Jungle Bird, NYC

That is my brother’s new restaurant in Chelsea, southeast Asian food, it has made the Approval Matrix and after three weeks is already a big hit.  Billed as a cocktail bar, but the food is truly excellent, and this is not just familial favoritism.  Get the dumplings, the turmeric chicken salad (actually a perfectly musty, stinky Malaysian dish — a highlight), and the betel leaves when they have them.  Jungle Bird serves some of the best southeast Asian food in Manhattan, and yet the chef grew up in New Jersey, fancy that.


Somehow I'd been unaware that Tyler has a brother who's a chef.

Instead of _An Economist Gets Lunch_, will we see him write _A Chef Gets Supply and Demand_?

Avoid economists who have beautiful wives or work at fancy universities, instead follow the ones who work in overlooked departments?

His brother will not be giving him a free lunch!

Well, this blurb will likely pay for a few rounds of betel leaves, when available.

I thought TC's brother was named "Tyrone" and is prone to being an evil crank.

Tyrone was retired because of how ridiculous the left has gotten.

To be honest, the first thing I thought of when Tyler said his brother (who is persumably white and Irish) opened a SE asian resturant was that the left will protest and shut it down.

Well, now that explains everything.

$17 salads, $16 sandwiches!? Who says we need less immigration :-) Looks good, I'll be sure to stop by.

Well, 'a perfectly musty, stinky Malaysian dish — a highlight' certainly shows that no familial favoritism is involved.

However, many truly discerning gourmets are interested in the experience of betel nuts wrapped in betel leaves, to enjoy a spittoon ringing experience as others enjoy a musty, stinky highlight.

You realize the betel nut, which stains the mouth red, is a mild carcinogenic hallucinogen chewed by Thai villagers, right?

I don't see calamansi in the drinks menu, which is a tiny lime shaped fruit that's a cross between a sweet orange and a lime. It's full of seeds but a nice novelty for the USA. I was thinking of somehow importing it into the USA, and I bet if it catches on it will become a craze like coconut juice has.

Betel nuts!

For a few years (not frequently) I chewed tobacco. Now, it's a decent cigar once a week.

I'm so old I remember watching a bartender program his "cash register" with $9 drinks, and ten-cent (now $2.75) subway tokens.

The prices validate my decision to desist buying drinks at saloons.

Anyhow, next time I go through Penn Station (on a senior LIRR ticket), I will walk over there and order for a glass of water and, so as not to be nauseated, buy a shot of Dewars.

Work The Curse Of The Drinking Class.

Maybe document how difficult it was for you brohter to open a resturant in one of the most red tape heavy areas of the world. Would like to hear a small number of antedotes on his experience. Especially of the food and beverage world.

The linked article about Jungle Bird is mostly about what's served at the Bar not what's prepared in the kitchen, an oddity given our host's feelings about alcohol. Here's a historical anecdote: not many years ago, food in a southeast Asian restaurant located in America would be heavily influenced by French cuisine (Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam are former French colonies), but not any more. Today, southeast Asian food is more authentic in the sense of reflecting Asian palates not French. My father was a chef who owned restaurants (American fare), so I have great admiration for anyone who can be successful in the business because I know how hard it can be. Not only must the restaurant produce good food that depends on good ingredients and a good chef and staff but the food it produces must appeal to fickle customers. Nobody in his right mind would go into the restaurant business. We are blessed that so many aren't in their right minds. Good luck, Russell.

'food in a southeast Asian restaurant located in America would be heavily influenced by French cuisine'

According to a Vietnamese guest last weekend, there is nothing particularly authentic' about pho - it is just basically French beef broth with noodles. (Admittedly, using local ingredients.)

'Today, southeast Asian food is more authentic in the sense of reflecting Asian palates not French.'

And yet, the Vietnamese still consider pho to be a signature Viet dish.

We have a Vietnamese Pho restaurant in my low country community, and it is excellent. Not French. Pho is just noodle soup with an Asian flair. Very light and very good. As for French, as my comment indicates, a "Vietnamese" restaurant in America at one time meant a French restaurant. For many years, my favorite restaurant in my Sunbelt city was such a restaurant, owned and operated by a wonderful young Vietnamese woman who came to America during the Vietnam War. By French, what I am referring to are the sauces. I am no longer young, and neither is she, but she continues to own and operate a Vietnamese restaurant in that Sunbelt city, more Asian today than French.

The pho restaurant in my community serves all kinds of pho (noodle) soup: shrimp pho, vegetable pho, beef meatball pho, rare steak pho, steak and flank pho, steak, flank, brisket and meatball pho, you get the idea. The owners, who are from Vietnam, are relatively young, and don't know French sauces.

'a "Vietnamese" restaurant in America at one time meant a French restaurant'

Different times and places, I guess. My introduction to Vietnamese food was in the earlier 1980s in Clarendon, Va, with restaurants like Cafe Dalat and Queen Bee.

There was nothing French about them, but then this part of Arlington County was often enough called 'Little Saigon' at the time.

And the guest's point was that pho is based to a major degree on French cooking, yet everyone in Vietnam considers it a purely Vietnamese dish.

Speaking of foreign influences, in Thailand (Siam), which claims to never have been conquered (French never bothered too actually), this mixed race Greek-Asian couple with tragic trajectories introduced European style egg-based dishes into Siam back in the 17th century before Phaulkon had his wings clipped by the xenophobic king (and I say that's too bad).



Actually Phaulkon's name is "Konstantinos Gerakis" which means C. "Falcon", as Gerakis is the Greek word (phonetic) for falcon.

Bonus trivia: a falcon, a jungle bird, kills with its beak, unlike an eagle, which kills with its talons. I wish I had predatory birds to raise. I do raise pigeons in the Philippines. Unfortunately raising birds of prey would be futile as the neighbors would probably kill or steal them due to their rarity.

I do have to say, those wikipedia articles about Constantine Phaulkon and Maria Guyomar de Pinha were fascinating to read. I'm surprised someone hasn't written a major Broadway musical or opera about either or both of them, it'd make "The King and I" and "Evita" look like languid pastorals.

Another example of cross-cultural cuisine: Cambodian immigrants in Southern California are concentrated in Long Beach, but have dispersed throughout the region -- and they often operate the donut shops. There's undoubtedly one person who was the ur-donut shopkeeper, and their immigrant friends and relatives worked there and then went out and opened their own donut shops.

The donut shop near where I worked made standard American donuts. But they also had some items that showed their French culinary backgrounds, some fancier pastries that would've been at home in a patisserie, and for lunch you could order a sandwich that owed a lot more to a boulangerie than to a Subway.

But AFAICT they didn't make or sell items that were Cambodian i.e. Asian. And these were people who'd been raised in Cambodia (including the delightful grandmother who spoke almost no English but managed to upsell me twice as many donut holes than I'd intended to order).

"The Aperol Spritz is not a good drink" https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/dining/drinks/aperol-spritz.html

I agree. Any drink that contains the artificial flavoring of Aperol cannot be good. It's just a rhubarb bitter, so look for less industrial bitters (e.g. rhubarb gin) or DIY bitters....experiments are fun =)

Sounds like there's a conflict of interest here with your years of pushing for open borders. As a chef your brother benefits from there being a steady supply of cheap labor to staff restaurants. There's likely illegals there too, which sort of makes you an accessory, at least morally.

I assume Cowen is very organized. I don't know it, but how could someone with so many commitments and demands for his time (teaching, speaking, writing, traveling, etc.) do it otherwise. There's an expression in French, used most often in a culinary connection, that comes to mind, not only for Tyler Cowen but also for Russell Cowen: mise en place.

Chelsea? A neighborhood very far from the suburban strip malls. And a neighborhood with many beautiful women likely to be dining in its restaurants.

Went today. Food and drinks were decent, but music was incredibly loud for 5:30 in the afternoon. My ears are still ringing. Left for quieter environs and won't be back.

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