I can’t find it for the life of me but I recently read a delightfully snarky tweet saying something like: the only things we need to read about Hudson Yards are takedowns of the architecture and details of all the food.
This cut a little too close to home. And so I found myself at Hudson Yards on this fine Saturday to check out the black-and-white sandwich and the egg kimbap at Peach Mart and basically avoid the weird new dumb statue that someone (Dave Colon?) called a giant bedbug, an apt comparison. (Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous statue for tourists that you’re maybe not supposed to take photos of?)
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of impersonal malls (the Oculus, the nearest impersonal mall I encounter on a regular basis, drives me crazy since it’s a transit hub but impossible to navigate through). And I loved Alexandra Schwartz’s recent takedown of this one (“a plaza that bears the same relation to New York City as a police-sketch artist’s drawing does to a face”!). However, I also find Vanishing New York’s brand of nostalgia for a grittier New York pretty tiresome, and would have to admit that I had a pretty good time (for sort of serendipitous reasons, more than from the Yards per se, but I’ll take it).
I do like how near Hudson Yards is to the subway (even though the station itself is so far from everything else; I usually just think of it as the place I’d rather avoid by taking the Bolt Bus from Grand St). And it was striking how popular it is–Jon Orcutt’s observation about how people like car-free space, regardless of how you feel about this particular one, is spot on. I wish we had greener, more centrally located places where people could hang out, instead of having to wait on lines to ascend the bedbug, or wander around the mall looking for the food. But if you do wander around the mall looking for food, it can be pretty tasty.
Happily, my navigation instincts were good, and I found the David Chang corner of 20 Hudson Yards pretty fast. It turns out Peach Mart’s black-and-white was pretty forgettable, to be honest, while the kimbap was pretty good (and came with a delightful tiny pig-shaped bottle of soy sauce). But I didn’t find that out for a while since I impulse went into Kawi, the fancy Chang-affiliated restaurant next door (chef Eunjo Kim used to work at another of his restaurants), which was delicious and fed me so much that I would not be able to even consider my Peach Mart loot for hours. First off, a refreshing sake, fino sherry, ginger, salted apple concoction (served in a too-adorable cat mug). Then, to apologize for a long wait for my main course (an issue with the rice cooker) some chicken wings…brought to me by someone I know! We had a nice conversation, and he said he’d give me too much food again next time I come back. (I always seem to run into people I know when I go somewhere on impulse; I like to imagine that the whole city is just full of these encounters if I could only break my routine.)
My main course lived up to the wait: egg yolk and grilled avocado rice, plus a crispy vegetable pancake with dipping sauce, another spicier sauce, some almost-sweet and refreshing kimchi, soup, and an elegant bite of tofu cake. Washed it down with a sour salty plum beer from Hudson Valley, my favorite of breweries, and felt like I’d had a tiny resort vacation all the way on the city’s west coast.
Still can’t pay me to contemplate the Vessel for long, though.