Susur Lee takes Manhattan—sort of
The verdicts are starting to trickle in for Susur Lee’s three-month-old Manhattan venture, Shang. New York magazine sent local legend Adam Platt to sample the wares, and his review is far from a rave. From the “generic club music” to the “scraggly sprays of cherry blossoms” and “lanterns made of what look like rumpled old stockings,” much about Shang appears to have left Platt unimpressed. He denounces the spiced beef cheeks as “curiously flavorless” and the oxtail dumpling soup as tasting “bland as dishwater.” Giving it two stars (out of five), he is most concerned about the restaurant’s prosaic setting and its remote location.
And Platt’s not the only one shrugging his shoulders at Lee’s Chinese-fusion efforts. Similar sentiments are echoed in Ryan Sutton’s Bloomberg critique, which dwells on the ludicrousness of Shang’s signature over-the-top 19-ingredient slaw. Sarah DiGregorio of The Village Voice believes that “some dishes amaze and some land with a thud.” Danyelle Freeman’s review in the Daily News is slightly more forgiving; she’s not convinced that Lee is worth his prestige, but situates Shang in the restaurant industry’s volatile climate. She also suggests that now is the time for comfort-style food, not clever or experimental culinary creations. It sounds like Lee may need some of the former.