When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I usually disclose the fact that I have a food blog and then ask the waiter what the top three menu items are, based on both their personal opinion and customer popularity. I do this for a few reasons; (1) I am hoping that they will try to “buy” a good review from me in exchange for some samples of free food and preferential service (but don’t worry, I am completely honest in my reviews and won’t be bought by a free appetizer!), (2) I really do like to try the signature dishes that a place is best known for, and (3) it narrows down the menu substantially and takes the guess work out of ordering!
When I arrived at Gigi in Midtown for the first time, I went through my usual routine and was happy and surprised to find that the waiter was equally as obsessed with food as I was (keep in mind that this is very unusual). I asked for some suggestions and he lit up, listing off his personal favorites and customer’s top picks. The limited menu is divided into sections labeled: basics, buns, raw, noodles, snacks, and rice bowls (the place is clearly Pan-Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine!).
To start, he recommended the Tuna Roll from the raw menu, which was similar to sushi (minus the rice) with Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus. The ingredients seem so simple, but the flavors are very full and clean. The citrus compliments the tuna, and the thin cucumber casing adds a nice crunch to the soft texture of the tuna and avocado.
Next we got an order of the Grilled Butternut Squash off the snack menu, served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions. The squash was cooked to perfect with a nice black char from the grill on the edges, yet it was still super sweet. The yogurt sauce was nice and light, so it complimented the dish without over powering it. After polishing off our first round of squash, we went ahead and ordered a second….yes, it is that good!
We also placed an order for the Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions. This dish—also off the snack menu—looked very similar to the butternut squash, but it wasn’t nearly as good! Everyone’s forks attacked the butternut squash until it was gone, and then we slowly picked at the sweet potato….until the second order of squash arrived, of course! There was nothing wrong with the potatoes; they just looked too similar to the better tasting squash dish.
Next the waiter surprised us and brought out an order of Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower for the table to sample. The vegetables were roasted and then tossed with fresh bacon and soy. The reason that I didn’t order them myself, is because I knew that I would compare them to the brussel sprouts served at Sugarcane, which are out of this freaking world! After trying Sugarcane’s version of brussel sprouts, I can no longer enjoy them prepared any other way, and even though the waiter tried to convert me to Gigis, they still didn’t hold a candle to Sugarcanes. They were tasty, but Sugarcane’s are simply incredible. Success on getting some free food though, right?!?
For my main dish, I ordered the Steak Chow Fun, which is sliced steak, mushroom, and eggplant, served over thick egg noodles (photographed at top of blog). I was a little surprised by the density and size of the noodles, which were like Italian paparedelle noodles. Most Asian noodles are very thin and delicate, and so this was unusual for me, but the dish was absolutely incredible! The meat was cooked just to my liking; it was very juicy and tender. The sauce that everything was tossed in had a great garlic-soy flavor, and it had the rich consistency of an eel sauce so it adhered nicely to the pasta. The mushrooms were little bites of heaven, it was like finding gold whenever I came across one with my chopsticks!
And finally, just when I thought the meal was over, the waiter brought out a miniature soft ice cream cone for everyone at the table (more free food, yay!) And of course, once the sweetness hit my lips, I wanted more. So, I walked myself over to the bar area and ordered up some cookies: Peanut Butter Chunk and Classic Chocolate Chip. These cookies are enormous and only $2!!!! It’s one of the best food deals that I have seen yet, especially since the cookies are amazingly delicious! I rarely want more than a couple bites of a cookie and I had no problem devouring the entire peanut butter monstrosity. I think my friend’s face captures just how delicious they were!
Overall, Gigi is an amazing place to grab a bite at any time, and especially late night. They are revolutionizing and redefining drunk-eating by staying open till 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 am on week nights. I love everything about this place, and make sure you save room for one of the cookies!!