Even the best chefs and restaurateurs need time to work the kinks out of their newest spots. We went to 66 last night to find out about the hype. Overall, I must say I enjoyed my meal thoroughly, and my critiques have far more to do with other parts of the experience. I will return in a few months and see how they've changed.
First, the space is great. It's clean lines and sharp edges along with wall of fish tanks fit perfectly into the neighborhood and the menu. The tables are far too close together. I know this is New York, but there's no need to hear every whisper at the neighboring table -- or for my neighbors to hear mine, for that matter. Our waitress was quite good, familiar with the menu and full of suggestions and recommendations. The positive things about the service end there. The table was cleared slowly, often two courses after we'd finished a particular dish, our coffee never came and their seemed to be a bit too much inattentiveness. After we finished eating, three separate servers/buspeople brought us hot towels, having no inkling that it had already happened.
All that said, we went for the food, and on that note, we weren't disappointed.
We started with the tuna tartar, an excellent mix of fresh tuna, tangy sauce and warmed fish eggs, I believe. From there, the stir-fried shrimp was a hit. Dressed in two sauces, I preferred the sweet and sour sauce to the creamy condensed milk and mayonnaise mixture.
The chicken-shumai dumplings were a total hit. Along with the tasty dipping sauces, these little morsels of dim sum were meaty, tasty and perfectly prepared. Next time, there will definitely be more dim sum in my order.
The crispy chicken in garlic sauce is a Chinese classic and was quite tasty. The mixture of five spices, however, dominated by cloves gave this staple dish a new level of complexity and interest that I haven't tasted before. We got an order of the eggplant with spicy marinade, which was good, though I'd hoped the marinade would have some more guts than it did.
Finally, the black bass with green tea tempura was a real hit. The dish was curious, creative, crispy and delicious. The mix of flavors was superb. And though I wish we'd gotten it earlier in the meal, it was a delectable way to finish up.