One of my interesting NYC experiences was dining at the world’s best 50 restaurants – WD~50. There are a number of such restaurants in NYC, but we picked WD~50, which received one Michelin star, for its more casual ambience.

Opened in 2003 by chef Wylie Dufresne, the restaurant name was derived from the initials of the chef, and the unit number of the restaurant. WD~50 focuses on molecular gastronomy and in most of the menu items, the chef attempts to break down a complex taste, or innovate with different cooking methods.

The restaurant cum bar resides at the funky Lower East Side and encourages a casual dining experience.

We opted for the 12-item tasting menu, which cost US$140 per head before tax and tips. For wine pairing, it would cost another US$85. Just a warning before we embark on this gastronomical journey, this is gonna be a long post as I will introduce every course in the menu. Also, I will share pictures of our little kitchen tour after the meal!

1. Scallops, corn, leek, barbeque vinaigrette: This was the first course to start stimulating our palettes. The scallops were thinly sliced and had a very smooth and texture. There was an interesting taste of corn paste, fresh scallop and pepper. I wasn’t quite impressed yet but was looking forward to more surprises.

2. Everything bagel, smoked salmon threads, crispy cream cheese: This course brought a smile to our face. It was beyond intriguing! The orange threads were made from smoked salmon – think of it as smoked salmon floss. The cheese has been manipulated into a crispy slice. And the tiny bagel… it literally melt into our mouths. The bagel was actually bread ice-cream! Check out how the chef makes this from here.

3. Foie-lafel:  This course looked so Chinese, but it was rather fascinating. We were still recovering from the little climax from Everything bagel. I couldn’t figure out where the foie gras was hidden but I could feel the fresh taste oozing out from the deep fried balls.

4. Poached egg in the shell, pumpernickel, casesar dressing, bean sprouts: This was a point when we felt that the journey is getting serious and intense. The egg was nicely cooked, very soft, a little fragile and the runny yolk melted in the mouth. The egg shell, were not the real shell. This were edible – although I couldn’t figure out what it was and was thinking that it could be chocolate. I found out later that it was actually edible kaolin clay. There was a very grand mix of sweet, sour and fresh taste in this dish, coming from the pumpernickel, caesar dressing and the egg.

5. King oyster ‘udon’, sweetbreads, banana molassas, pickled ginger: I know this dish looks unappealing but it was actually one of the most memorable ones that we had from the menu. We were wondering why the udon noodles had such a nice springy texture, and were also wondering why there were no “‘oyster” as reflected in the name of the menu. We discovered that king oyster is mushroom and the udon was sliced from this mushroom. How magical! I also enjoy the marriage of sweetness from the banana molassas, as well as the crunchy texture of the sweet bread and sourness of pickled ginger. We got really excited at this point.

6. Tai snapper, onion tart, coffee, asian pear: After the initial excitement, it seemed like the chef wanted us to cool down a little. While the coffee and cashew crumble were unique addition to a traditional snapper dish, we were not too blown away.

7. Quail, nasturtium yogurt, turnip, nutmeg: I enjoyed the way the quail was cooked, although I felt that it would have been better on its own. The yoghurt was too strong and I didn’t think that the nutmeg worked well with the dish.

8. Lamb loin, ‘red beans & rice’, chayote squash:  This was the last savory dish before we enter into the desserts territory. It was a good ending because the lamb loin was very well prepared. I felt that this dish was a fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisines, with the presence of rice crisp and pine nuts although my dinner companions didn’t quite agree.

9. Gjetost, watermelon, plum, olive oil: One of my dinner companions is Norwegian and was very excited about the Gjetost, which is Norwegian goat cheese. In this course, the cheese was made into a parfait and the watermelon was watermelon juice icicles. I like the juxtaposition of sweet creamy cheese and icy but refreshing watermelon. This was an enjoyable dessert.

10. Apricot, buckwheat, rhubarb, green tea: The ice-cream was made from buckwheat and for the lack of better descriptives, it tasted exactly like buckwheat. I didn’t quite enjoy this dessert because the rhubarb and apricot jelly were so sour, although the chef attempted to neutralise this sourness with buckwheat ice-cream and whipped green tea.

11. Soft chocolate, beet, long pepper, ricotta ice cream: A grand ending to our tasting menu. Doesn’t this presentation remind you of fireworks? I enjoyed this dessert so much because the soft chocolate fudge was smooth and light and it felt like heaven. Another interesting discovery, the red spongy meringue were beet!  Indeed, this is a dessert that guests should remember when they think of their WD~5o experience.

12. Rice krispy treats: This was more of a casual snack while we waited for our kitchen tour. I didn’t fancy the deep fried rice pudding ball as compared to the krispy one on the far right, which was marshmallow ice-cream!

And onward to our little kitchen tour…

Remember the egg shell in dish no. 4? They were made from little balloons like this. I couldn’t be more impressed by the creativeness of the chef and his crew.

This corner contains so much chemicals – mostly gelling agents for making jellies or improvising flavours for the dishes.

Chefs in discussion. Wylie Dufresne is the gentleman on the right.

One of the kitchen crew assembling the dishes according to instructions.

Dishes are ready to go!

Aptly sums up the overall concept of WD-50: passionate team who are keen to experiment and push boundaries.

Verdict: I think this was a great virgin fine-dining experience for me!  For one, I appreciate the casual atmosphere, which allow patrons to relax and enjoy the creative menu. Every dish was like a little discovery and when in doubt, check with the very knowledgeable and friendly staff! I was also impressed by the vastness of possibilities food science could bring to the table. Considering that the whole gastronomical exploration journey cost less than US$200, and knowing that some restaurants have pricier tasting menus, the experience was definitely worth it.

在曼哈顿第一次尝试这种tasting menu。WD~50的主厨Wylie Dufresne非常年轻,可是也很有创意。各个菜肴都经过他的巧思,颠覆传统做法呈现新的感觉,刺激大家的味蕾。个人也喜欢餐厅casual舒服的装潢,让食客能够尽情享受,不会被无谓的饮食礼仪所束缚。

50 Clinton St., New York, NY, 10002

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