13th Street on Ninth Avenue, New York City
$150 for three, with three drinks, without tip
You walk into Spice market and you immediately think, This place is massive! The place is beautifully decorated, if not a little too dark, and utilizes a lot of wood instead of glass like 66, another Jean-Georges restaurant. Spice Market is bustling. There are staff members constantly running around. Some of them in backless salmon-colored pantsuits and tunics, some in short mini-skirts. The less attractive ones, I noticed, were wearing black sweaters and jeans. Our table was for 8pm and the place was already hoppin’ by the time we got there. The constant traffic is a little disorienting but I do not expect less from a restaurant in the Meatpacking District. In this neighborhood, you go to party, not to eat.
The food is typical Jean-Georges. You are encouraged to order several dishes to share with your group family-style. We started with the black-peppered shrimps with pineapple. The sweet and sour mixed with the spicyness was a good introduction but I ate more pineapple than I did shrimps for $14.50. The lime noodles were served with too much lime and I was cringing at every bite. I like my pasta al dente but I prefer my noodles soft and slippery. The mussels and the chicken wings, I felt, did not belong in the menu even though they were smothered with chili sauce and basil leaves. Good thing I had my Singha to match.
The green papaya was delicious as well as the squid salad. We were finally eating Thai food without the frills. I liked the halibut which was perfectly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I also loved the shaved tuna sashimi which came with small tapioca pearls in coconut milk. It tasted clean and pure. The mint tea was a great end to the overwhelming flavors that fought for my attention. By 11pm, nothing else mattered.
I’m satisfied with simplicity. I don’t need the entire production to be impressed.