Thoughts

Re: "Empellón’s New Fajitas Are Made With Super-High-Grade Japanese Beef — Are They Worth $125?"

A note from Chef Alex about Grubstreet's article on Empellón:

Dear @plattypants,
Although I appreciate you coming to my new restaurant I'm a bit frustrated because you clearly are missing the point of why I did all of this. Please do not assume and then make statements that I have created some sort of model that is to be replicated because it's factually untrue.
Please fact check and ask questions. There are supposed to be rules to this game.
At 125 bucks this dish is a financial loser for me and the only reason I created it was to give this neighborhood the genuine article at a bargain price. At any other restaurant this would be twice the price. I know this because it's my responsibility to research actual data. By the way that's supposed to be a writers responsibility as well.

Sticky Rice Tamales with Red Chile Duck

This dish came from the adaptation of a technique used in Southeast Asian cuisines for steaming rice.

Rice is soaked, dressed with salsa and wrapped up in a corn husk with a bit of duck confit. The packages are steamed and the filling forms a tender cake. When we made them, they immediately reminded us of tamales in form.

I have come across funky tamal recipes that utilize all sorts of different products as a replacement for masa, but never rice, so I thought the idea would make an interested and unexpected addition to our menu.

This dish is served at Empellón in Midtown.

Sea Bream with Chilaquiles

When tortillas are fried and then briefly simmered in salsa, they become chilaquiles. When those chilaquiles are topped with some crema and a fried egg, they become the greatest breakfast dish of all time.

Well made chilaquiles have a special texture that straddles crunchy and soft. If I had to compare it to something, it would be that moment in time when your breakfast cereal has marinated in milk for just the right amount of time.

Here we take a common idea out of context. Rather than topping our chilaquiles with an egg for breakfast, we are using them to act as a textural component and dressing for whole roasted fish for lunch or dinner at our Midtown location.

Shortrib Confit with Picadillo Garnish

Picadillo comes from the word "picar," which translates to "to mince."

At its best, picadillo is an aromatic mixture of well-cooked shredded meat riddled with capers, raisins, olives, spices, etc. It's often used as a stuffing, as well as a taco filling.

At it's worst, it's pebbly ground beef with some onions and a spice packet added.

Like all food as fashion, the concepts of deconstruction came and went, but what is old inevitably becomes new again.

Here we bring the idea of deconstruction back, but not for novelty. We do it to improve presentation and more importantly, to preserve a bit of textural integrity. 

Short ribs have been boned out, rubbed with a mixture of spices, and gently cooked in rendered beef fat for a long time. 

It has all been smothered in a mixture of things that might find there way into a picadillo and served with tortillas for making tacos. 

I prefer it because you can still get differentiated bites with pops of acid, sweetness, crunch, brine, etc. in each bite.

This dish is served at Empellón in Midtown.