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Tuome: A New Gem in East Village

September 14, 2015

It is not frequent that I find myself visiting and revisiting a restaurant within the span of a few months but there was just something about Tuome that kept me coming back.  A cozy charming New American restaurant tucked away into Alphabet City between A and B, Tuome has an ever changing and edited menu featuring seasonal dishes with an Asian influence.  The chef, Thomas Chen, has quite a resume from Eleven Madison to Commerce and that experience shows in the beautiful dishes that he presents, from the fantastic flavors to the elegant plating.

Despite the changing seasonal menu, there are a few staples that have earned their place on the small menu.  The classic American picnic dish, deviled eggs, are transformed into crispy decadent treat.  Topped with a little extra kick of chili, these creamy eggs are a little too easy to finish.

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Another staple is the beautifully grilled octopus.  Served with pork xo sauce, the bold flavors of the pork sauce and octopus were paired with a rich and creamy emulsion of brown butter and fingerling potatoes piped onto the plate tableside.

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As for the other starters that guest appear, one of my favorites was the blue crab topped mac n cheese.  Al dente pasta shells were coated with a light creamy massamam curry sauce.  The flavors were incredibly comforting, rich yet not overwhelming and cloying.

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Even though it is tempting to spend majority of time at Tuome focused on the innovative appetizers, there are some amazing larger plates that deserve your attention.  One of them is their well known pig-out for two.  Even though the name suggest something a little more crude, the actual dish might be one of the most elegant preparation of a roast pig that I have seen yet.  Berkshire pork belly is roasted until tender and the fat rendered until only a tiny thin layer of crispy skin is left.  A dab of chili sauce and a dollop of ginger scallion, these tiny pieces of pork made for the perfect bite.

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What made them even more memorable was the bowl of spicy peanut noodles that is served.  The chewy noodles has the perfect spring and the peanut sauce was just the right consistency and spicy kick.  One bite and you will be glad that you are given your very own bowl which I am sure you will hog close to your chest like I did.

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And when you have gotten tired of ordering the pig out for two or any of the other delicious main dishes, there is often an off-menu special dish meant to be shared.  Over the summer, I was lucky to have stumbled upon the fried chicken picnic for two.  A beautiful basket of crispy fried chicken arrived in a checkered cloth lined basket with golden brown waffles.

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Tucked inside the basket of goodness were two sauces, a buttermilk sauce and a spicy chili sauce, perfect for dipping the chicken or the waffles.

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The chicken dinner also came with a refreshing colorful slaw and to my delight, a bowl of the wonderful massaman curry mac n cheese.  This time sans blue crab but just as delicious as I remembered.

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And finally, in case you are like me and must have some vegetables on the side, my two favorite sides at Tuome are the brussels sprouts and the pea shoot.  The pea shoot is simply sauteed with fermented shallot and chili sauce, creating a depth of flavor often not found in typical vegetable dishes.  And as for the brussels sprouts, Tuome makes theirs memorable by adding not only raisins but also fresh grapes.  The sweetness is balanced by an unctuous pork xo sauce.

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Part of the reason why I love Tuome is the fact that the menu is so well edited.  There are only a few dishes in each section but all are so well prepared and approachable that you can hardly ever make a wrong choice.  The service is friendly and attentive, making the delicious experience even more enjoyable.  This is the kind of meal that makes me trek all the way to the Alphabet avenues, dragging all those willing along for the ride.

Tuome | 536 East 5th Street, New York, NY 10009 | http://www.tuomenyc.com/

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