Umi Nom: NYC: Bed Stuy / Clinton Hill

I usually don't spend too many of my calories in my neighborhood (the borderlands of Bed Stuy and Clinton Hill), but this place is one of the few exceptions. It's on an...unassuming street, right between a little fried chicken and whatnot place and a bodega . Don't be deterred from this wonderful little culinary haven. The chef is half Filipino and half Thai, he trained under Daniel Boulud and others, and he's got a more expensive place in the LES.

Actually, while the menu had impressed me when I read it weeks before moving to this 'hood, the first time I got food there I was a tiny bit disappointed.  I ordered the Fish & Chips: panko crusted tilapia, wasabi tobiko aioli, fries for $12 on their dinner menu.  This was pretty good, but not as good as it sounds. There was not as much tilapia inside the panko as their should have been, the fries were just okay (a bit thinner and slightly firmer than optimal), and the wasabi tobiko aioli was a little weak.

I don't know if they've purposefully made some improvements, but today's experience was far and away better. Off the lunch menu this time, I ordered the grilled Pork Belly Sandwich with sliced pork belly, atchara, cucumbers, sweet chili aioli, and fries for 9 bucks. This was quite possibly the most delicious sandwich I've ever had. The juices from the pork belly were soaking the inside and edges of the roll in the most delightful way, a bit of a slightly greasy au jus effect.  The sweet chili aioli was so good it gave me pause, "Do I need to take a Lactaid pill? I don't think I ordered anything with cheese on it..." No no, that was just the creamy deliciousness of the aioli wrapping itself around all that pork belly.

The sandwich has commonalities with banh mis (and next time I think I will ask if I can get some jalapenos and/or sriracha on it as a little spiciness is the only way I can imagine improving this masterpiece), but there are also the Filipino contributions like the atchara (pickled papaya). I'm not sure where the pork belly technique comes from, but in some ways it tasted like my dad's brisket back in Texas.  Oh my, what a coalescence of flavors!

Also, the fries were a lot better this time around. They were a bit thicker, slightly crispy on the outside and softer on the inside, and ridiculously fresh.

I went back a third time because I had to show my new roommate the pork belly sandwich.  This time we also got the pickle plate, which was fabulous (and by then I was starting to take food pictures):

pickle plate

Living in this city, it's very hard for me to go to restaurants more than once or twice because I have so many to try, but this is probably going to become a rare exception.  Now if only we can convince them to stay open much later!

Umi Nom on Urbanspoon

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