As some of you may know, I’ve been contributing some writing to Yue Magazine, the relatively new Chinese/English magazine by the New York Observer Media Group. In the past few months I’ve interviewed Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and also written on a wide variety of food related topics. Last Wednesday, Yue held its inaugural launch party at the Trump Tower Atrium, and I was there to cover the festivities.
Catering the food for the day was chef Angelo Sosa, who gained fame and notoriety on Bravo’s Top Chef, and is currently the owner/chef at Social Eatz. When I first heard about chef Sosa catering for the event, I was admittedly askance in the selection. Chef Sosa is famous for his obsession with Asian flavors, but he is after all Columbian/Italian/American, how will his food fare when many guests are actually of Asian descent?
To get a better understanding of Chef Sosa’s cooking, a visit to Social Eatz was in order.
Located next to Peking Duck House, Social Eatz stands out on a street full of restaurants with its bright yellow signage. Without knowledge of the Top Chef background, passerby’s would most likely think of it as a casual bar and burger joint. Which probably wouldn’t be such a bad guess, because the burgers at Social Eatz are fantastic.
It’s pretty well known that Koreans love beef, just walk into a Korean supermarket and you’ll see shelves full of finely marbled meat ready for a grill. Social Eatz’s burgers encapsulate the Korean flavors, but package it in a format that’s familiar to Americans. The Bulgogi Burger, served with lightly pickled Chinese cucumbers, was a total revelation in flavor. I was also very curious as to what’re the seasonings on the fries, to which chef Sosa answered “love”. There’s also a bibimbap burger for those who prefer the famous dish served in stone bowls.
Chef Sosa also showcases his background in fine dining with the broiled salmon, which was coated with pineapple-donejang (Korean bean paste) glaze, and plated on top of what chef Sosa calls “asian succotash”. The fish was good, but what really surprised me was how “Asian” the succotash tasted. The corn and mixed vegetable had intense flavors of ginger and garlic, a combination that I honestly have never tasted in non-Chinese restaurants. The dish together was fun, tasty and surprisingly affordable.
Fusion was once a word that caused culinary delight, with the likes of Nobu leading the innovation. In the 2000s when the lesser chefs all jumped on the bandwagon, fusion because a dirty word. Chef Sosa’s balanced fusion creations remind us that with good understanding of flavors from different cultures, fusion works.
The meal was compliments of Chef Sosa. We were not obligated to review the restaurant, nor did the fact change my opinions.
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232 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022