, aKa Cafe
Try slipping one of these into Junior’s lunch box. He’ll love it. The thinly sliced tongue is a good velvety match for the smooth, rich almond butter; the jelly a sweet counterpoint; served on soft Pullman bread. R.P.
49 Clinton Street