First off, I should disclose that I have changed the screen name I've been using for the last two years...some of my friends figured me out, and I, like many NYers, cherish my anonymity (which is my theory for why no one on this board ever suggests get-togethers, a la the San Francisco hounds). So I suppose this email can serve as a formal re-introduction. Hope everyone is well.
My point in writing is to report on my dinner this past week at a new place called Hip Hop Chow. It's located in the EV, on 2nd Ave btw St. Marks & 7th. Being a native southerner, I was immediately intrigued by the concept. However I can report that the characterization of the menu as 'southern' is only about 50% accurate. True, fried chicken, grits and collards are all offered, but the menu also features more universal dishes (pork chops, salmon) as well as a few that I don't typically see in the south (oxtail). I would best describe it as 'American fusion,' in that traditionally American dishes are served alongside some really interesting asian flavors.
Right now the restaurant doesn't have its liquor license so it's BYOB, although we were told that will be changing - so for those who relish that narrow window, go before it's gone! The meal started out with some really excellent cornbread (and I know from cornbread, let me tell you...). My date had the pork chop and by the end had picked up the bone and was gnawing on it. He subbed in napa cabbage for the usual sweet potatoes - it had an excellent flavor of soy sauce and good texture. His dish also came with roasted corn, buttery with a hint of brown sugar (we think). I had the vegetable plate with cheesy grits, sweet potatoes and roasted squash/zucchini. The grits were much more coarse than we typically have in the south, but I thought the texture was appropriate for a dinner side, and the flavor was great. Squash was excellent. The sweet potatoes got aesthetic points as they came stacked in small cubes in a mini-skillet with marshmallows browned on top, but perhaps they were a little too artistic because they lacked tenderness. We skipped dessert although they serve ice creams from Chinatown ice cream factory.
The decor is pretty modern minimal - kind of like a small version of Fuddruckers, for those of you who grew up in the burbs. But the folks running the restaurant couldn't have been nicer. The chef came out and spoke to us - he is a CIA grad who started in some of NY's finest (DB, grammery tavern), then decided to open up his own place. I admire his bravery and I think he has a bright future - the guy can cook.
It's not a spot for a romantic interlude, but the food is creative and really excellent. I would venture to call it chow-ish, which I consider a high conpliment.