As I enter my 30s, I’ve come to accept the fact that there are plenty of successful people who are younger than me. Yet when I heard that dinner is being prepared by a twenty-four year old operating her own supper club in Tribeca, I figure this young lady is either a prodigy or extremely conceited. Did I mention this meal would also be vegan?
That said, since the revelation at Kajitsu, I’ve come to understand that vegetarian meals can very much hold its own against the flavor of animal fats and proteins. However our views of vegetarians are still imbued with overarching stereotype. Growing up my view of a Chinese vegetarian meal is simply a bunch of soy-based imitation meats cooked the same way as chicken and beef, and my understanding of western vegetarians was limited to the salad eating classmates at college. The fact is, as more people embrace vegetarianism and veganism, there will be demand for better tasting meals that adhere to this lifestyle. Meat or no meat, the law of economics still apply.
Suite Three-oh-Six is one of such new eateries that is stepping in to fill that void. The concept of a supper club is quite simple, you’re basically eating at a friend’s house, and choosing to compensate the hosts for their efforts. Except this “friend” has a commercial kitchen visible from the airy living room, the space is adorned with artwork by Erhan Mues. In an age of over-regulated health and safety laws, this is a refreshingly simple idea.
Before we even get to the food, it’s amazing how this entire project is the brainchild of 24 year old Daphne Cheng (read her bio here). She’s even the person who built the website, which is both technically sound and filled with all sorts of Search Engine Optimization goodness. If the cooking is anything like the site, we’re in good hands.
For the day’s tasting, which was more of a casual social gathering rather than the sit down dinner hosted each Saturday, chef Cheng roamed the floor with her staff with plates of small bites. The meal started with crisped yuba (tofu skin), topped with truffled ricotta, smoked agave, and broccoli microgreens. Though certain pieces of the tofu skin were more burnt through their trip through the deep fryer, the flavor and texture were a unique and interesting experience. All throughout this time, we were sipping wine from Trump Wineries… an interesting combination for sure.
Next up were small cups of zucchini bisque, which looked in color, and tasted of guacamole, in a very good way. The chili oil and cilantro provided a nice kick in flavor.
The most formal looking bite of the evening was the French lentil pastry, which appeared like a large fried wonton, but is actually a crispy pastry skin filled with lentils. I was very impressed by the flavors of the whipped bell pepper cream. Visually it looks rich like melted cheese, but the fresh pepper flavor really popped out.
The rosewater ice cream had a texture so thick and creamy that you really wouldn’t believe it’s not a heavy dairy cream. Flavor wise, I wasn’t a huge fan of rosewater. We’re so accustomed to smelling roses, tasting it in so strong a form is still an awkward experience.
A few rambutans were passed around. These tropical fruits with a furry shell are quite common place in South East Asia, though it was fun to see it make an appearance in New York. Much like dragon fruit though, its muted flavors doesn’t match up to its exotic looks.
My personal experience with vegetable-focused meals are limited: Kajitsu and French Laundry (Tasting of Vegetables), which sets the standard sky high for me to judge what chef Cheng is doing with her supper club. The creativity is certainly there, and her understanding of flavors of ingredients has her cooking way beyond her years. The supper club is off to a flying start, since diners are enamored by the intimate format and interaction. How this will eventually translate into a commercial restaurant remains to be seen, but in the mean time, Threeohsix is quite the culinary experience.
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From the Notebook: This hosted tasting was courtesy of Suite Threeohsix, though we were under no obligation to write, nor did this fact impact our opinions. We were honored to meet former Rangers great Mike Richter at the event. Photos, the nice ones, courtesy of Threeohsix.
59 Franklin St
New York, NY 10013