I have an obsession with Top Chef that could be described as creepy. One of my claims to fame is that I can name all of the winners from each season IN ORDER, including Top Chef Masters. Can I stick that on my resume somewhere? No? Eh. It was worth a try.
Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to dine at a few Top Chef alumni restaurants, but it had been a bit since I had gone out of my way to do so. Enter 32W32. I made it a goal and I have SMASHED IT.
When I was last in NYC for a visit Meg surprised me in a cab ride to get dinner that we were going to a Top Chef restaurant. Cheers to Meg for support on the 32W32! Even better? It was cutie patutie Angelo Sosa’s place. He is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Social Eatz.
Social Eatz is an American-Asian place that does comfort food with an Asian twist. As a bonus, nothing on the menu is over $15.
We showed up on Friday night around 9pm. There were quite a few empty seats and we were seated right away. I had to do a brief look around to make sure we were still in NYC. Seated right away in NYC? Mark it down as a miracle.
While we perused the menu I sipped on a glass of sangria. It was tasty, but nothing outstanding. I prefer my Sangria flavors to be a bit stronger, but I found this one to be a bit watered down.
We started the meal with the Tomato Soup & Smoked Grilled Cheese. The soup was topped with a curried whipped cream and cilantro. Oh my goodness. This is comfort food at its finest. I’m sure the grilled cheese would have been flavorful on its own, but this soup totally stole the show. It was creamy without being too thick or heavy. The entire time I was eating it I was getting a flavor profile that I just *knew* and had tasted before. Then I figured it out…it has the same flavors as Tom Yum Goong soup. Comfort food with an Asian twist FTW. So tasty! This could easily be lunch on any day.
We also split the BBQ Mushroom Buns from the Small Plates part of the menu. There were two buns to a dish and were finger food sized. The bun itself was soft and pillowy. Unfortunately it was kind of an odd combo with the extremly chewy mushroom. I would try a different bun the next time around. The texture just threw me off.
My main entrée was the Korean Fried Chicken with blue cheese dipping sauce and kimchee pickles. From what I understand of Korean Fried Chicken the batter is supposed to be filled with flavors and spices. While I did find the skin to be crispy and golden I didn’t find that much flavor in it. It just tasted…fried. The actual chicken was cooked beautifully and was very moist, but the fried to chicken ratio was too much for me. There was a ton more fried part than chicken which was a bit disappointing. I found myself picking off the crust to get to the bits of chicken. The blue cheese dip was also tasty, but possibly a little too overpowering for the dish for me. I will say that this is a huge dish in comparison to the others on the menu, but with 3 pieces it can be a bit awkward to share.
The pickles were quite tasty and I love the bit of sweet and sour that they brought to the dish. The way they are presented on a separate dish makes them feel a bit like an afterthought though.
We also split an order of the Kimchee Fries. I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but this wasn’t it. At first I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more kimchi flavor, but after eating a few I discovered that they were still enjoyable despite the name/taste difference. The fries were crispy and had a bit of a spicy but sweet flavor. Not exactly kimchi, but also not plain ol’ fries. In the end I would consider these to be a hit.
When I was glued to the couch watching the 7th season of Top Chef I found Angelo to be really unique and inventive. I loved how he added a bit of Asian influence to many of his dishes. I love the concept of this restaurant, but I feel like a few of the dishes could be tweaked to take that Asian influence a bit further. Overall, our experience at Social Eatz was enjoyable. The service was wonderful and attentive without being intrusive. There were definitely some stand out dishes like the Tomato Soup and Kimchee Fries, but also a few that fell short of my expectations. While you won’t catch me heading to Social Eatz on every NYC visit, I would definitely return for another try of a few different dishes and of course, that stellar tomato soup.