Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column.
The Chef: Christian Ramos
The Gig: Chef/partner of Virginia’s (647 East 11th Street; 212-658-0182)
Known For: Modern-eclectic cuisine, like grilled white shrimp with Asian pear
The Best Thing He Ate This Month: The pineapple-braised pork belly at Noreetuh (128 First Avenue; 646-892-3050)
“I love Noreetuh in the East Village. It’s in our neighborhood, the food is great, and it’s a perfect place to go post-shift from Virginia’s and sip on some sake.
“When I started at Per Se, the Noreetuh team — Chung Chow, Jin Ahn, and Gerald San Jose — all worked there. I started in the commis kitchen, which Chung was in charge of, so I worked with him very closely until he left to open Lincoln Ristorante with chef Jonathan Benno. Gerald was in the office as the culinary liaison, and Jin was in the front of house. I’d had great experiences with all of them, and still have nothing but respect for them today.
“We opened our restaurants almost at the same time — Noreetuh a few weeks before us, so it took me awhile to get in there. But within a few visits I’d eaten most things on the menu, and we often go in after work for their incredible rieslings and sakes, which are perfect for cooling things down late-night. They’re starting a new late-night menu, too, which I think has sort of this Hawaiian-style-ramen lean to it, so I can’t wait to try those new additions.
“One Sunday night…my partner Reid and I went in. They’d just put this pineapple-braised pork belly on the menu, and Jin suggested we try it.
“It’s spectacular. Everything about it is just spot-on. I’m not sure if they sous-vide it overnight, but they braise it perfectly; you can often overcook with a braise, but this was right on the money. It was fork-tender, with braised mustard green and yams, which doesn’t exactly scream summertime but really speaks to Chung’s cuisine as a child. It has these crunchy peanuts and sweet-and-sour pineapple, and with a cold, really refined sake, it was just perfect.”