On a recent afternoon in SoHo (NYC), I was looking to get lunch at about 2 PM after wrapping up some meetings (whatever happened to brown bag lunches that day?). I was very thrilled to see on Yelp, that a Tarallucci e Vino location was just a couple of blocks from where I was standing. Folks, Tarallucci e Vino serves the BEST octopus salad in NYC ! (Note to self: Must get some pictures of the Octopus salad and write about it soon). Yelp reviews indicated that the restaurant is in the Alessi store. Perfect!! Or so I thought. I walked into the store and could not find any sign of Tarallucci e Vino. The store has a lot of items with funky design, but I was in no mood to look, was just plain hungry. I was told that Tarallucci e Vino is no longer in store. What a disappointment 😦 😦
By now, I was ravenous and thought I could eat anything. I walked around a few more blocks and came upon Kelley and Ping – an Asian Grocery store and Noodle Shop. The place was not extremely busy, but had quite a few people inside. All my previous experiences eating at or getting take-out at grocery store restaurants have been great! Anyone having eaten at any of these grocery stores or markets (Fairway, Whole Foods, Zabar’s, Dean & Deluca, Agata & Valentina, Eataly or Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria) will agree that the eating experience is pleasant and the food is generally good. Naturally, my expectations were high for Kelley and Ping.
I really liked the Asian themed decor and the menu with some vegetarian options. The restaurant had run out of most of the vegetarian options by this time (2.30 PM). Food running out usually means it was good or that a lot of people ate the vegetarian food served here – either way, I thought this was a good sign.
I ordered the green papaya salad, and shrimp dumplings. I wanted to try an Asian drink (Basil Seed drink) and got that as well. I was told that they would call for me and I would have to pick up the dishes that I ordered. While I was waiting for the food, I spent some time admiring the decor and got some photos of the same to share with you.
The Basil Seed drink was not sweet or fizzy. It was somewhat gelatious, but not too viscous in texture. I did not like the taste at all – it had a strong anise-like flavor. I gave up on drinking this after two sips.
The green papaya salad was supposed to include, green papaya (obviously, Duh!), tomatoes, green beans, and sticky rice. The shredded green papaya and the tomatoes were extremely cold for my liking. There were exactly two pieces of green beans and similarly with the peanuts. This salad was tasteless and bland – a definite contender for the worst tasting green papaya salad in NYC.
After the drink and the salad, I should have known what to expect from the shrimp dumplings. The dumpling wrappers were extremely thick and tasteless. The shrimp filling had no flavor at all and were very smelly. I must say that the highlight of the food in this noodle shop was the dumpling sauce / soy sauce accompanying the dumplings. After some serious consideration of whether or not I should drink the sauce, I decided that it cannot be too good for me – especially the volume of sauce that I had for this dish.
Overall, eating at Kelley and Ping is a much forgettable experience. I am not inclined to go back there and try out some of their vegetarian dishes (Sweet & Spicy rice noodles with straw mushroom, Thai tofu rolls with glass noodles and mint, Tofu and Celery salad).
The best things about this restaurant are its decor and the large space that it has.
Does anyone know of any other asian grocery stores in NYC that serves good food? Meanwhile, please stay away from this place if you want tasty, flavorful food.
After all this, I was still extremely hungry and on the look-out for some (chocolatey) snacks.
I went to Vosges which was only a few blocks away, but more on Vosges in my next post….