Blackbrick in Midtown Serves the Chinese Food You've Been Waiting For
The best place to sit at Blackbrick is certainly the kitchen bar. From there, you can watch the 63-year-old chef from Hong Kong stir-fry mustard greens in his red-hot wok. The way he works is soothing -- how swiftly he moves and how intently he waits, hands behind his back, while you eat. He hopes for a grin, a murmur, any sign you're enjoying your meal. And when you show him approval, he smiles and little wrinkles form around his black, ebullient eyes.
billwisserphoto.com Peking duck at Blackbrick in midtown.
There is rarely time for chitchat at this Chinese restaurant in midtown. Chefs scrub woks, steam dumplings, fry noodles, and toast Szechuan peppers at an alarming pace. A four-plate dinner can be finished in 45 minutes.
But before you even think to complain, the check arrives. On a recent Friday night, the bill for two amounted to just $42.
Richard Hales is well-versed in affordable dining. At Sakaya Kitchen, his first restaurant,
you can order kalbi beef tater tots and Korean fried chicken wings at a counter. Now with two locations, Sakaya belongs to the most recent wave of Asian-fusion cuisine. The menu includes grilled eggplant sourced from Palm Beach County and pork that's been roasted for eight hours and then stuffed inside Chinese bao buns.
These same buns are available at Hales' Blackbrick, which opened in December in a small space just a short walk from Sakaya in midtown. At Blackbrick, these steamed buns sit like fluffy cushions next to bone-in slices of Peking duck. Hales bathes the whole duck in a wok, dries it for a full day with fans in the walk-in cooler, and roasts it until the meat is tender and flavorful.
Its skin is paper-thin, mahogany in color, and scented with a secret house blend of 12 spices. Alongside the duck and bao buns come hoisin sauce, slivered cucumber and scallions, and a fried pan-cake cut into triangles called roti prata.