"We eat everything with four legs except tables and everything with wings except airplanes," is a saying we heard in southern China, where we sampled such delicacies as scorpion on a stick, pig-blood soup, fried starfish, grilled snake and lots of internal organs from species unknown. In the spirit of Chinese voraciousness, Richard Hales has gotten creative without going fusion on his menu at the new Black Brick, also known as Midtown Chinese. Best of all, he's imbued his place with personality and a sense of humor.
"I want it to be true to where it started," Hales says. "We are using the best ingredients and mastering the techniques to help this city recognize that we should have a Chinese place not doing sushi." With the help of chefs from Hong Kong and Hunan province, Hales is putting out treats like lamb tongue flatbread, General Tso's Alligator, fried duck head, whole rabbit and jellyfish salad.
His casual, fast-paced spot is at once hip and welcoming. It helps that prices are reasonable and the staff super friendly. Most days find Hales in the open kitchen, where an occasional chili bomb fills the air with pungent spice that makes your eyes water. Thanks to a powerful fan, the sensation lasts only a moment.
Ambience: Less than comfy with its hard-back wooden booths and metal stools, the space is like a backstreet nightclub. Namesake brickwall segments set off shiny red paint inter cut with stripes of graffiti art and images of Hales heroes including Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Keith Richards. Cage-like hanging red metal lanterns lend a whimsical edge. Waiter service and a full bar with a tiny but well-curated wine list, classic cocktails and local brews raise the experience beyond Hales' Sakaya Kitchen and his sought-after dim sum truck.