Recap: Colette Malouf, Cinco de Derby, and one hell of a Hot Kitchen
Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7:26AM
The Lady Who Lunches in Parties you weren't invited to, Restaurant reviews, Round-ups & restaurant-hopping

My weekend was kicked off with a visit to Colette Malouf's pop-up shop at Henri Bendel.  Having been a fan of the designer since 2007, I was thrilled to learn that, aside from her gorgeous hair accessories collection, Ms. Malouf *also* has a line of costume jewelry! 

And for those of you who don't know?  I am a costume jewelry whore.

When I arrived at the event, I was ecstatic and star struck to see Colette - in person - explaining the intricacies of a particular hair piece to a customer.  I could hardly wait to shake her hand and gush about her gorgeous creations.  To her.  Wow!

OK, so I can't post a picture of my actual purchase, because it's a birthday present for my sister (...who will be reading this blurb the moment I publish).  However, I can show you the picture of the hair piece that one of my best friends is going to wear on her wedding day:

I urge those of you who appreciate breathtaking, hand-crafted accessory pieces and costume jewelry to go out and treat yourself to something fabulous!  Click here for store locations.

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Later on that night, I met a friend at Diablo Royale for some pre-game Cinco de Mayo margarita action, followed by a private "Montauk summer house" meet-and-greet at Parlor.

~

On Saturday, I was able to sneak in a workout - meet my friend, Cat (...plus her mother and sister), for her wedding gown viewing - and get my hair done - all before heading to three celebratory Cinco de Mayo and/or Kentucky Derby parties...and a date. 

This was one of the funnest days I've had in all of my eight years in NYC!

~

Hot Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday was a bit of a struggle, as I spent much of it compensating for my lack of water, sleep, and nutrients from the day/night prior.  However, I managed to fit in a workout - which I'm especially proud of - considering my sloppy, hungover state (I'm currently participating in the "Flybarre Challenge," which states that you must attend 4 barre classes/week for 6 weeks.  Now in week #3, I've met my goal, thus far.  Fingers crossed that I can hang on!). 

At 2pm, I hopped on to my bike and headed to the East Village for a gluttonous lunch at Hot Kitchen, a fairly recently-opened Szechuan restaurant. 

Ever since spending time in Hong Kong, I cannot get enough Chinese food.  I go on Dan Dan Noodle benders and am constantly plotting my return to Asia.  In fact, Chinese food is fast becoming my second favorite cuisine, closely behind Mexican.  And, luckily, I have a handful of friends who are willing to forgo a traditional Sunday morning "Eggs Benedict brunch" for an authentic Szechuan lunch spread.

Sylvia and Hollywood ordered an ample array of dishes for the entire table.  Per the photos, below, I will do my best to describe each plate and its respective ingredients.  And try not to sound even whiter than I already am.  Here goes: 

Egg Drop Soup

Damn right. The white girl ordered the whitest soup on the menu, while everyone else enjoyed Hot 'n Sour. Cucumber with Scallion Sauce

Always a favorite vegetable dish of mine, these cucumbers were peeled and then cut in to the perfect bite-sized morsel. A garlicky, pristinely-salted scallion sauce enveloped each cuke.Spinach with Ginger Sauce

Served cold, dense spinach was blanketed by a minced ginger sauce that, surprisngly, did not overwhelm.Spicy Szechuan Dumplings

I'm not quite sure why the word "spicy" was tacked on, because these dumplings weren't fiery in the least. They were, however, every bit delicious and were constructed with the perfect dough-to-meat ratio. The pork filling was among the best I've ever had.Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

Dan Dan Noodles are, probably, one of my top 5 favorite foods of all time. Hot Kitchen's version was tasty, though I found the dish to contain too much liquid. Cafe China and Wu Liang Ye still tie for first place.Szechuan Steamed Pork Bun

Within this soft, delicate bun lay a mound of shredded pork that was bound by a lightly sweet, tangy sauce.Pork Soup Dumplings

I honestly don't think I've ever met a soup dumpling that I did not like. And this version was no exception. Both filling and broth were excellent, though I would have preferred a bit less dough mass on the top of the dumpling.Szechuan Wontons with Red Oil

This was probably my favorite appetizer of the bunch. I LOVE spicy red oil, especially when crowned by pillowy, handmade pork wontons.Scallion Pancakes

Light, buttery, and chock full of scallions, these pancakes were the perfect interlude to our heavier entrees.Ma Po Tofu

At first bite, I - a self proclaimed salt fanatic - found this dish too salty. However, when spooned over sticky white rice, the sauce/gravy was perfectly balanced. We chose to add pork to our version, and it was excellent (aside from the fact that I don't eat tofu). Assorted Spicy Wok 

Chock-full of beef, chicken, sausage, beef tripe, shrimp, squid, and veggies, by the time this tray reached my end of the table, all that was left was chicken and veggies. Fine by me! I loaded up on lotus root and daikon.Because I was eating as if it were my last meal on death row, I simply *forgot* to snap pictures of our additional dishes and entrees:  Hot & Sour Soup, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Sauteed Spinach with Garlic, Beef Tripe with Minced Pickle Pepper, Beef Tendon with Spicy Peppery Sauce, Cumin Beef and, my personal favorite, the Chongqing Spicy Chicken.  The latter knocked my socks off and was so damn good, that it's worth a return visit in and of itself.

While we ordered enough food to feed a small Caribbean island, each of us only paid $43.  And that price included tax/tip, 2 bottles of wine, and a crap load of beers.

Hot Kitchen is definitely worth a visit and, in my case, a return visit.  Plus, the space is large enough to seat big-ish parties, and the atmosphere/decor will not insult your snobby mother or your waspy friends.

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And, as if I had any more room in my stomach, I met my dear friend from college, Devon, for dinner at Markt.  Literally, a mere 3 hours after my lunch at Hot Kitchen! 

Gluttony and over indulgence aside, I had an outstanding weekend.  And I hope that you did, too!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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