More often than not, I choose restaurants based on geography. You’ll be here, I need to get there by this time, and boom – this is the restaurant that just makes sense. It’s kind of like a game. Especially when it’s Midtown East and you’re like, alright, I can make this into something good. I’d heard good things about Social Eatz after it opened, and I tried to keep an open mind even though the name just didn’t sit well with me. Ending in a “z”? Really necessary? And “Social” … would that mean a Twitter feed LCD would be set up for realtime social commentary? I wasn’t sure what they were going for there.
However, I will say from the moment I walked in, I knew I’d be impressed. They didn’t have any reservations available, being peak lunchtime in a primarily lunch-focused restaurant. They were quick to bring me menus as I sat and pondered what I’d order, and I tried to forget I’m almost positive one of my neighborhood breakfast faves used to occupy the space at one time.
I’d read amazing things about the smoked ribs, so we started there. The sauce wasn’t overly spicy or sweet. It could have been a bit spicier, in my opinion, but it’s hard to complain when the meat is so tender and juicy it just falls right off of the bone. A $9 order includes four ribs – two which were slightly thicker than the other two.
For my main course, I was torn. I really wanted to try the Kung Pao sandwich or the chicken corn and coconut taco. Next time. Instantly drawn to all things spicy, I finally decided on the Bulgogi Burger, which apparently translates to “fire meat”. It was spicy, though fear not – not crazy crazy so. The meat was prepared with soy, sugar, scallion, garlic and sesame oil before being topped by cooled cucumber kimchee, kewpee and a japanese mayo. I’ve said it before – I don’t like thick burgers. Not a fan. I gambled here though, curious to try. I even ordered it medium. I was pleasantly surprised – it was on the thick side for me, probably the max I’d like, but was nicely seasoned and at the right temperature. The cooled cucumber kimchee was a perfect balance to the spicy burger. Just right.
We weren’t really hungry, but felt we had to try the yuzu cream puffs because they sounded too unique to pass up. There were three puffs to an order, and they were served in a bowl. The cream, a creamy yuzu curd made from yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) had a distinct flavor – can’t say I’ve ever tried yuzu anything. The only thing I’ll say is I wished the cream truly filled the puffs rather than simply topping them. I’d have liked the cream-to-puff ratio to be a bit more balanced. And placing it on top meant the occasional spoon recovery of renegade cream. You don’t want to miss this.
Oh! And I don’t really watch TopChef, but this is Angelo Sossa’s restaurant. And it’s not like some places where they’re likely somewhere in the back, never to be seen. Instead, we could see him peering out of the kitchen throughout most of the meal. If you’d like your meal with a side of eye candy, I recommend sitting on the side of the table facing the kitchen…
Social Eatz – 232 East 53 Street (b/w 2/3 Avenue) – 212.207.3339