One thing that should make you raise an eyebrow at my food reviews is that, unlike the critic for the Times (and most reputable papers), I only visit a place once before I do a write-up. This gives you a nice instant capture of a dining establishment at a specific moment in time in a specific moment in my life but it doesn’t in any way represent a fair comprehensive examination of a restaurant’s quality. For that you have the professionals. With me, you get what you pay for. And you pay nothing!
I went to Sapporo in midtown a few months ago and liked it. I went back because I was in the theater district (this is the night I saw The Glass Menagerie) and I was craving noodles. I looked in my Sietsema guide (the time before I used the Leff guide) and remembered Sapporo. There I went and I heeded Sietsema’s advice for summer months: “Come during the summer and get the piece de resistance: hiyashi chuka, a bowl of cold noodles in a slightly sweet broth, topped with ham, chicken, egg, fish cake, green onion, shredded ginger, cucumber, and corn.” Here it be!
Isn’t that beautiful? I devoured it. It was cool and refreshing and had all these great flavors and textures: almost like a Japanese version of the chef’s salad. This gave Sapporo some serious mileage: the last time I said it paled next to Momofuku. This shakes things up a bit. Perhaps a Food War is in order?
The real place that benefited from a return was R.U.B. Last time I was there, I couldn’t believe how expensive it was for so little. Three people paid $70 for what amounted to just a few ribs each. This time I ordered the pulled pork sandwich:
I sat at the bar and this really cool female bartender suggested I get it on a bun “because it doesn’t fall apart.” I ordered a lemonade too and all in all this lunch meal cost $13. Not cheap, but not $70. And the pulled pork was really delicious: they heaped it on (you can see in the pic, there’s a lot of pulled pork on that bun.) Now if I’m craving rib-like experience I have a happy option on 23rd street.
Wow—so you see, returning to a place more than once has its benefits. My credibility as a food critic has been raised. Who wants to subsidize a return to Per Se?